Shall He Not Do What He Asks Us To Do?

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22.

Shall He say, “Forgive seventy times seven,” and Himself not forgive except in this short life? Shall He command us to “overcome evil with good,” and Himself, the Almighty, be overcome of evil? Shall He judge those who leave the captives unvisited, and Himself leave captives in a worse prison for ever unvisited?

Does He not again and again appeal to our own natural feelings of mercy, as witnessing “how much more” we may expect a larger mercy from our “Father which is in Heaven”?

Andrew Jukes (1815-1901) The Restitution of All Things (1867), page 94

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Drawing All Men

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me (John 12:32).

The truth of the supernatural and all-powerful drawing of God is one of the most neglected of all of the great truths of God’s Word, and yet it is one of the most important. The words translated “draw” and “drew” in the Greek New Testament are helkuō and helkō. Each of these words has the basic meaning of “compel,” “draw,” “pull” and “tug.” In most instances the force which does the drawing or compelling is sufficient to cause the object of the drawing to respond fully.

When the apostle James wishes to describe the manner in which rich men forcibly drag those who are indebted to them to prison, he uses the word helkō. In James 2:6 he writes, “Do not rich men oppress you and draw you before the judgment seats?”This “drawing,” of course, was not with wooing or pleading! It was an act of force that absolutely took no care of the willingness of the person drawn! The poor man might resist ever so much, and he might cry and plead, but he was drawn irresistibly to the place of judgment!

It is with precisely this kind of forceful drawing about which the Lord Jesus is talking when He says, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me!”

J. Preston Eby

Taken from the Bible Student’s Notebook

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You Will Surely Die!

Bible scholar types are big about interpreting Scripture in context. So let’s consider the context of the entire Bible, beginning with Genesis. If one were going to defend their position on hell. Genesis would be the first obvious place to start. I should think that if God wanted to present the ramifications of the most crucial choice and potentially fearsome destiny for mankind—the price for sin—in the beginning is where He should lay it all out, not waiting until the middle or the end. So what does God say?

“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17).
Nowhere in this passage does it say they will “die forever/’ or they will go to a place of eternal suffering. It just says they will die, as in stop breathing, or kick the bucket. Obviously, Adam and Eve didn’t die the same day they ate. That’s because the more literal text offers a progressive sense of entering into the death process. The Greek Septuagint says, “to death you shall die.”
From Raising Hell by Julie Ferwerda.
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He Choses Us – We Don’t Choose Him!

Just as He chose us in Him [Christ} before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,   to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:4-6

The above three verses of scripture must surely rank among the most revelatory and awe-inspiring to be found in the entire Bible. Consider again: “For he chose us [in Christ] … to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Notice especially that it doesnt say we are holy and blameless because we made a decision. It doesnt say we are holy and blameless because we quit some of our bad habits. It doesnt say we are holy and blameless because we completed the ‘new believer classes’ at church. It doesnt say we are holy and blameless because we chose him; but, rather, because “he chose us.”
It’s entirely possible that none of us may appear to be holy and blameless in the sight of others – or even in our own sight. However, our blamelessness is not dependent on the judgment of others, nor on anything we might personally say or do, but on divine fiat – or, in plain English: because God declared it to be so!
From Dropping Hell and Empracing Grace by Ivan A. Rogers
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Weekend Wisdom – Abraham Lincoln

Jonathan Harnett was a Lincoln associate and businessman from Pleasant Plains, IL. Harnett retold of his 1858 conversation with Lincoln and some of their associates:

[Lincoln] closed with the restitution of all things to God, as the doctrine taught in the Scriptures, and if anyone was left in doubt in regard to his belief in the atonement of Christ and the final salvation of all men, he removed those doubts in a few questions he answered and propounded to others. After expressing himself, some one or two took exceptions to his position, and he asked a few questions that cornered his interrogators and left no room to doubt or question his soundness on the atonement of Christ, and salvation finally of all men. He did not pretend to know just when that event would be consummated, but that it would be the ultimate result, that Christ must reign supreme, high over all. The Savior of all; and the supreme Ruler, he could not be with one out of the fold; all must come in, with his understanding of the doctrine taught in the Scriptures.”

From the Salvation of All  blog.

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All Things Were Created for Christ

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16

All things were created for Christ – so saith the Bible. “All things were created by him and for him.” Col. 1:16. But if Partialism is true, a portion of mankind was as surely made for the devil as for Jesus Christ, and in the winding up of human affairs, each party will receive its due – a more God-dishonoring notion, corruption never invented. Was it in view of this end that God in the beginning pronounced man good, VERY GOOD? Was it in view of this end that “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:7. ALL THINGS were created FOR CHRIST. And will any who belong to Jesus, sin and suffer forever? Will they not all finally partake of the salvation promised in the Gospel? A voice from the cross of Jesus and the throne of God assures us that they will.

