Every sensitive person, facing the question of human destiny, must surely long to be a universalist. No one could desire to see another person brought to the end of all existence, whether at death, as conditional immortality teaches, or by the judgment of God after death, as annihilationism teaches; no one could wish to think of the bitter pains of eternal death consciously and eternally endured by sinners, as traditional orthodoxy insists. Hence, the tremendous human attractiveness of a belief which assures eternal life and bliss to every soul of man!
However, sentiment cannot be exalted into a theological norm, and when one sees the extent to which universalist writings lean upon analogies of human love, one realizes that there is at least a danger of the wish being father to the thought. For the truth is that man as such possesses no yardstick whereby to measure eternal issues. We do not know by instinct what the love of God is like, and therefore we need to beware of the human analogy; we certainly do not know for ourselves what the holiness of God is like, and therefore we must beware of giving much weight to what sinners think of the seriousness of sin. Only God can say what precisely are the facts, and what are their implications. We must rigidly adhere to the principle: “To the law and to the testimony!” What has the God of truth written for out learning?
Old Testament. The Old Testament insists on the fact of human survival of death. This is asserted as true of godly and ungodly alike. The life in Sheol, the place of the departed, is the expectation of the patriarch Jacob (Gen. 42:38) and of King David (2 Sam. 12:23); equally it is the lot of the heathen king of Babylon (Isa. 14:9) and of “the multitude of Egypt” ...1
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