Tag Archives: overcome evil

It is pretty sad if this life is the only chance to believe in God/Christ

My thinking was expanded by a recent writing I read that put life, learning, and belief in God in a bit of a different light.  Good?  Bad?  To me, extremely good, but I will let you judge as to how it affects you personally.  Rather than quote the writing, I want to summarize it and put it in my own words to see if I have truly grasped what was being said.  At the end, I will give you the link to the original article for your comparison.  Learning, I believe, requires this kind of understanding and attitude.  So, here goes.  Oh, if you could comment and let me know if I hit the mark or not, I would appreciate it!

We start out life, helpless, depending on others for everything, all of life’s sustenance.  I have been told that the most formative years are before a child reaches 4-5 years old.  They will learn a majority of all they learn (how to act, basics of life, etc) in these years.  We come to understand the world around us from personal experience, our parents, friends, and others who step into our lives and give us input.  And at some level, the environment around us helps shape us as well (growing up in warm vs. cold climates, growing up in the U.S. vs. the Middle East, etc).  And yet, the most formative years, with the most learning taking place, is learning at the hands of others who are broken and battered by life and environment. They have not arrived.  They are not perfect teachers giving us perfect information upon which we can base our own decisions on.  There was a saying I grew up with:  Practice makes perfect.  And later in life, that maxim was altered, thankfully, to this:  Perfect practice makes perfect!  This is my point.  We are created by a perfect God who thrusts us into imperfection to learn from imperfection and do something with it.

We are born immature, taught by immature young adults who are, in turn, still learning from immature older adults (oftentimes!).  I say these things because what we learn early on stays with us for years until it is changed through many trials and disappointments and struggles, and the like.  It is changed due to a change of attitude and philosophy of life and the world, and is played out, maybe, in actions before we pass from this life.

Two conclusions to draw from these things: 1.)  With such an impairment of our understanding of how things truly are, according to God and His will, we are no more competent than a 2 year-old to make competent choices even as adults, for the most part.  So regarding our eternal destiny, if you will, is this life truly the best way for God to measure us, to judge us, to hold us accountable for our beliefs (for you free-will-ers out there!), or to grant us belief (for you Calvinists out there!)?  Let me put the first point this way:  We are born in ignorance, we live in ignorance, and we die in ignorance, speaking of who God truly is.  Yes, granted some may learn considerably more about God than others, or maybe even live in Christ more than most, but overall, I believe this statement to a large extent is true regarding the person and work of God.  2.)  Is not God responsible for this ignorance and does He not share in at least some of the responsibility of our ignorance of Him?  As our caretaker, our Father, is He truly a success, or better said, a loving God who has our best interest at heart?  We are His workmanship, made to bear His image, right.

So, are we given all the resources we need during this life to understand who God is and what He has done for all mankind, or, is there more to follow in the ages to come?  Is 70-80 years of imperfect life the proving ground and the only possibility we have for life with God or will He truly, one day, one age, reveal to all people who He truly is and melt the cold hearts and win all people, becoming all in all?  Do we truly believe that God’s more abounding grace, a grace greater than sin, a grace more profound and empowering than any lie could thwart, any sin could confound, is so impotent as to not save ALL of God’s image-bearers?  Is God truly a merciful and gracious Father, the good News for the whole world, the world, all mankind that Jesus said He would lift up, if He was put to death on the cross (and He was!)?  In other words, if God will not save all of us imperfect people, His creation, does He not also bear the responsibility for that loss, making Him the only one who consigns people to eternal conscious torment in hell forever and ever (if that is what you believe according to the modern church and modern, traditional  Christianity), which I by the way, do not believe in?

Your thoughts are always coveted and your responses welcomed.  Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Craig

P.S. Almost forgot to give the link:  Why Think that God’s Grace is Sufficient for Apokatastasis?

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Don’t Let Sin Reign in Your Mortal Body

Here is my provocative question for this post.  When you read what Paul wrote in Romans 6:12, “Let not Sin, then, be reigning in your mortal body, for you to be obeying its lusts.” (CLV, Concordant Literal Version), do you:

A. Believe this to mean “stop sinning” and refers to the “acts of sin” OR

B.  I will never stop sinning in my mortal body but thankfully as a new creation in Christ my sins have been removed and sin no longer tells me what to do, I tell it what to do! (get lost!)

