||[Jan. 17th, 2008|03:18 pm]
Take a person who has never been exposed to Jesus, the New Testament, or Christianity in any form. Have them read the New Testament in their language, without any commentary.|
Now, take that same person to an Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Anglican/Episcopal church, without telling them what the building or service is about.
Next, have that person watch a television broadcast of a fundamentalist preacher, who while condemning homosexuality, non-marital sex, pornography, flag-burning, etc., doesn't mention Jesus' Name (they can't resort to Jesus to buffer those ideologies).
That person, unless they connected Jesus' crucifixion to the crucifixes they saw in the churches, would make no connection between those three scenarios.
Now, tell them that the church building(s)/service(s) are supposed to be about Jesus. They would wonder why there are priests, why they dress up in fancy clothes, why there is incense, why the "offering up of a sacrifice" (the Mass), why the liturgy, etc.
Now, tell them that the fundamentalist preacher believes he is teaching God's will. They would wonder why all the pre-occupation with sexual issues and nationalism, why the exhortations to donate money to fund building projects and broadcast fees, why the insistence that a collection of biographies (the Gospels) and letters (the Epistles) is "God's inerrant, infallible word," as well as wondering what it had to do with the church building(s)/service(s).
||[Jan. 17th, 2008|03:17 pm]
Something occured to me while overhearing (of all things) an episode of "Veggie Tales," a Christian television show for kids. The story involved a ruler who ordered his subjects to say certain things in order not to be thrown into a furnace. I thought, "that's what traditional Christianity has taught about God for centuries." Upon paying closer attention to the program, it became evident that they were re-telling the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago in the fiery furnace, and it dawned on me - migosh, that's where Jesus' contemporaries got the idea of people being thrown into a fire if they didn't say certain words to, or "obey," their (distorted view of) God! |
If you find this a stretch, consider this: according to scholars, the apocalyptic element (which came from Zoroastrianism) in the Judaism of Jesus' day (that became enshrined in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but not John) first shows up within Judaism in the book of Daniel, and there was no mention in the "Old Testament" (or any Jewish literature prior to "Daniel") of anyone going to a fiery place after death.
In other words, people took the rantings and actions of a human ruler (in this case, King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon) to be those of God, despite the fact that, according to the same story, it is God who went, or sent someone, into the fiery furnace and saved the three men. This demonstrates two things: (1) if people took the destructive actions of humans to be those of God once, they'll do it again, and have repeatedly for millenia; (2) but more importantly, God went into the furnace while the men where there and stayed with them and saved them. And if God did that once, God will do it again, and has repeatedly for millenia.
||[Jan. 16th, 2008|03:49 pm]
"The real Christ is the God of Freedom." - Dr Carl Jung|
"The more problematic sayings of Jesus seem to be borrowed from his contemporaries. 'Enter by the narrow gate' (Matthew 7:14, implying the vast majority of people are going to hell) is taken straight from 4 Ezra, a Jewish book from the time supposed to be Ezra's visions. 'Adultery in your heart... pluck out your eye' (Matthew 5: 28-9) are from the contemporary rabbis; sayings about sex by Jesus are otherwise conspicuous by their absence.
"Our first theologian, Paul, dealt extensively with the problem of making rules for church members, and kept Jesus's movement on-course by emphasizing "We can't make rules." Christians discover their roles by the leading of the Holy Spirit"
- Ed Friedlander, M.D., "Jesus of Nazareth" from http://www.pathguy.com/jesus
The saying about "lust in the heart equaling adultery" found in Matthew 5:28 is from the Talmud, Berachot 24.
Matthew 22:36-40: "This is the first and greatest commandment: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.' The second most important is similar: 'Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.' All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. KEEP ONLY THESE and you will find that you are obeying all the others."
John 13:34 "Love One Another."
Gospel of Thomas 6: "His disciples asked him and said to him, 'Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?' Jesus said, 'Don't lie, and don't do what you hate'"
Jesus in the Gospel of Mary: "Do not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed for you, and do not give a law like the lawgiver lest you be constrained by it."
The sayings attributed to Jesus about the difficulty of attaining the Kingdom of Heaven do NOT mean that people will not get into a blessed afterlife; the Kingdom of Heaven is the highest realm of all, but there are many realms of Light in the afterlife.
"I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me" Of course, Jesus may never have said this. But if He did, notice what He is NOT saying: "no one comes to the Father but by Me" does NOT mean "no one gets into a blessed afterlife but by Me;" "I Am the Way..." does NOT mean "Being a Christian is the Way...," "Going to church is the Way...," "Reading and/or believing the bible is the Way..." Also, Jesus is NOT ego-centric; He takes EVERY one to the Father, even if they don't believe in Him. Also, the saying could mean "I Am *is* the Way, the Truth, and the Life," referring to EVERYONE's I Am-ness (the image of God in everyone - Genesis 1:26,27).
Jesus did NOT demand that people acknowedge Him or be cast into "outer darkness." The predictions of a cataclysmic "end of the world" are either metaphorical references to the end of the Jewish state in 70 A.D. or are later insertions into His message.
Jesus did NOT tell people to go to church, synagogue, or temple. The only reason He told lepers that He'd cured to go to the priest (Matthew 8:4; Luke 17:14) was because lepers weren't permitted to live anywhere among non-lepers, and they had to get the priest to re-admit them into villages, towns, or cities.
Jesus resisted being called a "king" and "lord;" those terms reflected the mindset of the times.
Jesus never said anything disparaging about anyone, except the religious and political status quo (hypocrisy and legalism in the former; "lording it over" others in the latter).
Jesus is the FIRST teacher known to have female disciples and treat them as Equals.
Jesus praised all the qualitites the world despises, and denounced those that the world applauds.
Jesus NEVER told anyone to give their money to Him or to His disciples, but to give it to the poor.
