I'm hearing a rapid increase in the number of people proclaiming a doctrine called universalism, universal reconcilism etc. It refers to a belief that at some point scriptures which give possibly anything ranging from a global salvation for all, to simply the fact that the gift is made AVAILABLE for all, tend to mean the former. Bear in mind that all scriptures that try to relate aspects of spiritual things rely on physical language to express these things. Tongues is referred to as the language of angels in at least one place. There is a higher language I believe. This English language I try to speak in is limited. All languages are. That's why God tries to relate things through various parables that relate the physical to the spiritual. But in reading a parable there are many valid, and many invalid aspects and the spirit must teach us and context bear witness of which of these are which.
So let's start with some fundamentals here. We know that God created us in his image. We are therefore spiritual beings. Therefore I don't believe we can be terminated per sey/ ahhihilated. God is of an eternal nature. If he began something of that nature it may be without end. Scriptures that talk about 'destroying' some say refer to annihilation. However it could also well mean (and in context more logically does) that he is simply removing the thing that appeased people into this state of despising God (ie. their worship of the flesh. Destroy the flesh, you destroy everything they've been about. This could be referred to as 'destroying them' in the context of those verses.) For example we read in Romans early on that people become as animals and worship the things of the flesh basically to their own destruction. In fact this whole passage of Romans 1 pretty much details exactly what I'm saying in the next paragraph.
We see many many examples in history where the typical person begins their life with hope. A child who is a blank slate pretty much. But quickly as they begin to reject the advances of God's spirit attempting to become their friend, they begin to manifest and more and more rebellious nature. MORE often than not, the end of the road isn't repentance. The end of the road is their destruction. In fact we see a clear overall portrayal of this in the first people to inhabit the earth. Most of those born of Methuselah and those after him were still alive when the flood came and destroyed the earth. God did this because there was "only evil all of the time".
So these people went from children for whom there was hope, like Enoch who chose to walk with God and then was no more because God took him away.... to people like Methuselah himself the oldest man who died in the year of the flood if you calculate the times given. (A friend showed me that years ago. Do the calculations yourself!) There is no record at the time of 'only evil all of the time' that Methuselah was any exception to this. It said only Noah and his family found any favor in God's eyes of this whole corrupt mess.
Now with that foundation laid, I'm going to create a very simple piece of logic that will undo most of the confusion I believe on this topic. FIRST you must wash your mind of the false doctrines that have been taught though around the use of words like 'Omniscience' and 'omnipresent'. Would be "Scholars" used those words to describe what they *thought* they were seeing of God's character in the bible. However, for example there are specific passages which indicate that God chooses to withdraw himself from some places. EG. the temple of SOlomon. He used this building to show how he will not inhabit a house full of idols. He withdraws himself. He CHOOSES to not be there. Thus God is 'selectively omnipresent.' He is not 'Omnipresent'. Whoever told you God has to be everywhere at once was lying to you. Whoever told you God is 'infinite'...where does the bible say that? God is beyond our imagination. God is 'functionally boundless'. From anyone's frame of reference. However that does not make him 'infinite' nor is anything truly 'infinite'. GOD IS REAL. Everything about God can (though not by man with his limited ability to even remotely perceive who God is!) be enumerated BY GOD. God KNOWS who he is. GOD KNOWS EVERY PART OF HIMSELF. Hear me clearly. Therefore since there is NO limit to how large a number one can express... God I assume has the ability to account for every part of himself.
Now see, this is important. Because if God were truly infinite he would have no choice but to occupy everything completely :-). And all evil in the universe would be God's fault because after all he is infinite and occupies everything and therefore mathmatically THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ANYTHING BUT GOD! See it's twisted lines of reasoning like this that fuel new-age confusion etc. If you are a CHristian, stop using confusing and unbiblical wording like this. Just call God "Vast beyond our wildest imagination or ability to perceive". Don't call him 'infinite' and sow seeds of lunacy so that your children will grow up with warped confused ideas that lead them to these non-sensical conclusion/confusion. It's totally silly and unnecessary because there is no testimony that God is infinite except some pseudo-scholar's.
And God is certainly all knowing, in terms of things that are. However God does not know non-existant things because God is a real God..not an imaginary one. God doesn't know the answers to non-sensical questions. Because, obviously there are no right answers. And God doesn't necessarily know all future free will choices simply because the future does not exist. These are not 'things' therefore. They don't exist. God is ALL WISE however and through this he is able to predict given that there will always be plenty of wicked people to follow after their evil desires and do the predictable thing, things like those listed in Revelation. NOTE that the bible NEVER lists a prophecy about some undeveloped character who will have a heart after God. Wow. Isn't that amazing? God surely would..give a positive message like that through a prophet if there was one to have. No rather he only prophecies about pre-developed characters like Himself (Jesus) and Elijah (John the Baptist) who bear in mind never died. Jesus said he was the Elijah who was to come and the reference said literally Elijah himself will come. John didn't know who he was because his spirit was intact but his mind was fresh as a baby. He only knew his purpose which God showed him; to prepare the way for the lord.
