“What If You Are Wrong About Universal Salvation?” Peter Hiett

The following question was presented to Pastor Peter Hiett by a friend regarding his certainty in Christ’s final victory. We thought Peter’s answer extremely insightful, gracious and wise.

(From The Sanctuary Downtown website)

Question: Are you sure about universal salvation? As I see it, the consequences are so great and the cost of being wrong so incalculable I felt the Holy Spirit would have me just ask, are you sure?

Answer: I love your honesty and I will try to be honest in return. I hope it’s not off-putting, I just started writing and this is what came out. Please don’t be offended. I don’t need to win any arguments, but maybe I am to bear witness.

You ask if I am “sure.” “Sure” is a big word, but nonetheless I stake my life on the truth of Jesus. I’m sure that I’m wrong about many things, but if I’m sure about anything I want it to be Jesus. The name literally means, “God is Salvation.” I believe that. That means, “Peter and his fallen will is not salvation.” All glory goes to God, not my choice, not my decision, but God’s decision in Christ Jesus. The only way that any man can be saved is if God chooses him in Christ Jesus. Because God chooses to save a man, that man chooses to glorify God. We are saved by “grace through faith.” So I believe that Jesus came to save “the lost” (the perished), and I believe that He will absolutely succeed! I also believe that Satan is constantly working to hide this truth from our eyes and our hearts.

Now let me ask you: Are you sure that sometimes God is “not salvation?” It seems to me that this is the far more terrifying assertion to make. And I’m not saying that you’re consciously making it, but perhaps unknowingly you are.
Are you sure that God tortures or allows for people to be tortured endlessly?
Are you sure that in some cases Jesus is not “The End,” but torment is endless?
Are you sure that God will not “fill all things?”
Are you sure that something other than God has “immortality?”
Are you sure that God sometimes chooses to not ever forgive, nor grant repentance, nor redeem, nor love his enemies, nor die for some, nor empower some to cry “Abba Father” by the power of his Spirit?
Are you sure that the steadfast love of the Lord ceases?
Are you sure that His mercies come to an end?
Are you sure that his wrath does not come to an end?
Are you sure that Jesus does not “seek and save” all that are lost?
Are you sure that even though God wills to make man in his own likeness, some will not be made in his likeness but a gross and tortured endless distortion of his likeness?
Are you sure that Love does not bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things?
Are you sure that Love fails?
Are you sure that even though God the Father wishes that none of these little ones should perish (and we were all ‘little ones’), some ultimately do perish and God allows for, or arranges, their endless torment?
Are you sure that He does not “make all things new?”
Are you sure that Jesus does not destroy all “the works of the evil one?”
Are you sure that God endlessly preserves the works of the evil one in this place we call “hell” …even though scholars agree that a Greek or Hebrew equivalent of that word can’t be found in Scripture?
Are you sure that “as in Adam all die” not “all will be made alive in Christ?”
Are you sure that “as a plan for the fullness of time” God does not “unite all things in Christ Jesus?”
Are you sure that God does not “reconcile all things to himself, things in heaven and things on earth, making peace by the blood of his cross?”
Are you sure that “every knee will” not “bow” nor “every tongue give praise?”
Are you sure that not “every creature in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, and all that is within them” will praise the lamb on the throne?
Are you sure that God did not “consign all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all” or sure that if he did, he failed?
Are you sure that “his mercy is” not “over all that he has made?”
Are you sure that even though he “wishes that none should perish” and that “all men should reach repentance,” God does not get his will and his wish?
Are you sure that even though it’s not possible for man, it is also not possible for God?
Are you sure that having destroyed a city like Sodom, Samaria or Jerusalem, he cannot “restore her to her former estate,” like Ezekiel clearly says he will?
Are you sure that he does not remove “the veil that is cast over” some “people?”
Are you sure that not “all flesh will come and worship” before him?
Are you sure that not “all flesh shall go out” and look on the bodies of those that have rebelled against him being consumed by eternal fire in the valley of Gehenna?
Are you sure that in some cases “this perishable body must” NOT “put on the imperishable” and “the mortal must” NOT “put on immortality?”
Are you sure that we will not “all be changed?”
Are you sure that not “all who go down to the dust will bow before him?”
Are you sure that Jesus does not “take away the sins of the world?”
Are you sure that Jesus is not the savior of the whole world?
Are you sure that “God is” NOT “salvation” in some cases?

I believe that the question on Judgment day is something like “Do you trust (have faith) in Jesus (God is Salvation)?”

By believing that God’s work in Christ Jesus is good enough and powerful enough to save all, how would I be endangering myself …or anyone else for that matter? I don’t believe that people are saved by me. Do you? I do not believe that they are saved by their own will. Do you? I do not believe that they are saved by the fear that God might not forgive them. Do you? I DO believe that people are saved by the sovereign work of God in Christ Jesus and justified by faith as a gift of His Spirit. In other words I have faith that “God is Salvation.” I have faith in Grace.

However, if I say that some cannot be redeemed and must suffer endless torment, am I not confessing a lack of faith in “God is Salvation;” a lack of faith in the work of Christ on the cross? Am I not saying that salvation is dependent not on God’s gracious choice, but my choice? Am I not saying that some will not be forgiven? Am I not saying that God does not love all and is therefore not Love? Or am I not saying that man’s will is stronger than God’s will? If a lifeguard saves all the kids in the pool is he less of a savior or more of a savior?
I’m not trying to be cute. I’m serious as Hades (and I believe there really is a Hades). Jesus said, “The judgment you pronounce is the judgment you receive.” If I pronounce un-forgiveness, am I not in danger of receiving un-forgiveness?

