8. Locks Up All Together
It is an undeniable fact that many people believe in a literal hell as a place of eternal torment for lost humanity. It is blasted across the airwaves by some preachers of the word of God that billions upon billions of humans created to be in the image of God are now toasting in Godís torture chamber called hell with no chance of ever being reconciled to God. Although they are dead, they somehow still live in human bodies that are not destroyed by the literal fire that consumes and torments them. As they say, these lost ones had free will,  and they exercised their will by rejecting Godís Son, so God has no choice but to banish them to an eternal existence away from His presence in which they will be tormented with fire forever and ever and ever. After all, He is mad at most of humanity and must take out His vengeance on them. Never mind that God is love (1 John 4.9).
Some say that love does not trump Godís justice. They even go so far as to say that Godís love demands that He banish most of the world, the world that He created and loves, to a never-ending existence that is worse than what has been devised by the worst terrorists and torturers that have ever lived on earth. Then, to cap it off, they say that those who make it into heaven will rejoice as they look upon the lost, including some of their loved ones, being tormented in their hell. After all, this is justice and all to the glory of God. Really?
It grieves my heart when I think of such thinking passed off as truth. The most diabolical quality of fallen man has been taken and made into a god in that image, all the while declaring that this is according to the sacred Scriptures; and that this is the heart of God that Scripture declares is love.
In essence, this line of teaching is declaring that through the death of His Son, the Savior of the world, the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, God cannot save all mankind, in fact, cannot and will not save most of mankind, and that His Sonís death on the cross was a failure. Why? Because many say that it is up to manís free will to choose to be saved. Think about it! Adamís one transgression was an absolute 100% success in bringing death and sin into the very fiber of all born of the human race, and yet, Christís one act of perfect righteousness, ordained by God Himself, is unable to save all born of the human race; only a relatively few will be saved by most accounts. If this were true, which it is not, then we would have to conclude that God is rather weak and impotent; His plan of salvation is mostly a failure and is totally dependent on man, not God.
God will have all mankind to be saved.
But let it be shouted from the rooftops that our God is not weak nor is He impotent in the plan of salvation or in anything else, for that matter. He is the Savior of the world! God the Father sent His Son to save the world, the whole world that He loves. Man can fail and does fail at many things, but God cannot fail at anything that He sets out to do, and He has set out to perfect mankind into His image and likeness. If He does fail, then how can He be God, the Supreme and Sovereign of His creation? We would have to declare that Scripture lies because we are told that He works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1.11 NASB), that it is God our Savior, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2.4 KJV), and that we rely on the living God (not a dead god), Who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially [not exclusively] of believers (1 Timothy 4.10 CV [added by writer]).
Did you catch the greatness of these words: Who will have all men to be saved? Who do you want to exclude from this all? Surely, God has not excluded anyone, so why do so many who profess to hold to the name of Christ declare a doctrine that is diametrically opposed to Godís word, which is spirit and life (John 6.63)?
It is amazing how so many people read these verses and declare them to be true with one huge exception: They only apply to ones who exercise their free will to choose Christ as their Savior. Where in any of the verses cited so far is the concept of manís free will? Actually, where in the entire Bible is there a word about man must exercise his will if he is to be saved? It is Godís will that is worked out in the salvation of mankind. It is God who wills salvation, not man who wills. This is why He had to send His Son to die for the sin of the world. Only His Son could meet the righteous demands of God.
Consider these verses:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3.10-18 KJV)
This is Godís indictment of mankind. None are righteous. None understand. None do good. None seek after God. NONE! Another way of stating this last truth is that mankind does not have the will or desire to seek after God. None seek! If none seek after God, then if it is left up to manís will to be saved then none will be saved. Period! Just in case some might think that they are special in this regard because they somehow ďmade a choice for Christ,Ē let us be reminded: For there is no respect of persons with God (Romans 2.11 KJV). We are all included in this none.
If we would just step back from the babel of Christendom, put aside the traditions of men and take God at His word, we would see that His plan of salvation for all mankind is the most glorious love story between the Creator and His creation. It is a love story that leaves none, absolutely none of His creatures, out of His purpose and plan. All are not included at the same time, but all will eventually come in, for this is the purpose of the eons, the purpose of God in Christ Jesus, His Son. His purpose is the reconciliation and restoration of all.
Now, there is one more Scripture that proves the point and serves as the springboard for what follows.
For even as you once were stubborn toward God, yet now were shown mercy at their stubbornness, thus these also are now stubborn to this mercy of yours, that now they also may be shown mercy. For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all. O, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments, and untraceable His ways! For, who knew the mind of the Lord? or, who became His adviser? or, who gives to Him first, and it will be repaid Him? seeing that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all: to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen! (Romans 11.30-36 CV)
In Romans 9-11, Paul
wrote much about
Within this section of Scripture, we discover one of the most profound truths of Scripture that blows the roof off of this notion that man has a free will that will seek after God and be saved. Consider several translations of the same verse.
For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11.32 KJV)
For God confined all in unbelief leading to disobedience, so that He should show mercy to all. (Romans 11.32 ALT)
For God hath shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11.32 ASV)
For God did shut up together the whole to unbelief, that to the whole He might do kindness. (Romans 11.32 YLT)
For God has locked up all in the prison of unbelief, that upon all alike He may have mercy. (Romans 11.32 WNT)
For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all. (Romans 11.32 CV)
The first thing to note is that in all the translations presented, God alone is the one taking the action. For God!
The second thing to note is that the subject of the action includes all, which is the whole of humanity. All together, the whole!
Strongís Concordance states that the Greek word for all in this verse is pas, which refers to all forms of the word, such as ďall, any, every, the whole.Ē There are no exceptions in this all, just as there are no exceptions in there is none righteous, none who understand, none who are good, and none who seek after God, as well as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23).
The third thing to note is in what all are together locked up or, as one translation implies, imprisoned. All of us, without exception, are locked up in unbelief or stubbornness.
According to Strongís Concordance, the Greek word translated concluded (a very strange rendering!), confined, locks up and shuts up means ďto shut together, that is, to include or embrace.Ē The Greek word translated stubbornness, disobedience and unbelief, according to Strongís means ďdisbelief (obstinate and rebellious); disobedient, unbelief.Ē The Concordant Greek Text English Sublinear, which is an ultra-literal translation, has taken the words together-locks and the all and made them locks up all together, and has taken the word un-persuadableness and made it stubbornness.
Most people probably understand the import of the word unbelief, but the word stubbornness, as derived from un-persuadableness, adds another dimension to the meaning.† No one can be persuaded. But persuaded in respect to what? Well, if there is none righteous and none seek after God, then it must be that man cannot be persuaded in respect to living a righteous, good, God-seeking life. In other words, manís will is not capable of being persuaded when it comes to salvation and the things of God.
The stubbornness or unbelief of mankind is not some aberration in Godís eonian purpose and plan. No! It is in the purpose of God, and even more amazing, it is according to the very plan of God. God Himself ordained it this way. He brought this creation called man into being to be stubborn, to be un-persuaded through his own will. Why? So that God could show His mercy to His entire creation through His divine will! Godís will is always intended to trump manís will. We could say, God shuts up free will!
Please do not lose the import of what you just read. It was Godís full intention to lock up all in stubbornness, even before eonian times. It wasnít that mankind failed apart from Godís will, so He had no choice but to lock up all and then come up with some corrective measure to bring it back, as if it all caught Him by surprise. No! No! How could a whole race be brought into being on this planet we call earth and all of them, absolutely all (100%) of them have been (are, will be) stubborn or in unbelief? By some estimates this earth has had from 50 billion to 110 billion people living on it.  According to some, it means that there have been about 50 billion free-will agents on this earth that had the capacity to choose good and to believe, and yet, according to Scripture, most did not choose such a path. Never mind that the evangel of Christ did not go out except in the last 4,000 years, which leaves a huge gap of 2,000 years.
Some say that mankind (Adam) had to be tested. Did God not know that Adam would not only fail the test but that all that followed him would also fail? No one, absolutely no one learned from Adamís sin. So, if we take the low end of the number, then 50 billion failed (probably something less than this to account for believers), and the number grows every day that a new human is born. Sounds pretty hopeless to me!
