The Evangelical Universalist Forum

God won't violate human 'free will'

I have heard many excuses as to why God cannot possibly save all men (and women) and it seems to me that these same opponents are often inconsistent with their own positions. Most (perhaps almost all) Arminists posit that God will not violate the free will of a human being. He can’t, or rather, won’t do it.

Modern Christianity teaches an imputed righteousness. So instead of the rotten jerk you really are, God decides to cover you with Jesus Christ and now sees a righteous person instead of you. God had to do this because he cannot stand to look at us. We are repugnant to him, altogether worthless. So instead of God changing the individual and curing the disease itself, he pardons the sinner while leaving the disease still eating away at the soul. I believe most Christians call this ‘Justification’ and they separate this from “Sanctification”, which more or less is spoken of in terms like this: "God convicts the sinner of his sin and slowly changes him over time. He never will completely conquer sin. He will sin until the day he dies, though he will sin less and less and he grows in his walk. I certainly don’t have an issue with Sanctification… Sanctification, appears to me, very similar to how all humans learn in many facets of life, not just the Spiritual aspects. So it makes good and total sense.

Now, If we sin until the day we die and at the same time maintain that God does not violate our free will… How does one come to the conclusion that their sin nature is changed when they die? That would be God violating the free will of the individual and making them perfect, and if God does this at death, then why cannot he do this for everyone at death? I believe the whole matter is faulty. That is, that God waves a magic wand and eradicates our sin nature is God when we die.

Jesus clearly said some will receive few stripes, some many… To think I am going to escape punishment because of some imputed righteousness isn’t, to me, taking Jesus at face value. Being honest with myself, I am both obedient and disobedient at times in my walk with God. I have peaks and valleys. I have times where I delay my obedience, perhaps like in the case of Jonah. But the bottom line is this: Sometimes I know what I ought to do and don’t do it. Other times I know what I ought not to do and sometimes do it. I am still learning to be righteous and working out my salvation. If I were to die now, I fully expect to receive some lashes for things and I deserve every last one of them.

Luke 12:47-48 - “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

Yet, this isn’t hopeless.

Job 5:17-18 - ““Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal.”

Proverbs 3:11-12 - “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.”

These verses and MANY more lose their true value in Modern Christianity.

All this to say, I believe all who do not reach perfection in this life (not sure anyone reaches it in this life, though perhaps some) will have varying degrees of punishment/learning taking place in the afterlife. To say that won’t be the case for believers, is essentially to say God violates the free will of a subset of people. George MacDonald said “God will never let a man off with any fault. He must have him clean.” I agree with MacDonald. It is the only method that makes sense. God waving a magic wand and making me sinless (hence, taking away my free will) makes this entire life rather pointless.

I believe in free will, and I believe in ultra-universalism (i. e., that all of our punishments are on this side of the grave). Here’s how I look at it:

Our free will here on earth is impaired (but not eradicated). ’ Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.’ (John 8:34)

We are slaves to sin. Our free will is impaired. It’s like we are all alcoholics and are offered drinks. Yes, we still have the free will to say, “No.” But because of our alcoholism, we have a very difficult time saying, “No.”

In this fallen world, we are so mired in sin that we are addicted to sin. Our environment (i. e., society) works against us, encouraging us in countless ways to sin. Our upbringing saddles us with a lot of nonsense. Our genetics works against us. Our sinful habits even alter the structures of our brains, making us more likely to want to sin the more we sin. Then we are victimized by other people, thus tempting us to sin against them. We get physically ill, making it harder for us to lead lives of righteousness. Even being hungry or sleepy can make us impatient, waspish, and crabby. Etc.

At death, suddenly…all of that is gone. Society…whoosh! Our DNA, our brain patterns, our digestive system, etc. is all…gone. It is just your soul in the immediate presence of Christ. All possible illusions and misconceptions are obliterated by the overwhelming presence of Christ. It is like we were plunged into the heart of the sun, only infinitely more so. For the first time in our existence, we are truly free. Everything inside us and outside us that enslaved us, that chained us, that weighed us down, is gone. We are in the presence of the Logos who frees us. As such, there can be no more sin. With that omnipotent Truth confronting us and permeating us, the only freedom is joyous harmony with His will. Any sort of sin or rejection in such a circumstance would be, quite literally, insane–and therefore not free, since insanity precludes free will.

