Table of Contents
The Ages of the Earth
Creation Versus Evolution
‘Summing Up’ in Christ
The Hidden Ages
God So Loves the World
Hell and the Lake of Fire
The Glorious Gospel
A Full Salvation
A Final Note
Some Who Held This View
For Christ must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death... When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that Yahweh may be all in all. I Corinthians 15:25, 26, 28
Copyright © 2002 by Joseph Herrin Permission of the author is hereby granted for copying, printing and distributing this book to others, either in part or in whole. However, no charge may be associated with the distribution. Heart4God Publishing
This book originally began as an article of the same name. The article was somewhat lengthy, being some 34 pages, but I have found it necessary to expand on this original writing to answer some of the sincere questions that have arisen as the saints have considered the message it brings. There have also been those who have called the contents of this writing heresy, for it goes against what has been commonly taught and understood since the Dark Ages. Little light has been shone upon these matters through many long centuries. Truth has been confused and corrupted by the mixing of myths and fables with that which is divine, until tradition has handed the multitude of the saints something that is unrecognizable from the original.
I am not angry that some have reacted to these teachings as heresy. I understand the objections, and there was a time not too distant that I might have joined them in their judgment. Yet, as the Spirit brings light we only have two options: we can remain in darkness, or we can embrace the light. I cannot now go back to the dark teachings of current tradition, for to do so would be to shrink back from the truth. What I do ask of those who cry "heresy" is that they would give this matter a fair hearing. It is not wisdom to revile without investigation.
He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.
For those of you who have not read the article that preceded the writing of this book, you may well wonder, "What is the reason for the charge of heresy?" It arises from this author believing and teaching that Paul plainly meant what he said in the following verses:
He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to a stewardship suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, THE SUMMING UP OF ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, THINGS IN THE HEAVENS AND THINGS ON THE EARTH IN HIM.
For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile ALL things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say whether things on EARTH or things in HEAVEN.
I Corinthians 15:23-28
But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to God the Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put ALL His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put AL L things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, "ALL things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put ALL things in subjection to Him. And when ALL things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be ALL in ALL.
These passages of Scripture declare that ALL things in heaven and earth will be reconciled to God through the cross of Christ. Have you ever considered what things in heaven might need reconciling to God? The Scriptures reveal that there is a great host of angelic beings that have abandoned their positions of service that Yahweh had ordained through the power of His own authority. These beings rejected the government of God and entered into rebellion. The chief instrument in this rebellion was Satan, and he furthered this rebellion by enticing man to also abandon the place ordained for him.
Both in heaven and on earth there is much that now needs to be reconciled to God. Some would object and say, "but Satan is the enemy of God." This is true. And it is no less true that man was God’s enemy when Christ went to the cross.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Yahshua did not wait until man became good to die for man. He died for man while we were sinners and his enemies. On the cross Yahshua asked the Father to forgive the very ones who were crucifying Him and mocking Him. Like Satan and the angels that transgressed with him, there are many men today who are still defiant in the face of God. However, the Scripture is true that Christ died for ALL men.
I Timothy 2:3-4
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires ALL MEN to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 4:10
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of ALL MEN, especially of believers.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to ALL MEN...
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to ALL MEN, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to ALL MEN.
Saint, do you see how plainly evident this truth is stated in the Scripture? Look at the contrast Paul makes in Romans 5:18. "Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to ALL MEN." Is there any man who has been born that Adam’s transgression did not touch, resulting in condemnation? No, not one. Will we then not accept the plain meaning of the next statement that through Christ’s obedience "there resulted justification of life to ALL MEN"?
Our difficulty is that we do not see this justification in the current age. There are men that stubbornly resist the grace of God for their entire lifespan while in this sinful flesh. We do not see them come to repentance. We do not see them bow the knee to Christ now during this age. Yet we are promised that the age will come when ALL will do so.
"Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me EVERY KNEE will bow, EVERY TONGUE will swear allegiance."
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Yahshua EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are IN HEAVEN and ON EARTH and UNDER THE EARTH, and that EVERY TONGUE will confess that Yahshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Yahweh has sworn by Himself that "EVERY knee will bow, EVERY tongue will swear allegiance." Isaiah declared these words in the last age, the age of Law, and did not see it fulfilled. Paul proclaims the same words in this age, the age of grace, and we do not see it fulfilled. Should we then doubt Yahweh’s power to accomplish what He has declared? No! There are ages still to come, and the word of Yahweh will be accomplished. What a glorious promise, "Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Yahshua Messiah is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
I have heard the arguments of those who say that this bending of the knee and confession will be done under compulsion and duress, yet I ask you, "would it glorify the Father for men and angels to hold rebellion in their hearts while making this confession?" No, it would not. We are told that this confession will be "to the glory of God the Father." That which will bring glory to the Father is for all creation to come to the end of rebellion and to declare from a worshipful heart that Yahshua Messiah is Lord.
If you will be as a Berean and search the Scriptures to see whether these things be true, you will be amazed at what you find. I invite you to read through this book and to faithfully study and consider the whole counsel of the Scriptures concerning these matters. You will find that Yahweh has a plan that encompasses many ages. Some of these ages existed before Adam. A number have transpired since Adam, and more are to come. Yet, when the age that ends all ages has been completed and time is no more, then will we see that there is no longer an enemy left to oppose the will of Yahweh. All will have come to a state of rest. All creation shall be in perfect agreement with His will. Then shall we know that which Paul spoke of, "All things will be subjected to Him " and "God will be ALL in ALL."
The Ages of the Earth
Before we look at God’s ultimate plan to subject and reconcile all of creation to Himself, that He might become all in all, it would be helpful to look at the ages of the earth that we live on. These ages are not commonly taught today by those who stand as ministers to the body. In a day when it seems that technological understanding is increasing, the saints also need to regain an understanding of the wisdom contained in Scripture, for much has been lost over the years, and many myths and fables have replaced sound doctrine. We must reestablish this understanding of the ages of the earth in order to go on to other matters.
Our world has known many different ages, and there are yet more ages to come. The Scriptures reveal that their will be three creations of the earth, and it will abide in seven distinct states. The numbers three and seven are very significant in Scriptures, and much has been written about them. The tertiary (three-fold) and septenary (seven-fold) design of Scriptures and of all creation is seen profusely. It is to be expected that this world would fit right into this pattern. However, if one follows the commonly held doctrines and theories of the creation, or evolution, of this world, they will fail to align with God’s very evident structure.
In the next chapter we will look at some of the various explanations given today for the origin of the creation. The saints are confronted with many varying theories today that range everywhere from creation accounts of a literal six days of creation and a young earth viewpoint, to evolutionary depictions that state that the earth is billions of years old. In between these two extremes are many hybrid theories, such as theistic evolution, that seek to reconcile the Biblical account with the claims of science (whether factual or hypothetical).
All but one of the current depictions of creation that I have encountered have shortcomings, and many of them are very serious shortcomings. They also fail to answer many questions, such as "Why is the earth described as formless and void and covered in darkness in Genesis 1:2?" "When did Satan rebel, ending in his being cast down to the earth?" "When did Satan exist in Eden in his perfect state as described in Ezekiel 28:13 and following?" "If one holds to an old earth theory, how do you reconcile the fact that the genealogies of man show him to have only existed about 6,000 years?" "If one holds to a young earth theory, how does one reconcile themselves to the many evidences of a much older earth?" "At what point did the dinosaurs exist, for the evidence of their existence is undeniable?" "How do these depictions of the earth fit in with the tertiary (three-fold) and septenary (seven-fold) structure of creation?"
There is one particular school of thought regarding Genesis that I have found to satisfy both Scriptural testimony and natural evidences. This school of thought was accepted by many early church fathers, and was actually the prevailing understanding of the church about 100 years ago. However, popularity is never to be a foundation to build our understanding upon. Paul said:
II Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
It is the Scriptures, inspired by the Spirit of Yahweh, that should form the foundation upon which all teaching rests. It is not only valuable for teaching, but for reproof and correction. The Scriptures bring reproof and correction to most of the prevailing theories being taught today, and they provide all the teaching necessary to understand the witness of Genesis correctly, so let us examine what the Scriptures tell us about the origin of the creation.
In the opening verse of Genesis we read that "In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth." We know that God is timeless, so the beginning spoken of here does not refer to His beginning. Rather, the beginning spoken of here is the beginning of the creation which God made. The creation is subject to time, the Creator is not. Before the creation was formed, God already had a plan that would encompass all the ages of creation. He saw the end from the beginning. God knew that man would sin, and He knew that the cross of Christ would be that which would reconcile creation back to Himself. He knew every person who would ever be born, thus we are told:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yahshua the Messiah, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love. He predestined us to adoption as sons through Yahshua the Messiah to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Before the foundation of the world Yahweh knew us and chose us to be holy and blameless before Him, and He predestined us to adoption as sons. God was not caught off guard when the first man and woman sinned. God did not have to go to plan B. He already had seen the end from the beginning, and He knew about Adam’s choice, and He had already planned what His own response would be. His plan of the ages has experienced no setbacks. It has not been stymied or thwarted in any way. There have been no unanticipated occurrences for God.
Thus we see in the opening verse of Genesis, that in the beginning of the creation He made the heavens and the earth, but by verse two we see that something had transpired to mar what He had created. This understanding is obscured, however, due to the fact that in most modern translations of the Scriptures, verse two of Genesis chapter one is rendered improperly.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
All of the most popular English translations render this passage similarly, but they have borrowed from each other and have duplicated one another’s mistakes. The rendering here makes it sound like God created the earth formless and void, yet other Scriptures reveal that this is not true. God did not create the earth formless and void.
The phrase "And the earth was without form and void" should be properly rendered, "but the earth became formless and void". The words in question are rendered correctly in other places in the first few chapters of Genesis, so the translators knew they could be rendered this way, but it did not fit with their understanding, or the orthodoxy of the day.
The word rendered in the KJV as "was" is the Hebrew word "hayah" and it is the same word used in the Genesis 2:7, "Adam became a living soul." Strong’s concordance identifies the meaning of this word as "to become" or, "come to pass". Similarly the word rendered "and" is the Hebrew "wa" and it is a conjunction that is often rendered "but". The KJV translators rendered this word as "but" in the very next chapter, for in Genesis 2:6 we read, "but a mist used to..."
So we can see that the translators could have as easily rendered these beginning verses in this manner:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. But the earth became formless, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
This would indicate that in the beginning of creation the Father created the heavens and the earth, but something occurred after this creation that made the earth formless, void, and covered with darkness. We have seen that we can interpret these words this way, but we must ask if we should interpret them this way. We can verify conclusively that this is how this Scripture should be rendered by comparing this passage with others. If we can find similar descriptions in other Scriptures of the earth becoming formless, void and covered in darkness as a result of judgment, then we will know the earth was not created this way, it became this way as a result of sin. The following passage from Jeremiah provides a real key for our understanding. As you read it, note clearly that everything about this passage is speaking of the judgment of God being manifested due to the presence of sin and rebellion.
Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah. As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith Yahweh. Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart. My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment. How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? For my people are foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of Yahweh, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath Yahweh said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
It is plainly evident that this passage is speaking of a judgment of Yahweh coming about due to rebellion and disobedience. As part of this judgment the land is made formless, void, and covered in darkness. These are the three same descriptive words we find in Genesis 1:2, and these words only occur in this combination in these two passages, and one other. The third instance is in Isaiah 34 where the destruction of Babylon is prophesied.
But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. KJV
The words that were rendered as "formless" and "void" in the previous verses are rendered as "confusion" and "emptiness" in Isaiah. In the Hebrew the words are "tohu" and "bohu". These are the only three instances where these words occur together in all of Scripture. Seeing that both Jeremiah and Isaiah used these words to describe the appearance of the earth, or a portion of it, brought about by a judgment of God, we can reasonably conclude that this is also what precipitated the condition of the earth found in Genesis 1:2. Yet we can find even more evidence to support this conclusion. Isaiah further tells us the following:
For thus says Yahweh, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, But formed it to be inhabited)...
Isaiah tells us that Yahweh did not create the earth as a waste place, yet in Genesis 1:2 we find that it has become one. Isaiah doesn’t stop here, however, he gives us even more evidence by which we might properly interpret Genesis 1:2.
Behold, Yahweh lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface and scatters its inhabitants.
Making the earth waste is always an act of judgment. So let us look one more time at the correct rendering of the first 2 verses of Genesis.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. But the earth became formless, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
In order to understand God’s plan of the ages, we must render these verses correctly. In reading this we can now see that at the very beginning of the creation that God made the heavens and the earth. He did not create them a waste. He created them perfect. Yet something occurred to mar their perfection, and by looking at the language of verse two and comparing it to the rest of scripture we understand that it was due to a judgment of God that the earth was made formless, void and covered in darkness. All of these conditions are symbolic of judgment. We can then further understand that the remainder of chapter one of Genesis speaks of the re-creation of the earth, and not its first creation.
Now this is a very important point, and it is largely unseen by the church due to a wrong orthodoxy and poor Bible translations. We must ask, "What occurred on this original earth that caused Yahweh to judge it so completely?" We are only given one event that could have caused such a judgment to be rendered and this was something prior to the creation of Adam. It was the rebellion of Satan.
Thus says Yahweh GOD, "You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. "You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you."
How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, 'Is this the one who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home?'"
And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning."
The Scriptures reveal that the angels existed prior to man, and among the angels was a most magnificent cherub called Lucifer. He was created perfect in beauty and in wisdom, and his role among the angels was very exalted. Yet this being took his eyes off of his Creator and began to look at his own magnificence and this led to pride and the corrupting of his wisdom. Paul refers to this transgression in the following verse where he is speaking to Timothy about the qualifications for an elder:
I Timothy 3:6
and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.
Satan's fall began with the formation of conceit and pride within his heart. This pride led to rebellion, and ended in judgment. Ezekiel and Isaiah both wrote of the judgment of Satan as having occurred already, but in Revelation we read of it as a future event.
And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
The Scriptures do not contradict each other here, for Satan has been cast down to the earth in the past, and he will be cast down again in the future. Satan will be judged by God a total of three times before his judgment is complete. The number three is an important number in Scripture, representing fulness. Thus we see Elohim being Father, Son and Spirit. We find man being body, soul and spirit, etc.. We also find that Satan’s judgment is only complete after the third judgment rendered to him by Yahweh.
Isaiah, Ezekiel and Yahshua spoke of the first judgment where Satan was cast down. This is when the original earth was destroyed. Yet after a time the Spirit came and began to re-create the earth and at this time Satan was released from his first imprisonment. We then see him in Eden enticing Adam and Eve to sin, and the fall of man became the instrument of Satan’s elevation over this world once again. Yahweh did not make Satan "the god of this world", "the prince of the power of the air." Man gave him this authority when he joined in Satan’s rebellion. Yet we are told that, during the millennial reign of Christ, Satan will be bound again, this time for a thousand years. This is the second judgment of Satan. After the thousand years he will be released for a short time, and then his third and final judgment will come.
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
So now we can understand the meaning of the opening verses of Genesis.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. But the earth became formless, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
In the beginning of the creation, God made the heaven and the earth. Satan was upon this earth in his perfect state before his fall, for Isaiah tells us, "You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering...." We never see Satan described this way after Adam and Eve are placed in the re-created Garden of Eden. Instead, we find him coming in the form of a serpent. We can therefore understand that this description of Satan in his perfection and glory in Eden pertains to the first creation of the earth.
We are not told how long Satan remained blameless. His fall might have been after many long ages, or it might have come soon after he was created. Therefore, we also do not know how long the original earth existed before Satan rebelled. It could have been an immense period of time, long enough to account for the many signs of an ancient earth. At some point Satan did rebel and he was cast down to the earth, which was evidently his habitation since he was described as being in the original Eden. The earth was judged along with Satan and made waste and void and sealed in darkness. In this state of judgment the earth might have lain for many long years.
There are many who teach today that the earth is only about 6,000 years old, and they cite many evidences for a young earth. Yet when the scriptures are correctly understood we find that the earth existed prior to Genesis 1:3 when God began to remake it. Many scientists are also pointing to signs of the earth being very ancient. In truth, both groups are correct. The original earth is quite ancient, yet the re-created earth is relatively young. We should anticipate that there would be evidences of both a young earth, and a very old earth. Sadly, these two groups often find themselves pitted against one another when the Scriptures reveal a harmony to this evidence.
There is much physical evidence that the earth was once covered in massive blankets of ice. I suspect that this occurred during the period of the earth’s judgment when it lay in darkness. I also see little scriptural evidence to suggest that the dinosaurs, in all of their variety and numbers, existed concurrent with Adam. Some suggest that they were destroyed at the flood of Noah, yet the scriptures do not present this evidence. We are told:
Then Yahweh said to Noah, "Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.
We are not told of any animals being left out of the ark, so I am led to believe that the dinosaurs were inhabitants of the original earth and were not alive at the time of Noah. This conclusion is also supported by the finding that so many of the dinosaurs appear to have perished in a great cataclysm, which is fitting with an understanding of the destruction of the first earth. Some have suggested that the Behemoth and Leviathan of Job are speaking of dinosaurs. However, those who hold this point of view should consider that Job lived after the flood, and for dinosaurs to exist after the flood would mandate that Noah took dinosaurs on the ark. We must then deal with the question of what might have caused them to perish after the flood, for we see no report of them in the Bible. Certainly if they had existed concurrent to modern man, they would have been frequently mentioned. Yet we see David performing a great exploit by guarding his sheep from a lion and a bear, not from a T-Rex and a Pterydactyl.
In the book of Job, which is considered by many to be the oldest written book of the Bible, we find that men of the time of Job understood that God had brought a judgment on the original earth and sealed it in darkness. Consider the following words:
"Wise in heart and mighty in strength, who has defied Him without harm? It is God who removes the mountains, they know not how, when He overturns them in His anger; who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; who commands the sun not to shine, and sets a seal upon the stars..."
In these verses we find a description of God’s judgment upon the earth when Satan defied Him. In judgment God made the earth a wasteland and sealed it up in darkness, as is described here. He commanded the sun not to shine, and He sealed up the stars.
There are other evidences that point to the account of Genesis 1:3 and following as referring to the re-creation of the earth, and not it's original creation. One evidence is seen in the following verse:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: KJV
This phrase, "replenish the earth", means to fill it again. You can only replenish something that has been made empty. We speak of replenishing the supply of food in our cupboards when the cupboards have been empty. We would not use the word 'replenish' if we were filling the cupboard the first time. In such a case we would speak of filling the cupboards, not re-filling them.
Some of our common English translations have understood this and they have changed the word 'replenish' to 'fill', but the original language supports the word 'replenish' as being the more appropriate word. The root word in the Hebrew is 'male' (mal - ay), and it means to fill. But the form of the word found in this passage, and in only a few other occurrences all bear the replenishing, or refilling. We find this same word form used in Genesis 9:1 where God is speaking to Noah after the flood.
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. KJV
We can understand very plainly that 'replenish' is the appropriate word to be used in this passage, for all but a remnant of living creatures perished in the great flood. Mankind had been completely judged and destroyed, with the exception of Noah and his family. They were to replenish the earth. They were not just to fill it, they were to refill it, for it had previously been filled, but now was empty.
This is also the understanding we have of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 when we understand them properly. The original earth had been previously inhabited, but it was made waste and void at the judgment of Satan. Adam and his wife were called to replenish the earth that had become depopulated. This same word form also occurs in the following verse.
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas... KJV
To be consistent, this verse also should read "replenish the waters in the seas", for it uses the exact word form as the two verses we have just examined. Sadly, there has been a great inconsistency in the way certain word forms have been rendered, and this inconsistency has led to the obscuring of the true understanding of many Scriptures.
Now we are prepared to talk about the three creations of the earth, and it's seven unique stages. We should expect the earth to conform to this pattern, for it is a pattern that is pervasive throughout God’s creation. We mentioned that the tertiary structure of creation is seen in the tri-part nature of man. We also see that there were three great feasts that God ordained for Israel to observe, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. We see that the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple were divided into three distinct areas, the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. We see that the saints are described by John in three levels of maturity, little children, young men, and fathers. We see that time has three great divisions, past, present, and future. We could list pages of such examples of the tertiary design of creation. It should then not surprise us to find that there are three earths described in scripture.
THE FIRST EARTH
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The Scriptures do not tell us a lot about this first earth, for this earth was not the earth of man. It seems that during the present age Yahweh has only revealed things to us on a "need to know" basis. He has revealed enough for man to have understanding of his present place in creation, but He has not yet allowed man's curiosity to be fully satisfied by looking clearly into ages that preceded his existence, nor future ages. Of these things, we are only given glimpses. What we are told is that this first earth was destroyed at the judgment of Satan, and for this reason we find it lying in a state of ruin and darkness in Genesis 1:2.
THE SECOND EARTH
Genesis 1:3 begins the re-creation of the earth. This is the second earth, and the earth of Adam and Eve. This is the earth man has known for the past 6,000 years. This earth too shall pass away.
II Peter 3:7, 10
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men... But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."
THE THIRD EARTH
After the second earth is destroyed by fire, Yahweh will then create the earth a third and final time.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
We see then that even as man is a tri-part being that was formed of the dust of the earth, so too the earth will have it’s three creations. Yet within this tri-part design we see a further seven-part division. This is in harmony with other acts and creations of God. Consider that there were three great feasts given to Israel where they were commanded to appear before Yahweh in Jerusalem three times a year. These great feasts are Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Yet these three feasts break down into seven distinct events, for Passover has three parts to it, as does Tabernacles. Passover includes The Passover, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, and The Sheaf of Firstfruits. Tabernacles includes The Blowing of the Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles. Thus the three great feasts have their seven divisions.