What God/Spirit, Jesus and Mary are NOT:
*able to intervene in the earth realm (if They could, They would. Remember, Jesus
prayed for God's will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Since Heaven
is where God is and has free reign, and there's no suffering in Heaven,
that must be God's will. Since there is suffering here, obviously God's
will is not being done here; why else would Jesus feel the need to pray
*hurt by anything (if They can't reach us here, how could anything done here reach
Them? Also, no one in Heaven is ever unhappy, so why think that God or Jesus
are ever unhappy?)
*the inflictors of suffering
What God/Spirit, Jesus and Mary ARE:
*Joy (and Joyous)
*Peace (and at Peace)
*Freedom (and Free)
*Fulfillment (and Fulfilled)
*Serenity (and Serene)
*Ecstacy (and Ecstatic)
*the true nature of EVERYONE!
|turning the other cheek and literalism
||[Jan. 15th, 2008|05:13 pm]
"Those interpreting this passage figuratively have cited historical and other factors in support. They note that at the time of Jesus, striking someone deemed to be of a lower class with the back of the hand was used to assert authority and dominance. If the persecuted person 'turned the other cheek,' the discipliner was faced with a dilemma. The left hand was used for unclean purposes, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed. The other alternative would be to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality. Thus, they argue, by turning the other cheek the persecuted was in effect demanding equality. Further, it is argued, by handing over one's cloak in addition to one's tunic, the debtor has essentially given the shirt off their back, a situation directly forbidden by Jewish Law as stated in Deuteronomy 24: 10-13:|
'When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not enter his house to take his pledge. You shall remain outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. If he is a poor man, you shall not sleep with his pledge. When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it will be righteousness for you before the LORD your God.'
"By giving the lender the cloak as well the debtor was reduced to nakedness. Public nudity was viewed as bringing shame on the viewer, not the naked, as evidenced in Genesis 9: 20-27:
'Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness.'
"Promoters of this nonviolent interpretation further argue that the succeeding verse from the Sermon on the Mount can similarly be seen as a method for making the oppressor break the law: commonly invoked Roman law allowed a Roman soldier to demand that citizens of occupied territories carry the soldier's military gear for one mile, but prohibited the soldier from forcing an individual to go further than one mile, at the risk of suffering disciplinary actions. In this example, the nonviolent interpretation sees Jesus as placing criticism on an unjust and hated Roman law as well as clarifying the teaching to extend beyond Jewish law."
- from http://en.wikipedia.org
My comments: notice Jesus does not say "if someone strikes you on the cheek, turn to him the other as well." He specifically said "If someone strikes you on the *right* cheek." The people to whom Jesus said this were members of a deeply-ingrained "honor-shame" society; men hit people they considered inferior on the *right* cheek with the back of their right hands; they hit men they considered their equals on the left cheek (the *other* cheek) with their open right palms. If a person did what Jesus said, it put the attacking person, if they wished to hit the victim again, in the position of having to hit them on the *other* cheek with their open right palms, therefore acknowledging them as equals, something *no* one in an "honor-shame"-based society would *ever* do. Jesus words were meant to prevent the victim from being hit *again,* thereby empowering the oppressed. It has been wrongly interpreted to tolerate oppression and passivity.
Jesus spoke that to an "honor-shame"-based society. To societies not rooted in such ideas (such as most societies today), people have no shame about harming someone (physically or otherwise) who turns the other cheek, and Jesus is well aware of that. He wanted/wants people to live by the *spirit* behind and in what He said/says. Nowadays, Jesus would not tell someone to "turn the other cheek" because He knows that would condone oppression - the spirit in what He said then, to that "honor-shame"-based society, was to empower people and to *not* condone oppression. Today, in that *same* *spirit* (of not tolerating or allowing oppression), Jesus would tell people to defend themselves.
Consider the statement "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Say that person A likes chocolate; but person B doesn't. If one takes "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" literally (by the "letter"), person A would give person B chocolate. But that goes against the very spirit of what that saying means! The *spirit* of it means to treat others with the same respect with which you would like to be treated. Following that, person A would give person B something that person B likes.
"The letter kills, but the spirit gives life" (II Corinthians 3:6). That's why there's *no* recorded instance in *any* gospel - those in the bible and those that aren't - in which Jesus tells anyone to write down anything He said (there is only *one* recorded instance in the Gospels - John 8:6 - in which Jesus is mentioned to have written anything, and then it was with His finger and on the ground and could easily be wiped out).
It's because He didn't want to make any laws! When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus didn't make a new one, but quoted the Torah. And then, He didn't quote anything from the "Ten Commandments"! It was about loving God. He said there was another commandment, equal to the first, and that was loving one's neighbor as oneself (notice He equated God, neighbor, and oneself?)
As for the "Ten Commandments," do you honestly think God cares whether someone "covets" someone else's oxen or donkey?
Remember what Paul said about people who try to keep the law should do to themselves! (Galatians 5:12)
Also, take this into consideration:
"Jesus protested when smitten on the cheek (John 18:22). And Jesus denounced the Pharisees (Matt 23) and fought the devil always. The language of Jesus is bold and picturesque and is not to be pressed too literally. Paradoxes startle and make us think. We are expected to fill in the other side of the picture….Aggressive or offensive war by nations is also condemned, but not necessarily defensive war or defense against robbery and murder. Professional pacifism may be mere cowardice." (A.T. Robertson. "Word Pictures in the New Testament", Vol. I, p. 48).
|what Jesus meant in His native Aramaic
||[Jan. 14th, 2008|05:20 pm]
Found the following on a website about Aramaic, the highly idiomatic language used by Jesus and His earliest followers:|
Acts 26:14 PROS KENTRON LAKTIZEIN: kick against the goad (=to hurt oneself by active resistance)
1. Pick up snakes – Mark 16:18
I chose this as the first example, as it deals with a literal life and death issue.