So it’s not that God waves a magic wand. He opens the windows. :slight_smile:


Agreed on all counts, with the exception of no punishment after death. Regardless of our differing views, my post was not so much an argument for punishment after death but an argument that God isn’t going to wave a magic wand for “some” and not “others”. To believe that God doesn’t ever work against your will and then to say that God does work against your will is a contradiction to me. You, on the other hand, appear to hold to a consistent position - That God does it for all. Were you to say, for example, that God only does this for some people, then I’d consider your viewpoint inconsistent. Hence, that is really what this topic is about, to address those who say that God won’t violate free will, but will somehow do that for a subset of people. I don’t view that position as consistent.

So, I definitely agree that it is possible there is no punishment after death, I’d say that would be all or nothing. Otherwise we run into a God who is partial… Again, this is provided you agree that we all die sinners. At some example, God has to draw a line that line would seem to be arbitrary as to who gets their sin nature eradicated versus who has to work it out the long way.

Maybe a better way to explain the disconnect would be to say that there is a tall mountain to climb. All mankind is on this mountain. Very few get near the top before they die, some get half way, others barely start. But no one makes it to the top (at least, no one I have met. I want to be careful, for with God all things are possible). So, let’s say morally speaking, two people are near the top, one is Christian and the other is gasp Muslim. Both have been responding to the truth that God gave them. However, when the Muslim dies, he is deemed a sinner, because he didn’t quite make it up to the top of the mountain. The Christian on the other hand is transformed at his death to have somehow made it on top of the mountain because God waved a magic wand. Now the Christian is fit for Heaven, because God changed him and he no longer has any inclination to sin. Moreover, the person who barely started at the bottom of the Hill, who spent his life doing what he wanted doesn’t get far. But, because he is a Christian, God decides to eliminate the gap and bring him the top of the mountain. This person, if brought back to life, certainly wouldn’t be sinless. He is only sinless because the Lord waved a wand. If God is the one who closes the gap, no matter how wide, then why such an arbitrary means to do this? What is the point if one makes it almost the top or one barely gets started if God merely closes the gap? If God closes this gap, why not for all? Isn’t it proposed by most Christian’s that God supposedly wanted to know who his true followers were? How does he knows these people would remain his followers if he takes away their will to sin?

Ezekiel, the watchman, warns of this. A man can be righteous his whole life and forsake “the way”, but this man, had he died slightly before he “forsook the way” would have had his sin nature eradicated if he merely held out for another (insert arbitrary time frame here). The whole position is inconsistent, in my opinion, at least, if you want to suggest that God only does this for some, and not for others.

I am not against the idea that God could, in theory, judge us by how we lived our live here and our punishment is dished in that instant and fulfilled. Perhaps our position will be based on how we did what we were given and that alone is our punishment. I don’t take issue with that, only that a ‘special’ select few get a free pass. If anyone escapes punishment that most others get, it would be because God deemed them faithful where it wasn’t needed because they had already gone through fiery trials! Hopefully this isn’t too confusing… I read it over and it I think I am conveying what I want to convey. But just in case, I wasn’t clear… I am not against the idea of death and our rewards in heaven being our punishment, or the great equalizer. But I am against the idea that God only puts Christian’s on the fast track to bypass the ‘hard and laborious’ testing and trials. It is the reason I am against the pre-trib rapture (I don’t even necessary believe in that eschatology), since when has God been in the business of NOT testing his people? Yet most Christian’s think they are privileged people of God who don’t deserve life’s hardships. When I say “most” I realize this is a generalization, but I think it is a fair assessment of Christendom. Listen to the way people talk about it. They are obsessed with God removing them from trials and getting a free pass. I don’t see how this lines up with the Bible that I read. But, in all fairness, I am still very ignorant about much. Maybe my views will change.

I thoroughly understand what you’re saying, and I agree with what you say about the logical inconsistency.

If free will requires us to endure post-mortem sufferings, then everyone will endure those sufferings. (It would be unjust and even ridiculous of God to give a special pass to a select subset of humanity.)

