Keith Ward – Judgement, Heaven, and Hell
On the broad issue of salvation – Keith Ward believes that everyone goes to heaven and to believe otherwise denies God’s unconditional love for humanity. Quoting Romans 5:18 as a proof text that clearly shows everyone goes to heaven he says “This should be sufficient to settle the issue of who gets saved. Everyone does, for God does not limit the divine love to just a few”. Ward claims that we should always read passages in their context and also within the broader context of all of Scripture. However, he fails to do so in this case. The overall theme of Scripture regarding salvation and heaven is that there are requirements to enter heaven. I agree that Jesus did all the “work” on the cross and we cannot “earn” our salvation, but we have to accept the free gift. God has endowed us with free will and that means that we can accept the gift or reject the gift.
The most important issue that needs addressed is what was Christ’s sacrifice all about? If everyone gets to heaven without any acceptance on our part, then why did he choose to become a human, feel normal pain, suffer injustice, get beaten, and ultimately die a hideous death on a cross? If everyone gets into heaven then the life, death and resurrection of Christ was all for nothing because God could have just made it so without dying.
The sacrificial system that God instituted demands that blood be spilled to cover or forgive sins. In the Temple system, people had to offer unblemished animals as a payment for their sins. The blood of the animal would “cover” the sin of the human but not cleanse the sin away. Christ came as an unblemished and pure sacrifice that erased the sin of all humanity in the extent that they should accept it. If I were to offer a lamb for my sins, the lamb paid the price for me but not for everyone. In the same way Christ’s death paid for everyone’s sins, but we have to accept the sacrifice.
Here are some strong words that might get me labeled as a “fundamentalist” but I believe that my conclusion is an inescapable conclusion of Scripture.
Scripture Galatians 1:6-9 speaks of people or angles preaching a gospel that is different than the one that has been preached. Verse 9 says “As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”
So what is this Gospel that Paul speaks of? It is simply that Jesus is the son of God, he came to earth, was fully human and fully God, died on the cross and rose again and his life and death is the only means of salvation.
The entire theme of the life of Christ and the entire New Testament is that we have to accept Jesus as savior and ask for forgiveness in order to be forgiven and to enter heaven. This is the logical conclusion of individual texts and the overall message of the New Testament. In order to say that what we believe doesn’t matter you have to say that all the passages related to this theme do not say what they plainly say.