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CHAPTER SIX ****** TRUTH vs. "Sacred Cows"
The following treatise will be an expansion of the outline appearing at the end of this book. If you wish a very quick overview of the Biblical validity of my assertions, or to search out for yourself the scriptural references that I will be using, the outline will be an excellent reference tool. Since no intelligent discussion of any subject can be carried on unless all parties involved attach the same meaning and frame of reference to the symbols and words of the language being employed, I will begin my writing by conducting a brief Concordant inquiry into a few of the key Hebrew and Greek expressions that we will be dealing with. Please DO NOT let the idea of considering the Hebrew and Greek languages of the Holy Scripture overwhelm you. It is NOT necessary that you be able to read either Hebrew nor Greek in order to follow what I will be discussing. What IS necessary is an open heart, a teachable spirit, and a hunger to know the God of Creation and of the Holy Bible - the FATHER GOD!
Over the centuries, God has continually made available to man greater measures of revelation and better tools to search and understand His Word, to the end that we might KNOW HIM who is beyond human comprehension in a greater, deeper way. This work (this book) owes a great debt of gratitude to a number of these tools. The first tool is the work and ministry of a man by name of Adolph Ernst Knock, and the ministry that represents his life work and love, the Concordant Publishing Concern. Out of this ministry came a Bible Translation called the Concordant Literal New (and Old) Testament and the writings and insight of A.E. Knoch and many other authors. The second tool of TREMENDOUS value is the computer, together with computerized Bible Translations, Lexicons, and Concordances. There are currently many, many excellent computer bible research programs, but one that I use and heartily recommend is called "The Word". It is available with a number of FREE Bible Modules (as well as others for a fee), together with both Hebrew and Greek Lexicons, and a Concordance keyed to the Strong's numbers. If you have never used a Computer Bible, this one will revolutionize your Biblical Research. What may have previously taken you hours will now take minutes!!! As I mentioned in the beginning of this book, the Concordant Ministry also has their Old and New Testaments on computer disk. If you would like more information on how to effectively and inexpensively use this tool, please contact me. Now to begin!!!
As I stated earlier, our first task is going to be to clarify some very confused Biblical words, and to lay a common foundation so that we might both be thinking the same thoughts and talking the same language. The following discussion IS NOT going to based upon emotional, religious rhetoric. It is rather going to be based upon THINKING, logic, scholarship, study, reason, and the scientific method of cause and effect, premise and conclusion -- All of these being keyed to and having their foundation in God's written revelation of Himself, the Holy Bible. If this prospect does not appeal to you -- If you are not willing to examine God's word with an unbiased heart and a willingness to abandon all ideas and concepts that can not be reconciled to a dissection of that word, no matter how dear and cherished they may be -- Then you would probably be well advised to quit reading now before your spirit becomes offended. Jesus said that HE is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. He also said that we CAN NOT truly know Him (and therefore can not know the Father) if we prefer the doctrines, dogmas, and traditions of MEN!! In John 3:19, the Bible makes a startling statement -- It says that, "Light came into the world, but that men PREFERRED the darkness!!" It also says in Romans Chapter 1 that men's minds became darkened because, "They did not see fit to honor God as Truly GOD."
The first and hardest concept that we are going to have to reach a common understanding on before we can continue any further is the idea, as stated in the "KJV" and others, as "Eternal", "Forever", and "Forever and Ever". Neither the Hebrew nor the Greek knows any such concept!!! I am not going to devote a great deal of space to this idea because A.E. Knoch has many excellent, in depth studies available through the Concordant Ministry. The most complete of these is: "The Greek Word 'Aion - Aionios', Translated 'Everlasting - Eternal'", by Rev. John Hanson. Simply write them at the address given in the beginning of this book and ask for their Order Blank. They also have an excellent series of expositions on the subject at their WEB Site (click here). If you plan to continue beyond this point, I also strongly encourage you to order their Literal New Testament. If you have, or have access to a computer, it would be of tremendous help for you to order a copy of the "The Word" (click here), so that you may research my points for yourself.
You will never really understand or believe what I am going to be presenting unless you are interested enough to do so. In fact, I DO NOT want you to believe on my word alone. Why should you -- Who am I -- You don't know me??? There is already enough emotional, brainwashing rhetoric in the Body of Christ without my adding to the supply!! What I desire is to provoke in you a Holy Spirit fueled hunger, that like the Bereans, you will seek out these things for yourself. Thus may God use one or many of you to go BEYOND what He has already revealed of Himself and His purpose to men of the past, and reveal new facets of His "Mystery Hidden from Ages Past". If I lose you at this point, may God richly bless your life and grant to you grace that, "The eyes of your heart might be enlightened so that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the Saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe." Eph.1:18,19
In the Greek Scriptures, the word rendered "Eternal" in the "KJV" is the word "Aeon" (Strong's Reference # 165), which denotes an age or an indeterminate period of time. The exact length of time is of no importance for our discussion. That this is so is born out by the fact that the word is translated "age" twice in the "KJV" and many times more in other translations. The word rendered "Everlasting" and "Forever" is the adjective of this word, "Aeonian" (# 166). My outline will give you the exact number of different words that the "KJV" uses to translate these two words. That these words can NOT possibly denote the concept of "Eternity" as we have come to give it meaning may be born out by looking at a number of scriptures. These passages ascribe to the "Aeons" both beginning and end, as well as indicating that there is more than ONE "Aeon" in Gods timetable. Please refer to the outline. Another interesting contradiction of our revered "KJV" may be seen in IC2 and IC3. One speaks of "a world without end" and the other speaks of "the end of the world". Now which is it??? A sane, rational mind would agree that BOTH can not be right. The "KJV" also tells us that there was a time BEFORE the "Eternity(s)" began???
An informative definition of the words AEON and AEONIAN is obtained from the American Heritage Dictionary, Version 3.5. See following:
ae·on (¶÷¼n÷, ¶÷÷n) n. Variant of eon.
e·on also ae·on (¶÷¼n÷, ¶÷÷n) --n. 1. An indefinitely long period of time; an age. 2. The longest division of geologic time, containing two or more eras. [Late Latin ae½n, from Greek ai½n. See aiw- below.]
ae·o·ni·an (¶-½÷n¶-÷n) adj. Variant of eonian.
e·o·ni·an also ae·o·ni·an (¶-½÷n¶-÷n) --adj. Of, relating to, or constituting an eon.
aiw-. Important derivatives are: no1, ever, every, never, medieval, age, eternal, eon.
aiw-. Vital force, life, long life, eternity; also ÷endowed with the acme of vital force, young.÷ 1.a. NO1, from Old English ³, ever; b. AUGHT1, from Old English ³wiht, ³uht, anything, ÷ever a creature÷; c. EVER; EVERY, NEVER, from Old English Æfre (second element obscure), ever; d. AYE2; NAY, from Old Norse ei, ever. a, c, and d all from extended form in Germanic *aiwi; b from Germanic *aiwi ÿ *wihti, ÷ever a thing, anything÷ (*wihti-, thing; see wekti-). 2.a. Suffixed form *aiw-o-. COEVAL, LONGEVITY, MEDIEVAL, PRIMEVAL, from Latin aevum, age, eternity; b. suffixed form *aiwo-t³(ti)-. AGE; COETANEOUS, from Latin aet³s (stem aet³ti-), age; c. suffixed form *aiwo-t-erno-. ETERNAL; SEMPITERNAL, from Latin aeternus, eternal. 3. Suffixed form *aiw-en-. EON, from Greek ai½n, age, vital force. [Pokorny aiø- 17.] See also *yuwen- under yeu-.
More than this, I don't wish to say on this subject at this time, other than that God is working through a series of "ages" or "Aeons" to accomplish His purpose (Eph. 3:11), and that none of these ages is "Eternal". If we can agree so far, we can go on. If we can not agree, than we BOTH have a problem. My problem will be that most of what I have to say will be to you Heresy and/or foolishness since we will NOT have a common frame of reference. Your problem will be that, given your meaning of the words under consideration, much of God's Word is contradictory and foolish, and makes no rational sense (if that is important to you)!!!
The second concept that we are going to examine is the time honored tradition of man's "Free Will". I propose to demonstrate that God has bestowed upon man the dignity of "choice", NOT "Free Will". Free Will to me implies a self-determinate sovereignty. If man DOES NOT posses this self-determination, than his will IS NOT FREE, for it is subject to the control and/or influence of one or more outside and/or inner forces. Also, if man has a "Free Will", then I contend that Satan, a being FAR greater in power and glory than man, must also most certainly have a "Free Will". If you hold the orthodox interpretation of this doctrine to be true, then I assert that we do NOT have ONE supreme, sovereign GOD, but rather THREE Sovereign, Independent, Self-determinate Beings who fit our theological definitions of "gods". Consider the ultimate implication of this position. If a puny creature like Man can resist, contradict, and thwart God's will, then surely Satan can do likewise. If this is true, than God IS NOT in control of the universe no matter WHAT word tricks you may pull out of your theological bag!! If God does NOT have ultimate and absolute control over the universe and all that is in it, what assurances do you or I have that He can really accomplish that which He promises?? How do we know after we get to "Heaven" that sin may not break out into the universe again?? What confidence do we have that Satan might not escape from the Lake of Fire and seduce some other world into sin?? Whatever your opinion on this subject may be, God's Word most certainly DOES NOT support such a concept.
