Monthly Archives: October 2013

Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Universalism: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved? Part 6

 

Examining Universalism III:  The Biblical Teaching (cont’d)

Before he closes out this section, Packer says he can make four comments on the material, the verses put forth to prove everlasting hell/punishment. First, he says, “it has been suggested that they [the passages threatening eternal punishment, Matt 25:31-46; Rev 20:10, 15; Matt 12:32; 2 Thess 1:8-9; Heb 6:2; 9:27, et al] are not informational at all, but that Christ and the apostles spoke them as in effect a horrific bluff…in order to drive them into faith and faithfulness out of fright.” He says this attitude or reason for giving these texts does not fit the context. My first comment is “suggested by whom?” Who does he have in mind that suggests that Jesus and the apostles were trying to scare people into heaven? This attitude flies in the face of many NT scriptures that talk about salvation by faith and God opening the mind to accept spiritual things, most notably the Gospel. It also flies in the face of the fact that nowhere in the Bible do we see anyone preaching a Gospel message that includes avoiding eternal punishment in hell. Look at Peter’s “sermons” or Paul’s teachings, or any other writer and not once is their preaching like we hear today. Preaching today typically follows a pattern of preaching a topic or passage, explaining it, and either along the way or at the end, a plea is given to avoid hell, by believing in Jesus and the work of the cross and resurrection, and obtain heaven as your final reward. Where is the teaching of hell in the Gospel, or Good News, as it is called? How can the Good News be good if it entailed first preaching everlasting punishment? Unfortunately, Packer does not enlighten the reader to who it is that suggests a view like this.

Second, Packer states that if “anyone who, for whatever reason, thinks these passages [see list in previous paragraph] inconclusive regarding eternal punishment for the impenitent must answer the question: How could our Lord and his apostles have made this belief any clearer?” He says that Jesus could not be more clear that he means eternal punishment for the impenitent. Packer says there is no doubt that this was exactly what Jesus and the apostles meant. Well, if it was so clear, why are there so many different theories or explanations of these passages that make sense and actually bring together so many other Scriptures and ties together all of God’s past, present, and future? I have already addressed these passages in depth in previous chapter reviews. But, the long and short of it is, if you have only short legs to stand on, meaning very little proof that your doctrine is coherent, then you make statements like Packer’s. His lack of explaining the terms aionios and kolasis, especially from the universalist understanding, is disingenuous. It is hardly worthy of him to not help the reader understand why these terms are such a big deal to an evangelical/Christian universalist. However, it is much easier to preach to the choir and get a nod from your audience when you only give your own viewpoint/understanding/doctrine to the audience who mainly agrees with you. In my opinion, Packer would do the reader a huge service by explaining why or how the universalist thinks, especially the universalist of today, and then showing proof why this is not rational, coherent, logical, does not fit with the story line of Scripture.

My conclusion so far, for this entire work, is that it wasn’t written to convince the universalist that he is wrong doctrinally, nor to sway those sitting on the fence trying to make honest sense out of the Bible. No, I believe this book was solely written to appease the proponents of everlasting punishment and to bring back into their ranks those who have begun questioning hell. This is a kind of, get in-line (see all the heavyweight authors!) or get-on-out type of book. But, this is merely my impression, and the reader of this review, and hopefully the book as well, will carefully look into the doctrine of hell or everlasting punishment, and through reason, draw their own conclusion as to what God is speaking.

The third comment was about annihilationism. He states that annihilationism must be read into the texts and cannot be read out of them. He says that universalism and annihilationism are really two different sides of the same coin. The coin is that fact that one way or another, hell needs to be emptied for God to be acceptable. I have already stated that I do not believe in annihilationism, though I do understand better why someone would hold to that view. I do take issue with his treatment of both views as essentially the same. No sir, I think if you did any serious reading to understand universalism, you would separate the two as distinct, rather than conveniently lumping them together to try to make quick work of both of them. I may or may not treat this is the next chapter which covers annihilationism. I am still deciding on whether to cover it or not. You will know this in the future.

Fourth, he says that the idea that God can’t deal with sin and the impenitent with everlasting punishment is wrong. He says that those who believe that everlasting punishment violates God’s attributes and does not resolve the moral problems created by evil and human sin don’t understand that eternal punishment is the solution to the problem of evil. He says eternal punishment vindicates God’s justice and the manifestation of His righteousness and that God should be praised for this. He says we are to be joyous that God will (has) taken final action against evil and that our joy over His taking action, condemning people to eternal conscious torment in hell, will cause us everlasting joy. So let me get this last point right; we who will be in heaven for all eternity will rejoice over all those burning in hell forever and we will praise God for His everlasting punishment of those people in hell? And, if we truly understood God, and His holiness, we would not rebel against people being punished in everlasting torment forever, we would be joyous about it? Packer uses Rev 18:20 and 19:2 as his justification for the joy and celebration. What I have read in those verses is merely about God’s dealing with sin, but not about everlasting punishment. Yes, God will judge people. Yes, there will be a heavy price to pay for unrepentance and sin against a holy God. I do not deny this nor does anyone I know who is a Christian or evangelical universalist. The rest of the book of Revelation explains the eon for which a millennium occurs and also the eon for which Satan and his angels are confined to the lake of fire. It also shows the restoration of the nations and what leads up to the end of the Scriptures and time, 1 Cor 15:22-28.

I am going to leave this section as is, and let you digest some of what he has said and what I have written as well. If you have questions about the conclusions I have come to and why, let me know. If you also question what Packer has written or need some clarification on his writing in his chapter, ask away. If I receive none, I will go ahead and proceed on to the next section, The Universalist Thesis.

Blessings to you!

Craig

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Judge or Witness?

I just read a post from a believer that brought up this issue.  I immediately resonated with what was being discussed because I realized that until the last year or so, I have been more  (maybe solely?) judge of all things than witness of Christ.  Many who read this, if you truly look at your life, would most likely say the same thing.  Here is why.  How often, since you have become a believer in Christ, have you judged rather than witness of Christ?  For example, how many discussions have you entered into (that maybe have turned into arguments!) where the end result was stipulating differences and judging those differences, rather than it ending in unity and peace?  How many became apologetic arguments that were more about being right, or using your latest argument for your belief, or at the least, seeking to destroy your opponent AND his argument to show them how empty their beliefs are?  How many times in Sunday School have you had the “arguer” step in and monopolize the teaching to show how much they know and to deride those who don’t believe exactly the way they do, that particular church does, the pastor does, etc?  How often does your church, leader at church, teacher, pastor, whatever seek to differentiate you and yours from theirs and them (other believers in other denominations or home church or other professing believing body)?

