Chapter four of Charles Slagle’s Absolute Assurance in Christ: Four Views of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Christ bought us ALL back by His own blood shed at Calvary. He came to earth for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s deceptive works and to save that which was lost. Eventually our Lord will fulfill His sure purpose and inherit ALL He paid for. That is because:
a. God is Holy Love, and love means commitment.
b. God’s commitment is stronger than our weaknesses, our foolish choices, our stubbornness, our SIN. For if God’s commitment to us is only as strong as our commitment to Him (perish the thought!) that means He is no better than we are.2
c. God’s fires of purifying judgment are unrelenting, though not of endless duration (contrary to tradition but not Scripture). So He persistently and patiently corrects us—until—He succeeds in redeeming us. For our heavenly Father’s judgments arise, not from vindictive rage, but from His loving mercy. He loves us too much to let sin and death destroy His dreams for us. Christ’s death on the cross demonstrates the depth of God’s love as well as His commitment to destroy sin and death. It shows us that, to His own hurt and agony, the Lord is absorbing all the death-dealing abuse of our sin and will “swallow it up” into His life as He saves us.
Acts 3:21 tells us God has promised through all His holy prophets that He will restore ALL things. Furthermore, both Old Testament and New Testament writers and prophets tell us:
· that all earth’s families will be blessed through Christ, Abraham’s “Seed” (Gen. 12:3, Acts 3:23, Rom. 4:13). Furthermore, according to Galatians 3:8, this promised blessing means that all earth’s families will be turned from their sins; justified and set right with God;
· that success or failure at keeping God’s law has no bearing on whether or not this promised blessing will finally be bestowed, for the law cannot cancel this covenant (Gal. 3:17-21);
· that all earth’s families, therefore, will remember the Lord, turn to Him and worship Him (Ps. 22:27-28);
· that all flesh will bless His name forever and sing His praise (Ps. 145:21; 66:3-4, Rev. 5:13);
· that His tender mercies are over all His works, and all His works shall praise Him (Ps. 145:9-10);
· that God’s anger is momentary but His mercy is everlasting (Ps. 103:8-10; 136, Micah 7:18);
· that mankind shall be blessed in Christ (Ps. 72:17);
· that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess and give thanks to the Lord. Furthermore, they will swear to Him and oath of allegiance and give thanks that in Him they have righteousness and strength. And this will bring glory to our loving Father. (Isa. 45:21-24, NKJV, also see the Amplified Version; Phil. 2:9-11);3
· that our Tender Father of all Compassion is not pleased or glorified with mere lip service. (Matt. 15:8, 2 Cor. 1:3-4);
· that no one can confess Jesus as Lord apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3);
· that God’s will and purpose must come to pass and no one can restrain Him. For He works ALL things according to His will (Ps. 33:10-11, Prov. 19:21; 21:1, Ecc. 3:1,17, Dan. 4:34-35, Eph. 1:11);
· that His will and good pleasure and purpose is to unite ALL creation in Christ (Eph. 1:10; 2:9-10);
· that His Word will not return void but accomplish His desire, pleasure and purpose (Isa. 45:23; 46:11; 55:11);
· that through His death on the cross, Christ will draw all mankind to Himself. For Gabriel announced that Christ our Savior shall be glad tidings of great joy to all people (John 12:32-33, Luke 2:10);
· that BECAUSE God created all things for His pleasure, He is worthy of all power, honor and praise (Rev. 4:11);
· that for this reason Christ descended into Hades and proclaimed the gospel to the dead, specifically Noah’s disobedient generation—so they could be judged in order that they might live by God’s Spirit (1 Pet. 3:19; 4:6);
· that Christ, our Good Shepherd, who preached the gospel to Noah’s generation, is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thus, we can rest assured that He will fulfill the redemptive plans of God’s heart for ALL generations (Ps. 33:11, Heb. 13:8);
· that God has given Christ ALL things (Matt. 11:27; 28:18, Luke 10:22, John 3:35; 13:3; 17:2, Eph. 1:22, Heb. 1:2; 2:7-8, 1 Pet. 3:22);
· that Christ will accomplish His Father’s will and lose nothing of all He’s been given (John 6:37,39; 17:2, Heb. 10:7,9);
· that the Lord has spoken it and He will accomplish it, that He has purposed it and will also perform it (Isa. 46:11);
