Vengeance on His Heart? Part I

Vengeance on His Heart?
Debunking Apocalyptic Visions of a Violent God
Part I

By Peter Goodgame

The grief and horror experienced recently in the Las Vegas massacre is really nothing compared to what dispensationalists and many “bible-believing” evangelicals expect to see from Jesus at His Second Coming. You see, they interpret the Old Testament predictions of a violent homicidal hero coming in the future to save Israel entirely literally. Here’s a scene of what they expect:

For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter. Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have devoted to destruction. The LORD has a sword; it is sated with blood; it is gorged with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah, a great slaughter in the land of Edom. Wild oxen shall fall with them, and young steers with the mighty bulls. Their land shall drink its fill of blood, and their soil shall be gorged with fat. For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. (Isaiah 34:2-8)

Can you imagine the carnage? The desperation of the human victims portrayed here as mere “animal sacrifices”? The piles of bloody corpses? It shouldn’t be hard to imagine, because we’ve just been confronted with horrific scenes from the grounds of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.

Yes, I realize that the context is different. On one hand you have a shooter targeting unarmed civilians, while in the Old Testament we have an image of a hero rescuing Israel from hostile forces. But if we interpret this passage literally then the way that it plays out will be similar because very quickly the Lord’s enemies will realize that they are no match for His power, and the situation will quickly turn to panic, horror, and disbelief for all the victims being cut down. It will be a typical massacre with an invincible aggressor on one side and hopelessly outmatched victims on the other, and in the end the blood-soaked scenes will look very much the same.

Here’s another prophecy of Israel’s hopeful expectation of a savior who will come violently with vengeance against his enemies:

Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was on my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” (Isaiah 63:1-6)

A Day of Justice

In the New Testament the parousia of Jesus Christ is referred to as the Blessed Hope. It is a day at the end of the age when the Lord will deal out JUSTICE. The faithful will be rewarded while those who rejected God will have to face the consequences. For years I believed that these consequences would be violent and retributive, and that they would come in two stages:

1) Upon all the wicked who are alive at the Second Coming, taking the form of the literal fulfillment of numerous Old Testament prophecies as well as the book of Revelation. Many of the enemies of Christ will be literally hacked into pieces or incinerated with His fiery breath, while the rest will be forcefully captured and brought to Jerusalem for judgment and then delivered over to aionian kolasis (Matthew 25:46).

Narmer22) Upon all the wicked from all time at the final judgment, in an act of divine violence that takes the form of the wicked being cast alive into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15), a place of absolute hopelessness and retributive punishment for all eternity.

This was my understanding of the final victory of Christ. I believed that the Cross created a mere window of opportunity for repentance, a moment of mercy, a “temporary age of grace,” while the final victory over God’s enemies would be accomplished through VIOLENCE. Christ’s Kingdom would be in perfect alignment with the violent way human empires have always been established, in perfect alignment with the violence of our pagan myths, of our warrior heroes, and of our shallow comic book fantasies…

…as if Jesus turns into a violent and vengeful Superhero who imitates and then outperforms them all!

Just like the ancient Hebrews my perceptions were the product of my own violent culture. How else was I to read these texts? Yet looking back today I see that I was in the same position as James and John, the Sons of Thunder, who were once very eager to see God’s vengeance displayed through deadly violence:

And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:54-56)

Debunking the idea that God deals in retributive violence is a tall order, to be sure. But today I am convinced that this idea is in fact a human invention that is totally against the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The problem is that it has been embedded so deep in our consciousness right from the beginning of human culture that God had to enter into our retributive mindset, and even speak the language of retribution using the symbols of retribution, in order to take us out of it.

So yes, on a superficial level we can read “divine retribution” all throughout the Old and New Testaments from beginning to end. But if we read through the eyes of Christ, with the mind of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will see how our human ideas, expectations, and symbols of divine retribution are completely subverted, ironically fulfilled, and dramatically recast to point to a divine Victory that is truly Good News for all, even for those we would label as God’s “enemies.”

In the end God’s idea of justice is proven to be not vengeful or retributive, as in “an eye for an eye,” but rather restorative. And His triumph occurs not on a future battlefield littered with human corpses after a genocidal Second Coming, but instead the spotlight shines on the Cross, on a divine victim lifted up that spoke a final word of forgiveness rather than muttering threats of end-of-the-age vengeance.

When Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God he repeatedly contrasted it with the usual ways in which humans operate. It is an eternal Kingdom that the carnal mind cannot comprehend. So why would we think that it would mimic human kingdoms by being born out of violence? Well that’s not how it works! The kings of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome all founded their empires on killing, but Christ founded His by dying. The corpses of countless victims are buried under the concrete and asphalt highways of the USA, but the streets of gold in the New Jerusalem are not paved over the bones of God’s victims.

God Loves His Enemies

The idea that God simply does not engage in retributive violence was first articulated by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. In what must have been a mind-boggling teaching to His listeners whose entire conception of God was based upon the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus declared the following:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:38-48)

Jesus was sent to reveal the true nature of God as our heavenly Father. We are all His children, called to become good and perfect and true just like Him. Jesus begins His teaching with the beatitudes, the seventh declaring, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” For Jesus, God the Father is a peacemaker, not a violent warrior, and those who make peace are truly His sons.

Jesus continues the theme when He teaches that when we love our enemies and refrain from violent retribution against them, then we again prove that we are true sons of our heavenly Father. Yes, God loves His enemies! This is an insight that is far from clear if all that we know about God is what we read in the Old Testament. I’m sure Jesus was grabbing His audience’s attention at that point! “Sure Jesus, tell us more… show us how you’re gonna square this new teaching with the testimony we have about God in our Scriptures!” Jesus goes on to emphasize how easy it is to love those who love us back, but when we love those who are against us then we actually imitate our heavenly Father’s perfection.

God is perfect because His love is indiscriminate. God is perfect because His love is unconditional. Any characterization of God that opposes these foundational truths would therefore be defining God as less than perfect. Yet we find such characterizations of God littered throughout the Old Testament. That is why throughout the New Testament we find many statements revealing that the Hebrew Scriptures are an imperfect witness to the true nature of the Father.


Jesus Reveals the True Nature of the Father

According to the New Testament the purpose of Hebrew Scripture was not to testify of the Father, but to point to the Son, and it is the Son who is the only true and perfectly reliable witness of the Father. That is why, on the Mount of Transfiguration in the company of Moses and Elijah (representing the Law and the Prophets) the voice from heaven directed our attention to Jesus saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!