The KJV says: “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
“They translated many Eastern idioms and metaphors literally, not knowing their true meaning. For instance, ‘You shall handle snakes.’ They did not know that the word ‘snake’ refers to ‘an enemy.”’ – Dr. George Mamishisho Lamsa
A better reading for that section of the verse would be “they will handle their enemies”. This mistranslation has even cost the lives of many people. George Went Hensley, a former pastor of the Church of God, formed one such Pentecostal group, who drank poison and exposed themselves to poisonous snakes. He died of snakebite, as have many others.
2. Cut it off and pluck it out – Mark 9:43-47
Note: This example is also solves the possible contradiction with 1Corinthians 6:19-20 (What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.). One section in the Greek tells you to glorify God with your body, as it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and another commands self-mutilation!
“Even today these ancient Christians, Lamsa's people (Assyrians), understand what Jesus meant when he said, "If your hand offends you, cut it off; if your eye offends you, pluck it out; if your foot offends you, cut it off". Jesus meant: "If you have a habit of stealing, stop it". "If you have a habit of envying, stop it". "If you have a habit of trespassing on other's property, stop it". These sayings are understood because these idioms have been in general use throughout the centuries. The idioms arise out of the fact the Aramaic collapses into one word, both mental and physical action, with either or both meanings acceptable.
This explains why no Christian in the East has ever cut off his arm or plucked out his eyes. None of Jesus' disciples and his followers amputated parts of their bodies. They used the mental meaning. In other parts of the world many Christians who misunderstood the Aramaic idiom, have cut off hands, fingers and feet, or inflicted other injuries upon their bodies to follow the misunderstood injunction of Jesus.” – Aramaic Bible Society
"0hl0d Yhwdb9 hb Jwzxtnd f0 Yhwhb0 fw 0=x wh f (w4y Jwhl rm0"
According to our concordance, "f0" may indeed mean "but", but it may also mean, "wail" or "lament aloud", so I was wondering if this passage could read, instead:
"Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents. Behold, in him who cries will be displayed in works of G-d."
The Lamsa says (Luke 14:26): “He who comes to me and does not put aside his father and his mother and his brothers and his sisters and his wife and his children and even his own life cannot be a disciple to me.”
The answer lies in the Aramaic word "0ns" (sone'). It can mean “to put aside” and “to hate”. Clearly He is teaching that in order to be His disciple, we must be able to put aside those we love, and even be prepared to give our lives.
John 12:40 [Lamsa]: Their eyes have become blind and their hearts darkened, so that they cannot see with their eyes and understand with their hearts; let them return and I will heal them.
John 12:40 [Younan]: that they have blinded their eyes and have darkened their heart that not they might see with their eyes and understand with their heart and repent and I heal them
|on man-made rules and doctrines: from Colossians
||[Jan. 13th, 2008|07:02 pm]
See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition, just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah). (Chapter 2, verse 8)|
God brought YOU to life together with Christ, having freely forgiven YOU ALL your transgressions,
Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the law (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [law with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared COMPLETELY out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.
God disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross].
Therefore let NO ONE sit in judgment on you in matters of food and drink, or with regard to a feast day or a New Moon or a Sabbath.
Such [things] were only the shadow of things that are to come, and they had only a symbolic value. But the reality (the substance, the solid fact of what is foreshadowed, the body of it) belongs to Christ.
Let NO ONE defraud you by acting as an umpire and declaring you unworthy and disqualifying you for the prize, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions [he claims] he has seen, vainly puffed up by his sensuous notions and inflated by his unspiritual thoughts and fleshly conceit (Chapter 2, verses 13b - 18)
If then you have died with Christ to material ways of looking at things and have escaped from the world's crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism, why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations?--such as "Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them]," Referring to things all of which perish with being used. To do this is to follow human precepts and doctrines.
Such [practices] have indeed the outward appearance [that popularly passes] for wisdom, in promoting self-imposed rigor of devotion and delight in self-humiliation and severity of discipline of the body, but they are of no value (Chapter 2, verses 20-23a)
(material ways of looking at things, the world's crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism = rules and regulations--such as "Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them]" = human precepts and doctrines = they are of NO value whatsoever!)
|Everyone is saved! (part one of four)
||[Jan. 12th, 2008|11:27 am]
Excerpts from an interview with author and Episcopal priest Robert Farrar Capon (RC) by Tim Brassell (TB) |
RC: It’s very hard for the human race to accept that cold: "Nothing separates us from the love of God." We think there must be some breaking point where God would give up on us. "Well, what about if we…?"
Sin is not a problem with God. God solved all his problems with sin before the foundation of the world, in the beginning—and it’s done. The iceberg that lies under the surface of history is the Son of God; redemption is the mystery behind all history. Sin is a permanent irrelevancy. And God is the one to say, "Look, I have taken away the handwriting that was against you."
I like the translation in Matthew, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." What do we do when we don’t forgive somebody else’s debts, or literally, their sins? We carp on what they owe us. We look at the chits that we have saved. This is what you owe me and you haven’t given it to me. There is an IOU I hold against you, and I gotta have this…. Well, it’s not that way with God. With God, it’s done—there is no handwriting against us. It’s done. He’s not holding IOUs.
TB: So why do we have such a love affair with legalism?
RC: It’s something that’s afflicted the church from the start. Humans have a hard time believing that God doesn’t hold IOUs. But Paul says the law cannot save. He says, "He has made him to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him."
TB: Have you found an effective way to present the gospel to a legalist?
RC: No (laughter). The reason I say no is because all that you’re going to do is present it and shock them. If you try to do it in a winsome way, which I always do, and try to do it to show them the freedom of it, then you’ve got a chance. A small chance, not a big one, but you’ve got a chance—because, when it happens—people go, "Wow!"
I was made visiting professor of something or other in religion at the University of Tulsa for the fall term back in the ’80s or ’90s. I had two classes. One was a 39-week beginning course. I taught the parables, and I had, I would say, everybody against me. All these youngsters were against me because what I was saying was against everything they had ever heard. I pounded and pounded and pounded for 39 weeks. I went through every parable.