Do you mean to tell me that a God who is Supreme and Sovereign over all His creation and one who is perfect in all His ways, created that many people and not one of them, that is, not one single person, ever, could be persuaded to be obedient and believe according to his or her own free will. If you ask me, if this thought is left to stand alone, we would have to conclude that when God created man He failed colossally. Ah, but God did not fail, for His plan is a colossal success. Man≠kind was brought forth to be stubborn, so that Godís Son could die for the sin of the world and take sin away to the grave. Sin was imputed to all mankind through Adam, and righteousness (or, justification for life) was imputed to all mankind through the last Adam, Christ (Romans 5).
Oh, the wisdom of God! It is proof that free will is a figment of fertile imagina≠tions when it comes to Godís purpose of the eons and the restoration and recon≠ciliation of all.
The indictment of mankind is that all are stubborn, and in this stubbornness, God Himself locks up all mankind together. No one can get out of this lock box! We are all shut up together. None of us can be persuaded. But here is the encouraging part: God Himself locks us all up, so that He alone should be merciful to all. He will treat all alike, for there is no partiality with God (Romans 2.11 CV). In other words, He alone is the one to release all humanity from this prison of stubborn≠ness or un≠belief. He has the key to unlock it, and it is belief in His Son, which is the faith of the Son of God that all will eventually receive as a gift of God, so that all are saved, in their own era, either at the former (first) resurrection, the latter (second) resur≠rection (great white throne, lake of fire), or at the consummation of the eons.
A prisoner has no way out unless the jailer unlocks the door, and this is the picture all of us must see in order to understand this whole matter of the salvation of all mankind.
No wonder Paul had to declare: O, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments, and untraceable His ways! For, who knew the mind of the Lord? or, who became His adviser? or, who gives to Him first, and it will be repaid Him?
Paul netted it all out, and it was none of mankind and all of God. Seeing that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all: to Him be the glory for the eons!
Oh, let us get off our high horses of pride and arrogance and be humbled before the Almighty God Who is the Savior of all! He alone is responsible for our salvation, and He alone will bring about the salvation of all mankind through His beloved Son. He alone will bring all to bow the knee by His spirit, for no one can say ďJesus is Lord,Ē except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.3).
That in the name of Jesus every knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean (Philippians 2.10 CV).
Paul did not just make up these words. As one who knew Hebrew Scripture, Paul knew the heart of God for mankind, as spoken through Isaiah the prophet.
ďI 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.Ē (Isaiah 45.23 NASB)
The Lord has sworn by Himself. What has He sworn? Exactly what Paul declared: Every knee will bow! His word has gone forth, and it will not turn back to Him. Godís word is like pure gold refined in fire. His word is righteous, and what He has sent forth according to His word will happen. Every knee will bow, not by force but by the mercy and grace of God, and by His spirit.
Destined to fail.
Do you realize that God brought forth man with the express purpose that he fail, so that Godís ultimate purpose for man, to be conformed to the image of His Son, will be accomplished, and in the consummation of the eons, God may be All in all? Yes, failure sums up the history of mankind, and it is all by the design and sovereign will of God.
Failure is absolutely essential to bring mankind; that is, all of us, you and me, to the end of ourselves, so that Christ may be all in all and ultimately God the Father may be All in all. No man will ever boast before the throne of God. He will never boast in his own so-called free will. He will never boast that he brought anything to the table in bringing about Godís purpose and plan. As Paul wrote: But HE WHO BOASTS IS TO BOAST IN THE LORD (2 Corinthians 10.17 NASB).
Just as the Lamb of God was slain from before the disruption, or the foundation of the world, so was it ordained of God that mankind would fail and fall short of His glory. Not only would he fail but that he had to fail, and this is in accord with the purpose of God. Simply, man was not given the ability to succeed on his own.
For apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15.5 CV)
Let us no longer be blinded by the god of this eon. All mankind, without exception, is a failure and absolutely no one deserves the grace and mercy of God. No one! We all miss the mark and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23). Many who believe in the Lord Jesus think that they made a choice for Christ because the preacher told them they had to or else they would roast in hell forever and ever. You may have had some legitimate emotional response that is still real to you this day. You may have made an altar call or walked the aisle out of obedience. But if you were truly saved of God, and the spirit of God took up residence in you, then it had absolutely nothing to do with your aisle walk or with your free will to put one foot before the other. It was all by the grace of God that broke into your life and overwhelmed your unbelief, your stubbornness toward God.
Paul declared: Yet the grace of our Lord overwhelms, with faith and love in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1.14 CV).
John declared: 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 (John 1.12-13 NASB)
But of God answers the whole matter of who is directing the grand drama of mankind. It was not your will that saved you but the will of God that declares that He wills that all men are to be saved.
As Jesus said: Every one whom the Father gives me will come to me, and him who comes to me I will never on any account drive away (John 6.37 WNT).
It is the faith of the Son of God that draws man, not his faith. It is the grace of God that overwhelms manís unbelief.
What and how much has been given to the Son? All things!
All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. (Luke 10.22 KJV)
In these two verses, please note that the action is on the part of the Father and the Son. You will search in vain for any action on the part of man. The Father gives and the Son reveals.
Mankindís failure for Godís greatest glory.
Now, let us continue along this line of failure.
When we read Scripture, there seems to be failure on all levels. God alone is the Supreme in authority in the kingdom of mortals, and to whom He is willing is He giving it, and low one of mortals is He setting over it (Daniel 4.17 CV). And yet, mankind on all levels fails, even in that which God Himself calls into being ac≠cording to His will.
Everything seems so strange when one looks at history and at what is around us today. Why is there so much failure? Why does God allow so much failure? Why does He let it go on so long before He will step in and make everything right? Why is there so much evil? Why must people die? There are a thousand and one questions that could be asked and are asked every day.
If we telescope out from the world system (the kosmos) in which we live and look at the overall condition of mankind, we must conclude that manís history is marked by failure.
Here is some good news: Mankindís failure is for Godís greatest glory. If we see this, we will see that mankind must fail on all levels and all fronts, so that Godís purpose will be achieved, and He alone will receive all the glory as All in all. Our boast will be in the Son of God who will bring about Godís purpose. Failure is by Godís design! But here is more good news: Woven through what looks like the greatest of failures is the golden thread of Godís handiwork.
Surely, everything that God does is a success. We know that the entire family of God from all economies or eras throughout all the generations is being connected together and growing into a holy temple in the Lord, and that many are being built together into a dwelling of God in spirit of which Christ Jesus Himself is the chief cornerstone and the capstone (see Ephesians 2.21-22).
Let it be indelibly written on our hearts that Godís eonian plan or plan of the eons (ages) is being carried out exactly as God purposed and is being executed precisely according to Godís timing. Nothing that has happened, is happening or will happen is outside the will of God. Nothing! And, no man can change it. God alone is the Supreme, and His will will be done.
We can look around us and wonder if Godís will is truly being worked out; but we do not have to wonder if we believe that God alone is Supreme, that He is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1.12), and that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all (Romans 11.36). ALL!
Satan, the adversary.
Consider Satan, the adversary of God and his (its) relation to mankind. So many people place the blame for failure on this archenemy. They see him (it) as the anointed messenger (angel) that started out good but turned evil; however, this is not true. Satan was evil from the start. John tells us that from the beginning is the Adversary sinning (1 John 3.8 CV). In other words, he did not turn into a sinning messenger after being created; rather, he was created evil; he was created to be a sinning messenger.
This may be hard for some to accept, but may the spirit of God open your eyes.
Speaking of God, Isaiah gave us a truth that many have not fully understood. Former of light and Creator of darkness, Maker of good and Creator of evil (Isaiah 45.7 CV). Do you understand the significance of this word? God is the Creator of evil. He alone is responsible for evil. Consider Solomonís wisdom: The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil (Proverbs 16.4 NASB). God is not evil in any sense of the word. He is merely the Creator. He could be likened to a chef baking a cake. The chef can bake a cake without ever eating it. He knows what went into the cake, and it comes out in the form he planned for it, but if he never takes a bite of it, he has no idea what the cake tastes like. Likewise, God does not partake of evil in any manner whatsoever, but He is still its Creator, for all comes forth from Him.
Seeing that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all: to Him be the glory for the eons! (Romans 11.36 CV)
What is evil? Is it not the antagonist of good? Only God is good (Matthew 19.17)! Consequently, Satan was created to be the adversary of God, so that mankind would have a stark contrast to God. By having a contrast, mankind would come to know the one true God of love and light, in whom there is no darkness (1 John 1.5). God is the one who created evil and the one who created Satan to be His evil antagonist. Every step that God has taken has been followed by Satan. Satan is like a shadow; for every step God takes in the light, there is a shadow of darkness cast upon creation in general and mankind in specific. This is by Godís design. If it were not so, how would we know good from evil, or light from dark, or love from hate, or peace from war, or life from death? Mankind needs the contrast to know God. This is the glorious wisdom of God that answers the age-old question of why things are as they are. It is Godís doing until the consummation when God will be All in all.
