Amelioration

For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. Hebrews 12:6

It must, however, always be accepted as a principle that GOD does not chasten except to amend, and that the sole end of His greatest anger is the amelioration [the act of making something better; improvement] of the guilty. As the doctor uses fire and steel in certain deep-seated diseases, so GOD does but use the fire of hell to heal the impenitent sinner. All souls, all impenitent beings that have gone astray, shall, therefore, be restored sooner or later to GOD”S friendship. The evolution will be long, incalculably long in some cases, but a time will come when GOD shall be all in all. Death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed, the body shall be made spiritual, the world of matter shall be transformed, and there shall be, in the universe, only peace and unity.

Tixeront, Histoire des dogmes, (Paris, 1905), I, 304, 305

We Can’t Do God’s Work

Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. Psalm 78:41.

He humbled himself. But man has misunderstood this attitude. In creature ignorance, pride and self importance, He has been maligned, and despised. “Unadorned, without honor, He was not respected.—nor sought or desired. Despised and neglected by men, a man in His sorrows acquainted with grief, (Isa. 53: 3.) “Ye have limited the Holy One of Israel.” The way of salvation – Christ cruclfied, the power of God and the wisdom of God – is professed, but its adequacy is denied by resort to other means which seem more practical. “The Lamb, – that bore away the sin of the world.”- this is made void by the common preaching of all Christendom, that, regardless of sin put away, the sinner must be punished. But it is said, “Of course, that is all right, everybody believes that, what is the matter with it?” The matter is, that it is a contradiction. For here are the very words that God commands shall be proclaimed on that point, “everybody” to the contrary though they be. “To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the cosmos unto Himself, not charging their sins to them.” Did you ever hear anybody preach this “without reservations? “You have limited the Holy One of Israel.” and have reduced the Gospel to a minimum, and then wonder that it has no power, and you ask God to give you some wonderful baptism that will bring the world to—(what?), and you charge upon God the responsibility of your carna! failure. What is this prayer that is heard on any and every occasion that God would pour out his Spirit,” and bring multitudes into a carnal church? The Holy Spirit will endorse the Divinely powerful gospel, though proclaimed by a weak messenger. But men pray that unscriptural ideas may be used to convert souls; that a personal gift of power may do a mighty work; that God will act contrary to His dispensational program; and then charge God withholding back something that He could give just as well as not. No, “The Lord’s hand is not shortened.” Men are slow to believe..

Joseph S. Johnston (1843-1933), Christ Victorious Over All (P. 7-8)

The Age that is Coming

And whoever may speak a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven to him, but whoever may speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is coming. Matthew 12:32

If therefore the next state (conformably to the common mode of thinking) is a state of punishment, not intended for the cure of the patients themselves, but to satisfy the justice of God, and give warning to others, it is impossible all men should be finally saved. Whereas if the state is a state of discipline, designed for the amendment of the sufferers themselves as well as the good of others, and wisely adapted as a mean to this end, they may be recovered, and formed to meetness for immortality and honor. Or, should any so sunk their natures in this as not to be capable of a recovery in the next state; a state beyond that may be again a state of discipline, wherein misery will be inflicted with a salutary view. Upon which supposition, their recovery will be still possible; they may, in the end, become the capable subjects of happiness. And that this will be the operation of the scheme of God, with reference to the whole human kind, as it is set forth in the scriptures (the effect whereof will finally be the accomplishment of their salvation) we shall see more reason to believe, in the progress of this attempt, than we may, at present be ready to imagine.

Charles Chauncy, The Mystery Hid From Ages, 1784

What’s Our Motivation?

We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

During the 17th to the 19th centuries many Christians were especially worried that if the fear of hell were reduced, people would have little to constrain their sinful behavior. Thus universalism, they feared, would fuel sin.

But the fear of punishment is not the only motive for avoiding sin. Far more important for holy living—indeed, the only motive for heartfelt holy living—is the positive motivation inspired by love for God.
Who, after all, would reason, “I know that God created me, seeks to do me good, sent his Son to die for me, and that he will always love me—so I must; hate him!”
On the contrary, the revelation of divine love solicits our loving response . (1 John 4:19).
Robin Perry in CWR Magazine Winter 2016.

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. – Matthew 8:11-12

It’s intriguing to me that so many think of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” as a reference to physical torture. If you told me your friend was “crying and grinding his teeth” I wouldn’t think, “Well he’s clearly being tortured.” More importantly, if we look in Acts 7 we see another reference to teeth gnashing.