· that in the last days God will pour out His Spirit on ALL mankind, and whoever calls on the Lord’s name will be restored and saved. And as has been shown, all will not only call on the Lord’s name, but all will swear allegiance to Him and offer Him thanks (Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:16-38);
· that ALL—whether righteous or unrighteous—will be resurrected. And according to Paul, this provides good reason to hope in God (Acts 24:15-16);
· that just as Adam’s trespass brought condemnation on all people—so also—Christ’s act of righteousness was justification that brings life to all people. For as through Adam’s disobedience “the many” were made sinners—so also—through Christ’s obedience “the many” will be made righteous (Romans 5:18-19);
· that therefore where sin abounded, grace abounded much more! (Romans 5:20);
· that the whole family4 in heaven and earth is named after our Father. For we are all His offspring. Thus He is above all, through all, and in all (Amos 9:12, Acts 17:28, Eph. 3:14-15; 4:6);
· that Christ has ascended to fill all things (Eph. 4:10);
· that God’s mercy triumphs over judgment. For it is His tender mercy that governs His judgment (Ps. 62:12, Jam. 2:13);
· that the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Messiah (Dan. 7:14,27, Rev. 11:15);
· that the Lord has made bare His holy arm (strength!) and all shall see His Salvation (Isa. 52:10);
· that righteousness and praise shall spring forth before all nations, and everlasting joy shall come to them (See all of Isaiah 61);
· that He Who is Sovereign Holy Love will have mercy on those who were not His people. He will say to them, “You are My people!” And they shall say, “You are my God!” (Hosea 2:23);
· that Sovereign Holy Love will raise from death those who were not His people. He will thus be the Plague and Destruction of death—and Hades (Hos. 13:13-14);
· that Paul therefore could joyfully shout, “O death, where is your sting? O Hades where is your victory?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55);
· that our Good Shepherd will feed His flock, the sheep of His pasture. He shall be Peace and His name shall be great worldwide (Mic. 5:4);
· that the Lord will rise up in plunder. He will pour out the fire of His jealousy. Then He will restore to the peoples a pure language, so they all may call on Him in unity (Zeph. 3:8-9);
· that all things came through Christ and are made for Christ and will finally be subject to Him. For He has tasted death for everyone. (1 Cor. 15:25-28, Col. 1:16, Heb. 1:2; 2:8-10, Rev. 4:11);
· that God is reconciling ALL to Himself through Christ’s cross (John 12:32, 2 Cor. 5:18-19, Col. 1:15-20);
· that Authentic Love reveals itself, not only in words, but in deeds done in integrity, and God’s ever-active love never ceases or fails (1 John 3:18, 1 Cor. 13:8);
· that Christ will be satisfied that God’s will and pleasure has prospered in His hand through His death on the cross (Isa. 53:10-11);
· that God’s will is that none should perish but that ALL should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9);
· that God is the Savior of ALL people, especially (not exclusively) of those who believe. These things prescribe and teach (1 Tim. 4:9-11);
· that through His love-sacrifice Christ, the Lamb of God, has put away sin—the sin of the world (John 1:29, Heb. 9:26, 2 Cor. 5:19);
· that all is from and through God and must return to Him, for God desires all to be saved, and this will be confirmed in due time. Again we recall how God’s Word will not return void but will accomplish all He desires. (Isa. 55:11, Romans 11:32-36, Heb. 2:10, 1 Tim. 2:4-6, Rev. 4:11);
· that Christ, through His church, will eventually fill all things so God will become all—not merely in some—but in ALL (1 Cor. 12:6, 15:28, Eph. 1:22; 4:10, Col. 3:11);
· that Christ will reign over the nations and they shall hope in Him (Isa. 11:1-11, Romans 15:12);
· that the earth is the Lord’s in all it’s fullness and those who dwell therein. So Christ will inherit the nations and all He has made will worship Him (Ps. 1:8; 24:1; 83:8; 86:9, 1 Cor. 3:11; 12:6, Rev. 5:13);
· that the Father has given His Son dominion over the works of His hands (all of which shall praise Him). And He has put all things under His feet (Ps. 8:6; 145:9-10);
· that our Lord’s Word that He will fulfill His purpose stands firm and is forever settled in Heaven. His faithfulness endures to all generations (Ps. 119:89-90);
