To be honored by Christ is the reward - simply put. When one talks of rewards, one is talking about merit. Salvation is not merited, so salvation is, thus, not a reward. Who will be the greatest (the most honored) in Christ’s Kingdom? Christ tells us that the lame will enter first.
If we read HIS depiction of how men will be judged (Matt25) it’s not by their sins (which were taken away) it’s by whether they helped or hindered the advance of His Kingdom. A cup of water given to one of His ‘little ones’ gains honor for oneself? Yes, it’s true! And it’s true whether one was a believer or not, an example of that is the good Samaritan. His depiction forces us to re-define ‘faith’.
Don’t go looking for Hitler’s ‘faith’ - it’s a fools quest. And don’t go looking for the ‘honored’ - He told His own followers not to busy themselves with speculation as to the pecking-order in His Kingdom. Which IS a kingdom, after all, and not a democracy. Everyone will be perfectly positioned by the Lord of the Universe.
I’d rather get back to the ontological change of humankind, which is, as Paul noted, if not true, a cause for despair.
I’m still not sure I understand what your saying. It sounds like a semantic to me. You state that the sins are taken away but that the goats get cooked for other reason than sin. I would argue that NOT ADVANCING HIS KINGDOM is sin. To not feed the hungry is to not advance his kingdom.
I don’t know if you’ve read “The Evangelical Universalist” Ran but give it a go. To breif you, it give a biblical reason from a narrative position why the salvation of all is sound but also embraces the idea that not all go to heaven after this age.
In other words, like Thomas Talbott, it makes a case for post mortem salvation.
Good to have you on board Ran.
Ranran and I have dueld it out on Tweb for a few years, mostly with calvinists. We’ve been pretty good freinds and I’m glad to have him on board. : )
Strictly speaking, texts like Heb 6 are about the dangers of rejecting salvation once accepted. (But you clarified that shortly afterward.)
I’m very dubious about this, both on grounds of scriptural testimony and on metaphysical grounds. The resurrection doubtless will help remove certain inherited propensities that we currently have to struggle against, but neither Satan nor Adam-and-Eve (however those figures are to be understood) nor any of the rebel powers needed a lack of immortality in order to be selfish. There are reasons why the unjust are resurrected to eonian crisising instead of to zoe eonian, in the scriptural prophecies, despite their resurrection being preceded by both death and hades.
And obviously, when Christ is sending the goats in for some brisk eonian cleaning (as the Greek puts it), it is because He considers their lack of charity to be a sin that they haven’t repented of yet.
Both the sheep and the goats appear to be clueless in Matt 25. ‘When did we give or not give you a cup of water?’ Why call that ignorance, sin? How can one repent of a ‘sin’ they did not know they committed?
Again, His depiction of His Judgment in Matt 25 is one of rewards and not salvation as such - He is speaking to resurrected men whose sins were forgiven. The basic question is: ‘Did you advance my Kingdom?’ Knowing what they were doing seems beside the point. And just to be clear - ‘NO one will lose their reward.’ That point is brought home in the story of the Good Samaritan - an unbeliever.
Loading sin back onto people is something we do, but not God. The Lamb of God took away the sins of the world. If that were not true, why talk about cups of water given or not given in ignorance? Christ said that fathers are capable of loving their own children - so it’s not even a lack of charity per se - but charity towards His church - HIS little ones. To advance His Kingdom while here, and in the slightest way, will be rewarded.
On the other hand, why punish them for something that wasn’t a sin? The goats are certainly being punished for something. I don’t think it’s for being mortal.
The judgment against the goats is reported in topical connection with three previous parables of judgment which are all (as usual for Christ) directed at lazy and/or uncharitable servants of His: those who neglect their business, who abuse those whom Christ has put under them, and who go so far as to accuse God of having the character of a robber-chieftain (a conventional flattery in ancient and classical Near Middle Eastern cultures) in order to excuse their own lack of action. These are people like the rich man in the Lukan parable about Lazarus, or like his brothers: they aren’t ignorant. They have all the advantages; they’ve been told again and again that God expects us to help the poor, the needy, and even those in prison. (Notably something that a Calvinist or Arminian would put a final limit to: no visiting that prison for the sake of those imprisoned! The rich man in the parable is an apparent exception because he expects and even demands servitude from Lazarus and even from Father Abraham. That isn’t how it works… )
The parable only makes sense if the sheep are caught by surprise by Christ being the judge after all: they weren’t expecting to have been helping Him. The goats aren’t caught by surprise by Christ being the judge–they were prepared for that, and thought they were good to go. They’re caught by surprise when Christ judges against them for their lack of charity. But then, if they knew Christ was to be the judge (or even YHWH more broadly), then they ought to have known what they ought to have been doing to work with Him, whether from the NT or only from the OT or, heck, even from the general ethical traditions of mankind which more-or-less universally insist on charity to the destitute (though the scopes tend to vary).
So, which solidly comfortable followers-of-YHWH would you say are innocently ignorant that we’re supposed to be helping YHWH in helping the destitute?