The same pattern is seen regarding the earth. We have seen its three creations. Now we will see the seven divisions within these creations. At each division the earth exists in a distinct state that is set apart from the others. They are as follows.
FIRST STATE - THE ORIGINAL EARTH
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth..."
In this first creation the earth is perfect. The original Garden of Eden was found here, and Lucifer before his fall walked in this garden. It is my belief, and that of other Bible teachers such as Watchman Nee (see his book "The Mystery of Creation"), that this was the earth upon which the dinosaurs dwelt.
SECOND STATE - THE JUDGED EARTH
"But the Earth became formless and void and darkness covered the face of the deep."
It is obvious that this earth exists in a different state than it had previously known. Even as the sky was darkened from the ninth to the twelfth hour during the crucifixion of Christ when the judgment for all sin was laid upon the back of Yahshua the spotless Lamb, so this earth under judgment is sealed in darkness where no light can penetrate.
THIRD STATE - THE RE-CREATED EARTH
Genesis 1:3 - 31 describes for us the re-creation of the earth. Note that the very first thing that occurs is the removing of the judgment of darkness.
Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light."
This verse is unlike the other verses of the creation account. It does not say here that God created the light. It merely states that God said, "Let there be light." Light already existed in the creation, but the judged earth had been sealed up against this light. This judgment has to be removed in order for God to begin re-making the earth. The earth is then formed once again according to the design of God, and a new garden of Eden is placed upon the earth and man and woman are set as inhabitants in the midst of it.
FOURTH STATE - AFTER THE SIN OF ADAM
After Adam sinned, the earth became subject to the curse. Paul speaks of it in this way:
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
This earth now brings forth thorns and thistles, and it yields it produce with difficulty. Man must now work by the sweat of his brow to obtain the good fruit of the earth. Death has now entered into the creation.
FIFTH STATE - AFTER THE FLOOD
Although the Scriptures state that God destroyed the earth with the flood, it was not a destruction of the order that occurred when Satan was judged. The earth still existed under the flood waters, and when the waters receded the earth brought forth its produce once more. Also, we do not see God creating man and the animals again after the flood, for a remnant was preserved through the flood. Yet the earth is distinctly changed.
Before the flood we are told that there was no rain, but a mist rose from the earth to water the ground (Genesis 2:6). After the flood there is rain. Prior to the flood we see men living to great ages, Methuselah being 969 years old at his death. After the flood man’s lifespan is shortened to 120 years (Genesis 6:3). This is the state of the earth that man currently finds himself in.
SIXTH STATE - MILLENNIAL REIGN
In Revelation 20:2-7 we are told that in the coming Millennial reign of Christ, Satan will be bound for 1,000 years. Isaiah speaks of this time.
"No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed."
Isaiah also gives us this insight:
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
This is a very different world from that which we currently know, and it will exist for a thousand years. At the end of the thousand years Satan will be released once more for a short period and then he will be judged a third time. The heavens and earth will be consumed with fire and the last state of the earth will be known.
SEVENTH STATE - THIRD EARTH
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
II Peter 3:13
But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
What a glorious earth this will be! A unique aspect of this final earth will be that there is no longer any sea. The seas represent death throughout scriptures. This is why God always used seas as a point of demarcation. Passing through a sea was typical of passing from one stage of life to another. Thus we see the Israelites passing through the Red Sea, leaving the bondage and fleshpots of Egypt behind them. Even baptism in water today is symbolic of being joined with Yahshua in His death and then being resurrected to new life in Christ. There will be no death in this final earth, and therefore it will contain no seas.
What a magnificent design is revealed in these things. We see that Yahweh has had a plan for the earth and its inhabitants that is marked by the fulness of the numbers three and seven. When we "rightly divide the word of God" we see that all fits according to the pattern Yahweh has established. When we fail to rightly divide the word of God, then the pattern is broken. Many multitudes of the saints today are told that the entirety of the first chapter of Genesis speaks of the original creation of the earth and that Adam and Eve dwelt upon this original earth. In holding to this wrong understanding they break the patterns of God, for this would leave but two creations of the earth, and it would know only five stages. These numbers do not represent fulness and completion.
We must interpret the scriptures correctly to maintain the pattern of God. It is evident that seven is a number representing fulness for God’s creation. We see that He has chosen seven days to define the creation and to bring it to a state of rest in Him. God did not need seven days to create the earth. He could have accomplished it in a single moment of time. He chose seven days to define the creation for they fit His perfect plan for the ages of the earth.
The numbers three and seven are foundational numbers in all of God’s creation, and they are reflections of His very being. God is Father, Son and Spirit. He created man in His image, and man is spirit and soul and body (I Thessalonians 5:23). Yet we are also told that God has seven spirits.
Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God...
(In Isaiah 11:1, 2 we see these seven spirits defined.) The student of the Bible will find that God has imprinted these numbers everywhere throughout creation. They serve as a testimony of His presence and as a revelation of His magnificent design. When we see the earth and its ages correctly we find that they too bear this divine imprint.
Creation Versus Evolution
Before we go further in our look at God’s plan of the ages, I feel it necessary to address the questions and objections of those who have been taught the theory of evolution. I have received correspondence from different ones who objected to those things written about in the previous chapter, for in teaching a literal six days of creation, each twenty-four hours in length, no room is left for evolutionary thought.
This has disturbed some who have been taught all their lives that the theory of evolution is fully supported by true science, and that to deny evolution is tantamount to sticking one’s head in the sand. Those who hold to a literal six days of creation are often seen as backwards, superstitious, unsophisticated, or intellectually dishonest.
Sadly, many saints have helped to encourage such views by not understanding the Scriptures and making statements that are inaccurate and contradictory, both from a Biblical perspective and a scientific perspective. It is difficult to argue against the false assertions of science when one does not even understand the Scriptures properly. True science will always find a complete agreement with the Scriptures, but one must "rightly divide the word of God" or they will be found in the hopeless situation of trying to reconcile science with a wrong interpretation of Scripture.
I have been much more a student of the Bible than a student of science. However, I am not unaware of the teachings of science regarding evolution and creation. Both in High School and in college I took courses that taught the theory of evolution. Particularly in college psychology and biology courses I encountered this teaching.
I have found that many students have never seriously looked at the claims of creationism. Having only heard the evolutionary teaching of public school systems and universities, they have no doubt that what they have heard is true. Yet anyone who desires to walk in truth must make an investigation into all the evidence, both for and against a matter. Solomon gives us these words:
The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.
If a saint has an honest heart, he will desire to come to the truth of a matter and to not simply stop at what seems plausible. He will listen to witnesses from both sides of a matter, and then he will ask the Spirit to guide him to the truth. I have listened to numerous witnesses from both sides of this issue. I have sat under teachers of evolution, and I have read writings both for and against it. I even had the opportunity to attend a debate between a scientist from the Institute for Creation Research, and a local professor who was an evolutionist, while I was in college. Beyond this, I have sought the scriptures to see what they have to speak regarding this matter. Having made what I consider to be a satisfactory investigation, I have concluded that there is some error in both camps, but the greater error is on the side of evolution.
One would be wrong to think that those who are on the side of evolution are all scientists, and those on the side of creation are all theologians. There are many scientists, both present and past, including some of the most brilliant minds in science, who are creationists. For a time I received the magazine "Creation Ex Nihilo", and I found it to be filled with examples of scientists who hold to a literal six days of creation. On the other hand, there are also many theologians who hold to the theory of evolution. Some of these believe that the creation came about through the processes described in evolutionary theory, but that it was God’s hand that guided this process.
We would be wrong, therefore, to depict this matter as a debate between scientists and theologians. Many theologians have adopted erroneous views of Scripture, and many scientists have erroneous views of science. Yet, when true theology and true science come together, they are not set against one another, but rather they are found to be in complete harmony.
One error that has led many sheep into foul pastures, is believing that one must bear the title of scientist or theologian to understand these matters, or to have their words bear real authority. Men tend to be overly impressed with titles and with the achievements of the flesh. The common man has as much capacity to discern truth from error as those who bear lofty titles. The apostle James spoke to saints in this way:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Wisdom and understanding are not the exclusive property of those trained in the university systems of this world, of those who hold doctorates and who are esteemed by man. Quite often the wisdom of the wise turns out to actually be folly.
I Corinthians 1:19-20
For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
The same scientists, who are often accorded so much honor, have given to man the name "homo sapiens", which means "men of wisdom." This should give us great cause to stop and consider Paul’s words:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools...
Anyone who studies the debate raging around evolution will find that the loudest proponents of evolution are often atheists who deny the very existence of Yahweh. These men and women are seeking a scientific solution that will allow them to explain the creation around them without the presence or necessity of God. These ones truly are "futile in their speculations" and their foolish hearts are darkened, to the extent that the light of truth cannot enter. Paul tells us that these professors of wisdom are fools, and Yahshua warns us with these words:
He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher."
If we become students of blind professors, we will end up just like them. We must be very careful that we follow only teachers that are walking in the light of God. It should disturb the student of evolution to find that so many of the leaders and founders of this teaching were atheists, and men who had no respect for Yahweh or the Scriptures. If these men could look at the world and see no presence or proof of God, then they will certainly end up leading many of their students to the same conclusion.
Much has been written about creation, and many scientists have given proofs that overturn the teaching of evolution. I do not desire to duplicate their work here. Let the serious student search these matters out themself. As science has advanced, there have been many attempts by sincere saints to bring science and Scripture into harmony with one another. However, not all science is true science.
Much that passes for science today is mere hypothesis and theory, and beyond any doubt much of it finds its origin in demonic sources. Sadly, many Christians have tried to reconcile not only true scientific teachings with the Bible, but they have also sought to reconcile false science and doctrines of demons with the Scriptures. The result is always something that is abhorrent and which leads the saints away from the discovery of truth.
Kenneth F. McKinley, in his book "Scanning the Plan", has done a good job of summarizing many of the prevailing interpretations of the Genesis account, and I will quote from this book:
Much controversy and difference of opinion is shared by scholars over the length of these days [6 days of creation]. Some consider them as geological ages or aeons of time, while advocates of evolution insist by their theories that man is at least 600,000 years old. According to present scientific views, the earth is even older than that. Theories as to its probable age range from two to ten billion years. The evolutionist declares that man evolved from a lower form of life, therefore he must necessarily place the plant and animal kingdoms sufficiently earlier to allow for this supposed development.
The question of time presents no problem to the evolutionist. He juggles the periods of development into any number of years he desires because he does not accept the Biblical record of creation as literal or authoritative. The Christian holding to the twenty-four hour day is therefore placed in the position of defending his views, which supposedly contradict science, for if all of God’s creative act was accomplished in six days with man as the final act, then neither the earth nor man can be as old as the present scientific views suggest.
Regardless of what system of chronology the Bible student uses, he should be aware that more than two hundred attempts have been made to compute the earliest Biblical date. One of these attempts was made by Bishop Ussher, an Irish clergyman whose book "Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti" was published in 1650-1654. By adding the ages of Adam and his descendants as recorded in Genesis 5 and 11, he computed the date of Adam to be 4004 B.C.. Known as the "short chronology", it has become almost standard for many Christians...
It does not appear that the Bible allows for man to be 600,000 or more years old. Even in view of such evidence of compression of genealogies, it seems safe to conclude, says Free, "that the creation of man took place probably sometime between 4000 and 8000 B.C..."
True science and the Bible are not in conflict. However, the problem of Biblical interpretation does confront the student, for it may be possible to envision long periods of time according to one view and a literal twenty-four hour day according to another. The following theories are man’s attempt to see through the haze God has purposefully left in regard to the beginning of His creation.
THE DAY-AGE THEORY
The advocates of this view regard Genesis 2:4 as authority to make an age for a day when it states: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven." (R.S.V.)
Because of the usage here of the word "day" in the sense of a period of time, the days of creation are taken to be as long in time as necessary for God to complete His work. Some holding this view see different lengths in the day because the events described appear to indicate more time is needed in one day than in another. For example, the creation of light on the first day could have been instantaneous, but the third day’s activity wherein grass, herbs and trees came into being, seems to suggest a longer period of time since Genesis 2:9 states that God "caused to grow" every tree. This is understood to be a natural process. On the sixth day, both animals and man are involved, plus the fact that the animals were all brought to Adam to be named.
Genesis 2:20 reveals Adam’s search for a mate among the animal kingdom. When none is found, God removes a rib from sleeping Adam to build a woman. This activity suggests more time than a regular twenty-four hour day will allow. So those who see a problem here suggest enough time would be permitted for the development of the earth, plant life, fish, fowl, animals and man. The "day-age" theory allows for this supposedly extra necessary time. It allows for harmony between modern geological theories which make the earth very old, and time for the evolutionary development of man. The danger here is that conservative theologians who hold to this concept might be misunderstood and classified as "theistic evolutionists."
A theistic evolutionist desires to make room for the evolutionary hypothesis and at the same time give God the credit for creating man. He allows for a naturally explainable development of the body, but finds no solution for the development of man’s moral consciousness.
The more extreme trend would deny the literary character of the historical narrative of Genesis, chapters 1-2, thus bypassing the entire Biblical record as to how man was created. The account is accepted as mythological rather than literal. Any concept of these Scriptures containing knowledge of the physical processes of creation is rejected.
However, not all Christians holding the day-age theory are to be classified as theistic evolutionists because this view was held by some long before Darwin’s time. In fact, this idea was advanced by Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first century A.D., by many rabbis, and by some early Christian father’s, including Irenaeus (second century), Origen (third century), and Augustine (fourth century).
THE PROGRESSIVE CREATION THEORY
A Christian who rejects the modern theory of evolution but who tries to allow for longer periods of time in the creative days, is called a "Progressive Creationist". This view is held by Bernard Ramm who summarizes it as follows: "Almighty God is Creator, World Ground, and Omnipotent Sustainer. In His mind the entire plan of creation was formed with man as the climax. Over millions of years of geologic history, the earth was prepared for man’s dwelling, or as it has been put by others, the cosmos was pregnant with man. The vast forests grew and decayed for his coal, that coal might appear a natural product and not an artificial insertion in nature. The millions of sea life were born and perished for his oil. The surface of the earth was weathered for his forests and valleys. From time to time the great creative acts, "de novo", took place. The complexity of animal forms increased. Finally, when every river had cut its intended course, when every mountain was in its purposed place, when every animal was on earth according to blueprint, then he whom all creation anticipated is made, in whom alone is the breath of God."
Realizing that the Hebrew language will not permit the use of the word "yom" (day), to be used in the sense of an "epoch" or "age" Ramm rejects the day-age theory and calls these days "pictorial revelatory" days. While it took ages for God to prepare things for man, it took Him only six days to reveal it to Moses for recording.
Along with this conclusion, Ramm recognizes and accepts "moderate concordism". This means that Genesis and geology tell the same story in broad outline. Both agree that the earth was once in what may be called a chaotic condition. Both agree that certain cosmical conditions had to be realized before life could begin, e.g., the need for light, dry land, separation of waters and atmosphere. Both agree that the simple is first and the complex later with higher animals and man being the last to appear. Both agree that man is the latest and highest of all forms of life. But they do not agree in regard to the time record as stated in the book of Genesis, if the account is to be taken literally. It is either spiritualized or symbolized to mean other than what it says in order to allow the geological record to have the preeminence. Geological science is thereby regarded as the supreme authority. The Scriptures are relegated to second place. This conclusion distorts the Biblical record and robs it of its authority.
Science does not ordinarily throw light on the Bible. Rather, the opposite is true. Whenever the Bible touches on correct science, it illuminates and supports correct science. Though the Bible is not a treatise on science, whenever it touches science, it must be regarded as accurate; because it is God’s personal revelation of Himself and of His purposes toward man...
THE APPEARANCE OF AGE THEORY
According to this view, the earth is very young. The creation of earth was followed by plants, fish, birds, insects, land animals and man during six literal twenty-four hour days. No evolutionary process or development time is necessary because God spoke by divine fiat. Just as Jesus turned the water into wine, thus bypassing natural processes, even so all living things came into existence. Each was made "full-grown" and placed in an environment already adapted to it.
The soil had to be present for man to be made from the dust or elements of the earth. Admitting that soil requires a long period of preparation before being able to support plant growth, those holding this view interpret this process as having been "instantly" created. Thus it had an appearance of being old while it was still new. It was created with an "appearance of age". [end excerpt - pages 26-32 of "Scanning the Plan"]
These theories represent some of the attempts that have been made to harmonize the Scriptures with the views of science. I am not satisfied with any of them, and only when I studied the Gap Theory, which was put forth in the previous chapter, did I come to a place of spiritual and intellectual rest. (What was described in the previous chapter is called the Gap Theory due to an understanding that a gap occurs between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.) Many of the theories Mr. McKinley summarized were devised as an attempt to reconcile evolutionary teachings with Scripture. Such a reconciliation is really unnecessary in light of the omnipotent nature of God, for God is quite capable of performing that which man views as miraculous and that which defies all logical explanation. As we approach this issue of creation from a Biblical perspective we will see that there is no necessity laid upon the saint to embrace evolutionary thought.
I will address one point of evolutionary thought, which forms the entire basis upon which the theory rests, and I will show that it not only contradicts known laws of science, it also contradicts the testimony of the word of God. The basic tenet upon which evolution rests is that matter has for long ages been progressing from simple forms of arrangement to more complex forms. Thus we are told that single cell organisms of the class Monera have evolved to more complex multi-cell organisms until now we have a plethora of advanced life forms that each have very complex sensory systems, digestive systems, respiration systems, reproductive systems, and so on. From simplicity has come great and astounding complexity.
Yet this tenet of evolution is neither reproducible, nor does the evidence of the fossil record support it. Very complex life forms have been found in what are supposed to be the earliest layers of geologic strata, and very simple forms are still with us today. There has always been a mixture of such forms, which is in keeping with an understanding of creation. Furthermore, this tenet of evolution contradicts known laws of science.
The second law of thermodynamics proclaims that all systems are in a state of increasing entropy. That is, all systems naturally are going from states of higher complexity, to lower. This is a law. It is proven and easily reproducible. Following is an example that is frequently given.
If we took a stack of building material, and we included everything necessary to build a complete house and then set these materials on a vacant lot, according to the theory of evolution if enough time is allowed, eventually these materials will arrange themselves into a more complex form. Eventually they will form a house. Time and chance seem to be the two things evolutionists rely upon the most. They might say that you would actually have to perform this experiment billions of times and allow long ages to pass, but eventually something of higher complexity will arise.
On the other hand, the second law of thermodynamics states that, given this same stack of building materials, these materials will not advance to a higher order of complexity, but rather they will descend to a lower order of complexity. This law would tell us that these materials would decay and crumble into dust and rubble. We can prove this law ourselves any time we desire and we will always get the same result. The scriptures also support this law.
"Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing You will change them and they will be changed."
Of old Yahweh founded the earth, but it is wearing out. It is not advancing to higher complexity, but rather descending to a lower order. Students of evolution are given many examples of changes taking place among certain living organisms, such as a moth changing its color, or a horse increasing in size, or man changing in some physical characteristic such as skin color or height. Yet all of the changes that are observable today are not changes to a higher order of complexity. They are merely horizontal changes. A moth may change colors, but it is still a moth. A horse may increase in size, but it is still a horse. These things have not changed to a higher form of life. To do so would defy natural laws and the Scriptures.
Consider for a moment all the effort that man expends to keep the things he has built from falling into decay. Man might build an impressive bridge, but as soon as it is constructed it begins to show signs of decay. On some bridges crews work without end painting and stripping away rust, and then painting again. Bolts must be replaced, the structure monitored closely for signs of wear. The same is especially true for the things man has created that have moving parts. An automobile, a ship, an airplane must all undergo constant repair and maintenance or they would soon no longer function.
If you have ever owned a house you know that if a house is left unattended and no maintenance is done to it, very soon it will fall apart. Our cities are full of neighborhoods that contain once impressive homes that are now in decay and often abandoned as unlivable. The trend everywhere in creation is toward death and decay. This is the awful result of the sin of man. With sin came the curse, and all of creation groans under this curse.
The creationist viewpoint states that initially God created everything perfect. After each day of creation it is recorded that God declared, "and it was good." Things began perfect. But with the entrance of sin into the creation, things began to go downhill. There are environmental groups that tell us that hundreds of life forms become extinct every year. This is evolution in reverse. The world is losing its complexity rather than gaining it.
I suppose that the reason so many Christians allow themselves to embrace evolution is that they feel that the teaching of creation, as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, lacks sophistication. They also look at all the evidence for the existence of dinosaurs and past ice ages and they cannot reconcile these things with a world that is only 6,000 years old. Much of the failure to be able to place these events is due to the wrong teaching of scriptures and a failure to understand the ages of the earth. Once one discerns these things correctly, then dinosaurs, ice ages, and an ancient earth no longer cause problems.
When professors of evolution pull out their textbooks and they read all the scenarios that evolutionists depict regarding the advance of matter to higher forms over a duration of billions of years, it seems naive to simply believe that God made all of these things in six days. Not wanting to appear scientifically ignorant, many saints have found ways to merge evolutionary teaching with the account of Genesis, but whenever they do this they do violence to the word of God.
