Monthly Archives: June 2013

God IS NOT Omnipresent!

I know! I know!  I just said I will not be posting for maybe another week or two and here I am posting!  Sorry, I could not pass this up because it is such a revelation to me, and maybe to you, too!  I decided to take a short break from studying some professional materials and started to read the next chapter in Hell Under Fire on Biblical Theology: Three Pictures of Hell.  After reading most of the chapter, I came across this thought and it stood me up.  My whole Christian life I have believed that God is omnipresent.  That means that, just like David  says in Psalm 139:7-10, there is no place one can go to flee from God.  There is no place where He is not.  In Jeremiah 23:23 we read about God saying, “…can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him” declares the Lord.  “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.  And how about Hebrews 4::13:  “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him whom we must give account.”

Christopher Morgan, one of the two General Editors of this book wrote this chapter and said in it on page 147,

“Hell as banishment is especially prominent in the teachings of Jesus, particularly in Matthew…The contrast is vivid:  Believers are welcomed into the kingdom while the wicked are banished outside of it…Whereas punishment stresses the active side of hell, banishment shows the horror of hell by highlighting what a person misses.  When average evangelical church members are asked what hell is like, their likely response will be that hell is “separation from God.”  While the idea of separation is certainly correct and included in this New Testament concept of banishment, separation alone does not do justice to the force of this picture of hell.  Banishment is much stronger  than separation.  It suggests God’s active judgment while separation could simply imply divine passivity…The wicked never experience unhindered fellowship with God.  They are forever banished from His majestic presence and completely miss out on the reason for their existence – to glorify and know their Creator.”

I have always believed this until I read this section and came to several conclusions.  First, if hell is separation from God, then God cannot be omnipresent because there is then a place, that exists and is real, and one which God created, where He is not.  Hell is the one place where God is not!  And since God created it, because He created everything, He was able to create something that would not be in His presence.  Wow!  Think about that for a moment!  Second, if God is in fact omnipresent, one of His supposedly divine attributes that every believer upholds, then He must be present in hell to some degree, which then caused me to think that somehow God relishes being present in a place where there is so much agony, supposedly eternal agony.  This either grieves God immensely or HE enjoys it.  Since God actively is judging, because banishment suggest it, (see above) then He must be actively present judging those in hell continually forever.  This must be why some people have such a hard time believing in God, because they are picturing God relishing His judgment of those in hell.

Or third, God is not omnipresent and we have believed a lie.    Or fourth, God is in fact omnipresent, but we have misunderstood not only His word, but also His being.  This goes back to what I have said before that God isn’t loving one moment while dealing with His children, and holy and just and giving His wrath to unbelievers, especially those in hell.  His holiness demands justice, say many, therefore He must punish unbelievers forever, because He is an eternal God.

Could it be that, as I have said and shown before, that God IS love, and His love is shown through justice and mercy and wrath and blessings and all that He is and does?  Essentially, I guess one could say that God has one attribute, love, and all else that we know about God exists as an outworking of that one attribute.  I have not worked through that thought fully, but at least on the surface it makes sense to me.  And, the more I read about God in the Bible, the more it makes sense and the more of the Bible I can put together into a coherent whole that has no difficulties ro apparent contradictions, in other words, it becomes easy enough for a child to understand.

I do believe God is omnipresent, but I believe, because we have gotten it all wrong concerning the biblical view of hell, that we end up with quandaries such as this.  I believe God is actively working in the souls of mankind to change their hearts to ones who will worship Him one day.  But first, they must be judged for their sins in this place called hell.  And one day, they, like us, will be restored to fellowship with God forever.

What do you say?  Is God omnipresent (and why or why not)?

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Short Pause in Posting

Sorry for the lack of recent posts.  I am in the process of studying for some professional licensing and it is taking more time than I thought.  As soon as it is over, most likely in the next week or two, I will return to posting.  I will probably return with a short post or two and skip a chapter in the book review (On The Revelation and Hell, last book in New testament).  I have a book to read before I review that chapter, wanting to read more on what Beale believes about the end times and the revelation to John, rather than just a short 20 page essay.    Anyway, I hope everyone is doing fine and as always, if you have questions or comments, let me know and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

In Christ’s Love,

Craig

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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Paul On Hell Chapter 4 Part 5

 

The Nature of Hell – (my sub-title: refuting annihilationism)

 

 

This final subsection of Chapter 4 begins with the following statement:

 

 

Hell exists – people who do not respond to the gospel will go there after death. And hell will always exist – since escape from the consequences of sin is possible only in this life, people who die in their sin will never leave hell. What , then, is the nature of hell? Or, to put the matter another way, what exactly is the fate awaiting those who die apart from Christ?”

 

 

I grant that hell does exist, but that it is remedial in nature, a place God uses to purify souls. Again, as has been stated repeatedly in past chapters, the turning point that all this hinges on is the term “eternal” and how it is biblically defined. I have already shown that the term eonian should properly be defined as having to do with an age or ages, periods of time with known beginnings or endings, but not as we define today as forever (without beginning or ending).

 

 

Moo merely reasserts his assumption of what hell is without providing biblical exegesis of the topic at hand. I have also shown that heel will not be needed forever and once God becomes all in all (1 Cor 15:28), hell will no longer be needed. For modern day theologians to say that hell is where God is not, does not make any sense. There is no place created where God Is not. Think about it, if God created a place where He is not, or is not acknowledged, then forever punishment has no valid meaning. It is purposeless and cannot be of God because everything God does is for a purpose. If God’s purpose is to punish forever, then He is not only the sustainer of evil (a place where He is not) but also relishes the punishing of these souls. I know this may not be sophisticated philosophy. But it seems to make sense to my understanding of the way things must be if God is not all in all or total love as we see biblically.

 

 

Moo has also not proved that this life is all there is for believing in Jesus or being saved. What then is the nature of hell? Well, I think you pretty much have assumed it, Professor. The fate must be what you have already stated, which is no escape from the consequences of sin or eternal conscious punishment as you put it.

 

 

I must include this next statement to show the mindset of far too many today:

 

 

The historic view of the Christian church is that hell involves unending conscious punishment and exclusion from the presence of God. Challenges to this interpretation have arisen periodically in the history of the church.”

 

 

First off, Moo has not proved that the historic view of the church is eternal conscious punishment, as he puts it (ECT as I have defined it). I encourage the reader to download and read the book, Universalism: The Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During Its First 500 Years by J. W. Hanson.  Moo appears to be saying that the belief in universal salvation, the belief that God will eventually save all people He has created, has merely been a passing fad sporadically rearing itself throughout the last 2,000 years. How untrue this statement is. Though the numbers of believers in universal salvation may not rival the corrupt church down through the ages, it has nevertheless been present since the training of the Twelve and Paul. And, if you read the Old Testament without the lens of Roman church corruption from the time of Augustine especially, you will find that believers in the Old Testament also believed God would redeem all mankind.

