UNIVERSAL RECONCILIATION FOUND IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
…UR in MATTHEW
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Luke 15:4-7 (Jesus speaking)
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
The Twelve Disciples were concerned about the status of people in the Kingdom. Their motivation was self serving. They ask Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Our Lord pulls a child close to Himself and speaks of the child’s place in the Kingdom. The child is innocent and has not yet been corrupted by the ways of the flesh. The child is loved unconditionally by the Father Who created him.
Then Jesus speaks to the love of the Father and of the Shepherd. Jesus gives us insight to the measure of God’s love for His people. Jesus declares the Shepherd will leave 99 of His flock unprotected, but safe to seek out the one member of His flock which is lost.
In our Heavenly Father’s eyes, are any of His creation ever not loved by Him? Is God’s love given to some and not all?
The answer to both is an emphatic “No!”
Is God’s love overwhelmed by His wrath? That is to ask, could not His love remove His wrath? Was not His wrath satisfied when Christ was crucified for the sins of the world?
The Shepherd does not stop searching for the “lost one.” Mr. Sprenger points out in his editorial comments that Jesus does find the lost one. Scripture says “when” the Shepherd finds the lost one He carries him home. The lost one is the subject of great rejoicing at the Shepherd’s home. “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
His mercy is fresh every day. He loves us and then we love Him. He created us in His image and He loves His creation. His love for His creation does not change because His creation hates its Creator. He loves the rebellious and His patience is immeasurable. “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Christ to the glory of God the Father.”
We are all His “little ones” and “…it is not His will that any of these little ones perish.” It is good to give glory to God Who gives life abundantly. We are all His sheep and He will lose none of His flock.
…UR IN MARK
For everyone will be salted with fire.
These words from Christ Jesus. When He says everyone will be salted with fire He means to say “everyone will be salted with fire.” No one can escape this Holy Judgment. “Everyone will be salted with fire.” The good, the evil, everyone. The baptized, the heathens, the God fearing and the atheist; all will be salted with fire.
To be salted is to be preserved. God is fire; an all consuming fire. His is a fire of renewal. His is the fire that cuts away sin. His is the fire that circumcises the hearts of all men. His is the fire that burns away dross.
I rather think it an honor to be called to be salted by fire. Holy fire. Preserved for a holy ministry.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires that only a few are “salted with fire.” The doctrine requires that most will be tormented in a different kind of fire.
The fire that cleans and heals is a holy fire. The fire that burns away sin is a holy fire. “Everyone will be salted with fire.” That is Good News.
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
“Go into all the world.” Gather yourselves and prepare to carry the gospel “into all the world.” Jesus commands the gospel be presented to the “whole creation.”
Jesus intends the “whole creation” hear His Gospel. There are many who have died and did not hear the Gospel. Missionaries have worked diligently since the Paul’s journeys spreading the Gospel. Not everyone in Jerusalem heard the gospel. There are places on the earth that have not yet been given the Word of God or His Gospel. There are some alive today that will not hear the Gospel of Christ before they die.
Jesus intends the “whole creation” to hear the Gospel, even those who died before hearing it.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment denies the gospel will go out to the “whole creation.” The Gospel will be given to some because God ordained they would be chosen. Or, the Gospel will be given to some because they possessed a will to choose.
The commandment to “…proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation…” is a Christian work in progress. God is love and He will reconcile all to Himself. This is a Gospel that is the Blessed Hope. This is a Gospel that teaches God will make all things new.
…UR IN LUKE
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Shepherds in a field are blessed by an up close and personal birth announcement. It’s a beautiful story and it is Truth. It is Truth revealed to us. Shepherds were in a field tending their flock. An angel appeared and the glory of the Lord was all around them. The shepherds were frightened, not just shaken, but “filled with great fear.” The angel spoke to the shepherds saying, “a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord” is born.
The Truth is the “good news of great joy will be for all the people.” This great news of a savior born is not for just a few who choose Him or even for only those chosen by Him. This great news of a savior born is “for all the people.”
Our free will does not trump the “good news of great joy that will be for all people.” What is the “good news?” It is that a Savior is born? What is the great joy? It is that a Savior is born. “Good news” and “great joy” are for “all the people.”
Who is excluded from this “great joy?” Who is excluded from the “good news?” No one.
Adam Clarke is a 19th Century theologian. He took forty years to complete a commentary on the Bible. He was Methodist and was opposed to Calvinism. He did not believe in predestination, but in the free will of a man to choose to believe. He also believed in the doctrine of eternal punishment. Dr. Clarke writes about these verses.
– I am not come to declare the judgments of the Lord, but his merciful loving-kindness, the subject being a matter of great joy. He (the angel) then declares his message. Unto you – to the Jews first, and then to the human race. …The good news is to you, – and not to yourselves exclusively, for it is to all people, to all the inhabitants of this land, and to the inhabitants of the whole earth.
John Calvin believes in predestination; that is God has determined before the foundations of the earth who and who will not be saved. Those not saved are not chosen and consequently will endure torment in eternal punishment. Parenthetically a theology exists that is centered on Mr. Calvin’s teaching; Calvinism.
Mr. Calvin describes this verse to mean:
Which shall be to all the people Though the angel addresses the shepherds alone, yet he plainly states, that the message of salvation which he brings is of wider extent, so that not only they, in their private capacity, may hear it, but that others may also hear. Now let it be understood, that this joy was common to all people, because, it was indiscriminately offered to all. For God had promised Christ, not to one person or to another, but to the whole seed of Abraham. If the Jews were deprived, for the most part, of the joy that was offered to them, it arose from their unbelief; just as, at the present day, God invites all indiscriminately to salvation through the Gospel, but the ingratitude of the world is the reason why this grace, which is equally offered to all, is enjoyed by few. Although this joy is confined to a few persons, yet, with respect to God, it is said to be common. When the angel says that this joy shall be to all the people, he speaks of the chosen people only.
Mr. Calvin is adding to the scriptural text. The offer of joy is “common” to all. He declares the Jews were deprived themselves of the joy of knowing Christ because of “their unbelief.” Mr. Calvin also states that Gentiles are not grateful for the gift of saving grace and therefore God’s gift of grace will be “…enjoyed by few.” Mr. Calvin writes, “When the angel says that this joy shall be to all the people, he speaks of the chosen people only.”
First Calvin writes the joy is “indiscriminately offered to all,” then in the same paragraph he says the joy is speaking only of chosen people. The Jews that did not believe in Christ as Savior are subject to torment in a place called hell for ever and ever? Are Gentiles who do not accept the gift of grace to be eternally tormented for their unbelief? Certainly not! But, Mr. Calvin’s doctrine of eternal conscious torment prevails to this day.
Albert Barnes is a Presbyterian Pastor, Preacher, Author and Scholar. He is widely held in high regard. He prepared a commentary entitled “Albert Barnes Notes On The New Testament.” His sermons have been published and many can be read online. In one sermon he wrote:
I confess, when I look on a world of sinners and sufferers-upon death-beds and grave-yards-upon the world of woe filled with hosts to suffer for ever: when I see my friends, my family, my people, my fellow citizens when I look upon a whole race, all involved in this sin and danger-and when I see the great mass of them wholly unconcerned, and when I feel that God only can save them, and yet he does not do so, I am stuck dumb. It is all dark, dark, dark to my soul, and I cannot disguise it.
Mr. Barnes may have been conflicted and thoroughly sorrowful for what he believed was to be the fate of many people he loved.
Mr. Barnes writes this regarding these verses from Luke:
On earth peace – That is, the gospel will bring peace. The Saviour was predicted as the Prince of peace, Isaiah 9:6. The world is at war with God; sinners are at enmity against their Maker and against each other. There is no peace to the wicked. But Jesus came to make peace; and this he did,
- By reconciling the world to God by His atonement.
- By bringing the sinner to a state of peace with his Maker; inducing him to lay down the weapons of rebellion and to submit his soul to God, thus giving him the peace which passeth all understanding.
- By diffusing in the heart universal good-will to people – “disposing,” people to lay aside their differences, to love one another, to seek each other‘s welfare, and to banish envy, malice, pride, lust, passion, and covetousness – in all ages the most fruitful causes of difference among people. And,
- By diffusing the principles of universal peace among nations. If the gospel of Jesus should universally prevail, there would be an end of war. In the days of the millennium there will be universal peace; all the causes of war will have ceased; people will love each other and do justly; all nations will be brought under the influence of the gospel. O how should each one toil and pray that the great object of the gospel should be universally accomplished, and the world be filled with peace!
Dr. Barnes espouses the doctrine of universal restoration in this commentary. He is, however, a proponent of the doctrine of eternal conscious torment.
The plain meaning of the text, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Take nothing from these words and add nothing to them.
Clarke, Calvin and Barnes are notable men. They are strong and eminently educated. Their knowledge is grand compared to my own. There interpretations and commentaries do not seem to be in agreement.
Allow this reiteration of these verses. This is the testimony of the birth of Christ Jesus. Shepherds tending their flocks at night are overtaken by the glory and light of the Angel of the Lord. The shepherds, I think naturally so, are deeply frightened. The Angel of the Lord calms their fear and declares the Gospel to the lowly shepherds.
The Gospel is “for all people.” The whole world, all of creation, is impacted by the Good News. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” A Savior of the whole world is born. The Christ is born.
His Name is Jesus which means “God Saves.” There are no distinctions in this Gospel between those who believe He is the Christ and those who do not. There are no distinctions in these verses about the Gospel between those who heard the Good News and those who have not. It is the will of God that none be lost that all are saved.
These verses build a sermon leading to hope for all who have ever been created or who will be created. The doctrine of universal reconciliation teaches we have a King. He is Christ. The most heinous man will be reconciled to Him Who created him.
Jesus said, “Father forgive them; they know not what they do.”
Mr. Sprenger comments, “This incredible request by Jesus, together with His suffering and death on the cross for the sins of the world, becomes the ultimate picture and the eternal symbol of the heart and intention of God toward lost humanity. Furthermore, this declaration of God’s ultimate redemptive purposes was made, eternally speaking, from the beginning of time, by “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world! (Rev 13:8).”
Christ Jesus suffered humiliating and torturous punishment at the hands of His people and of the government. A few days earlier a crowd greeted Him as He entered into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey’s colt. The crowd cheered and sang “Hosanna” to Him and made His path into the city a path of victory on palm fronds.
The Temple leaders; that is the Sanhedrin; the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Zealots turned away from their Messiah and whipped the crowd into hating their King. Trickery and false testimony was used to persuade the people to convict Him of blasphemy.
Pontius Pilate was a weak Governor over Israel and of Jerusalem. His interests were self serving. He wanted to keep his position and status. He judged the King and found no crime to punish, but he listened instead to the voices of the Sanhedrin and those voices of the people chanting, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”
Christ Jesus carried a cross to Calvary. The people He loved spit at Him and cursed Him. He was mercilessly mocked.
All of this abuse laid on Him over a few days time. “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”
Sing praise to heaven and give honor to Christ the King. He forgives those who hate Him. He forgives those who follow corrupted men. He forgives all men. Jesus came into the world to forgive the sins of the world, all of the sins of the world.
The men and women who championed His betrayal and those who exercised their hatred of Him upon His body are forgiven. Can we say the Father of the Son refused to give to His Son what His Son seeks? “Father forgive them…!”
…UR IN JOHN
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
The Son is The Father’s grace. Grace made us and grace saves us. Christ Jesus is Grace. God is merciful to all.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment diminishes God’s capacity for mercy. This doctrine demands we believe God’s mercy is not really “over all.”
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
Jesus Christ is the Light. He “…gives light to everyone….” His Light isn’t given only to this group or that; this nation or that; this man or that man. His light is in everyone. Everything created is created by Him. His Spirit is given to everyone. When we die our spirit returns to Him Who gave it. “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”
God’s love is for everyone and He puts His Spirit into everyone. It is God’s will that all be saved. God is Sovereign!
Lee Salisbury posits this thought from his essay being discussed throughout this work. “If the doctrine of “eternal punishment” is true, then not one of the above scriptures (and there are many more) can be accepted at face value. God’s ability to regenerate the spirit of man and to fulfill His own word is limited by the heartbeat of man.
That is a profound statement. The verses stand alone. They do not require any references to other scriptures to support them.
Pride has led us to this place. We have denied God’s power when we say He is unable “…to regenerate the spirit of man (mankind, Adam). We have denied God’s promise when we say He is unable “…to fulfill His own Word….”
Pride has led us to this place. Lord help me to shed my pride. Help us all to see You in a Light that is all consuming fire, love, mercy. Lead us to preach. Amen.
The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Mr. Sprenger tells us, “‘the sin’ is in the singular, indicating the complete removal of the ‘sin principle’, or sin itself with all of its consequences, not just the individual acts of sin.” Sin is removed from the world. All sin over all time over the whole of His creation is taken away from the world. There is not a sin that is not forgiven except one and that is to withhold forgiveness from another. The unforgiving will not be forgiven.
John describes Him as the Lamb of God. It will be this Lamb that will shed blood to take away the sins of the world. The blood of this Lamb is God’s plan for the salvation of the world. It is His will that all be saved.
Is there any other way to understand this scripture? Jesus is the Lamb of God. He “takes away the sin of the world!” He does not take away sin because a prayer was said. He does not take away sin because of any ritual. He came to take away the sin of the world.
These verses simply understood declare that all sin is a matter of the past. All sin of the world is taken away. The blood shed is saving grace. The blood shed is mercy without limits. The blood shed is love. The blood shed is God’s blood. His Son’s blood shed for the forgiveness of sins. All sins are forgiven.
God is love in this Light. Jesus died for the sins of all. It was ordained before the foundations of the earth. His love is infinite and completely merciful. Not one of His sheep will be lost.
John the Baptist fulfills the prophecy regarding Christ Jesus by this declaration. “Behold! THE LAMB OF GOD takes away the sin of the world.”
No confession, no conditions, nothing other than the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world.
John 3:14-21 (Concordant Literal Version)
And, according as Moses exalts the serpent in the wilderness, thus must the Son of Mankind be exalted, that everyone believing on Him should not be perishing, but may be having life eonian. For thus God loves the world, so that He gives His only-begotten Son, that everyone who is believing in Him should not be perishing, but may be having life eonian. For God does not dispatch His Son into the world that He should be judging the world, but that the world may be saved through Him. He who is believing in Him is not being judged, yet he who is not believing has been judged already, for he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
Now this is the judging: that the light has come into the world, and men love the darkness rather than the light, for their acts were wicked. For everyone who is committing bad things is hating the light and is not coming to the light, lest his acts may be exposed. Now he who is doing the truth is coming to the light that his acts may be made manifest, for they have been wrought in God.
All of the world is loved. He creates all the world and He loves His creation. The short hand version of these verses is that Jesus is the Light and men who believe in the Light are drawn to Him. Those men who choose to remain in darkness avoid the Light and are not drawn to Him.
These verses are not judgment on anyone. Believers believe and their reward is age enduring life even while in this temporal world. A man who believes is living with the Lord even as the Lord sits at the right hand of the Father. A man who does not believe does not have the desire to come out of the darkness.
God did not send His Son to condemn the world. His Son came to save it. He was not sent to save some as the traditional doctrine of eternal conscious torment professes. God saves all.
What is the judgment? The world loves to live in the darkness. The world wants the darkness so as to keep secrets hidden from the light. The Light exposes the darkness of the world. The evil of men is seen clearly because the Light of Christ shines on all men.
Christ Jesus is given by the Father to suffer a horrendous death by crucifixion. Christ Jesus is obedient to His Father. It is God Who gives salvation to the world through the gift of His Son’s shed blood.
Christ did not come to judge, but to save. Believers and unbelievers, all men, fall short of the glory of God. An act of true unfettered, unconditional love is necessary for the reconciliation of all to the Father. That act is in the life, the ministry, the death, the burial, and ultimately the resurrection of Christ Jesus.
All that we do is known by the Father and is worked out in us through His Son. Good is exposed in the Light. Evil seeks to stay in the darkness so as not to be exposed. That is the judging. Is there even one person who in all creation has not hidden in darkness a sin they consider vile and perhaps unforgivable? Who in all creation is without sin?
This is the Good News; Christ Jesus sacrifices Himself for the sins of the world; even those sins that remain hidden in darkness.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires these verses to mean something other than what is plainly and simply intended.
The men who choose to stay in the darkness are condemned. To what? Jesus does not say any man is ever condemned to eternal conscious torment. In fact the Holy Word of God leads us to believe that every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord to the Glory of the Father.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment is anathema to the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Eternal conscious torment is indicative of a God Who hates.
They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
These words from the mouths of Samaritans. The Samaritans are a people group particularly disdained by the Jews. After a few days with Christ they realize He is the Savior of the Jews and the Savior of the Samaritans. He is the Savior of the world.”
The Pharisees during the time of Christ cannot see Christ as their Savior AND as the Savior of the world. The Pharisees hated Jesus. They did all they could to convince others that Jesus is a criminal and a blasphemer. Their belief is God is their Savior and only they are saved by God. It is an unpleasant analogy to make, but the advocates of eternal conscious torment have this in common with the Pharisees. They do not see Christ as their Savior AND as the Savior of the world.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires the majority mankind be tormented in a place called hell forever. Those living with this doctrine find a way in scripture to reserve the Savior for themselves, but find eternal conscious torment in the scriptures to be the outcome for everybody else.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.”
Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”
They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?”
Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.”
So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?”
He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”
So they said to him, “Who are you?”
Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”
Jesus declares in terms certain that He “…is the light of the world.” His light is not a light for Jews only. His is a light of the world.
Christ Jesus is speaking to the leadership of the Jewish people. The Pharisees are a learned fellowship. They fancy themselves above the masses of Jews living at the time.
In this exchange with the Pharisees Christ Jesus tells them they do not see the Light. The Pharisees are of the world. They rest in their flesh. They find comfort in what they believe they know. Christ Jesus tells them they “…will die in their sins.”
The Pharisees, at least those who are attending this exchange, will die and be placed in their graves. They will die and the doctrine of eternal conscious torment demands the Pharisees will forever suffer in a place the doctrine calls hell.
Christ Jesus is the authority preaching to these Pharisees on this day. He says nothing to them about eternal conscious torment. He says only that they will die in their sins.
Lee Salisbury asks us this, “Did Jesus tell a lie when He said, ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me.'”?
And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.”
Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”
Our Christ uses an analogy to describe how He will die and bring all men into reconciliation with God. With Christ’s death and His resurrection God makes the way to reconciliation with Him complete. Christ’s obedience to death on the Cross saves all. He said He came to absolve the sins of the world.
We read in these verses Christ’s admonition to set aside personal desires for the sake of meeting the needs of others. By our selfless service to others we bring glory to the Son. Serving others with a selfless heart brings heavenly blessings.
Jesus tells us His “soul is troubled.” He knows that soon He will be taken captive, persecuted, mocked, humiliated, beaten and convicted of crimes based in false testimonies from those He loves. Our Christ calls out to the Father. The Son acknowledges His purpose. Christ asks that the Father’s Name be glorified; not His own, but His Father’s Name be glorified.
The Father audibly answers that indeed He has honored His Name and will do so again. Others with Jesus heard God’s response. Some tried to rationalize the voice of God as thunder or as the voice of an angel. Jesus sets them straight telling them that the Father spoke aloud for their benefit.
Christ goes on to declare that the Father’s judgment on the world is at hand. We have been given over 2000 years waiting for His judgment and it will indeed come. The Ruler of this world is not Satan as some suggest. The Ruler of this world is Christ Jesus and it is Christ Jesus being cast out. Men are rejecting Him and He is soon to be crucified and placed in a grave.
It is important to allow yourself to be a critical thinker. Do not be quick to follow the traditions of current and predominant theologies. Jesus says, “…if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”
Does He say anything more than that? He was lifted up from the earth when He was hung on the cross to die. That part of the equation is satisfied. The second part of the promise is that He “will draw all men to Myself.” He does not say He will draw only a few. He does not say, “I will draw Augustinians / Calvinists to Myself.” He does not say, “I will draw Arminians to Myself.” He does not say, “I will draw only believers to Myself.”
Charles Spurgeon is known as a great preacher and his sermons are highly respected. A sermon message entitled “Christ Lifted Up” can viewed in its entirety at the Blue Letter Bible website.
Mr. Spurgeon opens this sermon remarking that “it was an extraordinary occasion upon which the Saviour uttered these words.” The good Mr. Spurgeon’s words are an understatement considering what is soon to transpire. Jesus is soon to be falsely accused. He is soon to be ridiculed and mocked. He is soon to suffer unimaginable indignities. Those who profess to love Him on one day will express their disgust of Him on another. Some will heap “Hosanna upon Hosanna” and in a few days will shout “Crucify Him!”
Mr. Spurgeon points us to verse 31 (John 12:31). “Now is the judgment of the world.” He points out that the Greek word for “judgment” here is better translated “crisis.” Jesus is pointing out to those who are listening to Him, “Now is the crisis of the world.” It is in Mr. Spurgeon’s words the “great turning point of all the world’s history.”
The sermon offered by Mr. Spurgeon exposes the truth of scripture and he teaches about Christ’s crucifixion. Christ is glorified in the crucifixion. The Father is glorified in the crucifixion. “Christ looked upon His crucifixion as the completion of all His work, and therefore looked upon it as an exaltation.” And then it was finished.
When, then, Jesus took the vinegar, He said, “It is accomplished!” And reclining His head, He gives up the spirit. (Concordant Literal Version; (CLT))
His work is accomplished. It is finished. It is complete.
I cannot stand up to Mr. Spurgeon’s scholarship. I am dross compared to his refined scholarship. That being said though Mr. Spurgeon seems to be adding something to this verse.
And I, if I should be exalted out of the earth, shall be drawing all to Myself.”
Mr. Spurgeon pleads, “Christ should be most prominent, not hell and damnation. God’s ministers must preach God’s terrors as well as God’s mercies; we are to preach the thunder of God’s law. If men will sin, we are to tell them that they must be punished for it. If they transgress, woe unto the watchman who is ashamed to say, “The Lord cometh and taketh vengeance.”
Spurgeon then preaches:
We should be unfaithful to the solemn charge which God has given us if we were wickedly to stifle all the threatenings of God’s word.
Does God say, “The wicked shall be cast into hell, with all the nations that forget God?” It is our business to say so.
Did the loving Saviour talk of the pit that burneth, of the worm that never dieth, and of the fire that can never be extinguished? It is ours to speak as he spake, and not to mince the matter.
It is no mercy to men to hide their doom. But, my brethren, terrors never ought to be the prominent feature of a minister’s preaching. Many old divines thought they would do a great deal of good by preaching this. I do not believe it.
Some souls are awakened and terrified by such preaching; they however, are but few.
Sometimes, right solemnly, the sacred mysteries of eternal wrath must be preached, but far oftener let us preach the wondrous love of God. There are more souls won by wooing than by threatening. It is not hell, but Christ, we desire to preach.
O sinners, we are not afraid to tell you of your doom, but we do not choose to be for ever dwelling on that doleful theme. We rather love to tell you of Christ, and him crucified. We want to have our preaching rather full of the frankincense of the merits of Christ than of the smoke, and fire, and terrors of Mount Sinai, we are not come unto Mount Sinai, but unto Mount Zion-where milder words declare the will of God, and rivers of salvation are abundantly flowing.
Mr. Spurgeon believes unbelievers are to be eternally consciously tormented for their failure to believe. He preaches Christ’s love for all, but cannot bring himself to accept that Christ does indeed love all. It is folly to try to discern Mr. Spurgeon’s heart. There is conflict on the one hand “let me preach God’s all consuming love” and on the other “let me tell you about His anger because you reject Him.”
Mr. Spurgeon’s sermon message then moves to Christ’s words that by His crucifixion He “will draw all men unto Himself.” He preaches, “Now, I will show the attracting power of Christ in three or four ways. Christ draws like a trumpet attracting men to hear the proclamation. Christ draws like a net bringing men out of the sea of sin. Christ draws, also, with bonds of love. In the next place, Christ attracts like a standard, bringing all the soldiers round him, and, in the last place, Christ draws like a chariot. “I, if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” Now I will try if I can show these points.
According to Mr. Spurgeon Christ will draw men to Himself as a trumpet call. A call to alert. A call to come to hear the proclamation to be read aloud. “Now, my brethren, part of the attractive power of the gospel lies in the attracting people to hear it. You cannot expect people to be blessed by the preaching of the gospel if they do not hear it.”
Mr. Spurgeon takes much time in this sermon to extol the virtues of Christ-like unity in the several denominations of his day. His sermon closes, but without a significant distinction between what he labels “the people of the Lord” and those people who are not “the people of the Lord.” He preaches to believers and encourages them to step away from backsliding ways.
Mr. Spurgeon does not preach that “all men will be drawn to Himself,” but only those who believe will be drawn by Christ to the Father. Mr. Spurgeon, the man of God that he was, limits the power of Christ to only a few.
This sermon by Mr. Spurgeon captures the essence of current denominations and their doctrines of eternal conscious torment. “All” does not mean all persons created. “All” means only those that meet a standard developed by preachers or certain standard bearers of what they conceive truth to be. Their truth and the truth they teach is that “all” are only those agreeing with them. In their view Christ’s crucifixion does not apply to “all,” but to only some.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.
Mr. Sprenger adds, “This is as clear a statement on the subject as any in scripture, a promise made by Christ Himself!
These are the words of the Savior! He is describing the kind of death He will bear for the sake of the world. He is to be crucified. His blood is to be shed. This to “draw all men to…” Himself.
There are countless commentaries that try to define God’s Holy Word. Many men and institutions honorably strive to honestly treat interpretations of language and history. The “Pulpit Commentary” was produced in the late nineteenth century by renowned leaders of the Anglican Church. Their commentary describes this verse eloquently and passionately.
We are directed to realize the “saving influence of Christ.” He is “the greatest Person” and influences the lives of all. He is the Son of God. He is the eternal Word. He is fully human and fully God. God interfaces with mankind through the Son of God Who is in nature a man. By way of His influence He makes the greatest sacrifice for all. He says that “if He is lifted up, He will draw all mankind to Himself.” He is the Incarnate Word Who lays down His life for our salvation.
His influence is in love and it is the greatest manifestation of love ever known. His sacrifice lays the foundation for complete reconciliation. There is nothing in the realm of human action that supplants His gift of His life for our eternal life. There are no difficulties to be encountered in His reconciliation of His creation to Himself.
Christ’s sacrifice is the greatest act of love by the greatest Person to have ever lived. He is the object of all honor, all glory, all worship and all praise. His sacrifice is the only sufficient way to reconciliation and it is the only efficient means to accomplish God’s plan for all.
The drawing is complete. It’s glory is overwhelming. The authors of this commentary conclude Christ’s sacrifice is “glorious triumph.” “The greatest sinners sunk in the deepest sin” are touched by Christ. These great sinners hold within them “the deadliest enmity against God and virtue.” These are sinners who are “backed up by the mightiest spiritual opponents of God….”
Even so, Jesus says, “…I will draw all men….”
The Pulpit Commentary tells us that Christ’s act of love that draws all men to Himself is complete and whole. Men, the most vile of men, are drawn “…unto faith in Him, unto his character and likeness, unto his position and society. The drawing will be most complete; hence the glory of the influence—his triumph.”
The commentary provided by these noble men is contradicted by other commentary on other verses. Here the Lord draws all men to Himself. But in a commentary on Matthew 5:22 these learned Anglicans advocate a doctrine of eternal conscious torment. They write:
The damnation of hell; literally, the judgment of Gehenna; judicio Gehennae (Vulgate); ie the sentence that condemns to eternal death (Mat_5:22).
The commentary given by the Pulpit Commentary’s authors regarding John 12:32 is correct. It preaches all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It preaches that the Christ’s sacrifice is perfect and in complete harmony with God’s infinite love. He is love. It is God’s will that no man perish.
There is a judgment of fire, a refining fire. That fire is restorative not punitive. Christ’s sacrifice purposely draws all men to Himself. God, through Christ’s obedience, provides the Way to be saved and ultimately to be reconciled to Himself. This is God’s promise. His Son, Jesus, Whose Name means “God is salvation” will not lose even one of those given to Him by the Father.
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
Jesus was speaking to a crowd when God spoke for all to hear. Some heard God’s voice commending Jesus. Others heard thunder. Jesus explains that what the people heard was for their benefit.
Then Jesus describes the manner of His death. He tells the people why. “And I, if I should be exalted out of the earth, shall be drawing all to Myself. (CLV)”
There were no denominations then. No cries for reformation of the church are known to exist at the time Jesus said these words. There is nothing to contradict. When Jesus was lifted up on the Cross at Calvary He then drew all mankind to Himself. He didn’t draw just a few men who believed they were chosen. He didn’t draw just a few men who believed they had the foresight to choose to believe the Gospel.
He “…shall be drawing all to…” Himself. All men!
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
Jesus is not the Judge. He says He is not. He tells us He came to save the world. He saves those who do not say a prayer or take communion. He saves those who do not live in the western world. He came “…to save the world.”
Jesus addresses those who refuse to believe. Those folks will be judged “in the last day” by the Word that is spoken. What will that word be? God caused these words to be written. “Every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father.”
The Word of God will judge them.
These verses do not include a caveat that says those who reject His words or continue in rebellion of Him will be not be saved and consequently condemned to eternal conscious torment.
Jesus says, “And I know that His commandment is eternal life.” We should all reach out to God and in His Spirit sing praises. “His commandment is eternal life.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment demands there be two branches of eternal life. The first path is really the only path. God does not will that any be lost and that all be saved. He says He will reconcile all men to Himself. The doctrine forces a second path to eternal conscious torment for the rebellious, unrepentant, unbeliever.
Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.“
Jesus is explaining to His Disciples and by His Word in scripture explaining to us what He is to take upon Himself for the sake of the world. His friends, His chosen Disciples will abandon Him. Judas betrays Him and all the others run from Him when confronted by the Temple guard.
He is never alone for the Father is always with Him. In death the Father will be with Him. In life and in His ascension the Father is with Him.
It is going to be a terribly frightening thing to see Him persecuted, prosecuted, convicted and hung on a cross. But, He says, “…take heart….” Do not be afraid. Be of courage. Hold on to this: “…I have overcome the world.”
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 seamlessly with other scriptures 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.
Yet not concerning these only am I asking, but also concerning those who are believing in Me through their word, that they may all be one, according as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us, that the world should be believing that Thou dost commission Me.
These verses from the Concordant Literal Version (CLV) are remarkably simple to understand. Jesus speaks these words. He is praying first for the Disciples and then for the world. He prays in submission to the Father. Christ Jesus asks the Father to cause unity with Him in those people who believe because of the testimonies given by the Disciples. He asks let them all, that is those who believe, find ourselves in Him. A common purpose in our hearts is to tell the world about Christ being the First Born Son of God.
“…That the world should be believing that Thou dost commission Me.” Not believers only, but the world believing that Christ is Savior because the Father intended it to be.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment insists Christ’s atonement is insufficient for all the world. His atoning work on the cross is sufficient only for those who believe. The doctrine contradicts the plain meaning of scripture.
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,“ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
It is as simple as that. In Christ Jesus… “It is finished.”
…UR IN ACTS
Repent, then, and turn about for the erasure of your sins, so that seasons of refreshing should be coming from the face of the Lord, and He should dispatch the One fixed upon before for you, Christ Jesus, Whom heaven must indeed receive until the times of restoration of all which God speaks through the mouth of His holy prophets who are from the eon. (CLV)
Peter and John are at the Temple preparing to enter for worship. At the gate is a lame man. He is placed there every day seeking alms. Peter approaches the lame man who reaches out as if expecting a coin or some other gift. Peter tells the man that he has no money to give, but that the gift of the Holy Spirit will be his. “Repent, then, and turn about for the erasure of your sins,….” Peter reached out with his right hand and lifted the man from his mat to his feet. The man did repent and he danced with joy always praising the Lord.
Peter, by way of the Holy Spirit of God, healed a man. He was being confronted by a number of Jews. He was challenged by the Pharisees. Peter points out their role in the sacrifice of the Lamb. They turned over the “Author of life” and chose to pardon a murderer. Peter preaches to the crowd that has gathered to see the miracle in the formerly lame man. He lays out how Jesus is their Messiah. He tells them of their blame for demanding the life of Barabbas be spared and violently demanding the Life of Jesus be taken. The accusation is clear, “…You killed Him….”
Peter declared the lame man’s healing was by the power of Christ Jesus; the same Messiah they demanded be hung on a cross. Then Peter says something remarkable and benevolent.
And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.
The people are forgiven. They are not forever lost. They cannot be held accountable for their horrendously violent hearts. They did not know what they were doing.
Jesus said, “It is finished!”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment contradicts God’s love. The Lord Christ Jesus obediently gave His precious Life “to draw all men to Himself.” Heaven does not hold Him. He is alive and lives in the hearts of men. There will come a moment when He causes “the restoration of all things.” He will reign. He will be the King of Kings. His subjects will be all the men He restored to Himself. He will draw all men to Himself.
“Repent!,” Peter says. “Repent.” Why? So “that your sins may be blotted out….” Whose sins? The sins of mankind generally, but certainly the sins of the Sanhedrin specifically.
Belief in Christ Jesus is a “time of refreshing.” It is a time for a life of peace. Repent and be at peace. Christ is in heaven, but a time will come when He returns “…for the restoring of all things which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago.”
What was spoken by the prophets that speaks to the restoration of all things? There would be One Who comes to restore all things to the Father. He comes to restore all things not a few, but all things.
…UR IN ROMANS
Lee Salisbury asks us to consider how the doctrine of eternal conscious torment exalts Satan. 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)?”
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.
Satan is the cause of sin in the world. He deceived Adam with a lie and Adam sinned. The penalty for Adam’s transgression against his Father 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.
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.
Adam brought sin into the world affecting “all men.” Jesus’ act of obedience to His Father’s command brings salvation to “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 sway over mankind is more consuming than Christ’s death for our reconciliation.
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.”
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 a doctrine of eternal conscious torment. 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.
Adam sinned and by his act of disobedience all mankind was cursed to work the ground and to physically die. Adam disobeyed God’s commandment and sin is passed on to all generations. Since, Adam, death reigned.
John MacArthur is renowned as a Biblical scholar, teacher of Holy Scripture, Pastor of a well established church. Dr. MacArthur does not agree that “all” means “all” in the context of these verses. According to Dr. MacArthur and many other Traditional orthodox scholars 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.”
