Summary: What did Jesus have to say on the subject of "universalism"? Did He indicate that eventually everyone will be saved?
JESUS and UNIVERSALISM
Did the Son of God give us any reason to believe that all will be saved?
3. Jesus and Universalism? The sermon on the mount
The subject: Universalism.
One of the most brilliant lights that shines out of Scripture, once one begins to look for it, is the division between the righteous and the unrighteous. Perhaps this will be a good starting point for us as we begin to page through New Covenant Scripture to see if it suggests eternal punishment or an ultimate reconciliation. There is a "we" and there is a "they" in Scripture. Everywhere.
It starts as early as the Sermon on the Mount. They, some un-named evil people, will persecute the righteous. They did the same thing to the prophets of old, whoever they are.
Then there is talk of a kingdom of heaven. True, many will go there. Some will be called great. Some will be least. But there is a third category: those whose righteousness is so phony that they will not even enter the kingdom at all. I see no time restriction here. They simply will not enter. Period.
In this same classic message, the very fires of hell are offered to those who live in anger (Matthew 5:22), proving they have never had an experience with God.
This same gentle loving Jesus in the same sermon suggests, nay, states, that a person who is unwilling to be drastic against sin in his life shall be cast into hell.
Pretty awesome start. I've only covered one chapter and already the case for an eternity separated from God in a lake of fire looms as a very real possibility. The theme will be developed...
As the sermon continues, Jesus tells us that those who do not forgive will not be forgiven. Another blanket statement. Can the un-forgiven go to Jesus' heaven?
He then speaks of a narrow way and a broad way, returning to the we-they division. Very few people, relatively speaking, will find the way to life.
To a group of people who want to be reconciled in the day of judgment, based on the fact that they had been in the signs and wonders crowd, Jesus makes the awful pronouncement, "I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness." (Matthew 7:23)
Depart from Me. Sounds pretty final.
And lawlessness, another theme that strikes at the heart of many universalists: The idea that law is still among us, when they are crying out "grace." But lawless grace is no grace at all. The grace of God appears to make us repent from breaking the laws of God. The grace of God enters our beings and causes us to keep the laws of God. Lawless people know no grace at all, and in the end will be rejected.
We do not rejoice in this, but we must speak where Jesus has spoken.
So in His most famous message, our Jesus takes a hard line against sin and sinners. He sets the bar high, and opens the door wide to punishment after death. He divides the righteous from the unrighteous, and has all of us craving for His mercy and forgiveness. Or else.
No universalism here. No hidden promise that I could find, that somehow it will all turn out okay in the end. No reconciliation. No inclusion.