Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Judas

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address Judas

For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” – Mark 14:21

So many questions about Judas. Was he a believer that apostatized or simply a professor that fooled everyone. Again, some of these questions are for another post, and I will restrict myself to Mr. Sarris verse reference for the sake of brevity.

To have an existence that is worse than nonexistence! Wow. That has got to be terrible.

A number of times in the Scripture, cursing one’s birth is recorded. Think of Jeremiah

Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! – Jer 20:14

Or Job

“Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, ‘A man is conceived.’ – Job 3:3

You may remember others, but the point is that this is not uncommon for the Word to record this attitude. Jesus actually referred to the attitude towards Judas as being of woe, as in “woe to that man”.

Woe. What an uncommon word. When was the last time you heard this word in a conversation?

Turns out, this word (ouai) is a primary exclamation of grief.

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)οὐαίouaí, oo-ah’-ee; a primary exclamation of grief; “woe”:—alas, woe.

Sorrow. Grief. Deep heartache. Sadness. Distress. Jesus was referring to sorrow, not anger. He was speaking of the pain of the decision Judas was making and of the resultant deep heartache from this action of betrayal.

So we could read it as “sorrow to this man”. But what man is experiencing the sorrow? I have always associated Judas with the sorrow, the woe.

Mr Sarris brings to our attention that Jesus, in these verses, is speaking of two people, The Son of Man and Judas. Consider the Mark 14:21 with the pronouns identified.

For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man (Judas) by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man (the Son of Man) if he (Judas) had not been born.” – Mark 14:21

Jesus, in this understanding of the verse, is speaking of the grief He would experience concerning Judas, his disciple who was to betray Him.

A Rambling

One other finding that may be of interest to the reader. The last phrase in the verse is translated in the ESV as…

It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.

As I look through the various translations, a number of the literal translations prefer to use “good” as opposed to better.

  • … good were it to him if that man had not been born.’ – Mar 14:21 YLT
  • … good were it for that man if he had never been born. – Mar 14:21 KJV
  • … [It would have been] good for that man if he had not been born.” – Mar 14:21 NASB20
  • … good were it for that man if he had not been born. – Mar 14:21 ASV

As an aside, there is a difference between better (which is a comparative term) and good (which is a qualitative term) So what Carl – this ain’t English class, eh? I know I know – I am not an English major and never have been, but these things sometimes tickle my mind and make think. Ok so here is what I am thinking.

“Good” for Jesus if Judas had not been born is simply a statement of negation on Judas’ life. – No life for Judas, no existence. Jesus would not have had the sorrow of his close friends betrayal

“Better” for Jesus if Judas had not been born is a comparison with something that is worse. This by implication speaks of suffering, regret, pain on top of the betrayal of his disciple.

This rambling is brought to you by a fuzzy headed writer that is offering a concept to be discussed.

Another Rambling

You know, (one more rambling coming – ) when the Lord walked amongst us, the established God ordained religion of Judaism rejected His message of inclusion, of accepting sinners and tax collectors, even non-Jews into the family of God. It was heresy, and beyond accepted religious thinking. And yet out of this “heresy”, a multinational family of saints has erupted and the expansion of the Body of Christ / the Kingdom of God is greater than any first century religious Jew may have ever expected.

Are we moderns possibly of the same ilk in our understanding of God’s wonderful mercy as the first century Jewish religion?

The body of the post is also available for discussion of course, and I would appreciate your thoughts. As this is the last post on this book, I would like to thank all who have travelled with me in this somewhat surprising book of Mr. Sarris. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the challenges it provided my thinking. I can not say I am a convinced Universal Reconciliation adherent, but I have definitely seen reasons why some understand the Scripture to provide this hope to God’s creation.

Something to consider – Ramblings done – Thanks for reading.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – The Book of Life

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address The Book of Life

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:15

But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. – Revelation 21:27

The Book of Life is spoken of in the New Testament in many areas and in many ways, but I would like to restrict myself to the passages Mr. Sarris refers to in his book. After all, we are discussing the book “Heaven’s Doors”, and the topics he brings up.

If the Lake of Fire is a temporary condition, albeit a potentially extremely long period, how can we understand the fact that if a name isn’t found in the Book of Life, they will never enter the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:9-27 describe the beauty, glory and inhabitants of the New Jerusalem , and the passage ends with verse 27, where we find out that entrance or access to the city will be through inclusion in the Lambs Book of Life. If you name isn’t in it, no access! In the Lake of Fire you shall go!

This seems to be a slam dunk for restriction from the Heavenly City. The Lake of Fire may have a time element to it (see previous posts) but there doesn’t seem to be a time element to the restriction to the city. This must surely be the set of verses that completely negates the teaching of Universal Reconciliation.

By the way, when Abram comes to the entrance to the New Jerusalem, does the Lamb’s Book of Life record his name as Abram, or Abraham? How about Saul? Or Simon, renamed Peter?

Early on in the book of Revelation, a promise is given to the church of Pergamum.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ – Rev 2:17

The Lambs Book of Life has names in it. A limited number of names. These names represent created ones.

Will you become a new creation, and receive a new name, that is waiting for you in the Lamb’s Book of Life?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2Co 5:17

15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. – Gal 6:15

Trust in the Lord Jesus, receive His love and mercy, His salvation from sin and death, by way of His cruel death and resurrection from the dead.

For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. – 2Co 6:2 ESV

Become a new creation now, even as you read this short post. Trust in His provision, His grace. Admit your sin before Him, agree that you have been rebellious against His will, and ask for forgiveness, for life and the power to follow after Him. He is good.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – The Lake of Fire – B

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will continue to address The Lake of Fire

The Purpose of the Lake of Fire.

Ok, so the possibility of the duration of the Lake of Fire has been discussed. Lets take a quick look at the purpose of the lake of fire and see if we can get instruction from the passage

First off, the verses under consideration

and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. – Revelation 20:10

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8

According to Revelation 21:8, who is in the Lake of Fire. Read the list again. And what is their “portion”?

Portion, or the Greek word meros, according to Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words is defined as

Part (Noun, a Portion; Verb, to Give or Divide, Partake): denotes (a) “a part, portion,” of the whole, e.g., Jhn 13:8Rev 20:622:19; hence, “a lot” or “destiny,” e.g., Rev 21:8; in Mat 24:51Luk 12:46, “portion;”

This portion, is a part of a whole. A whole what? Is John speaking of the age? Their portion of the age is to suffer? Their portion of the suffering is the age? I’m asking questions, and I am not gonna build an entire thought on this definition, but some of this may supplement the thoughts provided in the previous post on the duration of the age.

