The consequences for misapplying scripture and creating doctrines not intended to be gleaned from scripture is dire. If only by chance the doctrine of “eternal punishment” is not true, then all those preaching it run the risk of losing their share “in the tree of life and in the holy city….”
If the doctrine of “eternal punishment” is even possibly untrue, it should not be taught. It seems to me a person dedicated to presenting the Gospel of Christ Jesus to others would want to tell only the Truth; that is the Truth that is not doubted.
The Truth that is not doubted is this; Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. He is the Savior of all mankind. He came from Heaven and was obedient to His Father’s command. He lived. He taught. He was wrongly accused of blasphemy by His own people. He was convicted to death on a cross. He died on that cross after terrible physical persecution was laid on His Body. His Body was taken from the cross and properly prepared for burial. He was placed in a grave. Three days later He was resurrected from that grave and He made Himself known to His Apostles, then about 500 others and finally to Paul on the “Road to Damascus.” After forty days He ascended to Heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father. All this done so as to be a sacrifice worthy and appropriate to justify the world in the sight of the Father.
All of this Gospel of Christ Jesus is verifiable in His Holy Word. There is much, much more regarding Christ like living that is clearly written in God’s Word. Men build doctrines based on their interpretations of His Word. Some doctrines bring glory to God. Others do not. The doctrine of “eternal punishment,” in my humble opinion, does not glorify our Father.
We have examined many scriptures as they apply to “all” men and many more scriptures regarding “every” man. It cannot be denied that eternal conscious torment contradicts the plain meaning of those many verses. Yet, not many of the orthodoxy will be persuaded to publicly change their theology regarding eternal conscious torment.
Mr. Salisbury’s article points to specific scriptures where there should be no contradiction. But there are! Scriptures regarding “all” men and those regarding “every” man have been shown to be best understood as basically Universal Reconciliation. God is Love and all men, every man will be reconciled to Him. Their spirits having already returned to the One Who gave it.
There are unnecessary contradictions applied to His Holy Word regarding “all families” and regarding “all flesh.”
I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.“
The most obvious question to ask is the man who dishonors Abraham’s family part of “all the families of the earth…?” Did he somehow lose his birthright to be considered as one in a family of the earth? I don’t think so. The man will be judged in some fashion for sinning against Abraham’s family, but the judgment is not eternal conscious torment.
The orthodoxy have a dilemma when they have to apply their doctrine of eternal conscious torment to the Old Testament saints. Where is Adam? His Spirit is in heaven having returned to Him Who gave it. Has his body been resurrected? Is His body dust and ash waiting to be resurrected?
The plain meaning of scripture is that all families on the earth are blessed because of Abraham’s faithfulness. That’s all families. Hindu families, Communist families, dysfunctional families, Baptist families, Methodist families, Catholic, Bhuddist and on and on. All families are going to be blessed.
Blessed with what? Their promise is the Promised Land. The family of Abraham is blessed for having set out to the Promised Land. Every family is blessed by God, because Abraham sought God’s promise. What is our promise? What is our blessing? We are blessed because God promised to bless all the families of all the nations.
That’s not complicated. However, the orthodoxy cannot permit these scriptures to stand without contradiction. Only families who are in Christ are saved. The orthodoxy wants us to believe that not all in every family will be saved. Fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters consigned to eternal conscious torment because their family was not a part of “all the families of the earth.” Not only that, but we will look down on our family as they are tortured endlessly by Christ.
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.“
It is my hope that a reasonable man can conclude that God “blesses all the nations” because of Abraham. God didn’t sort out a list of candidates based on any sort of meritocracy. As simply as is possible to be stated, God blesses all the nations of the world; He blesses all the families of the world.” There is no room for contradiction, but alas, there is.
The orthodoxy denies “all families.” “All families” does not really mean “all families.” They deny that all nations are blessed. They believe only those nations that share their theology are saved from eternal conscious torment.
It’s the truth! The orthodoxy can on one hand glorify God and then moments later curse man. The orthodoxy wants to believe theirs is a special family. Theirs is the family that was specifically chosen. Or, even still, they believe they were blessed with foresight to choose to believe. They are part of a nation blessed by God, but other nations are cursed by Him.
The orthodoxy spreads contradiction so as to preserve their theology of eternal conscious torment. They find contradiction regarding “all flesh.”
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Jesus Christ is preparing for His upcoming trial, conviction and execution. He tells His Father that He is prepared for the time of His tribulation. Jesus knows His Father’s sacrifice is great and that only glory will come from it. The Father has given to His Son authority over all flesh. His Son is given the authority to give eternal life to all He now has authority over.
