The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven: Appendix II – Summary of the Book

Appendix II – Summary of the Book

The Old Testament presents a clear and consistent view of human afterlife: every person who dies descends to a place called Sheol.  That’s the Hebrew term; the Greek word for it is Hades.  This depiction, of course, sharply contrasts with the traditional view that righteous human beings go to heaven while wicked human beings go to hell.  Nonetheless, it is beyond dispute that the Old Testament identifies but one destination for the dead:  Sheol/Hades.

Anyone who contradicts this is either ignorant of the Old Testament or dishonest about its contents.  Most people just assume that the Bible teaches the traditional view without ever examining the Scriptures themselves on this subject.  Such examination is complicated by the fact that the traditional view has dominated the minds of translators such that only study in the original languages or in literal translations with concordances allows a clear view of what the Scriptures actually teach.  Most people don’t have the time or resources for such study so they are at the mercy of what they have heard.  Thus there are many people who think they have a biblical understanding of the afterlife, when all they really have is a story that someone told them was biblical – with maybe some isolated “proof texts” thrown in for reinforcement.  (If you don’t trust my portrayal of the Scriptures, you can do your own word studies with any exhaustive English-Greek-Hebrew concordance; Appendix I will give you a start, but you can just as easily start with your own Bible and concordance.)

This worldview of Sheol/Hades below as the resting place of all the dead was fully embraced by Jesus and, of course, His apostles.  After all, the Old Testament was the Bible to them.  They based their lives and everything they believed upon what it said.

The apostles wrote the New Testament based upon what Jesus had taught them.  What Jesus taught was that resurrection would come for the dead, and it would lead to heaven.  This was a stunning revelation for while many had looked forward to a resurrection of the dead, they expected it to be on earth…not in heaven.

Just as there was only one destination identified for the dead in the Old Testament (Sheol/Hades), there was only one destination identified for the resurrected in the New Testament (heaven).  After His own resurrection, while proving to His disciples that He had permanently conquered death, Jesus opened their minds to see how this entire plan had been prophesied in the Old Testament.  Thus Jesus was not departing from the Old Testament but rather bringing to light what had been hidden there all along.  Afterward, He Himself demonstrated the routing of resurrection when He ascended to heaven.

There is much more that can be said about the two truths outlined above, and the book indeed says much more.  However, these two truths are the essential foundation upon which we may know that everyone goes to heaven.  For if the Old Testament said that all who died went below to Sheol/Hades, and the New Testament says that all who die are resurrected and go to heaven, then it follows that the Bible says everyone is going to heaven.

Appendix III – Individual Bible Verses

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20 Replies to “The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven: Appendix II – Summary of the Book”

  1. Mike,

    You have an interested and compelling take on the destiny of all people. It is certainly much better than the Calvinism of so many. I would have to say though that it lacks any patristic or historical biblical support which leaves it fairly wide open for criticism. For instance, the Christian faith has always taught the bodily resurrection of all people. You view is gnostic and was widely condemned in the early church. I don’t write to criticize but to offer a view that you may not have heard before from the Orthodox Church. Please check out these links if you would like the well accepted views of the fate of unbelievers from an Eastern Orthodox view. There are also many in Orthodoxy, (saints included) that would hold on to universal hopes and their opinion is respected. At any rate, here’s your links. I’m happy to dialog if you are interested.
    Stephen,

    http://aggreen.net/beliefs/heaven_hell.html

    http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/6_6_10

    feel free to dialog at bpletcher1310@ahoo.com if interested.

    1. Stephen, if we have the clear witness of the Scriptures on a subject we may confidently accept it without waiting on confirmation by any church’s leaders. Nonetheless, early church fathers did indeed affirm universalism (I don’t like the term, but it’s often used to refer to the idea that everyone is going to heaven) as even Wikipedia attests.

      As for your references to the Orthodox Church (sometimes called the Eastern Orthodox Church), it not surprising that there is receptivity to universalism there because the eastern churches tend to be more biblical that the western (at least when Rome is typifying the western ones). However, the eastern churches suffer the same fundamental flaw as the western ones: that is, a refusal to acknowledge that the kingdom of God has come. Because it has come, there is no longer any need for human church leaders. In fact, they become an obstacle to Christ’s true leadership. (See Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church.)

      If you would like to know more about the kingdom having come, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again. The time for organized religion is past. This is the day of the Lord; we should all walk in the sight of Jesus Christ our Lord who sees the secrets of our hearts. If we live to please Him, He will open our eyes to all truth.

