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).

 

Weekend Wisdom – Horace Greeley

God reigns; that is the great first truth. He does not merely contemplate and oversee; He designs, directs, and decrees, and is never disconcerted nor disappointed. What to us are aberrations, defeats, disasters, are, to Him “declaring the end from the beginning… My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”(lsaiah 46:10). They are but steps toward the fulfillment of his transcendent, beneficent purposes of universal good.
Horace Greeley (1811-1872)
Founding Editor of the New York Tribune
Voices of the Faith (1887) Page 46

God’s Objective in the Creation

The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Psalm 145:9

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:43-44

Of these the former asserts a divine attribute , the latter describes a place of punishment; and, if both be taken in an unlimited sense, they are evidently irreconcilable. Having, therefore, to decide which is best entitled to be taken in this sense, and so to be considered as a leading principle, we ought undoubtedly to prefer the former; because, of these two things, the attribute only is essential and unchangeable.

When thus rightly considered, we are taught by the whole tenor of Scripture, as developed both in the character and actions of God, that he had no other object in the creation of intelligent beings than that of making them finally and supremely happy in the communication of his own b!essedness: which object he effects, during successive dlspensations, both in this life aiid the next, through the mediation of his Son; and, under him, through the ministrations of a chosen portion of his creatures; so that even temporary evil will, in his hands, be made subservient to its more abundant accomplishment.
From The Final Restoration of All Things by R.Roe (1835)

God is the Parent of the Whole World

The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Isaiah 52:10

Over the millennia that the Old Testament stories were retold and finally written down, our early crude efforts to understand our relationship to God developed. By the time of the latter prophets like Isaiah, the strands that would become woven into the Golden Thread are more frequent, and the stern God of earlier times became the loving parent whose goodness extends to all. Isaiah foretells that all people will worship God (Is 40: 3-5; 45:22-24) and that God will save all the people (Is 52:10). He foresees a time when wars will be no more and when all people will come to feast at the table of God (Is 2:2, 4; 25:6-8). Writing in the 5th Century BCE, the prophet Malachi says that God realizes that people in other lands worship God although they call God by other names. In Malachi, God tells our ancestors that God’s “name is great among the nations” and that offerings are made to God throughout the world (Mal 1:11).

The Bible assures us that God is our own parent and the parent of the whole world. God is compassionate and merciful (Ps 145:8-9), and God’s love endures forever (Ps 107:1; Lam 3:22). This is God s promise to all.
From The Golden Thread by Ken R. Vincent.

How could God be satisfied while some of Gods children are lost?

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it. Luke 19:41

This is an enormous question for both of the views of everlasting hell we have considered. For the traditional view that is grounded in a divine decree of justice, it is difficult to see how God could be content to impose an eternal sentence of torture on Gods children. For the revisionist view that is grounded in the value of human freedom that God must respect, it is hard to see how a God of love could ever give up on his children and be content with their eternal rebellion. In the Gospels, we are told that as Jesus rides into Jerusalem he weeps over the rejection he is about to experience from his people (Luke 19:41). If God looks like Jesus (John 14:9; Col 1:15; Heb 1 :3), then it seems that an everlasting hell would mean everlasting tears flowing down the face of God. It is impossible for me to believe that the God revealed in Jesus will at some point simply throw up his hands in defeat or harden his heart in retaliation.

From Flames of Love by Heath Bradley

The Whole Universe is Included

Making known to us the secret of His will (in accord with His delight, which He purposed in Him) to have an administration of the complement of the eras, to head up all in the Christ—both that in the heavens and that on the earth—in Him in Whom our lot was cast also, being designated beforehand according to the purpose of the One Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will…” Ephesians 1:9-11(CV)

Again, we hear with clarity what goal God has set for Himself in this counsel of the eons—to bring everything that is in heaven and on earth under one head in Christ. In later chapters, we will have to come back to the precious meaning and significance of this expression “under one head.” We can say, now, that with this the Father has decreed and promised His first begotten Son, the Christ, the One anointed with the Spirit, of whom all Scripture testifies, a position at the head of the entire created universe, which excludes any successful resistance or objection against the Son, whether this be in heaven or on earth. Note also that the plain language of Scripture, according to its simple statements, includes the entire universe. If, in the first verse of the Bible it is written: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” then surely believers cannot entertain the idea of creatures not being included in this expression “heaven and earth,” whether they be lifeless or living beings, humans or angels. Moreover, it is generally a good rule that an expression often used in Scripture can be interpreted best if used in the same sense as it was when it appeared for the first time.

The Gospel Of God’s Reconciliation Of All in Christ (p. 24) by E. F. Stroeter

Retributive justice is no justice at all. It is merely revenge

 “Then the LORD spoke his word to Zechariah. He said, ‘This is what the LORD of Armies says: Administer real justice, and be compassionate and kind to each other. Don’t oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people. And don’t even think of doing evil to each other.” (Zechariah 7:8-10) 

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.” (Matthew 12:18-20 – NIV)

Retributive justice is no justice at all. It is merely revenge.
No concept of retributive justice can possibly be compatible with forgiveness. Where there is punishment, there is no forgiveness. Where there is forgiveness, there can be no punishment.
Justice, in order to be just, must always take into account every mitigation and extenuation: “He remembers that we are but dust,” the Psalmist says.
Moreover, “justice” includes giving rewards and restoring things to rightful owners. Justice with mercy includes giving what a person actually needs rather than only what they merit. Sin means to miss the mark, fall short of the goal, and the goal is unity with God. Alienation, not “breaking laws,” is our real problem. Even a virtue can be a sin (`αμαρτία) if it causes an alienation between us and God. Not only the idea of retributive justice, but the idea of redemption through “substitutionary sacrfice” negates every concept of forgiveness. Nevertheless, salvation comes through forgiveness.
By Abp. Lazar Puhalo. Read the complete post at the Clarion Journal.

Weekend Wisdom – Bishop Diodorus of Tarsus

“For the wicked there are punishments, not perpetual, however, lest the immortality prepared for them should be a disadvantage, but they are to be purified for a brief period according to the amount of malice in their works. They shall therefore suffer punishment for a short space, but immortal blessedness having no end awaits them … the penalties to be inflicted for their many and grave sins are very far surpassed by the magnitude of the mercy to be shown to them.”
From the fourth century Christian theologian and Bishop Diodorus of Tarsus