One thoughtful reader writes...
READER>> In summary, thanks for sending your article and reading my response (below). I hope it is helpful and that you can see why I do not agree with your conclusions, based on the Scriptures.
ME>> You are welcome. Fair enough.
READER>> I don't see Scripture indicating that I need to worry "whether I am part of the elect or not." Rather, I just need to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Acts 16:31, Rom. 10:9-10, etc). Afterward, out of gratitude for having been saved, I ought to live in line with my new identity (Eph. 4, 5, 2Pet.1:3-11, etc). The question of "whether I am elect or not" will take care of itself. By definition, if I believe in Jesus Christ for salvation and receive His free gift of salvation, I am part of the elect. If I reject Jesus Christ, or believe for a short time and then fall away (1 John 2:19), by definition I was never part of the elect. Regarding "assurance" and "how one may know that one truly believes," 1 John and James deal with that point. Regarding whether God will in fact save those who believe in Jesus, there's no need to worry about that either.... God always keeps His promises, as shown by all of Scripture. But do you know of anywhere in Scripture where people are instructed to try to figure out if they're part of the elect or not? To my knowledge, and as you wrote, Scripture teaches BOTH that God sovereignly chooses people to be part of His elect, and that we humans are morally responsible for our actions (and must believe in Christ to be saved). These two truths are both taught (sometimes in the same verse! 2 Tim. 2:19).
ME>> 2 Peter 1:9-11 commands us to make our election sure. This is a critical issue in order to insure that those professing Christ actually have saving faith. Many people profess faith in Christ yet revolt against his words, "you did not choose me, but I chose you." Many begin to follow Jesus, but turn away when they hear more detail about the truth. Or since faith, repentance, and conversion are too painful they instead convert Jesus into a palatable American. It is important to understand that when Jesus says trust me, he is not saying "Take the action to trust me, perform the work of trusting me, and then I will add your name to the Book of Life." Rather he is saying to his elect, "Trust me, I have written your name in my book from before the foundation of the world." These are two radically different understandings of faith. One is salvation by grace, the other by works. More specifically you say that one must believe in Christ to be saved. I agree that faith is required for salvation from sin and salvation from Hades. However, since faith cannot add our name to the Lamb's Book of Life then actually not even "faith" cannot save someone from the Lake of Fire. Only the electing grace of God can pen our name in the Lamb's Book of Life, the final criterion for salvation from the Lake of Fire, Revelation 20:15. The importance of faith is that trust in Christ enables us to see our name in the Lamb's Book of Life, to see that our names are already there because God has always loved us! This is the happy news!!
READER>> On the page Gospel Foolishness, you wrote: "The Arminian boasts in his 'free will' choice of God while the Calvinist boasts that he alone is chosen." I would certainly not boast that "I alone am chosen," and I don't know of any Calvinist who would do so. Certainly our boast should be in Jesus Christ. If you ask me whether God has chosen a particular set of people for salvation, I would say 'Yes,' the scripture informs me that He has. And if you ask me whether I am part of that subset, I would say 'Yes, that seems to be the case,' because (to the best of my knowledge) I believe in Jesus Christ and I see the evidences mentioned in 1 John allowing me to "know" that I have eternal life. But is there any self-based pride in this? Absolutely not. Rather (Romans 9:11/context, 11:6, Ephesians 1) my election is all based on God's unconditional, sovereign, loving, eternal, choice, not based on any goodness inside me. So there is nothing for me to boast about regarding myself. Hence I disagree with your phrase mentioned above, as a straw-man argument.
