Thursday, February 01, 2018

John 3:17 -Jesus Saves the Whole World

Will the whole world be saved due to Jesus' sacrifice, or will only a few of the world be saved?

John 3:15 that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:17 For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. — World English

Some have noted that John 3:17 in the New American Standard reads: “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” The word “might” is used rather than “should” as it appears in the World English. At any rate, the argument appears to be that Jesus does not save the whole world, because of the usage of the word "might". 

First, we know from other scriptures that Jesus did come to “save” the whole world.

Jesus stated:

I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day. — John 12:47,48.  World English

Jesus did not use any word that could misunderstood as “might” save here. Jesus, in effect says that the he came to save the “world”, those who have rejected him, that they may “judged” in the “last day.” Psalm 98 foretells of the coming day of judgment for the world:

1 Oh sing unto Jehovah a new song; For he hath done marvellous things: His right hand, and his holy arm, hath wrought salvation for him. 2 Jehovah hath made known his salvation: His righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the nations. 3 He hath remembered his lovingkindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel: All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

4 Make a joyful noise unto Jehovah, all the earth: Break forth and sing for joy, yea, sing praises. 5 Sing praises unto Jehovah with the harp; With the harp and the voice of melody. 6 With trumpets and sound of cornet Make a joyful noise before the King, Jehovah. 7 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein; 8 Let the floods clap their hands; Let the hills sing for joy together 9 Before Jehovah; For he cometh to judge the earth: He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity. -- American Standard Version.

Other scriptures show that Jehovah comes to judge through -- by means of -- His son. -- Psalm 96:13; 98:9; Isaiah 40:10; 62:11; Luke 1:32,35; John 5:22,23; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 8:6; Revelation 22:12.

That coming day of judgment will indeed be a time of great rejoicing for all the nations (the heathen), due to Jesus' sacrifice which provides the offsetting price to save the whole world from death so that they may be judged in that "last day."  This is truly “good news of great joy which will be to all the people.” (Luke 2:10, World English)

The word “world”, both in John 3:16,17 and John 12:47,48, is in the Greek a word that is often transliterated as “Kosmos“. Since, at that time, Jesus and his disciples had only preached directly to the house of Israel (the Jews — Matthew 10:5,6; 15:24; Luke 10:16), we know that Jesus here was including Israel (the Jews) as of this “world” (kosmos), since directly it was Israel, especially as represented in their leadership, that rejected Jesus as their Messiah. — Matthew 21:42; Mark 8:31; 12:10; Luke 9:22; 17:25; 20:17; 1 Peter 2:4.

Additionally, John wrote:

The Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. — 1 John 4:14.

“The world”  (kosmos) is the world of mankind that became condemned through Adam’s sin.

Sin entered into the world [kosmos] through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned. — Romans 5:12, World English.

Those in this age who accept Jesus, who become new creatures (sons of God), as such, are no longer reckoned of this world, but like Jesus are not of this condemned world, for they, are counted as sons of God (as was Adam, before he sinned — Luke 3:38; John 1:11; Galatians 3;:26; 2 Corinthians 5:17). The sons of God of this age are not under the condemnation that came through Adam.  — John 5:19; 17:14,16; Romans 5:12-19; 8:1.

The sons of God of this age become members of the faith seed of Abraham, which is to bless the world in the age to come, when they will offer to the world “the water of life freely.” — Daniel 7:22,27; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Obadiah 21; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29,30; Romans 8:16-21; 2 Timothy 2:11,12; Revelation 3:21; 5:9,10; 20:4,6; 22:17.

According to Jehovah’s oath-bound promise, Abraham’s seed, that is, Christ and all the “sons of God”, will bless “all the families of the earth.” This blessing will come to the world during the 1,000-year reign, while Satan is abyssed so that the heathen will not be deceived by him. — Genesis 12:3; 22:16-18; Galatians 3:7-9,16,29; Hebrews 6:13-20; Acts 3:19-25; Revelation 20:1-4.

John further stated concerning Jesus:

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world. — 1 John 2:2, World English.

Here John definitely says that Jesus paid price necessary to appease God for sins of the "whole world." Some have claimed here that John is using the word “world” (kosmos) to designate that Jesus did not die just for Jews, but also for the Gentiles, and by this argument they claim that John was referring only to those who believe in Jesus before they die in this age. Actually, John is referring to Jesus’ words in John 12:47,48, in which we have already demonstrated that this “world” includes Jews, for at that time it was directly the Jews who had rejected Jesus. Jesus did indeed die for the whole world, and the whole world is atoned through his sacrifice, including Israel. Unbelieving Israel is included in the regeneration of the age to come, as can be seen by Matthew 19:28. The atoning, however, does not guarantee that they will live forever. It does guarantee them the blessings of salvation from the original condemnation in Adam, and thus given an opportunity of another judgment whereby they are judged individually (not in Adam), by which judgment they could either live forever, or perish forever.

“When the Son of man will come in his glory . . . then he will sit on the throne of his glory: and all nations [the unbelieving heathen – Psalm 46:10; 67; 72:1,11,17; 96:3,10; Isaiah 2:2-4; Ezekiel 37:28; 38:16; 39:7] will be gathered [from hades and death — Revelation 20:12,13] before him. He will separate them [under the testings of that great judgment day] one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.” Those whom he finds to be righteous, pictured as sheep (those who become sheep in the next age, not Christ’s sheep of this present age — John 10:14-15), will be given everlasting life and will “inherit the kingdom” on earth (the meek will inherit it — Matthew 5:5), whereas those who will not have proved worthy, pictured as goats, will “go away into everlasting punishment [Greek, kolasin, cutting-off]” in the second death, never to live again. “All the wicked he will destroy.” — Matthew 25:31-46; Psalm 145:20; Revelation 20:9,15; 21:8.

