As we study the Word of God our key question should always be, “How then shall we live?” Our study should not simply be intended to increase our knowledge. God has always, in every age, wanted His people to be a people of action.
Once we come to the conclusion that God will ultimately save all, does this knowledge change the way we are to live as a part of the body of Christ?
Never miss a local story.
I have always been intrigued by the debate between those believing we have absolute free will, and those taking the position of predestination. Both sides support their position with various Biblical texts. While the discussion has always been of some interest to me, the bottom line is that whatever position is correct, or if neither is correct, this doctrine does not change the way I am to live. Regardless, I am to live my life as God’s Word directs me. I am to love others, help those in need, seek the will of God in my life, observe the various principles God has laid out for me in His Word (paying close attention to those behaviors God approves of, and those He does not), and proclaim the gospel to others using the gifts God has given me.
Is it the same with the doctrine of universal reconciliation? If this doctrine does not ultimately change the way I am to live, why make such a big deal about it? Why rock the church boat? Why disturb Christians who are comfortable in their faith?
While I would say that for the most part our manner of life will not change once we come to the conclusion that God will ultimately save all, there is one major difference that cannot be overlooked! The gospel that is being proclaimed throughout most of Christiandom is incorrect!
Paul defines our role in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “For Christ, then, are we ambassadors, as of God entreating through us. We are beseeching for Christ’s sake, ‘Be conciliated to God!’ For the One not knowing sin, He makes to be a sin offering for our sakes that we may be becoming God’s righteousness in Him.”
Who are we? We are ambassadors! An ambassador is one who lives in a foreign country and represents his own country there. What message does an ambassador proclaim? Not his own, but the official message of his country. The ambassador is not there to set his own agenda, but to present the position of his country, which has been determined for him by the President and others in an official capacity.
We are God’s ambassadors. Whose message are we proclaiming? Not our own message, but God’s. The question is, are we proclaiming the correct message? If God reveals to us that it is His purpose, His will, and His intention to one day save all mankind, but if we proclaim that God will condemn many to an everlasting torment in hell, we are not being faithful ambassadors. We are not speaking God’s message. Instead, we are proclaiming the message of “the churches of man,” which is much different than the message from God. Consider the implications.
SLANDER & LIABLE
When someone teaches falsehood about another person, this is slander (or libel if these things are put into writing). God has revealed to us that He will one day save all mankind. This is consistent with His vast love for His creation, and it shows us the great wisdom of God that He is able to bring all into subjection to Him, despite the rebellion and wickedness that currently permeates this world. If we proclaim that God is willing to condemn many to an everlasting hell, we are slandering Him. We are teaching falsehoods about God. We are not serving Him as ambassadors, but are working against Him, proclaiming a message that is false.
Hannah Whitall Smith, in her original unedited “The Unselfishness of God” observes: “Still, to this day, the one thing which I find it very hard to tolerate, is anything which libels the character of God. Nothing else matters like this, for all our salvation depends wholly and entirely upon what God is...”
God has revealed to us that the most important principle is LOVE! All commandments are summed up in love. God is love.
Because we have been led astray by the churches of man and by incorrect Bible translations, we know that God is love but we are forced to reconcile this with the “fact” that many will be condemned to hell forever. We teach that while God is love, it is necessary that some are condemned to hell forever because God is holy and cannot bear the presence of sin. So God must be portrayed in these two ways ... as a God of love, and as a God of justice and holiness. God loves like a father, but He is OK with placing many of His creation into hell forever if they choose to reject Him in this short lifetime.
But according to the Bible this is not the case. God is love, God is holy and God is righteous and interested in justice. All of these characteristics work together to accomplish God’s ultimate purpose; the salvation of all mankind. To proclaim that God is quite willing to cast many into an eternal torment is teaching something that is totally inconsistent with God’s character.
KEEPING PEOPLE AWAY
With such an incorrect and inconsistent message that is being proclaimed, it is no wonder that many have stayed away from the faith. The churches of man must, to some extent, hold themselves responsible for those who have rejected God.