ME>> Thank you for this correction. You are right that I should not use the same word "boast" when addressing the error of the Arminian and the Calvinist. They are both in error, but errors of a different nature. It is the Arminians who "boasts" because their salvation is based on their own decision, their own work. But Grace teaches us that this is boastful. However, the Calvinist error is to claim that they are part of an imaginary chosen subset of humanity. This error is more properly labeled "blindness," just as Jesus labeled the Pharisees, "blind guides." I have corrected that language in my article Gospel Foolishness. Above you also say it "seems to be the case" that you are part of that chosen subset. This does not sound very certain. Why the reservation? Why not great boldness? Your choice of words proves a critical point made previously in my book: that the Calvinist cannot be 100% certain that they are part of the chosen subset of saved humanity. Please read my article, Certain Knowledge again. I also write more on this subject below.
READER>>As I understand what you are saying, you believe that after death, those who believe in Jesus will go to heaven while those who disbelieve will go to "hell"/"hades", as a place of "temporary punishment." Then at the day of final judgment, you believe that God will extend a pardon (because of Christ's sacrificial death) to every individual human who has ever lived (i.e. every human's name will be listed in the Book of Life; there will be no one whose name is not in the Book of Life), after which all the humans will go into permanent heaven and live forever with God. You base this on several passages, especially Romans 11:32 ("For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all") and Hosea 2:23 ("I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people'"). All of the passages which are traditionally interpreted as teaching that some humans will end up in everlasting punishment you reinterpret in the following 2 ways: either (1) they are only talking about 'temporary hell', (2) they only apply to demons, not humans. Some of this I agreed with, and some I disagreed with, on Scriptural grounds.
ME>> Yes I do believe Romans 11:32 is the grand conclusion of Christian salvation and yes I believe all mankind will be finally saved from the Lake of Fire, though most are not saved from sin, unbelief, and punishment in Hades. However, please note that there is one critical gospel caveat: The foolishness of the gospel warns the unbelieving that those who reject this good news and the grace of Christ that they are not "his sheep" and they will spend the duration in Hades. This sentence still stands for unbelieving mankind whether Jew or gentile.
READER>> ...I disagree with your fundamental premise in the book, that all humans will end up being saved and entering into eternal life. I disagree not for emotional or tradition-based reasons, but for Scriptural reasons, as follows. First, I think that your "four square salvation evaluator" is too simplistic. "Save" (greek sozo) does not always mean save from sin... (1 Tim 2:15) "All" (greek pantas) does not always mean "all (individual people in the world)"... sometimes it means "all (people in a particular group which is being discussed in a context)" or "all (types of people...) or both (types of people)" (Mark 1:5, 4:31, John 3:26, 4:29, 8:2, 12:32, Acts 2:45, 22:15, 26:4, Romans 3:9, 16:26, 1 Cor 10:33, Gal 2:14, Col 3:11, etc) "Have mercy" does not look exactly the same for all people... God's mercy on some involves giving food/water/rain/family/etc, but God's mercy upon others involves far more, to the point of opening our eyes to believe in Him for eternal life. (Acts 14:17) Being the "savior of all men" does not necessarily mean that they are always "saved" from Hell or from the lake of fire, or saved to the same destiny, or in the same way, or to the same extent (1 Tim 4:10) It seems that when you read in Romans 11 "..that He may have mercy upon all", you infer that this means that God will eventually redeem all humans and bring them into heaven... but this conclusion is not required by this verse in its context, and does not fit other passages of Scripture. I agree with Galli's point that "all" here in context is referring to "both Jews and Gentiles." (For example, verses 25-31 are comparing these two groups).
ME>> I am sorry that you think my Four Square Salvation Evaluator is too simplistic. In fact I thought the simplicity of this model actually helped the reader to understand the simple errors and difficulties evident in the historic Arminian and Calvinistic debate. Regarding the question of "saved from what?", I address the various dangers we need to be saved from in my articles, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 and Saved 5x. However, the focus of the salvation question in my Four Square Salvation Evaluator is only the question of eternal salvation, that is salvation from the Lake of Fire. Since you were confused about that I added further clarification in my article, Soteriologies. Likewise, I also address the different possible meanings of the word "all," but as you say we come to a different conclusion.