From One Hundred and Fifty Reasons For Believing in the Final Salvation of All Mankind By Erasmus Manford

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Restoration of All Things

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3:19

Acts records NT believers sharing the good news with Jews and non-Jews alike. The lengthy message in Acts 2:14-3:26 is the perfect opportunity for Peter to tell the unbelieving men of Israel that if they don’t shape up and accept the message, they’re going straight to hell. Yet Peter fails to seize such an opportunity. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus…whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:19-20).

Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, also blows his opportunity in Acts 17:30-31 when he delivers a gracious and inclusive message to the learned men of Athens, who were idol-worshiping, pagan Greeks: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to all people that everyone everywhere should repent (Greek: obtain a new outlook), because He has fixed a day in which He is about to be judging the inhabited world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, furnishing belief to all by raising him from the dead”.

As we will continue to reveal, God’s judgments do not inherently indicate an everlasting hell sentence. Isaiah 26:9, to which Paul likely referred here, explains their purpose: “When the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.”

From Raising Hell by Julie Ferwerda

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If God is Perfect, Then…

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48

No mature spiritual view would think of judgment as torture imposed simply for past disobedience. But nor would it be fair for those who have killed and hated to live happily for ever. If the universe is morally ordered, there must be something like a law of moral compensation or desert – you will be treated as you treat others.

This is present in Jesus’ teaching. The Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done’ (Matt. 16:27). ‘With the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get’ (Matt. 7:2).

Yet in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches that we should not resist evil, but turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:38), that we should love our enemies and those who hate us (Matt. 5:44) and that in this way we will be ‘perfect’ as your heavenly Father is ‘perfect’ (Matt. 5:48). At the very least, this means that God is not vengeful or vindictive, and will never cease to love us, even though we hate God.

That explicitly rules out any punishment that is purely retributive (an eye for an eye?), or any punishment that is a final cutting off of divine love and that does not express concern for our ultimate well-being. All divine ‘punishment’ must attend to what could correct our faults or teach us true compassion, not just mechanically do to us what we have done to others. And it must aim at bringing us back to God – it can never be solely retributive, harming us just because and to the degree that we have harmed others.

From Re-Thinking Christianity by Keith Ward (p. 84)

God’s Love in Unwavering

But God demonstrated His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Out of one side of its mouth religion will tell us of the love of God, and then out of the other that He will send the overwhelming majority of His creation to suffer the pains of eternal conscious torment. Such a view abandons any concept of unconditional love.

Since God is not a man, His love is not human, but divine. One of the greatest human loves is that of family (of a man for a woman, of a mother and father for their children); and yet God’s love is far superior.

We are all the off spring of God, He is our Father (Acts 17:29). God gave us earthly families that we may know, in some small measure, the nature of His Fatherly love for us. Parental love can be unconditional, and yet it pales in comparison to that of our heavenly Father’s. His love is unwaveringly fixed upon us as the object of His love; and divine “love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:8).

From God’s Unconditional Love published in the Bible Students Notebook  by Clyde Pilkington, Jr.

A Triumphant Solution Assured

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Matthew 7:18

The character, as well as the ability of the maker, is visible in the thing that he makes. If a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, then it is certain that the great Creator of all, who is holy in all His ways and righteous in all His works, who is good and only doeth good and whose tenderness is over all His works, can design nothing the end of which is not pure happiness and usefulness. Whatever catastrophes may have intervened, and however mysterious are the processes by which His goal will be reached, it follows, from the fact of His unimpeachable character, that the consummation of His work will justify all His methods.

If He employs the discipline of a father, the sacrificial love of a mother, the stern justice of a judge and the passionate affection of a husband and all these are figures chosen by Himself to set forth His attitude towards men and His work for and in them it is to the end that His great designs of love may ultimately triumph.  If He turns men to destruction, it is that He may say, “Return ye children of men.” (Ps. 90:3). If the vessel is marred in the hand of the Potter, it is that He may make it again another vessel. (Jer. 18:4). If His work is marred, then His own face will be more marred than any man’s, that He may buy back those who have sold themselves for nought. Creation is full of mysteries, but the revealed character of the Creator suffices to assure us of a triumphant solution to them all. Only a traitor to His person and character would deny such a God this certainty.

From God in Creation, Redemption, Judgment and Consummation by A.E. Saxby. You can read the complete document here.