God Has Emphatically Commanded
By Martin Cisneros
Is Jesus Christ Lord of all? Do His Blood and Spirit continually reclaim lives from the graves of despair, enmity, and filth?
If you can answer yes to the previous two questions, then no one has a right to claim that you and I are not brothers in the finished work of Jesus Christ and joint-heirs of the heathen and of all of the rest of creation.
What constitutes heresy? What is the nature of that which truly divides Christianity from all of the other religions of the world? Is it our end-times doctrines? Is it our views of the creation of the universe? What separates us from all of the other peoples of the earth? While a lot of people will choose to bring up this doctrine or that one, there are a few bottomlines that are nonnegotiable:
the sacredness of the holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible;
the purity, sincerity, and power of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
the transforming power of His cross, atoning Blood, resurrection, High Priesthood, and soon coming/returning Melchizedec ministry/kingship;
the reality of the miracle of the New Birth that takes place inside the individual who embraces the testimony that God has given of His Son, Jesus Christ;
and our obligations to love God and all of mankind with an ever purifying conscience.
These constitute the Christian fundamentals and not the endless minutia of Church practice, or how we make Christ known to others. Our obligations to the God of purity, the purifying power of the Blood of Jesus Christ, our wholehearted devotion to the Scriptures and to one another in the reverence and awe of God are bottomline essentials. The purifying of our conscience, prior to the purifying of our plans and pursuits is paramount.
While it's true that no one can stay static and inactive until their conscience is fully purified, God accounts one as pure whose conscience, plans, means, and pursuits are ever distilling through faith and fellowship with Him in the Blood of the atoning sacrifice of the world, Jesus Christ.
Our love for God, our love for the divine, and our love for what that divinity has called each of us to are what constitute the unshakable fundamentals of the Christian faith and what distinguishes us from all of the other families of the earth. Our obligations to cherish the sacred Blood of Christ in our deeds, more than just in our words and creeds, and to offer up our every relationship with our bodies and with this present world, to God and in a godly Scriptural fashion, are what constitute godliness in this present, dark world.
Receive the Blood of Jesus Christ and all of the divine consequences of that. Take His broken body and feed it to our soul sick world. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out the demons that each of us faces in our attitudes and in our cultural expressions. Receive His Bread and Cup, purify your double-minded consciences, and nurture this widowed, orphaned world until it grows beyond the realm of it's childhood and embraces the hope of holiness and obedience, along with righteousness and praise.
Crucify your own flesh rather than your brother's or your sister's. Don't let your raising of the dead become a resurrection unto condemnation, but to simplicity, generosity, and devotion to Christ and to one another in the fear of God. Abandon your sins and not your brothers. Receive with meekness the holy Scriptures to the purifying of your consciences. Realize that what hardens the heart against dying the death that Christ died for the recovery of all of the world is what itself is inherently false doctrine and nothing else.
You'll not partake of life and that more abundantly by ignoring your brothers and sisters in the world in the daily distribution of the mercies, graces, and healing touches of the Lamb of God. The first great heresy in the Garden of Eden was the attempt at caring for one's own soul at the expense of the rest of the Creation around Adam and Eve. That murdered brotherhood from the very womb. How will it produce different results in your life, your legacy, and your posterity today and tomorrow?
While there continues to be growing diversity in the beliefs, dogmas, and opinions of other Christian Universalists, I've felt the need to dissent from the emerging creed of many of my contemporaries. While I don't believe in everlasting torments or everlasting separation from either the love of God or the regenerating power of the Blood and of the Holy Spirit, I must differ with my brethren by affirming my belief in "Hell."
I'm sure I'll get scores of word studies emailed to me regarding Sheol, Gehenna, Hades, and Tartarus, along with many questions asking me which of these words I'm taking to mean a genuine paganistic Hell. My stand is firm on this point of doctrine. I don't take Matthew 25 to be a reference to Tartarus, because it's an impossibility to cast an entire nation, such as the United States or Canada, or some other land and to say that essentially everyone in that particular country is a back stabbing heathen to God. Matthew 25 is clear about being a series of national judgments rather than being a judgment of individuals.
