Calvinism · Contradiction · Doctrinal · Universalism

Book Look – Jesus Undefeated – Passage 6

Recently I have been in discussions with some friends that read my blog fairly consistently and they have, in an effort to understand my beliefs, have baited me by calling me a universalist.

That is fair, since I may not have defined every specific teaching as they may want, most likely due to the fact I honestly haven’t come to a settled persuasion on some of the teaching they may ask about me.

Initially, as I have stated in previous posts, I was surprised with the number of passages that support an evangelical universal reconciliation teaching. Please do not think that this teaching is the same as the “all roads lead to heaven” teaching, which I consider to be blasphemous. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

With this, I would like to begin delving into some of the New Testament passages Mr. Giles brought to my attention, for your consideration, edification and civil discussion.

Regarding the book itself, I read it in one sitting, not simply because it was under 200 pages, but that it was challenging my thought process and I found it enjoyable reading. If this topic interests you, please pick up a copy. It is well worth your time.

Our sixth blog post will begin with passage 6, Philippians 2:10-11

Passage 6

Philippians 2:10-11

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This passage surprised me. Not that every knee should bow and every tongue confess.

No, I have always understood this passage to describe every soul that has ever existed to come to the realization of the Lordship and Deity of Jesus Christ, either joyfully as believers confessing the Lord or grudgingly under compulsion, by those who rejected the Messiah in their lives on earth.

It makes sense and caused no challenge to my general thinking of the afterlife. After all, I was on the “right side” and it wasn’t an issue for me at the time. No cause to research the passage any further, until I picked up Mr. Giles book.

This passage, when considering the translation of the greek word exomologeō within the passage shook my thinking. You see, this greek work is translated as “confess” in our passage, as in

…every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue exomologeō that Jesus Christ is Lord.

This word is not the simple word for confess, as in agreeing, or saying the same thing as another. That would be the Greek word homologeō, and I think it is obvious that the last few letters are similar to the word mentioned above. The difference is the beginning of the word, and Paul used our special word here in Philippians instead of the simple word for confess.

So, what’s the big deal Carl?

This word, exomologeō that we find in our passage in Phillippians has the following definition found in Thayers Greek Lexicon. (underline by author)

….. Philippians 2:11 R G L text Tr text WH]; (ἐξ either forth from the heart, freely, or publicly, openly [cf. Winers Grammar, 102 (97)]); active and deponent middle to confess, to profess;

Notice the difference? It isn’t simply confessing. It’s more than that!

Ok – let’s try The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon

ex-om-ol-og-eh’-o 

  • to confess
  • to profess
    • acknowledge openly and joyfully
    • to one’s honour: to celebrate, give praise to
    • to profess that one will do something, to promise, agree, engage

There is a difference in the reason for the confessing. Notice the first sub – bullet above. To acknowledge openly and joyfully.

Joyfully? What?

I have always understood that those who rejected the Messiah would confess Him as Lord, but under compulsion, and grudgingly. If every tongue confesses joyfully of the Lord Jesus Christ, that messes up my nice tidy eschatology.

Why would someone who hated Jesus his whole life, and at the end, when there is no hope of redemption, no hope of love or mercy, but only eternal fire and conscience eternal torment, why would that person joyfully confess Jesus as Lord?

Paul states that every knees will bow and every tongue joyfully confess (exomologeo) that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God.

What are we to make of this finding?

How good is this good news???


Additional study for those interested!

Consider the use of this Greek word in the New Testament, and see if this definition of “joyfully confess”, fits your previous understanding. Let me know if one or more of these verses “pop” for you. I’ll tell you now – Philippians was a surprise, but a couple more below brought some additional light to the message.

Matthew 3:6: “him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”
Matthew 11:25: “Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven”
Mark 1:5: “the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.”
Luke 10:21: “in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven”
Luke 22:6: “And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them”
Acts 19:18: “many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.”
Romans 14:11: “to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
Romans 15:9: “as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles,”
Philippians 2:11: “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,”
James 5:16: ” Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that”
Revelation 3:5: “book of life, but I will confess his name before my”

Thanks for joining and considering the Bible with me. Your thoughts are always welcome, and I look forward to discussing the Word with you.