Dr. MacArthur preached a sermon, “Death Through Adam Life Through Christ.” on this subject. 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. (emphasis added)
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?
Dr. MacArthur 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. Dr. MacArthur’s point of view is 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.” Dr. MacArthur preaches “…sin entered into the human realm through Adam. By one man, sin entered the world.”
Dr. 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. Dr. MacArthur is consistent in this point. Because of Adam’s transgression death reigned.
Dr. MacArthur says, “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.”
Dr. MacArthur preaches that “many” does not really mean “many” and that “all” does not really mean “all.” Dr. MacArthur states: “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.” A qualifier has been added. “All who believe,” is added and that addition takes away from the true impact of Christ’s sacrifice that “…for the sins of the many.”
Dr. MacArthur’s sermon message continues.
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.
Is Dr. MacArthur speaking for Paul? Was Paul using a literary device as Dr. MacArthur preaches? Did Paul want us to believe that sin came to the many (meaning everyone) by one man’s act of disobedience, but that Christ’s 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 Dr. 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 verses in question using 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:
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.
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:
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.
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 asks a question early in his 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?
Mr Sprenger notes, “As J.B. Phillips so succinctly puts it, “Grace is the ruling factor!”
Adam sinned. He was disobedient and his disobedience had a terrible effect on all men. The “Second Adam” Who is Christ Jesus has “…the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness….” He gives the gift of salvation “…and life for all men.” Christ Jesus makes all men righteous.
Adam, which means mankind, sinned and all men are born with sin. Christ Jesus died and His Father forgives the sins of mankind. “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” All men will be drawn to Him. Not one will be lost.
The sins of the world is inferior to the grace upon grace given by our Father. Sin abounds and grace abounds greater still. Is there any person grace cannot conquer? Is there even one person who will deny the love of God? “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord….” It’s to His glory.
“God is salvation.” That is the meaning of His Name. His Word is true. The Good News is that Jesus Christ gives an “…abundance of grace.” The Good News does not discriminate. Jesus gives to all. He gives us all “…the free gift of righteousness…” for all men.
Traditionalists and Universalists agree that Jesus is the Christ. We both say He has abundant grace. The doctrine of eternal conscious torment excludes billions of people from His grace. The doctrine declares Christ being Sovereign can be all consuming love and simultaneously create a man to be destined to eternal conscious punishment. Only Jesus is able to resolve the “one trespass that led to the condemnation for all men.”
Condemnation for sin is removed and is replaced by “one act of righteousness.” God is Love. He is just. His justice is in His love. The Christ’s “one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Creation waits. The earth and all that God created on it waits. The universe and the angels wait. Their expectation is to see “…the sons of God.” Mankind waits “with eager longing” for the plan of God to manifest itself.
God’s creation is “…subjected to futility.” In their own counsel and under their own power the “…sons of God…” are unable to comprehend the unveiling. God purposely made mankind unable to comprehend the “…revealing the sons of God.”
Who are the sons of God whom He subjected to futility? What is the revealing of the sons of God?
The Anglican Pulpit commentary suggests the expectation for the revealing includes:
- All mankind is included in the creation. These are men who have professed faith in Christ Jesus and it includes all other men who have not. Believers are not set apart.
- All animals are included in the expectation of the “revealing of the sons of God.” Animals may not have a sentient understanding, but there is nothing to suggest they are not a part of the earth groaning for the revealing.
- The ground and all inanimate nature are included in the creation. The ground was cursed when Adam (Mankind) fell. The ground, too, will rejoice with the “revealing of the sons of God.”
The sons of God are men. They are mankind! They are a part of the whole of creation. When the sons of God reject vain glory and quit kicking against the goads, God will remove futility from their hearts. All creation waits with hope for the revealing of the sons of God! “…In hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
We are “the creation.” Each and every person ever created or to ever be created will be placed into lives of futility. No person ever wanted to be put in such a state of hopelessness. Creation does not choose to be placed in life to be hopeless.
God’s love for His creation is never ending and all consuming. Mankind is held in a state of futility until God reveals His purpose to them.
Matthew Henry is a noted scholar of the 18th Century. He concluded only believers are part of the creation waiting in hopeful expectation. Dr. Henry writes, “In these words the apostle describes a fourth illustrious branch of the happiness of believers, namely, a title to the future glory. This is fitly annexed to our sonship; for as the adoption of sons entitles us to that glory, so the disposition of sons fits and prepares us for it.”
The esteemed Dr. Henry goes on to explain that “creation” is included, but then draws some conclusions that are hard to support. He writes that because Adam (Mankind) sinned and God cursed the ground the animals and the earth itself were stained. The ground and the animals, however included in God’s creation, are expectantly hopeful for “…the revealing of the sons of God.”
Dr. Henry explains, though, that only believers are welcomed by God to claim the relationship with God as one of the “sons of God.” All others are less in God’s sight.
God consigned all to sin. He placed in all of His creation a desire to find its way to Him. In creation’s efforts to control their existence they experience futility. In their desire to create for themselves a humanly sovereign way they experience futility. Why? So that all the earth, all creation, will see, recognize and realize His infinite mercy. He subjected all to sin so He could bless all with salvation.
God places us in this position of futility. He allows us to flail in stormy waters and to swim against the current. He lets us make choices that are contrary to Him. He lets us live lives of futility.
God wants us to see Him as our Lord, Savior, King. He wants us to see the key to living that sets “creation free.” It is my prayer that every element of creation would “free itself from its bondage to corruption….”
God’s creation is subjected to futility and God’s desire that creation frees itself.
For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?
It is the Jewish nation that rejected Christ Jesus. He came as their Messiah and they did not see it. Paul tells us that in this rejection there is “…the reconciliation of the world….” Reconciliation to Whom?
The world is reconciled to God. Scripture says it is so! Read Colossians chapter one. There we read the promise of God’s Holy Word: “…all things are reconciled to Him.”
The leadership of the Israelites rejected their Messiah. They taught those they led to oppose the Son of God. They plotted against Him. They contrived to accuse Him. All that they did in their conspiracy to silence the Word of God was known by God and even manifested by God. Because His chosen people rejected their Messiah, God has reconciled to the world to Himself.
Let us never forget that “…every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord….” It is glorious beyond anything we could ever dream for ourselves. “…Their acceptance…will mean…life from the dead….”
These verses preach redemption and give glory to God Who planned it before the beginning of what we construe as time. In the same way God planned that Jesus would be betrayed and rejected by His chosen people. He also has planned that all will be made new; that He planned “…life from the dead.”
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
The hearts of God’s chosen nation were inclined to themselves. Their “god” was within themselves. The people of Israel had rejected their Savior. That “hardening” of their hearts is a long term spiritual problem. Their “hardening” hearts will find relief when “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
Israel rejects the Son of God and God is leaving Israel to its own. Israel will truly see peace only when the King is revealed from Heaven. When all have been reconciled to Him the hardness of all hearts will be relieved. All will be Israel. All will have been grafted in.
The hearts of His children are never fully hardened against Him. They are only “…partially hardened….”
The glory of God will be fully known. We know what to look for. It is not a mystery to us. All of God’s creation will be made new. Gentile and Jew; one in Christ our King.
For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Israelite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Christian and all other religious acolytes are “…consigned to disobedience….” No person has been exempted from God’s judgment. Why? Precisely as scripture declares; “…that He may have mercy on all.”
God purposely leaves us to sin. He ordains it. He takes an active role in “consigning” each of His creation to disobedience; that is, to sin. He does not passively let us meander into sin. He delivered us to sin. Why? “That He may have mercy on all.”
Every person, beginning with Adam, has been “consigned to disobedience.” Is there any one person ever created in the wombs of their mothers who has not been disobedient? Not one!
We can argue if God is active or passive in our being “consigned to disobedience.” We have to agree, though that all persons ever created have been consigned to sin. We go so far to agree that Adam’s sin is born into every person.
What is it to be consigned? It is to be formally handed over. It is to be committed by another. In this case God formally gave every created being over to disobedience; that is, to sin. Every person has been committed to sin by God. Why? “…That He may have mercy on all.”
One man will declare that God chose him for salvation. Another man will declare that he had the foresight to choose God and salvation. These are common theological doctrines in the Christian church today. These theological ideas are opposed to scripture and to one another. “All” men are judged to be guilty. Chosen or choosing does not matter a wit. God already judged the chosen one and the choosing one. “For He has consigned all men to disobedience….”
God’s mercy on all. Let us focus on this, “God is love.” We “love because He loved us first.” We preach God’s mercy is beyond measure. That is the Gospel that saves. That is the Gospel preached.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment insists God will not “have mercy on all.” Theologians debate the meanings of texts and find proofs for their theology. Eternal conscious torment as a theology requires that God is not merciful to all. The doctrine requires God created some for eternal conscious torment and that God is glorified by that. The theology of eternal conscious torment contradicts the simple meaning of scripture.
God creates all things. There is nothing that is created that was not created by Him. He is all things. All to His glory.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
“All things” means precisely that. There are no divisions. There is nothing that can be excluded in “all things.” “All things” is absolute. It is “all things.”
All things are from Him. There is not a creature that does not have its origin in Him. All things are created through His command and by His power. Greatest of all that can be said is that all things are His. All things are committed to Him by His power.
He is sovereign over all things and He is love. Who is created to challenge His Creator’s love? That is the Gospel preached.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires we believe God is glorified by billions and billions of His creation in eternal conscious torment. We are demanded to believe a place of eternal conscious torment exists and that God maintains it specifically to contain and to punish the rebellious.
God is love. He is indeed the Creator of “all things.” All things come from Him. All things exist only because of His will. All things are His. The most vile man will be reconciled to God. That is the message that is the Gospel. God is love.
Is the number of “all” consigned a different number of all receiving His mercy? The Concordant Literal Version interprets this first verse thus:
For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all.
Does this mean God will be merciful to only a few or to all? It’s a serious question. We should be serious when contemplating it.
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” Is this number of “all” the same number as all committed to disobedience? It is. It must be true then that He will be merciful to the same number of “all.” That is He “should be merciful to all.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment contradicts the plain meaning of scripture. Every person is disobedient and God is sovereign over every thing. And, the doctrine teaches not every person will experience His mercy. The doctrine diminishes God’s mercy by claiming only a few are saved from eternal conscious torment.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
This is not a rhetorical question. It deserves an answer. Christian friends agree that no Christian should judge anyone anywhere at any time. Believers are convinced that God’s Word is true and that none of us are capable of giving reasonable, favorable judgment about others. I confess that I have judged others. Generally I judged them according to a standard I built. That’s hardly reasonable and surely not fair. I was ignorant. Worse I was arrogant. I have been forgiven and God remembers those sins no more. Amen.
It is difficult enough living my own life and to glorify God. I have to stand before God and give account for my life. That’s enough! God will hold me up. He will give me the strength to weather all that my life is subjected to. His plan is to be my plan. His will to be my will.
There should be no allowance made on my part to judge the behavior of any other person. That is what this scripture is admonishing. Further, it is incumbent on me to know that God will hold all men up. He has the power. He has the intent. It is His will that none should perish.
This is the Gospel preached. Do not judge. It’s a simple as that. Know that God will lift you up and that He will lift up even your enemy. It is a Gospel that preaches God is love.
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
First we are asked why we assume the authority we take for ourselves. “Who are you to judge…?” We are asked to explain the cause of our judgment on our brother or the cause of our hatred for him. The questions apply guilt to us.
These are questions causing introspection. If I pass judgment on others, then I am condemning them to a fate of my creation. If I pass judgment on others, then I am hateful of them. Neither of these are characteristics I want to possess. Christ Jesus teaches, “You will be judged by the measure you use to judge others.”
The Lord our God will judge all men. As a consequence of His judgment “…every knee shall bow…” and “…every tongue shall confess to God.”
Confess what? Their sin! All men will confess. All men will repent. All men will be reconciled to Him. That is the message of the Blessed Hope.
…UR IN 1 CORINTHIANS
Our lives and the ways in we live them are our work. These verses teach that the foundation of all life is in Christ Jesus. A man’s work is demonstrated by the strength of his structure.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.
The stronger and more precious structures will be known by what remains after they have been subjected to fire. What fire? That would be the glorious fire of God. That would be the sanctifying fire of His love. God is a consuming fire.
The remnant after the fire earn rewards for their builders. Every work will be subjected to the fire. The dross will be burned away and what remains brings glory to God.
God’s Word accounts for those of us whose works will be subjected to fire and there is no remnant. Those builders will have lost almost everything, if not everything. Those builders are not lost. They are saved. There is a fire to endure, but it is not a fire of punishment. It is a fire of restoration.
Robertson’s describes this condition thus:
It is the tragedy of a fruitless life, of a minister who built so poorly on the true foundation that his work went up in smoke. His sermons were empty froth or windy words without edifying or building power. They left no mark in the lives of the hearers. It is the picture of a wasted life. The one who enters heaven by grace, as we all do who are saved, yet who brings no sheaves with him. There is no garnered grain the result of his labours in the harvest field. There are no souls in heaven as the result of his toil for Christ, no enrichment of character, no growth in grace.
The one whose work left no impression on any other is reconciled to our Father by our Father’s grace. It is mercy upon mercy, grace upon grace, that the one who did nothing is counted as the Father’s.
I pray my life has not been empty and that my work will leave a remnant; that God is glorified in some way. I know the sins of my life have been forgiven and that He remembers them no more. I pray that my life is not “…the picture of a wasted life.”
All men are builders and our work has value in God’s sight. It is God Who subjects the work of all men to fire. No man’s work is excused and no man’s work will be overlooked. That is the blessed hope.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment teaches only a few men are builders. Any person not choosing to be a builder or any person not chosen to be a builder does not have a work to be judged by God’s fire. The doctrine insists the non-builders have been condemned already. Their judgment has been given.
The doctrine of universal reconciliation does not exclude any man from God’s judgment. Rather, all men will be judged by God. We believe the most wretched man “…he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.” All men are builders and all men will experience God’s fire.
1 Corinthians 5:4-5
When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Paul is pointing out a wicked man and his wicked behavior. He is declaring to the good people in the Corinthian church that this wicked man must be put out of their assembly. The “banishing” is lovingly ordered. It is loving on two levels.
First, the church in Corinth has become arrogant and lax. They have tolerated the abhorrent behavior of this man and have done nothing to stop it. By acting to remove the bad actor the church itself will be better. Second, the man’s behavior, being exposed, will be no longer tolerated and he will repent. Paul writes that the church in Corinth is to cut this man loose; “…to deliver this man to Satan….” By cutting the wicked man loose the church will improve and the man’s spirit will be saved. The church will not prosper as long as he remains. That’s true in every local congregation. As long as evil is present the local church will not prosper fully.
Even wicked men in wicked churches may lose their flesh to Satan, but their spirits are not lost. Ecclesiastes 12:7 states, “And the soil returns onto the earth just as it was, And the spirit, it returns to the One, Elohim, Who gave it.” The wicked man, removed from the church or not, will not see his spirit tormented forever.
God is love and God does not condemn any of His creation to eternal conscious torment. That does not mean there will not be a purifying fire as we discussed earlier. Ask yourself this, “If that wicked man knew Jesus, confessed his sins including the inappropriate relationship he was having with his step-mother, repented for a time, but continued in that sin anyway, has that man lost God’s grace? Will he experience God’s wrath forever because he failed?”
Care should be taken when answering that question. There is no one who can testify that he has not sinned. Can anyone say he has not sinned since his day of grace? I have sinned before my day of grace. I have sinned after. As an aside, that “pride” thing can be a serious flaw in Christian character.
The doctrine of universal reconciliation praises God because of His mercy and because of the intensity of His love for His creation. He loves even those who hate Him. It is because God’s love is complete and because He is our Father we strive to better our relationship with Him. The worst son is the “prodigal son.” The “last becomes first….”
1 Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
1 Corinthians 11:28-29
Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
The salient point to be taken in this is that the “…head of every man is Christ….” Scripture does not segregate Jews from Samaritans, Assyrians from Babylonians, the Catholic Church from the Reformed church. Scripture simply says “the head of every man is Christ….”
The chapter closes with an admonition to make sure all conflicts are resolved before taking communion. Examine yourself. Repent. When the examination is done and all conflicts are resolved, take the bread and take the wine. Christ is the head of every man.
Eternal conscious torment is a doctrine concluding Christ died for the sins of a few, not all. The doctrine declares some people remain reprobates and continue their rebellion even after death. The doctrine teaches His death on the Cross is not sufficient for all men.
Eternal conscious torment is a judgment ostensibly given by God to those who continue in their rebellion against God. Prominent traditionalist theologians have claimed that others who do not believe as they do about Christ’s Gospel are destined to eternal conscious torment. These prominent men and many that follow them judge those who disagree with them. The doctrine of eternal conscious torment condemns the unrepentant rebel. It is a judgment of men. We should all take care not to bring judgment on ourselves.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, is kind. Love is not jealous. Love is not bragging, is not puffed up, is not indecent, is not self-seeking, is not incensed, is not taking account of evil, is not rejoicing in injustice, yet is rejoicing together with the truth, is forgoing all, is believing all, is expecting all, is enduring all. Love is never lapsing: yet, whether prophecies, they will be discarded, or languages, they will cease, or knowledge, it will be discarded.