 

 

Moo assumes what he believes is what has always been believed and accepted by believers. What I am saying is, not so fast. Read J. W. Hanson’s book and peruse the other materials at Tentmaker.Org Scholars Corner to see how prevalent universal salvation really has been. It has not been the minor little “heresy” that Moo wants to make it out to be. It has been the prevalent and accepted teaching of the early church and the remnant since then.

 

 

His focus in this chapter is on the “most dominant challenge in our day [which] is annihilationism.” He will focus on the three key issues which are:

 

 

  1. The language of “destruction” that Paul uses to describe the final statements

  2. The significance of the word “eternal” as it is applied to God’s judgment

  3. The nature of immortality in Paul

 

 

The most important text in this debate is 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9.

 

 

He begins by saying that verse 6 of this chapter states that whose who receive this punishment are those who disobey the gospel and do not know God. The nature of the judgment is described using two Greek words, olethros (1 Cor 5:5, 1 Thess 5:3, 1 Tim 6:9) and apollumi/apoleia (Rom 2:12; 9:22; 14:15, 20; 1 Cor 1:18; 15:18; 2 Cor 2:15; 4:3; Phil 1:28; 3:19; 2 Thess 2:3, 10; 1 Tim 6:9). He says :these words do not mean “destruction” in the sense of “extinction.” Rather they usually refer to the situation of a person or object that has lost the essence of its nature or function.”

 

 

The definition most likely intended by Paul in these texts is ruin because Paul describes elsewhere the state of the wicked by using terms like suffering wrath, spiritual death, tribulation, and condemnation. Also, it refers to the end of relationship with God because verse 9b talks about being shut out of the presence of the Lord and from His glory.

 

 

His final statement in this section is, “The wicked, Paul suggests, do not simply cease to exist; they undergo “eternal ruin,” punishment, and exclusion from God’s presence as long as the new age shall last.”

 

 

I, for the most part, can agree with his refutation of annihilationism. I see no biblical warrant for it. I believe Paul was talking about ruin rather than extinction. I will gladly look into and write about the parsing of the words rendered “destruction” in a future article. Also, some of the scriptures that Moo lists above, I believe, speak about remedial punishment, not endless torment (e.g. 1 Cor 5:5). Again, I will leave that discussion for a future article.

 

 

Conclusion of the Chapter

 

 

Moo states, “Paul never uses the Greek words that are normally translated “hell,” nor does he teach explicitly about the concept of hell as do some other New Testament writers…Paul teaches nothing to contradict the picture of hell that emerges more clearly from other portions of the New Testament…hell is an unending state of punishment and exclusion from the presence of the Lord. Such a fate is entirely “just,” Paul repeatedly stresses (e.g. Rom 1:18-2:11; 2 Thess 1:8-9), because human beings have spurned God and merited his wrath and condemnation….Paul, therefore, represent the judgment that comes on the wicked as the necessary response of a holy and entirely just God…Paul never in his letters explicitly uses hell as a means of stimulating unbelievers to repent.”

 

 

There are just so many questions that these statements raise. I have raised them myself earlier in this review. I will end with this. Romans 1 does not teach ECT nor does 2 Thessalonians. And, there is a very good, valid, and basic reason why Paul never explicitly taught about hell. He never taught about hell (ECT) because he didn’t believe it nor did he teach it. On the contrary, Paul explicitly taught universal salvation of all mankind as I have shown throughout this book review. I believe that is more than enough on this chapter and shall look forward to moving on. Stay tuned for Chapter 5, Gregory K. Beale explaining The Revelation on Hell

 

 

Until then, may God’s glorious mercy and grace through our Savior Jesus Christ envelope you and cause you to love others more fully and desire to glorify God more completely!

 

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The Love of God or the Love of the Wrath of God?

Oh friends, I must say, my life was rocked today as I read the words written by Gary Amirault in a recent email!  Gary Amirault runs the Tentmaker.org website, which I promise I will link to as soon as possible.  For 13 years now I have been ardently studying and being enveloped in Reformed theology, particularly from a Baptist perspective.  Rather than drag this out, I will cut to the chase.

I have read and taught and explained the sovereignty of God from Romans 9, the famous story of Jacob and Esau that Paul tells.  He says:

(Rom 9:11)  For being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him who calls,
(Rom 9:12)  it was said to her, “The elder will serve the younger.” [493]
(Rom 9:13)  Even as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” [494]
(Rom 9:14)  What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? May it never be!
(Rom 9:15)  For he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” [495]
(Rom 9:16)  So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy.

From what I learned from the “great teachers of the Reformation” was that God’s sovereignty allows Him to elect whomever He wills, but also, in concert with His sovereignty is His holiness.  The holiness of God was so center-stage that a whole group of people, that Reformers (of old and today) hold in such high esteem, this group known as the Puritans.  One of the main teachings of the Puritans was the desperateness of our existence and that we must flee the wrath of God and eternal hell and run to God in heaven.

Now, I believe we must flee to God, because it is right and it will go well with us if we do.  But, the fear that was instilled by the Puritans, especially, caused many people to kill themselves because they could never measure up!  Fear has never saved even one person!  That aside though, what rocked me was the following.

Reformers, those of Reformed (Calvinist) theology today, but also all those of Arminian theology (almost everyone else  who believes in Christ) look at these verse, especially verse 13, and spar over God’s sovereignty and man’s will, as if this is the most important thing in all of Christianity.  I know this because I have been in both camps for many years!  The problem is that they BOTH miss the point of the story.  It is not about man’s will, nor about God’s sovereignty AT ALL!!!!!!!!  It is about a God who loves His creatures, those created in His image and the blessings that He has for ALL MANKIND through Jesus.  If you insist on making Romans 9:13 into God’s sovereignty versus man’s free will, do me and everyone else in the world a BIG favor.  STOP IT!!!! Stop teaching that heresy and stop it RIGHT NOW!

I know you may be offended by my directness, but I am hoping it will save you years of anguish, as I have suffered.  Why do I, can I say this?  Because, if you will read the whole story of Jacob and Esau (Gen 25-36) you will discover what I have discovered, though it has been right in front of me all the time.  God does not hate some people and love others.  He is not capricious (impulsive, arbitrary) with His love.  It has everything and only this to do with:  At the end of the story of Jacob and Esau we see God taking care of Esau.  He took great care of Esau. He showed His great and enduring mercy on Esau, which is a picture of the mercy He shows to us all.  God loved Jacob the conniver and deceiver but Jacob was humbled before God at Peniel.  After this incident, Jacob saw Esau in a different light, just as we are to see the light of the story.  Jacob said to Esau, “For I have seen your face, like seeing the face of God;  and you are pleased with me.”  God had different plans for Jacob and Esau.  Part of the plan was to have Esua as Jacob’s enemy for a season to bring Jacob to maturity.  Would Jacob have said this about someone under God’s curse, His wrath, His impending eternal torment?  Of course not.  What Jacob saw was the depth of God’s mercy and His endless love for His children, His creation imaging Him.  Can you imagine such a love as this?  Dare you imagine such a love as this?  Would a love like this rock your theology to its core?  Would a love this powerful and magnificent shake your foundation so much that your focus would change from “God is love, BUT He is also just and demands holiness” to merely “God is LOVE?”

