Listening to The Oak Ridge Boys the other day singing a song called “Jesus is Coming Soon” and a certain line stuck out to me: “many will meet their doom trumpets will sound/all of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies…”
Why did that stick out to me? Well, unfortunately, because of the idea of universalism. Universalism is the idea that there is no hell (although the bible clearly teaches that there is) and that when we all die, we get to go to heaven. But that doesn’t sit well with me. I have a hard time believing that men like Stalin, Hitler, and Kim Jung Ill, guys who sat by as their people starved to death and murdered anyone who stood as a political opponent, get a free pass to heaven because of some random distortion of the “God is love” passage. Of course, I’m not the only one in that, so some have a modified version (I’m not sure if it’s still under the same name) where bad people just get totally annihilated when they die. But that doesn’t seem very just either. Remember, the Gospel is centered around God’s glory first, His love for us second, and that means justice is a key part of that. I think the bad folks getting destroyed is probably a great mercy to them because they then don’t have to deal with the consequences of their actions. And who are these “bad people” anyway? Does God decide who is bad enough to get annihilated? Do only mass murders get it, or do rapists and single-murders get it too
So if that’s the case, why not throw in everyone who has lied, stolen, used God’s name in vain, unrepentant etc. until suddenly, you have those who would be in hell if there was one… everybody.
Bottom line is this: God makes it clear in the bible that there is indeed a hell. It gets brought up more times than other more accepted doctrines, like baptism or the Lord’s Supper for example. He wanted it to be clear to us that there is a punishment waiting for those who don’t repent. I know some say “but what about all the bad people who Christians say will be in heaven, like Jeffery Dahmer?” Simple. He repented. He was an active Christian converted by the creationist articles his father sent to him in prison for several years before he was murdered by another inmate (they had to keep him locked up for his protection normally). “Well, shouldn’t he get punished to, if my Uncle Jim Will, and he never did anything wrong?” Yeah, well I highly doubt Uncle Jim is sinless, so I think he probably did some things wrong. But to hit a bigger point that you seem to be missing: Jeff won’t get punished, because Jesus did in his place. That’s what he believed, and he cried out for that same Jesus to forgive him and give him new life. That’s what all Christians have done. And those who don’t unfortunately have to go to hell, because they refuse God’s trying to save them.
You see, God did have mercy on them, on all of us actually, by sending Jesus to die on the cross for us. Think of it like this, if I reject a gift from my dad, does it make it his fault I rejected it? Any thinking person would tell you no. So when people reject God’s offer of salvation, how can we place the blame on him? Justice is what it is, and justice righteously means that those who break the law, God’s law, commit an act of treason (which isn’t punishable by death in what country?) and have a terrible fate awaiting them. And of course, you might ask about those who never heard the Gospel. I’m not equipped to answer that without bombing it, so maybe I’ll post a link to a good Gospel Coalition article sometime.
So ultimately, who are we going to believe? The holy, wise, and Almighty God? Or fallen, sinful man who generally has a tendency to mess up big-time? I think that’s what the issue really comes down to.