If you hear more about separation within your church walls than you do about unity in the Spirit, then most likely you are more a judge than a witness.  We are called first and foremost to be witnesses of Christ.  Paul taught that we should witness of Christ and be united with those who profess Jesus as Savior.  If we would be more focused on witnessing the love of God through Jesus’ sacrifice and death and resurrection, we would probably be having more of a hearing with those who stand opposed to the church, organized religion/Christianity, fellowship, worshiping God, etc.  Calvinists have the reputation of being calloused and uncaring because they believe in God’s election of some and not all.  This is viewed as a very judgmental spirit, and it is!  They use scare tactics to “find” the elect through the threat of forever punishment in hell.  The Arminian has the reputation of upholding the will of man as more sovereign than God’s will, meaning God is doing all He can to save people, but some just don’t want to be saved and there is nothing God can do.  They judge man’s will as more powerful than God’s will, thus judging God as impotent.  They are seen as caring but use scare tactics to bring people to faith (threat of forever punishment in hell).  I have been in both camps and know what I am speaking about.  The commonality is the threat and the disunity this causes.  This makes everyone out to be judges rather than witnesses, no matter what each group says.  The proof is in the results.

Overall, the Christian church is, and has been, in decline for many years.  Threats no longer work for bringing people to church and keeping them there.  Threats don’t explain life and the questions life brings, merely excuses.  I choose to be a witness now, rather than a judge.  A witness shares the GOOD NEWS of Christ and God’s love for all His image bearers.  A judge threatens punishment and follows through with punishment.  Which would you rather be?  Which will you continue to be?  I have got to rush off for now.  I hope you will understand the intent in this quickly typed post.  If not, leave a message and I will clarify what I mean.

Blessings to you!

Craig

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Not Perpetuating the Ruling Elite

Many of you realize that the New Testament was written in what is commonly known as Koine Greek, a dialect of Greek that the common man used. After reading soooo many theological books from seminary professors, engaging in many theological discussions with self-professed theologians and seminary-educated pastors, and engaging in on-line blog discussions, I have come to realize that all our theological jargon and education matters not one wit to the common man. It is merely a perpetuation of an elite class of “believers” century after century that does nothing more than keep the separation between the church ruling class and the common man alive. I, for one, will not perpetuate this separation and will do all I can to speak and write to those who really matter; the ones who are crying out for answers to life’s everyday issues about good and evil, the afterlife and what comes next when we die, hope, and the like. I will continue to speak the truth to the “seminary” types, but will not argue with them. Honest questions will always deserve honest answers, but I am done with the smugness and arrogance and false humility and condescension given me and those I love by the “ruling elite!” You may have your filioque clause and hypostasis and the like. I will seek to give everyone the ultimate hope of the Good News of Jesus Christ in “Koine” English! Jesus had nothing but disdain for the ruling elite and spent his time with the common man. That’s good enough for me from now on!

A goal I have just set, based on some of what I wrote above, is to write my first book.  I have over 100 pages already written, but will now have to go back and revise some of what I wrote.  I still have about 40 more pages to write and then will need to add much in the editing/revision process.  I estimate that it will be 180-200 pages.  But, my goal also is to write a book for everyone to read.  I do not want to write so the reader will need a theological dictionary next to them when they turn the pages.  I will be looking to enlist some help with some of the chapters and I have a few people in mind.  I would like to include you, my readers, in some of this project.  I will post the help I need and would really love if you would spend some time helping the cause of Christ.

Thanks for your help and support as I undertake this project.

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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Part 5 Supplement

 

Part 5 Reference Supplement

 

I forgot to put references in the previous part of the book review. Rather than stack up a large number of different resources to show the meaning of aion, correctly translated age-lasting, and some further thoughts from other scholars on Matt 25:31-46, I remembered this resource and decided to just include a few chapters for you to read. If you would like further info about this resource or where to obtain a copy of it for E-Sword Bible software or html / .doc(x) or pdf file, let me know. I will be happy to provide these for you. Just comment to me or email me the request. This book was well worth the read!

 

(The bold chapters in the Table of Contents are included here)

An Analytical Study of Words

by Louis Abbott

CONTENTS

About the Author

Dedication

Foreward

1. Definitions of Aion, Aionios

2. Usages of Aion

3. Opinion of the Scholars

4. Apparent Contradictions

5. “Forever and Ever” — A Poor Translation

6. What Saith the Translations?

7. Eonian Means What? A Search for Truth

8. Greek Tools

9. Examples in Greek Literature

10. Bibles Without Everlasting Punishment

11. Verses “Proving” Punishment Will Be Everlasting

12. Scholars Acknowledge Restitution of All

13. Punishment? Yes – Everlasting? No

14. A Long, But Not Eternal Visit to Hell

15. The “Chosen” – Not “I Have Chosen”

16. Clearing Things Up

17. The Complete Revelation

Appendix 1 – Commentary of Previous Presentation

Appendix 2 – Do You Believe All in the Bible?

Appendix 3 – Reconciliation Scriptures

Appendix 4 – What Pleases Our Father

Appendix 5 – What if We Are Wrong?

About the Author

Louis Abbott was born in 1915. In 1928, he received Christ. One day, while pastoring a church, a man challenged Louis regarding his teaching about eternal torment. Louis accepted the challenge.

For three years Louis searched the Scriptures, searched the Greek and Hebrew words behind the English words “Hell,” “eternal punishment,” “everlasting destruction,” etc. At the end of those three years, he realized he had been taught error regarding the ultimate fate of mankind. Feeling he could not longer preach the doctrines of his denomination, Louis gave up the pastorate, but he never gave up studying.

Taking Greek courses from Moody, Loyola University, and other places, he finally came to the place where, in order to get further, he had to teach himself. At the present day, his personal library, consisting of thousands of Bible reference books, probably has more reference books on the New Testament Greek than many Bible Colleges and Seminaries.

For almost 50 years now, Louis has been spending many of his evening hours and weekends studying the subject matter of this book. There would be few in the world today who would have spent as much time studying these words as Louis has.

Louis has given me some of the books in his personal library. On the inside cover, he would put the date he finished the book and note the pages on which he made notations. I am amazed at how many reference books he has read. Most people, including scholars, usually use these kind of books to look up a subject when needed. They usually do not read these kinds of books from cover to cover, making notes along the way. But that is how Louis read many of these very difficult books.