If you subscribe to the current crop of platitudes such as, "The Holy Spirit is a gentleman" and, "God never forces anyone to do anything," you are going to be greatly shocked and at a loss to explain some of His clear declarations in His Word. Take for instance Isaiah 43:13, where God clearly proclaims, "I Am God. I do as I wish, and who can withstand Me?" He (God) repeats this assertion in Isaiah 46:10 where He proclaims, " I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: MY PURPOSE WILL STAND, and I will DO ALL THAT I PLEASE." It seems that Job, in the book bearing his name, had a similar exalted opinion of himself and Man in general, as does Orthodox Christianity today. He felt that surely, if God would only give him a chance, he could explain a few things and straighten God out on certain matters. Finally, when he DID get a chance to talk with God face-to-face, the outcome was that Job's view of himself was properly adjusted. He was brought to see that previously, he had spoken ONLY from secondhand knowledge of things he had heard from others and really knew nothing about himself. Now that he had seen and heard God in person, he realized just how small, weak, and ignorant he really was. If you will refer to the scriptures in Item II of the outline, you will readily see that what is portrayed in God's Word is that there is but ONE FREE WILL, and that belongs to God alone. He states quite emphatically that ALL wills and ALL creatures move in conformity to the council and dictates of HIS WILL. We may BELIEVE that we are making independent choices based upon our "Free Will", but God is there, constantly working behind the scene to move ALL according to the council of HIS Will and Purpose (Eph. 1:11).
While I will admit that our human vanity, pride, and ego may chafe under this truth, that does NOT render it any-the-less true!! So strongly is this "Ego-Need" to be in control entrenched within Man's heart, that he has substituted for the scripture of Rom 3:4, "Let God be true though every man be a liar," HIS rendering of, "Let God's Word be made a lie so that MAN's word may be true!" The Apostle Paul goes to great pains, especially in the Book of Galatians, to establish that Salvation is purely the work of God alone, requiring NO contribution from Man. He stresses over and over that it was a work finished from, "before the Ages began", totally complete and lacking in nothing -- a gift bestowed by a loving God upon His Lost and Wayward Children!! Jesus states repeatedly that for THIS purpose was He sent, "To seek and save that which was lost." Yet, in the arrogance and conceit of his egotistical heart, Man insists that it is HE who must hunt for and seek after God until HE (Man) finds Him!! Then, by great labor in penitence and many "Good Works", he must secure and maintain this "Gift of Salvation". Even the more enlightened souls pride themselves upon the fact that THEY were "Wise and Intelligent" enough to see the wickedness of their ways and to grasp hold of this bounty of salvation. This, even though Jesus also stated very clearly that, "No man can come to me unless the Father draws that man." This fact is further emphasized by the Apostle Paul in Romans 3:11,12 where he states, "NO ONE seeks after God ..... there is NO ONE who does good, NOT EVEN ONE." I don't know how much clearer God can make it than in Rom.9:16 where He emphatically states that, "It does NOT depend upon man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." The absolute need of establishing this truth firmly in our mind will become clear as my arguments continue. See "The Problem of Evil and the Judgments of God," by A. E. Knock, pps. 121-144 for a superb discussion of this matter of Wills.
Third in our line of inquiry today is the concept of "Hell". In the "KJV" and other versions, this one English word is used to render four different Greek and Hebrew words. They are "Sheol" in the Old Testament, (the New Testament equivalent is "Hades"), "Gehenna", and "Tartarus". In the OT, Sheol carries the concept of "the unseen or the imperceptible", and this idea is carried into the NT by the word "Hades". This may be seen where quotations from the OT that used the word "Sheol" are rendered "Hades" There is NO Biblical warrant (except for ONE very figurative example in Luke 16:23) for considering "Sheol" or "Hades" as a place of torment or punishment, as both the just as well as the unjust went there at death. A fine example of the bias of the "KJV" is in Acts 2:27,31, where they have the Soul of Jesus after His crucifixion in "HELL" (Hades).
"Gehenna", also known as "The Valley of Hinnom", was a refuse dump south of Jerusalem used to burn and dispose of garbage and dead carcasses. "Tartarus", used only one time in the Bible (Peter 2:4), appears to be a prison where the sinning angels are being held until the Day of Judgment. Another place lumped into the classic "Hell" by many Christians is "The Lake of Fire" of Revelations. This is, however, a distinctly different place with a distinctly different purpose. A rather interesting scripture is Rev 20:14, "Death and HELL were thrown into the Lake of Fire." If the Lake of Fire is merely another name for "Hell", how could it be thrown into itself?? If it IS NOT "Hell", then what is it and what is its purpose??
The Biblical function of "HELL", or Sheol and Hades, seems to be as the resting place for the dead when the Spirit of God is separated from the body, and the "Soul" or "Sensations" ceases. There the just await the "Last Trump of Christ", when they shall be called forth and raised immortal, and the unjust await the Great White Throne Judgment. This was of necessity a VERY brief and sketchy discourse on the vital subject of Death and "Hell". For much greater depth, I highly recommend "Death, Resurrection, and Immortality," by Joseph E. Kirk, available from the Concordant Publishing Concern.
The forth "Sacred Cow" that we are going to investigate is that of "Man's Immortality" or the theological doctrine of the "Immortality of the Soul". When Satan tempted Eve (and Adam) in the Garden of Eden, he offered them the duel lie "You shall NOT DIE and you shall be like God." Human philosophy and Orthodox Theology have propagated these lies down to the present day!! Man says that mankind is Immortal, i.e., that we have "Immortal Souls" (whatever a "Soul" separated from Body and Spirit might be). He says that upon death, this "Immortal Soul" either goes to be with God, or passes on into the regions of "Hell" to be tormented by Satan and his legions for "Eternity" or "Forever and Ever". As usual, God's Word portrays a different scenario.
First, at the beginning (Gen 3:22,23), God drove Adam OUT of The Garden of Eden, that, "He might NOT live forever !!" He says in 1Tim 6:15,16 that there is ONE ONLY who is immortal, and that is God. He says further, that immortality has been revealed or brought to man through His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ (2 Tim 1:10). The Bible states that the dead in Christ shall be MADE alive (quickened). It is this power from Christ, imparted to us, that grants immortality (see Strong's reference 2227, 11 occurrences). Finally, let's take a look at 1Cor 15:53-55, where the context is concerned with the Last Trumpet, when the dead in Christ shall be raised and the living in Christ shall be changed. Here is the unmistakable assertion that we, who are MORTAL and CORRUPTIBLE, must put on IMMORTALITY AND INCORRUPTION!! It also states quite clearly that, "The dead in Christ shall be RAISED." If they have already ascended upon death to be with the Lord, where are they being RAISED from??? Finally, at the consummation of the ages, the last enemy, Death, will finally be destroyed. Until that time, it would appear that Death is still very much "alive" and active, continuing to claim his victims. It might also be noted that in Luke 20:26, Jesus states that those taking part in the age to come and the resurrection from the dead, "Will no longer be able to die." I contend, along with many clear assertions of God's Word, that at death we DIE. Our body returns to the ground, our Spirit returns to God, and our soul returns to Sheol (Hades) or the Unseen, awaiting the resurrection. Then, the just will be raised and granted Immortality, never to die again, and the unjust will be raised to judgment. More on this subject, and the importance of it to our line of reasoning, will be unveiled as we continue.
The fifth travesty of translation (or better MIStranslation) that we are going to investigate is the word "Judgment", and the BIBLICAL concept of judgment versus that which exists in the minds of modern man. To the minds of most men today, "Judgment - Condemnation - and Damnation" are synonyms (they mean the same thing). The "KJV" uses these three words to translate the same Greek word (Strong's Ref. # 2920). It is automatically assumed that, when God brings men before Himself for "Judgment", it is REALLY for the purpose of accusing, condemning, punishing, and damning!! Thus it may come as a severe shock for us to consider that the BIBLICAL concept of the word "Judge and Judgment" is in reality one of correcting injustice or making right that which is wrong. It is NOT damnation BUT correction. This was the purpose of God in appointing Judges in Israel to render Judgment to the people. Discipline would be closer in meaning, but that word has also been twisted and distorted in the minds of men today.
We may thank our revered "KJV" in great part for hiding this concept behind a thick veil of confusion and misapprehension. The word "Judgment" appears 285 times in the Old and New Testaments. It is used to render NO LESS than 24 different Greek words (see outline). The two Strong's Ref. #'s that we are going to consider here (for time and space sake) are 04941 in the OT and it's NT equivalent 2920. That 2920 corresponds to 04941 may be seen from the NT quotes of OT passages. Three examples are Isa 42:1 to Math 12:18, Isa 42:3 to Math 12:20, and Isa 53:8 to Acts 8:33. If you have any doubt as to the personal bias of the "KJV" translators, consider that in 44 passages, 2920 is rendered "Judgment". Then, where it suits their theology in Math 23:33, Mark 3:29, and John 5:29, they render the SAME word "Damnation" !!!!