One of the arguments for theistic evolution contends that the days in Genesis chapter one are actually age-days. The scriptures actually do use a day in a symbolic sense in many instances where the day represents a longer amount of time than twenty-four hours. In Bible prophecy a day often represents a year, as in Ezekiel.
"As for you, lie down on your left side and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel on it; you shall bear their iniquity for the number of days that you lie on it. For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity, three hundred and ninety days; thus you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel."
At times it can even represent a thousand years.
II Peter 3:8
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
Theistic evolutionists would have to stretch this day representation much farther. They would have each day represent millions of years, and each day would not necessarily be the same length. Yet the Genesis account gives us the boundaries of each day.
Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
There was evening and there was morning, a third day.
There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
First God defines the terms evening and morning, and then He tells us that each day of creation was "evening" and "morning", one day. If God had not given us this information, and then carefully repeated it after speaking about the activity of each day of creation, then we might suppose that these days were not literal days defined by evening and morning. But this information has been given to us. Watchman Nee, in the book "The Mystery of Creation" shares this:
"Suppose we were to take the Six Days as six long geological periods. What, then, would be "the evening" of these geologic periods and what would be "the morning"? Before the third geologic period there would be no grass nor trees on the earth. Before the sixth geologic period, there could be no fossils of animals. The fact is that there is no distinction of plants and animals to be found in the earth’s strata...
We have absolutely no need to agree with the theory of the unregenerated. We know that what geology (if it is correct in its assumptions) demands can be met sufficiently during the period which lasted between the time of the first verse and that of the second verse of Genesis 1." (see here)
Let us then ask, "Why does the saint need to embrace the theory of evolution?" The saint does not need to embrace it to explain the geologic age of the earth, for the Scriptures plainly allow for a great age. The saint need not embrace evolution to explain the time period in which dinosaurs existed. The saint cannot say that the days were more than evening and morning without doing violence to the word of God. We must then ask, "Is it really so incredible that God could create all that is mentioned in literal twenty-four hour periods?"
If we begin to bow to the pressure of the unbelieving and we begin to seek a natural explanation for everything in Scripture, where will it stop? Consider how long evolutionary theory tells us that it would take for the development of an organ such as the eye to develop. Evolution teaches that it takes millions of years for such a sophisticated organ to develop with all of its attending components and links to the brain. Yet scripture reveals this:
John 9:1, 6-7
As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth... [Yahshua] spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.
As Yahshua was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging... And he called out, saying, "Yahshua, Son of David, have mercy on me..." And Yahshua stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And he said, "Lord, I want to regain my sight!" And Yahshua said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight...
In these events recorded in the gospels we see Yahshua performing creative acts. He heals two blind men, one of which has been blind from birth. The healing does not take days, months, years, or ages. They are healed that very day, following the command spoken by Yahshua.
It took Yahshua but a moment of time to make a blind man see. Even if the blind man had gone to a modern hospital there would have been a time of treatment, recuperation and training, but Christ’s creative act was immediate. Should we doubt this miracle of Christ because it lacks scientific explanation? Should we say, "Well, this scripture actually means that this man was healed days, months, or years later, and Yahshua told this man to go do something natural that brought forth his healing?" No. We do not need science to explain this event. It was a creative act of God, it was immediate and supernatural. Let us look at another example.
He said to the man with the withered hand, "Get up and come forward!" And He said to them, "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?" But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
Here is a man with a limb that is withered. I have seen such examples where the hand is all bent in on itself. The muscles are atrophied. The tendons and ligaments do not function properly. The hand is completely useless. Yet Christ restored it in one creative moment in time. He did not wait for the hand to evolve. He did not allow a natural amount of time for the muscles to be exercised and regain strength and the bones to straighten out. He did a supernatural thing. What would have taken an extended amount of time to occur in the natural, happened in an instant with God.
We might also consider Christ’s first miracle of turning the water into wine. How long would it take for water to change into wine if we allowed for all the time and chance necessary? Maybe a grape vine would grow up over the jar of water if enough time were allowed and the grapes would fall into the jar and begin to ferment. Yet I do not think we would get a quality of wine that would make a wedding steward remark that the best wine had been saved for last.
We could also consider the accounts of Christ raising a dead man up to life, as He did on more than one occasion. If we left all the corpses in the world unburied, and we allowed them all the time and chance of billions of years, how many would come back to life. I dare say that none of them would. Only a miraculous creative act of God could perform such a thing.
If we allow for all of these things, incredible as they are, to be done in a moment of time by God, then why stumble over the fact that He could create the world in six days. I tell you He did not even need six days. He could have done it with one word. Such is the power of God. Yet He chose six days because it fit with the plan that He had devised in His own mind for the ages of creation. Each day was a prophecy in itself, and much could be written about what each day represented.
There is much that is marvelous in the Scriptures. It is interesting that so many Christians feel compelled to acknowledge "the theories of the unregenerate" that speak of the origin of the earth, yet they do not feel the necessity to acquiesce on other matters that are just as phenomenal. Consider, for example, the virgin birth of Christ. Multitudes of saints accept that the virgin birth was a supernatural act of God, and they feel no compulsion to explain it through natural means. The resurrection of Yahshua is another good example. It is the unbelievers that seek to give some natural explanation of such events, such as the foolish theory that states that Christ was not completely dead when laid in the tomb, and the coolness of the tomb revived Him. As believers, we accept that Yahweh did something miraculous that goes beyond natural understanding.
Certainly an unbelieving world will scoff at such things, and treat them as mere superstition and myth. An unbelieving world may consider the saint to be weak minded for believing things that cannot be explained naturally, yet we are part of a kingdom that transcends the natural. We might as well try to explain the existence of angels and heaven through natural science. But there is really no reason to do so. Those who scoff at the things taught in Scripture will continue to scoff no matter how much evidence is presented to them. Those who believe will not require natural explanations of the works of a supernatural God.
For those who are concerned about the teaching of a literal six days of creation and its contradiction to the claims of evolution, I would encourage you to thoroughly examine all sides of the issue. There are many excellent resources available. Ask the Spirit of God to guide you into truth in this matter. You will find that evolution has no killer argument that destroys the account of Genesis when it is correctly understood. True science is fully harmonious with the Scriptures, for the Bible and the creation have the same Author.
‘Summing Up’ in Christ
To me, less than the least of all saints, was granted this grace: to bring the good news of the unsearchable riches of Christ to the nations, and to enlighten all as to what is the stewardship of the mystery, which has been concealed from the ages in God, Who creates all, that now may be made known to the principalities and the powers among the heaven s, through the congregation, the manifold wisdom of God, in accord with the plan of the ages, which He made in the anointed Yahshua our Lord.
In his letter to the Ephesians Paul writes that God, before the beginning of time, established by His own counsel a plan of the ages. This plan was hidden to the principalities and powers in the heavenly realms, and only with the advent of the church age has this plan been declared. However, the church of these latter days has little understood this plan, and to most there is not even a knowledge that such a plan exists.
During the time of the early church, this plan of the ages was preached and understood, and it was made known to principalities and powers among the heaven s. Paul gives us a further identification of these principalities and powers later in this same letter to the Ephesian believers.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
There is no doubt that some of these angels and spiritual forces of wickedness in high places were not pleased by what was revealed to them. Satan thought that he had won the ultimate victory over Yahweh by inciting the Jewish people to kill the Son of God. What a jolt it had to have been when he realized that the cross of Christ became the instrument through which all things, whether in heaven, or on earth, would be reconciled to God. The plan that had been hidden from them, now was manifested. Rebellion would one day cease. All things would be reconciled to God. Every knee would bow and every tongue would confess that Yahshua the Messiah is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
What Satan had thought to be his greatest victory, now stood as his ultimate defeat. He too would one day bow the knee and worship before Yahshua. Not until after the resurrection did the principalities and powers understand how Yahweh would bring an end to rebellion and reconcile all of creation to Himself. By the blood of Christ atonement was made, and by His blood every enemy was destroyed. The blood of Christ is Satan’s undoing, his ultimate defeat.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony..."
When Satan enticed Adam to sin a breach was made between God and man. Because Yahweh is holy, sin cannot abide in His presence. Access into Yahweh’s presence was now prohibited. Even as the cherubim were stationed outside the Garden of Eden to deny man access, so access into the Holy of Holies in heaven was now forbidden. This was Satan’s triumph. He had separated the creation from Yahweh and as long as sin existed, so would the penalty of separation. Little did Satan realize that Yahweh had already established a plan before the creation of the heavens and the earth, where He would repair the breach between Himself and the creation, and remove the enmity that existed between God and man. His plan was beyond comprehension. He would pour out the blood of His own Son as an atonement.
And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.
The principalities and powers could not conceive that Yahweh would go to such lengths to redeem His creation. Blinded by their pride and rebellion they did not understand the depths of humility and love in God. Satan thought He was triumphing over God by inciting the Jewish leaders to kill Yahshua. He thought he was achieving a great victory in his war of rebellion. He did not understand that Yahshua laid His life down freely, and that no one took it from Him.
"For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."
For this reason Yahshua came, to repair the breach between God and His creation. Only by the shedding of blood could the breach be repaired. What Satan intended for evil in enticing man to sin in the Garden, became the choicest opportunity for God to demonstrate the surpassing greatness of His love for man.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
How very much is bound up in this one verse! God demonstrates His love toward us! He did not spare His own Son. Such was His love for us. His love knows no bounds. He did not withhold His own Son in whom He delighted, but freely gave Him up for us. What an unfathomable love, a love past finding out!
The greatest sacrifice of God, the shed blood of His Son, has become the key to victory over the adversary. Satan no longer holds men in the bondage of sin, for sin has been atoned for. The separation between God and man has been amended. The veil in the Temple separating the Holy of Holies from mankind was rent in two from top to bottom at the moment of Christ’s death. Access into the Holy of Holies in heaven is now open to all who enter through the shed blood of the Lamb of God.
Hebrew s 9:12
Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Yahshua, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh...
All throughout the book of Ephesians Paul speaks of the plan of the ages that God has now revealed through the congregation of believers. This plan is manifested through the congregation of believers to the principalities and powers, when it had been hidden in previous ages. At the beginning of this epistle to the congregation in Ephesus Paul speaks of this plan that was formerly a mystery, a hidden thing.
He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth, in Him.
Paul expresses the mystery that is now unveiled in this way, it is "the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth, in Him." As we examine Paul’s declaration of this mystery to the saints in the book of Ephesians, and elsewhere, we are able to precisely identify what "all things" includes. Paul doesn’t leave us any room to doubt.
I Corinthians 15:24-28
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 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.
Paul states in his letter to the Ephesians that a "stewardship of the mystery" has been entrusted to him. Thus we see him explaining this mystery to the Corinthians as well as the Ephesians. To the Ephesians he writes that all things in heaven and on earth will be summed up in Christ, and in his letter to the Corinthians he clarifies this by saying that there is one thing in heaven that will not be summed up, and that is the Father, for it is the Father who is working to sum up all things in Christ. When all things are summed up then Yahshua will Himself also be subject to Him.
There is absolutely nothing left out of this summing up in Christ, other than the Father. Paul does not tell us that Satan will be excluded. He does not tell us that wicked men will be excluded. He says "all things are put under Him" with the single exception of the Father. Thus we will see the fulfillment of Yahweh’s emphatic declaration in Isaiah:
"Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance. They shall say, ‘Surely in Yahweh I have righteousness and strength.’ To Him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him.
For those who have been taught that this bowing down of those who were enemies of God will be done under compulsion, I ask you to examine this passage carefully. We are told that "all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him." The rebellious are not ashamed of their anger against God. Only when rebellion ceases and a heart is contrite before God is a person ashamed of their actions. Also, look at the declaration these will make, "Surely in Yahweh I have righteousness and strength." This is not a statement born of a rebellious heart. All those who formerly said that Yahweh was not their strength, but who boasted in their own strength, will now confess that He alone is strength. All those who denied that Yahweh was their righteousness will declare that He is indeed their righteousness, and they will be ashamed of ever having denied it.
This breaking will come hard for those who resist the grace of God. Yet they will be broken. Yahweh will not allow rebellion to continue forever. Some get the idea that this confession of Christ’s lordship will be under compulsion from the expressions used in the passages we are looking at. Paul states:
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet."
The expressions here are those that relate to a foe who has been conquered. Men would place their foot on the neck of an enemy who had been defeated. Satan has already been defeated, as have all of the principalities and powers with him.
Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them...
Satan knows he is defeated. He knows he has but a little time left. At this time he is still kicking against the goads. He is still rebelling and resisting. Like a caged animal that knows he has been trapped, yet which still snarls viciously at all who approach, he remains defiant in his defeat. Yet a day will come when he will bow the knee, having been thoroughly broken, and as an enemy whose neck is under the foot of the victor, he will rebel no more. Satan will not come to this breaking voluntarily, but he will be broken. His rebellion will cease and he will declare that Yahshua is his Lord to the glory of God the Father.
We can see this with added clarity as we look again at Paul’s expression to the Ephesians.
He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth, in Him.
As we compare the passages in Ephesians and I Corinthians that speak of the mystery that has been hidden from the ages, we can gain much understanding. To the church in Ephesus Paul describes the end of God’s plan of the ages as resulting in "the summing up of all things in Christ." To the Corinthians he expresses this same consummation of the end of the ages as "all things are made subject to Him." These phrases are speaking of the same concept. The summing up of all things in Christ is the same as all things being made subject to Christ.
Paul says that all things in heaven and earth will be "summed up" in Christ. This includes Satan and the principalities and powers with him. This expression "summed up", or "summing up" occurs only two places in the New Testament. As we compare Scriptures we can learn something about the character of this summing up, whether it is voluntary, or forced. Following is the other occurrence of this expression in the New Testament.
For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
The word used in both verses, and only in these two verses, is "anakephalaiomai". Strong’s Dictionary of Greek and Hebrew words defines it in the following manner:
NT:346 anakephalaiomai (an-ak-ef-al-ah'-ee-om-ahee); from NT:303 and NT:2775 (in its original sense); to sum up:
When we look at the two root words from which this single Greek word is derived, we find that the expression "to sum up" is a very good rendering.
NT:303 ana (an-ah'); a primary preposition and adverb; properly, up;
NT:2774 kephalaion (kef-al'-ah-yon); neuter of a derivative of NT:2776; a principal thing, i.e. main point; specially, an amount (of money): KJV - sum.
In Ephesians, Christ is the ‘principal thing’, the ‘main point’ that all other things will be encompassed in. In Romans, the law "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" is the ‘principal thing’, the ‘main point’ that encompasses and describes all the other laws. When Paul says that the commandments can be all summed up in "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" he is expressing the idea that all of the commandments find their highest expression in this one command. None of the other commands violate this one command in any way. If they violated this command to love your neighbor as yourself, then they could not rightly be said to be summed up in this command. All the other commands must be in complete harmony and agreement with this greatest of commands.
This is a very important point. This expression that is only found in two places in the New Testament holds the same meaning in both occurrences. If all of the commands that are summed up in this one command must be in harmony with this greatest of commands, then so too must all things that are summed up in Christ be in harmony with Christ. Even as none of the individual commands can violate or stand in opposition to the great command and still be summed up in it, none of the creation can violate or stand in opposition to Christ and be summed up in Him. We can see this more plainly as we examine what this expression "summed up" originally meant.
The expression "summed up" doesn’t make very good sense to us today, for when we do sums, we do them down, not up. We place the sum at the bottom of our figures. However, the Romans added all of the figures from bottom to top, and they placed the sum at the very top of the list of numbers being summed. They literally "summed up." When we look at the etymology for our English word "sum" we find that it came from the Latin practice of "summing up". The "Arcade Dictionary of Word Origins" gives us this understanding of the word "sum ".
SUM - Latin summus meant ‘highest’ (a meaning preserved in the English word summit...); it evolved from earlier supmus, a superlative form based on the stem of the Latin super ‘above’. When the Romans counted up columns of figures they worked from the bottom upwards, and put the total on the top - whence the use of the expression res summa, literally ‘highest thing ’...
What an appropriate expression this is for that which Paul is speaking of to the saints. Everything below Christ will be summed up in Christ. He will then be the undisputed "highest thing ". He will be the total of all creation. What a twisted world we live in where we now put the sum and total at the bottom of the lesser items being summed, when it rightfully should be the top and head.
Can any being of creation be summed up in Christ and yet be in rebellion? As we consider this we can only answer "No!" If all things are to add up to Christ, then all things must be some portion of Christ. Let me say this again, "If all things are to add up to Christ, then all things must be some portion of Christ." All rebellion must be removed before this summing up can occur. All sin must be completely dealt with. Nothing can be left in all of creation except that which resembles Christ.
Christ is not rebellion. Therefore, all those things being summed up in Christ must be free of rebellion. They can bear only His character. If the "all things in heaven, and on earth" being summed up resembled anything other than Christ, then the sum would not be Christ. When we do sums in math, we understand that every number being added is a portion of the total. In the same way, everything being summed up in Christ must be a portion of Christ. Even as there is no aspect of the laws that are summed up in the great law of Romans 13:9 that is contradictory to the great law, so there can be no aspect of that which is summed up in Christ that is contrary to Christ. All rebellion will be thoroughly dealt with and purged before all things are summed up in Christ.
How perfectly harmonious the Scriptures are! Now we can declare with assurance that when the word of God is fulfilled that states that every knee will bow, and every tongue will swear allegiance to Christ, that those doing the bowing and declaring will not do so with rebellion in their hearts. This is the fulness of the glorious gospel of Christ! The day will come when nothing in creation is left that opposes Christ. All creation will enter into the Sabbath rest of God.
The Hidden Ages
The concept in the minds of myriads of believers through the years, and especially in this day, is that there exists a single age of man, and no age has existed beyond the 6,000 years of Bible history, and that which follows this age is not an age at all, but it is defined as eternity in heaven. This is a very nearsighted viewpoint and it finds no agreement or support within the Scriptures. It is very much like man to view his own experience as the only thing that matters, and to be cognizant of nothing beyond his own small vantage point.
For many years it was the prevailing thought that the Earth was the center of the universe and that all things revolved around the Earth. When certain astronomers began to observe that this was not the case at all, that not only was the Earth not the center of the universe, but it wasn’t even the center of the Solar System, they met with the full wrath of a self-centered church. Some were branded as heretics and excommunicated, and some were even put to death due to their assertions.
Today there is little argument that the astronomers were indeed correct, but man has continued in his self-centered understanding of creation and of the ultimate plan of God. Though the church today may not proclaim that all things revolve around the Earth, the church does view the Earth, and the age we exist in, as being of primary importance, if not the only age that has ever existed and held importance.
The Scriptures actually have much to say about God’s plan of the ages. We have already seen that this earth will know three creations and seven distinct states. There are still ages in God’s plan to come that must pass before all is summed up in Christ. Unfortunately, nearly all of the currently popular English Bibles were translated in such a manner as to obscure, hide, and even nullify the existence of these ages and God’s plan for them.
The reader should understand that it is not possible to translate the Scriptures without interpretation, that is, without man’s thoughts concerning the subject entering in. To translate means to "carry over". When the Scriptures are carried over from one language to another they cannot be carried over in a strictly literal sense. Even with a Bible that bills itself as a ‘literal translation’, those who labor on it must decide what word in English best correlates to the original language, and this demands that the understanding of the translators be called upon.
All languages are unique. Even within one language a single word can carry many different shades of meaning and it is often impossible to find a word in another language that will carry the same shades and diversities of meaning. For example, the English word ‘love’ could refer to having an affinity for some object, such as "I love chocolate." It could refer to having a strong affection for another person, as in "I love my son." It could also refer to the act of sexual intercourse, as in "They made love." It might even refer to a score in the game of tennis as in "The score was love - 30."
The translator must understand the context and usage of a word in order to choose the proper word to represent it in another language. Unless the translator clearly understands the subject matter at hand, he can easily come to a wrong, or distorted interpretation. This has been the case in many instances as the Scriptures have been translated into English.
The particular case in point of the mystery of God that was hidden from previous ages is simply one example of such misunderstanding. Because the translators have not understood God’s plan of the ages, they have interpreted and rendered words in such a way as to obscure their true meaning. Let us look at a Scripture to see this illustrated. First we will show it in some of the most popular translations of the day.
Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for AGES [aionoon] past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his ETERNAL [aionoon] purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the BEGINNING OF THE WORLD [aionoon] hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the ETERNAL [aionoon] purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: (KJV)
We see in these two popular translations that the Greek word "aionoon" has been rendered in three different ways within four occurrences. Not only are these renderings different, but they also are conflicting. This one word has been translated to mean:
beginning of the world
We know that an age is something that has both a beginning and an end. It is a measure of time. However, eternal is outside of time. Eternity has no beginning or end. This word cannot mean both of these things. What is the true meaning of this Greek word that has been rendered in these various ways? The root of the word is "aion" from which we get our English word "eon", or "aeon". In English this word means "an age", and we will see that this is also what it means in the Greek language. It is used to denote a span of time that has limits, both a beginning and an ending.
The translators of these popular Bibles interpreted this word either according to their understanding, or according to the tradition established by earlier translators. Let us look at how it is rendered in some lesser known Bibles that have sought to bring forth a more literal translation.