READER>> You wrote in [your article] Romans 11:32-36 "We should be consistent because the context for both verses regarding Paul's points about Jew and Gentile being alike under sin are the same. However, Romans 3:23 is easily understood to mean every individual person, just as Romans 11:32 should be understood to mean every individual person, whether Jew or Gentile." "easily understood to mean"? On the contrary, the context of Romans 3 is more in favor of a meaning of "both Jews and Gentiles" than "each individual". I agree with you that each individual has sinned, but that is not the primary contextual point of Rom 3:23. Therefore, Rom 3:23 cannot be used to infer that Romans 11:32 is talking about every individual person.
ME>> I am surprised that you say this. The larger context of Romans 3:23 begins by quoting Psalm 14:3 saying, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God." The meaning of the Psalm and Romans 3:9-23 is commonly understood by all Christians to say that each individual human being is guilty of sin, not merely all types of people. I am merely pointing out that the larger context of Romans allows me to conclude that Romans 11:32 can also be interpreted to mean every individual human being without doing any violence to the rules of interpretation. However, the definitive proof is the means Jesus used to make payment for mankind's sin. He became a man and is identified as the new federal head of all humanity in Romans Chapter 5. He does not represent part of humanity, but the entirety of humanity. By the very nature of how he paid for sin, the sin payment must apply to all mankind -- that is every individual human being that ever lived or will live. He did not pay for the sins of some with cash or a mere token, but he became a man and thus the vicarious substitute for all! One cannot simply apply his death to part of mankind because he became the substitute for all mankind. To do so would be to somehow divide Jesus' body into a part that died for some, and a part that did not die for others. How could we do that when instead his body was broken for all his people?
READER>> A related verse is I John 2:1-2, "the whole world" in context being "not only Jews... also people from every tribe and nation... but not necessarily EVERY person from every tribe and nation". For example, John 12:19, etc.
ME>> That is curious. I understand John to be saying that Christ is the atoning sacrifice for not only our sins, meaning not only believers, but that Christ is also the atoning sacrifice for unbelievers as well. The "us" and "them" under the New Covenant is no longer Jew and gentile, but instead believer and unbeliever.
READER>> (Also, God's "binding us to sin" does not mean that He "caused" us to sin... rather that He "ordained"/"allowed" such... There are multiple levels of causality, not only a single level. (Genesis 50:20, etc). I'd highly recommend reading Bruce Ware's two books on this: "God's Lesser Glory" and "God's Greater Glory.")
ME>> I am not sure if your debate is with me or with the Bible on this point. I also agree that God has not soiled his holy hands with the works of Satan. It was Satan who tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden, certainly not God. Yet the Bible clearly says that God himself is finally responsible for both the origin and the purpose of sin as explained in Isaiah 30:28, Romans 8:20, and Romans 11:32. God is not a tempter, but Satan none-the-less, evil though he is, still serves God's sovereign purposes. Specifically, God decreed the existence of sin in order to demonstrate his grace. Though admittedly if you reject this you are on the side of the majority for most are unwilling to swallow this truth. However, at least take note that I stand with the great theologians Martin Luther, Jonathon Edwards, and many others concerning God's sovereignty over sin.