Thus seen, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus does indeed save all from the condemnation that is on the “world” through Adam, but it then places those so saved on trial (as Adam was before he sinned) to see if they — as individuals (not as judged through Adam) — are worthy of actually living forever, or whether they will perish in the second death.

Please note that while the above may be said to a “universal” salvation, at least as it pertains universally to salvation of man from sin and death through Adam, we do not believe in the doctrine that is usually given the expression “universal salvation,” since that doctrine claims that Jesus died even for those in the second death, and thus, according that doctrine (which we reject), all will eventually live forever.

For more related to this great salvation, see the following studies:

Presents scriptural evidence that unbelievers are also saved, including Israel.

Presents scriptural evidence that the Judgment Day is not meant to be a doomsday, but rather salvation day, for the world.

A more detailed study of how God will bless all the heathen in the coming judgment day.

Discusses how all are saved through Jesus’ sacrifice, how this is possible, and what is guaranteed by the ransom for all, as well as how the modern “Evolution of man” theory contradicts the Biblical “ransom for all.”

Sunday, January 21, 2018

James 2:14-26 – Justified by Faith and Works

Is one justified by faith or is one justified by works? Do Paul and James disagree regarding justification?

“Faith without works is dead.”- James 2:20

MANY have supposed that there is doctrinal conflict between the apostle Paul and James, the former holding faith as the important feature of Christianity, the latter insisting that works take precedence. More or less this conflict of thought has come down the ages and is with us today; indeed, some who take the view who believe that justification is by faith alone have often, in effect, said that James was wrong in what he stated. We hold that there was no such conflict between the two Bible writers, and that the subject, rightly understood, leaves no room for disputation. Paul insists that none could be justified by works of the law, because none could obey that law perfectly, and that, therefore, all Jews were under condemnation along with the whole world. (Romans 3:8-31; Galatians 2:16; 3:11) He points out that the original Abrahamic Covenant was better and superior to the Law Covenant, because its provisions did not require perfect works, impossible to the sinful flesh (Romans 8:3), but instead tested him along another line – the line of his faith. (Galatians 3:14-18) The “works” that Paul was referring to was basically the endeavor to attain righteousness by means of such work, as provided by the Law. Any who could obey that Law perfectly would have been made righteous by the Law Covenant, but no one could attain righteousness through Law, due the weakness of the sinful flesh. Paul did not mean, and did not say, that works were valueless in God’s sight; but, realizing that the Jews, trusting in their special Law Covenant, already laid more stress upon works than upon faith, he emphasized the fact that with spiritual Israelites of the Isaac class, heirs of the original Abrahamic Covenant, faith must be regarded as the standard. (Galatians 4:21-31) Under it whoever would attain the proper kind of faith would be acceptable to God. (Galatians 5:5,6) That covenant does not declare for faith without works, but it does indicate a proper development of faith as necessary – something beyond the initial belief that “God is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6.

(2) Faith is a matter of steps and development; and only the developed faith could possibly bring to us the full blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant. We should have “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21) This would imply works, to the extent that they would be possible, as in attestation of the faith. Nevertheless, none of us can be justified from the condemnation in Adam by works alone, because our best works are imperfect. Our judgment, our test, in its last analysis is, “According to your faith let it be to you.” (Matthew 9:29.) James, however, noted a lack of obedience to Jesus as related to activities of  some who professed Christ; evidently these, like many today, believed that faith alone was all that they needed, and thus they did not need to watch their speech, and/or actions. James does not claim that one could perfect his speech, or that any could do works and that this alone would justify them before God, but merely insists that if the right kind of faith be developed in the heart it will surely bear fruit and make an outward manifestation, according to circumstances. Undoubtedly this is a sound position and one fully in accord with our Lord’s words, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” – Matthew 7:16.

(3) Coming to an orchard filled with fruit, we may quickly discern the various kinds of trees by their fruits. So with the Christian. If he professes faith in Christ we are willing to acknowledge him as a brother, but “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.” The Spirit of Christ manifests itself in meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness, love! Hence, we look for evidences of the spirit, disposition, character, in all those who profess to be his “members,” “brothers.” (Romans 8:9) Those in whom the good work of the Spirit is ever begun, are counted on the living side — “risen with Christ,” — and not on the side of death and the devil. This is our encouragement, and also makes us debtors, not to live after the flesh but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:12-13) If we see little of Yahweh’s Spirit (disposition) we are inclined to next inquire how long the brother has known Christ and professed consecration to him. We thus sometimes find “babes in Christ,” who, for the time they have had a knowledge of him, should be more developed and have a larger measure of his Spirit. We should be on guard against considering such, in any sense of the word, suitable teachers or exemplars.

(4) On the contrary, we may very speedily discern the spirit of Christ in some – their gentleness, meekness, patience, brotherly kindness, love (for God first and their neighbor second) and self sacrifice. (Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 5:9) And if, as sometimes, these qualities be quickly developed in some who have only recently come to Jesus, we may the more rejoice with the fruit-bearer. However young in years, the fruit-bearing quality, the heart development, would indicate such to be possibly one of the “Elder” brothers – even though, because a novice, the Church may not yet consider it due time to advance him formally to an official position as an “Elder.” – 1 Timothy 3:2-6.

(5) From this standpoint we are ready to discern that the beginning of God’s dealing with us is along the lines of faith, and that it is to our faith that the promises of God appeal, and that by these “exceeding great and precious promises,” touching our faith, energizing our faith, God works in us, first to will, and later to do, his good pleasure. (2 Peter 3:4; Philippians 2:13) To will to do right is of primary importance and is wholly of faith. When the believer’s faith shall have developed sufficiently, the degree of his activity in obedience to God in the service of the Truth and righteousness and in service to his fellow believers will indicate the strength or the weakness of his spiritual development.