However, that Sheol and Hades can be translated as "pit" is something that I can't wholly shake from my perspective of Scripture. Sheol in Old Testament times was very obviously the region where all of the dead went, without regard for whether or not they were wicked or righteous. It was composed of the bosom of Abraham and a place of torments that had a great gulf fixed between the two of them. This is clear from Jesus. When Jesus was raised from the dead, the righteous compartment of Sheol was moved to more heavenly or celestial places so that now, the righteous dead are in what may be called "heaven." Many will argue at this point that Hades simply means the imperceptible. But my argument is of it being merely imperceptible to the flesh of natural and carnal man rather than any kind of "oblivion" or place of "imperception" until the resurrection. I don't feel I've seen any scholarship, or any system of interpretation, either online or in print that sets this interpretation of mine aside in the least.
People do die everyday without having ever nurtured a Biblically centered relationship with the Lord. Of these, there are the obstinate towards God and the genuinely oblivious who for whatever reason simply never came into contact with the knowledge of Christ's reign over everything and of His demands upon their lives. They are unquestionably in Hell. Of whom it may be said, in particular, that they are being beaten with fewer or many stripes, we must all leave that with the Lord's wisdom in reclaiming the wicked from their errors, inattention, and obstinance.
That there is a sense in which they are burning is without a doubt. That the more wicked are, as Tertullian put it, forever "liquifying" under the judgment of God is without a doubt. That God is more reasonable, just, compassionate, and longsuffering than our fundamentalist counterparts would admit on these points is equally clear. Jesus said that those who are genuinely blind have no sin. This statement is in the Gospel of John. Absolutely no one is being tormented who doesn't have it coming to them. Absolutely no one is getting less than the torment that they have coming to them. Every sin and disobedience will receive and is receiving a just recompense of reward. Whether we're talking thousands, or perhaps millions of degrees of temperature or areas of depression, paranoia, alienation, or whatever else, it is clear that it is proportioned to the nature of their crimes and it is proportioned to the hardness of their hearts. It is medicinal in nature, without a doubt. Ultimate redemption is only by Christ's cross and cleansing Blood. There is nothing redemptive in the evangelistic sense in relation to Hell torments. But torments can not be denied the place that God has given them of breaking up the stones of the stoniest hearts.
It is readily admitted that increasing either difficulties or punishments doesn't prove effective with all personality types. I also readily admit that increased difficulties and punishments sometimes only prove effective in some lives when they are prolonged. But in those cases where no good would be accomplished with the foolishness of Parental chastisements, then the Lord and designer of every life and of every [worthy] purpose obviously would have other methods, forms of instruction, and essential truths in mind to communicate. Some are often frustrated by God's apparent slowness in shouting the message of the ultimate restoration of all from the roof tops. However, God is not only after the progression of truth as He sees fit, but He is in the process and progression of actually applying all truths where they actually fit. He's in the process of reclaiming His wandering ones. And where the knowledge of His "big picture" wouldn't nurture, change, and bring discipline, then He'll stoop to other lowlier statements of reality and provision in reclaiming His runaways.
There isn't a single doctrinal perspective held by any Christian or any group of Christians that isn't viewed as entirely demonic and Satanic by some other individual or group of people who likewise view themselves as Bible believing Christians! You can't name a single one where someone won't have a bone to pick over either semantics, "extremes," "abuses," etc., related to that doctrine, the way it's worded, the history of it, the supposed bad fruit of it, the way that they or someone they know was hurt by it or by it's teachers, etc., etc. Name a single doctrine you've ever heard of or that you hold to now that isn't viewed by at least one other denomination, church, or parachurch ministry as entirely demonic and Satanic. I challenge you to come up with a single instance of a doctrine free of such criticism in all Christian circles. Are they not as sincere in their criticism of this or that as you are in your criticism of this or that?
Might the very doctrine among another group of Christians that you sincerely despise be His chosen method to fulfill their heart's cry for His loving attention? Might the very doctrine taught by some that you believe at this stage of your development that it does absolutely nothing for you to be taught such and such - might the simplicity or even the grotesqueness of this doctrine or that one that you stumble over be His appointed means for completing His works of grace, discipline, restoration, and wholeness in their lives? Do you despise the individual fingers of His healing Hands?
Some, like Elhanan Winchester, have previously said that the Universal Restoration isn't a topic to be made much of since the Bible doesn't elaborate on it on every page. I must likewise say that the Bible, even it's most corrupt translations, is void of references to anything that can be termed "Hell" being on either every page or every other page. The twin subjects of "Hell" and of the "Universal Restoration" are not subjects easily opened out to the general public because there are so many subjects that must be expounded on, elaborated on, and clarified before these messages can be given a fair hearing by most people, who not only have previously held fixed opinions on these points of doctrine but upon a thousand other points of conflicting doctrine as well. Repentance, worship, and newness of life should be emphasized more fully because they are what the Bible emphasizes more fully. While the general drift of Scripture, history, divinity, evangelism, and worship is towards greater and greater light, and while that greater and greater light is clarifying, even in Bible translations, the notion of the ultimate repentance, recovery, and restoration of every created being, there is still a place for Hell in more enlightened discourses.
