Will everyone eventually be saved?

QUESTION:
Someone told me that hell is just temporary and that the greek word associated with eternal punishment really meant for a limited time but the church translated it “eternal” to control people through fear.  Is God saving some people now but will save others after they have been in hell for awhile?

ANSWER:
Some refer to this teaching as Biblical Universalism trying to distinguish themselves from the traditional universalists that deny the Scriptures.  

While Biblical Universalists lay claim to believing the Bible it is still the same old heresy “in sheep’s clothing”.  First, they deny all major translations of the Bible as being accurate.  These “mistranslations”  include the King James Version, New International Standard Version, New American Standard Version, New Revised Standard Version, the Amplified Bible, The Net Bible, New Century Version, New Living Translation, International Standard Version as well as many others.   Instead, they refer you to a few obscure translations which, if you will check it out, you will find were almost exclusively done by other universalists who were not well educated in the original languages and had a point to prove by “correcting” the translations done by scholarly teams of translators both old and new. A key to cult success and heretical teachers is to undermine the trustworthiness of Scriptures so you are left having to depend upon their word, or their translations, for the “truth”.

It does not take a lot of research to torpedo this heresy and you don’t have to be a Greek scholar to do the research yourself.  The foundation of their belief revolves around the meaning of the Greek word “aionios”.

Matthew 25:46 says.”
Then they (the unrighteous) will go away to eternal (aionios) punishment, but the righteous to eternal (aionios) life.”

To an unbiased observer it would be clear that since Jesus used the same term to describe the length of both the punishment and the reward then both are equal in duration. If the punishment ends after a period of time then clearly aionios life also ends after a period of time.  Obviously the Biblical Universalists find elaborate ways to deny this clear connection and say the same word can mean different things even though used in the same sentence.  While a word can mean different things though used in the same sentence (A fly landed on my fly and would not fly away), there is no justification for applying differing definitions in the Matthew statement.

But a simple study of the word “aionios” will further sink the univeralist ship and clarify the meaning of the word without referring to any translations – the major ones or their obscure ones.

An Englishman’s Concordance is a wonderful tool (see my recommended reading for more information) to help you do this.  It gives a list of every Biblical occurrence of any word so you can see exactly how that word is used.  Looking up the word aionios we see it – or its derivatives – are used 72 times in the New Testament.  That is great because we will be basing our understanding on many usages not just one or two.

Of the 72 passages where the word is used, 59 times it is used to describe things even Biblical Universalists would agree are eternal: eternal Life – 43x, Spirit of God eternal – 1, Everlasting God – 2, Eternal glory – 3, eternal consolation – 1, God’s power is aionion – 1, Eternal salvation – 1, eternal redemption – 1, Jesus is alive aionion – 1, Everlasting kingdom – 1, eternal gospel – 1, eternal inheritance – 1, eternal covenant – 1, eternal habitation prepared – 1.    Twice aionios describes “things” – translated eternal things.  Once it describes our acceptance – eternal acceptance and three times it is translated as “world” or “age”.

All other occurrences of the word describe things orthodox teachers would describe as also eternal based upon the overwhelming use of “aionion” to apply to things we know are eternal but that Biblical Universalists say are not eternal -even though the word consistently and overwhelming is used in reference to things clearly eternal.  Aionion fire is spoken of 3 times, and once each the word refers to punishment, damnation, destruction and judgment.

Again, based on the fact that aionion clearly refers to things we would all agree go on without end in the overwhelming uses of the word, there is no justification to suddenly change its meaning when we apply it to things we are not so fond of – fire, judgment, punishment, destruction, damnation.

While the Universalist teaching pleases our natural senses (it would be comforting to think the horrors of hell are only temporary)  there is no Biblical evidence to support their wishes. Punishment, damnation, destruction, judgment and the fire of hell are serious matters, they are eternal matters as the Bible clearly teaches and as the church has taught since the beginning.

Finally, everything within me wants to say, “I wish their interpretation was true” but to do so would be to question the perfection of God’s judgments.  Do I dare think I can improve upon God’s method, or call Him too harsh or too strict because in my natural mind I can’t grasp or justify eternal punishment for temporary disobedience and rebellion.  All I can do is rest in God’s sovereignty, wisdom, mercy and grace and be confident that at the day of judgment I will agree with the multitude in heaven that declare, “true and just are his judgments”, a declaration made twice in the book of Revelation (16:7, 19:2) and affirmed in history and throughout the ages.


10 thoughts on “Will everyone eventually be saved?

  1. There’s a good reason why part of you is reluctant to believe that there is a Hell…probably because you’ve read and understood what Jesus originally taught about God, in which case, it should be clear as clear can be that there is no Hell…assuming Jesus was correct, of course!

    There is just no way, after a very long story in which Jesus tried so hard to explain how much he empathizes with human suffering, so much so that he says we ought to think of even the “least” as if s/he were him…that he could turn right around and all in the same breath say, “Oh, but one day I’m going to be the direct cause of the worst suffering ever!”