Whether the reader will be given the grace to see the wonderful truths contained in this work is up to the Holy Spirit. I only want to make it clear in this introduction to Louis Abbott that the research contained in this book comes from over 50 years of thorough, dedicated years of “searching to see if these things be so.” Louis Abbott has come to the conclusions in this book, not because of his religious background, but because he was willing to test his traditions. May the reader be given the grace to put “fear of God” above “fear of man and his traditions” and read this book with an open mind and willing heart.

– editor

Chapter 1

Definitions of Aion, Aionios

“Usage is always the decisive thing in determining the meanings of words.”

“Over time, words often change meaning, sometimes even taking on an opposite one.”

There will be a couple of places in this publication where a long list of references are cited which may be dull reading to some of you. But due to the importance of clearly understanding the meaning of these words, I ask that you bear with me in those two or three places. I want the reader to be absolutely certain that what is presently in this book has been thoroughly researched.

Dictionaries only give the meaning of a word as it is used at the time the dictionary is written. Over time, words often change meaning, sometimes even taking on an opposite one. The word “let” in the 20th century usually means “to allow.” But in King James’ England, the word “let” often meant just the opposite – “to restrain.” The word “suffer,” had the meaning “let” in the 16th century. This meaning has been removed from the modern use of the word. As word meanings change, so will the definitions found in the dictionaries of that time period. “Carriage” was cargo four hundred years ago – today it describes the vehicle which carries the “carriage.” At one time, a “gazette” was a low value coin which could purchase a newspaper. Today, the meaning of “a certain coin” has disappeared. A dictionary, unless it contains the etymology of the word, is usually of little to no help in determining the meaning of a word hundreds of years ago. Lexicons, concordances, and etymology books are needed to ascertain the true meaning of a word within a given culture and period of time.

Listed below are the definitions modern dictionaries give to the first set of words we want to look at. Keep in mind … what they mean today and what they meant two thousand years ago, are two different subjects.

Olam, aion, and aonion are defined in dictionaries, lexicons, commentaries, and the like, as follows: (Here is one of those long lists I mentioned)

  • Page and Company’s Business Man’s Dictionary and Guide to English: Eon: A long space of time; cycle; forever; eternally; always; at all times.

  • New World Dictionary: Eon: Period of immense duration; an age; endless; for eternity.

  • Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: Eon (n.): An immeasurable or indefinite period of time; incessantly; synonym of constantly, continuously, always, perpetually, unceasingly, everlastingly, endlessly.

  • Standard Unabridged Dictionary: Eon: An age of the universe; an incalculable period, constituting one of the longest conceivable divisions of time; a cosmic or geological cycle; an eternity, or eternity. The present age, or eon, is time; the future age, or eon, is eternity.

  • Shedd Theological Dictionary (vol. II, p. 683) Eonian: pertaining to, or lasting for eons; everlasting; eternal.

  • Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon: Aion: A period of existence; one’s lifetime; life; an age; a generation; a long space of time; an age. A space of time clearly defined and marked out; an era, epoch, age, period or dispensation.

  • Thesaurus Dictionary of the English Language: Eon: An age of the universe.

  • Earnest Weekly’s Etymological Dictionary of Modern English: Aeon: Age.

  • Universal Dictionary: Aeon: A period of immense duration; an age.

  • Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon: Aionios: (1) without beginning or end; that which has been and always will be. (2) without beginning. (3) without end, never to cease, everlasting.

  • Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible: Eternity: The Bible hardly speaks of eternity in a philosophical sense of infinite duration without beginning or end. The Hebrew word olam, which is used alone (Psa_61:8) or with various prepositions (Gen_3:22; Gen_13:15, etc.) in contexts where it is traditionally translated “forever,” means, in itself, no more than “for an indefinitely long period.” Thus, me-olam does not mean “from eternity,” but “of old” (Gen_6:4, etc.). In the N.T., aion is used as the equivalent of olam.

  • The New Testament in Modern Speech, by Dr. R. F. Weymouth: Eternal: Greek: “aeonion,” i.e., “of the ages.” Etymologically this adjective, like others similarly formed, does not signify “during,” but “belonging to” the aeons or ages.

  • The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (vol. IV, p. 643): Time: The O.T. and the N.T are not acquainted with the conception of eternity as timelessness. The O.T. has not developed a special term for “eternity.” The word aion originally meant “vital force,” “life;” then “age,” “lifetime.” It is, however, also used generally of a (limited or unlimited) long space of time. The use of the word aion is determined very much by the O.T. and the LXX. Aion means “long distant uninterrupted time” in the past (Luk_1:70), as well as in the future (Joh_4:14).

  • Ellicott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Mat_25:46): Everlasting punishment – life eternal. The two adjectives represent the same Greek word, aionios – it must be admitted (1) that the Greek word which is rendered “eternal” does not, in itself, involve endlessness, but rather, duration, whether through an age or succession of ages, and that it is therefore applied in the N.T. to periods of time that have had both a beginning and ending (Rom_16:25), where the Greek is “from aeonian times;” our version giving “since the world began.” (Comp. 2Ti_1:9; Tit_1:2) – strictly speaking, therefore, the word, as such, apart from its association with any qualifying substantive, implies a vast undefined duration, rather than one in the full sense of the word “infinite.”

  • Triglot Dictionary of Representative Words in Hebrew, Greek and English [this dictionary lists the words in this order: English, Greek, Hebrew] (p. 122): Eternal (see age-lasting). (p. 6): English: age-lasting; Greek, aionios; Hebrew, le-olam.

  • A Greek-English Lexicon, by Arndt and Gingrich: (1) Aion: time; age; very long time; eternity. (2) A segment of time; age. (3) The world. (4) The aion as a person: aionios, eternal. 1. Without beginning. 2. Without beginning or end. 3. Without end.

  • Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, by Abbott-Smith: Aion: A space of time, as a lifetime, generation, period of history, an indefinitely long period – an age, eternity.

  • Hasting’s Dictionary of the New Testament (vol. I, p. 542, art. Christ and the Gospels): Eternity. There is no word either in the O.T. Hebrew or in the N.T. Greek to express the abstract idea of eternity. (vol. III, p. 369): Eternal, everlasting – nonetheless “eternal” is misleading, inasmuch as it has come in the English to connote the idea of “endlessly existing,” and thus to be practically a synonym for “everlasting.” But this is not an adequate rendering of aionios which varies in meaning with the variations of the noun aion from which it comes. (p. 370): The chronois aioniois moreover, are not to be thought of as stretching backward everlastingly, as it is proved by the pro chronon aionion of 2Ti_1:9; Tit_1:2.