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

Calvinism · Contradiction · Doctrinal · Universalism

Book Look – Jesus Undefeated – Passage 5

Recently I have been in discussions with some friends that read my blog fairly consistently and they have, in an effort to understand my beliefs, have baited me by calling me a universalist.

That is fair, since I may not have defined every specific teaching as they may want, most likely due to the fact I honestly haven’t come to a settled persuasion on some of the teaching they may ask about me.

Initially, as I have stated in previous posts, I was surprised with the number of passages that support an evangelical universal reconciliation teaching. Please do not think that this teaching is the same as the “all roads lead to heaven” teaching, which I consider to be blasphemous. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

With this, I would like to begin delving into some of the New Testament passages Mr. Giles brought to my attention, for your consideration, edification and civil discussion.

Regarding the book itself, I read it in one sitting, not simply because it was under 200 pages, but that it was challenging my though process and I found it enjoyable reading. If this topic interests you, please pick up a copy. It is well worth your time.

Our fifth blog post will begin with passage 5, Colossians 1:14, 19-20. Mr Giles provides a very good introduction to the passage and supplies points that I had never considered before. I do hope you will take a few minutes to consider this passage with me.

Passage 5

Colossians 1:14, 19-20

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

As my readers may notice, this passage is the Colossian equivalent to the previous post Book Look – Jesus Undefeated – Passage 4 on this topic.

With this difference, Paul makes a slightly astounding comparison. But before we get to the comparison, consider the following two key verses in this book that defend the complete and utter unapologetic claim that Jesus is God Almighty.

Colossians 1:19 ESV – For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

Colossians 2:9 ESV – For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

Notice that both of these verses state that the fullness of God, all the fullness of God, not a portion of the fullness of God, not a certain percentage of the fullness of God, but all the fullness of God dwells in Him. He is the Messiah – God with us! The term “all” in these verses are the basis of this claim, in that Paul did not state –

For in Him deity dwells

Dang, we can say that about believers and we are simply beggars at the throne of God, granted tremendous privilege’s based on the righteousness of our Savior! He is the One in whom ALL the fullness of Deity dwells

OK Carl – as a believer, I understand and believe that Jesus is God. What is the point?

Let’s go back to the context of the original verses

Colossians 1:19-20

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Paul introduces the same phraseology as in Ephesians, but this time the “all things” is compared with the deity of the Lord Jesus.

This causes me to stop and consider how to understand Paul’s message. In Ephesians, the “all things” of verse 10 was related to the mystery of God’s will, set forth in Christ. The Ephesian passage speaks to uniting “all things” in Him. This passage speaks of reconciling all things to Himself.

Reconciling, dear reader!

The Greek term used in this passage is ἀποκαταλλάσσω apokatallássō, and is used to define three different actions by God toward sinners.

  • to reconcile completely,
  • to reconcile back again,
  • bring back a former state of harmony

You see, an argument in the Ephesian passage could be that the unity referred to is a forced unity, a uniting of all things based on the authority of the Messiah. Jesus is the Lord and has all authority and this may be Paul’s intent in Ephesians.

The argument of authority only doesn’t hold water for me in this passage, unless my readers can provide a cogent reason for reconsidering. Paul is speaking of reconciliation, that is a bringing back, a relationship being returned to between God and “all things”. Reconciliation is an action that screams of relationship, of two “people” looking at each other, relating to one another, at peace with one another!

Returning to consider the “all things” of verse 20, we read in Romans 8:22 that all of creation groans until the redemption of our bodies, yet when I read that passage I default to excluding most of humanity in the “all of creation” description.

Should the “all things” of Colossians 1:20 condition our thinking when we read a passage such as Romans 8:22?

Yet the “all things” of Colossians 1:20 must refer to a portion of humanity, since we know that some have not been reconciled. Therefore the “all things” must be understood to refer to “some things”. And if that is true, should we understand verse 19 to teach us that some of the fullness of the Godhead dwells in the Messiah?

If not, why not? Why would Paul change the intent of the term “all” from one verse to the next. It seems a difficult verse to argue against from the Universalist Reconciliation stance.

Your thoughts?


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

Doctrinal · Calvinism · Universalism · Contradiction

Book Look – Jesus Undefeated – Passage 4

Recently I have been in discussions with some friends that read my blog fairly consistently and they have, in an effort to understand my beliefs, have baited me by calling me a universalist.

