If Grace Is True is one of those books that changed my life.
- It showed me that all of the world’s religious conflicts are man-made and totally against God’s intent.
- It showed me a better way to glorify God than to kill one another in His name.
- It showed me that God wants all to come to Him and He can make that happen according to his plan.
- It showed me that we could be a world at peace if only we understand universal salvation means we are to love each other as God loves us.
This Special Report on RJsCorner is a compilation of posts to help you get the full story:
Universal Salvation is not believed by many current Christian denominations but I became convinced to make it my worldview primarily by the book cited below. The following an In-Depth report here on RJsCorner originally came from my other blog RedLetterLiving.net.
I’ve never experienced a God of wrath. I’ve heard such a God preached. I’ve read of such a God. I’ve encountered wrathful people who claimed to be acting on God’s behalf. I’ve even allowed such sentiments to tarnish my view of God. Yet, in the midst of all these distortions, I never experienced a wrathful God.
The God I’ve experienced is the God of Jesus—a God of unlimited patience, infinite love, and eternal faithfulness. Jesus described a God who waits long through the night, with the light lit and the door open, confident his most defiant child will one day realize his love and turn toward home. Jesus revealed a God who loves the unlovable, touches the untouchable, and redeems those thought beyond redemption. He said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). My earliest experiences were with the love of Jesus.
Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person
This In-Depth report is centered around the book by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland entitled If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person with a quote from the beginning pages. Being I buy most of my books from Amazon I can review a few pages to decide whether I want to purchase the book. When I read these words I knew this was a book I wanted to learn more from.
I must admit that most of my church experiences have not aligned with the assumption that God will eventually reconcile all souls back to him. Especially from my Protestant years, I was taught that I was to fear a wrathful God who would send me to an eternity of pain and suffering if I didn’t do what the church leaders told me to do. I was told to fear the power and wrath of God or risk eternal damnation. I was told that God only viewed me as worth no more than a piece of snot but he loved me anyway.
I was told that all the bad things that have happened in my life was probably just God getting back at me for things I had done in my life. It was his retribution for not being perfect. But even with all this rhetoric about a vengeful God I, like the quote above, can’t say that I have ever really experienced a God of wrath. I have encountered wrathful people inside and outside the churches I have attended over the years. They insisted on telling me week after week that people like us, that is those who made a declaration of faith in the beliefs they espoused and attended their particular version of church were saved from God’s wrath but just about everyone else would not make the cut.
When I dared to go off on my own and study the words of Jesus without those fearful words being chanted in my ears I discovered a different God. Now I will admit that there are some words attributed to Jesus that I can’t yet understand (I will have to do another series on that topic) but the vast majority that I do presently understand is about a God of love. One who has an agape, that is unconditional and infinite, love for me and all those he created. With this new view of God I am beginning to align with Mr. Gulley’s notion that God will save every person. How he is going to do that is not up to me and my petty understanding of him. I just know that he is an all powerful God and if he loves us as the Bible proclaims then he will eventually bring us all back to his fold.
God’s Wrath vs. God’s Grace…….
“How can you believe that God’s grace isn’t sufficient, that many of God’s children will languish in hell forever, that they’ll never be restored to their Father, that evil will claim victory in so many lives? How can you believe that?”
Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person
Some think the idea of universal salvation is a new thing but in reality it goes back to the founding fathers of the church. Origen and Gregory of Nyssa believed in the salvation of all people. But of course we know that the champions of God’s grace were often silenced by future theologians especially by those who followed King Constantine several hundred years later. Much like the old saying that “history is written by the victors”, much of Christian dogma was written by those who charged their opponents with heresy and got that claim to stick.
As I have mentioned before I am still wrestling with the idea of universal salvation. It is easy to show with pride how I am saved while so many are damned to hell for eternity. Like the return of the prodigal son I don’t want to admit that some who have led totally broken lives will somehow sit alongside me in God’s presence.
In the end I simply will not diminish God’s grace in order to sustain the belief of God’s wrath. I want to finish the post with some final words from the book that took hold of me and shook me.
I insisted we were free to reject God’s grace. It never occurred to me that God might be free to reject our rejection.
Who is more powerful God or human will? I think I know the answer to that question….
The Fullness of God’s Grace…..
