The recent book by Rob Bell, Love Wins, has reopened the controversial topic about the ultimate spiritual destiny of mankind – will every person, no matter what, be reconciled ultimately back to God through his bountiful love in Christ’s sacrificial death and live eternally in His presence, or will Judgment Day separate some men and women to eternal separation from God, that is to Hell, while others, through the reconciling work of Christ on the Cross, spend eternity with God?
The month of May will be devoted to exploring this question. We thought that there is no better place to discuss this heated topic then at your local seminary. We have asked D. Scott Reichard, a local proponent of “ultimate reconciliation,” and Dr. Aaron Bird, an adjunct Professor at Urbana Seminary and specialist on the doctrine of Hell – who will be teaching a summer course at Urbana Seminary called “Evil, Hell & Universalism” – to discuss the matter for us on our blog.
by Scott Reichard
PAUL’S PREACHING OF THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS:
Jesus states “Paul is a chosen instrument of mine to proclaim the Gospel” (Acts 9:15). Of himself, Paul says “the Gospel I preach was not received from man nor was it taught to me by the other Apostles (who had a few things wrong about the extent of the Atonement) but I received the revelation directly from Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12-17). Paul later calls the “Riches of God’s glory the hidden mystery” (Colossians 1:19-27). Peter refers to Paul’s Evangel as “one hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). God and His Sovereign ways are indeed hard to understand (Romans 9).
So, maybe we should look at what Paul says about the “Restoration of All Things as spoken of by the Prophets” (Acts 3:21) for some insight as his Epistles seem curiously full of references:
Romans 5:12-21 “As Death came to All men thru Adam, Life came to the (same) “All men” thru Christ”
Romans 9:16 “It does not depend on man’s will but God’s mercy”
Romans 9:19 “Who can resist the Will (Boulema) of God?”
Romans 11:26 “All Israel shall be saved”
Romans 11:32 “God has committed them All to disobedience, that He might have mercy on All”
Romans 14:11 “Every knee shall bow and Every tongue confess”
1 Corinthians 13:8 “Love never fails”
1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam All Die, even so in Christ (the same) All shall be made alive”
1 Corinthians 15:28 “When All things are made subject to Him, then…that God may be All in All”
2 Corinthians 5:19 “God was in Christ Reconciling the world to Himself”
Ephesians 1:9-11 “He might gather together in one All things in Christ, both which are in heaven and earth–in Him….who works All things according the Counsel of His will.”
Philippians 2:10-11 “At the name of Jesus Every knee will bow and Every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”
Philippians 3:21 “He is able even to subdue All things to Himself”
Colossians 1:19-20 “It pleased the Father..by Him to Reconcile All things to Himself whether things on Earth or in Heaven”
1 Timothy 2:3-4,6 “God will have All men to be saved”
Hebrews 2:8 “God has put All things in Subjection, nothing is left that is not in Subjection”
Hebrews 8:8-12 “All shall know Me”
Everyone loves to have their Hell be just full of Hitler and his friends. But most every Church leader will tell you that, “Everyone is Born going to Hell due to Adam’s sin” (Original sin). That is why some denominations baptize “often and early.” Does Everlasting Conscious Torture seem fair and “Lawful” punishment for the 12 year old girl who dies in a car wreck on her way to the confessional? My old church Pastor (who has since changed his mind after reading our book Hope Beyond Hell) insisted we get baptized as quick as we could to avoid Hell.
What puts the Fear of God in me now is Christ’s teachings in Matthew 5 and 7 where He says, “Many will say on that day did we not prophesy and perform miracles etc. and then I will say depart from me you who practice Lawlessness” and “I came to fulfill the Law and All of it will be accomplished. Anyone who annuls any of these law commandments or teaches otherwise shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.” I think Paul had the same concern many of us who embrace UR have. He was not afraid of being Tortured in Hell, he was motivated and concerned about not attaining the First Resurrection, being faithful to Christ, seeing his brethren face judgment and missing the greatest Eon of history.
Teaching a Lawless Gospel appears to have dire “Eonian” consequences. ET and UR (and the systems of theology that flow from each) can’t both be Lawfully correct. Discerning therefore the biblically Legal one should take on particular significance for those of us reading these blogs as we all are now becoming accountable for what we are discussing. If I am wrong, I want to know about it and will be very thankful but I humbly ask for convincing evidence.
Is it possible that God chose Paul not only for his passion but because he was an expert in the Law (unlike his fellow fishermen and tax collecting friends)? Was Christ by having Paul skip the Apostolic Consultation and taking him directly to Arabia (likely symbolically near Sinai itself) wanting to give Paul a slightly different perspective on the Law that would lead men to Christ? Could it be possible that whereas Paul used the Law to condemn and kill before his conversion, he use it now to save after he understood what Christ was accomplishing on the Cross by fulfilling the Legal terms of Redemption in buying back All that was lost in Adam? Could the true Good News be that “God was in Christ Reconciling the World to Himself”–a mystery hidden from the Foundation until Christ and fully explained by Paul.
I believe that Paul received fresh revelation from Christ Himself on the Terms of Redemption, the application of the Ownership and Liability Laws to the Reconciliation, Jesus as the Kinsman Redeemer, Overcomers as First Fruits that sanctify the entire Harvest, how the Restitution Laws play themselves out in the Lake of Fire, the Jubilee significance etc. He was also shown that the Feast Days of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles prophesied of the progression of the Restoration. And I believe that Paul was also now clear on the full impact of the progression of the Noahic, Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants that led to Jesus ratifying the New Covenant.
Paul sums it up best in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 , “All those who died in Adam will be made alive in Christ (the 2nd Adam) but each in his own order.” How much clearer can Paul be?
So, then it is not a matter of “if” as that was settled with Christ at Calvary. It becomes a matter of “when” and by “what” Judgments (if any) we each enter the Kingdom. We are to preach Christ Crucified. Blessed are those who receive Him now and inherit the First Resurrection. For those Saints will judge Angels and aid in the bringing about the Restoration of All things. Still others must face the Lake of Fire and it’s corrective Judgments until All is in subjection, death destroyed and God be All in All.