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Recap: How We Know That God Will Ultimately Save ALL

To summarize what I have shared in previous blogs, as to God’s plan to ultimately save ALL mankind:

 

 

ETERNAL ... OR EONIAN?

The word commonly translated “eternal” (aionian) in our modern Bible translations should be “eonian” or “age-abiding.”

 

·         This is clear from within God’s Word itself, when examining the various forms of the word used (plural, before the eons, after the eons, etc.)

 

·         This was the common understanding of those within the church in the first few centuries following the departure of Christ.

 

The implication is that punishment/correction is not eternal, but for an age (however long God determines is necessary to accomplish His purpose).

 

 

ALL ... OR SOME?

There are many passages throughout God’s Word that speak of ALL being saved, just as ALL died in Adam.

 

·         It is clearly God’s will that all are saved.  (1 Timothy 2:4)

 

·         God operates all in accord with the counsel of His will.  (Ephesians 1:11)

 

We have had difficulties with these ALL passages because of the many other passages that seem to be talking about some spending eternity in hell. But once we see that punishment/correction is not endless, but is for a period of time, we can understand how ultimately ALL will be saved.

 

 

HELL

The word commonly translated “hell” in our modern Bible translations is an incorrect translation, as it is a combining of:

 

·         The Hebrew “sheol” (unseen place)

 

·         The Greek “hades” (unseen place)

 

·         The Greek “Gehenna” (the Valley of Hinnom; a physical refuse dump outside of Jerusalem where those guilty of certain crimes in the physical earthly kingdom will be cast)

 

·         The Greek “Tartarus” (a holding place for angels, not human beings, as they await judgment)

 

Hell (as we commonly understand the word) is not spoken of anywhere in the entire Old Testament. The penalty for sin is death, and death (destruction) is the sole penalty we see meted out in the Old Testament. Likewise, Paul has much to say about Christian living, but does not teach of an eternal torment for those outside the Body of Christ. The passages found within the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) that talk of punishment are referring to punishment in the kingdom to come upon the earth when Christ returns. We see this physical, earthly kingdom become a reality in the book of Revelation.

 

Our notion of “hell” comes from pagan writers who developed fictional speculations about the afterlife. As for the Hebrew and Greek words that are translated “hell” in our modern translations, a careful study will show that none speak of the “hell” that “The Church” teaches about.

 

 

THE LAKE OF FIRE

The “Lake of Fire” is,

 

·         Not eternal, but will be “abolished” at the end of the ages, and

 

·         Not for the purpose of tormenting, but to refine, purge, and correct.

 

Temporal wickedness and rejection of God in this life is compensated with a temporal (and not eternal) punishment/correction, with the ultimate purpose of restoring all of God’s creation. This is consistent with God’s character of love; a loving Father who will not be satisfied until the final lost sheep is safely within the fold.

 

 

THE CHARACTER OF GOD

The greatest command is love. God is love. God commands us to forgive.

 

Understanding that God will use the lake of fire as a means to refine, and to bring all into willing subjection to Him at the end of the ages, is consistent with His character of love.

 

 

CHURCH HISTORY

Most in the early church, in the first few centuries following the departure of Christ, believed that in the end God will save all mankind. An examination of the writings of the early “Church Fathers” shows that this belief was based not on human reasoning, but from a study of the Word of God.

 

In these early times, most understood that “aionian” meant “for the ages” and not “for eternity.” Further, most understood that God did not torment the wicked for eternity; but He disciplined and refined the wicked for “the ages.”

 

 

THE CONSUMMATION

Revelation tells us of things that will take place in the final eons (ages).

 

1 Corinthians 15 tells us of things that will take place after the eons (ages) have concluded. Here we see the climax of God’s revelation, when all things (mankind included) come into a willing subjection to Christ, and when God becomes All in all.

 

We cannot confuse the end of Revelation (the final eon) where the lake of fire is still burning, with 1 Corinthians 15 (after the eons have concluded) where the lake of fire (death) is abolished and all things are now reconciled to God.

 

 

REVELATION vs. THE CONSUMMATION

Many believe the end of Revelation is a description of the eternal heavens that we will experience when the resurrection takes place. But there are a number of reasons to conclude that this is not the case, and that 1 Corinthians 15 happens after the end of Revelation 22.

 

In Revelation we observe:

·         The slaves of God are reigning (22:5)

·         There are still “kings of the earth” (21:24)

 

But in 1 Corinthians we see:

·         All sovereignty, authority and power are nullified (15:24)

 

In Revelation we observe:

·         Christ is seated on the throne (21:5)

 

But in 1 Corinthians we see:

·         Christ must reign until He places all enemies under his feet, and then Christ subjects Himself to God (15:25-28)

 

In Revelation we observe:

·         The lake of fire (second death) still exists (21:8)

But in 1 Corinthians we see:

·         The last enemy (death) abolished  (15:27)

 

 In Revelation we observe:

·         Leaves on the tree for “the cure of the nations” (would seem to imply corruptible bodies needing the leaves to sustain life.)

 

But in 1 Corinthians we see:

·         Incorruptible, spiritual body  (15:42-44)

 

 In Revelation we observe:

·         Twelve tribes (21:12)

·         Twelve apostles  (21:14)

·         Nations outside city (21:24)

·         Nations blessed secondarily thru the Jews

 

But in 1 Corinthians we see:

·         No Jewish primacy in 1 Corinthians 15

·         In Paul’s writings, no barrier between Jew and Gentile

·         Joint heirs

 

Revelation describes life upon the earth, and upon the new earth, in the final age (eon).

 

1 Corinthians 15 describes what occurs after the ages have been completed, culminating with Christ turning over the Kingdom to God, and God becoming All in all.

 

[If you wish to comment, please write me at bob@GraceEvangel.org  I will try to address all reasonable questions and comments in a subsequent blog. And please visit us at www.GraceEvangel.org ]

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