And to cause all to see what is the fellowship of the secret that has been hid FROM THE AGES [aionoon] in God, who the all things did create by Jesus Christ, that there might be made known now to the principalities and authorities in the heavenly places, through the assembly, the manifold wisdom of God, according to A PURPOSE OF THE AGES [aionoon], which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Young's Literal Translation)
To me the far inferior of all holy ones; was given the favor this, among the nations to announce glad tidings the unsearchable wealth of the Anointed, and to enlighten all, what the administration of the secret of that having been hidden from the AGES [aionoon] in the God in that the all things having created; so that might be made known now to the governments and to the authorities in the heavenlies, through the congregation, the manifold wisdom of the God; According to A PLAN OF THE AGES [aionoon], which He formed for the Anointed Jesus our Lord. (Diaglott)
Unto me—the less than least of all saints, was given this favour, unto the nations, to announce the glad- message of the untraceable riches of the Christ, and to bring to light—what is the administration of the sacred secret which had been hidden away from the AGES [aionoon] in God, who did all things create: In order that now, unto the principalities and the authorities in the heavenlies, might be made known, through means of the assembly, the manifold wisdom of God,— According to A PLAN OF THE AGES [aionoon] which He made in the anointed Jesus our Lord. (Rotherham)
The meaning of this word is rendered much more plainly in these translations than in the more popular ones. Rather than being confused with "eternal" and "the beginning of the world", we have a much clearer and consistent rendering. Paul is speaking of God making known through him and through the Church His plan of the ages.
In examining the current mishmash of views concerning the ages and eternity, one is not surprised that translators came to many different conclusions in interpreting these passages. In the church at large, there is very little understanding of the ages. Solomon stated, "knowledge is easy to him who has understanding" (Proverbs 14:6). When one understands the concept at hand, knowledge is much easier to come by. Because the translators of the most popular Bibles did not understand the concept of the ages of God, or because they wanted to hold to current tradition, they strained at bringing forth a consistent and accurate translation.
In the last chapter we read that Paul has declared that through the congregation of saints the mystery of God’s plan of the ages has now been made known to principalities and powers. Yet we know that Satan and those angels who joined with him are in rebellion against this plan. They do not want to acknowledge that they too will bow the knee before Christ, and they too will confess that Yahshua Messiah is Lord to the glory of God the Father. It is Satan’s current contention that he will never bow down to Christ.
Consider what Satan has done in obscuring the message of the ultimate reconciliation of the creation. He has caused to be set in the minds of believers everywhere the notion that he will hold rebellion in his heart forever, that he will never let go of his defiance. Satan would rather have the saints believe that he will be cast into an eternal lake of fire where he will remain the enemy of God for all time, than to admit that he too will one day acknowledge his shame in having defied Yahweh. As long as he can remain defiant then there is no admission of sin on his part.
We have seen in the previous chapter, however, that all things will eventually be summed up in Christ. All things will be subject to Yahshua, with only one exception, that being the Father Himself. Satan’s defiance will end. Yet at this time he is in defiance of this truth, unwilling to admit it to the church, and he has done a masterful job of removing this understanding from the Scriptures as he has led Bible translators to alter the understanding of words through wrong translations.
God’s plan of the ages has yet to be completed. When the plan is complete there will be no more death, no more hell (the place of torment) and everything in heaven and in the Earth will be reconciled to God. When the plan is complete, time itself will be done away with and everything will be summed up in God the Father until He is all in all.
Many will say at this point, "How can this be? We have been taught that Satan and the wicked will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever and ever. Our scriptures clearly declare this. How can all things be reconciled to God and yet these remain in the Lake of Fire for eternity?" The answer is, "They can’t." Someone has erred in their interpretation and translation of scriptures. In every case where these things are spoken of and they are rendered "eternity", or "forever and ever", the Greek word "aion", or a form of it, has been wrongly translated. As we saw earlier, "aion" denotes an age that has a beginning and an end. We will now go on to demonstrate that this is the only proper interpretation of this word.
God’s plan of the ages has been obscured and even hidden by our erroneous translations, but the Greek speaking saints of old understood it. They knew that "aion" meant age, not world, not eternity, not forever.
Hebrew s 1:1-2
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world [aion, age]. (NAS)
Hebrew s 11:3
By faith we understand that the worlds [aionas, ages] were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. (NAS)
The early saints understood that the Son of God made the AGES. How much clearer the above Scriptures would be if the modern translators rendered these words correctly. The Greek word ‘aion’ in no way meant world. Consider then why the translators rendered it in this fashion. Because the church only understands one age for this earth, the translators felt that no damage was done to render the Greek word ‘aion’ as ‘world’. Yet it is a horrendous interpretation that obscures the meaning that Paul was expressing.
In Hebrews chapter one Paul is telling the saints that this same Son of God through whom the Father has spoken "in these last days", was the very one through whom the Father "made the age". The phrases "these last days" and "the age " are complementary expressions. However, "these last days" and "the world" are not. Paul then goes on to declare that "the ages were prepared by the word of God." The NAS translators, and many other popular Bibles, have rendered this as "the worlds were prepared." This is once more a very poor rendering.
These substitutions may appear small, yet with every change that is made, that which was expressed clearly to the early saints becomes more obscure as bit by bit the truth is hidden away from sight. The mystery that was hidden from previous ages, is hidden once again, but this time it is not hidden by God, but by Satan who desires to mask the truth from the minds of millions.
The AGES were prepared by the word of God. Each age had its purpose and the ages will continue until the plan of God is complete and everything is reconciled unto God through the cross of Christ. All things have gone according to the plan of God. Nothing has caught Him by surprise. Nothing has interrupted His grand plan.
Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure. (NAS)
The message of the ages of God is found throughout the Scriptures. In the New Testament, the Greek word "aion" and its various forms is used widely, and it finds its counterpart in the Old Testament Hebrew word "olam". If the translators had rendered these words consistently and accurately then the knowledge of the ages of God would be well known and understood today. Yet, chiefly due to the popularity of poor English Bible translations today, the saints are walking in darkness regarding this matter.
To examine the many ways that this word "aion" has been used in the New Testament, and the usages of the associated Old Testament word "olam", I am going to paste in a section from an article by J. Preston Eby. This comes from his "Saviour of the World" series, and is found in the section titled "Eternity".
"AION" - AN AGE
This brings us to the thought I want to share in this chapter. Let us consider the wonderful Kingdom parable Jesus told of the sheep and the goats. "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry, and you gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and you took Me in: naked, and you clothed Me: I was sick, and you visited Me: I was in prison, and you came unto Me. Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? or thirsty, and gave You drink? When did we see You a stranger, and take You in? or naked, and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come unto You? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of one of these MY BROTHERS, you have done it unto Me. Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into EVERLASTING FIRE prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry, and you gave Me no meat... then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto You? Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you did it not unto one of the least of these, you did it not unto Me. And these shall go away into EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT: but the righteous into LIFE ETERNAL" (Mat. 25:31-46)...
While the King James version states that these goats go into everlasting fire and everlasting punishment and the sheep enter into life eternal, that is not quite the meaning of the Greek. The Greek word here translated everlasting and eternal is AIONIOS and AIONIOS is the adjective form of the Greek noun AION...
In late years there has been much controversy over the meaning of the little Greek word AION. Certain [men]..., have maintained, contrary to and in spite of all revealed facts, that it means eternal. And our King James version renders it, together with the adjective AIONIOS as "age, course, eternal, for ever, evermore, for ever and ever, everlasting, world, beginning of the world, world began, world without end." What a horrible mixture!
But we need not remain in darkness, for fortunately the Word of God tells us precisely what this Greek word means... AION nowhere means eternal! Its simple meaning is an age. In its plural form it means ages. This fact can be unquestionably and incontrovertibly demonstrated from numerous New Testament passages. A glance at any Greek concordance proves that the noun AION, or AGE, is not the synonym of eternity. A study of each case would make a library; so, leaving this task to the reader, we must content ourselves with adducing a few specimens to demonstrate the fact. It is usage that determines meanings - THEIR usage, not ours; the meanings that the holy prophets and apostles gave to their words rather than those that our English translators may try to give. Let me illustrate.
The term forever (and its equivalents, eternal and everlasting) often occurs when it cannot possibly mean unending. In the story of Jonah one is surprised to hear him say while in the belly of the fish, "I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever " (Jonah 2:6). But he was in the fish only three days and three nights! When a Hebrew slave loved his master and did not wish to go free at the end of the seventh year, we read, "His master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever " (Ex. 21:6). Of course, that couldn't be longer than his life span. Again, when Solomon built the temple unto the Lord, he began his prayer of dedication with the statement, "I have surely built You a house to dwell in, a settled place for You to abide in for ever " (I Kgs. 8:13). And the Lord answered Solomon, "I have heard your prayer and supplication that you have made before Me: I have hallowed this house, which you have built, to put My name there for ever" (I Kgs. 9:3). But Solomon's temple lasted for only about 400 years! And it was never in God's mind to dwell there forever!
Here is something that ought to be clear to any intelligent, honest man. A word that is used to mean in one case three days and nights, in another case to mean a man's lifetime, and in still another case to mean a period of about four centuries, surely does not mean unending or eternal, no matter what English word is used to translate it. USAGE DETERMINES MEANING. Another illustration is the Aaronic priesthood. According to the King James version, Aaron and his sons were anointed as priests for ever. It says, "Their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations" (Ex. 40:15). Yet we read in Hebrews 7:11-18 that the Aaronic priesthood is CHANGED to that of Melchizedek. "Now if perfection had been attainable by the Levitical priesthood, for under it the people were given the Law, why was it further necessary that there should arise another and different kind of Priest, one after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one appointed after the order of Aaron? For when there is a CHANGE IN THE PRIESTHOOD, there is of necessity an alteration of the law concerning the priesthood as well. For it is obvious that our Lord sprang from the tribe of Judah, and Moses mentioned nothing about priests in connection with that tribe. So, a previous physical regulation and command is CANCELED because of its weakness and ineffectiveness and uselessness" (Amplified Bible). Amazing, isn't it, that the priesthood which was ordained for ever has been CANCELED! There would be no contradiction if the statement in Exodus were translated as it should be, "to the age throughout their generations." That is, throughout their generations AS LONG AS THAT AGE LASTED. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures which Jesus and His disciples used, the Greek word AION was the word used for the Hebrew OLAM. According to Hebrew and Greek usage, therefore, these words mean a period of time, a period of unknown length, the duration of which is determined by the fact or condition or person to which the term is applied.
Furthermore, Leviticus 24:8 states that the covenant given to Israel was an "everlasting covenant." Yet, it was conditional and based on Israel's obedience (Ex. 19:5-6). And the inspired writer of the book of Hebrews declares, "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, He says, Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah... in that He says, A new covenant, He has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to VANISH AWAY" (Heb. 8:7 8, 13). Ah, did you notice? The everlasting covenant has been DONE AWAY! What a wonder, that! We are told that the "earth abides forever" (Eccl. 1:4), but Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away.. (Mat. 24:35).
The Lord announced through the prophet Isaiah, "Upon the land of My people shall come up thorns and briers; yea upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: for the palace shall be forsaken; the populous city shall be deserted; the hill and the watch-tower shall be dens for ever; a joy of wild asses, a pasture for flocks; UNTIL the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the WILDERNESS BECOME a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest" (Isa. 32:13-15). Verse 15 limits the use of the word in verse 14, for the desolations of the land are "for ever" only UNTIL the Spirit is poured out from on high bringing glorious RESTORATION!
As regards animal sacrifices, dietary laws, ceremonial observances and Sabbaths, each was to be "observed as a statute forever" (Ex. 31:16-17; II Chron. 2:4; Lev. 16:31). But the New Testament clearly shows that these were, one and all, but "carnal ordinances imposed UNTIL the time of reformation" (Heb. 9:10). It is clear - if "for ever" really meant ETERNAL - we would still be offering sheep, bullocks, and goats as sacrifices to God! But - more startling still - the idea of endlessness does not adhere even to the reign of Christ. Hebrews 1:8 says, "But unto the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever..." Now turning to another Scripture bearing on the same subject, we obtain additional light on this subject. "Then comes the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign TILL He has put all enemies under His feet. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, THEN SHALL THE SON ALSO HIMSELF BE SUBJECT UNTO HIM that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (I Cor. 15:24-25,28). The Kingdom of the Son will have a conclusion. In some remote time the Son delivers up the Kingdom to the Father, the Kingdom continues no longer in the rule of Sonship, but in the rule of Fatherhood, that God may be known no longer in and through the Son and the Sons, but transcendentally as ALL IN ALL...
The Hebrew word OLAM and its Greek equivalent, AION, mean a limited time, an age, and their plural means ages...
Let us look at how the word AION is used in a number of passages. About 37 times in the New Testament it is rendered "world," twice as "worlds," twice as "ages," and once as "course." Every place where the word "eternal" appears, with but one exception, it is a translation of this word AION or its adjective form AIONIOS. Twice it is rendered "evermore." Every place where the word "everlasting" appears, but one, it is this same word or its adjective form. With but thirteen exceptions, every place where the word "ever" appears it is the same word or its adjective form. And aside from all this confusion, the word also appears in the plural, and in a number of confusing combinations, such as "the aion of the aion," "the aion of the aions," and "the aions of the aions," etc.
Some of the passages where AION is found will give us added information concerning it. In Ephesians 2:7 we find, "in the ages (aions) to come." In Colossians 1:26 we find, "the mystery which has been hid from ages (aions). " In Ephesians 2:2 we find "you walked, according to the course (aion) of this world." In Hebrews 1:2 we find, "by whom also He made the worlds (aions)." In Hebrews 11:3 we find, "the worlds (aions) were formed by the Word of God." In about fifteen instances, such as Matthew 12:32, 1 Corinthians 1:20, etc., we find it rendered "this world (aion)." Twice we find "this present world (aion)." In Galatians 1:4 we find, "deliver us from this present evil world (aion)." In Ephesians 6:12 we find, "the rulers of the darkness of this world (aion)." In II Corinthians 4:4 we find, "the god of this world (aion)." In I Corinthians 2:6 we find, "the wisdom of this world (aion)." In Luke 16:8 we find, "the children of this world (aion)." In Mark 4:19 we find, "the cares of this world (aion). " How much more understandable it would be if the translators had used the word age instead of world!
In Mark 10:30 we find that there is not only this present aion, which is evil, but also "the world (aion) to come." In Luke 20:35 we find, "but they that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (aion), and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage." In Hebrews 6:5 we find, "and have tasted the powers of the world (aion) to come." And in Luke 1:70, John 9:32, etc., we find that the aion had a beginning: "since the world (aion) began."
I would like to jump in here in the middle of Mr. Eby’s discourse to actually do what he suggested. I would like to render the Greek "aion" here in these passages as "age" and we will see how wonderfully the passages make sense.
Eph. 2:7 "in the ages (aions) to come."
Col. 1:26 "the mystery which has been hid from the ages (aions). "
Eph. 2:2 "you walked, according to the age (aion) of this world."
Heb. 1:2 "by whom also He made the ages (aions)."
Heb. 11:3 "the ages (aions) were formed by the Word of God."
Gal. 1:4 "deliver us from this present evil age (aion)."
Eph. 6:12 "the rulers of the darkness of this age (aion)."
II Cor. 4:4 "the god of this age (aion)."
I Cor. 2:6 "the wisdom of this age (aion)."
Lk. 16:8 "the children of this age (aion)."
Mk. 4:19 "the cares of this age (aion)."
Mk. 10:3 0 "the age (aion) to come."
Lk. 20:35 "but they that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that age (aion), and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage."
Heb. 6:5 "and have tasted the powers of the age (aion) to come."
John. 9:32 "since the age (aion) began."
(Now, back to Mr. Eby.)
And now in reviewing the Scriptures we have just quoted we note that this aion is something which has a king; it has princes; it is in darkness; it had a beginning; it has an ending; it is evil; it has wisdom; it has children who marry; it has cares. The aions we find were made by Christ, simply through His spoken Word, and we also find in Colossians 1:26 that the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory, has been hidden from these aions.
Now, if AION means ETERNAL, consider how ridiculous the Word of God would be! The Holy Spirit would be found saying, "the mystery which has been hid from eternities; " "the mystery of Christ which in other eternities was not made known ; " "in the eternities to come; " "You walked according to the eternity of this world; " "by whom also He made the eternities; " "the rulers of the darkness of this eternity; " "now once in the end of the eternities has He appeared; " "the harvest is the end of the eternity ; " "since eternity began; " "in the eternities to come," etc. etc... Suffice it to say here that there have been "aions" in the past, there is this present "aion," and there are "aions" to come. And these all combined make up TIME, encompassing the whole of the progressive plan and program of God for the development of His creation.
When we see how often the New Testament writers spoke of the age they lived in, as well as past ages, and future ages, when we see how frequently they used this word "aion" and its various forms, and then we see how our modern Bibles have falsely rendered this word into English in ways that it was never intended, we can begin to understand the extent of Satan’s effort to hide these truths from man. It is no wonder that the saints do not understand the concept of ages when the Word of God has been altered to such an extent. There are English translations that render these words correctly, but they are little used and largely unknown to most saints.
I would like to add something here that occurred to me as I was researching these things for myself. I hope you will likewise research them. Don’t take my word for these things, and don’t take Mr. Eby’s word, or anyone else’s. Be as the Bereans whom Paul proclaimed to be more noble because they listened to him and then searched the scriptures to see whether these things were true.
As I looked at occurrences of "aion" in the New Testament I came across numerous scriptures that spoke of "aionion life" which is nearly always translated "eternal life". Following is an example.
And behold, one came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal [aionion] life?"
Now, to my thinking it seemed rather awkward that someone might ask Yahshua how he might obtain "age-something" life. Wouldn’t someone indeed ask Yahshua how to obtain life that never ends? Indeed, I think they would. So, did I find a flaw in what has been spoken so far? I don’t think so. What is needed is further understanding.
As I have mentioned, the mass of Christendom has not thought much beyond their current epoch, or age. The common conception among Christianity today is that when one dies, then eternity begins. As we are finding out, this is not the case. The plan of the ages has to be carried out until every age has run its course, and we are not yet at the end.
So consider this, because we have had little or no concept of God’s plan of the ages, how would you ask God for life that endured to the end of the ages? Do we even have an English word that means to the end of the ages? Eternal doesn’t fit for eternal means without beginning or end. How about everlasting? Now, everlasting could possibly be used for it has the meaning of the passage of time. It could be defined as lasting to the end. But if one isn’t careful how he defines this word and he defines it as lasting forever, time without end, then we are back to a concept of eternity that becomes confusing.
To avoid misunderstanding, I know of at least one translation that came up with a conjoined word to describe what is being spoken of here. Young’s Literal Translation uses the word combination "age-during". This is somewhat awkward, but it makes one think about what is really being stated. What is being described is something that lasts for the duration of the age, or for the duration of the ages. Following is an example.
"he who is believing in the Son, hath life age-during [aionion]."
Some translations render this as "life everlasting", and this would be okay as long as one understands that "life everlasting" is referring to a span of time and not to eternity. Most English speaking people make little distinction between everlasting and eternity, which brings much confusion. However, it would clearly be wrong to translate it as "life eternal". The Greek word [aioonion] has "aion" as its base and it means "age", so any form of the word cannot denote eternity for eternity exists outside of time and ages. Consider the following verse.
but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age [kairoo, literally ‘time’], houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age [aioni] to come, eternal [aionion] life. (NAS)
This verse is a great one to look at for it gives us many clues to understanding. First, we are shown without a doubt that what is being discussed here is something that is encompassed by the boundaries of time. The Greek word "kairoo" that is translated here as age, literally means time. Furthermore, this same verse uses the word "aion" when it says, "in the age [aion] to come". We can therefore know for certain that the phrase "aionion life" is constrained by what has just been said about it. One cannot receive ETERNAL life in the AGE to come, for ETERNAL has no beginning or end and the AGE to come most certainly does. How could one receive that which is outside of time in a period that is clearly defined by time?
"Aionion life" has to mean age-during, or age-lasting life. Unfortunately, in our English language we do not have one individual word that I can think of that would describe this age-during, or age-lasting life, that would not be confused with eternity. The translators chose words that they felt were suitable, but they did not fully understand the concept of God’s plan of the ages. Because of this, the words in our popular translations are not only unsuitable, but they actually say something quite contrary to what is meant.
The church is very much confused about what eternity actually is. If they understood eternity they would realize that the phrase "eternal life" really doesn’t fit here. Let me try to describe what I have come to understand.
God devised by His own counsel a plan of the ages. Every created thing is contained within this plan of the ages. We are told that "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth." The phrase, "In the beginning" indicates that time was existent and at the very beginning of time, at the very beginning of the plan of the ages, God created the heavens and the Earth.
As we read further in the Genesis account we find that all things in, upon, and under the Earth were created sometime after "in the beginning." It stands to reason that all that was created in heaven was also created after "in the beginning", this would include the angels, cherubim, seraphim, and every other created thing. All of these things are part of God’s plan of the ages.
Within this plan there is great struggle due to sin and rebellion. However, we are told that when the plan of the ages concludes that ALL things in HEAVEN and EARTH will be reconciled to God. We are told that ALL things will be summed up in God and HE will be ALL in ALL. Nothing will be out of harmony with God. No rebellion will exist any longer. Sin will be ended. DEATH will be the LAST enemy to be conquered.
At this point the plan of the ages will be complete and all things will be summed up in God. Eternity will now be present (We cannot say it will begin, for this would be contradictory. It would be better to say that time will be abolished.) The main characteristic of eternity will be an absence of change. Time is defined by its passing, but there will be no change, no passing of time. We will be outside of time. In a similar vein, we ourselves will not change. When we are summed up in God and He has become ALL in ALL then we will be exactly like the one who is the King of the Ages, Immortal, Invisible (I Timothy 1:17). We will no longer need to grow, or mature, or be conformed to His image, for we will be His image. We will be in Him. We will be unchanging, even as He is.