· that our Father does whatever pleases Him (fulfills His pleasure) in Heaven and earth and all the deep places (Ps. 135:5-6, Eph. 1:9-11);
· that in one passage the declaration occurs twenty-six times that God’s mercy endures forever (Ps. 136);
· that God’s prophetic Word (which cannot return void) is, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” (See all of Ps. 150.);
· that in the last days all nations shall flow into the Lord’s house (Isa. 2:2);
· that Christ the Savior of all men, our Trustworthy Good Shepherd, will not fail. Neither will He be discouraged until He establishes justice (salvation) in the earth (Isa. 42:4, Matt. 12:18-21);
· that Christ is a Covenant (Promise!) and a Light to all who are spiritually unenlightened, who weep under the shadow of darkness. He is to free them from idolatry’s prison. For God will not share His glory with graven images (Isa. 42:6-9, Luke 1:78-79);
· that the Lord will reduce to nothing ALL the gods of the earth! (Zeph. 2:11);
· that the crooked places (not merely some crooked places) shall be made straight. And all flesh shall see the Lord’s Salvation (Isa. 52:10, Luke 3:4-6);
· that God has raised mankind up in righteousness and will direct all his ways (Isa. 45:11-13);
· that our Lord’s Word and irrevocable call is, “Look to Me all you ends of the earth and be saved!” (Isa. 45:22);
· that God—who is Holy Love Unfailing—receives no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23; 33:11). So our Good Shepherd searches for each of His lost sheep until He finds them. For all earth’s inhabitants—bottom line—are God’s people, the “sheep” of His pasture (Ps. 96; 100, Ezek. 18:23-32, Luke 15:4-7);
· that the heathen—the nations—will be glad and sing for joy. For our Strong Deliverer shall righteously judge the poor and govern the nations. All the ends of the earth shall reverence Him! (Ps. 67);
· that the Lord executes righteousness for all the oppressed (Ps. 103:6). Therefore He came for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s works—which include all satan’s lies that have alienated hearts from God (1 John 3:8, Col. 1:21, NJKV);
· that God’s covenant with Abraham, which Christ has come to fulfill, is immutable and unchanging. Thus, it is a hope and anchor for our souls—steadfast and sure (Romans 15:8-12, Heb. 6:13-20);
· that the Lord will speak peace to the nations. His Kingdom shall be to the ends of the earth (Zech. 9:10);
· that from the sun’s rising to its going down, the Lord’s name will be great among the gentiles. So that in every place incense and a pure (not forced and reluctant) offering will rise before him (Mal. 1:11);
· that Christ declares His purpose in coming to earth is to seek and save (restore) that which was lost. And again, we recall how our Lord’s Word tells us that He will fulfill His purpose (Matt. 18:11, Luke 19:10);
· that our Lord and His church (His first born, co-heirs) possess the keys to death, hell and the grave. The keys to God’s Love Kingdom (Matt. 16:19; 18:18, John 14:12; 20:21, Romans 8:16-17, 1 John 4:17, Rev. 1:18);
· that our Lord and His firstborn co-heirs will conquer “the strong man,” satan. They will take away all his armor and confiscate his booty! (Luke 11:21-22, Romans 8:16-23,32, Eph. 1:18,22-23);
· that after our Lord’s visit and ministry among them, the Samaritans were convinced that Christ is the Savior of the world (John 4:42). (When will all of us Christians be convinced?);
· that our Lord declares that He gives (not merely offers) life to the world (John 6:33);
· that He clearly states His purpose in coming to earth is to save the world (John 12:47);
· that Israel will bind itself to the Lord with an everlasting covenant that cannot be canceled. For God’s calling and gifts cannot be revoked. Hence, all Israel and all the world will be saved. Thus, the Lord will accomplish and fulfill all His pleasure—His good pleasure—for ALL things are of Him, through Him and TO Him (Jer. 50:5, Romans 11:8-12,26-29,32-36, John 4:42, 1 John 4:14);
· that to the Lord who hears prayer, all flesh will come (Ps. 65:2);
· that Christ therefore bids us pray to our Father, “Your will be done on earth even as it is (universally done!) in Heaven” (Matt. 6:10);
· that the earth will be full of the revelation of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. For the nations will seek Him (Isa. 11:9-10, Ps. 72:18);
· that the lake of (God’s purifying) fire lasts, not for eternity, but until the ages of the ages (clearly stated in the original language of Scripture5). Thus it will last until the fullness of the times when God unites all in Christ (Eph. 1:10, Rev. 21:8, 20:10,15);
