“For if while we were enemies WE WERE RECONCILED to God through the death of His son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by/in His life.” (NAU) The Concordant NT reads, “For if, being enemies, we were conciliated to God through the death of His Son, much rather, being conciliated, we shall be saved in His life.” Romans 5:10.
When we teach that the reconciliation of man to God is limited to an infinitesimal few, we are not much different from the Jews of old who with their many converts believed that they alone would be the recipients of God’s mercy and blessings. They missed the promise that God would raise up a people for His name from among the Gentiles, and so they believed that they alone should receive the blessings of Abraham. However, Genesis 12:3 declares, “- - And in you ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH WILL BE BLESSED.” ALL is certainly more than a chosen few!
Likewise, the majority of the church world has practiced this kind of limited theology with their attitude toward those who are outside of Christ. We have minimized the SALVATION OF ALL, except for the infinitesimal few who have heard the gospel and accepted Christ. These we have taught to religiously follow the correct “salvation word formula,” and then we had them baptized, and indoctrinated them to submit to authority and to obey the church rules. A major teaching of much importance is to have new converts/members pay tithes and offerings, since getting their money is very important to keep the church system going, and we have used Scripture to promise them a blessing for doing it, and curses if they don’t.
Most of us admit that JESUS DIED FOR ALL. We love John 3:16, and rejoice that God loves the world, yet, we fail to understand Verse Seventeen. “For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the WORLD might be SAVED through Him.” Yet, in all honesty, we really seem to believe that our Father sent the Son to save only a few. Regretfully, the rest of the world’s people, even it they have never known the gospel, are destined for annihilation, or burning non-stop in hell. Yet, the Scripture teaches, “For God has shut up ALL in disobedience so that He may show mercy to ALL.” (Romans 11:32)
Both the “annihilation” and the “burn in hell forever teachings” suggest that our Father knowingly created the majority of mankind to be tossed out like so much rubbish, after a few, who happen to have heard the good news, and happened to have exercised their “free will,” made the right choice, and somehow hung on until the end, resulting in bliss without end.
The word that describes the kind of thinking that many hold is SUPRALAPSARIANISM. The Institutes of the Christian Religion gives this definition; “In order to glorify himself by manifesting both his mercy and his justice, God decreed that some rational creatures would be saved and some would be condemned; - - these creatures, however, did not yet exist as anything other than possibilities in God’s mind. God decreed the creation of these rational creatures, - - God ordained the justification of some to be saved, and the reprobation, or damnation, of others to be condemned.”
While this doctrine is considered to be Calvinistic, it must be said that even the strong “free will” advocates tend to agree with this concept, because they have been willing to limit the grace of God to the few who have responded within “their understanding.”
From 2 Corinthians 5:14 we learn, “THAT ONE HAVING DIED FOR ALL, HIS DEATH WAS THEIR DEATH.” (Weymouth NT) The fact is, ALL WERE INCLUDED IN Christ Jesus when He died, and that includes ALL who lived, are now living, and will yet live. Therefore, ALL HAVE DIED IN CHRIST, and ALL LIVE IN CHRIST for He has risen from the dead and ascended to the right hand of our Father. What seems to be apparent to us now, doesn’t invalidate what is an accomplished fact in Christ. We only have the limited view of the now as opposed to the eternal view of our Father, and His glorious purposes which are beyond the limitations of our humanity, and can only be seen by the eye of the spirit with Spiritual revelation.
The Concordant NT puts 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 this way. “Yet ALL is of God, who CONCILIATES US TO HIMSELF through Christ, and is giving us the dispensation of the conciliation, how that God was in Christ, CONCILIATING THE WORD TO HIMSELF, not reckoning their offenses to them, and placing in us the word of the conciliation.”
Two things are unmistakable here. 1 - It was God, who conciliated, who reached out, and brought back mankind into His relationship, and fellowship with Him. Man was out of fellowship with God, NOT God with man. 2 - The word CONCILIATE means to draw, or bring together, to change the situation. This word properly used, had the meaning of a one-sided initiative that reaches out to the other side. God is not alienated from man, but man from God. Our Father God has taken the initiative to end this alienation by including us ALL IN CHRIST’S dead and resurrection. Our inheritance via the First Adam, was destroyed, and annihilated by God’s LAST ADAM our Lord Jesus Christ.
