Sunday, April 26, 2009

Will There Be More People in Heaven than Hell?

For over twenty-five years I have believed the Bible teaches that God, by His grace, will redeem more sinners from the just judgment of hell than those who will experience hell as the just consequences of their rebellion against their Creator.

My interpretation of the Bible passages that indicate heaven will be more populated than hell is not unique. Charles Spurgeon, John Gill, and Jonathan Edwards are just a few who held similar beliefs. One must add Southern Baptist B.H. Carroll to the list as well. Phil Ratliff of Norman, Oklahoma sent me the following quotation from Caroll's writings in The Interpretation of the English Bible, Volume 10, page 207:

So then if I were called on to answer, in light of the Bible teaching, this question: "At the judgment will the saved outnumber the lost?" I would reply by citing in contrast a Jewish opinion prevalent just before Christ was born, and a Christian opinion of the present day, and say frankly that I am inclined to the Christian opinion. The Jewish opinion is thus expressed twice in the apocryphal book of Esdras: "The kingdom on earth was made for many: the kingdom above for few," and "The number of the saved is like a drop to the wave. "Such is the Jewish opinion. The Christian opinion, expresed by one of the truly great expositors of this generation is: "The number of the finally lost will compare with the whole number saved about as the criminals in jails and penitentaries now compare with the free and law-abiding citizens of this county," For myself, without taking time just now to cite the scriptural basis of the judgment, I heartily cherish the Christian opinion.

Could it be God's purpose to redeem an innumerable company from every tribe, every kindred, every tongue and every nation to ensure that His grace ultimately and eternally triumphs over sin?

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Anonymous said...

Amen Wade,
As a reformed baptist I can affirm this to be true.

Robert from Geneva

Train Man said...

Matthew 7:13-14
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Lydia said...

Train man, you stole my verse!

But I will add this one:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness. Matthew 7

Anonymous said...

Sorry to interrupt..came across this site tonight. Some science non-religious site posted this as such....
The remarks are heartbreaking and reflects such a embarassment. I came across a book on leadership by Mac Brunson the other day...I just had to break down and mourn...If the SBC leadership delegates this summer does not consider looking at suggesting caps for pastors, there are some serious concerns the government will take away ALLL the chruches tax freedoms, Mr. Burleson...

Anonymous said...


Matthew 25:

31 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 44Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 45Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

Chris Ryan said...

Train man,

Also note that, in context, the wide gate stands at the head of the path of righteousness traversed by the Pharisees. Jesus then contrasts their ritual rightousness with the righteousness He brings: mercy. Contra Baptist preaching, the wide gate has no implications of gross immorality.

Therefore, even if only a few find the path to live mercifully, that does not stop Christ freely bestowing mercy for the entire rest of the Gospel according to Matthew. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus doesn't say who is saved, He creates an ethic for how to live. Jesus saves all sorts of people who don't fit the high ethical demands of the Sermon. Jesus lived mercy. He is who saves us.

Anonymous said...

Word is getting around about Mac Brunson. The more he tried to shut people down, the louder he did it. :)

Mac called attention to HIMSELF.

'disgustingly rich' doesn't even begin to describe this guy.

Anonymous said...


With respect, poppycock!


PS: Forget for a moment that I am sure you have your own Scriptural basis for this, but I am more concerned with Spurgeon and Edward's view. Could you direct a curious mind to specific writings which might give a clear indication of said view which you say these men held?

PSS: Also, could you please tell me how you define the word "remnant?"


Only By His Grace said...


Revelation 7:9.
"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;"

And to make sure we understand that this great number is just a few of those that will be saved verse 13 and 14 seals the matter,

Revelation 7:13-14.
7:13. "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?"

7:14. " And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

Notice thy have washed their robes in His blood. These are mortal humans only unless you believe He died for fallen angels (demons), also.

And further these are just a few of those saved for these were only those saved out of the Great Tribulation. How about those from righteous Able to Noah, and those from Noah to Abraham, and those from Abraham to Moses, and those from Moses to David, and those from David to our Lord Jesus Christ, and from our Lord's Ascension to the closing of this age of the church, and if you are a Millennialist (Post or Pre) how about those saved during that Golden Age of the Greater King David (the King of kings)?

Phil in Norman

Only By His Grace said...


I would refer you to Spurgeon's sermon on Revelation 7:14. I think you said you were in seminary. You will find it in Volume 60 (1914). I think the title of his message is "The Great Mulititude Before the Throne." If that is not the title, it is close to it.

You can find Spurgeon's works in your seminary library and if they do not have his complete works in it, I would change seminaries.

Phil in Norman.

Anonymous said...

If I take a look at people that I don't even really know personally but I can still make a healthy judgement against...e.g. Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, Marilyn Manson, and my neighbor who makes way too much noise at inappropriate times and compare that with the number of times someone, anyone has came up to me and asked me if I knew Christ (that would be zero) then I can't help but think that hell is overflowing.

Both with people who any knucklehead can make a judgement about as well as those who consider themselves a Christian but wouldn't know Christianity if it bit them in the hiney.

Anonymous said...

For the people that must sit in judgment on others in order to feel 'secure',

your idea of 'heaven' is very likely to be hell. You will pretty much get what you wished on others.

John Daly said...

One need only look in their own circles to see that few "real" Christians are in existence. Few white-hot, sold-out, born-again Believers willing to suffer persecution for His Namesake.

Few with a radical abandonment to self, few willing to forgo the world's pleasures, few willing to leave mother and father for the Cross.

There are too many playing Christianity, too many who see Jesus as part of their culture but not controlling their lives. Too many who have a study Bible but who do not actually study it. Too many dancing too close to the flames.

While it pains me to say this, I do believe Hell will far outnumber Heaven. Are we not told the physical dimensions of one but not the other?

Anonymous said...

john daly, you've done a good job of describing the results of salvation, hopefully for us all someday but i have not heard the "gospel" which is the measure by which wade's question will be answered. your view should give you and all of us (reformed and free :)) a renewed urgency to share the gospel with everyone and to make disciples.

Rex Ray said...

I’m shocked that people think more will be in heaven than hell.

Just looking at America, our president classified us not as a Christian nation but a nation of citizens. Will being a citizen of American qualify to enter heaven?

Before Christ, God’s chosen people were Jews. They were a drop in the bucket compared to Gentiles.

So God gave his Son as a bridge for “whosoever” to enter heaven. ‘I am the way…no one comes to the Father but by me.’

If more were going to heaven before Christ, why did God execute his Son? We must conclude that more are going to heaven after Christ than before.

How many countries are like Japan where Christians are fewer than one percent? How many nations have never had one missionary?

Last night, the Fannin County Baptist Association met at our church (less than 100 in SS) that had thirty eight display booths displaying Christian (Baptist men etc.) work around the world.

It was pointed out that with our thirty or forty churches, more kids were out of church than in church.

“Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)

Did Jesus say, “That’s not a temptation because you can’t give them to me as they’re already mine”?

“ Look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:35 KJ) When wheat turns ‘white’ it falls to the ground and is lost in three days.

“The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37)

John Daly hit the nail on the head.

Anonymous said...

Speculating is great spiritual fun but noone can even begin to answer this with reality since we aren't there yet. If we were, we couldn't post an answer on the blog. Guess we'll just have to wait until we get there.

Just a side note for those who love to continually rip Mac Brunson and FBC, Jax--you don't know Mac's salary so please quit accusing him of being disgustingly rich. I can guarantee you good authority that he is by far NOT the highest paid of the mega church pastors in the SBC. Now, wouldn't you just love to know what the others make??

Bill said...