You might retort that mankind was never created to know evil; but who says? Scripture surely does not state this. On the contrary, God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden with full expectation that Adam and Eve would partake of the tree. It was no accident that the tree was placed in full view of mankindís parents and that the serpent of old was waiting for his moment of deception. After all, if we accept that God is Supreme and Sovereign, and all things come through Him, then we must conclude that the whole drama played out in the garden was written and directed by God.
Some proclaim that prior to his fall, Adam was in the age of innocence, and that he had to be tested to see if he would obey Godís one command. If this is true, then it sure sounds like a formula for failure. Adam was the new kid on the block. Satan, the old serpent, had been around awhile and was not ignorant of Godís ways. The eternal God knows all and sees all, and He knew that in their current state Adam, and especially Eve, were no match for the old devil. Besides, God put Adam and Eve in the garden with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil staring them in the face, as if to say, ďGo ahead and eat!Ē Adam had no experience with death, so how was he to know what it meant to die? The serpent probably knew, but how was the first man to know?
Adam was simply outgunned and destined to fail. Plus, Eve was out of his body, bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh. Based on Godís absolute law of love, Adam had to love his body. He had to follow his wife in eating of the forbidden fruit because he loved her as his own body. This is what Paul tells us in his Ephesians epistle as he compares Christ and His body to Adam and his body. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it (Ephesians 5.29 NASB). Of course, there are many types and antitypes in the account of Adam and Eve, but in its primal presentation, it reveals failure as ordained by God. Adam had no choice but to sin because God had given him no choice in the matter. If he had left Eve on her own, Adam would have broken the much higher law of love.
After our first parents partook of the tree, what did God declare? ďBehold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evilĒ (Genesis 3.22). Man was created to be perfected into the image of God, and this requires that he have knowledge of both good and evil. But this knowing was only the beginning of the process to conform mankind into the image of the Son. It was Godís full intention that mankind would not only partake of this tree but also live by this tree, at least for 6,000 years.
However, mankind requires more than mere knowledge of good and evil. He must experience both. He must have the contrast of the two, just as he must experience the countless contrasts found throughout Godís creation (e.g., light and dark, love and hate, victory and defeat, peace and war, life and death, health and sickness, up and down, hot and cold, soft and hard, wet and dry, to name a few). Adam and Eve were not instantaneously created in the image of God. They were not created as some super-human, perfected beings.
Some state that Adam and Eve were created perfect and that the were in the image of God right from the start. If this were so, they never would have partaken of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They would have been smart enough to know that when the serpent said they would not die that it was a lie. But they fell for the lie, and death entered into all mankind from that day forward. Then why was Eve first deceived by the serpent, and then Adam followed? The answer is that they were not created perfect; they had to be perfected, as all of us do, and that requires failure.
The futility of mankind.
We have been so indoctrinated with so much unscriptural babel that it is probably hard for most believers to imagine that mankind, who was created to be in Godís image and likeness, was predetermined to fail. If it is any consolation, I am still struggling to get all the babel out of my thinking that has been thrust into my mind over the last twenty-five years.
One would think that God is so invested in a creation that He made to be in His image that He would go all out to prevent it from failing, even pro≠gramming its genetic pool if need be, so it would not fail. Many theologians, teachers, pastors and preachers of Christendom declare ad nauseam that God did not want robots, so He gave mankind a free will to make their own choices. In other words, mankind can choose to believe or not to believe in God. Salvation is entirely dependent on mankind and not on God who, by the way, is the Savior of all mankind (1 Timothy 4.10) and wills that all mankind be saved (1 Timothy 2.4).
If mankind has a free will to be saved, then answer this one question: Did Paul, the apostle of the nations, the chief or foremost among all sinners (1 Timothy 1.16), who was severed from his motherís womb and called by His grace (Galatians 1.15), have a choice in the matter on the road to Damascus? On that infamous road, according to his own testimony, Paul was ignorant and in unbelief, and yet the grace of our Lord overwhelmed his ignorance and unbelief, with faith and love in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1.13-14). Do you read of any free will in regard to salvation in Paulís testimony or in any of his epistles, for that matter? Even where he exhorted the brethren to be carrying your own salvation into effect, Paul wrote: For it is God Who is operating in you to will as well as to work for the sake of His delight (Philippians 2.13 CV). Notice that it is God who operates in you to will. Where is there a free will independent of God in Paulís words? There is none. We are totally dependent on God even to please Him.
In the context of declaring the foolishness of God is wiser than men, consider how Paul viewed the whole matter of salvation.
But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemptionÖ. (1 Corinthians 1.30 NASB)
By Godís doing you are in Christ! Not by your doing, not by your will, not by your wisdom, not by anything that comes from you! Either God does it or it does not happen; pure and simple.
(prior to his encounter with Christ) was heading to
Was Saul walking on that road that day wondering how he was to be saved? Was he pondering how to ask the Lord into his heart? Was he seeking some meeting of a local ecclesia, so that he could walk the aisle, make an altar call, and tell everyone that he had accepted Christ into his heart? No! Such thinking was totally foreign to Saulís thinking on that day. He set out to destroy those who had been called of the Lord. To him, the One called Jesus was an enemy of his entire belief system and teaching.
How was he saved on that road? He was saved by the grace of the Lord that overwhelmed his ignorance and unbelief! Saul had no time to rationalize what was happening to him. He had no time to stand in the midst of the light and refuse the One speaking to him. Simply, he had no choice in the matter. It was a settled matter; a matter settled from the risen Christ seated at the right hand of His Father in heaven. He was called and chosen by the will of God. He was extricated out of the present wicked eon, according to the will of our God and Father, to Whom be the glory for the eons of the eons (Galatians 1.4-5 CV). Again, the will of God is what was operative in Paulís life.
In his epistles, Paul acknowledged that it was not even his faith that saved him or anyone elseís faith, for that matter.
I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live, I, but Christ lives in me; but in that I now live in flesh, I live by faith, the faith of the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me. (Galatians 2.20 DNT)
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2.20 KJV)
For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is Godís giftÖ (Ephesians 2.8 DNT)
For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this [is] not from you; [it is] the gift of GodÖ (Ephesians 2.8 ALT)
Notice that in each case, it is not Paulís faith or our faith but the faith of the Son, and that this faith is not of yourselves but a gift from God. Thus, the whole matter is based on a faith that is received. How can we say that our so-called free will saved us? Of course, many seem to take this view, but it is not based on Scripture.
Christendom has placed man at the center of his destiny and made him the hero or villain in his fate, when God alone has set the destiny of His entire creation, and He alone will receive all the glory. If He does not, then He is not the Supreme; man is.
God has allowed man to fail on all levels and all fronts, for without failure man will never truly know God. Further, if man succeeded in his own might, it would be to his own glory and not to Godís glory. The boast would be in man.
Adam failed and death passed through into all mankind, on which all sinned (Romans 5.12 CV). Every human that has followed Adam has failed since all sin. What is sin? It is missing the mark, making a mistake, failing of the ideal.
The ancient world failed.
Consider the condition of mankind, especially of the ancient world, as described by Paul in Romans 1.18-23. Mankind is without excuse, for God has revealed Himself to His creatures through His creation. God manifest in His creation was to lead mankind to worship the Creator. What did mankind do when they saw these invisible attributes of God? They sought to worship what they perceived. In other words, mankind did exactly what they were supposed to do, and that is worship, but they failed by worshipping the created rather than the Creator. Mankind failed to see the invisible God and took what they could see and worshipped it instead. The result was that God turned mankind over to the lusts of their heart. Mankind failed! (Is it any different today? Hardly!)
human that has followed Adam has failed, even the greatest of Godís people.
