“For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell, and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or in heaven” (Colossians 1:19-20).
It is such hard work to reconcile the doctrines of men – such as eternal separation, torment, and annihilation – with the words inspired by the Spirit of God. The intention of Almighty God, as revealed in Holy Scripture, has always been to reconcile all things to Himself. And while intentions of men do not always come to pass, there is no doubt that not only is God fully capable of doing as He pleases, there is no greater power than His will and the power of His resurrection, and no one purer in heart and motive. To Him, the only wise God and Lord Jesus Christ, be the glory and praise forever!
This preeminence gives power to men in the carnal and worldly realm.
Why, oh why, would not men everywhere who profess a belief in Him and who tout the veracity and sanctity of Scripture not publish from the rooftops with great rejoicing this wonderful truth of His plan for the reconciling of all things? One reason is because it completely denies any worthiness on the part of humankind, which is all in need of reconciling that comes not by man’s efforts but only as a gift of God. Religious men (and we have all been religious, one way or another) want to have the preeminence and say that it is because of what THEY did that they are in favor, though they will couch their expression in terms that make it appear to give God the glory. This preeminence gives power to men in the carnal and worldly realm and does not give God the glory at all, only man.
What the religious person comes along saying, in effect, is: “God has saved me because He knew there was some good thing in me. As for you, you rejected Him because He already knew and had decided that you were not fit for His grace and favor, instead meriting punishment that has no end (or you will be simply wiped out). Those few of us who accepted Him will give thanks in heaven that we weren’t so hard and wicked that we could not attain this state which others such as you were not able to.”
Is there any idea that more thoroughly blackens the Name of God and His character than that which attributes all power and grace to Him, yet declares He consigns much of His creation to torment without end? To state that it is purely a gift of grace that brings salvation, yet believe that God desires to not only withhold that gift from those to whom He could equally bestow it, but also chooses to torture them for so long that a million years is only the beginning, is this not dementedly devilish? To think that an Omnipotent Creator and Ruler could bring into existence creatures knowing, much less planning such a fate, is to attribute an insensitivity and cruelty to Him that is unimaginable. For men it is imaginable because, after all, they concoct this idea. Therefore it is not only imaginable but documented.
The only way out of this diabolical trap is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The idea of annihilation is certainly more palatable an end, but not much better in giving of glory to God. Jesus said that “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). As we have all heard, “For God so loved the world…” How successful a love and salvation is annihilation (is that what you desire for your loved ones?) from Him Who is declared the Giver and Sustainer of all things and life itself? The resurrected Lord declares that He has the keys to hell and death (Rev. 1:18). How then are they accorded more power than Him?
Getting back to where men separate themselves out and stake a superior position based on their intrinsic ability to receive God, the reasoning continues that if they are deserving or capable of being saved and favored by God, who are you not to acknowledge them? If they represent or are part of an organization which holds this special position, you must honor them, otherwise your final non-resting place will be the burning slag pile. You must validate them if you will possibly escape the horrors presented or assumed as coming from the all powerful Creator.
Now I tell you that all of you are trapped by this diabolical reasoning whether you are of those who think they worship God or those who make no claims. It permeates the very air you breathe and your acknowledgment, whether in the positive or negative, only gives power and honor to the beast of the religious self-righteousness of man. There is one and only one way out of this diabolical trap, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. If we believe on Him and continue in His word it will then be as He said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
For praise God Almighty, His thoughts and ways are not men’s thoughts and ways. As Isaiah recorded, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My Word be that goes forth out of My mouth; it will not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:9-11).
“We have seen that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”
And what does His Word say?
“All nations that You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify your Name” (Psalm 86:9).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (I John 4:14).
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).
“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before You” (Psalm 22:27).
“…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him” (Ephesians 1:9-10).
“…Who will have all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth… Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (I Timothy 2:4,6).
“…that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
Herein are not only the intentions of God clearly stated, He also gives them as a matter of fact. Now, do you believe that men who are weeping and gnashing their teeth will be confessing Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God? A cosmic arm-twisting to elicit an “uncle” through clenched teeth? No way. The Scriptures, inspired by the Spirit of God, say, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God (Lord), God dwells in him, and he in God” (I John 4:15). And again, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Of creation it is said several times that “God saw that it was good.”
“No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:3). We are not talking lip service here, which many give (Matthew 15:8) but which does not glorify God. No, this is real, inspired from a heart knowledge of God. We will all know Who He is and what He has done. “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). And again, “Behold He comes with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).