I don't know the answer, but I think some of those who are shocked by the idea that heaven might be fuller than hell are taking a snapshot of what the world looks like today. Wade's question is whether the Gospel would ultimately triumph on earth. We delve into the area of eschatology. Dispys will tend to take the pessimistic view that Christianity will essentially die out until God decides to wrap it all up with the rapture, whereas postmils tend to be more optimistic, believing that eventually the message of the Gospel will triumph here on earth. said...

Train Man and Lydia,

Matthew 7: 13-14 is, of course, the major verse that would seem to contradict what I have written. However, one possible interpretation of the text you both have cited is that the emphasis is on "the way" which is narrow (only Christ), and "few there be that find it" is absolutely true in Jesus day . . . but,

Jesus told many parables about how the Kingdom of Christ expands to a massive size from a small (or very few) number in the beginning. The parable of the mustard seed, and the parable of the leaven, and others seem to emphasize that while "few" found the narrow way in the days of Christ, the gospel spread throughout in ages to come.

Just food for thought. We both believe Scripture never contradicts itself. said...


The view postulated today on this post has been a very common view among Bible believing, conservative theologians for centuries. said...

Rex Ray,

What "shocks" you about people (some people believe more people will be in heaven than hell) only amazes me about God.

In other words, since I believe God is the one who delivers sinners, by His grace, from the just and righteous judgment of hell, the notion that He has chosen to deliver an innumerable company from every tribe, kindred, nation and tongue only causes me to be amazed at His grace.

In His Grace,


B Nettles said...

I am surprised at your reasoning on this item, as UNIMPORTANT as it is.

The posted bases for your conclusion, stated craftily as a question, are
1) appealing to other men's opinions without expressing the basis for their conclusions
2) and a semi-emotional, wouldn't-it-be-nice-if-God-did-it-this-way appeal
3) and the quote you give which demonstrates nothing more than 1) and 2).

The scripture from Rev. simply talks of the saved, and in poetic language. If it is literally an infinite number, then it is required that an infinite number of people have existed, which will not be true unless there is no conclusion to this Earth (Maybe this is Scriptural evidence for life on other planets, the inhabitants of whom are afforded God's grace, too. Hmmm...). Back to the question at hand, either the language is poetic, or John used a Greek idiom which has been translated literally, not idiomatically. Also, nowhere are the "lost" numbered in Rev., so one cannot say that the saved are more than the lost based on this passage.

The "few" and "many" of Matthew 7 seems to bear more weight scripturally than anything I've seen. I believe, however, that this is a warning to those who think they're "in" because of position. We'll all be surprised.

My conclusion: I'm disappointed that you've raised an unimportant question and then given what seems to be a "nice" answer without sound Scriptural reasoning.

Anonymous said...

I dont have all my ducks in order but Scripture clearly indicates that the number of the elect is Vast.
Johnny Hunt presupposed that number to be small in his comments to the convention regarding election several years ago.
Since we dont know who the elect are we are commanded to present the Gospel continually to all people.

Thank the Lord for his Grace and Mercy.

Robert from Geneva

Anonymous said...

I am somewhat surprised at the answers by people I respect here.
John Piper in his seminal work on Missions:Let the nations be Glad, has a lot of Scriptural references on the vast number of Pante te ethne...people groups from every tribe and nation.

Robert from Geneva

RKSOKC66 said...

There is no contradiction between "vast numbers from every nation" and "few will enter the gates".

Of course, I don't know the number of people that are alive today or have ever lived or will live in the future. Say that number is 100,000,000,000. If "only" one billion end up in heaven then that is a large number but only 10% of all people.

I believe "few" can reasonably be understood as "a small percentage".

In any case, God knows who is going to be there.

Roger K. Simpson
Oklahoma City

Tim Marsh said...

Pastor Wade,

I agree that the NT hints at a magnifent harvest for God's good future at the end of this Present Age.

I do think, however, that Jesus' words in Matthew 7 should be taken seriously. As Chris Ryan and you both point out - these words are aimed at the "religious," who are quick to claim they speak for God in their "interpretations" of the law and the whole of Scripture.

As the old Negro Spiritual goes: "Those who are talkin' 'bout Heaven ain't the ones going there"

Rex Ray said...

If an innumerable company from every tribe, kindred, nation and tongue were not in heaven, then Calvary would not have accomplished the plan of God.

I’m not amazed that God’s plan was a success; I’m amazed He loved us enough to put his plan in action.

If we were robots, we would all be in heaven, but God gave us a free will and those that accept his plan will be in heaven and those that do not will be in hell.

BTW, you failed to answer my five questions or comment on the Scripture references.

Lydia said...

Just food for thought. We both believe Scripture never contradicts itself.

Mon Apr 27, 10:19:00 AM 2009

True and I am so glad we can discuss and disagree. Someone else mentioned Revelation and I want to add that I have often thought of the letters to the churches and the warnings God gave. And I contrast those warnings with the typical church in the West. I fear we are not doing so well. Especially when it comes to the Nicolaitans.

I tend to agree with John Daley's comment and would add that we all must work out our salvation with fear and trembling and understand that being saved means we are also regenerated.

This is an excellent topic. And I believe it is important because it requires that we think through what it means to be saved.

Anonymous said...

Rationally, the number of people out of the presence of God will far exceed the number of people in the presence of God. We claim to be people of the Book, so if a person is not in line with the rules of the Book--well they won't be there. We don't write the rules or set the standard and our opinion does not matter in the least but the Book does make it clear.

Of course Robert might be right and the elect far exceed the rest--but I see little indication of that in the scripture I read or in the fruit that I see. Are we to assume that because a person produces good fruit that they are saved? There seem to me to be a significant number of scriptures that say this is not enough. I tend to take the production of bad fruit as indication that the person might not be saved but few of us uniformly produce bad fruit. Of course if Robert is right then the number of workers does not matter so much?

Bennett Willis

Tim Marsh said...

Bennett Willis,

Scripture says that we will know them by their fruits.

greg.w.h said...

It would delight me beyond words if God in his infinite wisdom and foresight were to deny Satan the majority of humanity (if not the supermajority.) I believe it is consistent with our mission to work that the best that can be accomplished is accomplished as we are faithful to the task to which we have been called.

I also believe it is appropriate to let God be God and permit him the dignity of our silence with respect to those that are not saved and to those things he has not revealed--for his own reasons--to us. Because something tells me he mourns even over those he does not save. Every lost life is an opportunity for creation's purpose to be somewhat diminished, but never for God's glory to be diminished.

If there is a greater paradox than that, I cannot think of it.

Greg Harvey

Jon said...

At least I can rest knowing that those who will be saved, will be saved.

Enjoying the hunt...

Anonymous said...

Mr Bennett Willis,
I dont believe you and I are in any disagreement as to Christ command to obey the Great Commission.

To quote John Piper....Missions is not the ultimate goal of church.Worship is!

I like the Way of the Master as a tool in presenting the Gospel....lets go out together sometime ...interested?

Robert from Geneva

Larry said...

The willful disobedience/sin by Eve and Adam affects all of humanity. Jesus’ redemptive act on the cross is potentially able to save everyone who believes (well, at least from Arminian perspective). One may find it difficult to accept that the sin of two humans can have more impact on the human race’s ultimate destination than the sacrificial death of the Son of God. I trust (and strongly suspect) you are correct in your interpretation of Scripture.

Anonymous said...

"then we follow the leaders of the SBC that God has appointed "

God had nothing to do with 'appointing' a Paige Patterson or a Mac Brunson.

Don't blaspheme against God.

greg.w.h said... thing I left out of my previous comment. Jesus told us to pray to the Lord of the Harvest that the harvesters would be plentiful because fields were white for the harvest.

Perhaps we should take him a lot more seriously about that prayer, since each harvester is also one that was saved. God creates harvesters through the faithfulness of previous harvesters. And it's also worth noting that such a verse does not deal with the process by which the harvest is white, just that the harvest was already white when he guided us to pray to the Lord of the Harvest.

