WHO will enter the Kingdom of God? Who can be saved — another way of expressing the question. I believe to some extent most of us are ‘hopeful evangelical universalists’. We believe in the God of love who sought to find his lost people, his lost creation. God covered the earth in a large tent, something like a tabernacle in the wilderness. God’s presence is that tabernacle, and according to the Bible, that presence has been poured out on everyone (see Acts 2).
Everyone who came into creation came spiritually and organically through Christ. All have been made in the image of God and God has particular love for every one of his children (see John 3). If that is true then let’s consider the following scenarios of children within God’s eternal care.
A child who tragically dies in infancy. My mom lost a child who had died even before she was born. Will these children be damned forever or brought lovingly into God’s Kingdom? The Bible doesn’t tell us but I believe they are with the Lord because I believe in a loving God. Now some Calvinists believe that it is possible these children will be damned because they are not part of what Calvinists term ‘the elect’, those favored by God for salvation. The term ‘age of accountability’ doesn’t enter the equation since there is none given in the Bible, only inferred by religious interpretation.
What about a mentally impaired person who knows not the right response to an offer of salvation from a well-intentioned evangelist? Maybe he or she can mimic the correct answer but certainly not from understanding. Again we are hopeful that God will welcome these people into salvation.
Next we consider a person who has grown up in India under Hinduism teachings. We say we don’t know. Very conservative people say they are not the elect by reason of God’s choice. See, these are theories and theologies and I believe they are wrong. Even if Romans 1 speaks about natural revelation, God is a free God, free to love; free to bring whomever God wants into the Big Tent. People who don’t even know they are God’s children will have such a revelation at some point.
Now we observe an eighteen-year-old woman who was severely abused by her father and at this point in her life cannot believe in a ‘loving heavenly father’ and will not accept God’s son. Never having been brought into a loving relationship with the Savior she dies in unbelief. Does God stop loving her and count her unworthy of his eternal grace? We hope not.
And all the good Samaritans of this world? These are people who have done such good that aligns with God’s will but haven’t confessed Christ. I have hope for them as well as the victims of wrongs like slavery, abuse, children who through neglect were allowed to die of hunger or disease, Jews and Russians who were cruelly executed. I read the other day about an execution in our ‘sane’ country where, in the opinion of some, any chance for salvation was killed in the execution of a criminal. Even Jesus wasn’t willing for that to happen.
If we are God’s children we are hopeful for everyone, even our enemies. I mean it’s even possible for Trump supporters to be saved. We’ve no reason to wish eternal torment on anyone if we are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.
God’s tent is big, as big as the universe. Oh, it may be that some will deliberately walk or run from that tent, like the prodigal did, but even in that scenario the door is left open. If you read the end of the book of Revelation you will see that the door to the Kingdom is left open.
The big tent of God, the presence of God in Christ whose birth we celebrate, is the assurance of our hope. The Bible says in John 1:14 that ‘God came and tented among us.’ He walked and talked with us and thus the whole world, extending the invitation farther and farther and even into eternity.
God is hopeful too. He wants all his creation to be restored and he wants to reconcile the whole world to himself. God wants all to be saved. And since God is not a robot or mechanical manager he has the freedom to relate to all people, even after death. That’s God’s freedom and desire.
I don’t want my tent to be any smaller that my Father’s tent-house-mansion and Kingdom. Like God I desire all to be saved. And that’s scriptural. So I am what some would term ‘a hopeful Christian universalist’.
And that’s Good News for the world, as the angels proclaimed.