of all rebels against God, in the lake of fire and brimstone.
Universalism seems to be on an upward trend. This “revival” is taking place in many of our mainline denominations. Even in our non-denominational churches, there seems to be evidence of a belief in the final salvation of all people. Teachings such as, “the gospel of inclusion” or, “ultimate reconciliation” is now being preached by Pastor and Bishop Carlton Pearson. This “gospel of inclusion” is simply warmed-over universalism; that God is the spiritual father of all men, and that all men will finally be saved. Evangelist Billy Graham has been noted for his Roman Catholic version of universalism. In a 1997 interview with fellow preacher and long time friend, Robert Schuller, Dr.Graham stated that men and women that have not heard the gospel message, they will be saved irregardless of whether they evidence faith in the Lord Jesus Christ or not they will enter heaven. According to Billy Graham in the interview with Robert Schuller, he explains, “. . I think that everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they are conscience of it or not, they’re members of the body of Christ. . . God’s purpose for this age is to call out a people for his name. And that’s what God is doing today – he’s calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the unbelieving world they are members of the body of Christ because they have been called by God. They might not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.” There are some who even go as far as saying that Satan and all of the falling angels, and demons will ultimately be saved. They justify this teaching by citing a passage out the book of Acts chapter three verse 21: “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” they interpret the “restitution of all things” to mean the final salvation of all men, fallen angels, and even the Devil himself. Consequently, evangelism on the part of those who hold to universalistic dogma is not biblical evangelism. Their “evangelism” is one of informing all men that they are already saved and are the children of God. That means Buddhist, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Devil worshipers, etc. are all the children of God, and as his children will ultimately be reconciled to him in the end.
The erroneous belief in all men being God’s children, and that all will finally be saved, is based on a perverted understanding of many passages of scripture in the holy bible. For example: Romans 5:12-19 speaks of sin and death coming upon ALL through Adam, but through the “second Adam” Christ Jesus, ALL shall be made alive through his sacrifice on the cross. In all of the passages that are used to support universalism, the term “all” is interpreted as meaning all men have automatically been redeemed through the sacrifice of Christ and if this is not true, they say, then God has failed in his purpose for the sacrifice of his Son. Another example is found in Colossians 1:20 which speak of God the father reconciling ALL things in heaven and in earth to him. The “all” is interpreted as meaning all men will be eventually saved. It would seem that the universalistic interpretation of scriptures that use the term “all” is inclusive of unbelievers as well as believers. 2 Corinthians is a favorite among those who espouse the false teaching of universalism. This passage reads, “to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” One can readily see how they can read into the text an erroneous meaning; that God through the sacrifice of his Son, will reconcile all regardless of whether they believe on the Lord Jesus, or not.
As bible-believing Christians we must ask the question: Is the doctrine of universalism or “gospel of inclusion” true or false according to God’s holy word? When it is weighed in the balances of scripture, it is found wanting to say the least. Unfortunately there is an unsettling resurgence of the doctrine of universal reconciliation sweeping across the land. We as followers of the Lord Jesus must be ready to refute such a dangerous error, and set forth the biblical teaching concerning the only way that men can be saved and escape the wrath to come.
Why universalism holds such attraction?
1. A repudiation of the doctrine of the wrath of God.
This is the real underlying reason why universal reconciliation holds such great appeal. Many reputable scholars and clergyman have come to the erroneous conclusion that, any doctrinal teaching that God’s wrath abides on the impenitent, blackens the character of God. They emphasize the love of God to the exclusion of the wrath of God. They say that God is to loving of his creatures to sentence them to an eternal misery. He will chastise them if need be, but will not ultimately forsake them. Therefore it is taught that God will save all souls in the final analysis. All will be reconciled to God by some way or scheme we may not understand. What is grossly misunderstood is that God’s character is not blackened, but glorified in the destruction of ungodly men. God’s terrible justice is revealed in his righteous judgment on the wicked. It is natural for wicked men to reject a God who will judge sin and lawlessness. It would seem that many only see a “god” after their own making; a “god” who is all of love, who doesn’t get angry at anyone and will not hold us accountable for our sins when we die; a “god” who will allow all into heaven whether they repent, and turn to him, or not. However, the bible paints for us quit a different picture of the Lord God Almighty. God is a God of love, I John 4:8. But God is equally a God of wrath and justice, Hebrews 12:29; “For our God is a consuming fire.”