And at an even more fundamental level: to the Glory of God, THERE IS the Lord of the Harvest. God is in charge of bringing in the Harvest.

Greg Harvey

greg.w.h said...

Anonymous wrote:

God had nothing to do with 'appointing' a Paige Patterson or a Mac Brunson.

Don't blaspheme against God.
You don't know whether or not God appointed those men. You do know he appointed the Assyrians and the Babylonians to chastise the Northern and Southern Kingdoms respectively and the Northern Kingdom will never be re-assembled (which is to say, the northern tribes will gather around the Davidic throne that Jesus sits on.)

That isn't to say that Patterson or Brunson are like the Assyrians and the Babylonians as much as to say that if the heart of the king (or better "ruler") is like water in the hand of God to be directed as he desires, then, too, is the heart of the Seminary President and the Pastor.

I complain against clear excesses, but I trust God to provide the final correction and the final reformation of the Bride. Man will not accomplish it; God will. We should preach truth and broadcast the Good News. We should never see our work as being primarily the reformation of human sin. It is the transformation of the mind, soul, heart, and strength through the blood of Jesus Christ to love God. Reformation won't get the job done without transformation. Not in the SBC, not in the Roman Catholic Church the original Reformation opposed, not in the life of the sinner nor against the residual influence of the sin nature. Only transformation into conformation with the eikon of Christ Jesus gets the job done. We don't do that. We don't sanctify ourselves. But we should submit fully to God's sanctification of us through the work of the Holy Spirit. And then we should confirm our faith through participation in God's work that he planned in advance for us by which we also prove that we are HIS poema (good work.)

Greg Harvey

P.S. Sorry for the double post. I just think sometimes we need to think through the bitterness we're expressing and see if we can find God's heart for us in it.

Anonymous said...

No. God did NOT 'appoint' those 'men' to rule over the SBC.
No way.

Would God call missionaries to service and then appoint 'men' to force the missionaries to sign a man-made document or leave the Lord's service?

God will not be mocked.

Chris Ryan said...

Anon 3:38,

God has always been a God who uses evil people and evil circumstances to chastise and/or to train His beloved. As Greg noted, the Assyrians and the Babylonians (and later the Greeks and the Romans) were not the godliest of peoples. But they were people God used to accomplish His ends. It was sinful activiity that guided the maji to Jesus (astrology). It was a very evil circumstance that had Christ in a manger, and even more evil circumstances that placed Christ on a cross. Our God has always been a God who turns evil out for good.

Where there is authority to accomplish anything, there is the authority of God. Is that authority properly used? Not always. Is the source of that authority properly respected by those who wield it? Not always. But even the abuses of man can be made good by God. Even the hypocricy and insecurity and blasphemies of men can be used by God to accomplish His will. In fact, His power is perfected in those very weaknesses. We have only to see how.

Have we seen the end yet?
Then I don't imagine we can judge the present with full assurance.

Anonymous said...

To take your argument to its logical conclusion, God 'appointed' Hitler to power and six million Jews were murdered.
So being that God engineered the authority of Hitler, it was okay for Christians to accept Hitler as God's Man and to look away when the atrocities began?
I guess we haven't seen how God has brought good out of this evil yet, but I do question the source of Hitler's authority.

You have to look at the 'fruit' in order to see if the Holy Spirit has acted. If the 'fruit' is rotten, then it wasn't the Holy Spirit who authorized the 'leadership'. And yes, that 'leadership' couldn't have done all its harm unless people 'looked away' and allowed them to hurt others.

Anonymous said...

sounds like a debate on 'authority' vs. 'conscience' is shaping up

Chris Ryan said...

The appeal to Hitler. Classic. I've been there and done that, too.

But it doesn't work here (it actually rarely works in my experience). Did Hitler do evil things? Yes. Were Christians (or humans in general) wrong for looking the other way? Yes. Just because authority is bestowed by God does not mean that we are correct to look the other way when that authority is abused or misused. To the contrary, we should hold our leaders that much more accountable because they wield God-given power. And when they have gone to far, we are right to ask that they be removed from positions which they are not treating with the reverence that position is due.

But was good accomplished? Yes. The systematic anti-Semitism of the church has now been largely regulated to the sidelines. The German church learned that being a good Christian and a good German are not always the same goal (something American Christians need to learn today). While many lives were lost, many were saved by those who learned that Christ demands concrete action in loving God and neighbor. Thousands journeyed closer to God as they endured those trials (albiet thousands walked away from Him, too). Even from the Holocaust, good emerged because we serve a great God.

Anonymous said...

Chris and Greg,

Don't you know you are kicking against a jackass?

And The Way of the Master is AWESOME!!!

Lydia said...

"To take your argument to its logical conclusion, God 'appointed' Hitler to power and six million Jews were murdered."

I remember reading a secular book long ago called The Seventh Million. It was written by a Israeli Newspaper reporter. The book is about the million Jews who emigrated to Israel after WW2...some coming from DP camps, etc.

In this book, this secular newspaper reported described how out of place these educated European Jews were in this backward desert country. And how hard it was for them to adjust after being lawyers and doctors to working on a kabbutz.

He made the comment that had it not been for Hilter, these Jews would never have come to what was then known as Palestine and now known as Israel.

Hmmm. Not sure what this means but I found it interesting.

greg.w.h said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
greg.w.h said...

Lydia wrote:

He made the comment that had it not been for Hilter, these Jews would never have come to what was then known as Palestine and now known as Israel.

Hmmm. Not sure what this means but I found it interesting

I think it has something to do source verses for this spiritual:

"Dem bones dem bones dem dry bones o hear ye da voice of da Lohd."

It's worth noting that spiritual came out of one of the most evil episodes in the history of our nation. That cultural sin--speaking of the problem of using skin color as the basis of racist slavery much as Jacob used an understanding of genetics to cheat Laban--resulted in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention so that Southern churches could contribute to sending slaveholders on mission. But, no, God couldn't have appointed THAT and neither could he possibly have redeemed it.

As to God not being mocked: I'm not too concerned about God's ability to defend himself. I am a little more concerned with people making false statements that could mislead others. God redeems everything for his purposes, and especially evil. "What you intend for evil, God intends for good."

Greg Harvey

oc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

12 ‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
The Narrow Gate13 ‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy* that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
A Tree and Its Fruit15 ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will know them by their fruits.

Anonymous said...

You ARE responsible for what you do. If you follow a false leader, you cannot say, 'I was only following orders.'

Christians cannot abandon the teachings of Jesus in order to follow after an 'authority figure' who is harming others.

greg.w.h said...

Yet another thought to consider: Carroll was not a pre-millenialist and believed the work of the saints would usher in the Kingdom (whether or not it was a literal millenium.) The optimism of the post/amillenialists was a huge source of enthusiasm for missions in the late 19th and early 20th century Southern Baptist life because they believed the work of the evangelist and of the pastor literally spread the Kingdom as Jesus described in the various kingdom parables (mustard seed, yeast, etc.) and as echoed in the treasure parables and even the lost item parables.

There is no reason for us to not have the same enthusiasm today. Every soul that proclaims Jesus as Lord and Savior extends the Kingdom and shines light where it once was dark, proclaiming the Gospel to those who have not heard. Jesus is very clear that we have an evangelistic commission and that--as I noted with the comments about praying to the Lord of the Harvest--that we influence the outcome.

We should fully--and enTHEOSiastically--appropriate that optimism and go forth and evangelize the whole world. Then when the counting is done, our faithfulness will be rewarded with the infusion of joy at that multitude stretching further than the eye can see. To be honest: lifting Jesus Christ up will drive out all shadows. Yes it's still tough here and we'll run into problems, but our future is secure and we're here to preach to the nations so that their future can be secure, too. Stop worrying about how many won't make it and worry about how to reach those who still CAN be included in the Bride.