(6) Self-examination along this line is very proper. (2 Corinthians 13:5) If we have heard, seen, tasted, of the grace of God and enjoyed it, and if no desire to serve our gracious Father or to assist others to the same blessings that we enjoy has been manifested, it implies that our spiritual vitality is very weak and in danger of perishing. (Hebrews 6:7,8) But if, on the contrary, we find ourselves burning with fervency of love for Yahweh, and with appreciation of his great Plan of Salvation, and are consumed with a desire to tell the good tidings to others for their blessing, strengthening, upbuilding and participation in the Divine faith, it should encourage us. We should notice, too, that Jesus specially loved and favored the more zealous, vigorous and energetic of the apostles, Peter, James, John, and, we may be sure, Paul also.

(7) James presses his point and endeavors to awaken some who have a measure of faith, but who have not have not sought to develop the fruits of the spirit. He asks what profit there would be for us to say that we have faith if we do not have works to correspond – to attest the faith, however imperfect the works would be. He asks (R. V.), “Can that faith save him?” We answer, No. Does Paul disagree with this? Paul declares, It is the faith that works by love that counts. (Galatians 5:6) But it is the faith that counts, and not the works; because the faith can be perfect, complete; but perfection of works is impossible to us, because we have this treasure of the new creation in an earthen vessel. – 2 Corinthians 6:7

(8) Illustrating this point he suggests that to tell a poor brother of our faith that God will help him and to send him away without relief, when it is within our power to relieve him, would not be such a faith as God would approve. It would rather signify that we had deceived our own selves. It would profit us nothing. So faith that has no works, of any kind or degree, cannot be called a living faith, because, as yet, it has given no evidence of life – it does not produce any fruits of repentance.

(9) James clearly attests his thought, saying, “A man may say, You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Again he points to the special feature of the Jewish faith in one God in contrast with the beliefs of the heathen in many gods. He says to the Jewish brothers, “You boast in having knowledge of the one living and true God, but surely this is not the extent of your faith in this direction; because the devils believe and tremble. Oh, foolish man, faith without works is barren. It can never bring you life, birth.” A faith that will not develop obedience, in harmony with ability, is, therefore, unavailing during this Gospel Age, even as imperfect works failed to justify to life under the Law Covenant.

ILLUSTRATIONS OF FAITH AND WORKS

(10) Note the case of Abraham, the “father of the faithful.” It is written that he believed God, and that his faith was counted to him for righteousness. But how much faith is required and to what extent is it involved in works? James points out that God placed a crucial test upon Abraham’s faith, which would have proven it inefficient, if it had not developed to the stage of works of obedience in harmony with faith. It was years after the promise had been made, and Isaac, the seed of promise, was grown to young manhood, when God commanded that he should be sacrificed upon the altar – thus prefiguring the sacrifice of our Savior as the Lamb of God. – John 1:29,36; 3:16

(11) Then, fearful that he had given an example of so lofty a faith and obedience as would discourage us, James picks out and holds up before us another illustration of faith and works – that of Rahab the harlot. She had faith in God, but it would not have availed her if it had not developed to the degree of activity and helpful service, risking her own interests temporarily for the assistance of the spies. Manifestly she would never have had such works without faith – and it is the faith that is specially pleasing to Yahweh. But the faith would not have been pleasing to Yahweh, had it not led up to works in accord. Thus we see how works have to do with our justification, in conjunction with our faith, which is the foundation of our works.

THE BODY WITHOUT THE SPIRIT

(12) James summarizes this thought, saying, “As the body without the spirit of life is dead, even so faith without works is dead.” Some might think that the writer of these words had erred in likening the body to faith and the spirit of life to works, supposing that the illustration should be reversed, namely, to compare the body to works and the spirit of life to faith. But St. James has expressed the matter properly. A body must be had before any spirit of life could come into it. (Genesis 2:7) So a faith must exist before it can bring forth activity. But the activity in accordance with faith is absolutely necessary before one can bring forth the fruitage necessary for the life to come.

(13) So does Paul disagree with James? Paul certainly agrees: “What must we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1) “Do not let sin rule over you mortal body, that you should obey it in its desires.” (Romans 6:12) “Do you not know that to whom you yield yourselves as servants to obey, you are servants to whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness.” (Romans 6:16) “If you live after the flesh, you will die, but if you through the spirit do put do death the deeds of the body, you will live.” — Romans 8:13.

(14) However, works of the law, of which no one could keep perfectly, and thus weak through the sinful flesh, does not justify one. Nor could one become justified by the works of sacrifices of purification offered under the law or by circumcision. This was Paul’s argument. (Romans 3:20; 4:1-10; Galatians 3:2; Hebrews 10:1,4) When the disciple James speaks of being justified by works, he is not speaking of being justified by works of law. The works of which James refers to are a demonstration or proof of the faith, without which our faith would be dead, meaningless. – See Matthew 7:21-27; John 14:21,23; 15:10; Ephesians 2:8-10.

(15) Thus we see that a close examination of the scriptures reveals that there is no conflict between the writings of the apostle Paul and disciple James on faith and works.

Some related online studies:


How God’s Son Condemned Sin in the Flesh

Ronald R. Day, Sr.
Restoration Light

1242 Maple Ave.
Terre Haute, Indiana 47804

Monday, December 18, 2017

Isaiah 59:1 – God’s Hand Is Not Short

Behold, the hand of Jehovah is not shortened, that it can not save; neither his ear heavy, that it can not hear. — Isaiah 59:1, Restoration Light Improved Version.