“I and my Father are One.” (John 10:30)

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.” (John 1:17-18)

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?'” (John 14:6-10)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15)

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Not once does Jesus say, “If you’ve read the Scriptures, you know the Father.” Instead Jesus rebukes the Pharisees saying, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). Again, the Hebrew Scriptures are imperfect in their depictions of God the Father, but yet they perfectly fulfill their true inspired purpose, which is to point to Jesus Christ. And it is Jesus who alone has the capacity and the authorization to make God known:
  • No one has ever seen God, but Jesus has made Him known
  • Jesus and the Father are One
  • From now on we know the Father, because we know Jesus
  • Jesus is the image of God
  • Jesus is the perfect representation of God’s nature
So what does Jesus have to say about God the Father? Are we ready to listen? Are we ready to silence all other voices on this subject, even if they are biblical voices?Jesus-Zeus

The greatest statement that Jesus made about His Father was His life. Not once did Jesus steal, kill, destroy, tempt, invoke a storm, cause a plague, cause a famine, or cause sickness or disease. Not once. Instead he healed, calmed the storm, cast out demons, and rather than striking people dead Jesus raised the dead. As Jesus said, He only did what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19). Jesus lived a life of grace and truth and mercy and unconditional love and self-sacrifice and forgiveness right to the very end, because that is what His Father was doing. That is the true nature of our Father in heaven.

In His teaching Jesus straightened out the convoluted Old Testament conversation on the nature of evil and God’s role in it by indicting Satan as God’s evil adversary. The OT casts Satan as an angel who, from time to time, is allowed or even commanded to carry out God’s “dirty work,” yet remains a servant obedient to “God’s Will.” Jesus, on the other hand, points to Satan as an outsider who works against God rather than with Him. Far from being a servant Satan is actually a rebel and the great enemy of God and humankind. Satan is a liar and a murderer, while God is the source of truth and life.

By clarifying the role of Satan Jesus was able to heal some terrible misconceptions that His disciples may have had about God the Father and His relationship with darkness and evil, misconceptions that stood in the way of genuine relationship and intimacy. No child is comfortable around an abusive Father who threatens violence for the smallest act of disobedience. Jesus disarmed the fears that the apostles may have had about living as sons of God by teaching and demonstrating that God was truly a good Father, far better than any human Father could ever imagine to be.

Because of what Jesus taught we don’t need to worry about God possibly having a retributive dark side manifested in flashes of anger and violence directed at us if we happen to let Him down. It is true that God disciplines His sons, but every act of discipline is in our best interests, for correction and improvement, always motivated by love. His discipline, just like His justice, is restorative and not retributive. It is always discipline for a higher purpose, drawing us closer to our Father rather than driving us farther away. Yes, even “Depart from me, I never knew you,” is a means towards a final restorative end.

Jesus was sent to reveal the Father to humankind and to draw all of us into the fellowship of the heavenly Family, transforming us into true children of God who love unconditionally just like He loves. The letter of 1st John emphasizes all of these themes, beginning with the radical message of how Jesus revealed the true nature of the Father:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:1-5)
God is perfect.
God is love.
God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
God is an all-consuming fire.

All of these attributes of God the Father work together. None of them contradict. None of them seek to separate us from Him, rather they all work to heal and to restore — to seek and to save that which was lost.

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Vengeance

So what do we do with God’s vengeance? How do we deal with the Hebrew prophecies that very clearly depict the Messiah lashing out retributively in anger and wrath at the end of the age? How do we harmonize them with Jesus’ revelation of the unconditional love of the Father that extends even to His enemies? These questions about how we interpret Scripture in light of the revelation of God in Christ will be dealt with in Part Two, but for now I want to end with a couple of uncomfortable questions:

14572410_992178907594185_4239504059458517907_nIs God a Pharisee?

Does Jesus teach us to behave a certain way towards our enemies in order to please God, but then at the end of the age God destroys His enemies? Jesus warned His disciples against the Pharisees saying, “…do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice” (Matt. 23:3).

Does the same caveat apply to God the Father? “Do what He says, but don’t do what He does!” No, of course not! The whole point of the Gospel is for us to imitate Christ just as Christ imitated God, and in this way we prove that we are sons and daughters of God. The New Testament is crystal clear on this! We can be sure that both the Father and the Son follow their own Gospel!

“For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19)

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

“But the wisdom that is from above is … without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:17-18)

Are we the New Pharisees?

The Pharisees of old were convinced that the Messiah would come to save Israel by dealing out violent retribution against their enemies. Were the Pharisees essentially correct in their expectation of how God would establish His Kingdom, but they merely had their timing wrong?

immutable1

Yes, this is the traditional answer fed to us by our theological systems… that Jesus came the first time as a Lamb, but He’s coming back again as a Lion, when His attitude towards the lost will be entirely different. No longer will he show mercy, grace, and love towards them, rather His voice will boom over the earth saying, “Time’s up sinners! Your Day of Reckoning has arrived! It’s time to face your DOOM!”

If this is what the future holds, then yes, Christians today are in the same position as the Pharisees of old, waiting for God to appear and win the victory for us by dealing out violent retribution against our enemies. But what if this is not what the future holds? What if Christ’s only plan is to build His Kingdom through self-sacrificing love, beginning with Christ’s example that is now passed on to us?

The problem with the Pharisees went far deeper than merely getting God’s prophetic timing wrong. They rejected Christ not simply because they failed to distinguish between scriptural predictions of the Messiah’s first and second comings. That was not it at all! No, they rejected Christ because they got the very nature of God wrong! And that is why Jesus was sent to this earth, to show all humanity, including His people Israel, what God is really like.

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Jesus is pulling all of humanity forward, and the earth itself is groaning in expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises. There will be vindication of God’s people, there will be justice, there will be the end of sin and death and hell, and evil will be decisively dealt with.

However, part of this process is recognizing the true nature of evil and recognizing who our true enemies are. The Pharisees failed to understand this and they remained blind and held captive on the broad path that led to their own self-destruction. They failed to see that in Christ there are no enemies with a human face. They failed to recognize that God’s holy war is not against the Romans (or the Muslims, or the Socialists, or the Liberals, or the Homosexuals), rather His war, and our war today, is against every inner impulse that fearfully pulls back from LOVE.

loveenemies

From this perspective we will discover that God’s wrath against our real enemies works in perfect harmony with His unconditional, indiscriminate, and inescapable love for all humanity.

 

***

Peter Goodgame
October 8, 2017
Kailua, Hawaii

Further reading:

Jesus deals with Judgement:
Who’s Left To Judge?  Jesus confronts the Pharisees’ desire for God to enter into history as a Judge delivering a legal verdict on the saved and the lost.

Reading Scripture through the eyes of Christ: One Story, Two Revelations, Four Voices, by Brad Jersak. The Bible reveals itself as a human conversation about God with an inspired trajectory, rather than a monologue dictated word-for-word by God.

