In this article I answer to Eric Landstrom's claims.
Eric proves that no one is saved
in the after life
In this dialogue between Eric and me, he proves that all who die in their sins cannot be saved in the after life. He also proves that God is not the Saviour of all mankind (even though the Bible says He is) and he proves that God will not save all mankind, just believers. Eric asks: Is salvation in the after life possible for those who die in their sins, and if so, how does their salvation come about? This question points to an obvious hole in the theology of Universal Reconciliation. So let us begin this interesting dialogue and see all the holes that are so apparent in the theology of universal reconciliation:
Eric Landstrom wrote: Hello Tony, I didn't answer your assertions of what 1 Timothy 2:4; 4:10 mean simply because I already have so many times before and that this is documented at my web site.
To your assertion of 1 Timothy 2:4: God is the savior of all men. I agree with that. God is the Savior of all men, be it one man, or all men. The real question here is what does the verse mean. The universalist assumes that it means God will save all men, but is this so, do these verses say that? These verses rather than saying all men are saved has to do with the scope of the offer of salvation. Hence we believe it indicates that God offers salvation to all men.
Tony's reply: Let's see, God tells us God will have all mankind to be saved and God is the Saviour of all mankind, especially (not exclusively) them that believe. These things command and teach (1 Tim.2:4; 4;10,11). Does it really make sense that we are to command and teach that God will have all mankind to be saved, and, God is the Saviour of all mankind because God offers salvation to all mankind but not all accept it?
Also, I am curious as to where it is in the context of 1 Timothy 2:4-6 and 4:10,11 that God is offering salvation to all men? Rather than God offering a chance, I see Him offering His Son. Let us look at the King James Version of this passage:
Please note that the contextual reason why it is so that God will have all men (literally: all humans) to be saved regarding 1 Timothy 2:4 is found in 2:5,6: for or the reason why it is so that God will save all humans is based upon two irrefutable truths:
Since there is only one God, who else in the universe is powerful enough to thwart that which God wills in this matter?
Since all humans have been ransomed by the one Mediator (Christ), it must be that all humans will be freed from slavery to sin and death into God's salvation.
It would be very helpful for the serious students of God's Word if they would do a thorough search of every verse in the Bible that pertains to ransom. They will be pleased to find that every human or animal that was ransomed had to be freed. There is not one case in all the Bible that a human or animal was not freed consequent upon them being ransomed. Taking our findings and looking at 1 Timothy 2:4-6 we find that all humans must be freed from the bondage of sin and death and must be freed into God's salvation. God is not, according to the context, offering all humans a choice or a crack at saving themselves. Rather, it is showing us something which has already taken place, i.e., Christ ransoming all humans.
Eric writes: In the verse [1 Timothy 4:10] mankind is divided in those that believe and by implication those who do not believe.
Tony's reply: Yes, but both groups have God as their Saviour. A Saviour is one Who saves. The verse says that He is the Saviour of all men (lit. all humans) ESPECIALLY them that believe. It does not say EXCLUSIVELY them that believe. If God does not save the believer, is He the believer's Saviour? Since He is the believer's Saviour because He saves the believer, He is also all mankind's Saviour because He saves all mankind. Of course the verse does not say that He saves both groups at the exact same time. That is why the word especially is used when connected with the believer.
Eric continues: I hope that we can agree that faith is the condition of salvation and therefore you can agree with myself and the Bible that the Lord saves all those that believe. For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1 Cor.1:21) (KJV)
Tony's reply: Christ's death for sinners is the condition of salvation. If one has faith it is so due solely to the grace of God that He gave them that faith to be believing. Paul says in Romans 3:22-23 this: yet a righteousness of God through Jesus Christ's faith , for all, and on all who are believing, for there is no distinction, for all sinned and are wanting of the glory of God. This righteousness of God is for ALL, and it is presently on all who are believing. It comes through Jesus Christ's faith. We have faith because of Christ's faith and due to God giving us that faith prior to believing the gospel/evangel.
