22. Ultimate Redemption
Yes, I believe with all my heart that Jesus will win. That He will redeem the entire creation and restore it all back to the Father. And I believe that when God is finished with His great work, He will be all in all and there will not be one thing separate from Him.
22. Ultimate Redemption
What are your thoughts on the prospect of the Ultimate Reconciliation of all?? That Eons/Aons are for a decreed age? Do you see any merit to this position, I’m not sure what to think. I have to admit there are some seemingly supportive scriptures to consider... I appreciate your thoughts,
I have seen for many years that when I search out exactly what the New Covenant says about any topic, writing out every verse in which a word occurs, for instance, that what is actually said is very often considerably different from what Christianity teaches. More than that, I have found that whenever the Lord reveals His truth to me through a verse on the page, it is always that, for the first time, I am enabled simply to believe what it says.
I did a research paper in college on the history of lexicography (the creation of dictionaries). In that study I made a discovery of something most people don’t realize. We have the idea that words have some inherent meaning and that a dictionary writer refers to that original meaning. That is not how any dictionary has ever been written. Rather, dictionary writers find clippings of that word as it is used by a large range of writers for that time period (all words change their meaning over time). They then look carefully at the context to see what each writer meant when they used that word. That’s why you have many definitions listed for each word, because different writers meant different things when they used it.
I am saying two things here. One, in approaching what God speaks in the New Covenant, I come to it without preconceptions (not easy to do) and let what the Holy Spirit is actually saying speak to me. Second, I believe what God says. It is not my place to explain it, but to believe it.
Something as big as “burning in the agony of hell forever, with God and the saints looking on with pleasure” versus even Satan himself falling on his knees before Jesus and crying, “I was so wrong, You are altogether wonderful and good, my Master and my Lord,” by the time God is finished with His great work. Something this big takes some careful consideration and weighing of what God actually says.
To build our understanding of eternal punishment versus ultimate redemption we have to have many strong and clear verses that weave an agreement together, that come out of the gospel of Christ in you preached by Paul and are confirmed through the other apostles. And this teaching must be rooted in the cross and blood of Jesus.
I like to start with the strongest and clearest statement of the end of all things as God declares in the New Covenant that we have with God. That is 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.
Then comes the end, when He (Jesus) delivers the kingdom to God the Father… For He has put all things under His feet. But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
The last sentence is the clearest and strongest statement about God’s final intention to be found in the Bible. I include the statement that the Father is not among those who become subject to Jesus. This is important because the Holy Spirit clearly is excepting the Father to indicate to us that there is no possible other exception. All things means all things. And the final end is not destruction, but the incredible victory and all-ness of a redeeming God.
To this powerful verse, we add Paul’s other unambiguous statement in Philippians 2:10-11. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
Many Christians explain away this clear statement by imagining that this is a forced “submission,” that it isn’t really real. Satan and all his demons and all the lost people will do this only as they are forced to, gritting their teeth, furious on the inside, but unable to resist the manipulation and control of God, doing what they have to until God hurls them back into the fire.
I must say that this is a very demonic definition of our Father, as one who is satisfied with deceit, who believes that lying is a good enough victory for Jesus.
Then we must ask, is this truth confirmed by others and grounded in the sacrifice of Jesus?
First, Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to Myself.” It’s very hard to get around that word “all.” The Greek word used in these verses does mean all.
Then, Paul said, in 2 Corinthians 5:19, “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” And then John, in 1 John 2: 2 “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.”
Christianity likes to make a big deal out of “sin” because Satan makes a big deal out of sin. But the Covenant we have with God does not allow us to do that.
The cross is the reconciliation and the blood is the propitiation. Both have already done their work for all. One of our jobs as Christians, then, is to show people what already is true about them and God.
There are, of course, many more verses throughout the New Testament that agree with and add to these five. In fact, the understanding that Jesus will win, that, having been sent by God to seek and to save that which is lost, that He cannot return ultimately to the Father until He has accomplished that purpose in its totality, is woven all through the Bible.
But what about the other teaching, that God tortures forever those whom He refuses to save? And we cannot blame the lost, claiming that they are lost only because they want to be lost and God cannot do anything about that. Philippians 3:21b says, “according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” This is the working of love. If we join that to this statement of Paul, “to him that knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin,” we understand that God is making it clear that He has the power to save, to draw all to Himself, and if He does not, then God Himself has broken His own being.
So, where is the clear, unambiguous teaching woven through the New Testament, that God tortures forever those whom He refuses to save?
Before going further, I find those, who, having discovered that God’s ultimate purpose is redemption, have decided to erase from their understanding and interpretation of the world any notion of God’s wrath or judgment. I will not, because to do so requires me to remove many verses from the gospel. I made a decision a few years ago that I want all that God speaks in all of its meaning and ramifications. I do not want to pick and choose. I say that, though, with the understanding that we must view all that God speaks through the revelation of Christ in us, and that much of what God speaks, He spoke it in symbols and parables for the clearly stated purpose of confusing people. All that God speaks can only be understood by the revelation of the Holy Spirit to sons who know Him and His ways.