Question: Does the Holy Bible teach that all men are the children of God?
2. I believe the first thing to establish from the bible is the question: Are all men the children of God? If so, then it would be obvious that all are saved according to universalistic dogma. Let us now turn to the Holy Scriptures to see if it teaches all are the children of God.
I believe that it is fitting to quote the Master first and
foremost. Since those who believe in universal reconciliation, and those who
believe in eternal punishment, except that Jesus Christ was God manifested in
the flesh. Did Jesus believe that all men were the children of God? Absolutely
not. In the book of Matthew, chapter thirteen, Jesus teaches on the parable of
the tares, and wheat. One of the reasons the parable was giving, was to make a
clear distinction between the “tares” and the “wheat.” It is clear from the Lord’s interpretation of this
parable, that the tares are not the children of God, while the wheat was
described as the children of God. In verses thirty-seven and thirty-eight of
the thirteenth chapter of Matthew we read, “He
answered and said unto them, he that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the
tares are the children of the wicked
Some may argue that these references were given before the
cross, and that is why some were called “children
of that wicked one.” I would simply say that this
is a mute point, because the same is said of others after the cross, and shows
us that the truth of the matter is still the same. Here are some scripture
references that clearly teach that even after the cross, Satan still has his
children, and those who have repented toward God, and have believed on the Lord
Jesus are the children of God. In the thirteenth chapter of the book of Acts,
Paul and Barnabas were sent out by the Holy Ghost from the church in
about their repentance, and eternal happiness after death?
God will not use any other means to bring sinners to repentance, than those means he is using in this life. Some universalistic teaching says that God will even use the extreme measures of hell-fire to punish men for their crimes, and when they have paid for their sins and have made proper repentance, God will end their time of misery, and suffering to make them eternally happy. However this is erroneous when we look at what the scriptures really say on the subject of eternal damnation. It is plain for all who can read the Holy Scriptures to see that the fires of Hell are not flames of purgation, but they are punitive flames. There will be no other means by which a person is saved except by the means used in this life. God ordained the preaching of the gospel in order to save those who believe. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ being preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, speaks of the strivings of God’s Holy Spirit to convince and convict the sinner of his need to be reconciled to God. It is only by these means that God deals with the impenitent in this life, and after death, no other means will be used to save those who died in their sins. God can only justify those who believe in Jesus in this life. After death one can not be justified, because once death has occurred, we are fixed in the spiritual condition in which we have died. Revelation chapter 22:11 says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” This passage of scripture speaks to the finality of our condition after death, and that there will be no possibility of change. This is an awesome reality. Jesus Christ who knows all things gave John the beloved apostle this verse we read in chapter 22:11 of book of the Revelation. Also from the Old Testament we read concerning the same finality after death and the unchangeableness of our condition after death. In the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 11:3 we read, “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: And if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there shall it be.” This scripture is another important reference that establishes that salvation from sin is only possible in this life, and that the opportunity is offered only in this life. “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee; behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2. In the book of St. Luke chapter sixteen, we have the conversation between Abraham, and the rich man who died in his sins, and was in a fiery torment. He requested of Abraham that he would send Lazarus back from the dead and warn his brothers. But he was told that they had “Moses and the prophets” let (his five brothers) hear them. The rich man protested and said if one arose from the dead, they (his brothers) would believe. Abraham told him that if his brothers did not receive the testimony of Moses and the prophets; neither will they believe though one comes to them from the dead. I think we can say that Abraham, the rich man, Lazarus, and especially Jesus himself who related this account makes it abundantly clear that there are no other means after this life for one to be made eternally happy; not even the rich man himself was given hope of future happiness with God. It is also clear that the word of God will not be
preached to those who go to Hell, and without the
gospel being preached, no one can be saved.
Will the wicked be annihilated and is there “soul-sleep”?
