"Will I go to heaven?"
That is probably the most common question people ask regarding what’s after this world. And on the heels of that question, the next is, "How do I know for sure?"
Imagine a world where everyone will go to heaven, guaranteed and that there is absolutely no question all people everywhere and in all times will live in heaven with Jesus forever. Wouldn’t that be great?
Well, yes and no. Yes, assurance of salvation is a wonderful, priceless gift! But is a gift truly a gift if everyone receives it? What if it’s your birthday and you get the present you’ve always dreamed of - but so does everyone else who decided to show up at your party? Wouldn’t you feel less special if everyone received the same gift regardless?
God wants to give us the gift salvation. He truly does - to each and every person on earth! But He can’t give us that gift unless we believe that it is Him, and Him alone, who saves us.
Universalism is like everyone at your birthday party receiving your prized present.
Universalists, who may or may not claim that title, believe that everyone will go to heaven. Period. No questions asked. No particular belief necessary. Are you a good person? You’re going to heaven! Are you a bad person? You can go too!
The Bible is very clear that although God desires that all will be saved, it will not happen that way. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 states:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
God desires that every single person come to know Him and have a relationship with Him. But, there is only one way to receive this gift: through Jesus. In John 14:6, Jesus says,
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Paul elaborates on that in Romans 1:16:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Universalism is the belief that all people will be saved. However, the Bible clearly gives us the truth - all people who believe will be saved! You can’t just show up at the party; it needs to be your birthday, and it’s your birthday every day when you believe in the precious gift of salvation through Jesus.
Have you ever run into something that is both awesome and annoying at the same time? Omnipresence is one of those things. It’s a word that we humans try and use to describe an indescribable God. It is both awesome and annoying that we cannot fully describe God. It is awesome because God is way bigger and more complex than we could ever possibly comprehend or imagine, and therefore we know He is more powerful than us. But at the same time, it is annoying to those of us (like me) who want to understand how everything works! My analytical brain wrestles with the fact that I will never be able to understand God. Yet that is precisely why I am able to worship Him.
So, what is omnipresence specifically? The “in a nutshell” definition is “to be present everywhere at the same time.” Because God is not limited to a human body like we are, He is infinite and can be in all places at all times. He is a spirit being, not a human being. He is present not only everywhere on this earth, but also everywhere in the universe - all right now, at this very second!
This is a very difficult concept for us to understand. I am where I am, and I am nowhere else. Right now as I type this I am sitting at my computer. I am not in my kitchen, I am not at the park, I am not in a restaurant. I am only in one place. My finite human brain can only comprehend being in one place at a time. I joke that a couple times I have been in two places at once: twice I have pre-recorded episodes of Do Not Keep Silent with Jason, so I joke that while I was on the air on a Sunday evening, I was also at home at the same time!
Since we cannot comprehend being in multiple places at once, let alone everywhere in the cosmos, how do we know that God is omnipresent? To quote my favorite Sunday School teacher (who also happens to be my mom): Because the Bible tells me so! Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV) says:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
In case that’s not enough for you, check out Jeremiah 23:23-24 (NIV):
“Am I only a God nearby,” declares the LORD, “and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.
The Lord God Himself tells us that He is everywhere at all times. We can never flee from His presence; He fills up heaven and earth! This is both comforting and frightening to us as mere human beings. We are comforted by the fact that God is always with us, yet we are frightened that God sees every thing we do - whether we want Him to or not!
God’s omnipresence is something that we humans can never understand, but we do not need to; if we fully understood God, then we could not worship Him as God.