Double Predestination

Doctrine of Election

Since Augustine from the fourth century onward, Christians have heard of the doctrine of election. “The Elect,” according to Augustine and hundreds of thousands of priests, ministers, pastors and teachers are pre-ordained from before the foundation of the world for eternal life,  for glory, for living eternally in the presence of the Almighty God. Equally “elected” are billions upon billions of human beings chosen by God to be eternally damned in Hell. Many Christians have found this double election teaching so repugnant, they have rejected the teaching of election as unscriptural.

Gerry Beauchemin, in his book Hope Beyond Hell in chapters five and six, gives an understanding of election that may win back some of the millions of Christians who have rejected the teaching of election because it has been so terribly mistaught by so many Christian leaders, among them such notables as Martin Luther, John Calvin, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, J.I. Packer, Author Pink, D. James Kennedy and many others.

CHAPTER 5: BLESSED HOPE (PART TWO)

…the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

(He. 7:19)

What role has God given the Church in His unfailing plan for humanity? How do the “ages” or “time” fit into His economy?

Election

Election, to many, is a theological term meaning God has decided in advance who He will save from hell. Its roots go back to Augustine (most influential Church Father).1 The Augustinian view of election holds that God has chosen to save a select few—His “elect.” Many pastors have been taught this in seminary, particularly those of the Baptist and Reformed persuasions. Fewer and fewer are openly professing it today. One prominent theologian who has exerted a profound influence in Calvinist circles (and on my life 30 years ago), was Arthur Pink. He wrote:

Faith is God’s gift, and “all men have not faith” (2Th. 3:2); therefore, we see God does not bestow this gift upon all. Upon whom then does he bestow this saving favor? We answer, upon his own elect—“As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Ac. 13:48) hence it is that we read of “the faith of God’s elect” (Tit. 1:1). But is God partial in the distribution of his favors? Has he not the right to be? Are there still some who “murmur against the good man of the house?” Then his own words are sufficient reply—“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own” (Mt. 20:15)? God is sovereign in the bestowment of his gifts….2

Pink frankly stated that God is partial when the testimony of Scripture says He is not (See Ps. 145:9; Ac. 10:34; Ro. 2:11; 10:12-13; Ga. 2:6; Ep. 6:9; Col. 3:25; 1Ti. 2:3-4; 1Pe. 1:17). The truth in Pink’s understanding of election lies in his acceptance of all that the Bible teaches regarding God’s power and sovereignty. In this, I agree. God does have the power to draw any one to Himself whom He chooses. The point on which Pink has erred is not in election itself, but in its purpose. Had he understood that, he would not have been forced to draw the conclusion that God does not love all men impartially. The following passages lend support for election: (Mt. 11:27; Mk. 4:12-23; Ac. 13:48; Ro. 8:28-30; 9:3-5, 11-26; 10:20; 11:5-12; 1Co. 1:23; 2Th. 2:13; 1Ti. 6:12; 2Ti. 2:25; Tit. 1:1; He. 3:6; 9:15; 12:2; Ja. 2:5; 1Pe. 1:2, 3; 2:12).

Purpose of Election

Like Pink, most who believe in election view it solely as deliverance from infinite punishment. However, infinite punishment is not a biblical teaching. God has called a people in election, choosing them for a particular purpose. It has nothing to do with God playing favorites. This has been His way from the time of Abraham and the Israelite nation, down through the centuries to the Church of the firstborn (He. 12:23).

The Lord said to Abram: “Get out of your country…to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; you shall be a blessing…in you all families of earth shall be blessed.” God…preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed” (Ge. 12:1-3; Ga. 3:8). (See Ge. 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; Ac. 3:25).

God promised Abraham and his seed that they would be the heirs of the world! (Ro. 4:13). With this comes purpose and great responsibility. We, the members of Christ’s body, are His “elect.” We are called to “be” a blessing, and not merely to be “blessed.” “He saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2Ti. 1:9). “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first -fruits among His creatures” (Ja. 1:18 NAS).

We as a “kind of first-fruits” among His creatures share this distinction with Christ who is the “firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15). We labor with Him to implore all people to be reconciled with God (2Co 5:20). We are preparing now to rule and reign with Him in the coming ages (2Ti. 2:12; Re. 20:6), to govern five or ten cities (Lu. 19:17, 19), to sit on thrones governing the tribes of Israel (Mt. 19:28; Lu. 22:30), even to rule over all He has (Lu. 12:43-4). Our Lord is preparing leaders for that time, and it all depends on our faithfulness now (2Ti. 2:12-13).

The phrase “first-fruits,” naturally implies there are “second” fruits. Who are they? They are those whom God will reach in “due time,” who are not part of the first-fruits. Christ will draw [drag] all to Himself (Jn. 12:32). “For if the first-fruit is holy, the lump is also holy” (Ro. 11:16). In God’s eyes, all are holy and set apart for Himself, including the lump from which the elect are derived and worthy of His wondrous salvation. But, you might ask, “Does not the lump refer to the elect Gentiles only? No. Consider the immediate context of the preceding verses. “Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!…For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead” (Ro. 11:12, 15)? As well, James writes, “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first-fruits among His creatures” (Ja. 1:18 NAS). “Riches for the world,” “reconciling the world,” and “first-fruits among His creatures,” refer to all men. And would God command us to “do good to all men” (Ga. 6:10) if He has no intention to do so Himself? Please note the words emphasized in this next verse:

He chose us…before the foundation of the world…predestined us to adoption…according to the good pleasure of His will….having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all [things] in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him….predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted [first-fruits] in Christ should be to the praise of His glory (Ep. 1:4-12).

