Examining Universalism III: The Universalist Thesis
(Joh 5:21) For even as the Father is rousing the dead and vivifying [making alive] , thus the Son also is vivifying whom He will.”
(Joh 5:22) For neither is the Father judging anyone, but has given all judging to the Son,
(Joh 5:23) that all may be honoring the Son, according as they are honoring the Father. He who is not honoring the Son is not honoring the Father Who sends Him.”
(Joh 5:24) Verily, verily, I am saying to you that he who is hearing My word and believing Him Who sends Me, has life eonian and is not coming into judging, but has proceeded out of death into life.”
(Joh 5:25) Verily, verily, I am saying to you that coming is an hour, and now is, when the dead shall be hearing the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall be living.”
(Joh 5:26) For even as the Father has life in Himself, thus to the Son also He gives to have life in Himself.”
(Joh 5:27) And He gives Him authority to do judging, seeing that He is a son of mankind.”
(Joh 5:28) Marvel not at this, for coming is the hour in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice,
(Joh 5:29) and those who do good shall go out into a resurrection of life, yet those who commit bad things, into a resurrection of judging.”
For some strange reason I have gotten hung up on this text. It could be a bunch of things going on in my life, like working a lot of overtime, or any of many other concerns. Whatever it is, there is another element that I want to bring out right now. I have been literally stunned by this text. The more I read it, the more shocked and rejoicing in the Father and the Son I find myself. Why? Man, just look at what you read here. In this chapter Jesus does several healings and is sought after by the Jews to die at their hand. Jesus heals on the Sabbath, which all by itself was worthy of the Jews seeking retribution against Jesus. But, add to that the fact that Jesus so aligned Himself with the Father that the Jews claimed that He was equating Himself equal with the Father! Blasphemy, according to the Jews! This was an offense worthy of death! But that isn’t the amazing part.
Then Jesus tells the Jews that not only is the Father rousing the dead and making them alive, not specifying whether they have done good or bad, at this point, but goes on and says that He is rousing the dead also! Jesus says He is also making some alive, those whom He wills to do so. Jesus goes on and says that those who say they honor the Father must also honor Him as well. They cannot honor one without honoring the other. Those who are hearing what Jesus is saying about the Father and believe in the Father have life. Those are the ones who have passed from death into life.
Now here comes the amazing stuff. Jesus has been talking about rousing the dead to life. He says that an hour is coming when the DEAD will hear His voice. Those who hear will be living! What? The end of this life isn’t the dividing line between whether someone can/will believe. The supposedly great chasm fixed between the rich man and Lazarus must mean something other than what we have been led to believe? The dead can hear and believe and live? Oh my! What an amazing thing! What good news! What Good News of great joy for all mankind! And this must be good news for all mankind because there is no differentiation in the dead. Jesus merely says “the dead!” He doesn’t say the believing dead and the unbelieving dead. Just the dead. And look at what comes next.
There is an hour coming when all who are in the tombs will come forth. Those who hear and believe in the Father will come forth, just as Jesus said earlier, being roused from death and made alive to life. The others who are dead and not believing in the Father will be roused from death and made alive to judgment. There is hope, even after death, to believe in the Father and have life (and consequently in Jesus, though that doesn’t seem to be the focal point. But we know that Jesus and the Father are one.)! Nowhere here in these verses, nor the context of this chapter is there anything about a final rejection or final destruction. The life spoken of here that those who believe have is not said to be forever or eternal. It just says life. Nor does it say that the judgment is final or forever. It merely says those not believing will be in a state of judgment. When we ask the question, “What is this judgment He speaks of?” we can go back to chapter 3 and see that the judgment Jesus judges with is that the unbelieving ones love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (3:19-21). The believing ones love the light and want to make their deeds manifest to all, which corresponds to resurrection life.
What these verses are for the world is words of hope! What these verses are not are words of final rejection or destruction. That concept must be read into these verses for it cannot be read out of them! I encourage you to read and re-read these verses and see if what I am saying is true. If you do not see what I see, and you are not amazed by the hope for all mankind that is shown here, comment on this post so we can dialog and we can learn from each other.
I do not expect to spend so much time on one verse, but what if it was so? Would it be terrible? I am thankful for the light God has given me and what a blessing it has been to try to “figure” out what to write about these verses. I kept coming back to the same thing, AMAZEMENT! Will you be, can you be amazed with me concerning this verse (really these verses!)? I hope so and I hope God expands your hope in Him and your amazement in Him, and your desire to see Him for who and how He is: The Father of all who loves all of His children with such a special love that His love will one day melt even the hardest of hearts! To Him be all praise and glory and honor!
Love in Christ,