It is my contention, based upon a concordant analysis of the Word of God, that the PRIMARY meaning of "Judgment" when executed by God is toward Correction. That is, it is Remedial, with the aim of setting right that which is wrong, of making straight that which is crooked, or of bringing Justice from INjustice. In the OT, many of the passages that use the word "Judgment" from Strong's # 04941 (which is the primary one we are considering at this time) tie it together with executing Justice and doing Right (Gen 18:19,25; 1 Cron 18:14). Both the Books of Psalms and Proverbs speak of "Judgment" as something to be desired and beneficial, like Wisdom. The Book of Isaiah is particularly instructive in this respect. Many times God reprimands Jerusalem because He looked for Justice, Mercy, Righteous, and JUDGMENT to be found there -- and THEY WERE NOT. Therefore, He says, He will purge her of her dross and sins with a Spirit of JUDGMENT, then she will return to Him as the spotless bride that He intended her to be.
God's ENTIRE dealings with the nation of Israel were a Parable in which He reveals His purpose and heart in Judgment. He calls it His "Strange Work" and His "Alien Task" (Isa. 28:21). Judgment IS NOT God's ordinary dealing with His creation, but rather His EXTRAordinary!! The history of Israel and almost ALL the utterances of His OT Prophets show forth His heart regarding judgment. Jer 30:12 - 31:14 is a prime example demonstrating this heart. First, He condemns Israel for her wickedness, telling her that, "Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing, there is NO remedy for your sore, NO healing for you." Then He makes sure that Israel clearly understands that it was NOT some outside enemy or foreign invader that did these things to her, but that it was GOD Himself who was responsible. He clarifies that it is also NOT some vindictive act of vengeance, but is done for her healing and restoration. He comforts her with the promise that, "I will restore your health and heal your wounds. I will have compassion on you and restore your fortunes." Why will He do this?? God assures Israel that it is because, "I have loved you with an everlasting love and have drawn you with cords of loving-kindness to build you up again." I ask you, "If this is God's heart in the temporal, would it NOT most certainly also be His heart in the much greater spiritual??"
On this passage, I conclude my point. In Type and Shadow, the OT teaches that God's "Judgment" IS NOT Damnation - It is the Spirit of Cleansing and Restoration. YES, in certain cases God's Judgment may be severe, VERY Severe. It is non-the-less NOT Damnation, nor is it "Eternal". When it has done the work for which it was intended, the blessed results are reconciliation and fellowship with God. Please reference "The Problem of Evil and the Judgments of God", by A. E. Knock, pps. 227-344, for an Excellent, in-depth analysis of this subject.
You say that you believe that every word in the Bible is to be taken literally. You assert loudly that EVERY word, from Genesis to Revelation is absolutely true. You blithely proclaim that there are NO contradictions in God's Holy Word. Fantastic!! Let us now look at some of the, "Dark Sayings of God" -- the things "Hard to Understand", and see how they fit into your theology. If "Aeon" means "Eternity" or "Forever" (What "Forever-and-Ever" might mean is another point worthy of earnest thought); If the unbeliever is to be tormented in the Orthodox "Hell" for this "Eternity" ; If the fate of the unbeliever is sealed at their death ; If Mankind TRULY has a "FREE and UNassailable Will"; And if God creates ONLY that which WE deem "GOOD" -- then I offer the following passages for your learned comments. Refer to the outline, Item IV:
1. Throughout MUCH of the "OLD Testament", especially the Book of Isaiah, and particularly Isa. 45:7 and 54:16, we are presented with a very real dilemma according to Orthodox Theology. IF IT IS TRUE that God creates ONLY that which we as humans would label as "GOOD", and then Satan is responsible for taking that "GOOD" and twisting it into what we call "EVIL", these verses will require some VERY imaginative interpretation. For here God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, loudly and triumphantly proclaims that it is HE HIMSELF who creates BOTH Light AND Darkness; Peace (or Wellness) AND Evil (or Wickedness). He goes on to say that HE is responsible for creating the Blacksmith who forms the Weapons of War and that HE created the Destroyer to wreck Havoc. It will do NO GOOD, as some translations and some Bible Teachers have done, to attempt to retranslate the word "EVIL" so as to remove its Moral implications by using words like "Disaster", etc. This subterfuge is nothing short of AN OUTRIGHT LIE !! Anyone with a Concordance can check to verify that the word rendered "Evil" in the "KJV" is Strong's #07451. This word is the basic word of the OT used to denote Evil and Wickedness, and is so rendered "Evil" 442 times and "Wickedness" 59 times. By contrast, the word rendered "Peace" in the "KJV" is Strong's #07965, and is translated as "Peace" 175 times and as "Well" 14 times.
2. Math 12:32 - this verse refers to the sin against the Holy Spirit. Is it perhaps possible, from the wording of this verse, that there might be forgiveness for OTHER SINS in the Age (World) to come. Also, I sincerely pray that there may be forgiveness for the translators of the "KJV" for their unwarranted rendering of the word "Aeon" at this point as "World". Perhaps it was because even THEY did not think that it made sense to write "In this Eternity or the Eternity to come."
3. Luke 12:46-48 - Since this parable is comparing an earthly master to our Heavenly Master, the question that comes to mind is, "Will there be varying degrees of torment in "Hell"?? However, if a moments logical reflection is given to the matter, it will have to be conceded that ANY degree of torment, extended into "Eternity", becomes infinite in magnitude. How then, can you have varying degrees of infinity??
4. John 9:1-5 - This passage presents rather a perplexing difficulty. Here, JESUS HIMSELF asserts that God brought a man into life, blind from birth, so that He (God) might USE this man as an instrument to work through and to display Himself to the world through. This would seem to cast somewhat of a blot upon the "Theory of Free Will"
5. Acts 2:27,31 - After His ordeal of betrayal, torture, humiliation, and crucifixion, when even the Heavenly Father turned His back on Him, was the "Soul" of Jesus REALLY committed to "Hell"?? Was this the just deserts for the spotless Lamb of God after He triumphantly proclaimed, "It is finished!!" If Jesus did go to "Hell", then I ask you, "For what purpose??"
6. Romans 2:14-16 - Is it possible that, on the Day of Judgment, those who have done "by nature" the things written in the Law will be excused for certain parts of their conduct?? Also, if man has a totally "depraved" or "sinful nature", how can he keep any of God's Law "by nature"??
7. Romans 9:16-23 - Here we are faced with one of those scriptures, about which, if we read it in the context of Orthodox Doctrine, it needs truly be said that, "Seeing they DID NOT see and hearing , they DID NOT hear." Paul emphatically states that God raised up Pharaoh of Egypt specifically to fulfill His (God's) purpose, namely, that he might be a vessel through whom God, "Might display to the world His Power and thereby, His name might be proclaimed in ALL the earth." Paul goes on to say that therefore, "God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and HARDENS WHOM HE WANTS TO HARDEN!!" What is the standard interpretation of God's dealings with Pharaoh, however?? It is that Pharaoh hardened HIS OWN heart using HIS OWN "Free Will". Therefore, God was "Just" in continuing to pour out His plagues and judgments on Egypt. I again point out to you, "This IS NOT what Paul is saying!! He is saying that God planed and orchestrated this entire episode with Pharaoh in order to fulfill His (God's) own preordained purpose. Orthodoxy counters, "But HOW could a merciful God coerce a man into doing something, and then turn around and JUDGE him for it?" The Scripture gives us only ONE answer, "God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy ...." Therein, also, lies OUR problem. WE would seek to JUDGE God by OUR standards, rather than bow in subjection before Him who is Creator AND Owner. The question is, "Will we trust God to be God?" The scriptures also assure us that, "God has shut up ALL in stubbornness, that He may have mercy upon ALL." (Rom. 11:32). Let us , therefore, wait for Him to do it in His time and in His Way.
8. 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6 - These passages present some REAL difficulties for Orthodox Exegesis. They claim, in clear English, that Jesus went and preached to those Spirits who were in prison and to the DEAD.
CHAPTER SEVEN ****** Prelude and Summary
At long last we reach the CLIMAX of this book, the point to which ALL the preceding was merely preparatory. It is here that we will approach the Grand Declaration of God's Holy Word, namely, that His ultimate intention is nothing less than the "Reconciliation of ALL Things". In Eph 1:10; Col 1:20; and Philp 2:10,11, He clearly states, if we have eyes to see and a heart to believe, that this ALL refers to things in Heaven, things ON the earth, and things UNDER the earth. This certainly seems to encompass God's WHOLE creation!! In other words, if we will look past our unbelief, past our hardness of heart, past the traditions and the dogmas of man, and finally, past the prejudices of Orthodoxy, we will see that the true heart of God's Word is UNIVERSAL RECONCILIATION or UNIVERSAL SALVATION.