If you choose A., then you are in league with the whole modern church today.  You believe just as most every other believer today because you believe that Paul is telling you to quit committing acts of sin, like adultery, swearing, lying, cheating, stealing, etc.  It also means you will probably seek to remove all appearances of evil and sin from your life.  Example:  We don’t believe it is a sin to drink alcohol, but we require our leaders to abstain from drinking alcohol because we do not even want to give the appearance of sin, or cause even the least of our brothers to stumble.  Or, I have been “saved” by God and in my past have struggled with pornography, therefore, when I want to rent a movie from Netflix, I search only G-rated movies because I do not even want to be tempted to sin.  Or, I know overeating is a sin, but I have a lust for pizza so, as a believer, I will never go down the pizza aisle at the grocery store, nor will I go to parties where pizza is being served.

If you chose B., you look back at my last paragraph and say, “Wow, I am glad I am not like those sinners over there!”  No, I am only kidding!  But seriously, you probably realize that Paul’s whole case in Romans is not some theological treatise for the seminary classroom, nor for the making of super saints!  It is for everyone, saved and unsaved alike.  It is especially for believers who understand that they will never be NOT sinning in this mortal body but thankfully Jesus paid it all, paid for every sin, past, present, and future, on the cross and in his resurrection.  You realize that you are not defined by your sin but by your identity with and in Christ.  When you realize you sin, and you realize it is an anomaly, that because you treasure His grace, you stop and say, “No more,” and you continue on reveling in the grace that super-exceeds the sin you just committed.  Then, rather than being sad over your sin, and letting sin ruin your disposition, you push it aside and focus on the grace of Christ, His ever and over-abundant love for ALL OF HIS CREATION, and go about praising Him the rest of the day!

Which kind of person are you?  Which kind of person do you want to be?  Think about it!  Send me your comments and let’s dialog about it.  Questions?  Me, too.  Let’s help one another find answers! As always,

Love in Christ,

Craig

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If Evil Were Eternal God Would Be An Inexcusable Monster

I have been reading a series by Martin Zender on Romans 5 that I have found very interesting.  In this series, I have picked up little nuggets of truth that I have not heard before and they blow my mind (I know, small explosion, but still!).  I read the most recent article and wanted to comment on something he said that struck me hard.

“If evil were eternal, then its entry into the universe via God’s hand – Isaiah 45:7 – would be inexcusable.”

[My insert for the benefit of the reader] (Isa 45:7) Forming light, and preparing darkness, Making peace, and preparing evil, I am Jehovah, doing all these things.’ YLT – Young’s Literal Translation

“But evil is not eternal, it’s temporary.  The eternality of evil is the worst teaching imaginable…Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:26 that, “the last enemy is being abolished, death.”…If death is the last enemy abolished, then every other enemy – every other evil – will have gone before.  This is pure logic.  God created evil to do its nasty but necessary work of revealing all things good.  When all things goodare finally and fully bloomed, God dismantles forever the scaffolding – evil – used to produce them. 1 Corinthians 15:26 proves it.  Christianity knows nothing of this joy. They love evil too much.  The prospect of evil being forever abolished makes them sad.  They want their enemies to be eternally tormented.  They want to watch.”

Zender goes on and gives an example saying, “God’s use of evil can be likened to a human using fire to purify gold.  When the gold is purified, the fire is abolished.”  In other words, the fire (hell, evil) has a purpose.  If it had no purpose other than for retribution, it would deny its being formed and the form-er, God, the creator of all things, would be nothing more than a monster, a maniac, a murderer, a being worse than any terrorist walking the earth today.

Thankfully, the Bible denies that God is anything but a loving Creator with a purpose that defies our own logic and reason.  Paul explains that we see through a dim glass, an opaque glass, that only yields, at best, shadows of great things to come.  What greater thing than the salvation of all people could there be that is yet to come?  Friend, do you still want to cling to your traditional, anemic view of God that has Him saving less people than Satan brings destruction upon?  Is Satan greater than Jesus?  Did Jesus ‘ coming into this world truly lead to the destruction of death through His own death on the cross?  Was this good news of great joy for all people really so-so news for some people?