READER>> On Hosea 2:23, this is a very important verse. It is important to recognize the historical context. God had made an eternal covenant / promise to Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 12 and following. In Deuteronomy 27-30, God told His people that even if they were punished to the point of diaspora (28:63ff, 30:1-6), eventually He would bring them back... because God's covenant with them was permanent. He would never permanently let them go. Then when Israel sinned and was eventually sent into exile, many of the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.) still foretold (based on the promises in Genesis-Deuteronomy) that God would bring them back. So when Hosea presented his prophecy, this was not a general case... it was not saying that "in general, God always relents and allows evildoers back into his presence, after a temporary of punishment." Instead, it was a very special "not-my-people"... God had temporarily "disowned" them (in the sense of ceasing to bless them physically as a nation) because they had disowned Him... but He had never forgotten about them or about His promise (Hosea 11:8). Paul then quotes this in Romans 9:25-26 to show that the Gentiles were now included as promised... but again, the fact that the Gentiles would be included was LONG foretold... even back to Genesis 3:15, 12:3, etc, and certainly Isaiah 42:4/Matt 12:21. So again, Hosea 2:23 / Romans 9:26 / inclusion-of-the-Gentiles is not a general "principle" (so I think your "Hosea Principle" is incorrect), but a specific prophecy and fulfillment about certain people / groups that God had predestined for salvation. In your book, you take Hosea 2:23 out of context and apply it to the unbelievers, in your hope that God will call them "My people" in the end... but this directly contradicts the other Scriptures (see below) that explain exactly what God will do with those unbelievers: consign them to the lake of fire forever. Thus your application of the "Hosea principle" leads you to contradict the clear teaching of other scriptures, and I respectfully and earnestly appeal to warn you that this is very wrong.
ME>> Romans 4:16 explains that the promise to Abraham does not follow the physical lineage of Abraham, but instead the spiritual lineage of Abraham, to all those who share the faith of Abraham. Of course we would need further conversation to outline the impact of this promise as it relates to this life, to Hades, and to the Lake of Fire. Furthermore the gospel makes it clear that the doctrine of predestination guarantees God's faithfulness to both chosen Jews and chosen Gentiles. Romans 11 also explains a relationship between the belief and unbelief of the Jews and Gentiles that results in a curious dynamic of envy that propels all people to Christian faith. The conclusion of redemptive history is not further distinction between Jew and Gentile, but in fact the tearing down of the dividing wall. The Jews were merely the starting point of God's plan to bring salvation to the entire world as explained in Isaiah Chapter 49. Thus the Gentile world has much to learn about both the character and methods of God through his dealings with Israel.
Regarding your disagreement with the "Hosea principle" you may have a point to make in that my language could be more precise. It is certain there is particular Biblical language to explain the special relationship that God had with Israel under the Old Covenant. There is also particular language to describe the special relationship he has with believers under the New Covenant. However, I do not want the fact that I am neither a "Dispensational Theologian" nor a "Covenant Theologian" to detract from my main point. My main point is that God uses strong language that appears to rule out any possibility of salvation for both unbelieving Jews and unbelieving Gentiles. Then when evidence of repentance is found, God warmly calls both believing Jews and Gentiles his children. This is seen in the language of Hosea toward the Jews when God calls them, "not my people," then calls these same people, "my people" after they repent. This is also seen in the language of Jesus toward the Syrian Phoenicia Greek woman in Mark 7:24-30. Jesus pitched a hard fast ball saying that his help was unavailable to her. He even joined the hypocritical Jews in referring to her as a gentile "dog." It is hard for me to believe that Jesus even said that! Perhaps he only said it ironically as a rebuke to the Pharisees. Regardless, she understood him to call her a gentile "dog" and his words caused the woman to humble herself even further. As a result of her acknowledgement that she did not deserve his help, Jesus then poured out his grace healing her daughter. The point is that the "Hosea principle" is most certainly a "modus operandi" that Jesus employs with both the Jews and Gentiles to test our hearts and bring our hard hearts to repentance when needed. Romans 11:29 certainly guarantees God's faithfulness even to the unbelieving Jews mentioned in Romans 11:28. The verse also explains the reason for God's faithfulness to unbelieving gentiles in Romans 11:30. God is the faithful savior of both the unbelieving Jews and gentiles.
