Everlasting?: Reviewing Lee Salisbury’s Eternal Punishment – Is It Really of God?: Exaltation of the Devil

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For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20, CLT)

___________________

Mr. Salisbury asks with regard to exalting Satan.

Did the first Adam’s offense unto condemnation and death for all accomplish “much more” than the last Adam’s free gift of grace unto justification for all (Ro.5:15)?

Romans 5:12-21
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We certainly agree that Satan is the cause of sin in the world. He deceived Adam with a lie and Adam sinned. In Adam’s transgression against his Father that transgression falls on every human. God creates each and every person in the wombs of our mothers. At birth, though, we are born into a sinful world and we carry transgression from our birth throughout our lives.

Let us review verses 15 and 18 closely. The Concordant Literal Version states this:

15 But not as the offense, thus also the grace. For if, by the offense of the one, the many died, much rather the grace of God and the gratuity in grace, which is of the One Man, Jesus Christ, to the many superabounds.

18 Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life’s justifying.

The New American Standard renders these verses:

15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

Let’s look again at these verses in the English Standard Version.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

I see no doubt or confusion in these verses. Adam brought sin into the world for “all men.” Jesus’ act of obedience to His Father’s command brings salvation for “all men.”

It is not good to declare “the many” in verse 15 means every human created and that the “many” later in that verse means a number far fewer; that is only those declaring faith in Christ Jesus. If we do make that determination it is clear Satan’s blow to mankind is more consuming than Christ’s death for our reconciliation.

In the same way if the “all” who are condemned by Adam’s transgression is different or greater than the “all” justified and brought to righteousness, then Satan is the victor. He will have a “superabounding” affect on God’s creation. Satan will have the upper hand. Christ’s power to save “all” is diminished to something less than Satan’s power to deceive “all.” Heaven forbid.

Adam Clarke is a well known Bible scholar. He took 40 years to complete a commentary on the Bible. His work is widely accepted and is often used to explain God’s Word. Here he says of Romans 5:18:

Through the disobedience of Adam, a sentence of condemnation to death, without any promise or hope of a resurrection, passed upon all men; so, by the obedience of Christ unto death, this one grand righteous act, the sentence was so far reversed, that death shall not finally triumph, for all shall again be restored to life. Justice must have its due; and therefore all must die. The mercy of God, in Christ Jesus, shall have its due also; and therefore all shall be put into a salvable state here, and the whole human race shall be raised to life at the great day. Thus both justice and mercy are magnified; and neither is exalted at the expense of the other. (emphasis added)

I cannot emphasize enough how “all” in one place must mean “all” in the second place. “The many” meaning all in one place means all in the second place. Do we dare alter that meaning to satisfy a theology? Are we willing to step on God’s mercy and justice to benefit ourselves at the expense of others? Shall I declare that I am chosen for eternal bliss and another is chosen for eternal punishment especially in light of these Biblical verses?

I cannot say that I am chosen above another. I cannot say my will is stronger than God’s. I can say with clear conscience that God is love. His mercy will be shown to all. “Every knee will bow…” one day. All will acknowledge Him and Satan will suffer his fate. We should not lift up the evil one.

John MacArthur is renowned as a Biblical scholar, teacher of Holy Scripture, Pastor of a well established church. Mr. MacArthur does not agree that “all” means “all.” The first “many” in verse 15 means “all mankind,” but the “many” that Christ’s sacrifice impacted is not “all mankind.” In verse 18 the condemnation is to “all men,” but the reconciliation to Himself is not to “all men.”

Mr. MacArthur preached a sermon on this subject. The text of that sermon and the audio can be found at the “Grace To You” website. The audio is also available there as well.

Please understand that it is not my intent to impugn Mr. MacArthur, but rather to point out what I see as a flaw in his understanding of a point in this particular sermon message. I “exposit” his sermon message because Mr. MacArthur’s views about eternal conscious torment are orthodox theological conclusions. It is appropriate, in my view, to examine how the orthodoxy has come to their understanding.

From the sermon message:

But two men, and one in particular, have made the most monumental impact on human life. Two men have affected the whole of the human race for time and eternity more than all others combined and multiplied by an infinite number. Two men in a single act have made a greater impact on the world than all other people and all other acts combined and multiplied infinitely. You say who are these two men? Adam and Christ.