(1) Some tell us that God is doing all in His power for the world, to bring mankind to a knowledge of the truth, of His grace and the opportunities of eternal life through His Son. We believe no such thing — it is contrary to both reason and Scripture. Jehovah through His Word informs us that Satan is operating in the world in opposition to the light of truth and blinding the masses. We are also assured that God has full power over Satan. When His due time comes Satan will be bound, restrained, so that he will not deceive the nations until the thousand years are finished. During that thousand years of the Millennial Age the world will be free from all such blinding influences. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9; 20:1-3; Isaiah 29:18,24) The Scriptures tell us that darkness now covers the earth, society, and gross darkness the people. Yet in God’s due time the light of Truth will mount up high in the heavens as the Sun of Righteousness. It will scatter the darkness and clouds of sin and superstition. Thus from two standpoints a blessing will come by restraining the powers of darkness and by setting free the powers of light. Of that time we are further assured that the knowledge of Jehovah will fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. — Isaiah 60:2; Malachi 4:2; Isaiah 11:9.

(2) Those who think of God as having done all that is in His power to cause the knowledge of His grace and truth to fill the earth have not yet come to know the power of Jehovah’s hand. It is not shortened, as he tells us in due time all His purposes will be accomplished. (Jeremiah 51:29) The difficulty with mankind is in shortsightedness — the feeling that more should be done now. We need to be calm, and to sink into Jehovah’s will. We should not tell Jehovah how we think his plan for the glorification of his name and the salvation of man should be carried out. We should not try to carry out our own plans irrespective of the divine arrangement. We should, as obedient children, listen to the voice of our Father through His Son and through the apostles and prophets. These assure us that in His due time the message of salvation will be good tidings of great joy to all people. They also assure us that now He is doing a preparatory work of finding and developing His jewels, those who will be the judges and governors of that coming age of glory. (Malachi 3:17; Luke 19:15-19; Isaiah 32:1; 1 Corinthians 6:2) Mankind must completely learn the lessons pertaining to the rulership of sin and death. Then Jehovah will work through his chosen servants of this age to the fulfillment of His great and glorious plan, not merely for the salvation of those called in this age, but for the salvation of the whole world — that whosoever will may take of the water of life freely. — 1 Timothy 4:10; John 4:42; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 22:17.

(3) Thus Paul spoke concerning that time saying: “He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He has ordained. Of this he has given a guarantee to all, in that He has raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31) This verse does not refer to the judgment of the saints of this age. Their judgment takes place in advance, and was already in progress when the apostle uttered these words. On the contrary, we are assured that faithful saints will not come into judgment with the world in the end of this age, but will be counted, not as “children of wrath,” but as “children of the day,” “children of God by faith.” — Ephesians 2:3; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:10.

(4) It is in full agreement with this line of thought and in disagreement with every other thought on this subject that the apostle declares: “Do you not know that the saints [dedicated ones] will judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2) Here he distinctly differentiates between the Church [called-out ones] and the world. The saints, he tells us, are being judged now. Every son whom Jehovah receives is disciplined, corrected, and proven. (Hebrews 12:6) All do not receive the same reward. There are various stations and rewards to be given to the saints according to Gods choosing. (Luke 19:17,19) The world, he distinctly tells us, is not on judgment now — not on trial — but will be on trial in the future. When the world will be on trial the saints [dedicated ones] will be the judges. (Hebrews 12:6,7; 1 Corinthians 11:32) Having already passed trial themselves, the saints will be the judges under the Messiah as the great Judge. (John 5:22; 12:47,48) They will be judges of the world during its trial time, during the millennial kingdom reign. — Revelation 20:4; Isaiah 32:1.

(5) We should rid our minds of the thought that the day of judgment is merely a time for sentencing for past wrong doing. We should see clearly that, on the contrary, sin in the present life is of ignorance, of blindness, of superstition. These have come to all through the fall and through the power of the adversary. (Romans 5:18; 2 Corinthians 4:40) All this is to be forgiven men during the Millennial rule, if they accept Jehovah and His gracious arrangements through His Son, Jesus, just as these ignorances and blemishes are now forgiven the disciples of Jesus. (Jeremiah 31:34; Isaiah 2:4; 26:9; 29:24) If we believe in Jesus we can even now be counted as free from all condemnation though our Redeemer’s merit and sacrifice. (Colossians 1:13,14; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 8:1) Even so, the people blinded of this world, when they come to a knowledge of Jehovah and an appreciation of His arrangement during the 1,000 years of the Christ’s reign, will be cleared of responsibility for original sin and all the blemishes coming from it. They will be helped by Jehovah and the glorified Church out of all these blemishes, according to the promise of His word, that this will be a time of restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. — Acts 3:21.

(6) No, Jehovah’s hand has not been shortened. All his good words concerning the world’s enlightenment will come true!

Friday, December 15, 2017

God’s Hidden Glory Revealed!

And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken. – Isaiah 40:5, Green’s Literal Translation.

The scripture quoted above tells us all humanity, all flesh will someday see the glory of Jehovah. We should not understand this to mean that all flesh will be able to see the actual being of Jehovah, but rather as Habakkuk 2:4 tells us, it is referring to "the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah." By saying “all flesh” the prophecy refers to more than just a few of humanity as so many might think. Today only a few who are walking in the path of light even get a glimpse of God’s glory.  — Matthew 7:14; 20:16; Hebrews 11:13.

The Bible tells us of a future time that a new heavens and new earth will take the place of the present order of things, of which Satan is declared to be the prince, ruling secretly and unrecognized by his subjects.  — 2 Peter 3:7,13; John 12:31; Revelation 12:9.

