What is universalism?

Universalism is the belief that everyone will sooner or later go to Heaven. Those who are universalists either believe there is no Hell or that an unbeliever enters a type of purgatory for cleansing and then enters Heaven. Is universalism biblical? Let's examine the 2 schools of thought.

Those who deny the existence Hell

No one likes to talk about Hell. People say God is love(1 John 4:8) and ask how a loving God can send anyone to Hell. We say to ourselves we are good people. This famous verse is cited

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life(John 3:16 KJV)

We are deluding ourselves if we say we are without sin(1 John 1:8). People often quote John 3:16 in saying God loves the world, but that same verse says only those that believe in Jesus will have everlasting life. All have fallen short of the glory of God(Rom. 3:23). We all at some point have engaged in adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, reveling and other sins(Gal. 5:19-21). The punishment for it is Hell.

We would feel unworthy if we saw Heaven or a glimpse of God. The prophet Isaiah felt unworthy when he caught a mere glimpse of God(Isa. 6:1-5). Isaiah was a follower of God and chosen by God, yet he felt unworthy. Only after a seraphim touched his lips with hot coal to atone for his sins did he regain his composure(Isa. 6:6-7). The question is how can God allow anyone into Heaven?

The Bible is clear Hell does exist. Jesus describes weeping and gnashing of teeth(Matt. 13:49-50) and an unquenchable fire(Mark 9:43). He also says those unsaved will be condemned(John 3:18,36). Jesus uses vivid language to describe how Hell is to be avoided(Matt. 5:29-30). Anyone whose name is not in the Book of Life will be in the lake of fire, the Eternal Hell(Rev. 20:15).

Although God is love, God is also a judge. There has to be justice or else Hitler, Stalin and other infamous figures will be in Heaven. Whoever rejects salvation will receive God's wrath(John 3:36).

Those who say it is temporary

What about purgatory or a temporary place of punishment for sinful people? Here evil people will be punished for a period of time and then be transferred to Heaven. To some people, this sounds fairer and more reasonable than eternal punishment.

This is also Inconsistent with the Bible. Jesus talks about eternal punishment(Matt. 25:41,46). In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus says a chasm prevents those in Hell from crossing into Heaven(Luke 16:19-31). On the cross, Jesus tells the repentant thief He shall be with him in Paradise(Luke 23:43). Jesus said that day the thief would be in paradise and says nothing about a delay or time in purgatory. Of all people, the thief would have been eligible for purgatory.

Jesus paid the penalty for our sins(Isa. 53:5; Rom. 5:8). To say we have to pay for our sins means Jesus' sacrifice wasn't enough. He died for the sins of the whole world(1 John 2:2) and once and for all(Heb. 7:27). If not, what was the purpose of Christ's sacrifice?

Even if purgatory exists, why risk going there to begin with? We have no idea how long it lasts. We will also miss out on the joys of Heaven.

Universalism is not biblical

Universalism is not a concept taught in the Bible. God still loves us even though we are sinners(Rom. 5:8). Christ did not die so everyone will go to Heaven no matter what but rather to give everyone the opportunity to go to Heaven. We are healed by Christ's wounds(Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 2:24), and Jesus saved us from God's wrath(1 The. 1:10). Jesus opened the door to Heaven, but we have to walk through it.

Last updated 5/10/2011