You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

What’s most intriguing to me about this passage is that this particular language is used in reference to the religious elite and their response to the Gospel.

Why is this interesting?

Because virtually every time Jesus mentions “gnashing of teeth”, he is talking to or about the religious elite.

In Matthew 8, Jesus sees the faith of the centurion and says many will come to sit at the table with Israel’s revered fathers in the kingdom of heaven, but the “sons of the kingdom” will be cast into darkness, where they will weep and gnash their teeth.

Who are the “sons of the kingdom”? The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And more specifically, Jesus seems to be focusing on those who would identify themselves as “sons of the kingdom” while rejecting His ministry. We know from John 8 that Pharisees often boasted in their status as children of Abraham while rejecting Jesus’ words.

It’s fascinating that Jesus’ figurative warnings, in a similar manner to his mentions of Gehenna, are NOT made towards the criminals or other types we would typically think of as sinners.

By Jacob McMillen. Read the complete article here

 

We Are Not Saved to Avoid Hell

We are not “saved” to go to heaven while those who are not, go to hell.

We are “saved” or called out to join God is the restoration of all thing back to him. We have been chosen to:

And the all things are of God, who reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and did give to us the ministration of the reconciliation, how that God was in Christ–a world reconciling to Himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses; and having put in us the word of the reconciliation, in behalf of Christ, then, we are ambassadors, as if God were calling through us, we beseech, in behalf of Christ, ‘Be ye reconciled to God;’ for him who did not know sin, in our behalf He did make sin, that we may become the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

Unknown

Only God Knows What Goes on in Our Hearts

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

Let us suppose that I take heart from my faith in the God of love and power and from my experience of his grace in my life, that I stoutly assert with Paul that nothing can separate me, the believer, from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Rom 8.39). But, if I can say this for myself, without being able to sound in my own person the mystery of sin still present in me, what right have I to hold hell open to other men? God alone knows what goes on in the depth of their hearts and mine. Like me, they all show in their lives the radical presence of good and evil. If God can find any real good there, can he not, the almighty Lord of love, develop this into eternal life? And let us give up our useless and presumptuous practice of pointing to particular men as evil and fit for hell — Hitler is a favourite example. Only God can tell where, in any particular man, freedom begins, where sickness begins, where good can be found, where evil. We too easily forget the story of Jesus about the Pharisee and the tax collector.

From Salvation and Damnation by William J. Dalton

Why Bother Proclaiming the Gospel

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21

The objection is often raised that, if Father will eventually save all anyway, why bother proclaiming the Gospel? In answer, please consider these:

  • That Father was in Christ conciliating the whole world to Himself.
  • That believing is a gift, bestowed at Father’s discretion.
  • That Father will give this gift to every one who has ever lived at their appointed time.
  • That Father has ordained that through the foolishness of proclaiming, the Word does His work.

The fact that Father will eventually bring all mandkind to belief does not preclude Him from opening the hearts and minds of some NOW.

Once the full magnitude and glory of this marvelous truth dawns on the mind and heart (the gift from Father) it becomes fairly impossible to REFRAIN from provlaiming it. Such is the overflowing joy of a heart so changed. Since Father and Christ Jesus our Head are the authors and cause of all of this, the full credit and glory go to Them (before Whom no flesh shall glory), and we are privileged to participate in the process!

by Joel Olson, Amarillo, TX from the Bible Study Notebook #233

All that Are in the Graves will Hear His Voice

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, John 5:28.

Read the above words again, and the stop a minute and answer the question, “Who are in the graves?”

According to the common teaching, there are no people in the graves. They are either alive in heaven or in hell. If people are there already, what need is there for a resurrection, or a judging?

Something doesn’t fit here; and it is not God’s Word, but man’s teaching that doesn’t fit. The problem isthat people deny the fact of death. One cannot read the Hebrew Scriptures without running into verses that tell the state of the dead.

The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence (Psalm 115:17).

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything … (Ecclesiastes 9:5).

Those who have died are still in the graves. There has to be a resurrection to make them alive, and this is not immediately when one dies. Paul tells Timothy of some, Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some (II Timothy 2:18).

The fact is that the resurrection has not occurred yet. Those who died are still in the graves until the Lord gives the shout for them to rise. All, yes, all who are in the graves will hear His voice. That includes even the unbeliever.

Faith Fellowship (Vol. 59 No. 1) From the Bible Student Notebook (457).