Pretty much anyone who has ever affirmed the truth that God really is the Saviour of all mankind to an Infernalist (someone who believes in the doctrine of everlasting torment) or to an Annihilationist (someone who believes that some people will cease to exist forever after the Great White Throne Judgement) has been asked a variation of the question, “If everybody will be saved, what’s the point…?”
There are a number of ways the question can go from there, but we’ve all heard one or more of those variations at one time or another. I’ll get to each of the variations momentarily, but before I do, it’s important for you to realize that these questions say a lot more about the person asking them than they do about the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation itself. Anyone who asks any of these questions is demonstrating just what the extent of their reasoning abilities, not to mention their scriptural knowledge, really is, and they’re also revealing something about their true character to us. And so, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the variations of this very common question:
- If everybody will be saved, what’s the point of Jesus’ death?
Any Christian who asks this question should be deeply ashamed of themselves. Why? Well, let’s reword it slightly: “If anybody will be saved, what’s the point of Jesus’ death?” The answer to both questions is the exact same: “Without His death, nobody could be saved.” You’d think this would be obvious, but because most Christians don’t actually think Jesus accomplished anything through His death (since most of them believe that nobody is actually saved by His death for our sins, His entombment, and His resurrection, but rather that we have to do something to help save ourselves on top of what He accomplished, by having to choose to believe and/or do something specific, thus completing the last step of our salvation for ourselves), it often slips their minds entirely that, whether only one person gets saved or whether everyone gets saved, His death for our sins (and subsequent entombment and resurrection on the third day) was still 100% necessary for that salvation.
So if you’re a Christian who has asked this question, go contemplate why you think so little of what Christ accomplished through the cross. And if you’re a believer who has been asked this question by a Christian, consider whether your time might be better spent doing pretty much anything other than discussing spiritual matters with that person.
- If everybody will be saved, what’s the point of being good or avoiding sin or evil?
This is often followed up with a statement along the lines of, ”If I knew for sure that everyone would be saved in the end, I’d be out there raping and murdering people, since I’d know there would be no consequences for it.” Now, I sincerely hope they’re not being serious when they say things like this, but considering the number of Christians who have made statements like this to me, I’m beginning to wonder. I mean, I personally believe that everyone will experience salvation in the end, and it’s never even crossed my mind to do those sorts of things, so it’s very disturbing, to say the least, that this is where so many Christian minds immediately go.
However, while it’s tempting to skip over this question because of how depraved it tells us the minds of the ones making these assertions might be, I’m going give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that they’re simply using hyperbole there (although I still wouldn’t spend any time alone with them, just to be safe), and I’ll go ahead and answer the question (and, to be fair, there are a few people who ask the question without including that additional disturbing statement as well).
Now, there are a number of answers to this question, but the first thing to consider is that doing good is often a reward in and of itself (at least for people who aren’t sociopaths). I personally do as much good as I can simply because I enjoy doing nice things for people, and I avoid doing evil to people because I don’t want to hurt other people. That said, it’s true that doing good can instead result in evil being done to the person doing good at times, so that isn’t necessarily going to be the strongest motivation for everyone at all times. However, Scripture also tells us that we’ll reap what we sow, even if perhaps not in this lifetime, so it’s ultimately still worth it in the long run.
The next thing to consider, especially if one is a member of the body of Christ, is that there are rewards to be had in the impending eons for the actions we take today (I’m not talking about salvation, but rather rewards on top of the salvation and reconciliation Christ won for us through the blood of His cross), and I would personally like to enjoy as many of those rewards as I can when the time comes.
And as far as everyone else goes, this next part is going to sound strange to most Christians, because few Christians are particularly familiar with what Scripture teaches, but the end result of the Great White Throne Judgement is based entirely upon the actions of those being judged there, and has nothing to do with whether one has been saved or not. While those who have been saved prior to this judgement will get to miss out on being judged at that time, the end result of this judgement has no connection with salvation beyond that, but is instead based entirely on whether one’s actions were primarily good or primarily evil (and not based on whether they sinned, I should add, since ”sin” is something entirely different from “evil” — not to mention the fact that all sin has already been dealt with completely by Christ’s death, and is no longer something anybody should concern themselves with any more).
The fact of the matter is, most people who are going to be judged at the Great White Throne will actually get to go live on the new earth (only a relatively small number of people — basically the worst of the worst — will die a second time in the lake of fire). Now this probably sounds confusing to most Christians, because most of them have assumed that salvation is from being punished forever in the lake of fire, but that’s not quite right. While it is true that anyone who is saved in this lifetime won’t have to worry about the possibility of suffering the second death, this is because salvation from an absolute perspective is ultimately about being made immortal (and hence sinless), and nobody who will be judged at the Great White Throne will have been made immortal at that time, which means getting to live on the new earth after this judgement isn’t the same thing as being saved (the fact that they haven’t been made immortal also means that nobody can suffer any longer than it takes to burn up in the lake of fire, I should add). Now, that doesn’t mean anyone who manages to avoid the lake of fire will necessarily also eventually die a second time because they haven’t been made immortal, but this is because many of them will instead be amortal instead.