Please, take some time to really think through this situation.  We have all been taught that Esau was bad and Jacob was good.  Evil versus righteousness.  God loves some but not others.  That is NOT the story of God’s redemption of mankind.  Would God take such good care of Esau only to let him languish in eternal conscious torment forever?  Not my God, and certainly not the God of the Bible, and certainly not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, AND ESAU!  Would God merely have mercy on the unbelievers in this life that they can at least experience a decent existence for 70 years, but then torture them for all eternity?

I have put in the excerpt from a very long (23 page) email from Gary Amirault here so you can read a few other examples he gives.  Enjoy and let me know if and how God has impacted you with this revelation.

From Bible Matters, email, The Best Bible Translation:

Dark Light or True Light

Let us look at a few verses of Scripture through two different sets of eyes. One set is the Pharisaic, legalistic, tradition-laden mind which is quick to use the Scriptures to condemn others while pardoning themselves. The other mind has been renewed by the Holy Spirit. The traditionalist, who likes to sit on the judgment seat, will read 1 Samuel 2:6 and point out that God kills. The person whose eyes are anointed with the Living Word will point out that after “Gods kills” the same sentence reads “and makes alive again.” They are given the revelation that God sometimes uses death the way an anesthesiologist might use a drug to put one under for the patient’s benefit.

The Pharisaic mind will concentrate on “I wound” in Deuteronomy 32:39 while those governed by the Living Word will focus on the last part of that very same phrase, “I heal.” The mind governed by the Living Word has come to understand that God’s harsh measures are but a means to bring healing and restoration.

The judgmental one will see “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated,” (Rom. 9:13) and use the verse to prove that God hates some people even as they are born. According to some theologians some people are born to be eternal enemies of God destined for an eternal burning incinerator. Love filled eyes will go to the end of the Jacob and Esau story and find God took good care of Esau. And after Jacob, the conniver and deceiver whom “God loved” was humbled at Peniel after his wrestling match, he saw Esau in a different light: “I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.” (Gen. 33:10) (Oh, that modern Israel and modern Jews could learn this by the Ruach Ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit!) Suffice it to say, God blessed both Jacob and Esau. He simply had different plans for them. Part of God’s plan to bring Jacob to maturity was to have Esau as his enemy for a season.

The tradition blinded believer will see the story of Sodom’s destruction in Genesis as the ultimate expression of God’s eternal wrath. Sodom, to them, represents the grossest of sinners. Yet love-filled eyes will see that the self-righteousness of those who condemn Sodom was twice as ugly to God as was the sin of Sodom. In Ezekiel chapter 16, God said the sin of Jerusalem, the city of God’s priests, a type of modern Christians who are to be a “royal priesthood,” was far more repugnant to him than the sins of the Sodomites. As a matter of fact, according to Yahweh, the sins of Jerusalem, the priesthood of the “chosen people” JUSTIFIED the people of Sodom. (Ezekiel 16:51, 52) It would be good for all Christians to read this chapter regularly to help stay humble. Sodom, according to Ezekiel will one day be restored to her former estate and be given to Jerusalem as a daughter.

A law-minded, legalistic person’s eyes will always be looking for the worst in people. They will create in their own minds a God of wrath and judgment. This god will be hypocritical, just like themselves. Their minds cannot see God’s mercy except for themselves and those in their inner circle – a circle which is usually very small. A legalist (and Judaism, Christianity and Islam are full of them) will place a God of judgment, wrath and punishment upon the throne of judgment instead of the Slain Lamb which takes away the sin of the world found in Revelation 5:6 (see also John 1:29). The law-centered heart is quick to judge; quick to force God’s hand; quick to put a glistening sword into God’s hands to justify their own murderous hearts. But the Christian who is filled with the love of God reads, “Mercy shall triumph over (exalt over, have victory over) judgment.” (James 2:13)

The Pharisaic mind which floods the three monotheistic religions is short-sighted – it can barely see anything, and yet it is quick to kill – it kills both foe and friend alike. At the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, far more Jews were killed at the hands of other Jews than at the hands of the Romans. (See Josephus’ “War of the Jews.”)

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Finding A Reliable Translation

While I am finishing work on the last part of Hell Under Fire Book Review – Paul On Hell Chapter 4 Part 5, I was asked by a brother in Christ to post the following chapter from a wonderful book he was reading (that I also have read) called At The End of the Ages – The Abolition of Hell, by Bob Evely.  Bob granted me permission to post Chapter 2 from his book which is below.  After reading this post (chapter) I am sure you will desire to hear more of what Bob has written in his book.  This book may be purchased at:  Grace Evangel Fellowship – At the End of the Ages by Bob Evely   I have found this book to be very readable without sacrificing solid scholarly foundations.  I wish all scholars would take heed of the style of his writing and follow suit.  Maybe we would have less ignorance in the Christian world because of it, and less pride from the scholars who write tomes disallowing access to the non-seminary student of God’s Word.

This post was spawned from discussions I have had with many about translations of the Bible.  Most have come in the form of questions like, “If many (most) popular Bible translations are wrong, or have serious problems, what do I read?  Which translation do you recommend?  Where do I find one?”   I own the Concordant translations both Old and New Testaments.  I also am finding Jonathan Mitchell’s New Testament to be an interesting read, with much help interspersed in each passage.  But for now, I would like you to think deeply about what Bob has written in Chapter 2 of his book, At the End of the Ages.  Until next time, Godspeed!

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Chapter Two

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FINDING A RELIABLE TRANSLATION

 

It is a challenging experience today to buy a Bible. One walks into the Bible section of a bookstore and finds dozens of different translations, packaged a number of different ways in the form of “study Bibles” for every conceivable circumstance. How does one decide which Bible is the best?

 

In comparing the various translations available for any given Bible passage we find differences, yet we know the original contained the same Greek or Hebrew. Who made the decisions as to the correct English words to use? Which translation is correct?

 

Each translation was prepared by a person or group of persons who used their best judgment in relaying to us what the original Greek or Hebrew intended to say. As we study Scripture, we are placing our faith in the ability, faithfulness, and earnestness of the translators who did the work.

 

 

THE ULTIMATE TRANSLATION

It would be best for us to use a Greek New Testament and a Hebrew Old Testament as we study. Even here, though, there would be decisions to be made. In the world today we do not possess the original manuscript upon which Paul wrote his epistles, or upon which the four gospel accounts were recorded. Instead we have many “manuscripts” which have been preserved, some of which may contain an entire book of the Bible and others which may contain only fragments.