On to the description of the Lake of Fire.

Jesus used the same two terms defining the judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah in Luke 17:29

but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all – Luke 17:29

This is the only other instance I can find the terms “fire and sulfur” combined and this judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah is also described by both Moses and Jude.

Moses writes of Abrahams experience.

Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. – Genesis 19:24

And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. – Genesis 19:28

Moses recites to the the Israelites the history of the doomed cities.

the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger and wrath– – Deuteronomy 29:23

Jude speaks of that terrible judgement in verse 7 of his epistle

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. – Jude 1:7

A few items to glean from the above verses

  • Sulfur and fire rained down on Sodom & Gomorrah.
  • Abraham looked back and saw the smoke rising. Smoke is evidence of a fire, but may not include the fire.
  • Moses speaks of the result of the land burned out with brimstone (sulfur) and salt, the utter wastefulness of the land
  • Jude speaks of the punishment of eternal fire.

If hope you noticed what I missed for years. Jude speaks of eternal fire, and yet Moses implies the fire was over, only smoke arising from the ashes, and the result was a wasteland, not a continual fire. So what gives? How can Jude speak of the fire as being eternal?

He isn’t! Two things are going on here, as best as I can tell.

First, the term eternal in Jude is the same term (aiōnios) we tripped over in our last post. This term is often translated as “age” and may not be referring to a never ending condition. This may be helpful, but to describe the fire of Sodom as age long still doesn’t help me with Moses statement of Abraham looking back and seeing smoke (and not fire)

Secondly, the term term (aiōnios) is modifying the punishment, not the fire. The punishment was eternal, or better stated, the punishment was age-long.

Ok, I think we slipped into the duration description again but I’m sure you will forgive me.

Back to the Purpose of the Lake of Fire. Two terms will be addressed for your consideration.

Torment

Torment, in the New Testament, is the translation of the Greek word basanizō, G928 and has the following definition from Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

VerbStrong’s Number: g928Greek: basanizo

Pain (Noun and Verb):primarily signifies “to rub on the touchstone, to put to the test” (from basanos, “a touchstone,” a dark stone used in testing metals); hence, “to examine by torture,” and, in general, “to distress;” in Rev 12:2, “in pain,” RV (AV, “pained”), in connection with parturition.
See TORMENT. (In the Sept., 1Sa 5:3.).

The original meaning of torment was the “action of an inspector who sought to test the quality of gold and silver coins” Heaven’s Doors, George Sarris, page 183. It is interesting that the purpose of the torture is testing, not punishment. Not retribution but testing. There is a difference!

Sulfur

Mr. Sarris referred to a web site describing the purposes of sulfur which I found somewhat interesting, with the following except

Sulphur was used by pagan priests 2,000 years before the birth of Christ. Pre-Roman civilizations used burned brimstone as a medicine and used “bricks” of sulphur as fumigants, bleaching agents, and incense in religious rites. Pliny (23-27 A.D.) Reported that sulphur was a “most singular kind of earth and an agent of great power on other substances,” and had “medicinal [sic] virtues” (Cunningham 1935:17). The Romans used sulphur or fumes from its combustion as an insecticide and to purify a sick room and cleanse its air of evil (Cunningham 1935). The same uses were reported by Homer in the Odyssey in 1000 B.C.

In summary, it appears the ancient reader, whom John was writing to, may have understood the Lake of Fire somewhat differently that us moderns do.

  • The duration of the Lake of Fire may be age-long and not “eternal” as in our current way of thinking
  • The purpose of the Lake of Fire on the one suffering may be of
    • testing
    • purifying
    • a medicinal quality
    • a cleansing agent.

At the very least, some of these findings have provided much to consider in my musings and have been offered to my reader to consider.

If you have comments, please supply below. Thanks for reading and hope to see you again next time.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – The Lake of Fire – A

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address The Lake of Fire

and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. – Revelation 20:10

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8

Much needs to be said on the last few chapters of Revelation in regard to the topic of Universal Reconciliation, but for this post, we will be addressing two questions regarding the Lake of Fire.

  • The Duration – Is it forever and ever? (Carl – the text says it is. Why even ask? Are you gonna twist the Scripture again?)
  • The Purpose – Is it for retribution of past sins? Is it to punish for temporal sin committed in this life?

Let’s consider a few items that Mr. Sarris brought out to discuss in his book.

The Duration of the Lake of Fire

Revelation 20:10 speaks of the Lake of Fire and the duration of the torment of the beast and the false prophet. (Similar descriptions of the torment inflicted upon those who accept the mark of the best may be found in Revelation 14:10 and 14:11.)

Torment day and night, forever and ever. How utterly horrible. No matter how you view this, the experience of torment, in any sane persons mind, is to be avoided at all costs! No matter what we may find in our study, any torment, any destruction, any suffering must be avoided at all costs! Do not continue in your rebellion against the loving Savior, who took the suffering, abandonment and death, in order that you may have joy in knowing the true God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Note that the term “forever and ever” is the same term we have dealt with earlier in the post Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Unpardonable Sin Within this post I would like to consider forever and ever. The term John uses is aiōn. (we seem to keep running into this term, don’t we!)

Strongs definition

αἰών aiṓn, ahee-ohn’; from the same as G104; properly, an age; by extension, perpetuity (also past); by implication, the world; specially (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future):—age, course, eternal, (for) ever(-more), (n-)ever, (beginning of the , while the) world (began, without end). Compare G5550.

Find a few verses below to assist in our understanding of this term.

Jesus defined the time He was living in as an age, but used the same term (aiōn) we find in Revelation.

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age (aiōn) marry and are given in marriage, – Luke 20:34

Should we consider the time Jesus was in, as an eternal never ending period of time?

“The sons of this forever and ever period of time?

I suppose it depends how we understand this word.

So it will be at the end of the age (aiōn). The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous – Matthew 13:49
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (aiōn).” – Matthew 28:20

First thing to notice that this word allows for the time to be defined with an end. That is definitely not fitting in with my understanding of everlasting or eternal. Also, why wouldn’t this term be translated as the end of “forever and ever” if that is the only correct understanding of aiōn.