So, there is judgment and there is wrath. When I read of an American fighter jet that zeroes in on a wedding party walking down the road rejoicing and turns the bride and all of her attendants into hamburger, that makes me angry, angry that I am part of a wicked nation that is so filled with its own self-righteousness and with unbounded arrogance and violence. I know without question that the anger I feel is God sharing His feelings with me. Yes, that anger in me and in God is swallowed up and carried in His love, yet it is not removed.
The question then is, is God’s wrath and judgment for redemption or for unending punishment?
Is there a teaching throughout the New Testament that weaves lostness and torture and eternal hopelessness into the purpose of God?
Here is what we discover. No there is not! Yet we see in Christianity that eternal lostness and torture is central to every definition of God and salvation. As I said to one of my students, “According to Christian belief, every Jew who died in Germany has screamed in hopeless pain every moment of the 65 years since. And they will be tortured in that way forever. Why do we give Hitler such a bad rap if he is just like God?” He could not disagree with me.
Incredibly, that entire doctrine and definition of God and salvation is based on one Greek word and on NOTHING else. That is the Greek word aeon.
Not one student of New Testament Greek can disagree that the Greek word aeon is translated incorrectly most of the time it is used. To the Greeks of the first century, the word meant “for a period of time.”
But there are a few times where there is a question mark. For instance, Revelation 14:10-11 “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night . . .” That word “forever and ever” is “for the aeons of the aeons.”
How should we translate “for the aeons of the aeons”? I have no idea, nor does anyone else. What I will not do is use this ambiguous phrase, using a Greek word that is badly translated most of the time it is found, to build an entire definition of God and the gospel that is in open contradiction to the clear teaching of the New Covenant and stands in defiance of God’s nature and the salvation of Jesus. Yet this is what most Christians have chosen to do.
If God’s judgment is for a period of time, for an age, then it is redemptive and not destructive. If God’s judgment is redemptive, then it is holy and pure. It is not “torture.” Yes, I have gone through many very difficult places in my life, but as I look back, I can say with all joy, “All of Your ways concerning me have always been perfect. You will finish in me what You have begun.”
Two final things.
First, most Christians have a very un-Biblical, pagan definition of salvation. They think it means that when you die, you get to go to heaven where you will be happy. So they think, well, if God is going to “save” everyone, that means everyone will “get to go to heaven and be happy” so what’s the point? However, the New Testament so clearly says that those who are in heaven are still waiting for their salvation; they will not find it until it is obtained in all fullness by a people walking and living upon the earth and within this age. Salvation is “God all in all,” and our full salvation begins with the resurrection of the physical body.
Second, how did such a demonic definition of God and the gospel find its way into Christian theology? We must begin with Jesus’ parable of the tares in which He made clear that after the original apostles were departed from the earth, incredible lies would be planted in the church, those lies would grow side by side with that which is truth and most people will not be able to tell them apart. Then, in one of the most confusing things God has ever said, when the servants asked if they should remove the lies, Jesus said, simply, “No.”
And so, from the passing of the Apostle John until the writing of Augustine’s City of God in the early 400’s, the church fell from darkness to darkness. In the late 300’s two of the darkest things happened in church history. First, the bishop of Rome, seeing the emperor who was Christian casting off the office of “Pontifex Maximus,” the high priest of Roman paganism, took upon himself that title and all the pagan ritual that went with it, merging the truth of Christ with the symbolism of Satan. At the same time that bishop’s secretary, Jerome, an angry and bitter man, translated the New Testament from Greek into Latin and chose to translate the Greek word aeon into the Latin word “eternal.” This bitter and wicked definition of God, that He tortures forever those whom He cannot save, became a permanent part of Christian theology. Most of the early church fathers before then had clearly believed in full and final redemption as it is taught in the New Testament.
This fall into Roman darkness as it is foreshadowed in the Bible and as it took place in history, I have been studying, trying to understand it a bit more clearly. Today’s church imagines that the Protestant Reformation was the deliverance from the Roman darkness. Not even close. It was a slight shifting in the darkness. You will find those who loved and walked with Jesus in both Protestantism and in Catholicism and you will find a majority in both who were just religious. The theology had little impact.
There is a passage in Jeremiah in which God says (I paraphrase), “You take your children and you burn them in the fires of Molech, and then you turn around and imagine that I am just like you. I do not do any such thing, nor has such a thing ever entered My mind.” Of all the lies planted in the church and translated into our Bibles, few are more terrible and destructive to the good news of salvation then the Christian’s love and infatuation with a god who tortures forever those whom he refuses to save.
We are not yet out of darkness, not until we are walking in all the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
So, yes, I believe with all my heart that Jesus will win. That He will redeem the entire creation and restore it all back to the Father. And I believe that when God is finished with His great work, He will be all in all and there will not be one thing separate from Him.
Jesus will win, and He will win in me. That is my confidence, and I allow no whispering doubter to shake that confidence.