This morning, in our weekly, men’s Bible study, the topic of Universalism came up. There is a growing number of people who are embracing the idea that at the end of time all people will be saved and welcomed into heaven. In some ways, the population in general has believed this for a long time. It is a common belief that all good people will go to heaven and only the really bad people will go to hell. More recently there have been those within the Church who has declared that, because of God’s love, all people will eventually be welcomed into His presence.
As I thought about this, an image came into my mine. It was the image of a snowman in the sun. During these long winter months, a snowman can seem very substantial. Once created, it can occupy its place for a very long time. But as the days get longer and the sun becomes more intense, the snowman begins to fade. No snowman can withstand the heat of the sun in August, or even April for that matter. It is only a matter of time before the sun will win and the snowman will melt away.
The fallacy of Universalism is that unholiness cannot survive in the presence of holiness. Paul makes it clear that a day is coming when all the works of our life will be evaluated and judged by God. No one will get a free pass. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10) At that moment we will not be judged by our standards, but by God’s perfect standard. In 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, Paul describes, in graphic turns, what that will be like. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Paul talks about building upon the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. But what if a person never built their life on the foundation. All of their works, no matter how good they look on the outside, will turn out to be wood, hay, and straw. When their life is tested as by fire there will be nothing left. They will be like snowmen in the sun.
Let me put it a different way. Many people want to live their life with no regard for God, yet expect to be welcomed into His presence after they die. That is like living in rebellion against one’s parents all your life and then expecting them to leave you an inheritance. If a person lives their entire life in rebellion against God, why would God welcome them into His presence. If a person lives their entire life in rebellion against God, why would they even want to be in His presence for eternity? Would living in the presence of the one you rejected all of your life be heaven or hell? It would be like distancing yourself from someone that you really want nothing to do with and then, at some point, being forced to spend the rest of your life with them.
Universalism is not extreme love, it is a cruel joke. It convinces people that they can live their lives anyway that they desire, without consequences. A person can be as rebellious and ungodly as they want to be, because in the end all will be forgiven. Universalism makes a mockery of what Jesus did for us on the cross. The whole point of the cross was to show us the enormous cost of our sins. We have amassed a debt far beyond anything we could ever repay. Jesus took our place to cover our debt. It is only as we turn to Him in faith that we can receive the benefit of what He has done for us. Otherwise, we remain lost in our sin. And when the day of judgement comes, we will be snowmen in the sun.