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Universalism teaches that all souls will eventually go to heaven, rather than being destroyed (annihilationism) or being conscious of eternal torment. We will examine this teaching and see if it holds up to both scripture and reason.

Universalism claims that a loving God would not demand payment to reconcile, especially with blood; what decent person demands restitution for a broken relationship? This objection ignores the fact that there is more going on here than reconciliation; there is also redemption (Gal. 4:5, Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 1:18) and ransom (Mat. 20:28, 1 Tim. 2:6, Heb. 9:15). When Adam and Eve sinned, they essentially left home and renounced God as their Father, selling themselves and all their offspring into the orphanage of sin. But Jesus came to be the way back to God by buying back the world with his own blood. Rather than this being a case of a bloodthirsty god or an abusive person who requires payment for the relationship, it is the rescue of all humanity from an evil abductor and hostile kingdom.

Universalism argues that no one can pay for someone else’s sins (Ps. 49:7), so Jesus was not being punished but only giving an example. However, in John 15:13 we see that Jesus said he did in fact lay down his life for others, and 1 John 2:2 states that he was the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Isaiah 53 also clearly describes the punishment Jesus took for everyone. Yet this is not at all equivalent to one citizen taking a criminal sentence for another, but like a parent paying the penalty incurred by their child. The child is not liable or able to pay it yet the victim must be compensated. So it is with Jesus’ sacrifice; he paid what we could not. The price for our adoption was too high for us, and adoptions are always paid by the parents rather than the orphans.

Universalism teaches that God will forgive everyone, because Jesus paid for all sin whether they know he did or not. Yet Scripture clearly states that salvation is by faith in the risen Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9). Those who rejected him in this life are demanding to be separated from him for all eternity, and God will reluctantly grant their demand (Ezk. 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9).

As for those who didn’t know, Rom. 1:18-32 and Acts 17:30 show that everyone has the evidence they need for proof that there is a God, but spreading the gospel (good news) about Jesus is our command to carry out (Mat. 28:19-20). Yet even if we fail, we know God will be fair, just, and compassionate to those who truly had no way of knowing about Jesus. We also see in the Gospels and Acts many instances where God heard the prayers of those honestly seeking him, and he sent people to tell them the gospel. All who have the mental capacity to grasp the concepts of right and wrong must choose, and we can trust God to make sure all who seek him will hear the gospel. Jesus bought us all a gift, but a gift cannot be forced on anyone. And besides all of that, how loving would it be to give a murderer the same eternal life as their victim? Love does not do away with justice, because God is both loving and holy.

But doesn’t this mean that accepting Jesus is unnecessary, since those who either can’t understand the gospel or never heard it will go to heaven anyway? Wouldn’t it be better not to make them responsible by telling them the gospel? Remember that it is Jesus who commanded us to spread the gospel; why the command was given is not for us to judge.

Another Universalism argument is that God would never base salvation on what we believe or which god we follow; what matters is whether we’re sincere and do good things. But John 3:14-18 says the opposite: It is faith in Jesus— not our own righteousness— that saves us. Certainly anyone who has reconciled to God through faith in Jesus will want to please him by doing good, and those who claim to belong to Jesus but do evil are either lying or very misguided; see Rom. 6:1-2, 7:4-6.

Universalism claims that as long as someone says they love Jesus and trust him to save them, they must be considered Christians, no matter what else they may believe or what other gods they honor. But the gospel is not just believing in any claimed Jesus or Christ. We must put our trust in the Jesus who died for us (Mat. 16:21, 17:22, 1 John 2:2, 4:10), who rose from the dead as predicted (Acts 17:30-31, 1 Cor. 15:1-5), who is God in the flesh (Col. 2:9), who was worshiped as God (Mt. 2:11, 14:33, 28:9,17, John 9:35-38, Heb. 1:6), and who will return for his people (John 14:1-3, Acts 1:11). God also said in the Old Testament that there is no other God (Isaiah 42:8-9, 45:5,18,22, 46:9). So any God or Jesus who does not share all these attributes is a fake, and the true God/Jesus cannot be joined to the false.

Another argument is that a loving God would never send anyone to eternal punishment, not even Satan. Yet by that standard, a loving God would never allow any temporary suffering either, even in this life. Satan was the highest created being, perfect and beautiful, yet he rebelled against God though he had never experienced suffering and knew God was real. There is no excuse for that.

Universalism argues that temporary suffering will eventually get the lost to turn to God for relief, and then they will be saved. But would a loving God value a confession made under duress? Not even human courts accept this. And would a loving God say to anyone, I am going to torment you until you love me? This is not how healthy relationships work, which Universalists of all people should understand.

Another argument is that nobody would choose eternal suffering over eternal bliss with God in heaven, so it would have to be God sending them there, not their own choice. Yet there are sane people who hate God and have said they’d rather suffer for eternity than worship him. God has explicitly stated that he doesn’t want this for anyone (Ezek. 18:23, 2 Peter 3:9), but there has to be a place for those who do not want to spend eternity with him. And since God is the source of all good, then the place of not God must be the place of nothing good.

Universalism insists that no one in heaven could be happy knowing their loved ones are in eternal conscious torment or forever destroyed. But who is to say that God is incapable of taking away painful memories? Everything we see of the beings in heaven is joyful praise to God, including for the fact that God punishes the wicked and avenges his children (Deut. 32:35, Psalm 79:10, Rev. 6:10, 11:18), without any allowance for those the righteous might miss.


If Universalsim is true, then no one should ever have had to suffer at all, there was no need for Jesus to die or rise again, there is no need to spread the gospel, and there is no point in being a Christian at all. If what people believe is irrelevant, then all Christian martyrs have died in vain, and every Christian missionary has only been needlessly laying responsibility on people.

If Universalsim is true then all gods are the same, so God is hopelessly self-contradictory and cannot exist. It’s like saying someone went to the hardware store when they really went to the grocery store, since both are buildings were goods are sold. Differences matter.

If Universalism is true, then the Gospel is not, because they are mutually exclusive and cannot both be true at the same time. Not every binary is false or bad. And if the Gospel is true, then it is imperative that Christians try to convince (by persuasion, not force or trickery) as many people as possible to believe the same as we do. Universalism makes everything irrelevant and pointless.

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