“But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:22-27
We saw in our last test of The Hell Test that “anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15) While that seems to be a statement of finality, there are still two chapters left in The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Maybe it will be there that we discover something missing in the argument of “Christian Universalism;” that God will one day redeem every human being ever born, no matter what they believed or what they did during their lifetime, and welcome them into the eternity of Heaven. Let’s see.
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
Revelation 21 introduces us to a “new” heaven and earth. Why? Because the first heaven and earth had passed away. After all that this current heaven and earth have been through because of the sin of Satan, Adam and Adam’s race, God puts away the old and introduces the new. Then Jesus said these words to John:
“Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:5-8
Jesus again puts limits on who will be part of the “new” thing He does in Heaven. Jesus said He would give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts and the person who overcomes “shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” That sounds great, but does it include everyone who has ever lived as the universalists would have us believe? Jesus said, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” There is a group of people, an apparently large group of people, that will not spend eternity in Heaven, but will instead “have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
It’s important to note that Revelation 21 is still in the visional context of the new Heaven and earth and the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. It is at this point that Jesus tells John about the kinds of people who will have their part in the lake of fire.
Immediately after Jesus spoke these words to John, one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to John and talked with him, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” The angel carried John away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed him the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God, having the glory of God.
After measuring and describing the beauty and majesty of the New Jerusalem, John wrote that he saw no temple in the city because the “Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” John also noted that the New Jerusalem had no need of the sun or the moon to shine in it because the “glory of God illuminated it.” John said that “The Lamb is its light.” John wrote that “the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.” Notice the words “who are saved shall walk in its light.” The universalists teach that everyone who has ever lived will be among the “saved” in Heaven. If so, then why does John write this? “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” John is quite clear that the only saved people in Heaven are those “who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” That is consistent with the rest of Scripture, as we have seen in our previous studies.
We come now to the last chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22. If something is going to prove the universalists’ belief that everyone will go to Heaven no matter what they believed about God and His Christ during this life, this is their last chance. The final part of the vision concerning future things is the first five verses of Revelation 22:
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”
Did you see anything that changed what Jesus said in Revelation 21 or 20 or 19 or any of the chapters that came before? Nothing’s changed. We see God’s servants serving Him and seeing His Face with His Name written on their foreheads. We see them reigning forever and ever.
That’s the end of the vision and nothing in that vision supports the universalists’ claim concerning the ultimate salvation of all souls. In fact, Jesus said to John, “behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.’ 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.” (Revelation 22:12-15)
Again we see Jesus giving rewards to those who do His commandments. They are the ones who will have the right to the tree of life, to enter through the gates into the city. Will there be any outside of the city who will not be allowed inside? Yes. “But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”
Let’s be fair. There are still six verses left in the Bible. Maybe something said in them will overturn everything we’ve seen in the Scriptures so far.
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.’ And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. ‘For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:16-21
No. Nothing there to overturn everything in the Scripture that says God will punish the wicked with everlasting fire. Nothing. In fact, Jesus says clearly that if anyone adds to what’s in the prophecy, God will take away their part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in the Book of Revelation.
What does that say about the future of so-called “Christian universalists?” They have added things to the Revelation of God that aren’t there and taken away things from God’s Word that are there. What does Jesus Christ say will happen to them? “If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Universalists have two things headed in their direction: (1) the plagues written in the Book of Revelation, and (2) no part in the Book of Life, the Holy City, and the other amazingly wonderful and beautiful things written in the Revelation. Remember, that’s what Jesus said. He’s the Judge who sets the rules and that’s what He says will happen to anyone who adds to or takes away from what is “written in this book.”
The universalists are without any ground upon which to stand. They fail miserably in their attempt to prove that God will set aside everything He has said in His Word to save all people in some magical way after their physical death. It’s just not there. The Hell Test is tested and receives an “F” for final failure in the glaring light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The spiritual damage universalists have done is difficult to calculate, but it is most certainly great. Angels are keeping record and Jesus Christ will declare His judgment and sentence upon them. As for those of us who believe in God’s eternal judgment, let us go forward with the knowledge that what we preach and teach is correct and profitable for all who hear and obey.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
Another excellent study, Mark. Thank you for doing this.