 

There are differences in the manuscripts that have survived to this day. As we examine them all, decisions must be made as to which is closest to the single original manuscript. This is not our purpose here. Suffice it to say; many have dedicated a large part of their lives to examining the manuscripts and making these decisions. They sometimes disagree. As a result, you will find a few verses in the King James Version that are not present in the New International Version, because different Greek or Hebrew texts were used. (See Act_28:29 as an example.) Nothing major is changed, and they are very close, but they are not identical.

 

I refer you to “God’s Eonian Purpose” by Adlai Loudy (see listing in the final chapter) for a discussion of how it was determined which manuscripts are the most reliable. You can find many similar discussions by other authors as well.

 

Once we have made our decisions as to the most reliable manuscripts, we will have our Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament, and we can begin. But while this is the ideal, it would be unreasonable to think that every earnest seeker will dedicate him/herself to a study of Greek and Hebrew.

 

DIFFERENT TRANSLATIONS

As we will see in later chapters, the biases of the translators have crept into the translation. A single Greek word will be translated using several different English words, sometimes with drastically different meanings. The translator has certain theological beliefs going into the translation effort. He cannot prevent these beliefs from entering into his work.

 

Through the years I have drifted from one translation to another. I began with the New International Version, and drifted to the New American Standard Version and then to the New King James Version, seeking the one that was closest to the original languages. Some prefer the newer, easier to read translations. For some purposes these have value, but I have come to value a translation that is closer to the original writings over one that is simply easier to read. In making the translation easier to read, someone made decisions on my behalf as they provided the English rendering, and I’m not sure I trust their judgments.

 

If we wish to study the truth that God has chosen to reveal to mankind, we will need a consistent, carefully developed, unbiased translation. Most modern translations are developed to be easier to read and understand. But these translations will only allow us to know the translator’s viewpoint, and will not provide a clear, unbiased look at God’s Word itself.

 

For the person who is earnestly seeking the pure, word for word rendering of the Bible, closest to the original languages, I recommend the Concordant Literal New Testament (CLNT) and the Concordant Version of the Old Testament (CVOT). The Concordant Version was prepared in such a way as to eliminate human bias, as much as is possible, and to seriously study and carefully conclude the meaning intended by God for each word used in the original manuscripts.

 

 

THE CONCORDANT VERSION

Only a few of the Old Testament books have been completed to date, although the remaining books are in progress. The Concordant Literal New Testament, however, was first published in 1926 by the Concordant Publishing Concern, then led by Mr. A. E. Knoch. It has been revised several times since its original publication.

 

Mr. Knoch and his associates went about their work very systematically. They wanted to study, and to allow others to study, the pure Word of God, untainted by the judgments of men as far as can be achieved.

 

The translation assumes that if God chose to use two distinct Greek words, He had a reason for doing so and it would behove the earnest student to seek the distinction God was wanting to make. Most current translations, for example, use the single word “love” when the Greek uses three distinct words. Current translations use the word “hell” to denote three different Greek words.

 

Even worse than this, most English translations will take a single word that God has chosen in the originals, and translate it in different ways to suit the idea the translator is wishing to relay, allowing his biases and preconceived notions to shape his translation. For example, God uses many times in the New Testament the single word “aion,” yet this will sometimes be translated “eternal,” sometimes “age,” and sometimes “world.” How can a single word used by God mean “eternal” in some cases, and something far more temporary in others?

 

Perhaps if the Bible is simply a collection of man’s writings, such sloppiness in word usage could occur. In relaying his thoughts a man may sometimes use one word and sometimes another, without much thought or care as to any precision or distinction. But even in the case of men, if a distinct idea was being presented, great care would be taken in word selection so as not to lose the meaning of the thought being relayed. In the business world I have written many letters to customers or prospective customers. Where a crucial matter is at stake I choose my words very carefully, considering the precise impact upon the reader.

 

If the Bible is the revelation of God, and if He is desiring to reveal certain ideas to mankind, would He not take precise care in choosing His every word?

 

 

HOW THE CONCORDANT VERSION WAS DEVELOPED

In developing the Concordant Translation, the following method was used.

 

Every single Greek word was closely examined. Each word was studied in every occurrence within the New Testament to determine the best English equivalent to be used. As much as was possible the meaning for each word was determined from the way the word was used within the New Testament, and not how other human authors may have used the word.

 

To preserve distinctions made by God, each individual Greek word was matched with a unique English equivalent. The same English word was not used for different Greek words, and differing English words were not used when a single Greek word was used.

 

The translation was named “Concordant Literal” because of this methodology. Individual words were translated not because a human translator chose an English rendering which could vary from phrase to phrase based on his opinion. Instead, a “concordance” was employed to examine every instance where a single Greek word was used, and based on all of these readings a single English equivalent was determined. God had a reason for using the same Greek word in multiple cases, and He had a reason for using different Greek words as He intended to relay distinct meanings.

 

This word-for-word literal approach seems quite scientific and straightforward, but the fact of the matter is that the final product would be very difficult to use. In English we generally speak in terms of a subject (Dick), followed by a verb to indicate some action (threw), followed by an object upon which the verb acts (the ball). Not so with the Greek, which could be something closer to “threw the ball Dick.” We know which is the subject and which is the object by the form of the word, usually the word ending.

 

Our word-for-word translation would thus be very difficult to read and study. Consider also that we have just looked at a very simple example (Dick threw the ball). Consider how the difficulty (threw the ball Dick) would be amplified when reading some of Paul’s lengthy sentences.

 

And so the Concordant translation takes one final step in putting the translation into English “idiom.” In doing so there may be times when a single Greek word could result in several different English words, but this is kept to a minimum, and any English words employed continue to retain the original single Greek idea. When God chooses a particular Greek (or Hebrew) word, He is intending to express a particular thought, but because of language differences it may be necessary to use a variety of English words to express this single thought. But in using these various English words, always the same Greek or Hebrew thought must be relayed.

 

In order to remain accountable to the reader, the Concordant translation provides everything that is needed to trace back to the original, so the English idiom is not totally relied-upon. As we read this translation, then, we are not required to accept the fact that “brotherly fondness” is the best translation in 1Th_4:9. We can go to the “Greek-English Keyword Concordance” at the back of the Concordant Literal New Testament and find under “brotherly fondness,”

 

            Greek = philadelphia  (FOND-brother-ness)

 

So the Greek in this case is “philadelphia,” and the single English equivalent for this compound word is “FOND-brother-ness.” Furthermore we see in the concordance other occurrences of the same Greek word, allowing us to trace its usage ourselves.

 

Unlike other English translations, the reader can examine for himself the English word used to translate any given word in the original Greek. While not perfect, the method used by the Concordant translation is scientific, systematic, uniform, and consistent.

 

 

“UNSEARCHABLE RICHES”

Besides publishing the Concordant Version, the Concordant Publishing Concern has also published continuously since 1909 a quarterly magazine entitled “Unsearchable Riches.” As the Concordant Version was being developed and revised, many articles in “Unsearchable Riches” share with the reader the study and deliberation process. In developing this translation, great deliberation was invested in each word. Unlike any other translation, this entire process is open to the scrutiny of the Bible student.