When one understands this concept of eternity then one can understand that the phrase "eternal life" is really not appropriate in the way in which it has been applied in scripture, for in our current life we are changing. We are being sanctified. We are maturing. We are being conformed to the image of Christ. We have not yet entered that state of union with God where we are like Him.
When the plan of the ages is accomplished, then time will be no more. Time is the surest way that we measure progress, but there will be no more progress once God has become all in all. There will be no more "death working in us" for our sinful flesh will have been put off. This corruption will put on incorruption. This mortal will put on immortality. There will be nothing any longer to oppose life. Death will have been conquered and abolished. Death will have been swallowed up in victory. Death will be no more. Death denotes a change from a state of living, but there will be no change in eternity, no death. We will simply BE. There will be nothing to overcome, nothing to resist.
I must add, it will most likely be many long ages yet before we come to this point. Not all has been revealed to us. The Father has primarily revealed to us the facts about the age we are in and those immediately preceding and following. He has not revealed much beyond these other than what the end result will be when the ages have ended. There are untold mysteries of the previous ages, and there will be much to follow in the coming ages. We only see this very narrowly now, but we should not fall into the error of those who thought the Earth was the center of the Universe. Our current age is not the end of all things. It is merely one act in the grand play the Father has written.
Going back to a scripture I just quoted from, I Timothy 1:17, we see something that further substantiates the revelation we are bringing forth. First let me show you how it is often popularly translated.
I Timothy 1:17
Now to the King eternal [aionoon], immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (NAS)
On the surface this verse would seem to give us problems, for certainly God is eternal. His life goes beyond the boundaries of the ages. It would seem that the translators chose the right word for "aionoon" here, for God is not confined simply to the limits of the ages. However, a closer look reveals something quite interesting that actually greatly supports the truth into which we are delving.
First consider, what is the difference between eternal and immortal? Why would Paul say God is eternal and immortal? Both words signify the same thing. The Greek word rendered here as immortal is Strongs’ 86 2, aphthartos (af'-thar-tos). It holds the meaning of "undecaying in essence or continuance." We are being told by this word that God changes not in His essence or in His continuance. Neither His being nor His existence suffer any decay. Depending on the translation, some have picked up on one shade of meaning and some another. Some interpret it to mean "incorruptible" (His essence does not decay), and some as "immortal" (His continuance does not decay).
Understanding the meaning of this word, we then see that it would be redundant for Paul to say God is "eternal, immortal...", since both words share the same meaning. So what was Paul really saying? If you have a Greek New Testament, or an Interlinear Bible that parallels the Greek and English translation, you will see that there is a Greek word right before the word translated as eternal [aionoon]. This is the Greek word "toon", which is the definite article akin to our English word "the". In the KJV this word is rendered in different places as "the", "this", "that", "one", "he", "she", "it", etc.... These are all definite articles.
The translators of the KJV did not include this word in this verse, however, because it seems to have no place in the way they translated this phrase. If we look once more at Young’s Literal Translation, we see that eternal is rightly translated ages and the preceding definite article now has its rightful place.
I Timothy 1:17
and to the King of the [toon] ages [aionoon], the incorruptible, invisible, only wise God, is honour and glory -- to the age of the ages! Amen. (Young’s Literal Translation)
Yes! This clears up the redundancy and it renders the word "aionoon" consistently with its usage in the rest of scripture. But what is with this phrase, "to the age of the ages"? What exactly does it mean. Again, I would like to insert a quote from Mr. Eby since he has done a good job of explaining this.
THE AGE OF THE AGES
While the Scriptures speak of an age, and the ages, and the ages of the ages, - one age proceeding from, or out of, a previous age until all the ages have run their courses - it also points to that glorious climactic age of all ages. We read the phrase, "Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (Heb. 1:8). These words "for ever and ever" come from the Greek which literally reads TO THE AGE OF THE AGES. This is very familiar terminology in the Scripture.
Few men have been caught away by the spirit of inspiration as was the wise king Solomon when he penned the beautiful Song of Solomon. God dropped one thousand and five songs down into the heart of Solomon, but of these only five, comprising the Song of Solomon, have been preserved and have found a place in Holy Scripture. Inspiration named it "The Song of Songs," that is, the one song which was above and beyond all the songs that have ever come from human heart and human lips. Just as the "Song of Songs" was chief above them all, just as the "Holy of holies" was the Holiest place of all, just as the "heaven of the heavens" is the highest heaven of all, just as the "King of kings" is the greatest King of all, so all through the Scriptures, though obscured by many translators, we have this remarkable phrase TO THE AGE OF THE AGES. It points to that age which shall be the most glorious of all, and which finds its type in the year of Jubilee. This is the Holy Spirit's way of expressing the superlative, and so far as God's plan of the ages is concerned this AGE OF THE AGES is THE AGE PAR EXCELLENCE of them all. A simple illustration of this is our expression, "a day of days," meaning a day that comes out of previous days, which crowns them, and embodies not only what they contained, but the full fruition of all that was elementary in them. Eternity does not emerge full grown in man's consciousness until this wonderful age is ended. This AGE OF THE AGES is that glorious climax to His purpose and process of the ages, wherein He states, "Behold, I make ALL things new" (Rev. 21:5). And when He says, "ALL," it is self-evident that there is nothing remaining in the universe which shall not be made new, else all is not all. "For He must reign until He has put ALL enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Cor. 15:25-26). When the last enemy is under His feet, destroyed, and there is no more death in any creature anywhere in all God's great universe, then shall God be all in all! The Amplified gives, "Be everything to everyone." Time comes to an end when the ages end and eternity, with God "all in all," becomes a conscious reality. [end quote]
Doesn’t this make marvelous sense and present a tremendous harmony with the rest of the Scriptures? How often we use the phrase "King of kings", or "Lord of lords" and it seems perfectly natural and makes great sense to us. Why should we stumble over the phrase "the Age of the ages?" This too makes wonderful sense when we too understand God’s plan of the ages and that there will be a final age that is the glorious crowning summation of all other ages. It will be this age that leads us to that state where ALL will be summed up in God and He becomes ALL in ALL.
A correct reading of the next age to come, the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, reveals that it is not the crowning age. There is still much that is imperfect and out of harmony with God in it. Although Christ will rule the nations with a rod of iron, the very fact that He must do so indicates that these nations have not come to a point of complete reconciliation to God. Furthermore, we are told that at the end of the Millennium that Satan will be loosed and he will lead the nations in rebellion against the Lord, the Son of God (Revelation 20:3, 7-10). Also, during the Millennium we are told that there will be repercussions for those who do not do as God commands them (Zechariah 14:16-19).
The age following the Millennial reign of Christ will also not be perfect, for not all will be reconciled. There will be those who are cast into the Lake of Fire. If they are in the Lake of Fire then they have not yet been reconciled to God through Christ and all has not yet been summed up in the Father.
This then leads us into our next topic, "What is the purpose of the Lake of Fire." We shall see that it holds a principle role in preparing all the creation to be summed up in Christ, and that it cannot possibly be eternal in nature as many teach, and as the popular English Bibles state. The Scriptures have been corrupted, and their corruption has led to many false understandings. Thankfully, the Father has sent us the Spirit to lead us into all truth, and to restore the damage that has been done by the enemy of truth.
Hell and the Lake of Fire
Much confusion has come about today through not understanding the distinctions between certain Biblical words that refer to the place people go when they die. Words such as Gehenna, Hades, Hell, Tartarus, Tophet, Abaddon, Sheol, the Lake of Fire, Paradise, Abraham’s Bosom, and Heaven have all become mixed up together into a terrible jumble. We need to sort these things out to see things clearly. We can gain some understanding as we look at the following words of Christ:
"Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.’"
This teaching may have very well been a true account since Yahshua actually named the poor man, something He did not do in His parables. In the parables He would simply state "A certain man", or "a publican", or some other designation, but here He identifies the poor man as one named Lazarus, and He also identifies Abraham.
Yahshua reveals that when men die they go to either a place where they are tormented, or a place where they are comforted. This is dependent upon their previous life. He portrays this through a conversation that the rich man has with Abraham. The rich man says, "I am in agony in this flame." In this passage, this place is identified as Hades, which some translations render Hell. Judea at this time lay under the power of the Roman Empire, and before this the Greeks had held sway. Both Greek and Roman mythology described a place of fiery torment called Hades, or Tartarus.
We see these Greek and Roman words being used in the New Testament to describe this place of suffering. The men who penned the books of the New Testament were not teaching Greek or Roman mythology, they were simply using words that had at that time become commonplace and would be recognized by all as speaking of a fiery place of torment where departed souls went.
Gehenna was another term, this one Hebrew, that spoke of a place of torment. Gehenna referred to a valley near Jerusalem where children were sacrificed by fire to Moloch, and hence it was known as a place of abomination. Gehenna literally means, the valley of Hinnom. This valley later became the garbage dump for Jerusalem, an appropriate defiling of an idolatrous location, and the garbage was burned to reduce its mass and prevent disease. The fires in the valley of Gehenna burned continuously, and it also became an appropriate expression to describe this fiery place of torment.
The word Tophet was also associated with the Valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna. The word Tophet meant "a place of cremation", and it was associated with the abominable practice of those who worshiped Moloch of burning their children in the fire. We see the relation between the words Tophet and the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) in the following verses:
And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Yahweh, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place.
These words came to represent a place of fiery torment where the wicked went after death. Another similar Hebrew word was Abaddon, which holds the meaning of "a destroyer."
Hell, Hades, Tartarus, Gehenna, Tophet and Abaddon are all names describing the same thing, though they are not the same thing as the Lake of Fire. Although we see fire mentioned in association with many of these names, the Scriptures make a distinction between them and the Lake of Fire. Hades, Tartarus, Gehenna, Tophet and Abaddon are commonly called Hell today, and many saints confuse the Lake of Fire with Hell, yet they are separate and distinct as we see in the next verse.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
Some translations render this as "death and Hell were thrown into the Lake of Fire." You cannot throw something into itself. The Lake of Fire cannot be Hell, for they are listed separately and distinctly here. Hell (Hades, Tartarus, Gehenna, Tophet, Abaddon) is the place that the wicked go until they are judged. We read this in the verse just prior to the one above.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
I will not go into what the sea and death are speaking of here, but they are not what most people commonly think. Our focus is on Hades, and we can see that the souls of evil men remain in Hades until the judgment. After the judgment, the wicked are then thrown into the Lake of Fire.
And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire.
The expression "out of the frying pan into the fire" comes to mind here, for we see the wicked who were in Hell now cast into the Lake of Fire. The church teaches that once one is cast into the Lake of Fire they will remain there forever, but we will see that this cannot possibly be so. The Scriptures reveal that many saints will share a place with the wicked in the Lake of Fire, and when one understands this truth, they will certainly want to concede that this will not be for eternity. Let me show you this from Scripture.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death."
Notice clearly that this word is being spoken to the CHURCH in Smyrna. Not all saints are counted among the overcomers. There are both foolish and wise virgins among the saints of God. Some will suffer the second death, and some will be spared. Let us look at another verse:
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Yahshua and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
Again, this passage speaks of overcomers among the church who will have a part in the first resurrection, and these will reign with Christ for a thousand years. These will escape the second death. Many saints, however, will not be partakers of this first resurrection. They will have to await a later resurrection. Yahweh does make a distinction between those who are worthy and those who are not. Note the words of Hebrews:
Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection...
The scriptures teach that there will be multiple resurrections, and blessed are those who attain to the first, the foremost, the highest and most glorious resurrection. Those who attain to the first resurrection will be spared the second death. We know that the second death is synonymous with the Lake of Fire.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Notice who this last Scripture states will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. The second group mentioned is the "unbelieving ". Compare this to Christ’s following words:
But if that servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
Yahshua is speaking of believers here. He is speaking of those who are His servants, those who call Him "Master" or "Lord ". Yet not all of His servants are faithful. Some are lazy and wicked. Some are carnal and worldly. These believers who have failed to overcome will be assigned a portion, or place, with the unbelievers. We just read what the portion of the unbelievers is. Their portion is in the Lake of Fire. Those who teach and preach eternal torment in the Lake of Fire are consigning many of their Christian brothers and sisters to eternal torment. Thankfully, God does not make the same judgment. Many saints will have a portion with the unbelievers, but it will not be eternal.
So, what exactly is the purpose of the Lake of Fire? We have seen previously that the end of God’s plan of the ages will see all of creation summed up in Christ. All will be subject to Christ and no rebellion will exist anywhere among the creation. For this to be true then a great work of death must occur in the fallen creation in order for new life to come forth.
Even as the saints must crucify their sinful flesh in order to walk in the newness of life in the Spirit, so every part of creation must undergo this death process. Everything that does not find its source in God must perish. Every trace of sin, rebellion, worldliness and idolatry must perish from the creation before the creation can be united with God where He can become all in all.
There is a reason why the Lake of Fire is called the second death. It is the place where all that is not like unto God must die. The saints have the opportunity while they are alive during the present age to present themselves as a living sacrifice upon the altar of God. They can present themselves to God now as a freewill offering that He might purge them of all wickedness and sin, and those who do so will have great reward and they will be spared the second death. Because they have voluntarily embraced a death to self that the life of Christ might be manifested in them, they will escape the second death.
Many saints, however, choose not to allow God to purge, purify and refine them. They resist this process and they cling stubbornly to their soul life and their love for the world and its pleasures. Many have adopted doctrines of demons that declare that no death is necessary, that God wants to pamper and coddle them and give them everything their flesh lusts after. Because these do not voluntarily follow Christ to the cross, they will have to endure the second death, and their loss of reward will be great.
Paul compares those who have wisely used their time in this life to those who have foolishly squandered their life in Christ in the book of I Corinthians.
I Corinthians 3:12-15
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Those saints who spend their lives foolishly will suffer loss. It is unimaginable how great this loss will be. Truly there will be myriads of saints who experience weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth as they understand what they have forfeited. In choosing not to embrace the disciple’s cross, they have cast off all reward that would have been theirs throughout the ages. These will go through the Lake of Fire where every vestige of self-life that they protected and clung to will be purged away.
The Lake of Fire must of necessity be employed to remove rebellion and every evil and wicked thing from the hearts of men and of angels. It is not simply a place of unending torment designed to punish those who are evil, this being the prevailing mindset of the church. It is a place of purging and cleansing. Do the scriptures reveal this purpose of purging and cleansing? Yes, they do!
Let us look at the scripture in Matthew where we are told that Yahshua will separate the sheep from the goats, some entering into blessing while others enter into a time of correction.
Matthew 25:34 - 46
"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world... 'And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal [aionian] fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels... And these will go away into eternal [aionian] punishment, but the righteous into eternal [aionian] life." (NAS)
Now, I don’t want to belabor the point by showing further how the phrases that contain the Greek word aion and its variants should actually be interpreted as "age lasting fire", "age lasting punishment", "life of the ages", etc.. We have already seen that this is truly the meaning of "aion" and its variations. It was the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, and later the Anglican Church, as well as others, that Hell is an eternal place of torment and no soul shall ever escape from it. The translators therefore translated according to their false understanding. But there have been other translators through the years who did not share the mythology of Rome and they have made much better translations. Following are just a few.
"Depart from Me, you cursed ones, into that aionian fire... and these shall go away into a cutting-off age lasting." (Diaglott)
"And these He will dismiss into a LONG CORRECTION." (The Bible in Modern English by Farrar Fenton)
"These shall go away into age-abiding correction." (Rotherham's New Testament)
"And these shall go away to punishment age-during." (Young's Literal Translation)
I would like to interject a thought here. Some may be concerned that it is seemingly only relatively obscure translations that bring out the true meaning of these phrases. They may be concerned that the overwhelming majority of the most popular translations that are used nearly universally by the Christians of our day do not reveal these meanings. In fact, these popular Bibles declare something quite contrary. I know that no believer that has a shred of integrity would declare that the majority must be right simply due to their numbers, but it is somehow disturbing to find that so many are being led astray, that so many have embraced that which is no truth at all, but is in fact based upon mythology and fables.
To this person who has this concern I would say this, "The Scriptures clearly show that this would be the condition of the church in the last days."
II Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to MYTHS.
II Thessalonians 2:3
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the coming of the Lord Yahshua the Messiah] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction...
We live in a day, at the end of our current age, when men will not endure sound doctrine. They have turned aside from the truth, exchanging truth for myth. Did not Paul say clearly this would be the case? Furthermore, as so many are speaking of the soon return of the Lord, have they duly noted that He will not return unless the apostasy comes first? The apostasy is defined as "a falling away from the truth". The word apostasy shares as part of its root the same word for divorce. Apostasy is a divorcement from the truth that men might be wedded to falsehood, mythology, and fable.
If this apostasy must occur first, then where is it? Do you really believe that the masses of Christendom are walking in truth? This cannot be for Paul said clearly that Yahshua would not return unless His return was preceded by a great falling away from truth. So, it should be no surprise at all that the popular Bible translations of our day are full of mythology and error. It should be expected. It was prophesied by the holy apostles and prophets.
One should anticipate that it is only a remnant that have their eyes opened in this day and hour to perceive the truth. Don’t be unsettled by the fact that what is being taught here goes against the overwhelming mindset of the majority. This must by necessity be the case. Paul further tells us,
II Thessalonians 2:10-11
Because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false...
The salvation here is not referring to the salvation of the spirit of man, but to the saving of his soul. This is also referred to in Hebrews 9:28 and in many other places in scripture. This also refers to being saved from the second death, which is the lake of fire (Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 14, 21:8). Because so many have loved their delusions and they have not known a love of the truth (pursuing and clinging to truth even at the cost of rejection, personal loss, tribulation, distress, etc.), God has sent upon them a deluding influence.
We are seeing played out a mirror image of what transpired in the Garden of Eden when God prepared a bride for Adam. God is now preparing a Bride for Christ and He has caused a "deep sleep" to come over the body while the material for the bride is extracted. This deep sleep is a spirit of slumber and delusion as is clearly seen in Isaiah 29:10-14. I encourage you to read this if you have any doubts about the Bride of Christ being formed while the body is under the same condition of deep sleep as was revealed in type through Adam.
It should be no wonder then that only a remnant will receive the truth in this hour. It was only a remnant of Adam’s body that was used to form his bride and it is likewise only a remnant of the body of the Last Adam, Yahshua the Messiah, that will be used to form His Bride.
Not long ago my family and I saw how far men in the church have turned aside to myths. We were invited to go watch a performance put on by a local church called "Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames". This play is being performed in multitudes of churches throughout the United States and abroad, and it is used as an evangelistic tool to bring the lost to repentance. Yet this play is filled with incredible error that is based upon mythology.
The play consists of a number of mini skits where various individual’s lives are portrayed. Some of these individuals are believers and some are unbelievers who have rejected Christ. Different events occur that leads to the death of these individuals, and the believers awake after their deaths to be ushered into the gates of heaven. The unbelievers, however, awake to find themselves in a dark place where Satan and his demons appear and they begin to taunt and torment these souls who died without Christ. The character playing the part of Satan emits a maniacal laugh as he commands his demons to drag the lost away to hell where they will never escape.
This depiction of Satan as being the ruler of the underworld and having authority over departed souls has no foundation in Scripture. The Scriptures clearly depict Satan as being cast into the Lake of Fire to be tormented and purged of his evil, and he is not given authority over the other demons and men that are placed there with him. He is a captive and a prisoner along with all else who are there. I have seen myriads of cartoons with Satan standing guard over the prisoners of hell with a pitchfork in his hand, yet this perverted image has no basis in the truth.
How then did this image come to find such widespread acceptance among the saints? It is the product of pagan mythology being mixed into Christian doctrine. The Romans taught that the underworld, the place of torment where the dead went, was ruled over by one of the gods whose name was Hades. The underworld came to bear the same name as the god who ruled over it. In Roman mythology it was taught that Hades never allowed any to escape who entered his dark domain. He also had a three headed dog named Cerberus who watched the gates of Hades to make sure that none should escape. Here then, in the mythology of Rome, is the origin of the idea that Satan rules the underworld and that his demons are there to torment the souls there and to ensure that none escape. Satan has merely replaced the god Hades, and the demons have replaced Cerberus.
When the emperor Constantine declared the pagan citizens of Rome to be Christians, and he declared Rome to be a Christian empire, he did not throw off the mythology of Rome. Instead, he incorporated these myths and fables into the doctrines of the church. A tremendous pollution occurred as the holy and the profane was mixed together. This pollution continues to this day, and it is a fulfillment of Paul’s words that men would "turn aside to myths and fables" and they would no longer "endure sound doctrine." Few will receive the truths written about in this book. Only a remnant will cast away the mythology of the past and embrace truth. It is for these that this book is written.
Now, let us return to our examination of Matthew 25 where we are told that the goats will be sent away to an age-lasting correction in the lake of fire. I will quote one more time here from Mr. Eby.
The word punishment is from the Greek KOLASIS which means simply that - punishment. But it comes from the root KOLAZO which reveals the true nature of the punishment. KOLAZO according to Strong's Concordance, means "to curtail" or "to chastise". The word means "a pruning" according to Liddell and Scott's Greek English Lexicon. It is so used all through the Greek language. That punishment of which the Christ spoke was the very thing that helped me to see the glorious HOPE for all who are unbelievers or rebellious against God - because the word punishment there means chastisement or pruning. I saw in a moment that it was not the destruction of the man; it was the correcting of the man. It was not the destruction of the tree; it was the cutting back, and the pruning, that it might bring forth fruit. Some rightly reason that KOLASIS cannot mean corrective punishment or pruning if it is everlasting. Whoever heard of EVERLASTING CORRECTION! But everlasting is itself wrong. It is age-lasting punishment, age-abiding correction, age-during pruning.