“He made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show [“display” WEY/DBY] the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2:6-7). To whom does God plan to display the exceeding riches of His grace if not to those in greatest need of it? Why display it to those who have already known and experienced it?

“The household of Stephanas…the first-fruits of Achaia…have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (1Co. 16:15). As first-fruits, our ministry is both to those within the elect family of God, and to those yet outside. For unless the first-fruits themselves receive the nurture they need, they will lack the brightness of God’s reflection before the world (Mt. 5:13-16; Ga. 6:10).

[Please read Ro. 8:19-23.]

The creation also will be delivered from corruption. Of course, this includes people. Who groans more than suffering humanity for whom Christ died? The focus here is not the animal kingdom. For all people (as second fruits) in due time, are dragged into Christ (Jn. 12:32). and thus delivered from corruption and brought into the liberty of the first-fruit company. Notice how the phrase “first-fruits” is introduced in the immediate context of the “whole creation” (vs. 22 – 23). Truly, this has great significance.

[Please read 1Pe. 2:9, 12.]

To what purpose are the elect chosen? To demonstrate an honorable conduct before the lost that they may glorify God on the day of visitation. Is it not the salvation of the lost that most glorifies God? Those who glorify Him on that day will have come to know Him through the elect! What a responsibility we have!

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And…angels (1Co. 6:2-3)?

Jesus Christ…has made us kings and priests (Re. 1:5-6).

These…were redeemed from among men, being first-fruits to God… (Re. 14:4-5).

We are the first-fruits—the priests and kings who will judge the world and intercede for the ungodly (lost) in this age and the ages to come. Note, we are not “exclusive” fruits. We are only “first” fruits among many to come. Andrew Jukes explained:

To say that God saves only the first-born would be, if it may be said, to make Him worse than even Moloch, whose slaves devoted only their first-born to the flames. But Scripture never says that these only shall be saved, but rather that “in this seed,” whose portion as the first-born is double, (De.21:17) “all kindreds of the earth shall be blessed.” I fear that the elect, instead of bearing this witness, have too often ignored and even contradicted it. 3

God does not merely settle for the first-fruits. They are but the pledge for the whole. As a royal priesthood (1Pe. 2:9), we are to labor with Christ in gathering in the whole crop—the remaining fruits. We are to shine as lights in a dark world, and not merely form Christian country clubs. We must guard against exclusiveness toward those “yet” outside the fold.

Is the organized church today much different than the Israelites who stoned Paul and Steven for merely mentioning that the Gentiles were included with them? True, as believers, we have a legal adoption status. However, we are nevertheless wild olive shoots grafted in (Ro. 11:17) and as such are not special above the rest of men. We are of the same stock.

For if the first-fruit (elect) is holy, the lump (humanity) is also holy (Ro. 11:15-16). We easily forget that “while” we were enemies we “were” reconciled to God (Ro. 5:10). While “still” sinners Christ died for us (Ro. 5:8; 5:6). We need to keep in mind one principal difference between an “us” and “them” mentality: to whom much is given, much is required (Lu. 12:48).

Plan B

I would like to now address those steeped in Arminian theology (those who do not recognize the role of election in God’s plan). Contrary to Arminian beliefs, God never had a “plan B.” Christ was “indeed” foreordained before the foundation of the world (1Pe. 1:18-20) “God saved us…before time began…” (2Ti. 1:8-9). “The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world” (Re. 13:8). “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ep. 1:4). God did not do the best He could; He did the best He would! Augustine’s idea of infinite penalty was never part of God’s plan. For the God of the Universe is GOD, not god. The Trinity is not God, the Devil, and the Will of Man! This is polytheism. But God Is One! To say God had to change His plans due to man’s unpredictability does grave injustice to God’s absolute sovereignty over His creation, His power, His wisdom, His knowledge, and His victory over all evil. In truth, it does nothing less than strip Him of His DEITY.

As I look closely at the Scriptures, I see a God who knows where He is going; a God who knows the future. God has but one plan and the following passages bear this out.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel (Ge. 3:15).

Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Ge. 15:13-14).

But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand (Ex. 3:19).

I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure….Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it” (Is. 46:9-11).

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you (Jer. 1:5).

We are “predestined according to the purpose of Him who ‘works all things’ according to the counsel of His will” (Ep. 1:11).

For more examples, you may consider these: Ex. 9:30; 11:9; 1K. 13:1-5, 32; 21:20-22; 2K. 8:12; Ps. 147:5; Is. 41:21-26; 44:11, 28; 65:24-25; Mt. 10:17, 18, 21, 22; 11:14, 21; 12:45; 13:35; 24:2, 33-41; Mk. 14:30; Lu. 14:28-32; Jn. 6:64; 8:20; 21:18-19; Ac. 2:23; 15:8, 18; 17:26; Ro. 4:17; 8:29-30; 11:2, 33; Ga. 3:8; 2Ti. 1:9; Tit. 1:2; He. 4:13; 1Pe. 1:2, 19-20; 1Jn. 3:20; 5:14; Re. 13:8; 17:18. This list is not exhaustive. (In addition, consider all the Messianic Prophecies).