Let’s move on

who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. – Mark 10:30
who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” – Luke 18:30

Jesus describes an age to come. What? Another forever and ever? Now I am confused! What in tarnation is going on? Hang on, it gets worse, especially if you are trying to hang on to the idea that aiōn is strictly defining an eternal everlasting state!

far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. – Ephesians 1:21 ESV

Paul speaks of one “forever and ever” following another “forever and ever”, or that a “forever and ever” was yet to come, from his standpoint. So he is referring to one coming “forever and ever” after the one he is in. Got it!

so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:7

Come on Paul. Now there are coming ages, that is more than one age coming after the one you are writing in? This is bonkers! How can I reconcile this with the concept of eternal or everlasting that is embedded in my thoughts?

But to the point, does this teaching allow for the possibility that the “forever and ever” we find in Revelation 20:10 may have an end to it, may be prior to an age after it and may mess my thinking up more that it already has?

I’ll tell you right now, that my thinking about eternity and everlasting is perty messed up right now! But that is alright! Remember the Word is not a cartoon or comic that we simply read for a few seconds and walk away from. It is a message we need to understand and have our minds adjusted to in order to see the Lord and His ways a bit clearer every day.

I have grown a bit long in the tooth with this post and will continue with the Purpose of the Lake of Fire in the next installment. I hope you can join me then.

As always, if you have a comment or question, please take advantage of the comment box below. I look forward to your ideas and thoughts! Thanks for reading and hope to see you again next time.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – No Repentance

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address No Repentance

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. – Hebrews 6:4-6

This is a tuff one. No matter where you stand in your theology, this passage gives you some heartache. And I am thankful for a passage that ruffles a systematic theology, that upsets a logical progression of thought that we could trust, (instead of God Himself).

I understand that no matter what is presented in this post (little lone every one of my posts), there will be minor (or major) disagreement.

I struggled with this concept for years, until I realized Jesus chose a tax collector and a zealot to follow him. Enemies with completely different world views, that came out of a life that pitted them against each other. Surely some of this difference impacted their impressions and understanding of the gospel.

Another example is James and Paul. Both godly men, with tremendous influence, and seemingly varied viewpoints on fleshing out the gospel for the saints they watched over.

Whoever wrote Hebrews, had a different viewpoint on the gospel that, say, Paul. Same gospel, same Jesus, same core message, yet the presentation was different.

Understanding this, let us consider Hebrews 6. Prior to the writer speaking of the impossibility of repentance in this passage, he writes the following passage.

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. – Hebrews 5:11-14

The audience is a bunch of immature, believers that are unskilled in the word of righteousness. He has been addressing this condition throughout the book, but just before he gets to our passage under consideration, he speaks of his limitations of sharing truth based on the audiences maturity level.

They can’t handle the truth! It is impossible for them to handle the truth, to understand and accept the message he wants to present them.

Ok, now that we have set the stage, lets turn the page and consider the authors message in Hebrews 6.

Many may try to say that the one who is being described in chapter 6:4-6 is one who is not yet a believer. So close to trusting, but had turned away and become hardened against the gospel. I personally can not see that for a number of reasons but the primary one is that the author speaks of the one “tasting the heavenly gift”.

Just a few short chapters earlier, the author speaks of Christ “tasting death”. This “tasting” is not a simply a “touch to the tongue”, but a complete experience of the object spoken of. Jesus completely tasted death. This one in Hebrews 6 completely tasted the heavenly gift.

No – me thinks this one in Hebrews is a true disciple.

But the author says it is impossible…. to restore them. Mr. Sarris make note on two points

Impossible

In Matthew 19:25 – 26, we read

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

The disciples were stumped on the truth they were hearing. Who can be saved? This is beyond our understanding, it is unbelievable, over our heads!

Jesus redirected their focus onto God, and claimed it was impossible for men, but not with God. The same Greek word is used here as in Hebrews, and is addressing the same general thought of impossibility to perform a work of salvation.

Note Strong’s definition for impossible

ἀδύνατος adýnatos, ad-oo’-nat-os; from G1 (as a negative particle) and G1415; unable, i.e. weak (literally or figuratively); passively, impossible:—could not do, impossible, impotent, not possible, weak.

The term is relative to the subject. By that I mean, if a challenge is provided to a weak man, the challenge may be “impossible” for the weak man, but the same challenge is of no difficulty for a strong man.

Thought of another way, if my dear brother Blair takes me to a gym, and presents a set of dumb bells with 80 lbs. on it, it is impossible for me to lift it – I am a weak man! But Blair he can lift it be simply thinking about it – He is super massive strong!

Who is doing the restoring?

We may need to consider this same truth for this passage in Hebrews, where those spoken to are described as weak, immature believers. Any repentance granted must surely come from God, and it is impossible for these children in the faith to even join in with the work of restoration.

Might the author be simply putting the believers in their place. A wee bit of shame to challenge them on to maturity?

What think you?

  • Is the passage defining a completely static situation, in which there is no hope of repentance no matter who is involved or when it may occur?
  • Is it an impossible situation, or just something these believers have no skill in joining in with God on the work?

As Jesus mentioned in Matthew 19, the impossibility may not effect God’s ability, simply man’s ability.

After all, He is kinda strong!


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Anathema

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address Anathema

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel
not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. – Galatians 1:6-9

Wow. False preachers and teachers are doomed to hell. That is the message I understood as I listened to various “non-false” preachers and teachers through the years. But I always came away from these messages full of fear, fear that, even as a believer, I might say something or do something that would constitute false teaching!

A little background to the passage under consideration. Paul won the galations to Christ on his first missionary journey and had suffered terribly on the trip. He had a heart for these believers and wanted only the best for them. But after hearing of their defection from Christ, he was livid! Livid with the gullible galations, and piping hot with the false teachers!

These teachers were adding to the work of Christ for the believer, distracting them from His loving kindness by getting them to focus on themselves. They had come in after Paul’s work in the area, and completely ravaged his message of the gospel of grace through Christ. Adding Jewish requirements to the freedom they had found in Christ, burdening them with sabbath laws, food restrictions, bodily appearances (if your a man – know what I mean?)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

So when he declares that any who preach a false gospel be under anathema, that surely means continual, conscious terror in torments and sulfer, suffering under the wrath of God in the Lake of Fire. Surely it means that!

Lets look at the term to justify this teaching, (or to get some clarity!)

