A friend once told me that she believes God is love, and as such, she could never imagine him condemning anyone to hell. She pointed to Colossians 1:19-20 to support her view:
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
It does say “reconcile to himself ALL things”, doesn’t it?
Philippians 2:9-11 seems to convey the same message:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If everything on heaven and earth is to be reconciled to God, how will this come about? When Christ comes again will he simply pardon all of mankind, open their eyes to his glory and thus bring about universal worship? If we look in the book of Revelation, (which is the Bible’s account of the end times and the Second Coming), we certainly don’t see this to be the case. While it records the redemption of God’s own, it is very much an account of judgement upon the world and all who refused to acknowledge Christ as Lord.
In fact, its clear to me that the belief that we’ll all get to heaven cannot possibly align with the gospel at all. There’s warning after warning of man’s evitable spiritual death apart from Christ:
“Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”. (Matthew 25:41)
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains in him”. (John 3:36)
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done”. (Revelation 20:12-13)
The way we understand the term “to reconcile” in Colossians 1:19-20 involves not only the redemption of those who know Christ, but also the restoration of all creation under his supreme rule. He will create a new Heaven and a new Earth (Revelation 21:1).
As I write, this world is on the precipice of a pandemic. It isn’t the first, and it may not be the last. Only God knows how widespread the coronavirus will be, and only He knows how long it will last. We begin to see that something as tiny as a microscopic organism has the power to plummet the stock market and impact the modalities of trade, education, and livelihoods, not to even mention healthcare and of life itself. We see how fragile we are, and yet we are reminded of His sovereignty and our need for Him to step in and make all things new. Imagine when Christ suddenly comes back to eradicate all that is wrong in the natural world with one command! The turmoil and groaning of this Earth will be quieted with the ceasing of hurricanes, heat waves, snowstorms, or any other type of natural disaster. He will strip all evil of its power from the slightest misdeed to the most tyrant of leaders. He will cast Satan into Hell for good. He will vindicate the wrongs, bring everything under his submission, and make everything right again, as it was before the Earth was cursed (Genesis 3).
On that day, some will bow joyfully – holy angels and redeemed men – while others – the unsaved and rebellious will do so in defeat and resignation. Either way, we will all bow to him.
Is God so cruel as to cast the unredeemed into hell? I say he is infinitely kind to allow any of us to avoid it at all. We don’t deserve heaven, even the best of us, and yet he has shown his great love in giving his son to die so that we may be saved.
Are you reconciled to God? Have you chosen a joyful confession and obedience to him today, or will you find yourself in a sorrowful confession when it is too late?