The general tendency of the carnal mind, however, would limit any favor from Jehovah to only a few, often of a certain sect or religious group. It is Satan who desires us to present a distortion of Jehovah’s love, justice, wisdom and power. (2 Thessalonians 2:9) If it were not for the blinding influence of Satan, we believe that most could grasp the full meaning of the divine assurance that Jesus Christ tasted death for every man.  (2 Corinthians 4:4; Hebrews 2:9) They would be able to understand that God’s provision is for a day of judgment for the whole world, every member of the race, aside from the Church, which has its judgment during the present age. (Acts 17:31; 1 Peter 4:17) Without Satan’s blinding forces, they would be able to understand that a resurrection has been provided not only for the just, but also for the unjust. (Acts 25:15) They could further understand that all that are in their graves will hear the voice of God and will come forth, the few to the life resurrection, but the great mass to the resurrection of judgment, of testing, of trial for life or death eternal, in that day when the glory of Jehovah is to be revealed and all flesh will see it together. — John 5:28,29.

In that day Jesus will indeed be the true light that will enlighten every man. (John 1:19) In that day, Jesus as Immanuel will cause God's Kingdom to be under the whole heavens. This, we believe, will take place in that thousand-year day in which the Son of man will come in the glory of the Father and sit upon the throne of his glory. At that time he will gather all nations before him, and judge the living and the dead according to the things that are written in the books then opened to the world, according to his own words in which he instructed that love is the fulfilling of the law love to God and love to our neighbor. — Revelation 20:4; Isaiah 29:18; Matthew 25:31-32; 22:37-40.

This same rule of love will judge mankind during the Millennial Kingdom and will test each member of Adam’s race, in order to identify each person, including all those who are now dead or dying in Adam, either as a sheep or as a goat, in the favor or disfavor of the Judge. — John 5:28,29; 12:47,48; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22.

At the conclusion that judgment day, the sheep, having been thoroughly tested, will be rewarded with the gift of life everlasting; while the goats, having been given a full opportunity to repent and accept Jesus, will be rewarded with the penalty of divine disfavor — everlasting destruction from which there will be no recovery, since there is not to be another sacrifice for sin. — Acts 3:32; Matthew 25:46; Hebrews 10:26.

In conclusion, those who now hear and understand these things will more and more allow their hearts to feast upon the good things of their Heavenly Father’s Word, which reveals to them the glorious attributes of his divine character. For in proportion as they come to know him and to appreciate him, they will have the riches of his favor in their hearts, and the power of God working in them more and more to will and to do his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12,13) They have a God greater and nobler than mere humans, more just, more loving, more tender as well as more wise and more powerful. — Job 36:26;37:32.

And how few indeed today know their Creator in such a wondrous light! The great majority of those in the popular churches, like many religious people in Jesus’ day, are blinded and confused by the errors of traditional religious teachings. (Mark 7:6,7) They are striving unsuccessfully to worship a God inferior to themselves in justice, love, and wisdom. Let those true children of God, who have ears to hear, more and more cherish the various assurances of his Word regarding the coming revelation of his glory, that they may become more patient themselves in respect to the matter, and feel more content to be sharers for the time in the blasphemous reproaches and misrepresentations which come to them in connection with their endeavors to show forth the praises of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light, for now the world does not know them, even as it does not know the Son of God. — 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 3:1.

Nevertheless, the day is coming that the glory of Jehovah will be revealed and all flesh will see it together. Then the faithful sons of God will be participators with Christ in his glory for their glory will also be revealed. (Romans 8:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:10) Additionally, they will be glad also with exceeding joy of showing forth to others the glorious qualities of our Heavenly Father. — 1 Peter 4:13.


Jesus is able “to save them to the uttermost that come to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25), and He lovingly invites us, “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” “he who comes to me I will in no way cast out.” (Matthew 11:28; John 6:37) Since our days in this world are few and uncertain, those with a hearing ear should not delay in accepting God’s great love-gift. — Matthew 13:9; Psalm 90:3-12; James 4:14; 2 Corinthians 9:15.

Some related studies:



Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2 Thessalonians 1:4-10 – Eternal Destruction – When?


 By Ronald R. Day, Senior

2 Thessalonians 1:4-10:
2 Thessalonians 1:4 so as for us to boast ourselves in you in the assemblies of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions, and the afflictions which you endure,
2 Thessalonians 1:5 a clear token of the just judgment of God, for you to be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you indeed suffer;
2 Thessalonians 1:6 since it is a just thing with God to pay back tribulation to the ones troubling you,
2 Thessalonians 1:7 and to give you, those being afflicted, relief with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from Heaven with angels of His power,
2 Thessalonians 1:8 in flaming fire giving full vengeance to those not knowing God, and to those not obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 Thessalonians 1:9 who will pay the penalty: everlasting destruction from the face of the Lord, “and from the glory of His strength,” when He comes to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all those who believe in that Day, because our testimony to you was believed. — J.P. Green’s Literal Translation

These verses, especially 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9, are often quoted by those who believe that God will eternally destroy millions of people before the blessings of the day of judgment (see our study: Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment); associated with this claim is the claim that many who have never been justified will die eternally without receiving any benefit from the ransom. (See the study: The Restoration of All Things) The thought usually alleged is that in the Armageddon battle, God will eternally destroy those unjustified of the world who do not know him. (See our study: Will Billions Be Eternally Destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon?) Often this is associated with the non-acceptance of a certain doctrine, or a religious organization. The scriptures above are offered as proof that many who have not believed in this age suffer the punishment of eternal destruction. Is this, however, what Paul is speaking of?