The “Wrath of God” as understood from the non-violent perspective of the early Church Fathers: What is the Wrath of God? by Ambrose Andreano. Much of the Bible consists of authors describing God in their image, in humanistic terms, yet God is an immutable Spirit who is not subjected to the fluctuations of human passions.

The book of Revelation as a subversive critique of human empire: The War of the Lamb, by Brian Zahnd


32 thoughts on “Vengeance on His Heart? Part I

  1. so let me get this straight, YOU don’t like the way the bible describes God’s method of judgement, so YOU, all emotional, and certainly more compassionate than the biblical description of God, suggest an alternative, because, after all, YOU’RE all about love, and for sure, any rational God would definitely fall in lock-step with YOU’RE superior perspective. Why you universalists have lost any concept of the heinous nature of sin can only, i think, be ascribed to your arrogance and blindness. Oh, the quote from Chambers was priceless. Why, one would almost think he was a devotee of universalism. Gripe all you want to, but people are going to go to hell. Along with Satan and his followers (or aren’t they “bad” enough for you?). Perhaps, Peter, you and Hitler will sing Kumbaya on into eternity, but personally, I doubt it. Not that you might not be singing together, but that you’ll be doing it together in heaven. Your heresy is Marcionism in it’s purest form. Get rid of Jahweh and the OT, bring on love and the NT. Unfortunately for you, no one talks about hell more than Christ, so if you get rid of hell, you get rid of Christ. I sense that is your ultimate goal after all. You see, Peter, all of us deserve hell. Everyone of else. None of us seek to do good, no NOT ONE. You and I deserve to burn (or freeze, or whatever the HELL we do) for eternity. That’s it. God has no obligation, not one iota, to save any of us. You’re problem is that you seem astounded that anyone would think we all won’t be in heaven, while the bible teaches us to be astounded that ANYONE AT ALL will be there. You’d do yourself a big favor and just shut up. Take it from JOB. Put your hand over your mouth and SHUT UP. You only bring more judgement on yourself. Just resist the temptation to get your intellectual orgasm, grasp the concept that hardly anyone reads your stuff, develop a bit of humility, and cease rewriting scripture.

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  2. How utterly convenient. So we can live any vile way we choose? And still live with Jesus forever? Because He loves us?We can hatefully deny God but it’s okay? Well at least I know who you truly are.

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  3. WOWSIE!!!! When we all become less of the “us and them” perspective and become more in the WE perspective, we will have God’s perspective!!!!! It is not us and them. It never has been nor will it ever be as long as I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE.
    JOYcee

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  4. While I can’t share Chuck’s vitriolic insistence on a god who would torture any sentient being for eternity, I very much look forward to your exegesis of Isa 34 & 63. Jesus said that not one jot or tittle of the law would pass away until all is fulfilled, and I’m hoping you can resolve those chapters with the ultimate triumph of love.

    Thanks for all you do.

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  5. my sentiments exactly Debra. This post is just another overly emotive attempt to pull at the heartstrings by individuals who want to conform God’s integrity and holiness to THEIR concepts of justice. I often wonder if they have even thought through the implications of their positions. I’d hope so. If they have, then they have consciously rejected clear biblical teaching for their own supposedly superior intellect. It does beg the question, exactly what do they consider divine revelation, the bible or their own thoughts. It started in the Garden and just keeps keeping on. Well said.

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  6. careful Joyce. I believe those words are Christ’s, referring to Himself and the Father. You and i are never going to be one with God in that exact way. Just a suggestion.

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  7. I insist on a God(notice the capitol G) who upholds His holiness and justice. I don’t insist on a god (little G, yours) who conforms to my concept of justice, nor one who, no matter WHAT He decides is right, could ever be wrong in His judgements. There are always going to be mysteries about God, His nature, and His actions, that are beyond our comprehension. That’s where trust and faith come in. If WE think God is doing something wrong, the problem is ours, not His. Thus the previous reference to Job. Sometimes it is just better to put our hands over our mouths and SHUT UP. As the ending of Job reveals, God feels no compulsion to explain His divine decrees to us. Seeing as how hell and eternal torment are clearly taught in scripture (mostly by Christ Himself), there can be no biblically based warrant for their rejection. Playing God’s words against themselves is a dangerous path to take. Again, better to say, it’s a mystery than to add or take away from God’s revelation. That, indeed, is a punishable offense.

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  8. Chuck when you say that Christ Himself clearly teaches “eternal torment” where do you find that in Scripture? If you are referring to Matthew 25:46 I can understand your position, but at the same time I would point out to you that the phrase “aionios kolasis” should not be translated “eternal retributive punishment,” but rather “age-enduring chastisement.” God does not deal in eye-for-an-eye retribution or punishment merely for punishment’s sake. The word for that would be the Greek word TIMORIA, whereas KOLASIS is corrective discipline for a purpose that is in the best interests of the one being disciplined. Furthermore the Greek word for eternal or everlasting is AIDIOS whereas the word AIONIOS is an adjective from AION meaning age. It is age-specific and of limited duration.

    Chuck, the Pharisees believed in eternal torment. They used both TIMORIA and AIDIOS in referring to their conception of an eternal Hell, having brought this man-made teaching from Babylon. They were the ones who shut the gates of heaven in men’s faces, and Jesus rebuked them for it (Matt 23:13). If Jesus had desired to affirm the Pharisee’s view of merciless and hopeless and eternal punishment in the afterlife He would have used their terms. Yet on the contrary Jesus speaks instead of fatherly discipline (kolasis) for a restorative purpose and limited duration (aionios).

    For more on this very necessary and illuminative study on Matthew 25:46 please refer to the following pdf file:
    http://www.redmoonrising.com/Pharisees-Aionios.pdf

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  9. [I insist on a God(notice the capitol G) who upholds His holiness and justice. I don’t insist on a god (little G, yours) who conforms to my concept of justice, nor one who, no matter WHAT He decides is right, could ever be wrong in His judgements.]

    Chuck, it seems to me that insisting on a God who conforms to YOUR concept of justice is exactly what you ARE doing. I maintain that every word in the bible is absolutely true, and that neither Jeshua nor our Father could never be incorrect in judgment nor act in anything but perfect love. The issue is how we understand what is being communicated by all those words in those sixty-six books written by at least fourty humans over a couple thousand years.

    [There are always going to be mysteries about God, His nature, and His actions, that are beyond our comprehension. That’s where trust and faith come in.]

    I couldn’t agree more. The problem comes when we consider a profound and mysterious paradox like divine justice/mercy and try to resolve it by reading scripture; one “Christian” reads through a very dirty human lens such as vindictive retribution and revenge, while another “Christian” reads through the equally dirty human lens of sloppy agape and cheap grace.