 

“Unsearchable Riches” is still published today, and many (if not all) back issues, as well as a comprehensive index, is available from the Concordant Publishing Concern.

 

 

WHY IS THE CONCORDANT VERSION NOT BETTER KNOWN?

If the Concordant translation is as good as I have made it appear to be, why is it not better known, and why can’t it be found in most Christian bookstores?

 

First, the Concordant translation is very literal, and therefore somewhat difficult to read. Unfortunately Bible translating has become very commercial, and since people seem more concerned with using a translation that is easy to read, they are not interested in a literal translation that is more difficult to read (even though it is more reliable). Book stores, even Bible book stores, tend to stock items that sell in greater quantities as this results in greater financial profit.

 

Second, the reader should be aware that using the Concordant translation will lead us to see certain theological points differently. You will find that some teachings as presented by most “orthodox” denominations of the current day are inaccurate, because we have allowed truth to become clouded and distorted by carelessness in handling God’s Word. Today there is great pressure within the “orthodox church” to maintain the historic teachings of the denominations.

 

To illustrate this point, there is a problem when we translate the single Greek “aion” with very different English renderings, sometimes with the concept of “eternal” and other times with a less than eternal concept such as “world” or “age.” This distinction that is made in the Greek is now lost in most current translations, causing much truth from God’s revelation to be lost. We will see later in this work that a proper and consistent translation will change what we have come to accept as “eternal” punishment to “eonian” or “age-abiding” punishment.

 

Because an intense study of God’s Word as concordantly rendered would result in some variances with the teachings of the “orthodox denominations” today, there is not overwhelming support from the church for the Concordant Version, just as before Martin Luther initiated the “Reformation” against the Roman Catholic Church there was not overwhelming support for any version of the Bible besides the one sanctioned by “The Church.” At that time the Roman Catholic Church wanted to remain in the position of “dispenser of the truth.” The church did not want to leave it to the common man to read or study the Bible for himself. Furthermore, the church claimed that some of the alternative translations were contrary to the church’s interpretation of the Bible, and contrary to many of the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church.

 

As a result of the Reformation we have learned that some of the church’s teachings of that day were incorrect. Until there is another Reformation of sorts to point out the error of certain traditional “orthodox” teachings, there will be a suppression of certain truths.

 

Don’t take my word for it! Examine the Concordant Literal New Testament to make your own decisions. In the remainder of this work I will give you some additional things to think about, and ask that you begin your own search for the truth. Don’t assume what your church has taught or is teaching you is totally correct. Why do you believe the things you believe about God? Is it because your church has taught you these things? Is it because your pastor believes these things? Is it because your parents taught you these things since your childhood?

 

Paul commended the Bereans because they did not assume what Paul preached was correct. (Act_17:11)  Instead they examined the scriptures to be sure.

 

Read on. Think about these things. Examine the scriptures. Be diligent in your search. This is the very word of God we are considering!

 

 

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The Concordant Literal New Testament is difficult to find, since it does not have the commercial popularity to gain the interest of bookstores. You can purchase it directly from the publisher.

 

The Concordant Literal New Testament With Keyword Concordance”

            Concordant Publishing Concern

            15570 Knochaven Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91387

            661/252-2112 

            email@concordant.org <mailto:email@concordant.org>

            www.concordant.org <http://www.concordant.org>

            [The Concordant Literal New Testament is also available on CD ROM.]

 

“The Concordant Version of the Old Testament”

            Concordant Publishing Concern

            [Not entirely completed, but many of the individual books in the Old

            Testament can be purchased from the publisher.]

 

“Unsearchable Riches” – a bimonthly magazine

            Concordant Publishing Concern

            [A wonderful magazine filled with thought-provoking and well researched

            articles concerning the Word of God. All back issues are still available since

            the magazine was first published in 1909, and a topical and text index is

            also available from the publisher.]

 

 

I suggest visiting the Concordant website, where you will find many good publications.

 

 

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A Statement From Augustine Concerning Universalism

Two posts ago, Hell Under Fire – Paul On Hell Chapter 4 Part 3, and the upcoming Part 5, I have/will talk about beliefs in universalism that people have held in history or why it is on the rise.  In Chapter 4 Part 3, I quoted Moo saying that many people today are not believing in hell (ECT) because the world has gotten so much smaller and people’s views from other world religions are being heard by people who have never heard them before and this is a (maybe the?) major reason people are questioning hell (ECT) today, why hell is under fire.

And in Chapter 4 Part 5 I will comment on how Moo casually comments that periodically in history hell has been challenged, but the intent of his statement seems to be that this is mainly just a “rogue” belief that has never had many followers at all.  It is apparent, for anyone who has studied church history and Augustine, that the western church (Roman church) taught hell as ECT.  Augustine is said to be  a champion of eternal torment.  But what is not stressed are statements like this one by Augustine himself (early AD 400’s):

“There are very many (imo quam plurimi, can be translated majority) who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments” (Enchiria, ad Laurent. c.29).

And, even earlier than him we have quotes from such notable saints as St. Basil the Great (c. 329-379) in his De Asceticis who wrote:

“The mass of men (Christians) say that there is to be an end of punishment to those who are punished.” Note that he is not classified as a Universalist.

Finally, how about St. Jerome (342-420), the author of the Latin Vulgate Bible who writes:

“I know that most persons understand by the story of Nineveh and its King, the ultimate forgiveness of the devil and all rational creatures.”

In the future I will compile articles dealing with the early church Fathers views and then how church history has changed through the years to favor the ones in power and corrupt some actual events so our understanding of church beliefs has been skewed to favor the Roman Catholic church, the Popes, and then even the Reformers.  I have grown to love history, but I have grown to dislike the one-sided telling of it to advance a belief system and create a tradition that enslaves the masses and denigrates, if not outright denies, God.

I look forward to posting Part 5 soon.  I hope you do, too!  Until then, “to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen!”

Craig

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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Jesus On Hell Chapter 4 Part 4

 

Cont’d from last post – The Eternality of Hell

 

 

Romans 11:26, 32

 

 

(Rom 11:26) And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;

(Rom 11:32) For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

(ESV)

 

 

Moo makes a couple of points about this passage.

 

 

  1. All Israel” does not mean each and every Israelite. Paul is talking about the nation in general, not the individual specifically. Moo says, “the “all” consigned to disobedience on the one hand (for which see 1:18-32), and the “all” who receive mercy on the other are “all nations.”

  2. There is a national rather than a spiritual meaning here.

  3. He says what is especially important is that the OT and Jewish literature have several places where “all” does not mean each and every individual and the usual meaning is to not refer to each Jew.

 

 

 

(Rom 11:11) So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.

(Rom 11:12) Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

(Rom 11:13) Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry

(Rom 11:14) in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.

