Your Daily Meditation on December 23, 2017 at 07:00AM

Weekend Wisdom – Michael Hardin

His trans-historical way of putting this is to say God has determined that in every cause, in every case, every person has been destructive, there is no one good, truly beneficent, no matter how much we may valorize them. All of us, the entire human species is lost. Because all are lost, all must be found, because all are broken and bent, all must be healed.

Salvation is for all, that is the divine economy. There is no us and them in the divine economy, there is only a ‘we.’ Christendom abandoned that insight long, long ago.

-Michael Hardin

Your Daily Meditation on December 21, 2017 at 07:00AM

God’s wrath is indeed “revealed from heaven against the wickedness of men, and our inner moral instinct approves of it, because it must be so. But since God is love, and can never change His nature. His wrath must also be a manifestation of His love, just as a genuine human father shows his love just as much toward his wayward son, when he chastises him, as when he, at other times, gives him good gifts. God’s wrath simply manifests thee eagerness of His love, which desires the salvation of His human children, and therefore is bent on overcoming and abolishing all obstacles that hinder His gracious purpose. So His indignation is altogether holy, and His wrath is His love in operation, to bring about the salvation of mankind. This idea of love manifesting itself in wrath is admirably expressed in the Song of Songs 8:6&7 where we read:

“Set me as a seal upon thine arm: For love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as Sheol; the flashes thereof are flashes of fire, a very flame of Jehovah, Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it: If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, he would utterly be condemned.”

From “The Great Question” by Gustavus Hiller.

Your Daily Meditation on December 18, 2017 at 07:00AM

I am going to send for all the tribes of the north, says the Lord, even for King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these nations around; I will utterly destroy them, and make them an object of horror and of hissing, and an everlasting disgrace. Jeremiah 25:9

Based on these words from Jeremiah, it seems as though God will forever be angry at Israel and will punish them with everlasting pain and humiliation. But if we were to keep reading in Jeremiah, we would find the following a few chapters later:

For the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their ancestors and they shall take possession of it. (30:3)

What seemed so absolute and unchanging was in fact not absolute and unchanging after all. God did not give up on his people. But because the role of the prophet was to confront the people with the starkest and most shocking imagery available to them to help jolt the people out of their slumber of disobedience, they did not refrain from using even the language of “forever” and “everlasting” to describe the gravity and severity of Gods wrath towards their course of sinful action. But this language, while intended to be taken very seriously, was not meant to be taken literally. If it is taken literally in the sense of unending chronological duration, it contradicts the later word of the prophet that God is not finished with them.

From “Flames of Love” by Heath Bradley

Your Daily Meditation on December 16, 2017 at 07:00AM

Weekend Wisdom – Louis Evely

To believe in God is to believe in the salvation of the world. The paradox of our time is that those who believe in God do not believe in the salvation of the world, and those who believe in the future of the world do not believe in God.

Christians believe in “the end of the world,” they expect the final catastrophe, the punishment of others.

Atheists in their turn . . . refuse to believe in God because Christians believe in him and take no interest in the world . . .

Which is the more culpable ignorance?

. . . I often say to myself that, in our religion. God must feel very much alone: for is there anyone besides God who believes in the salvation of the world? God seeks among us sons and daughters who resemble him enough, who love the world enough so that he could send them into the world to save it.

—Louis Evely, In the Christian Spirit (Image, 1975)

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