    [Seeing as how hell and eternal torment are clearly taught in scripture (mostly by Christ Himself), there can be no biblically based warrant for their rejection.]

    Hell is an English word used fifty-four times in the KJV (only 8 unique statements by Jeshua) to translate two Hebrew words and three Greek words, all with very different definitions, but I see no instance in which it must be taken to indicate “eternal torment” except by inferrence from one’s preconceived notion. In fact, Jeshua specifically rejected eternal torment in Mat 10:28 where He said “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to DESTROY BOTH SOUL AND BODY in hell.” To me, the Greek word “apollymi” says total annihilation; no surviving consciousness; blotted out of existence.

    [Playing God’s words against themselves is a dangerous path to take. Again, better to say, it’s a mystery than to add or take away from God’s revelation.]

    OK Chuck, let’s agree on that!

    Bless you my brother.

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  10. Peter, i always enjoy your posts, even when i disagree with them. You are creative. So now the concept of hell that christian orthodoxy holds to is attributable to the Pharisees? Seriously? You”re saying that christian orthodoxy and Babylonian concepts of hell are in lock-step agreement? Seriously? My my, you have drank the kool-aid!! Listen, according to Christ, hell is where the fire is NEVER quenched. You can be creative with etymology all you want, but never is never. NEVER. While you may consider substitutionary atonement a case of a wrathful, murdering God, I prefer to see the incredible story of a God who SO LOVED THE WORLD that God the Son would voluntarily take the just punishment for all violations of God’s righteous will upon Himself so we would not have to bear them. This is a story of love, not a vengeful God. God does NOT WILL THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH!!! Anyone who goes to hell does so willingly, having rejected God’s love. You and I CHOOSE that fate. God offers His love to EVERYONE. And here is a newsbreak for you……He had and has no obligation to save ANYONE, because NO NOT ONE seeks after Him on their own. NO ONE is righteous. You, i say again, seem to be amazed that ANYONE will spend eternity in hell. I, on the other hand, am amazed that He would offer salvation to ANYONE. We certainly don’t deserve such a gift. We ALL deserve eternal separation from God.
    You trust in yourself and your works (and thoughts) to gain eternal life. I trust only in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. Wherever I spend eternity, it will be a righteous and unquestionable decision on God’s part. I sometimes think that those who really haven’t committed themselves to faith in Christ sense that perhaps they might be screwing up, so the “loophole” is some sort of purgatory where eventually God, compelled by His own senseless and unfair decree, has to give in to OUR concept of fair play and let everyone into His presence. You might save yourself from this erroneous and fatal thinking and fully acknowledge your sins and unrighteousness and trust yourself to a just and righteous, by HIS definition, God. If there is no “eternal” (in it’s fullest and literal sense) hell, then there is no “eternal” life. Be consistent in your thinking and rational. By trying to rationalize a loophole, you may be creating a trap door.

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  11. Thanks Roger, for a reasoned and coherent response. I always appreciate those. Though you attribute the thought or words to me, I am not insisting on MY concept or understanding of hell. It is biblical. And i disagree with your interpretation of “destroy”. See my current response to Peter referencing “eternal’. If eternal torment isn’t really eternal, than neither is eternal life. That would be the logical, consistent, and etymologically coherent conclusion. I trust, as you apparently do, in the inspired nature of scripture. Correct me if i am wrong. This is why i DON’T struggle with eternal torment. Whether i like it or embrace it is irrelevant, and this seems to be the basis of those who reject it. They just don’t LIKE it. It doesn’t “seem” or “feel” right. I leave my feelings and emotions out of it. As you say, whatever God decides will always be righteous and correct. Wouldn’t you agree? Even eternal torment or eternal separation. Some seem to think the “torment” aspect of hell is God gleefully imposing great pain upon those (all of us, really) who have rejected Him. I understand the “torment” as self imposed, the agony and regret from our rejecting God’s love. The “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is not God making us cry or Him forcefully grinding together the teeth of those who rejected Him. It is the natural response to the realization that we went our own way for quick satisfaction and rejected the opportunity to spend eternity with Him.
    Look, i personally don’t care what God ultimately chooses. He is ALWAYS right. If He wants to give second chances, all the better. If He wants to save everyone, it’s His creation. I just reject the notion that eternal hell is not taught in scripture, and reject arguments based on what “seems fair” for God to do. The concept of universal salvation makes a mockery of biblical truth. While proponents of such often attempt, vainly i believe, to present their case as one of defending God’s love, this assumes, somewhat hilariously, that we even understand what God’s love actually emcompasses, and often trivializes the attributes of holiness and righteousness of our God.
    I too, like you, trust in my Savior. That’s all i need. Not my judgements. Not my concepts of “fair” play. And not my always fallible concept of what God’s love truly encompasses nor how it “motivates” His actions. Thanks again.

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  12. From Jacob M. Wright on Facebook:

    “Fear him who has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell!” (Matthew 10:28)

    Ever hear someone quote this verse as the one time Jesus explicitly promotes being terrified of his Father? It’s not what it looks like. Well, only if it’s excluded from its context. Quoting this verse by itself would be like quoting what the friends of Job said about God and then excluding the fact that later on God says that they were wrong in what they said about him.

    If you read the whole chapter, you will see the point Jesus is making. Let’s do a brief overview of the context leading up to Jesus’ words here. First he tells his disciples to go and proclaim the kingdom of God, the coming of which has the effects of restoring people, not destroying them:

    “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” (Matthew 10:7-8) That’s what the kingdom coming looks like, restoring the broken world.

    Since this kingdom is a kingdom of restoration and peace, it doesn’t come by violent means, so Jesus tells them he is sending them out as sheep among wolves. Wolves tear sheep to pieces. The powers of this world are established on violence. But the kingdom of God is established on martyrdom, because it is come to plant the seed of forgiveness and peace which will eventually be like leaven that works all through the dough. Jesus doesn’t tell them to fight. He tells them they will be flogged and persecuted in both the political and religious centers, and that they will stand before the powers of the world and declare in the power of the Spirit the true kingdom of God. Jesus tells them they will be put to death, but it’s okay, this is how they treated him.

    Then he tells them “Do not fear.” Do not fear these people that can kill you. Then comes the dreadful verse.

    “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear the One who has power to destroy both soul and body in gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So fear not; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31)

    Wait a second, the verse didn’t end at fear? Nope. Notice how Jesus goes from one extreme to the other. First, fear him who has power to destroy you in gehenna (the valley of hinnom), and second, he is a Father who loves and protects every hair on your head, so don’t fear. In other words, all these other guys may be able to kill your body, but there is only one who has power to destroy your actual person, and he would never dream of doing such a thing because he is your Father who cares for even the birds.