The term translated as “accursed” is the Greek term anathema. According to this except from Vines Expository Dictionary, the general meaning of the word is “the disfavor of Jehovah”. The following verses include this term in the New Testament

They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath (anathema) to taste no food till we have killed Paul. – Acts 23:14

These assassin wannabe’s were dead serious in taking Paul out of the equation for the sake of the Jewish religion. They cursed themselves with a curse, calling down God’s disfavor upon their own heads if they did not kill Paul. You know, if they only had listened to Paul, they would have realized they needed not to call God’s disfavor down upon themselves, since they already were condemned, under the wrath of God, until they came to know the very Person they were persecuting!

For I could wish that I myself were accursed (anathema) and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. – Romans 9:3

This verse causes some concern for those who may be committed to the once saved always saved camp, if the term accursed actually means to be sent to hell, to suffer continually in flames and torment. This is Paul’s wish, that he go to hell in order for the sake of his Jewish brethren. But Paul – you are a Christian – you cannot go to hell. But that is the conclusion if anathema actually should be understood to equal hell fire and torment.

But if we look at the term as meaning “to be under Jehovah’s disfavor”, this allows for much room to understand the condition Paul is speaking of here. For Paul to be under God’s disfavor may be a condition he would experience on the earth, prior to his death, while journeying or preaching. We simply do not know the specific scope of Paul’s meaning when he uses this term, other than it is very negative and a claim to the extent of Paul’s love for the Jews.

Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” (anathema) and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 12:3

The Spirit will never lead anyone to say that Jesus is “under Jehovah’s disfavor”. How could that be, since He pleased the Father in all things, and was obedient to death, even the death of the cross.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (anathema) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (anathema) Galatians 1:8-9

Back to our original verses under consideration. Can you see that Paul is enraged at the destruction that the church has suffered under these false preachers and teachers. He calls upon them Jehovah’s disfavor, handing them over to God, in order for Him (and not the apostle) to teach them truth, to discipline them, to correct them and if all else fails to destroy them, (physical death?)

To be accursed is a terrible frightful condition to be placed under. Let not the reader take this lightly, or to consider that to be under the disfavor of Jehovah is a minor inconvenience. To be under Jehovah’s disfavor, in my mind, may be likened to being under God’s wrath, as we all have been in our past, (or even the present, if you know not the Lord!)

Both of these conditions require, no – demand that the soul flee to the Savior, for He is the only One who has satisfied the Father. He is completely in union with and in the favor of the One True God.

Seek the Son, and trust Him.

May the Lord of Glory bless you as you seek His favor.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” – Romans 9:17

What purpose? Why was Pharaoh raised up? In order to show His power in the King of Egypt, and that God’s name would be exalted in all the earth.

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. – Exodus 14:4 ESV

God states His purpose in Exodus 14:14, stating He will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host. What is this glory that God is referring to? Is it that Pharaoh and his entire host of Egypt burns in hell? I suppose, if you are looking for this passage to say that, you might find it, but I am not recognizing anything in the verse regarding an afterlife experience. Yup – I just not seeing where this passage would require Pharaoh to be eternally condemned to conscious torment in hell for ever.

Let me suggest an alternative view for my readers to consider. Per Mr. Sarris’ notes, Pharaoh was hardened in order to allow God to exhibit all the plagues, in order that all might see the varied powers of the King of all Kings.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, – Exodus 10:1

God hardened Pharaohs heart in order to show signs and wonders to the Egyptians. The Egyptians had a multitude of gods and each plague exhibited God’s dominance over the Egyptians gods. He was declaring His power to the Egyptians, and to fully display His power, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order to create the conditions for the plagues. Early on, in Exodus 5:2, Pharoah stated

…“Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

The issue is “knowing the Lord”. That is the intent of the plagues, and the plagues were completed due to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. In reality, both the children of Israel and the Egyptians needed to “know the Lord”. The plagues provided an opportunity for the deliverance of God’s people, and for the spreading of the glory of God to all peoples.

But may I ask – Is Pharaoh condemned to hell forever because of the hardening of his heart? The scriptures are clear that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (by both Pharaoh and the Lord), and the implication is two fold.

  • Pharaoh remained in the hardened condition continually.
  • He is going to burn in hell forever.

It seems there may be some assumptions with the first implication. I have not found any place in the Scripture that clearly states the Pharaoh remained in hardness. Of course this argument is one of silence, but consider.

And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen.
And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” – Exodus 14:17-18 ESV

Does not the Scripture state that the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD. Could Pharaoh be considered an Egyptian? Might he have recognized the power and glory of the Lord, since this was God’s purpose, and we know that all things that God purposes is accomplished in His good time.

At the very least, the passage in Romans does not define Pharaoh’s afterlife or the extent of any suffering that he may experience.

Hardening

But, let’s think about this hardening. What does that mean?

You may find it curious that Moses used this same term “harden” for another character during his life. He was a young man, a servant to Moses, by the name of Joshua.

Moses commanded Joshua to…

Be strong (same word as “harden” when referring to Pharaoh) and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.
Only be strong (same word as “harden” when referring to Pharaoh) and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. – Joshua 1:6-7

Of course I am not implying that Moses was telling Joshua to have a hardened heart towards the Master, but to be resolute, have a backbone, stand up to resistance, and to be firm.

God made Pharaoh resolute in refusing to release the Children of Israel, in order to show His glory to the nations. The length of the hardening of Pharaohs heart is not given to us, and to state that Pharaoh has no chance at redemption by the hand of the Messiah seems to be a stretch too far!

In conclusion, I would like to provide a quote from Mr. Sarris’ book

“God made Pharaohs heart firm so he would not buckle under the immense pressure that would come on him when God’s power was being demonstrated”

What are your thoughts? Do you consider Pharaoh unredeemable? Is there scripture that clearly states Pharaohs after life condition?

It is true that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by his own decisions and by the Lord. Might the Lord also have the power to soften Pharaohs heart, by the exhibition of His power and glory? You be the judge.

Thanks for reading along with my post and if you have a comment, please provide below.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Jacob I Loved, Esau I Hated

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address Jacob I Loved, Esau I Hated

As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” – Romans 9:13

This passage is one of a few that I have addressed under a series I called “Calvin’s Concerns“. It turns out the series has spawned off a number of posts on Romans 9. If this is of interest, please search within this blog for “Romans 9” to compile the posts available for your consideration.

For the sake of this post, I would like to consider how this verse has been interpreted to understand that Esau is condemned to hell for all eternity. Is this a proper understanding of this passage? I would say no, and Mr. Sarris’ book repeated much of my understanding of this passage.

Paul, in discussing Jacob and Esau, speaks to the choice of God in who to serve Him as the family through whom the Messiah would come. Eternal destiny seems to be imported into this passage by those who are fatalistic and follow after a philosophy that takes away all our responsibility of following after Him, of claiming to believe in Him as our Savior.

