Even if God Reconciles All To Himself, Is it Wise to Tell Everyone that This is So?
Question: Hi Peter, … I have a strong belief and faith that God will reconcile ALL things back to himself through our Lord Jesus. I have been walking through this season with two pastors—both of them see what I am seeing in scripture, but both think I need to be careful in how I say it to others . . . almost like I shouldn’t really talk about it directly. I am conflicted about how to move forward.
I am a Christian rap artist and have been getting more opportunities to speak and perform at churches. I usually speak to the youth about the biblical purpose of our lives (being made in the image of Jesus) and the power of the media to influence our minds. Is there any advice you can give me about how to present my faith?
It feels wrong for me to tiptoe around the subject. I feel compelled to yell it from the mountaintops, but I am being told this might not be wise. When I prayed about it and asked God how to proceed, I saw a nuclear explosion. I said, “Thanks for the visual, LORD, but what does it mean?” (ha ha)
Wisdom from you about this would be greatly appreciated.
Response: Thanks so much for writing . . . It’s so helpful to hear how others see the beauty of a Heavenly Father who destroys the work of the devil and makes all things new through His Word made flesh—Jesus.
Regarding your question:
1. I can totally relate, I’ve asked it many times myself.
2. It’s very common for pastors to say what your pastor friends are saying. I suppose there may be a relatively good intention involved in their statements and another that’s understandable to me but pretty bad.
- First the bad intention: As you know, in a relatively “free” society, pastors lead institutions that run like all the other institutions of this world; they run on threats and promises. The Gospel gives great power and glory to God but takes it away from institutions. God gives the glory back to His resurrected Bride (Rev. 21:11), but it’s a glory she can only receive by grace through faith—it’s a gift.
I think pastors (me included) perceive a real threat to the glory and power of the institution we call the church, when the victorious Gospel is preached. In reality, it’s only a threat to the “great harlot” (the institution that wants to market God). So, almost subconsciously pastors think, “That’s a wonderful idea that God would redeem all, except that it might make it harder to get people to go on the church retreat.”
Motivating people with the fear of endless torment is an easy way to get people to go on a retreat or give to a building campaign, and I think we pastors don’t want to give it up. Sadly, we get people to say the right things, give to the building fund, and go on the church retreat by getting them to doubt their salvation, which is doubting “God is Salvation”—Yeshua, Jesus.
- Now, the not as bad intention: Scripture does say that the “Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,” even if, “perfect love (wisdom) casts out fear.” It’s my understanding that some in the early church thought that UR shouldn’t be taught to new believers, even though these church fathers believed it to be true. I have a hard time with that on a few levels . . . And yet, to your friend’s point, I do think it’s important to warn people about hades and gehenna; Jesus did.
I’ll attach a paper that I wrote on that a while back (read the paper here). The irony is that the people Jesus warns are the very people that think they’re saved and others aren’t saved, the very people that would want to keep UR a secret; they are religious people in positions of power. Jesus says, “Sons of the kingdom will weep and gnash their teeth in outer darkness.” But to your friend’s point, I do think we should be cautious not to proclaim a “cheap grace” or “cheap UR.” Grace is always free (and in that sense utterly cheap), but the very freedom of Grace will burn the hell out of you.
3. Whatever our intention, Scripture clearly does talk about UR to everyone and, as far as I can tell, never teaches anything close to “endless conscious torment.” If Paul says, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive,” why can’t I? This was what drove me out of the closet—I felt called to preach from the Bible, and I lost the ability to explain the inclusive passages away, while at the same time the exclusive passages appeared to not exclude people, but the evil attached to people.
If the voice from the throne says, “Behold I make all things new… write this down. These words are faithful and true.” why can’t I write them down and proclaim them from the pulpit? And as you know, the more you look with clear eyes, the more you find the message everywhere. As for me, I could no longer lie on behalf of the institutional church about the victory of God in Christ Jesus my Lord. I do not want to lie about the danger and pain of hades and gehenna either . . . and so I don’t. But Hades doesn’t win, and Gehenna is the burning edge of Glory. Both Hades and Gehenna work to reveal the wonder of redemption.
4. It seems to me that, not only is it disingenuous, unethical, and unbiblical to hide the complete victory of God in Christ Jesus, it’s also profoundly damaging to faith. We end up preaching . . .
“You are saved by grace through faith… unless of course, you’re not because you’re not chosen and therefore God will not be gracious, but indeed the exact opposite of gracious… now have faith in God’s grace” (The Calvinist faith killer).
