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).

 

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.