Archive for June 2009

The Error of Eternal Conscious Torment: It’s Effect on the Conscience of the Believer

June 1, 2009

I have received a lot of correspondence concerning the subject of the salvation of all mankind. Some have written of their enlightenment after having read our material on the subject.

Then of course there have been those who have not agreed with what has been written. Overwhelmingly these have been good-spirited. Interestingly one reoccurring theme shows up in many of these letters. It is the confession that the writer wishes they believed in the salvation of all.

“I Would Love to Believe”

Here are a few excerpts from four recent letters. I find these lines very touching. Read these short lines carefully and see if you cannot identify with the words written. See if they don’t express something that has been in your own heart.

– I do not see the reconciliation of all mankind. I wish I did. It would be great if all these lost souls would someday come to the truth.

– Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to believe there is no hell and that everyone gets saved in the end. I don’t like the idea of Hell and I don’t understand how or why God would send anyone to a place like that. Doesn’t seem fair at all … I would like nothing more than to find out you are correct in your beliefs in this area.

– I’d really like to believe that all will be saved. I have a real hard time with someone in eternal torments.

– I have never been comfortable with eternal punishment in fire for the lost. It has always haunted me that God could torture lost souls in fire forever.

These four brothers in Christ are not alone. The erroneous teaching of “eternal conscious torment” has an effect upon the conscience of the believer. Buried deep within our consciousness – in our subconscious mind – is this part of God that we do not like. It is so unlike Him. It is so unlike who He wants us to be. We do not like this dark side of God.

Yet, as we have come to see in this short work, this “god” with a dark side is not the true God of Scriptures. This eternally sadistic “god” is one of religion. The true God of the Scriptures is good. His very nature is love, grace, forbearance and forgiveness. He is far greater than we ever imagined Him to be.

The point here is that this religious teaching of “eternal conscious torment” has an adverse effect upon the very conscience of the believer. It obstructs his true understanding of his Father, inhibits the enjoyment of his relationship with Him and skews the way he sees and relates to all the rest of God’s dear creatures.

The Testimony of Bible Teachers

Other sincere brethren have not held to the salvation of all, but have nonetheless also written concerning their own personal anguish over the issue also.

Albert Barnes, the famous Biblical commentator (Barnes’ Notes) describes well such agony of spirit:

That any should suffer forever, lingering on in hopeless despair, and rolling amidst infinite torments without the possibility of alleviation and without end; that since God can save men and will save a part, He has not proposed to save all – these are real, not imaginary, difficulties. …

My whole soul pants for light and relief on these questions. But I get neither; and in the distress and anguish of my own spirit, I confess that I see no light whatever. I see not one ray to disclose to me why sin came into the world; why the earth is strewn with the dying and the dead; and why man must suffer to all eternity. I have never seen a particle of light thrown on these subjects, that has given a moment’s ease to my tortured mind. …

I confess, when I look on a world of sinners and sufferers – upon death-beds and grave-yards-upon the world of woe filled with hosts to suffer for ever – when I see my friends, my family, my people, my fellow citizens when I look upon a whole race, all involved in this sin and danger, and when I see the great mass of them wholly unconcerned, and when I feel that God only can save them, and yet he does not do so, I am stuck dumb. It is all dark, dark, dark to my soul, and I cannot disguise it. – Albert Barnes, Practical Sermons, page 123.

Even Sir Robert Anderson lends his voice to this dilemma:

According to the most careful estimate, the population of the world exceeds one thousand four hundred millions. Not one-third of these are Christians even in name; and of this small minority how few there are whose lives give proof that they are traveling heavenward! And what is the destiny of all the rest? Any estimate of their number must be inaccurate and fanciful; and accuracy, if attainable, would be practically useless. As a matter of arithmetic it is as easy to deal with millions as with tens; but when we come to realize that every unit is a human being, with a little world of joys and sorrows all his own, and an unbounded capacity for happiness or misery, the mind is utterly paralyzed by the effort to realize the problem.