Yes, there will be sorrowing, but with holy purpose unto repentance, not pain upon pain upon pain with no recourse. “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). And, “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before You” (Psalm 22:27). Please ask yourself how completely waters cover the sea, or who is left out when all kindreds of the nations and ends of the world are turning to and worshiping the Lord of hosts.
The Scriptures are full of the record given by God of His will for creation. His character permeates it all, for it is by knowing His character that we also know His will. The record is from the beginning, as Peter said, “…Whom the heaven must receive (the Lord Jesus Christ) until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21).
So what has been said, starting in the beginning? Of creation it is said several times that “God saw that it was good.” And when complete (which concluded with man) it is summed up, “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
If we had no more testimony than this, doesn’t this say it all? How can creation be termed good if destined in large part to destruction and torment as its end? Especially when the Creator is so powerful as to create all these things, knowing all, existing beyond space and time? And how can this picture of defeat be reconciled with the record that, “of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end…” (Isaiah 9:7)?
The first recorded event of man and woman in Scripture is the sin of Adam wherein he disobeyed the commandment of God. Notice in Genesis 3 that Adam did not repent. He blamed God and his wife (“the woman that You gave me”). Did God give Adam an eternal hot seat time out to think about what he did and had unloaded on his progeny and all of creation? No, He protected him physically (making them coats of skins) and spiritually (keeping him away from the Tree of Life in his fallen state).
Of this Adam Paul writes that through his offence death reigned. He goes on to say that the gift of grace by the second Adam, Jesus Christ, is greater than the condemnation of the first. “For the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification” (Romans 5:16). Which is greater, one sin that brings all of mankind under the curse of disobedience and independence which comes by eating from the tree of knowledge, or the act of obedience of the laying down of the life that redeems not only Adam, but all sinners thereafter? The fish that swallows the fish is the greater one, no? So it is here.
What happened to everything being good?
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order…And when all things shall be subdued unto Him…God may be all in all” (I Corinthians 15:21,22, 23, 28). If this is not comprehensive, what is? “Every” and “all” does not cover who or what? And notice that all is subdued to Him. All have been in rebellion and have feasted on being independent of God. All will be subdued. Not by men’s scare tactics but by experience of evil and revelation of the righteous God Who came as a man and gave Himself for us that we might have Life. We then no longer eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which brings death, but live in and by the Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ Who said, “Truly, truly I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53).
Furthermore, the sin and fall of Adam were not a cosmic oversight, this new creature made in the image of God throwing a monkey wrench into God’s work. Not at all. Of Him it is said: “In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who works all things after the counsel of His Own will…” (Ephesians 1:11). He is in full control. Men have it backwards. It is not we, but He, Who is fully in charge. And men also have it backwards about creation being brought down. “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him Who has subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21).
Moving on from Adam we next have Cain, who murders his brother because his brother’s sacrifice was accepted of God and his wasn’t. Cain was religious and presaged the religious who would stone the prophets and crucify the Christ. And what did God do with Cain, skin him alive? No, He put a mark on him so that he could live. Some might think that was only for punishment, but Cain also founded a city and had progeny. Why tolerate the evildoer for another moment, if you are all powerful? No, friends, there was purpose in the keeping of Cain and it wasn’t to put off future torture. God’s ways are much higher.
From that point on corruption overspreads the earth and it is filled with violence (from a Hebrew word meaning “unjust gain”). Sound familiar? And the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth…for it repents Me that I have made them” (Genesis 6:7). What happened to everything being good? If everything stopped there that would be a legitimate objection to what has already been stated here. However, the very next line answers all: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of God.”
He chooses the weak and foolish so that it is known that it is His power.
Grace is what? Earned, sweated out, figured out, achieved? No, it is a gift of God. It was not Noah but God that determined to save man. Yes, He was angry and still is with the evil thoughts and imaginations of men’s hearts. He is so great that He is willing to suffer such for the glory of that which He has created and redeems. He gave grace and made a man that would fulfill His will. That is the pattern throughout His story.
So Noah and his family are saved and all else are destroyed in the flood, everyone consigned to hell forever, right? But what is this that Peter tells us, throwing all certainty of such a notion into turmoil?
“For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but quickened by the Spirit, by which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water” (I Peter 3:18-20).
They were not at all finished as men teach.
“For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell, and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or in heaven” (Colossians 1:19-20).
Therefore He preached to the spirits in prison.
I am convinced that we could spend the rest of our lives looking at every verse in the Bible, reflecting on the will of God and His graciousness. That is how wonderfully full this subject is. Of necessity I will move on and give one more example.