      1. Mike,

        I appreciate your reply and wish it was just as easy as reading the scripture. Like Rob Bell, I love that the presuppositions of Calvinism are being challenged. However, I ask, why should I (or anyone) side with your reading of the scripture as opposed to major Church fathers interpretation of the scripture. If you are right then each one of us is a “Pope” with infallible interpreting skills and your interpretation is no more valid than Bishop Jon Spong or RC Sproul’s Calvinism. Though I don’t agree with Calvin’s conclusion on the scripture, I think I could argue that there is an internal logic that is just as strong as the one you present. The whole point is that the Holy Spirit has been speaking to the church for 2000 years so if you suddenly interpret scripture to say that the resurrection is merely spiritual which goes against every major accepted interpretation from any age, I would have to side with what I believe is the Holy Spirit who has been speaking to the Church for 2000 years and not a lone voice with a novel interpretation.

        Without the tradition of the Church which in my case this would be the Eastern Orthodox Tradition, we are merely left to bible shooting matches, each claiming that our interpretation is better than the other– the unintentional results of the protestant reformation and the reason we have thousands of denomination, each claiming to have the correct interpretation of scripture. The Eastern Church would say that Tradition is merely the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church through creeds (Nicene), various accepted Church Fathers and the words of the Liturgies and services of the church. Without these the bible is merely a book used as a weapon for whatever end someone wants to use if for.

        Can you name one historical Christian who has interpreted the “2nd” resurrection as you have?

        Stephen

        1. However, I ask, why should I (or anyone) side with your reading of the scripture as opposed to major Church fathers interpretation of the scripture.

          You should only do so if the Holy Spirit bears witness to you that it is the truth.

          If you are right then each one of us is a “Pope” with infallible interpreting skills and your interpretation is no more valid than Bishop Jon Spong or RC Sproul’s Calvinism.

          While I don’t share your “pope” and “infallibility” language, I do agree with you that my interpretation carries no more weight that John Calvin’s or R.C. Sproul’s.

          Though I don’t agree with Calvin’s conclusion on the scripture, I think I could argue that there is an internal logic that is just as strong as the one you present.

          Actually, there are logical gaps in Calvinism. You usually find them where the Calvinist responds to a particular point by saying, “Well, that’s God’s sovereign will; who are you to question God!” This is usually a sign that his opponent has just presented a point for which the Calvinist has no logical answer.

          The whole point is that the Holy Spirit has been speaking to the church for 2000 years so if you suddenly interpret scripture to say that the resurrection is merely spiritual which goes against every major accepted interpretation from any age, I would have to side with what I believe is the Holy Spirit who has been speaking to the Church for 2000 years and not a lone voice with a novel interpretation.

          I would say that the Holy Spirit has been speaking to every human being for 2,000 years. I would not say He has been speaking to the church, for, as I’ve said, the kingdom of God has replaced the church as God’s vehicle just as the church replaced the nation of Israel as God’s vehicle (see Church Is Not the Answer).

          Without the tradition of the Church which in my case this would be the Eastern Orthodox Tradition, we are merely left to bible shooting matches, each claiming that our interpretation is better than the other– the unintentional results of the protestant reformation and the reason we have thousands of denomination, each claiming to have the correct interpretation of scripture.

          The reformation did not introduce division into the church for it was divided long before that. If you choose the Orthodox Church over any of the 30,000 others, have you not made a decision about the interpretation of the Scriptures?

          Can you name one historical Christian who has interpreted the “2nd” resurrection as you have?

          This reminds me of your previous quote where you called me a “gnostic.” What do you mean by these things? How do you define “gnostic” and what do you mean by “2nd” resurrection?

          As for the idea that everyone going to heaven is novel, I previously gave you a source confirming that it is not.

          1. Mike,

            I do love your enthusiasm in your article. I wasn’t trying to be pejorative and saying that it’s implications were Gnostic. Gnosticism is a term bantered around quite freely. I was pointing to your purely spiritual interpretation of the 2nd resurrection. The Orthodox Christian tradition (read: understanding of the scripture by the Holy Spirit by the Saints of the first millennium) was that Jesus resurrection was intensely physical (i.e. He ate fish and Thomas touched his side) but at the same time he could vanish. He was definitely spiritual but that doesn’t mean non physical. The early Christians always taught that Christ’s resurrection is the prototype of ours and that we will all rise at the end of the age when Christ returns and live physically on a restored earth—not in a New Heaven somehow unconnected with the earth He created and called good. Until then we wait in Sheol. Of course Christ has already destroyed death and filled Sheol with Himself and so even that is a joyous waiting. I could go on, but the point isn’t to try to explain the understanding of Orthodox eschatology.