Due Time

According to Andrew Jukes, three principle truths solve the great riddle of mercy for all (Ro. 11:32) and few finding the way (Mt. 7:14): These truths involve: 1. Election. 2. The ages (along with the correct interpretation of aion). 3. Death, destruction, and judgment. “These truths throw a flood of light on Scripture, and enable us at once to see order and agreement, where without this light there seems perplexing inconsistency.”4

We need to take seriously the many references to God’s appointed times or “ages.” How do they relate to God’s loving purposes in bringing salvation to all men (Tit. 2:11 NAS)? When will such take place? Let’s see.

God…will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For…Christ…gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1Ti. 2:3-6 KJV). Christ gave Himself a ransom for all, which will be testified [or proved TEV, NEB] in its proper time or era.

He has made everything beautiful in its time (Ec. 3:11).

At that time Jerusalem shall be called the Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD.…No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts (Jer. 3:17).

The fierce anger of the LORD will not turn back until He fully accomplishes the purposes of His heart. In days to come you will understand this (Jer. 30:24 NIV).

Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness…(Da. 9:24).

Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began (Ac. 3:21).

To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities (Ac. 3:26).

At this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace (Ro. 11:5).

Do not… be ignorant of this mystery…blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. So all Israel will be saved.…The Deliverer will come…He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins (Ro. 11:25-27) (See also Ro. 11:8). Note Paul does not distinguish between Jew and Greek (Ro. 10:12-13).

In the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him (Ep. 1:9-10).

In the ages to come He might show [display WEY—DBY] the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ep. 2:7).

[Please read 1Co. 15:22-28.]

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1Co. 15:22 NAS).

But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when… (1Co. 15:23-24 NAS).

When what? “When all things* (see below) are subjected to Him…that God may be all in all” (1Co. 15:28 NAS). Notice the four critical time references used here: “first-fruits,” “after,” “then…when.” These time words seem to relate to three separate time periods (orders) and three categories of persons.

* The word “things” does not have a Greek equivalent. CLT reads simply “all.” This is important as some argue that “things” do not necessarily include people. Not so. See page 132.

What is the goal of all being subjected to Christ? That God may be all in all. “When all things [people] are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (1Co. 15:28 NAS).

God All in all! Could this be the full realization of Christ’s nature and power in us? Yes! Here is worship at its pinnacle as every knee bows and all tongues confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! Everyone is saying “blessing and honor and glory and power be to the Lamb!” (Ph. 2:10-11; Re. 5:11). Worship flows without reservation from only sincere hearts in love with God! All ignorance and rebellion are abolished (Jn. 1:7, 9; Ro. 14:11; He. 2:8). Nothing but child like trust in God remains. The last enemy (death) is destroyed! (1Co. 15:26). Only life remains! Now, with no more death and rebellion, God is always and forever All in all. This points to a glorious transformation and culmination of human experience into the very nature of God Himself—the complete realization of what we were meant to be.

You have put [past tense] all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put [past tense] all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we do not yet see all [things] put under Him (He. 2:8).

This is a very revealing passage. It assures us that though all have not “yet” made Christ their Master, they will! “You have put all in subjection.” Christ works in every life toward this goal and cannot fail. All in “due” time will come to a place of genuine repentance. “He left nothing that is not put under Him.” Nothing! God can refer to future events as past –“God…calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Ro. 4:17b); for He is the eternal “I AM” (Ex. 3:14) who transcends time (Ps.90:4; Ep. 1:4, 10; 2:7; He. 13:8; 2Pe. 3:8).

The Greek word for “subjected,” here is hupotasso (Strong’s # 5293)5, which applies to both Christ and man. “Now, whenever all may be subjected [5293] to Him, then the Son [as the Son of Man—Man’s representative Head] Himself also shall be subjected [5293]…” (1Co. 15:28 CLT). Paul uses this same word in the context of the righteousness of faith: “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness… have not submitted [5293] to the righteousness of God… righteousness to everyone who believes” (Ro. 10:3, 4).

Once God lifts the veil covering all eyes, and His righteousness in Christ is revealed, what will stop all from submitting to Christ? A submitted and believing heart brings glory and honor to God, and conforms to such an awesome thought as “God all in all.” That is precisely why submission will take ages to achieve. Sure, God could cause all creation to bow to Him instantly by brute force. He could have done that ages ago. But this is not the submission worthy of a God who “is” love. “He is able even to subdue [win the hearts of] all things [people] to Himself” (Ph.3:21). “How awesome are your works! Through the greatest of your power your enemies shall submit themselves to you. All the earth shall worship you and sing praises to your Name” (Ps. 66:3-4). “Christ… seated …above all …not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things [people] under His feet…Him who fills all in all” (Ep. 1:20-3). What a God! He has a plan for humanity that transcends everything Augustinian theology has ever taught. I now know He makes everything beautiful in its time. Sadly, many of Scripture’s critical time statements have been veiled to us by the mistranslation of the Greek word aion. (See Appendix V #2).

Last Things

Biblical truth is not always presented in chronological order. ?The final events regarding the end of the ages and the restoration of all things take place beyond the scope of the book of Revelation. At its close, we do not see an end to all rule, authority, and power (Re. 22:15). For Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet, including death. Only when all are subjected to Him, will God be all in all (1Co. 15:28). John does not tell us this in Revelation. Paul does. But John does reveal some important details about the age to come. They can be interpreted symbolically or literally. Though I present a literal approach, I do not discount a symbolic interpretation.

