Question.--What answer should be made to Universalists, who claim that Christ's death purchased everlasting life for all who lost it through Adam's transgression, and therefore guaranteed a restoration to perfect and everlasting life to every man?
Answer.--Very few Universalists of this kind are to be found. Generally, they either directly or indirectly deny the Ransom--deny that Christ's death purchased everlasting life for anybody. Their theory generally rests upon the assumption that there was no divine sentence to be met; that divine mercy could exercise itself without meeting the demands of divine justice; that our Lord Jesus died, not to purchase us, not to pay the ransom price, not to redeem us, not as a substitute for Adam, but merely, they say, as an example to us of full obedience to righteousness, even at the cost of life.
To such we answer that if Jesus was merely our example, and not our Redeemer, then our only hope would be to keep his example to such an extent that we would be individually pleasing to the Father as he was; and this would mean that we must keep the whole law blameless as he did. Those who understand this proposition must see clearly that, if that be true, there is no hope for any of us, for, as the Apostle declares, "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight." Christ was justified by the deeds of the law, but perfect deeds were possible to him, because he was born holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. Perfect deeds, perfect fulfilment of the divine requirements, are absolutely impossible for us who were born in sin, shapen in iniquity. If, therefore, Jesus be merely our pattern, our exemplar, and not also our Redeemer, we are of all men most miserable, for seeing salvation we shall be wholly unable to attain it. Our whole hope is in the declaration of the Lord's Word that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, that his death was to meet the penalty against us as a race--for Adam's sins and ours. Our hope is that, being covered by faith with the robe of his righteousness, our imperfect attempts to follow his example in obedience to the Father's will will be accounted as though they were perfect--"through the merit of him who loved us and bought us with his own precious blood."
But if there be Universalists who take the position implied in this question, our answer would be as heretofore, that Christ's death did purchase lasting life for all who lost it through Adam's transgression, and that God has guaranteed a full restoration of all that was lost "to every soul of man that believeth" --in the Scriptural sense of obedient believing. Nothing in this implies that they will get all these things at the moment of their awakening from the tomb. At that time they will get a beginning of perfect life if they are obedient to the voice of the great Physician, which will eventuate in their absolute perfection in the close of that Millennial day. Our Lord, describing the matter in `John 5:29`, declares that the dead will come forth unto a resurrection by judgment. They will come forth from the tomb, from oblivion, to physical conditions somewhat similar to those enjoyed before they died, with surroundings in every way much more advantageous; with Satan bound that he can deceive them no more; with the good influences of righteousness and Truth let loose in the world to such an extent that ultimately the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth; with judges and law givers under the supervision of the Royal Priesthood to look after their best interests, to reprove and correct and chastise their failures, and to encourage, reward and bless their endeavors, and thus, by judgments, of rewards and punishments, they would be gradually brought up step by step, up, up, up to the highway of holiness, to the absolute perfection at the farther end, which the Lord is pleased to grant to all who will have it upon these his terms, obedience to his Son. "But it shall come to pass that the soul that will not hear [to obey] that Prophet shall be cut off"--in the Second Death, from which there will be no redemption and no recovery.