A TASTE OF CHRISTIAN UNIVERSALISM

Romans 10:9

“..if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” ESV

Many Christians use the above verse as a text for evidential proof that a person is saved and going to heaven when he or she dies.

I DON’T THINK SO.

The text is an affirmation for newer Christians, especially Gentiles, who were divided by grace and law to know that their confession was a confirmation of God’s sovereign grace for the entire world. It was not a ‘bar code’ to be scanned by God for entrance into the Kingdom.

And while the statement is itself true, it does not MAKE one a Christian. It was written by Paul as a challenge to the Jews and Gentiles who depended on the Law for salvation. And in the context of Gentile Christianity Paul is simply declaring that Christ is the END of the Law (10:4) and that anyone who puts their trust in Christ alone can know with certainty that they are reconciled to God.

Salvation is simply trusting to Christ to do for us in his faithfulness to God what we could never do for ourselves. Then we can assuredly know where we stand with God and find much peace and new ways to live with God. But remember, God is blessing the whole creation and pouring out God’s Spirit on all flesh as stated in Acts 2.

This includes all who HAVE YET TO BELIEVE. And it includes the Israelites who to this point have held out from such trust in their stubbornness. (Vs. 21)

Paul will go on in chapter 11 to write that mysterious sentence about all Israel being saved. (11:26-27)

And then there is that wonderful phrase of hopefulness for the whole creation.

“God has bound all people over to disobedience that God may have mercy on them all. (11:32)

The word ‘all’ contained at the beginning is the same ‘all’ at the end of the sentence. Something akin to ‘in Adam all died and in Christ all shall be made alive.’ (See 1Cor. 15:22) From the MSG version we read, “everybody dies in Adam and everybody comes alive in Christ.”

Everyone receives God’s mercy. Blessed are those who know it right now.

Therein lies a taste of Christian Universalism.

 

Anxiety about Anxiety

Jesus said that we should not be anxious. He added that it had to do with food, clothing and long life. But he didn’t leave us with simply that command. He went on to talk about how God cares for the creation and certainly cares about us even more.

I am of the mind that his caution against anxiety was because things like fear and anxiety can keep us from following him into the experiences of life where we are needed and find the most meaning. And to the extent that fear and anxiety keep pulling us back, turning away from his call, well, it seems fitting he would keep teaching us as he did his disciples in those first years that we can place our confidence in him and keep going.

That doesn’t mean we won’t feel anxious or even dread at certain things in our lives because anxiety is a sign that we are alive and not just resigned to some kind of fate, even the fate of being guided by God.

So in this real world of our the best way to address anxiety is to admit it and keep listening to Jesus and others’ assurance of God’s care for our lives so that we can move ahead.

I have a son who this very day is having surgery. Is he anxious? You bet. Is he going through with the surgery? You bet. Because the doctors and friends and family have all told him it is going to be ok.

I have a good friend and if I tell him I am anxious about something he will tell me he understands and that he knows that within me is the great desire to follow my Lord wherever he calls me. (Hopefully) That friend encourages me and lessens my anxiety.

Let’s just saying that anxiety is the uncertainty about living in freedom. Freedom is good and sometimes it’s scary. The Israelites were given freedom to leave Egypt but with that freedom and all the miracles accompanying it they were scared to death and often just wanted to go back to Egypt where in bondage they felt safe. We cannot live in bondage anymore, not if we are going with Jesus. So let’s keep our eyes on the pioneer of our faith, the one who went through hell for us. Let’s just stay with him and do what he asks of us. He put us together and he knows how this body soul and mind works best. The Kingdom is now.

And just this morning I read this from Hebrews. Check this out:

12: For you have not come to something that can be touched, to a burning fire and darkness and gloom and a whirlwind 19 and the blast of a trumpet and a voice uttering words such that those who heard begged to hear no more. 20 For they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountainit must be stoned.”21 In fact, the scene was so terrifying that Moses said, “I shudder with fear.”

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly 23 and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel’s does. (NET Bible)

Now when I read a passage such as that I think, ‘wow, am I in good company or what.’ So then let’s keep on keepin’ on. Jesus will be with us always.