I am quite interested in the verse you chose above which was 1 Corinthians 1:21. It was in God's wisdom that the world would not know God by their wisdom. God planned it all out so that they could not know God unless they came to know Him by His way which is through the foolishness of the preaching. God is actively involved in hiding these things from the wise and prudent and revealing them to minors (Matt.11:25 & Lk.10:21). So if one does get anything of the gospel it is due solely to God giving it to them to be believing. For in grace, through faith, are you saved, and this is not out of you (Eph.2:8).
If eternal torment were true, this would be the most diabolical thing in the universe: That God, Who knows all, would purposely bring billions and billions and billions of humans into existence knowing full well that not only would the majority not believe the gospel but that God would purposely blind billions of people and keep them from believing just so He could torment them for all eternity. This idea casts God in the worst light possible. But the Bible tells me that God locks up ALL together in stubbornness (lit. unpersuadableness) so that He may have mercy upon all (Rom.11:32), not so that He can eternally torture or annihilate them.
Eric wrote: On the other hand nowhere in the bible do we see that God saves the unbeliever. In no sense does scripture support the idea that God has already saved the unbeliever. This is what the present tense estin (English -is) would require if this verse was to support universalism. With certainly there are some in the universalist camp who argue God has already saved all--however scripture is clear: John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (KJV) Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (KJV) Heb 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: (KJV) From these passages and more it is clear that unbelievers stand under God's condemnation and not His salvation. So the only sense in which God can said to be the savior of all is that He offers salvation to all and should an unbeliever remain not in unbelief God will save him also.
Tony's reply: The is in God is the Saviour of all mankind is actually in the present tense. Has God saved the believer from sin and death yet? Have we believers put on immortality yet? We still sin. We believers are still dying. We believers are still being judged and disciplined for what we do in this life. For instance this is a good example:
Note also your same KJV says in 1 Corinthians 11:29 of the believer that God is presently the Saviour of: For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. Yet such a believer who gets damnation in this life will still receive eonian life in the future.
So your Mark 16:16 verse stated above about one being damned if not baptized does not mean that God is not presently their Saviour. In a more literal translation however of Mark 16:16 we have it thus: He who believes and is baptized is being saved, yet he who disbelieves shall be being condemned. Just because Saul of Tarsus was disbelieving and was being condemned, God was still his Saviour whether he knew it or not. Why? Because Saul was chosen in Christ before the disruption of the world (Eph.1:4) and that was before he believed while he was being condemned. Why was He Saul's Saviour? Because while we were still sinners, Christ died for our sakes (Rom.5:8). Those Corinthians who were eating and drinking unworthily had God presently as their Saviour. But yet they still were judged and some received death by God. But God is still presently the Saviour especially of them that believe. And just because the unbeliever has yet to go through a judging in the future, this does not mean that God is not their Saviour. Christ has already died and taken away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and He covered our sins, yet not our sins only but the sins of the whole world also (see 1 John 2:2).
You wrote above: On the other hand nowhere in the bible do we see that God saves the unbeliever. Eric, was Saul, while on the road to Damascus, an unbeliever? Were you an unbeliever before you believed? Did Christ die for you before you believed or after you believed?
Also your quote above of Hebrews 12:25 does not disprove that God, in the ultimate sense is the Saviour of all the Hebrews who might be refusing Him. While it is true that the ones refusing Him may not get to enter into the kingdom during the 1,000 year reign on the earth that is coming, and may, at the end of that 1,000 year reign have their bodies cast into the lake of fire which is the second death, it is also just as true that such ones EVENTUALLY will be justified and constituted righteous (Romans 5:18,19) and will be vivified (given immortality), and eventually will be subjected to Christ and God will be All in all (1 Cor.15:22-28). But God is still their Saviour through this long drawn-out process even if they don't realize it yet. Maybe He is not experientially in their own reckoning, but ultimately He is their Saviour.
Eric wrote: From my perspective, universalists always seem to want to argue what is a secondary issue, that is eternal conscious hell, ignoring the primary issue: Is salvation in the after life possible for those who die in their sins, and if so, how does their salvation come about? This question points to an obvious hole in the theology of UR, for none are found to receive salvation in the age to come or the after life. Therefore is it speculative if any can be saved in this coming period.