No, and thankfully no my friend.  Jesus defeated death and now we have nothing left to fear.  All people are in Christ, or will be in Christ, and because of Jesus’ own words, about saving all mankind in John’s writings especially, we can truly celebrate His birth as GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY WHICH WILL BE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE!  Blessings to you all on the Christmas eve.  Let me know what you think about Zender’s comments.  I agree with him, maybe you don’t  If not let us dialog lovingly about it.  Until then, be at peace in the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Craig

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Is God’s True End For Sinners Punishment?

Here is a thought for those of you who continue to believe in eternal conscious torment for sinners.  Is punishment the goal of God for the sinner?  Is punishment, mainly meaning eternal punishment, the true end of the wicked (sinners)?  Paul called himself the chief of sinners.  He reveled in persecuting Christians, those of “the Way,” and sought them out at every opportunity.  He killed Christians and saw that they were killed.  And so, I could go on about what a great Pharisee Paul was and how he was respected by so many Jews.  But, my point is this:  when Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, did God punish Paul for his sins against God’s people, the people of “the Way?”

God did not merely punish Paul for his sins against Christians.  He didn’t merely keep Paul from persecuting Christians and send him on his way.  He didn’t miraculously wipe out Paul’s memory and make him something wholly different with no recollection of what he used to be.  No, God did much more than that.  God took the heart of stone out of Paul and put in a heart of flesh, so transforming Paul that Paul became the so-called model for Christians on how to emulate Christ!

Yes, God will go beyond mere punishment of the unrepentant sinner and love them to the point of making them His friend.  Abe Lincoln is said to have made this statement:  “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make them your friend.”  Is this not the mark of a God of super-abundant grace?  Does this not show the wisdom of God versus the folly of man?  Man is fixated on punishment and retribution.  God is focused on loving sinners and making them friends, rather than allowing them  to remain enemies.  This is the real God of the Bible.  Is this the God you love and serve or is your God not powerful enough to make friends out of enemies?

Craig

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The words of Jesus are spirit and life

Jesus states in John 6:63 that His words that He spoke are spirit and life.  This was said after a rather lengthy explanation that He and the Father are essentially one.  Jesus explains that He is the bread of life and was sent by the Father to come and save mankind.  He explained this “bread” metaphor in several ways; well, you can easily read the text for yourself.

So, here is my point for posting this information.  Can your understanding of God’s Word (aka Jesus) pass what some have called the meditation test?  Here is what I mean.  Jesus’ words, true words from God, will give life and hope to its hearers.  God’s word (Jesus being the Logos and giving the Spirit to all mankind to lead into all truth) will build our trust in Him, and in our Lord Jesus Christ.  They will build our hope, increasing our love for Him and giving us a more full understanding of His plan to love all His creation.

Does your understanding of the Gospel do this?  Does your understanding of God’s judgments give you this?  Can you truly love God more through your understanding or belief in eternal conscious torment for those who “fail to believe in Jesus during this short life?”  As you meditate on your understanding of “hell,” does your love for God grow?  Does your faith in God grow?  Ask yourself this final question:  Why would the Spirit communicate a truth that only undermines or diminishes your trust in God and your love towards Him as you meditate on it (the concept or understanding of eternal conscious torment in hell)?

Please share with me how you deal with this situation/these questions.  May God illuminate in you His eternal truth of the Good News of Jesus which is the salvation of all His creation!

Love 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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Who Is The Winner? Satan or God? Answer: God Wins!

How could a created being, like Satan for example (but we could example you, me, Stalin, Caesar, and more!), be victorious over God?  The answer is he cannot!  No one wins OVER God.  We are the results of Gods ultimate victory over sin and evil.  God is the greatest, most powerful being that exists.  And fortunately for us, being created in His image and in fact, just being created, He loves us with a love that we cannot even imagine.  Close your eyes, and imagine, deep within your heart and mind, a love that is so powerful, that even the hardest of hearts is melted and persuaded to accept and worship God willingly.  Your love for your own children pales in comparison to His love for you!

Here is but one verse that shows that God wins.

(Php 2:9)  Wherefore, also, God highly exalts Him, and graces Him with the name that is above every name,

(Php 2:10)  that in the name of Jesus every knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean,

(Php 2:11)  and every tongue should be acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God, the Father.”