Again, His depiction of His Judgment in Matt 25 is one of rewards and not salvation as such - He is speaking to resurrected men whose sins were forgiven.
He’s speaking to resurrected men, I agree. And the depiction isn’t about salvation as such, I agree. But it is about judgment and punishment, as such. Rewards for some; punishment for others. The ones who are being punished won’t lose their reward either, I agree. But they still need repentance on their part, and cleaning on God’s part. Apparently rather brisk cleaning. (The agricultural parallel is typically lost in translations from the Greek, but occurs more explicitly elsewhere in scripture, most famously perhaps in Rom 11.)
They have all the advantages; they’ve been told again and again that God expects us to help the poor, the needy, and even those in prison. (Notably something that a Calvinist or Arminian would put a final limit to: no visiting that prison for the sake of those imprisoned!..)
Christ came to set the captives free. Peter tells us Christ preached to the disobedient dead (from the Flood, no less!) - while He was amongst them. He will free them from death at the resurrection. There doesn’t seem to be any ‘final limit’ to the good news - where ever it is preached!
Job’s hope is the dead’s hope: ‘I know my redeemer lives.’
Certainly! But that is hardly anything against my observations concerning the judgment of the goats. Nor is the salting with fire (which is arguably my own favorite universalistic text. That’s Mark 9:49-50 for readers who aren’t familiar with it; Jesus explains exactly what the fire in Gehenna is for.) To those who are not yet repentant of sin, the salting must also be punishment.
Where does this idea come from that people (after their death) remain stubborn and stupid in regards to their sin? Was the Rich man?
I like to think that the afterlife is not matter of battling wills, but rather, giving people sight - which on this side of the vale, and as dark as it is, is called ‘faith’. The transfiguration of Christ was but a glimpse of what all will see. Perhaps, He’s the fire itself. It is the destiny of every human being to bow before and confess Christ. The existence of an ‘unrepentant’ sinner in the afterlife is, therefore, an impossibility to my mind.
It is the destiny of every human being to bow before and confess Christ. The existence of an ‘unrepentant’ sinner in the afterlife is, therefore, an impossibility to my mind.
We Evangelical Universalists agree, but it does not happen all at the same time nor is it completed in our time. This does not demand that hell not exist. I agree with Jason and Gregory here that the warning passages are not about losing diamonds in the crown. They are about being gathered and burnt. Now understand that does not mean God is punishing them for no reason. He is removing their blindness and irrational thinking.
I think the hard part for me to embrace pantelism or Ultra Universalist is the need for one to come to faith. So the question of Hitler being saved can be asked Did Hitler have faith.
If you answer yes, then James 2 would argue NOT A CHANCE did he have faith and what he did have won’t save him any more than demons believing there is one God will save them.
if you answer yes, then since when is faithlessness a constant in God’s kingdom.
If advancing the kingdom requires faith then it hardly seems arguable that Hitler indeed was advancing God’s kingdom because he had faith.
If we say Hitler was not advancing God’s kingdom but he still gets saved then he must have a saving faith (which is a gift).
Unfortunately, I don’t believe Hitler had a saving faith as his deed showed who’s image he bore to his grave. And for that reason his blasphemy of the Holy Spirit still must be dealt with.
That’s a big ‘if’. I don’t think His Church is even present at the judgment described in Matt 25 - both the sheep and goats are questioned about how they treated a third party - His ‘little ones.’ It’s a maddening passage for Lutherans because it doesn’t seem to be about faith as a criteria at all.
Well it seems the sheep have please God and without faith it is impossible to please God.
I see no reason to believe that Faith has nothing to do with Matt 25.
In fact I see every reason to see why the sheep are those who did have faith. The connections here don’t seem hard at all to meet. What seems hard to me is to see how faith somehow become absent from the fact of whether people inherit God’s kingdom or not.
I tend to think I’m not totally following you all the time. I tend to see you arguing (sort of like a dispensationalist) that Matt 25 is not for the church but for Jew vs. Gentile or something like that? Perhaps that’s how you see it.
Where does this idea come from that people (after their death) remain stubborn and stupid in regards to their sin? Was the Rich man?
I’d say yeah, pretty much–he obviously has no repentance yet for the things he has done, and is still expecting to be served as he was in life. Moreover, when he pleads with Abraham for Lazarus to be sent back to warn his brothers against the fate that’s awaiting them, the topic still isn’t about his own repentance.
It might be replied that of course this is hades before the resurrection. (Which would still be an example of people remaining stupidly stubborn in regard to their sin after death; just as the rebel angels being locked away into hades and barely able to influence the world still remain stubborn in regard to their own sins–otherwise they wouldn’t be rebels anymore!) One can hope, I think, that repentance may occur before the resurrection, but I find neither any scriptural promise nor any metaphysical reasoning to believe that this will necessarily occur.