    Jesus concludes with “Fear not” and affirming our immeasurable worth beyond that of birds. The words “Fear not” are the most repeated words of Jesus.

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  13. Again, nice try. Just who would the “him” that be that can destroy body and soul? That obviously would be God. So there is indeed a verse here that says that God can and will destroy (annihilation, i.e., to obliviate something from existence to non-existence) is just not a definition that fits Hebrew or Greek language of Jesus’s time. Even if you allow for a literal meaning of destroy, it is still eternal destruction. Why fear that? Live your life, sin up a storm, and God makes you disappear. Where’s the fear? I would posit that for someone who rejects God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice, that would be a desired ending, a perfect one, if you will. So why fear? Unless perhaps one is hoping, as I pointed out in a previous post, that he or she will eventually be able to “play” on God’s compassion, pull on His heart strings so to speak. “please, it’s been long enough, hasn’t it? Was I really THIS bad? Is this fair? Again, nothing more than emotive ploys.
    Your constant attempts to play God’s justice and love against each other reveals, i fear, a frightening ignorance or rejection of the heinous nature of sin against God. To be emotive like you, I can ask “Were my offenses REALLY that serious?” “Are you,God, ACTUALLY that indignant about my transgressions”? “Aren’t you overreacting JJJUUUSSSSTTTT a bit here?.
    Actually, Peter, aren’t you, from the annihilation viewpoint, actually asking your loving god to become a mass murderer? From a universalist standpoint, aren’t we making a mockery of both LAW and GOSPEL? Why pretend to be outraged at sin when one (god?) is just eventually going look the other way and invite everyone into the kingdom? What was all the fuss about obedience and the shedding of blood for atonement? Was this just a scare tactic to bring the disobedient into line? All bark and no bite?
    Your myopic focus on Matthew is indicative of all arguments against hell, as if it were the only REAL passage dealing with or even hinting at eternal seperation and torment. Why does the devouring worm live forever if it is not devouring anything (analogy or not)? What is the need for a never-ending fire if there is nothing to burn?
    You might want to visit a few more passages. They are Isaiah 66:22-24, Daniel12:2-3,Matt. 18:6-9,25:31-46,Mark 9:42-48; II Thess.1:6-10;Jude 7,13; Rev. 14:9-11; 20:10,14-15. The concept of an eternal hell is found throughout scripture, sometimes literally stated, other times implied with the contrast with the fate of the redeemed.
    Speaking of which, you continue to evade my question, as you have for sometime, about eternal life. Don’t worry, you have plenty of company. Through the years and many many dozens of times i have asked that question. So far, not a SINGLE proponent of a “temporary hell” or “annihilation” has so much as even tried to answer it. NOT A SINGLE ONE!!!
    I’ll state it again. If you believe you have proven that “eternal” actually means a “specific period of time” or “only a while (even if a long one), then, seeing as how the same Hebrew and Greek words translated eternal or forever are used in reference to both eternal torment and eternal life, then on what logical or etymological grounds can you avoid redefining “eternal” life as just meaning “life just for a specific period of time” or life “only for a while” (even if a long while)?
    You need to answer that question, otherwise your reasonings are inconsistent, mere cherry-picking whatever meaning you desire to employ, regardless of scriptural usage or context. If you “destroy” an eternal hell or eternal torment, you also, again logically and etymologically, destroy “eternal” life. To avoid this, you either must ignore the sensible use of logical and consistent reasoning, or worse, decide for yourself what you want to believe whether or not it is supported in scripture. I have never had anyone from your perspective as much as try to even acknowledge it, much less answer it. The silence is deafening, and the avoidance is arbitrary. To me this is evidence of a lack of substance in your arguments, and perhaps proof that this really is just about special emotive pleading, or worse, a willful refusal to acknowledge a biblical truth. God doesn’t take polls.

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  14. Hi Chuck, the argument that you are advancing regarding aionian kolasis and aionion life is answered in every single book I’ve ever read on universalism. Your argument is the same argument first put forth by Augustine, who admits himself that he was never proficient in Greek, and is easily refuted by anyone who IS proficient in Greek. The fact that you have never heard anyone acknowledge it or answer it makes it entirely clear that you have never been serious in trying to understand the universalist perspective. This is Universalism 101. In any case it’s obvious to me that nothing I can provide will change you mind, but that’s ok. You seem to have set yourself up as your own infallible pope of your own little loveless legalistic sect. Good luck with that, Chuck. In any case there are other readers here who will benefit from our exchange.

    The word aionios is highly ambiguous and is highly dependent on context to properly interpret it. Anytime it is associated with God it assumes divine properties and can be translated as “eternal” without losing meaning. And so aionios life with God can be assumed to last forever, going even beyond the aions. However, aionios kolasis is a different story altogether, simply because of the word kolasis. This is the word for chastisement, discipline, corrective punishment. It is punishment for a PURPOSE. So logically such a punishment would have an end, simply by the nature of this word alone, because “never-ending corrective punishment” makes no sense at all. If it doesn’t end, then it is not working! But I can assure you that God’s punishment WORKS! This is why the Pharisees used the word AIDIOS with the word TIMORIA. The word aidios is NOT ambiguous, it means “eternal.” And the word timoria is not corrective punishment but punitive punishment. Aidios timoria matches perfectly with your conception of a loveless and indifferent god entirely obsessed with his own honor and the need to mercilessly punish sinners forever, just for HIS OWN satisfaction, without any corrective goal. The problem is, these words are the words of the Pharisees and not the words of Jesus. These are the actions of a COSMIC OMNIPOTENT PHARISEE, the god you seem to worship, against which I am a happy atheist.

    Here’s more on this subject from the previous article on my blog:
    https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/sometimes-eternity-aint-forever-aionios-and-the-universalist-hope/

    Given its semantic range, the meaning of aiónios in any specific text must be determined by context and usage (also see the ruminations of Orville Jenkins). Except when it modifies the noun “God,” aiónios need not signify eternal. For an interesting example, take a look at Rom 16:25-26: in v. 25, the Apostle speaks of “the mystery which was kept secret for long ages [aioníois] but is now disclosed,” which clearly refers to a span of time that has ended; and then in the very next verse he speaks of the aioníou theou, the everlasting God.