There are some who teach that if the wicked are not reconciled, they will be annihilated. Those who are the proponents of this concept do so for the same reason given above: A repudiation of the wrath of God. But is this consistent with the biblical doctrine of eternal punishment? This belief in annihilation reveals a faulty understanding of death, and of the terms, “destruction” and, “destroy.” How is death defined in the holy bible? The Holy Scriptures gives us the only true understanding of death, and destruction. First, I think it necessary to define the meaning of death. In the Holy Scriptures there are three types of death taught. The first is spiritual death. Spiritual death is separation from God in sin whether you are alive in the flesh, or in Hell. In the beginning God told Adam that in the day that he ate of the forbidden tree, he would surely die. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 3:15-16. Unfortunately, Eve was deceived into eating of the tree and she also gave to her husband, Adam and he also ate of the fruit of the tree. They both died spiritually in an instance. They knew that they were naked, and they were ashamed. They immediately began to feel emotions that were alien to them up to this point, but now were a part of the fallen state. Anger, Hatred, Variance, Jealousy, Fear, Lust, etc. all the things that constitute what is now called the sinful nature. In Adam all died, and became the children of the Devil, and children of wrath. Adam and Eve did not fall down dead physically, but they were instantly separated from God in their sinful state. This is the death that was referred to when the Lord God commanded them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good, and evil. The very life of God had departed from them because God who is holy can not abide sin. Therefore, they died spiritually. And Adam who was the federal head of all humanity; when he fell, we fell in him and were made sinners by nature. Consequently, as sinners by nature, we are spiritually dead, and need to be made alive in Christ through the born again experience. Born of the Spirit, and made alive to God.
There is physical death when the body returns to the dust from which it was taken. Physical death is when the soul and spirit of man separates from the body. God said to Adam and Eve concerning their physical death that, “. . . for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” This referred to their physical death that would occur some nine centuries later. We read of the death of Abraham in chapter twenty-five of the book of Genesis. In verse eight, we read, “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered unto his people.” In this passage we can see that at the physical death of father Abraham, he “gave up the ghost” that is, his soul and spirit had departed from his physical body at death, and was “gathered unto his people.” In Genesis chapter thirty-five verses 28-29, we read of Isaac: “And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.” We read of Jacob whose name was changed to Israel that he also “gave up the ghost” in the forty-ninth chapter and the 33rd verse it says, “And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.” In the book of Ecclesiastes chapter twelve verse seven, the writer says, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” The holy bible makes a clear distinction between the physical part of man, and the spiritual part of his makeup. It is crystal clear that the soul and spirit survives the death of the body and continues in a conscience, intermediate state waiting to be reunited with the physical body at the resurrection to be judged. Man is a tripartite being of body, soul, and spirit. In the New Testament, James the Lord’s half brother, and bishop of the church in Jerusalem said this in his epistle; “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” It should be made abundantly clear from these few passages that physical death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body. It is also clear that the soul and spirits of the departed are not in a state of what some call, soul-sleep. In the gospel according to St. Luke chapter sixteen verses 19-31; we have the story of the rich man, and Lazarus. In this account (not a parable) both the rich man and Lazarus died. This is an amazing chapter to say the least, because here the Lord Jesus pulls back the curtain so to speak, and shows to us what is the state of the righteous and the wicked after death. According to the inspired account, there is no such thing as soul-sleep, but a real conscience experience of both the righteous, and the wicked. In verse 22, both Lazarus and the rich man die, and it said of the rich man that he “. . . was buried” this refers to his body at death; he, unlike Lazarus probably had a wonderful, and grandiose funeral with all the trappings of a dignitary. While in the case of Lazarus, he was given a poor man’s grave. But this only refers to their bodies; what happened in the other world was quit another story all together. The rich man was not found in a state of soul-sleep, but, “. . . lift up his eyes, being in torments” while his physical body was buried on the earth, his soul and spirit was down in the pits of Hell being in torments. Lazarus on the other hand was in “The bosom of Abraham” resting in comfort after his physical death.
There is also eternal death. Eternal death means the
eternal separation from God in the lake of fire and brimstone. Eternal death is
also called, “the second death.” This death will finally occur at the second coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ when all the nations are gathered before him in the valley of
Jehosaphat to be judged concerning their treatment of the Jewish nation in
their flight from the Antichrist. It is said of all the “goat” nations that
persecuted, or neglected to help the Jewish nation in their greatest crisis
ever under Antichrist, “And these shall go away
into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Also at the great white throne judgment in the 20th
chapter of the book of the Revelation; it speaks of those who “was not found written in the book of life was cast into the
lake of fire.” In chapter fourteen of the book
of the Revelation, it is said of those who receive the mark of the Antichrist;
his name, or the numerical value of his name; the same shall drink of the cup
of the wrath of God, “. . . And he shall be tormented
with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence
of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.”
