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Christian Universalism

 

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I want to talk with you for a minute about the destruction spoken of in 1Corinthians 3:17. A lot of the Sovereignty of God passages get misunderstood because the "If you will, I will" principle of Scripture isn't understood: "being aware that, whatsoever good each one should be doing, for this he will be requited by the Lord, whether slave or free." (Ephesians 6:8)
 

Some people have mistakenly thought that if there was free will that it would either negate God's Sovereignty or God's Praise, and they're to be commended for their desire to defend both, but neither are affirmed [as canceling each other out] by this Scripture:

"What, then, is Apollos? Now what is Paul? Servants are they, through whom you believe, and as the Lord gives to each.
I plant, Apollos irrigates, but God makes it grow up.
So that, neither is he who is planting anything, nor he who is irrigating, but God Who makes it grow up." (1Corinthians 3:5-7)

The above passage doesn't say that God planted or watered, but it says that God gave the increase. As far as this passage of Scripture in 1Corinthians 3:17, I trust the Concordant Literal New Testament to have the proper sense of the passage:

"If anyone is corrupting the temple of God, God will be corrupting him, for the temple of God is holy, which you are."

Although 1Corinthians 6 goes on to say in the 19th verse: "Or are you not aware that your body is a temple of the holy spirit in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own?"

I'm pretty sure that the reference in 1Corinthians 3:17 is a reference to the Temple of believers being together for fellowship and that that fellowship is actually being called the Temple of God in that instance because the chapter begins with addressing the denominational strife in their congregation where they were singling out teachers of the Word as being superior to others in a way where they were belittling the Word and the Anointing that was growing in the lives of other believers that were drawing more from other ministries than their preferred ministry/ministries. Ephesians indicates that not only our bodies but our fellowship with each other produces a Temple-like atmosphere for God to inhabit. It says in the second chapter:

19 Consequently, then, no longer are you guests and sojourners, but are fellow-citizens of the saints and belong to God's family,
20 being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the capstone of the corner being Christ Jesus Himself,
21 in Whom the entire building, being connected together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord:
22 in Whom you, also, are being built together for God's dwelling place, in spirit.

As far as 1Corinthians 3:17, it makes little sense that if someone is messing up the fellowship between believers with their strife that God's going to take a holy fellowship and annihilate it. It makes more sense that God would uproot the people causing the strife and move them out of the fellowship. Lord Jesus in His role as both High Priest and King after the order of Melchizedec says to another congregation in the book of Revelation:

Repent then! Yet if not, I am coming to you swiftly and shall be battling with them with the blade of My mouth. (Revelation 2:16)

so, this would seem to indicate a prophetic intervention that will take place since Lord Jesus doesn't come back until the New Earth:

And I hear a loud voice out of the throne saying, "Lo! the tabernacle of God is with mankind, and He will be tabernacling with them, and they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them. (Revelation 21:3)

And this appears to be exactly what wound up happening in that congregation at Corinth as a result of what he said in 1Corinthians 3:17, because 2Corinthians winds up saying:

Not again at my coming will my God be humbling me toward you, and I shall be mourning for many who have sinned before and are not repenting of the uncleanness and prostitution and wantonness which they commit.
Lo! This is the third time I am coming to you. At the mouth of two witnesses, and three, shall every declaration be made to stand.
I have declared before, and am predicting as when being present the second time, and now, being absent, to those having sinned before and to all the rest, that if I should be coming again, I shall not spare,
since you are seeking a test of Christ speaking in me, Who is not weak for you, but powerful among you.
For even if He was crucified out of weakness, nevertheless He is living by the power of God. For we also are weak together with Him, but we shall be living together with Him by the power of God for you. (2Corinthians 12:21 - 13:4)

So, evidently, in this passage, St. Paul was expecting the operations and manifestations of the Holy Spirit to operate and manifest through him to strongly discipline that Church after some things had gone on for far too long with the strife, division, and other issues among them. He fully expected for Christ within him (Colossians 1:27) to:

I am coming to you swiftly and shall be battling with them with the blade of My mouth. (Revelation 2:16)

because they wouldn't repent, choosing rather to believe that they were in the right because God was sovereign and in His sovereignty hadn't removed His favors from their lives yet. But like when Moses stripped Aaron of the high priestly robe in the Old Testament, it was about to hit the fan because they were disregarding living their lives by the Scriptures and by the Apostolic and Prophetic teaching going on in their midst. But in absolutely no sense can this Scripture be taken to imply that God was going to eternally destroy anyone that was in that Church. In His Sovereignty, He's subjected us to one another and the gifts within us:

giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ,
to our God and Father, being subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:20-21)

Let love be unfeigned. Abhorring that which is wicked, clinging to good,
Let us have fond affection for one another with brotherly fondness, in honor deeming one another first,
in diligence not slothful, fervent in spirit, slaving for the Lord,
rejoicing in expectation, enduring affliction, persevering in prayer,
contributing to the needs of the saints, pursuing hospitality.
Bless those who are persecuting you: bless, and do not curse,
so as to be rejoicing with those rejoicing, lamenting with those lamenting.
being mutually disposed to one another, not being disposed to that which is high, but being led away to the humble. Do not come to pass for prudent with yourselves.
To no one render evil for evil, making ideal provision in the sight of all men,
if possible that which comes out from yourselves. Being at peace with all mankind, (Romans 12:9-18)

I am entreating you, then, I, the prisoner in the Lord, to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called,
with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit with the tie of peace:
one body and one spirit, according as you were called also with one expectation of your calling;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all.
Now to each one of us was given grace in accord with the measure of the gratuity of Christ. (Ephesians 4:1-7)

1Corinthians 3:17 was a Church discipline and a Church unity issue and not a verse about anyone's eternal destiny.

 

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For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd. Zechariah 10:2

 

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from a solid Center Column Reference Study New King James Version Bible. Where Center Column Reference alternate renderings are preferred, they're not always noted on the site at the time of their usage in a given context, if there's a discrepancy between our quotation and a NKJV that our site's visitors use that's missing the Center Column Reference notes that provide more literal renderings, alternative Hebrew and Greek manuscript variations, etc. Sometimes an "Understood Subject" from the given chapter of the Bible or the particular book of the Bible (perhaps previous chapter) is given attention to while teaching. Reading (and rereading) each book of the Bible [in it's entirety] that's being quoted from in the midst of each subject is [always] greatly encouraged for added clarity! While we're [deeply] supportive of what's understood to be orthodox Christian doctrine on all matters, we're always looking for what God's ADDITIONALLY saying to us in each subject being taught.