And these fourteen hundred millions are but a single wave of the great tide of human life that breaks, generation after generation, upon the shore of the unknown world. What future then awaits these untold myriads of millions of mankind? Most of us have been trained in the belief that their portion is an existence of endless, hopeless torment. But few there are, surely, who have carried this belief to middle-age unchallenged. Sometimes it is the vastness of the numbers whose fate is involved that startles us into skepticism. Sometimes it is the memory of friends now gone, who lived and died impenitent. As we think of an eternity in which they “shall be tormented day and night forever and ever,” the mind grows weary and the heart grows sick, and we turn to ask ourselves, Is not God infinite in love? Is not the great Atonement infinite in value? Is it credible then that such a future is to be the sequel to a brief and sorely tempted life of sin? Is it credible that for all eternity – that eternity in which the triumph of the Cross shall be complete, and God shall be “All in all” – there shall still remain an underworld of seething sin and misery and horror? – Sir Robert Anderson, Human Destiny, (Chapter 5: The Restitution of All Things)

Even more recently Mart De Haan wrote,

I wish I didn’t have to believe in hell. While seeing the need for eternal justice, the thought of cruel and unusual punishment that lasts forever sounds morally wrong to me … – Mart De Haan, Radio Bible Class Newsletter, (November 2006).

Are We More Kind, Gracious and Loving than God?

Is it possible for the redeemed to be more kind, gracious and loving than their God? Deep in our innermost beings we cannot honestly fathom the concept of “eternal conscious torment.” Its cruelty and callousness is terrible beyond comprehension, and even though some may teach it, very few have given their minds the permission to dwell upon it in its fullness.

Yet the fact is that we are not more kind, gracious and loving than our heavenly Father.

He Is Love

God is love (I John 4:8b)

His Love Will Never Fail

Charity never faileth … (I Corinthians 13:8).

He Teaches Us to Be Like Him, and to Love Our Enemies

Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you … Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:27, 36).

He Teaches Us to Forgive Them Infinitely

“How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” Jesus saith unto him, “I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

He Teaches Us Not to Be Overcome by Evil, but to Overcome Evil by Good

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Our Father Teaches Us These Things Because They Are Who He Is

Religion has grossly misrepresented God. Those who have professed to be in His service have done His honor a disservice. He has been exceedingly slandered.

God Is Good Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever (I Chronicles 16:34).

… For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever … (II Chronicles 5:13).

… For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever (II Chronicles 7:3).

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever (Psalms 106:1).

O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever (Psalms 107:1).

O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: because His mercy endureth for ever (Psalms 118:1).

O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever (Psalms 118:29).

O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever (Psalms 136:1).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
The Salvation of All
(Bible Student’s Press)

The Ransom Has Been Paid

June 1, 2009

Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (I Timothy 2:6).

The price is laid down for all men, such a price as justice required, such as God accepted: for it is an actual ransom, which it could not have been called if the creditor had not agreed, and declared Himself satisfied therewith (a testimony for its proper time to be declared for all).

Jeremiah White (1629-1707)
(Chaplin to Oliver Cromwell)
Restoration of All Things, p. 25

God’s Will: The Salvation of All

June 1, 2009

Who will have all men to be saved (I Timothy 2:14).

The Lord is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9).

God wills that all men should be saved …

It is our wisdom, safety and happiness to accept every revealed truth with the simplicity and the faith of little children. We must yield ourselves to it to prove its living power within our hearts. Let us not fear to yield ourselves to the utmost to this blessed word: God will have all men to be saved.

God is love. His will is love. As He makes His sun to shine on the good and the evil, so His love rests on all. However little we can understand why His love is so long-suffering and patient, we can believe in and be assured of the love that God gives to us – a love whose measure in heaven is the gift of His Son, and on earth every child of man.

