Dialogue with Don and Robert (re: Heaven and Hell)

In this discussion, Don and Robert are objecting to my post Everyone Is Going to Heaven.  Instead, they believe that those who have faith in Christ are going to heaven and everyone else is going to hell. 

Don and Robert are two friends of mine.  They both identify themselves as evangelical Christians.  This dialogue took place on FaceBook several months ago.  I’ve removed it from there and placed it here.

The interaction began when Don commented on one of my blog posts (which posts directly on FaceBook when I publish it on WordPress).  Robert joined in later.

Don:  Hey Mike, one of your articles says that everyone goes to heaven. However, I could give you 100 references in the New Testament that says you must say, “Yes,” to Jesus to get to heaven. You must recognize He is the Son of God and gave Himself as atonement for sin. You cannot read the New Testament without this being clear. Why do you brush that aside? Just saying “Yes” to him is not asking too much compared to what He did for us.

Mike:  I do not brush anything in the New Testament aside, for it and the Old Testament are the word of God. I base everything I believe on it – including the truth that everyone is going to heaven. You are right to say that we should say “Yes”… to Jesus, but we do not have to say “Yes” to church in order to say “Yes” to Him. And just because everyone is going to heaven does not mean that there is not judgment for our sins – both in this life and the one to come. My message is this: love Jesus and serve His kingdom!

Don:  How can you have both? How would you feel as a father to have given your son and all you ask is that people hear and believe what He did for you is true. That is all you ask, but they reject your son in word and heart felt attitude.

Mike:  I would forgive them. Isn’t that what He has taught us to do?

Don:  God judges no one as we are judged already. Jesus is available for those who want to escape the judgement. He gives you free will. Will a loving God send someone to heaven who does not want to be there?

John 3:18, ‘There is no judgement a…waiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust Him have been judged already for not believing the only Son of God.”

Mike:  God chose heaven for our destination when we die just as He chose earth for our destination when we were born; in neither case do we choose the destination. Our choice is whether we will repent now or when we die. If we repent and trust Him now, we may be able to escape the judgments that are on the world and falling all around us. This is the promise of the verse you quote.

Don:  Where does it say in scripture that we have another opportunity following death? The only revealed will of God I can count on is what is in the pages of the Bible.

Mike:  Have you never read the scripture that says “every knee shall bow” or the one that says “as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive” or the one where Jesus says “I will draw all men unto Myself” or the one that says He died not for the sins of some “but for those of the whole world” or the one that says He is “the Savior of all men”? If these are not enough for you, read my book The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven which has much more and is posted on my blog site. Why are you so opposed to everyone going to heaven?

Don:  You have to consider those passages in view of others as well.

Romans 1 speaks of God making himself clear to all men, but that does not mean they will respond.

Matt. 10:31 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. Bu whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 10:38, “And He who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”

Matthew 13 and the Parable of the Sower. Only the seeds that take root and produce fruit are the saved. Parable of the separation of the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25.

John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believ in His name.

John 3:19 And this is the condemntion, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

John 5:24  Most assuredly, I say to you he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life. 

Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in you heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 

Romans 10:13 “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” 

No where is a Universal salvation taught in the Bible. All of scripture points to Jesus and the need to say, “Yes,” to Him. It is so simple.

Is a Muslim who blows himself up in an effort to get to heaven then a Christian? Would there be any comdemnation on the one who taught this to the suicide bomber?

1 Timothy 1:12  If we deny Him, He also will deny us.

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believer that He is, and that He is a rewarder of thosw who diligently seek Him.

Mike:  None of the Scriptures you quote make reference to heaven or what happens to a person when they die. On the contrary, they all speak to distinctions God makes among the living. And, as you can see from them, the obedience He seeks from us involves much more than “simply saying yes” to who He is. You have pushed back the Kingdom of God to something that happens at death when God would have us seek and enter it now for it is here in our midst.

Don:  I pushed it to making a decision before death, but you made it a decision after death. There are some 80 Kingdom of God passages. I believe all of them would note a decision before death.