That is fair, since I may not have defined every specific teaching as they may want, most likely due to the fact I honestly haven’t come to a settled persuasion on some of the teaching they may ask about me.

Initially, as I have stated in previous posts, I was surprised with the number of passages that support an evangelical universal reconciliation teaching. Please do not think that this teaching is the same as the “all roads lead to heaven” teaching, which I consider to be blasphemous. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

With this, I would like to begin delving into some of the New Testament passages Mr. Giles brought to my attention, for your consideration, edification and civil discussion.

Regarding the book itself, I read it in one sitting, not simply because it was under 200 pages, but that it was challenging my though process and I found it enjoyable reading. If this topic interests you, please pick up a copy. It is well worth your time.

Our fourth blog post will begin with passage 4, Ephesians 1:7-10

Passage 4

Ephesians 1:7-10

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ

as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Mr. Giles continues with his list of Bible passages, providing Ephesians 1:7-10 for our consideration this morning. Sometimes I like to read the passage identifying the pronoun as I read through the passage. Lets try that with this passage.

Ephesians 1:7-10
In him (Christ) we (believers) have redemption through his (Christ’s) blood, the forgiveness of our (believers) trespasses, according to the riches of his (Christ’s) grace, which he (Christ) lavished upon us (believers), in all wisdom and insight making known to us (believers) the mystery of his (God’s) will, according to his (God’s) purpose, which he (God) set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

God has lavished grace on believers. This grace includes the redemption we cherish, and the forgiveness of our trespasses. Although I previously thought of these two aspects of our relationship to God as being the same thing described in two different ways, I believe these are two separate acts of grace provided to the saint. See Simple Thoughts – Colossians 1:14.

Paul is speaking of the multiple benefits of the grace of God to the believer.

God has allowed believers to know the mystery of His will. Within the will of God, His purpose is in the Messiah, as all things of God are centered in the Messiah. In the Messiah, God has invested all of His will, all of His plan and all of His love.

If my thinking is correct, Paul has elevated the Christ to preeminence and only rightly so. He is the Lord of all. So why does Paul continue with the phrase “to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth”

Unity is a grand theme in the Scriptures. This is not revelatory as the Word often describes God’s pleasure in the unity of the brethren. This is referring to the life of the brethren, yet is this the intent of the apostles message?

The term “unite” in this verse is the Greek word anakephalaioō, and I am not going to ask anyone to pronounce it!

Thayers Greek Lexicon is somewhat helpful.

In Ephesians 1:10 God is said ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ, to bring together again for himself (note the middle) all things and beings (hitherto disunited by sin) into one combined state of fellowship in Christ, the universal bond

Vines also is referred to below

Eph 1:10, RV, “sum up” (AV, “gather together”), of God’s purpose to “sum up” all things in the heavens and on the earth in Christ, a consummation extending beyond the limits of the church, though the latter is to be a factor in its realization.

Ok, the plan of God is to sum up, or “combine” all things in heaven and on earth. Our God is a rebuilder, One who brings together. It is a teaching that Paul identifies later in this book when he teaches of the Christ knocking down the wall of separation between the Jew and the Gentile. Could Paul be breaching this topic in our verse here? It is a common method of his to introduce a topic somewhat generally, prior to the main teaching being fleshed out.

Maybe.

But what are we to make of the term “all things”. So generic. So “fuzzy”.

Could Paul mean all souls that are in heaven and on earth? All things certainly sound inclusive, and may actually mean all things, without exception. It is a possibility!

Could we be dogmatic on this verse? Certainly not, since it is so generic, so “fuzzy”, and yet there are “fuzzy” passages in the Old Testament, that in thier fulfillment, was much more expansive than many (all?) could have hope for or believed.

With this passage that Mr. Giles provided, a possibility of Universal Reconciliation is allowable in my thinking at this time.

What think you?

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

Doctrinal · Calvinism · Universalism · Contradiction

Book Look – Jesus Undefeated – Passage 3

Recently I have been in discussions with some friends that read my blog fairly consistently and they have, in an effort to understand my beliefs, have baited me by calling me a universalist.