There are those who did not enter into His life in ages past, there are those who do not enter into His life in this present age, and there shall be those who will not enter into His life in the age to come. But in the world where God is the King you can count on it - every man will finally have to face up to his waywardness, and being thoroughly disciplined, broken, and purged of self-will, until he is prepared to respond to the love of Christ, to advance from the realm of punishment into the blessing of HIS LIFE and victory. If you do not punish a criminal for his improvement, for what do you punish him? There are just two right reasons - to protect society and to restore the criminal to society improved by the punishment. The "aionian" punishment which will come to every sinner who goes to hell will be a punishment that will break his stubborn, rebellious spirit and bring him back to God!
It is most regrettable that many Bible translators have been careless in their translation of words that concern the ages. The common thought seems to have been that any age following this present age must be identical with eternity, which, of course, is gross error, and we get ourselves into all manner of confusion by thinking that such is the case. For instance, according to the King James version, Jesus, speaking of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, is clearly quoted as saying, "He that blasphemes the Holy Ghost has never forgiveness" (Mk. 3:29). Because of this faulty rendering we have concocted the fallacious notion of an unpardonable sin. But the Emphatic Diaglott translates the passage correctly thus: "Whoever may blaspheme the Holy Spirit has no forgiveness to the age, but is exposed to aionian (age-lasting) judgment." Likewise also the passage in Matthew 12:32...... Whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." The word world here, as the margin of your Bible will probably indicate, is translated from the Greek word AION, which means age or a period of time. See also Young's Concordance. Hence the translation should be, "It shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the coming age" (Diaglott). Jesus was born in the age of law. Therefore, when He spoke of this age, He was speaking of the age of law, the age to come being the Church age in which we now live.
God's precious people, saturated and literally "oozing" with the false doctrines of the harlot Church systems have long viewed God's judgments as a vindictive action prompted by a motive for revenge and supported by a tumultuous wrath that must be pacified. NOT SO! Such is a gross caricature of our God! His mercy and grace are super-abundant, His mercy endures to all ages, and though He finds it necessary to chasten, His wisdom and righteousness produce a just and pure chastisement conditioned to correct the situation, and bring forth a creature prepared to respond to the delivering and redeeming power of God. ALL OF GOD'S JUDGMENTS ARE CORRECTIVE IN NATURE, conceived in His wisdom, motivated by His love, administered by His power, and used to work out the divine purpose, into our good, and unto His praise!
The next section is taken from another article in the "Saviour of the World" series by J. Preston Eby. The article is called, "The Lake of Fire".
THE LAKE OF FIRE
I believe every word that the Bible says about the lake of fire; I don't believe what Rome says about it, nor what the apostate Churches say about it, nor what tradition says about it; but I certainly believe what the Bible says about it.
The teaching concerning the lake of fire does not appear anywhere in Scripture except in the book of Revelation where it is spoken of in the following passages: Rev. 14:10-11; 19:20; 20:10; 20:13-15 and 21:8. This last passage definitely states, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." There should be no question remaining as to the certainty of this lake of fire; neither should there be any doubt as to the awful consequence of having to be cast into it. These Scriptures with their dreadful foreboding should be a fearful warning to all unthinking and foolish people who, because of their love for the world, the flesh, and the devil, have dared to ask why we should serve God now if all are going to be saved eventually. Such people have no love for God nor fear of God, and they manifest by what they say that their professed serving of God is only a pretense, arising - not from any true love for Him - but from fear of punishment...
Because of the gross misunderstanding of almost all people concerning the lake of fire, I would like to draw your attention to three words found in the passage quoted above. "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which BURNS with FIRE and BRIMSTONE: which is the second death." The word BURN means combustion, or to consume. To consume does not mean to annihilate, for there is no such thing as annihilation in the absolute sense. When fire consumes a log in your fireplace it does not destroy any of the elements within the log, it merely changes their form. Combustion is the process by which chemicals combine to form new chemicals. For example: a tree might be cut down, sawed into fire wood, and burned. When the wood is burning the heat causes the chemicals of which the wood is composed to vaporize, mixing with the oxygen in the air to form new chemicals, including water and the gas carbon dioxide. So what was formerly a tree is no longer identified as the form of a tree, but the substance thereof is now simply CHANGED into a DIFFERENT FORM and exists in its new form within the atmosphere as water, carbon dioxide, etc. Thus, to burn, means to CHANGE. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that fire does not burn down; it always burns up; it seeks the highest level. And all that it consumes "goes up in smoke," to exist in a new form in a higher dimension. Even if you take a pan of water and place it over a fire, before long the water will take on the property of the fire and will begin to go up in steam. To burn means to CHANGE, and the change is always UPWARD in its motion.
FIRE is the heat and light that you feel and see when something burns. It takes heat to start a fire, but once the fire is started it produces heat that keeps the process going. Thus, fire is really HEAT and LIGHT.
In my study of the lake that burns with fire and brimstone I was very much helped and impressed by the understanding given by Charles Pridgeon and I would like to quote from his scholarly work on the subject of BRIMSTONE. He says: "The Lake of Fire and Brimstone signifies a fire burning with brimstone; the word 'brimstone', or sulphur, defines the character of the fire. The Greek word THEION translated 'brimstone' is exactly the same word THEION which means 'divine.' Sulphur was sacred to the deity among the ancient Greeks; and was used to fumigate, to purify, and to cleanse and consecrate to the deity; for this purpose they burned it in their incense. In Homer's Iliad (16:228), one is spoken of as purifying a goblet with fire and brimstone. The verb derived from THEION is THEIOO, which means to hallow, to make divine, or to dedicate to a god (See Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon, 1897 Edition). To any Greek, or any trained in the Greek language, a 'lake of fire and brimstone' would mean a 'lake of divine purification.' The idea of judgment need not be excluded. Divine purification and divine consecration are the plain meaning in ancient Greek. In the ordinary explanation, this fundamental meaning of the word is entirely left out, and nothing but eternal torment is associated with it" - end quote.
[Joseph Herrin’s note: As all who are studying these matters are encouraged to do, I was not satisfied to take another’s words on so important a matter, so I went and checked out a couple of copies of "The Iliad" by Homer from the local library. I went to the section cited above, Book 16, line 228, and I found it to be describing the time of the Trojan War. At one point Achilles seeks the aid of Zeus (Jove), and Achilles is depicted as getting out a sacred cup that he used only for pouring forth a libation unto the god, but first he cleanses it. Here is the line:
He took the cup from the chest and cleansed it with sulphur (theion); this done he rinsed it in clean water.
It is evident from this reading that sulphur (brimstone) was viewed as an agent of divine cleansing to the Greeks and Romans, and those citizens of Rome during the early church age would have understood this connection.]
I realize that the above thoughts define the subject very briefly, but let us summarize the meanings thus: BURN means combustion; to change the form of. FIRE means heat and light. BRIMSTONE means divine. Putting these three together can we not see that the lake burning with fire and brimstone is, actually, DIVINE HEAT AND LIGHT PRODUCING A CHANGE! Is such a process eternal?
All the laws of nature shout that it is not! More than 2500 years ago the Holy Spirit warned the wicked inhabitants of Jerusalem that God would kindle a fire at Jerusalem's gates which would devour her palaces. "But if you will not hearken unto Me... then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not he quenched" (Jer. 17:27). Did not God say this fire "shall NOT BE QUENCHED?" This prophecy was fulfilled and the fire did occur a few years later and it did destroy all the houses of Jerusalem (Jer. 52:13). Since God said no person or thing would "quench" this fire, did that mean that it would burn for ever? Since it accomplished the work it was sent to do, and since it is NOT BURNING TODAY, it obviously went out by itself after accomplishing its purpose! Unquenchable fire is not eternal fire - it is simply fire that cannot be put out until it has consumed or changed everything it is possible for it to change! It then simply goes out, for there is nothing more to burn...
Are the judgments of God permanent? Isaiah says, "When Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9). And Mat. 12:20 says, "A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory." Judgment, therefore, is not an eternal condition, but it is given to produce that victory. Judgments of themselves do not save anyone, but they are used by God to bring one to one's self, to effect a change of attitude and will, to consume away the stubbornness and rebellion of men. Punishment by fire is a beneficent one. "Our GOD is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29). The basic purpose of this divine fire of God is to cleanse, purify, purge, temper and change. It is to rid of impurities, of filth, of undesirable elements. There is no better way to deal with filth than to deal with it by fire. The punishment by penal fire leads back to the beginning of things. The final work of God in this world will be the destruction of the world (order) by penal fire. That will change all things. That will melt all the elements, so that no man can tell you where his original garb was. It will burn up all the governments, institutions, systems, and fruitage of the carnal mind. It will melt all the customs, cultures, traditions, and practices of society and make of this earth a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. Every man's work will eventually be tested in this fire. The fire will try every man's work of what sort it is. If you and I build into our walls wood, hay, and stubble, that fire will find it out, and the walls will come tumbling down. When God turns on the HEAT, the BLAZING LIGHT OF HIS SPIRIT AND WORD - some things begin to change! The fire is never sent to destroy the PERSON, but to purge out all that hinders and separates him from his God, to consume the pride, arrogance, hostility, defiance, and rebellion of the flesh, the carnal mind, that He might then be wooed and drawn by the Holy Spirit unto the Father of Spirits and live.
More than three centuries ago when the Black Plague swept through London, England, more than 68,000 men, women, and children were sickened with the putrid fever, suffered nameless agonies, passed into delirium, sometimes with convulsions, and then died. Before the end of the terrible nightmare of anguish and death, what was thought to be an even greater tragedy occurred. The city caught fire, the whole heavens were ablaze as the Great Fire destroyed more than 13,200 homes and 89 churches. Most of the city, which was built largely of wood, lay in ashes. Wonder of wonders! As soon as the last dying embers cooled and the smoke cleared, the inhabitants of the city discovered that the Plague had been stayed! Not another person died of the epidemic. The Plague never returned. The fire had killed the bacteria- carrying fleas and rats that caused the Plague. It took a fire to do it! Fire is a great cleanser, purifier, and changer.
We all know that a horse must be broken, that is, its will must be broken before it is of any practical use to man. God put that will in the horse, but it must be broken and made to conform to the will of man. Just as surely did God put the will in man, BUT IT MUST BE BROKEN and we will benefit by the very process of breaking. Man may do a lot of crying and wailing, but when he is broken to HIS will, what a wonderful condition it is. God may take man over some rough places, even through the lake of fire and brimstone, but the love of God will break every man to His will.
If you think the Kingdom of God is rosewater, or eau-de-cologne, you are mistaken. You cannot war on the devil with that. You cannot war on the carnal minds of men with that. You have to make war on the world, the flesh, and the devil with a sword sharper than any two-edged sword. You have to make war on the carnal mind with fire, divine fire that must burn up every inherent altar of Baal, and lick up the very dust around. Make no mistake! OUR GOD is a consuming fire! He is man's "horse breaker" and He will break you, precious friend of mine, and bring you to the foot of the cross of Jesus no matter how hot He has to build the fire around you! Even if long ages of fiery judgment and tormenting darkness fall upon you, they will last no longer than till the Great Fire of God has melted all arrogance into humility, and all that is self has died in the bloody sweat and all-saving cross of the Christ, which will never give up its redeeming power till sin and sinners have no more a name among the creatures of God. [end quote]
Returning once more to a statement made earlier in this book, we quoted Solomon when he said, "For the one with understanding, knowledge is easy." As one casts off the myths of this leavened age that has divorced itself from truth, and as one comes into a clearer view of God’s plan of the ages, a plan that leaves no loose ends, but which concludes with all things being reconciled to God, one can then begin to see many scriptures in a new light. Unquenchable fire does not mean eternal fire as most of us have been taught. There is purpose to the fire and brimstone and these things are very symbolic, as is most everything in scriptures.
One may wonder why these things are hidden from so many. God doesn’t reveal His pearls of wisdom indiscriminately. Yahshua spoke only to the people in parables so that only those to whom understanding was given would discern the true meaning of His words. Every act and miracle of Yahshua was likewise a parable that only those who are given understanding will discern. God has hidden His wisdom and it must be sought after, called out for, and pursued with great diligence (Proverbs 2). Furthermore, men must be doers of the word. They must walk in the light they have been given if they expect to be given more, "For to whom much is given, much is required, and to he who has shall more be given."
Our Father wants His children to walk in light, and one day all will acknowledge the light and walk in it, but the path will be harder for some than others. A subtle truth is revealed in two types of sacrifices which were offered under the Old Covenant. One was a mandatory offering and the other was a freewill offering. The freewill offering was burned by fire and the smoke arose as a sweet aroma unto the Father (Numbers 15). Because it was offered freely, it was pleasing unto God.
However, the mandatory offering was not offered as a pleasing aroma unto God. Because it did not arise of a free will, but was mandated, it brought no pleasure to God. In the same way, all of God’s creation will be purged and purified as if through fire, but only those who have freely offered themselves as a living sacrifice upon the altar of God will find that their aroma is pleasing to Him. Many will suffer loss because they have not willingly offered themselves to God, nor have they freely allowed the fire of testing and suffering to burn away that which is not of God.
God has a plan of the ages and the end will be the reconciliation of all things, but those who would be accounted worthy to rule and reign with Christ, those who would have access to the very presence of God and to His most holy things, must allow Him to purify them of their own free will. Much will be burned up and many will suffer loss, but to those who do not shrink back from the Father’s purifying process there will be great reward.
May many sons come forth to share in the glory of God and of His Christ.
God so Loves the World
My family and I have noted a certain phenomenon that I suspect many who read this have also noted. We have owned quite a number of different cars since my wife and I have been married, and whenever we would purchase a particular type of car, we would begin noticing all the other cars on the road that are like it. Usually we had never paid attention to all the cars that were similar to our own until we purchased one, and then we would see them everywhere. In jesting with one another we would even say things like, "There we are, right up ahead of us", or "There’s our car again." Of course it would not be our car, but it would be one that looked like the one we were now driving.
It is quite amazing that we would begin to notice all of these cars, when, before we purchased one for ourselves, we were totally oblivious to their presence. It was not that all of these cars suddenly showed up, but that our eyes were now trained and alert to spot them. This same phenomenon reaches into many realms. One such realm is the Word of God.
Have you ever noted that when God opens your eyes to some Scriptural truth that you immediately begin to see a profusion of supporting Scriptures that had been there all along, but you had been glancing right over them? I have experienced this numerous times. For example, when God opened my eyes to the significance of numbers in Scripture this occurred. Before I understood that all numbers were significant and held great meaning before Yahweh, I had just thought they were random numbers.
I didn’t perceive that there was any real significance to the fact that Jacob had twelve sons. Twelve was just a number. But once I understood that all numbers were significant, and that this number represents God’s calling and election, then I began to see it everywhere. I saw that Yahshua also selected twelve men to be His disciples, for this was also according to divine calling and election. I saw that the Overcomers in Revelation numbered 144,000 which is twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, again representing divine calling and election. I also saw that the New Jerusalem has twelve gates, and only those who are holy can enter the city, so these twelve gates once more represent divine calling and election, for they only allow entrance to those whom Yahweh has declared clean.
Once the Spirit of God opens our eyes to some truth we then begin seeing it everywhere. This applies equally to the truth of the reconciliation of the entire creation to Christ, namely that "in Christ God was reconciling the world unto Himself." This verse is merely one more example of the phenomenon of which I am speaking. Before my eyes were opened to understand God’s plan of the ages, which ends with all things being summed up in Christ, I had glossed right over this Scripture and many others. Yet when I "bought into" the truth, just like I had bought a car in the analogy given, I began seeing similar things everywhere.
The verse I just quoted was there on the pages of my Bible all the time, but my eyes had not fastened upon it. The Father had to open my eyes before I could see what had been plainly before me all the time. This particular Scripture is very precious, and very affirming of the truth of the ultimate reconciliation of the entire world, and it also speaks of the awesome love of God.
II Corinthians 5:18-19
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
This Scripture is just like many of the other Scriptures we have looked at. It proclaims the same message as the Scriptures that state,
I Timothy 4:10
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of ALL MEN, especially of believers.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to ALL MEN...
When we read that Christ is reconciling the world to Himself, we can understand that this phrase "the world" includes all men, for this is stated in many places. But before we came to understand God’s plan of reconciliation, while we were under the false teaching that only a remnant will be reconciled to God, while the rest will remain unreconciled in endless torments throughout eternal ages, we would read right over such verses as if they were invisible and hidden from our sight. When understanding is granted, however, Scriptures that proclaim this truth begin popping up all over, and we may think, "Where did all these verses come from all of a sudden?" The answer is that they did not just now make their appearance. They had been there all the time, yet they lay unnoticed. Following are a few more of these same type of Scriptures that had formerly lain unnoticed before my eyes.
The next day he saw Yahshua coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world."
I John 4:14
We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.
Is it not incredible that the majority of the modern church has not perceived the presence and meaning of so many verses that proclaim this truth, namely that Christ came and laid down His life for all men, that all men’s sins were forgiven, that He did not come to condemn any, but to save all, and that when God’s plan of the ages is complete we will see all men reconciled to God th rough the cross of Christ? How is it that we have missed the presence of so many Scriptures that all affirm the same truth? All it takes is for our minds to be prejudiced against the truth, and then we will surely fail to see it. When we do not expect to see something, we will almost always fail to see it though it is right before us.
I will share another phenomenon that I am certain many others have also noted, which has bearing upon this matter. There have been times when I have been looking for some object and I could not find it. I may have searched all over the house and it had eluded me. I would then ask my wife Tony if she had any knowledge of where the item might be. She may tell me that it is in the bedroom and I should go there and look, yet I would doubt her word for I had no remembrance of having taken the item into the bedroom. Yet I would go look anyway, only to come out and say, "Tony, it is not in the bedroom." My wife would then come into the bedroom and walk right over to where the item lay, often in plain sight, and she would hand it to me.
How did I miss it? I did not expect to find it in the place where it lay, so my mind looked right over it without recognition. I formerly gave this illustration to my college students to whom I was teaching the principles of computer repair. I was stressing to them how important attitude is, for if we have confidence that we will find the source of a problem and be able to correct it, then we will almost always succeed. However, if my students approached a computer problem with the attitude that computers were complicated and intimidating and they doubted that they could determine the source of a problem and be able to correct it, then in most cases they would not succeed in the task before them. When they did not expect to be able to correct a problem, they would overlook even very obvious things, such as an unplugged cable.
The church has conditioned most saints today to not expect to find a message of the reconciliation of all of creation in the Scriptures. I have heard a thousand sermons where ministers have spoken of eternal damnation, eternal torment, and eternal separation from God, and all of this repetition has a profound effect upon the minds of the saints. Having been told by respected ministers that there is no message of reconciliation for all of mankind in the Bible, the saints can read the Scriptures that proclaim a message of God’s love for the entire world and it will lie invisible before their eyes.
Consider the case of the verse from which the name of this chapter is derived. John 3:16 is the most memorized verse from all of Scripture. It is often the very first verse a child is taught. We see it on posters at sporting events and prominently displayed in other public venues. Millions of Christians can quote it perfectly, yet few have ever really seen the verse. Though it is recorded in their brain, and it rolls easily off of their tongue, the sense of the verse is hidden from most. What does it say?
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Many saints have memorized the next verse as well.
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Our problem is that we do not see all men reconciled to God in this life and this age, and not perceiving that God has a plan that spans many ages, which will not be complete until all things are summed up in Christ, until Christ Himself is subjected to the Father so that He is all in all, we deny the plain witness of that which is right before us. We have allowed men to convince us that there is no message of the reconciliation of all men, or of the world, or of the entire creation in Scriptures, and having become prejudiced to believe a lie, we fail to see the truth. Like a man who walks into a room not expecting to find the thing he is searching for, we search the Scriptures for truth and seldom find it.
Once our eyes are opened, once we have bought into the truth, we begin to see things that were there all the time, but which our mind had filtered out and overlooked. I would like to share just a couple of the things that have been "hidden" in plain sight in the Word of God. I did not see them until my eyes were opened, and you may have experienced the same. Having been taught that only a remnant of mankind will be saved, and the vast majority will endure unending torment never to be reconciled to God, many of us have glossed right over these things.
We need not go far in Scripture before we see a great testimony of God’s plan to redeem all mankind. Adam and his wife having sinned in the Garden of Eden are met by God, and because they have become aware of their nakedness they hide themselves. We then read:
Yahweh God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
Those who have been taught that Yahweh is an angry God looking for the smallest transgression that He might strike men may have trouble understanding what He did here. Having just heard the man and woman declare their disobedience, having just learned that they chose a path of sin that would produce unimaginable woes and tragedy and heartache for thousands of years to come, God acts mercifully to the man and woman by covering their nakedness. Yahweh made garments of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.
What I want to point out in this event is much more than that God acted mercifully to these two sinners, though this is a very important point. In Scripture we see a principle of representation where what is done, or promised to one man, applies to all who come after him who are of his seed. We read of this principle in the following passage.
