One Sunday While Eating Lunch
A group wearing their Sunday best were sitting around the table joyfully chatting. Their conversation seemed to have an unusually delightful air about it rising above all the rest in the room. It’s their traditional gathering after Church lunch at the local restaurant which has a big crowd on Sundays, especially church-goers after the church service. One of them says “What an amazing service today!” Another responds, “Yes, I’ve never seen anything like that, wow, blew me away, Praise God!” Another continued “I would not have believed it if I hadn’t saw it with my own eyes!” Continuing the joyous conversation one of them spoke up over the rest, “Even ole Sam, Vanessa’s husband after all these years of rejecting the gospel!” Someone sitting by him said “It was obvious Sam was only coming to church for Vanessa and the kids.” Someone in the background responded “Right, until today Sam had no interest at all in the Lord outside the church doors” but there he went right up front with nearly the whole Church eagerly crowding to the front! While all, and I mean all, the rest were either on their knees at the pew or out in the isles!
A young man wearing blue jeans and a tee-shirt with a large cross and a bible verse on the back of it was sitting at the next table with a companion. Overhearing the conversation he couldn’t take the suspense any longer. Overcome with curiosity, with a fascinated look he leaned over and asked, “What was so amazing at your church today?” A tall thin man wearing a nice suit, seemed to be the pastor, quickly leaned forward with his hands on the table, and then through radiating eyes answered enthusiastically. “At the close of the service during the invitation; Everyone! Every single person! I mean everybody in the entire church – all of them, immediately bowed the knee and confessed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord!” The curious neighbor responded, “You mean EVERYONE in the entire church got saved!?”
The pastor leaning back in his chair now with a big beaming smile on his face answered “Yes! I gave an invitation; the worship team began to sing “Come, Now is the time to worship” and they all started coming to the front, the rest kneeling everywhere, every single soul! Every knee bowed and everyone there confessed Jesus Christ as Lord – Glory to God!” he loudly proclaimed with his hands in the air. The neighbor – now leaning forward himself, with a big smile on his face now, along with a look of dazed curious wonder replied “Well Praise The Lord!” At which, the pastor replied “Amen! God is surely Good! Then he added “we sang ‘Victory in Jesus’ as we closed the service!”
“So that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.”
(Philippians 2:10–11, The Message) quoted also in Is 45:23; Rom 14:11
Let’s Look At The Biblical Evidence Supporting this Modern Parable
I created this fictional story based on a factual biblical statement. I did this to show how it would be possible for most to believe this amazing occurrence might even happen one day in the eternal realms of The Kingdom of God Almighty and Jesus Christ The LORD. However, when someone says they actually believe this biblical passage Philippians 2:10-11 means what it is saying – all are being saved by putting their faith in Jesus Christ, accepting Him as Lord. Well, that’s a different story! Ah No! Everyone is not going to be getting saved! That couldn’t possibly mean that! Well, I remember thinking that myself years ago when the astounding truth of what was being said here, meant what it said! Especially when I found it’s origin in the Old Testament and where Paul quoted it in another place. Paul being an Old Testament Scholar and actually a rabbi; he knew well what it meant having been taught the full revelation by Jesus Christ Himself! ( Galatians 1:11-24 )
Although that is exactly what the above passage is saying – in people’s own bibles, right before their eyes! Doesn’t the bible say everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord will be saved? ( Rom 10:9-10 ) Also no one can say Jesus really is Lord without the Holy Spirit? ( 1 Cor. 12:3 ) Further, the passage in Isaiah which this statement is taken from is clearly depicting a prophecy and an oath from God Himself when all creation will come to believe, be reconciled, saved, and worship Him. ( Isaiah 45:21-24 )
This little story is only restating the exact same scenario in sort of a parable, as in this biblical passage. According to the bible; there is a time coming when everyone in all creation will be reconciled to God ( Acts 3:21 ) bowing the knee to Christ, believing in him as Lord, being saved and worshiping God the Father for it all! That my friends, is Really, Really Good News – The real meaning of Gospel!
Even though this was a surprising event. The characters in the story had no problem believing what actually happened at Church that day was clearly speaking of the entire congregation being saved; and this in the exact same words as those spoken of in the biblical passages I’m discussing here. Consider that this was actually originally prophesied in the Old Testament by Isaiah, then repeated here by Paul and in one other place in the New Testament which I have referenced above. There is much, much more biblical evidence I could bring out here; nonetheless this passage speaks by itself clear, understandable and irrefutable, Biblical Truth. What I’m showing here in this little story is that it’s really not that hard or unreasonable to believe the bible does teach The Truly Good News of Biblical Christian Universal Salvation – when you see this scripture without preconceived religious notions guiding your reasoning; that is… Also notice I said “biblical Christian” Universal Salvation.
I am not a Universalist by any means as it is touted by some today as if all are going to heaven anyway, no consequences, no judgment, no punishment… AND NO SENSE EITHER!
You May Disagree With All This From Your Biblical Perspective, I understand.