If free will does NOT require us to endure post-mortem sufferings, then no one will endure those sufferings.

Both of those positions are logically consistent. You hold to the first, I to the second. :slight_smile:

Speaking strictly from logic, free will does not require anything, or it is not free. If God creates an environment where everyone has the right to make the same choice, with the same consequences, good or ill on either side of the choice, then there is no injustice or unfairness in the consequence.

If God creates an environment where all choices lead to a particular point(brokeness, repentence, enlightenment), with a direct route available to the meek and the poor in spirit and other more treacherous routes for the arrogant and the wicked, there is no inconsistency in that, even if that route extends beyond the mortal road.

I don’t think free will is absolute, nor do I think God micromanages our every decision as to predestination, but clearly he has chosen an elect group, and that would be an injustice, if he had not already predestined all to be saved.

The reason that folks struggle with the idea that God has called and chosen and elect group is that they do not understand what that group is called and elected to. They are elected as the first-fruits of the general harvest, and they are elected to suffer with Christ. They are chosen to be priests, shepherds, sacrifices and husbandmen- not chosen to some big free shindig in the sky.

When someone objects to the salvation of all on the basis of free will, I have no problem allowing them that opinion, because I can demonstrate from the scriptures that the superior love of God in Christ is sufficient to draw all men unto Him. I can demonstrate from the scriptures that the judgments and punishments of God are for correction and subjection to love and that love is the only freedom.

Of course, it is ridiculous that God would so treasure free will that He would make a plan to create a bunch of knuckleheads who would rather burn forever than yield to God. That God is at least a poor planner and at worst masochistic monster who was really, really lonely, needy & insufficient to Himself -to put millions or billions through all that in order to create a few friends. But I still feel no need to overturn the free will paradigm, because I think there is a measure of freedom and choice. It is such a point of contention and such a sacred cow on either end philosophically and theologically and the proof of UR is in no way dependent on it, if a person believes the scriptures, there is plenty of independent evidence either way, that all will be saved- because God predestined it, or because Jesus on the cross will win the last argument, or both.

So many who receive Christ in this life do so after corrective punishment has brought them to the end of themselves, that I would not see any incongruity with there being corrective punishment in the afterlife- but I see it in the form of an intense discussion with consequence of some kind, like a family intervention where a person is forced to face themselves by people who are speaking to them out of a desire to see them set free from their addiction, or anger, or whatever. Some will yield more quickly than others, as I imagine it. “Know you not you will judge angels… Know you not you will judge the world… the thrones were sat, the books were opened” and the two edged sword went to work on em :slight_smile:, out of the mouths of the elect! Who knows.

Gabe, this is a great topic!

I believe that God won’t violate human free will. I also believe that of their own free will all human beings will, sooner or later, choose to be reconciled to God. (and I don’t believe a person’s character magically changes post-mortem).

I do not have time right now to explain why I think that is no conflict between these two, but within a few days I hope to explain.

I would appreciate your input! :slight_smile:

Also - I don’t personally believe there is a conflict. I believe that God has no time-limit (he has ALL the time in the world) and that eventually people will try every which way to get out of this maze their own way before realizing there is only one way, the way of Jesus. I just wanted to make it clear that I don’t believe God does violate whatever free will we have. He allows us to hit our heads until we finally ‘get it’ or at least, that is why I believe. :slight_smile:

Still, I am definitely open to the idea that God can change us when we die. I just don’t believe it would have anything to do with "professing’ an intellectual belief about God. It would have to be for other reasons, reasons that are fair and just.

I like the conceptual vision of Lewis’ Great Divorce, as an insight into the real function of the lake of fire and outer darkness.

All this to say, I believe all who do not reach perfection in this life (not sure anyone reaches it in this life, though perhaps some) will have varying degrees of punishment/learning taking place in the afterlife. To say that won’t be the case for believers, is essentially to say God violates the free will of a subset of people. George MacDonald said “God will never let a man off with any fault. He must have him clean.” I agree with MacDonald. It is the only method that makes sense. God waving a magic wand and making me sinless (hence, taking away my free will) makes this entire life rather pointless.

