Your Daily Meditation on December 14, 2017 at 07:00AM

When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:25-26

Traditional doctrines of hell err again by supposing either that God does not get what God wants with every human being (“God wills all humans to be saved” by God’s antecedent will) or that God deliberately creates some for ruin. To be sure, many human beings have conducted their ante-mortem lives in such a way as to become anti-social persons. Almost none of us dies with all the virtues needed to be fit for heaven. Traditional doctrines of hell suppose that God lacks the will or the patience or the resourcefulness to civilize each and all of us, to rear each and all of us up into the household of God. They conclude that God is left with the option of merely human penal systems-viz., liquidation or quarantine!

Traditional doctrines of hell go beyond failure to hatred and cruelty by imagining a God Who not only acquiesces in creaturely rebellion and dysfunction but either directly organizes or intentionally “outsources” a concentration camp (of which Auschwitz and Soviet gulags are pale imitations) to make sure some creatures’ lives are permanently deprived of positive meaning.

From “Christ and Horrors” by Marilyn McCord Adams.

Your Daily Meditation on December 11, 2017 at 07:00AM

If ye 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? Matthew 7:11

Even though we as fathers are evil compared to our heavenly Father, we love our sons equally without exception. If a father of four children, were to awaken in the night and discover his house was in flames, he would risk his own life in order to rescue each of his four sons. He couldn’t endure the thought of losing even one of his children in spite of their defects and differences in character.

How can we attribute to God a partiality much more heartless; that of choosing a few of His children and then personally throwing the rest into eternal flames? One cannot escape the presence of God, even in Hades. (Ps 139:8)

Is it possible that God, who is love, could be enjoying the company of His few elect children at the same time that He is hearing throughout eternity the screams and cries for mercy from the vast majority of His children in hell, without being moved to compassion for them?

From “The Triumph of Mercy” by Georger Hurd

Your Daily Meditation on December 09, 2017 at 07:00AM

Weekend Wisdom – John R. Sachs

As much as Gregory emphasizes the gracious priority of God’s saving action in the Incarnation (and, finally, in the resurrection), he also views God’s final victory over evil as assured, because, like Origen, Gregory was inclined to see evil as a perversion of the good, rather than as something which had a real substance of its own. Unlike the good, it can never be absolute and unlimited. Therefore, he argued, it must eventually have an end. Evil has not in fact always existed and it cannot exist forever. Since God is the origin and final orientation of all creatures, the sinner must reach a limit when all the evil he or she can do is done; at that point the individual can turn once again toward the good. While others, notably Origen, had already suggested that the grace of true conversion in an individual’s life often came at a point when the infection of sin, like a severe fever or a festering abscess, had reached its breaking point, Gregory applied this metaphor to the collective history of the world. Gregory argued that the Incarnation came precisely at the point when human evil had reached its limit. The resurrection of Christ is the definitive revelation that the power of sin has been broken.

From “Apocatastasis in Patristic Theology” by John R. Sachs

Your Daily Meditation on December 08, 2017 at 07:00AM

And if your right hand is snaring you, strike it off and cast it from you, for it is expedient for you that one of your members should perish, and not your whole body pass away into Gehenna. Matthew 5:30

Unlike eternal torment, Ge-Hinnom was used for a punishment that had a definite conclusion. However, unlike annihilation, its use in Jeremiah had nothing to do with punishment in the afterlife. When we find Jesus referring to Ge-Hinnom in a manner like Jeremiah, we have no reason to start with the assumption that Jesus intended this metaphor to refer to an otherworldly fire where God will keep people alive for all time just so they can suffer. When Jesus said it was better to lose one’s hand than to have their whole body thrown into Ge-Hinnom, he was calling for repentance in the face of national catastrophe, not a history ending judgment.

To understand the cultural force Ge-Hinnom carried for Jesus and his contemporaries, imagine if he had been a Germans prophet living in the late twentieth century, warning his compatriots that they risked burning in the fires of Auschwitz. Or imagine if a Japanese prophet told his contemporaries they would be punished in the fires of Hiroshima. It would have been a deeply offensive, revolting rebuke. Which is the point. For Jesus to have used such a place as a metaphor was not meant to disrespect its history, but to warn people just how close they were to repeating their ancestors’ mistakes.