That is fair, since I may not have defined every specific teaching as they may want, most likely due to the fact I honestly haven’t come to a settled persuasion on some of the teaching they may ask about me.

Initially, as I have stated in previous posts, I was surprised with the number of passages that support an evangelical universal reconciliation teaching. Please do not think that this teaching is the same as the “all roads lead to heaven” teaching, which I consider to be blasphemous. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

With this, I would like to begin delving into some of the New Testament passages Mr. Giles brought to my attention, for your consideration, edification and civil discussion.

Regarding the book itself, I read it in one sitting, not simply because it was under 200 pages, but that it was challenging my thought process and I found it enjoyable reading. If this topic interests you, please pick up a copy. It is well worth your time.

Our third blog post will begin with passage 3, Romans 5:18-19

Passage 3

Romans 5:18-19

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

It is interesting, as I look for solid teaching on the rebuttal of this verse, that many teachers go out of the way to explain what Paul is not teaching. In one commentary, by James Montgomery Boice, he makes the following statement regarding verse 18. (italics mine)

All men… all men – Paul is using all men with two different meanings for the sake of parallelism, a common practice in the Hebrew Old Testament, which is similar Paul’s repetition of the phrase the many in Romans 5:15 (note). The first all covers all humanity who are born into Adam. The second all refers to that part of the first all who by grace through faith are reborn into the Last Adam, Christ (Paul repeatedly emphasizes righteousness and faith – see notes Romans 1:16; 17; 3:22; 3:28; 4:5; 4:13. To reiterate – Paul is not teaching universal salvation.)

How is it that in using the same phrase, we can negate Paul’s possible intent simply by referring to parallelism? (I understood parralelism to be a method of teaching that reiterated a particular truth in a parallel phrase – Is that incorrect?)

It is telling that this master teacher has to repeat – “Paul is not teaching universal salvation” This reiteration seems to be provided since without it, the text, when simply read, speaks of “One act of righteousness leading to justification and life for all men”. Paul does not explain how this works out in the plan of God, but does give us a summary of his argument in verses 18-19.

Mr Giles quote is helpful from his book.

“Paul leaves us very little wiggle room to read this any other way than what it plainly appears to say: That in the same way everyone was made a sinner due to Adam’s sin, everyone will be made righteous because of Christs obedience.”

I agree with Mr. Giles logic, and yet I refuse to be a “one verse” Christian. I am sure you may have met the believer who rests his entire trust in a specific teaching on a few favorite proof texts, not considering passages that may provide balance, that may provide the whole counsel of God. I grant that focusing on a few verse to maintain a position is appealing, yet it may not produce the well rounded, mature believer that we are to grow up into.

As I have mentioned many times in this blog, the Bible is not equal to a comic strip such as Garfield. A sideways glance at a verse will not produce a deep faith. An overemphasis on a few verses will not result in a balanced faith.

Is the Universal Reconciliation teaching too good to be true? I would ask my reader why we restrict the good news of the life and death of our Messiah?

Why do we take the elder brothers stance when we consider that the love of God may extend much farther that we understand or comprehend.

How do you understand this challenging verse. Can you find a way to avoid the conclusion Mr. Giles offers above, without referring to other passages, but simply from the immediate context?

I look forward to the discussion.

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

Calvinism · Contradiction · Doctrinal · Universalism

Book Look – Jesus Undefeated – Passage 2

As I have stated in previous posts, I was surprised with the number of passages that seem to support an evangelical universal reconciliation teaching. Of course many may think, as I initially thought, that this teaching didn’t include a form of hell, or that the cross was not necessary. This is not so.

Also, please do not think that this teaching is the same as the “all roads lead to heaven” teaching, which I consider to be blasphemous. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

With this, I would like to begin delving into some of the New Testament passages Mr. Giles brought to my attention, for your consideration, edification and civil discussion.

Our next post will consider 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Okay lets consider the two verses above, and consider some thoughts on possible interpretations.

One author I read concerning this set of verses taught that Paul is using this passage to teach that without transgression, no death would have come into the world. A man (Adam) sinned and brought death into the world. A man (Jesus) obeyed and brought resurrection into the world. This is true, but is that Paul’s point here, to speak of theoretical truths?

