"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Universal Problem with Universal Salvation

"You will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24).

Those who deny the deity of Jesus Christ have no alternative but to call Jesus a liar if they wish to continue in their beliefs. Jesus called Himself the "I AM," which is the meaning of the Hebrew holy name for God (YHWH). YHWH is translated Jehovah in English. Jesus declares, "Unless you believe that I AM (Jehovah God), you will die in your sins."

In short, the only deliverance that you and I have from the just judgment due our disobedience to God is to trust that God provided purification for our sins at the cross (Hebrews 1:3). There is no escape from God's just judgment but through the person of Jesus Christ. Without faith in Him, it is impossible for God to be pleased with us. We must embrace the Son, or the judgment of God abides upon us.

The popular Rob Bell is being called a "universalist" by many based upon his new book Love Wins. Whether Rob Bell is a universalist is a question that may be open for debate, but if he declares himself one, then he will join a  small list of evangelicals throughout Christian history who eventually turned to universalism. Most lists of alleged universalists are fraudulent in nature. Jesus was most assuredly not a universalist (see John 8:24).

To be a universal redemptionist you must believe that sometime after death there is the restoration of men and women who have "died in their sins." In other words, sinners who die in their sins will eventually come to the place where they see the Person of Jesus Christ for who He is, and trust Him. To embrace universalism you must conclude that God gives sinners the ability after death to embrace His Son.

There is absolutely not one shred of evidence in Scripture that this "after death" opportunity is provided. The best any universalist can say is that he is a "hopeful universalist." In other words, he is "hoping" that God provides an opportunity for those who "die in their sins" to see the beauty and glory of the "I AM" (Jehovah) in Jesus Christ. If God chooses to give those sinners who die in their sins an opportunity to trust Him after death, so be it. But the universal problem with universal salvation is that hopeful universalists are placing a wager that God will do something He has never declared He will do.

The odds are better in Vegas.