            My point is this. Even though your interpretation is interesting, well thought out and even “consistent” with some scripture, it is not in line with what the Holy Spirit clearly taught Christians for a millennium. If you don’t like using the term Church, you could just say what the Holy Spirit has been speaking to Christians. It seems unlikely to me that suddenly the Holy Spirit would give you an interpretation completely different from anything taught ever before. You agree that the Holy Spirit has been speaking for 2000 years, but don’t you think we can actually rely on some of the things He actually taught and were agreed upon by millions of Christians.

            I like your interpretation and may even resonate with me, but if it contradicts the voice of the Holy Spirit, it seems unwise to embrace it.

            Again I would ask, has anyone you know and respect at anytime in church history ever posited this view?

            Also, would you see Jesus as the 2nd person of the holy trinity, very God of very God?

            I’m not looking to find you “heretical”. Maybe I’m the heretic. That is not my concern, but I’m trying to have a conversation on what is the basis for discerning truth from the scripture.

            Stephen

            1. I wasn’t trying to be pejorative and saying that it’s implications were Gnostic. Gnosticism is a term bantered around quite freely.

              I didn’t know whether you were using “Gnostic” in a descriptive sense, a pejorative sense, or both. Even though you weren’t being pejorative, I still need to know what you’re describing in my view that you think meets that definition.

              I was pointing to your purely spiritual interpretation of the 2nd resurrection.

              I still am not quite sure what you mean by this, Stephen.

              The Orthodox Christian tradition (read: understanding of the scripture by the Holy Spirit by the Saints of the first millennium) was that Jesus resurrection was intensely physical (i.e. He ate fish and Thomas touched his side) but at the same time he could vanish. He was definitely spiritual but that doesn’t mean non physical. The early Christians always taught that Christ’s resurrection is the prototype of ours…

              I agree with all this.

              …and that we will all rise at the end of the age when Christ returns and live physically on a restored earth—not in a New Heaven somehow unconnected with the earth He created and called good. Until then we wait in Sheol.

              Here is where I part company. The end of the age occurred in the latter part of the first century. At that moment, in the twinkling of an eye, like lightning flashing from one end of the sky to the other, Jesus came on the clouds like a thief in the night. Sheol was emptied as all the prior dead were raised to heaven, meeting Him in the air according to 1 Thessalonians 4. That’s when the kingdom of God came, that’s when the day of the Lord or the day of Christ began, and that’s when the day of judgment began. That’s also when the new heaven and new earth came into being. The old heaven, where Satan and his forces were positioned, were done away and Satan and his forces were cast down. There was no sea in the new creation (that is, Sheol/Hades was done away), for no one descends at death any longer. Again, as 1 Thessalonians 4 says, everyone rises at death…with bodies just like the one Jesus had. The kingdom of God is eternal and its government will continue to grow…and it will never stop.

              My point is this. Even though your interpretation is interesting, well thought out and even “consistent” with some scripture, it is not in line with what the Holy Spirit clearly taught Christians for a millennium. If you don’t like using the term Church, you could just say what the Holy Spirit has been speaking to Christians. It seems unlikely to me that suddenly the Holy Spirit would give you an interpretation completely different from anything taught ever before.

              Both universalism and preterism have had many proponents over the ages. While these are umbrella terms and I don’t like them because of their imprecision, they do indicate the historical precedent you’re seeking.

              You agree that the Holy Spirit has been speaking for 2000 years, but don’t you think we can actually rely on some of the things He actually taught and were agreed upon by millions of Christians.

              On the contrary, the Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself. Whatever He has taught stands forever. The number of people who do or don’t believe something, however, does not affect its truthfulness. Truth is not something determined by human democracy.

              I’ll answer the rest later this evening. Thanks for the questions.

            2. I like your interpretation and may even resonate with me, but if it contradicts the voice of the Holy Spirit, it seems unwise to embrace it.

              As I said above, Stephen, you should only believe what I write if the Holy Spirit bears witness to you that it is the truth. However, if you’ll look at the extensive cases I lay out in The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven and Whatever Became of Jesus Christ? there is enough Scripture that you can read it for yourself, taking me out of the equation.

              Again I would ask, has anyone you know and respect at anytime in church history ever posited this view?

              As I’ve written above, universalist and preterist positions are well established in history. However, those instances and those schools of thought are not what led me to these positions. Nor do consider myself a part of any universalist or preterist group.

              Also, would you see Jesus as the 2nd person of the holy trinity, very God of very God?