If you have stayed with me to this point in the book and have followed the sequence of arguments that I have lain before you, I am going to ask one final indulgence of you. That is that you will CAREFULLY consider the sequence of scriptural passages that I am going to conclude with. Dwell upon them, meditate upon them, let them sink deep into your mind like the life-giving spring rains, dissect them and inspect them. When you have done all this, if the English language has any meaning and words mean what we say that they do, then, though you MAY NOT YET agree with me, you WILL have to agree that there is some vast discrepancy between these clear declarations of the Bible (God's Word) and Orthodox Doctrine (Man's word). I entreat you again, not for my sake (for who am I but one of MANY of God's spokesmen?) but for yours. It is my sole desire that your heart might be set free from the fear and prejudice of Man's Doctrines, and be released into the freedom to soar to greater heights of knowing God and understanding His Grand Purpose!!!!
Don't let the heart of the Pharisee dwell in your breast. Contrary to how they are often portrayed by the Church, many of the Pharisees were good, devout and holy men as pertaining to the Law. Their weakness was that they preferred the, "Praise of Men over the Praise of God". They allowed their human Dogmas, Doctrines, and Prejudices to DISPLACE and REPLACE God's Word and a vital relationship to Him. Thus were their, "Ears stopped and their Eyes blinded", and when their long awaited Messiah DID come, they neither COULD nor WOULD acknowledge Him because He DID NOT comply with THEIR Religious System!!! Before we begin this grand consummation, allow me to repeat, by way of refreshment, a number of key points that have previously been established:
1. God has divided this era of His dealing with Man into a number of "Aeons" or ages. These consist of various and/or undefined periods of time. The exact number of "Aeons" is not important right now, though there seems to be Biblical support for the number FIVE. Also, the number of years in each "Aeon" does not in any way affect our stream of discussion. What IS important is that God's redemptive dealings with Man ARE NOT "ETERNAL", but take place within the sphere of these various "Aeons". Thus, the unbeliever does not suffer "Eternal Damnation", but rather Judgment and "Aeonian" or age-abiding chastisement.
2. Neither Man nor Satan has "Free Will" as it is commonly understood (or better misunderstood), but rather has freedom of choice, with God more than able to work behind the scene to direct and influence said "choosing". Thus God, as He repeatedly proclaims in His Word (and as WE repeatedly ignore), moves ALL things according to the council of HIS WILL. As Shakespeare so aptly put it, "All the world is a stage, and the people merely players." This DOES NOT make us puppets, but it DOES make us merely Creatures (and NOT gods as we would like to think) in the hands of our Creator. We are the clay in the hands of the great potter, fashioned according to HIS design and purpose.
3. God's "Judgment" IS NOT vindictive punishment. It is most certainly NOT the angry outburst of a frustrated, impotent God against an unruly creation that has broken free from the will of its weaker Creator!!!! Judgment is the ultimate tool in the hand of the Great Potter to restore His cracked and broken creation back to beauty and usefulness. It is the Good Shepherd finding and restoring the "Black Sheep" back to the fold. It is the Loving and Ever-patient Father, bringing the Prodigal once more into the family.
4. "Hell" is NOT a place of "Eternal" torment where "the worm dies not and the flame never ceases", Judgment IS NOT vindictive torment, and man does NOT inherently posses immortality. Upon his death, man's body returns to the earth, his spirit returns to God, and his soul returns to Sheol, Hades, or the "Unseen", awaiting the resurrection. At the "Last Trumpet", believers will be raised to meet our Lord in the air where we will be granted Spiritual bodies with the resulting immortality. Unbelievers will await the "Great White Throne Judgment". There, their sins will be "Judged" and they themselves will be dealt with in such a way as to effect their final restoration. They will then be cast into the "Lake of Fire which is the Second Death", awaiting the consummation at the end of the "Aeons".
5. Thus will ALL be saved by the"Blood of the Sacrifice of the Lamb", Jesus Christ. Believers are saved during this "Aeon" of Grace by Faith in Him whom we have not seen and in His Word. Our sins are purged by the "Fire of the Holy Spirit" working in us NOW. Unbelievers will be saved by Sight and by Judgment in the day of the "Great White Throne". Their sins will be purged by the fires of Judgment on that day when "Heaven and Earth shall flee from the face of Him who sits upon the throne," and all things shall be exposed to His and their gaze. Thus shall WE reign and rule with Him during the last two "Aeons", while the unbelievers shall, during this time, be cast into the "Lake of Fire". Finally, at the end of the "Aeons", shall come the grand consummation. At last sin, death, suffering, and pain shall be no more, ALL shall be made alive and restored to fellowship with their Father and Creator, and God shall fulfill His Word. He shall finally be ALL in ALL of His Creatures!!!
As we reach the consummation of this book, we are going to spend the remainder of the time analyzing in detail a large number of scriptures that explicitly state this Glorious Goal. These can only be denied by deliberate intent. They ARE NOT ambiguous or "Dark Sayings", but are quit the contrary clear and concise expressions of the English language. You MAY choose to disbelieve them and cling rather to your own doctrine. God has given you this option. You CAN NOT, however, say that they do not exist or really do NOT say what the seem to say. If these scriptures do not say what the clear rendering of English would attribute to them, then NONE of the scriptures can be relied upon to say anything meaningful, for the English language will have lost any meaning!! If this is the case, then your faith rests upon NOTHING, and you are the most foolish and wretched of men (or women)!!!
Before beginning the investigation of the aforementioned scriptures, I want to address two pointed questions for your consideration. The first is for the fathers among my readers. I appeal to the love in your fallen human nature that you have for your own children. Before you say that you can't reason from man to God, I would remind you that Jesus thought otherwise. In Math 7:11, He asks , "If YOU, being wicked, know how to give good gifts to YOUR children, will not our Heavenly Father do MUCH MORE for HIS Children?" Which of you fathers, if you had the power to change the situation, would rest content to watch as EVEN ONE of your offspring writhed in the torment of "ENDLESS FIRE"? Yet it says of Jesus in Isaiah 53:11, "He will see the result of the suffering of His soul, and be SATISFIED." BE SATISFIED, with not ONE of his offspring in the torments of "Hell", but millions upon untold millions!!! There is something seriously wrong with your concept of Love, let alone with your concept of God, if you can truly believe this!!!
It says in 1Tim 2:4 that God, "Wills that ALL men be saved." It DOES NOT say "Wishes", but "Wills". Ephesians 1:11 also says that God, "Works ALL things according to the purpose of HIS Will." In the teaching of Orthodox Christianity, this leads to one of two conclusions -- Either the Holy Scriptures lie, and God REALLY Wills that untold millions should burn in the torments of "Hell", or, despite all of the empty claims of Christendom regarding the Sovereignty and All-Encompassing Power of its "god", He is really only a second-rate deity, overruled and frustrated in His "desires" by the much stronger wills of Satan and MAN. If such is the case, it would appear that Satan's taunt toward Eve was quite correct when he promised her that, "She would be as God." In reality, she has EXCEEDED God, in that her will is superior to His !!!" Such is the "god" that Orthodox Christendom is proud to worship and exalt in. In truth, salvation becomes NOT HIS work, but rather MY work. He only OFFERS salvation. Ultimately, it is wholly up to me to grasp hold of it and to preserve for a lifetime, for a "god" who is shackled by MY WILL can certainly NOT be depended upon to insure my ultimate deliverance. Well, I praise God with my whole heart that He, by His Sovereign Grace, has opened my eyes and heart to see the truth that, though this might be YOUR "god", it is most surely NOT the Great "I AM" of the Holy Scriptures!!!
The second point that I would have you to meditate upon came by way of a Prophetic Utterance during a worship service at the church I attend. It was a challenge to the assembly NOT to diminish HIS power by OUR lack of faith and/or excess of arrogance. The question that was poised by God to us was as follows:
"When I reached out my arm to redeem YOU, was YOUR heart less wicked than that of other men? Did YOU posses a greater level of goodness and righteous in My sight than other men? Were YOU less in need of MY Grace and Salvation, or perhaps LESS LOST and rebellious than other men? Was there perhaps some GOOD THING IN YOU that brought about YOUR redemption??" If you would say, "NO, I was as ALL of Adam's Children, equally in need and equally lost," then I ask you, 'If MY Love and Grace were sufficient to redeem YOU, why then do you say in your heart that they can not redeem ALL MEN???'"
CHAPTER EIGHT ****** Paul's Soaring Logic
With these points for you to ponder upon, we will now move into a consideration of the concluding scriptures. The scriptures for this final dissertation will be found in the outline Item VII. There they are listed in Scripture order, but I am going to group them according to thought for our discussion. The first set of passages that we are going to consider begins with Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Cor 15:22. They are both FIRST in order and FIRST in significance to the theme under scrutiny. The Apostle Paul at this point rises to profound heights of mathematical logic as he labors to prove that the extend of redemption not only equals but EXCEEDS the extent of sin. His argument may be broken down into the following points:
1. Sin entered into the world through ONE man -- Adam. Through him, sin was passed through to ALL the rest of his descendants, or to ALL humanity. After Adam, NO ONE had a choice in the matter. They ALL came into the world as Sinners.