Just look at the history of the men of God recorded in Scripture and you will
see men of great fleshly weakness. Who can argue that Ishmael, who came from
the loins of Abraham, was not a failure when we look at the daily crisis and
the dark clouds looming over the
Until man comes to see the futility of living without God, there will be evil; there will be darkness; there will be hatred; there will be war; and there will be death. But God knows that all of mankind will not and cannot come to the point of futility on their own. In other words, we (all of us) could never figure it out on our own. Never! Just consider the 6,000-year history of mankind. We could say that the last century and even the last few decades have been a techno≠logical miracle as manís genius has reached heights that have never been seen in the 6,000 years of history. However, on a moral and righteous level mankindís history is an abject failure. Man has not been able to overcome the evil heart of man; he has not been able to dispel darkness; he has not been able to make a world of total love for one another; he has not been able to govern righteously; he has not been able to stop war; and, most of all, he has not been able to overcome death. Simply, mankind has not been able to reach the heights of glory. All of this is in spite of all the tremendous technological advances and enlightenment that have occurred, even in the last one hundred years. Man is an abject failure when it comes to his heart.
Have you considered the countless number of laws that governments put into place in our age of great enlightenment? My home state just enacted 900 new laws. Do you honestly think that all these laws are to allow us to have what we call free will, as if we can exercise our will as we please and when we please? This is what free will demands, and yet, none of us can truly exercise our will in this fashion. Why are there laws? To constrain our will! We are constrained all the time. Donít you think that the Almighty can constrain our will to win us over to His love? Think about it!
2,000 years after Adam failed, God brought forth a special creation, a specific
group of people that are called Godís people, the ancient nation of
His wisdom, God brought forth a nation chosen to be His nation above all the
nations of the earth, called out from among the nations as a peculiar people,
the apple of His eye and the wife of Jehovah. They were called to be above all
the nations, with the blessing of God flowing through them, a royal priesthood
and a holy nation set apart unto God. The nations were to learn of God and His
ways through them, and to know the blessing of God. If
But what happened? They failed and their glorious destiny came apart each step of the way. It came apart at Mount Sinai as Moses was up on the mountain receiving the commands of God; it came apart as they worshipped a golden calf; it came apart as they approached the promised land and doubted God and listened to the fear of man instead of holding to the promise; it came apart when they demanded a king; it came apart when they joined themselves with the nations of the world and became more vile and evil than the worst of the nations; it came apart when they became adulterous whores running after other nations; it came apart when they worshipped false idols; it came apart when they shook their fists at God and declared they had no king but Caesar; and it came apart when they demanded the crucifixion of their Messiah.
a sordid history for Godís people! They have had a failed history, and yet God
called them out of
Did God stop loving His people and not plan for their redemption? Of course not!† In the fullness of time, God sent His Son, the Messiah of Israel, to this earth. He is called Jesus because He had a very specific mission.
Now she shall be bringing forth a Son, and you shall be calling His name Jesus, for He shall be saving His people from their sins. (Matthew 1.21 CV)
At His first advent, did He succeed in saving His Jewish brethren from their sins? Did they accept His offer? Absolutely not! Instead they made the most profane demand that Godís people could ever makeókill Godís Son.
Pilate is saying to them, ďWhat, then, shall I be doing with Jesus, who is termed Christ?Ē They are all saying, ďLet him be crucified!Ē Yet the governor averred, ďWhat evil does he?Ē Yet they cried exceedingly, saying, ďLet him be crucified!Ē (Matthew 27.22-23 CV)
Can you imagine that this came from the mouth of Godís chosen nation? Perhaps it is difficult to imagine, yet this was a fulfillment of Scripture.
To His own He came, and those who are His own accepted Him not. (John 1.11 CV)
did not save
Instead of embracing Him, the very ones He came to save demanded His death as if He were a common criminal. He turned from being the Savior of His people to being the Savior of the world, the Lamb slain for the sin of the world.
As the Savior of His people, why didnít He go all out to change their minds? From all appearances, His ministry to His blood brethren was a failure, but it was a failure according to Scripture. It is recorded that He spoke in parables, so that they would not understand. He explained the parables only to a handful of those closest to Him. Some were given light, but the majority were left in darkness.
was Godís design for them to remain in darkness. In the divine drama (play) of
God, this act in Godís play outwardly was to be a failure. It was to be a
tragedy. Jesusí mission to the lost sheep of the house of
And, approaching, the disciples say to Him, ďWherefore art Thou speaking in parables to them?Ē Now, answering, He said to them that ďTo you has it been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of the heavens, yet to those it has not been given. For anyone who has, to him shall be given, and he shall have a superfluity. Yet anyone who has not, that also which he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore in parables am I speaking to them, seeing that, observing, they are not observing, and hearing, they are not hearing, neither are they understanding. And filled up in them is the prophecy of Isaiah, that is saying, ĎIn hearing, you will be hearing, and may by no means be understanding, and observing, you will be observing, and may by no means be perceiving. For stoutened is the heart of this people, and with their ears heavily they hear, and with their eyes they squint, lest at some time they may be perceiving with their eyes, and with their ears should be hearing, and with their heart may be understanding, and should be turning about, and I shall be healing them.íĒ (Matthew 13.10-15 CV)
the last act of this wicked eon is played out, those that call themselves Jews
of the state of
is only one conclusion that can be made: Jesusí ministry to the lost sheep of
the house of
However, it still leaves us with the pressing question: Why did they have to fail so miserably? Surely, God could have kept them from going into such apostasy. He could have opened the eyes of their heart to understand. He could have spoken to them in plain language. Surely, He could keep them from any future apostasy. Then why didnít He do it? Why wonít He do it? Be patient, we will get back to the answer.
The embryonic ecclesia.
Matthew, we see this failure over and over again. We even see His closest
disciples not understanding and Jesus having to rebuke them for lack of faith.
The few gentile proselytes brought into the picture seem to have had more faith
than all of
This small, motley group of twelve men became part of a mighty move of God on the day of the Pentecost. As the tongues of fire fell upon them, they became empowered to take the evangel of the kingdom to their fellow Israelite brethren. However, they failed in their mission as well. They were unable to get their fellow brethren to see that they had demanded the death of their Messiah and King. It is true that on the day of Pentecost there was a mighty wind and many believed, but it was a relatively small number, a remnant. The rest of the Israelites rejected the message.
After Pentecost, some of the embryonic ecclesia, which was comprised mostly of saints from among the circumcision, looked down upon the saints from among the uncircumci≠sion. They failed to see them as co-equals in Godís plan. They saw them as prose≠lytes that could only be blessed through them. Some of the leaders of the believers from among the Jews wanted the believers from among the nations to follow the traditions of Moses. It took the revelation given to Paul some years later to open the eyes of saints to the truth of the one body in Christ.
Earnest of the spirit.
There are two important points that need to be understood regarding the ecclesia that grew out of Pentecost in 33 AD that answer why the ecclesia has failed.
First, even though on the day of Pentecost the spirit of God was poured out upon the ecclesia, it was only an earnest of the spirit that was received. During the Pentecostal Age, those who have been given the faith of the Son of God to believe have also been given an earnest of the spirit of God (2 Corinthians 1.22; 5.5; Ephesians 1.14), which means that they have been given a taste of the spirit but not the full anointing of the spirit. Consequently, they have not entered into the full promise of God in His Son, and this involves a full anointing of the Holy Spirit; therefore, they only have an earnest of the spirit in this eon.
Second, Pentecost was celebrated with leavened bread (Leviticus 23.17), which indicates that God never intended for the Pentecostal Age to be a huge success. Leaven is corruption, which has been manifested throughout this age as God has called out a people to Himself. Thus, failure was built into the Pentecostal Age. This is the meaning of the parable of the leaven (Matthew 13.33).
Now, this fact alone should humble us who are now in the ecclesia of God nearly two millennia beyond Pentecost.
The present ecclesia.
throwing too many stones at our early brethren, we need to examine the
condition of the ecclesia in our own day to see if we are living in a glass
house. Are we any different from
Are we holding to the unity of the spirit? Have we attained to the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4)? Are we truly ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5.18-21)? Have we successfully embraced the word of the conciliation in our lives, or have we fostered discord and dissent? Are we functioning as one body, or are we fractured into countless splinters? Are we walking by faith, or have we fallen into the depths of apostasy, even the depths of Satan? Are we separated from the evil world around us, or have we joined forces with it? Are we different from the world, or are we like the world?
Well, many questions of this sort could be asked, but what does Scripture tell us?