The Holy City of God – New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven and God with the Lamb abide in it and are its light (21:2, 3, 23). Nations walk in its light and bring their glory into it and its gates remain open (21:24-25). Yet nothing unclean can enter the city (21:27), only those who have washed their robes or who do His commandments (22:14 – depends on which ancient manuscript your Bible is based on). The city, if interpreted literally, will cover an area about the size of half the continental USA (Re. 21:16), and there is no sea (Re. 21:1). So can you imagine how large the inhabited world is. Outside the city is a world of lost people (22:15)! Verses 20:4, 6 introduce us to priests who are reigning with Christ. There is a tree of life with leaves to “heal the nations” (22:2). God’s bond–servants (NAS) serve Him and reign — to the ages of the ages (22:3,5 YLT).

Let’s recap: The gates never close, yet there is a world of sinners outside. There are servants serving God and priests reigning. There are nations needing healing. What does it all mean?

Well, nations are people. Who needs healing more than the sinners outside? What will Christ’s servants, priests, and co-rulers of Christ be doing? I believe they will rule justly, proclaim the Good News, and intercede as priests! Why not? Verse 22:17 says, “Come! Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely!” Is it not right to think that this invitation applies to the very sinners mentioned in the same context (verses 15 -17)? When does Christ stop being a Savior? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever! (He. 13:8). So long as a Savior is needed, He saves! Sinners “outside” will at some point bow their knees and worship Christ as Lord (Ph. 2:9-11). They will repent, do His commandments, and have the right to the tree of life, just as you and I. Does God change?

For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob (Mal. 3:6).

God is love. Love never ends (1Jn. 4:8; 1Co. 13:8 RSV).

The Father…with whom there is no variation (Ja. 1:17).

He pursues the lost sheep until He finds them! (Lu. 15:4, 7). We will labor with Him as joint heirs (if we suffer with Him now – Ro. 8:17) and fellow workers in His world harvest!

Although the book of Revelation is the last book in the Bible, it was Paul, not John, who received the most far reaching and profound revelations of Christ and God’s purposes for the Church. “I became a minister according to the divine office, which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints” (Col. 1:25-26 RSV). Darby & CLT read, “to complete the word of God.” Paul was named the “Apostle to the Gentiles” (Ro. 11:13). We can call him “our Apostle.” To Him was given the truth regarding justification by faith and the law’s purpose; Israel and the Church, (with no distinction between Jew and Gentile); the fruits of the Spirit and the priority of Christian unity; the Bride of Christ and our freedom in Him; spiritual gifts with love as the more excellent way; Church government and the five-fold ministry; instructions pertaining to worship, the Lord’s supper, family relationships, giving, diet, godly living, church discipline, spiritual warfare, civil government; and finally, the consummation of the ages (1 Corinthians fifteen) climaxing in the ultimate reconciliation of humanity with God becoming All in all (1 Co. 15:26-28). All this came through Paul.

The Blessed Hope is a glorious hope encompassing a global view of God’s plan for humanity that truly rejoices the heart. This is Good News! (Lu.2:10). In this chapter, I have shown that God has called us, His “elect,” to be lights in the world. We have been given a privileged status, not for ourselves, but for Him, in serving all people. God is truly sovereign over all creation and has but one perfect plan. His destiny for all cannot be thwarted and will come to pass in His due time. To see God’s unfailing plan unfold in Scripture, we must understand the true meaning of key biblical words such as aion and realize that Paul, not John, was given the revelation of the consummation of the ages.

I pray that you will look at all Scripture from the viewpoint of God’s absolute sovereignty and infinite love. We must understand judgment in light of who God is, and not God from a flawed view of judgment. Judgment serves God’s unfailing purposes for all. I offer these thoughts, not as one with great knowledge, but merely as one who believes in a great GOD. I pray He imparts to you only what pleases Him. I invite you to take a journey with me through the passages that have sealed the Blessed Hope in my heart.

VI PROCLAMATIONS (PART ONE)

The word…upon which You have caused me to hope.

(Ps. 119:49)

The above verse clearly expresses what the next couple of chapters

are all about. Here, I present 36 texts that either directly confirm or indirectly support my conviction in the Blessed Hope. Truly, they are the word upon which He has caused me to hope. They speak powerfully to me, and I hope they will to you too. I have arranged them in alphabetical order with a few exceptions. Please pray for God’s revelation as you read these precious passages.

All Is Possible

With God all things are possible.

(Jer. 32:17; Mt. 19:24-26; Mk. 10:27; Lu. 1:37; 18:26)

With God all things are possible? Do we believe this statement? Is it possible that an all-powerful God who can do anything, and who loves everyone, cannot save whom He will, or will not save whom He can? I can accept that one might admit they do not know if God can or would save those in hell. But, to say dogmatically “there can never be any hope” is a frank denial of this passage, God’s power, and the many promises made in Scripture.

Beatitudes

Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. ?Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. ?Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

(Lu. 6:20-21)

Christ was not speaking only to believers here as seen in Lu. 6:19, 7:1; Mt. 5:1-2, 7:28-29; and Mt. 8:1. He addressed the crowd. According to our tradition, the majority of humanity is hopelessly lost. Therefore, when will these lost ones receive the kingdom, be filled, and laugh? I no longer struggle with this passage, as I can simply accept it as it is. This is one more example of how the Scriptures are harmonized as a result of the Blessed Hope.