And God is certainly all loving! As Romans 8 says he "is willing that none would perish". (See exerpt on Romans 8) But we have to read that in the context of a life. A person starts as a clean slate. They choose to look at the possibilities outside God (Romans 3:23) and sin. At some point if they respond they can start life anew and God can finally start working the things he intends into their life. However many absolutely defile his plan. And they become like the people of Genesis 6!
So this is the simplicity of my argument. That there IS an overall trend as Jeremiah 17:9 establishes that the human heart is wicked. People tend to get more and more wicked. They don't tend overall to get better and better. MOST people who come to Christ do so in their earlier years. Only a scant few like my uncle come in at the 11th hour. But for those who do..praise God they're in! They get paid the same. I PRAISE GOD that my uncle Frank I believe will have the same reward as I have. He messed up most of his life here. For most of my life I saught God and forsook the things of this world. But in the end we both get the same thing. Jesus. It took my uncle his whole life due to the circumstances of his life and that God might be glorified to show forth HIS grace and mercy.
It literally does take "all kinds" to show people what God wants to show them. He wants to show them that he is willing that none would perish and that even if a person forsakes him all their life, that he still wants to take them to be with himself if they will just repent and cry out to him. HE ALSO wants to show people that people like ME live a life full of JOYS that are REAL! People like Frank live lives of codependent hell! Why not start walking with Jesus NOW! :-) Frank died of a destroyed liver. ANd..there is just one way to love your liver! You just put down the can, stan. Hand me that drink link. hehe.
Anyway, but what of people who pass on from this life without making a choice to respond to the love of God? Who absolutely harden their heart more and more against it. The thing with Franky...he never understood the gospel until I brought it to him. I contrasted what he HAD been presented with...(which he had just waved out of the room in form of my mother who was being religious and trying to use a patented gospel presentation from evangelism explosion... which blew up in her face :-) ) and the love of God that wanted to forgive him for the everything and just have a relationship with him and that he had died himself at the hands of wicked men to accomplish this. Frank's heart broke and he prayed to receive God' spirit right then and there. I still weep to this day...I can't help it...just the power of that moment. To see in the spirit realm the powers of darkness that had held him in bondage being SHATTERED ONCE AND FOR ALL! Thank you Jesus. Praise you father.
See Frank I believe only knows Jesus now. His past deeds were a drop in the bucket of eternity and God has cast his sins as far as the east is from the west. God intentionally shields some people from the gospel until they are able to wholeheartedly receive it! Others he lets them gradually begin to get a clue about the different aspects and minister in part...learn in part along the way like me. I will NOT be looking down on Frank in Heaven. He will NOT have any lesser reward I believe. We both will have the unity in Jesus that our decision to respond to his gift gave us! Thank you Lord.
Ok so I'm embellishing the simlicity a bit here. I can't help it :). But take it to an extreme. Those who are of the universalist mindset believe that people will enter into 'termporary torment' mostly. God will keep checking in on them or..they'll come crawling out of the pit themself or something. Neither of these ideas really makes a lick of sense to me for two reasons. The first is that Jesus said "Out of my sight you workers of iniquity; I never knew you" in Matthew 7:23. If people really look at this, Jesus is either introducing totally erronious aspects deliberately, or we have to believe that he's saying that there will be a place out of his sight. And given the foreground we've laid above, why would this surprise anyone? Some claim this is annihilation. But Jesus had such an EASY way to express that if that was the case. He could have simply said "Out of EXISTENCE. However he did not do this. Is he the God of confusion? No. Therefore I must assume that there is a place out of his sight. Much in the same way as it says God will not hear prayers in Ezekiel 20:31, Jeremiah 7:16 and other places that hint such things in various ways. This is another example of God being "Selectively Omni". He has ability to do all kinds of things that he chooses not to do.
Ok so wickedness breeds more wickedness in general. We see this clearly in bible history. Why would we think it's any different in the afterlife. HERE we have the holy spirit trying to woo us to him. And a person degrades IN THE MIDST of that to a more and more depraved condition until they die. The scripture says "It is for each to die once, then face judgment." You know I somehow got that twisted in some references online. Is said off the cuff 'live once then face judgment'. This is an example of an error that really is of no bearing. Because obviously I mean we live one fleshly life and then face judgment (the fleshly life being terminated by the death referred to in the original verse. :-) So I see no real problem with either way of saying it. The fact is Hebrews 9:27 tells us that there is no reincarnation. We go immediately from death to being judged in the sequence of events it appears from this reference.