To make 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9 mean that millions will be eternally destroyed without having received the benefit of the ransom sacrifice, the verses have to be taken out of context and misapplied to the generation living at the end of the age rather than to those who persecuted the Christians in the first century. However, in the context 2 Thessalonians 1:8, Paul is speaking about those who were persecuting the Christians in the first century. He speaks of their patience under persecution, and how their patience offers a sign of the righteous judgment of God toward them, that they be found worthy of the kingdom, for which they were patiently suffering persecution. Then Paul speaks of God’s right to repay affliction to those who had been afflicting them, and that there would be such when the Lord Jesus is revealed. When the Lord Jesus is revealed is speaking of the same time when the “the sons of God” are likewise revealed (Romans 8:19), for which revealing the groaning creation is unknowingly in expectation. Such revealing cannot take place until Satan is abyssed, so that the world will no longer be blinded by his deceptions. (Revelation 20:3) The result of the revealing of the Sons of God is for the purpose that “that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” — Romans 8:19-22.

2 Thessalonians 1:6
eiper dikaion para thew antapodounai
IF EVEN RIGHTEOUS (THING) BESIDE GOD TO GIVE BACK INSTEAD
1487_3 1342 3844 2316 0467
tois thlibousin humas thlipsin
TO THE (ONES) MAKING TRIBULATION FOR YOU TRIBULATION
3588 2346 4771_7 2347
Westcott & Hort Interlinear

While it is righteous on God’s part to seek retribution on those making tribulation for those first century Christians, God was not at that time doing so. In a general way there was a retribution upon the Jews who persecuted the Christians, especially with the destruction of Jerusalem and Masada, but this retribution was not particularly because of the Jew’s persecution of Christians, and did not include others who were not Jews, but who persecuted the Christians in Thessalonica. What Paul is saying is that God would have been just had he brought retribution upon those who were persecuting them, but he doesn’t, for some reason.

Peter, in effect, speaks of the same thing, when he said:

2 Peter 2:9 – [Jehovah] knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment to the day of judgment.

The unrighteous are kept under the punishment in Adam until the day of judgment, when they will be judged in the last day (John 12:47,48), not according to Adam’s sin, but according to how they respond to the books that are opened in that “last day”, the day of judgment. — See my study: Unbelievers Saved (Delivered) for Judgment in Last Day

After speaking of the fact God would have also been righteous to have brought retribution upon those who persecuted those first century Christians, then Paul speaks of the time coming when those who had persecuted them will be judged individually, at the time when Jesus will be revealed, made known. I do not know of anyone who would claim that Paul was saying that those who persecuted the first century Christians will be raised back to life “before” the end of the age in order to be punished with everlasting destruction in the Battle of the Great Day. Nevertheless, if one applies “the everlasting destruction” to Armageddon, if one actually takes into consideration the context, the effect would be to claim that those who persecuted those first century Christians would have to be raised back to life sometime before Armageddon in order to be eternally destroyed in Armageddon. In reality, Paul tells the first century Christians of that coming day of judgment, of the time Jesus is revealed, and of something better than revenge: that is, that many of those persecutors may believe “in that day”. Nevertheless, while that judgment day is a time of rejoicing, a time of blessing, it will also be a time of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28), especially in the early arrival of many from the graves when they realize that they are not in positions where they thought they would be. It will not be easy at first for many, as Jesus said to his twelve apostles when he sent them out to preach:

Matthew 10:14 Whoever doesn’t receive you, nor hear your words, as you go forth out of that house or that city, shake off the dust from your feet.
Matthew 10:15 Most assuredly I tell you, It will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Jesus did not say that they would not be raised in the resurrection of judgment, or that they were condemned to the second death, but he speaks of both those who did not receive his apostles, as well as those of the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, as being raised in the resurrection of judgment, at which time it would easier for those of the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, than for those Jews who did not receive his apostles.

Paul is basically speaking of the same principle in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-7, and he returns to this in verse 10, in speaking of those who believe in that day, that day of judgment, when the saints will be glorified with Jesus. (Romans 8:17,19,21) His speaking of the time of Jesus’ being revealed is the same time described in Revelation 20:12, when the dead are judged individually, not in Adam, by the things recorded in the books that then opened [revealed] to them.

But in 2 Thessalonians 1:8 Paul describes the end result of the day of judgment on those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news (being made known, revealed, to them at time), which needs to be taken in harmony with other scriptures, such as Revelation 20:15, for anyone, after having undergone the kingdom blessings who are not found written in the book of life, are cast into the lake of fire. This is also spoken of in Isaiah 26:10: “Let favor be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal wrongfully, and will not see the majesty of Jehovah.” Thus there is God’s final vengeance on those who do not know Him, and who do not obey the good news, and it will indeed be eternal destruction, for there is to be no ransom for those in the second death, but this final vengeance is taken on any unrepentant persecutors of the church at the end of the millennial reign, not before it. — Hebrews 10:26.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2 Peter 3:9 – God Desires All to Attain to Repentance

“Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9, New World Translation

The claim is made by some that this scripture declares that those who are destroyed at the end of this age will be eternally destroyed, and God is thus trying, through some human agencies, to convert as many of the world as possible in order that they might escape eternal destruction.

What is this scripture actually saying? Is Jehovah (Yahweh) determined to eternally destroy billions of blinded men, women and children because they fail to repent before his final wrath is expressed upon Satan’s empire? At first glance, if we have such an idea already in mind, it would appear that this is what Peter was saying.

