Monthly Archives: January 2014

Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Universalism: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved? Part 9

 

 

Examining Universalism III: The Universalist Thesis

 

 

John 12:25, 48

 

(Joh 12:20) Now there were some Greeks from among those going up that they should be worshiping in the festival.

 

 

(Joh 12:21) These, then, came to Philip who is from Bethsaida of Galilee, and they asked him, saying, “Lord, we want to become acquainted with Jesus.”

 

 

(Joh 12:22) Philip is coming and telling Andrew, and again Andrew and Philip are coming and telling Jesus.”

 

 

(Joh 12:23) Yet Jesus is answering them, saying, “Come has the hour that the Son of Mankind should be glorified.”

 

 

(Joh 12:24) Verily, verily, I am saying to you, If a kernel of grain, falling into the earth, should not be dying, it is remaining alone, yet if it should be dying, it is bringing forth much fruit.”

 

 

(Joh 12:25) He who is fond of his soul is destroying it, and he who is hating his soul in this world, shall be guarding it for life eonian.”

 

 

(Joh 12:26) If anyone should be serving Me, let him be following Me, and where I am, there My servant also shall be. And if anyone should be serving Me, the Father shall be honoring him.”

 

 

(Joh 12:44) Now Jesus cries and said, “He who is believing in Me is not believing in Me, but in Him Who sends Me.”

 

 

(Joh 12:45) And he who is beholding Me is beholding Him Who sends Me.

 

 

(Joh 12:46) I have come into the world a Light, that everyone who is believing in Me should not be remaining in darkness.”

 

 

(Joh 12:47) And if ever anyone should be hearing My declarations and not be maintaining them, I am not judging him, for I came not that I should be judging the world, but that I should be saving the world.”

 

 

(Joh 12:48) He who is repudiating Me and not getting My declarations, has that which is judging him; the word which I speak, that will be judging him in the last day,

 

 

(Joh 12:49) seeing that I speak not from Myself, but the Father Who sends Me, He has given Me the precept, what I may be saying and what I should be speaking.”

 

 

(Joh 12:50) And I am aware that His precept is life eonian. What, then, I am speaking, according as the Father has declared it to Me, thus am I speaking.”

 

 

 

In verses 25 and 48 we read of implications of belief or unbelief regarding life in an age to come. Verse 48 comes closest to any connotation that one may draw regarding final rejection and destruction of people due to their unbelief. However, reading verse 48 again, several questions should come to the surface. First, what is the reason for thinking of a “finality” here? What does the term “last” (eschatay, Greek for last, pertaining to the end of a period) refer to? Is this a reference to the end of all things? Or, since in the surrounding verses Jesus is talking about an age of time, is Jesus referring to the end of life on this earth? Also, going back to verse 47, which should also frame verse 48, Jesus’ emphasis is on saving the world, not judging the world. Jesus’ emphasis on saving the world, seems to me, to negate any connotation that He is bringing a final judgment upon unbelievers.

 

 

It appears to me that Jesus is not speaking of the end of all time, but the end of life, the period of time we have here in this life on earth. Why? From the time of his entry into Jerusalem on the donkey, to verse 50, the main theme is belief/unbelief and what that means to the life right now. Jesus talks about giving up the world to follow after him now, during this life. He speaks about how much better it is to believe than not believe. The whole context is “this worldly,” not “other worldly.” Verse 25 has, at best, a slight hint toward something after this life, but in no way is it descriptive of anything specific about existence after this earthly life. One must read into that verse and the context here about a final judgment day or a separation of believers and unbelievers. Otherwise, Jesus is merely speaking about how much better it is to believe in Him now, than not believe in Him. This is due to the fact that He came to SAVE the WORLD. There does not appear to be any final rejection and destruction of people due to their unbelief here in these verses.

 

I remind the reader that Packer’s point is that all these verses he lists have to do with a final rejection or destruction of the unbeliever.  My focus is not completely on a total exegesis of all of these verses but, at times, to merely point out that there is another understanding of the passages cited and to show or disprove Packer’s claim to a finality of rejection or destruction of unbelievers at the end of all things.

In Christ,

Craig

 

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This is what passes for great preaching!?

I have not followed mainstream Christian leaders over the last few years because I have come to find out there is much deception going on, and it seems the deception is to keep the power and money flowing.  But, every once in a  while a newsfeed headline catches my attention and I decide to spend a few minutes with it to ferret out what is being said.  That happened today when I got home from work and found this title from Al Mohler’s site, albertmohler.com.  This was a sermon given at my former church, Highview Baptist Church East, Louisville, KY, by Al Mohler on December 22, 2013.  The title that caught my eye was this:  “For Whom Was Christmas Bad News.”