And don't limit God...he will surprise you with what he is able to accomplish. With God, nothing is impossible. Just laugh out loud with joy when he does it!!

Greg Harvey

New BBC Open Forum said...

Of course, I don't know the number of people that are alive today or have ever lived or will live in the future. Say that number is 100,000,000,000. If "only" one billion end up in heaven then that is a large number but only 10% of all people.

Actually that would be only 1%, but who's counting? :-)

If you Google that question, your figure of 100 billion is close to what people who have more time on their hands than I have estimated.

Stephen Pruett said...

About 9% of the human beings who have ever lived are alive today. That is quite remarkable when one considers how many years of human history have passed. Therefore, the total number of people in heaven is much more heavily influenced by what happens now and in the future than what happened in the past. This should be sufficient reason for the SBC to focus outward rather than inward. In that regard, I noticed that baptisms were down for the 4th year in a row. Does anyone know why?

Stephen Pruett said...

About 9% of the human beings who have ever lived are alive today. That is quite remarkable when one considers how many years of human history have passed. Therefore, the total number of people in heaven is much more heavily influenced by what happens now and in the future than what happened in the past. This should be sufficient reason for the SBC to focus outward rather than inward. In that regard, I noticed that baptisms were down for the 4th year in a row. Does anyone know why?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why?


Rhology said...


I had no idea you had postmillennial leanings.

RKSOKC66 said...

Mr BBC Open Forum:

Sorry, I was off by an order of magnitude. My math gets foggy if I'm playing with too many zeros.

In any case, there could be a huge number of people in heaven even if 90% or 99% of people are not there.

I should have converted to scientific notation:

1E9 / 1E11 = 1E-2 = .01 = 1%


I agree we should be cranking up evangelism since such a large proportion of people who have ever lived are alive right now.

david b mclaughlin said...

Hmmm, I see how this view definitely fits in with postmill-but i dont see it as a requirement. The views could be mutually exclusive.


Anonymous said...

As a preterist I also tend to believe there will be more in heaven that not. Of course this also assumes we are still in the infancy stage of the Church.

Eze 47:3 And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles.

I would say we are at the "below the knee" stage.

Eze 47:4 Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.
Eze 47:5 Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.


David Kear said...

I appear to be in the minority here but I agree completely. Of course, I am an optimistic amillennialist. As such I believe that the great commission will be fulfilled (disciple the nations). Couple that with the thought that there may well be much more history in front of us than behind us. I also understand that, in the parable of the wheat and the tares, it is a wheat field with tares in it and not the other way around.

David Kear

Anonymous said...



any Christians out there?

Anonymous said...

The fact that any of us will be in heaven is a miracle of God's grace and mercy.

My question to Wade, therefore, is simple -- do you not realize that you have begun the slippery slope journey toward universalism with this position?

I know you love being controversial and "sticking the finger in the eye" of those with whom you disagree; however, I do pray that this is a very late April Fool's post.

Ramesh said...

Off Topic:

Jacksonville Times-Union > Blogger sues after Jacksonville cops out him to First Baptist.

A Jacksonville blogger filed a lawsuit Monday claiming police and state prosecutors violated his constitutional rights to anonymity and free speech in a 2008 criminal case “fabricated” solely to uncover his identity for First Baptist Church.

The lawsuit also claims the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause by disclosing the blogger’s name to the downtown megachurch. Doing so amounted to taking sides in a religious dispute between the blogger, Thomas Rich, and the church, according the suit.

The suit does not name First Baptist as a defendant because only government agencies can be held accountable for the violation of citizens’ free speech rights, said Rich’s attorney, Michael Roberts.

The suit seeks damages of at least $15,000 — the minimum required to file a case in Duval County — for what it describes as the ongoing “emotional anguish, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life” as a result of Rich and his wife being barred from the church they had attended for 20 years. The couple joined another Southern Baptist church as a result.

Rich launched his blog in August 2007. In it, Rich chastised Pastor Mac Brunson and other First Baptist Church leaders on everything from salary and housing to fundraising priorities and ministry objectives.

Rich said Monday he wanted to remain anonymous partly to keep the focus on the issues and he feared retribution.
The suit rejects police’s assertion the investigation was meant to protect the congregation’s safety.

“The criminal investigation was fabricated to create the illusion of legitimacy but was, in fact, a mere pretext for the disclosure” of Rich’s identity to the church, the lawsuit says.

Church officials could not be reached Monday. But its top administrator, the Rev. John Blount, has told the Times-Union he called Detective Robert Hinson last fall to report increasing vitriol on Rich’s then-anonymous blog,

Blount said he also told Hinson, a church member, that mail had been stolen from Brunson’s home and that a stalker had taken photos of Brunson’s wife. Although police reports were never filed on those incidents, the church wanted to know if the blog, letters and photographs were connected, Blount said.

The investigation, which lasted from Sept. 29 to Nov. 13, ended with no criminal findings

My thanks to Nass (New BBC Open Forum):
New BBC Open Forum > We want to minister to everybody...
... except those who ask questions we don't want to answer

Tim Marsh said...

Some thoughts to consider:

How many of you believe that infants to "innocent" children will go to heaven if they die before an "age of accountability"?

How many believe that in unevangelized areas and people groups that those who are honestly hoping for something more will be saved?

Though the Bible does not answer definitively the first or the second (appeals to the death of David's first child with Bathsheba are mere isogesis) and that Romans 2 hints towards affirming the latter thought in Paul's argument with a "hypothetical" opponant, I think that we leave open the possibility for the overwhelming victory of the grace of God.

Consider that infant and child mortality was high in the ancient world as well as undeveloped parts of the world. Consider the amount of children who die daily of starvation, even in the 21st Century.

Does God abandon their cries for desperation?

If not, then heaven may exceed hell in population.

The most definitive answer that is given to Pastor Wade's question is Acts 1:6-8. When the disciples asked the question about the restoration of Israel, Jesus said don't worry about it, but with the power of the Spirit, you have a job to do.

As to the decline in SBC Baptisms, are we arrogant enough to think that the SBC is the only Christian hope for the world?

Paul Burleson said...


This quote..."As to the decline in SBC Baptisms, are we arrogant enough to think that the SBC is the only Christian hope for the world?"... adds to the discussion a very good point it seems to me.

Others have pointed out already how some passages SEEM to contridict other passages in giving an answer to your post question.

I'll add one other point that helps keep me confused about it all. There is no question that Lot, the nephew of Abraham, was a justied and righteous man as stated in 2 Peter 2. But he sure didn't look like it were you to look at his life. So.. if the "fruit" we will be known by is the outward action kind he doesn't fare too well. But if that "fruit" is more a heart thing, he WAS vexed inwardly after all, then it may be that we won't be able to discern a lot by looking. We all may be fooled by what will be revealed one day.

Some may have actions that speak one thing but if they could do otherwise and it not be known..they would. Others may have pitiful actions but if their heart were known they weep over it all in brokenness.

I guess I'll stay a bit confused until that day in the future, but were I to guess, I think it's going to be a number that will astound us all.

Paul Burleson said...

Put an "a" after "contr" please. [My heart was right. :)]

Anonymous said...

Tim Marsh wrote ... "How many believe that in unevangelized areas and people groups that those who are honestly hoping for something more will be saved?"

As tragic and heartwrenching it is to write, those who do not hear the message of Messiah Jesus will not go to heaven. If the opposite is true, then why are we sending missionaries to the far corners of the world? Would it not be kinder to say nothing and then allow God to "let them in" due to ignorance? Either Jesus died to be the Messiah for all (yes, I struggle with limited atonement even though I am on board with the other letters) or he is Messiah of none of us.

Again I pray this is an elaborate and utterly unfunny joke.

Anonymous said...

WARNING: False Appeal to Authority to follow. "Kevin,

The view postulated today on this post has been a very common view among Bible believing, conservative theologians for centuries."


And I disagree with ALL of them. There has never been an age of human history where Christianity has been the dominant religion of the world. NEVER.

I champion divergent views. But I detest views postulated on illogical premises or on an ignorance of the facts.

Now, that said, I would be willing to discuss a majority in heaven (vs hell) being made up of possible additions during the 1000 year millennial reign. (Assuming the 1000years is literal and assuming mortal babies will be born, etc.--of which I am not entirely convinced just yet)

Statisticians have come up with a number of around 120 billion people to have ever been born through the 21st century. Even 33.3% of them are a great multitude uncountable by you or me.

This is so absurd that I am ready to divide over it. I will lead the charge to pull as many SBC'ers to the "Big Hell Conservative Particular Convention of America"

You can lead the rest of the heretics to join the Cosmic Christian Circus Club of the Quasi-Universalist Convention

:) x10
no no....phah real!

Ramesh said...

Stop Baptist Predators > Go Dog Go!

Tim Marsh said...

Anon 11:09,

I do not presume to speak "theologically" where the Bible is silent (or lacks definitive words). I just presume based upon what I understand to be the character of God as revealed in scripture, specifically in Jesus. I guess my post was more of the heart than the head - a hope, so to speak.

The eternal destiny of any human being is no joke to God, nor is it to me, and I assume not to you either.

However, I do not assert that we should not evangelize in hopes that those who are "ignorant" of the gospel would go to heaven.

A little historical background, the Greek "euonagellion" was an announcement preparing a nation for the presence (Greek: parousia - normally the word used to speak of Jesus' 2nd coming) of a new King.

Jesus' comission was to proclaim the good news of a new king - The king. We should preach to all nations, and let God do the rest.

As for will there be more in heaven than hell - let's hope so - and get on with business of proclaiming and living the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Wade, Timothy George's Amazing Grace argues on similar lines as he redefines TULIP with his unique acronym, ROSES.

Stephen Pruett said...

Tim Marsh, Very good questions. I have wondered about these also. With regard to those who have not heard the gospel (or only heard it as something to be hated), I cannot help but think about the Old Testament figures listed in the roll call of the faithful in Hebrews. None of them know Jesus or the gospel, but they were all saved. Were they saved by the sacrifice and substitutionary atonement of Christ? Yes, He is THE way the truth the life. Did they apprehend Christ the way we do? Obviously, no. If God could do that for people who had not heard of Christ because they were born before He was, couldn't God do that for people now who have not heard? Please note: This is not universalism. Christ is the only way and those who reject Him do not go to Heaven.

I would be interested in hearing from those who disagree how you deal with two points: How is salvation of OT figures based on accepting the little they knew about God different from modern people who do not hear the gospel? Second, are there scriptures that definitively preclude this as a possibility. Of course, many passages emphasize the importance of the gospel, but again, the importance of the gospel is not in question, but the mode of apprehending it.

I don't believe in interpreting scripture to make it palatable to people, but it is worth noting that many people reject Christ because many of us evangelical Christians teach that Christ rejects people who have not even heard about Him. This offends their conscience to such an extent that they want nothing to do with such a Christ. I know, I know-the clay has no right to tell the potter what to do. But that is not what I am saying. I am asking whether we are absolutely sure we have interpreted scripture correctly about this? Sorry to bring slavery back into the discussion, but southern baptists supported slavery and segregation for many years by focusing on details of scriptures that if not supporting these practices at least did not prohibit them. However, we ignored the law of love-the greatest law-which clearly precludes slavery or segregation. Is it possible that we are doing something similar by stating forcefully that God can't or won't save those who haven't heard of him? Are we placing too little emphasis on passages focusing on God's grace, love, and His desire to see all saved? He makes it clear that those who intentionally reject Him will not be in Heaven, but there is not an equally clear statement about those who simply haven't heard, is there?

Rex Ray said...

To Anyone,
No one has commented to the question that is based upon ‘Was the temptation of Jesus real?

To me ‘temptation’ must be real, possible, and achievable. As an example: I can’t be tempted right now to rob a bank in China.

I believe the temptation of Christ to worship the devil in order for him to give the ‘nations of the world’ to God was real.

If all those nations were going to heaven because God wanted them to, there would be NO temptation.

Wade does not want to answer.

Does anyone else?

Tim Marsh said...

Rex Ray,

Hebrews 2:17-18 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 4:15 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin.

To the extent that Jesus felt "tempted" we cannot be certain, but I am like you, if Jesus "could not" sin, then he was not fully human.

The temptations of Jesus by Satan are interesting. Jesus has just received his baptismal vision and commission and subsequently spent 40 days fasting, alone.

John Howard Yoder indicates that these temptations were about what kind of King that Jesus would be. A king must be able to provide bread. A king must have the kingdoms of the world (like Caesar). And, a king must be able to perform some dramatic sign for the attention and admiration of the people.

Jesus' tempation in the garden before his arrest is Jesus at his lowest point.

The Incarnation is a mysterious doctrine that we cannot know everything about. However, we may not know what it is like to be Divine, but we do know what it is like to be human. The Bible says "The Word became flesh" Something of which we have no frame of reference became something that we have almost every experience.

I don't know the context of your conversation in which you raise the issue, but I am with you.

Tim Marsh said...

Stephen Pruet,

While I do not think that the questions I raised should be misunderstood for universalism or used as an excuse for slacking on evangelism, they are questions worth pondering.

Universalism is an inticing temptation, especially, as you point out, there are so many complicated factors to consider that the Bible never addresses.

Even more worth pondering. Consider Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians. Ch 4:13ff is Paul's response to a question regarding those who die before Christ returns. It is interesting to note Paul's answer.

The question I raise is that why would Paul, who presumably spent an extended period of time with the Thessalonian church to found it, teach, and organize, even have to address this question at all?

Was that not part of his gospel presentation to the Thessalonians? Is heaven versus hell not the bait that we throw out when we present the gospel? Paul did not do that at all it seems.

The whole issue that I raise among ye good conservatives, is salvation as talked about in the Bible merely about having your sins forgiven so that you can go to heaven when you die?

Stephen, Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy wrote a book called Across the Spectrum in which they lay out side by side different positions in Evangelical Theology. They take up the "Destiny of the Unevangelized" in Chapter 12 and articulate, briefly and accessibly, four different positions on the matter.

Would be worth reading. I am going to go through it.

Tim Marsh said...


“everybody talkin’ ‘bout heaven ain’t going there’. I appreciate a reader emailing me the correct lyric of the old negro spiritual. He indicates that the slaves formulated this in response to hearing the gospel from the white slave owners, who refused to live the law of love among them.

Stephen, you raise interesting points that I am not so sure that SBC'ers are willing to acknowledge. Sure, in 1995 a resolution was issued that "apologized" for stances on slavery and segregation.

My contention is that if our theology was "pure" we would not have gotten this issue wrong either.

As far as the OT goes, since you asked, the major difference is that the people of Israel worshipped the Lord according to the revelation He gave them at that point and according the covenant the Lord made with them. To those who object, it was not by "works" or earning as many evangelicals tend to respond. And, they too, were not concerned with resurrection or eternal destiny, as that doctrine did not develop until a few centuries before Jesus. Interesting how little the OT says about life beyond the grave.

And furthermore, I repeat that it is interesting how little the whole of scripture says about these issues. Again, Jesus said to the disciples, Don't worry about it, I have given you a mission.

Tim Marsh said...

I appear to have too much to say, but an anonymous post contended that preterists and postmills were not Christians.

The dispensational premillenial view of the "end times" is historically a minority point of view, that to me, is one of the greatest farces purported by "Bible Believers" today. It screams of isogesis. It pulls verses completely out of context and pieces them together to get this end times scenario that is taught no where in scripture.

Grant it, there have been many sincere Christians that have held and do hold to this view. Just read 88 Reasons Why the World Will End in 1988 and you will understand why I reject this view.

Anonymous said...

"To the extent that Jesus felt "tempted" we cannot be certain, but I am like you, if Jesus "could not" sin, then he was not fully human."

The peccability of the incarnate Christ is a debate that will likely never be answered in this life. That is to say that some people are just too dang stubborn to see the truth.

Could Christ have sinned? To study this one needs to study the nature of God, and the nature of sin. You say that the impeccability of Christ would somehow make Him "not fully human." Yet we know that he was fully human as well as fully God. We also know that the constraints of the flesh temporarily suspended some of his Godly incommunicable attributes. (Suspended not in that they were not available to Him, but that he chose not to use them--to fulfill all righteousness, etc)

Now let’s look at sin. Generally speaking, sin can be placed in 2 categories. Conscious and unconscious sin. I think we could all agree that Jesus had no unconscious sin for he was born without a sin nature. Leaving then only sin that is enacted first through thought. But in order to think of doing evil, one must have a sinful nature. Jesus did not.

If Jesus could have sinned, He WOULD have sinned. This is the power of sin and evil over the flesh. Even in Christ, the flesh will make us sin. (So no, none of us ever have free will---get over it).

Jesus was the only man to ever walk the earth to experience true free will. And even His free will was constrained by His immense love for the Father.

Jesus was fully human, but he had the mind of God--therefore He could not have sinned.
(This is a bad example, and a stretch, but it makes a point—a spotless lamb sacrifice is spotless because it has no spots or blemishes, not because the little lamb chose one day not to have spots. It is bred into its very nature (genes) not to have spots. It is impeccably spotless.)

All least however, we can all agree that whether He could have or not--He didn't--and that has made all the difference.


Anonymous said...

"The dispensational premillenial view of the "end times" is historically a minority point of view, that to me, is one of the greatest farces purported by "Bible Believers" today."

Amen brotha! Preach it!

Down with da Darbyites!


Tim Marsh said...


Though we go in two different directions with our conclusions about the peccability of Christ, I love how you say:

"And even His free will was constrained by His immense love for the Father."

Though I would argue that this is truly what it means to be "free." Galatians 5:13.

God bless!

Anonymous said...


Galatians speaks of freedom from the bondage of the law for salvation in Christ alone.

The idea of freewill, as you know, is a different matter dealing with the natural constraints placed on us through the forces of good and evil which hinder our free ability to make choices regarding right and wrong. (or not, as one’s incorrect view might take them)


Thank you for the compliment. I enjoy reading your posts.


Byroniac said...

Personally I want to agree with Kevin Crowder on the impeccability of Christ, but I guess I cannot be dogmatic. To me, what it comes down to is this: we know from Scripture (Heb 4:15) that Christ was tempted in every respect as we are, yet was without sin. Knowing from Heb 12:4 that the readers (I take it to mean every believer) have never resisted sin unto the shedding drops of blood like Christ did, I believe that if it was possible for Christ to sin He would have (i.e., if He had not been divine in His person). But even if Rex Ray is right, and Christ could have sinned (something I cannot personally see), we can still praise God that He did NOT sin (Heb 4:15 again). And I think that is the crucial point. It allows me to say, whether I can convince you He could or could not sin, the point is moot: He didn't, and I praise God for that.

Byroniac said...

Also wanted to add that in my thinking, sin is anything contrary to God. One must begin with who God is and what He is like in order to understand sin, which is opposition to that. Sin requires God to exist, to be defined in reference to Him.

And I might be reaching here, but I read 2 Timothy 2:13 KJV, "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself." I take that to mean that God cannot sin, not merely that He is unable to become unfaithful to His promises. I also consider James 1:13 KJV, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:" If Jesus is truly God, then He is one in essence with God the Father, and this verse also applies to Him.

I like what I read in a commentary about this same exact question. I'll have to paraphrase, but basically it said that a canoe can attack a battleship and it's a real assault with real intent, but there's no doubt as to the outcome of the battle. Of course, this analogy breaks down because Christ is infinitely more powerful than a battleship, but I think the commentary made a good point.

And of course, I could be wrong!

Only By His Grace said...


Here is a quote from Charles Simeon who was one of the great conservatives in early 1800. Like Wesley, he never left the Church of England, but he is considered by many as the father of evangelicalism and was one of the founders of the Church Missionary Society. I have read him before, but I decided to take him much more seriously by studying his commentary on some great passages as Romans 8 and Ephesians.

Revelation 5:11-13
"Their number exceeds all computation.
The way to heaven has always been a strait and narrow way; yet from the death of Abel their number has been continually increasing: their collective number is inconceivably great. The saints take the lead in the worship. They are represented as standing nearest to the throne. They begin the song and the angels join in chorus. There is perfect harmony throughout the whole assembly."

Horae Homileticae or Discourses (includes "Claude's Essay on the Composition of a Sermon"). 21 Volumes. Reverend Charles Simeon. Volume 21. "Revelation." Publishers: Holdsworth and Ball, London. 1832. page 151

Phil in Norman

Anonymous said...

1. Is not God not a Covenant keeper?
2.Did not God promise to Abraham to make his children as many as the sands of the sea. Thats a vast number...ever tried counting the sands of the sea.

Although not a specific number I dont understand how anyone can deny it is a vast number and logically greater then the number in hell.

Mr Bennett Willis

I am stil waiting for your response to my invitation to do some personal evangelism together.

Only By His Grace said...


If Dispensationalism is "new" then so is the "modern" doctrine of "justification by grace," "baptism by immersion," "separation of Church and State," "security of the believer," "the Bible as the only rule of all faith and practice." I would imagine that the first two hundred years after Luther, all the Protestants would hear, "It is a 'new' doctrine;" as if we have gone as far as we can go in discovering truths in God's word.

As far as eisegesis, I think you had better put your money where your mouth is by backing it up with some stated and foot-noted facts. Your comment above is even more asinine as it is harsh and unloving. You would say that about some of the greatest minds of the twentieth century Christian world! C.I. Scofield, J.N. Darby, E.W. Bullinger, C.H. Welch, C.R. Stam, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Bill Criswell, Dwight Pentecost, and even institutions such as Dallas Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute. At least give them respect for the love of God's Word, their long hard labor to discover the riches of His word and their astute minds.

Remember, just as most historians make a grave historical error by lumping all the "Anabaptist" together, some knowingly and dishonestly. There is a world of difference between Menno Simons and Balthasar Hubmaier, George Blaurock and Conrad Grebel, the Mennonites and the Amish, the Amish and the Hutterites, the Hutterites and the Swiss Brethren. There are denominations within many of these groups. I sat in an EE Class at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in 1977 with a "modern" Mennonite who dressed just like the rest of us. John of Leiden believed in communal property, made himself the King of the New Zionist in Munster and taught polygamy. I doubt if many Amish, Mennonites and Swiss Brethren would agree that he is a typical Anabaptist. Some early Anabaptist were Calvinist and some were Armenian. If you allow the Reformed Churches and the Roman Catholic Church to define Anabaptist, they will define them as believing in communal property and multiple wives when only one or two of dozens of groups did. They make the error defining Anabaptist by the exception not by the rule. You are doing the same thing with Dispensationalism who are as varied as all other groups.