Mr. Sprenger comments, “It bears repeating: ‘Love never fails!’ God is love. His love can not fail! To lose even one would mean that love failed to find and save that one. To lose millions for eternity, as some believe, would mean that love failed miserably and completely! However, His plan, His purpose, His desire, and His nature has always been and always will be love for His creation!”
The Concordant Literal Version translates this phrase, “Love is never lapsing.” The KJV tells us “charity never faileth.” The English Standard version translates God’s Word, “Love never ends.” There is not a moment love does not exist. Love is over all else and like God never ends. God is love. Moreover, love accomplishes what is sets out to. It never fails.
Examine Mr. Sprenger’s proposition and assess its truth. If even one of God’s creation is condemned to eternal conscious torment it means God was unable to persuade that one man. God, Who is love, failed to save just that one man.
Compound that failure and apply billions and billions of people to this assessment not just millions as Mr Sprenger suggests. Many, perhaps most, of these people never were introduced to the Gospel. These are people blindly led. The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires these people be condemned. It does not matter that they never heard the Gospel. They never had a chance to confess their belief much less know to Whom they were confessing.
God is love and love never fails. That is the Gospel preached. All will be reconciled to Him. It is a promise. He declares that it is “His will that all men be saved.”
Love prevails over sin. Mercy and grace are abundant, death is eventually put to death. God is going to be “All in all.”
Paul, by the hand of God’s Spirit, provides us the definition of love. Is this definition of love for mankind alone? Does God put upon His creation expectations that He does not fulfill? I believe these verses describe and define the nature of God’s love for His creation.
God knew when He created each of us that we would fail His expectation for each of us. He knew before He blew His breath into the first created man. He knew Adam’s Fall and the consequences of the Fall before He gave Adam life. “…Love endures all.” “God is love.” “He will be all in all.”
To think we can will our eternal situation is to make ourselves to be greater than we really are. It is the character of God to love all. It is He Who “consigned all to sin.” His character is diminished terribly by the doctrine of eternal conscious torment. The character of God is to reconcile all to Himself.
God is the Father and Creator of all. God will make all things new. He loves all and He will be our “all in all.” It is the Blessed Hope.
It is clear. Christ Jesus says, “…I will draw all men to Myself.” He does not qualify “all.” Neither should we!
Lee Salisbury asks, “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
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 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. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 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.
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.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment teaches 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.
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, however, is not subjected to the Father as He, too, is God.
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.
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.
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. …
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: ….
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 the doctrine of eternal conscious torment. Dr. Wesley proclaims that the believer’s eternal fate in hell is stayed by a merciful God. But, for the unbeliever God’s mercy is not felt.
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 Dr. Smith was essentially that denomination’s head. Dr. Smith teaches doctrine that hell is the place of the damned. His view, though, is that the unbeliever chooses to be in eternal conscious torment.
Dr. Smith preached 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.
Dr. 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 Dr. Smith is to “…spend eternity apart from God.”
Dr. 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. Eternal conscious torment was not their fate so live and let live.
John Calvin wrote this about regarding 1 Corinthians 15:28.
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 orthodox even though Calvinism is at odds with other theologies such as Arminianism.
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 was a 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. 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.
Dr. Knoch writes this regarding “all in all” and this is a good place to close this portion of 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)
These verses are profound and define the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation. They are worthy of reiterated points and more discussion.
His love is over all He has created. I believe He will be “all in all.”
Adam sinned and there was The Fall. We all know of the story of Adam’s poor and even deadly choice when he took the fruit from Eve and ate it. Because of that single event now all men are created by God, but born with sin within. Adam caused death in all men.
We all know the testimony of Christ Jesus and His Holy Word. Christ was buried in a grave. After three days He was resurrected. Because of this divine fact resurrection is now the condition of all created men. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Is there an argument to be made here that only those chosen by God or only those who have chosen God are saved? “…In Christ shall all be made alive.”
The Believer’s Bible Commentary is authored by William MacDonald. Dr. MacDonald wrote many books and he took no remuneration for them. He writes this about these verses:
With the final banishment of death itself, Christ will see the victory he won at the cross effectual to the last outpost of rebellion. Having established full and complete authority over everything and everyone, he will deliver up this authority to his Father (24-26). The work for which the Son willingly became subject to the Father will then be complete. Everything will be subject to him who is Lord of all (27-28).
Christ’s victory over evil and death comes to a completion. There is not another party, not Satan, his puppets or fallen angels remaining on earth. Christ has authority over all things and all persons are made alive.
“…To the last outpost of rebellion…” Christ’s obedience and His Father’s mercy extends. “Everything will be subject to Him Who is Lord of all.”
Bob Utley is a learned man. He has written a commentary on the New Testament entitled “You Can Understand the Bible: Study Guide Commentary Series.” Mr. Utley says this about these verses:
Notice the consistent passive voice. The Triune God raises the dead. The perfect tense speaks of Jesus’ past resurrection, which becomes a state of being. Believers share the reality of His resurrection and by faith, the assurance of theirs!
- “those who are asleep” This is a perfect middle participle (cf. Matt. 27:52), which was a Hebrew idiom for death.
- “first fruits” This OT annual sacrificial ritual is discussed in Lev. 23:10ff. The first fruits in the OT were ripened sheaves of the barley harvest waved before the Lord in the Temple the day after the High Holy Sabbath of Passover Week, which would be Resurrection Sunday. They were given to show God’s ownership of the entire crop. This is an OT type for the promise of the resurrection of all of Christ’s followers! Paul uses this term again in 1 Cor. 16:15 to describe the first believers in Achaia. He also uses it in Rom. 8:23 describing believers as receiving the Spirit, but anxiously waiting for the resurrection. Jesus is the first to be resurrected (cf. Col. 1:18), but in due time all of His followers will experience the same. In a spiritual sense we already have resurrection life (cf. Eph. 2:5-6).
Dr. Utley determines that “all will be made alive” only applies to those who know Christ. Is that the true meaning? Is it fair to doubt Dr. Utley’s assertion here?
In Dr. Utley’s case as in Dr. Calvin’s case “all” does not mean “all.” The plain understanding of scripture is manipulated to satisfy a predetermined theology.
Look again at this verse:
1 Corinthians 15:28
When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
Mr. Sprenger adds, “This phrase is the real key to understanding God’s purposes in relation to His time schedule. ‘And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.’ Paul sees clearly to the end, and makes this ultimate and most concise declaration of the eternal purposes of God!”
What is the ultimate end? God will be “all in all.” How does He accomplish that? It’s not hard to see that “all things” will be given to Christ Jesus. He will give “all things” to His Father Who created “all thngs.” All things are in Christ. All things are in the Father. He is “all in all.”
These verses support themselves. The Gospel is in these verses. Adam’s sin causes all to die. Christ Jesus is the cause of all life…all will be made alive! All die because of Adam. All live because of Christ.
There is not a person created who is not subjected to Christ and consequently subjected to the Father. Who is the Creator of all things? His Sovereignty over all things has never ceased and in the same way His love conquers all.
The clear meaning of scripture is this; Adam sinned and consequently came physical death. Jesus comes to end the curse of physical death. Under Christ Jesus all of those who are deceased will be raised to life. There is an order in the resurrection of the dead. First, Himself, then those who He owns, then at the end when all are resurrected and given to God the Father. Jesus Christ defeated every known rule, tradition, law, and authority. He is King. There is nothing to hinder our love for Him. “Every knee will bow” and “every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment does not let the plain meaning of scripture stand. The doctrine agrees that “all” have sinned because of Adam, but refute the context of “all shall be made alive.” The doctrine needs us to believe the first use of “all” is all, but the second use of “all” is less than the first use. It’s not really all at all.
God has placed everything…all things…under the authority of Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus declared Himself that He does nothing that is not the will of the Father. Christ’s authority is under the Father’s authority. For what purpose? So that “God may be all in all.”
What does it mean “that God may be all in all?” Is he wrathful vengeance in the majority of the world and loving kindness in the rest? Does He love some and hate others to the degree He’ll assign some to blessings in heaven and the others to eternal conscious torment?
Jesus died for the sins of the world and scripture teaches He ill make all things new. But not according to Dr. Calvin. Christian Classics Ethereal Library is a wonderful repository of Bible information and scholarly studies. They post Dr. Calvin’s Commentary there. These are Dr. Calvin’s thoughts on these verses.
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. Both meanings sufficiently refute of themselves the wicked frenzies of some who bring forward this passage in proof of them. Some imagine, that God will be all in all in this respect, that all things will vanish and dissolve into nothing. Paul’s words, however, mean nothing but this, that all things will be brought back to God, as their alone beginning and end, that they may be closely bound to him. Others infer from this that the Devil and all the wicked will be saved — as if God would not altogether be better known in the Devil’s destruction, than if he were to associate the Devil with himself, and make him one with himself. We see then, how impudently madmen of this sort wrest this statement of Paul for maintaining their blasphemies.
Dr. Calvin believes that “all in all” is reserved only for believers. Unbelievers are bound to eternal conscious torment. Unbelievers will never experience the mercy of God. They won’t feel the pressure of His love. They will die unrepentant and reap the sorrow they deserve.
Dr. Calvin goes so far as to equate the thought that “all in all” includes a unity with Satan. Scripture declares that angel will be cast into the “lake of fire,” too. Those who disagree are “impudent madmen.”
Dr. Calvin’s thinking declares God’s power is weak. The sacrifice of Christ was insufficient to save the world. Christ did not really die for the sins of the whole world, but only for souls enlightened as Dr. Calvin is enlightened.
1 Corinthians 15:54
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.“
Mr. Sprenger points out, “‘The last enemy to be destroyed is death’ (I Cor 15:26)… This refers to all death, both physical death and spiritual death. Then the only thing that shall remain is…Life!”
Paul is deliberately explaining the meaning of life; that is a resurrected life. He preaches about fruit having to die to yield its seed and the seed having to die and to be brought back to life to produce more of that kind of fruit. He explains how to distinguish between the flesh of men and the various kinds of flesh of others of God’s creation.
Glory in all things is God’s glory. Glory comes from heaven and from the earth. The glory from heaven is different from the glory that comes from the earth. The planets all have their own, yet different, kind of glory. Even each star’s glory is different from all the other stars in the heavens.
“So is it with the resurrection of the dead.” Their flesh is different. The glory they exude to God is different. Each child of God dies an earthly death. The flesh of the earth is transformed to the flesh of heaven. The glory they once showed was earthly and is shed for heavenly glory. It dies and it is raised to live eternally with the Anointed King.
Adam was fashioned by God and he “…became a living being (v.45)….” Christ Jesus gives a life giving spirit. Adam’s flesh is bound by earth. His spirit “…returned to God Who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).” God’s only begotten Son is not bound to earth. He is Emmanuel; God with us. He is Jesus; God saves. God is with us and He saves us.
“We shall all be changed…(v.51).” First the dead will be raised from their graves and their bodies will no longer be made of earthly flesh, but of heavenly flesh. Their glory will no longer be earthly glory, but heavenly glory. Those who remain will have perishable bodies changed to imperishable bodies.
Then, “death will be swallowed up by Victory.” The end of death! There is nothing eternal in death. It has been defeated.
The Pulpit Commentary provides us this insight.
What a glorious change awaits humanity! St. Paul speaks of the resurrection of the body, an event which is confessedly mysterious: it may be far, far distant, and this we have no power to hasten or impede. But there is a more glorious resurrection—a resurrection of the human soul from the false, the unrighteous, the impure, to the true, the right and the holy—a resurrection, thank God, taking place every day in the world, and a resurrection which all men may either hasten or impede—their duty the former, their crime the latter. “Awake to righteousness and sin not.”
All men will be resurrected and eventually all of creation will be reconciled to Him. These verses do not divide people who believe in Christ Jesus from those who do not. In fact, these verses point to all mankind being changed from earthly flesh to heavenly flesh. They point to a change in the kind of glory all men express. The most vicious man who seldom gave glory will now give heavenly glory. The saintliest woman will be transformed with a heavenly, imperishable body. The worst and the best are redeemed and all are reconciled to Him. After all, it is His will that none should perish.
“A glorious change awaits humanity.”
…UR IN 2 CORINTHIANS
2 Corinthians 5:14-19
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
This is indeed good news. The Pharisees who denied Christ in previous verses are reconciled to God through Christ Jesus.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torments requires us to believe that only fellow believers are saved. Those who believe as they believe are reconciled to God. The doctrine requires something other than the plain meaning of scripture.
“One has died for all.” Christ Jesus’s sacrifice is for the whole world; for the whole of humanity. He did not die only for those who believe in Him, but for all flesh; for the whole world.
We are wonderfully blessed when we come to know Him. When we profess our belief in Him we are a new creation. The old self dies and a new self is born. It is a self that sees He is love and practices what is seen. “Behold the old has passed away. The new has come.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment has to contradict these scripture verses. The doctrine requires these verses be construed the old has passed away, the new has come, but only for those who believe.
Christ died for us and He does not count our sins against us. He died for all even not those who rebel against Him?
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment concludes Christ did not “reconcile the whole world to himself.” He reconciled only a few.
Albert Barnes is a world famous Presbyterian Theologian. He wrote “Notes on the Whole Bible.” He discusses these verses and closes with this:
If the question were put, how we preserve our consistency, in thus maintaining both the general and special view, we reply, first, that if both views are found in scripture, it matters not whether we can explain the consistency between them or no. But second, it is not so difficult as some would imagine, to conceive of God appointing a remedy with a general aspect toward the race, but specially intended to secure the salvation of his chosen people.)
Dr. Barnes writes that some believe only the elect are saved. If Universal-ism as well as eternal conscious torment are found in scripture, then it is not important to understand the differences between the two doctrines even if we could. According to Dr. Barnes God’s grace is “…intended to secure the salvation of His chosen people.”
“In Christ” and “through Christ” we have been reconciled to God. These verses are consistent with God’s love, His limitless mercy. Mr. Sprenger advises us, “According to Paul, then, preaching the reconciliation of all is in fact preaching the gospel.”
…UR IN GALATIANS
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.”
God “blesses all the nations” because of Abraham. God did not exclude nations. There is nothing merit based that can be done to gain this blessing. It just is. 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.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment denies “all families” will be blessed. The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires that “all families” cannot really mean “all families.” Their doctrine denies all nations are blessed. The doctrine preaches few nations are blessed.
…UR IN EPHESIANS
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
This is the salvation Gospel of Christ. In Christ Jesus we have redemption. Because His blood was shed for the purpose of atoning for the sins of the world we can claim salvation. His grace is abundant and it is poured out on all.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment limits God’s grace. The doctrine diminishes the scope of Christ’s sacrifice. The doctrine teaches Christ died not for all, but only for a few.
The mystery is now known. God’s plan from the beginning was to make all things righteous through Christ Jesus. It is Christ Jesus Who is obedient to the point of death. Those of us in Christendom who are blessed to see this mystery in its glory realize Christ’s sacrifice reconciles us to His Father; to our Father in heaven. Not only are we reconciled, but God’s “…plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and on earth…” is complete.
Eternal conscious torment cannot be true if God through Christ “unites all things in Him.” Did Christ die that terrible death to “unite all things” or just to unite some things? The traditional doctrine of eternal conscious torment disputes He will “unite all things.” All things will be united in Him.
It is God’s will that “all things unite with Him.” We believe that is what brings glory to Him. Are “we” just a few or are “we” all things?
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
David Guzik is introduced by Enduring Word website as “…a pastor, Bible teacher, and author of a widely used Bible commentary. Millions of people use David’s online Bible commentary on sites such as Enduring Word and Blue Letter Bible.:
I have read Mr. Guzik’s work. His commentary as been helpful to me in my study. His effort to help others understand God’s Holy Word is commendable. I am using Mr. Guzik’s commentary and explanation of Ephesians 1:15-23 as a guide to better understand His Word. I would like to be one who receives heavenly wisdom and to be one who understands the mystery that is The Blessed Hope. I pray the “eyes of my heart” are opened and that I fully comprehend the “riches of His glorious inheritance.”
Paul gives thanks for the love the Ephesian church holds for others in the church, that is “for all the saints.” His gratitude for the Ephesian church is expressed to heaven regularly and always. Mr. Guzik instructs us, “this was because their faith and love were evidence of their participation in this great work of God.” Mr. Guzik is correct to say, “Faith and love do not earn us participation in his great work of God. They are evidence of our participation in God’s plan.”
The Ephesians possess a “love for all the saints.” Mr. Guzik points out that Paul is giving praise to God for the Ephesian church because they love others in the church. Mr. Guzik says, “The real evidence of God’s work in us is not the love we claim to have for Him, but our love for His people that others can see.”
The True Light that is Christ Jesus is what others see when His love for us permeates our love for others. The love we have for Christ is seen in our love for others.
Paul asks God to strengthen the church and to give them a “spirit of wisdom” and “revelation in the knowledge of him.” He is asking that the church be given insight and understanding, especially about those things that are about Christ.
We learn about Christ Jesus’ position in God’s plan. He is elevated to a place in heaven that is demonstrative of His authority and of His power. His position is Sovereign over all creation. His Name is above all other names.
All things are subjected to Him. He is given authority “…over all things to the church which is His body….” All things…. Let that sink in.
Pastor Guzik closes his commentary on these verses, “If Jesus is the Head, then the community of Christians make up His Body.”