When one reads Colossians 1:15-20, the Greek word PAS #3956 which means ALL, or EVERY, is used EIGHT times. EIGHT is the number of resurrection and regeneration. It speaks of a NEW BEGINNING. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of ALL creation. For by Him ALL things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - - ALL things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before ALL things, and in Him ALL things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in EVERYTHING [all]. For it was the Father's good pleasure for ALL the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him TO RECONCILE ALL things TO HIMSELF, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (NAU) The question one must ask is, “How many of ALL’s do we believe, some or ALL?”
Verses 21 and 22 continue with, “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet HE HAS RECONCILED in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach - - .” RECONCILIATION can hardly be limited to a few, or ALL of the truths expressed in the above passage cannot be true. Without a doubt, regardless of our questions, our Father sent the Son to RECONCILE ALL, EACH AND EVERYONE, TO HIMSELF!
THE CONFESSION OF JESUS AS LORD is an ACT OF WORSHIP
How many of us really believe Philippians 2:9-11? “It is in consequence of this that God has also so highly exalted Him, and has conferred on Him the Name which is supreme above any other, in order that in the name of JESUS every knee should BOW, of beings in Heaven, of those on the earth, and of those in the underworld, and that every tongue should CONFESS that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.” [Weymouth NT © 1978 Kregel Publications] The Williams N.T. uses the word, everyone in place of every, and it is an excellent choice, as it gives the meaning of the Greek word PAS, which means EVERY, and ALL. We must also note that the bowing and acknowledgment of Jesus a Lord is not limited to the earth or the heavens but to those in the underworld as well.
The confession of the LORDSHIP of JESUS CHRIST is based upon both the believing, and acknowledgment, of His Lordship. This comes from the faith within, and is the result of a spiritual revelation. But, what does the word LORD mean? The word LORD is from the Greek word KURIOS, and means, SUPREME AUTHORITY. A Lord is one who exercises TOTAL and ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY and has ALL the POWER that goes with it.
No Jew could recognize and confess Jesus as LORD unless he was converted. No Gentile, who still worshiped the Roman Emperor would either. The issue was, either Caesar was Lord, or Jesus was Lord. Many believers died because they wouldn’t say that Caesar was Lord. They recognized a Higher LORD than Caesar.
While most of us believe that this is true, we still interpret the word ALL as if it meant that in the end God will stomp His hobnailed boot onto the neck of everyone who is unwilling and force them to admit that Jesus is Lord under duress. One wonders, “How much glory this would bring to God?”
The Greek word for BOW used in Philippians 2:10 is KAMPTO. Perhaps the best way to give its meaning is to quote part of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father.” Paul bowed in prayer and worship. In Romans 11:4 Paul quotes 1 Kings 19:18, “Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him." It must be said that this was a willing, and not forced, act of idol worship.
KAMPTO is also used in Romans 14:11, “For it is written, “As I live says the LORD, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” This is a quotation of Isaiah 45:23. “I have sworn by myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to me every knee will BOW, every tongue will SWEAR allegiance.“ It is enlightening to know that the Hebrew word for SWEAR is SHABA. The idea is to “seven oneself. The root Hebrew word for “seven” and “swear” are the same. Seven is always considered a perfect number. So the “oath” is one of perfection.
In our Philippians 2:9-11 text, the word CONFESS is used in place of the word SWEAR in Isaiah 45:23. Here it is from the Greek word EXOMLOGEO, meaning to acknowledge, or to agree fully. The word comes from HOMOLOGIA which is confession by agreeing with the truth of the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ. We now must ask, DO WE BELIEVE WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS? Do we believe that Romans 14:11, and Philippians 2:9-10 mean what they say? Or, are we still ruled by past teachings that magnify sin, and Satan, over Christ? Are we able to receive fresh understanding from God as He opens the Scriptures to us and reveals truth by His Spirit for us to receive?
While the vast majority have yet to see this as truth, the Scripture remains clear. One wonders, “WHY is it not taught?” My friend, Chris Nijp, often asked the question, “WHAT IF?” when he introduced teaching that did not fit into commonly accepted doctrine. One day our Father spoke the following to him, “SINS OF THE FATHERS, (those who taught us) doing things by example as we were taught, rather than checking them out for ourselves.”
