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

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.   Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  (1 John 4:7-11)

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Reviewing Lee Salisbury’s Eternal Punishment – Is It Really of God?:

Exaltation of the Devil

It is clear. Christ Jesus says He “will draw all men to Myself.” He does not qualify “all.” Neither should we!

Is the last enemy, death, not destroyed? Are those to whom God becomes “All in all” (1Cor.15:28) only those who managed to escape the devil’s clutches?

 

1 Corinthians 15:18 – 28
18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.

28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

It is the orthodoxy’s traditional point of view that men who fail to believe in Christ Jesus are consigned to eternal punishment. Read and read again the verses above. Eternal punishment is firmly and concretely disproved.

Christ Jesus is the first fruits. His resurrection from the dead is proof that all will be resurrected. Adam’s sin caused a universal physical death. Christ’s resurrection universally restores life. Jesus is the only Man ever resurrected from the grave and remains alive. He is seated at the right hand of the Father at this moment. Those of us in Christ at the time of our respective deaths will be raised to live when the trumpet sounds His return. Those who fail to believe will be raised in life before the judgment seat. Remember at that time of judgment “every knee will bow” and proclaim Jesus as their Lord.

Further, Jesus will eventually give over His Kingdom to His Father. Each and every of His enemies will be defeated. The last enemy being death itself.

Think this through; death is defeated, therefore life reigns. It must be so. Everything is subjected to Him; EVERYTHING. Christ then surrenders His position to the Father. Christ becomes subjected to the Father.

Why?

Is the answer so that a most merciful all loving Father wills that the strong majority of His creation be tormented eternally? Or is the answer the the most merciful all loving Father will reconcile His creation to Himself?

What does it mean for Him to be “all in all?” It should not be a rhetorical question!

John Wesley wrote this regarding “all in all” from 1 Corinthians 15:28:

The Son also shall be subject – Shall deliver up the mediatorial kingdom. That the three – one God may be all in all – All things, (consequently all persons,) without any interruption, without the intervention of any creature, without the opposition of any enemy, shall be subordinate to God. All shall say, “My God, and my all.” This is the end. Even an inspired apostle can see nothing beyond this.

It seems from this note John Wesley believes all men from the start of time will say, “My God, and my all.” He does not leave aside unbelievers from this sentiment. He reports the Triune God will be “all in all.” No person created will be excluded. No entity can intervene and prevent any creature from the blessing that God is “all in all.”

John Wesley must have been conflicted in this assessment, however. A sermon he preached is transcribed for our benefit and is available online. Mr. Wesley had this to say about hell and those consigned to that eternal fate.

It remains now only to consider two or three circumstances attending the never-dying worm and the unquenchable fire.

1. And, First, consider the company wherewith everyone is surrounded in that place of torment….

…But the inhabitants of hell are perfectly wicked, having no spark of goodness remaining. And they are restrained by none from exerting to the uttermost their total wickedness. Not by men; none will be restrained from evil by his companions in damnation: And not by God; for He hath forgotten them, hath delivered them over to the tormentors. …And their angelic tormentors have time sufficient to vary their torments a thousand ways. …

2. Consider, Secondly, that all these torments of body and soul are without intermission. They have no respite from pain; but “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up day and night….”
…But although the damned have uninterrupted night, it brings no interruption of their pain. No sleep accompanies that darkness: … there is no sleep either in hell or heaven. And be their suffering ever so extreme, be their pain ever so intense, there is no possibility of their fainting away; no, not for a moment….
… But the inhabitants of hell have nothing to divert them from their torments, even for a moment: ….

3. And of this duration there is no end! What a thought is this! Nothing but eternity is the term of their torment! And who can count the drops of rain, or the sands of the sea, or the days of eternity? Every suffering is softened, if there is any hope, though distant, of deliverance from it. But here, Hope never comes, that comes to all the inhabitants of the upper world!
…Suppose millions of days, of years, of ages elapsed, still we are only on the threshold of eternity! Neither the pain of body nor of soul is any nearer an end, than it was millions of ages ago. When they are cast into to pyr, to asbeston, (How emphatical! “The fire, the unquenchable”) all is concluded: “Their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched!”

Such is the account which the Judge of all gives of the punishment which he has ordained for impenitent sinners….

John Wesley’s view on unrepentant sinners and their place in eternity is not too far removed from current orthodoxy pertaining to eternal conscious torment. Mr. Wesley proclaims that the fate of the believer in hell is stayed by a merciful God. But, for the unbeliever God’s mercy is not felt. It seems Mr. Wesley and even the orthodoxy is reining in God’s grace.

Chuck Smith recently left this temporal world for a place established for him in heaven. He was the founder of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California in the middle 1970’s. Calvary Chapel has grown into a kind of denomination and Mr. Smith was essentially that denomination’s head. Mr. Smith is of the orthodoxy and teaches that hell is the place of the damned. His view, though, is that the unbeliever chooses to be in eternal conscious torment.

Mr. Smith preached this regarding our eternal end.