When I see people castigating others by calling them ill-defined or undefined terms such as liberal or conservative, I want to know what the castigater means by the term; so what do you believe a Dispensationalist believes such as Richard DeHann or Richard Halverson? What you call a Dispensationalist may not be a Dispensationalist at all. What is your definition of a Dispensationalist?

Phil in Norman

Tim Marsh said...

Only By His Grace,

I made the comment, not Kevin. If read further down, I do acknowledge that many sincere Bible believers have held Dispensational Premillenial views regarding scripture. I assume that you do to.

I associate Dispensational Premillenial eschatology with figures that you have named, who I question their methodology. And, I believe that view is also made popular by Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' Left Behind series. Notably it contributes these things to eschatology:

1. Things are getting worse before the end of time.
2. A pre-tribulational rapture of the church (not taught in Revelation).
3. Seven year reign of the anti-Christ.
4. Battle of Armageddon and subsequent end of the present age of human history. .

I reject the view because:
1. Things are not getting "worse." Things have always been bad. Read your histories of other cultures throughout human history and the "things" that seem to be associated with human downfall are practiced in many other cultures. However, we hear about them more today through free press and rapid communication channels.

2. The Bible teaches that the end will be one quick event called the resurrection. It will happen indiscretely, like a flash of lightning.

3. Apocalyptic genre. Revelation is apocalyptic. It is a theological reading of the Christian vision for all of human history, past - future. It is not a detailed seven year account of the end of human history. Numerology is symbolic. We have many samples of apocalyptic literature that share the features of Revelation. Many apocalyptic texts in the gospels refer to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD and not the end of time. It is eisegesis to read that the "locusts" are helecopters like Hal Lindsey did. It is eisegesis not to read Revelation according to its genre.

4. The evil regime of Revelation is the Roman Empire and the Caesar, who actively persecuted Christians during his reign. It recalled Nero's persecution. The Aramaic Characters for the name Neron Caesar add up to 666. If you drop the 'n' off of Neron (Nero) you get the variant reading 616.

5. Many truths taught in Revelation could be largely symbolic (and if they are, we should take them as such).

I applaud Darby, Scofield and others for their care in interpreting scripture. However, we have much more information today through the discover of other ancient Jewish and Christian texts that illumine genre's and literary methods employed by Biblical authors to settle for Darby's reading.

However, Dispensational Premillenialists are relentless to redesign their "charts" to fit new revelations in the present day events. They are relentless to change predictions on the end of the world (2018, isn't it?). And finally, they are relentless in using their methods to scare others into salvation.

James Efird's Left Behind? is a good starting point for alternative readings for Revelation and apocalyptic.

Craig Keener's commentary on Revelation in the NIV Application Series is another good one. His introduction is especially valuable.

Eugene Peterson's Reversed Thunder is another good one on Revelation.

My comments may have been insensitive, but I find those who hold "Left Behind" theology, such as the anonymous commenter that spurred my thoughts, to be some of the most insensitive that I know in their presentations of the good news.

Anonymous said...

Check out this link!

Bennett Willis said...

Thanks for the invitation. I have been delaying response to your generous suggestion for the following reason: Personal evangelism is an area in my life that I fall way short of the mark. More the shame because I feel that it really matters (more than just honoring Christ's departing instructions). I would be willing to support your efforts with both prayer and presence. Maybe I'd learn something that I need to know and would use.


Tim Marsh said...


Thanks...I was unaware that such a sight existed.

One thing, dispensationalists get their message out.

Revelation is fascinating, perhaps the most magestic scripture we have, if read properly. And the end of the world and the ends of God are far more captivating than the tales of Left Behind.

Only By His Grace said...


I was responding to some earlier comments by Kevin on this senseless and ignorant attack on Dispensationalism and that is the reason I made my comment about his comment about Dispensationalism being "new." There is nothing "new" about Dispensationalism. It being "new" is an old philosophical fallacy that was used and worn out for the last hundred years. It may be new in that it just a hundred and fifty plus years old, but it is Biblical.

Many of those you name, I agree with you wholeheartedly mainly because of the sensationalism they proffer. I would offer Donald Grey Barnhouse, Senior Pastor at Fourth Presbyterian Church, over twenty years chaplain of the United States Senate and the foremost Bible speaker on radio over twenty years. Read his commentary on Romans and tell me he is weird in his interpretation of Scripture ("Exposition of Bible Doctrines," Taking the Epistle to the Romans as the Point of Departure" 10 volumes).
Let's look at each one of your points.

I agree man has always been evil. Dispensationalism does not teach the culminating evil of man any more than A-Mil does. Post Mil. teaches man is getter better. I majored in History and Literature. I know about the pillars of sculls in Afghanistan posited there by Ghangis Kahn; the thousands of children sacrificed by the Canaanites each year and the fifteen to twenty thousand sacrificed each year by the Mayans. Barnhouse, Bullinger, Welch and many others do not teach that man is getting worse, but it will get worse for Israel in the last days and that worseness will be culminated in a "man of sin." The focus of that evil will to be to finally destroy Israel from the face of the earth.

I am not sure if man is not getting more evil. In my life time there has been Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Khermer Roughe, Manson, Dalmer, and Islam in its worst forms of murder and rape.

Phil in Norman.

Only By His Grace said...


"A pre-Trib. Rapture not taught in Revelation." Says who? You? Sorry. It is only your opinion.

I take every verse in Revelation to be the Scripture written expressly to those Jews going through the Day of the Lord (Seven Year Tribulation, Great Tribulation, Jacob's Trouble). Revelation is a description of the Day of the Lord with everything to our future from Revelation 1:7. The Church is told that this Day will not over take us in I Thess. 5:9, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ," The context of the "wrath" is "The Day of the Lord" as about which he was writing in this chapter

The Bible does not teach that the end will be sudden in the sense you suggest that there is just one big end event. Israel is back in the land as non-believers, Israel is in warfare that will get worse, Israel will only be saved by the sudden return of Messiah and so forth. Do not make everything in Scripture about the Body of Christ for much is written about Israel. Do not steal their blessings and like a good thief only leave them the junk (curses). What is written to Israel belongs to Israel

So Revelation is apocalyptic. What is new? So is Daniel, Isaiah and Ezekiel. Do not hide behind the excuse that God does not mean what he says in Revelation. Symbols are always the symbol of something within the context of the subject and never of something that is unreal.

Yes, much prophecy does deal with the destruction of Jerusalem, but it also deal with the regathering and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is Israel's city, not the Body of Christ's; the Land is Israel's land not our land; the throne is Israel's throne not our throne, the ephod is Isreal's ephod and not ours; the temple in Jerusalem is Israel's temeple and not ours. Israel was chosen "since the foundation (overthrow--cast down- kataballoo) of the world while we were chose before the foundation of the world as in Ephesians . If the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem was literal so will the reconstruction of Jerusalem be literal. Be careful that you do not use metaphor to deny or explain away Scripture.

Phil in Norman

Tim Marsh said...


When you say "I take" that is eisegesis. You bring nothing from the text to even indicate that Revelation should be read in the way that you are suggesting.

You pulled 1 Thess. 5:9 out of context. That is eisegesis.

You suggest that much is written about Israel and their glory (isn't there a magazine with a title to that effect?). The New Testament never suggests that there are two covenants for Israel and the church running parallel.

Gal. 3:29 and previous verses are about the identity of the sons of Abraham.

Mark's gospel begins with Isaiah and Malachi's prophecies of the return from the Babylonian captivity because the church understood that in Jesus and the subsequent foundation of the church Israel's God was fulfilling his promises to Israel.

About the formation of a geo-political state of Israel - eisegesis, again.

"Prophecies" about Israel in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel concerned the return of the people from exile where they formed their nation again in the promised land, and built their Second Temple (Herod's was actually the third temple)

"I take it" is the whole reason there is dispensational theology to begin with. I appreciate the sincerety to take scripture seriously, but it is a complete misreading of the text.

My opinion that there is no rapture in Revelation. It is not there. No where. 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff is not the rapture. (it does no good to read it as if it is so, because it is not found in Revelation - a fact). It is the resurrection. Paul again, in 1 Cor. 15:50ff, speaks of the resurrection.

There is no rapture, period, in scripture. The Bible speaks of the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and judgment - period. All of these are one event.

The question that dispensationalists fail to address when it comes to scripture is "Who is Israel in the New Testament?" That is what this is all about. Granted, God will save "Israel" but who is Israel in the NT?

Phil, I will not continue this debate with you, because this is something you accepted long ago. However, your response to my points, like dispensationalism itself, screams of eisegesis.

I would suggest, maybe as you teach on revelation, to engage some of the sources that I listed in the previous post. I really believe that dispensationalism is way off base.

Only By His Grace said...


I have no idea about a magazine called "Glory of Israel." With all the junk out there, I am sure there is one.

Let us see if I pulled I Thess 5:9 out of context or if you are making false accusations, again. I do expect you to read a little for your self or have a working knowledge of the book. I said it concerned the Day of the Lord called the Great Tribulation. Let us look at the context of 5:9.

Chapter 4 and 5 are a unit of instruction. Four as you well know gives a refutation to those who say the resurrection is past. Five talks about the "times and seasons" (which includes the technical Old Testament term about "The Day of the Lord" which you need to look up for yourself in Isaiah 13:6,9, Micah 13:5, Joel 1:15; 2:1,11; 3:14; 4:14; Amos 5:18; Obadiah 16 to compare with Hebrews 1; Zephaniah 1:7, 14; Mal. 4:5 to compare to Hebrews 2:23). "Gar" or "for" (vs. 2) indicates the Jewish converts to Christ at Thessalonica already knew about the Day of the Lord and the "gar" or "for" goes with same word in verse 7.
The third "gar" gives us Paul's third reason why God will bring with Him those who are asleep already mentioned in chapter four. Verse two mentions the Day of the Lord very clearly, "For yourselves know perfectly that the DAY OF THE LORD so cometh as a thief in the night."

I know full well "of that Day and that hour knows no man…"; however, the believing Thessalonians would not be as one that "sleeps" in the night if Israel had repented and accepted Christ. Go back, read Peter's sermon at Pentecost: not one Gentile there, "ye men of Israel" and the promise is that Jesus would return to be Messiah right then and the destruction of Jerusalem would have been part of the Great Tribulation, but Israel did not accept Peter's message. I do not think Peter was mistaken. The context of 1 Thess. goes right into 2 Thess. with the mention of "the man of sin." These prophecies are not dead to the past but alive to the future.

I agree the two covenants run parallel during the Acts period, but Israel was set aside in Acts 28 (remember Paul's words to the delegation in that three day meeting), but according to Paul in Romans 9-10-11, Israel is not cut off for ever. She is in another one of her "Lo-Ammi" periods where prophetical time is not counted.

As Abraham was a man of faith, we, too, are his children of faith, but that does not mean that we can steal all the promises made to his son and grandson, Isaac and Israel. Israel is still Israel in the New Testament. Peter speaks of Israel, as does James and Jude. Revelation has Twelve Tribes and twelve thousand from each tribe. I guess you think there will be one hundred and forty-four thousand evangelist from twelve Gentile tribes, that the menorah is Gentile, the ark of the covenant is Gentile, and so forth. In fact, the most mentioned Old Testament Book in the New Testament is Revelation, and you accuse me of eisegesis?

Again, whether your interpretation is right or wrong or whether mine is right or wrong, or whether both interpretations are wrong which I am sure is likely in many parts, there is no call to make the comments you made. On this blog I have seen senseless attacks on Wade come out of no where. It seems the SBC is getting to the place that unless you agree with me on every detail, I will castigate you and call you every name I can while accusing you of anything handy. If you have kept up with this blog there are movements to withdraw fellowship from those who use PRIVATE Prayer Language, those not baptized by the right church or right person no matter what the circumstances, those who are Calvinist, those who are Dispensationalist. Where does it stop? I know in days of long ago this attitude lead to such things as the burning of poor heretics at the stake. Covenant Theology, Dispensationalism, Pre-Mil, A-Mil., Post Mil, A-Tribulation, Post-Trib., Mid-Trib., and Pre-Trib. are all tertiary doctrines at the very best and are man-made. The belief that He is Coming Again in Glory is a primary doctrine to which all schools must hold.

As you see this comment is well over a page and it is very impracticable to try to answer each one of your points, but please believe me, I can.

As far as the rapture which is just one part of one Dispensation (the end of the church time or the beginning of the Day of the Lord), we must save to later. All you do at the very least is have the Church go through the Day of the Lord if there is no rapture. Revelation has nothing to do with the rapture. It is a series of seven two part visions concerning the Day of the Lord otherwise known as the Great Tribulation. It concerns Israel and the Church is no where in sight. Again, I take everthing from Revelaton 1:10 (Lord's day as the Day of the Lord just as wife of Phil or Phil's wife is the same thing and since the Day of the Lord was such an Old Testament technical term and never a day of the week).

Only By Grace,
Phil in Norman.

Tim Marsh said...

A couple of other things:

1. The Book of Hebrews is about the superiority of the New Covenant vis-a-vis the Old Covenant (the whole book). Also, the bulk of Galatians, Romans, and Philippians concerns itself with Christians not returning to rely on circumcision and the law.

2. I would recommend Craig Hill's In God's Time as another excellent resource for apocalyptic in Scriptures.

Only By His Grace said...


Also, notice that Hebrews is just that "Hebrews," not "Gentiles." It is dealing with two Covenants that deal with the "Hebrews" or Israel.

In fact the danger of Jews returning to the circumcision or other aspects of the Law caused the first great controversy in the early church to such an extent that Paul was demanded to appear before the leaders of the church in Jerusalem to defend what he was doing with the Jews and Gentiles outside of the "Land" called the Dispersion (Acts 15). It is why I think Hebrew is so much different in style than Paul's other thirteen letters. Hebrews is a formal treatise to defend his position concerning such things as circumcision, Old and New Covenant, fasting, holy days, things that concern touching, tasting and observing. The central purpose of Hebrews is that Messiah must suffer and die showing that Jesus meets all the prophetic qualifications as Messiah of Israel.


Anonymous said...

I am glad you included B.H Carroll. Seems even you can learn something from a Landmark Baptist. I guess there is hope for liberals yet.

Goliath said...

Can you show me an example of the unmerited Grace that the baptist church teaches? The New Testament Teachers always seemed to show examples of men in the Old Testament as to proof of their teachings and I am curious as to yours.

Goliath from Atlanta

Goliath said...

I believe what Jesus said,"many shall be called but FEW are chosen." In light of this evidence and since Jesus is the truth, my answer must be no.

Tropix said...


On Monday, April 27, 2009, at 09:52:00 AM, you wrote, and I quote:

" There is no contradiction between "vast numbers from every nation" and "few will enter the gates".

Of course, I don't know the number of people that are alive today or have ever lived or will live in the future. Say that number is 100,000,000,000. If "only" one billion end up in heaven then that is a large number but only 10% of all people.

I believe "few" can reasonably be understood as "a small percentage".

In any case, God knows who is going to be there."

I just wanted to correct you; one billion is only 1% of 100,000,000,000, and you said it was 10%. 10% of 100,000,000,000 would be ten billion.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering, were the Greek words for the few finding and many entering the continuous verbs which would mean it's still happening today, or the one time only?