Tony's reply: If you were destined for an eternal conscious hell I doubt it would be a secondary issue to you! Salvation of all who die in their sins, is easily proved from various scriptures. And this is how their salvation comes about:
Does Eric want us to believe that all mankind actually means only believers? Were only believers condemned due to Adam's act? Does Eric want us to believe that the many that were constituted sinners are only believers? Romans 5:12 says that due to Adam sinning, death passed into all mankind and it is for that reason all sin. Death operating in us causes all mankind to sin. Now the question is this: Does Eric want us to believe that all those in the lake of fire will have their lives justified while remaining in that second death? What good would this do them? What good would it do them to remain in death in the afterlife while they are constituted just? In spite of what Eric writes, there is overwhelming evidence for salvation in the future after this life is over for these people.
When in Christ all shall be vivified, (vivified: to give life beyond the reach of death), how can one remain in death (especially the second death) if one is vivified (given immortality) and then subjected to Christ and God All in all? Why would God keep them in the lake of fire if they are all justified, and God All in them? What good would that be for them to remain for all eternity glorifying and praising God while being in the lake of fire?
Colossians 1:20 is another wonderful prophetic statement of a massive future event for the whole universe! . . . .
Please take note that the reconciling of every being at enmity to God in the heavens and on the earth is a future event. Please also note that the believer is reconciled NOW in verse 21. Reconciliation has to do with estrangement and enemies. In the future, in the afterlife long after the believers have enjoyed their reconciliation during the 1000 year reign of Christ and the new earth, those estranged from God and at enmity to God will be reconciled. If all does not mean absolutely all in verse 20, then neither does all mean all in Col.1:15-17. This is a major problem for eternal tormentists.
As if that were not enough, God is pleased to give yet another witness to the fact that absolutely all mankind will rejoice in Christ as their Saviour. Please look at this verse of Philippians 2:8-11:
Not some knees nor some tongues but EVERY knee and EVERY tongue is involved here! All bow in the name of Jesus (Jesus meaning Saviour.) And every tongue acclaims that Jesus Christ is Lord. This is not a forced acclamation. Jesus is not standing on their necks making them say this. Both the believer and those who used to not be believers who were in the lake of fire are here now as believers. This acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord is the result of the Holy Spirit in them for the Bible says that no one is able to say Lord is Jesus except by holy spirit (1 Cor.12:3). This is not done in hypocrisy like those in Matthew 7:21,22 or Matthew 25:11 or Luke 13:25. Why? Because in Philippians it is for the glory of God, the Father! He will not accept anything of hypocrisy in this grand and glorious day, especially when it concerns His beloved Son in dying for all mankind.
Also is it not possible to use this passage to show that one who dies in their sins eventually will get out?:
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Mat 5:26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing (Matt.5:25).
In other words, Thou shalt come out hence once thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
And what about this passage?:
Verily, I am saying to you that all shall be pardoned the sons of mankind, the penalties of the sins and the blasphemies, whatsoever they should be blaspheming, (29) yet whoever should be blaspheming against the holy spirit is having no pardon for the eon, but is liable to the eonian penalty for the sin (Mark 3:28,29).
Notice that they will not be receiving an executive pardon for the eon. Not only that, they are liable to the eonian penalty which is the penalty pertaining to this eon and the eon to come which is the 1000 year long eon. The penalty would be that they will miss out on the glorious 1000 year kingdom and possibly be cast out of the kingdom during that time. It hardly sounds like God can never be their Saviour experientially in the future.