During a discussion with a Calvinist, I asked if I am to hate my mother and father. Of course he knew where I was going to take him in the New Testament.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:26

If God hates Esau in the common understanding of “hate” (i.e. to have an intense hostility towards someone), how is it that we are not to understand this call to discipleship in the same manner? Is Jesus telling us to have an intense hostility towards our parents? This creates confusion and contradiction in the Word and we know that this just ain’t so!

So, let us compare Scripture with Scripture and see if we can find a bit of clarity for Romans 9:13. You see when I read a passage such as Luke 14:26 and consider the overarching message of the Word in relation to our parents, it seems that the command to hate our parents is to be understood as defining priorities.

Consider the following passages that define our obligation to our parents if we are to please God.

We are to honor our parents.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. – Exodus 20:12

“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), – Ephesians 6:2

We are to obey our parents as children.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. – Colossians 3:20

How can we satisfy these injunctions for the believer, in relation to Luke 14:26? I believe it is in understanding that the term “hate” is a relative term, a term that defines a priority. That is, in relation to the Lord, parents are to be considered the next level of the love commitment for the believer.

This is the same sense we are to understand Romans 9. God’s “hatred” of Esau is relative to His love for Jacob, in the arena of service for the kingdom. To state otherwise causes confusion and conflict.

As we find in Romans 9, the choice of Jacob to be the family bringing the Savior to the world was a tremendous privilege to have bestowed upon them by God. Esau was not granted this privilege, but this does not require that Esau is doomed to eternal torment and suffering.

Service, not salvation is the topic here folks!

The “salvation” interpretation of Romans 9 that some believers preach and teach is possibly revealing more of their desires for the lost than that of the Master’s desires. As a former Calvinist, it disturbs me that I had such a low view of our Heavenly Father, that I viewed Him as One with mixed emotions and desires for His creation.

Why do we sometimes struggle with the good news being really good? Is the possibility of hell not being permanent a difficult concept to accept?

Is not the alternative as difficult to accept?

For myself, I have spent the majority of my Christian life believing in the horrors of an eternal suffering for all that are without Christ. My understanding that the Bible teaches of the eternal never ending conscious suffering and torment of the lost to be without relief is becoming the difficult concept to accept.

Of course, I would appreciate your thoughts and comments.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – The Narrow Door

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address The Narrow Door

Our initial verse to consider is Luke 13:23-24

And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. – Luke 13:23-24 ESV

Notice the question being asked. Does you understand the question as “Lord will those who are saved during the church age be few?” Or maybe, you might read it, understanding the question such as “Lord, will those who are saved in the future be few?”

My point is that the disciple who asked Jesus this question may have been considering the smallness of the current following that Jesus had. Let’s not put words in the disciples mouth, making him say something we assume.

Note the graphic below, with the Greek parsing provided to assist in making the point that the question was regarding their current condition, their present situation

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14 ESV

In our last post, we dealt with the term “perish” and concluded that perish does not define endless suffering in hell, but describes a wasted life, a life of ruin.

Although this passage from the Sermon on the Mount is not expressly answering the question above in Luke 13, it does speak to the “fewness” of those that find life.

The destruction experienced by the many, spoken of in this verse is similar to perishing. The Greek word is ἀπώλεια (apōleia), and has the Strongs number of G684, with the following definition

ἀπώλεια apṓleia, ap-o’-li-a; from a presumed derivative of G622; ruin or loss (physical, spiritual or eternal):—damnable(-nation), destruction, die, perdition, X perish, pernicious ways, waste.

If you have not had the chance to read the previous post on Perishing ( a different but similar Greek word) , I would recommend you spend a few minutes venturing over to it. Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Perishing.

Again, it appears Jesus is speaking of His kingdom being experienced in the here and now, and that my assumptions is that the passage is speaking of my eternal fate. This may not be the focused intent of the verse. And yet destruction at the end of my physical life cannot be entirely discounted, for if my life is wasted, ruined by my choices, I will experience sorrow and regret, suffering and pain.

This is a sad truth, and one that needs to be considered as we seek to know the true God and His Son Jesus Christ. This destruction, this waste or ruin of a life, of becoming useless is a terrible waste, and yet the Lord is the Redeemer of those who realize their state, repent and believe in the Son, and follow after Him.

A few years ago, my wife and I experienced a sadness, a realization of waste that burdened us very much. In our sorrows, I was reading in the book of Joel, and fell on a verse that greatly encouraged me at that time.

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. – Joel 2:25

The Israelites had just experienced a great loss, in that swarms of locusts had ravaged their land, stripping the fields of their produce and future crops.

The Lord speaks to their condition and promises them that He will restore (or pay back) the years that the locusts have taken from them.

To those who are currently taking the wide road to destruction, there will come a time of suffering, of regret and of pain. There is no denying this, and yet in the midst of this destruction (in this life or the next) God’s mercy may be available.

If this is the intent of the Biblical message, this should encourage you to reach out to Him now, for He is a merciful and kind God, One who given His All (in the sacrifice of His Son) and can provide you a life worth living in the here and now, a life that is not useless or that has been wasted.

Trust in the Messiah. You will not regret knowing Him, for He is kind and loving, patient and yet persistent in bringing each believer to a better life, a life more like His!


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Perishing

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address Perishing

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

It’s funny how the Lord pre-teaches a believer something only to teach him the same thing and then have to teach him in the future again. Please understand this is referring to John Doe – not me. No no no!

I have went through multiple understandings of this great verse, and each time I am challenged, and it only opens the Word up to greater blessing and wonder.

One of those times that challenged my thinking was March 15th, 2020, when I studied the term “perish” in the New Testament, to find out what in tarnation is being described by saying something perishes. Does it refer to eternally suffering in flames as I assume in John 3:16?

If you are curious of my methods and findings, consider the post Perishing in Eternal Torment.

For those who have limited time, let me summarize my findings.

For something to perish is for it to experience a lostness, or of destruction. Of death, or to be rendered useless. To be abolished, or to end in ruin.

Although I have provided a list of verses in the post mentioned above, let me supply one or two in order for my reader to consider.

Luke 15 :32

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was dead, and is found.

In this verse, Luke is recounting the parable of the prodigal son. and the father refers to the son as dead. This is the same Greek word as used in John 3:16, translated as perish.

How about one more verse to consider?

Luke 21 :18
But there shall not an hair of your head perish.