From “Jesus and the End of Death” by Mark Edward

Your Daily Meditation on December 07, 2017 at 07:00AM

Isaiah represents the Gospel as being completely successful in accomplishing the purpose for which it was sent into the world:

That, as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and retmi not thither, but water the earth, and cause it to bring forth and bud, so shall the word of God be; it shall not return void, but it shall accomplish the divine pleasure, and prosper in the thing for which God sent it. (Isa. 45:10,11)

Thus all who allow that God sent the Gospel to benefit all mankind, must here see, that that beneficent object will surely be accomplished. If any reject the Gospel, and are lost forever, can it be said in truth, that God’s word does not return unto Him void?

From “100 Scriptural Proofs That Jesus Christ Will Save All Mankind” by Thomas Whittemore.

Your Daily Meditation on December 06, 2017 at 07:00AM

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” John 4:42

When the Samaritan woman told others about the Lord Christ Jesus, they first thought that she was telling them the truth, and that is evidenced by the fact that they walked out to meet Him.

When they met Jesus, however, they personally recognized Him as the long-awaited Messiah. Their secondhand belief became firsthand knowledge. They proclaimed, “This is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” The word “world” means the whole cosmos without exceptions. Reading these passages, one must either believe that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world or that He is not. The Bible says the He is, and leaves no middle ground.

From “The Ultimate Reconciliation of All: As Found in 25 Key Passages” by George Howe and Darroll Evans

Your Daily Meditation on December 05, 2017 at 07:50AM

And these shall be coming away into chastening eonian, yet the just into life eonian. Matthew 26:46 CLNT

Eonian chastening is here limited to the nations who will not succor the faithful of Israel in their time of sore distress. It has no bearing on the sins of individuals. The justice of fire eonian is disciplinary and corrective (cf Jude 7).

From the “Concordent Commentary on the New Testament” by A. E. Knoch

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Your Daily Meditation on December 04, 2017 at 07:00AM

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8

The Greek word theion translated “brimstone” is exactly the same word theion which means “divine.”… The verb derived from theion is theioo, which means to hallow, to make divine, or to dedicate to a god (See Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon, 1897 Edition). To any Greek, or any trained in the Greek language, a “lake of fire and brimstone” would mean a “lake of divine purification.”… Divine purification and divine consecration are the plain meaning in ancient Greek. In the ordinary explanation, this fundamental meaning of the word is entirely left out, and nothing but eternal torment is associated with it.

From “Is Hell Eternal, or Will God’s Plan Fail?” by Charles Hamilton Pridgeon (1863-1932)

Your Daily Meditation on December 02, 2017 at 07:00AM

Weeked Wisdom – Jacob M. Wright

Religious fear makes you afraid of not being afraid. It’s this self-perpetuating system that keeps you locked in. You fear that being set free from fear is “deception” and will bring upon you the very thing you fear. You fear that if you don’t fear a wrathful God then it will incur his wrath.

I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to be set free from the fear of eternal torment simply because I feared not believing in eternal torment would land me in eternal torment.

Jacob M. Wright, Lead Vocalist for The Wright Brothers.

Your Daily Meditation on December 01, 2017 at 07:00AM

On this Rock will I build my Assembly, and the
gates of Hadēs shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

Leaving aside the meaning of the word ecclesia, or “assembly,” we note that the word rendered “prevail” over; to overcome and vanquish. It occurs elsewhere only in Luke 23:23, where “the voices of them prevailed, and Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they desired.” They “prevailed” against Pilate, but neither they nor the grave could prevail against Christ – He rose again from Hadēs, or the grave. He gained the victory over death and Hadēs, and His Assembly will be conquerors too.

They will one day shout, O Hadēs, where is thy victory …Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord (I Corinthians 15:55-57).

This victory will be in resurrection, and resurrection will be the great and abiding proof that Hadēs will not prevail against “the dead in Christ,” even as it prevailed not against Him.

From “Sheol and Hades: Their Meaning and Usage in the Word of God” by E. W. Bullinger