              I do not see the Trinity taught in the Old Testament or the New Testament. I believe “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” That is, I believe Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. He did not present Himself that way to His contemporaries. He did not even want to publicize that He was the Messiah until after He was raised from the dead. God was committed to living a human life with all the limitations that we face. The New Testament portrayed God and Jesus as two separate persons at that time. I cannot explain the mystery…but Jesus Christ is God. This is the profound revelation of the Second Coming of Christ. That is, He came to us the first time as a man (i.e. in the flesh); He came the second time as God (i.e. in the spirit). As Jacob said, “Surely God was in the place and I did not know it” (Genesis 28:16). I believe that because church leaders would not accept His Second Coming as a heavenly event, the Trinity was the golden calf they created to represent God. As they would not wait for Moses to come down from the mountain, and as Saul would not wait for Samuel, so they disbelieved and error resulted. God is one.

              To God be the glory through Jesus Christ our Lord!

              1. Mike,

                Thanks for answering my questions. I do understand that the word Trinity is not in the scripture, but let’s be honest, to say that God is not Trinitarian is to go again pretty much every branch of Christianity since the very beginning. Remember, we can read the works of men like Irenaus, Polycarp, and Ignatius who were disciples of the apostles. The evidence couldn’t be more clear that Christians since the beginning held to the belief in the Tri-personal God head. To say that this is a 4th century add on by the Emperor does not hold any water unless you are a Jesus Seminar follower.

                Do you really think that it is honoring or even smart to say that pretty much every branch of Christianity has gotten this bible hermeneutic wrong. You are really going at this alone. Without trying to sound harsh, there is no time in Church history (bar none) that if someone came out against the Holy Trinity that they were by definition a Christian. I don’t mean that judgmentally but only factually. Only the Arians and several other groups who were cut off from the rest of the Christians believed this.

                Even now the only “Christians” who don’t believe in the Trinity would be Jehovah Witnesses, Mormon or maybe One-ness Pentecostals or those of completely liberal denominations that have tossed out almost everything.

                Are you Ok, going out on a limb like this when the clear majority, might I say, every historical Christian: Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant (save a couple) all believes that the doctrine of the Trinity is solidly biblical? This is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith and the lack of it distorts the very fiber of the faith.
                Can you with honesty say that you can interpret scripture and have it disagree with every bit of historical bible interpretation and just pass if off as the Holy Spirit really didn’t reveal this to them and only you and a small group has the accurate interpretation? You have more faith than I do my friend.

                Even if everything I just sited were a scam or just dead wrong, let me pose the question: If I read the scripture and the Spirit bears witness to me that God is Trinitarian and you read the scripture and the Holy Spirit bears witness to you that God is not trinitarian. How in the world would you and I ever arbitrate this unless we looked historically at the people of God to see what the Holy Spirit bore witness to them. Jesus said that gates of hell will not prevail, so if the early church got this wrong and pretty much every Christian has gotten this wrong, it would seem to me that the gates of hell surely did prevail or at least we as Christians have pretty much no hope of ever agreeing on anything.

                Stephen

    2. What Mike has said notwithstanding, there actually is patristic and historical support for this universalistic view. It is becoming more widely known that the early church fathers such as Clement held a view not unlike this one. Note that this did not really start changing until the late 400’s and particularly with some of Augustine’s later views on the matter.

      1. This is a good point but I feel compelled to add that I sought to make a biblical case, which, I was taught – and taught properly – as an evangelical, trumps a historical theological case.

        To put it in coarse terms, if we know that the prophets and the apostles (i.e., the Old Testament and the New Testament) says “X” then it matters not at all if every church father and theologian living after their time says “Y” – it’s still “X.” It is on this basis that the Reformation occurred and split Western Christianity. Yes, it is true that the Reformers did look to the church fathers and theologians to adorn their scriptual arguments, but “sola scriptura” meant, and means still, that a biblical argument should be all that is necessary to establish faith.

        Having established this context for Tim’s point, I affirm it.

  2. Mike,

    Here’s my ultimate question: If you say the Bible teaches one thing and feel the Spirit bears witness to this and I read it and believe another thing (the belief in the Trinity), how do we arbitrate this? What/who is the ultimate point of determining our interpretation of scripture?