 

Moo explains a little about the context bringing in verses 11, 12, and 14, but fails to mention verse 7.  Verses 11-14 do, in fact, speak about the Jews particularly, and there is a national influence here. But, what does verse 7 say?

 

 

(Rom 11:7) What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,

 

 

Here, setting up the context for the later verses, Paul talks about three different groups here; Israel (national, all the Jews, the remnant and non-remnant), the elect (some of Israel, the special group who believed), and the rest (those who were hardened, the non-remnant).

 

 

 

In verse 11, “they” must refer to the non-remnant Jews, the unbelieving Jews, the ones God hardened. Paul also mentions the only two groups of people in the world, the nation of the Jews, Israel, and the only other nation, the Gentiles. These two groups comprise “all people.” The “their” in verse 12 also refers to the same hardened Jews. In verse 15, “their” also refers to the hardened Jews.

 

 

Paul specifically says in verse 13 that he is speaking to the Gentiles. What he is telling them is that if the hardened Jews who were part of the vine were rejected (vs. 15) or broken off (vs. 17), don’t be arrogant and think you are the only special ones. It is God who cuts off and God who grafts in. Don’t boast as if it was because of anything you did! Up through verse 21, Paul is telling the Gentiles what has happened to the hardened Jews. In verse 22, God’s kindness and severity are described. The hardened Jews were in unbelief and were cut off making way for the Gentiles to be grafted in. But the severity does not last, since if the hardened Jews begin believing, they will be grafted back in.

 

 

And so, we come to verse 26 where Paul explains how all the Jews, those faithful ones and the hardened ones will be saved. They will be saved by the grafting in of the Gentiles, not affecting the already believing Jews, but causing a jealousy on the hardened Jews to bring them back to belief. This is how “all Israel” will be saved. So, to add this up, Paul talks about the believing Jews, the unbelieving Jews who through the Gentiles will come back to belief and be saved, and the fullness of the Gentiles (vs. 25), fullness meaning the completeness or all of the Gentiles.

 

 

How do we know this last statement to be true? In verses 30-31, Paul talks about the disobedient Gentiles who are now saved because of God’s mercy (vs. 30), and the hardened Jews (the believing Jews really don’t need to be spoken about because they already believe and have God’s mercy) will also receive God’s mercy and be saved. Then in verse 32, Paul explains that “all have been consigned to disobedience that God may have mercy on all.” So, if the “all” here does not mean literally every single Jew, one thing is for certain, it certainly means every single unbelieving Jew and every single unbelieving Gentile. And, the magnificent thing that is seen is that God shuts up these two groups in disobedience, at varying times, to harden the heart in order that He can show mercy to them later.

 

 

This then becomes the whole point of why Paul teaches universalism. The elect, the believers who are saved during their lifetime here on earth in this age, already have received God’s mercy, His salvation from sin. All the others will be hardened to varying degrees and will receive God’s mercy sometime in the age(s) to come. Thus, I believe all three of Moo’s points I listed here are rendered either irrelevant or inaccurate.

And for the final proof that ALL will receive mercy from God and be saved, look at the praise Paul offers to God for this very thing in verses 33-36!

 

 

(Rom 11:33) Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

 

 

(Rom 11:34) “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

 

 

(Rom 11:35) “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”

 

 

(Rom 11:36) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

 

 

Paul praises God for the depth of His riches and the wisdom and knowledge He has. He goes further and says that God’s judgments are inscrutable, inexplicable and His ways are incomprehensible! Why do you think Paul says this? Maybe it is because we, like him, have a hard time understanding the depth of God’s love, His mercy for His enemies (His wayward children, all people who have ever been created) and how God could give mercy and salvation to all, to each and every person ever created! We would exact vengeance on our enemies, but God will melt their hearts by showing His love and mercy!

 

Praise Be TO GOD!!!!

 

 

 

Col 1:20

 

 

(Col 1:20) and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

 

(ESV)

 

 

Moo makes the following points:

 

 

  1. Particularly significant in Colossians 1:20 is the language of “reconciliation,” which Paul elsewhere applies theologically only to people who are saved (see Col 1:22; see also Rom 5:10-11; 11:15; 2 cor 5:18-20; Eph 2:16).”

  2. It is doubtful that Paul refers to salvific (saving) reconciliation because Paul talks about “all things,” meaning all of creation, not just humans.

  3. The reconciliation spoken of here is not from willingness but through subjugation (oppression or force).

 

 

It is true that Paul uses the language of reconciliation with people who are saved. I accept that readily. What I do reject though is what flows from his argument. It does not follow that because Paul uses the term reconciliation, when talking about those who are saved, that he is also speaking of a subjugation of some of creation, not a willingness by all creation to bow before the Lord. We know believers willingly have submitted and will willingly continue to submit to God in worship. What is not proved from Colossians, especially the verse in question, is that those who are not saved will remain in their unbelief or remain stubborn through the age(s) to the very end when God becomes all in all.

 

 

Looking briefly at the few verse quoted in point 1, Romans 5:10 begins by saying “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God…” How does Moo reconcile (no pun intended) the fact that when we were enemies, we became reconciled to God. If Paul was only applying reconciliation to people who are saved, how does this fit (we were not yet believers, then God reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ). The order, as Paul lays it out is that first we are enemies, then we were reconciled to God, our sins were wiped out, and then we were saved. So we get reconciled BEFORE we are saved. This refutes Moo’s point by his own verse list. Romans 11:15 supports what I just said. Again, the same points are made concerning 2 Cor 5:18-20; these people, the world, were not reconciled to God, then they were reconciled to God, proving the point that Paul is consistently talking about the unsaved world and the total reconciliation of them. Of course, once they are reconciled they become saved, so what exactly again is Moo’s point? Eph 2:16 makes my same point but adds something interesting. Paul says there that when one is reconciled, hostility is killed. Kind of sounds like the peace we see in Col 1:20 doesn’t it? This all reaffirms my position concerning point 3 about willingness rather than subjugation that I will expand on next.

 

 

Think about point 3 a little more deeply. There is an absolute contradiction in what Moo says here. Look at it again. Reconciliation through subjugation? This is oxymoronic. Subjugation means the act of forcing into submission: the act or process of bringing somebody, especially a people or nation, under the control of another, e.g. by military conquest. Do you see any conversion of the will? There is a saying I learned years ago: A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still. As long as there is one soul who does not willingly submit to the Lordship of Christ, the sovereignty and authority of God, there will be one not yet in subjection, or reconciled, to Christ and the Father.

 

 

When Paul talks about every knee bowing and every tongue confessing Jesus as Lord, to the Father’s glory, (Philippians 2:10-11) Paul uses a word for confess that means not only confession, but confession that contains praise and thanksgiving. We can force our children to confess many things at the threat of punishment, but what we can’t force them to do is to praise us from their hearts. The same is true of us in relationship to God as our Creator. Those unwilling to be reconciled to Christ cannot be forced to worship Him either, because forced worship is no worship at all!