Chapter Eleven

Verses “Proving” Punishment Will be Everlasting

“Professor A.T. Robertson and A.B. Bruce agree that ‘kolasis aionion’ of the KJV has a literal meaning of ‘age-lasting correction.'”

“Let me say to Bible students that we must be very careful how we use the word ‘eternity.’ We have fallen into great error in our constant usage of that word. There is no word in the whole Book of God corresponding with our eternal…”

-G. Campbell Morgan

Mat_25:31-46 concerns the judgment of NATIONS, not individuals. It is to be distinguished from other judgments mentioned in Scripture, such as the judgment of the saints (2Co_5:10-11); the second resurrection, and the great white throne judgment (Rev_20:11-15). The judgment of the nations is based upon their treatment of the Lord’s brethren (verse 40). No resurrection of the dead is here, just nations living at the time. To apply verses 41 and 46 to mankind as a whole is an error. Perhaps it should be pointed out at this time that the Fundamentalist Evangelical community at large has made the error of gathering many Scriptures which speak of various judgments which will occur in different ages and assigning them all to the “Great White Throne” judgment. This is a serious mistake. Mat_25:46 speaks nothing of “grace through faith.” We will leave it up to the reader to decide who the “Lord’s brethren” are, but final judgment based upon the receiving of the Life of Christ is not the subject matter of Mat_25:46 and should not be interjected here. Even if it were, the penalty is “age-during correction” and not “everlasting punishment.”

Dr. J.D. Dummelow, in his commentary on Mat_25:31-46, says, “Christ here speaks of the judgment of Christians alone, because that was the question which most concerned the apostles and their future converts… A common interpretation, however, is that the judgment of all mankind is meant.”

Professor A.T. Robertson, in his Word Pictures in the N.T., and Prof. A.B. Bruce, in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, agree that the kolasis aionion, the “everlasting punishment” of the KJV, has a literal meaning of “age-lasting correction.”

Dr. F.W. Farrar says: “It may be worthwhile, however, to point out once more to less educated readers that aion, aionios, and their Hebrew equivalents in all combinations are repeatedly used of things which have come to an end. Even Augustine admits (what, indeed, no one can deny), that in Scripture aion and aionios must in many instances mean ‘having an end,’ and St. Gregory of Nyssa, who at least knew Greek, uses aionios as the epithet for ‘an interval.'” Dean Farrar also states: “The pages of theologians in all ages show a startling prevalence of such terms as ‘everlasting death, everlasting damnation, everlasting torments, everlasting vengeance, everlasting fire’ – not one of which has Scriptural authority.” Dr. Farrar was well versed in the Biblical languages, author of books on the life of Jesus, the life of Paul, and Greek grammar, as well as others.

Dr. Edwin Abbott, headmaster of the City of London School, wrote in his Cambridge Sermons (p. 25), “And as for ourselves, though occasionally mentioning in language general and metaphorical, states of eonian life and eonian chastisment awaiting us after death, the Holy Scriptures give no detailed information as to either condition.” Dr. Abbott’s conviction, as expressed, showed he thought the received dogma was untenable.

An argument was introduced by Augustine, and since his day incessantly repeated, that if aionios kolasis does not mean “endless punishment,” then there is no security for the believer that aionios zoe means “endless life,” and that he will enjoy the promise of endless happiness. But Mat_25:46 shows the “eonian chastisement” and “eonian life” are of the same duration – lasting during the eons, and when the eons end, as Scripture states they will (1Co_10:11; Heb_9:26), the time called “eonian” is past and the life called “eonian” is finished, but life continues beyond the eons, as Paul teaches at 1Co_15:26: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” That is, the last, the final one in order. How will it be destroyed? 1Co_15:22 gives the answer: “For as IN ADAM ALL are dying, even so IN CHRIST ALL shall be made alive.” Death is destroyed when ALL have been vivified, or made alive, IN CHRIST. There will then be no more death. Just as life is destroyed by death, so death is destroyed by life. Our present bodies are mortal and corruptible (1Co_15:44-55), but when mankind is made alive IN CHRIST they will be raised immortal and incorruptible.

Those who believe in a universal salvation as is spoken of at Col_1:15-20, and see the purpose of God’s love and His plan for the eons, are secure in their belief that the same number of those who are now dying as a result of Adam’s disobedience will be made alive in Christ. The ALL of these verses represent exactly the same number of mankind. Rom_5:18-19 says, “by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men – by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men – by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall the many be made righteous.” The “all men” and the “many” in these verses include the same number of humans in both cases.

The “all” in 1Co_15:22; Col_1:15-22; and Rom_5:18-19 mean the same in every case. God’s eonian purpose is to head up ALL in the Christ, as is stated in Eph_1:9-10; Eph_3:11.

Dr. Alford Plumer’s An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (pp. 351-352): “It is often pointed out that ‘eternal’ (aionios) in ‘eternal punishment’ must have the same meaning as in ‘eternal life.’ No doubt, but that does not give us the right to say that ‘eternal’ in both cases means ‘endless.'”

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, preacher, teacher, evangelist, and author; sometimes called the “prince of expositors,” wrote in his Studies of the Four Gospels concerning Mat_25:31-46, “Then, moreover, we must be careful not to read into this section of prophecy things which it does not contain; for while it has been interpreted as though it were a description of the final judgment, the Great White Throne – These shall go away into age-abiding punishment; but the righteous into age-abiding life – the terms are co-equal in value, and whatever one means the other means. Only remember that here Christ is not dealing with the subject of the soul’s destiny either in heaven or hell. They are terms that have to do wholly with the setting up of the kingdom here in this world…” In Dr. Morgan’s, God’s Methods with Men, he says (pp. 185-186), “Let me say to Bible students that we must be very careful how we use the word ‘eternity.’ We have fallen into great error in our constant usage of that word. There is no word in the whole Book of God corresponding with our ‘eternal,’ which as commonly used among us, means absolutely without end.” In his book, The Corinthian Letters of Paul, the same author states concerning 1Co_15:22 (p. 191): “The word Adam is used here in the sense of headship of a race, the one from whom the race springs. But God’s second Man was the last Adam. If we say second Adam, we presuppose the possibility of a third Adam, another from whom a race shall spring. There will be none such. It is ‘first Adam’ and ‘last Adam.’ What does relationship with Him mean? In the program of God all are to be made alive in Christ.”