The reality is that in the Garden of Eden our progenators chose for us to experience the full knowledge of both good and evil. That was still, in the fundamentalist sense "sin," in that it was a disobedience to the Word that God had just spoken to them about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was simply a resounding "HANDS OFF!" But there's a sense that I haven't been able to shake from my studies and meditation/prayer time with the Lord in which it appears to have been a "covenant" that Adam and Eve chose. The full knowledge of good and evil, though perhaps outside of God's timing for us to have known it, is still something that each of us will have to deal with the full knowledge of between now and the closing of the times and seasons that any of us know anything about. Call it "this dispensation" if you will. Whether it was God's plan for us to have known that while still in this particular cosmos, or whether it was the seed to a brand new cosmos that God intended to create at a latter date where we could have each learned the difference between good and evil without having had to experienced the evil to know about it. This is a riddle that'll remain concealed, perhaps for a latter age, for us to know what God had originally intended. It is clear, though, that we are God's kids and that no loving father ever wants their kids to go through the maximum pain that they can possibly go through in order to learn. However, with that having been what was agreed to in the Garden of Eden by having stolen the "forbidden fruit," that is where we're at and why I believe in a literal Hell. It's part of the package deal. Perhaps if we'd fallen under some other circumstances or by some other means, then our educating and our reconciliation with God could have been under less traumatic terms for those among us who would yet cleave to filth and rebellion for some prolonged period of time. But, God loves us and we must trust Him to use the methods at His disposal that He chose long ago to use in reclaiming His children from their childish tendencies.
Hell is the state of the unrepentant prior to their embracing of Christ, His teachings, and His way of life. Hell is the consequences of sin. Hell, in one sense, is the state of living a sinful life. While "Hell" is passing away, the restoration of all created beings through the Blood of His cross is still for those mystic "ages to come" that properly rendered New Testaments teach. People are still burning in the consequences of their sins. People are still burning in the consequences of their self imposed alienation from God. People are still burning in the consequences of their culturally imposed alienation from God. People are still burning in their carnal notions of vengeance, righteousness, divine wisdom, divine sovereignty, divine destiny, and their other notions of the other divine perfections. Hell is real, abstract, subjective, tangible, emotional, mental, carnal, spiritual, and hotter than you've ever dared to imagine. It's all of those things! And the divine mercy is destined to obliterate the myth of Hell, the reality of Hell, and perhaps the very word "Hell" when it suits Him to shine His greater glory in the behalf of all everywhere.
Our emphasis must never be lost of Christ as the sanctifier of men's souls with God; the restorer of paths to dwell in. Christ Jesus is the only One who can and who does deliver. He's the only One who grafts us into God in a deeper, more intimate sense than the root that we all share of God being our Creator. Christ creates newness of life and Oneness of being with the Eternal.
Whether we're Arminian, Calvinist, or Universalist, our creed must cease to be those things that divide us. Our creed must be the virgin born Son of God, Whose sinless life and cleansing blood alone restores us to God. This same Jesus who has bodily ascended into heaven will similarly return to judge the living and the dead. Whatever each of our respective views may be regarding endless separation or torment, annihilation, or ultimate and eventual restoration, let's not any of us lose sight of the fact that we'll each give an account of our hearts and our works to the Son of God. He alone is resurrected Master of everything. And I for one trust myself to His all wise and all loving judgment more than I'll ever entrust myself to the creeds and doctrines of frail humanity. As for me and my house, our one anchor is the holy Blood that has forever obliterated our sins and enmity with God.
What more have we need of that the virgin born Son of God has not procured for each of us? If His great life and ransom won't provide for it, do we really want it? Whatever "it" may be. What could He do for us that He has not already done for us? Why do we stand here any longer with two opinions as to whether His atonement or our version of Bible prophecy should be that which perfects us?
His love has completed a table before us in the presence of our enemies that we are equally assured that neither flesh nor anything of our blood shall inherit for us; our flesh being equal to our doctrines and our blood being that which ties us to our past.