· that God’s fire is spiritual not literal. For our Heavenly Father would never dream of subjecting His own offspring to such an atrocity as torture by literal burning6 (Jer. 19:5, Luke 9:54-56);
· that God Himself is a Consuming Fire. He is like a refiner’s fire and will also purge His priesthood people. Thus they will offer Him pure offerings, Thanksgiving offerings included (Ps. 116:17, Mal. 3:2-3, 1 Thes. 5:18, Heb. 12:29);
· that God’s judgments, however severe, are always just—not cruel and vindictive. For, according to Scrip-ture, the Lord does NOT cast off forever (Ps. 62:12; 67:4; 96:11-13; 119:75, Lam. 3:31, John 5:22-23);
· that the Father has committed all “judgment” to the Son—so that—ALL may honor both Him and the Father (John 5:22-23). Therefore for this very purpose these who have done evil will come forth in the “resurrection of judgment”: so that Christ will lead all to repentance and fulfill His Father’s will and purpose that He draw all people to Himself. Thus our Good Shepherd will lose nothing of all His Father has given Him, and all therefore will honor the Son just as they honor the Father (John 5:29-30).
· that our Good Father will destroy death (1 Cor. 15:26, 2 Tim. 1:10);
· that God and Christ’s Bride, the New Jerusalem, will tabernacle with MANKIND. And He will wipe away all tears, and ALL death, sorrow and pain will pass away (Isa. 25:7-8, Rev. 21:4);
· that He makes all things new. For as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ all shall be made alive (Isa. 25:7-8, Romans 5:18, 1 Cor. 15:22, Rev. 21:4-5);
God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as innumerable as the sand grains on the seashores and as plentiful as the stars in the heavens! For all who have faith in Christ, according to Scripture, are descendants of Abraham (Gen. 22:17-19, Romans 2:28-29, Gal. 3:6-7, Rev. 7:9). So Christ’s ultimate “harvest” of human souls will be of such magnitude that no man can number. What is now called “the church” is only a kind of firstfruits of that harvest (Jas. 1:18).
Thus, the writer to the Hebrews calls God’s covenant with Abraham a sure anchor for the soul. For it enters in behind the veil (into the holiest of holies) where Christ offered His blood for the sins of all humanity (Heb. 6:19).
How can we anchor our souls? As Christians, how can we anchor our mind, will and emotions to possess a solid sense of identity and a good reason for being unless we can rely on Christ’s faithfulness to fulfill God’s covenant with Abraham? The Scriptures tell us that this covenant is an anchor—steadfast and sure! Why is this so? Because this covenant assures us that all humanity will be blessed in Christ!
So why do so many Christians feel insecure in God’s love? One problem is the unscriptural tradition that most people will be lost forever—that only the fittest will survive in God’s economy!
The unbiblical tradition that God brought us into being to respond to the question, “Where will you spend eternity?” is another problem. But that is not the message of the Good News! The Biblical message is, “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 4:17). Nowhere in the New Testament do we find the glad tidings proclaimed in terms of, “Where will you spend eternity?” The message, “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15), is Scriptural. “Where will you spend eternity?” is not a Biblical concept. Pure and simple: God created all of us for His pleasure. He did not put us here “on probation” so we could choose our eternal destiny! God has already planned that all of us will be drawn to Christ and unified in His love.
Another unbiblical tradition that keeps many of us from having a solid sense of identity and a good purpose for being is the tradition that people who die in sin or while unconverted will never be brought to repentance. And why? Because they failed to recognize their “chance” to exercise sufficient wisdom to “seize the moment” (so tradition would have us believe). But is that what the Scriptures really teach? Are we saved, not by God’s grace, but by chance—or by our cleverness to recognize our “chance” before it’s “eternally too late”? If so, will most flesh sing God’s praise and bless His name forever while agonizing from an endless hell? If that describes the final scenario our Loving Creator has in mind, how is Abraham’s covenant a sure anchor for the soul? What hope does Abraham’s covenant offer? Where is our Lord’s tender mercy?
