Universalism Denies the Gospel

OneNewsNow reports that Chad Holtz, the now former pastor of Marrow’s Chapel in Henderson, NC, a United Methodist congregation, was dismissed from his charge after voicing his support for Rob Bell and his new (heretical) book, Love Wins.

The article at length explores Bell’s beliefs and Holtz’s connections to them, but one of Holtz’s quote was particularly illuminating:

We do these somersaults to justify the monster god we believe in, but confronting my own sinfulness, that’s when things started to topple for me. Am I really going to be saved just because I believe something, when all these good people in the world aren’t? 

Here, Holtz clearly states that he doesn’t know the gospel. This pastor had no business leading a Christian congregation when he doesn’t understand why the Father poured out His wrath on His Christ. Such a false theologian had no place even as a church member if he believes people are saved by works, not by faith.

Romans 3:9-20 plainly states that there are none righteous, none good, none who seek God, no one with a single sin-free part of their body. Everyone will stand silent – i.e., without a single claim to righteousness – before God. “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

But, as Romans 3:21-26 teaches, God’s plan for righteousness has never been for us to be “good people” (as Holtz puts it), but for us to trust in Christ’s righteousness alone. The Holy One always aimed to magnify “the praise of the glory of His grace” in Christ (Ephesians 1:6).

The fact is that God can and does hate sin and sinners. He displays that in the cross. Praise be to God that He also loves and saves sinners, and accomplishes that in the cross as well.

Chad Holtz and Rob Bell don’t see the cross this way. They don’t understand that the cross isn’t just an example or a picture, but is a fact and a requirement for any and every sinner who will be saved. God absolutely must punish sin and sinners.

But universalists don’t see the cross this way because they don’t understand the gospel.

(HT: Eddie Thomas)


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

3 Responses to Universalism Denies the Gospel

  1. jtmoody says:

    The only universalist thing is that Jesus died for ALL men and that all they have to do is accept him as their savior. God will save them if they realize they need to be saved! Because there are none righteous no not one!

    • B Treece says:


      Thanks for writing. I appreciate all the conversation we can get around the gospel.

      I think, though, that you are misunderstanding the term “universalism.” Universalism is shorthand for the belief that every human being to ever live will be brought – one way or another – into God’s salvation, including heaven and its blessings.

      So, no, in that sense, the gospel is NOT universalist. Your use of the atonement as applying to everyone and “that all that have to do is accept” it is known as the “universal atonement,” and it’s a good argument for why it is not the Bible’s teaching on Christ’s death and resurrection.

      If you look closely at the passages that supposedly connect Christ’s death to “all men” or “the world,” you’ll notice that they’re either (a) clarified by the context as being about believers, (b) speaking about the nations as the “world,” or (c) intended to display God’s love for the church to the world. 2 Corinthians 5:15 is an example of (a), 1 John 2:1 is an example of (b), and John 3:16 is an example of (c).

      Those passages, however, are few and far between. Far more plenteous are passages like John 10 (the Good Shepherd), John 17:9 (Jesus doesn’t pray for the world but for disciples), Romans 3:21-26, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Ephesians 1:3-12, Ephesians 5:25-31, and various others that teach the particularity of Christ’s death and resurrection. Jesus died for a specific group of people (the sheep, the church, the elect, believers) who will surely come to Him.

      We don’t know who those people are except that they believe in Him and are united to His death and resurrection, so we proclaim the gospel universally for the salvation of the chosen.

      • “Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” 2 Timothy 2:10
      • “… and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48
      • “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion . . . according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” 1 Peter 1:1-2

      I pray that this teaching is more helpful to you than the falsehood’s of the “universal” atonement, which would really be no finished work at all. But, thanks be to God, “It is finished!” Praise Jesus!


      • jtmoody says:

        I believe I was misunderstood because like you, I do not at all agree with ” the term “universalism.” Universalism is shorthand for the belief that every human being to ever live will be brought – one way or another – into God’s salvation, including heaven and its blessings.”

        But God did die for all men. I think the problem arises when people try to diagram God into fitting perfectly into their finite definitions. The elect are chosen aforetime by God and therefore God will save His elect. However, classic John 3:16 states that Christ died for the World and whosoever believes will be saved. Therefore, we must believe that the offer of salvation is open to all men however all men will not receive the gift of salvation because they did not accept the perfect gift from above. The false doctrine of universalism clouds the gospel by telling people that everyone will be saved one way or another which is certainly not true. But we must not throw away the fact that God universally died to take on the sins of mankind however we must balance that with the fact that God will only save those whom he has predestined to be called or the elect. It is all a balance. You can’t go one way or another with Calvinism and the Arminianism.
        Hope that makes a little more sense. I wish I had more time to explain myself. Keep preaching the Word!

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