Now the spirit is saying explicitly, that in subsequent eras some will be withdrawing from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and the teachings of demons, in the hypocrisy of false expressions, their own conscience having been cauterized; forbidding to marry, abstaining from foods, which God creates to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who believe and realize the truth, seeing that every creature of God is ideal and nothing is to be cast away, being taken with thanksgiving, for it is hallowed through the word of God and pleading. (1 Timothy 4.1-5 CV)
Now this know, that in the last days perilous periods will be present, for men will be selfish, fond of money, ostentatious, proud, calumniators, stubborn to parents, ungrateful, malign, without natural affection, implaca≠ble, adversaries, uncontrollable, fierce, averse to the good, traitors, rash, con≠ceited, fond of their own gratification rather than fond of God; having a form of devoutness, yet denying its power. (2 Timothy 3.1-5 CV)
For the era will be when they will not tolerate sound teaching, but, their hearing being tickled, they will heap up for themselves teachers in accord with their own desires, and, indeed, they will be turning their hearing away from the truth, yet will be turned aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4.3-4 CV)
many of the Lordís people today have turned aside to myths? Just consider the
myths surrounding hell, death, afterlife and soul immortality, to name a few
things that many hold to in these last days. They are doctrines of demons. Or,
we could add the Hollywood-type emphasis on end-time events and even the ďrap≠ture.Ē
To this we could add prosperity and blessing teaching, anointing oils, daily
prophecy over lives and seeking for miracles, to name a few more. What about
riches? The world seeks for wealth and so does Christendom. Has anyone thought
What about power? So many today are looking for the miraculous, the signs and the wonders. They are looking for manifestations of power. It should remind us of when the disciples wanted to call fire down upon a Samaritan village that did not receive Jesus, on account of which Jesus rebuked them (Luke 9.54-55).
Can anyone argue the fact that today there is so much diverse and contrary teaching being given in the name of Jesus that it leaves oneís head spinning trying to decipher what is true and what is false? To make matters worse, many preachers claim they are preaching ďthe word,Ē and the unsuspecting pew sitters or radio and television listeners do not know if it is ďthe wordĒ or not, because they have not studied the word to prove it.
a pastor tells his congregation that they must tithe to him otherwise they will
be cursed, then we must run out of
the house of
I am not casting stones at my brethren in Christ who hold views contrary to Scripture (or, mine for that matter), for I too have held many of these views and even this day am trying to rid myself of baggage that has accumulated over many years. I am not there yet, but I keep pressing on in pursuit of the truth. It is far too easy to accept a teaching that sounds right, and yet it is from Satanís tool bag or from our own carnal minds that never rise above the dust of the earth. We need to remind ourselves that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, and where is this disguise most manifested? In the doctrine or teaching of Christendom!
For many years I have been crying out to know the truth. When I share this with some, I am greeted with disdain rather than encouragement. There are so many interpretations of Scripture that Godís people have long discarded the thought that God has absolute, spiritual truth, and they have bought into the relativism of the world. After all, they say that it is good to have many views of the same Scrip≠tures. It makes us well-rounded! I donít care to be well-rounded, which to me is like saying I want to be fat; I want to know the truth. Besides, they say: ďNo one man has a lock on the truth. How can you expect to come into it?Ē According to this thinking we might as well leave our Bibles on our coffee tables as dust col≠lectors.
you challenge some traditional, institutionalized teaching, such as billions
upon billions of lost humanity being thrust into an eternal oven to be toasted
for ever and ever with no chance of reprieve, you are given a book or a paper
by some well-known commentator who refutes the salvation or reconciliation of
all, as if he is the last word on the matter. In fact, this has happened to me
twice on the matter of God is the Savior of all mankind, and the eventual
salvation of all mankind. I was directed to the same article written by the
same author by one person in the
Cutting the word of truth.
Consider the great lack of sound teaching in our day. Who is heeding Paulís exhortation to Timothy?
Have a pattern of sound words, which you hear from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1.13 CV)
A sound pattern is more than taking words and piecing them together to support oneís position or message that one wants to sell to the people. It is holding to the proper framework of Scripture. It is like a puzzle with every piece of the puzzle being framed together until the whole picture comes into view. To do this, there needs to be a correct cutting of the word.
Endeavor to present yourself to God qualified, an unashamed worker, correctly cutting the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2.15 CV)
To get the puzzle pieces, we need to cut the word in such a way that it will form the proper picture; otherwise, the pieces will never fit, and we will have to force them together. Have you ever tried to force the pieces of a puzzle together that do not fit? The result is that the picture does not look right when we are done, or worse yet, we are not able to finish the puzzle. We end up with an incomplete picture. This is what some, who love the Lord, are unwittingly doing in our day.
I am reminded of my father who recently died (and now awaits the resurrection). When he could not fit puzzle pieces together, he would take his pocket knife and cut the pieces to fit. This is not the type of cutting that Paul meant. Essentially, my dad was destroying the puzzle. This is exactly what many preachers do when they do not cut the word properly; they take words and cut them to fit, but they do not fit. If we are honest with one another, most all of us have done this to some degree, and many do it all the time without any hesitation.
When this is done, the whole picture or framework of Scripture is ruined, and worse, something that is not even logical is created. If many of the preachers today would step back and logically analyze what they are saying, they would dis≠cover that they make no sense and contradict Scripture after Scripture.
There is another analogy to be made with a puzzle, and that pertains to losing a piece of the puzzle. If a piece is lost, then the picture cannot be completed. The same thing happens with the word if we leave out pieces that help to properly frame Godís purpose and plan. And this is what is done so often, particularly with words that are difficult to fit in the puzzle. They are often ignored altogether.
We need to be seekers of the truth of Scripture, not merely of the words of Scrip≠ture. We need to keep searching and when a piece does not fit, rather than forcing it into our mindset or our traditions and biases, or leaving it out completely, we need to examine it carefully to see why it does not fit.
of this is to state the obvious: There is as much failure today throughout
Christendom as there was for
Apostasy must come, and it has come. Falling away from the faith must come, and it has come. Following after doctrines of demons must come, and it has come. Not cutting the word properly must come, and it has come. The era when they will not tolerate sound teaching, but, their hearing being tickled, they will heap up for themselves teachers in accord with their own desires, and, indeed, they will be turning their hearing away from the truth, yet will be turned aside to myths must come, and it has come.
Systematizing of the deception.
Dear brethren, we have played a foolís game with Godís word by failing to dig for Godís truth and instead have accepted the traditions of men that came along after the embryonic ecclesias passed off the stage of history, and even worse, we have made up our own interpretations to satisfy the flesh in which there is no good (Romans 7.18).
According to Paul, the body of Christ is to mature until we attain to the unity of the faith and of the realization of the son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the complement of the Christ, that we may by no means still be minors, surging hither and thither and being carried about by every wind of teaching, by human caprice, by craftiness with a view to the systematizing of the deception (Ephesians 4.13-14 CV).
Only an adversary could devise a way to systematize the deception. This has been one of Satanís greatest achievements. He has not only succeeded in taking what is false but in taking it and packaging it into a systematic framework and then pass≠ing it off as the truth of Scripture. It appears as light but at its very core is dark≠ness. Many of Godís people have been hooked into this ďsystematizing of the de≠ception.Ē I confess that at times in my life I have, so I only have the greatest amount of compassion on my brethren who write and teach in this day.
Systematizing is not merely accepting something false; it is building an entire framework based on a deception, so that everything is seen through this deception. For example, if it is held that every believer immediately goes to heaven in death, then this becomes a framework by which all other Scripture related to such things as death, life, soul, resurrection and judgment is explained. When Paul wrote that he would rather be out of the body and at home with the Lord, such a framework holds that Paul taught that when a believer dies he goes to heaven immediately, which is contrary to Paulís expectation of the out-resurrection (Philippians 3.11). The result is that the one thing that is essential to the hope of believers is systematically put in a lower place of importance, ignored or distorted.
What is the result of this ďsystematizing of the deceptionĒ? Godís people are not growing up in Christ. They are minors, babes in Christ, not mature saints. They are carnal, not spiritual. This systematizing can be likened to putting a frog in a pot of water over a fire. At first, the water is lukewarm which is soothing to the creature, and it is lulled to sleep. When the water gets to the boiling point, the damage has been done, and it is too late for the frog to jump out of the water. In like fashion, some of Godís people are being bathed in lukewarm teaching. They are laughing and clapping at teaching that is failing them, and they do not know it. Praise God; He locks up all together, so who of us can cast a stone at our brethren? Let us pray continually for the eyes of our heart, as well as all of our brethren to be enlightened.
What are we to conclude? Failure is written across all the people that God has called and chosen. Failure is written across all mankind and its history.
God locks up all in stubbornness.
This leads to the answer to the pressing question of why. Why would God allow this to happen, even to that which holds to the name of His Son on this earth? This leads us back to this matter of stubbornness.