Hebrew s 7:9-10
And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
This passage is speaking about the time when Abraham met Melchizedek after Abraham returned from the battle of the three kings and had rescued his nephew Lot and those who were with him. Abraham upon meeting Melchizedek, the priest of Salem, paid tithes to him. At this point Levi had not even been born, for Levi was several generations removed from Abraham. To Abraham was born Isaac, and to Isaac was born Jacob, and to Jacob was born Levi. Abraham did not live to see his grandson Jacob, much less his great grandson Levi, yet Paul says that because Levi was in the loins of Abraham, that is to say that Levi was of Abraham’s seed, that what Abraham did was ascribed to Levi.
This is an extremely important principle in Scripture. This principle of representation is what salvation through our identification with Christ is built upon. Because we were in Christ (by faith we believe this) when He suffered for sin, died, was buried and rose again, what He accomplished is imputed to us. His death has become our death. His resurrection has become our resurrection. His righteousness has become our righteousness. Understanding this principle of representation, let us look one more time at what occurred in the garden.
When Yahweh made a covering for Adam and his wife, He did not just do so for Adam (whose name means ‘man’), but He did so for all those who were in Adam’s loins. Yahweh provided a covering for all men, for all were in Adam. This covering was a shadow, or type, of the covering that God would later provide for the salvation of all mankind which was realized in Christ.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
We are told that Yahweh made garments for Adam and his wife from the skins of animals, and though we are not told what kind of animal it was, I would not be surprised to learn that the garments were made from sheepskins, or goatskins. This covering that God provided points to the sacrifice that would one day fully cover the sinful flesh of man and remove mankind’s nakedness before God. To make these garments Yahweh had to slay an animal, and blood had to be shed, and this points once more to the sacrifice of His Son.
What is present, but often missed in this account, is that in providing a covering for Adam (man), God provided a covering for all those who would be born of man. No one was left out in this act of mercy. All mankind was covered in Adam, and one day all men would be covered in Christ.
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
God’s act of mercy toward Adam and his wife pointed to a future act of mercy that would provide a covering for all mankind. This leads to a second type that I would like to look at, and this is the mercy seat that covered the ark of the covenant. The translators of our Bibles have chosen to call it a mercy "seat", possibly because the glory of God rested upon it, but this lid that covered the ark was not designed as a throne, or chair. The Hebrew word the translators rendered as "seat" is "kaporet" which is literally translated as "covering ". It also literally acted as a lid, or covering for the ark. So the mercy seat is more literally translated as mercy covering.
Every minute detail of the Tabernacle and it’s furnishings carries great symbolic meaning. The ark of the covenant represents the heart of man where God was to dwell. In the ark was placed the tablets of the Law and this is a picture of God placing His law in our hearts. Yet the ark required a covering. The ark was not complete without this covering, and the covering was a separate piece. This was all intentional, for in some of the furnishings God gave explicit instructions that they were to be made entirely of one piece, while others were of more than one piece. The ark, typifying the heart of man, was not complete without the mercy covering being placed upon it. This mercy covering is the blood of Christ, as revealed in the following verses.
Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat (literal, ‘covering’) and in front of the mercy seat (literal, ‘covering’).
I Peter 1:2
According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Christ Yahshua and be sprinkled with His blood...
And to Yahshua, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
In pointing out these things, that God provided a merciful covering to Adam and his wife out of the skins of animals that had to be slain, and that the ark of the covenant representing man’s heart also had a mercy covering upon it, which points to the shed blood of Christ, I want to lead you to one more verse that reveals the scope of this mercy covering. The verse is commonly rendered in this way:
I John 2:1-2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Christ Yahshua the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
Many people stumble over the word "propitiation" in this verse, for it is not a word that we commonly use today. I have recently come to understand that it is also a poor translation. I am grateful to the brother who pointed this out to me. The word rendered propitiation is the Greek "hilasmos" and is Strong’s NT 2434. Another form of this same word is Strong’s NT 2435, and we find it used in the following verse.
Hebrew s 9:5
And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
Here this word is translated "mercy seat" instead of propitiation, and as we have seen, "mercy seat" should be properly rendered as "mercy covering". Let us look once more at the Scripture from I John, and let us replace the word propitiation with mercy covering.
I John 2:1-2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Christ Yahshua the righteous; and He Himself is the mercy covering for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the w hole world.
Consider now how this verse forms a parallel to what we have looked at in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and his wife sinned, Yahweh in His mercy provided a covering for them. This covering garment made from the skin of a slain animal pointed to the mercy covering that would one day be made in Christ which would cover all of mankind. This same image is revealed in the ark of the covenant and the mercy covering that was placed over it, upon which was sprinkled the blood of the sin offering. Christ is the sin offering, and His blood acts as a mercy covering for all of mankind. John tells us that this Yahshua "is the mercy covering for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."
We see then that as far back as the Garden of Eden, immediately after the first transgression, Yahweh symbolically revealed that a mercy covering would one day be provided for all of mankind. This covering was further revealed in the mercy covering that was placed over the ark of the covenant, and it is seen fulfilled in Christ who has poured out His blood as a mercy covering for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
Saints, these things have been in plain sight, yet we have missed them because we did not expect to find them in Scripture. Many more are the things that we have failed to discern, but I pray that Yahweh would open our eyes to see, and unstop our ears that we might hear.
The Glorious Gospel
In the introduction to this book I mentioned that there have been those who have accused me of heresy in teaching the truth of the ultimate reconciliation of the entire creation. One thing that has brought forth this charge is the prevailing doctrine that men must be saved right now, during this age, while they are still clothed in sinful flesh. It is taught that if any man fails to take advantage of this opportunity, then he has missed his one shot at salvation, and he must burn in Hell as an evildoer for all eternity.
This "one shot gospel" is the prevailing teaching today, and if anyone challenges this concept they will incite charges of heresy. It is not a bad thing to be branded a heretic if everyone else is walking in error. Yet I am grieved at the charges of heresy, for those making this charge do not know their scriptures. Let us examine a few pertinent Bible verses.
II Corinthians 5:20-6:3
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain-- for He says,"At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you"; behold, now is "the acceptable time," behold, now is "the day of salvation."
Some have used this Scripture to teach that salvation is limited to one’s existence in the flesh, and that it is available only now in the church age. Yet this is not what Paul is saying at all. What would become of all those men, women and children who lived and died in the 4,000 years before Christ appeared? These did not hear the gospel, for the gospel was not preached until Christ. We also read that God’s plan of the ages was hidden from those who lived in previous times. What Paul is saying, as he quotes from the prophet Isaiah, is that "now", at this time, salvation has been made known. What was formerly a mystery, though typified by various observances such as the Feast of Passover, is now revealed. Salvation is now seen to be in Christ. Paul echoes this sentiment in his writing to Titus.
For the grace of God has now appeared, bringing salvation to all men...
The acceptable time and day of salvation began when Christ went to the cross and bore the sins of ALL mankind. This salvation is for ALL men, even those who lived before the time of Christ, but it was not made known until Christ died. How very plain are Paul’s words to Titus, "For the grace of God has now appeared, BRINGING SALVATION TO ALL MEN...." Yet this truth is almost universally denied by the church today. The church says that salvation is for a few, and the majority will never be saved. They will spend eternity in Hell (Which is impossible since we have seen that Hell itself will be cast into the Lake of Fire and perish.)
The Scriptures do teach that NOW is the time to present oneself as a freewill offering, a living sacrifice upon the altar of God. NOW is the time to live in such a way as to merit reward at the return of Christ. If a person misses this opportunity they will forfeit much that is beyond estimable value. We are told that: Revelation 22:12
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done."
If one does not avail themselves of the opportunities in this lifetime to earn this reward, they will suffer loss, but they will be saved.
I Corinthians 3:15
If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
If we insist on teaching a one shot gospel that leaves the vast multitudes of this world suffering in Hell for all eternity, then what do we make of verses such as Paul’s above that says that the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to ALL men? In the introduction to this book I listed a number of Scriptures that bear this meaning out, and because the truth is so seldom preached I do not feel it would be mere redundancy to repeat these verses again. We need to look at these verses and understand them.
I Timothy 2:3-4
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires ALL MEN to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 4:10
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of ALL MEN, especially of believers.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to ALL MEN...
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to ALL MEN, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to ALL MEN.
Undoubtedly, this teaching casts down one of the five main tenets of Calvinism, that of Limited Atonement. Atonement is UNLIMITED. The sacrifice of Christ is omnipotently effective. It is infinite in its scope.
For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
If ALL THINGS are to be summed up in Christ, then ultimately ALL THINGS must be reconciled to God through the cross of Christ. Nothing is excepted. We do not see this reconciliation in this age, and vast multitudes have been led to adopt doctrines that declare that if reconciliation does not come to any member of creation in this age, they will have no more opportunity to be saved. What a grievous thing this is, and one that is disproved in many places in Scripture. Consider the message of the following passage.
I Peter 3:18-4:6
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water... For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.
Note that Peter begins by telling us that Christ died for sins, "once FOR ALL, the just for the unjust." This truth is throughout the pages of the Bible. He then proceeds to tell us a marvelous thing. After His death, Christ went and proclaimed the gospel to the spirits of dead men who were kept in prison, men who had perished in the days of Noah when Yahweh judged the earth with the flood. Peter tells us that the gospel has "been peached even to those who are dead." Why was it preached to them? That "they may live in the spirit according to the will of God."
This passage completely overturns the doctrine of a one shot gospel. These men had listened to the preaching of Noah, and they had rejected it. They died in their sins. Yet Christ went and preached the gospel to these who had been kept in chains for so long due to their great sin, and He preached the gospel to them that they might live in the spirit according to the will of God. What is this will of God?
II Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
I Timothy 2:3-4
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires ALL MEN to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
It is the will of God that all should come to repentance. It is the will of God that ALL should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Let us revisit one more time Yahweh’s emphatic declaration that He made with an oath, recorded in the book of Isaiah.
"Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me EVERY KNEE will bow, EVERY TONGUE will swear allegiance."
This is the glorious gospel of Christ. Through the cross of Yahshua, ALL things whether in heaven, or on earth, will be reconciled to God the Father. There are many proofs we could give in this matter, but let us look at just one more. The Scriptures teach that ALL Israel will be saved, as we see in the following verses:
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins."
Lest some should try to spiritualize this passage and say that this refers only to spiritual Israel, we should note that it is speaking of the same Israel in which "a partial hardening has happened." This is natural Israel. Paul declares that in the end "all Israel will be saved." Now compare this with the message of the following verses.
Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.
Yahshua spoke these words over the cities of Israel, cities that had rejected the preaching of the gospel. He declared that it would be more tolerable for the citizens of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for these unbelieving Jewish cities.
If Paul tells us that ALL Israel will eventually be saved, and he says that Sodom’s judgment will be less than the unbelieving Israelites, then what does this say about Sodom? They too will be saved. They will endure Hell. They will endure the Lake of Fire, but when all that is not of God has been purged, purified and consumed they will then be saved "yet as through fire".
If one believes that all transgressors will share the same fate in Hell, or the Lake of Fire, and they also believe that none will ever escape, then how can it be "more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment" than for the cities of Israel? It cannot. They would all alike share the same judgment, unending torment. Yet, as we have seen, the Scriptures do not teach unending torment.
There are many Scriptures that cannot be explained when one adopts doctrines that teach that men, women and children have one shot at salvation, and having missed it they will then be consigned to eternal torment. Yahweh is a just God and He will punish sin, and do so severely. He is also a holy God, and He will have everything that stands in opposition to His holiness burned up and consumed. Yet, He is not a vindictive God. He does not find delight and pleasure in the punishment of the wicked.
Ezekiel 18:23, 32
Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says Yahweh GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live..." For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says Yahweh GOD.
Say to them: 'As I live,' says Yahweh GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'
The glorious gospel of the reconciliation of the entire creation can be summed up in one verse. It is a verse that expresses the very heart and character of God, whose mercies are new every morning. The Scripture is this:
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
David, the man who had a heart after God’s own, expressed his confidence in God’s ultimate mercy with these words:
O Yahweh, You showed favor to Your land; You restored the captivity of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of Your people; You covered all their sin. Selah. You withdrew all Your fury; You turned away from Your burning anger. Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Your indignation toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not Yourself revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O Yahweh, and grant us Your salvation.
"Will You be angry with us forever? Will you prolong Your anger to all generations?" The anger of Yahweh will burn fiercely until it consumes all that stands in opposition to His character and will, yet this too is the mercy of God. It would be unmerciful to leave the creation groaning under the curse of sin for all eternity.
Which God do you serve; One whose judgment will never be quenched, whose anger will last forever, or One whose mercy triumphs over judgment?
Show us Your lovingkindness, O Yahweh, and grant us Your salvation.
Selah - pause and consider.
A Full Salvation
I Timothy 4:10
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
Have you ever tried to explain what this verse means? It is pretty difficult if one does not discern the ultimate reconciliation of mankind. We have a God who is the Savior of ALL men. This is easily understood in the context of the message of this book, but what does it mean when it states "especially of believers"? How is salvation of a higher order for believers than for unbelievers? Answering this question will remove much of the criticism of those who say that preaching universal reconciliation will cause people to lead careless lives, and who declare that it will remove the urgency for mankind to be saved in this life.
When we talk of salvation, we must not only define who will be saved, we must define what salvation itself really is. The scriptures speak of Christ saving men from their sin. It also speaks of being saved from the judgment to come. These things are of course linked together. It is because of sin that there is judgment. Every man born of Adam is headed for judgment due to the fact that they were born a sinner from a sinful lineage. The Scriptures also reveal that all men are tri-part beings, body, soul and spirit.
I Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This verse is a real key in understanding the salvation of man. Man needs to be saved at three levels, body, soul and spirit. Paul says that Christ desires to sanctify us entirely, that is, at all three levels, that we would have no blame and be preserved complete at the coming of Christ. Let us tie this in with the verse above that states "God is the Savior of ALL men, especially of believers." All men will be saved at one of these levels, but the greatest salvation will belong to those who allow God to save them at all three levels. This is why it says, especially of believers.
It is believers who submit to the sanctifying work of God in their lives at all levels. Actually, it would be more accurate to state that believers are given the opportunity to be saved at all three levels. Not all saints do so, however. Many are called, but few are chosen. Some believers resist the grace of God and His sanctifying work in them. Therefore we see that some will share a place in the Lake of Fire with the unbelievers. They could have been SAVED (delivered) from this "second death" by presenting themselves as a living sacrifice in this life, by taking up the disciple's cross, but many choose to protect their soul and fleshly life, and therefore they will suffer loss in these two realms where they could have known complete salvation. I believe this is what Paul is speaking of in the following verses:
I Corinthians 3:15
If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
I Corinthians 5:5
I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Both of these verses are written to saints, and they speak of them receiving salvation at different levels. It is the will of God that His saints be saved at all three levels, but it is evident some will not. Some will suffer loss, and who can calculate the extent of this loss?! Spirit salvation is a free gift of God. This is the salvation that Ephesians speaks of in the following verses:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Where many of the arguments of Christianity arise, faith versus works, Calvinism versus Arminianism, is at this very point. Many saints do not discern that the Scriptures speak of a tri-part salvation. They can read a passage such as these verses in Ephesians and see that salvation is strictly by faith, with no works involved. They fail to identify this salvation as spirit salvation only. We then come to other verses, such as the following which paint a different picture.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
There are numerous verses that could be cited that paint both sides of this picture. Just read any writing on faith versus works and you will see a multitude of Scriptures that speak things that are on the surface contradictory. The problem comes in when the saints try to take verses that speak of the salvation of the soul, which must be worked out in the process of sanctification, and they contrast them with verses that speak of the salvation of the spirit which is a free gift of God and is not related to works. By not understanding the three levels on which God desires men to be saved, the saints get into many needless arguments.
I will give an evidence here that the salvation that is a free gift is speaking of "spirit salvation" which occurs at the moment one is born again of the Spirit of God.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
When we see this tied in with the following verse, we can readily see that this is the same salvation Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2:8, 9.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
This verse declares that man's will did not enter into this salvation. It is a free gift of God. "Salvation belongs to our God", and He dispenses it to whom He desires. So we see that spirit salvation is given without any merit on man's part. Yahshua told Nicodemus that a man cannot even see the Kingdom until after he has been born again, and a man cannot desire what he cannot see. Christ also said that no one could come to the Him unless the Spirit draws him. So this spirit salvation is both initiated and performed completely by God, and our only work is to believe.
This is not true of salvation at the other levels, however. Soul salvation and body salvation must be worked out. In the following verse we see Paul speaking of a further salvation beyond that of being born again of the Spirit.
so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
Paul is saying that there will be a further salvation at Christ's next appearing, but it will not be a taking away of sin as was seen at His first appearing when He went to the cross. This next salvation will be a soul salvation, and note that Paul does not say it is for everyone. He says Christ will appear with this salvation "to those who eagerly await Him." This is not the virgins who are sleeping, but the Bride who is alert and watching. The Bride is those who have allowed Christ to do His purifying and cleansing work in their lives here in this life. They have not fled from the cross. They have not sought to save their soul life, resulting in losing it. Rather, they have laid down their soul life and died to the things of self that they might gain true life at Christ's appearing. This is also what John speaks of:
I John 3:2-3
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
John, like Paul, is speaking of the return of Christ for a second salvation, a salvation of the soul. Not all will attain to this salvation. Some who have not purified themselves will endure the second death of the Lake of Fire. There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, even among the saints.
When we were born again of the Spirit, we became a divided house. We found that we now had the seed of God inside of us, and that which was born of the Spirit, our spirit, now joyfully concurs with the rule of God. Our spirit man seeks to please God at all times, yet we still are clothed in sinful flesh which is always lusting against the spirit. We are experiencing warfare in our members, and our soul is caught in the middle. The flesh wants to rule the soul, and the spirit wants to rule the soul. If we desire to experience full salvation then we must crucify our flesh, rule over it, buffet our bodies, and bring our soul into subjection to the spirit. If we fail to do so, then we will not benefit from the full salvation Christ desires for us.
At this very time we are caught in that period that Hosea wrote of:
Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. "He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him.
At Christ's first appearing, the Spirit was given and man experienced spirit birth. Man became a divided house ("He has torn us") and we now find warfare raging in our members. Can you imagine how awful it would be to never know an end to this warfare?
Man does not know true rest at this time for his make-up will not allow him to rest. If man is not ever diligent, if he does not choose to walk circumspectly and to be ever alert, his flesh will rise up and take control of his soul. Every day we must give our bodies over to death that the life of Christ might be manifested in and through us.
Yet this condition will not last forever. We are promised that after two days, two thousand years in God’s plan, He will revive us and make us whole. He will raise us up on the third day. It has now been nearly two thousand years since man first became a torn and divided house, for it was on Pentecost that the Spirit was given and this inner warfare commenced. Yahshua also spoke of His body working out their soul salvation for two thousand years, and afterwards being perfected and made whole, though His words are hardly recognized in this way today.
And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
Christ was speaking of more than His crucifixion here. He was speaking of His body of believers. For two days the body of Christ has cast out devils and performed cures, often on themselves, but they have not been perfected. Christianity has always been leavened with sin, and saints have always been divided vessels where warfare has raged in their members. But on the third day we are promised that we shall be perfected. We shall experience soul salvation, if we are ready and waiting.
Let us look one more time now at this verse that declares God to be the Savior of all men, especially of believers. I believe it is saying that all men will be saved at one of the three levels, but those who believe, and who consequently obey, subjecting themselves to the sanctifying work of God in this life, will experience the fullest salvation from Christ. It will be tragic indeed for those who realize what a great and complete salvation they have forfeited.
Many could be spared the second death, but the only way to be spared from it is to allow Christ to work a death in your soul life in this time in which we now live. Those who do so will receive great reward. As a freewill offering, their sacrifice of obedience will ascend as a fragrant aroma in the nostrils of God. Paul says that the "momentary light afflictions of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed in us." Not all will have this glory revealed in them, however, for many are fleeing from any voluntary affliction of their soul life. They want to protect their soul life. They want to live for self. One day soon their works will be tested as with fire and all that is wood, hay and stubble will be burned up. Great loss will be had by many. Their soul will be saved, yet as through fire.
Salvation actually holds a similar meaning as the word deliverance. Would you be spared the second death of the Lake of Fire? Would you like to be delivered from great loss and receive reward at the coming of Christ? Then you must work out your soul salvation with fear and trembling. You must submit yourself to the purging and purifying work of God. Daniel prophesied of these days:
Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.
How many today truly understand these things? Daniel was told that the wicked would not understand, but there would be some to whom insight is given. These will submit to the refining of God. Though it may seem intense, and at times beyond bearing, Paul assures us that in the light of the glory to come that these are but momentary light afflictions. John says those who have this hope of being like Christ purify themselves.
We have been called to a full salvation. God is truly the Savior of All men, but especially of believers.
A Final Note
Not all those who have written me regarding this teaching have charged me with heresy. Many have expressed great gratitude, and some have told me that they felt these things must be true in their spirit, but they did not know how to declare them from Scripture. There have also been some who have expressed sincere questions about these matters, and I would like to include one such query here. This brother asks an excellent question, and I applaud him for being as a Berean and searching out this matter to come to an answer that brings peace. Following is his question to me:
It seems to me that the only way for a man to accept correction and repent is if he is moved by the Holy Spirit to do so. Man is desperately wicked and I don’t believe that he can even have the desire to repent without the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Do you believe that the Bible teaches that Hell is separation from God? If indeed a person is separated from God in hell, how then can the spirit deal with this man when the Spirit is not in hell since in hell man is completely separated from God?