These passages speak of the eternal separation
from God with no hope of change. It is also clear from these passages of
scripture that death means separation, not annihilation. None of these
scriptures giving speak of annihilation, or some so-called, soul-sleep. It is
said of the human Antichrist, and the false prophet in the nineteenth chapter and
20th verse of the book of the Revelation, “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that
wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the
mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image these both were cast alive into a lake of fire
burning with brimstone.” After the Antichrist and the false prophet
are cast into the lake of fire, the armies of the Antichrist are destroyed in
the battle of Armageddon. Then there will follow a thousand year reign of all the
redeemed saints of all ages with Christ. (Rev. 20:4). Satan at the beginning of
this period is cast into the Abyss or the bottomless pit for the duration of
the millennial reign of Jesus Christ from the city of
Now we come to the final part of this brief study. It must be understood that the things disgust in this brief summary are not preached anymore. And yet the cries of the damned are just as real today as a thousand years ago. How is it that ministers are content with believing that they are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and never address the condition of the wicked in a future state? If it is true that the future state of the wicked is exceeding dreadful, then it should be the most important concern confronting all of us at this moment. I believe that there are two basic reasons that preachers do not preach on eternal damnation: 1. they simply do not believe in a literal Hell, and in many cases some have never believed in it. Some have even substituted a novel interpretation to all of the Hell passages in the bible to support their position. 2. They know the reaction of most churchgoers if they dare preach on Hell, and the lake of fire. It would seem that they are more content with the lost dying in their sins so that bro. and sis. “So-and-so” won’t get upset, and call for his resignation. Its job security at it’s finest at the expense of the souls of men. It is a sad picture to see a so-called preacher of the gospel more concerned about what men think than what God has commanded in his holy word.
The Holy Bible tells us that the punishment of the wicked in a future state is endless in duration. This may seem to be rather extreme to our finite minds, but what we must bear in mind is that we know very little of the heinousness of sin; that sin is exceedingly sinful. We also should acknowledge our impoverished understanding of the holiness of the Lord God. So I believe that the first thing to set forth as I advance this truth of the endless punishment of the wicked is: If God is holy, righteous, just, and true we should expect a great and awful sentence against those who die impenitent. The justice of God should reflect his holy nature in opposition to sin to an infinite degree seeing that he is infinitely holy. In the book of Malachi chapter three verse six, we read, “For I am the Lord, I change not. . .” age to age his remains the same because he is absolutely perfect and therefore needs no change. If the Lord God changes not, then his attitude toward sin must never change. If at any time God’s attitude toward sin changes, then he ceases to be holy. This is why there is eternal retribution for those who die impenitent. God’s holy wrath will burn against sin forever for we read in the book of Deuteronomy 32:22; “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” If the anger on the Lord shall burn unto the lowest hell and never be quenched, then from this we can deduce that the punishment of the wicked is endless in duration. This means that those who die impenitent will forever be the objects of the Lord’s punitive justice. His presence among them will be intolerable and dreadful to an infinite degree. One can only imagine if only the tip of his finger were to endure the extremities of hellfire, and how intolerable and unbearable it would be. Of how much more intolerable it will be to have your whole body cast into hellfire where the worm shall not die, and the fire is not quenched; to have every part of your being to be full of the flame of the wrath of God Almighty? This is the portion of the wicked in a future state.
Secondly, we read in the twenty-fifth chapter of the gospel of St. Matthew, verse forty-six, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” It is believed among those who hold to the teaching of Universalism, that all men will experience everlasting joy, peace, and happiness. When asked how is it that they know that such is certainly true, they will site one or a number of scriptures that use the term, all to include all men regardless of faith through repentance, or not. However, according to this verse (Matt. 25:46) and many others that can be sited, this notion is not true that all shall experience eternal happiness. We see that there is “everlasting punishment” for one and “life eternal” for the other. The contrast can not be clearer than what we read here in Matthew 25: 46. In the book of Isaiah the prophet chapter three, verses 10-11, we read the following, “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked! It shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.” In the book of Malachi we read of another clear contrast between the righteous and the wicked. “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” The bible not only makes it crystal-clear as to the difference between the righteous and the wicked, but it is clear that their eternal experience is different the one from the other. The word in the Greek New Testament for “everlasting” and, “eternal” is, “Aionios.” This word is translated, “eternal” 42 times and “everlasting” 25 times in the King James Version. Aionios literally means, without end, never to cease, everlasting. If the word in the Greek means never to cease, then verse forty-six of the twentieth fifth chapter of St. Matthew declares the endless punishment of the wicked. The same Greek word is used for both everlasting and for eternal. The experience of the righteous in a future state shall be endless, and the experience of the wicked shall also be endless in a future state. To allow the literal meaning of the word for the one and not for the other is foolishness.