    That makes no sense, does it?

    Well, the explanation for this contradictory statement is simple–Jesus never said it!!! It’s an interpolation that was, in all likelihood, inserted by a Greek Christian scribe while making a copy of the text, totally distorting the message of the originally inspired autograph!

    Sadly, though, because these few verses that place Hell on Jesus’ lips serve the interests of people who feel threatened by the real message of Jesus–that we ought to care for those in need, those suffering, even those who made big mistakes that landed them in jail, even the “least”–they would have us believe that God is ultimately going to give up on most of humanity and let them have it big time! From there, it makes it easy for them to deceive believers into thinking it’s not all that bad to get a head start on hurting people, or at least, not helping the hurting.

    I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at http://www.thereisnohell.com), and it in, I explain that Jesus was, indeed, consistent in his message that God cares for all, loves all, wants to heal all, and is never going to give up on anyone until the very last, lost sheep is saved.

  2. So Rick Lannoye what do you believe? The Hindu Scriptures? The Quaran? Do you believe in an all powerful God? If you do believe in an all powerful God, you shouldn’t have a problem believing He can decently preserve His own sciptures.

    I believe the Bible teaches that God is a holy and just being. That He created humans in His own image to exist forever. You surely don’t think He’s going to let evil people get off scot free do you? You think He’s going to allow evil men into Heaven that hate Him do you?

    Like I said He created us as beings that would exist forever. If you read in the book of Revelation when God’s wrath is poured out on an evil unbelieving and God hating world those who hate God only curse Him all the more. Therefore I am not sure if God did give people in Hell a chance to repent if they even would!!!

  3. Mr. Lannoye,

    Christ spoke of eternal damnation more than any other topic in his sermons. So, I could turn your argument the other way around and say, “There is just no way, after a very long story in which Jesus tried so hard to warn us about Hell, that we can say there is no Hell.” One cannot be a Christian, but doubt Christ’s teachings. One must have faith in the idea that “all scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV).

    Hell is not a cool concept and it definitely clashes with the modern image of God being a big, fluffy Teddy Bear who rains kisses and miracles down on his people. The Gospel truth, however, is that there is a Hell. No one forces us to go there. It’s our choice to take the broad road “that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13).

    I dislike sounding cliche, but a mother does not save her child from the pain of a hot stove after his hands are already on it. She saves him from that pain by constantly warning him to avoid placing his hands on the hot stove. No matter how loving the mother is, the hot stove is still a hot stove. So, if the boy foolishly ignores his mother and burns himself, he can’t blame anyone but himself. His mom did not make him put his hands on the hot stove to teach him a lesson. The pain from the stove is a result of the child’s actions, not a punishment or lack of mercy from his mother. Why is the stove there in the first place? It serves its own purpose, just like Hell does.

    So, what is Hell’s purpose? Well, Hell was originally designed for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). God is love (1 John 4:7-8), so he doesn’t want any of us to join them there (2 Peter 3:9).

    However, while God is loving, he is also just (Deuteronomy 32:4). If you go against God, just as the devil did (Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:12-19), it’s only logical that you are going to suffer his same fate. If you touch that hot stove right after the little boy, you’re going to get burned, too. Not as a punishment, but as a result of your actions.

    To summarize, if you are a follower of Christ, and Christ teaches there is a Hell, then there is a Hell. If you believe the Bible is the word of God, and the entire Bible is about the same man who is telling you there is a Hell, then there is a Hell.

    Here are a “few verses that place Hell on Jesus’ lips” : Matthew 5:22,29,30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15,33, Mark 9:43,45,47, Luke 12:5 and 16:23.

  4. Dear Rick Lannoye:
    I appreciate your response. I find it interesting that you immediately begin to undermine the integrity of Scripture. If I assume some “Greek Christian scribe” inserted this portion we don’t like, what about other passages I don’t like? Maybe I can just assume they were inserted by that same scribe or any of a thousand others. Suddenly, I am God, deciding what is true and what is not. What I like is true. What offends me was inserted. So how do you decide what to delete and what to leave? I would be interested in your criteria since it seems to be nothing more than what you like of dislike. Convenient.

  5. Please allow me to briefly address some of the points made.

    Perhaps I should begin by pointing out that Satan is not likely to just come right out and say, “Hey, believers, it’s my hope to deceive you into thinking you’re following Jesus when, in fact, I’ve tricked you into rejecting everything he ever said! Moreover, I’d really like to get you to believe that God is just the opposite of what Jesus explained to you in his words and deeds. Preferably, I’d just love it if you were all to believe He is just like me! Sure, it would be nice if you overtly bowed down to worship me, but getting you to make an idol out of the Bible, as long as you reject the Living Word of God, Jesus himself, is just as good, better actually!”