The Bible says that it is appointed to men once to die, and after that the judgment7 (Heb. 9:27-28). It does not say after death all hope is gone! Thus, we see that:
· Sodom’s fiery judgment is “eternal” (Jude 7)—until—God “will restore the fortunes of Sodom” (Ez. 16:53-55);
· Israel’s “affliction is incurable” (Jer. 30:12)—until—the Lord “will restore health” and heal her wounds (Jer. 30:17);
· The sin of Samaria “is incurable” (Mic. 1:9)—until—the Lord “will restore . . . the fortunes of Samaria.” (Ez. 16:53);
· Ammon is to become a “wasteland forever” and “rise no more” (Zeph. 2:9, Jer. 25:27)—until—the Lord will “restore the fortunes of the Ammonites” (Jer. 49:6);
· An Ammonite or Moabite is forbidden to enter the Lord’s congregation “forever”—until—the tenth gener-ation (Deut. 23:3);
· Habakkuk tells us of mountains that were “everlasting”, that is—until—they “were shattered” (Hab. 3:6);
· The fire for Israel’s sin offering (of a ram without blemish) is never to be put out. It shall be “perpetual”—until—Christ, the Lamb of God, dies for our sins. We now have a better covenant established on better promises (Lev. 6:12-13, Heb. 8:6-13);
· God’s waves of wrath roll over Jonah “forever”—until—the Lord delivers him from the large fish’s belly on the third day (Jonah 2:6,10; 1:17);
· Egypt and Elam will “rise no more” (Jer. 25:27)—until—the Lord will “restore the fortunes of Egypt” (Ez. 29:14) and “restore the fortunes of Elam” (Jer. 49:39).
· “Moab is destroyed” (Jer. 48:4,42)—until—the Lord “will restore the fortunes of Moab” (Jer. 48:47);
· Israel’s judgment lasts “forever”—until—the Spirit is poured out and God restores it (Isa. 32:13-15).
· So, narrow is the way to life and few find it—until—Christ and His church confiscate the “strong man’s” booty, setting the captives free so God becomes all in all (Isa. 61, Luke 11:21-22, Matt. 7:13; 16:18, 1 Cor. 15:24-28);
· God is now calling out “a people for His name”—an “elect” or chosen priesthood people who will represent and reflect His loving nature. Many are called and few are chosen—until—the small chosen priesthood people, by the Spirit, restore “David’s tabernacle” so ALL mankind may inquire of the Lord. Thus we see that the church is the first born, the beginning—until—in all (later born new creatures in Christ) our Lord will have supremacy (Amos 9:11-12, Matt. 22:14, Acts 15:14-18, Eph. 3:15, Col. 1:18).
· All manner of sin will be forgiven in this age as well as in the age (not eternity) to come, except blasphemy against God’s Spirit—until—such blasphemy finds pardon in the fullness of the times (or ages) when God unites all in Christ. For the Lord does not retain His anger forever because He delights in mercy (Matt. 12:32; 18:11,21-22, Eph. 1:9-11, Rev. 4:11; 5:13, Mic. 7:18-20).
· God’s wrath has come upon Israel “to the uttermost”
(1 Thess. 2:16). So there is a gulf between “the rich man in purple” (Royal Covenant “Son”, Israel) and the saved gentiles (Lazarus) which no man can cross—until—Christ Himself crosses it to bring His promised restoration. For again, Scripture promises that ALL Israel will be saved (Jer. 50:5, Luke 16:19-26, John 12:32, Romans 11:26-29).
· Christ’s fallen apostle, Judas, will be restored just as surely as fallen Israel (of which he is a member) will be restored. For the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable, and He has purposed to unite all in Christ. For Scripture assures us that He who calls us is “faithful”. He will surely perform it. So Judas is lost—until—the Lord restores Him (John 15:16, 1 Thess. 5:24).
