What we so often hear today, and this is not something new, is the age old heresy that God loves everyone so much that He will end up saving everyone. Of course there are many versions of this, but I observe the one about how God is love, people are basically good, so how could a loving God send basically good people to hell?
There is a theological and Biblical response to this that asks the petitioner to consider God’s Holiness, Justice, and the true nature of sin. This argument makes sense, and is true, but I do think goes over some people’s heads (and I don’t mean this to demean these people). If you are one of these people, to whom the idea of God’s Holiness, Justice, and the nature of sin just doesn’t seem to satisfy you, allow me the opportunity to present two additional considerations for you to mull over.
Almost to a universal law is it true that children have the job or duty to clean their room or sleeping space. Although I haven’t traveled to the far reaches of the globe I would bet that all parents desire their children to keep their area clean. However, that isn’t the point so don’t get bogged down there, rather consider a child who has the duty requested of them by their parent to keep their room clean. Note parents are in the position of authority over the child, and the child has the duty to obey the parent in all righteous and good requests. One particular day that child has let their room become very unclean, and after dinner the parent asked that child to clean the dishes. Feeling very autonomous, that child refuses to clean the dishes and instead promptly goes and cleans their room. Would you say that child is a good child at that moment?
Consider another example and think about a workplace where an employee has the duty to stock the merchandise closet every day. The owner of the company comes in, who also is that employee’s direct boss, and asks the employee to run over to their supplier and pick up a needed part that they are short of. Imagine your amazement upon seeing this employee refuse the owner, his boss, and promptly go into the supply closet and start stocking. This employee is doing one of his duties without complaining and with joy, should we consider them a good employee even though they just disobeyed and ignored their boss’ command?
If there is a God, and He is the ruler and owner of the universe and therefore your creator, would He not hold sway over you and have the right to ask of you anything He desires? Surely God has given us His rules for living in obedience to Him in His law, and He demands we follow it perfectly. Like both the parent and employer, God has the right to ask us to do anything He has the authority to ask (hint: He has all authority). Would a person be considered a good person if he was trying to obey God’s law in one little area and yet was ignoring and disobeying a direct command from God?
In Matthew 3:17 Scripture tells us that God says of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” And again in Matthew 17:5 God says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Referring to Himself Jesus says in John 6:29, “This is the word of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” There are many other verses I could list but Scripture is clear that God commands all people to believe in Jesus and obey Him.
While it is true that God also commands all people to love God and their neighbor, God commands more immediately, directly and, urgently that all people repent and believe in Jesus, Act 2:14-41 and Mark 1:15 for examples. Therefore if men and women are trying to love their neighbor and obey some points of God’s law yet are ignoring and disobeying God’s immediate and direct command to trust in Jesus, are they not like the child and employee in my examples? If a child disobeys the parent in an immediate command, but obeys in a long standing command would we call that child a good child at that moment? Likewise if an employee ignores an employers command to continue in his regular duties would we consider that employee a good employee? Certainly then, would we consider a human, who may obey some commands of God, yet ignores and disobeys God’s more urgent and immediate command, a good servant of God? Heaven forbid!
If humans do almost everything else God commands them to do (a huge IF), but don’t obey God in his main and most important command, how can we call them good? Therefore even if we granted that God would save good people (outside of Christ no one is good, let me just get that out there), who would even be included in that group? Certainly not anyone who doesn’t trust in Jesus alone for salvation, just as God commands them. So we see that disobeying God in one command, is in a sense, disobeying Him in all commands. James (Jesus’ brother) agrees in James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”
I challenge anyone who thinks that God will save or have mercy on anyone who disobeys His command to trust in Christ alone to reconsider their position. No one who rejects Christ is obedient to God, and therefore those who reject Christ should not be considered good people worthy of God’s mercy. God is not a universalist and will not save those who do not trust in Christ alone. Would you accept a servant, child, or employee of yours who disobeyed your commands?