Untold evil has come from the heresy of eternal torment. It takes the religion of the Bible, so full of love and goodness, darkens it by superstition, and clothes it with terror. Satan has painted the character of God in false colors, making people fear, dread, and even hate our merciful Creator. The repulsive views of God that have spread over the world from the teachings of the pulpit have made millions of people skeptics and unbelievers.
Eternal torment is one of the false doctrines, the wine of abomination (Revelation 14:8; 17:2), which Babylon makes all nations drink. Ministers of Christ accepted this heresy from Rome, just as they received the false sabbath.* If we turn from God’s Word and accept false doctrines because our ancestors taught them, we come under the condemnation that the Bible pronounces on Babylon. We are drinking from the wine of her abomination.
Many people are driven to the opposite error. They see that Scripture presents God as a being of love and compassion, and they cannot believe that He will condemn His creatures to an eternally burning hell. Since they hold the idea that the soul is naturally immortal, they conclude that all mankind will be saved. So the sinner can live in selfish pleasure, ignoring God’s requirements, and still be welcomed into His favor. A doctrine like this, which presumes on God’s mercy but ignores His justice, pleases the unconverted heart.
Universal Salvation Is Not Biblical
Believers in universal salvation twist the Scriptures. The pro-fessed minister of Christ repeats the lie that the serpent spoke in Eden, “You will not surely die.” “In the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He asserts that the worst of sinners—the murderer, the thief, the adulterer—will enter into immortal bliss after death. This is no more than a pleasing fable, designed to appeal to the unconverted heart!
If it were true that everyone went directly to heaven at death, we might well desire death rather than life. This belief has led many to commit suicide. When they are overwhelmed with trouble and disappointment, it seems easy to break the thread of life and soar into the bliss of the eternal world.
In His Word God has given decisive evidence that He will punish those who trample on His law. Is He too merciful to execute justice on the sinner? Look to the cross of Calvary. The death of God’s Son testifies that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), that every violation of God’s law must receive its punishment. Christ the sinless became sin for us. He bore the guilt of sin and the hiding of His Father’s face until His heart was broken and His life crushed out—all this so that sinners could be redeemed. And every person who refuses to accept the atonement provided at such a cost must bear his own guilt and the punishment for his own sins.
Conditions Are Specified
“I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.” This promise is only for those who are thirsty. “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:6, 7.) This text also specifies conditions. To inherit all things, we must overcome sin.
“It will not be well with the wicked” (Ecclesiastes 8:13). The sinner is treasuring up for himself “wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds,’” “tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil” (Romans 2:5, 6, 9).
“No fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” (Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 22:14, 15.)
God has given us a clear statement of how He will deal with sin. “All the wicked He will destroy.” “The transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.” (Psalm 145:20; 37:38.) The authority of the divine government will put down rebellion, yet His justice in punishing sin will be consistent with the character of God as a merciful, kind being.
God does not force the will. He takes no pleasure in slave-like obedience. He wants the creatures He has made to love Him because He is worthy of love. He would like them to obey Him because they have an intelligent appreciation of His wisdom, justice, and kindness.
The principles of God’s government are in harmony with the Savior’s command, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). God executes justice on the wicked for the good of the universe and even for the good of those who receive His judgments. He would make them happy if He could. He surrounds them with evidences of His love and follows them with offers of mercy. But they despise His love, overturn His law, and reject His mercy. Even while they constantly receive His gifts, they dishonor the Giver. The Lord is very patient with their determined self-will, but will He chain these rebels to His side and force them to do what He wants?