But what about after the resurrection of the evil and the good? Unless RevJohn is to be completely discounted, there must be some kind of process of repentance after that resurrection, too. Otherwise they all would be resurrected into zoe eonian, instead of the unrighteous being resurrected into eonian crisising. (Something that Jesus also reportedly testified to.) Yet again, after the resurrection and the coming of the New Jerusalem (in the final chapter of RevJohn) a process of repentance is pictured; with saints being exhorted to help the Son and the Spirit in calling to those who still are loving (I think the term may even be ‘fondling’) their sin, to come drink of the freely-given water of salvation without cost and wash themselves in the water and so obtain permission to enter the gates of the city (which though never-closed no sinner may enter into) to eat of the tree of life, the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations. This procedure would be pointless unless there were still people who were being stubborn as to their sinning, as the beast and the false prophet (both of whom are humans, though one is junctioned with Satan) are prophesied to continue in their rebellion for the eons of the eons.
I like to think that the afterlife is not matter of battling wills, but rather, giving people sight - which on this side of the vale, and as dark as it is, is called ‘faith’.
The problem is that, as God complained of Israel (and thus of humanity in general, too) through Isaiah, people stubbornly shut their eyes and close their ears and harden their hearts so that they won’t turn and repent and be saved by Him. True, when they do that God sometimes joins in their hardening for a time, so that various other things will be accomplished, but it would be pointless for Him to be complaining about their doing that if all they needed was spiritual sight. Every sin is a sin against what light we can see, however much or little of it that is. (Satan had more sight in that regard than anyone but still rebelled!) And this is the condemnation, that people choose to remain in the darkness rather than come into the light, because their deeds are evil. (As RevJohn puts it, they still love their lies and murdering and adultery and ‘dog’-ness (a Jewish euphamism for something not politically correct to mention here as abominable to God) and sorceries etc.)
It wouldn’t be a matter of battling wills at all, of course, if people didn’t choose to continue rebelling: they’re the ones going out to war against God with thorns and thistles (as God says through Isaiah in another place). And God will fight them, even though He has no wrath in Him (as the same place in Isaiah says)–so that their thorns and thistles will be burned away and they will cling to Him for salvation as their friend someday instead.
But until then, the sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this age nor in the age to come. That’s a text that has to be taken seriously, too, including by us universalists.
The transfiguration of Christ was but a glimpse of what all will see. Perhaps, He’s the fire itself. It is the destiny of every human being to bow before and confess Christ.
I quite agree with all that, though, for what it’s worth. (Indeed I would upgrade your ‘perhaps’ to a definite certainty, though I’d be more inclined to identify the fire with the 3rd Person, the Holy Spirit.) But it is not impossible for me to imagine someone with all the advantages rebelling anyway. It wouldn’t be rebellion and sin at all, unless it was against a truth already perceived by the sinner.
But it is not impossible for me to imagine someone with all the advantages rebelling anyway.
There is nowhere in scripture where men have become demons - possessed by demons, yes - but not to become one themselves. Christ extracted that evil from a number of men. Men are not essentially evil - they are, rather, an image of God. The caricature of men having such mighty wills that even God is frustrated at their strength doesn’t hold true.
Men are not essentially evil - they are, rather, an image of God.
I agree. But then, that’s true about the rebel angels, too. They aren’t essentially evil either, and are also made in the image of God. Moreover, insofar as the scriptures talk about the topic at all, they had more advantages than we have ever had–and still rebelled.
It isn’t surprising, then, that Christ usually (though not always) reserves His overt wrath in the Gospels (humanly speaking) for those people who have had the most advantages but still are choosing to rebel anyway. And He tends to describe such people in diabolic terms: the educated priests who were willing to contradict themselves rather than accept Him; Judas Iscariot; Simon Peter.
(It should be noticed of course that Peter’s inclusion in that group demonstrates that in principle such rebellion isn’t beyond hope of God’s redemption. Which I know you’ll already agree with; I’m making the observation for the sake of visiting readers.)
(It should be noticed of course that Peter’s inclusion in that group demonstrates that in principle such rebellion isn’t beyond hope of God’s redemption.
You have a good mind Jason. And, yeah, it’s good to be called down when we are talking the faithless rap of Satan. I’ve been there. Peter is one of my heroes, not because he was so perfect but because he was such a screw-up. But what a screw-up! What a complete redeemed human being!
I do not know if Hitler directly killed anyone, but few people doubt but what he was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people.
Hitler had the power, opportunity & cooperation from others to murder millions. So he is largely responsible for it. Without those 3 things he may have still had the same desire to kill millions yet been unable to even get a single person murdered. So why should he be considered any worse than any other murderer or person with merely murder in their hearts.
And since hating someone makes us a murderer, according to Scripture, and we have all committed that sin, we are all murderers.
Many who have never actually murdered anyone themselves may wish they could murder many more than Hitler’s millions (he was largely responsible for), but don’t have the ability Hitler did to do so. In that sense they could be considered worse than Hitler.
If there’s even such a thing as worse sinners. With us all being sinners, we are all in the same predicament needing a Savior. Any kind of sinner can obtain heaven. But even the person who has sinned the least won’t get their without salvation.
Are we are guilty of murder & therefore murderers? The Bible says:
Js. 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.