READER>> Regarding your page 2 Thessalonians 1:9... Here you say that 2 Thess 1:9 "everlasting destruction" refers to temporary punishment, because of Deut 15:17. It does not make sense to me that you are using an argument about the Hebrew word ("olam") to interpret 2 Thess 1:9 (written in Greek, not Hebrew), a completely different language and culture... and especially that there are no contextual clues that this "everlasting destruction" in 2 Thess 1:9 is "temporary." Something to consider -- How could God have possibly made it any more clear about the "everlasting/eternal destruction" that is coming for unbelievers? If you seek to use the argument that from Deut 15:17 "everlasting" means "temporary," how then could God ever make clear to you or other people that this really does mean everlasting/eternal/forever? In fact, if you persist in this line of reasoning, what prevents someone from taking other (Greek) words meaning "everlasting" in the NT (such as John 3:16!) and applying your Deut 15:17 Hebrew 'olam' argument to it, and coming to the conclusion that our eternal life is also only temporary? Or that the devil's eternal torment in the lake of fire is also temporary? In the case of certain Old Testament usages of "olam" indicating "for a long time" rather than truly "forever/everlasting," the reason we know that such is the correct meaning of "olam" is that we see other verses which indicate the "end" of the time period in question. (e.g. Jer. 25:9 uses "olam" about an "everlasting desolation," and then verse 12 clarifies that this period is only 70 years). But 2 Thess 1:9 has no such qualifiers.
ME>> Good point. Hebrew and Greek are different languages and the Old Testament and New Testament are from different times and cultures. Yet consider these three good points.
FIRST) there is Old Testament Biblical precedent for the grace of God abolishing / fulfilling / satisfying the "everlasting" as he did with the Sabbath command and numerous Old Testament everlastings including the Old Covenant itself. When God satisfied / fulfilled / abolished the eternal commands of the Old Covenant he truly accomplished the impossible (impossible for us, but possible for him). Thus it is not so radical to consider that God could do the same in the New Testament time period.
SECOND) the New Testament does say that the "gates of Hades" will not overcome the work of the church in Matthew 16:18. This statement is more than wishful thinking. This is a promise. The promise is even prominently linked to the first public acknowledgement of Jesus as Messiah. The promise specifically offers hope beyond Hades. So if God has achieved the impossible in nailing the Old Covenant to the cross in public spectacle as explained in Colossians 2:13-15, then why are you so incredulous that the grace of God can bring an end to Hades? In my book I simply proposed a Biblical interpretive model that explains how this is possible. Furthermore, Jesus says in Matthew 10:28 that body and soul are destroyed in Hades. Yet Revelation 20:13 says unbelievers are extracted alive, out of Hades. By "destroyed" Jesus must not mean ruined beyond hope of his grace, but that the potential to live for Christ, hear the words "well done my faithful servant", or avoid great punishment is missed.
THIRD) both the Arminian and Calvinist models of salvation fall short of reason at different points. Because they fall short and because faith must also be reasonable, we must be willing to consider alternate models. The model I have proposed certainly does not have any more weaknesses and I think has greater strengths. Furthermore, the model I propose remains faithful to two critical gospel facts, 1) Jesus became a man and through his death he became the substitutionary atonement for ALL mankind, and 2) salvation is ALL of grace with no work of man even remotely accepted. Calvinism fails at point 1 and Arminianism fails at point 2. As for your argument that "everlasting" cannot have multiple meanings in the New Testament without also allowing for the end of Satan's doom, the end of Heaven, or confusion, consider the Old Testament use of "olam" which also has multiple usages in the Old Testament. Context is needed to determine the meanings of words. In fact it is proven through John Wesley Hanson's scholarly work that the Hebrew "olam" and the Greek "aion" are synonyms and mean the "duration of the subject in view." I have added a brief review and copy of Hanson's work on my website. Dr. Heleen Keizer has also written a dissertation proving the same titled, Life, Time, Entirety - A Study of Aion in Greek Literature and Philosophy, the Septuagint and Philo. Read her 315 page dissertation online or an abstract of her conclusions on my website.