· So, Christ will say to unrighteous nations, “Depart from Me into ‘everlasting’ fire.” And these nations will go away into “everlasting” (original language: age-lasting) punishment or pruning.8 That is—until—by God’s severe mercy shown in judgment, all nations He has made glorify and worship Him. Thus God will fulfill His covenant with Abraham that in Christ all the families of ALL the nations will be BLESSED (Gen. 12:3, Ps. 62:12, 67:4, 86:9, Matt. 25:41,46). For according to Paul (Gal. 3:8), God’s covenant with Abraham means that ALL will be justified and set right with God. So all flesh will bless His name forever and ever (Ps. 145:21).
Therefore, ALL scriptural references that speak of everlasting fire or judgment must be understood in light of God’s (Love’s) clearly expressed heart, promise, desire, purpose and will. They are “everlasting”; that is, they are continuous and on-going—until—God’s judgments serve to accomplish His unchanging will and purpose to unite all creation in Christ. (Gen. 12:3, Romans 4:13, Heb. 6:17).
Gehenna’s fires are not quenched and its worm does not die—until—the restoration of all things which has been spoken of by all God’s holy prophets (Christ included) since the world began. For our Savior did not come to contradict His own prophets. Our Good Shepherd and Faithful Deliverer came to fulfill the law and the prophets! Thus our Lord does not cast off forever (Lam. 3:31-32, Heb. 13:8). He who taught us to forgive and bless our enemies will surely do the same for His. For every tongue will give thanks that in Him they have righteousness and strength. All flesh will bless His name forever and ever! For our Lord will not fail or become discouraged until He fulfills all of God’s purpose, word and will. For He tells us that everyone will be “seasoned” with fire (Matt. 5:17, Mark 9:42-49, Acts 3:21).
Those who disobey the gospel and persecute Christians will be repaid with “everlasting” (that is, continuous) tribulation, destruction and punishment—until—by such persistent correction God shows them their need for Christ. So what is written in the prophets will come to pass, that all shall be taught of God, and everyone who has heard and learned from the Father (eventually) comes to Christ. Thus, all the families of the nations will remember Him and worship before Him. And all will submit to Him and sing His praise. So God’s promise will be fulfilled that ALL men shall reverence Him, proclaim His works, and wisely consider His doing (Ps. 22:27-28, 64:4-5, 64:9, 2 Thess. 1:7-10).
Paul the apostle understood the “forever until” principle at work in God’s redemptive judgments. He knew the heart of God, and Paul also knew God’s will, purpose and plan. His knowledge of God’s character, will and purpose governed his understanding of Scripture. That is why Paul could appear to contradict the prophet David! Have a look at Romans 11:9-12 (NIV), where David prophesies:
May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution to them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see and their backs be bent forever.
And observe how Paul responds:
Again I ask: Did they (Israel) stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the gentiles (pagans, all who are spiritually unenlightened) to make Israel envious. For if their transgression means RICHES for the WORLD, and their loss means riches for the gentiles—how much greater riches will their (Israel’s) fullness bring?
Wow . . . ! In the next three verses Paul assures us:
· that Israel’s fall is the reconciliation of the world;
· that Israel’s fall will be (for them and all the world) life from the dead! (Ez. 37);
· that because the FIRST fruit (Israel) is holy, the whole world (“lump” or “harvest field”) is holy.
Read all of Romans chapter eleven, and the Scriptures will clearly speak for themselves. Practice reading all of God’s Word in light of His character, commitment, purpose and reliable good pleasure and will. Get God’s “forever until”9 policy of judgment settled in your heart—and get ready! You are about to embark upon a love affair with our Heavenly Father that will transform your life. His heart will heal and transform your heart! For of Him and through Him—and to Him—are ALL things! (Romans 11:36) Yourself included. For again, we must remember, our Savior did not come to contradict the words of His own prophets. He came to fulfill them.
Until the heart of God and the will of God become the foundational factors determining our understanding of Scripture, our “gospel” will be bad news—not good. “God is Love, but” is simply not the message the Holy Spirit is conveying to us in the Bible (1 John 4:10,14).