One young lady came up to me at the end and said: "You know, when I first came here I didn’t like anything you said, because it contradicted everything I knew. But, you have done something. For the first time in my life I see that it really is good news" (laughter). They thought the gospel was bad news! That’s what legalism does to people.
TB: Can a pastor take grace too far?
RC: No. A pastor can’t take grace too far. That is, not unless he claims that sin doesn’t matter. If he claims that, he’s abusing grace, because sin does matter. It matters to me, the sinner. It matters whether I leave myself stuck in it.
Suppose a mother has a kid who comes in all muddy. She just washes off the mud. She loves her child and doesn’t wait to see whether the kid decides if he wants to live with mud all over him. She just washes it off. And if she is a faithful, true mother, she will continually take that mud into herself and say, "Well, this is my son, and I will stick with him."
TB: Mothers are like that.
RC: Yes. The point is that sin is mud. It’s a cover-up or cover-over of your true being as a person. And Jesus has washed it away. He’s erased the sins. He’s washed them away.
Not all churches practice infant baptism, but infant baptism is a wonderful testament to absolute grace. It says, "It’s done." It doesn’t say, after this if you do something, then you’ll be OK. It says, "You’re OK now," not because you did something or thought something or figured something out, but you’re OK now because Jesus says so.
It isn’t religion that makes you OK with God, it’s God who does it. The sacraments are not religion. They do not cause something to happen. You don’t change the wine in the Eucharist into the blood of Christ, the presence of Christ. You just put up a sign in which you say, he is present in this sign as he is present in all things, including me.
For example, a priest in my jurisdiction holds up the bread and wine before communion and says, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world." That means that the whole world is changed, changed by Christ.
TB: What would you say is the most important key to interpreting the parables of Jesus?
RC: Getting the Christ character right. Who is the Christ figure in the Prodigal? The father. Who is the Christ figure in the Good Samaritan? The Samaritan. The Christ figure in the Lost Sheep is the shepherd.
And the point is that its not the lostness of the sheep that drives the parable: its the goodness of the shepherd. The shepherd loses the sheep and acts out of his own goodness to alleviate his own loss. The finding, the saving, are all in his handsthe sheep do nothing but get lost. Its all grace.
TB: You’ve said that God rules by chance. Could you elaborate?
RC: What I say about Genesis is that chance is not the enemy of design—chance is the design. And God, in Christ, runs the world by coming into the world and being roughed up by it—by entering the rough world—by accepting the negative odds for himself. He took on himself the part of the creation that went bad, the evil part, and redeemed it by letting it play itself out on him and then being raised from the dead.
In "The Fingerprints of God: Tracking the Divine Suspect Through a History of Images," Robert Farrar Capon has the Holy Spirit, in coversation with the Father and Jesus, say about Christians:
"They're going to paint themselves into a corner and say that the unbaptized go to hell or even that sins after Baptism make forgiveness flake off like a bad paint job, and that unless Christians go to confession for a second coat before they die, they'll go to hell too.
We've agreed on this Reformation business where I convince them that nobody has to do anything to be forgiven except trust the grace that Jesus has already given everybody. But give them a hundred years after that and they'll manage to turn faith itself into a requirement for grace: no faith, no forgiveness. Out the window again goes the free gift we've given them once and for all; and back in comes forgiveness as a deal that's good only as long as they behave themselves."
reviews of Robert Farrar Capon's books from Booklist:
review of The Astonished Heart: Reclaiming the Good News from the Lost-And-Found of Church History:
Capon maintains that the heart of Christianity is a proclamation of the end of religion; that much of church history has been a denial of that heart in the construction of Christendom; and that the transformation of Christianity demands the death (not just the prolonged dying) of Christendom. Capon's message to Christendom is "drop dead" --an astonishing message from a priest, perhaps, but astonishment is what resurrection is all about. - Steve Schroeder
review of The Mystery of Christ ... and Why We Don't Get It:
The popular idea that the goal of Christianity and the church is to make people "nonsinners" is replaced, in his argument, with the understanding that God's grace makes people "sin-forgivers." This frees believers from living in fear of a god who is a CPA of sins and frees them to forgive others. - Mary Beth Vanderpoorten
|Everyone is saved! (part two of four)
||[Jan. 11th, 2008|11:20 am]
I once heard a preacher say that the Gospel (good news) is this:|
God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them - II Corinthians 5:19
Paul was writing to fellow Christians. Notice he said God reconciled the *world* to Himself, and that God did not impute *their* trespasses against *them* (so he's referring to non-Christians as well).
The whole passage is worth reading:
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more.
Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
- II Corinthians 5:14-19
Notice: One died for *all*
He died for *all*
*All* things are become new and *all* things are of God
Links on universal restoration:
http://www.jesusreligion.com Run by a lady who at the time of her near-death experience was a charismatic (neo-Pentecostal) fundamentalist and was surprised during her NDE to find out that everyone gets to Heaven eventually.
http://www.higherd.org Website of Carlton Pearson, a charismatic (neo-Pentecostal) preacher who believes the bible to be literally true and knows that it teaches salvation for ALL.
There are many people who believe that the bible is the "inerrant, infallible word of God" and say that the bible teaches that all will be saved (one book even backs it up with over six hundred bible verses!) They even demonstrate that the "Good News" preached for the first six hundred years of the church was that everyone is saved, and they point out those who changed that message. And they prove that the Greek word translated "everlasting" in passages about punishment are *mis*-translated, and that the Greek word (aeon) refers to a period of time, not all time.