Is this reasoning flawed? Am I in error? Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated. [end quote]
In one sense death does represent a separation from God, but there is no such thing as a complete separation from God. Paul tells us:
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being...
Elihu, in the book of Job, also expresses this thought:
If He should set His heart on it, if He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.
The creation cannot know separation from God in an absolute sense and still remain. God is present in all of His creation. Paul expresses this further in this way:
And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together). (Amplified Bible)
Even in Hell, God must be present in His creation, or the creation would simply cease. David expresses this concept of God being present everywhere, even in Hell.
Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me", even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
The sense of this is plain. God is everywhere present in the creation. I would add also that there is no portion of God’s creation that does not bear His image and character in some way. Even though the creation suffers under sin and corruption, it was originally created perfect. Although man may be a fallen creature, he was originally created in the image of God. Satan also was described as being "perfect in beauty" and "the sum of wisdom ", before his fall. These characteristics are those of God, though they have now been marred by rebellion and evil.
The Lake of Fire certainly has characteristics of God. We have seen that the Lake of Fire is a place of divine cleansing where all that is not like God is consumed. We also have this description of God:
"For Yawheh your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God."
Sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling has seized the godless. "Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?"
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
Is it not interesting that after the judgment, all those whose names are not recorded in the book of life must be thrown into the Lake of Fire, which is called "the second death"? "Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?" The Lake of Fire represents this aspect of God that is most terrifying to sinful man. The consuming fire of God will not be quenched. It will burn until all that does not resemble Yahweh’s own holy character is destroyed. The most horrible judgment a sinner can encounter is to be brought into the presence of a holy God while still sinful. All that is wretched and vile and wicked and rebellious will immediately begin to wither away in the presence of the fire of the holiness of God.
Understanding this, I believe that the Lake of Fire is not separation from God, it is an encounter with God’s holiness. Our God is described as a consuming fire, and woe to the one who despises the gift of God now, and who rejects Yahweh’s offer to cleanse and purify them now while great grace is offered. The same grace will not be available to those who are cast into the Lake of Fire. They will not come out until all that is left is God. In this we see an echo of Christ’s parable of the unforgiving servant.
"Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?' And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."
If we fear God, we will not despise the days of grace we live in. We will seek to be emptied of self and to live for the purposes of God. We will invite Yahweh, as did David, to search us and see if there be any wicked way in us, and to lead us in the path of life.
May all who read these things be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
Some Who Held This View
The following is an excerpt from a Biblical Encyclopedia published in 1895. It is not intended to serve as a proof of the reconciliation of the creation through the cross of Christ. I merely share it because often when we have not been taught something, and it is new to us, we think that the teaching must be obscure and therefore dangerous. It would be a common response to view a teaching with suspicion if we have not heard it expounded before and if we are unfamiliar with the history of those who have held the same view. I personally would be extremely cautious about any teaching of which I could find no adherents among the early church, or through the 2,000 years of the church age. The Scriptures and the Spirit are our foremost witnesses of any teaching, but it is only sensible that these witnesses would be speaking to the saints throughout the history of the church if a teaching be true.
So I offer this brief history of those who held a universalist view of reconciliation, namely that all things in heaven and on earth will be reconciled to God through the cross of Christ. I myself was surprised to find that this teaching has had so many adherents when it is so glaringly absent in this present hour.
The men who compiled this list did not believe in the doctrine of universal reconciliation, but I think they did a very admirable job of reporting things in an unbiased manner, so much so that I was struck by their openness and their resolve to not depict any who held this view in a negative or derogatory light. They openly praised some of these men for their character and evangelism. I have added a few notes and highlights in the text for my own reference, and I decided to leave them intact just to share my thoughts.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,
The following is taken from the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 10, 1895, pp. 109-33, Rev. John McClintock and James Strong.
I. Origin and History. -
(I.) Informal. -
1. In Former Centuries.... In 195 Clemens Alexandrinus [Clement of Alexandria], who was president of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, advocated Universalism on the ground of the remedial character of all punishment. His pupil and successor in the school, Origen Adamantius, famous alike for his learning, piety, and zeal, taught Universalism on the ground of the ever-continuing freedom of the will, the deep mental and spiritual anguish occasioned by the light and knowledge of the truth until it leads to repentance, and then the harmony of the soul with God. Origen's position, abilities, and untiring efforts for the spread of the Gospel gave him great influence with his pupils, and with the Church at large, in whose behalf he became a voluminous writer. In addition to his position and work in the school of Alexandria, he also had care for several years, in connection with Pamphilius, of the theological school at Caesarea, one of whose distinguished pupils was the celebrated Gregory Thaumaturgus, a great admirer of his master's theories, and finally, about A.D. 235, his strong defender and ardent eulogist. Pamphilius, and Eusebius, the first Church historian, also defended Origen's doctrines from charges brought against them by the Western Church, and in answering the complaint that he denied all future punishment they quote from his writings in contradiction thereof, not only his positive assurances of future and severe punishment, but his equally positive assertion that such correction is purifying and salutary. In A.D. 364, Titus, bishop of Bostra, wrote in advocacy of Universalism, contending that, although there are torments in the abyss of hell, they are not eternal, but that their great severity will lead the wicked to repentance and so to salvation. Gregory of Nyssa, A.D. 380, also advocated Universalism on the same grounds. Contemporary with him was the justly celebrated defender of orthodoxy, Didymus the Blind, a successor of Origen in the school at Alexandria, and a zealous Universalist. Prominent among his scholars was Jerome, eminent alike for his abilities, his inconsistencies, and instability. Universalism as taught by Origen is clearly and ably set forth by Jerome in his commentaries on the epistles, and in his letters. John, bishop of Jerusalem at this period, was also an advocate of Universalism on Origen's theory. Another contemporary, Diodorus, a teacher of great repute in the school at Antioch, and afterwards bishop of Jerusalem, was also a Universalist, who, in opposition to the then general prevalence of allegorical interpretation, strictly adhered to the natural import of the text in his many commentaries on the Scriptures. He defended Universalism on the ground that the divine mercy far exceeds all the effects and all the desserts of sin. His pupil and successor in the school, Theodore of Mopsuestia, A.D. 420, called "the crown and climax of the school of Antioch," and by the Nestorians, whose sect he founded, "the interpreter of the Word of God ," and whose writings were text-books in the schools of Eastern Syria, was a prominent and influential Universalist. His theory was that sin is an incidental part of the development and education of the human race; that, while some are more involved in it than others, God will overrule it to the final establishment of all in good. He is the reputed author of the liturgy used by the Nestorians, a Church which at one time equaled, in its membership the combined adherents of both the Greek and Latin communions, and which has had no rival in military zeal. In the addresses and prayers of this liturgy Universalism is distinctly avowed.
Theodoret, A.D. 430, bishop of Cyprus in Syria, a pupil of Theodore of Mopsuestia, was also a Universalist, holding the doctrine on the theory advocated by the Antiochian school. For some time prior to this, certain opinions of Origen on pre-existence and on the salvation of the devil had been in dispute and pronounced heretical by a synod; but his doctrine of the universal salvation of the human race had not been involved in this condemnation. At a local council called by the emperor Justinian at Constantinople, A.D. 544, Origen's doctrine of universal salvation was declared heretical. [Note who is declaring this doctrine heretical - the Roman Emperor.] Nine years later another council was held by the same authority at the same place, when condemnation was pronounced on the Nestorians, although their belief in Universalism was not mentioned. It has been common to call this an ecumenical council, but without warrant (see the action of the Latin Church in refusing to recognize it or to send a legate to it). Doderlein, in his Institutes of Christian Theology, after quoting the decree of Justinian against Origen, says, "That was not the belief of all, and in proportion as any one was eminent in learning in Christian antiquity, the more did he cherish and defend the hope of the termination of future "torments." Drexelius, in his defense of eternal punishment, gives this testimony, "That God should doom the apostate angels and men at the day of retribution to eternal torments seemed so hard and incredible a doctrine to some persons that even Origen himself who was mighty in the Scriptures, and no less famous for his admirable wit and excellent learning, presumed to maintain in his book of principles that both the devils and the damned, after a certain period of years, the fire having purged or cleansed them from their pollutions, should be restored to grace. Augustine and others set forth his error and condemned him for it. But, notwithstanding their condemnation, this error has found a great many in the world who have given it a kind of civil reception. The Anti heretics so called, dispersed this error throughout all Spain under various interpretations." Gieseler, the ecclesiastical historian, says, "The belief in the inalienable capacity of improvement in all rational beings and the limited duration of future punishment, was so general, even in the West, and among the opponents of Origen, that, even if it may not be said to have arisen without the influence of Origen's school, it had become entirely independent of his system." And Augustine bears this testimony: "Some - nay, very many - from human sympathy commiserate the eternal punishment of the damned and their perpetual torture without intermission, and thus do not believe in it; not, indeed, by opposing the Holy Scriptures, but by softening all the severe things according to their own feelings, and giving a milder meaning to those things which they think are said in them more terribly than truly." Universalism almost wholly disappeared during the period known as the Dark Ages, although there are occasional glimpses of it even in the mutilated records which the papal Church has permitted to descend to us. [Note that this doctrine almost disappeared during the "Dark Ages", a time noted for the suppression of truth, wherein it derives its name.]
In the 7th century, Maximus, the Greek monk and confessor taught Universalism; in the 8th, Clement of Ireland was deposed from the priesthood for teaching that when Christ descended into hell he restored all the damned; while in the 9th, John Scotus Erigena, a famous philosopher who stood at the head of the learned of the court of France, was a bold defender of Universalism. In the 11th century, the Albigenses were, according to papal authorities, Universalists; [note again that the papal authorities strongly resisted this teaching. The papal authorities are not known to be defenders of truth, but rather suppressors of it.] In the 12th, Raynold, abbot of St. Martin's, in France, was charged before a council with holding "that all men will eventually be saved; " [Charged by the Catholic Church] In the 13th, Solomon, bishop of Bassorah, discussed the question of universal salvation, answering it in the affirmative. The Lollards in the 14th century taught Universalism in Bohemia and Austria; and at the same period a council convened by Langman, archbishop of Canterbury, gave judgment against Universalism as one of the heresies then taught in that province. [This was the period prior to the separation of England from Catholicism which occurred in 1529. Isn’t it interesting how strenuously Rome has resisted this teaching?] In the early part of the 15th century, a sect called "Men of Understanding" taught Universalism in Flanders, advocating it on the ground of the German Mystics, as did Tauler of Strasburg, and John Wessel, who, with others, have been called "the Reformers before the Reformation," whose writings Luther industriously studied and greatly admired.
2. In Modern Times. - With the Reformation, Universalism made a fresh appearance early in the 16th century, chiefly among some of the Anabaptist sects. The seventeenth article of the Augustine Confession, 1530, was expressly framed to "condemn the Anabaptists, who maintain that there shall be an end: to the punishments of the damned and of the devils." [Note - both Luther and Calvin considered Augustine to be the father of Roman Catholicism. See link to Catholic encyclopedia - http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/0 2091a.htm] Denk, Hetzer, and Stanislaus Pannonius were the most eminent defenders of Universalism at this period. Later in the century, Samuel Huber, divinity professor at Wittenberg, taught Universalism, it is alleged by Spanheim; and because, says Musheim, he would not go back to the old methods of teaching, "he was compelled to relinquish his office and go into exile." Early in the 17th century, Ernest Sonner, professor of philosophy at Altorf, published "a theological and philosophical demonstration that the endless punishment of the wicked would argue, not the justice, but the injustice, of God." John William Petersen, at one time court preacher at Lutin, and subsequently superintendent at Lunenberg, adopted and defended Universalism with such zeal that he was cited before the consistory, and, as he could not conscientiously renounce his convictions, was deprived of his office and forced into private life. In his retirement he wrote and published three folio volumes on Universalism, entitled Musterion Apokatastaseos Paltan, in which he mentions many who had defended that doctrine. The volumes appeared between the years 1700 and 1710. They opened a century of spirited controversy, of which Mosheim says, "The points of theology which had been controverted in the 17th century were destined to excite keener disputes in the 18th, such 'as the eternity of hell torments, and the final restoration of all intelligent beings to order, perfection, and happiness." Dietelmair, an opponent of Universalism, wrote on its history about the middle of this century. In the preface to his work he speaks of the contests which raged vehemently enough within the very bounds of the orthodox Church in the end of the last century 'the' beginning of the present." Among the defenses of Universalism contained in the first volume of Petersen's work was the Everlasting Gospel, attributed to Paul Siegvolk, which was but an assumed name of George Klein-Nicolai, deposed for his Universalism as preacher of Friessdorf. He published other works in defense of Universalism, but the most rapid and lasting popularity belonged to the Everlasting Gospel, which in forty-five years passed through five editions in Germany. In 1726 John Henry Haug, professor at Strasburg, having procured the assistance of Dr. Ernest Christoph Hochman, Christian Dippel, Count De Marcey, and others, commenced the publication of the Berleburger Bibel, an entirely new translation and commentary of the Holy Scriptures. They made themselves familiar with all the writings of the Mystics, and in their great work taught and defended Universalism from the Mystical standpoint. Their work fills eight large folio volumes, the last of which was published in 1742. Strong persecution assailing them, and no printer being willing to risk his office in doing their work, they were compelled to purchase their own type and a small press. When the Church they had established was at last broken up by their enemies, the members fled to America, taking their press with them, and it was set up by Christopher Sower in Germantown, Pa. One of De Marcey's intimate friends was George De Benneville, born of French parents in London in 1703. Before he was twenty years of age he commenced preaching in France, where he was arrested and condemned to die, but was reprieved on the scaffold by Louis XV. Making his way into Germany, he 'there preached Universalism several years, and then came to America. In 1727 appeared Ludvig Gerhard's Complete System of the Everlasting Gospel of the Restoration of All Things, together with the Baseless Opposite Doctrine of Eternal Damnation. The author was at one time professor of theology in the University of Rostock, and his publication called forth, according to Walch, no less than fourteen volumes in reply. Jung, Stilling in the latter part of the 18th century, an able defender of Christianity against German rationalism, was an ardent and eminent Universalist. Prof. Tholuck wrote, in 1835, that this doctrine "came particularly into notice through Jung-Stilling, that eminent man who was a particular instrument in the hand of God for keeping up evangelical truth in the latter part of the former century, and at the same time a strong patron to that doctrine." During the present century, Universalism has made rapid progress in Germany. Olshausen says of it that it '"has, no doubt, a deep root in noble minds, and is the expression of a heart-felt desire for a perfect harmony of the creation." Dr. Dwight wrote in 1829, "The doctrine of the eternity of future punishment is almost universally rejected..."
In England the Protestants, in drawing up their Forty-two Articles of Religion, in 1552, condemned Universalism. Ten years later, when the convocation revised the doctrines of the Church, the number of articles was reduced to thirty-nine, omitting, among others, the one condemning Universalism. Since that time Universalism has not been a forbidden doctrine in the Church of England, but has been advocated and defended by some of the most eminent members of its communion-such men as Dr. Henry More, Sir George Stonehouse, Bp. Thomas Newton, Dr. David Hartley, William Whiston, Dr. Thomas Burnet, Revs. Frederick W. Robertson, Charles Kingsley, Stopford Brooke, and canon Farrar, and indirectly by archbishop Tillotson. The Presbyterian Parliament of 1648, which temporarily overthrew Episcopacy, passed a law against all heresies, punishing the persistent holders of some with death, and of others with imprisonment. "That all men shall be saved" was among the heresies punishable in the latter manner. [Note - it is interesting to see how government has tried to suppress this teaching.] This law was not long operative, for the Independents, headed by Cromwell, soon overthrew the law-makers. Gerard Willstanley published a work in advocacy of Universalism only a few days after the passage of the law, which was soon followed by similar works from his pen. William Earbury fearlessly preached Universalism. Richard Coppin was active in its advocacy, publishing largely in its exposition and defense, and was several times tried for his offence. Samuel Richardson, an eminent Baptist, also wrote strongly in its behalf. Sir Henry Vane (the younger), member of the Parliament dissolved by Cromwell, and in 1636 governor of Massachusetts, was a Universalist. Jeremy White, one of Cromwell's chaplains, preached Universalism, and published a work which has passed through several editions. Jane Lead, a Mystic, was the author of several Universalist books. Henry Brooke, a literary writer, avowed his belief in Universalism in his Fool of Qualify, and in a poem on the Messiah. William Law, author of the Serious Call, declared in his Letters, "As for the purification of all human nature, I fully believe it, either in this world or some after ages." The English literary reviews of the last century contain many notices of works in defense of Universalism. In 1750 James Relly, who had been a preacher in Whitefield's connection, shocked at the doctrine of reprobation, was by meditation and study led into another scheme of redemption, some of the peculiarities of which may be said to have had their origin with him. Accepting as true the common theory that all men, having sinned in Adam, justly incurred eternal damnation, and that Christ had borne this infinite guilt and punishment in behalf of all who should be saved, Relly was moved to find, if possible, some ground of justice in such a scheme. The divine law explicitly declares that "the soul which sinneth, it shall die," and that the innocent shall not suffer for the guilty. How could a transfer of human sin and penalty to Christ be consistent with that law? How could it be reconciled with equity? The divine sovereignty, without regard to inherent justice in the plan, could not account for it for the absoluteness that could set justice aside might just as easily, and more mercifully, have gone straight to its aim by remitting instead of transferring sin and its deserts. To say that the sufferings of Christ were merely accepted as satisfaction for human deserts, only reckoned as such, by God's sovereign pleasure, was no adequate explanation, since they were thus only a fictitious, not a real, satisfaction; and, further, any sufferings whatsoever, even those of a man, would have answered just as well as an arbitrary acceptance of the coequal of God. The perfect consistency of God's procedure, its absolute harmony with justice and equity, Relly found, as he claimed, in such a real and thorough union of Christ with the human race as made their acts his, and his theirs. All men, he held, were really in Adam and sinned in him, not by a fictitious imputation, but by - actual participation; equally so are all men in the second Adam, "the head of every man," and he is as justly accountable for what they do as is the head in the natural body, accountable for the deeds of all the members united to that head. Accordingly Christ, in his corporate capacity, was truly guilty of the offence of the 'human race, and could be, as he actually was, justly punished for it; and the race, because of this union, really suffered in him all the penalty which he endured, and thus fully satisfied justice. There is no more punishment, therefore, due for sin, nor any further occasion for declaring the demands of the law, except to make men feel their inability to obey, and thus compel them to an exclusive reliance on Christ the head. He has effected a complete and finished justification of the whole world. When man believes this he is freed from the sense of guilt, freed also from all doubt and fear. Until he believes it he is, whether in this world or in another, under the condemnation of unbelief and darkness, the only condemnation now possible to the human race. In illustration and defense of this theory, Relly wrote and published several books, preached zealously in London and vicinity, and gathered a congregation in the metropolis. After his death in 1778, two societies were formed from his congregation; but both have now ceased to exist, as has the society gathered by Winchester about 1789, and the Church founded by David Thom, D.D., in Liverpool in 1825. The Unitarians in England are all believers in Universalism, as are also many of the Congregationalists.
3. In America Universalism is the result of the proclamation of a variety of theories, some of them at a very early date, all resulting in one conclusion - the final holiness of the human race. Sir Henry Vane as was said above, was a Universalist. It is not known that while in America he made any public avowal of that belief; but the presumption is that he did not stand alone. In July, 1684, Joseph Gatchell, of Marblehead, Mass., was brought before the Suffolk County Court for discoursing "that all men should be saved," and, being convicted, was sentenced "to the pillory and to have his tongue drawn forth and pierced with a hot iron." [It is hard to understand how some could justify such a punishment based upon Scripture.] Dr. George De Benneville, also mentioned above, came to America in 1741, expressly called of God, as he believed, to preach the Gospel in the New World. For more than fifty years he preached in various parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas. He was not an organizer, but simply a preacher, and quite a voluminous writer, though only a few of his productions were published. For several years he was welcomed to the pulpits of the "Brethren" (Dunkers). It was no doubt at his suggestion that Siegvolk's Everlasting Gospel was translated into English, and published by Christopher Sower, printed, probably, on the identical press on which the Berleburger Bibel had been struck off. This edition was reviewed by Rev. N. Pomp, a German minister in Philadelphia. Alexander Mack, an eminent preacher among the Dunkers, replied to Pomp, defending Siegvolk's views. This work was never published, but the M S. is still preserved. There was found among Dr. De Bonneville's papers, after his death, in 1793, a Commentary on the Apocalypse, which was printed in German, at Lebanon, Pa., in 1808. There was also Universalism in the Episcopal Church. Rev. Richard Clarke, rector of St. Philip's in Charleston, S. C., from 1754 to 1759, was a pronounced advocate of it; as was Rev. John Tyler, rector of the Church in Norwich, Conn., who wrote a work in its defense, which was published by some one to whom he had loaned his MS., about 1787. Some of the Congregationalists of New England were believers in Universalism; among them Dr. Jonathan Mayhew, minister of the West Church in Boston from 1747 to 1766, who distinctly avowed his belief in it in a published Thanksgiving Sermon, Dec. 9, 1762. Dr. Charles Chauncy, minister of the First Church in Boston from 1727 to 1787, issued a pamphlet on the subject in 1782, which was review ed by Dr. Samuel Mather. In 1784 his larger work The Salvation of All Men was published, a second edition following in 1787. Dr. Joseph Huntington, minister in Coventry, Conn., from 1762 to 1794, left a work in favor of Universalism, entitled Calvinism Improved, which was published in 1796.