All the time I have read the Bible, it has never occurred to me to apply the idea of endless suffering I associate with “perishing” into this verse. It seems foolish at this point to consider one hair on my head experiencing unending suffering.

So what is the message of John 3:16?

John 3:16 speaks of the great love of the Father in providing His only Son to whomever chooses to believe in Him. The result? The one who believes in Him will experience everlasting life and not be rendered useless. The believing one will not experience a life wasted, ruined by sin and thrown away to satisfy the call of self.

The Father has provided the Son for our salvation from a life of waste and ruin.

Consider your present condition. Believe in the Son that you might experience life today! Trust His way of life, a life that is counter cultural to this present evil world. A life that is energized by the Spirit and guided by the Word.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Forfeiting Your Soul

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address – Forfeiting Your Soul

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
For what can a man give in return for his soul? – Mark 8:35-37

I’m confused. I have chatted with my wife a number of times on the difference between soul, spirit and body, and if we are a three part creation or a two part creation, that is if the soul and spirit are the same entity. It is not something that keeps me up at night, but this verse we are looking at has made me consider my priorities on a number of occasions.

Since I have read Mr. Sarris’ book, and even prior to understanding his teaching, I understood life and soul to be two different entities. You know, my life is that which I experience on earth, between birth and death, whereas my soul is understood to go on after death.

Although I am beginning to see a few cracks in this thinking, was Jesus making a difference in these verses above. Notice that the first verse refers to “life”, with verses 36 & 37 referring to a man’s “soul”. Did Jesus intend to use two different words in these three verses?

Lets take a closer look at what the Master said with the following interlinear tool (using Blue Letter Bible – I like it!)

I have circled the term “life” along with the associated Greek word used in the Gospels of Jesus’ speech. Of course, we should have expected consistency in translation and we have it within this verse. Psychē, Strong’s number G5590 is translated as “life” both times. Very good.

Mark 8:35

Ok, let us move onto the next verse, Mark 8:36. I have likewise circled the same Greek word in the following two verses for your convenience.

Mark 8:36

Okay, so the Lord continues his warning in verse 36, but what is going on? Why has the same Greek word, psychē, Strong’s number G5590, been translated as “soul”?

That must be a glitch! (A bit bothersome, no?)

Lets take a look at the next verse!

Mark 8:37

Again, the Greek word is translated as “soul”, instead of “life”. I don’t get it! Why the difference? The audience in Jesus’ day didn’t hear a different word, (and therefore didn’t come away with a possibly different thought.)

So what is it that Jesus was teaching? Was he addressing our destiny in heaven or hell, or something else?

One explanation is that Jesus was speaking of our earthly existence, our lives, that period of time between birth and death. He was bringing the gospel of the kingdom to earth, for His followers to enter into, in this life. When I hear the term soul, I automatically think of the afterlife, but I am not sure Jesus was referring to the afterlife in this passage.

How many people do you know that have sold their lives to gain the world, to gain possessions, prestige, power? They have sacrificed everything in this life that was of any quality. Things that are of infinite worth, such is their integrity, their honesty, their relationships, the love of God and the love of others.

Maybe Jesus was speaking of this life, of a quality of life, of an abundant life in the here and now, and not of eternal torment in hell, of loosing all hope and of gnashing of teeth, of burning forever.

Maybe we have understood something a bit incorrectly.

What think thee? Leave a comment.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Unpardonable Sin

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address The Unpardonable Sin

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter,
but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”
for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” – Mark 3:28-30 ESV

How can an unpardonable sin be pardoned? This is directly from the lips of the Savior and couldn’t be clearer, at least when you do not compare Scripture with Scripture.

Heck, lets see if there are other Scriptures that might shed light on this passage,

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. – Matthew 12:31-32 ESV

There are a number of items to discuss in the first passage in Mark that have been addressed in an earlier post called A Study of Eternal/Everlasting. I was seriously challenged by taking the word translated as eternal or everlasting, and questioning if the translation was as accurate as I had hoped.

I supplied a table in that post, providing things that were described as eternal, with Scripture passages provided, which showed (at least to me) that eternal is not what I thought.

One example – the Old Covenant, in Isaiah 24:5 is described as “the everlasting covenant”, and yet Hebrews 8:13 claims the Old Covenant is becoming obsolete, ready to vanish away.

The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. – Isaiah 24:5 ESV

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. – Hebrews 8:13 ESV

There are many instances where the Bible terms translated as eternal or everlasting should better be translated as “ages”. Many translation attempt to do this and yet continue in some passages with the word “eternal”.

You will kindly notice that in the Markan passage, the term is translated as an “eternal sin”, and yet Matthew’s gospel clarifies the duration to two different “ages”, that is the current age Jesus was speaking in (i.e. the Old Covenant) and a future age, and age to come (from Jesus’s perspective – possibly the church age.)

This limits the unpardonability (is that a word?) of the particular sin Jesus is referring to, and allows for forgiveness in a future age, if God should so have mercy on His creation.

As a matter of fact, Paul informs us

.. that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:7 ESV

Paul was speaking of the coming ages. Even if he was considering the church age to be an age that was still coming from his standpoint, the passage speaks of multiple ages.

Might God have an opportunity to forgive the unforgivable sin even beyond “the age to come”? Might God desire to forgive sin in a future age, even after a period of suffering and shame, of rejection and refusal? Might God allow an opportunity for rebels to believe in the One who was tortured and sacrificed for our sins?

I am hopeful, and as I study and consider the mercies He has stretched out to me, I am beginning to see God inn a different light, as a very surprising God, One that goes beyond my understanding and comprehension. He is good, and I praise Him for His many mercies and love.

What think you, my gentle reader? Do you have a thought you would like to share? Use the comment box below to begin a discussion.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Intro

During the last few months, I have been in conversation with a Calvinist through the comment pages on this blog. I had hoped we could maintain a certain grace towards one another, hoping to learn from each other, but alas, he seems to consider me an enemy, a false prophet, a lying teacher and blind to the gospel.

He has accused me of everything from not knowing God (which I readily admit I know Him not well enough!) to being blind and following Satan’s lies. A specific teaching he accused me of was that of being a universalist, which at the time I had not studied.

Since then, I have read a couple of short books on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism!) which have piqued my interest. (See Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God, a single post.)

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does speak to it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book mentioned above will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time.

With that being said, let’s consider a few of George Sarris’ discussion points, particularly concerning common questions that arise when he teaches this topic to believers.