I think in revelation 7 it talks of the great multitude and that Jesus will feed and lead them and i take this as saying this great multitude consists of typical Christians yet they still need feeding to grow and mature even in heaven.
Possibly imputed righteousness comes from Isaiah 53 which does sound like substitutionary atonement , such as dying for our sins, taking upon himself the punishment for our transgressions, yet it may be his taking our punishment here on earth only. There still may be justice and restitution for us to face afterwards even in heaven.
On the other hand “freewill” is a deduced doctrine, and clearly God overides our so called freewill whenever it suits his purposes. Even Jesus said to the Apostles that he chose them, they did not choose him.

I have a question for those who believe that there is a period after death in which human beings are not “perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect”:

Is this temporary period of the afterlife basically just more of the same of our earthly existence? After all, if our character is not changed upon death, then we carry all our sinfulness with us into the afterlife. This includes the scary people who prey upon other humans: serial killers, rapists, tyrants, etc. Given this state of affairs, do you think the unperfected souls in the afterlife are permitted to prey upon each other?

If yes, then I do not see how the afterlife would be any improvement over life in the here and now. After all, every single day murderous souls would be newly entering the afterlife. It seems that this continual influx of moral monsters would make things quite impossible. Sure, some people would grow spiritually (just like on earth), but why wouldn’t some people regress spiritually (just like on earth)? I don’t see how this would ever get to a state that could reasonably be called “Heaven” (until human beings stopped being conceived and time equal in length to geologic ages had passed). It seems that Heaven would be a very long way off. Such a prospect would frighten me.

If no, then what happened to free will? I remember in one of his books, C. S. Lewis made the point that in our fallen world free will includes within it the ability to choose to hurt other persons. If, for example, every time you tried to stab someone, the knife miraculously turned to putty, you wouldn’t really have the free will to knife someone. It would be a sham free will.

Hi, Geoffrey

That’s a great question. I wonder about that too. I don’t really know what happens when we die. Paul says some things, as does Jesus, that make me think we’ll immediately be conscious and with the Lord. Jesus points out to (I think) the Pharisees (or maybe it was the Sadducees) that “all live unto Him (God).” Paul says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (and other things). John speaks of souls in heaven who appear to be conscious, but of course, RevJohn being apocalyptic . . . . Because of these and other statements it seems more likely to me that those who are intentional followers of Christ will be “in heaven.”

We won’t have our remade bodies though, until the resurrection, unless there’s a sort of ‘eternity’ thing going on there and time-lines are irrelevant. If we have provisional bodies, I can’t see them being of the sort that could be harmed by another finite being. And if not, then what can you do to a spirit? Jesus said we ought not to fear those who can kill the body and after that have nothing more they can do to us. These would presumably be among those who will at some point die, and some of them will die without repenting. So if they entered into ‘heaven’ still imperfect, or if intentional Christ followers did likewise, would they be able to do anything to hurt others whose bodies have already been killed or have died? I don’t really see that as a possibility. Even here we can only do things that we can do. I’m free to walk or run or bike across the pasture; I’m not free to keep up with my dogs and I’ll bet no human is that free. Certainly not most humans.

What if (as to me seems likely) we no longer have the ability to hurt one another? For me that would be wonderful, because I often hurt people I love either unintentionally or because I’m feeling cranky or depressed or otherwise indisposed. I’d be glad to lose that ability. In fact, losing it would make me more and not less free. I would be free to be the person I’ve always wanted to be.

I don’t really think that heaven could be heaven to the unrepentant soul. In my view, the presence of God to such a one would be torment; maybe so much torment that they wouldn’t even have a spare thought to consider hurting anyone else. I think that God frees us. Jesus died to save His people from their sins, and so spiritually we are free the moment we surrender to Him. Soulishly (thinking of the natural self, I guess), we’re not so free. We still have desires and habits and blind spots, etc. We have to be conformed to the image of Christ by the Father through the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit as we yield to Him. I think we do have that task; yielding. Just as the unrepentant sinner in the painful presence of purity and holiness and undiluted goodness also has the task of yielding and letting go of sin so that s/he can be cleansed of it. Anyway, back on task here (focus, Cindy) – We retain our flesh until the day it dies. At that point, those of us who have yielded, or perhaps who have only desired to yield, will be able to do that, and will be “perfect” in the sense of being mature.

