Friday, September 23, 2016

EVANGELICAL UNIVERSALISTS (EUs) AND THE FINALITY OF ETERNAL JUDGMENT





EUs believe that, eventually, everyone will go to heaven, even if they have to suffer for a while in purgatory. Why do they believe in such a counter-Scriptural teaching? Because EUs believe that the teaching of “eternal judgment” is not consistent with the love of God. If God loves the entire world, then His love requires that He should save all.

However, it is also inconsistent with love to preach a false and unbiblical hope. Instead, there are many of verses that indicate that punishment is eternal. Here are just a few:

·       And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

·       “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels... And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41, 46)

·       “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

·       For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

·       “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:11)

·       “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 )

·       “wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 13; 2 Peter 2:17)

These verses instruct us that hell is just as eternal as is heaven. If heaven is everlasting; so too is hell. They give us no hope that those who go there will have an opportunity to subsequently emerge into eternal heavenly life.

There are also many verses that equate hell with “destruction.” (I will not try to decide whether “destruction” simply means complete annihilation – non-existence – or merely the destruction of everything good. For now, it is enough to demonstrate that eternal judgment entails a terrible fate.):

·       “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:19 )

·       and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. (Philippians 1:28)

·       But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:7)

These verses are associated with the “end” and the “day of judgment” and are contrasted with salvation, indicating that in the end, the ungodly will be destroyed. This has the sound of finality. There remove any hope of blessedness.

If universal salvation was a fact, most of the Bible would become irrelevant. Take John's letter, which he wrote to assure Christians that they are saved (1 John 5:13) by giving them ways to test themselves. If all are saved, any test become needless:

·       “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives FOREVER... As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life.” (1 John 2:17, 24-25 )

If all are saved, none of these tests matter at all. Instead, John wrote that "eternal life" is something that is promised only to believers - "us." It is only those who are obedient - and obedience is a sign of saving faith - who will "live forever."

·       “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)

EUs will add that we do not have life yet, at least not until we complete out purgatory. However, nowhere in Scripture do we read anything like: "Well, they might not have life in this life, but in the next life, they will have life."

Instead, Scripture offers no such hope for those who reject Jesus in this life. No evidence of post-death salvation! To preach otherwise is to go beyond Scripture. Instead, His Word continually warns that there are explicit and eternal consequences for the unrepentant:

·       “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

·       Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

These two sets of verses are especially damning. Why? Because they explicitly claim that the unrepentant “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” No chance!

However, the EC claims that the love of God would never condemn His creation to eternal torment. In fact, the belief that all will be saved has become fantastically popular. Why?

1.    It has become highly distasteful, in the West especially, to believe in a God who judges. It is far more comfortable to believe in a God of love rather than One of justice also.
2.    This doctrine has also become scorned, and those who hold to the doctrine of an eternal punishment are made to feel embarrassed.
3.    In the West, we have become too comfortable, too safe. We do not face daily victimization, which makes us yearn for eternal justice and to value such a God.

More importantly, the EU’s understanding of “love” is inconsistent with the Bible’s teachings on this subject. Rather, it seems that it is possible to eventually place ourselves outside of the parameters of God’s love:

·       “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)

Eventually, God gives us over to our hearts’ desires (Romans 1:24-28). He allows us to go our own way and even to choose our own eternal fate (John 3:17-20). If we hate the light in this life, we will most certainly detest and flee from it in the next.

Who then is at fault? Not God, but us!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

THE UNSATISFIED HUNGER OF A PANTHEIST





A pantheist believes that everything is God and that we are also God- just one reality. Nevertheless, one pantheist wrote:

* You are not here accidentally -- you are here meaningfully. There is a purpose behind you. The whole intends to do something through you.

But if the "whole intends to do something through you," there are at least two intelligent and willful people involved. Therefore, I responded:

* If we are all one, there cannot be Another who loves us, plans for us, guides us, protects us, and enters into a relationship with us.

The pantheist wants it both ways. He wants to be God and wants Another to watch out for him. However, he cannot have both.

The pantheist is like a hungry man who wants to eat but has an aversion to food. Such are those who want the things of Christ but have no taste for Him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

ARE GOD AND ETERNAL PUNISHMENT UNJUST?




·      

Many accuse the God of the Bible as being unfair and unjust. How? Because those who believe in Him are going to heaven and those who sincerely believe in other things and deities are going to hell!

Jesus told a parable that addresses the fairness issue:

·       “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.” (Matthew 20:1-2; ESV)

However, the master did not stop there. Throughout the day, he continued to invite all to come and labor in his vineyard. At the end of the work-day, he gave them all the same wage. However, those who have worked the longest were irate. Therefore, the master explained that he wasn’t unfair:

·       “But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:13-16)

It seems that the irate parties left. They had been the first, but in an eternal sense, they had become the last. How? They stormed away from the master and had rejected any future hope of his mercy. They had, in a sense, damned themselves by their self-righteous attitude. Self-righteous? Yes! They despised the idea of mercy and generosity. Why? They felt that only the “deserving” were entitled to the full day’s wage. And who were the deserving? Only them!