Some of the questions believers have asked him and that he addresses in the book include

  • How can an unpardonable sin be pardoned?
  • Isn’t forfeiting your soul forever?
  • If you perish, how can there be eternal life?
  • Universal reconciliation implies a wide door, not a narrow door
  • Jacob I loved, Esau I hated – Someone has to be punished!
  • Pharaoh’s hardened heart – Will he not burn?
  • Eternal condemnation for preaching a false gospel
  • Impossibility of repentance for some
  • The Lake of Fire – Why have the lake if it is empty of sinners?
  • The Book of Life – Some names are not in it?
  • Judas’ existence – Better to not be born?

The following posts will provide some of the highlights of Mr. Sarris’ responses, with a few comments from myself. I have found most of his discussion worth considering, with one of them to be quite illuminating. I will leave it to you, dear reader, to let me know which one (or ones) illuminate your understanding. Or simply challenge a previous assumption!

With that said, look for the next post in this series. These posts will appear each week on Tuesdays. Hope to see you then!


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Book Look · Church · Kingdom of God

Book Look – The Potter’s Promise – 2

As many who follow this blog may know, I have recently stumbled (providentially?) over a web page called Soteriology 101, fueled by the passionate Dr. Leighton Flowers. I have supplied a number of 60 second videos, under “Calvin’s Concern” blog posts, and have found his teaching to be challenging and refreshing.

As I was listening to Dr. Flowers, I decided to purchase his book and received it in the mail recently. As I mentioned in my first post about this book, I would be adding addtional comments, and lo and behold here I am again.

In a subsequent chapter, when Dr. Flowers is approaching the 9th chapter of Romans, which is the “hotbed of Calvinism”, he drew my attention to the following verses that express the heart of the Apostle

Romans 9:1-3

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—

that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.

For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

So lets get this right.

The apostle Paul expresses his love for those who are not believers, supposedly reprobates by the teaching of an average Calvinist, and would sacrifice his own salvation for those that are not able to be saved. These he prays for are very likely the reprobate, those that have been determined to be damned for all eternity by the determinant counsel of God before all of creation.

I don’t get it. How could the servant love greater than the Master? Paul has greater love than Jesus? Something is so wrong with the way I understand the Word. I suppose I need to reconsider key Bible passages in order to have the higher knowledge of Calvinism claim my spirit.

I suppose 1 John 4:8 should be rewritten as

1 John 4:8

Anyone who does not act holy and righteous does not know God, because God is holy and righteous, (P.S. Paul is love).

My apologies to John, and to our Father in heaven, for such a suggestion.


If any who are reading this and have found Him as I am describing, please let me know.  If you do not know of the Savior as the loving God of all creation, please reach out to a believer you may know. Or reach out to myself. I would be honored to assist if I am able.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look · Church · Kingdom of God

Book Look – The Potter’s Promise – 1

As many who follow this blog may know, I have recently stumbled (providentially?) over a web page called Soteriology 101, fueled by the passionate Dr. Leighton Flowers. I have supplied a number of 60 second videos, under “Calvin’s Concern” blog posts, and have found his teaching to be challenging and refreshing.

As I was listening to Dr. Flowers, I decided to purchase his book and received it in the mail recently. The first chapter grabbed me, and I suspect I will have a few posts regarding this book.

In his first chapter, Dr. Flowers supplies a short list of differences between the popular Calvinistic teaching and what he calls a traditional approach to soteriology (the study of salvation).

I offer the below as a taste of the approach this book takes. He defines the two approaches thus.

Calvinists teach that Christ self-sacrificially loves a pre-selected group of individuals.

Traditionalists teach that Christ loves every single personso much that He died for them all.

Calvinists teach that before the world began, God predestined some individuals to salvation and the rest to eternal damnation based on nothing having to do with the individuals choices or actions

Traditionalists teach that God has predestined every individual who is “marked in Christ” through faith to be saved (Eph 1:13), and it is each individual’s responsibility to humble themselves and trust Christ in faith (Luke 18:6-14)

As a former Calvinist, I consider his summary to be fair. It is a shameful thing to admit now, but as a Calvinist, I made every effort to support the belief in a God who predestined some to eternal damnation. This is not the God I have come to know. He revels in being kind, supplying our needs, (and many of our wants), constantly available on the throne for our supplications to hear, and ever willing to forgive any who repent and forsake their evil ways.

If you do not know Him as a loving and sacrificial Savior, read the New Testament one more time.

Psalm 117:2

For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endures for ever. Praise ye the LORD.


If any who are reading this and have found Him as I am describing, please let me know.  If you do not know of the Savior as the loving God of all creation, please reach out to a believer you may know. Or reach out to myself. I would be honored to assist if I am able.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look · Church · Kingdom of God

Book Look – 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee.

12 steps recovering phariseeI found a book called “12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee” by John Fischer, and found the following chapters somewhat convicting.  Since reading it, I have come to recognize a glaring problem in my life, and you guessed it – I love to “do the Pharisee!”

To do the pharisee is to live a dry, empty and lonely existence.  This book will supply specific attitudes that need to be addressed in each of our lives as we seek to live grace-filled lives.

The following heading for the “12 Steps” supply a general outline of the book.

  1. We admit that our single most unmitigated pleasure is to judge other people.
  2. We have come to believe that our means of obtaining greatness is to make everyone lower than ourselves in our own mind.
  3. We realize that we detest mercy being given to those who, unlike us, haven’t worked for it and don’t deserve it.
  4. We have decided that we don’t want to get what we deserve after all, and we don’t want anyone else to either.
  5. We will cease all attempts to apply teaching and rebuke to anyone but ourselves.
  6. We are ready to have God remove all these defects of attitude and character.
  7. We embrace the belief that we are, and will always be, experts at sinning.
  8. We are looking closely at the lives of famous men and women of the Bible who turned out to be ordinary sinners like us.
  9. We are seeking through prayer and meditation to make a conscious effort to consider others better than ourselves.
  10. We embrace the state of astonishment as a permanent and glorious reality.
  11. We choose to rid ourselves of any attitude that is not bathed in gratitude.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we will try to carry this message to others who think that Christians are better than everyone else.

One passage that rung so true for me is as follows…

“The only way to save a Pharisee is to break a Pharisees back with the burden of the law.  There was, and is, hope for the Pharisee, and that hope comes in the form of failure.  Failure is the doorway to freedom, but of course this presents a huge dilema, since failure is the one thing a good Pharisee can never accept.

