EUs believe that, eventually, everyone will go to heaven, even if they have to suffer for a while in purgatory. Why do they believe in such a counter-Scriptural teaching? Because EUs believe that the teaching of “eternal judgment” is not consistent with the love of God. If God loves the entire world, then His love requires that He should save all.
However, it is also inconsistent with love to preach a false and unbiblical hope. Instead, there are many of verses that indicate that punishment is eternal. Here are just a few:
· And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
· “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels... And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41, 46)
· “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)
· For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
· “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:11)
· “and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Revelation 20:10 )
· “wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 13; 2 Peter 2:17)
These verses instruct us that hell is just as eternal as is heaven. If heaven is everlasting; so too is hell. They give us no hope that those who go there will have an opportunity to subsequently emerge into eternal heavenly life.
There are also many verses that equate hell with “destruction.” (I will not try to decide whether “destruction” simply means complete annihilation – non-existence – or merely the destruction of everything good. For now, it is enough to demonstrate that eternal judgment entails a terrible fate.):
· “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:19 )
· and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. (Philippians 1:28)
· But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:7)
These verses are associated with the “end” and the “day of judgment” and are contrasted with salvation, indicating that in the end, the ungodly will be destroyed. This has the sound of finality. There remove any hope of blessedness.
If universal salvation was a fact, most of the Bible would become irrelevant. Take John's letter, which he wrote to assure Christians that they are saved (1 John 5:13) by giving them ways to test themselves. If all are saved, any test become needless:
· “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives FOREVER... As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life.” (1 John 2:17, 24-25 )
If all are saved, none of these tests matter at all. Instead, John wrote that "eternal life" is something that is promised only to believers - "us." It is only those who are obedient - and obedience is a sign of saving faith - who will "live forever."
· “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)
EUs will add that we do not have life yet, at least not until we complete out purgatory. However, nowhere in Scripture do we read anything like: "Well, they might not have life in this life, but in the next life, they will have life."
Instead, Scripture offers no such hope for those who reject Jesus in this life. No evidence of post-death salvation! To preach otherwise is to go beyond Scripture. Instead, His Word continually warns that there are explicit and eternal consequences for the unrepentant:
· “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
· Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
These two sets of verses are especially damning. Why? Because they explicitly claim that the unrepentant “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” No chance!
However, the EC claims that the love of God would never condemn His creation to eternal torment. In fact, the belief that all will be saved has become fantastically popular. Why?
1. It has become highly distasteful, in the West especially, to believe in a God who judges. It is far more comfortable to believe in a God of love rather than One of justice also.
2. This doctrine has also become scorned, and those who hold to the doctrine of an eternal punishment are made to feel embarrassed.
3. In the West, we have become too comfortable, too safe. We do not face daily victimization, which makes us yearn for eternal justice and to value such a God.
More importantly, the EU’s understanding of “love” is inconsistent with the Bible’s teachings on this subject. Rather, it seems that it is possible to eventually place ourselves outside of the parameters of God’s love:
· “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:31-32)
Eventually, God gives us over to our hearts’ desires (Romans 1:24-28). He allows us to go our own way and even to choose our own eternal fate (John 3:17-20). If we hate the light in this life, we will most certainly detest and flee from it in the next.
Who then is at fault? Not God, but us!