For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all. (Romans 11.32 CV)
you understand the greatness of these words? In the context of Paulís epistle,
we might be tempted to think that the locking up is only for
If any of us could reach Godís end by our own might without any failure, then we would take the glory for ourselves. We would consider ourselves better than all the others who failed. Even the body of Christ would do this and, in fact, is doing it in this day. Just consider the glee that seems to emanate from some circles of believ≠ers at the grotesque notion that the lost are roasting in an eternal fire. It is as if they are saying: ďWe made the right choice, so we deserve heaven. You made the wrong choice, so you deserve hell; itís your own fault. Burn brother!Ē
Let us restate these words. God locks up all, leaving all in a place of stubbornness (unpersuadable), so that all will receive His mercy, and all will be included in His grand purpose and plan, and all will give the glory to God. Let us state this in another way: No one will fail to receive His mercy; no one will be left out of His grand purpose and plan; and no one will take glory for himself. It is to the glory of God. O, the wisdom of God.
O, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments, and untraceable His ways! For, who knew the mind of the Lord? or, who became His adviser? or, who gives to Him first, and it will be repaid Him? seeing that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all: to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen! (Romans 11.33-36 CV)
Who knew, who became, who gives? The answer is the God of all!
The key to our understanding is the word all, which means that nothing is left out. In Godís wisdom, all must fail; all must be locked up in disobedience and stubbornness, so that all will come to Godís end. Do you get it? All will come to Godís end, to His purpose!
There is no other way for God to reach His end. What is His end? It is that He will be All in all! He locks up all for all. How can God be all if He annihilates billions of His human creations in the second death or leaves them to be tormented and tortured in literal flames of fire forever and ever? Think about it!
Out of Him and through Him and for Him is all.
To most people, these words probably have been lost in a sea of confusion. There are three clauses in this verse.
First, all is out of God. Everything comes forth from God; nothing, absolutely nothing in His creation comes out of any other source but God. He is the Supreme, and all comes out of Him, including the adversary.
Second, all is through God. Everything that is and that happens must come through God; nothing, absolutely nothing that happens in His creation can come through any other source but God. He is the Supreme, and all is through Him.
Third, all is for Him. Everything in His entire creation is for Him; nothing, absolutely nothing in His creation is for any other purpose but God. He is the Supreme, and all is for Him.
How can mankind come to know this great truth and come into the experience of it without experiencing failure? Mankind needs a contrast of who God truly is so that they will know Him, love Him and serve Him, not out of obligation but out of true love and adoration. In the day that God is All in all, all mankind will know God and failure will be no more. God does not fail!
we must conclude that the first Adam failed; the ancients that followed failed;
the nation of
The end from the beginning.
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ďMy purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.Ē (Isaiah 46.10 NASB)
Dear beloved brethren, our God has told us the end from the beginning. His pur≠pose is to be All in all, and nothing will stop Him from becoming All. His purpose has been established, and He will accomplish it.
The Creator, the Potter.
Have you ever wondered why God would harden the heart of Pharaoh or even take an unbelieving king like Cyrus and make him His anointed?
And the LORD hardened Pharaohís heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses. (Exodus 9.12 NASB)
Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue nations before him and to loose the loins of kings; to open doors before him so that gates will not be shutÖ. (Isaiah 45.1 NASB)
Paul gives the clearest answer to this question in all Scripture.
Just as it is written, ďJACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.Ē What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ďI WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.Ē So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ďFOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.Ē So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, ďWhy does He still find fault? For who resists His will?Ē On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ďWhy did you make me like this,Ē will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? (Romans 9.13-21 NASB)
Let us consider Paulís argument as presented.
First, Esau is brought into the picture to make the point that God is not unjust in His determinations. At first glance, we might think that it was, in fact, justice that Esau was disqualified; after all, he sold his birthright for food. But there is something else behind the Lordís rejection of Esau.
Second, mercy is brought back in by quoting the Lord Himself. The Lord will have mercy on whomever He will have mercy. In other words, God calls the shots, not man when it comes to His mercy.
Third, manís condition does not depend on manís will or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. The word run refers to the course that man is on as if on a race course. Notice, Paul again emphasizes but God, which is the same wording as for God.
Fourth, simply, God will harden hearts as He sees fit to accomplish His purpose. He raises up and He tears down to demonstrate His power, not for the sake of a show of force but because He has a purpose.
Fifth, Paul asks: Who can resist the will of God? This is a mighty pregnant statement that needs to give birth in our hearts. No man can resist the will of God. If we accept this as the truth, which we had better, then it answers the question of the salvation of all mankind. It is Godís will to save all. Consequently, whose will is strong enough to resist Godís purpose to save all mankind; eventually, even the ones whose hearts He hardens must yield to the will of God.
Sixth, God is the Potter and mankind is the clay pot. The Creator has the right to make one vessel a vessel of honor and another for common use. Has the created any right to question the Creator? As the Creator, God has responsibility for His creation. He made it, and He must keep it. It is not in the will of man to have responsibility for his ultimate destiny. God creates and calls forth vessels of honor and dishonor with purpose. After all, let us not forget that He is the God of the living. What is death and failure to the God who sees the end from the beginning? He alone has determined the course of events, as well as the outcome.
In light of the Potter, consider Pharaoh whose heart was
hardened by the Lord. Do we not think that after a few plagues that Pharaoh was
willing to let Godís people go? Surely, he must have thought to himself that
enough is enough, but God had another plan that dealt with the heart of the
Seventh, all this is necessary so that Godís word will not fail (Romans 9.6), for when His word goes forth it does not turn back; it accomplishes all that it was intended to accomplish.
At this point, let us turn to the cross, for it is here that all comes together. It is here that all failure is remedied, and it is here that all mankind is saved. Did you grasp these words? All mankind is saved!
The absolute success of the Cross.
We know that the world does not acknowledge the cross for what it truly means. To the world, it is a failure. Christ is merely one of many men who left their mark on the world, but He is in the grave like all the others or perhaps in some after-life state, depending on which pagan view one holds.
we look at the cross of
He came to save His brethren but He could not, for they were in unbelief; and at the crucial hour, He could not even save Himself from death. From mankindís view, it would appear to be utter failure again for mankind; the Second Man had failed. Mankindís view is always distorted through the lens of sin and death.
But praise God; it is Godís view that matters; the view from the heavenly throne of grace and mercy; the view of Him from whom all flows. It was all in His perfect plan and according to His purpose; the One Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1.11 CV).
Let men say that Christ could not save Himself or that God abandoned Him, as if the power of death would forever hold Him in its mighty grip; but Scripture says that God raised His Son from the dead, for it was not possible for death to hold Him. Please understand that on the cross the Son of God DIED! He did not fake it; He did not avoid it; and He did not spend three days in the torture chamber called hell. He died as all men die, and He was raised from the dead by His Father, as all men will be raised by the Father.
Men! Israelites! Hear these words: Jesus, the Nazarene, a Man demonstrated to be from God for you by powerful deeds and miracles and signs, which God does through Him in the midst of you, according as you yourselves are awareóThis One, given up in the specific counsel and foreknowledge of God, you, gibbeting by the hand of the lawless, assassinate, Whom God raises, loosing the pangs of death, forasmuch as it was not possible for Him to be held by it. (Acts 2.22-24 CV)
Let it be shouted from the rooftops and the pulpits of every so-called ďchurchĒ building that bears the name of Christ: The death of Godís Son on the cross is an absolute, unequivocal 100% success according to the counsel of Godís will!
Most preachers would probably agree that the cross is an absolute success. Unfortunately, their preaching often does not reflect this great truth, for they place exceptions in the finished work of the cross that today extends to all mankind without exception. What has resulted throughout the Christian world? The result is that the majority of the body of Christ believes that the cross was a failure? If this does not raise a reaction from you, then you must be spiritually asleep or dead.
To a majority of believers, the cross is an absolute success for them because they made ďa commitment to Christ.Ē However, it is not a success for the rest of man≠kind, for they did not make this commitment. In other words, the cross is a success with limits, with exceptions, for the success of the cross ultimately depends on man. So that there is no misunderstanding, I reject this line of thinking.