Testimonies from *many* people (atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc) who went to the Light upon death, and links to books containing even more testimonies. There are even testimonies from the *few* who have found themselves in a bad place after dying (and those who wound up in a bad place are people who: (1) were repeatedly, intentionally cruel to others without having been provoked by their victims AND (2) had no remorse whatsoever AND (3) did not have mental and/or physical illnesses/impairments which caused them to be that way), yet when they called on Jesus, He *instantly* took them into the Light (and again, this was *after* they had died: there's no time limit - or *any* limit - on God's mercy!)
|Everyone is saved! (part three of four)
||[Jan. 10th, 2008|11:23 am]
Here's some info I've found on the 'net over the years from people who believe in universal salvation *and* base it on their belief in biblical inerrancy:|
(v. 12) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man [Adam, v.14] , and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned -
[Because of what Adam did in the garden, death came to all men not just to the elect, (cp v. 15; Gen 2:17; 3:19; Eph 2:5). The context is herein confirmed that "all men" elect and non-elect are being referred to in this passage when this term is used and it establishes the meaning of all men = elect and non-elect for the word many in the next verse]:
(v. 15) But the gift [of eternal life, Eph 2:8-9] is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man [Adam], how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
So "the many" who "died by the trespass of the one man" [Adam] refers to all men, elect and non-elect. And the same "many" had the "gift that came by the grace of the one Man Jesus Christ, overflow" to them.
(v. 18) "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men."
[Again "all men" must mean all elect and non-elect of all ages as previously established in verse 12.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15: "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all.
(v18)All this is from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
(v. 19) that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation."
Verses 18 and 19 confirm that God's ministry of reconciliation encompasses the whole world such that as a result of what Jesus Christ did on the cross the sins of men would not be counted against them - all men, elect, non-elect, believer and unbeliever. The words "world" and "men's" can only be interpreted as universal - the whole world and all mankind in the context of this passage, otherwise the passage deteriorates into double talk.
Chafer states, op. cit., p. 115:
"In 2 Corinthians 5:19 Paul stated that 'God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.' Those who would hold to limited atonement must understand the word 'kosmos' [= "world"] here to include only the elect. But this is not supported by the passage itself. The believer is to declare to everyone that Christ has reconciled the world. To limit this declaration to the elect is to make the passage say what it does not say."
1 Timothy 2:3-4: "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."
1 Timothy 2:5-6: "Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men."
1 Timothy 4:10: "We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe."
Titus 2:11: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."
Hebrews 2:9: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."
The word "everyone" is better translated "each."
Henry Alford comments: "If it be asked, why pantos (each) rather than panton (all), we may safely say that the singular brings out, far more strongly than the plural word, the applicability of Christ's death to each individual man."
2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
1 John 2:2: "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."
1 John 4:14: "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world."
Romans 5:18 says: "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men."
Regarding this verse, John Calvin says: "He makes this favor common to all, because it is propoundable to all; Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God's benignity indiscriminately to all."
Regarding the two occurrences of the phrase "all men," E. H. Gifford comments: "The words all men [in v. 18] must have the same extent in both clauses."
1 John 2:2 says: "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." A natural reading of this verse, without imposing theological presuppositions on it, supports unlimited atonement.
Isaiah 53:6 says: "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all"
This verse doesn't make sense unless it is read to say that the same "all" that went astray is the "all" for whom the Lord died.
"In the first of these statements, the general apostasy of men is declared; in the second, the particular deviation of each one; in the third, the atoning suffering of the Messiah, which is said to be on behalf of all. As the first 'all' is true of all men (and not just of the elect), we judge that the last 'all' relates to the same company."
Theologian Millard Erickson comments: "This passage is especially powerful from a logical standpoint. It is clear that the extent of sin is universal; it is specified that every one of us has sinned. It should also be noticed that the extent of what will be laid on the suffering servant exactly parallels the extent of sin. It is difficult to read this passage and not conclude that just as everyone sins, everyone is also atoned for."
Titus 2:11: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."
In view of such passages, it is legitimate to ask: "If Christ died only for the elect, how can the offer of salvation be made to all persons without some sort of insincerity, artificiality, or dishonesty being involved? Is it not improper to offer salvation to everyone if in fact Christ did not die to save everyone?"
"How can God authorize His servants to offer pardon to the non-elect if Christ did not purchase it for them? This is a problem that does not plague those who hold to General [Unlimited] Redemption, for it is most reasonable to proclaim the Gospel to all if Christ died for all."
Romans 5 indicates that through Adam's act of disobedience the entire human race became the recipients of sin. And through one act of obedience the last Adam made provision for the gracious gift of righteousness for the entire human race.
Scripture says that Christ died for "sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15; Rom. 5:6-8). The word "sinner" nowhere is limited to the elect or to the church. It is used exclusively in the Bible of lost humanity. Scripture tells us that Christ died for sinners, not penitent sinners, and for the ungodly, not for just some of them.
We conclude that the hypothesis of universal atonement is able to account for a larger segment of the biblical witness with less distortion than is the hypothesis of limited atonement."
Robert Lightner similarly argues: "The task of harmonizing those various Scriptures poses a far greater problem for those who hold to a limited atonement than it does to those who hold to an unlimited position. Those who hold to an unlimited atonement recognize that some Scriptures emphasize the fact that Christ died for the elect, for the church, and for individual believers. However, they point out that when those verses single out a specific group they do not do so to the exclusion of any who are outside that group since dozens of other passages include them. The 'limited' passages are just emphasizing one aspect of a larger truth. In contrast, those who hold to a limited atonement have a far more difficult time explaining away the 'unlimited' passages."
The fact is, the Scriptures do not always include all aspects of a truth in any one passage. "If these texts are used in isolation to 'prove' that Christ died only for the elect, then it could be argued with equal logic from other isolated passages that Christ died only for Israel (cf. John 11:51; Isa. 53:8), or that He died only for the Apostle Paul (for Paul declares of Christ, 'Who loved me, and gave himself for me,' Gal. 2:20). As well might one contend that Christ restricted His prayers to Peter because of the fact that He said to Peter, 'But I have prayed for thee' (Luke 22:32)."
In none of these passages do the advocates of limited atonement insist that the Jewish people exclusively are the objects of God's saving grace. Similarly, when Christ is said to have purchased the church with His blood (Acts 20:28), we cannot limit Christ's atoning work to the church alone.
