Some people teach that God will ultimately succeed in redeeming everyone in creation and no one will remain in Hell forever. There are different forms of this teaching, generally referred to as "Universalism", but this is the general description. Some positions are certainly more in line with orthodox Christianity than others which abandon it altogether.I have great sympathy for those who want Universalism to be true. There is much sentiment within the scriptures that supports this desire. First of all, consider the fact that Genesis says that "God saw ALL that He had made, and behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31 emphasis added). Consider too that the Apostle Peter said that "it is not God's will that ANY perish but that should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:8-9) Then there is the most famous scripture in the world: "God so loved the world that He have His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" John 3:16.
The key here is that the eternal life is for all those "who believe in Him". This is not to say that judgment or Hell is a matter of God being vindictive toward those who disrespect His Son. It is more that God will not rescue those who do not want to be rescued. Consider Jesus riding into Jerusalem, bursting into tears saying "if only you had known the things that make for peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes..." (Luke 19:41-44) Not everyone wants to be rescued. But this is not the time to sit smugly and look down our noses at all those "foolish people" who are simply headstrong and rebellious. We all have a story and some people's stories are absolutely horrible. The abuse, neglect, and evil that some people have experience is more than they might ever be able to communicate to someone else. It seems to me that most people would follow Jesus if they were truly exposed to Him for long enough. But there are not enough of God's people who look enough like Jesus to get the job done! Jesus said of the Israel of His own day "the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord to send our laborers into his fields..." (Luke 10:2) Most of the Israel of Jesus' day did indeed reject Jesus. But what if there had been more laborers? The story might have been different. Does that mean that these unharvested people are all going to Hell? Not necessarily. Those in danger of Hell or judgment or whatever you want to call it, might be those of us who refused to be the laborers more than those who never had the chance to hear the good news. We will be judged by what we don't do as well as by what we do. Jesus wept for all to be reconciled to God. Do we do the same? Do we seek new ways to communicate God's love to people who don't know it or do we sit smugly by content in our own standing before God but unconcerned about anyone else's. I am not a Universalist but I do believe that judgment day will be stock full of surprises both good and bad. In this week's podcast, Susie and I are discussing the concept of Universalism. Don't forget to like, comment and share with a friend!