We should first note that the Greek word rendered as "destroyed" or "perish" does not necessarily mean "eternally destroyed". The usage of the same Greek word in Matthew 8:25; Mark 4:38; Luke 8:24; 11:51; 13:33; 15:17,24; 19:10; Acts 5:37 could hardly mean eternal destruction. The world is perishing, being under the condemnation of Adam. (Romans 5:12-19) That destruction, however, due to Jesus' sacrifice for Adam and all his descendants, is not eternal, for -- due to the ransom sacrifice of Jesus -- there is to be a resurrection of both the justified and unjustified. -- Acts 24:15; 2 Timothy 2:5,6.

Nevertheless, let us look more closely at the context and the Greek text and the meaning of what Peter was saying comes in clearer view.

2 Peter 3:9, Westcott & Hort Interlinear
(from Bible Students Libray CD-ROM)
ou bradunei kurios tees epaggelias hws tines
NOT IS BEING SLOW LORD OF THE PROMISE, AS SOME (ONES)
3756 1019 2962 3588 1860 5613 5100
braduteeta heegountai alla makrothumei
SLOWNESS THEY ARE CONSIDERING, BUT IS BEING LONG IN SPIRIT
1022 2233 0235 3114
eis humas mee boulomenos tinas apolesthai alla
INTO YOU, NOT WISHING ANY (ONES) TO BE DESTROYED BUT
1519 4771_7 3361 1014 5100 0622 0235
pantas eis metanoian chwreesai
ALL (ONES) INTO REPENTANCE TO ALLOW SPACE FOR.
3956 1519 3341 5562

In this we should note that Peter was not writing his letter to the world, but to those “who have obtained a faith … by the righteousness of our God and the Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:1) In other words, it appears likely that Peter was not saying to people of the world that God has been patient with them, with hopes that these people of the world would repent so as not be destroyed. Rather, he was speaking to those who had come out of the world, and had been regenerated as sons of God, those who had been made alive as new creatures in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:1-5) In 2 Peter, chapters One and Two, Peter was encouraging these to make their calling and choosing sure, and he was seeking to rouse them by means of reminders, and was warning them of the false teachers, and those who leave the truth. He was not talking about the world, but those who had received the knowledge of the truth, and were turning away from it.

In chapter Three, Peter begins to speak of the patience of God, as has been expressed toward the world, and then he says to God’s people: “Jehovah has not been slow respecting his promise, as some consider slowness, but he is patient with you [who believe] because he does not desire any to be lost [Strong’s Greek #622, not the same word used in 2 Peter 3:7,16, but it is the same as used in Matthew 18:14; Luke 15:6,9; John 6:39; 18:9; 2 John 1:8] but desires all [of you who believe] to attain to repentance.” These believers were in great danger of not making their calling and election sure, thus losing out in the great reward being offered to them. He had already given them the means of attaining to the repentance, the making of their minds over (Romans 12:2, NWT) so as to overcome, so as to make their calling and election sure, as shown in 2 Peter 1:2-11, that they not lose out in receiving the reward of being joint-heirs with Christ in the kingdom. — Romans 8:17). Getting the full picture of what Peter was speaking of helps us to appreciate even more the love, justice, wisdom and power as shown in God’s great divine plan of the ages.
————-
https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/greek/622.html

This is further shown in the scriptures that follow in 2 Peter 3:14-16a: “Hence, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace. Furthermore, consider the patience of the Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given him also wrote you, speaking about these things as he does also in all his letters.” He further states: “You, therefore, beloved ones, having this advance knowledge, be on your guard that you may not be led away with them by the error of the law-defying people and fall from your steadfastness.” (2 Peter 3:17) Thus we see that in the context, Peter is not speaking to the world, but his concern is for those who have believed, that they attain the full repentance, that they may, as Paul expressed, “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14) — making their calling and election sure.

As we mentioned before, the Greek word *Apollumi* (Strong’s #622) does not necessarily mean “destruction” in the sense of being “eternally destroyed”, but it can refer to many kinds of losses. In Matthew 10:36, Jesus told his disciples to go to the “lost (apollumi) sheep of the house of Israel.” He was not telling his disciples to go to sheep that have been eternally destroyed, but he is referring to their “lost” condition. In Mark 9:41, Jesus told his disciples: “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose (apollumi) his reward.” The thought is not here that every person who gives to Jesus’ disciples had a reward that he was not going to lose, but that the future reward due them would not be lost. In 2 John 1:8, John tells the Christian: “Watch yourselves, that we don’t lose (apollumi) the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward.” The “full reward” that a Christian can recieve is joint-heirship with Jesus. To lose this reward does not mean that one is already in possession of it and then loses it, but rather that he would lose the prospect of ever obtaining that reward. Nor does failure to attain that high reward necessarily mean that the one who fails to attain will be eternally destroyed. If this was the thought in 2 Peter 3:9, then what Peter could have been referring to was losing the goal of the prize of the high calling. There are two classes who fail to attain the “full” reward, one of which simply retain the position of heirs of God as that due to all the sons of God (Romans 8:17), and the other would be those represented as one who willfully “has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace.” (Hebrews 10:29) For such a willful sin, there is no more sacrifice. — Hebrews 10:26.

Nevertheless, Jehovah has indeed been patient with the world; his patience toward the world, and his love for the world of mankind has been so great that he sent his Son to die as the savior of the world. (John 3:16,17) Later, Jesus stated: “If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I came, not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47, NWT) The world is already judged in Adam, thus John says of those that disobey the son: “The wrath of God [the wrath upon man through Adam] remains upon him” (John 3:36); and also: “He that does not exercise faith has been judged already (through Adam). (John 3:16, NWT; See Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) Jesus, however, shows in what way he came to save the world, showing that their salvation will result in a new judgment “in the last day.” (John 12:48) This new judgment will be separate from the judgment that is already upon the world through Adam.