(Php 2:12)  So that, my beloved, according as you always obey, not as in my presence only, but now much rather in my absence, with fear and trembling, be carrying your own salvation into effect,

(Php 2:13)  for it is God Who is operating in you to will as well as to work for the sake of His delight.
CLV – Concordant Literal Version

 

Loving God in this life (age)  spares one from much painful judgment in the age to come.  Knowing that God’s love wins over all is more comforting than anything anyone could ever imagine or hope for!  My hope is that you will believe now and enjoy the Father and Son in this age, rather than waiting and enduring a harsher judgment.  Comment to me if you would like many more verses showing God’s victory over sin and evil.

Blessings to you all!

Craig

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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 5 The Revelation on Hell Part 2

 

Hell Under Fire – Chapter 5 – The Revelation on Hell Part 2

I am going to finish Chapter 5’s review today. It has been a long time coming due to my work schedule. I appreciate your patience. Let me quote a few statements made by Beale regarding Revelation 20:10-15. He says,

The “lake of fire” of Revelation 20:10 is not literal since Satan (and his angels) is a spiritual being. Therefore, the “fire” describes a punishment that is not physical but spiritual in nature. Neither are “the beast and the false prophet” merely two literal individuals but figurative for unbelieving institutions composed of people. Even the phrase “day and night” is not literal but figurative for the idea of the unceasing mature of the torment…Strictly speaking, even the expression aionas ton aionon literally can be rendered “unto the ages of ages.” At the least, the figurative point of the phrase connotes a very long time. The context of the passage and of the book must determine whether this is a long but limited time or an unending period. Both immediate and broad contexts of the book indicate that the expression refers to an unending period.”

In support of this reference to context being “eternal” for aionas ton aionon, Beale lists the following verses supporting the eternality of God’s power and glory and life, and the eternal reign of the saints. (Revelation 11:15; 1:6; 5:13; 7:12; 4:9-10; 10:6; 15:7; 1:18; 22:5) This is quite a list, but just like so many professors and Bible teachers, words and “concepts” are extracted from chapters with little attention paid to the context of the storyline of scripture. Here’s what I mean. All of these verses are literally rendered as “ages of the ages” or “into the ages of the ages.” Most modern translations translate these Greek terms as eternal or some derivative of the word eternal. The common definition of eternal is an unending period, something without beginning or ending, or a period that began but will never end, something that will always exist.

When the true context is looked at, and it is harmonized with other scripture, what we come away with is something different than the typical meaning of “eternal.” As I said, the literal translation is ages of ages or into the ages for all the verses Beale lists. When these verses are looked at in conjunction with the events of the end of everything that Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, a different yet totally understandable picture is seen. Revelation talks mainly about the Kingdom age where Christ will rule and reign and believers are with Him. This picture John paints of the Revelation given him is not of the ultimate end, but the age just before the ultimate end. So, John portrays the judgment of God on unbelievers, Satan, etc., a vindication of the believing ones who will have a sanctified place in Christ’s future kingdom, and, as I will speak about down the page, the ultimate reconciliation of all people.

The reason we know John’s Revelation is not the end of all time and the end of all things is because of 1 Corinthians 15. Look at the actual end of all time:

(1Co 15:20) Yet now – at this present time! – Christ is roused and awake from having been raised up from out of the midst of dead ones: a Firstfruit of those having fallen asleep, and yet sleeping (reposing).

(1Co 15:21) For since through a man [came] death, through a Man, also, [comes] resurrection of dead ones.

(1Co 15:22) For just as within Adam all keep on (everyone continues) dying, in the same way, also, within the Christ all (everyone) will be made alive

(1Co 15:23) – yet each person within his (her) own class or division (or: ordered rank; place or appointed position [in line]; arranged [time] or order of succession): Christ a Firstfruit, next after that, those belonging to the Christ (or: the ones who have their source and origin in Christ; those who are [a part] of the Christ) within the midst of His presence,

(1Co 15:24)thereafter, the goal (the finished work; the embodiment of maturity and perfection; the fulfillment; the result; the outcome; the end attained; the realization of the perfect discharge; or: the end; the closing act; the consummation), when He can proceed handing over (or: may progressively pass along and entrust; should by habit give over) the reign (or: kingdom) to God, even [the] Father (or: in [His] God and Father), at the time that He should bring down to idleness (make unemployed and ineffective; nullify; abolish; render useless and unproductive) every rulership of government (all headship and sovereignty), even all (or: every) authority and power!

(1Co 15:25)For it is binding (necessary) for Him to be continuously reigning (ruling as King) until which [time] (or: until where) He should (may) put (place) all the enemies under His feet.