Does this mean God will violate His creatures’ free wills in order to save them? Not at all. What it means is that God has already told us in Scripture that eventually everyone will respond to His wooing. For God foreknows that eventually all He has made will freely choose Him and bless His name forever (that is, once the “lights come on” inside them sufficiently so they can choose Him). For our Lord is the Light of the World, and Scripture assures us that He illuminates every human being born into the world (John 1:9).10
Does all of this mean we have a license to party and live like the devil? No, for we already sin well enough without a license, or haven’t you noticed? The Lord has put us all in a universe jam-packed with CONSEQUENCES, both pleasant and painful. So just because God doesn’t get rid of people forever does not mean there are not serious judgments that await those who willfully reject the truth. The resurrected unrighteous will face judgment (John 5:29, Heb. 11:35). So if certain ones calculate that a life of rebellion against the Lord is worth “going to hell” for a time, then no one—least of all God—is going to force them to stop having their fling. We can all have as much hell as we want, perhaps more than we bargained for!
What, then, is the point of sharing this radically Good News about God? The point is, until we have a heart and mind understanding of God’s true character and agenda:
· we will lack the ability to rest consistently in God’s love;
· we will lack the ability to trust Him totally and completely. Why? Because we will find ourselves in a constant struggle trying to trust ourselves;
· we will lack humility born of the realization that our good or bad behavior has nothing to do with God’s love and commitment to us;
· we will lack peace and joy—except on a sporadic basis;
· we will lack a heart of true worship and adoration toward our Savior;
· we will lack the ability to discern the difference between justice and cruelty;
· we will lack the understanding that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom—not the fear of His hopeless rejection. For correction is not rejection.
· we will lack the serenity and hope that comes from the understanding that Love always succeeds and never fails;
· we will lack the ability to understand or appreciate or receive unconditional love;
· we will lack the ability to love others unconditionally;
· we will lack an understanding of God that is worthy of His true nature;
· we will lack the ability to understand Scripture in light of God’s heart, and His clearly revealed purpose and will;
· we will lack as individuals a solid sense of identity. For if any doubt lingers as to Whose we are, we can never know who we are or why we are;
· we will lack a perception—a wholesome perception—of our identity and purpose and ministry to the world as members of Christ’s body. For we are not the only-born—we are the firstborn of all God’s redeemed children. Our commission is to join with Christ in restoring all His cherished creation.
· we will lack the ability to appreciate God’s heart of committed love toward all His creation;
· we will lack the ability to judge NO ONE by the flesh (external criteria);
· we will lack the understanding of God’s good purpose for all His creation and the certainty of its fulfillment;
· we will lack the understanding that Jesus Christ is Who the gospel is all about, and creation’s restoration is what the gospel is all about;
· we will lack the understanding of the magnitude of Calvary’s Victory;
· we will lack the ability to proclaim the Good News of Christ to a hurting world in terms of God’s unconditional, unfailing and committed love.
Creation did not fall into ruin by it’s own choice, according to Romans 8:20-21. God Himself allowed it because of a hope He cherished in His heart.
The Good news is that the same God who willed His creation’s temporary unravelling is re-ravelling it back—by His own loving blood-sacrifice—to reflect greater splendor than it had at its beginning.
This is why the gospel truly is glad tidings of great joy which shall be to ALL people! The Lord takes full responsibility for His creation’s fall, and for its full recovery. Thus, God has shut all in sin’s prison that He may have mercy on all (Romans 11:32). So all will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father (John 5:22-23). For God works all things according to His will.
Read and meditate on the Scriptures for yourself. Ask our Lord and Savior to guide you. The Lord yearns for you to know the height, the depth, the width, and the length of His love which surpasses knowledge! He yearns for your trust. He desires that you be filled with the knowledge of His will. He longs to convince you of His commitment and to ravish you with His love. He longs to remove every mental or theological roadblock that hinders your trust in Him. He longs to smash to smithereens every vain imagination that exalts itself against the pure knowledge of Christ! Hide and watch! You shall (one day) love the Lord your God with all your heart, your body, your soul, your mind—your being. You “shall”. . . This is not just a command; it is a promise. And you shall be like Him, radiant with the light of His life-giving holy love—for—you shall see Him AS HE IS. And that’s what salvation is all about.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is Mine,
Oh what a foretaste of glory Divine,
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising My Savior all the day long,
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my savior all the day long!
— Fanny Crosby