We all have followed this path, either because we didn’t check the Scripture, or because the “heavy hand of DOCTRINAL AUTHORITY said that we must believe ONLY what was taught by them, and by their method of interpretation. We need the spirit of the church in Berea, “for they received the word with great eagerness, EXAMINING the SCRIPTURES DAILY to see whether these things were so. Acts 17:11. This doesn’t infer a “wild ass” attitude, but rather an heart open to God.
It is a fact that, OUR THEOLOGY AFFECTS OUR VIEW OF GOD, and OUR VIEW OF GOD AFFECTS OUR THEOLOGY. That, which we teach, preach, and speak, comes from what we have been taught ABOUT our Heavenly Father. Our understanding of God has a lot to do with our spiritual walk, and our judgmental opinion of others. Truly the popular understanding of God, and His purposes is so microscopic!
WHAT ABOUT THAT WORD HELL?
The popular King James Version uses the word HELL to translate the meaning of the Hebrew word SHEOL and the Greek HADES and Gehenna. The English word Hell had a valid meaning in its time, but now hundreds of years later, we don’t know what it once meant. The English meaning of the word HELL was, a place concealment, or, a hidden place. This is a long way from the Dante’s Infernal type of meaning used today.
The meaning of SHEOL is the place of the dead, in the grave, or the netherworld where they continued to exist, but are concealed/unseen from our view. The Greek word HADES should always be understood in the context of the meaning used in the Old Testament rather than the pagan meaning based upon the Greek God Hades, or Pluto, who ruled the underworld.
Another word that has been translated as hell in the KJV, and still is in some Bibles, is GEHENNA. This was a valley of Jerusalem, in the Hebrew known as Topheth. In the days of our Lord it was a garbage dump and the fire burned the garbage there continually. If a Jew should have been buried there, it would be the most disgraceful thing that could happen to him. When Jesus told the religious Jew that his life, and piety, and outward devotions to God were trash suitable for burning in the dump, it was a major insult. Forty years later the fires of Gehenna were to consume many of these Jews following the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Temple, as the “end of the age” came to its fullness in 70 AD, just as Jesus has said it would be.
Concerning Gehenna, the Adam Clarke Commentary informs us, “This place was near Jerusalem, and had been formerly used for those abominable sacrifices, in which the idolatrous Jews had caused their children to pass through the fire to Molech. A particular place in this valley was called Tophet, from topet (Heb 8611), the fire stove, in which some supposed they burnt their children alive to the above idol. See 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chr. 28:3; Jer. 7:31-32. From the circumstance of this valley having been the scene of those infernal sacrifices, the Jews, in our Saviour's time, used the word for hell, the place of the damned.”
PERSONAL TESTIMONY CONCERNING A HELLISH EXPERIENCE
As a child I had been brought up with the HELL FIRE and DAMNATION preaching, and the visiting evangelists reveled in it! They even had one story of miners in Germany who had dug so deep that they could hear the screams of those you were in hell. This was told while WW2 was on. The other terrifying doctrine was that of committing THE UNPARDONABLE SIN, and once done there was no hope for you. Many unsaved persons quaked in terror under this ungodly method. This doctrine came to cause me much grief.
One night when I was 18 years of age, just before going to sleep, some filthy words flashed through my mind concerning the Holy Spirit. They weren’t the kind I would use, but there they were. Next came the words, “You’ve committed The Unpardonable Sin.”
That night I could hardly sleep as I knew that when I died I was going to HELL. In fact I could hardly sleep or eat or do much for days. Finally I had enough sense to go and tell my father. He didn’t waste any time trying to cast some demonic spirits out of me, as he knew the battle was in my mind. As someone has said, “The biggest demon is the one between your two ears.” He gave a simple prayer and I was free. What joy and relief! Thank God we are secure in Christ, and He will keep us!
THE TRUE STORY OF A MAN WHO WENT TO HELL AND RETURNED
Now I would like to share with you the story of a man I knew many years ago, who has since gone on to be with our Lord. I will give him the pseudonym of John. The day John started working at a sawmill, he received the experience of a life time. His job was to climb up on a trestle and free any logs that got jammed on their way into a pool of water. On his very first day, while doing this, he lost his balance and fell, and crushed his skull when he hit a protruding beam. Then he landed in the water, and was under it for twenty minutes, before he was pulled from the water. Meanwhile, John found himself descending into a place that to him was hell. Many of his friends and relatives were there, and they seemed to be very unhappy as they were on the shore line of a LAKE that burned with BLUE FIRE.