READER>> You wrote in Certain Knowledge "Some Calvinists argue that possession of faith is proof that you are God's chosen. But again with this understanding faith itself becomes the object of confidence rather than Christ himself. Either way knowledge of salvation for the Calvinist requires confidence that they are part of the chosen subset. So, according to reason, they cannot have true security either." I disagree... Calvinists can have security, exactly as 1 John describes. When a Calvinist looks back at his life and notices the various changes that 1 John describes, he realizes that his "faith" is real and he can know that he has eternal life. His faith is placed in Christ and His promises, not in these life changes. But the life changes give him 'assurance' and show him that his faith is genuine.
ME>> Confidence in Christian salvation can never be gained by "looking back at our life!" This is the reason the Gospel of John typically uses "believe" in the present active tense. One might easily fool oneself into such confidence by referencing some transcendental experience from the past. Yet life experience can only ever offer subjective proofs. Even if we could look back and testify to miracles, a changed life, or angel sightings, even these are totally insufficient for confidence in salvation. Grand as they may appear, they are mere tokens that can also be possessed by the unbelieving. Jannes and Jambres performed real miracles in rebellion against Moses, II Timothy 3:8, and they thought they were in the right. Bill's Story in Alcoholics Anonymous has truly helped many reform and leave a life of alcoholism, even though acknowledging a higher power, but still without saving faith in Jesus Christ. And as for angel sightings, both Mohammed and Joseph Smith lay claim to that, yet without saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Christian assurance can only and must only come through confidence in the gospel facts and promises found in the person of Jesus Christ. So again I say that anyone who believes that the atonement is limited in scope will correspondingly be limited in assurance of salvation. However, they may have deceived themselves into such assurance. Consider, if I tell you that I paid for all the oranges in a basket and that you can have one for free, then you can pick any orange with great confidence knowing that it is already paid for. If you have faith in my promise, then you will happily pick an orange, any orange. If you do not have faith you are still free to pick an orange because they are still paid, but you refuse. Now suppose I tell you that I paid for particular oranges in the basket, but not others, and only I know which oranges I paid for, then how will you determine which orange to pick out of the basket for free? What objective fact do you have to lay claim to a particular orange? In this case, claim of "faith" can only be a pretense because it cannot be founded on an objective fact. Calvinistic orange picking can only be a form of Russian Roulette.
READER>> Regarding your page Matthew 25:31-46 I didn't understand your argument on verse 46. Were you saying that this "eternal punishment" is the same thing as the temporary punishment of Luke 16? It seems that you did not finish explaining on this page how this "eternal punishment" fits with your theory that no one will end up in the lake of fire.
ME>> I never said no one ends up in the Lake of Fire. In fact I said quite the opposite. All the unredeemed are sentenced to the Lake of Fire with no escape from this judgment. Matthew 25:31-46 makes it perfectly clear that the Devil and his angels will be sentenced there for The Ages of The Ages. I was merely pointing out that this passage does not say anything about humans being damned to the Lake of Fire, but only the goats on his left, which I have proved to be the Devil and his angels. Yet, for the extreme demonstration of his grace, God apparently allows the unbelieving elect to follow Satan to the very precipice of the Lake of Fire. But will the rebel elect succeed in their mission of self-destruction? Not a chance with the grace of God on watch!
READER>> You wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 "These verses even explain that all mankind is ALREADY positionally reconciled to God 'in Christ' apart from faith. Most would teach that each individual is placed 'into Christ' only as they believe in him. But I understand that those predestined to salvation are never outside of God's grace, because they are always positionally 'in Christ.' However, as each individual is awakened as a new creation, then they realize their position 'in Christ' and 'live in Christ'." I disagree. The phrase "the world" here (in context and in the light of other scriptures) could mean "men and women from every nation"...the phrase and context does not require it to mean "every individual". As to which of these two are in view, although the local context might allow both meanings, I think that if you look at the context of other Scriptures (such as listed below), it is more accurate to take it as "men and women from every nation."