Now this caught my eye because over the last month I have read and/or explained the very text Mohler preaches on to family and friends stating, “Many Christians do not believe that Christ coming into the world was good news of great joy that will be for all people because most Christians believe in a literal eternal conscious torment for unbelievers who die in this life without expressing belief in Christ.   How can Jesus Christ be good news of great joy for all people when most of the people God creates end up in everlasting torment in hell?”  My point was directly quoted from Luke 2:10 when the angels came to the shepherds in their field and said to them, “And the messenger said to them, “Fear not, for lo! I am bringing you an evangel of great joy which will be for the entire people, for today was brought forth to you a Savior, Who is Christ, the Lord, in the city of David.  And this is the sign to you: you will be finding a Babe, swaddled and lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:10-12 CLV)

In this audio message was the statement from the title.  Background information, most of which was irrelevant to the title and point of the message was given for about 24-26 minutes.  That’s alot of time to sit and wait for such an important point to make.  I was getting to the point of giving up until finally Mohler made the statement and began unpacking what he meant by the statement that for some people, Christ’s coming was not good news of great joy.  Immediately I thought about the messengers of God sent to proclaim this important word about the birth of Christ.  Were these angelic messengers liars?  Could they lie?  After the statement Mohler just made, it sure seems like that is what he is saying.  And, in fact, that is what was said!  He went on to explain that Jesus came and rendered the power brokers, the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders defeated and powerless in His Kingdom.  He said Jesus’ coming rendered the local and state governments powerless because they would not accept Him  for Who He is.  Jesus came and interrupted their rule and reign over people because now the True King has come!  So, the message from the angels was good news of great joy for all people, Mohler says, but that it was not good news of great joy for some people!  Are you confused?  I sure am!

This is the kind of double-speak that passes as God-inspired preaching today.  Either this message was good news of great joy or it wasn’t.  Now, to be sure, what Mohler did was what many, if not most, preachers do; they bait and switch the text.  Obviously this text is talking about a spiritual reality, not a here and now physical reality.  What I mean is this, that the good news of great joy was that Jesus would eventually atone for the sins of the whole world, in fact, and conquer the death that sin brought with it.  This is a text that flies in the face of eternal conscious torment in hell.  It has to if words mean anything.  There was no qualification here by the messengers saying that this was a message that had many different meanings.  The Savior was prophesied about by the prophets of old (the Old Covenant/Old Testament) and was never meant to be a physically real message about Jesus ruling on an actual throne with actual people being by His side ruling with Him, like the Jewish leaders thought it meant.  It was a spiritual message relating how God would restore mankind and reconcile all mankind to Himself.  That is why, God who cannot lie, and the angels who perfectly do the will of God, brought the message that Christ’s coming (including his birth, death, resurrection) was truly GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY FOR ALL PEOPLE!

Messages like this are mere sleight of hand, marketing gimmicks, to draw a crowd in.  They are given for shock value.  The message became mixed when Mohler deviated from the true message given by the angels and mixed it with a physical reality that, though true, confuses the real message of the angels.  Why not follow through with how this message is good news of great joy FOR ALL PEOPLE?  I can answer that question myself.  Because, if Jesus was truly good news of great joy for all people (Jews and Gentiles as Mohler states, which by the way, is ALL OF MANKIND!), then as Ricky told Lucy on many an I Love Lucy episode, “Lucy, you got some splainin’ to do!”  Mohler and all who believe in eternal conscious torment in hell must explain how, and I mean truly explain how, God can bring billions of people into the world, breathe life into them, only to have this good news of great joy for all people become a message of eternal, everlasting bad news for billions of people who will be tortured forever and ever in the burning flames of hell.  We truly need to hold Christian leaders feet to the fire, so to speak, and not accept these confusing explanations of God’s Word.  We need to hold them to explaining how A can be NOT A at the same time.

If Christ’s birth was truly good news of great joy for all people then tell it like it is.  Explain the real message and what it means.  If Jesus also came and rendered the religious leaders and secular leaders power and influence moot, then explain that.  If two messages in the Bible seem to conflict, well explain with rational argumentation why there is no conflict.  But don’t keep perpetuating this type of nonsense.  Be honest and upfront in your handling of the Word of God.  Don’t keep the sheep in the auditorium at Highview Baptist Church East buying into mixed messages just because you are a well-known leader in the Christian church.  Well, I am tired of writing and disappointed again, so I will close by including the link to the audio message.  You can cut to the chase by skipping to around the 24 minute mark.  This will get you in the neighborhood before the actual discussion of the “bad news” begins.

For Whom Was Christmas Bad News

Let me know what you think, (sigh)

In Christ’s Defense,

Craig

P.S.  For your benefit and edification,  Jesus is the good news of great joy for all people and will save people from their sins and will eventually reconcile all mankind to the Father through His work on the cross and resurrection and one day, God will be all in all, and we, all of God’s image bearers, will bow down before Him in true worship and praise.  There is no contradiction in God, there is no lying by the angelic messengers, and there is cause to fear the judgment to come, especially if you die without belief in Christ, but  at the end of all things, God will overcome everything opposed to Him and win all of creation over with His abundant love, the love that comes from His abundant grace  that overcomes sin.  Peace to you all in Christ!

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