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The belief that all human beings will ultimately share in the grace of God's salvation. The NT evidence is unclear. Paul maintains that faithful Christians are preordained to salvation (Rom. 8: 29) but does not assert that others are pre-ordained to damnation. He offers the hope not only that the ‘full number of the Gentiles’ will be saved (Rom. 11: 25) but also that ultimately ‘all Israel will be saved’ too (Rom. 11: 26; cf. Rom. 5: 19). The NT evidence against a doctrine of universalism is in 1 John (5: 12) and Matt. 25: 41, which assert that the cross is not only a revelation of the love of God but also a judgement on all who will not accept that love. It could then be argued that, because God will never compel someone to embrace the offer of salvation, therefore an absolutely critical choice must in the last resort rest with the individual. Although there is no limit to the resources of divine love, yet it is conceivable that even the tiniest dying ember of individual responsibility could be so dead that it could not be fanned by God into a flicker of response. This is the meaning of the imagery of judgement.

Subjects: Literature — Biblical Studies.

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