Maybe, but the issue to address from the topic under consideration is the second “all” in verse 22. Yes Jesus brought life and immortality to light for all of creation. Romans 8 teaches that all of creation groans until the redemption is realized. Could “the creature” in Romans 8 passage be considered support for UR? We may need to consider that at a later time!

It seems blunt to say it, but if the first all in verse 22 means all humanity (and it does since all have died, with few exceptions – Enoch, Elijah, maybe Moses), then all shall be made alive. Of course my determinist friends will want to insert “kinds of men” in the second phrase, so that it may read as such…

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all kinds of men be made alive.

Other than adherence to a systematic theology that has a number of Biblical concerns and philosophical problems, inserting text into a verse causes me a wee bit of consternation. Not a fan!

Is there an interpretive solution to this verse that negates what it seems to be saying, and that is that … all die…all shall be made alive”?

Come on Carl – Read the verse!

Paul qualifies each group (those who die, and those who live) by the representative man who brought in the “condition” of death or life. I kind of understand it as..

Since you are in Adam, you will die (all humans are in Adam!)

Since you are in Christ, you will live (all those who have faith in the Messiah are in Christ!)

Although Mr. Giles offered this text as a proof for universal reconciliation, he had to justify the “all in Christ” as being every person ever created. Although he made a valiant effort at proving this particular text, I didn’t find it convincing.

What think ye? Let me know your thoughts.


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.

Calvinism · Contradiction · Doctrinal · Universalism

Book Look – Jesus Undefeated – Passage 1

As I have stated in previous posts, I was surprised with the number of passages that seem to support an evangelical universal reconciliation teaching. Of course many may think, as I initially thought, that this teaching didn’t include a form of hell, or that the cross was not necessary.

Please do not think that this teaching is the same as the “all roads lead to heaven” teaching, which I consider to be blasphemous. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

With this, I would like to begin delving into some of the New Testament passages Mr. Giles brought to my attention, for your consideration, edification and civil discussion.

Our next post will consider 1 Timothy 4:10

Passage 1

1 Timothy 4:10

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

This verse always confused me as a Calvinist. I remember actually skipping this verse (mentally) as I read through the 1 Timothy. It turns out I tend to avoid passages that conflict with my current understanding of the Word. A difficult position to be in, but then again, we aren’t called to be readers of cartoon comics.

It is important to consider the entire Word of God in formulating a belief, and as I continue to study and ask for direction in understanding, I find I am accumulating more questions than answers. One of these questions is in relation to the teaching on hell. And one of the passages that provides some of God’s thoughts on the topic of hell is the one we are looking at today.

So what does this verse say? Does it teach the damnation of a portion of God’s creation? Or that only some reach the golden shores of heaven?

Of course, if the apostle Paul meant to insert the words “kinds of” so as the verse would read ….the living God, who is the Savior of all kinds of people..

If that is what Paul meant, we might have to begin inserting words elsewhere to make the Word more comfortable for us. But again, I think that is too easy a way out of this possible dilemma, for this verse definitely throws a monkey wrench in our standard “orthodox” way of thinking.

First off, he states that God is the Savior of all people, which seems clear. If he intended to insert “kinds of” into the verse, it would still not resolve the dilemma. (By the way, I am not advocating the insertion of words into any text!) The kicker is the next phrase, “especially of those who believe”. What does that mean?

Paul preached to the nations the necessity of faith in the crucified Savior. He is the great apostle of the gospel of grace, the “faith plus nothing” gospel that began the expansion of the church in the first century, with the growth continuing even today. Who would have thunk it?

So, could Paul be hinting at the salvation of all people, (he seems to state that clearly) but that some “particular” people, those “particular” people that have believed, have already entered into salvation?

No no no.

That can’t be true, since there has to be a hell for those who refuse to accept the Messiah before death. This is utterly impossible. Beyond the scope of the written Word!

And yet…

When the Lord came to earth, He scandalized the religious community with His acceptance of sinners and tax collectors. His love for sinners, (and even Samaritans!) was beyond all the expectations of those who looked for the Messiah.

