Will everyone go to heaven when they die?
Universalism says, “yes.” That is the belief of the Unitarian Universalist Church. Several of the so called “church fathers” of the second century believed in Universalism including Clement of Alexandria and his student, Origen.
Bible scholar, William Barclay once wrote, “I am a convinced universalist. I believe that in the end all men will be gathered into the love of God.” Other famous people who are Universalists include American statesman John Quincy Adams, our sixth President, the British writer Hanah Whitall Smith, and Robert Fulgham, author of All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten.
But what does the Bible say?
In one of the great texts from Jesus’ Mountain Message, the Savior succinctly admonished his hearers.
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt 7:13-14, NASU)
Jesus’ words have often been called “radical.” It was offensive to some who heard it then, and is discounted by many today who view His teaching on morality, discipleship and spirituality as too restrictive.
However, it is clear the Jesus offered only two alternatives. Two choices. Two ways. And two results.
(1) There are two gates.
The narrow gate is easy to miss. It is small. Difficult to navigate. And limiting. Wilson Adams compared it with walking through a turnstile. You can’t carry a lot of baggage through it. You can’t go as a group. It’s one person as a time. To enter the narrow gate you must leave behind sin, selfish ambition, covetousness, and even family and friends.
The wide gate is easy to see. Simple to walk through. There is no limit to the baggage one can take. It will accommodate every kind of view, attitude, belief and practice. No matter how brazen or bizarre.
(2) There are two ways.
The broad way will suit every religious system. Those who deny absolutes. And everyone crying for tolerance.
The narrow way is restrictive in its nature. Demands obedience. And calls for moral character, constant courage and personal conviction.
One is the easy way and the other is difficult way. One is undisciplined way and the other is the disciplined way. One is the thoughtless way and the other is the thoughtful way.
(3) There are two Crowds.
Most people are walking the broad road. The popular way. And mixing with the cool crowd. The devil delights in convicting people that the majority must be right.
The few are a despised minority. Often they are reviled Threatened. Mocked. And persecuted.
So, what’s new? Only 8 souls were saved in Noah’s ark from the great flood. Much to Abraham’s chagrin, God couldn’t even find 10 righteous people in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to save it from annihilation. Of the 603,550 men of war, only two, Caleb and Joshua, entered the promised land.
God’s people have always been in the minority. And always will be.
(4) There are two destinations.
Eternal life and eternal destruction. Heaven and hell. That’s it. Nothing in between.
Fortunately, Jesus came that we might have life–life in all its fullness (Jn 10:10). Both here in this world. But more importantly, in the one to come.
The New Testament speaks of “eternal life” 32 times. Jesus promised it. Paul preached it. Peter wrote about it. John, through the beatific Revelation saw it.
God does not want anyone to perish. He provided the way. But we must choose to enter in through the narrow gate. And walk the way He directs.
Pretty radical, eh?
But it’s the truth.
And the choice is yours. And mine.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman