"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Therefore, Knowing the Terror of the Lord, We Persuade Men

Those who have read Grace and Truth to You for any amount of time know that this author is persuaded the Bible teaches that the eternal rewards of Christians are those rewards--and only those rewards--which are are earned by Christ. It is Christ's obedience to the will and law of the Father that obtains for God's adopted children our inheritance. It is Christ's perfect obedience which brings to sinners the Father's enduring favor and guarantees for us our position as co-heirs with Christ. As the Apostle Paul eloquently writes, "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17). Trusting the performance of Christ for God's favor is the most freeing, the most liberating, and the most life-changing doctrine of Scripture.  But what about the biblical teaching that God rewards people for good, moral and self-less behavior in this life? What about God judging people for the things done in the body, whether good or bad, and giving to those who have done good the fruit of what they have sown? The Bible teaches that God does judge some people in this manner. He judges sinners apart from Christ in this fashion. Sinners without faith in the Savior will be judged and rewarded by God for every public deed (both good and bad), every secret thought (both good and bad), and every word (both idle and profound). This judgment and reward is for those who are not in Christ. This is why hell will different in terms of punishment and rewards, consistent with how moral a person has been on earth. Hell will not be as severe for some sinners as it is for others (see Jesus' words in Matthew 10:15). The experience of righteous imprisonment will vary in intensity according to the depth and number of unrighteous actions of those who die without Christ. God will not be mocked. Whatever a sinner sows in life on earth, that will he reap in judgment (Galatians 6:7). Hitler will experience the wrath of God in a measure greater than a girl who dies in her teens without Christ. The sinner reaps what he sows. If a sinner is without a personal Savior, then the sinner will be doing himself a favor to live as moral of a life on earth as possible. We've all heard the jokes about homes in heaven being different sizes, but the principle upon which these jokes are founded (the reward for moral behavior), is a principle that is associated with hell, not heaven.

Those who have faith in Christ will never appear at any future judgment of God, or be rewarded for their good behavior. Our sins were judged at the cross, and the behavior for which we are rewarded is Christ's behavior. If a sinner's name is found in the Book of Life--the book which contains all the names of those who have trusted God's Son--then that named sinner is guaranteed that the books that contain the enumerations of his works on earth will be forever sealed and never opened for judgment (see Revelation 20:11-13). The Scapegoat has removed our sins into the desert of forgetfulness (Lev. 16:22). Those in Christ never answer for our sins or shortcomings because "God sees no sin in His people." That does not mean God is not aware of our sins; it means that God has dealt judicially with our sin at the cross of Christ, and all 'the righteous wrath of God due our sins' (the definition of hell) has been born by Christ, and all the blessings and favor and glory obtained by Christ is shared by us. Someone might say, "But I wish to be rewarded for the good I have done as a Christian!" I respond: "The good Christ has done is far superior to your good, and the rewards He has earned are far greater than any rewards you may earn. God makes you a co-heir with Christ because of your faith. It is much better to be a co-heir with Christ than to reap what you have sown on earth." It's more pleasing to sit at a table with nice fine linen than filthy rags for napkins, and your works next to Christ's invite the same comparison. So....

The Biblical principle of God's judgment can be stated as follows: Those without Christ reap what they have sown on earth and those in Christ reap what they have not sown on earth. To be a co-heir with Christ means that you receive from God the inheritance Christ has earned by His obedience during His life, death and resurrection. The perfect righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in His complete and perfect obedience to God's law has obtained for us the unsearchable riches of God's great grace (Ephesians 3:8). Heaven is the eternal unfolding and enjoyment of these riches fpr all the ages to come (Ephesians 2:7). Again: We Christians reap what we have not sown. One of the tell-tale signs of the legalist is the inability to totally rest in the knowledge that the riches of God's favor are earned by Christ's obedience, not his own. It is impossible to be a co-heir with Christ if the rewards of God's people are dependent on our performance. God's favor and our eternal rewards are dependent on Christ. The Savior has guaranteed (to the uttermost!) that we will never be cut-off from God's goodness (Hebrews 7:25). It is indeed an awesome and scary thing to fall into the hands of the living God without a Savior. This is why the good news of Christ is such good news. He saves sinners from the coming wrath of God. It is the knowledge of God's impending wrath and the terror of future judgment for sinners that causes us to be ambassadors for Christ. I make an appeal to sinners to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ.

If you won't trust Christ, I urge you to live the most moral, ethical and selfless life possible to make your future judgment and your subsequent eternal prison more tolerable.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

That'll preach!

Seriously, my heart hungers for such basic Baptist preaching.

Not available perhaps in some parts of the country, but via the web, we get fed anyway!

Just another way God is good!

Christiane said...

"It is the knowledge of God's impending wrath and the terror of future judgment for sinners that causes us to be ambassadors for Christ."


“For he who endeavours to amend the faults of human weakness ought to bear this very weakness on his own shoulders, let it weigh upon himself, not cast it off. For we read that the Shepherd in the Gospel Luke 15:5 carried the weary sheep, and did not cast it off. And Solomon says: “Be not overmuch righteous;” Ecclesiastes 7:17 for restraint should temper righteousness. For how shall he offer himself to you for healing whom you despise, who thinks that he will be an object of contempt, not of compassion, to his physician?
Therefore had the Lord Jesus compassion upon us in order to call us to Himself, not frighten us away. He came in meekness, He came in humility, and so He said:
“Come unto Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” Matthew 11:28
So, then, the Lord Jesus refreshes, and does not shut out nor cast off, and fitly chose such disciples as should be interpreters of the Lord’s will, as should gather together and not drive away the people of God. Whence it is clear that they are not to be counted among the disciples of Christ, who think that harsh and proud opinions should be followed rather than such as are gentle and meek; persons who, while they themselves seek God’s mercy, deny it to others . . .”

St. Ambrose

Bob Cleveland said...

It's true we don't earn "extra rewards" in Heaven, at least not in my view. But there's another angle to consider.

The only investment we can make here that will show up in Heaven is our investment in people. And that, we will always have done.

I had lunch with a dear friend today. He told me, again, that he always leaves our little meetings feeling "challenged". It occurred to me that, through all of eternity, I will always have done that. And similarly, in reverse, for everyone that's ever ministered to, invested in, admonished or helped me.

I think we underestimate the magnitude of the things we do here, which impact eternity. Yes, I know that we don't "do" anything here .. rather we obey God in doing things that God can build on.

If we are blessed here when we bless others, how much more will we be blessed by our having done that, when we're in eternity, without the stain of sin fogging our vision and our ability to appreciate.

Steven Stark said...

This is only good news if one accepts the premise that God will punish people infinitely forever for finite sins. But this isn't just. Just as Christ's death as a penal substitution satisfies no coherent sense of justice.

Heck, atheism is much better news for the world than this version of Christianity. For according to atheism, no one will suffer forever. And suffering is what makes evil, evil. Without that, it's just a word. It is hard to imagine people preaching perpetual suffering as the creation of God, as God's very intent for his creation, and calling it "good news".

It is simply not an act of love to give up on someone forever. I am too optimistic to think that God's nature is unjust and unloving. I think God is actually better than we are - which is different than saying that He is but then holding him to a lesser standard of righteousness than we hold even ourselves.

If God is truly loving, if God IS love itself, then I don't believe He can lack the will to lead everyone to Him. And if He is the creator, then I don't think He can lack the ability.

Steven Stark said...

By the way, despite my disagreement with the characterization of what love and justice really are in this post - I have tremendous respect for many conservative Christian who have taught me very much. I just think they hold themselves to a higher standard than they do their version of God.

And I appreciate the eloquent, clear prose of the post, Wade! :)

Tim G said...

If you won't trust Christ, I urge you to live the most moral, ethical and selfless life possible to make your future judgment and your subsequent eternal prison more tolerable.

Can you share how the above statement at the end of your post is biblical?

Anonymous said...

As a non Calvinist I must confess my confusion.
I understand you saying that God has predestined those who will be joint heirs with Christ, and for those who are not chosen, there is hope for them by living a good moral life in order to lessen their punishment in hell. Is that correct?

RRR said...

2Cor. 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad."

But hey, that's just what the Word of God says.

wadeburleson.org said...

Steven,

I would be very sympathetic with your argument against any judgment were it not for the nature of God. Whatever He does in judging sinners is just, equitable, honorable and right.

Again, I'm not sure of the vision of hell you have, but the Scripture's version of it is not Dante's.

wadeburleson.org said...

Anonymous,

? Why use the word "predestination?" It is not even once mentioned in my post.

You write:

I understand you saying that God has predestined those who will be joint heirs with Christ, and for those who are not chosen, there is hope for them by living a good moral life in order to lessen their punishment in hell. Is that correct?

You understand wrong. I am saying that those who refuse to trust Christ and His finished work for sinners have no Savior (I have not even mentioned "predestination).

If a person refuses to believe in Christ, I am encouraging him to be as moral, ethical and self-less as possible.

It makes his eternal sentence more tolerable.

wadeburleson.org said...

RRR,

You write:

"2 Cor. 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad."

But hey, that's just what the Word of God says.


That is a great verse. Thanks for pointing out specifically what I am saying! Remember, any verse taken out of its context becomes a pretext (false conclusion).

The context of this great chapter (II Corinthians 5) is all about sinners being urged to be reconciled with God. The context for the verse you quote above (II Corinthians 5:10) demands that it be interpreted as a statement about the lost (those without faith in Christ) being judged on judgment day for the deeds done in their bodies, whether good or bad. Let me show you why this verse only applies to the lost. If you will go on and read the very next verse it says:

"Therefore, knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men ..." (v. 11).

Persuade them of what?

"that if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation" (v. 17)

Because ...

"God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them" (v. 19).

And ....

"God has committed to us (believers) this word of reconcilition (to the lost)" (v. 19b).

Therefore ...

"We are ambassadors for Christ as though God were making an appeal to you through us (to the lost who will be judged for every deed done in the body)" (v. 20)

And this is the appeal that God makes to the lost through the His ambassadors ...

"We beg you ... be reconciled to God in Christ" (v. 20).

Because through this reconciliation with God you will NOT experience the judgment of God (for there is no condemnation to those in Christ). But those not reconciled with God and who are not in Christ will experience this judgment. II Corinthians 5 closes with a very profound doctrinal teaching.

"God made Chist, who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (v. 21).

Tim and RRR,

If we have been made the righteousness of Christ, then there is no way we are judged for the deeds done in our body on earth.

Only the lost are.

And so, if one rejects Christ, he should try to live as holy, righteous and moral of a life as possible ---

It will make his sentencing at the just judgment of God more tolerable.

wadeburleson.org said...

Tim G,

You write: If you won't trust Christ, I urge you to live the most moral, ethical and selfless life possible to make your future judgment and your subsequent eternal prison more tolerable.

Can you share how the above statement at the end of your post is biblical?


See above comment to RRR.

And, I could give you many more passages like Romans 2:6, Galatians 6:7, Revelation 20:11-15 and a host of other verses where the lost will be judged according to the deeds done in their bodies.

And, of course, Jesus spoke of the day of judgment being more tolerable for some sinners than others (Matthew 10:15).

wadeburleson.org said...

I am gone for the rest of the day! Blessings to all.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Burleson,

Thank you for your kind reponse.
You are correct, in this post, you did not mention predestination. The fact that you questioned my use of the word seems to suggest that you do not believe in predestination. Is this correct? Do you believe that individuals have the free will to choose or reject Christ?

Paul D said...

Steven - appreciate your comments. I wonder about your premise that sins are "finite". Sins against an infinite God are infinite sins, no? My take would be that a Biblical worldview of man teaches that men have infinite "hearts", or souls - the central defining piece of man which was made in God's image. And THIS is where sin originates in a man - thereby, they are infinite sins.

As for penal substitution not making sense - I agree. What I think is amazing is that this idea is carefully developed beginning in Genesis and culminating in Jesus, the central figure of God's revelation. Being that it is such in incomprehensible idea, it makes sense that God would so carefully lay out this idea from the very beginning of his revelation to man.

Finally, I would comment on God's will and ability to save all men. I'm sure I can clear this one up easily :). I think the Bible is clear that God does not will any to perish, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4. But God's ultimate purpose is for His glory to be displayed (and not anything else). Could God's glory be fully displayed another way? Apparantly not, or that's how it would be. I know it sounds circular, but if God is the ultimate standard (of good) and really is in control, then what other explanation could there be? If God is not completely good, then where does the standard come from? Or if God is not completely in control, then what is? Either way - if you move the ball to another cup - well, that's what you should be worshipping - the ultimate standard of goodness that is in control of the world - AKA the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Bob Cleveland said...

In heaven, believers will have eternity to contemplate the good they did, to the praise and glory of God. And also the sins they committed, to the magnification of the forgiveness we have in Jesus. And our appreciation of it.

Lost sinners will have eternity to reflect on, and suffer the punishment for, the bad they did. And the Bible does state that "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin", and even the kindest deeds on earth are simply works of the flesh .. doing what you want to do .. if not done in faith.

Oh .. Anonymous 4:12:00 yesterday: this was pretty good Presbyterian preaching when I heard it in Indiana, too.

:)

Steven Stark said...

Wade,

"Again, I'm not sure of the vision of hell you have, but the Scripture's version of it is not Dante's."

My understanding is that hell is not a good place, and its residents will not enjoy it. Is this not correct?


"Whatever He does in judging sinners is just, equitable, honorable and right."

It's one thing to say this, it's another to demonstrate it and give examples. If we can't give examples, then the statement has no meaning.

Steven Stark said...

Hi Paul D,

"Sins against an infinite God are infinite sins, no?"

Sins committed exist in time. They are not everlasting. Also, I think the more infinite God is, the less He would be personally offended by sins, the more secure He would be in Himself. He could care about people's well-being, not His own honor, which would show an insecurity.

Plus, there is no moral system of justice that determines punishment based on the power status of the victim.

"As for penal substitution not making sense - I agree."

Yes, it satisfies no coherent idea of justice.

"Could God's glory be fully displayed another way?"

Intentionally creating some to suffer forever, in order to display one's own glory, is wrong.

"If God is not completely good, then where does the standard come from."

I would assume that God is completely good, and our standard of goodness comes from natural law - our ethical intuitions. If God's actions appear to violate that sense of good, then either we must question the validity of the reports, or we must admit that God is not good.

Basically if God's "goodness" does not correspond to our human sense of goodness, then saying that God is good is tautological and meaningless.

Once again, if we divorce the word "good" from our sense of goodness, it is a meaningless term.

Thanks for the comment!!

wadeburleson.org said...

Steven,

Good comments, as always.

Just a thought. You write:

"Plus, there is no moral system of justice that determines punishment based on the power status of the victim."

I would disagree. In fact, I believe that EVERY moral system of justice determines punishment based on the power (I would say "authority") status of the victim.

For example, when you lie to the President or the King you are thrown in jail for treason. When you lie to your boss you are fired. When you lie to your neighbor you lose a friendship. The scale of punishment for lying is proportional to the authority and nature of the one to whom you have lied.

Likewise, if you shoot and kill a dog it is a misdemeanor. If you shoot and kill a police dog it is a felony. The act of shooting a dog is the same, but the crime is more severely punished when the authority (your word is "power") of the dog is greater.

Again, EVERY system of moral justice follows this principle.

That's why our sin against God is so extraordinarily eggregious.

Christiane said...

"This thought should keep us humble:

We are sinners,
but we do not know how great.
He alone knows Who died for our sins."

John Henry Newman

Anonymous said...

Bro. Wade,
I reall do wish to understand your position here. In your last sentence you said,

"If you won't trust Christ,"

How does this fit into the idea of Limited Atonement. If Christ did not die for your sins then you cannot trust him. If he did die for your sins then you cannot resist him.

Steven Stark said...

"For example, when you lie to the President or the King you are thrown in jail for treason."

Wade, perhaps you are right on this, but my overall point holds. I chose an inaccurate way to portray it, so I appreciate the correction.

There is a reason why shooting a police dog is worse, why shooting the President is worse. It is because doing so is a greater threat to the system and a greater source of potential harm to more people. The status of those particular people/animals is special because harming them creates greater vulnerability to the system. So greater punishments are created where there lies potentially greater vulnerability.

If God is perfect, mighty and omnipotent, then we cannot harm Him. We are no threat to Him. He is not vulnerable. God doesn’t need to take revenge on us to preserve His honor.

If God is truly good, then He cares for bringing His creation constantly into a better state. If He is love itself, then He cannot choose to love less than He is able - some here and not there.

The idea, when holding a baby or talking with a small child, that God has determined that this being is bound for everlasting separation, everlasting imprisonment, is absolutely anathema to any sense of goodness.

Surely?

wadeburleson.org said...

Anonymous,

"If you won't trust Christ,"

How does this fit into the idea of Limited Atonement? If Christ did not die for your sins then you cannot trust him. If he did die for your sins then you cannot resist him.

The best way to answer your question is to recommend a post I've already written to a woman with the same question in concern over the salvation of her children. You may find it here You may find the post here

wadeburleson.org said...

Steven,

A few answers to your objections:

"If God is perfect, mighty and omnipotent, then we cannot harm Him. We are no threat to Him. He is not vulnerable. God doesn’t need to take revenge on us to preserve His honor."

I would agree. Eternal separation from God and His people is not for the honor of God, but for the good of the world to come, in the same manner imprisonment of criminals in our society is for the good of the world as a whole.

"If God is truly good, then He cares for bringing His creation constantly into a better state. If He is love itself, then He cannot choose to love less than He is able - some here and not there."

I would agree with everything you have said here except for "He cannot choose to love less than He is able."

I believe love is a matter of God's will, not His ability. He is able to love and provide redemption and forgiveness for the vilest of sinners, but He is also able to righteously judge and imprison the vilest of sinners. Since He is able to do both, what He chooses to do is what He will do.

You can't exclude His holiness with a sole emphasis on His love, nor vice-versa. Therefore, He "is merciful to sinners with whom He chooses to be merciful and He imprisons those sinners whom He chooses to righteously judge" (Romans 9).

If you complain that God is obligated to love every sinner the same, I ask you why it is you are not obligated to love every man's wife the same as your own. Your answer will reveal, in my opinion, that love is a matter of choice, not ability.

"The idea, when holding a baby or talking with a small child, that God has determined that this being is bound for everlasting separation, everlasting imprisonment, is absolutely anathema to any sense of goodness."

I agree Steven. Completely.

If God were ever portrayed as holding an infant, 'innocent' baby, decreeing everlasting separation for that infant, then such a god would be anethema to me as well.

The biblical God is never presented in this fashion. He always punishes willing sinners who of their own volition rebel against their Creator. In other words, God only imprisons the rebel, not the innocent human being.

I know we may still not agree, but I appreciate the dialogue.

Steven Stark said...

I agree on appreciating the dialogue!

"I would agree. Eternal separation from God and His people is not for the honor of God, but for the good of the world to come"

And yet none of the people in the world to come are there for any personal merit. They are, in essence, equal to those who are damned. So there is no good in their inclusion or bad in others' exclusion.

I have the understanding that the Calvinist position is that God damns people to exhibit his "justice" and saves people to exhibit his "love" for the purpose of His own glory (or honor).

"You can't exclude His holiness with a sole emphasis on His love, nor vice-versa."

One needn't do this. Surely God's decision to save some is not in violation of His holiness. Therefore His decision to save all would not violate His holiness. And of course, like the word "good", "holiness" only has meaning if we define it according to our sense of goodness. If we don't, then holiness just means separate, which is neither good nor bad.

I fear that the view of God presented here is schizophrenic. There is no unity of purpose and method. Rather he damns some and loves some willy-nilly. A just God, a good God, would desire the best outcome for all.

"If you complain that God is obligated to love every sinner the same, I ask you why it is you are not obligated to love every man's wife the same as your own."

If God's nature is goodness, then He will desire the best possible outcome for all His creation. He will love all His creation. And He would not create a cosmos whose purpose is to be eternally fragmented. He would not create sinners, willing them to sin, in order to exhibit His justice for His own means and for the benefit of the saved. This smacks of the worst kind of utilitarianism.

I stil don't see how it is coherent to say that God IS love and yet He is able to love more here and less there. However, I can back away and at least say that God must love everyone. It must be in His nature to do so if He is love, and therefore He must desire the best possible outcome for them, whether He loves some more or less than others. This is what any moral man would wish any woman, whether she is his wife or not.

"If God were ever portrayed as holding an infant, 'innocent' baby, decreeing everlasting separation for that infant, then such a god would be anethema to me as well."

But God does look at that baby and plans his/her life according to His will. Such an act, choosing to give up that baby to a life of sin, a life of ignorance of the best course, is the very same thing. God is essentially programming that baby to rebel and suffer the consequences (which are also unjust).

Is God responsible or not for what He creates? Is God the origin of the sinner's rebellion? If He is, then why? If He is not, where did it come from, and still why would He shut the door forever on His creation?


This is a God who is able to save that baby, to change his/her future, but chooses not to. THis is not holiness. Holiness is meaningless if it is divorced from love. Love is not a part of God's nature, God is love. Justice is the tool of love, not its counterweight.

Steven Stark said...

I would add that I think there are theodicies which can possibly explain God's decision to create sin and suffering, but they require a universal reconciliation in order to justify creation itself.

All the best to all! Happy Thanksgiving, Steven

wadeburleson.org said...

Steven,

You write:

"If God's nature is goodness, then He will desire the best possible outcome for all His creation. He will love all His creation. And He would not create a cosmos whose purpose is to be eternally fragmented. He would not create sinners, willing them to sin, in order to exhibit His justice for His own means and for the benefit of the saved. This smacks of the worst kind of utilitarianism."

I am not sure what you mean by "willing" them to sin. If you mean "causing" them to sin, I must vehemently disagree. I see not one iota of Scripture or logic that makes God the cause of sin.

Again, you write: "God is essentially programming that baby to rebel and suffer the consequences (which are also unjust)."

?? I know you don't believe this, and surely you don't attribute this belief to me? I know of no Christian who holds to the belief that God programs sin in man. That's making God the cause of sin.

And finally, you write again, "I would add that I think there are theodicies which can possibly explain God's decision to create sin and suffering, but they require a universal reconciliation in order to justify creation itself."

I am reminded of a children's catechism our kids learned in school. "God made the world holy and good." What about sin? "Sin entered the world when Adam rebelled against God."

I know that the catechism is simple. However, it posits what I believe to be biblical truth. God is responsible for all that is good. Man is responsible for all that is evil.

For some reason you seem to have come under the misconception that God is the author of sin and evil. Frankly, I too would reject a god like this.

For God to imprison volitional sinners is good, not evil.

Anonymous said...

Bob, you said:
“In heaven, believers will have eternity to contemplate the good they did, to the praise and glory of God. And also the sins they committed, to the magnification of the forgiveness we have in Jesus. And our appreciation of it.”

I believe when God wipes away our tears in heaven, he removes all our guilty feelings and sorrows. We will know joy and happiness beyond our wildest dreams. How could we be happy by remembering our sins?

I think you imply that contemplating on our sins will bring joy because of “the magnification of the forgiveness we have in Jesus. And our appreciation of it”.

If that is true, then we ought to sin more so we would be happier in heaven.

Paul showed this foolish thinking in Romans 6:1-2: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid.”

Wade,
What is the meaning of (2 John 1:8)

“Watch yourselves so that you don’t lose what we have worked for, but you may receive a full reward. (Holman)

“Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.” (New Living Translation)

What do we get if we only get half of our reward?

BTW, what God uses to write our names in the Book of Life; does it have an eraser on the other end?

Rex Ray

Steven Stark said...

Wade,

P1 Nothing can exist without having been created by God

P2 Sin and suffering exist. (it is not just a lack of good, for sin is an action and attitude that really exists and suffering is a very physical, tangible thing)

C God created sin and suffering.

We both agree that God created Adam with the knowledge that he would sin. Surely God is in control of what He has created?


"For God to imprison volitional sinners is good, not evil."

A just punishment is good - one that seeks to rehabilitate, to better things. Everlasting damnation is not a just punishment. I would not wish everlasting suffering even to Hitler. The massive suffering he created here would be an insignificant drop in the bucket compared to everlasting suffering. It's cruel and infinitely outstrips what has happened in the temporal world.

The only true "revenge" would be Hitler's legitimate realization of wrongdoing,repentance and having to deal with the reality of what he has done. In fact, that is the only way Hitler could experience what He was going through as justice - if his heart was repentant. And if this is the case, then surely God doesn't keep a repentant heart away forever.

Otherwise it is more suffering for suffering's sake, and nothing is actually better.

Surely in the end, as Paul writes, God will be "all in all" for "God has imprisoned all in disobedience, so that He may be merciful to all."

Steven Stark said...

Another version of the "child" argument is this:

Imagine holding your child and thinking, "God may love me more than He loves my child."

That is a despicable thought to attribute to the author of love. Any parent would surely find this idea vile to consider and a sacrilege to the idea of God.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of heaven, Paul writes; “…then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJ)

I don’t believe it will take a thousand years in heaven to know each other.

I think when we meet anyone, we will know them for all the GOOD things they’ve done for Jesus, and that will be part of our ‘rewards’ we will experience.

We won’t know any history that’s bad or ‘bad’ people like Hitler. In fact, IF Hitler truly repented and had faith in Jesus one minute before he died, we will meet him there.

Of course, our main happiness will be seeing “face to face” the ones that love us most; not our parents, but God and his Son.

Rex Ray

Christiane said...

I think that 'hell' is a place for those who have said a definite 'no' to God's love . . . they have rejected Him in their lives and they have 'turned away' from His Light.

In that way, they have 'chosen' not to be with Him for all eternity.
I realize that this kind of thinking is not for those who feel that people have no choices. But if a person believes that God made people in His Image and likeness . . . then they will have a freedom that the rest of Creation does not possess. And they can 'choose' to go to the crossroads and choose the 'good path'. Or not.

C.S. Lewis wrote '“the door to Hell is always locked from the inside...”

so he must have felt that people consciously rejected God's love and turned away from Him for all eternity, which of course, removes all hope for their happiness, as they were made to be happy with God forever.

But that thinking is for those who see people as free to choose . . .

The Book of Jeremiah speaks to us, this:

""Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is,
and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls"

(Jeremiah 6:16)

we were made for God, and unless we rest in Him, we will not be at peace

Anonymous said...

Christiane,
I believe what you have written applies to all those who know about Jesus, but what about those that have never heard his name?

I believe those people will also have ‘degrees of punishment’ in hell depending on their actions on earth.

Then there’s the question if all babies and those that die before the age of ‘accountability’ go to heaven.

If that’s true, then would it be better in the long run to kill them if their parents are of a religion that rejects Jesus?

Ah, the mess we get in when we start thinking what God should do…like NOT killing king Herod when he kill James and hundreds of others, but did when Herod did not correct the people for calling Herod a god.

“God’s ways are not man’s ways.”

It’s been written the purpose of man is to understand God more, so he would enjoy God more throughout eternity.

That brings us back to Wade’s topic if there are different rewards in heaven.

We may all hear the same ‘music’ but the trained ear will enjoy it more.

Rex

Steven Stark said...

Christiane,

I always enjoy your comments!

Does God create people incapable of accepting His love? It’s clear from your comment that you believe all people are capable.

If they are, then why would God give up on them forever?

Is hell just a preference? If so, it’s either not that bad, or we have a situation where a person is making a decision fundamentally opposed to his own self-interest. That is not rational. Perhaps only God can interact to free a person from an irrational mind?

Does this violate “free will”? First of all, I am not interested in having the ability to damn myself. If that is free will, then no thank you. Most of the time, if a person is trying to walk off a building or out in to traffic, making a decision fundamentally opposed to his own interest, we assume that the person is no longer operating with a free, rational will. We pull the person out of traffic.

But universalism does not require a violation of "free will" anyway,

It only requires a God who never shuts the door forever on His creation plus an unlimited time span. After different periods of difficulty, very sinner will eventually come to the realization of his/her own best interest. Every sinner will come home.

If God keeps the door open, then surely every sinner will have enough of hell and realize his own true nature, returning to the relationship he was created to have - assuming of course, your premise, which is that all people were created to be with God and have the capability to understand His love.

Bob Cleveland said...

Rex: If you will note, the only thing I linked to our prior sins, in Heaven, is a magnified appreciation of our prior actions, and of God's forgiveness. I did not equate it to feelings of guilt or remorse, albeit there would have to be something which produces the tear/tears which God will wipe away (once and for all).

You said "If that is true, then we ought to sin more so we would be happier in heaven." Is that what you want to do?

I see God's forgiveness, now, darkly as through a glass. Then, I'll see it clearly.

When we fully realize what we did here, we will also fully realize the magnitude of God's forgiveness.

Rex Ray said...

Bob,
We may be splitting hairs, but do we remember our sins or do we NOT remember our sins?

I believe AFTER God wipes our tears, we won’t remember our sins.

But you seem to believe different as you said, “The only thing I linked to our prior sins, in Heaven, is a magnified appreciation of our prior actions, and of God’s forgiveness.”

I think “prior actions” would be what we did on earth and that would include our sins.

In my saying “…we ought to sin more…” was simply making a point of foolishness that Paul said, “God forbid”, and had nothing to do about my ‘wants’.

Rex Ray said...

Bob,
You said: “When we fully realize what we did here, we will also fully realize the magnitude of God's forgiveness.”

That may be when He wipes our tears away.

Christiane said...

Wouldn't it be interesting if 1 Cor. 13 had something to do with God's justice and mercy at the time of judgement?

The 'chesed' of God doesn't translate well into English . . . people have tried and about the best they can do is a phrase 'loving-kindness', but that does not fully express it.

When it comes to judgment, I fear for those who, while assured in their own minds of their own salvation, continued to actively show unkindness to 'others', especially when this was done in the Name of Christ. And especially when they used sacred Scripture as a reason for the unkindness.

'Unkindness' . . . much overlooked as a sin against our fellow men and against God. Much overlooked.

Christiane said...

forgot to add
from (1 John 3:14), this:

14 " We know
that we have passed
from death to life,
because we love each other.

Anyone who does not love
remains in death."

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
I believe the Living Bible states (1 John 3:14) clearer: “If we love other Christians it proves that we have been delivered from hell and given eternal life.”

I don’t believe our love for one another proves to the world we have eternal life but only that we are Christians because Jesus said:

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35 NLT)

History records Apostle John was boiled in oil soon after his brother James was martyred. Did the other “Sons of Thunder” call fire from heaven to avenge his brother’s death which caused the king to boil him in oil? John’s martyrdom would fulfill the prophesy of Jesus, but TRADITION claims he did not die but lived to an old age and thus was alive to write the Johns and Revelation.

History also records there were two Johns, and one was known as “The Elder”

Historian, Papias, listed men he learned the Gospel from; “Andrew ...John...and John the Elder. The Elder use to say...” “Traditions derived from John the Elder...”

I believe “This letter is from John, the Elder.” (2 John and 3 John verse 1 NLT) was not written by apostle John because why would anyone use ‘Elder’ if he was an apostle? That’s like the President of American referring to himself as governor of some state.

I believe John the Elder may have been one of the sect of Christian Pharisees that believed in obeying the Jewish laws and their traditions.

Usually when there is a church split, there’s one group trying to tell the other group what to do.

Such is the situation I see in (1John 2:19 Holman):

“They went out from us, but they did not BELONG to us; for if they had BELONGED to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them BELONGS to us.”

Why do I get the feeling that John the Elder had the attitude that the group that left should belong to the group that stayed and was trying to be controlled by them?

Was he talking about the group that left in (1 John 2:4 Living Bible)?

“Someone may say, “I am a Christian; I am on my way to heaven; I belong to Christ.” But if he doesn’t do what Christ tells him to, he is a liar.”

The main question is who decides ‘what Christ tells’?

There must have been DIFFERENT opinions because Paul said (Galatians 1:9):

“If anyone even an angel from heaven preaches any other way to be saved than the one we told you, let him forever be cursed.”

Did the group leave because they thought John the Elder was preaching salvation by works since he said in (2 John 1:8-9 Living Bible)?

“Beware of being like them, and losing the prize [salvation?] that you and I have been working so hard to get [salvation by works?]. See to it that you win your full reward from the Lord. For if you wander beyond the teaching of Christ,[the way I believe?] you will leave God behind [lost?] “

History records that Diotrephes publicly denounced elders of the church:

“Diotrephes resisted the authority of the elders in the church. He attacked them publicly, and forbade the reception of John and his adherents.” (Strong’s Study Bible)

What were the “Traditions derived from John the Elder...” that Papias spoke of? Did his traditions established a pecking order like “…Diotrephes…does not admit my authority over him…” (3 John 1:9 Living)

Who were the “adherents” of John that Strong’s Study Bible spoke of? John the Elder called them “traveling teachers” (3 John 1:5 NLT), but if they were teaching circumcision, Paul would have called them dogs—“Watch our for those dogs…who say you must be circumcised to be saved.” (Philippians 3:2 NLT)

Maybe that’s why Diotrephes slandered them with malicious words. (3 John 1:10 Holman)

Christiane said...