 

 

Also, let’s look at point 2, or the type of reconciliation Paul is talking about here. Making peace by the blood of his cross speaks about salvation, does it not?. The blood of his cross has absolute salvific, or saving, connotations to it. Why would this not refer specifically to those created in His image? Would not this statement then qualify what Paul is meaning here by “reconciling all things?” Moo’s statements put the emphasis on the “all things,” emphasizing maybe more so the inanimate things of creation and subordinating “human” things (human beings put in the background so to speak). By disregarding the tail end of the verse to make his point, he discounts the true emphasis that Paul gives in this verse, as well as the context of verses 15-20. The emphasis for Paul is on the cross, the salvation through Christ’s shed blood. Although we know that Paul does have in mind the restoration of the animal kingdom as well, to exactly what extent we do not know. It is reminiscent of the lion laying down with the lamb, and the child playing with the snake, there is absolutely no comparison though between the love God has for those in His image and all of the other created beings. His image bearers have much more worth, and that is one reason why Paul would attach the comment about the blood of his cross.

 

 

Why can I make this claim and be right in it? Because, as we read the following two verses after Col 1:20, we read:

 

 

(Col 1:21) And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,

 

 

(Col 1:22) 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,

 

(ESV)

 

 

So, Paul’s emphasis is on those who need saving, God’s image bearers, and the reconciliation spoken of here is not false reconciliation, called subjugation, but true reconciliation, reconciliation of a will that is given over to God fully and with full consent! This is the only way true peace could come.

 

 

Again, Moo’s points hold no exegetical water and obfuscate the points Paul is making concerning the salvation of all people.

 

 

 

1 Tim 2:4

 

 

(1Ti 2:4) who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

(ESV)

 

 

Moo begins by saying that Paul could not have meant universal salvation by this verse because, ‘Paul teaches quite explicitly in this very letter – indeed, in the next verse – that faith, which Paul confines to this life and limits only to some people, is necessary for salvation (see also 1:16; 3:16; 4:10)”

 

 

Here is verse 5, the next verse: (1Ti 2:5) For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

 

 

How he gets that this verse confines salvation to this life and limits salvation to some people, I really do not understand. He has to drag in some other teaching from somewhere in the Bible, of which I do not know, to validate these points. But alas, he does not. I must discount what he says here.

 

 

Moo makes two other points of interest:

 

 

  1. Paul never suggests universal belief because Paul teaches election, an election that does not extend to all human beings. See Romans 9:22-24

  2. Paul is writing in the context of the Old Testament which contrasts the fates of those who align themselves with the God of Israel and those who do not (e.g Deut 30:15-20). The restoration of all sinners is simply foreign to Paul’s Jewish heritage. Paul would have made a much bigger deal out of breaking from that tradition, if he had, in fact, not been influenced and lived by it.

 

 

The second point is easy to deal with. Deut 30:15-20 states:

 

 

(Deu 30:15) “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.

 

 

(Deu 30:16)If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

 

 

(Deu 30:17) But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them,

 

 

(Deu 30:18) I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.

 

 

(Deu 30:19) I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

 

 

(Deu 30:20) loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

 

 

I ask you, the reader, did any of Israel, ever, keep God’s commands? Did anyone ever not transgress the Old Covenant given to Moses? I ask you, what did Paul say the reason was for the Law? What does Paul say the Law does? Gal 2:16, by works of the law no one will be justified, Gal 3:10, all who rely on works of the law are under a curse, and Gal 3:19, Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, and verse 21, if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. These are but a few of the descriptions of the Law that Paul gives. Remember, Paul is ushering in the New Covenant in Christ, not pronouncing keeping the Law of Moses.

 

 

I would simply refer you back to Paul’s universal salvation teaching in the previous passages.

 

 

Regarding Point 1, let’s briefly look at Romans 9:22-24.

 

 

This passage speaks to nothing of a final state, but merely of God’s sovereignty to do what He wills. God does not say He will not have mercy or compassion on all at the end of the age(s). It is just as valid to see in these verses that God will have mercy on all, a concept Paul advocates as we look over the previous verses studied. Regarding verse 22, we have already seen how God uses hardening to chasten and prepare for receiving His mercy. So is the thought here as well. If your presupposition is that God only chooses a few, the elect, for salvation and the rest are sent to ECT in hell, then you will miss the fact that a final state is not in view here at all. Merely all we can say is that the elect, who believe in this life, are blessed in this life and the non-elect are being punished or hardened or will have this happen sometime in this age or the age(s) to come.

 

 

I will teach more on this later, but unfortunately it is getting late and I need to rest. I believe I have given you enough to go and search for yourself. There is enough here to keep you busy for a few days, studying to see if what I say is so. After some diligent study, join me here in conversation, dialog, about what God has revealed to you and let us reason together as good Bereans.

 

 

Blessings to you!

 

Craig

 

 

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Filed under "All" Passages, Book Reviews, Hell, Universal salvation

Hell Under Fire Book Review – Jesus On Hell Chapter 4 Part 3

The Eternality of Hell

At the beginning of this section, Moo makes the following comments. “Universalism is on the rise in our day. The global village has brought people of different religious persuasions together to an unprecedented degree. Other religions are no longer strange teachings held by people far away in another country; they are beliefs of people right next door. And as people get to know one another at this level, the claim that Christianity is the only way to salvation begins to sound arrogant. Added to the cultural mix is the postmodern tendency to question absolute truth. Multiculturalism combines with postmodernism to elevate tolerance to the chief virtues – and hell is the ultimately intolerant doctrine.”

What I take away from this paragraph is that the reason for the rise in universalism is not due to people actually studying their Bibles and coming away with different conclusions than staid church tradition, but because the world has become a smaller place where all cultures are living and interacting with each other. I can tell you, that is not true in my case, nor the case of others who are coming to question the traditional church teachings (mainly coming out of the Reformation, which took much of its beliefs from Augustine). As a matter of fact, in my own case, I began questioning church tradition because of HOW I saw professing believers acting (more so as unbelievers!) and the way the church was treating people. I became disgusted by the things that happened to me and good Christians around me at the hands of the power brokers, liars, and cheats who were running the church machine. It had absolutely nothing to do with other religions. So, at least from my perspective and those closest to me, Moo is missing the mark.

Moo says that universalism draws its main support from five key tests: 1 Corinthians 15:28; Romans 5:18; Romans 11:26, 32; Colossians 1:20; 1 Timothy 2:4. I will address each of those texts now.

1 Cor 15:20-28

(1Co 15:20) But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

(1Co 15:21) For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.

(1Co 15:22) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

(1Co 15:23) But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

(1Co 15:24) Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

(1Co 15:25) For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

(1Co 15:26) The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

(1Co 15:27) For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.

(1Co 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.