    Origen, the greatest exegete of the early Church, was well aware of the polysemy of aión and its adjectival forms. In Hom. in Ex. 6.13 he writes: “Whenever Scripture says, ‘from aeon to aeon,’ the reference is to an interval of time, and it is clear that it will have an end. And if Scripture says, ‘in another aeon,’ what is indicated is clearly a longer time, and yet an end is still fixed. And when the ‘aeons of the aeons’ are mentioned, a certain limit is again posited, perhaps unknown to us, but surely established by God” (quoted in Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis, p. 161). And Comm. in Rom. 6.5: “In Scriptures, aión is sometimes found in the sense of something that knows no end; at times it designates something that has no end in the present world, but will have in the future one; sometimes it means a certain stretch of time; or again the duration of the life of a single person is called aión” (quoted in Ramelli, p. 163).

    Origen explicitly connects aiónios life to final salvation and apokatastasis. Commenting on John 3:36 he writes: “‘He who believes in the Son has aiónios life.’ For if he who believes in the Son has aiónios life, then when he has been rendered into his hand, he is rendered for his own salvation and betterment” (Fragments on John 50.28; quoted in Konstan and Ramelli, pp. 122-123). “The Savior calls himself a harvester, and the recompense of our Lord is the salvation and reintegration of those who are harvested; the expression ‘And he gathers the fruit for aiónios life’ means either that what is gathered is the fruit of aiónios life or that it itself is aiónios life” (Fragments on John 13.46.299; quoted in Konstan and Ramelli, p. 122). But even the aiónes will come to an end, Origen tells us: “After aiónios life a leap will take place and all will pass from the aeons to the Father, who is beyond aiónios life. For Christ is Life, but the Father, who is ‘greater than Christ,’ is greater than life” (Comm. in Io 13.3; quoted in Ramelli, p. 160). The Father transcends all ages. In the apokatastasis the entirety of creation will participate in the aḯdios life that is the Creator. God will be all in all (1 Cor 15:24-28). The Origenian notion of eschatological stages sounds strange to our ears today. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the Son delivering his kingdom to the Father in cosmic theosis? Origen’s exegesis should at least challenge our default readings of aiónios and the Eschaton. By contrast, the fire that belongs to the world to come, the pur aiónion, most definitely will come to an end. It may last for a long time, but it is not eternal. Evil has no place in the universal restoration.

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  15. I pretty much agree with this article except I have a problem with characterizing scripture–which is Gods word and every word is truth according to Jesus– as human impressions and opinions that lead to a divinely inspired lesson but can be cherry picked as we please to make our point. I make exception by pointing out mistranslations are mans error but the original writings are the truth.

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  16. Origen was quite the intelligent fellow, and we must credit him for helping the church with it’s development of trinitarian concepts. He was, however, a bit of a fruitcake when it came to hermeneutics, which is why you should have included the disclaimer that he was eventually condemned as a heretic. Not sure i want to be getting my knowledge of important doctrines from a heretic.
    Again, while seeing much, you see little. Do you or do you not believe in eternal life? It appears that you do not, which of course, would be considered heretical by any branch of christianity. Correct me if i am wrong. If you do, your lexical wanderings destroy your own beliefs. I have researched and taught Greek for over 40 years. I am quite familiar with it, as you might guess. Your plethora of definitions do not establish your point, nor do they address my question to you. Seeing as how these various greek words and their variants are used referencing BOTH eternal life AND eternal torment or punishment, either they mean eternal (in our concept, forever) or THEY DO NOT. You would violate rules of hermeneutics and laws of logic to say they don’t mean eternal when used to describe hell, but DO when they refer to life. You again fail to acknowledge or address this issue. Origen’s purported ideas about some event in the future (which by the way, does not confirm YOUR apparent “dividing” up of eternity into during and “after” eternity), while interesting, are not biblical truth. Should i be surprised that you find comfort in the company of a heretic? Is HE the ONLY one you can find to support (and i do not believe he does) your belief in “un-eternal” life? Christ giving all things over to the Father, and any other events that will occur, are all included in “eternity”. They are not subdivisions or after the fact.
    Lastly, your resort to ad hominem attacks only shows your immaturity and the vacuous nature of your argument. I bet you thought you were above such things, didn’t you. Perhaps you should more substantially develop your thoughts before you post them. Thanks for not addressing (although you are the first to pretend to) my challenge.

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  17. I would agree wholeheartedly with you, hamp. Which why i believe that hell, wherever it is and whatever it consists of, is eternal. As should you. After all, it’s what the bible says,right?

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  18. The only reason I’m jumping into this discussion between you far more learned ‘heavy hitters’ of God, is due to this verse from 1 Timothy:

    ” 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. “[1 Timothy 2:3,4 AKJV]

    I’ve looked it up in several other English translations and it seems to be evenly divided between those translators who render verse 4 as being “who WILL have all men to be saved…”, and those who render it like this, “who desires…”[English Standard V.] and even “who wants…”[Christian Standard V.], all the way to this one, “who doth WILL all men to be saved…”[Young’s Literal Translation–and, my all time personal favorite!]

    It’s the one verse that helped give me lots of hope for my loved ones, and close friends, due to how it seemed to be letting us know that it’s God own WILL that “all men” be “saved” and “come unto the knowledge of the truth”, with the “truth” being Jesus Christ, Himself–hence, “come unto the knowledge of the truth”.

    I can’t hold a candle to the far more learned among Christians, such as yourselves, but my finding that verse about 10 years ago, has caused me to wonder if God wishes to demonstrate to people that He does have the power to “burn their britches” should it come to that, but that, thanks to His being “Love” itself, He will insure that it doesn’t come to that, all thanks and praise be to His great Love for mankind–AND, because He knows that, once people get a real taste of “the belt”, on their ‘backsides’, aka, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”[Proverbs 29:15 AKJV], they’ll give up wanting to kick and scream against God’s will and they’ll begin to see the wisdom of giving up their love of sin, and start behaving more like His Son, Jesus–after all, God, Himself, said:

    “16 Wash you, make you clean;
    put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes;
    cease to do evil;
    17 learn to do well;
    seek judgment, relieve the oppressed,
    judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

    18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:
    though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
    though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
    19 If ye be willing and obedient,
    ye shall eat the good of the land:
    20 but if ye refuse and rebel,
    ye shall be devoured with the sword:
    for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”[Isaiah 1:16-20 AKJV]

    Everyone’s favorite words out of those verses is, “COME NOW, AND LET US REASON TOGETHER…” from verse 18–they are also my favorite words–however, the key here is “let us REASON TOGETHER”–not argue, not debate, but ‘reason’, using actual sources, especially His written word. I just wish I knew enough to continue in this discussion, but I look forward to reading any and all subsequent notes from all of you. Thank you, Mr. Goodgame.