Pick it up if you have ever judged (condemned) anyone in your Christian life.

If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know.  Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look · Church · Kingdom of God

Book Look – World Christian Trends – Geotargeting

World Christian Trends

As many of those who read this blog realize by now, I struggle with the modern American church, and have found that I have fallen into the basic message it propagates.  

A few years ago, as I mentioned in the introduction to this post series, I stumbled over the graphic below.  

I was greatly saddened by the self love of the modern church, but mostly of how I had accepted the “normality” of the situation.

By way of explanation, the graphic below defines three “worlds” in relation to their opportunity to hear the gospel. 

World AUnevangelized People2.2 Billion
World BEvangelized non-Christians1.9 Billion
World CChristians1.9 Billion

What I find so sad is the focus on evangelizing the saved, the believer. I draw your attention to the third column, which gives an “e” factor. This “e” factor equals the evangelism hours (offers) received per year per capita. In other words, in World C, each person receives a average of 400 hours of evangelism per person every year. In World A, each person is “lucky” to get one offer each year.

When my wife and I were first married, we had a little poster on a wall in our home that spoke of the dead sea. I think the graphic said something like .. “The dead sea is dead because it has no outlet – It only receives.”

As believers in World C, our deadness I fear is a result of not reaching out to those who are in such desperate need, but only servicing our own supposed needs.

Brother & Sister – Consider how you may target the unreached, uncontacted and un targeted. There are numerous mission organizations that are hurting at this time that has World A as their focus.

I hope this post will motivate you to find focus in your giving and prayers.

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look · Church · Kingdom of God

Book Look – The Gospel According to Moses

Gospel according to Moses

I  picked up this book to find fault.  I admit it.  I tend to be critical of anything I am not comfortable with.

I started to read it years ago, and put it down, without getting too far into the first chapter.

Recently, it beckoned me again, and I have found a book that is irenic in its approach to the Jewish way of thinking.  The way of thinking, and somethings what they think.  The author describes his many times of visiting a Jewish Chever Torah, a meeting for Jewish folk to discuss their faith.

During these meetings, the author found their manner of discussion to be unlike those in the Christian Church.

Let me explain by use of the authors words.

“…Rabbi Stern fires off another question. No one answers. He offers a provocative observation – something controversial to stir the pot.   Still, we are silent.  Finally in frustration, he exclaims, “Come on people! Somebody disagree with me! How can we learn anything if no one will disagree?”

Wow – That is a radical thought.  Disagreement for the sake of thinking!

The author comments a bit further on.

“Unfortunately, most theological conversations I have had in church have been the self-reinforcing kind: a group of people sitting around telling each other what everyone already believes.  If some brave soul interjects a radical new idea or questions one of the group’s firmly held views, it is usually an unpleasant experience We shift in our seats uncomfortably until someone rises to the bait. The discussion remains civil, but it seems that any challenge to the groups theology must be corrected, so all comments are solidly aimed at that one goal: arriving at a preconceived answer”

I don’t know about your experience, but I have often asked a question within a Sunday School class or Bible Study setting only to be ignored, told that we will address that later, mocked, or worse yet, asked to not return.

Why?

If we have the truth in the pages of the Word, why can we not ask tough questions?  Sure, some questions have no answers and we need to accept that.  Some questions have answers that cause theological tension. We need to accept that tension, struggle with it, and understand when another believer hasn’t considered an opposing view.  This is where the Chever Torah process would build the immature believer into a thinking, and more mature believer.

I suppose I come off as a bit of a problem in some get togethers, and I readily admit that I enjoy a good discussion – some might call it a debate.  In recent years, I have found theological stances that have challenged my faith, struggled with them and accepted some as valid, turning my Christianity on it’s head somewhat.

Has it been uncomfortable?  You bet.

Have I lost friends.  In some ways my fellowship has been strained with some brothers, and it hurt at first, but when I consider my brothers perspective, I understand.

Have I regretted the pursuit of growing in my understanding? Not at all.

Considering “The Gospel according to Moses” I would recommend the book for the challenges it presents.  It will supply comparisons with the Jewish faith that are very interesting.


Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look · Church · Kingdom of God

Book Look – World Christian Trends – Introduction

World Christian TrendsI told my wife about a book I had considered buying a few years ago (closer to a decade ago!) because I saw some very interesting statistics relating to the modern church. She asked me the name of the book and after a few minutes, was able to supply it to her.  Lo and behold, she had it delivered to our doorstep a few days later.  (What a wifey!!)

This book is massive!  It is a global review of world Christianity, with analysis and interpretation of the trends within the global church, and the church found within each nation.

Like I said, it is massive.

I am not going to review the book (heck I guess I did when I told you it is massive!!!) but mainly pull graphics to discuss with the reader.

My next post on this book will consider strategic mission efforts for the modern church to target.

I hope you can visit, and find focus in your giving and prayers

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Book Look · Church · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Blumhardt’s Battles

Recently, as I was listening to a “Narrow Path” Radio program, (BTW – I highly recommend Steve Gregg as a Bible teacher and author!), he mentioned a little known book, titled Blumhardt’s Battle.

The book tells the story of the exorcism of Gottliebin Dittus in the village of Mottlingen in 1842. A German Pastor by the name of Johann Christof Blumhardt, was instrumental in the exorcism, and the little book is his recounting of the incredible happenings during this process.

Many times his recounting has at least one credible witness, as in a medical doctor, accompanying him in the visitations with Gottliebin, telling of occurrences that cannot be explained simply by referring to the material universe.

One such instance is the recurring expulsion of needles from Gottliebin’s flesh. The needles spoken of are knitting needles at times, exiting the body through this poor woman’s flesh. Multiple needles simultaneously exiting the body!

Many other such strange “unnatural” happenings are recounted, and I will leave it to the reader to pick up a copy. It is a fantastic little book, with shocking details of a prolonged exorcism. The recounting is told with a carefulness, an almost hesitancy, since Blumhardt had to give a report to his denominational hierarchy regarding his experience, and this denomination was in the midst of modernization, the creeping in of discounting anything spiritual in the church.

After the exorcism of this poor lady, Blumhardt was often credited with the feat. He consistently referred to Jesus as the Victor. I think this was my favorite part of the book

Although I purchased the book “Blumhardt’s Battle” and was challenged by it immensely, another book, called “The Awakening” is available as a pdf download for the reader to consider. (I have not read this book, but Blumhardt’s Battle is difficult to procure, so I would like to offer this as an alternative option.)

Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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