Hi REX RAY,

perhaps the WAY we look at 'others' determines how some of us respond to them? And what is the nature of the WAY of Christ's great love that we are to emulate? Is it comfortably 'restricted' to our 'own kind' ?
Or are we asked to enter into Christ's love more deeply, and in a way that makes us depend on Him for help to do it, and in a way that transforms us forever ?


There is reflection that I have shared before from Jean Vanier that addresses this:

"‘Love one another as I have loved you.’

Love your enemies.

Love those who hate and persecute you.
Love ‑those who have become outcast
and those who are excluded from the group
because they are ‘useless’, non‑productive:
the blind, the lame, the sick,
the poor and the lepers.

Love not just those of your own tribe,
your own class, family or people,
but those who are different,
those who are strangers,
who are strange to your ways,
who come from different cultural and religious traditions,
who seem odd,
those you do not understand.

Love as the Samaritan loved the man he found
beaten up by robbers,
somewhere on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho."

How do we love, as Christians, Rex?
The answer to that is, I think, the key into understanding the Gospel's Great Commandment.

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
Thanks for the reply. I thought sure no one would respond. I’ll try to answer your 5 questions.

1. Do we respond to people by the way we look at them? I’d say I’m afraid so.

2. How are we to love like Christ? Try hard.

3. Are we to love only our own kind? No.

4. Must we depend on Christ to love like him which transforms us forever? Yes

5. How do we love as Christians? Since the measure of our greatness is our concern for others we should turn the other cheek.

Christiane, I guess you know your nice comment disagreed with the Scripture you first quoted:

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love EACH OTHER...” (1 John 3:14)

If you care to reply to the 11 questions I asked, you might find answers that reveal truth.

But realize the danger:

“Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.”

This road I’m on has a major road-side bomb named ‘inerrancy’ and you’re right—the best protection is LOVE.

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/Documents/TrailOfBlood.pdf

Is a link telling of nearly two million copies of “The Trail of Blood” by J.M. Carroll have been printed. His book traced the history of Baptists to the time of Christ.

At one time J.M. Carroll’s picture was on the walls of SWBTS but I believe the Conservative Resurgence removed his picture because Carroll wrote:

“These great churches necessarily had many preachers or elders (Acts 20:17). Some of the bishops or pastors began to assume authority not given them in the New Testament. They began to claim authority over other and smaller churches. They, with their many elders, began to lord it over God's heritage (III John 9). HERE was the beginning of an error which has grown and multiplied into many other seriously hurtful errors. HERE was the beginning of different orders in the ministry running up finally to what is practiced now by others as well as Catholics. HERE began what resulted in an entire change from the original democratic policy and government of the early churches. THIS irregularity began in a small way, even before the close of the second century. THIS was possibly the first serious departure from the New Testament church order.”

Christiane, note Carroll’s reference of (3 John 1:9) as ELDERS “began to lord it over…” He writes “Here” three times, and “This” two times as the beginning of errors affecting the church.

Baptist tradition teaches it was Diotrephes, leader of the small church, in (3 John 1:9) that was the bully, but Carroll points out it was the elder of a great church that was the villain.

Christiane, In your search for truth of your grandmother’s Baptist beliefs, you will find many forks in the road.

Christiane said...

Hi REX RAY,

It's me, L's

you are right . . . my pursuit of the core of the Southern Baptist faith has been . . . well, interesting. I've no doubt of the love of Christ found in Baptists, but the 'theology' . . . whoah! Varied, contrasting at times, debated in-house, and evolving even since I came on board several years ago to take a look.

I found a commentary for you from my own Church's resources concerning 3 John to do with Diotrephes, and I thought you might be interested :

"In contrast, Diotrephes refuses to receive either letters or friends of the Presbyter. Although he is portrayed as ambitious and hostile, he perhaps exemplifies the cautious and sectarian nature of early Christianity; for its own protection the local community mistrusted missionaries as false teachers. Most interestingly, Diotrephes seems comfortable in ignoring the requests of the Presbyter. The Presbyter seems to acknowledge that only a personal confrontation with Diotrephes will remedy the situation (3 Jn 10). The division, however, may also rest on doctrinal disagreement in which Gaius and the other “friends” accept the teaching of the Presbyter, and Diotrephes does not; the missionaries are not received for suspicion of theological error. Diotrephes has thus been viewed by some as an overly ambitious local upstart trying to thwart the advance of orthodox Christianity, by others as an orthodox church official suspicious of the teachings of the Presbyter and those in the Johannine school who think as he does, or by still others as a local leader anxious to keep the debates in the Johannine community out of his own congregation."

Stay well, and know that I continue to pray for you among many others during morning vigil.
Love,
L's

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
Your church resources concerning 3 John are very interesting indeed.

I gather they identify John as the Presbyter and NOT the apostle; and Diotrephes rejected John’s teachings.

I think he rejected John’s authority as he believed Paul would have done.

I’m working on a comment of a 2000 year old ‘Cold Case’ with Paul being the victim.

I think when we meet in heaven; I’ll cherish every remembrance of you.