(1Co 15:26)[The] last enemy being progressively brought down to idleness (made unemployed and ineffective; rendered useless and unproductive; nullified; abolished) [is] the Death.

(1Co 15:27)For, He subjects (arranges in subordination, bringing under full control) all things under His feet.” Now whenever He may say thateverything (all things) has been arranged in subjectionand placed under full control, [it is] evident (clearly visible) that [it is] with the exception of and outside of the One subjecting the whole (arranging all things in subordination under) in Him (to Him; for Him).

(1Co 15:28)Now whenever the whole (all things) may be subjected in Him (to Him; for Him), then the Son Himself will also be subjected (placed and arranged under) in the One (to the One) subjecting the whole (all things) in Him (to Him), that God can be all things within the midst of and in union with all men (or, as a nuet.: may be everything in all things; or: should exist being All in all).

Notice the language Paul uses here. Everything is subject to Christ. This is kingdom language. Subjects are in submission to the King. But, in the VERY end, when all things are in subjection to Christ, verse 24, Christ hands over the Kingdom to the Father; all rulership, all authority, all power. Then, in verse 28, after all things are handed over to the Father, and Jesus Himself subjects Himself to the Father, then and only then, will God become all in all. Then and only then will ALL people worship God willingly from the bottom of their changed hearts and wills. Then and only then will the things the Father created, and said they were all good, be finally restored to what they had been created for (worship of the one true God and to reflect Him and His glory and love). This is the true end!

And so, the passages Beale cites in Revelation truly should be rendered as occurrences and positions and essence in Christ’s kingdom age (this is the Millenium that Christians speak about).God receives glory and power during this age. Jesus, which most of these verses specifically speak about, is praised and worshiped and glorified. Jesus has life during these ages of ages, just as the Father does. The saints will reign with Christ during theses ages (since, when everything culminates and God becomes all in all, there will be no more kingdom to rule over nor kingdom to co-rule with Christ in). So, does Beale’s explanation of “eternal torment” hold according to all of Scripture? I don’t think so. And because of the explanation given about the Revelation and also Paul’s text in 1 Corinthians, the whole concept of ECT in hell, the lake of fire, etc. is not accurate, nor biblical. These things were “revealed” to us (hence the term “revelation”) not to be mystic or cloudy or beyond our understanding, therefore all we can do is speculate about these end things. These things were revealed by God through John IN ORDER THAT we would know what would happen in or towards the end of time and IN ORDER THAT we would hope in the Lord and praise and glorify Him because of this wonderful eternal plan. Below, I will explain the blessed hope and the ultimate reconciliation of all things to the Father, so hang in there!

I want to finish the two remaining passages because there is a hope for you to see and an understanding of Revelation that will tie all things together into an understandable, complete story that will no longer cause you to shy away from this book. Let’s dive into the last two verses (Rev. 20:10, 14) by looking at the passage itself, verses 10-15.

I am sure you have many questions about the Revelation and how events fit together and what things mean. One of the questions/concerns I have always had since the first time I read Revelation was this: Why are the leaves on the tree for the healing of the nations if all those in heaven at that point have already been healed by the precious blood of the Lamb? Why are the leaves necessary? Who are the “nations” being spoken about in Revelation 22? If you have had or still have these same questions, you will receive the answer in this post! Hallelujah! Share your joy with me when that time comes, OK?

Now, Beale puts together these verse like this. The devil, Satan, and the beast and the false prophet will be finally judged and cast into the lake of fire forever. They will never escape this judgment because it is eternal conscious torment. It is what many call hell. Then death and Hades, or those who have died physically and are now in hell will be handed over to the permanent bonds of the lake of fire. All those cast into the lake of fire will suffer forever and those who aren’t will be with God forever. This is also considered to be eternal separation from God, along with the suffering. This is significant because of what we see in the next chapter of Revelation, as well as chapter 22.

(Rev 20:10) And the devil (slanderer, accuser; one who thrusts-through), the one continuously deceiving them (repeatedly leading them astray) is cast (or: was thrown) into the lake of the Fire and Deity, where the little wild animal and the false prophet [are] also. And they will be examined and tested by the touchstone day and night, into the ages of the ages.

(Rev 20:11) And I saw a great bright, white throne, and the One continuously sitting upon it from Whose face the earth (or: Land) and the heaven flee (fled). And a place is not found for them (by them).