Creation Freed

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now.

(Ro. 8:19-22)

“Creation” in the above passage certainly includes people. Christ died for people. What part of creation groans and labors with birth pangs more than people? All people in God’s appointed time will be delivered from the bondage of corruption and share in the blessings of the sons of God, the first-fruits (elect) of His creation. That is what this glorious passage says. Any other view demeans this precious promise into something insignificant. If people are not referred to here, how do we understand the following passages?

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mk. 16:15).

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (2Co. 5:17).

In Christ, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails but a new creation (Ga. 6:15).

“Creation” clearly includes people! Oh, if we would only see how central people are in this passage. We could then fully experience the great comfort and joy it was intended to impart to our hearts!

Death Destroyed

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.…

(1Co. 15:26)

Death is an enemy and will be destroyed. Which is the last enemy, the first death or the second? German scholar and Bible translator A.E. Knoch wrote:

Death at any time is an enemy. We are agreed on that. The second death is an enemy. One of these is the last enemy. Is it the first or second? Can the first death be the last enemy? No enemy can be last if it has another coming after it. Hence the single word last is all the proof needed to establish the fact that it must be the second death which will be abolished.1

If death, the last enemy, is destroyed, then life is the result. If this is not so, the statement is void of meaning. For what is the opposite of death? For the process of dying is not the greatest or last enemy, it is the state of death itself. Whether death be the first, second, or tenth, nothing changes because “death” in 1Co. 15:26 is not qualified. Scripture includes any types there may be. “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades [hell], where is your victory? The sting of death is sin.…But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through Christ” (1Co. 15:55-57).

Drags All

Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of ?this world will be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from ?the earth, will draw all men to myself.

(Jn. 12:31-32)

The word “draw” (Greek – helkouo) is literally “to drag.”2 It is not restricted by the resistance of the object being pulled. Once the judgment of this world has run its course and the ruler of this world is cast out, Christ will drag all men to Himself. He confirmed this just a few verses further (vs. 47) by saying He came “to save the world.” Christ successfully accomplished His mission! (Jn. 17:4; Jn. 3:17).

Consider the unrestricted force of “draw” in these examples:

Peter, having a sword, drew (helkouo) it and struck … (Jn. 18:10).

Peter went up and dragged (helkouo) the net to land, full of large fish (Jn. 21:11).

They seized Paul and Silas and dragged (helkouo) them into the market place (Ac. 16:19 NAS).

Taking hold of Paul, they dragged (helkouo) him out of the temple (Ac. 21:30 NAS).

Is it not the rich who…drag (helkouo) you into the courts. (Ja. 2:6)?

As the “sword,” “net,” “Paul,” “Silas,” and the poor were not able to resist the “dragging” powers that overcame them, neither can any power resist Christ’s dragging power. No power is greater than God; nothing can resist Christ. “I will drag all men to Myself.”

Especially Believers

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. ?For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. These things command and teach.

(1Ti. 4:9-11)

This must be a very important passage to warrant such a powerful introduction and closing. Paul exhorts us to view these faithful words as worthy of all acceptance, and tells us to command and teach these truths. Understand the importance of this critical passage. If God is the Savior exclusively of those who believe during their earthly existence, as our tradition teaches, then this passage is clearly in error. The difference between “exclusively” and “especially” is paramount. To interchange these concepts is to contradict Scripture.

What does “especially of those who believe” mean? The immediate context sheds much light: “Set the believers an example….practice these duties….so that all may see your progress. Take heed to yourself and teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1Ti. 4:12-16 RSV).

Is this salvation by works? No, it is “working out” salvation (Ph. 2:12). God’s purpose in salvation is not to save us in our sins (Mt. 1:21), but from them. Christ saves us from our sinful nature and transforms us into His image (Ga. 4:19) so we may shine as lights in the world (Mt. 5:13-16). Thus, believers are “especially” saved because they have been justified by faith, and are presently working out their salvation as God empowers them (Ph. 2:13). Their salvation is being perfected (made complete) for all to see (1Ti. 4:15-16).

None of this changes the fact that God is still the Savior of those who do not yet believe. Once His righteous, just, and purpose-driven judgments have run their course, death will be destroyed, all will be made alive, and all will be subjected to Christ. Then God will be all in all (1Co. 15:22-28). He is, in an ultimate sense, the Savior of all men, (unbelievers and believers) but especially, at present, of believers.

The Greek word “especially,” is malista. Could it also mean “exclusively”? The only way to know is to observe how it is used in Scripture. This is a good example of how useful The Word Study Concordance can be. Malista occurs twelve times. As you read these references, try substituting the word “exclusively” and see how it fits.

They…fell on Paul’s neck sorrowing most of all [malista] for the words which he spoke (Ac. 20:38).

I have brought him out before you all and especially [malista] before you King Agrippa (Ac. 25:26).

Agrippa…especially [malista] because you are an expert (Ac. 26:2-3).

Let us do good to all, especially [malista] to those who are of the household of faith (Ga. 6:9-10).

All the saints greet you, but especially [malista] those who are of Caesar’s household (Ph. 4:20-23).

If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially [malista] for those of his household, he has denied the faith… (1Ti. 5:3-8).