ME>> I will double check my statement that all the elect are positionally "in Christ" before they place faith in Christ. I know that this understanding is not standard. However, if anyone agrees to the doctrine of predestination in the least then there must be an acknowledgement of some sort that the elect are ultimately protected from the wrath of God from before the creation of the world. As for whether "all" means every individual human being, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 makes it clear that it is in fact the entirety of humanity. It does not make sense to say that God died for "all types of people," and therefore "all types of people died." The "all" in this verse is parallel proving that because Christ died for every individual human, therefore every individual human is proved to be spiritually dead apart from spiritual rebirth. I expand on this point in my article, 'In' Doctrine.
READER>> You wrote in Let's Celebrate "As I explained questions about the extent of God's grace in salvation grew like a dark cloud in my life, clouding my relationship with Christ. I was not sure I would be able to rejoice in Heaven. I needed to agree that Christ had done the right thing in saving some while damning others. Yet I could not and continued to search the Bible." I have likewise struggled emotionally with this, but have "solved my problem" in a different way than you. I have to admit that God knows better than I do... and if (for example) my dear friend for whose salvation I pray every day is eventually sentenced by God to eternal destruction in the lake of fire, I have to trust that God knows best and that I will be able to rejoice in His wisdom and goodness when I get to heaven, even if God doesn't grant my request for my friend's salvation... and even if I cannot now imagine how I will be able to rejoice if my friend is not saved.
ME>> That is a possible conclusion as well, but it is lacking the passion demonstrated by Paul in Romans 9:3. Salvation by grace, when truly received, emboldens one to stand before his maker and say, "How could you save a disgusting, wicked, wretch like me and leave even one other person unsaved?" And then wait for the answer.
READER>> Regarding your page RSVP Review. Here you seem to be arguing that because God saving everyone would be a cause for celebration, therefore it must be true. This is an appeal to an emotion, not scripture. If someone responded without enthusiasm for your incorrect Scriptural interpretations, you here describe their lack of enthusiasm as "callousness" and "standing on shaky ground" and "devoid of grace," simply because they were not expressing happy emotions when you presented your view to them. This is a very dangerous line of reasoning. Instead, we ought to go with the Scripture, not with what makes us happy or emotionally satisfied. I realize that in your other pages you give arguments from Scripture. But here on this page, you give an emotional argument, and one that I think is very dangerous.
ME>> My concluding paragraph on that page makes it clear that I am not saying something is true because the thought results in a celebration. However, I am saying that my question did expose that the majority of professing Christians interviewed turned to works salvation as a defense of their belief and attitude. That is not good. Rather than coming to terms with pure grace, they have comfortably taken credit for a portion of their salvation adding condition to God's unconditional love. That is not good at all. The majority found peace concerning the damned by claiming to merit their own salvation in some way. Thus I agree that my interview question is very dangerous. I could get in a lot of trouble for exposing that kind of hypocrisy.
READER>> Here are some more verses which indicate to me that many humans will end up in the lake of fire in the end. It seems you did not discuss these verses: [Daniel 12:1-2, Matthew 7:13-14, John 3:36, John 5:28-29, Rev 14:9-12, and Revelation 21:8ff.] Also, I realize that you consider many of the "judgment verses" below as applying only to the "temporary hell," not the final/permanent lake-of-fire judgment. However I see no Scriptural evidence that people who are in the temporary hell will be spared from going into the final/permanent lake-of-fire judgment, so I think these verses below about Hell also contradict your view (that all humans will eventually be saved), [Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 7:21-23, Matthew 8:11-12, Matthew 13:41-42, Matthew 22:11-14, Matthew 25:30, John 15:6, and Luke 13:22-28.]