Sir Robert Anderson, a writer on eschatology, says, “The N.T. unfolds an economy of times and seasons; many ages head up in the one great age, within which the manifold purpose of God, in relation to earth, shall be fulfilled. Here, these words eon, age are applicable, and are used.”

Dr. Edward Plumptre, an eschatologist, wrote, “I fail to find, as is used by the Greek Fathers, any instance in which the idea of time duration is unlimited.”

Dr. William White says, “That of the widely different subjects to which aeonian is applied in the N.T., in 70 they are of a limited and temporary nature.”

Professor Knappe of Halle wrote, “The Hebrew was destitute of any single word to express endless duration. The pure idea of eternity is not found in any of the ancient languages.”

Professor Hermann Oldhausen said, “The Bible has no expression for endlessness. All the Biblical terms imply or denote long periods.” Dr. Oldhausen was a German Lutheran theologian.

Lexicographers note the fact that it was not until the fifth century A.D. that theologians began to read the sense of endlessness into Bible words. Dr. Lewis S. Chafer deplores the difficulty that the average reader of the Bible will encounter in seeking to understand the real meaning of these passages, when he notes how hopelessly the KJV has obscured the word aion. He said, “The word, which in common usage has a limited meaning, is used by the translators as the one English rendering for at least four widely differing ideas in the original. So that if the truth contained in this important body of Scripture is to be understood, the student must not only know the various meanings which are expressed by the one word, but also be able to determine the correct use of it in the many passages in which it occurs. Therefore, the KJV has placed the simple truth they contain beyond the average reader of the Bible. The English word ‘world,’ as used in the New Testament, may mean a distinct period of time, commonly known as an age (as its original is a few times translated), or it may refer to the things created: the earth, its inhabitants, or their institution. The ages are often referred to in Scripture, and the study of the exact conditions and purposes of each of them are not fanciful; but it is rather the only adequate foundation for any true knowledge of the Bible.”

Dr. W.H. Griffith Thomas wrote in The Christian, in a comment upon Heb_11:3, “the word rendered ‘worlds’ is ‘ages’ and refers not so much to the material creation as to the world regarded from the standpoint of time… The last mentioned (age, aion) is the name used here, and it seems to refer to what may be called time-worlds, the idea being that of various ages or dispensations being planned by God with reference to a goal toward which all are moving.”

Dr. Thomas’ notes on Rom_5:18-19 were, “As mankind’s connection with Adam involved him in certain death, through sin, so his relation to Christ insures to him life without fail. The double headship of mankind in Adam and Christ show the significance of the work of redemption for the entire race.”

Professor Max Muller says in reference to the Latin word aeternum, “that it originally signified life or time, but has given rise to a number of words expressing eternity – the very opposite of life and time.” He says the Latin aevum, that is, the Greek word “ainon, later aion, became the name of time, age, and its derivative, aeviternus, or aeternus, was made to express eternity.”

Dr. Isaac Watts says, “There is not one place in Scripture which occurs to me, where the word death necessarily signifies a certain miserable immortality of the soul.”

Professor Taylor Lewis states, “The conception of absolute endlessness as etymological of olam or eon would clearly have prevented plurals.” He continues, “‘ever’ (German: ewig), was originally a noun denoting age, just like the Greek, Latin and Hebrew words corresponding to it.” Dr. Lewis wrote an interesting article for Lange’s Commentary about the use of the words olam and aion as used at Ecc_1:4.

Jeremy Taylor, a hell-fire advocate, wavers, and after his ebullient flashes of Systematic Hellology, is constrained to the following modification in Jeremy Taylor’s Works (vol. 3, p. 43), “Though the fire is everlasting, not all that enters it is everlasting,” then adds, “The word everlasting signifies only to the end of its period.” Would that other hell-fire advocates were so honest.

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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved? Part 5

Examining Universalism III: The Meaning of Eternal Punishment

Packer begins this section by making some unsubstantiated claims. First, he says that his survey of universal salvation “has shown the speculative character of this theory in all its forms and has uncovered in passing one of the motives that drives it today, namely, a generous desire to affirm all major religions as highways to the highest human happiness, so that no adherent of a different faith need ever convert to Christianity.”

Second, he states that the universalism that he has set aside with his evaluation shows that universalism is clearly sub-Christian soteriology (study of salvation). I believe I have clearly refuted his position by offering a biblical plan of salvation supported by many texts of Scripture, including not only the New Testament, but the Old Testament as well. I have shown clearly where his translation of key biblical words is at best one of several interpretations, and at worst, just plain wrong! The universalist point of view unifies more of Scripture than any other system I have ever seen. The Arminian (Methodists, Church of Christ, Pentecostals, most Baptists, Charismatics, et al) falls short because in the end, man’s will is sovereign over God’s will. In Reformed theology (Presbyterian, Reformed Baptist, Christian Reformed, Lutheran, et al.) God is sovereign over all things, but His love takes a backseat to the justice He must mete out to all those who are the non-elect, which is most people. Neither system takes into full account God’s nature as love, nor all the verses in Scripture that refer to the salvation of all people. Each system must make, what I will call, excuses for why Scripture seems contradictory at points, and then they have to rely on eternal conscious torment to rescue them in the end.

Clearly I believe Packer has overreached with his beginning comments in this section. We will now follow with his section on The Biblical Teaching.

Biblical Teaching

Beginning this short section, Packer uses Matthew 25:31-36 as his proof-text that the Bible teaches “eternal punishment,” meaning punishment forever and ever. He makes the statement that “one’s profession of faith is validated by the quality of one’s life.” The wicked go to “eternal punishment” and the righteous go to “eternal life.” He then explains the two terms for eternal punishment. First is aionios for eternal. He says this means belonging to the age to come, which will not end, compared to the present age which will come to an end. Second, the Greek term for punishment, kolasis, he says means retribution, “as distinct from causeless, infliction of pain by or on behalf of whoever’s authority has been flouted, as an expression of that person’s displeasure.” He finally states, in these opening two paragraphs on page 183, “So eternal punishment means a divine penal infliction that is ultimate in the same sense in which eternal life is ultimate – prima-facie (at first look, on its face), therefore, everlasting and unending.”