The Greek word Aionios is derived from another Greek word, Aion. This word means, “Age-long” that is, a definite period with a beginning and an ending, and not necessarily eternal in duration. The English word eternal is from a Latin word, aetas which also means, “Age” or, “Age-long.” From this we can see how it is argued that the word in the Greek, Aionios, which is derived from, Aion, can only mean a definite period of time with a beginning and an ending, and not eternal. Though it is true that the word, Aionios is derived from the word, Aion which means Age-long; it is untrue that the word itself does not describe a proper eternity. Just as the English word, eternal, though it is derived from the Latin word meaning, Age-long, does express a proper eternity. We can account for past ages that have had a beginning and an ending, but for future ages to come, we have no way of knowing the beginnings or the endings of future ages. To express this time of indefinite period, the only word we have is, Age, thus the phrase, Ages of the Ages or “for ever and ever” is the only way we have of describing a proper eternity. In the book of Ecclesiastes , the inspired writer says of God, “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” All of the creation shall remain for ever and shall have no end, though it will be changed yet it shall never cease to be.
According the Holy Bible, what is the life time of God? And what _expression is used to describe the duration of the life of God himself? It says in the scriptures that he shall live “For ever and ever.” In the book of the Revelation chapter four, verses 9-10 we read, “And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever. The for and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying. . .” In the fifth chapter of this book and in verse 14, we read, “And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” Also in the tenth chapter of this book of the Revelation, verse 6, we read this: “And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever. . .” In chapter 15: 7 it reads, “And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.” Are we to believe that God Almighty has an ending to his life? Is it not clear that the phrase, “for ever and ever” or, “Ages of the Ages” can only refer to a proper eternity; an endless duration? This is also the time given concerning the punishment of Satan in the lake of fire and brimstone in chapter of the book of the Revelation. “And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” As we continue to read down to the 15th verse of this same chapter, we see that not only Satan, but all those who were not found in the book of life were also cast into the lake of fire to suffer the same fate, that is, endless punishment. The reign of the righteous is to be for ever and ever according to Revelation 22:5. “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” Both the righteous and the wicked are to exist for the same span which is “for ever and ever.” Those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and abide in him shall reign with him for ever and ever. Those who die impenitent shall be tormented with fire and brimstone for ever and ever with no hope of reprieve, and without mitigation. “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, either whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:27) “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” According to the verses we have examined, the future punishment of the wicked is endless, just as the future glories of the Saints are endless. There are still many preachers of our day who are willing to acknowledge that such a place as hell exist, and that the lake of fire will be the future abode of the wicked forever. But unfortunately, though many of these same preachers acknowledge the truth about hellfire, most won’t dare preach it. I can not remember the last time I have heard a message on hell and the future state of the impenitent. I think a quote from a minister of another generation would be in order: “The ethical value of the doctrine of hell and of endless punishment is beyond computation. Preach the doctrine of a “second probation” after death, that men and women after a life of sin here can get out of hell and into heaven by repentance and accepting the Gospel Plan of Salvation, and they will throw the reins of self-control on the neck of passion and ride at break-neck speed to perdition. It is the spread of such pernicious teaching that is the cause of the increase of lawlessness in the world. If there were more preaching of hell in the pulpit there would be less of hell in the world. But why do men want to go to heaven via hell when they can go to heaven direct? God is love, but God is just. He must preserve the righteous from the wicked. This demands that they be separated for all eternity. Therefore, O reader! If you are not a child of God, I beseech you to fly from the wrath to come by accepting God’s overtures of mercy ere it be too late.” (Larkin, C rightly dividing the Word)
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