Stand in the pulpits of today and proclaim that Christ has saved all mankind with≠out exception, and you will most likely be severed from that group of believers or be ignored to the point that you must leave. The big lie is that just like death is not really death but life, so all is not really all but all with exceptions. In the garden, the serpent told Eve not to die shall you be dying (Genesis 3.4 CV). In more plain English, the serpent said that mankind would not die, and today innumerable be≠lievers have also come to accept this lie. After all, many people see death as not really death but merely as an immediate portal into another existence in heaven or in hell. This is a lie! By the same token, the word all is not seen as an all-inclusive word. It is all with billions of exceptions. In fact, all is not even some but a few in the minds of many. They have very few saved and the majority lost in a fiery oven to be tormented with no chance of escape.
Paul wrote: We are working for the good of all, yet specially for the family of faith (Galatians 6.10 CV). Why would he make such a statement if all were not included in Godís purpose and plan? Surely, he could have simply stated that they were working for all of the family of faith, but he did not state this. Paul worked for the good of all because he knew that the cross was an absolute success for all.
The most grotesque systematizing of the deception has occurred in relation to the effectiveness of the cross, and many have embraced this deception to the point that brethren who challenge this deception are told they are going to ďhell.Ē This in itself is a sad commentary on the failure of Godís people.
This is how the deception goes. Adam successfully caused death and sin to enter through into all mankind. There is no exception for any born of Adamís race, which includes all mankind. In other words, Adamís one transgression was an absolute success in bringing death and sin unto all mankind, and those born of Adamís race have no choice in the matter. If they are born of man, they must die as man. Now, this is true.
However, when it comes to Christís one act of righteousness, it is an entirely differ≠ent matter. As the deception goes, Christís one act of righteousness potentially leads to life for all, only if one believes on his own volition (free will). In other words, man has a choice in the matter, and unfortunately, most men will not make the choice while in the body, so they will die in their sin and be forever lost. By some accounts there are perhaps 50 billion humans now being tormented in hell. Is there something odd about this reasoning? Mankind has no choice in the matter of death and sin but now must make a choice in the matter of life. Mankind had no free will in becoming a sinner and ultimately facing death but now has a free will to determine his destiny in heaven or in hell. Does this make any sense to you? Isnít it rather strange that billions upon billions of people, who had the spirit of life breathed into them, made a free will choice to die and have rejected Godís promise of life? Why is it that the majority of mankind (not the minority) has chosen, ac≠cording to their own free will, not to go the way of life? Isnít it far more logical that if manís free will were operative in the matter of salvation that most of all mankind would choose to live? After all, most of mankind seems to fear death. When we fear something we generally desire to stay away from that thing. Think about it!
Consider this question: Why is Adamís one transgression more successful (in a bad sense) than Christís one righteous act (in a good sense)? Has God ultimately failed? Is God not able to save all mankind? Did He make the ultimate sacrifice knowing that billions of His creatures, made to be perfected into His own image, are going to be cast into a fiery lake to be tormented forever? God is the Supreme and all comes out of Him, through Him and for Him is all. Are we to conclude that it is His will that there are exceptions to His all?
Dear brethren, open your hearts to Godís love and search Scripture to see if this is in fact true. If it is true, then we must conclude that God has failed and the cross was not able to undo all that Adam did. Now, some will argue that it is manís failure, not Godís, but it is not, for if man fails to reach Godís end, it is God who fails. Man is helpless in his sin, so why do we make man a hero in his own salvation, as if he can save himself?
So that no one takes these words wrongly, please understand that I am stating that, according to Scripture, this matter of Christís death potentially saving mankind is a deception of the highest order. Even worse, it has been woven into the very teaching of Christendom until it has become a systematized deception.
I realize that these are serious allegations, but let us turn to Godís word with an open heart and see what is revealed. To do this, we must accept that the word all means exactly all, and not all with exceptions or all with some excluded.
One of the greatest deceptions that has been systematized involves the word all. Just as death does not mean death to most people, the word all does not mean all but something less.
Only in Christ.
Before proceeding further, there is a very dangerous counterfeit that we must guard against that states all mankind will eventually find favor with God, but there are many ways to this favor, only one of which is through Godís Son. This must be rejected. There is only one way to God, and that is through His Son who is the Way, the Truth, the Resurrection and the Life. Apart from Christ, there will be no favor with God. In this eon, we must be saved by grace through faith, the faith of the Son of God.
many Christians see the state of
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2.29 NASB)
us not forget that a partial hardening has happened to
Now, to bring this essential matter into focus, consider the following contrasts.
All saved in their own era.
Let some say that only a few will receive the mercy of God because they made ďa decision for ChristĒ; but Scripture says God locks up all to give mercy to all.
For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all. (Romans 11.32 CV)
God is going to shower His mercy on all because He has shut up or locked up all. Whom do you want to exclude from this all?
Let some say that only those who make ďa free-will decision for ChristĒ will be drawn to Christ; but Scripture says that all will be drawn to Christ.
ďAnd I, if I should be exalted out of the earth, shall be drawing all to Myself.Ē (John 12.32 CV)
Was Christ exalted, which refers to the manner of His death? Of course, He was. Then what are we to conclude? There is only one conclusion, and that is, He will draw all to Himself. It does not say that He will draw all at the same time, but He will draw all eventually. It also does not state that He will draw only all mankind. It states that He will draw all, which is an all-encompassing drawing that has to include all of mankind, all of the messengers and all of Godís creation. Nothing is left out of this drawing. It is universal!
Actually, the word draw in the Greek is best translated with the word drag, which gives a stronger meaning to this verse. Jesus will drag all unto Himself. There is a force to this word that implies that if necessary Christ will drag all to Himself just like a magnet drags metal to itself. Once the magnetic field gets hold of a certain type of metal object, the object has no choice but to be caught by the magnet. Christ will eventually catch all.
Let some say that God is the Savior of only relatively few of mankind, those called believers; but Scripture says that God is the Savior of all mankind.
We rely on the living God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of believers. These things be charging and teaching. (1 Timothy 4.10-11 CV)
Scripture does not state that God is the Savior of believers only. He is the Savior especially of believers in this eon, for they are the ones who are called out to enjoy the celestial allotment. However, it does not state that they are the only ones who will be ultimately saved. All mankind is included.
Let some say that all will not be saved; but Scripture says that God wills that all be saved.
ďOur Savior, God, Who wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth.Ē (1 Timothy 2.3-4 CV)
Consider how the King James states this verse: For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2.3-4 KJV)
God our Savior Who will have all men to be saved is a mighty powerful affirmation of Godís will. Unfortunately, many translations use the words wishes, desires and wants, as if God is begging mankind to be saved. This is gross interpretative bias to maintain the false doctrine that man has a free will in the matter of his salvation.
Do you think that God sent His Son to this earth to die on a wish, a want or a desire to save mankind? It is as if God said to His Son: ďWell, Son, I am not sure this plan is going to work, but I desire for it to work. At any rate, You go down there and be totally humiliated and suffer an agonizing death, and letís see what happens. Perhaps mankind will respond to our gesture of love.Ē What kind of Savior would He be if His vicarious death were not an absolute, perfect success to save all mankind? Let us keep in mind that it is God who devised this plan of salvation, not man. If we devised it, at best it would be a wish or a desire. But for God it is an entirely different matter. Do we not think that Godís will can and will trump manís will. Why? Because He sent the Savior of the world to die for all the sin of the world! Why? Because God loves the world! Why? Because God wills that all mankind eventually will be conformed to the image of His Son.
God wills, not man, not preachers. Who will cancel out Godís will? Will man cancel it out? Will man reverse Godís will? If God wills it, then how can we say that it will not happen? It must happen because it is in Godís will that all be saved.
Let some say that God is holding all mankindís offenses against them; but Scripture says that God is not reckoning their offenses against them.
Yet all is of God, Who conciliates us to Himself through Christ, and is giving us the dispensation of the conciliation, how that God was in Christ, concili≠ating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them, and placing in us the word of the conciliation. (2 Corinthians 5.18-19 CV)
God is not reckoning mankindís offenses to them. He has conciliated the world to Himself. Is the world only made up of believers? Of course not!
Let some say that the blood of the cross was only for those who believe; but Scripture says that God has reconciled all, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
ďThrough Him to reconcile all to Him, making peace through the blood of His cross.Ē (Colossians 1.20 CV)
The blood of His cross has brought peace to all, which includes not only mankind but all Godís creatures, including His messengers. Who of mankind is excluded from this peace? Do we exclude the vilest sinner, as if Christís blood could not reconcile such a one to God? Again, it does not say that all are reconciled at the same time, just that all are reconciled.
you donít believe that the vilest sinner can and will be saved according to the
will of God and not the will of man, consider Paul the foremost among sinners,
who became our apostle. By Paulís own account he was the chief among sinners.