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  19. This verse, Christine, shows that God’s love is impartial. He is not sending anyone to hell. That is their own choice. We can argue about “fairness” all we want to in relation to God’s eternal decrees, but they will be only that, arguments. One must accept that there are mysteries concerning God, things we cannot fathom with our limited and darkened intellect. What scripture asks us to do is to trust Him, to trust that every decision He makes, however “unpleasant” we perceive it to be, is a righteous one. If God were to literally “will” that everyone be saved, we would be little more than automatons, merely deluded into thinking we have free will. While universalists and annihilationists prattle on about “love”, this is merely a disguise excusing the challenging of Him, and His Word. We see something we don’t like or feel good about, we grab our lexicons and desperately search for a way around supposed difficulties. As i have often stated, I have no dog in this fight. I’m all for whatever God decrees, whether I understand it or not. We must be willing to acknowledge He is inconceivably greater than we are, and incapable of evil. If we don’t believe this, we elevate ourselves to godhood, and glorify our own conception of righteousness rather than His. Yes, God is love. He is also righteous. He is not only our Father (for those who embrace the gift of His son), He is also Judge. He is to be unquestioned. Not that we can’t have questions or desire to understand more deeply His character, but as Job found out, He is not to be challenged. When Job did, God showed up. And Job shut his mouth. And God never did explain why He allowed all that happened to Job. Note that He did not induce Job’s suffering, but only allowed it (via the vehicle of Satan). We have to believe that everything we see and experience can be used by God for good. The refusal to do this is little more than self worship, which is where the biblical story begins with Adam and Eve. They did not trust God. They questioned Him. They embraced Satan’s answer, which was, of course, to question God’s motives and character. While, in my utopian mind i would like to think all get to heaven (well, not all), scripture clearly indicates otherwise in opposition to those who would teach otherwise.
    What some can’t wrap their heads around is that there are beings (angels, us) who, because they DO have free will, are unwilling to surrender to God’s authority. They just don’t want to submit. Satan is a perfect example. Think of what he has experienced having been in the very presence of God, a cherub that covered God’s throne. Can you even imagine what he saw, what he could do. Yet He rejected his Creators authority, His gifts. If angel, perfect in wisdom and beauty can do this, why do we think we or others wouldn’t? It’s a delusion. The fact that some will experience eternal separation from God is PROOF of His love, His giving of choice. The real miracle is, as scripture reveals, that while NONE of us seek after Him He still reaches out with the invitation to worship and obey Him and thus experience eternal life. He, in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, actually paid the wages of our sins, death. Christ’s ressurection to life eternal can be ours if we are found in HIM.
    While we argue about hell, the world just uses our inability to understand as another excuse to reject Him. It is, however, only an excuse, and not a valid reason. Scripture tells us that ANYONE who seeks after Him will find Him. I believe this because i believe His word. Arguments over the level or duration of suffering or separation do nothing to further the cause of the Gospel, and are often used as excuses to reject God’s love. I have no problem with people having their own opinions, but do when they claim they are biblical when they are not. The apostle Paul proclaimed a curse upon those who change the gospel message, any of it. As sad as we may find it, the message of love is accompanied by the message of judgement. It’s not a pick and chose, or multiple choice. To believe God’s word is to believe ALL of it. Don’t worry about anyone’s interpretations. Just believe what you read in His Word.

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  20. food for thought Peter. Maybe too many confuse His second coming, with the Great Tribulation. My sense of the GT is that once the Holy Spirit is removed as Yeshua said, that the depravity, evil, fleshly lusts, hatred,s etc that simmer because they’re being restrained somewhat by the HS, are going to be unleashed as the enemy unleashes his final all out assault on mankind made in the image of the Father. This won’t be Yeshua executing retribution, but rather the wrath of the enemy in full blown expression of his power as prince of this world, as he manipulates his subjects, those who rejected redemption through the blood sacrifice of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world,

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  21. Reblogged this on Gitardood's Weblog and commented:
    Pete is challenging all who are believers to examine themselves in the light of God’s word, Spirit, and revelation as to whether they are knowingly or unknowingly harbouring an unChristlike desire for vengeance- almost as if they can’t wait to see the “sinners get theirs”

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  22. well hamp, you and i experience death also, unless Christ returns very soon (at least for me). The bible DOES NOT teach that the wages of sin is annihilation, either immediately after death or some ill-defined or undefined period of whatever in a sort of purgatory. So your statement does not prove your point. I do not see the words prison or torture chamber in the bible, NOR in my arguments, so who actually are you disagreeing with (your own presumptions and conclusions?). Try again,and get over the attempts to “save God’s reputation” or the myopic focus on “love” to the exclusion of God’s other attributes. You only dismember God and rip apart (cherry-pic) the biblical revelation He gives us. God doesn’t need me to “defend” Him or re-explain what the bible reveals about Him so that He will become more palatable to sinful humanity. This is pure hubris and arrogance hidden behind a false image of “fairness”.

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  23. if that was “all” Peter was doing, I wouldn’t have any objections. Certainly as Christians we are exhorted to love all, even our enemies, and to do our part in proclaiming that the eternal separation that all deserve has been mended by the sacrificial (NOT symbolic) death of Christ on our part, for those who fully accept Him and His teachings.
    Peter is doing far more than you discern. He is redefining historic christian doctrine in ways considered heretical. I never have seen his full statement of faith or doctrine. Based on what i have read, i would not be surprised if his perspectives on the Trinity, deity of Christ, atonement are far different than what 1900+ years of Christian thought and debate have developed. Git, if someone’s belief’s concerning God are different than what the bible reveals, then it only makes sense that that erroneous thinking will permeate all other areas of Christian doctrine.
    I think it is only fair that Peter make that clear, if only to let the readers know where and why he differs from orthodox christianity. For some it won’t matter. They probably don’t care what the bible teaches. They may prefer their concepts above those of scripture. Others may care but are not developed in their thinking concerning doctrinal issues but want to be. They have a right to know the basis of Peter’s thought concerning God and biblical revelation, if only to give pause before wholeheartedly embracing his teachings.
    You know, Peter is not alone, of course. Polls taken over the last few decades reveal that, on average, only 17% of people who claim to be Christian actually have a biblical worldview. So he has company, knowingly or not. The internet has been both boon and bane to knowledge and fame. Anyone can start a site and claim to be an expert on something. And people hungry for knowledge but unwilling or unable to do the hard work are quick to latch on to what appears to be attractive reasoning. Truth doesn’t come without a price, just like salvation. Christ said He was the Truth, and I take Him at His word. He spoke of eternal hell more than anyone. While Peters lexical meanderings may seem attractive to those already committed to his way of thinking, they are fallacious and self-contradictory. Of course, you wouldn’t know that if you haven’t done the work to adequately understand how biblical languages work and how scripture can be correctly interpreted after much study (Study to show yourself approved) and prayer. There are many things in the bible that are clear and obvious. Others are puzzling and paradoxical. Some are beyond our full understanding. Whatever category, it’s revelations are far superior to yours and mine. Therefore I will adhere to scripture. I am told in scripture to discern every spirit, to reject any pseudo-gospel. That is what i do. I do not judge you or Peter, but I do have an intellectual right and a biblical mandate to challenge anything that appears to challenge biblical revelation. It’s not personal. It’s biblical.