Mike:  Don, I am not making it a “decision after death.” As I said above, going to heaven when we die is not a decision we make. It is a decision God has made. As for the kingdom of God, yes, we should make the decision to enter it now in this …life so that we can be blessed in this life and the one to come. You are confusing the kingdom of God with going to heaven when we die. The kingdom of God is the state of being obedient to Jesus. Heaven is the location of our afterlife just as earth is our location for this life. By equating the kingdom with going to heaven, you make the kingdom of no effect in this life which leads us to disregard His commandments and thus deprives us of God’s blessing.

Don:  I don’t feel I am the one who is confused. I am just telling you what scripture says.

Mike:  Don, you and I are both appealing to Scripture. We just disagree about what it is saying.

Robert:  Okay, then there’s:

LUKE 16 —The Rich Man and Lazarus

19″There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores  21and longing to eat wha…t fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.  22″The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  23In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’  25″But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.  26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’  27″He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house,  28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’  29″Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’  30″ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’  31″He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

And, MATTHEW 8:

10When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

And, REVELATION 20:

10And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
The Dead Are Judged

11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Mike:  Robert, your Matthew 8 passage refers to the kingdom, not to where we go when we die – the same thing that is confusing Don. As for your Luke 16 passage, Jesus told this story before the resurrection. Moreover, the word “hell” in verse 23 is actually “Hades” in the original language – the same “Hades” that your Revelation 20 passage says “gave up the dead that were in them.” If Hades has given up its dead, how are any dead still in it?

Robert:  So, are you discussing the “Kingdom of God” via eschatological (millennial) views (pre-Mil, A-Mil, Post-Mil, etc.)? What about the unbelieving, reprobate dead. What is their eternal destiny?

Mike:  Robert, I am discussing the kingdom of God via none of those things. I am discussing it via it being the central theme of Jesus’ teaching and that which He said in the Sermon on the Mount we should “seek first.”

Robert:  Still wondering about your view of what happens after death (especially at Jesus’ 2nd coming and the end of human “history” and the beginning of the “new heaven” and “new earth”) — what eternal distinction between the believing individual and the unrepentant unbeliever? I refer back to Don’s Matt. 25 citing:

The Judgment

31″But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

32″All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;

33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats (AD)on the left.

34″Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. . .

41″Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘(AN)Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels . . .

46″These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Also, there’s HEBREWS 10:

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again,”The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

And Paul, in 2 COR. 5 is surely making a distinction between what transpires at death for a believer (vs. a non-believer). His approach here and elsewhere is via his consistent reminder to those who are “in Christ” to “persuade men” (who are not in Christ). No “universal salvation” here (or numerous other places). If there were (for all men in all times) , then we don’t need to preach a Gospel of “Christ’s atonement for sins”/”forgiveness”/”redemption”/”salvation by faith” (et al), since everybody’s going to Heaven anyway. The question is one of eternal dwelling place (??). I think this is Don’s question and also mine.

See also: “A Vision Of Hell — Somber accounts of the reality of eternal punishment” (BOSTON, RYLE, SPURGEON, BUNYAN)

Mike:  Robert, you and Don continue to consider any scriptural reference to the kingdom as a reference to something later, something after death. I am saying that the kingdom is here and now and should be sought here and now. Your Matt 25 and He…b 10 passages both speak to the kingdom which is now and the judgment which is now. The Son of Man has already come in His glory and is sitting on His glorious throne – just as He promised.  (See Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.)

I cannot find the distinction of which you speak in 2 Cor 5. That everyone is going to heaven is all the more reason to preach the gospel: 1) so that all of us can continually give thanks to God for His unmerited and staggering kindness toward us, and 2) so that we can turn from our sins and find grace instead of judgment in this life, and 3) so that, if we do repent here, in the life to come we may have the opportunity to receive honor in heaven for indeed some who are first here will be last there and some who are last will be first (That is, everyone is going to heaven but each will receive glory there according to what he has done here – and glory in heaven is different from, and infinitely better than, earthly glory.)

Robert:  I have no disagreement whatsoever with you that Jesus’ Kingdom is here and now, that we should “live” in that confidence and the knowledge of it current and future benefits.