His love is nothing but His will in its Divine energy doing its very utmost in accordance with the Divine law. Thus, His relationship to mankind is regulated to make men partakers of His blessedness. His will is nothing but His love in its infinite patience and tenderness delighting to win and bless every heart into which it can gain access.

If we only knew God and His love, how we would look on every man we see as one upon whom that love rests and for whom it longs. We would begin to wonder about the mystery of grace that has taken up the Church, as the body of Christ, as a partner in the great work of making that love known, and rendered itself dependent upon its faithfulness …

God will have all men to be saved. This truth is a supernatural mystery. It can only be understood by a spiritual mind. It is in itself so Divine and beyond our apprehension … To very many who do not possess a humble, loving heart, the words carry little meaning.

To the believer, who in very deed seeks to know and to do all God’s will, God’s words give a new meaning to life …

He learns that just as this loving, saving will of God is the secret source of all His will and rules it all, so this loving, saving will is to be the chief thing that he lives for, too. I have been redeemed, organically united to, and made a member of the saving Christ, who came to do this will of the Father …

I feel the need of spelling out the words of the sentence until my heart can call them its own:

God – my God, who lives in me. Will Have – with His whole heart. All Men – here around me, and to the ends of the earth – To Be Saved …

As we pray to be possessed and filled with the knowledge of God’s will, let us seek, in all things, to have our hearts filled with this love. Let us have tongues which speak of Jesus and His salva¬tion, and a will which finds its strength in God’s own will – that all men be saved. So will our life, our love, our work, and our will in some measure be like that of Jesus Christ – a doing of the Father’s will.

Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
God’s Will: Our Dwelling Place
Chapter 23: The Salvation of All

Gracious Beyond Our Expectation

June 1, 2009

Who is God? Is God a gracious, loving Father waiting long through the night, with the light lit and the door open, confident His most defiant child will one day come home? Or is God a harsh judge eager to pass sentence, eager to punish and destroy all who do not satisfy Him?

I hope you will consider the possibility that God is gracious beyond your expectation … I hope you’ll believe the very best about God.

Philip Gulley / James Mulholland
If Grace Is True (p. 46-47)

God Is Still on Plan A

June 1, 2009

The “fall” of humanity in the garden did not take God by surprise. How could anything take God by surprise? God did not resort – following the events of Eden – to Plan B. I am happy to tell you that God is still on Plan A, and the so-called fall was part of that plan. God has a plan (Ephesians 3:11). Imagine that.

Martin Zender
The Really Bad Thing About Free Will (2006), p. 64

God’s True Altar Today

June 1, 2009

The altar call, as we know it, has its roots in the person and ministry of Charles Finney (1792-1875). Finney’s meetings involved huge crowds and multiple conversions, and altar calls were used as a means to lead people to Christ …

What was an altar used for in the Old Testament? It was used to offer up a sacrifice to God. The higher spiritual truth for us today … is to be found in Romans 12:1. It states, “… present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service …” We must understand that we are to become an altar unto God, and that our life must become a sacrifice unto Him. It is not a matter of going to an altar as much as it is becoming an altar!

We must stop trying to force and manipulate people to come to a man-made altar, convincing them that walking an aisle is what saves them. Rather, we must help them to comprehend that God has already reconciled them to Himself through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. As they are awakened to this truth they will want to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. When this takes place we become an altar, and our lives become a living sacrifice unto God.

Present yourself as a living sacrifice unto God!

Thomas Kissinger
The Glory of God and the Honor of Kings

The Salvation of All Is a Done Thing

June 1, 2009

… The works were finished from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:3).

For indeed all His works are finished to Him from the foundation of the world, and we are saved in Him before the notice of it comes to us, as the apostle said, though it was a mystery and was hid in God till it was manifested by the gospel. So the salvation of all men is a done thing with God, though it hath its proper seasons to be exhibited to the view and notice of men.

Jeremiah White (1629-1707)
(Chaplin to Oliver Cromwell)
Restoration of All Things, p. 19, 20


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