Galatians 2:20 declares that Christ loved Paul and gave Himself for him ("The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me"). But this does not mean that Christ gave Himself only for Paul.
To sum up, Christ did not give Himself in the atonement only for Paul, or only for Israel, or only for the church, but for all men.
Universal terms like "world" should not be restricted in contexts which speak of the atonement.
Robert Lightner comments: "Those who always limit the meaning of those terms in contexts that deal with salvation do so on the basis of theological presuppositions, not on the basis of the texts themselves."
A word study of the word "world" - particularly in the apostle John's writings, where it is used 78 times - indicates that the world is God-hating, Christ-rejecting, and Satan-dominated. Yet this is the world that Christ died for. Particularly in John's writings, interpreting "world" as "world of the elect" seems a great distortion of Scripture.
John Calvin thus declares: "By the word many He means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race."
This is the same meaning as in Romans 5:15: "For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Note that the "many" of verse 15 is clearly defined in verse 18 as "all men": "...just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men."
Notice that in this verse Paul speaks of Adam's sin, and of the resultant death coming upon all his descendants. But then the apostle goes on to speak of the grace of God and of its resultant gift (of life), abounding to the same company.
I say, "to the same company," because "the many" in the second clause of the verse is coextensive with "the many" in the first clause.
Unlimited atonement has been held by a majority of scholars throughout church history.
Millard Erickson points out that unlimited atonement has been "held by the vast majority of theologians, reformers, evangelists, and fathers from the beginning of the church until the present day, including virtually all the writers before the Reformation, with the possible exception of Augustine. Among the Reformers the doctrine is found in Luther, Melanchthon, Bullinger, Latimer, Cranmer, Coverdale, and even Calvin in some of his commentaries....Is it likely that the overwhelming majority of Christians could have so misread the leading of the Holy Spirit on such an important point?"
Robert Lightner addresses Calvin's position on the issue: "Those who subscribe to a limited atonement generally argue that that is the position espoused by Calvin. But it is highly debatable that he did, in fact, hold that view....Whereas some scholars have attempted to show that there is harmony between Calvin and later orthodox Calvinism, others have argued that contemporary Calvinism has veered significantly from Calvin's teaching, including his teaching on the extent of the atonement."
(The reader will recall that a number of Calvin's citations in this paper show him favorable to unlimited atonement.)
Quotations from the Early Church Fathers
Clement of Alexandria (150-220): "Christ freely brings...salvation to the whole human race."
Eusebius (260-340): "It was needful that the Lamb of God should be offered for the other lambs whose nature He assumed, even for the whole human race."
Athanasius (293-373): "Christ the Son of God, having assumed a body like ours, because we were all exposed to death [which takes in more than the elect], gave Himself up to death for us all as a sacrifice to His Father."
Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386): "Do not wonder if the whole world was ransomed, for He was not a mere man, but the only-begotten Son of God."
Gregory of Nazianzen (324-389): "The sacrifice of Christ is an imperishable expiation of the whole world."
Basil (330-379): "But one thing was found that was equivalent to all men....the holy and precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He poured out for us all."
Ambrose (340-407): "Christ suffered for all, rose again for all." He also said, "Christ came for the salvation of all, and undertook the redemption of all, inasmuch as He brought a remedy by which all might escape."
Augustine (354-430): Though Augustine is often cited as supporting limited atonement, there are also clear statements in Augustine's writings that are supportive of unlimited atonement. For example: "The Redeemer came and gave the price, shed His blood, and bought the world. Do you ask what He bought? See what He gave, and find what He bought. The blood of Christ is the price: what is of so great worth? What, but the whole world? What, but all nations?"
He also stated, "The blood of Christ was shed for the remission of all sins."
Cyril of Alexandria (376-444): "The death of one flesh is sufficient for the ransom of the whole human race, for it belonged to the Logos, begotten of God the Father."
Prosper (a friend and disciple of Augustine who died in 463): "As far as relates to the magnitude and virtue of the price, and to the one cause of the human race, the blood of Christ is the redemption of the whole world" He also said, "The Savior is most rightly said to have been crucified for the redemption of the whole world." He then said, "The blood of Christ be the ransom of the whole world."
Quotations from the Reformers of the 16th Century
Martin Luther (1483-1546): "Christ is not cruel exactor, but a forgiver of the sins of the whole world....He hath given Himself for our sins, and with one oblation hath put away the sins of the whole world....Christ hath taken away the sins, not of certain men only, but also of thee, yea, of the whole world...Not only my sins and thine, but also the sins of the whole world...take hold upon Christ."
Philip Melanchton (1497-1560): "It is necessary to know that the Gospel is a universal promise, that is, that reconciliation is offered and promised to all mankind. It is necessary to hold that this promise is universal, in opposition to any dangerous imaginations on predestination, lest we should reason this promise pertains to a few others and ourselves. But we declare that the promise of the Gospel is universal. And to this are brought those universal expressions which are used constantly in the Scriptures."
Other people involved to some degree in the Reformation who held to unlimited atonement include: Hugh Latimer, Myles Coverdale, Thomas Cranmer, Wolfgang Musculus, Henry Bullinger, Benedict Aretius, Thomas Becon, Jerome Zanchius, David Paraeus, and, as noted earlier, John Calvin.
Quotations from Other Luminaries from Recent Church History
Philip Schaff: "His saving grace flows and overflows to all and for all"
B. F. Westcott: "Potentially, the work of Christ extends to the whole world." And "the love of God is without limit on His part, but to appropriate the blessing of love, man must fulfill the necessary condition of faith."
A. T. Robertson: [The word "world" in John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world" - means] "the whole cosmos of men, including the Gentiles, the whole human race," and adds that "this universal aspect of God's love appears also in II Cor. 5:19; Rom. 5:8."
In this brief outline, we have looked at both sides of the debate regarding the extent of the atonement. I believe that when one considers all the scriptural evidence collectively, the correct view is unlimited atonement.