2. Jesus Christ, the SECOND Adam, came to nullify or undo the damage that the first Adam brought upon his race.
3. The Second Adam bears the same relationship to the human race, that of Father or procreator, as did the First Adam. Therefore, the results of HIS actions will be AT LEAST as inclusive as those of the First Adam.
4. Paul, however, claims that the results of the work of the Second Adam will FAR EXCEED those of the First Adam.
5. What were the respective gifts of the two Adams?? Through the First Adam SIN and DEATH spread to ALL MEN. Verse 15 states that by the trespass of the one man (Adam) the "MANY" died. Now let me ask you clearly -- Who are the "MANY"?? If the "MANY" does NOT refer to ALL humanity, then you are telling me that there were some SINLESS beings that Jesus DID NOT need to die for. However, Romans 3:23 and 5:12 say that ALL have sinned. Also, make a clear note of this -- This "MANY" DID NOT have to do anything to be constituted sinners. It was their inheritance from their father, Adam !!
6. Verse 19 goes on to say that IN LIKE MANNER, or according to the same rule or principle, the gift of the Second Adam will overflow to this SAME "MANY". If the "MANY" that received the gift of the First Adam means ALL of Humanity, by what possible manner of reasoning can you make the "MANY" that receive of the gift of the Second Adam to be anything less than ALL of humanity?? What is the gift of the Second Adam? It is nothing less than that the "MANY" shall be JUSTIFIED and made RIGHTEOUS!!!
7. Paul says, if our hearts and faith can be stretched to believe and receive it, that the gift of Jesus Christ will bring EVEN GREATER GLORY than this. He says that the "gift IS NOT like the trespass." The disobedience of ONE MAN brought death to the "MANY". How much greater weight of glory will be released into the universe by the OBEDIENCE of the ONE MAN, Jesus Christ??
8. In closing, it is noteworthy that Orthodox Christianity makes Paul to be a liar on this point, and the Obedience of Christ to be a trifling thing compared to the Disobedience of Adam. According to them, Adam's sin brought death and destruction to ALL men, while the GLORY of the Father will, in reality, impart Life and Righteous to only a VERY SMALL handful of humanity.
9. (1Cor 15:22) sums this point up quite explicitly. It states that, "As in Adam ALL die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive." Perhaps at this point you will defend your doctrine of "Eternal Damnation" by insisting that even those in "Hell" are alive. Then I ask YOU, "Can they be 'in Hell' and be 'in Christ' at the same time??" As I read the Scripture, it asserts that to be "in Christ" is to be connected to the Life of the Vine, to have the impartation of the Holy Spirit, and to be partakers of all of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. In other words, it is to have "Resurrection Life and Immortality". As Paul further states in 2Cor 5:17, "If ANYONE is IN CHRIST, he is a NEW Creature. The old has passed away."
10. This line of reasoning is also contained in Isaiah 53:11,12, where Isaiah is foretelling the suffering of the Messiah. Here he states that the Messiah will justify "MANY", as He will bear the sins of this same "MANY".
Moving along, we meet with another of Paul's mathematical -- logical arguments in Romans 6:5-8 linked with 2 Cor 5:14. I would like to regress a moment for the sake of the mathematically minded among my readers, and consider the form of his logic on this point. It is the same form that he used in the previous point. Paul uses an algebraic formula that says if D=A, and D=B, and D=C, then D=A=B=C. Here is the analysis of Paul's reasoning based upon Romans 6:5-8 and 2 Cor 5:14:
D= IF we have been united with Him in HIS Death (or we have died with Him).
A= We shall be freed from sin
B= We will be united with Him in His Resurrection.
C= We will also Live with Him.
2 Cor 5:14 goes on to make the Glorious Assertion which the LOVE of CHRIST compels us to proclaim, namely, "That we are CONVINCED that one (Jesus Christ) DID indeed die for ALL, therefore, ALL have died." Theorem D is therefore true, "That we HAVE ALL been united with Him in His death." It therefore follows that Theorems A, B and C need also be true: that, "We have ALL been freed from Sin," "We ALL will be united with Him in His Resurrection," and "We will ALL live with Him." As in 1Cor 15:23, however, "Each in his own turn."
The theological mechanics of exactly HOW ALL Humanity died, first in Adam and secondly in Christ, are outside the scope of our present discussion. However, I am sure that you at least ACCEPT the fact that in the First Adam all died, rendering ALL Humanity sinful (you MUST believe this if you are an Orthodox Christian). This being the case, you are then COMPELLED to accept that in the Second Adam ALL died again, with the result being Justification to ALL Humanity.
CHAPTER NINE ****** To "Seek" Or To SAVE
The Apostle Paul makes an impressive and enlightening statement in 1 Tim 1:15,16, where he states, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves FULL ACCEPTANCE: Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS -- of whom I am the WORST. But for that very reason, I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His UNLIMITED patience as an EXAMPLE for those who would believe on him and receive 'Aeonian' life." Talk about a scripture pregnant with revelation!!!! Let us take some time and outline a number of the key issues that Paul raises here. Apparently, Paul feels that what he is unveiling here is of PARAMOUNT importance, as he begins by pointing out that what he is about to say is worthy of FULL acceptance. What is worthy of Full acceptance?? That Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS!!! You say, "Of course, ALL Christians believe that." I ask you, however, to follow closely to what I am about to lay before you and see if, in reality, "ALL Christians" REALLY believe this, and whether this point has anywhere near "FULL acceptance".
Both Jesus Himself and the Apostle Paul state that He (Jesus) came to, "Seek and to SAVE that which was LOST" Luke 19:10 (Consider also the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin in Luke 15:3-10. It states clearly that the Seeker in the parables continues to seek "UNTIL He may be finding that which was lost !!"). As I have pointed out earlier, Paul states in 1Tim 2:4 that, "God WILLS that ALL men be saved." In the Book of Isaiah, God proclaims that, "So shall my word (my promise) be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void (empty, unfulfilled), but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. **** Isaiah 55:11
Now I put the following question to you plainly and challenge you for an Honest, Intelligent answer. The question is simply this, "Would not a sane, rational, intelligent man (or woman) find it exceedingly strange that an ALL powerful, ALL knowing, ALL loving, SOVEREIGN God who claims that what He decrees none can contradict, and who governs the Universe according to the 'Council of His Will', would fail as miserably in His avowed purpose as Orthodox Christianity proclaims???" If it is true that He came to actually SAVE the lost (which is what the Word of God states) and not merely to make an "Offer of Salvation" to those with the inner strength and goodness to accept it (which is what Orthodox Christianity claims to be true), then any man with an eye to see will have to confess that Jesus failed miserably in His Mission. According to the Theology of "Eternal Damnation", those who are the deepest in Sin, those who are the MOST LOST, those who are the Greatest Sinners, are precisely those who ARE NOT found and saved!! Jesus denounced the self righteous Pharisees by reminding them that He DID NOT come for the righteous but for SINNERS. These self-righteous Christians also need this reminder, it would appear. Paul announced that Jesus called and saved him, the WORST of SINNERS, as an example of His (God's) UNLIMITED Grace and Patience.
Least you claim that I am merely wresting selected Scriptures out of context to support my claim, let us look further. It seems to have been the peculiar characteristic of the Pharisees to MAJOR in the "Letter of the Law" and to totally overlook the weightier matter of the "Spirit of the Law". Let us as Christians beware that we do not succumb to the SAME TRAP. Take heed lest you allow certain passages to totally overshadow and nullify the Spirit of the ENTIRE BIBLE.
I would say that the Entire Theme of the Old Testament could be summed up by this passage from Lamentations 3:31-33, "For men ARE NOT cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show COMPASSION." Surely this knowledge was what kept the Nation of Israel going during their long periods of desolation. They knew that though the Lord God would chastise them severely for their Sin and Rebellion against Him, yet there would come a day when He would tenderly draw them back to Himself again. They knew this because it was His constant message to them through His Prophets!!
What then is God's Revelation to men in the New Testament? Is it to be LESS than that of the Old Testament? The Apostle John begins his Letter with the words in verse 1:29, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the Sins of the WORLD." This is further amplified by Jesus Himself when He proclaims in John 12:31,32, "If I am lifted up, I will draw ALL MEN to Myself." The Apostle Paul has MUCH to say on this theme. In 1Tim. 2:5,6 he testifies that Jesus, "Gave Himself as a Ransom for ALL." In 1Tim. 4:9,10 he states that Jesus, "Is the Savior of ALL men, ESPECIALLY of believers." How, I ask you, can this verse be interpreted to EXCLUDE unbelievers?? The author of the Book of Hebrews adds to this weight of testimony the statement in Heb. 2:9 that, "Jesus tasted death for the sake of EVERYONE." In 1 John 4:14, the Apostle John again reminds us that, "The Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the WORLD."