Several issues jump right out. I agree that Matthew 25:31-46 is talking about works (one’s profession of faith is validated by the quality of one’s life = one’s faith is seen in the works he/she does). Whose works is Jesus talking about? Chapters 24 and 25 are being spoken on the Mount of Olives to the disciples (Matt 24:1-3). So these two chapters are a warning to the disciples to watch how they act. Several parables are given explaining that they are to be ready for the end of Judaism. The parables of the fig tree, the ten virgins, and the talents, and the example of those in Noah’s day, show the need for preparation and being ready for the end of Judaism. These passages do not speak of the end of time and cannot speak of the end of time. In 24:34 Jesus says that in no way will this generation pass away before these things take place. This teaching comes right after He explains that knowing these things is easy because it is just like them knowing that when they see leaves begin sprouting on a fig tree, they know summer is approaching.

In this “sermon” on the Mount of Olives, Jesus is showing the believers how God will treat them according to their works. This text (25:31-46) is a warning to the disciples, the believers gathered around Jesus who were gathered privately (Jesus gathered true believers privately, not the masses who were called “disciples” or mere followers, following after Him similar to groupies today, mainly to get something from Him, food, prestige, power, whatever). What is the warning? The warning is to not act like those in 25:41-46. Don’t leave those you can help needing food, drink, shelter, clothing, nor in need of fellowship. leave people who People are either deemed righteous or condemned based on their faith as evidenced by their works. Since the subject here is works, it cannot possibly refer to the immortal world. No one can work there way into heaven, since it is through faith that we are saved! And, Packer certainly does not believe that anyone can evidence their faith after this life through good or bad works. We know good works do not save and therefore cannot enable someone to go to heaven. Immortal life is a gift of God! (Eph 2:8-9) Getting an “end times” declaration of eternal rejection or destruction out of these verses misses the whole point of Jesus’ teaching!

(Mat 16:26) For the Son of Mankind is about to be coming in the glory of His Father, with His messengers, and then He will be paying each in accord with his practice.”

(Mat 16:27) Verily I am saying to you that there are some of those standing here who under no circumstances should be tasting death till they should be perceiving the Son of Mankind coming in His kingdom.”   (CLV)

Jesus came by the manifestation of his grace and truth, in other words in his kingdom and glory, and in the glory of his Father. The kingdom of God refers to the system of religion that Christ came to establish, the gospel kingdom that was not fully set up until the Jews who persecuted Jesus were humbled by the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, their power and then put under subjection of the government and dispersed. All the events after Jesus resurrection and leading up to AD 70 were the building up of this kingdom which was then fully established in that year. Jesus’ spiritual kingdom could not have been set up fully before all these events took place. Jesus came to demolish the reign of Judaism and open up salvation to all people everywhere.

In chapter 24 the Apostles asked Jesus when these things would take place. From Matt 24:5-28 we read about all the calamities that will happen before the destruction of Jerusalem. The description is representative of the way calamities were described in those days. Calamities were represented by upheavals in nature. For examples of this refer to Isaiah 13:10, Isaiah 34, Ezekiel 32, and Joel 2.

Then the parable of the fig tree is given to show the nearness of these calamities. And, to cement the nearness in their hearts and minds, he goes even further by stating that some in this present age will not die before this comes to pass.

Then the separation that takes place between believers and unbelievers is talked about. The wise and faithful would inherit the gospel kingdom while those who opposed the gospel and persecuted Christians would suffer under the calamities that were to come upon the nation. The separation of those to the right or left showed the distinction between the two groups. The ones on the left were to suffer age-lasting punishment. This punishment was the physical calamities brought on in this life, in this age (since there is no reference at all to an age to come!) due to not believing the gospel and living under its protection. The ones on the right enjoyed spiritual life in this age as long as they remained faithful. During this life they were brought to the knowledge of the truth in this life and enjoyed that truth in this age knowing that one day they will have true everlasting life. There is no reference here to immortal life but merely to application to this life.

The great thing about this kingdom for the Jew was that even though in this life they (Jews) who did not believe would suffer punishment, (pruning to result in benefit), Paul goes on in his writings to explain to Jews the assurance that one day “all Israel will be saved.” Paul says that even though the Jews were stubborn that God would have mercy on them all (Rom 11:32).

(Mat 25:31) Now, whenever the Son of Mankind may be coming in His glory, and all the holy messengers with Him, then shall He be seated on the throne of His glory,   (CLV)

This is figurative language and cannot be taken in a literal fashion, and here is why. The Scriptures clearly show that Jesus’ coming in his kingdom and glory happened in the days of his ministry and the following years of the apostles. We know this because some who were listening to his instruction lived to witness his coming in the spiritual manifestation of his truth, and this especially through the Holy Spirit who was poured out on many during those days and illuminated Jesus’ truth. Look at Matt 16:26-27.

Packer then shows his bias when he says that eternal (Greek aionios, which is an adjective and cannot mean or prove more than its underlying noun aion) means belonging to THE AGE TO COME! The main and best definition of the term, aion, both biblically and extra-biblically is a period of time of indefinite/unknown length. And, since the adjective derives its meaning and force from the noun it stems from, aionios cannot possibly mean MORE than its root. Since aion means an age, age-lasting or a period of time of indefinite length, the adjective aionios cannot mean forever and ever, everlasting, or eternal, in the sense we understand it today. The subject determines the meaning of the word. For example, in the Bible we read of everlasting hills and the everlasting God. Are the hills forever and ever, eternal? No, because they will one day be replaced by the new earth. Is God forever and ever, eternal? Yes, because He has no beginning nor ending, He has always been. He was never caused/created. In one sentence the same word means for a limited period of time and the next it means forever and ever. And when the Scripture writers wanted to emphasize a point, or show significance in size or time, they would repeat the word, such as aions of aions, meaning a very, very long time (literally ages of the ages or ages of ages). See this blogs’ page on Aion / Aionios for more references of this.

And, if that isn’t enough, then think about this. The context dictates the meaning of words as well. The context cannot mean forever and ever because Jesus is talking about works, which for the saints in the next life, according to Packer’s own beliefs, is only and always good, if they are even done in “eternal “ life. The saints cannot be doing bad works in the next life, or eternal life as he states it. Nowhere do we see reference to the specific things that we will be doing in heaven, in life after all the ages are completed and God becomes all in all. So, is Jesus saying that these are the works of those who are in the life to come, or is He saying that it is works that save us and give us eternal (literally age-lasting) life or eternal (literally age-lasting) death? Packer does make it confusing. However, this is expected based upon his doctrinal stance. For many like him, it is not about letting the text speak for itself, but trying to make sense out of a pre-suppositional doctrine and making scripture fit that doctrine.