When the Lord was crucified and rose again, the infant church stayed in Israel. For whatever their strategy was in performing Acts 1:8, it took special revelation to both Peter and that newby Paul for the church to accept those dirty gentiles into it’s fold. His grace and love again expanded beyond the accepted bounds of religious understanding. The Old Testament made reference to the expansion of the Kingdom in many places, and yet the infant church stayed in Israel for years. Why?

I will not be dogmatic in the restriction of God’s grace and love for His creation, that He loves only some and hates the rest. This is not the nature of God, for the nature of our God is that “God is love”. Universal reconciliation may be offensive to some in the church, and may cause claims of heresy. That is fair, since we are to protect the truth of God. But let us consider all the truth of God, and not exclude the verses that may interrupt of systematic theology. God tends to upset the apple cart sometimes and His glory and grace, in reaching ALL would only be magnified if this is His will.

Granted, there are many questions universal reconciliation needs to address, and I am seeking to find answers with passages in the Word that argue against this teaching. Questions involving New Testament descriptions of perishing, of everlasting punishment, of judgement to come and of “post death conversion”.

It is a wild teaching, too good to be true?!

Surely there must be a hell to avoid. The judgement of our saving God must be a prime motivator in our day to day life, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

What think you? This is the beginning of at least 10 posts that will provide passages that suggest (some quite clearly) of a universal reconciliation. I need your feedback, so as not to be simply hearing myself think.

I look forward to a civil and honest discussion.



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.

Calvinism · Contradiction · Doctrinal · Universalism

Book Look – Jesus Undefeated – Intro

Recently I have been in discussions with some friends that read my blog fairly consistently and they have, in an effort to understand my beliefs, have baited me by calling me a universalist.

That is fair, since I may not have defined every specific teaching as they may want, most likely due to the fact I honestly haven’t come to a settled persuasion on some of the teaching they may ask about me.

After all, I am not quite sure how many angels can sit on the head of a pin!

I want to focus on the bigger picture, the fact that He is the One to look to, to love and listen for, and not necessarily “pure doctrine” that is sometimes advertised as being required to be right with God.

Don’t get me wrong, we need to look to the Word of truth for truth, and yet we need to go beyond simply truth seeking and mature into loving others that may believe the Word from a different perspective!

If you have a different doctrine of where the New Jerusalem will be (Peoria Illinois?) or if you feel that there will be no dogs in heaven (don’t tell my wife!), I believe it is acceptable to love y’all who have a different view. Golly, it is commanded to love all y’all, believers or non-believers, enemies or friends!

You know that whole “love your enemy” thing applies to those who think differently about God also.

Enough of the general rant, I wanted to introduce the book “Jesus Undefeated”, by Keith Giles in this blog. His topic is Universalism, and the debunking of the Eternal Torment teaching. I picked up this book due to some who claim I am a Universalist. Thought I would find out what I believe, or at least get a bit more familiar with my assumed faith.

I have published two other posts describing this teaching, but they were fairly high level introductory blogs ( God – What is HE Like & Universal Reconciliation & the Church Fathers).

With this series, I would like to begin delving into some of the New Testament passages Mr. Giles brought to my attention, for your consideration, edification and civil discussion.

Initially, as I have stated in previous posts, I was surprised with the number of verses that support an evangelical universal teaching. Please do not think that this teaching I am trying to describe is the same as the “all roads lead to heaven” teaching, which I consider to be blasphemous. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the following blog posts in this series, I would like to provide a number of New Testament passages which teach the universal salvation of all through the redemption that is found in Christ Jesus.

Regarding the book itself, I read it in one sitting, not simply because it was under 200 pages, but that it challenged my though process and I found it enjoyable reading. If this topic interests you, please pick up a copy. It is well worth your time.

Our next blog post will begin with passage 1, First Timothy 4:10.

Talk to you then – Thanks for dropping by!



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.

Calvinism · Contradiction · Doctrinal · Universalism

Book Look – The Inescapable Love of God

Sometimes I get confused with all the details, and need to pull back and look at the forest instead of the trees.

Such is the case in this post. As some of you may recognize if you follow my blog, I have dipped into the theistic determinist discussion of soteriology. Wow Carl – bring it down a bit eh? What did you just say?

Calvinism. Did God choose certain people to be saved and damn all the rest?