(Rev 20:12) And I saw the dead ones — the great ones and the little ones — standing before the throne. And scrolls are (were) opened up. And another scroll is opened up, which is of (or: the one pertaining to) The Life. And the dead ones are judged (were evaluated) from out of the things having been written within the scrolls, according to their works (acts; deeds).

(Rev 20:13) And the sea gives (gave ) [up, back] the dead ones within it, and death and the Unseen give (gave) [up, back] the dead ones within them. And they are judged (evaluated) according to their works (acts; deeds).

(Rev 20:14)And death and the Unseen are cast (were thrown) into the lake of the Fire. This is the second death: the lake of the Fire.

(Rev 20:15) And if anyone is not found (or: was not found) written within the scroll of The Life, he is cast (or: was thrown) into the lake of the Fire.

Compare the key verses (10, 14) in a typical modern translation used by mainline churches.

Revelation 20:10–15 (ESV)

10and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur (brimstone, NASB, NKJV) where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14Then Death and Hades (hell, KJV) were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

What is actually taking place is a testing by use of a touchstone, referencing how the quality of gold was tested during biblical days. This testing was taking place day and night for, or into, the ages of the ages. As we will see, this testing has an end and is definitely not “eternal” as Beale believes. The understanding John is giving is one of trial by fire, in a sense, just as Paul talks about as well. All people’s works (beliefs also) will be tested against God’s standard. God’s standard is His Son Jesus. Those who have done works for the least, who have believed in the one and only Son, Jesus, will be tested and found pure (because of the blood of the Lamb) and those who are found wanting in works and belief in Jesus will be tested for the ages UNTIL purified and found worthy of entrance into the New Jerusalem. I will show that in Revelation 21-22 shortly. The lake of fire is that testing ground, that place of purifying for those cast into it, so to speak.

The belief that Beale holds (as does most of Christianity today) in conjunction with ECT in hell is that this life is the only time available to believe in Christ. His belief in salvation only in this life is shown in his translation of these texts as well. All the talk of eternal and the finality that brings negates the biblical passages that speak of the opportunity for salvation after this life is over, after one has experienced physical death from this life. If this life is the only time when one can be saved, what do we make of Peter’s teaching in 1 Peter 3:18-22?

(1Pe 3:18)because even Christ (or: considering that Christ also) died [other MSS: suffered], once for all, concerning and in relation to failures to hit the target (about errors and mistakes; around and encompassing sins [note: some MSS: our failures; other MSS: your failures]) — a Just One (a rightwised One; One in accord with the Way pointed out; a fair and equitable individual) over (for the sake of) unjust ones (capsized ones; those out of accord with the Way pointed out; unfair and inequitable ones), to the end that He may bring (or: lead; conduct) you folks [other MSS: us] to (or: toward) God. [He], on the one hand, being put to death in flesh, yet on the other hand, being made alive in spirit (or: indeed, being put to death by flesh, yet, being engendered a living one by spirit or: [the] Spirit),

(1Pe 3:19) journeying (going from one place to another; passing on) within which, He also proclaimed (published; preached; heralded) the message to the spirits in prison (within a guardhouse):

(1Pe 3:20)to those being at one time unconvinced (unpersuaded; disobedient; uncompliant) within [the] days of Noah, when (while) he was continuing to be receiving forth and taking away from out of God’s state of emotional quietness (taking a long time before rushing or being in a heat of passion; long-enduring patience) while [the] ark was progressively being prepared and equipped (constructed to readiness) — into which a few folks, that is, eight souls, were brought safely through [the] water (or: were brought safely through, by means of water),

(1Pe 3:21)[to] which, also, an echo of correspondent form (a copy; an antitype; an impress which answers back) is now progressively delivering (rescuing) you folks (bringing you to safety): baptism — not [the] putting off of [the] filth (removal of dirt) away from [the] flesh, but rather — an inquiry (a putting of a question; an asking) into God made by a good (virtuous) conscience, through means of [the] resurrection of Jesus Christ,

(1Pe 3:22)Who continuously exists (is) within God’s right [side, or hand — i.e., the place of authority and ability to exercise power], going from place to place, journeying into [the] heaven of those being subjected (placed under) by Him (or: in Him; to Him): of agents (messengers), and of authorities, and of powers.