Does this parable give us a picture of the final judgment? Will the damned continue to reject grace, even in the end? There is a lot of Biblical evidence that we already stand self-condemned, as had the first-comers. For one thing, we have already condemned ourselves in this life:

·       “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment [or condemnation]: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:17-20)

Already, those who do not believe stand condemned. Well, who condemned them? Jesus didn’t come into the world “to condemn the world” (John 8:15; 12:47-49). From where, then, does our condemnation come? From ourselves! We have refused to believe, despite the overwhelming evidence in favor of the Gospel. Elsewhere, Jesus explained that even someone rising from the dead wouldn’t, in itself, turn the damned around from their fatal course of self-destruction (Luke 16:19-31). Why not? Primarily, coming to Christ is a matter of the heart. Ordinarily, we love the darkness rather than the light.

Does this same principle of self-condemnation also apply to the next life? It certainly is reasonable to conclude so. If, in this life, we hate the light so that we reject it in favor of the darkness, what will be the case in the next life when the light is more intense? Will the unbeliever flee? Yes:

·       But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. (Malachi 3:2; Psalm 1:5; 24:1-2; Isaiah 20:20-22; Revelation 6:15-16; Luke 21:36)

Why this terror before the Lord? This had been the reality for Israel before the redemption of the Cross. They could not endure the presence of God or even His voice:

·       Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, we shall die. (Deuteronomy 5:25)

What enables us to stand now? Only one thing – the blood of Christ poured out for our sins! However, this must be received by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Without this, no one will be able to stand.

Instead, our inability to tolerate the light exposing our unredeemed guilt and shame will make us flee:

·       Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. (Revelation 6:15-16)

And will their final judgment not be presided over by God? Will he not have to separate the saved from the unsaved? Yes! However, it seems that only the redeemed will be able to stand before our Lord to receive His mercy. The others will flee away with the rest of the goats to be self-condemned (Rev. 20:11; Matthew 25:30-46).

But weren’t the first workers right in being irate? In a human sense, yes! We deserve a fair wage from our employer. However, the denarius that they had been given at the end of the day was a fair and agreed-upon wage. What then was the substance of their complaint? The first-comers had become irate with the master’s generosity towards those workers who had arrived after them. Consequently, they stormed off.

Well, why shouldn’t they have been irate that the master’s generosity was extended to the late-comers? The master explained that he had been fair and just with the first-comers and that he had a right to be generous to the late-comers.

Salvation is offered to all, even to those who haven’t heard the Gospel:

·       For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are WITHOUT EXCUSE. (Romans 1:18-20)

God is angry at humanity. Why? He has offered Himself to all. They all have been given irrefutable evidence of His existence and even who He is. Therefore, they are “without excuse” in rejecting Him.

But can’t humanity sincerely reject this God of the Bible? Not sincerely! Because of the magnitude of the evidence, they, all of us, are “without excuse.” None of us deserve anything from this Holy God but judgment (Romans 3:23; 6:23). What hope, then, do we have? The mercy of God!

The first-comers had witnessed the mercy of God, but they rejected it. Humanity is convinced that they do not need His mercy and that they are good and deserving people, entitled to whatever might be in God’s storehouse.

However, we should know better. When we invite our friends and neighbors to a party but do not invite the entire neighboring town, no one can accuse of injustice. Why not? No code of justice has been violated. Instead, we are free to be gracious and to invite just those we want to come to our party.

Israel knew that God was not unjust. God also plenteously revealed that their hope depended upon His mercy and forgiveness. Why? Because they were sinless and undeserving like everyone else, as Scripture continually taught:

·       “‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” (Deuteronomy 27:26)

Unless we are totally delusional, we should realize that we have failed in many ways. Scripture makes this explicit:

·       Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. (Psalm 143:2)

·       If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3)

·       “If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin”…(1 Kings 8:46)

For Israel, these were incontestable truths. Their entire sacrificial system affirmed their sinfulness. Nevertheless, most had erroneously convinced themselves that they could earn their way to heaven.

Meanwhile, God cries out to this broken world:

·       “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:16-17)

We should know that we are desperately in need of His mercy. Our guilt and shame give ample testimony to this fact. However, instead of accepting His mercy, we are encouraged to merely forgive ourselves, even after we beat our wives. In this way, we are in denial that we have broken God’s laws and our wives. However, our feelings of guilt and shame continue to testify against us, no matter how hard we try to forgive ourselves. We can suppress these feelings, but they continue to condemn us.

In the same way that we flee from these feelings, we continue to flee from God and the light He shines upon us. If we cannot endure God’s scrutiny here, we will never be able to endure it in heaven.

We must give thanks where thanks are due! The first-comers never thanked the master for hiring and paying them. Humanity refuses to thank God for the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat, the surrounding beauty and pleasures, and even for their lives. Instead, we have convinced ourselves, like the first-comers, that it is all owed to us.

Instead of crediting God for his gifts to us, we invent alternative explanations for the good things we enjoy – naturalistic explanations, the multiverse, and anything else that helps us to avoid the Light, as Biologist Richard Lewontin had confessed:

  • We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs . . . in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated commitment to materialism. . . . we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. (Lewontin, Richard, Review of The Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan. In New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997.)


We are “without excuse” when we deny God. It is like receiving a gift by UPS and refusing to look at the enclosed card to learn the identity of the giver, lest we might begin to experience any sense of our indebtedness.

Once we do this, we will avoid and reject this giver to whom we have refused to give thanks. Where then does the fault lie? Certainly not with the Giver!