(ESV)

Moo makes three points:

  1. universal resurrection does not equal universal salvation (see John 5:29)

  2. vv. 22-23 only speak of resurrection of Christians

  3. to be subjected to God does not require salvation

(Note: John 5:29 merely speaks about all of the dead receiving their just rewards, either good rewards or chastening for sins for those who died without Christ. The context of the passage this verse is found in relates to Christ’s imminent death and resurrection and those who died before Christ’s death. They will come forward, apparently from Sheol, the holding place of the dead, to be judged as good and receiving rewards or judged for sins committed and then put in a “purifying, refining fire to purge ungodliness and prepare them for their ultimate salvation in Christ. I look forward to exegeting this passage in the future on this blog.)

Now, in the beginning of this chapter, verses 1-11, what is Paul talking about (this forms the immediate context of the verses we are studying (vv. 20-28)? Paul spends 11 verses explaining the gospel message he preached. This was the gospel of SALVATION in Christ alone and the irrefutable evidence that it is true.

Then, in verses 12-20, Paul goes on and explains that Christ has indeed been resurrected, but had Christ not been resurrected, the results would be disastrous. In verses 14 and 17 Paul talks about faith, which absolutely brings our thoughts back to salvation, the salvation spoken of in verses 1-11. Noteworthy also is the fact that Paul talks about “all” the dead in verse 12, 13, 15, and 16. And in characteristic fashion, Paul even talks about a subset of “all,” the subset of believers in verse 18 (those who have fallen asleep in Christ). Note: Christ as “first-fruits” simply means He is the preeminent one who died and rose again (resurrected).

As to point 1, I think that Paul lays to waste Moo’s argument that universal resurrection does not equal universal salvation. It is clear, not from verses 20-28, as Moo focuses his attention, but clearly from the context of verses 12-20, which set up verses 20-28, salvation is in mind and is interchangeable with resurrection. I will show why this is so.

As we continue in Paul’s argument in our focal verses (20-28), we see that Paul begins in verse 21 establishing a parallel between the First Adam and the Second Adam. Through one man death came, through one man resurrection of the dead came. Let me ask, what is resurrection of the dead if not life? I see these two terms as synonymous. Resurrection of the dead equals life. The prior state was “dead,” not living, no life.

Verse 22, Paul says the same thing in a different way. In Adam, ALL die and the parallel, in Christ ALL shall be made alive. The ALL in the first part is exactly the same ALL in the second part. That’s what makes the parallel understandable. Would Paul not have stated it differently if they were in fact different groups? We are talking about one of the most important doctrines ever, that of salvation, resurrection life. Would Paul have been vague or imprecise with his wording if it was something so important?

Next, in verses 23-24 Paul explains verse 22 by giving the order of resurrection and in essence, the amount of people in the resurrection. Take a look. Verses 23 and 24 are separated by a comma, not a period, meaning they are a continuous thought. Read it as, “Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ, then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. What we have here is three distinct groups in the resurrection; 1. Christ; 2. those who belong to Christ at His coming; 3. the end, which entails all in rule, authority, and power, and from verse 25, we see that this group is called “His enemies.”

Verse 25 tells us that Christ will reign, in His Kingdom (which is not forever!), until everything is subject to Him (except the Father, of course!) and the last enemy, death, is destroyed. At this point, Christ will turn over His reign of all things to the Father. Now Christ no longer reigns in His Kingdom. At this point Christ is put under subjection to the Father, and then God the Father becomes “all in all.”

Point 2 is clearly not true that Paul is only speaking of Christians in this passage. Paul does talk about Christians in verse 23, but unfortunately for Moo, Paul pens verse 24. Moo cannot just subjectively choose verses that fit his beliefs. He must take them all together or leave them all alone. Point 2 clearly is false in context.

Regarding Point 3, when we see the subjection taking place in verse 28, all things are subjected to God AND Jesus is then subjected to God and there is no change in subjection. Paul does not list one type of subjection for all things (those in Christ, all enemies) and another type of subjection for Christ. Paul shows that in the same way ALL (Christ, those who belong to Him, and His enemies) will then be subject to the Father. And when these are all subject, God becomes all in all. Since Jesus willingly submitted Himself to the Father, and all the rest are subjected to the Father in the same way (Paul does not distinguish between different types of subjection for different groups) then all the rest must be subjected to the Father as Jesus subjects Himself and this MUST be a willing and loving subjection!

Romans 5:18

(Rom 5:18)  Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

Moo states that in Romans 5:18, “Paul again portrays Adam and Christ as the two key figures in salvation history…” Isn’t it curious that in the previous discussion in 1 Cor 15:20-28 when Adam and Christ are paralleled, it is ONLY about resurrection and NOT salvation, but here he makes this statement? Whenever we see the two together, Adam and Christ, is it not always ABOUT salvation? I believe it is. Anyway, on with Romans.

Moo’s two main points are as follows:

  1. Paul says one can only be saved in this life. (Rom 1:16-17; 3:21-22) and judgment is for this life. (2 Cor 5:10)

  2. The second “all” refers to all those in Christ, therefore it cannot mean each individual will be saved.

Let me address the second point first. In verse 12, Paul identifies the “all” that he refers to in verse 18.

It is extremely clear from verse 12 that Paul is referring to all people who have sinned, which is all people excluding Jesus who never sinned.

Rom 5:12 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-

Then in verse 15, Paul talks about some specifics of that single group (all people who have sinned). He says there is “the one” and there is “the many.” “The one” is Adam and “the many” are those who died because of Adam’s sin, which by the way, is everyone else, excluding of course Jesus.

Rom 5:15 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.

But, here is an extremely important point: Paul tells us that Adam was a type of Christ in verse 14.

Rom 5:14 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.

Jesus is the second Adam and has the same relationship to “the many” that Adam had. The only difference is that, as verse 15 states, the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of Jesus ABOUNDED for the many! The only ones who are exempted from the group called “the many” are the two Adams; the First one, Adam, and the Second Adam, Christ. The “many” must then be everyone else, all who died as a result of the first Adam’s sin, all who have sinned.

Therefore, the “all” Paul has in mind in verse 18 cannot be ONLY those in Christ.

Let’s look at Moo’s first point, that one can only be saved in this life. Neither of the Romans passages has anything to do with one only being able to be saved in this life. I have no idea how he came to this conclusion, but can only surmise that he was reading into the text his presuppositions/theology. I grant that I may be missing something that is as plain as the nose on my face, so please, if you “get it,” you understand what Moo was driving at, please let me know so I may understand, too.

As to 2 Cor 5:10, Paul is explaining that believers will give an account to Christ of the things we did in this life. I, too, believe that we (believers in this life, the elect of God) will stand before Christ and be judged for the things we did in this life. Did we truly love Him and grow in love for Him? Did we treat our neighbors well? Did we call people to please God and live in His grace? These are a few things brought to my mind on the spur of the moment.

I will break away here for an intermission and give your mind a chance to chew on these things. I will continue in the next section finishing the remaining three passages. Please leave your questions or comments or email me at valleyofvisionlv@gmail.com Until next time, Godspeed!

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