It is a logic that seems to be flawless, and I spent close to a decade in it until I snapped. It was becoming more and more confirmed in my mind until it wasn’t. I should not have considered what some other passages in the Word might be saying.

But back to the forest idea.

Recently I picked up a book titled “The Inescapable Love of God”, by Thomas Talbott, and within the first 1/4 of the book, found three general propositions that are contradictory.

Let me share them with you. This information is found in pages 43 – 45 of the aforementioned book, along with a few verses that are used to support the statement.

  1. It is God’s redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore His will) to reconcile all sinners to Himself.
    • 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4, Romans 11:32, Ezekiel 33:11, Lamentations 3:22, 3:31-33
  2. It is within God’s power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world.
    • Ephesians 1:11, Job 42:2, Psalm 115:3, Isaiah 46:10b & 11b
  3. Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence.
    • Matthew 25:46, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, & Ephesians 5:5

These three propositions cannot seemingly exist together. With three propositions together creating a contradiction, it became necessary to strike out one proposition to provide the basis of one of three historically accepted Christian theologies. This is the intent of the following three sections.

Calvinism

  1. It is God’s redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore His will) to reconcile all sinners to Himself
  2. It is within God’s power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world.
  3. Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence.

Let’s strike out the first proposition.

The remaining two propositions provide the basis for the logical framework of Calvinism. This particular thinking arose with St Augustine, (354 430 AD). My understanding is that this teaching existed previous to the Augustine’s promotion of it within the church, but was within a Persian religion called Manichaeism. Christianity had not previously taught the deterministic philosophy associated with this religion. That is, until St Augustine popularized it.

God has the power to save all, but has decided to choose a limited number of souls to save in order to bring greater glory to Himself.

In this philosophy, God’s power and justice are emphasized but it is not within His redemptive love to reconcile all sinners to Himself.

Summary statement – God’s love is questioned

Arminianism

  1. It is God’s redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore His will) to reconcile all sinners to Himself
  2. It is within God’s power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world
  3. Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence.

This time, let us strike out the second proposition

This has been my default position, except for a decade of Calvinism beginning in the late 90’s. I simply ignored the aspect that Arminianism implies a restriction of God’s power in the plan of salvation. Of course my teachers would not emphasize (or mention) this weakness, so my ignorance was well founded, but still without excuse.

Arminianism is a teaching that was somewhat codified by Jacobus Arminius followers. Jacobus was a student of Calvin’s successor Theodore Beza, and in his study, rejected Calvin’s theology. Arminius and his followers taught that God loves all, but has granted free will to His creation, giving His created beings choice. This choice impacts God’s ability to save, (and therefore reflects on His power).

In this philosophy, God’s love and justice are emphasized but it is not within His redemptive power to reconcile all sinners to Himself.

Summary statement – God’s power is questioned

Universal Reconciliation (UR)

  1. It is God’s redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore His will) to reconcile all sinners to Himself
  2. It is within God’s power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world
  3. Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence.

This time, let us strike out the third proposition

UR is a teaching I had always rejected assuming there was no justification from the Word to consider it. I was surprised to hear a claim from a teacher I respect, that in the first four centuries of the New Testament church, a majority of theological schools leaned to this doctrine. Origen, as far as I can tell, was a major proponent of this teaching in the first century.

UR implies that God’s holiness is limited, a holiness that demands eternal suffering in hell for sinful acts performed against Him. UR teaching does not reject the concept of punishment after death, but the eternality of it. UR teaches of judgement after death, but that hell has an exit door to it.

I know, I know – Scripture doesn’t teach that Hitler could leave hell after a period of time! That is and has been my response my entire Christian life. This is because I only listened to the one who stated their case first!

Proverbs 18:17

The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.

But as I have mentioned in my purpose for this blog, it is important to at least consider other Christian teachings, to test them and understand their scriptural basis, if any. Not testing a teaching is a blindness we should not allow.

In this philosophy, God’s will and power are emphasized but it is not His redemptive purpose to punish sinners eternally in hell.

Summary statement – God’s holiness is questioned

Conclusion

The three philosophies are supplied here as a 30,000 foot overview, immensely simplified. As stated in the introduction, the intent is to pull away from the details and try to get a general overview of three positions. I am currently looking into UR since I have not spent any time in studying it, and have considered the other two positions earlier in my faith.

