A Follow up to Readiness

In our last issue, we published an article from GCI President Dr. Greg Williams entitled Readiness. We received quite a bit of feedback including the question below. GCS President Dr. Gary Deddo graciously wrote the following response and agreed to publish it for the clarity of our readership.

Question:
I just read the article “Readiness” in the GCI Update and that brought up a question in my mind. I was told that a person can repent AFTER death and receive salvation. I do not understand that in what I read in the Bible. Is that a belief of GCI? If so, how does that differ from universalism?

Gary’s response:
Thank you for your query. No, GCI does not teach that persons will necessarily be given a chance to repent after death. Nor do we teach that all persons will necessarily receive their salvation, that is, universalism. We do not find any biblical teaching that affirms such an idea. Rather, much biblical teaching assumes (entails) that God’s grace will be sufficient in any person’s lifetime, mainly through the faithful working of the Spirit and by the Word of God.

There are several forms of universalism. One form is that all will be saved whether or not anyone repents, turns to Christ for forgiveness on the basis of his atoning work of the cross. Another form is that everyone sooner or later, in this life or the next, will repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness on the basis of his atoning work of the cross and so in that way all will be saved or receive their salvation. There is a difference in these universalisms. But GCI teaches neither.

Those who pursue such universalisms do so, it would seem, on the basis of logical inferences (which are never logically or theologically necessarily true) which they believe follow from the biblical truth that Christ died for all and that God is merciful, both of which GCI does teach, along with much of the Christian church. They cannot see how God could be merciful if persons were not given other “chances” on the other side of death. So, they make the unwarranted logical inference that God necessarily must do so.

However, such a false logic overlooks the fact that God, being the merciful Lord at work by his Spirit on the basis of Christ’s completed earthly work, could give all the “chances” (opportunities) needed in this life to every person. There is no need to speculate about second “chances” after death. In the merciful providence of God, death is never an arbitrary limit, an unanticipated accident from God’s vantage point.

All that needed to be done and could be done can be accomplished by God and through the Holy Spirit in a person’s earthly life, even if in the last nanoseconds of a person’s life while they are unconscious.

There is no reason to believe otherwise and biblical reasons to believe so. We cannot limit God’s faithfulness to the pragmatics of ours, which is indeed limited by all kinds of circumstances such as mental illness, accident, geographical/cultural distance, and death. So, if death is not an arbitrary limit to God and his grace, no speculation as to second chances after death is needed in order to uphold God’s mercy and grace and the biblical fact that God sent Jesus Christ out of love for the world and that he gave his life to “take away the sins of the cosmos.”

But given this, while we might hope that all will receive their salvation, there is no biblical guarantee that all will necessarily receive this freely given gift of God, and there are many warnings that it is somehow possible that some might reach a place of no turning back and never enter the kingdom of God, receive their Savior and Lord and his salvation. While there are very strong warnings of this sort, GCI does not follow another false logical inference that some people necessarily must be eternally separated from the immediate presence and complete blessings of God. The warnings indicate a true even if unwanted possibility, but not a necessity. Warnings are given not to indicate a desire for the warned-against outcome, but to contribute to its prevention. God warns because he loves us and had provided everything for us in Christ and by the Spirit so that we have no excuse for repudiating his grace. If there are those who manage to do so, it will not be due to a limit to God’s grace.

I hope this is helpful to you,

Dr. Gary Deddo
President, Grace Communion Seminary

5 thoughts on “A Follow up to Readiness”

  1. This has always been a difficult subject for me but I must trust our loving father and accept what what has been revealed to us thru his word. I know that he loves every person that has been born and wants to share eternity with us. It is difficult to accept that there will be those who will refuse the
    Gift that God offers them but God loves us also in allowing us to choose, I know this breaks god’s heart. I continue to go boldly to my loving father In prayer for the salvation of my loved ones and I want God to use me to help other’s come to christ. Thank you for clarifying some questions I have had regarding this subject.

  2. Whatever the ultimate fate of individuals might be, as Christians, we trust that our Father knows best. That is our faith and that is the sure promise.

  3. Gary, I read that you are telling us that the way our Triune God works in a human being’s life is so much greater than our logic and linear thinking would seem to indicate. In other words, we are to live out of the faith given us by Christ, faith in the great mystery of God’s loving work among us.

  4. Thanks Gary for giving us the updated doctrine on Universalism. Man must receive his salvation as a gift of receiving the person Jesus Christ as the Father draws us to Him by the Holy Spirit. The Grace of God is sufficient and is all we need, because in Him is where we are all blessed. 2 Pet 1:1-4, 1 Jn 5:11-13
    Our Salvation is all done in Him, but man must receive Him when led to come to Him, and the Bible doesn’t say everyone will do this in this life. Will they be given there chance or many chances later to receive Him? NO, You have stated the position of GCI is that it will only be in the time period of each life now before death, even if in a nano second while unconscious man will be confronted with this choice. Our Hope is in Jesus and that all men when led to receive Him will say YES to HIS YES FOR US ALL!!

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