Does it not make more sense that Jesus went to those spirits, those who died (or those in Noah’s say who died unbelieving) to proclaim salvation to them, rather than rubbing their noses in something they can never have? I say this because this is the typical understanding of Peter’s writing, that Jesus went to proclaim what salvation is and what they missed out on. Do they really need to know what they missed out on? If they are in hell right now, does Jesus have to go and proclaim Himself and His sacrifice to those who already know separation from God and eternal conscious torment in hell? Is this not God or Jesus rubbing their loss in their own faces, in other words, a type of vengeance exacted against them? No, I do not believe that is why Jesus went to those spirits in prison. I believe He went there truly to proclaim salvation to them and for even some of them to believe and be rescued from that punishment. Those who remain will still have opportunity to believe. Some are more hardened than others and will take longer to believe, but will one day be overcome by God’s love and His plan for all His image bearers and will walk into the city whose gates will never be closed. Oops, I tipped my hand a bit. Well, let’s venture into Revelation 21-22 and truly understand what John was revealing to us.

Beale ends his dealing with the Revelation on Hell with Rev. 20:14. Unfortunately for Beale, this is not the last word on what happens in the end, which is supposedly what hell is about, that and ECT. Let’s look at chapter 21.

Revelation 21:1-8 show a separation between the saved and the condemned, believers and unbelievers. It is clear that there is a place called hell, a place where judgment and suffering for sins takes place. This is really undeniable. The condemned will be in a place of suffering that is apart from those found in Christ.

Revelation 21:9-22 describe in great detail the walls of the New Jerusalem. The description is truly remarkable, even beyond our full understanding. But notice what comes after this description. Verse 22 says that God the Father and The Lamb, Jesus Christ are the city’s temple. Verse 23 goes further.

(Rev 21:23)And the City continually has no need of the sun nor of the moon, to the end that they may (should) continually shine for her, for the Glory of God illuminates (enlightens; gives light to) her, and her lamp [is] the little Lamb.

Then verse 24: (Rev 21:24)And the multitudes (nations; Gentiles; ethnic groups) will walk about [i.e., live their lives] by means of her LIGHT. And the kings of the Land (earth) continually carry (bring; bear) their glory [Codex Vat. +: and honor] into her.

And now a very interesting thing takes place.

(Rev 21:25)And her gates shall by no means be closed (locked) [by] day, for night will not be in that place (or: for there will not be night there).

Why are the gates of the city not closed? Why are there walls in the New Jerusalem? Walls are meant to separate those outside from those inside and are also a means of protection. When the gates are closed, a fortress is created in the sense that those outside cannot come in and those inside cannot go out. We have just seen that there is a separation between the saved and the condemned. Those condemned are not in the city, only the saved are. Before we get fully into this line of reasoning, let me add a few verses.

(Rev 21:26)And they will carry (bring) the glory and the honor of the multitudes (nations; Gentiles; ethnic groups) into her.

(Rev 21:27)And under no circumstances may anything common (profane; ceremonially unclean) — even the one continuously making an abomination and a lie — enter into her, except the ones having been written (being engraved) within the scroll of “The Life of the little Lamb” (or: the little Lamb’s scroll of “The Life”).

Verses 23-27 show us that the nations, the multitudes, and the kings of the earth (Land) will walk around the city praising God and bringing glory to Him. They have entered the city which has permanently open gates. Those formerly in the lake of fire are now milling about the streets of gold with all the previously redeemed praising God! If you were of the redeemed and not in the lake of fire, would you have any reason to venture outside the city where God dwells? The answer is, of course, NO! So the open gates MUST be for those outside to come in. It also would make no sense for those inside to peer out and, and maybe, peer into the fate of the wicked in hell, for that would cause undo pain for the redeemed, wouldn’t it?

The nations or multitudes are not only coming into the New Jerusalem through its always open gates, but they are being ushered into it by the kings of the earth! Who are these multitudes and kings? We know from Rev. 1:5 that Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the earth. We also know that these kings hide in fear from the wrath of God (Rev. 6:15). Those same kings of the earth align themselves with Babylon and share in her fate (Rev. 17:2, 18). We see these same kings bringing their glory to Babylon in chapter 18. Then we see that the multitudes and the kings of the earth are aligned together with Babylon and share in that same judgment in Rev. 18:3, 9. These same kings wage war against the King of kings (Rev 19:19, 21).

