I wanted to continue our discussion regarding hell, it’s existence and it’s eternal reality with a brief exploration of what the Apostle Paul has to say regarding inheriting the Kingdom of God.
As we’ve discussed before, there is the belief that God would never, in any way, shape or form, eternally condemn people to hell for not following Him or His teachings or trusting in the name of Jesus. This is known as Christian Universalism. (A more fleshed out version of this system and some of it flaws can be found here.)
It is an interesting and compelling idea. I’ll admit, I’ve struggled with this reality. And we’re going to talk more about that as time goes on. So, bear with me. This is a heavy topic and there are a lot of verses to deal with and a lot of good arguments to wade through.
But, like I said, I wanted to take some time looking at the aspect of inheriting the Kingdom of God.
First, let’s talk about the idea of inheriting something.
This is not a foreign concept today and it definitely wasn’t foreign back during the time of Paul and Jesus, and even goes as far back as the founding of Israel, and possibly further with the surrounding kingdoms and territories.
Basically, when someone dies, usually the father or the ruling power in the kingdom, territory, or family, the sons (in the case of Israel and a completely patriarchal society), would inherit various aspects of their father’s estate/kingdom. Some would get a fair share of money, others would get land, and the oldest usually gets the house, the most money and most amount of land.
Let it be noted that slaves never inherited anything from their masters. They had to be a son or son-in-law. There was no get-around in this.
So, if we look at the idea of inheriting the Kingdom of God, it stands to reason that Christians are not slaves or servants, but rather sons.
This idea is further explained by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:27-4:7.
However, inheritance can only come if we are sons. Now, Paul looks at this idea of inheritance and relates it to the Kingdom of God.
In two separate letters, Paul uses the same idea and virtually the same language. Both instances can be found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21.
The Galatians text reads, “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance-as I told you before-that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
I actually want to point out something key here: Paul says that he is telling the Galatians about these things “in advance”. In fact, this isn’t the first time Paul has warned them about this.
Now, why would Paul tell them these things in advance. Why bring this up beforehand? Why discuss it at all?
Because he didn’t want them to be unaware and so that they don’t fall into those practices and start living their lives like that, or go back to living their lives like that. If they did, Paul warns, then they would not inherit the kingdom of God. In essence, they would no longer be considered sons and daughters of God because of their lifestyle.
I may be reading too much into this text, but it’s hard to say. Paul could be implying that very thing.
Let us then, assuming that point to be true, look at it in the eyes of Christian Universalism: at it’s core, Christian Universalism teaches that it doesn’t matter how you live your life. Eventually, once all is said and done, you will end up in heaven. (Check out the comic on my post about Christian Universalism for an interesting commentary on this fact.)
This does not sit Biblically. We must come to conclusion that only those who have been conformed to the image of Christ, by the power of God, can inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, and spend eternity with God.