Now, you do have the biblical option of believing this is impossible quoting scriptures about hell as Mk 9:45-48, Mat. 5:22, 10:28, 25:46 However, look at this last verse in a much more exact literal from the Greek version
“And these shall go away､ into age-abiding correction, But the righteous into age-abiding life.” (Matthew 25:46, Rotherham, J. B).
[The Emphasized Bible: A Translation Designed to Set Forth the Exact Meaning, the Proper Terminology, and the Graphic Style of the Sacred Original – Logos bible software]
My Note: the adjective translated here as “age abiding” or in the KJV “everlasting” and “eternal” is aiōnios g0166 and is just that, an adjective, that’s meaning corresponds to it’s subject. You wouldn’t say a “tall” man standing in front of a “tall” building were the same height…
The version above shows there are other reasonable, verifiable options to seeing even these hell texts in a new light if you choose to do so; I do. Actually the evidence on the side of hell NOT being eternal is overwhelmingly in favor of the view of Universal Reconciliation linguistically; this is very easily proven. Nevertheless I do not blame anyone for hanging on to what they have been taught from trusted teachers; I understand. You have the right to believe people are consciously tormented forever and ever in hell; sent there by God that loves them more than we can imagine and paid an unfathomable price for all of their sins in Christ for naught. I just can’t believe that; but we can still fellowship and be Christian friends. We just have to agree to disagree on that matter and leave it at that. We are all going to be judged for what we believe someday. So we must be honest and true to our own heart for that day. There are many other Christians seriously divided by a great impassable gulf of doctrine who still fellowship and communicate all the time. (Think about that) Maybe we could get together over lunch some Sunday at a local restaurant with a big crowd and talk about it (Smile)
Yes but what about…???
Or some will bring into the conversation scriptures about God’s wrath and how angry he is with sinners, even hates them! They may bring up passages like Rom. 2:5, 2 Thes. 1:7-9 and this from the KJV
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;”
( Romans 1:18, KJV )
But listen to it in another version.
“God’s anger is shown from heaven against all the evil and wrong things people do. By their own evil lives they hide the truth.” ( Romans 1:18, New Century Version)
Notice God’s wrath is against the wrongs people do, not the people themselves. The KJV is saying the same thing, it just sounds different. I believe it is about the sin or wrong itself, and this will be corrected in the ages to come as in the above reference. You yourself know you cannot stay angry at someone you truly love forever; especially after they have suffered for their wrongs; and seeing their need for forgiveness. I don’t believe God does things in some way-out-there sort of way we cannot understand. I believe He made us so much like himself so that we would know how he would respond or handle things; think of Jesus… This makes for a good relationship…
We have the privilege of seeing these topics either way, that’s your prerogative. Although, given the factual scriptural options: I ask, which doctrine sounds more like Good News (Gospel) to you or for the world? ( Luke 2:10 ) Which explanation sounds more like Jesus is the Savior of the world? ( John 3:17, 12:32,47, 1 John 2:2, 4:14 ) Which end of the story makes Jesus more victorious? Which one is saying Jesus actually accomplished what He said He came to do? The choice is easy for me considering what Jesus would lose looking at it from a traditional heaven or hell period, scenario He’d lose most of the world. I have just as much and in my opinion, much more, scriptural evidence for Biblical Universal Reconciliation and Salvation from a Christian perspective; than any eternal torment doctrine.
Even great thinkers like Abraham Lincoln came to this same conclusion. Consider this recount of Lincoln’s thoughts on this topic. He was a believer in what was then known as “The Larger Hope” same doctrine as this blog.
“I remember well his argument. He took the passage, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” and followed with the proposition that whatever the breach or injury of Adam’s transgression to the human race was, which no doubt was very great, was made just and right by the atonement of Christ.”
William J. Johnson (1913). Abraham Lincoln the Christian. New York: Eaton & Mains. pp. 31–34 (citing a letter dated March 17, 1874, from Petersburg, Illinois, and published in an article on “Lincoln’s Religious Belief” in the Springfield Journal of May 16, 1874)
I personally choose to believe in a Successful Savior and Victorious Gospel considering the biblical options. Your choice is totally up to you. Either way we both believe the bible is the word of God; Jesus is Christ and Lord of all, we believe in The Holy Spirit’s work, and the validity of the gospel. We should not let our differences keep us from fellowshipping and worshiping our totally awesome God together. Let us have Peace among ourselves as a witness to the world that desperately needs to know the love of our God and Savior.
Now don’t take what I’ve said here to say something I did not mean. I do believe in what you might call a hell; but it’s not burning people with literal fire or eternal torture of any kind nor is it forever and it’s purpose may not be what you think, that is a topic for another time… Just know that God is Good and all His purposes are ultimately for GOOD! Hallelujah!
Hang on; I believe I just heard an angry elder brother arguing with Father outside…
Peace, Grace, and Love
Dennis D. Caldwell
Luke, Chapter 15
All Lost – All Found!
Parable of the Lost Sheep
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins* and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
Parable of the Lost Son
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” ’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.*’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’ ”
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Lk 15). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Just an observation: In every case the lost was found, all was restored and brought back to its owner. Then those, in their opinions; the more mature, the keepers of their religious law, those who were faithful to the rules, good upright characters – they did not understand or like it at all…