Christ Jesus is over all things. All things are subject to Him. There is nothing in these verses that lead us to conclude that God will be “all in all” in only a few, that is “the community of Christians.” There is nothing in these scriptures that separates one person from another. All men are included in “all things.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment diminishes the breadth of God’s love and the full impact of Christ Jesus’ obedience even to death on a cross. It is not a mystery any longer. Our Father’s Son is our Savior. WE are all subject to Him. He has subjected us to God. God will indeed be “all in all.”
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
Paul tells what his calling is. He has been given “…this grace…to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ….” Paul identifies himself as the least of the disciples and in other scripture as the worst of all sinners. He has been redeemed. The worst of all sinners is reconciled to God. He is not elevating himself or setting himself above any other person. “I am the very least of all the saints….”
His ministry mission is to preach to the Gentiles. He is to expose the mystery of God’s plan to Gentiles. Who are the Gentiles? These are all men and women created by God who do not or cannot claim Israel as their birthright. Gentiles are the whole world, the whole human world, minus Israel.
The mystery that Paul is preaching is that God intends to save the whole world through Christ Jesus. Every Gentile ever created and every Israelite ever created will be reconciled to God. That is His Divine Plan.
The Light that is Christ Jesus is revealed. The Light that is Christ Jesus shines brightly in His church. It is by God’s Divine Plan that His power is known. It is for His good purpose that the church be given wisdom of “unsearchable riches.” Ask yourself to define “unsearchable riches.” Could there possibly be a limit to His grace considering His “unsearchable riches?”
This knowledge that all of His creation will be reconciled through Christ Jesus to Him is the mystery revealed. It is this knowledge of this mystery, the knowledge of Christ Jesus, that empowers each of us “to go and make disciples.” It is God Who gives boldness. It is God Who gives faith. It is God Who gives us confidence to speak the Truth.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment teaches that most of mankind is doomed to suffer eternally. Rebels would rather live in the darkness and ignore the Light. The Light cannot be ignored as it is God’s Plan that Light reveals all things. All things will be made new in Him.
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Paul is closing this letter to the Ephesians. He proclaims himself as “a prisoner of the Lord” and uses this position to appeal to the Church. He gives them instructions to “walk in a manner worthy” of the Christ like life we are called to. Paul encourages us to treat one another “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Paul is not a prisoner of Romans only, but certainly a prisoner of Christ. He writes elsewhere that “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” What manner of life is worthy of Christ’s body broken and blood shed? It is love. It is love that is Christ’s love. It is love that is the Father’s love. Walking in a manner worthy of our calling requires we be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We can only do that in love. We must practice “bearing with one another in love.”
What is the unity of the Spirit? What binds us to peace? Christ’s overwhelming, all consuming love binds us to Him and to the Father. We are in concert with God’s Divine Plan when we agree that God is love and that God Saves. We agree Jesus is “God Saves.” Emmanuel is “God with us.” Jesus and Him only can save any of us.
Paul points out there is only One Spirit – “One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” One God over all. On God sovereign over all. On God Who is in all. One God Who is love. One God Who reconciles us all.
Christ Jesus has ascended to the Throne of God. He reigns from the right hand of the Father. He was with us for a time and He was buried for a time. He preached to the saints for three days. He was resurrected at the command of His Father. His life, His body broken, His blood shed is sufficient grace to save all. It is God’s will that all shall be reconciled to Himself.
God’s Son sacrificed on the cross is redemption for the sins of the world.
…UR IN PHILIPPIANS
Mr. Salisbury asks “what does it mean for Him (God) to be ‘all in all?’” It is not a rhetorical question. If Christ’s death does not reconcile all to the Father; that is, if Christ’s death does not save all, then Satan wins and Christ fails. To believe Christ does not save all exalts Satan.
Mr. Salisbury asks these questions. “Does every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil.2:11) because God is really like Nebuchadnezzar (Dan.3), forcing all into submission without respect to the desire of their heart?”
We should all know the story of Nebuchadnezzar He was a King of Babylon. He brought Daniel and three other young Hebrew men into his Court. We know from scripture that Daniel was able to interpret the King’s dreams and subsequently was made a man of importance in the Babylonian kingdom.
Nebuchadnezzar thought highly of himself. He thought himself to be “god.” He built a statue of his likeness and demanded all men bow in subjection to that idol. Daniel’s companions, the three young Hebrew men, refused.
Nebuchadnezzar declared that any person refusing to bow to his idol would be burned alive in a pit. The three young men were judged for disavowing Nebuchadnezzar’s edict. The king wanted Daniel’s companions to repent and bow to the idol. These young men were given opportunity to recant their commitment to their God, our God, and to bow before the idol of the king. They would not.
We know how their testimonies continue. A fiery pit was built and the flames of the pit were the hottest they could be made to be. Guards standing near the pit were consumed by the fire’s heat. The three young Hebrew men were thrown into the fire. Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fiery pit and a Fourth man was with them. Daniel’s companions were protected from the destruction caused by the fire.
Is God like Nebuchadnezzar? The answer is certainly not. Nebuchadnezzar was rebuked. He was defeated by the Incarnate Christ standing in a fire to rival hell’s flames. God is not loathsome. He is benevolent. His mercies are fresh every day. His mercies are grace upon grace. God is a consuming fire. His fire is a refining fire. He is love.
Nebuchadnezzar ruled with fear. God rules with love. All the ills of the world are conquered in His love. Nebuchadnezzar used his power and authority to coerce people to worship an idol made to look like him. Jesus Christ is not an idol and He does not require symbols or grand statues to demonstrate His power and authority. Nebuchadnezzar was a temporal man. His life ends. Christ Jesus is life and His life never ends.
Nebuchadnezzar sought to force his kingdom to bow to his likeness. Not so with the True King. The most sinful will see Jesus and recognize Him. The most sinful will experience the King’s grace, mercy and ultimately His love. He will indeed become “all in all.”
Pastor Dan Held helps us distinguish between fear and love:
Better read that one again: we can place our faith in fear, which is rooted in our desire to receive, or else we can place our faith in love, which is rooted in our need to give.
We then go through our lives internally conflicted about this choice. Our desires conflict with our needs. We fear that our desires will go unmet, that we will not receive enough. Yet, our love of giving meets the need of our souls that gratifies us so abundantly that our fear is, at some deeper level, cast out. Or solved.
I believe love is the solution to the universal problem of fear. That’s where my own mind now chooses to place my faith after 71 years of arguing back and forth internally between my body’s fear and my soul’s love.
And that’s why I believe in Jesus.
Jesus was the master of love. When it came to casting out fear, or rolling away fear’s heaviest stone, his power to give love met a need I call “resurrection.” It’s a universal need we all have. And while it may not be perfectly met this side of heaven, it is God’s purpose in our world to resurrect / restore / re-story us here and now. On earth as it is in heaven. If we will but place our greater faith in love rather than in fear. If we will but trust in love to solve our fear problems, we will actually solve our problems for a change. We will quench the fires of our own hell by fighting not the smoke or the hate or the anger in our world, but the underlying fear of not receiving our deepest desires. Our. Real. Solvable. Problem.
Hate is rooted in fear. Fear is defeated by faith in Christ and faith in God’s love. It is enjoyable living a life in which I criticize far less and give glory to God far more. Rather than fear I experience His will more often and more completely. “Be a Christian doing rather than a human just being.”
I am no longer quick to hate or to judge. That does not mean that my flesh does not rise up and rebel. I still sin and often the sin is because of my prideful judgment of another. Pastor Held is right to say about love; “It is a universal need we all have.” It is a universal need that is fulfilled in Christ Jesus.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
All persons regardless of their respective state of salvation; saved or unsaved, will know the Name of Jesus is “above every name.” Every knee will bow in submission to Him and in recognition of His Holy Place. All things will give glory to God.
The unsaved (every knee) will bow to Him and bring glory to the Father. Will the Father then send them to eternal torment in spite of their confession? The unsaved will experience punishment, a remedial punishment, for their sins and the blood that flowed from Jesus will cover them. The Father will reconcile all to Himself. He will be “all in all.”
I use notes from A. E. Knoch’s Concordant New Testament as background.
Scripture teaches Christ Jesus came from a place with the Father. They were One in the Same. They had the “same love, being in full accord and of one mind….” Christ Jesus was “in the form of God….” He is the Son of the Father, He has the same plan as the Father, and He is His Father’s Servant.
He “emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant.” He set aside His position and took on Himself the physical nature of His creation. It was a complete transformation. Little of His glory is seen in His physical nature.
Before He came to serve He was in form God. He was above all in the heavens. He lowered Himself to take up the curse of death on the cross. He was once almighty and made Himself the least of all.
He, of His own volition, descended from the highest. He came to the lowest. The sweep of His plan gathers all to Himself. “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
That time wherein all mankind confesses their love for Him has not yet come. There remains a rebellion. There are enemies still that cannot or will not acknowledge His love for them.
1 Corinthians 15:28
The Father has been exalting His Son since His resurrection. There are enemies still. There are those who oppose Him. However, the Christ rules over many celestial powers and soon all creation will be subjected to Him.
1 Peter 3:22
When He returns the earth will be added to His Kingdom; to His domain. The whole universe will be made subject to Him.
His shed blood reconciles all things to God. “All things, whether on earth or in heaven…” will be reconciled to God. “All things, whether on earth or in heaven…” will be made subject to Him.
He became the lowest and shall become the highest.
The Name of Christ Jesus is the Name above all other names. There is none of greater honor. There is none other that blesses us with grace. When His Name is called out “every knee shall bow” and “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…!” All of this to glorify our Father God. By the power of His Name do the knees of every generation bow and tongue of every person confess Christ is Lord.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires we believe that at the Name of Jesus a few knees will bow and a few tongues will confess Jesus Christ is Lord. The glory that is due the Father is lessened because only a few will find salvation in Him. The rest, those who are condemned to eternal conscious torment, will be looked upon from heaven by the Christ that could have saved them, but did not.
The plain meaning of scripture is the best meaning. Every person will be reconciled to God. No person will be abandoned to a place that cannot be proven exists.
Mr. Sprenger asks us to, “Remember that ‘No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 12:3
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
Christians sing with joy in the knowledge of the mystery revealed in Christ Jesus. All means all. Every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord and will be in the Holy Spirit.
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
If there is an eternal end for the rebellious, then “their end is destruction.” These scriptures make a better case for annihilation than eternal conscious torment.
Those who believe in Christ Jesus and who are brought into the family of God certainly have reason to rejoice. He “will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body….” That, indeed, is good news. But, greater than that He has the power “…even to subject all things to Himself.”
Do we want to say that His power to save even the most heinous person ever created cannot be made subject to Christ? If so, then His power is not all powerful. Is He love or is His plan to keep only a few as His people? Does He rule over a Kingdom of all or only a few?
If He can subject all things to Himself is it not reasonable to say He will? The doctrine of eternal conscious torment stretches the plain meaning of scripture to say He will not. The doctrine does not allow that Christ will end the spiritual lives of the disobedient by eternal destruction, rather they go another step to say Christ supervises their eternal torment. Jesus, Who is the Savior of the whole world, really is not according to the doctrine of eternal conscious torment.
…UR IN COLOSSIANS
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. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
There are some alive today who have not heard the Gospel. Verse 23 dismisses that assertion because “…the gospel you heard…has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven.” How that may have been fulfilled I cannot say. I can say with absolute certainty that Christ Jesus said, “It is finished.”
“All creation” has received the Gospel. It has been proclaimed to “all creation under heaven.” The blessed hope is somehow passed to all generations. “All creation” receives the gospel and “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the Glory of the Father.”
What good news! What a Gospel!
Notice Paul declares himself to be a minister of the Gospel of Christ. He never alludes to the Traditionalist doctrine of eternal conscious torment. Their theology manufactures that doctrine from thin assumptions.
God is Christ Jesus. Scripture records here that “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” in Him. “All” of God was in Christ Jesus. What was the purpose of that? “To reconcile to Himself all things.” The Father in Christ Jesus. The Father’s plan is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. “All things” are reconciled to the Father through Christ Jesus. The plain meaning of these scriptures is easily understood. Nevertheless, the orthodox Traditionalist strives to contradict them.
We sin because of the fallen state we are born into and the fallen state of the world. None of us is ever free of sin. We live sin or we feel sin or we think sin. Sin is all around us. These scriptures teach we can say with confidence we are “reconciled in His body of flesh by His death.” The degree of our sin does not change the fact that “by His death” we will be given to the Father “holy and blameless.” We, all of us, “all things” will be “above reproach before” the Father. Why? Because Christ Jesus reconciles all things.
We must also “…continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven….” Who can claim they have been every moment of every day “stable and steadfast?” I dare say, none. Who among us has not fallen away “…from the hope of the gospel that…” we heard? I dare say “all things” fall short.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment to be true must conclude not “all things” will be reconciled to God. Only a few things will be deemed righteous, blameless and holy.
Mr. Sprenger asks, “How could Paul state it any more clearly!?” The plain meaning of scripture makes the doctrine of eternal conscious torment highly suspect at least. That doctrine requires that not all things are reconciled to Him or that He is unable to persuade unrepentant, rebellious people with His overwhelming love.
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Mr. Sprenger tells us, “All creation is birthed in Christ; all creation remains in Christ; but not all of creation has been awakened to Christ (“Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give thee light.” Eph 5:14)
Paul provides insight to life in Christ. Because we know Him and we are confident He knows us. Because we know Him our focus is on Him at the right hand of the Father. Our focus should be on heavenly things; spiritual things. Our focus should be for prayers to be blessed with wisdom.
Paul tells us that our temporal lives have changed in Christ. Our spirits are quickened in Christ and we have a life “hidden with Christ in God.” Paul presses the church in Colosse to set aside all things worldly. “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
Every person ever exposed to the Light of Christ acknowledges his sins. Pride, which is also idolatry, puts up obstacles, but over time with the Spirit of God working in us we “put away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk.” We come to live lives in Christ Jesus and we do not deceive one another.
Christ has given us a new life and we “put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” The old self that condemns another is put off and love is put on. The old self that judges harshly is put off and love is put on. The old self that practiced the ways of the world is put off and the life of Christ is put on.
Every person, says the Blessed Hope, is no longer part of a nationality or culture. “There is not Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”
Knowing Christ Jesus and being known by Him is crucial. Being a believer “is a gift from God and that by way of faith.” He leads us to believe. Our lives change and our focus is to bring glory to Him. That is Christ like life…bringing glory to God.
God intends that believers set aside animus for those who disagree with us and take up a new life with the Spirit of God at our head. Christ is everything. He is the fullness of God dwelling in Him. God is pleased in Him. Christ Jesus is in the men and women He created. Everything that is created was created by Him at His command. He is in all.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment teaches millions upon millions of people will be eternally punished by a just God. The doctrine lessens the power of Christ. It diminishes the “fullness of God in Him.” These verses simply and plainly understood teach “Christ is all, and in all.”
Dave Armstrong writes a Bible Study from a Catholic perspective. He writes this about forgiveness on a human level and then declares God cannot forgive an unrepentant sinner.
Forgiving each other:
Forgiveness is, of course, a distinguishing characteristic of the Christian life. We are to lovingly forgive others (cf. Mt 5:24; 6:12-15; 18:21 ff.; 18:35; Mk 11:25; Lk 6:37; 17:4; 2Co 2:7,10; Ep 4:32),
…because God has forgiven us (cf. Mt 6:14-15; 9:6; Mk 2:7,10; Ac 10:43; 13:38; Rm 5:10-11; 2Co 5:18-19; Ep 1:7; 4:32; Cl 1:14,20,22; Hb 9:22; Jm 5:15).
The recipient must repent, however, in order to ask for, and obtain true forgiveness, which is not absolutely unconditional, as many falsely teach (cf. Mt 3:11; 11:21; 12:41; Mk 1:4,15; 6:12; Lk 3:3; 5:32; 13:3,5; 17:3-4; 24:47; Ac 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 13:24; 14:15; 17:30; 19:4; 20:21; 26:18,20; Rm 2:4; 2Co 5:20; 7:9-10; 12:21; 1Th 1:9; 2Tm 2:19,25; Hb 6:1,4; 1Pt 3:11; Rv 2:5,16,21-22; 3:3,19; 9:20-21).
True repentance is a heartfelt acknowledgment of one’s sin (Lk 7:36-50; 15:7), …a firm resolve to try to do better (Mt 3:8; Lk 3:8; 22:32; Ac 26:20), …and a determination to cease engaging in that sin (Jn 5:14; 8:11; Gl 4:9; Cl 1:21-23; 2Pt 2:21).
Our willingness to mercifully forgive anyone who repents and asks for forgiveness ought to be unconditional. The Catholic notion of priestly absolution is grounded in Holy Scripture (cf. Mt 16:19; 18:18; Lk 24:47; Jn 20:21-23; 2Co 2:5-11; Jm 5:15).
The unforgivable sin or sin against the Holy Spirit is a rejection of God’s offer of salvation (cf. Mt 12:31-32; Mk 3:28-29; Lk 12:10). This provides further evidence that even God cannot and will not forgive a person who doesn’t repent and accept the forgiveness (in this case, salvation itself – see 2Pt 3:9).
For to forgive everyone unconditionally would reduce to Universal-ism, whereby everyone is saved, with no one being consigned to hell – itself a most unbiblical doctrine (see commentary for Ph 1:28).