    Naw, he’s a little smarter than that. But, sadly, he has managed to deceive a LOT, perhaps MOST believers, into making his wildest dreams come true!

    Thankfully, God is very patient, eternally so, and He is going to prevail in the long run, even.

    But we have to be willing to set aside what MAN has said in order to hear and see what God has said.

    This is the big problem with the doctrine of Hell. Most believers are brainwashed into thinking God is some sort of Cosmic Torturer, long before they read the gospels for themselves. Many never do, and those who actually imitate the Bereans, only do so after they’ve had the thickest of doctrine goggles glued onto their heads! In other words, they can look right at the gospels and not really SEE the words of Jesus; someone can read his words to them, but they don’t really HEAR him.

    The really GOOD NEWS, though, is that, in spite of the non stop efforts of many a wicked and or deceived man to change/water down/stick in some other “dispensation” and otherwise turn inside out the message of Jesus, God has providentially preserved His Word so you can be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN there is no such place as Hell!

    Here’s an example of what I mean. Read in Matthew Ch 5 what Jesus said when he gave us his famous sermon on the mount. One by one, he began to explain how the commands of Moses were not actually God’s full and final revelation, but just His way of sending us in the right direction. Like Moses, he too stood on a mount, but this time, to let us know what God was really like. The word from Moses was God’s way of stemming the flow of evil and revenge–“Don’t get back at people any more than what they did to you.” In the Old Covenant, God wanted us to turn us around, to repent and learn all His ways, but first he had to slow us down from going so fast and furiously in the wrong direction! Sure, he could have demanded that humanity go to where He was, but God, as Jesus showed, is the Doctor of all Doctors–He goes to the sick, to where they are!

    (People were in the habit of taking a bunch of eyes for every one eye, all the teeth for every one tooth. So He started by telling us, “There’s a limit! No more than one eye for one eye. One tooth for one tooth.” Jesus explained this priniple further when he commanded that men no longer toss aside their female sex slaves once they didn’t want them any more. Moses’ Law permitted “putting women away,” but he explained that the OT command was a stop gap measure, due to the hardness of their hearts! That law provided that a woman who was put away could not be taken back and any guy he did so would have to put it in writing. This gave women a better chance of survival in that they could, at least, remarry and be cared for. But what God really wanted, Jesus explained, was for men not to toss their women aside in the first place!)

    But now, Jesus explained that what God REALLY wanted is for us not to be vengeful at all!!!! In fact, he said we should turn the other cheek! We should return love for hate, good for evil.

    And then, he explained WHY–because that’s what God does!!!!!! And if you want to be like God (“to be his children”), then act like He does, sending rain on the crops of all, good and bad alike!

    In other words, Jesus told us that God does NOT punish us for our sins! He has no need to get back at us! He just forgives us. Period.

    Now, that’s not to say God wants us to sin. Of course not! But he doesn’t try to motivate us to stop hurting others by hurting us ever more! No! That is Man’s way. But God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t get in the mud with us. He calls us to get out of the muck, and be like Him.

    So, in case you didn’t catch it, the only way you can believe in Hell is to solidly REJECT what Jesus said on the Mount! You have to twist it in some way, to make what he clearly taught about God’s real nature, and make his words mean something else entirely!

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  8. This is literally THE oldest trick in the book. “You surely shall not die” Gen 3:4.
    Look at the sequence.
    1. God tells man…”From any tree in the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat from it you shall surely die. Gen 2:16,17″
    2. Satan (described as more crafty than any beast of the field) quizzes woman…”indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’? Gen 3:1″
    3. The woman (I believe to Satan’s delight) gets it wrong. Somebody added to the Word, (if I were guessing it was Adam) the woman said, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'”

    It is the “or touch it” part that I noticed. When I was in the military my job was to study the enemy’s vulnerabilities and figure out how to exploit these weaknesses; sort of a professional “Devil’s advocate”. Satan was probably/possibly there in the garden when God laid down the law to Adam. Eve was not yet created. Satan catches that someone is adding to the word and ascribing God’s authority to it. “God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die'”

    Pure conjecture, What if Satan exploited her weakness of not knowing the scripture and threw the fruit to the woman
    and she caught it…still not violating the law because God never actually said do not touch it…and she realized that she did not die so she doubted the value of God’s word and ate.

    I don’t make an idol of the Bible but I do worship the Word. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God John 1:1” The actual Word of God is perfect. My translation is perfect i.e. sufficient for speaking into my life and changing it and showing me how to be saved (from hell if you will) and warning me to warn others.

    Consider yourself warned…if there is a Hell you are not showing love to deny it’s reality and if you have to deny the authority of scripture to make your case I am not interested in your book… You are correct on a few counts…Satan is a crafty beast.

  9. Regarding the teaching of people being temporarily “stored” in hell: can you imagine the condition of a guy who spent, what, a fee hundred years in Hell? He’d be a charred crisp.

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