Why is that so? Because Adam brought death and Christ brought life. And those are the two greatest influences, death and life. And if we are to understand that one person by one act can affect dramatically all of human history, then we must understand Adam and Christ. And so as Paul closes chapter 5, he moves into a discussion about Adam and Christ, a comparison. What is the reason for doing this? The reason is very simple. He has just presented the fact that Jesus Christ, by his one work of death and resurrection on the cross and through the open tomb has impacted all who believe.

In other words, one man by one act brought salvation to many. And someone is going to say, well now, I don’t understand that. I don’t understand how it is that one man by one act can affect so many. And they might find themselves lost in a bit of incredulity, saying, well that’s just not believable. And so to help them, Paul gives them an analogy. Are you having trouble accepting the fact that the one act of Christ can bring salvation to the many? Then if you are, you need to go back and look at another man who by one act also affected so many. And that other man is Adam.

And it is the analogy in this text that is absolutely essential for us to understand. Let me read you verses 12 through 14. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned, for until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” Hmm. What he’s talking about here is the impact of one man, Adam, on everybody. And he says the fact that that one man, Adam, by one act affected everybody is a type or a picture of Christ by one act affecting everybody.

Now I want you to understand this point because it is at the very heart of the Christian faith. The truth of verse 12 can be divided into four parts. I want you to take them very carefully with me. Number one: Paul says sin entered the world through one man. Notice verse 12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world.” Stop right there; very simple point. And here, my dear friends, is the…is the bare root of human history. Right here, the Holy Spirit is giving you the key to unlock history. It’s been put in your hand here. Here is the explanation for the world the way it is. Here is the explanation for why things are like they are: Because sin entered into the human realm through Adam. By one man, sin entered the world. That man obviously is Adam, named in verse 14.

Through that one man, sin came into the world. Now listen. Sin entered the world through that one man, it wasn’t invented by that one man, it wasn’t originated by that one man. You remember Jesus said the devil sinneth from the beginning. There was sin prior to Adam. Lucifer, that great son of the morning, that great archangel who fell because of his pride, was the first and original sinner. But sin entered the world, the cosmos of man’s existence, the system of creation, as we know it, through one man. He introduced sin to mankind. He became the agent of the devil.

The wicked, vile, sinful devil tempted Adam, who became the vehicle to pass sin out of the angelic realm into the human realm. And if you read in Genesis chapter 3, you read the sad story of how first Eve sinned and then Adam sinned. Adam is held responsible because he sinned willfully and wasn’t deceived and because he was the head over Eve and was given authority. God gave Adam only one prohibition. He said you can do anything you want except just don’t eat of that one tree of the knowledge of good and evil, just that one exception. But you know the story: Eve ate and so did Adam, which tells you that sin is basically born out of selfishness. How selfish do you have to be when you can have everything in a perfect world except one tree and the one tree is what you’ve got to have?

It is clearly stated by Mr. MacArthur that he is convinced that Adam’s transgression in the Garden is the cause of sin in the world; that sin is a part of every human God creates. It is clear in Mr. MacArthur’s point of view that “…sin entered the world, the cosmos of man’s existence, the system of creation, as we know it, through one man.” That one man, Adam, “…introduced sin to mankind.” Allow me to labor this point. Mr. MacArthur preaches “…sin entered into the human realm through Adam. By one man, sin entered the world.”

At this point in this sermon Mr. MacArthur expounds on death being imputed to all mankind from the moment of Adam’s transgression. He elaborates how sin was transferred from our mothers and we were conceived with sin. Babies are born with sin. Mr. MacArthur is consistent in this point. Because of Adam’s transgression death reigned.

In this sermon Mr. MacArthur makes this statement: “What he’s talking about here is the impact of one man, Adam, on everybody. And he says the fact that that one man, Adam, by one act affected everybody is a type or a picture of Christ by one act affecting everybody.” Christ’s life, death on the cross, His burial, His resurrection and His ascension into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father does indeed affect “everybody.” That is not what Mr. MacArthur is teaching, however.

Mr. MacArthur preaches that “many” does not mean “many” and that “all” does not really mean “all.”