And this judgment is obviously where God/Yeshua decides if we ever knew him or not. If we didn't he calls us workers of sin and sends us away to a place out of his sight.
Now some speculate that this place is not eternal. My problem with this lies in the fact that there is ONE way to salvation. That is through coming to a relationship with Jesus so that he doesn't honestly say he never knew us. Now..how...out of that place 'out of his sight' do we get to know him? See...there is another vehicle to salvation here. A vehicle of...our own works? Of somehow learning without Jesus that hell really isn't a fun place and that we should make ourselves all good and fit for heaven? GOD WILL NOT ALLOW UNRIGHTEOUSNESS IN HEAVEN. You see? So there must be some method by which we make ourselves righteous and fit..outside of Jesus' sight.
That of course is impossible and truly is another gospel. Just as saying that all children who die God to heaven. We've established a second path to salvation. It's another Gospel. I don't know what happens between God and children who die. All kinds of possibilities. SOme may push him away terminally, to where God can see that they never will come to him. So he deems there is no point in sustaining their life another day. OTHERS may respond to him and he sees they are ready to come and dwell with him forever! I pray it's the case with most of them! However, why would it be? Because most people are wicked. They are conceived in sin and remain in it pushing away God's attempts for the most part it seems to be. Biblically, and experientially speaking.
Ok and one final thought that throws a complete monkey wrench in the whole thing. If there was some mechanism, what's to say that some people won't maintain eternally the direction that they chose on this earth; of rebelling in their heart against God? It is for these reasons that the universalist perspective seems to be grasping at straws to justify what many would like to believe. Most of the people I know who have gone this way have kids who chose to rebel. Well...all of them actually. I see the hurt, but I still believe for those kids and that God in his time will bring the gospel to them in a way that they can now understand. And at that time they will have to choose. If it's the 11th hour, it's ok. If it's 12:01... it's not ok NOT because God is a legalist. But because he maintains us on this earth for the purpose of getting to know him. And is willing that none pass from this earth without getting to know him so that in the day of judgment the realities that I have outlined above do not come into play. -Bob
The use of words like "Drag" and "Draw"
(Preface: I've recently been trying to Reason with a fellow named "Gary" though I'm fairly sure he isn't listening yet I sense other are. He brings forth John 12:32 to try to say that God 'Draws' all men to himself or he claims the word really means 'Drag' as though there is any difference in this context. "Drag" force in nature, for instance, resists, exerts pressure on...but does not overcome a vehicle moving down the road. The vehicle continues to go in the often wrong direction it is going. Drag force only contributes to limiting the speed and distance it can travel. But it's ludicrous to try to say that this physical word actually means that God 'irresistably draws us'. No..we resist..and we do a fine job of it sometimes and wind up in a place we would rather not be in for eternity if we dont' humble ourselves and repent and receive a relationship with his spirit! Anyway here's my reply to Gary:
You totally ignore the fact that the physical words 'draw' and 'drag' both have a wide variety of applications. YOU FLUSH the context of the bible and insist that you can pull multiple scriptures out and give them this narrowed treatment.
If you would just read what is there instead of adding presumption, you would realize that a word like 'Drag' or 'draw' might be getting used to create a picture of a struggle....and there is no guarantee who is going to win this struggle.
Remember when Jacob struggled with God? While God left him a reminder of the incident..and his ultimate authority and ability to rearrange Jacob right into obvlivion if he wanted to....Jacob still 'overcame'.
THIS IS LIFE AND DEATH PEOPLE. Please...here the heart of the spirit in this.
It's like a loving daddy... and he has a rebellious kid. But instead of pounding him... he uses the tactic of turning the rebellion into a play 'struggle' kind of. Sure the daddy could kill the kid...but he let's him 'win' the struggle in a way... yet he leaves him with a reminder that he's the authority in the picture and that that he's just 'play fighting' with him because he loves him...as he powerfully picks the child up in the air and sets him down when they are done...
Why does he do this? Because lessons are learned through struggle if the struggle doesn't kill us. God often allows people to struggle against his will for them. And while they may 'overcome' for a time...they can also OVERCOME by seeing God's love and mercy for them through this. And come to humble themselves and recognize that they are nothing before him yet he considers them a friend. And wants like everything to come and share each moment with them instead of them just going off on their own to hijack what God has given them.
DO ALL RESPOND TO THIS TREATMENT? No. Some still wander away and destroy their soul. Hence the use of words like 'drag'/'draw'.
HAD God meant TAKE..he'd have said it.
"I will TAKE all men to myself, regardless of whether they want it or not"
No rather he will resist the proud and in the end send them to a place out of his sight. -Bob