There is that scripture that says, “when we see Him, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Based on that, and on Paul’s description of the adoption procedure described in Romans 8, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting, I think that those who are led of the Spirit can already be the mature sons and daughters of God, even in this life. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say that would mean we would never mess up, either. Mature sons still have a lot to learn. Just because you reach a state of maturity doesn’t mean you’ve reached the ultimate state of maturity. That said, it seems to me that if God is infinite and we are finite, that we will always be becoming like Him, and that we will never in fact reach that horizon. Over the infinite years (if years still exist), we’re sure to reach a state in which, if we could see it now, we would seem to ourselves to be glorious gods. Yet when we do reach such a state, we will still have barely scratched the surface of who Christ is, and of the persons we are, and always will be, becoming.

I don’t know if that addresses your concerns, but maybe it’ll give you some fodder for thought. If not, then at least it helped me think through some of these things. :wink:

Blessings, Cindy

If no, then what happened to free will? I remember in one of his books, C. S. Lewis made the point that in our fallen world free will includes within it the ability to choose to hurt other persons. If, for example, every time you tried to stab someone, the knife miraculously turned to putty, you wouldn’t really have the free will to knife someone. It would be a sham free will.

I think the bible is clear that all enemies of Christ will be under his feet (1st Cor 15) at the end of the age and that certainly includes evil. As far as freewill goes , where does it ever say God assured us freewill as if it’s a birthright? Plus we are slaves to sin, we are influenced by Satan and we are influenced by a million other temptations so freewill is really an illusion. We are capable of making choices but in this age Paul said we look through the glass darkly.
In the next age, no Satan, no evil, no temptations of the flesh, no looking through the glass darkly, so i think the lessons we needed to learn here will thankfully be over and we will have a much better experience.

Consider Isaiah 53 in the Septuagint, which seems to have been the version which the NT writers used. Here is one English translation of it. Do you see this as sounding like imputed righteousness or substitutionary atonement?

1 O lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the lord been revealed?
2 We brought a report as of a child before him; he is as a root in a thirsty land: he has no form nor comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty.
3 But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from us: he was dishonoured, and not esteemed.
4 He bears (see footnote) our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction.
5 But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our lawlessness: the training of our well-being was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed.
6 All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the LORD gave him up for our sins.
7 And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.
8 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death.
9 And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practised no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth.
10 The LORD also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If you (plural) can give concerning sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed:
11 The LORD also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to show him light, and to form him with understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear (see footnote 2) their sins.
12 Therefore he shall inherit many, and he shall divide the spoils of the mighty; because his soul was delivered to death: and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bore (see footnote 2) the sins of many, and was delivered because of their iniquities.


  1. φερω (pherō) often used to mean “bring”, but also used to mean “endure” or “bear” (in the sense of “endure”) as in the following passages from the NKJV:

For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.”(Heb 12:20)
Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. (Heb 13:13)

  1. ἀναφερω (anapherō) the same word “pherō” with the prefix “ana” (which means “up”). The word could mean “offer up” or it might even mean “endure”

Cindy, what you quoted from Jesus must be the following verse:

“For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.” (Lu 20:38). But have you noticed that Jesus said this to show the Sadducees, who did not believe in a resurrection, that there was indeed a resurrection of all people? Please examine the whole context and you will see that Jesus was not talking about going to heaven at death, but that there will be a resurrection of all:

Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also.Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife.”

And Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.” (Luke 20:27-38 NKJV))

No. Paul did NOT write that. That is probably the most frequently misquoted verse in the whole Bible. If Paul had written that, I would surely have to re-examine my position that when we die, we’re dead, and would stay dead except for the fact that Jesus will raise us up on the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54) Paul actually indicated that unless there is a resurrection, we may as well enjoy ourselves now, since there’s nothing more:

If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Cor 15:32)

When we examine the context of the most misquoted verse, we may see that Paul is also speaking of the resurrection. I will give my understanding of the passage as I quote it in its context of 2 Cor 5:1-10)

  1. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
    Paul thinks of our body as an “earthly house” or a “tent” in which we live. If this “tent” is destroyed, we have a “building” from God, a house not made with hands"— that is if our present body is destroyed and we die, that is not the end. We will be raised to life again in the resurrection body which God will have prepared for us.