It is not enough that Jesus, Whose Name means “God Saves,” is all, but not in all according to Mr. Armstrong’s apologetic study. To Mr. Armstrong understands the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Him, but that the fullness of God cannot and does not dwell in all men. Jesus is Emmanuel. His Name is “God is with us.” All has been given over to Him and He has subjected it to Himself. He subjects His creation to His Father and God is pleased.
These verses stand alone, even so all other scripture supports this simple truth; “It is God’s will that all be saved.” “God is Love. His love will save all.”
…UR IN 1 TIMOTHY
1 Timothy 1:12-17
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Mr. Sprenger asks, “If the prerequisite for mercy is ignorance and unbelief, then who will fail to qualify?”
Is there any person ever created that does not deserve God’s mercy? Who are we to say? Are not all people at first ignorant of God’s grace and only exposed to His mercy in stages of their lives? Do not all people have to be shown what their faith is; that it is a gift from God? Mr. Sprenger’s question is poignant. “…Who will fail to qualify…” for God’s mercy especially if Paul is our example?
Paul declares in Holy Scripture that he is the “foremost” of all sinners. Does it not stand to reason that God saves the most wretched man? Who is worse than the most wretched of all men? Mr. Sprenger asks, “Again, if Paul is the foremost sinner, then hasn’t God’s plan of redemption been accomplished to the foremost?”
Christ said from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Later as He took His final breath He said, “It is finished.” Christ is asking the Lord to forgive the very persons who hate Him. He is asking the Father to overlook and to forgive their complicity in His crucifixion. Will His Father not do what He asks?
“It is finished.” Yet, the doctrine of eternal conscious torment demands Christ’s death is not the end for many. Not all are forgiven.
These verses preach “God is love.” Christ Jesus is His only begotten Son. Christ Jesus on the cross at the threshold of His death prays to His Father. He asks that His persecutors be forgiven. Will God not answer His Son’s prayer affirmatively and reconcile all to Himself through Christ Jesus?
1 Timothy 2:3-6
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Mr. Sprenger tells us, “An alternate translation reads: ‘to be testified (lit.’witnessed’) in due times…'(ie. ‘each in his own order'”…I Cor 15:22).
Sometimes the plain meaning of scripture is modified or manipulated to support the doctrine of eternal conscious torment. Does a contradiction exist in these verses?
Is there a contradiction regarding the reconciliation of “all men” to God? Is the “ransom for all” only a ransom for a few who have been chosen or for the few who choose Him? Is there a qualifier at all? Does not “all” mean “all?”
Paul is teaching Timothy and subsequently each church about worship. The focus of the instruction regards the behavior of men and the behavior of women in church settings and in daily life.
Paul exhorts Timothy and all Christians to pray for all men; to pray the needs of all men are met; to pray the hearts of all men would turn to Jesus. His “…is the testimony given at the proper time.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment teaches Christ, “…who gave Himself as a ransom for all…,” really did not pay for the sins of all. Rather, the doctrine believes that Christ’s sacrifice applies only to few because they either had the foresight to have chosen to believe on Christ or they had the blessing of being chosen by God to believe on Christ.
These verses show a powerfully, all consuming loving Father’s, boundless mercy. His love for His creation is seen in these verses. Jesus gave His life as a “ransom for all.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment contradicts what God’s Word declares about Christ’s sacrifice. There are contradictions between what the doctrine teaches and the plain meaning of scripture. The Father leads us to read His Holy Word. His Spirit leads us. He has uncovers God’s Word for us. What He reveals is not revealed in the traditions of men.
We’ve read that Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross was as a “ransom for all men.” We’ve read that “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Christ to the glory of the Father.” We have discussed the contradictions. The doctrine of eternal conscious torment is that Christ’s sacrifice is insufficient ransom for all. It is a doctrine in which Christ’s sacrifice lacks love for all men, but has sufficient love for some men…the chosen men.
1 Timothy 4:6-16
If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
It is ironic that these verses open with “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.” Is Calvinism a set of doctrines loaded with silly myths? Arminianism? Is eternal punishment a silly myth? Is universal reconciliation a silly myth? With which should we have nothing to do?
The scripture states “…our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
William MacDonald writes in the Believers Bible Commentary regarding verse 10:
For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach. The end mentioned is the life of godliness. Paul states that this is the great goal toward which he exerts his finest efforts. This would not seem a worthy aim in life to unbelievers. But the Christian sees beyond the passing things of the world and sets his hope on the living God. This hope can never be disappointed for the very reason that He is the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of the those who believe. God is the Savior of all men in the sense that He preserves them in the daily providence of life. But He is also the Savior of all men in the sense pointed out previously – that He has made adequate provision for the salvation of all men. He is the Savior of those who believe in a special way because they have availed themselves of His provision. We might say the He is the potential Savior of all men and the actual Savior of those who believe.
Dr. MacDonald died in 2007. He was a prolific Christian writer and honored God by not accepting remuneration for the written works he produced. He was President of Emmaus College which is affiliated with The Plymouth Brethren Church. I am certain Dr. MacDonald’s heart is owned by God.
Dr. MacDonald is a proponent of the doctrine of eternal conscious torment. He applies his predisposition favoring the doctrine. According to Dr. MacDonald God has made Himself known to the people of the world from the beginning of time and God provides for all. God by His grace made provision for mankind, all mankind, to believe and to be saved. But, only a few take advantage of God’s grace. Dr. MacDonald has determined the scriptural phrase “…who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe…” is better read “…who is the Savior of all people, exclusively of those who believe.
Dr. MacDonald diminishes Christ’s death in this commentary. He writes, “We might say that He is the potential Savior of all men and the actual Savior of those who believe.” According to this explanation Christ’s death is “potential” salvation, but still sufficient only for “…those who believe.”
Dr. MacDonald was surely a loving, kind and generous man while living. He is described as a man truly loving God. He writes this regarding mankind’s eternity.
What does the Bible say about our destiny?
Now let us think about what the Bible says about death and the hereafter.
It says that death is certain. It is appointed to men to die once (Hebrews 9:27). Who can argue with that?
Every cemetery and funeral home bears silent testimony to that fact. Generations come and generations go. “Each one thinks that he will be eternal, and then that one becomes the missing face” (Will Houghton). Death is inescapable.
The Bible not only says that people must die. It adds in the verse just quoted but after this the judgment. Note the words after this. Death is not the end. There is a hereafter. After death there is judgment and an eternity of endless suffering for those who are not ready to meet God. The Bible says and whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).
The Bible also tells us that there are only two places where a person can spend eternity – heaven or hell. The God who does not lie speaks of only these two destinies for the human race. A man or woman may choose not to believe this, but that does not alter the fact.
Kevin Engle is a kind of archivist for The Plymouth Brethren of which Dr. MacDonald is associated. I am not certain Mr. Engle speaks for that denomination. His father, Kenneth, and Dr. MacDonald were contemporaries and close friends.
Mr. Engle posts a sermon message by D. L. Moody entitled “Hell.” Mr. Moody writes about eternal conscious torment.
The Spirit of God tells us that we shall carry our memory with us into the other world. There are many things we would like to forget. I have heard Mr. Cough say he would give his right hand if he could forget how badly he had treated his mother. I believe the worm that dieth not is our memory. We say now that we forget, and we think we do; but the time is coming when we shall remember, and cannot forget. We talk about the recording angel keeping record of our life. God makes us keep our own record.
The scientific men say that every thought comes back again, sooner or later. I heard of a servant girl whose master used to read Hebrew in her hearing, and some time afterward, when she was sick of a fever, she would talk Hebrew by the hour.
Do you think Cain has forgotten the face of his murdered brother, whom he killed six thousand years ago? Do you think Judas has forgotten that kiss with which he betrayed his Master, or the look that Master gave him as he said, “Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” Do you think these antediluvians have forgotten the Ark, and the flood that came and swept them all away?
My friends, it is a good thing to be warned in time. Satan told Eve that she should not surely die; and there are many men and women now who think that all souls will at last be saved in spite of all their sins.
Do you suppose those antediluvians who perished in Noah’s day – those men too vile and sinful for the world – do you think God swept those men right into Heaven, and left Noah, the only righteous man, to struggle through the deluge? Do you think when the judgment came upon Sodom that those wicked men were taken right into the presence of God, and the only righteous man was left behind to suffer?
There will be no tender, loving Jesus coming and offering you salvation there – no loving wife or mother to pray for you there. Many in that lost world would give millions, if they had them, if they had their mothers to pray them out of that place, but it will be too late. They have been neglecting salvation until the time has come when God say, “Cut them down; the day of mercy is ended.”
You laugh at the Bible; but how many there are in that lost world today who would give countless treasures if they had the blessed Bible there! You may make sport of Ministers, but bear in mind there will be no preaching of the Gospel there. Here they are God’s messengers to you – loving friends that look after your soul. You may have some friends praying for your salvation today; but remember, you will not have one in that lost world. There will be no one to come and put his band on your shoulder and weep over you there and invite you to come to Christ.
There are some people who ridicule these revival meetings, but remember, there will be no revivals in hell.
These verses should not be construed to mean that “only” those who believe are saved, but “especially” those who believe. We should not exclude a whole class of people, unbelievers. In fact, we should take pains to demonstrate their inclusion. God instructs us to love even those who hate us. That would mean to love even the most heinous unbeliever, would it not? After all would our Lord command us to love all, but not do the same for all?
Do these scriptures read to you as if God is rejecting anyone? These verses read to me as if God is the Savior of all people. There is certainly a blessing upon us who do believe. It is certain God desires all people are saved by the Savior. There is not another scripture that contradicts this one tenet; He is the Savior of all people.
…UR IN TITUS
Eternal conscious torment as a doctrine is true only if verses such as these in Titus are made to mean something other than their plain meaning. I concur with Mr. Salisbury’s assessment that scripture has to be made to fit the doctrine of eternal conscious torment.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Paul is instructing Titus to preach “…what accords with sound doctrine.” Paul goes on to describe behaviors and characteristics of Christian men and Christian women. There are lists of do’s and don’t’s. Simple rules for living a life that brings honor to God.
Paul then explains where we draw grace from. “The Grace of God has appeared.” That can only reference Christ Jesus. God’s grace manifest in Jesus. With His appearance as the “only begotten Son of God” He brought with Him “salvation for all people.”
He is training all of us for life that is with Him. All of us. Not just the few who feel as if they are chosen and not the few who believe they have chosen. All of us.
By His abundant grace He brings salvation to all men. The doctrine of eternal conscious torment contradicts the simple reading of scripture.
Steven J. Cole is a contributor to the website Bible.org. Mr. Cole is identified as a Pastor of a church in Flagstaff, AZ. He writes about these verses from Titus and opens with this:
Our subject for today, the grace of God and how it works in our lives, is arguably the most important concept for you to understand and live by in the battle to be godly. Because it is so important, the enemy of our souls has created much confusion and controversy on this topic. But if you can fight your way clear in understanding and applying God’s grace, you will experience a close relationship with God and consistent victory over sin (Rom. 6:14).
“The grace of God” that appears is Christ Jesus. His life, death and resurrection are precepts all men can believe. He brings salvation to all people. Mr. Cole is right to say “…the enemy of our souls has created much confusion and controversy on this topic.” Good meaning men and women have developed “traditions of men” that are just as much to blame for the confusion and controversy.
Mr. Cole suggests the interpretations of these verses are in error.
Paul says that the appearance of God’s grace brought “salvation to all men.” The KJV and the NIV err by translating that God’s grace has appeared to all men. That never has been true, in that there have always been many that have never heard of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
Rather, Paul means that God’s grace that appeared in the person of Christ offers salvation to all that hear of it. In the context, Paul has just spoken of various groups: older men, older women, younger women, younger men, and slaves. So when he goes on to say that God’s grace brings salvation to all men, he means, “to all types of people, including those whom the world despises, even to slaves.” No one is beyond the reach of God’s grace.
This does not mean that all people are saved or will be saved. The Bible is uniformly clear that there are two separate, final destinations for all people. Those who by God’s grace believe in Jesus Christ as Savior will go to heaven. Those who do not believe in Christ will pay the penalty of eternal separation from God in hell.
Mr. Cole acknowledges there are people, men and women created by God, who have never been exposed to the Gospel that is “The Blessed Hope.” It seems as if Mr. Cole is conflating the appearance of the “saving grace of God” to the hearing of it.
Mr. Cole discusses his idea that “all people” is mistranslated and should be rendered as “all types of people.” He declares “not all people are saved or will be saved.” Is Mr. Cole correct?
The Concordant Literal Version translates this verse:
For the saving grace of God made its advent to all humanity,
Young’s Literal Translation provides us with this:
For the saving grace of God was manifested to all men,
What are we to say? Scripture tells us that the “saving grace of God” is made obvious to all men. “The saving grace of God” is Christ Jesus.
Mr. Cole is right to preach “no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace.” That is a precept of the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation. But, Mr. Cole preaches also that “this does not mean that all people are saved or will be saved.” He then goes on to say “the Bible is uniformly clear there are two separate final destinations for all people.”
It is not difficult to understand the plain meaning of this verse. The doctrine of eternal conscious torment takes away from “the saving grace of God.” The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires God’s grace be only for a few. It preaches God’s grace is available to all men, but only given to a few.
Mr. Cole writes:
Before you can appreciate God’s grace, you need to know that you are justly under His wrath and condemnation. You are headed for eternal judgment unless someone intervenes. To use Spurgeon’s phrase, you know that the rope is around your neck. God’s grace cuts the rope, even though you are guilty as charged and deserve to die. Have you experienced God’s grace that brings salvation? If so, you are a changed person. How?
The imagery is frightening. Mr. Cole paraphrases Charles Spurgeon. According to this analogy we are all born hanging from ropes. Our respective breaths are being choked out of us. To Mr. Cole’s thinking God, in His wisdom and by His desire, cuts the rope from some, but not for most. The irony is too great to reason. God Who creates life also stifles it. He could easily cut the ropes of all…and in fact using Mr. Spurgeon’s analogy He will. It is God’s desire that all be saved.
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) is a culmination of many years of hard work and information sharing. Matt Slick is the force behind this ministry. He believes God chose him for salvation, but did not choose most of humanity. The doctrine of eternal conscious torment excludes many of those created by God from “the appearance of God’s grace.”
Mr. Slick writes this about Titus 2:11.
We, the chosen, have had the blessing of saving grace bestowed on us in abundance. Saving grace is based upon the love of God manifested in the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.
Grace is not commodity or a substance. It is an action of God, therefore, it has a result. That is what is spoken of in v. 11, the grace of God that has appeared is the incarnation, the sacrifice, of Christ, the resurrection and the indwelling Spirit.
Grace is a gift from God and on that we agree. Mr. Slick tells us that grace “…is an action of God, therefore, it has a result.” Shall we say then that only the chosen are given grace? The doctrine of eternal conscious torment intends exactly this understanding of these verses.
The verse says clearly, “the saving grace of God is manifested to all men.” The doctrine of eternal conscious torment allows only a few men be gifted by “the saving grace of God.”
Bob Utley prepared a commentary on God’s Holy Word. He founded “Bible Lessons International” and the website bearing that name. He, Mr. Slick and Mr. Cole have a common understanding of these verses.
Dr. Utley writes this regarding Titus 2:11. These verses “give the theological basis for godly living.” Dr. Utley tells us “the life, teaching and death of Jesus fully reveled the Father’s love, mercy and grace. When we see Jesus, we see God.”
Dr. Utley declares “God sent Christ to die for the sin of all humans, but they must personally respond by repentance, faith, obedience and perseverance.” Dr. Utley remarks there are scriptures “reflecting the universal scope of Christ’s work ‘for the world’ and ‘all men.’” Dr. Utley closes this portion of study:
God made humans in His image (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). In Gen. 3:15 He promised to redeem all humans. He specifically mentions His worldwide agenda even in His call of Abraham (cf. Gen. 12:3) and of Israel (cf. Exod. 19:5). The OT promises to Israel (Jew vs. Gentile) have now been universalized to believer and unbeliever (cf. Eph. 2:11-3:13). God’s invitation to salvation is worldwide, individually focused, and Spirit-energized.
Dr. Utley’s understanding “the appearance of the grace of God” is universal, that is available to all men, but that grace (Christ Jesus) can only be realized by a work. Dr. Utley writes, men “…must personally respond by repentance, faith, obedience, and perseverance.” In other words those of us who have been blessed to see “the grace of God manifested” must perform a work or series of works in order for salvation to have effect for us.
Dr. Utley writes, “God made humans in His image…. He promised to redeem all humans. He specifically mentions His worldwide agenda even in His call of Abraham…and of Israel….”
On one hand we must work; we must repent, we must exercise faith, we must be obedient, and we must persevere. On the other hand God, “…promised to redeem all humans.” Quoting Matt Slick (above), “God’s grace is an action and God’s action has a result.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment alters the plain meaning of scripture to make it mean something not intended. It is God’s will that none shall be lost. He is certain to be “all in all.” God’s grace is an action and there is indeed a result.
…UR IN HEBREWS
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
The power of these verses is overwhelming evidence that Christ died on a cross for the sins of all men and that He is “the heir of all things.” He is King over the most pious and He is King over the worst rebel. He owns us all. To Him God gives all and to the Father does Christ give glory.