These are the same kings of the earth that enter the New Jerusalem to bring their glory to God now, rather than to Babylon as they had before. Because of the focus of this book and thereby the chapter itself, Beale does not delve into a discussion of these things nor offer any explanation of these kings of the earth and the nations (multitudes). However, his commentary on Revelation, which is considered a classic and foremost work on Revelation, does tackle these issues. I want to briefly explain his position as contained in his commentary. Due to the length of his explanation which spans over 10 pages, I want to mention two key points.

First, Beale explains that John’s writing in Rev. 21:23-27 parallels Isaiah 60. In Isaiah 60 the kings of the earth submit their wealth to Israel to show their subservience or perish. And, after verse 11 we see the nations bowing before Israel in seeming acknowledgment of her sovereignty, basically in worship of Israel for her greatness. Beale takes Revelation 21:23-27 and refers it back to Revelation 5:9 and 7:9, saying that John is speaking of the redeemed as the nations. However, the redeemed are never referred to as the nations, but redeemed FROM among the nations. Nations always refers to the larger group, the total group of all people, and the redeemed as a subset of the nations. So, the nations and the redeemed are different groups of people.

Second, the nations are always referred to as enemies of Christ and enemies of the church. Why would John change that meaning, in mid stride, and now refer to “the nations” and “the kings of the earth” as the redeemed who will come and worship God? I think the reason for this is to fit his theology. If the nations and the kings of the earth do not refer to the redeemed then the only other conclusion is that of universal salvation. The conclusion to be drawn is that the reason for the open gates, the praise and worship of God by the nations and the kings of the earth is that somewhere along their journey in the lake of fire, they came to repentance and faith and were then allowed into the New Jerusalem, perfected by the blood of the Lamb and their robes washed clean. The conclusion must be that there is, in fact, salvation after physical death. And putting all these things together, in my mind, and the minds of many others, makes the best sense out of the Revelation than any other offering through the years.

This is why in Revelation 22 we read about the leaves of the tree being for the healing of the nations. If all those who are redeemed reside in the New Jerusalem, what need do they have for healing? They have already been healed. But, those who find repentance in the lake of fire and then walk out of the lake of fire into the New Jerusalem, they are ones who need the healing and they receive it! This is why the Spirit and the Bride say “Come” three times. Who are they calling to come forth? I believe, in the context shown here, they are calling forth those in the lake of fire to come forth in repentance that they may be healed and worship Almighty God! This picture fits perfectly with a God who is LOVE and who said HE will one day draw all men to Himself and will finally restore all things to Himself!

With this, since I have taken so much time here today, I will end this excerpt. I say to you, Glory be to the Father, and to the Lamb. All love and praise and worship are given to Him who holds all things in His hands. Fall down and worship this perfect God who continuously calls out to “Come to Me for rest!” How magnificent and powerful and wonderful is He who is our salvation! Glory in Him and tell the world to avoid judgment in hell / the lake of fire and throw yourself on His mercy today! Take of His life-giving water and enjoy the Good News that was given to all men!

Praise be to God! Amen and Amen!

In loving service to my Creator, Sustainer, and Savior!

Craig

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Overcome Evil With Good?

Wow!  This must be one of the biggest lies ever told!  I have read the beginning few pages of this article by Ken Eckerty Exposing The Greatest Lie Ever Told. 

(Thanks to Dirk Moll for pointing me to this article!)

Here is one of four questions he asks:  How can we overcome evil with good if God can’t do the same? 

This question refers to Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:21.  I am reasonably sure that most of you have not contemplated that question before.  But, it is a very important question and one that deserves our time and attention.  I would go further and say that before you do one more “thing” for God, before you do one more act of ministry for your church, pastor, friends, etc., you need to answer this question for yourself.

If this offends your sensibilities, don’t feel alone.  It has been an offense to me, but more accurately not to me, but to my previous traditional beliefs.  I don’t take this (or these) type(s) of questions personally any more.  I am now willing to be challenged by them and to learn from them, because I know, when the truth is found, I will be more capable and more able and more willing to worship God and to glorify His magnificence!  This is why I CHOOSE not to hang out with those who lie and confuse the truth.  I am a truth seeker and liars do not have the truth in them.

Let me know what you think of the question and the article if you get a chance to read it.  As always, blessings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

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Filed under Discipleship, Understanding the Bible, Universal salvation