I’m a victim of the whole thing and everybody that comes out of my loins is a victim of it. And that’s precisely what Paul wants you to understand. That while you no more are responsible for that act which produced your death; you are no more responsible for that act which produces your salvation and your life. That’s a gift. That’s a gift. In verse 15 he says, a free gift. Isn’t like the transgressions. He says, wait a minute, while I’m making an analogy here, they’re different, they’re different, they’re different. For if by the transgression of the one, the many died. And there he uses “many.” He uses “many” and “all” all through this text for literary contrast purposes and sometimes “many” means “all” and sometimes “all” means “many,” but he does parallel them for contrast, literary style.

“If by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.” What a great statement. How much greater is this gift? How much more wonderful is this? They’re different. What Adam caused was terrible. What Christ brought was wonderful. They’re different in every way. They’re different in their essence. It was Adam’s disobedience that cursed everybody; it is Christ’s obedience that brings salvation.

As I prepare this essay my heart aches. Is Mr. MacArthur speaking for Paul? Was Paul using a literary device as Mr. MacArthur preaches? Did Paul want us to believe that sin came to the many by one man’s act of disobedience, but that salvation does not come to the same many by the One’s act of obedience? Why would Paul not write precisely that in this letter to the Romans?

I love Mr. MacArthur and I am especially fond of his preaching style. I appreciate that he values preaching by exposition “one verse at a time.” I am highly appreciative of his scholarly position. He is in my view a Scholar’s Scholar.

For the sake of clarity I present the King James version of God’s Holy Word with the Strong’s Reference numbers included.

Rom 5:15 ButG235 notG3756 asG5613 theG3588 offence,G3900 soG3779 alsoG2532 is theG3588 free gift.G5486 ForG1063 ifG1487 through theG3588 offenceG3900 of oneG1520 manyG4183 be dead,G599 muchG4183 moreG3123 theG3588 graceG5485 of God,G2316 andG2532 theG3588 giftG1431 byG1722 grace,G5485 which(G3588) is by oneG1520 man,G444 JesusG2424 Christ,G5547 hath aboundedG4052 untoG1519 many.G4183

Strong’s defines these occurrences of “many” as:

πολύς, πολλός
polus polos
pol-oos’

Including the forms from the alternate “pollos”; (singular) much (in any respect) or (plural) many; neuter (singular) as adverb largely; neuter (plural) as adverb or noun often, mostly, largely: – abundant, + altogether, common, + far (passed, spent), (+ be of a) great (age, deal, -ly, while), long, many, much, oft (-en [-times]), plenteous, sore, straitly. Compare G4118, G4119.

Please note the Greek word used here to signify “many” as translated into English is the same in both instances. Shall we say Paul was using a literal device?

Rom 5:18 ThereforeG686 G3767 asG5613 byG1223 the offenceG3900 of oneG1520 judgment came uponG1519 allG3956 menG444 toG1519 condemnation;G2631 evenG2532 soG3779 byG1223 the righteousnessG1345 of oneG1520 the free gift came uponG1519 allG3956 menG444 untoG1519 justificationG1347 of life.G2222

Strong’s defines these occurrences of “all” as:

πᾶς
pas
pas

Including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole: – all (manner of, means) alway (-s), any (one), X daily, + ever, every (one, way), as many as, + no (-thing), X throughly, whatsoever, whole, whosoever.

Please note the Greek word used here to signify “all” as translated into English is the same in both instances. Shall we say Paul was using a literal device?

Mr. Salisbury’s question first posed at the beginning of this essay:

Did the first Adam’s offense unto condemnation and death for all accomplish “much more” than the last Adam’s free gift of grace unto justification for all (Ro.5:15)?

 

Knowing what you now know, how will you answer the question? Did Adam’s act of disobedience condemn more to eternal torment than Christ, The Last Adam, will save? Is Adam, a created man, of greater consequence than our Lord, Christ Jesus? Did Satan defeat Christ?

About Jim Barnes

A man seeking to please the Lord. A man striving to abide in Christ Jesus. A man whose hope is to see just one more come into the fold.
This entry was posted in Lee Salisbury - Eternal Punishment: Is It Really Of God, Reconciliation Of All. Bookmark the permalink.

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