From time to time there have been hints in evangelicalism regarding universalism. In simple terms it means that the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross was not only sufficient for all men, but also efficacious for all men. Many theologians and evangelicals cringe at that concept and believe it could never be. And perhaps they are right. I suspect the biggest issue regarding this concept may center around our family. Kind, compassionate, giving and loving people who, for whatever reason, have not made – as many say is required – a personal confession of faith in Christ. They have not been born again.
Now, this particular forum is not one where I choose to deal with the issue of universalism. What I would like to point out is some words that Jesus spoke regarding the disciples/apostles. In providing instruction to them in preparation for their entry into the world of “ministry”, there are some concluding remarks that might merit discussion.
Mat 10:40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.
Mat 10:41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.
Mat 10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
In these verses, it appears that first Jesus directs his comments to the disciples, the twelve, themselves. Then he focuses on either disciples in general within hearing or all people who were present at the time. Nevertheless, the bottom line is fairly clear. As emissaries of Christ, those who would receive Christ will receive them. Not only that, there is great reward when meeting the needs of the messengers of Christ.
When one reads the words in verse 42, “…And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward,” it might ring a bell. The story of the sheep and goats with regard to eternal judgement (Matthew 25) mention the same idea as here in Matthew 10. There is great reward for those who ministered to the needs of the disciples and great punishment for those who did not. In some respects it is similar to Hebrews 13:2, ” Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Now I am not prepared to draw a conclusion from these verses. What I would like to observe is that there seems to be a correlation between hospitable actions to the ministers of Christ, whether ordained or not, and recognition of that service from God. In some regard, that recognition is couched in eternal terms.
The reason I say that is rather selfish. My dad was always a kind, compassionate and giving man. Others in my immediate family are the same way. How might these teachings impact their lives if they had not made a traditional decision for Christ? The conservative side of me has a ready answer. The not so conservative side of me ponders “Is there hope?” From the bulk of scripture, there seems to be clear evidence that “good” is not good enough. However, there seems also to be a residue of hope. Not so much because people love God in ways I think they should, but people love and serve God in ways that he thinks they should. Of course, his opinion is what counts.
Oops, my doorbell is ringing. It may be someone “special.”