[Rev 22:17]:'The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.'
The Law which condemns all men, elect and non-elect, was canceled for all mankind by what Christ did on the cross:
2) [Col 2:14]:
"[Christ] having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross."
3) [Eph 2:15a]:
"by abolishing in His flesh the Law with its commandmentments and regulations..."
4) [Gal 3:13-14]:
(v. 13) "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written; 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'
(v. 14) He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit."
[1 Cor 15:22-23]:
I Cor 15:22 "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Rom 3:23-24 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified [i.e., saved] freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
O, give thanks unto the Lord for he is good; for his mercy endures forever. Ps. 107: 1.
In Psalm 136, this language, "his mercy endures forever" occurs twenty times. There never can come a moment, in the endless existence of the sinner, when he cannot resort to the fountain of infinite mercy, and find a full supply of Divine grace. It is for all souls, and the fountain will ever be accessible.
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. Isa. 25: 8.
Look unto me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself; the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear, surely shall say: "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength." Isa. 45: 24-27.
Before the birth of Jesus the Angel of the Lord comprehended the grand result when he said to Joseph,
You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." Matt. 1: 21
He is to save his people. Who are his people? Sinners, for they are to be saved from their sins. How many sinners will he reach and redeem?
Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession. Ps. 2: 8. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hands. John 3: 35.
In one sense, in the sense employed in this passage, the people of Christ are sinners, and all sinners are his people, and as "no man lives and sins not," the expression "his people" denotes all men. The apostle illustrates the thought when he says:
God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all. Rom. 11: 32.
The heavenly messenger made his name, Jesus, (one who saves,) an epitome of his character and mission. He is entitled to be called Jesus, because he will deliver his people, sinners, all men from transgression and sin.
What is the spirit of that grandest discourse ever yet heard or uttered, the Sermon on the Mount. Be like God. He is kind to the wicked, good to the bad. Be like him.
Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. But love you your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again, and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Luke 6: 27, 28, 35, 36. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just, and on the unjust. For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matt. 5: 44-48.
Could this language be employed concerning God, if he consigned the sinner to an endless hell? And if he did torment his enemies forever, should we be like him, if we loved our enemies. The fact that we are like God only when we are kind to those who injure us, demonstrates that God is the same, and as he is without variableness, or even the shadow of turning," James 1: 17, the same yesterday to-day and forever, Heb. 13: 8, it follows that he will always manifest himself with impartial kindness towards all. The spirit of this language is in eternal hostility to the idea of endless torment, and inculcates the restitution of all souls to Him whose property they are. We must treat each other as God treats us, in order to be merciful as God is merciful. If God is not merciful to all who offend him, where is our obligation? and if we must not be unmerciful because he is not, how can he eternally punish? God forbids us to overcome evil with evil, and demands of us that we overcome evil with good.
Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom. 12: 21
And yet it is said that he employs his infinite power in overcoming evil by evil to all eternity! "Recompense no man evil for evil," Rom. 12: 17, is the Divine injunction, and yet God employs eternity in disobeying his own commands! We are told to bless our foes:
If your enemy hunger feed him; if he thirst give him drink; for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head, Rom 12: 20.
And yet we are taught that damned souls shall cry for water in vain - a drop of water - to all eternity. Thus God is represented as not doing what he commands us to do, and doing what he commands us not to do, and that to all eternity! Let it be shown that God is unforgiving, cruel, unmerciful, will torment his enemies forever, and men will resemble him most when they are most fiendish. If God were to torment one soul forever, a Sioux Indian would be his best representative among men. But as we are most like him when kindest and tenderest, it follows that his mercy and love towards every child of his will be without limit or bound.
As this Divine discourse proceeds, it culminates in
THE LORD'S PRAYER.
And this may be called the Universalist Profession of Faith. All men are required to recognize and address God daily as their Heavenly Father; one who is always kind and merciful toward all his children. They are commanded in that prayer to pray for his kingdom to come, his kingdom of holiness and purity, and for his will to be done. We will show hereafter that his will is that all souls shall be saved, (See 1 Tim 2: 1-6; Eph. 1: 9-14; John 6: 38-40). It is declared that all true Christian prayer must be in faith, nothing doubting, (1 Tim 2: 8,) for whatever is not of faith is sin, Rom. 14: 23). Now, how can any one address God as a Father. and pray that his will may be done, and understand that will to include the final welfare of all souls, and offer that prayer in faith, and not be a Universalist? The doxology of the prayer is in the same vein. He who offers it understandingly, and who prays in faith, can say triumphantly, "Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory," and his "Amen." Signifying, So may it be, and So shall it be, is an aspiration and a psalm, a petition and an exultation. He sees the Father's will universally triumphant, or his Amen is but an ignorantly pronounced expletive offending heaven with idle rhetoric. Unless he utters it as a triumphant ejaculation that the desire "Deliver us from evil" will at length be answered in universal redemption, his Amen has no meaning. But let us dwell a little on the one great fact in this prayer that demonstrates universal salvation:
THE UNIVERSAL FATHERHOOD.
The prophet Malachi (2: 10) asks. "Have we not all one Father?" If he employed this language in a restricted sense, confining it to the Jews, Christianity enlarges it. In the Lord's Prayer, above, all are under perpetual obligations to call God by the dear name that describes as no other word can, his kindly purpose towards all men, his children. Jesus declares: "One is your Father:" Matt 23: 9. Paul affirms, "There is one God and Father of all. Eph. 4: 6
He illustrates his paternal love in sending the sunshine and the rain on the evil and the good, who are alike his children. Sin does not destroy this relation. It continues when man forgets or disregards it.
We are to judge God's feelings towards his children by our own feelings towards our offspring.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matt. 7: 9-11.