Elders be counted worthy of double honor, especially [malista] those who labor in the word and doctrine (1Ti. 5:16-18).

Bring the cloak…and the books, especially [malista] the parchments (2Ti. 4:13).

There are many…deceivers, especially [malista] those of the circumcision… (Tit. 1:10-11).

But more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially [malista] to me but how much more to you (Phil. 16).

Reserve…for the day of judgment, and especially [malista] those who walk according to the flesh (2Pe. 2:9-11).

Can we substitute the idea of “exclusively” for “especially” in any of these malista passages? No! Nor do we have grammatical or contextual grounds to do so in 1Ti. 4:10. Compare this passage with Ga. 6:10: “…let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. ”Can we neglect doing good to unbelievers? Of course not! Neither can we deny that God is the savior of all men. But to the contrary, we are commanded to teach this very thing!

Every Knee

At the name of Jesus every knee will bow.

(Ph. 2:10-11 NAS) See also Ps. 66:3-4; Is. 45:22-25; Ro. 14:11; Re. 5:13

It is tragic that our hell theology has forced us to deny the glorious majesty of this great declaration. It has forced us to read into it a compelled submission, as we would give to one like Hitler. Without such a prejudice, we would never have restricted the passage this way. A close look at the context will prove that only a genuine adoration is possible. I list 20 points to demonstrate this in Appendix II.

Fullness of Times

According to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather to-gether in one all things in Christ…in Him…who works all things according to the counsel of His will.

(Ep. 1:9-11)

The good pleasure of God is to gather together in one all people, from every place. A time is coming when this promise will be realized in all its greatness. For God is truly GOD, a God who works all things out according to the counsel (purpose) of His will. This is not “wishful” thinking; it is His decree. What He decrees will take place and nothing—not even man’s sin or will can stop it (Job 42:2; Ez. 36:27; Da. 4:35). In God’s good time, He will bring everyone into Christ. This is not hard to believe for us who know His love, power, and will.

Forgive Them

“Father, forgive them.”

(Lu. 23:34)

Do you think the cruel soldiers who crucified Christ were forgiven? I do. Christ prayed for them, sealing His request in His blood. Would God forgive the ones who tortured His Son and bar forever from forgiveness those for whom He died? Please think about this.

Christ on the cross is the embodiment of forgiveness –the key element of our faith (Mt. 6:9-15). What hinders forgiveness more than worshipping a God who never forgives the lost? Belief in eternal punishment has short circuited the Gospel’s power for over 1600 years hindering our ability to forgive. But the Good News is, there are no limits to God’s forgiveness! Christ, the very image of God, forgiving His torturers, is all the proof we need. Why even read this book?

If God writes people off forever, so will we. For 34 years my brother Bob ridiculed me for my faith. I tried countless times to share Christ with Him, but to no avail. Eventually, I wrote him off. This was until I discovered God’s unending love. Once I began to see Bob through God’s eyes of limitless love, my love for him was rekindled. No longer did I see him as a lost cause, but as a worshipper of God in the ages to come (Re. 5:13). It may be I who will wash his feet in God’s Kingdom. What a revelation! This radically changed my attitude towards him. I began to honor him as I saw him through the eyes of Christ, beholding his torturers, asking for their forgiveness. Bob died suddenly one day. And though I grieve, I’m at peace.

Friend, God does not command us to do what He will not do. The Gospel of Peace (Ro. 10:15) magnifies God in His unlimited love and forgiveness. With hearts enraptured by such a God, and filled with His Spirit, we too will forgive as Christ did. And when the world sees and experiences that forgiveness, it will encounter Christ in us and be drawn to Him as He proclaimed (Jn. 12:32)!

For As…Even So

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

(1Co. 15:22)

Would the following statement sound strange to you? “For as in the pre-Civil War era all African Americans were slaves, even so, in the post-Civil War era, some African Americans were given liberty.” It sounds strange to me. It doesn’t make sense.

In “For as all…even so all,” the agreement makes grammatical sense.

In “For as all…even so some,” the statement makes no grammatical sense because “all” and “some” do not agree in context: “for as…even so” requires agreement. Grammatically, you cannot say, “all” to mean “some.” “All” means “inclusive;” “some” does not.

Some say that “made alive” simply means all are resurrected to judgment. The whole context argues against such a thought, for “made alive” is presented solely as something glorious and positive. (I discuss this next). Others claim “all” refers to two completely different groups of persons. Only those “in” Christ are made alive, inferring that the majority of humanity is excluded. This would be tautology, for it is like saying, only the saved will be saved. Of even greater weight is the context: in such a glorious chapter as this, to say “only the saved will be saved” would seem a forced or strained interpretation. For in what way then would death be destroyed, swallowed up in victory, and its sting lost (See 1Co. 15:26-28, 54-55)? Do the magnificent words of these verses fit with a victory affecting just a small fraction of those dead in Adam? The Jerusalem Bible makes it unmistakably clear: “Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ” (1Co. 15:22).