Abraham was called out alone. He was the one man chosen of God in whom all nations would be blessed. Men love numbers and are impressed by them; God does things that appear foolish and weak. So it is to this day. It is His work and glory, not man’s. He chooses the small, the weak and foolish so that it will be known that it is His power and not man’s.
God, seeing how Abraham was blessed of Him, decided to tell Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham, concerned for his nephew, Lot, asked, “Will You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23) The question was a rhetorical one. Lot, as Noah, found grace in His sight (it is God’s doing) and was spared, while the cities were destroyed by fire from heaven. Of this event Jude writes, “…even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). Which means they were destroyed by fire and are now burning in hell, forever, right?
God delights in judgment, why? So He can see people squirm in torment?
Wrong. When fire consumes all that can be consumed, it has burned eternally, or forever. If I burn a piece of paper forever the time involved is short. The qualifiers of eternal and forever address the thoroughness of the work, not the time duration. This is proved by the words of the Lord Jesus Himself.
“And you, Capernaum, which are exalted unto heaven, shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which had been done in you, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you” (Matt. 11:23-24).
If the Lord had done in Sodom as He had in Capernaum they would have repented. How could anyone say that if repentance is possible for someone (and the Lord is willing that none should perish but that all should come to repentance (as per 2 Peter 3:9), He would then consign the sinner that could be saved to a condition of torment without end? It is simple: one cannot.
This is confirmed in the second part of the quotation that is bolded, that it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom than for those who rejected the Lord after seeing His great works, still not believing. The reason judgment can be more tolerable for some is that judgment is for correction, and therefore is meted out in varying degrees as necessary. You who have children and discipline them do not do so with a one-size-fits-all approach, but try to tailor the punishment to the need of the child so that they may learn. You, who are sinners though made in the image of God, do you think He does differently?
Let me ask you some very simple questions: If you could plan to have 20 children, loving them all, knowing that while only one would live to have peace and prosperity, while the other 19 would burn forever in horrible torment, crying, screaming, writhing, without an end, would you have those children? And could you be at peace with that one, knowing the other 19 are suffering horribly when you could have made the decision to not have them in the first place? Would that one be able to bask in total fulfilment and pleasure with you? Would it please you if that one could completely forget about those who continue to exist in torment? I most certainly know what my answer would be. Now you may say, “Well, this is logic. Logic is not the way by which we judge these things.” I disagree. God has given us our minds and has given us reasoning power, which can be pure and effective only when cleansed and taught by Him. However, we give you not only reason, but the Scriptural Testimony.
The Lord Jesus Christ died for us while we were yet His enemies.
God delights in judgment why? So He can see people roast and squirm in torment? God forbid anyone should think so. He says to us, “Depart from evil, and do good: and dwell forevermore, for the Lord loves judgment…” (Psalm 37:27-28). He loves judgment because the end of it is righteousness, peace, joy, life forevermore. That is the entire testimony of the Scriptures.
“Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8,15,31)
It is only men who hold such a grudge against their fellow man for the evils done them (whether in fact, or even simply perceived) that they think in terms of torment and punishment without end. It is not God; not ever did it enter His mind. It is totally against His nature. The Lord Jesus Christ died for us while we were yet His enemies. That is His nature. A man might give his life for a beloved friend or relative, “but God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He did not die for the righteous.
The religious self-righteous hate to hear of God’s restitution of all. It offends them. It takes away their sense of importance, reward, sacrifice and vengeance on those who opposed them. It denies their works (remember Cain). They exclaim, “Then it doesn’t matter what you do, if everyone is going to be saved.” They expose themselves right then and there as having no heart for what is right, no appreciation that what is right has its own reward, which God wishes us to know and thereby live. And conversely they do not acknowledge that evil too has its rewards, as sure as the sun sets in the west. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
In the end we will all know God. We will know He rules over all things, at all times, in complete sovereignty. It is all His doing. If we complain about our lives it is against Him that we complain. When taken to a higher level, we will and do see that it has all been for good, that He meant it for good and not evil, and we will all lift up our voices to praise Him.
Are you stuck trying to justify a doctrine that makes God out to be an ogre? Mike is, and cannot let it go. We discuss this matter with him in a series of correspondences that addresses many typical knee-jerk arguments and objections against the sovereign power of God to save not simply a few lucky people, but all of mankind in the ages to come.
Kate takes issue with God saying He will save all, in His time. She says to attribute the reconciliation of all things to God, as is His declared intention, robs Him of glory. We show it is exactly the opposite.
When some hear that we preach Jesus Christ will reconcile all people to Himself, they become offended and exclaim: “If all are going to be saved, what was the point of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for us?” If that is your thought, you need to read our answer to... the most foolish of questions.