It is indeed hard to comprehend the fullness of God’s grace. Man puts many obstacles in the way of understanding it and unfortunately as the below quote says the church which should be about removing obstacles seems instead seems intent on putting many of them in place. Many versions of church tell us that God can’t stand to look at us because we are just too sinful. They tell us that God sees us as no more than a piece of snot. Jesus didn’t say that…
I was certain if I could preach the perfect sermon the altar would fill with people overcome by God’s grace. Now I realize there are many hindrances to experiencing the fullness of God’s grace—confusion, fear, prejudice, ignorance, and pride, to name a few. The removal of these obstacles ought to be the primary purpose of the Church.
Unfortunately, the Church has often erected more barriers than we’ve removed. Too many have entered our doors, only to experience condemnation rather than welcome. We’ve acted less like Jesus and more like his opponents.
Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James. If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person . HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
They tell us that if we really want to be saved from God’s wrath then we must jump through all the hoops they put in front of us. If we dare to skip one or two or question why the hoop is there in the first place then we are told that we are not good enough to be with them. Our faith in what they demand is not strong enough. Of course all these hoops and barriers are man-made; they are not from God.
When Martin Luther, a lowly monk, dared to question the practices of the church of his time the hammer came down hard. He was severely chastised and eventually kicked out. One of the rules/hoops of those times mandated was that you must pay indulgences in order to get your departed loved ones into heaven. Martin Luther said no to that hoop. You might think that he would have learned a lesson from this but that was not to be the case.
Luther decided to put his own conditions on church membership. For you to belong to his church you had to believe that the only way God can communicate with you is through the man-made document of the fourth century. You had to believe that everything in that document compiled under the eyes of a Roman emperor is literally true (or at least according to Luther’s understanding of literally true) and without the possibility of any error. If you don’t jump through this hoop then you were not good enough to be a part of his newly formed church. When Luther limited God’s communications with us to only a 1200 year old document he put in place a condition that was perhaps more harmful than the one he rebelled against.
It appears that I am picking on one particular denomination of the 39,000 different versions of church around today. For this post that may be the case but in reality the only thing that is different between most of the rest are the hoops themselves.
Confusion, fear, prejudice, ignorance, and especially pride get in the way of experiencing God’s grace. All of these conditions are man-made, especially the last one. The church should be about getting rid of these obstacles. That should be its primary purpose. Sadly that is not yet the case….. and may never be…
God Whispers In Every Ear..
I didn’t consider this for many years. I actually thought my experiences rare. I was one of the chosen. I was special. Now I know the truth. God whispers his love in every ear. He isn’t interested in declaring his love to a select few. He doesn’t limit his presence to Vatican City, to the halls of seminaries, to the offices of preachers, or to church altars. God doesn’t restrict his communication to the Bible. He doesn’t confine his presence to any single denomination or religion. God speaks to all people, even when they’re not inclined to listen.
Fortunately, God looks for the slightest yielding, the smallest opening, to make his love known. God doesn’t stand with his back turned until we ask for him. God doesn’t hide and expect us to seek him. God doesn’t keep his distance and await our call. God said, “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here I am, here I am’” (Isaiah 65:1). What God did for the children of Israel, God does for all. God stands at the door and knocks, and if we don’t answer, he looks for an open window.
Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Plus) (pp. 18-19). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
The quote above is from the time that Philip Gulley first experienced God’s Grace. I too remember the specific time when I finally stubbornly admitted that I finally get it. I felt the Holy Spirit enter my soul. So you could say I was born again if that is your thing. God chose that particular moment and method to communicate with me maybe because my stubborn resistance was at a low point. It was a very emotional moment for me. I felt like one of the chosen; one of the special ones. God found that smallest opening and made his love known to me. But what if it is really true that God does not choose among his children but has agape love for all of us and chooses us all?
I know there are places in the Bible that seem to say something contrary but if you really look at them with an eye toward universal salvation they also make sense in that venue.
- What if we got this eternal damnation thing wrong? After all it wasn’t really even formalized until the tenth century.
- Are we wasting our time trying to get others to see Jesus when he already has a plan for revealing himself to each of us? Could we be spending our time doing something that God has already worked out?
- If grace is true then why isn’t it true for everyone?
- Instead of trying to save souls maybe we should be teaching others about Jesus and how to follow his ways?
- Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we all concentrated on doing the work that Jesus told us to do?
These are the questions I have been asking myself lately. God doesn’t turn his back to us until we ask for him. He doesn’t lay back waiting for us to call his name. He patiently keeps coming to us until we set aside our stubbornness and pride and see him as he truly is. God loves us all; I will leave universal salvation up to him to make that happen. I know he can if he wants to and he told us he wants all of us to have his love.
Can it really be as simple as that? I have come to believe so…