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Attacking Hopeful Universalism

Revelation 22:17 – How Hopeful Universalist ‘Hell to Heaven’ Cultist Twist It

Duke Jeyaraj

A hopeful universalism cult false teacher who operates from South India  quotes a verse from the book of Revelation to teach that people who live in hell can move to heaven.(1) He quotes this verse: ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty com; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.’ (2) However, this is a clear case of taking the verse out of context. We must read just above this verse to understand the context. Revelation 22:16 says that Jesus was talking to John, the author of the book of Revelation. He asked John to carry these messages to the ‘churches’ (The plural used the author was talking about actual local churches, see Revelation 22:16). The plural used indicates that John was to carry a message to the local churches still on the earth. And what message did he have to carry? This message: ‘The Spirit and the Bride (the local church still on the earth) had to say, ‘Come’ (to the sinner on the earth, who is lost) (Rev. 22:17)! Revelation 22:17 is a call to the local church which is being prepared as a bride of Christ (see 2 Cor. 11:2) get involved in the work of evangelism here and now, empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8 teaches the Holy Spirit was given to empower church believers for evangelism). Revelation 22:17 does not teach the cultic doctrine of hopeful universalism (the teaching that even those in hell will come to heaven). Rather, it is a call for Spirit-empowered evangelism for believer in the local church here and now.  Jeremy Royal Edward confirms this interpretation of Revelation 22:17 when he wrote, “With its repeated invitation to come and take the living water as a gift (i.e., that is free grace: see Eph. 2:8-9), Revelation ends with passionate evangelistic appeal.” (3)

Another confirmation that Revelation 22:17 is taken out of context by hopeful universalist is what we read following that verse. Revelation 22:20 records the words: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” So, the evangelistic invitations like ‘come and drink’ is to be extended till the return of Jesus by believers of the local churches who are bride of Christ! After Jesus’ return, it will be too late to come to Him. 

We also cannot interpret the book of Revelation 22:17 in a way the interpretation violates the clear message of the rest of the book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation mentions that hell punishment is forever repeatedly (Rev. 14:11; 20:10) and there is no way one can assume that Revelation 22:17 was opening a way for escape from hell into heaven as this cultic Chennai pastor suggests.

Let us return back to the Bible and challenge Bible-twisting cults. Let us not join hands with ‘dogs’ (in Revelation 22:15 stubborn hell-populating teachers are compared to ‘dogs’ – see Phil. 3:2 where Apostle Paul also calls cultic false teachers ‘dogs’) who will certainly land in the lake of fire outside the city (heaven), along with their followers, if they and their followers do not repent from false teaching practice and broadcasting.

(1)  Jesudian  Silvester,  New  Heaven  and  New  Earth  -07-04-2020  – Jesudian  – End  Times,  YouTube,  April  7,  2020:  accessed September  15,  2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsvJ43lZme0&ab_channel=JesudianSilvester

(2) Revelation 22:17 (English Standard Version). 

(3) Jeremy Royal Edward, ed., HCSB Study Bible: Large Print (Nashville, TN: 2015), 2230.

(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org).

By dukewords

Duke Jeyaraj was born to missionary parents in Vellore, South India and was saved at the age of 11 and committed for ministry and received the Holy Spirit Baptism at the age of 13. God opened the door for him to preach first as a school boy at the age of 16. He is a trained Agricultural Engineer [B. Tech from SHIATS, Allahabad, India], who did not pursue a career in the line of his education but nevertheless enjoys growing cacti in the balcony of his rented Chennai flat, during his spare time! He could have been a sports commentator but prefers to wrap Bible Truth around sports magic moments and other interesting-to-Google Genners contemporary events. God’s call upon him made him utterly restless and he obeyed that call to by founding the Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission (G4 Mission) in 2006 to finally find serenity after having served as a International Bank Customer Service Executive/Youth Pastor/Bible College Teacher/Missionary/Youth Mag Editor. G4 Mission is not a church but an inter-denominational ministry to present-day people, a ministry which Duke works full time for, as an itinerant presenter/preacher/writer-at-residence since 2008 along with his wife, putting to use the formal theological training he received from Southern Asia Bible College in Bangalore-India [M. Div - a Gold Medal performance in 2001 & Doctor of Ministry - with project on Making Disciples of Modern Young Working Professionals Among India's Google Generation, World-wide]. Several Christian publications have carried Duke's articles over the years and at present Aim Magazine (the voice of  the Evangelical Fellowship of India an umbrella body of over 65,000 Indian churches/organisations), regularly carries Duke's writings. Duke's Bible-teaching book on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn and more called, Straight Talk, is presently available on Amazon and Google Books.  Duke has preached by invitation beyond his national borders (we are talking about nations such as Bangladesh, Singapore, Germany, Nepal and the United Arab Emirates). Duke is called a 'Reverend' by a leading denomination (even as his ministry remains indepedent and inter-church).  Duke is called ‘dad’ by Dale (now a St. Stephen's Delhi student) and Datasha (now in Class 9) and ‘hubby’ by Evangelin (the daughter of a missionary couple to Odisha who is a hospital admin grad currently studying M. A. in Biblical Studies with SAIACS Bangalore) and calls Chennai, India, his current home after living in Hyderabad till June 2021. In case your curiosity is triggered by hearing all this, you may checkout www.dukewords.com [if you are the reading plain text type], www.soundcloud.com/shoutaloud [if you are part of the audio-listening tribe] and www.youtube.com/visitduke [if you group yourself with the video-steaming generation])

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