Eric continues: Second, Universal Reconciliation while stating that Jesus atoned for the sins of all men unto salvation actually denies the sufficiency of this atonement, for by universalism's own theology and admission, not all souls are saved by the blood of Jesus alone without the help of the lake of fire or the transcendence of time through the coming ages. This admission is that some are saved through suffering, or what we would rightly refer to works theologically. This denies Eph.2:8-9 in several ways. (1) Where is faith when something is made plain (i.e., Jesus is Lord) we are told that man is only saved by faith alone (ref. Rom 4:1-6; Heb. 11). And (2) it affirms that belief and works are the way onto the Father. This denies John 11:26 which says that one must be alive and believe to be saved.
Tony's reply: First of all, I don't believe that the lake of fire is needed to save anyone. All are saved due solely because of Christ coming into the world to save sinners by His death on the cross. Yes, there are some Universalists who do believe that the lake of fire purges those therein from their sins but I am not one of those who believe that. Just as there are Universalists who believe differently on certain aspects of salvation, thus also there are Limitarians who believe in Eternal Torment and some in Eternal Annihilation.
Secondly, the truth of John 11:26 does not contradict the truth of God saving all mankind. Why? Because all will be living by being vivified (1Cor.15:22-28). Also, I think Eric is confused. He says that we are saved by faith alone, and then he says belief and works are the way onto the Father. And before that he states that souls are saved by the blood of Jesus alone. He also states one is saved by believing and by baptism. He references Ephesians 2:8-9 above as well which states in grace, through faith are you saved, and this is not out of you; it is God's approach present, not of works, lest anyone should be boasting. So which is it Eric?
Eric continues: This is a powerful argument against universalism in its own right, because as Tom Talbott agreed with me in speaking of Romans 6:23: I assume that by death Paul meant spiritual death or separation from God. The wages of sin--that is, the inevitable consequence of sin--is separation from God. Therefore, if one is dead in their sins, they are not alive. And if they are dead, they cannot be alive and believe to receive eternal life as john 11:26 affirms.
Tony's reply: If that is the case, Eric what about 2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ is constraining us, judging this, that, if One died for the sake of all, consequently all died. Does this mean that when Christ died, all mankind being in Christ died a spiritual death so it is now impossible for any of mankind to be saved? Also, does Tom Talbott speak for all who believe the biblical truth that God will save all mankind? Here is an interesting article by A. E. Knoch on Romans 6:23:
THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH
Eric wrote: But there is a coming resurrection, as Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29, and Acts 24:15 state. But they also state that they are being resurrected to be judged before the Lord, and that there will be two groups after this judgment: (1) All the saints, who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb of God, and (2) all the wicked whom have not done so. Therefore, the wicked are cast into the lake of fire and are subjected to the second death (Rev. 20:14-15) where they are tormented in the presence of the Lamb and His angels for ever (Rev. 14:10-11). This ma[y] seem cruel, but remember the saints in heaven are now imputed with the righteousness of God and we Know that God cannot sin. Therefore our idea of what justice is must be perverted. Indeed it is because if the saints in heaven cannot be happy knowing that there are loved ones in the lake of fire, then we are making the preposition that men are more merciful than God and would contradict Rev.16:7 where it is written, true and righteous are thy judgments.
Tony's reply: I do believe that there will be those who will be cast into the lake of fire. I don't know why, though, that Eric says this is forever. Revelation 14:10,11 (which occurs before the Great White Throne takes place) states: the fumes are ascending for the eons of the eons or ages of the ages. If you would like to see a more detailed understanding of Rev.14:10,11 please see this article entitled: Eonian Fire and Judging.
Eric wrote: The linchpin that my argument rests upon for those whom would argue that it is morally wrong for God to send the unrepentant to the lake of fire is this: I expect people to argue such because they are sinners and are unable to judge with any absolute knowledge of moral right and wrong. I expect the gainsayers not to simply trust in the Lord in the knowledge that all of the Lord's judgments are righteous and true (Rev. 16:7; 19:2). I expect this because they do follow their fallen and wicked hearts in contempt of the justice of God. I expect this because I know my own sins, how far short I also fall and I believe the prophet of God, who recorded, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Because of this, it is not a question of if but when will somebody object to the justice of God.