“You are saved by grace through faith…unless of course you don’t have enough faith and therefore God will not be gracious, but the exact opposite of gracious…now have faith in God’s grace” (The Arminian faith killer). By hiding the truth, we teach people to have faith in the institution or in themselves, but not in Jesus. We teach them to have faith in the imitation christ (antichrist), rather than the true Christ. Jesus means “God is Salvation.” We teach people to name the name of Jesus (call Him “Lord, Lord”), but to trust that they are the saviors of themselves.
Aren’t these the very ones whom Christ warns about the outer darkness? And didn’t Jesus tell the Pharisees that they “traveled land and sea to make a single convert,” but when they did they made a person “twice the child of Gehenna” as themselves? Unlike the biblical authors and the early church, we live in a culture saturated with the lie of endless conscious torment. When Jesus warned about Hades and gehenna, people did not automatically think “endless conscious torment;” they do today, which in my mind makes it all that much more important to undo the lie.
Satan’s entire game is getting folks to doubt that God loves them and doubt that He’s able to save them in Christ Jesus. How better to do that than to say, “Sure God is loving and saving and good . . . but he’ll also torment most of humanity endlessly in unimaginable agony . . . so yeah, trust him”? I think, we the Church need to stop spreading Satan’s most dangerous lie—the lie that sometimes God is not “God is Salvation”—Jesus.
5.It might seem prudent to hide the depths of God’s love in order to motivate a person to love . . . but Scripture seems to do just the opposite. “We love because he first loved us.” We don’t love because we’re afraid that God might not love, but because we’re convinced that He is Love.
More than just that principle, many texts that assert UR seem to hold out faith in UR as the motivation for repentance, discipleship, and ministry. For instance:
Isaiah 42:22 “Turn to me and be saved all the ends of the earth…”
Isaiah 42:23 “By myself, I have sworn… ‘To me, every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.”
Titus 1:11 “… the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for (or to) all people”
TO WHAT END?
Titus 1:12 “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
1 Timothy 1:9-10 “The saying in trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive,”
WHY DO YOU TOIL AND STRIVE, (According to Paul)?
1 Timothy 1:11 “because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the savior of all people, especially those who believe.”
2 Corinthians 5:14a “…the love of Christ controls us,”
WHY DOES THE LOVE OF CHRIST CONTROL YOU?
2 Corinthians 5:14b-15 “because we are convinced of this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might not longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
From 1 Corinthians 15: 22 “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive… 28 …that God may be all in all… 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable… 55 Oh death where is your victory? … 57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:59 “Therefore,” (BECAUSE YOU NOW KNOW THAT JESUS WINS ABSOLUTELY) “my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Now, this is the big one for me:
In Romans 11: 32-36 Paul sums up the theological discourse that comprises the first eleven chapters of Romans, which includes a detailed discussion of Judgment, vessels of wrath, predestination, etc. etc. He concludes it as follows: “For God has consigned all to disobedience that he may have mercy on all. Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has first given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
NEXT VERSE (Romans 12:1 and the beginning of the ethical section of Romans)
“I appeal to you THEREFORE, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual (logical) worship.”
So why should we present ourselves a living sacrifice? Why should we trust the consuming fire that falls on the altar? Why should we worship with every breath we take? BECAUSE we believe God is good, because “he consigned all to disobedience (Pharaoh, Gentiles, Israelites) that he may have mercy on all,” because he is redeeming all creation.
I think this is the message of the entire Revelation as well. The Revelation is given to the seven churches so that they can see the lamb and conquer. It’s precisely because the Spirit in each church is revealing this vision of Jesus that they can conquer… And what’s the Revelation? In a nutshell: “Behold (look! See what I am showing you!) I make all things new… write this down these words are faithful and true” (Rev. 21:5).
6. Sorry, I’m sure I sound preachy, but please believe me: I’m preaching to myself. I’ve struggled with your question and often been asked this question, and now I’m working it out as I respond to you. THANKS SO MUCH for asking it. Hopefully, this is helpful to you and your discussion with your pastor friends!
P.S. Regarding your presentations etc., you might want to just read Scripture and not explain it away. I did that for years. If you do take it head on, you will definitely encounter resistance and probably lose many opportunities to speak and perform. Even though we are to carry the cross with us all the time, it’s not every day that God calls a person to be crucified—so I pray that you could simply follow the Spirit in this regard.
Maybe the mushroom cloud refers to a period in your life. I hope it refers to a new reformation… or maybe a real mushroom cloud that would make the world hunger for grace. Yikes! Hope it’s not painful!!!!
You should also know that God really backed me into a corner, then, pushed me out of the proverbial closet on this issue. I don’t think I was so brave. I was honestly scared to deny what I believed about Jesus when my denomination was trying to force me to do so.
OK blessings Again!