Let me just add a little more information for the reader. There are Greek terms used in the New Testament that mean “without end.” One of those terms is aphthar(tos/sia), which means incorruptible, immortal, incorruption, but is never used in conjunction with punishment (see Rom 1:23; 1 Cor 15:52; 1 Peter 1:4; 1 Tim 1:17; 1 Cor 15:42, 50; 2 Tim 1:10). Another term, also meaning immortal is athanasia, used in 1 Cor 15:53-54 and 1 Tim 6:16, also never associated with punishment. Another term is akatalutos, translated endless, and used once in the Bible in Heb 7:16, once again, never applied to death or punishment or misery. It would seem that if our Lord desired to teach the apostles about endless, immortal life, that He would have used the specific term aphthartos/aphtharsia, athanasia, or akatalutos, rather than the term aion/aionios, which was understood as an age or indefinite period of time. It would seem that eternal (endless immortal) life or death would be a sufficient subject that Jesus would want to be misunderstood about. And since there are specific terms for it, Jesus would most likely have used one of them to be very clear about the “eternal” destiny of believers and unbelievers!

My conclusion then is that Packer has these verses wrong and comes to the wrong conclusions based on the text itself.

But, let us look also at the word for punishment, kolasis, and see if there is more to it than what Packer has led his readers to believe. For as much effort as I have put into studying the term aion/aionios, I do believe that this term, kolasis is more important to understand in verse 25:46 than aion/aionios is. The reason for this is related to the various meanings of the word and their implications. This term has a range of meanings, as most words do. It can mean punishment, chastisement, correction or the pruning of trees. A frequent meaning was this last definition, the pruning of trees. Why are trees pruned? They are pruned to improve and benefit the tree! Take that idea and overlay it in verse 46, we see that age-lasting or an indefinite period of punishment is for the improvement and benefit of man. This “everlasting punishment” is given for some wise and benevolent purpose, not as retribution as Packer states, but to ultimately benefit those who are being chastened or punished! What about the term chastisement (punishment, penalty, correction)? We have the same connotation with this word as well. The connotation being that of remedial (curative, healing) punishment, not retribution (vengeance, payback).

One last point that I want to make to solidify the understanding I am putting forth here. So then, let’s put all this together and come to an understanding of what Matthew wrote, of what Jesus was truly saying in this passage, Matt 25:31-46. This passage is part of a long discourse spanning chapters 24 and 25. This is the culmination of the parable of the sheep and the goats. There are several illustrations in these chapters as well. Verse 31 tells us when all this takes place, as we read in verse 31, which precedes the parable:

Then, Packer also mentions Revelation 20:10, 15 to show that the unbelievers would experience the lake of fire forever and ever. I treated these verses in a previous chapter review. Hell Under Fire – Chapter 5 – The Revelation on Hell Part 2

Packer next makes the claim that, “eternal punishment is not merely a matter of these two texts [referring to Matt 25:31-46 and Revelation 20:10, 15], however.” He cites Matt 12:32, the sin against the Holy Spirit not being forgiven as another example of the teaching of eternal punishment. After this he also lists the same (tired!) list of Scriptures that other authors have already explained. I have treated all the other texts in previous chapter reviews. Pay particular attention to Chapters 3&4. I will not rehash all those other texts (listed in this chapter under this heading are Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:24; Matt 8:12; 13:42; 24:51; Luke 13:28; 2 Thes 1:8-9; Rom 2:5-9; Heb 6:2; 9:27; 10:27, 31).

Instead I will tackle Matt 12:32, since I have not done so in previous chapter reviews as I recollect.

(Mat 12:31) Therefore I am saying to you, Every sin and blasphemy shall be pardoned men, yet the blasphemy of the spirit shall not be pardoned.”

(Mat 12:32) And whosoever may be saying a word against the Son of Mankind, it will be pardoned him, yet whoever may be saying aught against the holy spirit, it shall not be pardoned him, neither in this eon nor in that which is impending.” (CLV)

First, as I read verse 31, I became aware of something I hadn’t seen before. Jesus says every sin and blasphemy shall be pardoned men. This makes more sense to me today, from the standpoint of universalism, than ever before. Every sin, all men will be saved. Through one man came condemnation for all men and through the one God-man comes the salvation of all men. All men sinned in Adam, all man’s sins shall be pardoned. Interesting, isn’t it? Isn’t it also interesting that Jesus was talking to Jews when he commented on this subject. I agree that their will be a judgment for this sin, for those who have committed it (who that is I shall save for another time!) in this eon (the time in which Jesus was speaking). And I believe what Jesus said about the impending age in verse 32. But there is at least another age after that where all sin will be forgiven and death is done away with and God becomes all in all, with everyone worshiping God. But, Paul taught that in the end, all Israel will be saved. No contradiction between what Jesus taught and what Paul taught! How wonderful! Jesus said all sins will be forgiven man and Paul teaches that very thing. Therefore, the Jews who Jesus was talking to, even if they had committed this sin, will one day still be saved! So, we must be misunderstanding Jesus’ point about the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit.

Second, Jesus said in verse 32, “neither in this eon nor in that which is impending.” The only thing not pardoned is blaspheming the Holy Spirit, in this age or the age to come. Whoever says something against Jesus (Son of mankind) will be forgiven and whoever says something against the Spirit will not be forgiven. There is a parallel here. If this age is the only time we have to get things right, then how can someone commit this unpardonable sin in the next age. His destiny, according to most of Christianity is already settled, so it is a moot point and nonsense for Jesus to mean that only the unpardonable sin could be committed in this life and the next life, and not have the other group be forgiven either in this life or the one to come.

Next, let me pose a question that was posed to me. How can a person sin against the Father, and not have that sin be against every member of the Godhead? I know, they are distinct in themselves yet one. Can a sin be committed against one and hidden from the others? When Jesus said if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father, and I and the Father are one, did He mean it? Are our sins multiplied against us if we commit a sin against Jesus, but then the Father gets offended that His Son was sinned against and now the sin is against Him too? How could a sin be against only one member of the Godhead and not against the whole Godhead? I wold love to hear an explanation of this. I have never encountered nor read of an explanation of this situation. I would love some help trying to understand this.

There was a mode of speech among the people of Jesus’ day that when two things were held up in distinction from one another, and one of the two was much more difficult to be done than the other, it was common for the Jews to say that one should be, and the other should not be. The Pharisees had rejected the best and strongest evidence that could be presented to prove who Jesus is and that He was/is God. It was improbable then that they would ever be convinced by or for Jesus. Basically what is happening in Jesus’ talk is Jesus is saying that even though some may sin against Him they will be more easily or sooner be forgiven than the one who attributes the things of God to Satan. It is easier to repent of sins against Jesus, all manner of sin and blasphemies, than it is for someone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit to repent of their sin against the Spirit.