He was not trying to be humble but was stating a fact. He was the worst of the
worst. He persecuted the risen Christ, the Son of God. How do we know this?
Because Jesus declared so as He blinded Saul on the road to
And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. (Acts 22.7-8 KJV)
Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chiefÖ. (1 Timothy 1.15 ASV)
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the
Jewsí religion, how that beyond measure I
I persecuted to death this new faith, continually binding both men and women and throwing them into prisonÖ. (Acts 22.4 WNT) [But Saul, yet breathing threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priestÖ. (Acts 9.1 ASV)]
And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. (Acts 26.11 KJV)
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Corinthians 15.9 KJV)
This was not a man who was trying to gloss over his accountability for his actions. No; this was a man who was rightly judging himself. Persecuting the ecclesia of God was persecuting the risen Christ Himself. Paul even compelled his brethren to blaspheme! This was a most serious and egregious offense. No wonder Paul saw himself as the chief among sinners and the least of the apostles. Yet, the Lord chose this persecutor and overwhelmed his ignorance and unbelief, and not only saved him but put him into the most glorious service anyone has ever been given in the ecclesia of God. Paul alone is proof that God will save the vilest sinner, not because of his free will choice but because God wills it so.
Let some say that billions will end up in an eternal torture chamber, dead, yet alive; but Scripture says that all are dying, yet shall all be made alive.
ďFor even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified [made alive].Ē (1 Corinthians 15.22 CV) Life to all!
Who can argue that in Adam all are dying? Look around you; who is not dying? Do believers never experience death? Of course not, for we all die. But notice that in Christ shall all be made alive. Now, some will argue that this means once you believe you are in Christ and then you are made alive. But that is not what this states. As he did in his Romanís epistle, Paul was contrasting the two positions of mankind. All mankind, including believers, find themselves in Adam in relation to death, for all die. Consequently, all mankind ultimately must find themselves in Christ, for shall all be vivified. The wording is very important. Paul revealed the truth that all are dying and shall all be made alive. Death came through Adam to all; life will come through Christ to all.
Do not be deceived; there is only one way for all mankind to be saved and to be made alive, and that is through Christ; He is the only way.
Let some say that Adamís one sin brought death to all, but Christís death only potentially brought life to all; but Scripture says that Christís death overcame one manís sin and brings life to all mankind, without exception.
For if, by the offense of the one, the many died, much rather the grace of God and the gratuity in grace, which is of the One Man, Jesus Christ, to the many superabounds. Ö Through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also ... through one just award for all mankind for lifeís justifying. (Romans 5.15, 18 CV)
Because of the offense of one, the many died. Through the grace of God through one, the many shall be justified. Now some will argue that the many does not include all. However, Adam plus the many equals all mankind, and Christ plus the many equals all mankind. Adam and Christ stand out as unique among mankind; therefore, they are one and the rest are many. Further, Paul went on to define the many as all mankind.
Who is excluded from all mankind? Who will not receive lifeís justifying? One offense led to condemnation for all mankind, and one just award will result in life for all mankind. How can anyone refute Godís use of the word all?
Let some say that only a few were ransomed; but Scripture says that Christ is the correspondent Ransom for all, each in their own time.
For there is one God, and one Mediator of God and mankind, a Man, Christ Jesus, Who is giving Himself a correspondent Ransom for all (the testi≠mony in its own eras)Ö. (1 Timothy 2.5-6 CV)
Christ is giving Himself as a correspondent Ransom for allónot some, not a few, but all. But notice that it is not all at the same time. The testimony is in its own eras, which means that all will not benefit from this at the same time, but all will eventually benefit, even if from the first to the last of the recipients of Godís mercy and grace there are 2,000 years or more.
The word of God locks up all together under sin, so that each in its own era may be released by faith. Today, the promise is for those who are believing.
But the scripture locks up all together under sin, that the promise out of Jesus Christís faith may be given to those who are believing. Now before the coming of faith we were garrisoned under law, being locked up all together for the faith about to be revealed. (Galatians 3.22-23 CV)
some say that Christ could not save His brethren from their sins; but Scripture
says that all
For I am not willing for you to be ignorant of this
secret, brethren, lest you may be passing for prudent among yourselves, that
callousness, in part, on Israel has come, until the complement of the nations
may be entering. And thus all
Who of the Israelites is to be left out? Some will not enter the joy of the Messianic kingdom, for these ones will not be forgiven for this eon (wicked eon) and the next eon (Messianic kingdom), but Scripture does not say that they will never be forgiven for their sin of blasphemy (Matthew 12.31-32). Their chastening is for a long season (i.e., they remain dead, not tortured), but not for eternity, for some will face the purging fire of the second death to perfect them and make them ready to enter into the glory of God. This is the mercy of God.
Let some say that all will not be saved; but again Scripture says that all will be saved but in their own order and time.
And each in his proper order, a first-fruit Christ [anointed firstfruit], afterwards those who are the Christís, in his presence, then―the end, when he may deliver up the reign to God, even the Father, when he may have made useless all rule, and all authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15.23-24 YLT [literal])
Christ stands alone as the Firstfruit that rose from among the dead. He is the Firstfruit of those who are dead. This happened about 2,000 years ago. With the first resurrection, a company of conquerors will rise from among the dead as anointed firstfruits. At the end of the millennial reign of Christ, the remaining dead will rise to be judged at the great white throne. Believers that did not conquer in life and unbelievers will appear before the throne. Thereafter, or after this eon, there will be the consummation when Christ gives up the kingdom to the Father.
Let some say that death will keep the unbelievers forever in its grip; but Scripture says that death will be abolished.
For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy is being abolished: death. (1 Corinthians 15.25-26 CV)
The first death will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death (see Revelation 20.14). So which death is abolished? Death is death, whether it is the first type of death (of the body) or the second type of death (of works). As long as death exists, Christ cannot give up the kingdom to God the Father. He must defeat all types of death in order for God to be All in all. When does this occur? It occurs at the consummation. Before mankind moves beyond the eons as we know them, all the resurrected dead that will appear at the great white throne eventually must be purified, that is, purged of all dross, imperfections and evil, through spiritual fire, so that God is All in all. The fire is not for torture but for purifying. God is spirit, and God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12.29). The lake of fire is a spiritual, consuming fire designed to save billions and billions of lost people, not to destroy them. It is the spiritual and moral law of God, which is His word, for His voice hews out flames of fire (Psalm 29.7 NASB).
This leads to the conclusion of the matter. It brings us to the very purpose of the eons, and it answers why God allowed all the failure.
All in all.
Let some say that God is not after all and will not have all; but Scripture says God will be All in all.
For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him. Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all. (1 Corinthians 15.27-28 CV)
This is the end to which God is driving mankind with all its failures. It is accomplished in His Son, who has not and will not fail. Christ Jesus must rule until He has subjected all to Himself, and He willingly subjects Himself to the Father, so that God may be All in all.
What does it mean that God may be All in all? It means that God fills His entire creation with Himself. He is all, and He is in all. It does not mean that mankind somehow becomes absorbed in God and ceases to be. No; it means that God becomes all to all His creatures. The love of God will so fill the creation that He will be the true Father of all. All His creation will be related as one family under God. All mankind will be in the image of the Son of God. All mankind will have been built into Godís spiritual house, a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2.21-22).† Love will fill all, and all will love and adore Him. There will be a sweet sound of love and adoration filling all of creation.
God locks up all together, so that no one will be able to boast in himself. When all arrive in glory, the boast will be God is love. No one will have deserved the favor of God in that day; but all will receive it.
Those who arrived first will embrace all who come through the purging fire of God when all is consummated. All mankind will be related, for all will have one God and Father. No one will boast in himself in that day; all will boast in God who allowed all to fail that all will know Him and all will finally be in the glorious image and likeness of His Son. It is the result of the mercy and grace of God!
God will be the happy God and His glory will fill all. This is the purpose of the eons.
 Free will implies that one can make decisions absent any external influence. In other words, one decides to act without any consideration of an influence outside of himself. Can you think of any decisions that any of us make that are like this. Everything we do has some external influence that leads us to do what we do. Consequently, it is Godís will that overpowers our will.
 Those who believe that Adam was formed from the soil about 6,000 years ago hold to the 50+ billion figure, which is manís best guess. Those who believe that man evolved over a much longer period of time hold to the 110 billion figure. I hold to the 6,000 years.