The doctrine of universalism, propagated by Origen (185-254 AD), makes the claim that every person who has lived in this world, all through its existence, and no matter their way of life and belief system, will ultimately be eternally saved. Additionally, even angelic beings, who sided with Satan in his rebellion against his Creator, will somehow receive forgiveness and thereby avoid eternal punishment, despite the severity of their sinful actions.

The principal logic behind these beliefs is that Christ’s sacrifice was a sufficient remedy, and that surely God will be more glorified in saving everyone than in letting Satan be victorious in securing the eternal punishment of multitudes. Such assertions, of course, run counter to what is clearly and unequivocally emphasised in God’s own Word. Moreover, the above logic is faulty, because it presumes we may know better than God, who is all-knowing. Since God is holy and absolutely sovereign, His choice as to who should benefit from Christ’s sacrifice is both just and right, and beyond question by His creatures (Rom.9:15-16,22-24;11:33). Old and New Testament scriptures indicate that, in His wisdom, God has provided salvation on His own terms, and will be glorified in the outcome. He looks for the action of simple human faith, and the acknowledgement of His absolute authority in, and assent to, what He says and asks for.

Unequivocal testimony

All earth-born people are classified in God’s Word as rebellious sinners estranged from God: they are all under sin (Ps.14:1-3; Rom.3:9). The Scriptures speak unquestionably as to how God will enact His judgement upon those who have openly rejected His will and warnings; they are numerous and we cite but two to validate our understanding and conviction of God’s verdict and retribution upon unrepentant human beings and also sinning angelic creatures:

(1) “… in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those [i.e. people of this earth] who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might …” (2 Thess.1:8-9, see also Rev.20:10,15).

(2) “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment …” (2 Pet.2:4).

Universality of the Gospel

There can be no doubt that salvation is available for all who repent of their sin and place simple trust in the person and atoning sacrifice of Christ. The offer of mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation is open to everyone, without exception or exclusion (Acts 20:21; John 3:15-16; Rom.10:11-13). Christ has paid the ransom price for the redemption of the human soul, but only those who believe in Him are the beneficiaries. Those who don’t, forfeit that promise of pardon and put themselves under the righteous condemnation of a holy God (1 Tim. 2:6; John 3:18; 1 John 5:12).

The will of God

Some have asked, “Does God get what God wants?” noting that 1 Timothy 2:4 indicates God wants all men to be saved. This scripture is quite accurately translated in the New King James Version – “who desires all men to be saved”. The underlying Greek word ‘thelo’, translated ‘desires’ here, indicates the mind and will of God being along a certain direction and Him doing something to achieve the best result without enforcement. (An alternative Greek noun, ‘thelema’, not used here, is often translated ‘will’; it has to do with the determinate and unchangeable decree of the Almighty which, no matter what, will be brought to fruition).

God’s desires extend not only to the salvation of souls but also the meeting of just requirements. It is therefore instructive to see that God here uses the word for desire rather than talk about a pre-determined conclusion. God will indeed get what God wants, and His justice and mercy will be perfectly satisfied!