To continue our discussion from the last blog … if universal reconciliation is so clearly taught in God’s Word, why is it not more commonly proclaimed?
“I’M NOT SMART ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND!”
Some will hear the basic arguments behind universal reconciliation, but they will simply say, “I’m not smart enough to understand these things.” They will be content to live their life within the organized church, figuring that hell is not preached that often and they can live with it, even if they don’t believe it. “After all,” they might continue, “the church has many wonderful ministries and helps many people.” This may be true, but I believe it is serious business to proclaim falsehoods about God, or to be a part of a church that represents God in this way. I believe it is time for people within the church to stand up against the system, to openly proclaim the full evangel.
Much has been written through the years in support of universal reconciliation, but most of what I have seen is very detailed and very scholarly. On the one hand I appreciate this. I can see that many who have preceded me have examined this issue from every possible angle, and they are convinced of the truth of universal reconciliation.
But many of these works are too in-depth and scholarly to be appreciated by the masses. Many will simply throw in the towel and concede defeat, thinking they have no alternative but to go along with the orthodox church, allowing the preachers and teachers to guide them.
I am writing for this very reason! I want to share with you the basic evidence in a simple way. This has not been easy. I want to show you enough of the facts so that you are not having to take my word for it, but I want to keep it simple enough to keep you thinking along with me.
SOME LIKE THE IDEA OF HELL
As hard as it is for me to understand, some people actually like the idea of hell. “After all, some people deserve to be there.” Jonathan Edwards and some of the hard core hell-fire preachers were able to convince their congregations that it would add to the pleasure of heaven to see the torment of the wicked. How wonderful to see Adolph Hitler or Osama bin Laden there.
But all of us are sinners! If God is able to take a man like Paul who killed the early Believers and did his best to wipe out the people of God, what are His limits?
And if it is even possible that God is willing and able to work through the ages to break the will of all mankind, reconciling Himself to every single one through the work of the cross, we should be praying our hearts out that this is His plan!
Our religious beliefs become very solidly implanted, and we do not want to be led astray. This has some merit! We do want to stand solidly behind the truth, and want to be sure that we are not led astray.
But consider those of the Muslim faith! They cherish their beliefs. Consider those of the many Christian denominations, all clinging very strongly and faithfully to their beliefs. Consider the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses, who are very much off track in the eyes of most Christians. Consider those who believe that only the King James Version is the Word of God. We take some things very seriously, and we resist change. Sometimes we cannot even explain why we believe what we believe, but we cherish our beliefs nonetheless.
Upon hearing of my belief in universal reconciliation, a good friend told an acquaintance that I did not believe hell was eternal. Without even asking for details this acquaintance simply retorted, “Oh, it’s eternal all right!”
In the first few centuries after Christ’s departure we were led astray. Some beliefs were declared heretical, and most of the writings of those who fell into this category were destroyed. But was “The Church” correct in declaring these beliefs heretical? A review of church history quickly reveals that all of the “Church Fathers” were not driven by the purest of motives, and many believed that God’s Word taught Universalism.
After considering the evidence presented in this book, I came to understand that “The Church” was wrong in some of its decisions, and the position in favor of an eternal hell falls into this category. Looking strictly to the Word of God, and not depending upon the traditions of “The Church,” I have come to see that at the end of the ages, God will indeed save all mankind in accordance with His will!
“THE RESERVE DOCTRINE”
Some who understand that universal reconciliation is true, purposefully hold back in teaching the doctrine. The feeling is that the average person is not ready to hear these “professional secrets,” so they are concealed by the teachers, preachers and scholars who have come to believe them.
But this was the very reason for the Reformation. “The Church” had determined that God’s Word should not be translated into a language that could be understood by the masses, since they would not understand and might even abuse the Word. Instead, “The Church” became the sole proprietor of God’s Word, dispensing and teaching as it saw fit to the general public.
“A great error of the Church has always been its assumption of authority over the souls of men in all matters of faith and dogma...” (From “The Ethnic Trinities” by Levi Paine, as reported in “Is Hell Eternal?” by Pridgeon.)
Paul uses the Greek word “musterion” several times in his writings. Many versions translate this word “mystery,” but a better translation is “secret,” since Paul clearly teaches that certain things had been kept secret by God in ages past, but were now revealed.
“Thus let a man be reckoning with us – as deputies of Christ, and administrators of God’s secrets.” (1 Corinthians 4:1)
“By revelation the secret is made known to me (according as I write before, in brief, by which you who are reading are able to apprehend my understanding in the secret of Christ, which, in other generations, is not made known to the sons of humanity as it was now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets...” (Ephesians 3:3ff)
“To me, less than the least of all saints, was granted this grace: to bring the evangel of the untraceable riches of Christ to the nations, and to enlighten all as to what is the administration of the secret, which has been concealed from the eons in God, Who creates all, that now may be made known to the sovereignties and the authorities among the celestials, through the ecclesia, the multifarious wisdom of God, in accord with the purpose of the eons.” (Ephesians 3:8ff)
So prior to Paul, there had been some things God had concealed, or kept secret, from mankind. But Paul tells us that to him certain secrets had been revealed by God. Once these things were revealed to Paul, he proclaimed them and taught them. Paul saw no need to conceal them. In “The Mystery of the Gospel” by A.E. Knoch we read:
“The conclusion that there will be an actual, mutual, universal reconciliation is so astounding, so overwhelming, so glorious, that we cannot contain it; it must overflow.” (page 199)
AFRAID TO BE LED ASTRAY
This is the only objection that has real merit. The Bible warns us about false teachings and false prophets. We have been told our entire life that there is an eternal hell, and when we first hear that someone is teaching the salvation of all, we are skeptical. Well we should be! No one should be so easily swayed in his beliefs.
You believe in an eternal hell because you have always been taught this doctrine by those you have trusted. You believe it because you have trusted those who have given you the Bible translation you are using. Now I come along and am asking you to consider something contrary to those beliefs you have held for so long.
It is good for you to be skeptical, and I would not ask you to believe the things I believe simply because I am teaching them. But I am asking you to be like the Bereans, whom Paul described in Acts 17:11 as “more noble” because they did not simply listen to Paul, but they also examined the scriptures daily to see if Paul’s teachings were true. The proper response is not to ignore the issue and to continue proclaiming a God Who is willing to condemn many to an eternal torment!
Consider the things I have presented, and search the Word of God for yourself!
THINK FOR YOURSELF!
As God’s Ambassadors we must be faithful! If God has a plan to ultimately save all mankind, we should not be bearing false witness against Him by teaching about an eternal hell.
Hopefully I have caused you to re-think some things. This is a serious enough matter to warrant your study and consideration. It is not too difficult to understand. As you read what I have written, think for yourself. Look up the Scripture references along the way, and think! Don’t be content to be trapped forever in your current belief system.