When Adam disobeyed, the punishment that was placed upon him was not the second death (for which no ransom is provided), but the condemnation was what we might term “the first death” — death and sheol [hades] (for which a ransom is provided). (Hosea 13:14) The human race has inherited this condemnation through Adam, but God’s love caused his Son to be “made flesh,” “a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death . . . that he by the grace of God should taste death for eavery man.” — Genesis 2:17; 3:17-19; Romans 5:6-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Matthew 20:28; John 1:14; 3:14-18; Hebrews 2:9.

God exercised patience toward Adam in allowing Adam to continue to live, but eventually God did bring the sentence of death to Adam. God could have justly taken Adam’s life right away, but he forsaw a better way of settling the matter of disobedience once for all time. Thus he has allowed a short period of time, a few millennia, in which man may be “exercised” by sin, and its futile results. (Ecclesiastes 1:2,13,14; Romans 8:20) The purpose is to eventually have all creation willingly in harmony with himself, for such harmony will then be known to be to the advantage of all creation.

Thus, Jehovah’s patience toward the sinful race of mankind the will not last forever. God “has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness” — “the day of judgment and perdition [destruction] of ungodly men; but . . . do not be ignorant of this one thing, that one day with Jehovah is as a thousand years.” — Acts 17:31; 2 Peter 3:7,8; Psalm 90:4.

During the past six millenia of mankind’s history since Adam, Satan, “the god of this world,” has been permitted to blinded the minds of the people. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) As a result the world has been living in darkness, so that darkness has covered the earth and “gross darkness the people.” However, in the world’s coming great judgment day Satan is bound, “that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years are ended.” — Isaiah 60:2, Revelation 20:2,3,7.

“In that day,” spoken of in Revelation as a 1,000 years, Jesus will judge mankind, but then “the earth will be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.” It will be that time that people will say: “Look, this is our God. We have waited for him, and he will save us . . . . We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” — Isaiah 11:9,10; 25:6-9; 40:5; 52:10: Jeremiah 31:34; Habakkuk 2:14.

But today, the church is being tried and chosen out of the world before the world of mankind. There is a purpose for this, since the saints of this age will will rule with Jesus over the earth in 1,000-year judgment day and assist in judging the world, offering to mankind “the water of life freely.” — Daniel 7:22,27; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Obadiah 21; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29,30; Romans 8:16-21; 2 Timothy 2:11,12; Revelation 3:21; 5:9,10; 20:4,6; 22:17.

The promise is made that through Abraham’s seed, all the nations, the heathen, will be blessed. The seed is not only Jesus, but also all who, in this age, belong to Christ. The blessing comes to the heathen while Satan is abyssed, so that he cannot deceive them. — Genesis 12:3; 22:16-18; Galatians 3:7-9,16,29; Hebrews 6:13-20; Acts 3:19-25; Revelation 20:1-4.

It is during the time when Satan is abyssed and that there are no deceptions, that the unbelieving of this age will be raised from hades (sheol), and englightened by and judged individually by the things written in the books that are to be opened at that time, not by the collective judgment received through Adam. -- Psalm 6:5; 146:4; Isaiah 2:2-4; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28,29 NASV; John 11:11-14; 12:47,48; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 2 Peter 3:4.

Recognizing that the judgment takes place in the “last day” (John 12:47,48), and also that those who will be doing the judging with Jesus will be raised in the same “last day” (John 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24), we recognize that the saints must be raised first, before the world, in order for them to participate with Jesus in this judgment. (Revelation 20:6) Realizing this helps us to understand the time when Jesus comes to judge the heathen, as described in Matthew 25:31-46. The judgment of the unbelieving heathen (nations) as individuals (not as in Adam) cannot begin until after the saints are raised in the last day.

Thus we read that “When the Son of man will come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then will he sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations [the unbelieving heathen – Psalm 46:10; 67; 72:1,11,17; 96:3,10; Isaiah 2:2-4; Ezekiel 37:28; 38:16; 39:7] will be gathered [from hades and death — Revelation 20:12,13], and he will separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” The “holy angels” referred to are probably the saints, especially the joint-heirs who will come with Jesus to rule and judge the earth. In the parable, those whom he finds to be righteous, pictured as sheep (those who become sheep in the next age, not Christ’s sheep of this present age — John 10:14-15), will be given everlasting life and will “inherit the kingdom” on earth (the meek will inherit it — Matthew 5:5; Psalm 37:9,10,29), whereas those who will not have proved worthy, pictured as goats, will “go away into everlasting punishment [Greek, kolasin, cutting-off]” in the second death, never to live again. “All the wicked he will destroy.” — Matthew 25:31-46; Psalm 145:20; Revelation 20:9,15; 21:8.

The destruction of the wicked at the end of that thousand years is symbolized by their being cast into the “lake of fire,” “which is the second death,” into “everlasting fire [fire is an apt symbol, not of preservation, but of destruction], prepared for the devil [who is to be destroyed, annihilated — Hebrews 2:14; Ezekiel 28:19] and his angels” — Revelation 20:14,15; 21:8; Matthew 25:41.

Then it will be true that “The soul that is sinning, it will die.” Eventually “every soul who will not hear [obey] that prophet [Christ] will be destroyed from among the people.” The “wicked will be no more.” — Psalm 37:9,10; Ezekiel 18:4,20; Acts 3:19-23.

Thus God’s patience will lovingly provide ample provision for the world to repent even into the age to come, after Satan is abyssed. It will be then, especially, that the principle of 2 Peter 3:9 will apply to the world in general.

For further study, we recommend:
Will Billions Be Eternally Destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon?
Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment
Adam and the Ransom Sacrifice

Keys: Armageddon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bible Students, eternal destruction, repentance, the Lord is not slack, divine plan of the ages, Apollumi, Christian overcomers, second death, punishment