ME>> Thank you for highlighting these verses. You are right that I do not think that all these verses are speaking about condemnation to the Lake of Fire. Plus we must consider that Jesus warns and threatens the unbelieving elect even though they are never in danger of the Lake of Fire. However, Jesus does damn the non-elect reprobate to the Lake of Fire. Jesus may speak the same careful words to one group, the other, or even simultaneously to both. You must at least concede that much to me. You say, "First, I think that your "four square salvation evaluator" is too simplistic. "Save" (greek sozo) does not always mean save from sin". Let me clarify about salvation: I understand there are at least five things the Bible tells us we need to be saved from. The short list is salvation from 1) harm, 2) sin, 3) a fruitless life, 4) Hell (Hades), and 5) the Lake of Fire. I write at length about this in my article, Saved 5x. Now, you accused me of being too simplistic, but when you list all these verses above and suggest they are only talking about salvation from number 5, the Lake of Fire, you are the one being too simplistic. You have inspired me, however, to add a comprehensive study of the various afterlife destinies referenced in your verses and the remainder of the New Testament. Lord willing I will make progress in my article, Salvation: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How and my article, Forever is Not Forever? You Still Gotta Be Kidding Me! The most troubling passage that you highlighted to me is Daniel 12:1-4.
1) 'At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2) Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3) Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4) But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.
I have found fault with both the Arminian and Calvinistic system of Christian salvation, others may find fault with me as you have done. Certainly I am not the Holy Spirit, so my interpretations can also be wrong. I keep my hope in the grace of Christ alone. I also openly appeal for help from the grace of Christ and interpretive wisdom from the Holy Spirit. With their help I also hope to add a page about Daniel 12:1-4 in this book as well. Lord willing I will do so. I do thank you for reminding me about it and for praying for me. This passage could be interpreted to unravel my thesis. Or perhaps the passage speaks of the salvation of man and the condemnation of Satan and his followers. It is important to note that 2 Peter 2:4 makes it clear that the present nether world, Hades, also has a compartment called Tartarus. Tartarus currently contains particular fallen angels who were punished in a special way, whereas other demons still roam freely. The point is that demons will also be among those extracted from Hades / Tartarus at the end of time to face their final judgment as explained in Revelation 20:13. This fact may be relevant to interpreting Daniel 12:1-4 which I hope to do in my article, Daniel 12:1-4.
Dear reader, I do thank you for taking the time to give me all your valuable feedback. It was an essential exercise to put my beliefs to a real life test. I hope we can continue the dialogue. Currently I just finished reading Erasing Hell by Francis Chan. Chan glosses over the distinction between Hell / Hades and the Lake of Fire, a vital component to my salvation model. He also improperly makes Hell to be synonymous with The Lake of Fire at times when he does mention it. It is true that the common understanding of Hell is final damnation. However, Biblically, Hell is the temporal punishment in Hades. The Lake of Fire, however, is condemnation for The Ages of The Ages after the Great White Throne Judgment. Chan also says something very interesting on page 86 of his book, "The debate about Hell's duration is much more complex than I first assumed. While I lean heavily on the side that says it is everlasting, I am not ready to claim that with complete certainty." This is a curious statement by someone writing a book with the main point that people have erred greatly saying that Hell is temporal or punishment in this life. I think I should write Mr. Chan a note pointing him to the good news in Revelation 20:14. Hell is a real and certain punishment for the unbelieving. However, the good news is that Hell / Hades is finally tossed into the Lake of Fire, empty, never to be needed again, forever. Then those extracted from Hell / Hades, both humans and fallen angels, will stand before the Lord of glory for their final judgment. If anyone's name is not found in the Book of Life they will be cast into the Lake of Fire for The Ages of The Ages.
Friend, do you want to know with certainty that your name is in the Book of Life? Do you want more confidence than "it seems to be the case?" You cannot add your name yourself. You cannot gain confidence through your own decisions. Instead, through faith in Christ, through eyes opened by the Holy Spirit, you can see your name printed in the Lamb's Book from before the foundations of the world, though of course only if you are one of Jesus' chosen.
So I guess the pertinent question is who has the unbiblical optimism? Can your choice of "faith" add your name to the Book of Life? There is no optimistic future through that means. Grace teaches us that we did not choose Jesus, but that instead he chose us. Your definition of "faith" falls short of the true confidence we can have trusting that Christ loved all his chosen ones before we loved him.