It would appear, at least in MY mind, that if Jesus came with the avowed purpose to SAVE ALL MEN (or the World), then He will SAVE ALL MEN. If He does NOT, I can think of only TWO reasons. The first would be that He and the Father LIED, and that was never really their purpose. The second would be that He and the Father were too WEAK to accomplish their stated purpose. They were overpowered by Satan and Man's Sin, and therefore, they FAILED. Are YOU ready to subscribe to one of these two reasons why untold multitudes of those that the Father sent Jesus to save should ROT FOR "ETERNITY" in the "Flames of Eternal Hell", particularly in light of the fact that it states in 2 Peter 3:9 that God," Is NOT WILLING that ANY should perish??"
Three more enlightening scriptures, worthy of "full consideration", are Heb. 9:26, 1 John 2:1,2, and 1 John 3:8. If Jesus, "Appeared to DO AWAY with sin," and His mission was successful, how then can SIN multiply and fester unto "ALL ETERNITY" in the "Pit of HELL"? Secondly, if Jesus is REALLY, "The Propitiation .... for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD," how is it that most of this WORLD will have to pay the price for their sins themselves for "Eternity in Hell"?? Now this word "Propitiation" is an interesting religious word. It is rendered in the OT by the expression "Mercy Seat". This was the place where, once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrificial lamb as a covering (or forgiveness) for the sins of the people of Israel. Take note -- if you were a member of the Nation of Israel, you did not need to do anything for your sins to be covered. God accepted the work of the High Priest and of the Blood on your behalf. It says in the verse under scrutiny that the High Priest, Jesus Christ, sprinkled HIS Blood for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD. The word Propitiation is also defined to mean "an APPEASING sacrifice unto God". If, therefore, God has been appeased (or reconciled) toward the WHOLE World, why does He insist upon "pouring out His wrath and fury upon those in 'Hell' (and for 'Eternity' no less)??"
Another very revealing "Type and Shadow" from the Old Testament is the concept of the "Kinsman Redeemer" and the "Year of Jubilee". It seems God provided that, if an Israelite should, due to unfortunate circumstances, be forced to sell himself as a slave or servant, he could be redeemed by a relative. Should this NOT occur, in the "Year of Jubilee" (every 50th year) ALL Israelite slaves and/or servants would be set free and most property would return to its ORIGINAL owner. Could we not, if we have "Eyes to see", detect a ready parallel here regarding God's dealings with ALL Mankind through His ultimate "Kinsman Redeemer", Jesus Christ???
For our third point, let us examine John's statement that, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to DESTROY the "Works of the Devil". Surely the Devil's works can HARDLY be destroyed when he is allowed to gloat for eternity over the millions upon millions of God's miserable creatures that he has succeeded in seducing away from their Father, and subjected to unimaginable torment in the "Flames of Eternal Hell".
The last group of scriptures that we are going to explore relate to what might be called, "God's Ultimate Intention or Purpose". They may be found in Acts 3:21, Romans 14:11, 1Cor. 15:28, 2Cor. 5:18,19, Eph. 1:9,10, Philp. 2:9-11, and Col. 1:19,20. These scriptures reveal to us the glorious intent of God's Heart, which is that, in the Grand Consummation, when all of His plan has been completely fulfilled, He will restore EVERYTHING into harmony with Himself. ALL of Creation, ALL lost Creatures (Man included), ALL things in Heaven and on the earth and under the earth will be reconciled again to their Creator. It was the Father's Good Pleasure that through His Most Beloved Son, Jesus, as the ONLY Mediator, that ALL THINGS should finally be brought together under ONE HEAD, the Father!!!! Then and ONLY then shall the Father's Heart be satisfied, when He shall finally be ALL in ALL of his Creation. Not only will the Father's Heart be finally filled, but HIS Universe will enter into the JOY for which it was created, and at long last EVERY KNEE will bow ... to the Glory of the Father. To this I say, "Amen and Amen, Come SOON Lord Jesus!!!"
I have one closing point to make. So pervasive and ingrained is the need to twist the clear declaration of these scriptures, that varied and many ploys have been attempted. One of these is to make Romans 14:11 and Philp 2:9-11 imply a FORCED subjection of God's enemies to His imposed rule. A moment's research and consideration of these two verses will soon expel that notion. First off, the word rendered "Confess" is Strong's # 1843, which is also used in passages where the meaning is to "praise or thank". Enemies subjected by brute force are HIGHLY unlikely to "Thank or Praise" their subjector, even if He is God. Regardless of WHAT warped opinions men have come up with, beings in "Hell" are even LESS likely to be doing much "Thanking or Praising". Also, exactly where is the "Glory to the Father" from the fact that the vast majority of His precious creation has been lost to despair and destruction, His power and His Wisdom not being sufficient to save them???
What I have endeavored to present to you in the foregoing pages has been nothing less than the CLEAR, UNQUESTIONABLE assertions of God's Word. Yes, it IS true that there are passages in our revered "Authorized Bible" and other translations which SEEM to allege doctrines that would contradict much of what I have said. Granting that these are faithfully rendered according to the Greek and Hebrew (which most of them ARE NOT), my closing question to you will simply be this, "What will you do with the truths and passages which have been brought to your attention??" They CAN NOT simply be cut out of your Bible and discarded!! Will you at least consider the POSSIBILITY that there is something wrong (or at least lacking) in the Orthodox view of God, His relationship to us as His Creation, and what is commonly taught about God's "Judgment, Hell, and Eternal Damnation"??
Jesus made one of the saddest observations regarding the Jews of His day when He exclaimed, "Seeing, they do not see, and hearing, they do not hear." What He was saying was that their Pride, their Hardness of Heart, their obstinacy in the Religious Doctrines of Men, and their SIN had made their hearts and minds so Blind and Deaf that they COULD NOT, they WOULD NOT recognize and honor Him as their long awaited Messiah. It can only be concluded by careful observation of the facts that this same Blindness, this same "Veil of Moses", rests upon the majority of Christendom today.
CHAPTER TEN ****** "The Holiness of God", by R.C. Sproul
I recently came across a classic case of this Mysterious Malady in a book that I just finished reading. It is entitled "The Holiness of God", by RC Sproul. Right up until the last chapter, the author was doing a superb job of expounding upon what is meant by "the Holiness of God" and of the Biblical call for us as Christians to be "Holy, for He is Holy". In fact, on the back flap, Chuck Colson, author of "Loving God", referred to Mr. Sproul as, "One of the most Brilliant Thinkers of our day". As he entered into the last chapter, something must have gone astray within his thinking processes. He begins with loud applause for an early American preacher named Jonathan Edwards and perhaps his most famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God". It is probably best to allow you to draw your own conclusions about this sermon, so I am reproducing a small portion of it following. You might also draw your own conclusions about the state of a great deal of Evangelical Christianity by the Standing Ovation that they seem to insist upon rendering to Mr. Edwards and his sermon.
Note: This is a portion of the sermon by Jonathan Edwards:
"The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked. His wrath towards you burns like fire. He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in His sight. You are ten thousand times more abominable in His eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended Him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince. Yet, it is nothing but His hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you were suffered to wake again in this world after you closed your eyes to sleep. There is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the House of God, provoking His pure Eyes by your sinful, wicked manner of attending His solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.
O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in! It is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder. You have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. . . .Your wickedness makes you, as it were, heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell. If God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf. Your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold and keep you out of hell, than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock."
Note: This section is a comment by Mr. Sproul:
"In the application section of the sermon, Edwards places great stress on the nature and severity of God's wrath. Central to his thinking is the clear notion that a holy God must also be a wrathful God. He lists several key points about the wrath of God that we dare not overlook.
1. Whose wrath it is. The wrath of which Edwards preached was the wrath of an infinite God. He contrasts God's wrath with the anger of men or the wrath of a king for his subject. Human wrath eventually concludes. It has an ending point. It is limited. God's wrath can go on forever.
2. The fierceness of God's wrath. The Bible repeatedly likens God's wrath to a winepress of fierceness. In hell, there is no moderation or mercy given. God's anger is not mere annoyance or a mild displeasure. It is a consuming rage against the unrepentant.
3. It is an everlasting wrath. There is no end to the anger of God directed against those in hell. If we have any compassion for our fellowmen, we would wail at the thought of a single one of them falling into the pit of hell. We could not stand to hear the cries of the damned for five seconds. To be exposed to God's fury for a moment would be more than we could bear. To contemplate it for eternity is too awful to consider."
Now Mr. Sproul, as I was able to deduce from his writing, tends to be a Calvinist, or a professor in the predestination of man by a Sovereign God. As to this point, VERY GOOD, for I have made it quite clear that I see God as being Totally Sovereign, governing ALL THINGS according to the Council of HIS WILL alone!! Hold this fact in your mind for a moment -- I shall return to it shortly. Mark also that the theme of his book pertained to the absolute Justice, Love, Wisdom, and Judgment of God, as entailed by His Holiness. The point at which I began to notice that there was indeed something discordant about Mr. Sproul's thinking was where he could see NO DIFFICULTY with reconciling a Being of these qualities and possessing TOTAL, UNASSAILABLE POWER over against what he was applauding in Jonathan Edwards sermon!!