I hope this post will generate edifying discussion and I look forward to others providing assistance in my research of all three philosophies.


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.

Contradiction · Interpretation · Security of the Believer · Understanding

Paul & James – What a Massive Contradiction!

How in the world does a fella deal with the following obvious contradiction in the New Testament?

ContradictionRomans 3:28

28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

James 2:24

24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Extreme Solution

Some may take the stance that James is not worthy to be taken seriously, not even to be considered part of the canon.  I believe Martin Luther, the great reformer, called the book of James “a right strawy epistle”

One of Martin Luther’s quotes …

In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’s epistle is really a right strawy epistle, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it.

I assume the remark was Luther’s attempt to rid the canon of the epistle, and it may hearken back to Paul’s use of straw in the first letter to the Corinthians, where Paul noted that worthless works are “straw…”.

I have always leaned on the thinking that if God the Father sent His Son to die on a cross for the sins of the world, He would have a vested interest in maintaining the message He wants the world to hear.  So far it looks like the epistle of James has weathered 2 millennium of attacks and stands strong.

Another factoid that supports James epistle as worthy of acceptance is the echoing of Jesus teaching within the book.  Check out this table comparing Book of James with statements of Jesus.  Sixty seven verses in the book of James (total of 88 verses) contain allusions to or expound statements of the Lord.  That is 3 out of every 4 verses!

So, if the book of James is to be considered acceptable canon material, how do Christians resolve the apparent contradiction between James and Paul?

I would suggest context plays a role.  Let me explain.

Faith Only

Paul is laying out the method of salvation for all lost men to establish a relationship with God the Father, through God the Son.  It is widely accepted that faith in Christ and repentance of sins are the two components of salvation.  I think Paul is using faith, being understood by his audience, who heard the message of repentance and faith from others. Although the passage refers to faith only, many other passages include the concept of repentance, which Paul plainly taught in other contexts

Acts 17:30

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Acts 26:20

20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:10

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Timothy 2:25

25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

This faith in Romans 3:28 is the noun form of “belief, faith etc.”  It is not the verb in the text.  The action word in the passage is “justified” and the action is performed by God in response to the faith of the sinner.  God justifies the sinner when the sinner exercises faith in the Messiah’s sacrifice and resurrection.

Consider the Old Testament passage the apostle refers to.  Paul mentions Abraham’s faith in the next chapter (5 verses away) and uses Abraham to support his teaching of faith only to be justified.

Rom 4:1-5

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
And to the one who does not work but believes in[fn] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness

abraham-isaac

Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Paul is referring to Genesis 15:1-6

Genesis 15:1 – 6

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”

And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member

And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

In the Roman’s 4 passage, Abram’s faith was in the promise God gave to him of his future offspring.  It was Abrams belief in the promise of a son, in the bare Word of God.

Faith & Works

James. on the other hand is not referring to the Genesis 15 promise, but in Abraham’s continuing, fulfilling, outworking of that faith in the sacrificing of the very son God promised to Abraham.  James is referring to Abraham offering up his own son in verse 21.

James 2:21

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?

James says Abraham was justified by works, by some action he took. 
WHAT?

James 2:22 – 23

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;

and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.

Note that James uses the Genesis 15 passage (the promise of a son) in his teaching, but that the faith initiated in Genesis 15 (the promise of a son) was completed in Genesis 22, where Abraham proved his faith in the promise of God even if the son was to be put to death. 

His actions proved his faith in the promise.  (To God? or to men?)

James is telling us that true faith does not remain only faith.  To begin the Christian life, faith in the Son of God and His sacrifice is required.

To maintain the Christian walk, works will be evident.  If no works, James says there is no faith.

James 2:26

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. 

Summary

I’m thinking Paul is speaking of justification of the sinner in God’s presence, and that James is speaking of justification of the saint in men’s presence.  (James keeps saying – You see….)

There is no contradiction.

When each of us exercise faith in the risen One, challenges will come.  That initial faith, if real, will erupt in obedience to the One who supplied you life.  Not in any vain effort to add to your faith, or to improve your judicial standing before God.  It will be in response to the love and grace of the One you believed in.

How can we not obey, once we have tasted and seen that He is good.


If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com