Make the heart of the best earthly parent the unit to be multiplied as far as the mind can go, and the quotient - differing in degree, but the same in kind, indicates Our Father. The earthly parent will do all he can for his children, but God not only will do so much, but he can do all he will. Let any earthly parent look into his own heart, and in the drop of love there he will see reflected the great heart of God, planning, devising, executing, in time and in eternity, the best possible for every child. The fact of God's paternity infinitely wise and powerful, is a guaranty of universal salvation. God created and does all things as a Father. He will not permit final woe to befall any one of his vast family. He will accomplish the ultimate welfare of each and all, this we know, as truly as we know that he is "Our Father."
The power of leaven is irresistible. However small the quantity placed in meal it overcomes by its fermentation, all opposition, and assimilates the entire mass to its own likeness. Jesus makes this beautiful figure illustrative of the irresistible influence of his Gospel in the human heart, in the moral world.
Another parable spoke he unto them: The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Matt. 13: 33. And again he said, whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Luke 13: 20, 21.
The Gospel leaven must prevail universally; it will ferment until "the whole is leavened."
The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. John 3: 35.
All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. John 6: 37-39.
For the love of Christ constrains us: because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God. For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might he made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Cor. 5: 14-21.
Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist, and he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell: and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled. Col. 1: 13-21.
Therefore, He will draw all men unto him, and they will obey the call, and submit to him in willing and righteous obedience.
He tasted death for every man, Heb. 2: 9, that each might become his disciple, and possess eternal life, and this he declares all men will have, as surely as he is lifted up, that is, crucified. Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. John 12: 31, 33. No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes unto me. John 6: 44, 45. As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you has given him. John 17: 2. All things are delivered unto me of my Father John 6:
All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6: 37-40.
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before you. For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations. Ps. 22: 27, 28.
Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2: 9-11.
The phrase "under the earth," Kataxthonion, means infernal, and the whole description, says Bretschneider, is equivalent to all mankind. Professor Stuart says:
Things in heaven, earth and under the earth is a common periphrasis of the Hebrew and New Testament writers for the universe.
Albert Barnes says:
The whole universe shall confess that he is Lord. This is a willing confession, to God's glory, and must therefore be of sincere worship.
Who so offers praise glorifies me." Ps. 50: 23.
This must be universal worship, as it is all to the glory of God the Father. There are no unwilling worshippers. Hence the apostle teaches that the result of Christ's mission is to render all souls righteous:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (for until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offense, so also is the free gift: for if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man's offense death reigned by one: much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation: even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. 5: 12-21.
All have sinned, and become subject to death, and the same all are to be made spiritually alive. The same "many" who were disobedient sinners are to be made righteous.
Says Dr. Macknight (Scotch Presbyterian):
For as hoi polloi, the many, in the first part of the verse, does not mean some of mankind only, but all mankind, from first to last, who without exception are constituted through the disobedience of Adam sinners; so the many in the latter part of the verse, who are said to be constituted righteous through the obedience of Christ, must mean all mankind, from the beginning to the end of the world, without exception.
Thus these many, i.e. all mankind, are to become actively righteous. Says Professor Stuart.
Dikaioi, moreover, must have an active sense here, in order to make out the antithesis to hamartoloi, which clearly bears only an active sense, if the usus loquendi may decide this point; at least it does so wherever else it is employed.
The "many" who died in sin, died as Adam died and are to be made alive with spiritual life, as Christ was alive - that is, all men are to resemble Christ as they have resembled Adam. This the Apostle illustrates by the figure of a pair of scales:
As in Adam all die
In Christ shall all be made alive,
1 Cor. 15: 22.
Paul's view accords perfectly with the doctrine of the Savior:
But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruit of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then, comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign till he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy (that) shall be destroyed (is) death. [The words "that," and "is" are supplied by the translators. What Paul says is, "The last enemy, Death, SHALL BE DESTROYED."] For he has put all things under his feet. But when he says, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body it is raised a spiritual body. And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible; and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting? O grave where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be you steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor. 15: 20-28; 42-58.
Here we see,
1. All mankind are included. The same all that die as Adam died will be resuscitated.
2. They are not merely to live, but are to live "in Christ." And as is the first fruit so is the harvest.
3. They are to be new creatures, and wear the image of the heavenly. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. 2 Cor. 5: 17.
4. It is a condition of "glory," "incorruptibility," "immortality."
5. It is not the resurrection of the body, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God."
6. Death is to be destroyed.
7. All man's enemies are to be annihilated.
8. And man is to be victor through Christ over all. And in this mountain shall the lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow; of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall be taken away from off all the earth; for the Lord has spoken it. Isa. 25: 6-8.
9. That the final resurrection is to holiness, is evident from Paul's words in Acts 24: 15, in which he hopes for "the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." It is not supposable that Paul could hope, that is, desire and expect, the resurrection of the unjust, if he believed that they would rise to endless torture. The fact that he hoped for the resurrection of the unjust proves that he regarded it as a blessing to them, even.
It is said that there is a resurrection to be attained by human effort. True, Jesus says:
Then said he also to him that bade him, when you make a dinner or a supper, call not your friends, nor your brethren, neither your kinsmen, nor your rich neighbors; lest they also bid you again, and a recompense be made you. But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and you shall be blest; for they cannot recompense you; for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14: 12-14.
This is the result, not of faith, but of good works, and gives a higher measure of glory to those who are worthy of it. "In the resurrection one star differs from another." Those who deserve it, have the larger measure of joy in the resurrection.
Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection. Heb 11: 35.
There are grades hereafter, all are not alike, though all are equal to, or like the angels.
The anastasis, or resurrection is not merely being, it is a rising, a moral and spiritual ascent ultimately to be experienced by all mankind, who are to be made alive in Christ, and become equal to the angels. It is "rising to a better life," in the words of Macknight, Scotch Presbyterian. This is the clear and unmistakable testimony of Jesus the Savior and Paul the Apostle. Well did this sublime consummation compel the apostle to exclaim:
For God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Rom. 11: 32-36. And let all the people say Amen.
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