Therefore, based on this evidence, it is highly doubtful that this has anything to do with “eternal punishment” as Packer believes. The evidence points toward Jesus referencing this present wicked generation of His day, and also the age to come; all the people that would live after Jesus’ time. And that Jesus was using a common Hebraism, saying one thing was easier to accomplish than something else.

I will stop here for now and take up the next section, The Universalist Thesis in the next part of Chapter 8’s review. Help me understand a few of those things I brought up that I would like some clarification on or your thoughts on what has been said here. Also, if you have questions that need clarification I would love to hear them as well. As always, may god richly bless you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Craig

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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Universalism: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved? Part 4

Salvation in Scripture

Packer begins this section by saying that universalists affirm salvation in its fullest sense, then he defines what salvation is:

Salvation, in Scripture as in life, is the process, or outcome, of being saved; that is, being rescued from jeopardy and misery, preserved and kept safe from evil and disaster, protected against hostile forces, and thus firmly established in a state of security. The Bible focuses throughout on God as the One who saves, and on needy humans as beneficiaries of his saving action.”

Packer says that “the master theme of the New Testament is God’s work and gift of spiritual, eternal salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord, a work whereby guilty, vile, and helpless humans are delivered from sin, God’s wrath, death, and hell.”

He further states that:

This Christian salvation has three tenses – past, present, and future. Believers have been saved from sin’s penalty, are being saved from its power, and will one day be saved from its presence, for when we are glorified there will be no sin either in us or in our environment…and is mediated through, a personal relation that constitutes its very heart, namely: (1) faith-and-love fellowship with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, in adoring gratitude for what has been given so far and in expectant hope for more to come; and (2) a relation supernaturally created and sustained in the present by the Holy Spirit, one that it seems will last forever.”

I can agree with Packer in his definition above. God is the One who saves and mankind is needy in many regards, but especially in regard to salvation. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot make ourselves sinless and worthy of God’s love, protection, etc. I will take a bit of exception to what Packer calls, “the master theme of the New Testament.” I believe this is the master theme of the whole Bible and I will use slightly different language to describe it, namely, God’s reconciliation restoration of all things to Himself.

Further, I can agree with his assessment of the salvation in the past, present, and future. Where I believe we do differ is when and where this salvation can and does take place.

Universalists and Salvation

At first glance I was excited to see this section come up. My excitement waned a bit as I read through it. He asks the question at the outset, “Do universalists really understand salvation in these terms?” He then goes on to label three different types of universalism; secular salvationism, postmortem salvationism, and pluralist salvationism.

Secular salvationism is that belief which says that “the destination everyone will share after he or she has died is not conceived in a way that includes the elements in the biblical gift of salvation as stated above.” It is similar to the Hollywood fantasy that in the end everyone will die into happiness, though not necessarily through the biblical mandate of belief in Jesus Christ.

Clearly, this is an unbiblical view, especially in relation to what was shared above. I agree with Packer that secular salvationism is not accurate from a biblical standpoint.

I will take the next two out of sequence. I want to discuss briefly pluralist salvation. Pluralism refers to “a range and variety of thoughts, beliefs, ideals, convictions, hypotheses, and points of vie on a subject, or of cultural and religious life-patterns and value-systems overlapping or in parallel,” and that every one of these is valid and enriches us all. In pluralism, Jesus Christ is just one of many great religious leaders, all equals, who have been used by God to teach people the way of salvation. Therefore, salvation can be found equally in Buddhism, Brahmanism, Hinduism, and any other religion or religious experience because God uses them all to draw people to himself.

This, too, I believe is in serious error. I believe that Christ and His early followers affected the whole world with their teachings and beliefs. Therefore, I believe that all religions, in one way or another, share some traits with Christianity, if for no other reason than they were affected by Christ’s teachings throughout history or the fact that everyone is an image-bearer of God and in similar ways resonates with each other due to this fact. However, I do not believe that each individual belief held by every world religion is helpful or necessary or right (true) in bringing people to salvation. I think, as the Bible clearly states, there is one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ. I believe that He is revealed as fully as necessary in the Bible. I believe that belief in anyone or anything but Jesus Christ (and the Father and Spirit) will not lead you to salvation. There is salvation in no other name and that at the name of Christ, eventually everyone will be brought to true worship of the One True God, the God of the Bible, and His Son Jesus Christ through whom we (everyone) will be saved. Therefore, I, too, reject pluralist salvationism.

That leaves postmortem salvationism, and I purposely left this for last in this section. Postmortem, meaning, after death, salvationism states that “God will deal savingly with all who, for whatever reason, left this world without faith in Christ.” God will carry out, what some have called, eschatological evangelization, meaning, basically end-time evangelism. This entails confronting those who died without Christ, after their death, with their sin and continuing to do so until everyone succumbs to belief in Jesus. How this takes place varies depending on which universalists you talk to. But, the bottom line is that somehow, someway, after death, those who died without Christ will come to faith in Him and enjoy salvation forever. Packer says those who believe in this view “work with a fully Christian idea of salvation.” But, this is the concern for him. Packer believes that the opportunity for salvation ends at death and that peoples’ fates are sealed at the moment of death. I would classify myself as in this view, believing that somehow, though not shown the details scripturally, that God will reconcile ALL people to Himself and restore them to fellowship with Him, just as the Bible tells (shows) us (see 1 Cor 15:22-28, Col 1:15-20, Rev. 20-21 for some example texts, some of many, by the way!). I believe 1 Peter 3:19-20 gives us some insight into how (or that) this takes place.

I will be writing more on this subject after this book review is completed. By the way, this book review has become somewhat cumbersome in the respect that it seems like I keep saying many of the same things over and over again. Oh well, I guess that is the nature of the error as I see it. I am looking forward to finishing this WHOLE review and moving on to other, and probably more meaningful, things, but I do desire to finish what I have started. So with that, let me continue.

Looking over the chapter, I think it would be good to stop here. The next section is about seven pages long and does not divide up real well so I will keep it as a whole. It may be a fairly short review, though, since it is dealing once again with the meaning of eternal punishment, ground which we have more than covered in the past sections and chapters. We shall see. Until then, God’s richest blessings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Craig

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