Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Question 5: Will Everyone Go to Heaven
I like to rephrase the question, “Who will be saved,” by asking, “Do all dogs go to heaven?” (I think most people like dogs, so this is a good way to begin)
The first response would be to say Yes, all dogs go to heaven! None are excluded! All will be welcomed! There are no exceptions to this rule of grace. Everybody goes to the party. This perspective follows the idea of universal grace in which Christ welcomes all and no human being is left behind. Everyone is saved. Even hell, if there is a hell, becomes the last great place of redemption. Hell is not a place of eternal condemnation. This is the universalist view that I will be examining in greater detail.

All dogs go to heaven, except dogs that bite! Dogs that choose to do evil are exiled from heaven, condemning themselves to hell. They could have had heaven, but they have chosen hell because of their evil deeds. This perspective follows the idea of universal grace in which Christ welcomes all, but it also allows for freedom within moral choice to determine one’s eternal fate. God does not condemn anyone to hell, but allows us to condemn ourselves to hell.
This view I call the moral view. People who do good will find salvation and the people who behave badly will not. Jesus tells a story like this in parable form in Matthew 25:31-46 when he says that God will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are the people who have done God’s will and the goats are the people who have not.

All dogs that submit to their Master go to heaven! Dogs that choose to love and obey their Master will have all sin and evil exorcised from them. Their Master will rid them of the evil ways of their sin, saving them from the judgment of hell and for the eternity of heaven. This perspective follows the idea of universal judgment in which Christ knows that all are condemned to be damned unless a Savior rids them of their evil. Christ is Savior and will eradicate all sin and evil within them. This view I call the evangelical view. In this view, salvation is not dependent on our actions, because our actions are never going to be good enough to get us into heaven or earn God’s love. Our salvation is dependent upon us making a confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Everyone who has made a confession of faith will find salvation and those who have not, spend eternity separated from God’s love. The main place this theology is presented is in the work of Paul. In Romans 10 he says, “If we believe in Jesus with our hearts and confess that he is Lord, then we shall be saved.”
We cannot know for sure which dogs will go to heaven! The Master works in mysterious ways therefore some dogs may get to heaven without our knowing how. The important thing is the Master is fair. The Master knows every dog and all dogs will get a fair opportunity to know the Master. This is the optimistic view. This is the view held by C.S. Lewis and others that our salvation may not be entirely determined in this life. God offers grace beyond death and we can still find salvation is Jesus Christ after we die. This kind of view is expressed by Peter in 2 Peter when he says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
No, only my dogs go to heaven! Only my dogs have been elected to receive the redemption of heaven. Some dogs have it and some dogs don’t. This perspective follows the idea of universal judgment in which Christ knows who is elected to be redeemed and who is condemned to be damned. Everything is predestined. Only the elect will be saved, spared from hell and saved into heaven. Heaven is not for everyone. There are some who are predestined for hell, while others for heaven. Only the elect will go to God’s heaven. The predestined view takes into account the moral and evangelical views, but then adds to it that God elects certain people for salvation and the rest God leaves to their state of depravity. Only those people who have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world can accept Jesus as their savior and follow God’s will. Because the non-elect have not been chosen, they will continue in their state of sin and never accept Jesus into their life and never live according to God’s will. Hints at this can also be found in Paul’s writing that “those whom God foreknows are predestined to be conformed into the image of God’s Son.”

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