This probably calls for a quick lexicon break. Basically, there are four states that a human can be in. The first state is mortal. This means that one’s body is in the process of slowly dying, and that it eventually will die if something doesn’t happen to change their state before their death occurs. The second state is dead (which I assume I don’t have to go into too much detail on, except to say that one who is dead is no longer conscious in any way). The third state is immortal. This means that one’s body is no longer in the process of slowly dying, and in fact that they are now incapable of ever dying (Christ Jesus is currently the only human who is immortal, at least as of the time this was written, but as each human finally fully experiences their own eschatological salvation, they’ll be made immortal as well). And the fourth state is amortal. This means that one is not in the process of slowly dying the way we mortal beings are now (partaking of the fruit of the tree of life once a month would be one reason for someone to be in this state, for those who have never heard of this concept and are wondering how it could be possible), but that they are still capable of being killed, and even of entering the state of being mortal again (if one stopped eating the fruit on a monthly basis, it would seem they would become mortal again). Adam and Eve were in this state prior to their sin (they couldn’t have been immortal, or else they wouldn’t have been capable of becoming mortal after they sinned, and in fact likely wouldn’t have even sinned in the first place), and Jesus was also likely in this state while He walked the earth, prior to His resurrection and vivification (vivification meaning the process of being made immortal).
So with that in mind, it should go without saying that people should try to avoid being the worst sort of evil-doer so that they can avoid dying a second time in the lake of fire after the Great White Throne Judgement, but people also need to try to live good lives if they want to avoid other negative sentences at this judgement. For example, Jesus explained that people who don’t forgive others’ debts will have to ”pay the last farthing” (perhaps as prisoners, or perhaps even as slaves of some sort to those people they wronged) while on the new earth prior to getting to enjoy their time there. And for those who are concerned that this means one can earn their salvation through works, salvation is connected with being made immortal, not with being mortal, as these people will be, or even with being amortal, as these people will be for some time after they’ve paid their debt, so this isn’t about salvation at all. That being said, Paul tells us that, by the end of the eons, everyone who is amortal on the New Earth will eventually experience salvation by being made immortal, and even those who have died a second time in the lake of fire will be resurrected, and this time to immortality, because of what Christ accomplished.
So bottom line, doing good and avoiding evil will still be extremely beneficial to anyone who is able to do so.
- If everybody will be saved, what’s the point of telling others to be good or to avoid sin or evil?
Aside from what you just read, telling others to be good or to avoid sinning isn’t going to save them anyway (since salvation isn’t based upon works), so the same question could be asked of anyone who doesn’t believe in the salvation of all. But what I wrote above does still apply, so I think that’s probably all that needs to be said as far as this variation of the question goes.
- If everybody will be saved, what’s the point of believing the Gospel?
Well, first things first, one either hears the Gospel and believes it, or they hear it and they don’t. A person can’t choose to believe anything (outside, perhaps, of some extreme form of self-inflicted brainwashing, but I doubt even that’s possible), so whether or not one believes the Gospel after hearing it comes down to whether their brain is currently in a state that’s receptive to believing it at that time or not, and if it is, they will believe it and they will be saved (although, whether it is in such a state at that time is entirely based on God making sure it is, because only the elect can believe the Gospel in this lifetime, with the rest having their apprehensions blinded by the god of this eon, but that’s a whole other discussion for another time). Of course, it also helps to know what the Gospel actually is and what it means (but that’s probably also a discussion for another time).
That said, those who do happen to believe the Gospel that Paul taught will get to enjoy eonian life in the heavens (“eonian life” is often translated as “eternal life” or “everlasting life” in less literal Bible versions, but it’s really just a term that means one gets to enjoy life in the kingdom of God during the next eon or two, prior to the time everyone else will experience salvation), and perhaps even reign among the celestials during the next two eons, and I’d rather enjoy that than miss out on it, even if I’d still get to enjoy salvation later if I missed out on it. But if someone isn’t interested in eonian life, that’s their prerogative (from a relative perspective, of course), and they’ll still get to enjoy salvation at the end of the eons, even if they miss out on a lot of bliss in the meantime.
- If everybody will be saved, what’s the point of preaching the Gospel?
Humans can’t help but share news, and that goes for good news too. So even though I don’t have to do so, I can’t stop myself from proclaiming the good news that Christ died for our sins, that He was entombed, and that He was roused the third day, and that, because of this, everyone who has been made mortal because of what Adam did will also eventually be vivified (meaning they’ll be made immortal, also known as experiencing salvation) because of what Christ did. But if you don’t feel so inclined to share this good news, or at least don’t find yourself wanting to (or perhaps able to) share it with everyone, that’s okay, because everyone will still experience salvation in the end because of what this good news means.