Is the concept of universalism true? 

Author: BibleAsk Team

The doctrine of universalism is not true according to the Bible.

Christian Universalism

It is a school of Christian theology that stresses the doctrine of universal reconciliation. This doctrine states that all human beings will ultimately be saved and restored to a right relationship with God. Christian Universalists teach that sinners will be sentenced to hell as a remedial process through purgatory then they will be released to join the saints in the eternal bliss of heaven.

The Saved and the Lost

The Bible doesn’t support universalism but instead confirms that there will be two groups at the end of the world – the saved and the lost. The New Testament teaches that “The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28, 29 also Revelation 22:12). God, “will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:27). Also, in the Old Testament teaches the same truth: “That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? … Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb” (Job 21:30, 32).

After the judgement, the righteous will live forever but the wicked will suffer in hell everyone according to his sins and then die the second death (Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 12:47, 48). “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 21:8). But hellfire will go out (Isaiah 47:14; Revelation 21:1, 4). Hell will not last forever.


The doctrine of purgatory is not found in the Bible. It is a Catholic teaching. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” In other words, Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully cleansed during life.

To Catholics, the time spent in Purgatory is equal to the severity of the sins that one has committed that were not forgiven before their death. Roman Catholics also teach that a person’s time in purgatory may be shortened, and his pains alleviated, by the faithful prayers and charitable works of those still alive.

Christ’s Death Is Sufficient

The idea that believers have to suffer for their sins after death is contrary to what the Bible says about Jesus’ sacrifice and salvation. The Bible states that Jesus suffered for our sins so that we could be delivered from suffering. To say that we must also suffer for our sins is to say that Jesus’ suffering was insufficient.

When Jesus died on the cross, He said “It is finished” (John 19:30). He completed the work of our redemption and now He serves as our high Priest in heaven (Hebrews 4:14-16). Paul says in Hebrews 10:14, “By one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy.” Hence, those who believe in Christ are “made perfect” forever; no further “purging” is necessary. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). They just need to live according to the truth by God’s power.

Salvation by Faith Not Works

The idea of Purgatory and prayer for the dead, indulgences, meritorious works on behalf of the dead, etc. are all based on salvation by works. The Bible opposes this false teaching and instead says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). Thus, believers don’t do works to be saved but because they are saved.

The great danger in the purgatory doctrine is that it encourages people to go on sinning all through their lives thinking to wait to make things right when they die and reach purgatory only to find that it’s too late. The Bible teaches there is no second chance after death (Hebrews 9:29).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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