Tony's reply: But Eric, I don't think it is wrong to send anyone to the lake of fire. I think it is needful. It is the right thing to do. God will not have dead decaying bodies messing up His new earth. So they are all cremated. This keeps down disease. If God were somehow able to keep all in the lake of fire alive (even though it is called death) for all eternity, then yes, God would be much more wicked than the most wicked man who ever lived. That would be calling what is bad in man, good in God.
Furthermore, we can rest assured that God has never revealed in all the Bible that He is going to torture all who enter the second death for eternity. So it has nothing to do with God doing it if He is just. He won't torment people for eternity because He never says He will!
Eric writes: It also should be noted that anybody who does argue that it is morally wrong for the Lord to issue eternal judgment on the wicked does so upon personal moral grounds and not Scriptural grounds for raising their argument. This clearly demonstrated by such universalist authors such as John Hick. Hick views the traditional Christian view of hell inhibits the resolution of the question of evil. I...believe that the needs of Christian theodicy compel us to repudiate the idea of eternal punishment. Why? Because the sufferings of the damned in hell, since they are indeterminable, can never lead to a constructive end beyond themselves and are thus the very type of ultimately pointless and wasted anguish. Hick assumes that only remedial suffering is compatible with God's love. Rather than helping solve the problem with evil, Hick believes that belief in an eternal conscious hell only compounds the problem. Indeed misery which is eternal and therefore infinite would constitute the largest part of the problem of evil. Notice that Hick rejects an eternal hell upon moral grounds. Well anyway Tony have a great day. Eric Landstrom
Tony's reply: Sure, Eric, have a great day while your loved ones are being tortured in flames for eternity. Wow! What joy fills my soul!
If God issues eternal torment on anyone then He would have to tell His Son, Jesus Christ, Who died for all mankind this: "I'm sorry Son. I know You died for all mankind. (blush) I accepted Your death for all mankind (blush). (blush) I realize you ransomed all mankind according to 1 Timothy 2:4-6, but I'm afraid I am going to have to reneg on that acceptance. You see, Son, there are just too many Christians who don't want to believe You died for all. Since I run heaven and the universe by popular consent (it is a Democratic universe, You know. How do you think I became God?), My hands are tied in this matter. So, Son, even though you came into the world to save sinners and even though it was my best intention to save all mankind due to what you did for all, I'm just sorry that only a few will make the grade. The rest of mankind, well, it's to hell with the lot of them!"
Not only is John Hick correct but also I would say not only is it morally wrong for the Lord to issue eternal judgment on the wicked (by judgment I'm sure you mean torture) but that it is scripturally wrong for the Lord to do as you suggest. The lake of fire is called the second death. No one can be tortured in death because the dead are oblivious to anything. The Bible says:
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave (death), whither thou goest (Eccl.9:10).
And the Bible says For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing (Eccl.9:5)
And The dead cannot praise the Lord, nor all those descending into stillness (Psalm 115:17).
Death is death, Eric. There is no conscious torment in death. They are unconscious . . . you know . . . dead. The only ones being tormented are the three stooges of Revelation 20:10, but even then there is a time limit put on the tormenting of these super beings for it is day and night for the eons of the eons.
The fantastic news is that death is being abolished (1Cor.15:26) and all mankind will, like Pop Tarts, come out of this toaster, vivified (given immortality) (1Cor.15:22), subjected to Christ (1Cor.15:27 and God will be All in all (1Cor.15:28). They will have their lives justified (Romans 5:18) and they all will be constituted just (Romans 5:19) and they will be headed up in Christ (Eph.1:10) and they will all be reconciled to God (Col.1:20) and last but not least they will all take part in the grand outburst of the universe in bowing and giving praise to God and Christ according to Philippians 2:9-11.
Yes, God truly IS the Saviour of all mankind, especially of believers and God will have all mankind to be saved These things charge and teach (1Tim.2:4-6; 4:10,11).
Sincerely, Tony Nungesser
P.S. If there is something you have read in this dialogue which you think I could have said to Eric in a way that would be easier to understand, or you have something which you feel would shed more light on these important things of faith, why not drop me an e-mail?
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