Made Alive

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

(1Co. 15:22)

To some, “made alive” means merely to resurrect in order to annihilate. The word is z?opoie? (Strongs #2227). It is the verb form of z?? (#2222). Vine defines it as, “to make alive, cause to live, quicken” from z??, “life,” and poie?, “to make.”3 Z?? is the same word used in Jn. 3:16, and in more than 130 New Testament passages. “I am the way, the truth, and the life [z??]” (Jn. 14:6). The phrase “made alive,” (z?opoie?) is used only 12 times (Jn. 5:21a, 21b; 6:63; Ro. 4:17; 8:11; 1Co. 15:22, 36, 45; 2Co. 3:6; Ga. 3:21; 1Ti. 6:13; 1Pe. 3:18). Try to read the idea of annihilation or everlasting torment in any of these references and see if they fit. You will quickly see they refer only to a positive and glorious spiritual life.

Last Adam

As through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men,

even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

(Ro. 5:18-19 NAS)

Let’s take a moment to break down and discuss this text.

Clause 1. “As through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men,

Clause 2. even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

Clause 3. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners,

Clause 4. even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Ro. 5:18-19 NAS).

Why should “the many” in clause 4 refer to a different group than “the many” in clause 3, since nothing is said to indicate a difference? Only someone trying to support an agenda would try to read into it such an idea. In addition, it would contradict clauses 1 and 2. The point made in clauses 3 and 4 is singular versus plural.

Singular versus plural

the one affecting the many

Since everyone agrees all men were made sinners, clause 1 clearly refers to all men. Clause 2 argues from clause 1 and even states all men are in view. In clause 3, Paul expounds his thought further, he points out Adam, though only one person, has affected the lives of the multitudes of humanity (the many). No one will argue “the many” in clause 3 is not all men. So also, in clause 4, the exact comparison is being made except that “the One” affecting the lives of the multitudes of humanity (the many) is Christ. The “many” of clause 4 must be the same “many” as clause 3 because nothing is stated to the contrary. The “for as” followed by the “even so” requires the agreement. An honest seeker of truth must acknowledge these relationships. Basic grammar and ethics require it.

The Weymouth translation words it clearly.

It follows then that just as the result of a single transgression is a condemnation which extends to the whole race, so also the result of a single decree of righteousness is a life-giving acquittal which extends to the whole race. For as through the disobedience of the one individual the mass of humanity were constituted sinners, so also through the obedience of the One the mass of humanity will be constituted righteous (Ro. 5:18-9 .

Joseph Kirk, pastor, radio preacher, and former director of Scripture Studies Concern, said it this way:

But someone will ask, Why does it say “the many” instead of “all” in verse 19? This is because the one disobedient man and the One righteous Man are put in a class by themselves. They are in contrast with “the many.” We may put it as follows: The one disobedient man plus “the many” equals all humanity made sinners. The One obedient Man plus “the many” equals all humanity made righteous. That “the one” plus “the many” made sinners, includes all humanity, few, if any, attempt to deny. Even so, “the One” plus “the many” made righteous is all-inclusive and guarantees justification of life for all humanity.4

See also Richard H. Bell’s “Romans 5:18-19,” New Testament Studies, Vol. 48 (2002), pp. 417-432. This Tübingen scholar argues “that Paul does in fact support a universal salvation in Rom. 5.18–19. Such an understanding is supported by both the context and by a detailed study of these verses” (p. 417).5

Finally, to get the full sense of Paul’s force of argument, we need to meditate on the whole context, especially verses 12 through 21. In the event Paul might be misunderstood, he spells it out clearly in his closing statement. “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Ro. 5:20)! How can a believer claim Christ gained back less than what Adam lost?

One phrase has been used to reduce the “many” in Christ to mean the “few”: “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Ro. 5:17). Paul is comparing Adam to Christ. He refers to “those who receive [lamban?]” in a passive sense. Adam sinned, and as a result, all men have received (passively) the consequences of his action. The consequences of Christ’s action must also be received in the same manner, or Paul’s whole argument falls apart. Dr. Bell’s exegesis confirms this. 5 Consider the following examples of Paul’s use of the word, lamban?, in the very same letter:

Through Him, we have received [lamban?] grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name (Ro. 1:5).

We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received [lamban?] the reconciliation (Ro. 5:11).

For you did not receive [lamban?] the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received [lamban?] the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Ro. 8:15).

In which of these cases is lamban? used in an active, qualifying sense? They are all examples of passively receiving something as a result of factors outside of ourselves. In the same way we have received (lamban?) the Spirit of adoption, or sin in Adam, we have received (lamban?) abundance of grace in Christ. See how this passage reads in the literal versions.

For if by the offense of the one the death did reign through the one, much more those, who the abundance of the grace and of the free gift of the righteousness are receiving, in life shall reign through the one—Jesus Christ (Ro. 5:17 YLT).

For if, by the offense of the one, death reigns through the one, much rather, those obtaining the superabundance of grace and the gratuity of righteousness shall be reigning in life through the One, Jesus Christ (Ro. 5:17 CLT).

For, if, by the fault of the one, death reigned through the one, much more, they who the superabundance of the favour and of the free-gift of the righteousness do receive, in life, shall reign through the one, Jesus Christ (Ro. 5:17 ROTH).