Jesus said “Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, you did it to me.” And those who we are ignoring the needs of those around them, the goats, “inasmuch as you didn’t do it unto them, you didn’t do it to me,” Jesus said.

Now there was one thing that I thought was interesting there, “depart from me”, verse forty-one, “ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” God did not prepare Gehenna for men; it was prepared by God for Satan. Therefore God does not cast men into hell. He didn’t prepare it for men; He prepared it for Satan. However, if a person wants to align himself with Satan and go there, God will do His best to stop him. God has done his best to stop him. He has sent His only begotten Son to save men from that fate. But if a person wants to reject God’s provisions, if a person is bent upon rebelling against God, and joining with Satan’s rebellion against God’s kingdom, then a man can by his own volition and his own choices spend eternity apart from God.

The last verse, “and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to life eternal.” Now the question of whether or not a person is in torment and suffers forever is an issue that I hope doesn’t exist, but I dare not seek to change what God has said or to modify what God has said. And here Jesus said “depart from me, ye cursed into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to life eternal”.

Now just what that does mean, I am not prepared to say. But I dare not try to modify it or change it. But really why should you be so concerned about it, if you’re not going there. You know rather than being all upset over that aspect, just look for the Lord, and escape the place, and then you don’t have to worry about it. Whether or not it’s temporarily, whether or not you are consumed there, whether or not you’re going to go on for a period of time, or whatever. As I say I would hope that, but I don’t know.

Mr. Smith preaches that the will of the unrepentant sinner is stronger than God’s will. He preaches that the unrepentant rebel chooses his eternal fate. Hell to Mr. Smith is to “…spend eternity apart from God.”

Mr. Smith also says that because the audience he is addressing is an audience saved by grace then they have nothing to fear and should not worry about their respective fate. The Wizard of Oz once said, “Don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain.” In the same way Mr. Smith is telling those he was assigned to shepherd not to worry about hell. Eternal conscious torment was not their fate so live and let live.

One last orthodoxy view to examine regarding 1 Corinthians 15:28. John Calvin wrote this about this verse.

That God may be all in all. Will it be so in the Devil and wicked men also? By no means — unless perhaps we choose to take the verb to be as meaning, to be known, and openly beheld. In that case the meaning will be: “For the present, as the Devil resists God, as wicked men confound and disturb the order which he has established, and as endless occasions of offense present themselves to our view, it does not distinctly appear that God is all in all; but when Christ will have executed the judgment which has been committed to him by the Father, and will have cast down Satan and all the wicked, the glory of God will be conspicuous in their destruction. The same thing may be said also respecting powers that are sacred and lawful in their kind, for they in a manner hinder God’s being seen aright by us in himself. Then, on the other hand, God, holding the government of the heaven and the earth by himself, and without any medium, will in that respect be all, and will consequently at last be so, not only in all persons, but also in all creatures.”

This is a pious interpretation, and, as it corresponds sufficiently well with the Apostle’s design, I willingly embrace it. There would, however, be nothing out of place in understanding it as referring exclusively to believers, in whom God has now begun his kingdom, and will then perfect it, and in such a way that they shall cleave to him wholly.

Dr. Calvin’s authority as a Bible Scholar is well known. A branch of theology has taken his name, that being Calvinism. Calvinism is considered to be orthodoxy even though Calvinism is at odds with other theologies such as Arminianism. That’s a subject for a different day.

It seems to me Dr. Calvin has added his prejudice to his interpretation. “All” does not mean “all.” “All” means only those who believe. To Dr. Calvin and I guess to those who follow his line of thinking God is not love.

Think about what it means if God is not “all in all.” Billions of His creation are doomed to eternal conscious torment.

A. E. Knoch is Bible scholar who dedicated much of his life to preparing the Concordant Literal Version of the Holy Scriptures. He prepared a Commentary on the New Testament which can be viewed online. From the Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:25-28:

25 The reign of Christ is so beneficent, it brings mankind to such a state of perfection, that all further need of the restraints of government vanishes. Rule implies insubordination, and is unnecessary where there is perfect subjection. Rule is a temporary expedient to cope with evil. When evil is banished rule also retires. The effects of evil for mankind are concentrated in death. When the universe has been purged of all other evil, then death itself becomes inoperative and yields up its victims. Not till then is it true that all are made alive in Christ.

27 The universality of Christ’s subjection of all under His feet is evident from the one exception—God Himself.

28 God is All in Christ now. He will be All in His saints when we are made alive. He will be All in all when death is abolished, at the consummation. What a marvelous outcome of God’s purpose! What a Christ we have, Who can accomplish such a complete reconciliation! The Corinthians denied the resurrection of any: Paul insists on the vivification of all.

Mr. Knoch writes this regarding “all in all” and this is a good place to close this essay.

Christ came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8, A.V.) But, if orthodoxy is true, then Satan has not only the vast majority on his side, but his work is not destroyed at all. Its results would never cease to mar the universe. (“All In All”, pg 152)

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.
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