There are some people, including some Christians, who believe in universal salvation. This is the belief that everyone who dies will end up in Heaven. I know one person who takes this to the extreme and includes Satan and all his demons as those who will be saved. This same person hangs everything on one verse, and that’s Colossians 1:20. As far as he’s concerned, this one verse covers it all, as if there are no other verses in Scripture. In fact, Colossians 1:20 is a primary verse that universalists in general hang their position on. The fact is, there are an abundance of scriptures that oppose such an idea as universal salvation. While we could go into great detail and examine all those scriptures, there’s one statement by Paul that does the job by itself:
“so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope.”
That statement is taken from this context:
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-14) – 13 Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians. (NET)
Vs. 14: “as Christians” – (“in Jesus” – LSB, ASV, NKJV, KJV, Mounce, AMP, WEB). (“in him” – NIV).
In context (1 Thes 4:13 thru 5:11), Paul is talking about those who have died in Christ—those who had received Christ as Lord and Savior. More specifically, he’s talking about the believer’s resurrection at the return of Christ. The Thessalonian Christians were concerned about their loved ones and friends and members of their assemblies who died “as Christians.” They also may have been concerned about themselves, if they too were to die before that time. At this point in the early establishment of the Church (New Covenant gospel era), they were unclear about what was going to happen to believers upon Christ’s return (to set up His eternal kingdom – Rev 21 & 22). Apparently, they thought they might miss out if they were not here for it. So Paul assures them that when Jesus returns, His redeemed who died (those who “sleep”) would be resurrected to be with the Lord forever (1 Th 4:17). He also explained that those who are still alive at the time of His return, would be “caught up” to meet Him in the air—without dying (1 Th 4:17)
Therefore, Paul is encouraging these Christians not to be grieved over other Christians who die, because we will all spend eternity with the Lord someday—unlike those who “have no hope” regarding their deceased unsaved loved ones, who died in their sins (Jn 8:21-24). Here Paul makes it clear that there is no hope of Heaven for those who die apart from Christ. He makes that even more clear in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10—particularly, verses 8 & 9, where Paul reveals that “those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, will “undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord…” Paul’s message is that those who die without Christ as Savior, have no hope that anything will change after death. In other words, those who die in their sins will miss out on the believer’s resurrection, and will have their part in the “resurrection of “judgment.” (Jn 5:29; Rev 20:11-15). The writer of Hebrews says that after death comes “the judgment” (He 9:27). Eternal judgment is all that awaits those who die without Jesus.
We who have Jesus as our Lord and Savior, have eternity in His presence to look forward to. Those who die without Him, have absolutely no hope for that. This is what the Bible actually teaches—not the false teaching that everyone will be saved. People who believe that, do so because they believe that since God is a God of mercy, He has to save everyone. What they fail to recognize is that He is also a God of justice. They may believe that punishment for sins is only temporary, that it doesn’t last forever. However, that’s not what the Bible teaches. Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that there is hope beyond the grave for those who “die in their sins” (Jn 8:21-24). That’s not what Jesus taught. On the contrary, He taught that the unrighteous (“the goats,” as opposed to His “sheep” – Matt 25:31-34) would “depart into everlasting punishment” (Matt 25:46,41). In other words, punishment that lasts throughout eternity, in a place called “the lake of fire,” which is revealed as a place of “torment” that goes on “forever and ever” (Rev 20:10-15).
Furthermore, John reveals in his gospel that those who reject the Son in unbelief, “will not see life,” but that God’s wrath “remains” on them (Jn 3:36). “Will not see life” is emphatic. In other words, they will never experience life (in Heaven). We have God’s word on it! Finally, “remain” means exactly that. God’s wrath will remain on those who die in unbelief and rejection of His Son. In other words, God’s wrath will never be removed from them. Both Paul and John taught what Jesus taught (Matt 25:41,46). Jesus has the final word on this subject. Period.