The Messiah is spoken of by the prophets of God and “in these last days” God speaks to all humankind through Christ Jesus. His Name is Jesus and He is God’s saving grace manifested to all men. Christ Jesus Whose Name is Emmanuel is God with us.
It is by no other Authority that our Christ Jesus is “appointed the heir of all things.” He is heir of all the earth; everything on the earth, under the earth, in the sea and throughout the universe. These verses declare with certainty that Christ Jesus is fully credited with the Father for creating the world. It is His creation and we, all of us, are part of that glorious work.
It is Christ Jesus who “makes purification for sins.” These verses do not limit the sins purified to those who repent, obey, show faith and persevere. These verses declare with certainty that He by His obedience to His Father’s Will makes “purification for sins.” He is the “heir of all things” and His possession is free of blot.
Today He is elevated to the place of Highest Honor at the right hand of the Father where He sits on the King’s Throne.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment diminishes Christ’s sacrifice. The doctrine concludes that Christ’s inheritance is not “all things.” The doctrine declares the majority of mankind will be sent to eternal conscious torment even though Christ inherits “all things” He creates.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires that Christ reigns over eternal torture.
John Piper is a renowned pastor, preacher and author. He provides his sermons and other resources at his website, Desiring God. Dr. Piper is introduced thus:
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dr. Piper provides a sermon entitled “In These Last Days God Has Spoken By A Son.” Dr. Piper addresses these verses from Hebrews 1 and Christ’s authority as “heir of all things.”
Verse 2: “In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things.” Now why does the author add this? Because he wants us to dwell on the fact that the one we listen to, Jesus, the Son of God, can make good in the end on all that he promises. Why? Because he is the heir of all things. In the end he will have at his disposal all things. He will have in subjection to him all that is. The writer wants us to think about this. What does it mean to listen to a Spokesman for God who in the end will have under his complete control and ownership all things (all land, all water, all fire, all wind, all energy, all natural resources, all nations, all military might, all buildings, all bacteria and viruses, all angels, all demons, all spiritual and material beings except God the Father)? Well, it means that he can make good on all his promises.
If he says, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5), then he can make good on that promise, because he will own the earth and have it under his control. If he says, “Nothing in all creation will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39), then he can make good on that promise because he will own all creation and have it under his control. If he says, “There shall no longer be death or mourning or crying or pain any more” (Revelation 21:1), he can make good on that promise because he will own life and death and rule unhindered over all that causes pain and crying.
When you listen to the Son of God, it is different from listening to a prophet. God will make good on the word of the prophets. But the Son will make good on his own word.
Dr. Piper asks why the author of Hebrews included the phrase “heir of all things.” Christ’s Supremacy is in the fact that He is “heir of all things.” He is the First born of many. He is the Son of God and it is His Birthright to be Sovereign over “all things.”
Dr. Piper declares that Christ’s authority allows Him to keep promises. “Jesus, the Son of God, can make good on all He promises.” Is that the same as saying “Jesus, the Son of God, will make good on all His promises?” Is the distinction softening Christ’s authority and placing a kind of limit on the promises He will keep. It is as if Christ will keep some promises, most promises perhaps, but Christ does not have to keep all promises.
Dr. Piper points out that Christ is over all things, “…who in the end will have under his complete control and ownership all things (all land, all water, all fire, all wind, all energy, all natural resources, all nations, all military might, all buildings, all bacteria and viruses, all angels, all demons, all spiritual and material beings except God the Father)….”
Christ Jesus, according to Dr. Piper, can, if He chooses, keep the promise that the meek will inherit the earth. He can, if He chooses, keep the promise that nothing will separate us from the love of the Father. He can, if He chooses, keep the promise to end death, mourning, crying or pain. He can, if He chooses, rule unhindered.
Who could hinder Him? God gives all authority to Him. Who could delay His promise from being fulfilled? Does God promise that He will be “all in all?” Who will dissuade Him? Who will keep Him from His promise to His Son and to His creation? Dr. Piper answers these questions with this; “…the Son will make good on His own Word.”
Christ Jesus came into the world and is the “propitiation for our sins.” He was made manifest as the “saving grace of God.” He died a horrendous, torturous death as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Dr. Piper wants us to believe as he does. There are some sins that Christ cannot forgive because the unrepentant person is so steeped in rebellion Christ cannot save him or worse will not save him.
Mr. Piper says this about hell.
The fear of hell is a golden opportunity for treating God as big and glorious and utterly real. It is hard for human beings who are sinful to feel the reality of God, but if God is the one who created hell, and whose majesty makes hell just and understandable, then this is a golden moment. The reason hell is so terrible is because God is so great that despising him is so evil that it deserves this terrible punishment.
In other words, the horror of hell is a signpost concerning the infinite worth and preciousness and beauty and goodness and justness of God. If he were small, if God were small, hell would be lukewarm. Because he’s great, scorning God is a horrible thing. This is a golden moment for how to teach a child about how real and how great God is.
I have to ask did God create “hell?” Or is it a pagan kind of horror used to bring people into compliance? Does God force His children to pay homage to Him in the same vein Nebuchadnezzar made people submit to his idol?
How does Dr. Piper explain the millions if not billions of people living in places throughout the world that have never heard the Gospel of Christ Jesus?
Is fear of “hell” truly “a golden moment for how to teach a child about how real and how great God is?” If God is love, then why is it “golden” to teach children to fear Him?
Is it unreasonable to call “hell” a thing? If not, then Christ reigns over the doctrine of eternal conscious torment and its subsequent “hell.” Is it Christ Who torments? He is the only power that could. His would be the only Authority that could. Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Satan is defeated, too.
Dr. Piper is not alone in his assessment regarding Christ Jesus being “the heir of all things.”
Dr. John MacArthur writes about these verses and provides us with the resource.
And thus to do this was Hebrews written. It is simply then, mark it, a presentation of Christ, the Messiah, the author of a new covenant, greater than the old one that God had made in the Old Testament. Not that the old one was wrong, it was only incomplete. Now the theme of the book then is the superiority or the preeminence of Christ. That He is better than anything they’ve got. That He is better than anything that is. He’s better than the Old Testament persons. He’s better than the Old Testament institutions. He’s better than the Old Testament rituals. He’s better than the Old Testament sacrifices. He’s better than everything.
Dr. MacArthur explains that without God’s forcible voice no person in their natural state could know God exists.
Look at it verse 1. “God,” the middle of the verse, “spoke.” Right there. We would never know God if He didn’t speak. Now I’ve always illustrated it very simple. You can’t crawl out of your natural box and discover God. You can’t do it. You and I live in a natural box. Just imagine a little box. And you and I run around this little natural box and it’s all time space existence. And outside of our natural box is the supernatural. And somewhere down inside of us, we know it’s out there, but we really don’t know anything about it, you see.
Dr. MacArthur declares no man created by God can know God unless God makes His voice clear. His creation can guess that God exists, but we do not really know unless God speaks.
God does speak. Dr. MacArthur continues:
Now let me add this, that even though God spoke in many ways, in many parts, it’s not a hodge-podge. It’s not smattered with a lot of human opinion like so many people try to tell you. Tell you that men wrote the Bible. It’s all God spoke.
Dr. MacArthur sells commentaries of nearly all, if not all, the books of the Bible. His commentaries are constructively “smattered with a lot of human opinion.” That does not take away from the point that God speaks to us through His Holy Word. That begs the question. If a person never held God’s Holy Word (the Bible) or could not understand the language the Bible is presented, did that person hear God speak?
Dr. MacArthur preaches about Christ’s “heirship.”
…His heirship, verse 2. “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son,” now He begins the seven excellencies, “whom He hath appointed heir of all things.” Stop there. The first thing we learn about Jesus Christ is that He is the heir of all things. Colossians 1:16 says, “All things were made by Him and,” what, “for Him.” If Jesus is the Son of God, then He is the heir of all that God possesses. And everything that is finds its final meaning when it comes into the control of Jesus Christ.
…God’s destined kingdom then will belong to Jesus Christ. Everything that ever was made was made by Christ and for Him.
…On earth He was poor for our sakes. But He is some day to inherit all things and according to Philippians Chapter 2, all of those existing in the universe, whatever they be when asked who is king will say it is Jesus Son of God, Son of Mary. And so the Holy Spirit says to the Hebrews this Jesus, this Jesus is the heir of all things establishing His first glorious preeminence.
…Even Satan knew that because when he tempted Him in the devastation or the wilderness, he tempted Him to take the world the wrong way by bowing down to Satan. And so Jesus is the heir of His inheritance secured by God’s promise. And it’s a kind of fantastic thing to realize that you and I, according to Romans 8:16-17 shall be joint heirs with Christ. That when we enter into His eternal kingdom, we will jointly possess all that He possesses.
Now it never says we’ll be joint Christs or joint Lords, but we will be joint heirs. It’ll be ours as well. And amazing as it seems, even though this Jesus Christ is the heir of all that God possesses some still refuse Him. Some still reject Him. Some rejected the Old Testament. Some still reject the Old Testament. God speaks in the New Testament in his Son and they continue to reject.
…Now tragic it is that even though Jesus Christ is clearly the final revelation of God and the ultimate King of Kings and Lord of Lords and heir of everything, men constantly reject Him, crucify Him afresh and put Him to an open shame. The second excellency of Christ that we see here is His creatorship. His creatorship.
Dr. MacArthur’s sermons and commentaries are rich. Christ is the “heir of all things.” They are His. He created them.
Dr. MacArthur is right to say that everything in the universe; that is everything ever created was created by Jesus Who is Christ for all men. He is right to say that all things will be subject to Him accentuating the fact that He is Sovereign over “all things.” Simply stated, “Jesus is the heir of all things establishing His first glorious preminence.”
God’s Kingdom is Christ Jesus’ Kingdom. All things created are created for Christ and all things created will be subject to Him. All things created bring glory to God.
Dr. MacArthur refers us to Philippians 2 and I add scripture from Isaiah and Romans.
By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.‘
for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
I believe God’s Holy Word spoken to us. I am confident Dr. MacArthur and Dr. Piper believe His Word with all their hearts, too. I cannot see how any man, no matter how hateful, no matter how bitter he is toward God will not see His glory. Scripture teaches every tongue will confess and will swear allegiance to God. Every knee will bow and all will be subject to Him.
You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Christ Jesus is obedient to the Father. He stepped away from the Throne of God for a little while. He took upon Himself the flesh of mankind. We know the history of His birth. He was made “…for a little while lower than the angels….” We know the history of His crucifixion. We know the history of His time “preaching to the saints” and His subsequent resurrection. He was for a little while a man. He died our Savior. He resurrected as our King. He reigns sitting at the Father’s right hand on the Throne of God.
It bears repeating so there will not be any misunderstanding. Jesus was obedient to His Father. He stepped away from His heavenly place and took on human flesh. He became the Savior of all. Jesus was obedient to death. His blood shed for the sins of all men. His body broken for the sins of all men.
Jesus is God’s grace. “…By the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” God’s manifested grace for everyone. He is light in everyone. He died for everyone.
God “crowned Jesus with glory and honor.” His Father put everything under His Son’s Authority. “Everything is in subjection to Him.” There is “…nothing outside His control.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment limits “everyone.” This doctrine’s “everyone” consists of those God chose or consists of “everyone” who chooses God.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment is created from manipulated interpretations of scripture. Our Father says, “I will remember their sins no more.” Yet, the doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires He remember their sins for eternity. Never mind, every man is subject to Him. His death atones for the sins of everyone. His grace is our reconciliation to Him.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The author of Hebrews explains that Christ Jesus is not another High Priest, but that He is THE High Priest. Our High Priest is seated at the right hand of the Father. Our High Priest is majestic and is the “…grace of God manifested…” for us all.
Christ Jesus is not a worldly High Priest. He is the heavenly High Priest. His Ministry is elite and nothing compares to His gift. Others have been appointed priests and prophets to serve for a time. Those men and women served the Lord’s purpose to expose the Truth to all.
Our High Priest tells us that He did not come to replace the Old Covenant. He came to fulfill it.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Israel was given this first covenant and they were unable or unwilling to accept it. They could not or would not meet the Lord’s terms. They were insolent. They were dishonoring. They were human and they failed. The covenant is not faultless. The people are not faultless, for if both were without blame there would not be reason for another covenant.
It is incontrovertible. “…They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” Is there any one not subject to the statement, “they shall all know me…?” What will they all know? God is merciful and forgives all sins!
God does not add any qualifiers. The least to the greatest will know Him. All will know Him. God says He will be merciful toward their sins and that He would remember their sins no more.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires God remember sins for eternity as He punishes those He supposedly does not know. The doctrine contradicts scripture. God’s Word means that all sins are forgiven because all men will come to know Him and the doctrine. He says clearly “they shall all know me.” What a blessing it is to know that His mercy will cause Him to “remember their sins no more.”
But now once at the consummation He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
A. E. Knoch dedicated his life to preparing the Concordant Literal Version of God’s Holy Word. From the commentary he produced we affirm that “the old covenant…was dedicated with the blood of calves and he goats. The new is inaugurated with the blood of Christ…. No intermediary is involved. The High Priest made Himself the propitiation of our sins without any other human help.”
The sins of the world are put away because He sacrificed Himself. Mr. Sprenger says, “Though not yet evident, sin will finally be completely put away, and all creation, which is waiting anxiously for its redemption (Rom8:19), will be set free.
Christ has yet to be seen at the end of the eons. Sin has not been put away from all people. Sin will eventually “be banished from the universe.” By this we will all know the conclusion of the eons. The ages will be gathered up and an eternal age with Christ will begin.
Israel will be restored and the hearts of men will have written on their hearts the words of the Almighty God. Sin will be past and the Father will remember them no more. Praise God we are all Israel.
…UR IN 1 PETER
1 Peter 1:17-25
And if you are invoking the Father, Who is judging impartially according to each one’s work, you may behave, for the time of your sojourn, with fear, being aware that not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, were you ransomed from your vain behavior, handed down by tradition from the fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a flawless and unspotted lamb, foreknown, indeed, before the disruption of the world, yet manifested in the last times because of you, who through Him are believing in God, Who rouses Him from among the dead and is giving Him glory, so that your faith and expectation is to be in God.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
God judges each of us because we are fallen. The Father knew that each of us would be unable to meet His expectation of righteousness or love. It was known to the Father and to the Son that the Son’s lifeblood would be the only way to restore His creation to Himself. God knew we would fail Him. He knew Adam and every other man since him would fail Him.
Our Father judges without favoritism. He does not see denomination, attendance, culture, status or behavior. He judges our walks on the paths of our lives. He judges our work. He causes us to always walk in reverence to Him.
Money and things do not make us successful in our walk. We cannot purchase our way to His glorious presence. Our denominational underpinnings are not the way to the truth. Traditions of men are truly worthless in God’s sight. He says, the things we learned about righteousness are “handed down by tradition by our fathers.” Are the things about a Christ like life taught by our traditions? What about traditions that are contrary to those of our fathers, but in concert with the fathers of others? Is the Southern Baptist walking a straighter path than the path of the United Methodist? Is the Mormon any more righteous by “the tradition of their fathers” than the Roman Catholic who follow the “traditions of his fathers?”
God judges and we are to avoid that.
We are saved by the blood of Christ Jesus shed that fateful day at Calvary. Because we have received the gift of faith and that through grace we understand the significance of Christ in our daily walk. We see and feel and express the grace that is in today.
Our hope is in Christ and God is reasonable to expect our love to be for Him, in Him, through Him. We are to be His in every moment of every day.
Men build doctrines that include some and exclude most. We build traditions that judge all when we are cautioned not to judge at all.
Sermon Writer is a website that provides resources for Biblical study. They provide this explanation:
“from the useless way of life handed down (Greek: patroparadotos) from your fathers” (v. 18c). The word patroparadotos combines the word pater (father) and paradidomi (to deliver). In this context, Peter is describing the traditions and values handed down by their parents—their spiritual inheritance.
Whether or not we received a monetary inheritance from our parents, they did deliver something important to us, for good or ill. We inherited their genes—their physical and mental strengths and weaknesses—their propensity to certain diseases. If they were present to parent us as we were growing up, we learned their values and beliefs.
As adults, we must sort through this heritage to assess what was good and what wasn’t. No parent is perfect, so most of us would do well to let go of some of the habits, values, and beliefs that we inherited. Peter is telling these people that Christ has delivered them from some of the unhelpful heritage that their parents delivered to them.
This verse is one of the clues that the intended recipients of this letter are Gentiles rather than Jews (see also 4:1-4). Peter would never have told a group of Jews that the heritage that they received from their fathers was useless.
The traditions handed down to us from our parents and traditions given to us by way of our Bible teachers are not necessarily good or worthy. We are taught to set all of those aside for the better, purer Way. We are to see and to live and to work our days in “The Blessed Hope.”
1 Peter 2:12
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Peter admonishes believers to “put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” There is not any room in a believer’s heart for anything other than Christ Jesus and the love of God. We are living in the Kingdom of God now. We know, as believers our path to heaven to live a life of eternal peace is assured. He is our Guide and Mentor, we should love as He loves.
Reach out to Him for understanding of all situations you face. Seek Him and His direction. Take it in small doses and grow into Him. Better still, let Him grow within you. Being forgiven requires we be forgiving and “…grow up into salvation.”