Imagine being an unbeliever and hearing the message of the church for the first time. “God loves you and wants to save you from your sins, so that you can live forever in heaven with Him. It’s too bad this message got here too late for your other family members who never made a decision for Christ in this lifetime. That’s the rules God has put into place. He does love us, but if we don’t place our faith in Him in this lifetime He is forced to cast us into a fiery hell where we will be tormented, with no hope of relief, forever and ever. But not to worry, if you choose Christ this day you won’t have to worry about that.”
“Let me get this straight,” says the world. “I live twenty years on this earth and I fail to understand who Christ is, even though I’ve been told about Him. I admit that I was in error. I can now see that. The problem is that I have died, and am now in hell, where I am being tormented, and where I will be kept alive forever and ever so that I can continue to be tormented. And now that I can see the error of my ways in that brief twenty year period I was given to live, it’s too late to be forgiven and I will be spending all of eternity here in this awful place.”
Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
Is it any wonder that those of the world have a hard time understanding God as we have described Him? Where is the consistency in a God of superabounding love, Who commands us to love and forgive others for their offences, but Who is willing to cast many into a never ending hell, with no chance of forgiveness?
We are keeping people away from God when we proclaim a “gospel” like this. We’re supposed to be ambassadors, but we don’t know what we’re talking about. We’re representing God falsely, we’re defaming His character, and we’re driving people away from Him because of our inaccuracies.
IS THERE SUCH A BIG DIFFERENCE?
When it comes right down to it, we have been misled on a just few points by the organized church since the 5th century.
There is a lake of fire. We can agree thus far. But on two points we disagree with what “The Church” has been teaching since the 5th century.
First, the lake of fire will not last forever and ever, but for the “eons of the eons.” How long this period of time will be is up to God. But it is not endless. God’s ultimate plan does not include a lake of fire. It exists to accomplish God’s purposes, and we see God’s purposes being finally accomplished in 1 Corinthians 15, whereupon the lake of fire (death) is abolished.
Second, the purpose of the lake of fire is not to torment endlessly as a punishment, but it is to refine, to discipline, to correct, to purge, and to bring those within it to the point where every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God.
While the lake of fire is not endless, it is certainly not a place we would want any man or woman to be cast into. We have great incentive to proclaim the message for today that has been entrusted to us as ambassadors: “Be conciliated to God! For the One not knowing sin, He makes to be a sin offering for our sakes that we may be becoming God’s righteousness in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
The difference seems so small. We only vary on two points ... the duration of the lake of fire, and its purpose. But these two points make all the difference in the world as it relates to how we represent the character of God.
WE ARE NOT QUESTIONING GOD
I want to make it clear that I am not questioning God. If God said that there was an endless torment, I would certainly believe Him. He is the creator of this universe, and He has the absolute right to set the rules as He sees fit. But God has revealed to mankind that this is not the case.
I would not question God. I am questioning those who have inconsistently, erroneously and carelessly translated His Word, distorting it to fit the biases and teachings of man.
Seek the pure Word of God. Think about the things I have presented in these blogs. Question those who teach you otherwise. Study, think and pray!
AT THE VERY LEAST ...
Having been exposed to the things I have presented, at the very least you should be hoping and praying that these things are true. Not wanting to be led astray, this is where I began. I had been taught my entire life that there was a place of eternal torment. When I first heard of the possibility that this was wrong, I was highly skeptical. I did not want to be led into falsehood. But as I journeyed down the path, studying and thinking of these things I had never been taught by a teacher or a pastor, I came first to a place where I did not know if these things were true, but I certainly hoped and prayed that they were!
How can we not feel this way? To think that there really is hope for those of our loved ones who died outside of Christ! Can God’s grace really be that big? Can His love really go that far? Is He really that wise that He could figure out a way to save all of mankind, despite rebellion and sin and wickedness and rejection? This is a good place to start. “Biblical Universalism” has been largely suppressed, at least since the 5th century. When Universalism was declared by “The Church” to be heresy, many of the writings in support of this doctrine were destroyed. “The Church” was wrong, and today we live with the results of that error.
Read and study the Word of God with this new possibility; this new perspective. Test this theory, this theology. Don’t believe me, but study and think for yourself. I think as you go forward you will see the wonderful grace of God at every turn. It is a grace that is greater than anything mankind could ever have hoped for!