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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2 Comments

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

2 responses to “Hell Under Fire Book Review – Jesus On Hell Chapter 4 Part 4

  1. Dirk

    Excellent 🙂

    “ … For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all. O, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments, and untraceable His ways! For, who knew the mind of the Lord? Or, who became His adviser? Or, who gives to Him first, and it will be repaid him? Seeing that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all: to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen!

    (CLNT – Romans 11:32-36)

    Paul was clearly a “Universalist” and “to Him be the glory for the eons” (similar to “Soli Deo Gloria”) was Paul’s universal worship-slogan!

    Thank you Craig 🙂

  2. Thanks Dirk! That’s a good way to put it! Paul’s universal worship slogan! I like that!

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