The Lord our God is good. His Son is good. His Spirit is good. All things come together for the purpose of good especially for those of us who believe. Our Christ is our Bridegroom and we are His. He is building a foundation that cannot be shaken. We are as Peter calls us “a holy priesthood.” We “offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ Jesus.” There is nothing evil in His Bride or in the Temple He builds.
He, Christ Jesus, the Cornerstone starting the foundation and becomes the Capstone completing the work He starts in us. We cannot be shamed and He cannot be ashamed of us. It is an “honor for you who believe….” Those who do not or simply will not believe will stumble through their lives. Christ will be a stumbling stone to them.
Those people rejecting Him are known to Christ. He created them after all. He knows those who will love Him and live for Him through Him. He knows those, too, who will not love Him.
For us, however, we are chosen to be “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession….” We should never understand this honor to make us greater than those who are not. We “…now are God’s people.” Our lives, our souls, our spirits have been united with Him by the faith that He gives. We “…have received mercy.”
Peter admonishes us “…to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against our souls.” Judging others does not rest in our authority, but in Christ Jesus through the Father. We do not have any right to lay punishment on any other person. Judgment and punishment are His authority.
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable….” Let the light of Christ be in all we do. Let Christ’s Truth be our truth. When we are the victim of another person’s sin, let us forgive and not judge that person. When they speak against us, our conduct will be our testimony and our witness. By our “good deeds” God is glorified.
The doctrine of universal reconciliation teaches that as children of God we have a lifestyle that brings glory to God. We are to preach to others with words and deeds. We are to bring the Light into dark places. Christ’s Words and His sacrifice save us. His life is Light. He died as atonement for the sins of the world, that is to say, the sins of the whole world.
We have no reason to conclude from these verses that unbelievers will suffer eternal conscious torment for having not been chosen by God or for not choosing God. We can conclude that believers have a new life now and should live accordingly. “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God (1 Peter 2:15-16).”
1 Peter 3:14-21
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
“…Jesus Christ, Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to Him.” Christ Jesus sits in Authority now. We are living in the Kingdom of God, now! All angels, all authorities, and all powers are subjected to Him. He reigns, now! Christ reigns and all is subjected to Him.
Peter first encourages wives to be respectful of their husbands and husbands to honor their wives. Peter is encouraging love in the home, in the family, in the church. If any of us should suffer for doing the righteous thing; if punishment comes upon us for being truthful and honorable to Him, then we should bear the pain of suffering. We should always keep in our minds, bodies and souls the Truth that is Christ Jesus.
We are encouraged to “… always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you….” Defending the hope that is in you is Christ Jesus. The hope is that Christ Jesus will eventually set all things right. Tears and sorrows will be wiped away. Death will be abolished. All will be in His presence. The hope that is in us is Christ Jesus and that is what we should be prepared to defend.
These verses are taken out of context by the doctrine of eternal conscious torment to rationalize a judgment of others who do not believe the same things in the same ways. These verses are used to “defend” our denominational precepts; the “traditions of men” become our idol replacing “…the Hope that is in us.” Many Traditionalist authorities condemn men, women and children to eternal conscious torment and they defend their condemnation using these verses as the catalyst. “Being prepared to give a defense of the hope that is in you” is not the same as giving a defense of eternal conscious torment or other traditions of men.
Christ Jesus is the only Righteous One. He is One suffering torment on a cross for our salvation. He suffered “once for sins.” He suffered once to pay the ransom for the sins of the world, even the sins of the unrepentant rebel. He suffered once to pay the ransom for believers and for unbelievers. Even for for those who never heard His Gospel.
Christ Jesus “was made alive in the Spirit and in which He proclaimed to the spirits in prison….” What did He proclaim? “He suffered once for sins.” Who are the spirits in prison? He preached to the whole of the world who did not obey God’s command to repent during the time of Noah. He preached salvation to those who rejected Him and who died in their sins. He preached He is their blessed hope.
1 Peter 4:6-8
For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Mr. Sprenger points out the “dead” cited in these verses are the same “saints in prison” written about earlier. “Peter is still referring to the souls in prison from the days of Noah, whom Christ preached to, presumably following His crucifixion and descension into the ‘lower parts of the earth’, in which He ‘lead captive a host of captives…”‘(Ephesians 4:8,9). This is a remarkable revelation given to Peter concerning the purpose of God’s judgments on mankind in order to bring about his future plans for them to live in the Spirit!”
The doctrine of universal reconciliation preaches that Christ Jesus is the hope for believers and the hope for unbelievers. Christ Jesus preached to the dead who never heard His Gospel. He saved those who had no inclination to believe He was their Messiah. Consequently, all will be reconciled to Him, to the Father and God will be “all in all.”
…UR IN 2 PETER
2 Peter 3:8-9
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
This is the second letter Peter writes to these good folks. He is reminding them of their position in Christ Jesus and the status they hold in the Kingdom of God. These good people have heard the prophets and listened to apostolic teaching. Peter cautions them about the unbelieving world that will mock them and try their patience. The mockery will be rampant and the evidence of sin will be overwhelming.
Men will preach with scoffing tones that the promise of Christ’s coming is false and wishful thinking. They will preach that nothing has changed since the beginning of time. But, Peter points out the scoffers and mockers ignore the fact that it is God Who created all the earth, everything on the earth, the seas, the skies and everything living in them. God created mankind, even the scoffers. God knows their mockery, too. He is not blind to them.
The Father and the Son created all there is in the world. It is the same power, Peter says that “…heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”
The promise is that God does not want any of His creation to perish. It is His wish that “…all should reach repentance.” Will God not keep His promise? Will His wish not be? Will His will be thwarted by a man’s choice?
God is an all consuming fire. He is a righteous fire. Every person will be tried by His Holy fire. The dross will be burned away to ash and the purity of God’s creation will remain.
Peter tells us what will be burned away. The fire will come quickly and without warning in the same way a thief comes in the night. The universe will be consumed by fire and dissolved. The works, good and bad, will be exposed by the burning of God’s Holy fire. Peter is confident these things will come to pass and he asks, “…What sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness….?
Peter tells us we wait patiently for this time to come. God is not slow to keep His promise. We expect the heavens and the earth to be made new. Only righteousness will dwell there. Until then Peter exhorts us to “…be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”
Mr. Sprenger adds that God is “’…not willing…,’ literally ‘not purposing’, from the Greek: boulema, ‘predetermined purpose’ that any should perish but for all to come to repentance.” Mr. Sprenger also points out: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you…” He writes, “His promise is still the original promise given to Abraham, that …’in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.'”
This is His promise: None will perish and all will repent. That’s as plain as can be spoken. God wishes that none will perish and that all will reach repentance.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment does not allow for a Sovereign God. The doctrine states God is Sovereign, but the doctrine limits God’s power to save all men. The doctrine believes God does not choose to save all men or not many men choose to believe the Gospel from God. Eternal conscious torment contradicts scripture.
No souls will perish and all will repent. All will be reconciled to God. His love is that great, even greater still.
…UR IN 1 JOHN
1 John 2:2
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Christ Jesus was obedient to His Father to the point of dying on a cross. Christ Jesus died on that cross for the clearing of my account. My sins are no longer recorded. Christ Jesus paid my account in full. Not only has he cleared my account He has cleared the accounts “for the sins of the whole world.”
His death was not in vain.
His death was for the sins of the whole believing world. He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.
Mr. Salisbury declares eternal punishment “makes hell an eternal monument to the devil’s works of sin and death.” Mr. Salisbury asks, “Did Jesus fail at destroying the works of the devil (1Jn.3:8)?”
1 John 3:4-8
Everyone who is doing sin is doing lawlessness also, and sin is lawlessness. And you are aware that He was manifested that He should be taking away our sins, and in Him is no sin. Everyone who is remaining in Him is not sinning. Everyone who is sinning sees Him not, neither knows Him. Little children, let no one be deceiving you. He who is doing righteousness is just, according as He is just. Yet he who is doing sin is of the Adversary, for from the beginning is the Adversary sinning. For this was the Son of God manifested, that He should be annulling the acts of the Adversary.
Christ Jesus came from His place in heaven. He came in the likeness of His Father and in the likeness of mankind. He became the atoning sacrifice for sins of the world. Every evil thing Satan caused Jesus Christ made void.
I paraphrase A.E. Knoch’s commentary on these verses from the Concordant Literal Version (CLV).
Satan is the Christ’s Adversary. That title is appropriate considering Satan’s goal to disrupt God’s creation even to destroy it. It was in Eden that Satan constructed the lie that led to Eve’s disobedience and subsequently to Adam’s Fall.
Peter warns in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober! Watch! For your plaintiff, the Adversary, is walking about as a roaring lion, seeking someone to swallow up; ….” It is Satan who inflicts Job with painful boils when he challenges God to remove His protection from Job.
Satan introduced sin. False doctrines and slanderous thoughts are caused by Satan’s deceits. He is the root of lawlessness. He stands at the door and beckons men to idolize any and everything that is not of the Father.
Jesus came. He lived, preached, was persecuted, punished and hung on a criminal’s cross. He was mercilessly impugned by those He came to save. He died and was placed into the grave. From that grave He was resurrected. In all of this He and He alone annulled all that Satan has done or caused to be done. All sin has been made void.
Jesus came and Jesus lives. He has undone what Satan, the Adversary, has done.
Eventually the Adversary will be bound and his influence on God’s creation will no longer be.
Christ Jesus did not die for the sins of those only who believe Him. He died for the sins of the world.
Ask yourself if it is even possible, remotely possible, that Satan has been successful in causing yet another delusion? I ask you to consider Christian celebrations such as Christmas and Easter which are heavily influenced by pagan festivals.
Would Satan, if he could, cause some men to declare other men will burn in hell fire for eternity? Would he give those same men credence in the world to the degree their false proclamation would surpass the love of God?
I believe God’s nature is first and foremost love.
1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, we should be loving one another, for love is of God, and everyone who is loving God is begotten of God, and knows God. He who is not loving knew not God, for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God among us, that God has dispatched His only-begotten Son into the world that we should be living through Him. In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loves us, and dispatches His son, a propitiatory shelter concerned with our sins.
Beloved, if thus God loves us, we also ought to be loving one another. No one has ever gazed upon God. If we should be loving one another, God is remaining in us, and His love is perfected in us. In this we know that we are remaining in Him, and He in us, for He has given us of His spirit. And we have gazed upon Him, and are testifying that the Father has dispatched the Son, the Saviour of the world. Whoever should be avowing that Jesus is the Son of God, God is remaining in him, and he in God.
And we know and believe the love which God has in us. God is love, and he who is remaining in love is remaining in God, and God is remaining in him. In this is love perfected with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judging, seeing that, according as He is, so are we also in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
We are loving God, for He first loves us. If anyone should be saying that “I am loving God,” and should be hating his brother, he is a liar; for he who is not loving his brother whom he has seen cannot be loving God Whom he has not seen. And this precept have we from Him, that he who is loving God may be loving his brother also.
There is much that can be made of this chapter from God’s Holy Word. First without doubt is the precept that God is love. We, as believers, should at least love all other believers with the kind of love that the Father has for us. His love is an agape love. We should always pray for others, even those who may not know Him. We should always have their interests above our own. After all the Father set aside His best interest when He first created each of us and when He gave the life of His Son, Christ Jesus, for the atonement for the sins of the world.
Scholars often conclude from verses of this chapter that God only loves those who believe in Christ Jesus. But is that the truth?
God’s love is pure. His love is not tainted with fleshly concerns.
1 John 4:14
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
We are admonished in this letter written by John to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God….” There are people in every corner of the world making claims to have supernatural power and authority. There are men and women bearing theological doctorates and professional standing espousing doctrines that are questionable, at least, false doctrine, at worst. They teach us spiritual things and we accept what they teach without questioning them or even questioning their motives.
“…Many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Their intent is not Truth, but something far less than that. John describes how we can discern the true from the false. He tells us to “test the spirits” and how we know what is from God and what is not.
John encourages us to be confident in our position in Christ Jesus. The Light of Christ within us overcomes the darkness of the world. His Power in us is living and courageous. It is greater Power than any other in the world.
Our hearts are not in this world even though we live in it for a short time. John understands not everyone is going to listen to what he and the others are preaching. Those who listen have the Spirit of God within them. Those who do not listen have a “…spirit of error…” in Its place.
1 John 4:8
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
It takes an honest assessment of ourselves to try to confirm that we know God. Without love we cannot know God, “…God is love.” Something less than love cannot know God. I have been honest with myself and my assessment of myself with regard to love is bleak. I miss the target badly. Without the corrective force of God’s love I could never know Him. Without the corrective force of God’s love Paul would have carried out terror on “The Way.”
God’s love is manifested in Christ Jesus. He is the corrective force applied to His creation. “…Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father.” The corrective force of Christ’s presence will bring about repentance even repentance by wretched men like Paul, like me.
We live with Christ in us. We live with the love of God in us! Why?
1 John 4:10
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.
Christ Jesus is God’s love. Christ Jesus loved us before we ever knew Him. He created us from before the foundation of the world. He loves us the moment He creates us. He loves us through all that is good and through all that is not. He loves us through trials. He tests us to fortify His love in us. Christ Jesus so loved the world that He gave His life as the Holy and Final atonement for the sins of the whole world.
Who in His creation can be excluded from His love. The doctrine of universal reconciliation preaches no person can forever reject Christ. Christ’s love overcomes the world. His power is not of this world. The corrective force of His love changes the hearts of all men.
Because God’s love is within us we should love one another. We should love even our enemies. We should give them food to eat and living water to drink. We should consider our enemy our brother. “There is no love greater than the love of a brother who gives his life for another.” When we love one another the power of God lives in us and His power sustains us.
There is nothing to fear in love. He lives in us and we need not fear in His love. The world cannot overcome us. Jesus is the Son of God. One day every person will be judged. Until that day we live in this world, but we should not fear our life in it.
1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.
God loves all. John writes that we lie when we say “I love God,” but hate our brother. It is not congruent. God is love and in us. God in us does not hate. God from His Throne does not hate. “…Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment requires God’s love be only partial. God must possess a vengeful wrath that hates His children. God must maintain tormenting fires that punish the rebellious creation.
That is not the position of the doctrine of universal reconciliation. God is love and He will be “all in all.” Christ Jesus lovingly obeyed His Father. To His glory the whole of creation is subjected to Him. He in turn subjects all to the Father excluding Himself. God is all in all.
…UR IN REVELATION
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
The angels sing and the Twenty-four Elders cast their crowns. These words are from the mouths of those Twenty-four. “All things” created by His will. It is His will that all be saved.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment interprets “all things” are created by His will, but not “all things” will be reconciled to Him by His will. The doctrine teaches His will is that only some be reconciled. The majority of mankind, according to the doctrine, must be eternally, consciously tormented. The doctrine concludes that God the Father and God the Son purposely created some that are not redeemable.
God puts His Spirit into the lives of every person He creates. The Spirit of God cannot be overwhelmed by the will of those He creates.
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
What a scene! Every angel in heaven singing. There were more angels than a person could count. The number of angels singing is indescribably large. Angels at the Throne of God singing. Elders singing praises to the Son of God.
There should be no doubt that “…every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them…” means every creature. These scriptures say nothing about any kind or type of excluded creature. “Every creature…” praises the Father and the Son.
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment excludes the majority of mankind. It must in order for the doctrine to be accepted by those being taught. The doctrine requires “every creature” means something less than “every creature.”
And they sang the song of Moses… and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the Nations. Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before Thee, for Thy righteous acts have been revealed.”
Mr. Sprenger rightly comments:
Thus the original promise given to Abraham in Genesis is once again reiterated in the revelation to John. This is the “great mystery” spoken of by Paul concerning God’s eternal, redemptive purpose to reconcile all creation back to Himself. (Eph 1:10; Col 1:20,26) Christ Jesus will finally see the work of His travail come to its full fruition; God’s unfathomable love and mercy will be fully displayed to all of creation; and indeed, “at the fulness of times”…”God will be all in all!”
These verses from The Revelation of Jesus Christ describe the world after the judgments have been laid upon the earth. Angels with bowls containing punishments and judgments to be poured over all who inhabit the earth.
Are we to conclude “all the nations” are all nations or are they only nations remaining? These verses are a reiteration of the promise given to Abraham in Genesis as Mr. Sprenger points out. Do we have any authority to rule out any other person or any other nation aside from ourselves? Who remains on the earth at the time these bowls are poured? Serious questions deserving your hard study.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
It does not matter if your theology is historical or futurist. It does not matter if you believe Jesus has already come or if He is coming again. No matter your eschatological theology He is “…making all things new.”
What things? All things! The doctrine of eternal conscious torment wants us to believe these verses do not apply to all people, but only to people who agree with the doctrine.
If you are a pre-tribulation futurist then you believe you will be caught up to heaven before a great tribulation comes. “All things new” would not apply to you, because you have already been made new. So, too, has the mid-tribulationist believer already been made new. The post-tribulation believer will be among those “all things made new.”
Universal reconciliation teaches the believer and the rebel will be reconciled to Him. “All things will be made new.”
The doctrine of eternal conscious torment does not want us to believe “these words are trustworthy and true” on their face. The doctrine adds that every person during these “end days” will have already been chosen or has already chosen. All others are not among “all things made new.” All others are condemned by God Who is love to an eternal conscious torment. It is convenient for the advocates of eternal conscious torment that their doctrine reserves for themselves the eternal life of pleasure in Christ. Billions of others are committed to eternal conscious torment.