  3. Hi Mike , I also believe in the salvation of all and love your take on the scriptures.
    You mentioned that Jesus is God now, Why I don’t believe in the trinity , (I’m not attached to any group or church) this came about thru study and prayer . I do believe that Jesus is a seperate being to the father his son who was the image of the father as my son is the image of me.
    In these scriptures can you tell me what you make of them.
    Corinth 15/28 and when the all things may be subjected to him, then the Son also himself shall be subject to Him, who did subject to him the all things, that God may be the all in all.
    How can the son be subject to himself?
    Mark 16/19 The Lord, then, indeed, after speaking to them, was received up to the heaven, and sat on the right hand of God;
    Can Jesus our lord sit at the right side of God if he is not a seperate being.?
    John 2/22 Who is the liar, except he who is denying that Jesus is the Christ? this one is the antichrist who is denying the Father and the Son
    The father and the son seem to be seperate , you cannot deny one or the other , we should acknowledge both , aren’t we denying one if the father is both?

    Again these questions and your answers are great for faith , the fact all people are saved is the good news which we both share.
    Regards Karl

  4. Karl,

    The apostles spoke of the Father and the Son because those times marked the transition from Father to Son. Note that the Father says little in the New Testament, except that we should listen to the Son. God the Father was not giving a second Master (Matthew 6:24), but rather a new Master (Jude 1:4).

    When you die and go to heaven, you will be a separate being in one sense, and the same being in another. That is, the you who goes to heaven will be a new creature and will not be able to return to who you were, but you will be the same in that the you there will be the you that was here.

    The God who was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has become the God of Peter, John, and Paul. The key to understanding these things is simply to love, trust, and obey Jesus Christ…just as the Scriptures instruct us to do.

  5. I know that I will be a new creation in spirt after I’m resurrected , but when Jesus was in the flesh , he still prayed to his father while still in the flesh.Why do this ? Was he praying to himself?Go thru the scriptures I sent and explain them if you don’t mind.
    Also on your podcast I heard u say Jesus was the first ressurection , but in rev 20/6 there are also people who are blessed to be part of the first ressurection ,
    Young’s Literal Translation
    Happy and holy is he who is having part in the first rising again; over these the second death hath not authority, but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
    Who are these people that will be priests of God ?
    Thanks

  6. Karl, you said:

    I know that I will be a new creation in spirt after I’m resurrected , but when Jesus was in the flesh , he still prayed to his father while still in the flesh.Why do this ?

    Because He came to earth in order to live as a human being.  Human beings pray to God, not to themselves.

    Was he praying to himself?

    No.  He was living as a human being, and therefore praying to God.

    Go thru the scriptures I sent and explain them if you don’t mind.

    In these scriptures can you tell me what you make of them.
    Corinth 15/28 and when the all things may be subjected to him, then the Son also himself shall be subject to Him, who did subject to him the all things, that God may be the all in all.
    How can the son be subject to himself?

    This verse speaks of the Second Coming of Christ in which all things were made subject to Him, the point at which He inherited all things (Hebrews 1:2).  All things that had previously been subjected to God were at that moment subjected to Christ.  That’s when the dead were raised to heaven.  For a full explanation read or listen to Whatever Became of Jesus Christ? The Biblical Case for the Second Coming as Accomplished Fact.

    Mark 16/19 The Lord, then, indeed, after speaking to them, was received up to the heaven, and sat on the right hand of God; Can Jesus our lord sit at the right side of God if he is not a seperate being.?

    Jesus was seated at the right hand of God’s throne.  Since no one can see God, no one knew that God had left His throne to become Jesus (Philippians 2:5-8).

    John 2/22 Who is the liar, except he who is denying that Jesus is the Christ? this one is the antichrist who is denying the Father and the Son The father and the son seem to be seperate , you cannot deny one or the other , we should acknowledge both , aren’t we denying one if the father is both?

    If you want the Father, confess the Son – for as the apostle John said, “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23), and as Jesus Himself said, “No one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

    Also on your podcast I heard u say Jesus was the first ressurection , but in rev 20/6 there are also people who are blessed to be part of the first ressurection ,
    Young’s Literal Translation
    Happy and holy is he who is having part in the first rising again; over these the second death hath not authority, but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.  Who are these people that will be priests of God ?

    The New Testament saints – that is, the church we read about in the New Testament.

  7. Thanks for the reply , in the past I have emailed different teachers with questions , but in a lot of instances no replys .I commend you for the information you put out and patience you show to comments , keep it up
    Regards Karl

  8. Hi!

    I’ve recently been reading some of your posts, and while it seems very interesting, I’m afraid I don’t fully understand.

    It says that everyone who dies goes to heaven, does that include: murderers, rapists, robbers, adulterers, and so on?

    I’m sorry if this question may seem dumb, but I want to make sure I fully understand what you are saying.

    Regards, Ignacio

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