Our flesh and blood, like our enmities of the past must soon become our distant-most, detached past. We'll not inherit the Kingdom of our supreme Brother without inheriting one another's brotherhood and sisterhood. Christ, His Blood, His immortality, and soon return to judge all things must again become our creed and our clarion call.
Nothing less than God's Blood and eternal righteousness will heal our heart-sick world. There is no other Name given under heaven, but the Name of Jesus Christ by which we must be saved.
May we all save ourselves from this wicked generation of wrath, vanity, hatred, apathy, and coveteousness by calling together as one, in unison upon that one Name. The Name of Jesus Christ is all that will have mattered in the end, and whether or not we really, really loved one another!
There is absolutely not a doubt in my mind of the wages of sin being death, but of the gift of God being eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. There are no doubts that God's judgments are without partiality and without hypocrisy. Every penalty of the Scriptures will be executed to the exact letter of the law upon the sinfully unbelieving and unrepentant. There are serious consequences to a life time lived in sin.
God has emphatically commanded all men everywhere to repent. God has set a day when He will judge the works of humanity through the righteous judge that He's appointed, which is Jesus Christ. This declaration comes to each heart with the rising of the sun, the singing of the birds, and the clarion call of every evangelist. Though the evangelists, prophets, and teachers are ever called "mad-men" for saying such things - life is short, sin is deceptive, judgment is exact, and the penalty upon every sin is spelled out for each of us in the Scriptures and in our consciences.
There is no difference between this aspect of the message of the Bible among Augustinians, Calvinists, Arminians, and Universalists. Christ alone is the only remedy for sin and ransom for every life. Generally speaking, there is no difference between Christian Universalists and their message and the message of other brands of Bible believing Christians in what they understand of the Scriptures up to and prior to the last two chapters of the Bible.
As a Christian Universalist, I jointly declare with all Christian brethren from all denominations who hold to the Holy Bible as the foundation for all of their dogma and practice that the soul that sinneth shall surely die. There is no refuge from the righteous declarations of God for anyone seeking to conceal their sins. Only by repentance, humility, and obedience to Christ is salvation possible.
There is no disagreement between Christian Universalists and the penalties of the law of God upon sin. We agree on these particulars with all of our other Christian brethren to the fullest letter of Scripture up to and prior to the last two chapters of the Bible. But once the final penalty of Scripture is fulfilled upon all of the obstinantly sinful, and the last soul living in sin has been executed on the Day that the Books have been opened, and the finality of God's declaration against sin has been seen and experienced by all of Creation, then a new Day will emerge in which there shall be no more sin, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more weeping and gnashing of teeth, for the former things will have past away and God will make all things new!
As every penalty of the Scriptures upon sin must be carried out, and as every judgment must be fulfilled and executed to the very last letter of the Scriptures, the Scriptures would indeed be broken if the slain remained in death to all endless ages of eternity. How would the last enemy to have been destroyed be death, if in fact though death has been neutralized as an enemy there are yet many millions of enemies of God to all endless ages of eternity? How would all of the promises be fulfilled which say that righteousness would much more reign through grace unto eternal life for all who've died the spiritual death of the garden of eden through their traceable lineage to the first man Adam? How would the work of Christ be fulfilled and all of the works of the devil be destroyed if the devil succeeded in destroying many of the works of the Son of God to all endless ages of eternity? How would death and life have been fully entrusted to the tongue of the Son of God if only death reigned in some throughout all of eternity?
I am in favor of what promotes:
the glory and Lordship of Jesus Christ;
the sanctification and unity of believers;
evangelism and awareness of Christ's soon return.
I've seen good and bad examples of that in every camp that calls Jesus Christ it's one and only Saviour. The wages of sin are clearly death, and Jesus Christ has assured me that He is coming soon. His promise to us is a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness alone dwells.
My hope is built upon the sure foundations of His blood, His immortality, His soon coming, and His command to all men everywhere to repent.
We are a nation of bitterness, coveteousness, and every vice. And we have to make all men see their only hope is Jesus Christ, plus or minus nothing. And we must all realize the obligations that each of us owes his Maker.
Our love for Christ and for the brotherhood of believers is paramount. We'll not stand justified through what we've done or sacrificed, but only through the merits of the Saviour of the world. But we are accountable for how we treat one another; whether or not we cared for widows and orphans while remaining unspotted from the filth of this world.
The bottomline is that He's coming soon and we had better get it together!