The concern that I still have (Don too??) is one of eternal dwelling re: believers and unbelievers. Your references (immediately above) are for believers “in Christ” (e.g. 2 Cor.5).

What about all the others? In my opinion, you haven’t yet addressed that adequately, unless of course you still purport a “universal salvation” of all men with not eternal consequences (punishment) for those who die without faith in Christ. Please clarify your position on that specific point.

Mike:  I do not know how to be more clear: Everyone is going to heaven, and every act is brought to judgment. It sounds like you think these two ideas are incompatible.

Robert:  “Everyone is going to heaven, and every act is brought to judgment.” I agree, Mike, although I think I might state it this way: “Everyone will ultimately appear (in Heaven) at the final judgment seat of God.”

It’s what happens when the “…judgment” process is completed that I’d like to get your input on. Let me see if I can rephrase the SPECIFIC QUESTION I’d like you to answer:

Q: At the end of all human history, where (and in what sort of literal “environment”) will all UNBELIEVERS in Christ in this life spend ETERNITY after they die?

Mike:  A: Heaven.

Robert:  My question had two prongs; the second one was: “(and in what sort of literal ‘environment’)” — i.e., experiencing eternal punishment or not?

Mike:  There are consequences in heaven for how we have lived here – both negative and positive. However, the environment is heaven and so it does not include the unremitting physical and emotional torture described in your SermonIndex link above….

I deal with these issues at the level of detail you are seeking in this book:  The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.

Robert, you know the Bible and so you know that the Old Testament taught that everyone went to Sheol (Hades) below at death. My question for you is: “Since that was the single destination for the dead until Jesus ascended to the right hand of God in heaven, how and when did that destination change for anyone else?”

Don:  What happens when you send people to heaven who don’t want to be there? You will end up with almost the same situation we now have on earth. We have people trying to be good and do the right thing with people who just don’t care and are explotive of others. God gives us free will and allows us to make a choice. There are people who will make the choice they don’t want to be in heaven.

Robert:  As I have skimmed your lengthy posting at the above link, I can’t help but remember that the Bible describes Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as “propitiation” = a wrath-ending sacrifice for a “people of his own possession.” If there is to be a distinction—on earth, in this life, “by faith”—between those who belong to the family of God “in Christ,” then surely those who do not belong to that same believing “family” are outside the benefits and application of Christ’s work. If not, then why repent and come to faith at all?  If it’s only about “this life,” then why not just “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” without any real consequences that we have to “worry” about.

If you think about it sin is an “ETERNAL offense” against an ETERNAL, holy, sinless God. The consequences for sin should be comparable. We expect “justice” for crimes (sins) committed against each other on earth (e.g., murder, rape, child-molestation . . . et al); why wouldn’t/shouldn’t we expect the same from the God of justice if we reject his Son (of mercy)?!

As for me, I do not know, want, or serve a God who will allow the guilty to go unpunished. My (anybody’s) sin either is paid for by Christ, and I am redeemed and forgiven “by faith” in Him or I am condemned by my own guilt, non-repentance and rejection of the One who comes to be a “Savior” of the elect of God, and I should and will receive the “just consequences” of that sinful rebellion in my own person.

Our problem may be that we take sin way too lightly. “Justice” is indeed tempered by “mercy” because of Christ. But there is “condemnation” apart from Christ. It’s clearly taught all through the N.T., particularly Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. To think otherwise is only to cheapen and to make Christ’s atoning work inconsequential (literally).

Mike:  Don, no one in his right mind would reject heaven as a home. That people reject the idea here on earth is merely evidence that they are not in their right minds – they are blinded by sin. Therefore, we pray and live that their eyes may be opened, but even if not, death is the removal of the veil of flesh and all will bow to the glory of God. The repentant rich man in the Luke 16 story that Robert quoted demonstrates this. Besides, many of the people saying no to heaven in this life are not saying no to Jesus; rather, they are saying no to the hypocrisy they see in the gospel presented to them (self-seeking churches, ministries, individiuals, etc.). Let us present Jesus and Jesus only and see if more do not embrace Him. No one will be in heaven who will not be grateful to be there, though some may bitterly regret the way they lived on earth.