I challenge you to go back to Scripture and search. Look at all the places in the gospels where Jesus refers to “Hell” (in the Greek: Hades or Gehenna). Ask yourself, “Who is he talking to? In every instance, he’s talking to religious people who were convinced that God had saved them, but could not or would not save others. They end up in “outer darkness where men weep and gnash their teeth.” Jesus even calls them “sons of the kingdom.” He still loves them and he forgives them, but they hate his forgiveness and must remain in the outer darkness for a time, I don’t know how long. BUT that time is not endless, for Hades comes to and end, and Jesus is the End. AND they are not beyond the power of God to save in Christ Jesus, who “descends into the lower parts of the earth and leads a host of captives free;” who preaches to “the spirits in prison, that disobeyed in the days of Noah;” who preaches to “the dead.”

Please remember that most definitely:
I believe in the eternal fire. (My God is a consuming fire and Scripture cannot be broken.)
I believe that the only way to the Father is through the son.
I believe that we are only saved by grace through faith. (And this faith is not of ourselves lest none should boast.)
I believe that “God is Salvation.”
I sound preachy, but I think this is what I’m called to preach, for the Lord’s church has believed a lie, ascribing glory to men and not to God. All glory belongs to God as revealed in Christ Jesus.
God reveals different things to different people at different times. And I’m certainly no genius, but I honestly DON’T KNOW HOW to deny what I believe he has revealed. And now, even though it’s cost me dearly, I don’t want to.

Love you,

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  1. What can I say? A masterful—yes, that’s the word that comes to me— for this bold, yet gracious witness to uncircumscribed salvation in Christ.

  2. SavedForever says:

    Peter and all other universalists here: You are mocking and attacking God and calling God a sadist by claiming that people burning in Hell are being tortured by God. It IS eternal torment but they made the choice. God did not fail. Man failed. Satan failed. God will get the glory by His mercy for those who personally CHOSE TO TRUST IN JESUS CHRIST ALONE for eternal life and be saved by His shed blood atonement alone, AND He will get the glory of His justice upon those who personally chose to reject Him and burn in the Devil’s Hellfire punishment for eternity. You are a fake. You are a fraud. You are a joke. You are no pastor. You are an enemy of Jesus Christ and a lost heretic who is on the way to a burning Hell. Repent of your unbelief and be saved for real.

    • jon says:

      “SavedForever”…are you SURE you are saved forever? Are SURE you have believed enough, and believed the right things required? Are you SURE that you will persevere to the end or that you are not deceived into thinking you are saved? Are you SURE that you are not a goat headed for eternal conscious torment?…after all, have you ever NOT fed the poor, clothed the naked, visited the imprisoned? If you’ve ever neglected these things then perhaps you are a goat and not a sheep (since that is your interpretation of Matt 25) and headed for “eternal punishment.”

      The point is that the only certainty of NOT going to an eternal hell of torment is the assurance that there is no such thing. And, we seem to have God’s word on that as He has told us that “it never entered His mind” to treat His beloved image-bearers in this way (Jer 19:5). Hell/Hades is certainly a condition we bring on ourselves and there is much to be warned of but it is not some location in the afterlife where God does not fill and hope is not alive. David said in Psalm 139, “if I make my bed in hell (Sheol), You O God are there with me.”

      Thankfully with 40,000 denominations at hand I do not need to know that I am right I only need to know that I am loved by The RIGHTeous One…The Only Way, The Truth, and The Life…the Savior of the World. It is not your thoughts about God that define Him but His thoughts about you that define you: You are His very image and likeness finished in Christ Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension… you are so deeply loved in Him (John 3:16; John 15, 17). There is no objective assurance without His faith. Jesus said “Have the faith OF God” (Mk 11;22; check out the Greek). He believes you are “complete in Him.” Make your reference HIS unshakable faith…it is freely yours…this is His grace.

  3. Wow! Peter Hiett has responded to a common question with a learned and gracious reply. I, myself, have often been asked how I could be so sure of universal salvation and, then, had it further suggested that, if wrong, I just might be erroneously leading others to eternal conscious torture in a so-called hell. The next time I’m confronted with these issues, I’ll just refer back to Peter’s excellent treatise for the answers.

  4. Dan Galbraith says:

    Hallelujah and amen! I would only add that it is important to note how “eternal” is a mistranslation of “aionian”, better rendered “for an age”. The classic passages that people like “SavedForever” above (there’s an ironic name) use, do not actually prove what these people claim they prove. They only point to a Kingdom Age, not to eternity. Eternal life is proved in other places in the Word.

    I’m saving this one to Pocket for long-term archiving!

    • glwadmin says:

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Dan. Agreed!

      It is indeed a wonderful spirit in which to approach those protesting against (rather than asking the reason for) “the hope that lies within you”!

  5. glwadmin says:

    I LOVE your responses John and Ivan! I was so excited to share this with our readers…it is truly a beautiful and gracious answer for “the hope that lies within him”!!

    Yes, thank you Peter for leading us into “speaking the truth in love,”

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