Let it go. Let it go! No matter what anyone's done to you, what you've done to yourself has been a whole lot worse. Coming Home to God is all that'll matter, and what you do with His love once you've felt it afresh! Jesus Christ wants to heal you and teach you and then heal you and teach you some more. Let go of the stress. Let go of the addiction. Jesus Christ is manifesting towards you to make you whole. Nothing else has ever mattered except that your loving God loves you and wants to restore you to the place of royal dignity that He created you to have. Let go of the pride and let Him wash your feet, dress you, and teach you what you should say from now on, ok?
You are assured of a loving God and of a holy, ultimate salvation, not of heaven, rewards, dominion, etc. All of that will come as Jesus leads you to God's bathroom: toilet and bath tub, and then takes you through your God's towels, spare tooth brush, spare tooth paste, clothes, and then on to the refrigerator, cabinets, pantry, and everything else after you've done what Jesus has, Personally, shown you to do.
39 And having gone forth, he went on, according to custom, to the mount of the Olives, and his disciples also followed him,
40 and having come to the place, he said to them, 'Pray ye not to enter into temptation.'
41 And he was withdrawn from them, as it were a stone's cast, and having fallen on the knees he was praying,
42 saying, 'Father, if Thou be counselling to make this cup pass from me--;but, not my will, but Thine be done.' --
43 And there appeared to him a messenger from heaven strengthening him;
44 and having been in agony, he was more earnestly praying, and his sweat became, as it were, great drops of blood falling upon the ground.
45 And having risen up from the prayer, having come unto the disciples, he found them sleeping from the sorrow,
46 and he said to them, 'Why do ye sleep? having risen, pray that ye may not enter into temptation.' (Luke 22:39-46 YLT)
Who was the angel that appeared to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? What was the nature of the moral and spiritual strength that he imparted to Jesus to carry out His self-sacrificial mission in the behalf of God and in the behalf of Creation? Where did it come from and how did it empower Jesus to endure so much?
Was the angel that appeared to Jesus to strengthen Him in the Garden of Gethsemane from the future?
Perhaps a future vision of the restored Lucifer that depended on what Jesus was about to do?
How else would the appearance of an angel be strengthening to Jesus in this context?
The thief cometh not but for to steal, kill, and destroy, but I am come that they (i.e. the thief) might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
The "thief" is the understood subject of the verse, though the parable in a wider sense includes His human sheep. I was watching Kenneth Copeland on the internet tonight. He read that verse from John 10 and the Holy Spirit lifted the veil from my eyes on that one. Life and it more abundantly for the one that Michael won't speak a word against, but merely says "the Lord rebuke you" to. That Michael won't touch him in word is something that makes absolutely no sense under either the "eternal" Punishment paradigm or the "Annihilation" paradigm. That Satan's rank is still recognized by the holy angels only makes sense in the light of Lucifer merely being a self-deluded [deeply angry and hurt] runaway adolescent whose Father still searches for him daily rather than anything conceivable under the Old Order that I came out from under.
For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross - having seen the restored Lucifer in the Garden of Gethsemane. What else, but a vision of "Mission Accomplished" would have given Jesus the additional personal fortification that He needed to go the rest of the way?
Something appeared to Jesus giving Him the moral courage to be the Lamb of God for all of Creation that night. The author of the book of Hebrews said that Jesus endured the cross for the sake of the joy that was set before Him. When was this joy set before Him?
It was always set before Him in the Scriptures and in what He intuitively knew from the Holy Spirit inside of Him. But the Scriptures say that Jesus saw someone that night that gave Him the strength to carry out the ultimate act of the grace of God.
Isn't Scripture peculiarly silent on what happened that night to strengthen Jesus when that angel appeared to Him? On almost every other detail, the gospel writers are fairly quick to say "that it might be fulfilled which was written.....", but here we have a set of details purposefully withheld from those who are less than totally matured by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. But the Bible will briefly mention it because it happened and then just leave it at that.
And at the same time, the Apostle to the nations says that there's ministry that we're to do among principalities and powers in Ephesians 3. That's one of the main reasons why we must walk in integrity, not just when we're in a context where we're seen by others, but where we're also seen by our Father in Heaven. The Father's reward is to make us like Christ, isn't it? It matters what angels see us doing in private!
When you're [really] faithful in everyday things, God will show you the restoration of angels (Hebrews 13:2; Colossians 1:15-20). God will show you the restoration of all of your enemies back to Himself when you're faithful to pray for them.
Coming into the possession of [ultimate] peace and reconciliation is more than worth the price tag of holiness, sanctification, obedience to God, and singleness of mind before the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit!
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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.