Mike:  Robert, you must not be aware that you are painting a picture of God that trivializes sin and portrays Him as unjust – the very ideas you say you oppose. I say this because you seem to be saying that those who profess faith in Christ won’t… be punished for their sins but those who don’t profess faith in Christ will. Thus you have God under-punishing the professors (by not judging them according to their deeds) and over-punishing the non-professors (by condemning them to infinite punishments for finite offenses) – the actions of an unjust judge. Further, your view trivializes sin because it suggests that the mere profession of faith removes sin’s consequences. Ezekiel 18 makes clear that continued blessing comes only with continued obedience and that continued wrath comes only with continued disobedience. Professing faith is Christ is a good thing, but it is not a magic talisman (John 13:17; Matthew 7:21).

I know that deep down you do not believe the doctrine of a fiery hell for nonprofessors that you are proclaiming because if you did, you would never spend a moment of life doing anything other than warning people of this eventuality. You are trapped in religious thinking that has nothing to do with the Spirit of Christ. Return to your first love. He who released you from your sins in the beginning of your walk with Him will release you from the sins you’ve committed since then. Spurgeon, Ryle, and the others did not die for you – Jesus did. He is alive…and well…and as personal as ever.

It is you who are – albeit unintentionally – rendering His atoning work inconsequential by insisting that its effects do not reach as far as the curse is found. Moreover, you are making Adam a more consequential figure in human history than Christ (thus eviscerating 1 Corinthians 15:22 of its meaning). And you are ascribing more power to human decisions than you are to those of our sovereign God.

Robert:  I am not saying that obedience in unnecessary. Jesus is both “Savior” and “Lord.” Those who claim Him as the former must also bear the fruit of following Him as “Lord.”

As to Christ’s atonement and “our sovereign God” and His “decisions,” I… firmly believe in that often unpopular, but biblical doctrine of “election” that God, “the Potter” has indeed created “vessels unto glory” and “vessels of destruction.” A very unsettling (and often avoided) N.T. Pauline teaching in Romans 9. He cautions us there too, not to think we have any reason or right as “clay” to argue with the “Potter.” Again, I know that the whole idea of an “elect of God” is an unpalatable concept for many, but it wasn’t my idea, and it’s in the Bible. The Greek root word(s) associated with this teaching (elect, election, “choose”) literally mean to “speak out,” involving God’s “foreknowledge” = “setting His love upon” beforehand. (Eph. 11:14//Romans 8). My biblical thesis work was on this very topic of God’s “adopted” children “in Christ.” The whole “predestination” issue comes to bear too, another very unpopular yet biblical teaching.

Simply put, the Bible nowhere affirms a “universal” salvation. If so, we can just stop talking about all those technical, theological issues and pronounce everybody ultimately “saved” at their deaths. Only problem is that this is not the teaching of Scripture.

God doesn’t have to “punish the professors” since indeed that would be “double jeopardy” with the list of their transgressions, the decrees against them having been “nailed to the cross” along with Christ, the perfect God-Man, the “second Adam” in their stead (again, Hebrews, Galatians, Romans, Corinthians et al).

For you to present a teaching that seems to contradict the biblical teaching of numerous of God’s servants down through history (including Spurgeon, Ryle, Bunyan, Boston and literally hundreds if not thousands of others) would at a minimum put you in among a very small contingent of similar folks who would not be considered orthodox, evangelical Christians. The doctrine of a “universal” salvation of all men has been historically and soundly rejected by orthodox Christianity.

Mike:  If we are going to limit ourselves to the light seen by Spurgeon, Bunyan, and others then why not throw away the Bible and study only their writings? God forbid! And these men themselves would forbid such behavior, too. So, if we believe th…ese men are lights but lesser lights to the Scripture then let us indeed put the Scripture in a higher place and allow it to correct and supersede them when and where warranted.

Orthodoxy is in the eye of the beholder. Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles were all considered unorthodox in their time and for this reason were killed by their contemporaries…and then extolled by the generations that followed. That’s the way of the world. It’s sad and ironic, but truth comes into the world birthed by pain.

