From the benevolence of God, and based on the longsuffering of God with sinner, the doctrine of Universalism has emerged to declare that a loving God will save everyone. A benevolent God will not send anyone to so terrible a place as Hell. Dr. J. W. HANSON, 1888 explains the reasoning of the Universalist.  

“A great number of passages of Scripture speak of what the Bible calls God’s anger or wrath -meaning thereby his disapprobation and punishment of sin – as limited, brief and destined to end, frequently contrasting it with his mercy, which, it is said, will never end, and declaring that the soul of man could not exist as the victim of endless wrath.

God’s delight is in mercy, and he displays anger towards men for their benefit, and when the purpose of the anger is accomplished, mercy is resumed.

He retains not his anger forever because he delights in mercy. Micah 7: 18. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide; neither will he keep his anger forever. Ps. 103: 8, 9. For his anger endures but a moment: in his favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Ps. 30: 5. In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer. Isa. 54: 8.

One reason why God will not “be angry forever”, is because no soul could endure the storm of God’s endless wrath. The benevolence of God is demonstrated in the statute of limitations, by which when pain becomes unendurable, the victim dies. Endless torture no soul could endure.

For I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit would fail before me and the soul which I have made. Isa. 57: 16. Hence, The Lord will not cast off forever; but, though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies, for he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. Lam. 3: 31-33.

God could not be angry with any soul forever, because it would be infinite folly in him to do so. The wise man says:

Anger rests in the bosom of fools!” Eccl. 7: 9.

Can it rest forever in the great heart of infinite wisdom? Preposterous thought, Anger is contrary to God’s nature, but mercy is his delight. Hence, GOD’S MERCY IS UNLIMITED.

“O, give thanks unto the Lord for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.” Ps. 107: 1.

In Psalm 136, this language, “his mercy endures forever” occurs twenty times. There never can come a moment, in the endless existence of the sinner, when he cannot resort to the fountain of infinite mercy, and find a full supply of Divine grace. It is for all souls, and the fountain will ever be accessible.”

While God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, He still decrees it. From Adam to the present day, the constant refrain of the ages is, “And he died…”

Even in His benevolence, God will never compromise or diminish His holiness, His righteousness, and what He has decreed to be a just punishment.

When Adam transgressed the prohibition, God had established for him, the benevolence of God sought him out in the cool of the evening, as usual. 

Adam was accountable, and God had to render a just judgment. It was a terrible moment in the universe, but the Lord did not draw back from doing what was right.

Despite any personal feelings, God did what was right. The soul that sinneth must die. The angels wept. The earth groaned. All of creation continues to suffer something similar to the pains of childbirth. The escasty of creation has given way to the agony of transgression.

What the Universalist, and all others must learn is to ask with Abraham, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). Indeed, He shall.

God will do right by every person. If there is a harsh verdict to render, it will be given even in His own essence, His own spirit of benevolence. He can do no less and still be God.

The benevolence of God does not negate or cancel His commitment to righteousness and justice as He has determined in His own wisdom.

God may punish the wicked but He has no pleasure in the consequences of human sin. God’s judgments never flow from malevolence.

The administration of human justice may flow from a spirit of malevolence. There may be personal hatred. There may be a personal vendetta.

Victims of violent crimes often rage at those who have committed a grievous injury. People scream for others to, “Go to Hell!” or, “Rot in Hell!” or, “Burn in Hell!” There is rage without any mixture or twinge of benevolence.

As theologians write of God’s benevolence, they speak of His “beneficence.” The difference between the two is the difference between willing, and doing.

The “beneficent love of God” has to do with His activity; while the “benevolent love of God” has to do with His attitude or good will. Good actions flow out of God’s good will. God pours out benefits on individuals, including the impenitent and the ungodly.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:43-48).

“…He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45).

The command comes for the Christian to love their enemies. How is that possible? How can we love someone we hate? How can we love someone we are estranged to?

Part of the answer comes in understanding that Jesus is not talking about feelings. Jesus talks about what love will, and will not do, in a given moment. Love is a verb, not a noun. Biblical love is not spoken of in terms of romance, a feeling, or affection. Rather, love is spoken of as proper conduct to the undeserving. It is the love of beneficence.

Right words. To love one’s enemies is to bless the ones who curse you.

Right actions. To love one’s enemies is to do good to them that hate you.

Right emotions. To love one’s enemies is to pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Right motive. To imitate the love of God. “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”

While the world rises up to reject the existence of God, the Father is sending rain on the just and the unjust alike. Christians can, and must do something similar to that.

While men crucified Christ, He prayed for them.

The beneficent grace of God is known as His common grace, to distinguish it from His saving grace, which is uncommon.

There is a caveat to the common grace of God. When it is received and not acknowledged, in the Day of Ultimate Judgment, there will be greater judgment. Those who have received much, and rejected much, shall be judged much.

“But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).

One Reply to “A Transcendent Ethic for the Church”

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