In the event that you see NO contradiction either, allow me to explain to you my observations. These not only outline the Calvinistic precepts put forth by Mr. Sproul but, to a large part, the "thinking" of mainline Christianity. What I especially wish you to note in the following, however, is not so much MERELY the precepts themselves, but what is more important, the CONCLUSIONS that MUST follow if you truly BELIEVE these precepts:
1. God is a Sovereign, HOLY God. He is self-defining, self-actuating, self-governing, self-determining. He answers to NO power outside Himself and confers with NO Council other than Himself. Absolute power is contained within Him and Him ALONE, and there is NO other independent power outside of Him.
2. He is a God of perfect Love, perfect Justice, perfect Mercy, perfect Understanding, perfect Judgment, in who is "No Shadow of Turning", NO possibility of error or of Failing. In other words, He is Perfectly HOLY, or set apart TOTALLY from ALL else in the universe.
3. He has created ALL universes and ALL creatures (including MAN) according to His Plan, purely toward the end of fulfilling His Purpose and displaying His Glory. ALL His Ways and ALL His Acts and ALL of His Purposes are Perfect and Flawless.
4. There currently exists a gap between this HOLY God and fallen, sinful Man, which, on his own, NO MAN CAN BRIDGE. Hence we find that Jesus alone is this bridge. Furthermore, according to Mr. Sproul on pages 232,233 (and according to the Bible, I might add), fallen, alienated man has NO desire to seek after God, absolutely HATES God, and possess NO power to see, discern, or understand the things of the Spirit. Therefore, as Jesus Himself asserted, "NO man comes to Me (Jesus) UNLESS the Father draws him."
From these precepts, being the clear declarations of God's Word, the following four conclusions logically and truly follow:
1. God created the Universe, Man, and all else contained within it according to His perfect Plan, exactly as He wished it to be.
2. God empowered both Satan and Man to be exactly as they are to be found today, within the perfect wisdom of His Plan and Intention, and under His perfect control.
3. Man does NOT choose to come into this world as a sinner and as an enemy of God. This is his lot at birth, and he must live and act under a curse NOT of his own making. Man is TOTALLY impotent to save himself or to even avail himself of the salvation wrought for him in Jesus Christ. Unless God reaches out His Hand of Grace and draws a man to Himself, and places in his being the Light and Power to respond to what has been made available to him, he is HOPELESSLY Lost and Damned.
4. This being the case, then God must do this for EVERY MAN, or NO MAN can be saved!!!!!
At this point, however, we must say with Shakespeare, "Herein lies the rub!" If you are an honest and sincere man or woman, and are ready to carry the above logic to its ONLY reasonable conclusion, then according to Orthodox Christianity and Mr. Sproul, the following statement MUST DEFINE the outcome:
5. God DOES NOT do this for every man (or so say the Scribes of Orthodox Christianity). Therefore, it is God Himself who decrees that SOME men might be saved and that OTHER men might be damned. Thus said Calvin and his followers, if I understand correctly.
If this is what YOU say, then I say that you DO NOT worship the GREAT "I AM" of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. NO!! I say that you worship one of the idolatrous demons of the Canaanites, who "I AM" said to destroy. These demons more resembled the "god" who Jonathan Edwards so delighted in, one who, "Holds you over the pit of Hell as one holds a spider, who abhors you, who looks upon you as a loathsome insect, and deems you worthy of nothing else but to be CAST INTO THE FIRE."
My friend, if this is the "god" whom you profess, and represent as his ambassador, may your ultimate wishes be fulfilled by Him upon yourself !!
CHAPTER ELEVEN *** "Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow"
Many years ago there was a popular song by a singer named B.J. Thomas entitled, "There are none so blind as those who WILL NOT see." Another man by the name of William James is credited with saying, "Many people think they are thinking when, in reality, they are merely REARRANGING their Prejudices." If this book merely challenges you to TRULY THINK, to meditate deeply upon that which you "THINK that you think", then regardless of the outcome of your reflections, in my mind it will have been a RESOUNDING SUCCESS!!
It has NOT been my intent at any point in this book to purposely offend and/or insult. It HAS been my EXPRESS intent to challenge you to truly THINK upon what you believe in light of what God's Word, the Holy Bible, REALLY says , stripped of man's doctrine, dogma, prejudice, and irrational thinking. I am sure that there is a good and proper place for "Correct Tradition". Paul admonished believers to fashion their lives after the "traditions" that were received from him (2Thes 3:6). Conversely, he warned us not to be despoiled by the "traditions of men" (Col 2:8), just as Jesus repeatedly criticized the Pharisees for preferring the "traditions of men" over and above His Word and the Word of His Father.
I will be the first to concede that there is something very comfortable and reassuring about OLD, cherished , time-honored traditions, platitudes, and doctrines, EVEN IF THEY ARE FALSE. It can be a very fearful thing to consider being separated from these "Old Friends" who have given us so much comfort and warm fellowship. Why else does Christendom continue to revere and literally "Worship" the King James Bible, long after it has ceased to be the vernacular of the day and has served its intended purpose, especially when there are so many better translations available today.
Jesus indeed said, "You shall know the Truth (Himself), and THIS Truth shall set you free." (John 8:32) He also said, "You search the scriptures, thinking that IN THEM you will find Life, yet you refuse to come to ME of whom they testify." (John 5:39) Again He said, "You make the Word of God of NO EFFECT by your Traditions." (Mark 7:13) John goes on to say that, "Perfect Love CASTS OUT all fear." (1 John 4:18) C.S. Lewis, in his famous book, "Mere Christianity", made one of the most profound statements when he said, "The question of ALL questions IS NOT whether Christianity is comfortable, convenient, morally uplifting, or does society and/or individuals any good. The ONLY question that needs to be asked is, IS IT TRUE ??" If it and the God that it proclaims are, in fact, TRUE, then your or my opinion on the subject is of LESS than NO value. We had best be on our knees at once in worship to the Lord and Creator which it proclaims. If, on the other hand, it is NOT true, then we need pay it no more attention than we would to any other myth and/or fairy tale."
The same can be said, in general, for ALL of our RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. The points to consider ARE NOT, "They are convenient and/or comfortable.", "ALL Christians believe them," "They have been in the church for centuries," "What will all my friends say if I do or do not believe such-and-such," or, "This is what I have believed ALL my life." What IS important is whether or not a given doctrine or belief, measured against both the Written and the LIVING Word of God, with intelligence, wisdom, rationality, and a mind renewed by the Spirit of the Living God, registers as TRUTH. If it DOES NOT, then cast it out. IT IS WRITTEN, "The son born of slavery to the elements of this age SHALL NOT share in the inheritance with the Son of Promise born out of that Age which is yet to come. (Gal 4:30) C.S. Lewis also had a short essay in a book by the title of, "The World's Last Night", called , "Lilies That Fester". The basic tenant of the essay can be stated thusly: "That which purports to originate from the highest source takes upon itself the most putrid odor when it dies, rots, and festers."
In Conclusion, I will leave you with this Scripture and Charge from the Apostle Paul, taken from 1Tim 4:9-12,"Faithful is the saying and worthy of ALL welcome (for this are we toiling and being REPROACHED), that we rely on the living God, Who is the Savior of ALL men, especially of believers. These things be CHARGING AND TEACHING." I would like also to offer in prayer to all who have made it to the end of this treatise, the words of the Apostle Paul from Ephesians 1:17- 19, "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe."
Particularly to those who are able to joyfully embrace Dr. Cole's article on Election, but are as of yet held back from going the full distance to Universal Reconciliation, I earnestly pray to God that He might break the Religious Bondage of the false doctrine of "Eternal Damnation" that Satan has so effectively used to blind the eyes of His earnest seekers. You are so VERY close to the Revelation of the God whose ultimate purpose and heart is nothing less than, that at the Conclusion of the Ages, finally of His Creatures.
May God, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, very richly bless and prosper your life, and grant to you an abundance of Faith to Beleive and Receive.
Amen and Amen !!!
The End !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OUTLINE ****** Universal Reconciliation
The AGES in Scripture
Ages (165), 128 Occurrences - Translated in the King James
- Ever - 71
- World - 38
- Never - 6
- Evermore - 4
- Age - 2
- Eternal - 2
- Misc. - 5
The Adjective of Age, Age-Long (166), 71 Occurrences - King James
- Eternal - 42
- Everlasting - 25
- World Began - 3
- Forever - 1
Ages or Aeons vs. "Eternal, Forever, and Forever and Ever."
Before the AGES (World) BEGAN.
- Acts 15:18
- 1 Cor. 2:7
- Eph. 3:9
- 2 Tim. 1:9
- Titus 1:2
The END of the AGES (World).
- Math. 13:39,40,49
- Math. 24:3 Math. 28:20
- 1 Cor. 10:11
- Heb. 9:26
World WITHOUT END (King James) ????