After awhile John saw a man walking along the shore line, whom he believed was Jesus, and he said that he knew if Jesus would just turn and look at him, then all would be well. Jesus continued to walk until He was almost out of sight, then at the last moment Jesus turned and looked at John who then found himself back in his body.
John’s body had been dragged from the water, which he had been under for about twenty minutes. When he regained consciousness he became aware of his Christian landlady praying over him. His skull had been crushed by a protruding beam as he fell and this probably caused instant death. Because of this he was sent to a hospital to have it stitched up.
Later that day he had a conversation with Jesus, who promised to heal him if he told what he had seen. So John got out of bed and took off his bandages, and then took out all of his stitches. That night a meeting was held at local place where he told his story. Many years later, when John was having dinner at our house, he had our children feel the bumps on his head that remained because the bone had NOT grown together properly.
You may have noticed the words, BLUE FIRE that John had used to describe the LAKE that he had seen. When sulfur burns, the flame is blue, and that is why the lake of fire that John saw was blue in color. In Revelation 19:20, 20:14-15 and 21:8 we read of the Lake of Fire and Brimstone. The word BRIMSTONE is from the Greek word theion #2303, which in Strong’s Concordance is referenced to #2304 theios, and then to #2316 THEOS which means, GOD or DIVINITY. E.W. Bullinger defined brimstone as; “FIRE FROM HEAVEN, (places touched by lightening were called THEIA), as lightening leaves a sulphurous smell, and sulphur was used in heathen purification, it got the name of THEION. Brimstone (from brienne or brin, i.e. burn and stone, from heathen uses in their religions, God made it an instrument of His vengeance in the heathen.”
While many are fearful of the Lake of Fire, we must be mindful that FIRE is really a revelation of God Himself, for as Hebrews 12:29 says, “OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE,” which is a quotation of Deuteronomy 4:24. Since the primary nature of God is LOVE, we can then say, “THE LOVE OF GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE.” That which He consumes of us is for our benefit, as the increase of Christ burns out the dross.
Fire is a symbol of God’s glory, and has been associated with the revelation of God to man, the specific example being the BURNING BUSH that Moses saw. Fire is used in the purification of mankind and believers in particular, and this doesn’t take away from the blood of Christ for the cleansing of sins, but rather the end product of producing CHARACTER of GOLD.
HOW CAN ALL CONFESS JESUS AS LORD?
The question arises, “How can EVERYONE confess Jesus as LORD?” We know that Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The word for CONFESS is from the Greek word HOMOLOGIO. It means to speak in agreement with. “How do we confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ?” Surely it is much more than repeating a few chosen words as so often used in an altar call prayer for salvation. 1 Corinthians 12:3 tells us, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and NO ONE CAN SAY, "JESUS IS LORD," EXCEPT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
Now, one can only speak by the Spirit that which has been birthed of the Spirit into our human spirit. An example of this is found in Matthew Sixteen. Jesus told Peter that he knew that He was THE CHRIST because it had been REVEALED to him from THE FATHER in heaven. It is the Holy Spirit who does the revealing and opens the eyes of our spirits.
How does one come to the Father? The popular gospel tells us to make a choice, as if our salvation depended on us. The Scripture says otherwise. John 6:44 tells us, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him - -“ And, Verse 65 reads, “- - no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” Verse 37 reads, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I certainly will not cast out.” John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL MEN to Myself.”
This article has been written because of the truth that our Father planted in my spirit in 1958. At that time I was not ready to go past what I had learned as a child. However, in spite of my mental rejection of the salvation of all, deep within my spirit I believed. Sadly, too much of my Christianity, even as a leader of others, was from the Old Testament view of a very strict God. So often I was insistent that one must strictly abide by various rules and regulations. In spite of the ongoing work of the grace of God in my heart that began in 1956, that began a process of dealing with the legalism in me, it has been, a bit at a time. So often through the years I have been like a Pharisee rather than one in whom Christ dwelled. It is now some years since I found myself preaching truth beyond the accepted version, yet, I held back on what I should really have said because of fear. However, since our Lord is love, and His patience is sure, in the fullness of His time I have been able to share His glorious love and mercy.
In closing we ask again,” DOES OUR THEOLOGY AFFECT OUR VIEW OF GOD, or, DOES OUR VIEW OF GOD [based on man’s traditions] AFFECT OUR THEOLOGY?”