2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,
We groan in our present body for something better, desiring to put on the resurrection body which we receive from heaven.

3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.
Once we are “clothed” with our resurrection body, we shall not be found “naked” that is, without a body—a mere disembodied spirit.

4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
While we are in the present body, we groan for the resurrection body. Not because we want to be bodiless or a disembodied spirit, but to be further “clothed” with the resurrection body.

5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.
7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
We know that while we are at home in this present mortal body, we are absent from the Lord.

We would much rather be absent from this present mortal body, and present with the Lord in our resurrection body.

9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

It will be at the time of the resurrection that we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, not when we “die and go to heaven.”

Cindy, you mentioned “other things” that Jesus and Paul said that makes you think we will be immediately with the Lord after death. Please specify these “other things.”

Gabe, I expect to get to the topic to which you are expecting me to discuss in due time. I just couldn’t ignore those two posts above.

Hi, Don

I always appreciate the things you have to say, and I concede that you could be right. Like I said, I’m ambiguous. What Paul said here:

It seems to me that this in essence means what I said when I misquoted it. :blush: Away from home out of the body AND at home with the Lord. This really looks like an “either:or” kind of statement. I suppose you could say that the middle option isn’t stated because it’s not a state of being. It’s nothing at all. That doesn’t seem very convincing to me, though. David said, “If I make my bed in Sheol, behold you are there.” Maybe David was just being poetic, but his point was, I think, that there’s nowhere we can go away from the presence of the Lord; even to the grave.

I’m not going to follow this any further though. I didn’t mean to drive this off-topic, but I guess I have done, so I’ll zip my little fingers now and try to be better in future. :wink: If you want to talk about it, you could pick it up on one of the threads where we were already discussing this, or else start a new topic. Tag me and I’ll come. :slight_smile:

2Co 5:8-9 CLV
(8) yet we are encouraged, and are delighting rather to be away from home out of the body and to be at home with the Lord."
(9) Wherefore we are ambitious also, whether at home or away from home, to be well pleasing to Him."

Yes i see two choices that Paul recognizes, two states of being here either,

“at home” or “away from home out of the body and to be at home with the Lord”

Plus there is no hint of any time period in between the two states where we are dead or have soul/sleep.

4 He bears (see footnote) our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction.
5 But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our lawlessness: the training of our well-being was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed.

Hi Don,
Yes this part sounds like substitutionary atonement to me.

It doesn’t to me. We humans sinned by torturing Him on the cross. But on the cross, He endured our sins so that He could save all of humanity.
He was wounded because of our sins and lawlessness. It was sinful humanity that CAUSED his wounds. By his bruises, by his enduring this torturous death on the cross, we were healed of our sin-sickness, and through his supreme sacrifice we were trained to live in well-being:

For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and to live sensible, righteous, and pious lives in the present age, expecting the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14…

True, there is also no hint in the scripture that there is more than 2000 years between the first and second coming of Christ, and yet that is the case. We STILL await his return, when He will raise us up at the last day!

Have you ever noticed that those who believe in going immediately into the presence of God at death, don’t place any emphasis of the resurrection?

And that makes sense, for if we go to heaven immediately at death, what need is there of a bodily resurrection at the last day? Why not be content to live forever as disembodied spirits?

But Jesus emphasized the resurrection. He said 4 times in John 6 concerning his loved ones, “I will raise him up at the last day.”

Paul indicated that his great hope was in the resurrection. For if there is no resurrection of the dead:

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 1(Cor 15:18,19)

If Paul had believed that Christians go to heaven at death, he wouldn’t have thought that without a resurrection, the dead in Christ have perished, and that there would be hope except in this present life.

Paul also indicated this thought a few verses late:

What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Cor 15:32)

Was he not saying that if the dead are not raised, we may as well enjoy ourselves as much as possible, now—for this is the only life we have?