Nevertheless, I can still understand your reluctance to accept a doctrine from me that was not previously preached by others you respect. Therefore, consider this:

1. Just because you have not heard it before does not mean it is necessarily wrong.

2. My only appeal is to the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit who bears witness to the truth. I would not have you believe me for any other reason.

3. At the very least, study out the references to Sheol (Hades) in the Old Testament and ask yourself, “If this is where everyone who died went, how and when was this changed?” For if it has not changed, then everyone is still going there when they die (which would mean that no one is going to heaven – except Jesus, of course). The link I sent will help you but is not necessary. The Bible alone is sufficient.

4. You don’t have anything to lose from this study since it will be of the Scriptures which you love and, for all you know, should strengthen your own current convictions and further prove me wrong.

5. I will be interested in what you learn from this study. You may see things that I did not.

Fair enough?

Robert:  What has “changed” from OT to NT, Mike, is everything that is made full in Jesus Christ. The OT things are “a tutor to lead you to Christ.” So, in all of this, do you believe in a universal salvation of all men?

Mike:  You say Scripture is your authority but then you dodge my challenge to let it decide our disagreement. I’m saddened by that.

As for your question, it sounds like you’re trying to find a theological cubbyhole in which to file me. I don’t …want to play that game. I don’t know all that you or others might mean by that term. As for what I believe, my blog is a thorough and unambiguous record. And although it’s much shorter, I’ve been clear and straightforward in this string of comments as well.

My challenge remains: Every competent student of the Bible knows (or can easily learn) that Hades (Sheol) was the destination of all the dead before Christ. Unless you have a scriptural explanation of how and when that was changed (for the NT states that the dead had still not at that time been raised – only Jesus), then you have no basis for believing that anyone other than Jesus has gone to heaven (John 3:13).

What you will find if you do the study is that our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has turned the world upside down to draw all men to Himself. All praise and honor and glory be to His name and His name alone. The description of how He did it is laid out in Scripture (both OT and NT). When He shows it to you, just be sure to believe it lest the chastisement of the prophets should apply (Acts 13:40-41).

Robert:  Using your perspective, Mike, I get some “chastisement” from the prophets shouldn’t be a real negative thing, since all men are going to heaven. I just don’t see your ultimate point or even your “Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Seems like it doesn…’t really make a lot of difference other that one we “might” experience in this life by our “obedience.” Where’s/What’s the impact of our disobedience/unbelief on our eternal destinies? From what I can gather from you, not a whole lot (less accolades, less “jewels,” farther back in heavenly “rank.” I guess I just don’t get your point. Sorry.

Mike:  Robert, you seem to be saying that eternal destiny is far more important that any intermediate destiny (and with this I would readily agree). You also seem to hold to the traditional view that our eternal destiny is either heaven or hell. …

If I have you right on these two points, please tell me how much variation you see in outcomes for those going to heaven and hell. That is, for those going to heaven is the experience pretty much the same (along the lines you suggest above “less accolades, less…” – that is, “not a whole lot” of variation) or much more varied and therefore important for us to pursue. And the same question for those going to hell.

Robert:  Correct: Heaven —ultimately the “new heavens and a new earth” restored to the sinless, Garden state (not NJ, by the way) and hell. Heaven and the eternal residents of a “new earth” will be an environment of glorified bodies and souls witho…ut pain, tears, possibility of sin (etc., etc.), where we shall see God as He really is, and join in perfect fellowship with each other and our sinless, perfect Savior, the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

Meanwhile, hell will be, by God’s decree and sovereign supervision, a place DEVOID of any grace, blessing, favor, fellowship, rescue, comfort, joy, pleasantness, _____________, ____________, ________________ et al!

In a nutshell, either in God’s presence and eternal blessing OR apart from any conscious experience of God’s presence (even though He’s omnipresent) except a knowledge of unending judgment for our denial of Him while on Earth (the original one).