- Isa. 45:17
- Eph. 3;21
More than ONE AGE.
- Math 12:32
- Eph. 1:21 Eph. 2:7
- 2 Tim. 4:10
- Titus 2:12
- Heb. 1:2 Heb. 6:5 Heb. 11:3
Free Will vs. God's Sovereignty
I put to DEATH and I bring to LIFE, I have WOUNDED and I will HEAL.
- Deut 32:39
No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, WHO CAN RESIST IT ?
- Isaiah 43:13
I bring peace and CREATE EVIL, I the Lord do ALL THESE THINGS.
- Isaiah 45:7
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times. what is still to come. I say: MY PURPOSE WILL STAND, and I will DO ALL THAT I PLEASE.
- Isaiah 47:10
It is I who created the BlackSmith ........... It is I have created the Destroyer TO WORK HAVOC.
- Isaiah 54:16
Who can speak and have it happen, IF THE LORD HAS NOT DECREED IT ?
- Lamentations 3:37,38
He has torn ... He will heal. He has injured, He will bind up our wounds.
- Hosea 6:1
For this reason they COULD NOT BELIEVE ........ He (God) has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts.
- John 12:39,40
You did not choose me, but I CHOSE YOU.
- John 15:16
By grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this NOT FROM YOURSELVES. It is the GIFT FROM GOD.
- Romans 2:8
ALL have turned away ..... All have become worthless ...... there is NO ONE that does good ...... NO NOT ONE. ( Who then can be saved ? With God, ALL THINGS are possible !!)
- Romans 3:10-18
For the creation (creature) was subjected to frustration ......... BY THE WILL OF THE ONE WHO SUBJECTED IT, in hope that the creation (creature) WILL BE LIBERATED FROM It's BONDAGE.
- Romans 8:19-21
In all things, God works for the good,.... ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.
- Romans 8:28
It DOES NOT DEPEND ON MAN's DESIRE OR EFFORT, but on God's sovereign choice and mercy.
- Romans 9:10-18
Does not the potter have the right to make out of the clay ( WHATEVER HE WISHES ).
- Romans 9:19-23
God's Sovereign election and use of the Jews that salvation might be brought to the Gentiles.
- Romans Chapter 11
God has bound ALL MEN over to disobedience, that HE may have MERCY ON THEM ALL.
- Romans 11:32
Him who works out Everything in conformity with the purpose of HIS WILL.
- Eph. 1:11
It is God who works in you TO WILL AND TO ACT, according to HIS GOOD PURPOSE.
- Philip 2:13
God send them a powerful delusion, SO THAT THEY WILL BELIEVE THE LIE.
- 2 Thes 2:11
God ... who has saved us and called us -- not because of anything we have done, but because of HIS OWN PURPOSE.
- 2 Tim. 1:9
"Hell", Sheol, and Hades
- Strong's Reference 07585 - 65 times in "KJV"
- Grave - 31
- Hell - 31
- Pit - 3
- Strong's Reference 1067 - 12 times in "KJV"
- Hell - 9
- Hell Fire - 3
- Strong's Reference 86 - 11 times in "KJV"
- Hell - 10
- Grave - 1
Because You (God) will not abandon Me (Jesus) to HELL. ("KJV")
- Acts 2:27,31
- Strong's Reference 5020 - 1 time in "KJV"
Cast Down to Hell
- 2 Peter 2:4
Lake of Fire
Death and "Hell" were thrown into the Lake of Fire
- Rev 20:14
Lest he eat from the tree of life, and live FOREVER
- Genesis 3:22,23
They CAN NO LONGER DIE.
- Luke 20:36
The LAST Enemy to be destroyed is DEATH
- 1 Cor 15:26
The mortal must be clothed WITH IMMORTALITY (110).
- 1 Cor 15:53-55
God, the blessed and only ruler...... who ALONE IS IMMORTAL (110).
- 1 Timothy 6:15,16
- Immortality 110
- Incorruptible 861, 862
- Made Alive 2227
- Alive 2198
God's Dealings in "Judgment" - 285 References
- Strong's Reference #'s - 01777, 01779, 01780, 02940, 04055, 04941, 06415, 06417, 06419, 06485, 08196, 08199, 08201
Ref. # 04941 - To do Right
- 397 References
- Gen 18:19,25
- 1 Cron 18:14
- Strong's Reference #'s - 144, 968, 1106, 1341, 1345, 1349, 2250, 2917, 2929, 2922, 4232
Ref. #2920 - 47 References
- Relates to OT # 04941
- Math 12:18 -> Isa 42:1
- Math 12:20 -> Isa 42:3
- Acts 8:33 -> Isa 53:8
NOT Damnation as in
- Math 23:33
- Mark 3:29
- John 5:29
God's "Judgment" as represented by His dealings with Israel
- Jer 30:12 - 31:14
Things "Hard to Understand"
I bring peace and CREATE EVIL, I the Lord do ALL THESE THINGS.
- Isaiah 45:7
It is I who created the BlackSmith ........... It is I have created the Destroyer TO WORK HAVOC.
- Isaiah 54:16
Will not be forgiven, EITHER IN THIS AGE ( "KJV" - World) OR THE AGE ("KJV" - World) TO COME. (IS there forgiveness for OTHER sins in the age to come??).
- Math 12:32
By you words you will be ACQUITTED and by your words you will be CONDEMNED.
- Math 12:37
The servant who KNOWS his Master's will but does not do it will be beaten with MANY BLOWS. The one who DOES NOT KNOW will be beaten with FEWER BLOWS.
- Luke 12:46-48
ALL that the Father gives me WILL COME TO ME.
- John 6:37,39,44,65
(He was born blind) so the WORK of GOD might be displayed in his life.
- John 9:1-5
Their thoughts now accusing, now EVEN DEFENDING them (On the day of judgment).
- Romans 2:14-16
For the scripture says of Pharaoh, "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might DISPLAY MY POWER IN YOU."
- Romans 9:16-23
Through Whom (Holy Spirit), also He (Christ) went and preached to the SPIRITS that were IN PRISON.
- 1 Peter 3:18-20
The Gospel was preached even to those that are NOW DEAD.
- 1 Peter 4:6
ALL Creation shall be Redeemed
The Lord has laid on HIM the iniquity of us ALL
- Isaiah 53:6
He will see the result of the suffering of His soul, AND BE SATISFIED.
- Isaiah 53:11
My righteous servant will justify MANY ....... He bore the sins of MANY.
- Isaiah 53:11,12
For men are not cast off by the Lord FOREVER. Though He brings grief, He will show COMPASSION.
- Lamentations 3:31-33
Your Father in Heaven is NOT WILLING that ANY ....... should be lost.
- Math 18:14
Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin
- Luke 15:3-10
The Son of Man came to seek and to save WHAT WAS LOST.
- Luke 19:10
He takes away the SIN of the WORLD.
- John 1:29
I will draw ALL MEN to MYSELF.
- John 12:31,32
He (Jesus) must remain in Heaven until the time comes to RESTORE EVERYTHING.
- Acts 3:21
Through the disobedience of ONE MAN the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of the ONE MAN, the MANY WILL BE MADE RIGHTEOUS.
- Romans 5:12-21
EVERY knee will bow before me, EVERY tongue will confess to God
- Romans 14:11
- Confess (1843)
As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall ALL BE MADE ALIVE.
- 1 Cor. 15:22
So that GOD may be ALL IN ALL.
- 1 Cor 15:28
The love of Christ is constraining us, judging this, that if ONE DIED for the SAKE of ALL, CONSEQUENTLY the ALL DIED.
- 2 Cor. 5:14
God was in Christ, RECONCILING the WORLD to Himself.
- 2 Cor. 5:18,19
To bring ALL THINGS in heaven and on earth together under ONE HEAD.
- Eph. 1:9,10
That at the name of Jesus, EVERY KNEE should bow ......... and EVERY tongue confess ....... to the GLORY of the Father.
- Philp. 2:9-11
- Confess (1843)
For God was pleased ....... that through HIM (Christ) to reconcile to Himself ALL THINGS........ on earth or in heaven.
- Col. 1:19,20
Jesus came to save sinners ..... of whom I am the WORST
- 1 Timothy 1:15,16
God our Savior, who WILLS THAT ALL MEN BE SAVED.
- 1 Timothy 2:4
He gave Himself A RANSOM for ALL.
- 1 Timothy 2:5,6
We have put our hope in the Living GOD, who is the SAVIOR of ALL MEN
- 1 Timothy 4:9,10
He tasted death FOR the SAKE of EVERYONE.
- Hebrews 2:9
He has appeared .... TO DO AWAY WITH SIN.
- Hebrews 9:26
Not willing that ANY SHOULD PERISH, but that ALL come to repentance.
- 2 Peter 3:9
He is the propitiation .......... for the SINS of the WHOLE WORLD.
- 1 John 2:1,2
The reason that the Son of God appeared was to DESTROY the DEVIL'S WORK.
- 1 John 3:8
We have seen and testify that the FATHER has sent HIS SON to be the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD.
- 1 John 4:14