This scripture fits so seamlessly with other scripture that declare “every knee shall bow” and “every tongue confess” that He is Lord. His Kingship brings glory to the Father Who then shares that glory with His Son.
The orthodoxy has to contradict these verses in their effort to keep the doctrine of eternal conscious torment alive. Their contradiction is always based in the same argument. Some of the orthodoxy were chosen for salvation. Some of the orthodoxy believe they chose salvation. The orthodoxy needs an eternal conscious torment in their theology so as to hold up their need for retribution. The orthodoxy believe they have done all they are able in a spiritual sense and will not suffer retribution. For the reprobates, however, their punishment is eternal conscious torment.
The orthodoxy chooses to set aside the simple, plain meaning of scripture. It is they that supply the contradiction.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
These are Old Testament promises that apply to the New Testament world. God is speaking through His prophet Joel. Israel will suffer. He lets His chosen nation know that He will always be with them. He will always hold them. He will end their oppression and He will end their shame.
God tells Joel to tell the people that He will “pour out My Spirit on all flesh….” No person will be exempted from this great display of His Sovereign grace, His limitless mercy, or His overwhelming love. His Spirit will be poured out on all flesh.
Let’s remember that Israel is who we are. As believers in Christ Jesus we have been grafted into the vine. The unproductive branches have been cut away. The fruit we become is His fruit. His Spirit will not be poured out on us only.
The sons and daughters of Israel, that is us, will experience His unmatched love; His unconditional love.
Not only us, but He will pour out His Spirit on “…male and female servants in those days….” These people are not Israel, that is to say, they are not necessarily believers in Christ. These are people who are “the least of these.” These are people who serve Israel, that is these are people who serve us. They are captives.
The orthodoxy supplies the contradiction to these verses. The orthodoxy discounts that “all flesh” is all flesh. John MacArthur is a truly gifted preacher. He is a prolific writer and claims to be an expositor of God’s Holy Word. It is a safe conclusion to say Mr. MacArthur is a leading authority in orthodoxy’s circles. Mr. MacArthur says this about these scriptures in general and the book of Joel specifically:
It is a day when judgment is poured out on sinners that subsequently leads to blessings on the penitent, and reaffirmation of God’s covenant with His people.
…but clearly Joel is referring to the final terrible Day of the Lord. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was not a fulfillment, but a preview and sample of the Spirit’s power and work to be released fully and finally in the Messiah’s kingdom after the Day of the Lord.
The contradiction is clear. To the orthodoxy the pouring of God’s Spirit onto all flesh is really a pouring of judgment on all flesh. The orthodoxy is fortunate their theology has taken them from the portion receiving God’s wrath to the portion receiving His grace, feeling His mercy and experiencing His all consuming love.
A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
There are fewer words that are more potent than these. God will make His way to His people. He will make a way for us to be His people. He will make our paths straight. He will level the ground to make our walk without obstacle. His glory will be revealed.
“All flesh shall see…” His glory. We will all be “together” when He reveals Himself to all flesh. No person will be exempted. The most loving and the most hateful will be together when He reveals His glory.
What might the reaction of the people be? I say, “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father.”
The orthodoxy supplies the contradiction. They convince others that only the saved see God’s glory. They make a case that God is not all powerful. They want to show He is not all loving. The orthodoxy wants us to believe that billions upon billions of God’s creation will not see His glory. The orthodoxy diminishes the power that is God. In their theology Satan wins as most of the creation of God will be eternally and consciously tormented forever, never seeing God’s glory only suffering His wrath.
O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions.
The Psalmist is reaching out to our heavenly Father. The Psalmist is giving honor and glory to God in this opening verse of this prayer. The Psalmist does not discriminate between nations or families. He declares “…to You shall all flesh come.”
Please allow me this technical observation. The word “shall” here is an imperative. It will happen. The word is a promise. All flesh will come to Him.
Greater still in these words we hear the promise that God will place all our sins in a state of forgiveness. God atones not only for the sins of the Psalmist, but for the sins of “all flesh” that will come to Him.
The orthodoxy wants us to believe that Christ’s atoning sacrifice is only valid for those whom He chose or for those who chose Him. To the orthodoxy Christ’s atoning sacrifice was insufficient for all men, but only for a few who chose or who were chosen. God’s grace is not limitless in the eyes of the orthodoxy. His mercy has limits.
God’s Holy and Precious Son was obedient to His Father. His life was given. He suffered horrendous tortures for the sins of all flesh, for all families and for all nations.
God’s love is greater than the orthodoxy’s doctrine of eternal conscious torment.