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  24. Chuck I do appreciate your comments. I have my own reservations about some of his statements but having read his book on the second coming which was good felt that he may’ve been using hyperbole or been exaggerating to jolt people into examining their hearts. There’s a natural desire in man to want to see others ” get what they deserve” in the eyes of those who feel they’re being trod upon ( for instance). My interpretation was that when Yeshua returns for His believers to catch them away and the Holy Spirit is withdrawn that the devil having a free hand knowing his time is short will execute his wrath of upon the world who are here due to their rejection of Christ. I do not see that as a time we believers should be rejoicing for but rather as His heart is broken for the lost He died for so we should be. We should be avidly sharing the gospel with everyone as the scripture says, pulling them as it were from the very flames of hell. I often say to others that this Laodicean age of the ” church” is typified by the absence of preaching on things like hell, the impending end of the present world, holiness, and passionate heartfelt sorrow for a world of lost damned souls. I emphasized the importance of these in order that we search our hearts to make sure we are in sync with God’s whose love for a lost world prompted Him to send His yachid Son to be the sacrifice for the sins of all so that if any take advantage of the proffered chance of redemption they can be saved. Of course He wants all to take that offer but He knows not all will. Those who don’t Yeshua weeps over because He fully knows what the consequences are.

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  25. thanks for the kind response and i embrace your post wholeheartedly. I myself, in 45 years as a christian, have never met ANYONE who ever expressed the slightest glee at the concept of eternal torment (self-inflicted, not God inflicted. I believe the torment is caused by the realization that our own choices have left us separated from the Lord). Those who hold to a reformed faith and substitutionary atonement realize that without the grace and mercy of God, we too would be in “that” place. Anyone who would rejoice in someone being in hell would logically be someone who thinks they are not going to be there because of their good works. That individual would certainly NOT have understood the gospel message. Receiving the gift of eternal life should properly motivate one to, with all their energy, spread the good news of God’s love to ALL people, not just ones we might like.
    As for Peter’s motives, I have followed him for a while now. I wish i could attribute his words to hyperbole. I’m afraid i can’t. He has said the same things in so many different ways that it seems beyond doubt that he actually embraces the beliefs i find to be unbiblical or unorthodox. He is certainly free to agree with your assessment if he wants to, but i think you will look in vain for the event to unfold.
    Keep on trusting God, studying His word, gathering together with the saints, and expressing God’s love through the gospel message. Wishing you the best.

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  26. Hello to you, too, Chuck. I don’t have time right now to elaborate on all of this, but I want to leave these two verses from Isaiah:

    “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven,
    and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth,
    and maketh it bring forth and bud,
    that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
    11
    so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
    it shall not return unto me void,
    but it shall accomplish that which I please,
    and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”[Isaiah55:10,11 AKJV]

    Plus, this from the Lord Jesus, Himself:

    “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”[Matthew 19:26 AKJV]

    And this:

    “And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”[Luke 18:27 AKJV]

    Now, explain please, if that verse from 1 Timothy truly should be translated to read, “wills”, or even if it should be “desires”, how it is that God could fail to accomplish whatever He wills or desires to have happen. Because, perhaps God knows that, when properly persuaded, and/or reasoned with well enough, that people will respond to the truth, even enough so that God is able to pull their fat out of the fire, so to speak. Otherwise, I can’t understand why 1 Timothy says what it does, or why the Lord Jesus said what He did to His disciples concerning salvation, “…with God all things are possible.”

    After all, our salvation hinges on one huge thing, which is this:

    “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”[John 6:44 AKJV]

    Liked by 1 person

  27. The problem here, as is usual, is semantics. Often assuming that a word translated from a different language into english must mean exactly what is means in english. The word here, though, is no big obstacle. I “willed” that my child wouldn’t get into trouble when he was younger, and did everything short of imprisonment to insure that result, but alas, I failed. Primarily because i loved him. He had a free will. Even had i been God, i would never have forced him to obey me (this would require removal of free will). God doesn’t desire, will, wish, hope for…….that any would perish. To read that as a guarantee that no one will is deriving a meaning not intended. You could equally say that it’s God’s will that we obey His commandments. Guess what? We seldom do. Willing it doesn’t make it so. When you speak of God’s will you seem to be implying divine sovereignty. Certainly what God irrevocably wills will come to pass. He has not, that I see in scripture, decided to force everyone into heaven. To assume that some indeterminate period of separation from God will guarantee that one will then decide to submit and suddenly love God and desire His presence forever is begging too much. If this were the case, why did Jesus even die for us? If everyone gets to heaven, then the death was needless, for according to that reasoning, it’s not so much a matter of choice as it is “time”. Enough time, and everyone will come around. I fear this may be a naive understanding of the nature of sin and it’s violation of God’s Holy will. Purgatory is nowhere taught in scripture. Neither is annihilation. Eternal separation, however, is. No matter how unpleasant the concept. It’s there. Jesus taught it.
    What worries me about these discussion is the apparent underlying current of thought that says “Well, if that’s how God is, I don’t want Him”, “if He doesn’t fit my concept of fairness, I’ll just walk away”, or to put it more honestly and bluntly “if He doesn’t conform to by concept of righteousness and fairness, I reject Him”. To even think that way is already indicative of one heading for destruction. One should tremble before one even thinks those thoughts. They are indicative of incredible hubris and are pure pride. They potentially make God an inferior person to us.
    I decide to trust Him. For my salvation, and in reference to all of His plans and decisions, for now and eternity. If He does something a certain way, i trust that that is the best way to do it. If it conforms to His will, it has to be correct. It has to be just and righteous.
    When someone rejects God, this does not make Him a failure. Of course He could force everyone to “love” Him (would it still be love?). He could do and force anything He wants, and make us all robotic servants. Free will is proof of His love and wisdom, not a bad idea to be recalled or changed. No one is forced into hell. Everyone there will be there because of their own free choice. Life isn’t a big do-over. We are appointed once to death and then the judgement. Second chances sound nice, but how far do you want to carry it. Why not three? Why not four? Heck, why not reincarnation for millions of years until we get it “right”.
    No, God has spoken. He has given us Law, and Love, and the gift of grace and faith to believe, IF we seek after Him. Thanks for sharing and i hope all is well with you. If you have specific questions about what i believe, feel free to ask. More than glad to share. Blessings.

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