Again Mike, this is found in biblical teachings, hence the “good news” (Gospel) that God, in Christ (“Immanuel” = God with us), came to deal with sin and its consequences, the appropriation of which comes “by grace through faith” and the “works (of obedience to the Lord) that evidence that faith. No belief, no repentance, no faith = no salvation = the Bad News! Consequence of the former — eternal blessedness with God.
Consequence of the latter — eternal judgment of God.

Mike:  On those going to heaven, are you saying they are going to heaven or to earth (new earth) or some to one and some to the other? If some to one and some to the other, what determines the destination?

On those going to hell, are you really sa…ying that their is no variation in the experience for anyone there – that a Hitler, or serial murderer, or an infant, or a person who lived in a part of the world where they never heard of Christ, or a person who otherwise lived a righteous life but did not confess Christ all have the same eternal experience?

Robert: Re: Heaven: At death our spirits (souls) immediately are in God’s presence there. “New heavens” and “new earth” are noted in Scripture as being establish at the end of human “history” when God will be redeem and restore His creation (also “…groaning” “waiting” – Romans 8 ) as well as His “adopted” family members (with bodies/souls reunited in “glorified” perfected state.

Re: Hell: None of the above. Unrepentant (on earth) sinners are it’s eternal residents. While I do believe that some sins are more heinous than others (hence the OT stonings, etc. as an illustration to us), unrepentant, rebellious sinful people of all categories, unforgiven “by “faith” in Christ, the Savior of sinners are still “dead in trespasses and sin”—unholy offenses against a holy God—and will be held personally accountable.

As to “infants”—I believe you know my covenant theological perspective on that re Westminister Confession of Faith and “infants dying in infancy,” as well as the biblical teaching on “one believing parent” receiving God’s stamp of “holiness” (set apart to God) of their offspring. We also know the biblical teaching of how much God loves the little children. He is also the author of life, determining the exact number of days, hairs on the head, etc.

As for those who’ve “never heard of Christ” or “live a righteous life but did not confess Christ”— God is also sovereign over the proclamation of His Gospel, and there really is no “righteousness” inherent in man apart from Christ. Wrong motives, self-serving, not God-honoring, etc. “The heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all else.” (GEN. 6) “There is none other name (Christ) given among men whereby we must be saved” (ACTS).

Once again let me remind you, Mike, that the Bible nowhere teaches a universal salvation nor an “unfairness” with God for anything He chooses to do (ROMANS 9 — “Potter” and the “clay” and “vessels prepared for glory/destruction”). Paul says not to argue with God about these matters. Apart from God’s willingness to save ANY OF US by His “mercy” (not giving us what we deserve) and His grace (giving us what we don’t deserve), then we would all perish eternally. He doesn’t need us. He is One God in three Persons, existing from all eternity and continuing through all eternity.

Mike:  I’m not arguing with God – or even with you at this point. I’m merely accepting the fact that you don’t believe me when I say the Bible says everyone is going to heaven and trying to find out what you do believe it says. Therefore, please clarify your position on heaven: are you saying that people who go to heaven go there immediately at death (without bodies) and then eventually to earth (with bodies), or do some of them remain in heaven? (And if some remain, what determines who lives on earth and who lives in heaven?)

Also, please clarify your position on hell regarding infants dying in infancy. You told me that you believe the infant goes to heaven as long as at least one of the parents has confessed Christ. However, what about an infant who doesn’t have even one believing parent? I looked up the Westminster Confession of Faith which you referenced and it seems to be silent regarding the infants of unbelieving parents so I’m still not sure what you believe. In any case, I’m less interested in what you think the Westminster Confession of Faith says than in what you think the Bible says.

Robert:  Mike, I simply don’t have enough time to try to demonstrate (“convince”?) you what the Bible teaches about this. There are lots of others who surely have devoted their whole lives to the issues. I’ve presented what I can in the limited amount of time I have to do so. And, yes, you’re correct by saying that I don’t believe you when you say “the Bible says everyone is going to heaven” because my Bible doesn’t say or indicate that, except for their appearance there to be separated out for their eternities based on faith in Christ. And that we’ve already discussed here in previous exchanges. Not sure there’s any more I can offer. Thanks for helping me reinforce what I already believe.

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