For your scrutiny, I submit this passage in the Greek Interlinear New Testament. It illustrates the exact relationship between the words of Scripture, incorporating the Strong’s Concordance numbering system:

ei <1487> {IF} gar <1063> {FOR} tw <3588> {BY THE} tou <3588> {OF THE} enov <1520> {ONE} paraptwmati <3900> o <3588> {OFFENCE} yanatov <2288> {DEATH} ebasileusen <936> (5656) {REIGNED} dia <1223> {BY} tou <3588> {THE} enov <1520> {ONE,} pollw <4183> {MUCH} mallon <3123> {MORE} oi <3588> {THOSE} thn <3588> {THE} perisseian <4050> thv <3588> {ABUNDANCE} caritov <5485> {OF GRACE} kai <2532> {AND} thv <3588> {OF THE} dwreav <1431> thv <3588> {GIFT} dikaiosunhv <1343> {OF RIGHTEOUSNESS} lambanontev <2983> (5723) {RECEIVING,} en <1722> {IN} zwh <2222> {LIFE} basileusousin <936> (5692) {SHALL REIGN} dia <1223> {BY} tou <3588> {THE} enov <1520> {ONE} ihsou <2424> {JESUS} cristou <5547> {CHRIST} (Ro. 5:17)

If lamban? here is in an active and qualifying sense, then it would restrict the “all” to those lucky enough to have heard the Gospel in this life; intelligent enough to have understood it clearly; wise enough to accept it; and dedicated enough to deny themselves, carry their cross, and endure to the very end. If stringent conditions are necessary to receive God’s grace, what stringent conditions were necessary to receive Adam’s curse? What choice were we given? Paul’s whole point is that what Christ has gained for lost humanity exceeds what Adam lost! Only one forced to defend an eternal hell would try to insist that lamban? here is in an active, qualifying sense.

Paul’s argument is irrefutable: God, who is Love, sent Christ, “a life-giving spirit” as the last Adam (1Co. 15:45). In His eternal purpose from before the foundation of the world (Ep. 1:4; Re. 13:8), God sent the second Adam to undo all the harm committed by the first. Paul’s closing statement undeniably confirms this. (Next)

Much More

Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.

(Ro. 5:20)

Is Adam’s sin in destroying lives greater than Christ’s sacrifice in restoring them? If so, then what the second Adam (Christ) has accomplished in rescuing a few is infinitely “much less,” not “much more” than what sin has done. The Weymouth translation, in verse 15, powerfully expresses the glorious achievement of Christ here:

But God’s free gift immeasurably outweighs the transgression. For if through the transgression of the one individual the mass of humanity have died, infinitely greater [much more] is the generosity with which God’s grace, and the gift given in His grace which found expression in the one man Jesus Christ, have been bestowed on the mass of humanity (Ro. 5:15 WEY).

“Has been bestowed on the mass of humanity!” This is an accomplished fact! As Adam impacted all humanity, so did Christ!

God Changes People

I will…cause you to walk in My statutes, and…do them.

(Ez. 36:26-27)

Is God a respecter of persons? What He has done for these, will He not do for others? “He is good to all.” “In truth…God shows no partiality” (Ps. 145:9;Ac. 10:34). See also Ro. 2:11, 10:12; Ga. 2:6; Ep. 6:9; Col. 3:25; 1Ti. 2:3-4; Ja. 3:17; 1Pe. 1:17. Sadly, a flawed view of judgment has kept us from knowing God in His unlimited power and unstoppable will to change people. Scripture clearly teaches it. For God to sentence even one person to infinite penalty only proves He cannot or will not change that person, contradicting who He is.

God Does Right

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

(Ge. 18:25)

Is there a double standard? If something is wrong in our minds, is it not also in God’s? How many truly believe God would create a world of people knowing they will suffer infinitely? Many accept this because they think God’s moral standard is somehow different than ours. They erroneously base this in Is. 55:8: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts…” By simply quoting this one passage they attempt to justify an eternal hell. But they ignore the context. The phrase refers to God’s abundant mercy, not cruelty! Please read the passage ( Is. 55:7-9). Those who have a right concept of morality, love, and justice, know that a loving God would never inflict unjust (infinite) punishment.

God Wills All Saved

I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions,…be made for all men….this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have [desires NKJV] all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth….Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1Ti. 2:1-6 KJV) (Who wills that all mankind be saved. CLT).

Our Lord rebuked His disciples for invalidating the Scriptures for the sake of tradition (Mt. 15:3,6,9). Have our translators done the same? Since most do not believe God is all-powerful to do His will, they make His “will” into a mere “desire” to conform to their limited view of God. They negate the force of His words. Translators are human and as such always translate from their personal world view. It cannot be otherwise. That is why we must be especially careful to compare Scripture with Scripture, and carefully use concordances.

Do we demean the power of prayer for all men by denying God’s power to change wills and hearts? Who prays for what they think cannot happen? We deny that Christ ransomed all. Otherwise we would know that God must release the ransomed whose penalty has been paid. We make the clause, testified in due time meaningless, since we do not believe all will be ransomed. What is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior? Most of humanity forever cursed? Can you see how our hell tradition clashes head on with passages such as this? But the Blessed Hope glories in every part of it! Nothing needs to be explained away. (See page 42, “God’s Will”).

It is my hope that you will prayerfully reflect on these proclamations based on God’s power. Please do not rush through them, but allow the Holy Spirit time to impart these glorious truths to your heart. We have been conditioned so long to limit these passages, that to now accept them in their full scope is not easy. Tradition is hard to overcome. Jesus said, “You invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” “You err not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Mt.15:6 NAS, 22:29). Like Abraham, let us not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but give Him glory, being fully convinced that He is able to fulfill all His promises (Ro. 4:20-21).

To read all of the book on line, click on Hope Beyond Hell

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