Am I Willing to Suffer?

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. Romans 9:3

The most striking and original contribution that Balthasar makes to this discussion, I believe, is his critique of Thomas Aquinas’s view—shared widely in the classical tradition—that part of the joy of heaven is to witness the sufferings of the damned. To this he contrasts the approach of a surprising number of saints and mystics who declared a willingness to suffer on behalf of a denizen of hell or even, at the limit, to take his place as a gesture of love. The prototype here is Saint Paul himself, who says in the ninth chapter of Romans: “I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Chnst for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom 9:3)- The possibility that his fellow Jews might be separated from Christ does not awaken in Paul anything even vaguely resembling gloating self-satisfaction, or even delight in the divine justice, but rather a mercy that conduces to utter self-sacrifice.
From the Foreward (Robert Barron) of Dare We Hope “That All Men Be Saved”? by Has Ur Von Balthasar.

Weekend Wisdom – Bishop Desmond Tutu

In a sermon Bishop Tutu preached in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, Ontario (quoted in God is not a Christian (Ed. John Allen. HarperCollins Publishers, 2010) page 56), he said this:

“there is an openess demonstrated by the arms of our Lord strung out on the cross as if to embrace the whole cosmos, because it was God’s intention to include, to bring all things to a unity, in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. There is nothing that must be left outside… Jesus did not say, “I, if I be lifted up, I will draw some.” Jesus said, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all, all, all, all, all” (John 12:32)… All, all are meant to be held in this incredible embrace that will not let us go. All.”

Beware of the Doctrines of Pharisees!

Jesus said to them, `Beware, and take heed of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees;’… Then they understood that he did not say to take heed of the leaven of the bread, but of the teaching, of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:6,12

Jesus warned the people against the doctrine of the Pharisees, who are well known to have believed in endless punishment. There is no doubt, that the doctrines of the Pharisees were of a partial nature. Jesus was impartial in his teachings. He was the friend of publicans and sinners, and for this the Pharisees hated him. This was the great point on which he differed from the Pharisees. Their doctrine peculiarly was a doctrine of cruelty, wrath, and partiality; his was a doctrine of love, compassion, and universal grace. No person, who will make the comparison fairly, can avoid coming to this result. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.

From 100 Scriptural Proofs That Jesus Christ Will Save All Mankind (#63) by Thomas Whittemore

 

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