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When the Bible uses the word ‘in’ it does not always mean ‘in’. There is so much misunderstanding of this. Jesus, for instance, was not literally in Paul before he was converted.

I have friends who believe this. I don’t. Here is why.

To me, and many others (this idea of Jesus being in everyone a new teaching – unless you read New Age teachings) it is preposterous to think Jesus is in everyone since the cross, but it fits the theology that tries to say Jesus is in everyone and they only need to be told about it, awaken to it, and so then believe it.

NAS Strong’s Version:  Gal 1:16 ….to reveal His Son (hina – in order that) so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult    with flesh and blood,

Notice that the word ‘en’ is not in this Greek manuscript.

The Message 1:16  Now he has intervened and revealed his Son to (en – in, on, through, with, etc) me so that I might joyfully tell non-Jews about him. Immediately after my calling–without consulting anyone around me

Here, the word ‘en’ is translated as ‘to’.

Now, it’s up to you. Believe Jesus is in everyone since the cross. Or don’t. I don’t. Jesus sits at the right hand of God. His spirit is in believers when we believe. Not before. And not literally Jesus. The Holy Spirit.

If we read the passages correctly, there is no support for saying that Jesus is in everyone. Come on. Hitler had Jesus in him? Osama bin Laden? Genghis Khan? Really? What fellowship, the scripture asks, has light with darkness?

Again, it’s up to you. The important thing is that you do know Him. But know also this idea is not in any way crucial to understanding that all are reconciled  to God by Christ.

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This post will wander a bit. Bear with me.

The children’s hide and seek game, where you are tagged ‘it’ if the one who is already it finds you, has the option of calling everyone back in ‘free’… no tagging. We would call out, “Allee allee outs in free!” Somehow this got transliterated into “Olly olly outs in free” which makes no sense. But then, it’s a children’s game and doesn’t have to make sense.

I used the title because it pretty much explains where I am on the matter of grace and Christian belief. Calling everyone in free is often referred to as universal salvation (or universal recreation – which I do NOT agree with) and if you want to start a firestorm, try telling another Christian you believe it. Or at least a version of it.

Here is what I see. Jesus did indeed reconcile all things to himself when he died. That, to me, says universal reconciliation, and is what I beleive to be true. It is NOT universal salvation. Salvation means to be made whole, to have the life of Christ, now, in this life, in this age. To be a new creation, born from above (or born again) through faith in Jesus.

We are saved by faith, to be able to know Him, and for the purpose of preaching the good news, making more disciples to do the same thing. Why? Well, I’d rather live in this life, free of religion and knowing Jesus, than to have to wait until that last day. Wouldn’t you? It was imprtant enough that Jesus died to bring us into it, and the apostles died to spread the news. That is good enough for me.

Age-long is what the word that has been translated “eternal” means. In scripture, only God is truly eternal, and presumalby that is how the translators came up with eternal life. It is a descriptor of the giver, not of the duration of the life we are given. What we are told by the apostle Paul is that we will be changed at the resurrection, and have incorruptable bodies…. which would make us immortal. Currently, Jesus is the only one with immortality.

Jesus came to take away the sins of the world, as the lamb of God. He did not fail. He did away with the law, by which sin is known. Even the law that is known by instinct in the hearts of the pagan, the doing good to gain favor, is wiped away. It is over. That is the good news.

We now live by faith, which is trust in God and persuasion of the gospel.

We who believe have God’s influence in our hearts, a free gift that we didn’t earn. It is called grace. Grace is what teaches us godliness. Paul adamantly says that grace and law don’t mix. If you try to add law to grace, you loose the benefit of grace. He calls it falling from grace. Not losing salvation, but losing your ability to live in the full freedom of grace.

So, to revive the law, or the idea of good and evil, and apply it to others is to put yourself under that law as well. You will be into a legal mindset, and not a mindset of grace and freedom. You will not be able to bring grace into anyone’s life if you judge good or evil regarding them. This is important. We are daily among ‘outsiders’ and we have the ministry of reconciliation. We are to tell them they are included in the work of Christ. From the drunk to the criminal, all are included.

If any do not know their heavenly Father, they will at some point. There is no alternative. There is no law and no sin to judge. Sin itself was judged and is defeated. Therefore, no punishment is due anyone. There is only God, and there is no place that God is not. He is in Sheol, the scriptures says. If He is in the place of the dead, that is not a place of torment, but waiting. If there is such a place at all……

Universal or ultimate reconciliation says that one day each one will see the Father and recognize Him. Even the atheist. When they do, the light of his goodness will burn off all the ‘dross’ and they will be just as we were when we met Him and were saved. Or, as scripture says, every knee will bow and every tongue will say Jesus is Lord. Or, you could see it as the prodigal son in his father’s embrace.

The concept of hell as a place of punishment and torment is pagan. There is nothing to punish. There is only inclusion and reconciliation. Sin is dead. Law is dead. By Christ, we are also dead to sin and to the law. It truly is finished. Take the words sin, and law, and hell, and punishment, and most definitely torment, out of your vocabulary. It will begin to change how you respond to others.

Olly olly outs in free!

Romans 14…And in Adam we have a type of Him whose coming was still future. 15 But God’s free gift immeasurably outweighs the transgression. For if through the transgression of the one individual the mass of mankind have died, infinitely greater is the generosity with which God’s grace, and the gift given in His grace which found expression in the one man Jesus Christ, have been bestowed on the mass of mankind. 18 It follows then that just as the result of a single transgression is a condemnation which extends to the whole race, so also the result of a single decree of righteousness is a life-giving acquittal which extends to the whole race. 19 For as through the disobedience of the one individual the mass of mankind were constituted sinners, so also through the obedience of the One the mass of mankind will be constituted righteous. (Rom 5:14,15,18,19 Weymouth Translation) 

 

One thing certain is change. I have been very busy with Facebook and have not posted here much lately. So much going on, so many changes in where I am and what I believe.

Grace has taken me to some wonderful places. I have become an LGBTI ally. That means I support 100% a gay or transgendered  person’s wonderful gift and his or her right to be who God made them. My focus is on gay Christians and their sometimes painful struggle to reconcile their faith and their orientation.

Grace has also taken me into exploring the idea of ultimate or final reconciliation of all people. Not universalism that says the work of Christ means nothing. No, the work of Christ makes it possible.

These things are very controversial. Teaching radical grace got me into enough trouble with the established churches. But God reveals and leads and we can only follow. It we don’t we are stagnant and stop growing. I must grow or die, I think!

I am, as I said, on Facebook. And I will be here now and then. Blessings.

Grace = reconciliation. I can’t get away from that. Just like grace and law are mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s because grace and law are mutually exclusive that reconciliation is the conclusion.

I think the fear so many feel from even looking at this subject with any sort of objectiveness is real and should be respected. I myself have read all the books about both sides (well, lots of them), been a christian for 40 yrs, gone to bible college, had the full gamut of teaching from every corner of christendom, and I can’t escape a few glaring facts that refuse to go away no matter how much theology I throw at them.

The biggest one (which I posted on Facebook the other day) in a nutshell, is something along the lines of: why would God create billions of precious people in his very image, out of his heart of love, knowing full well that most of them would end up in unbearable, horrific torture for eternity with no hope of reconciliation? It not only makes no sense but makes God out to be a tyrant more cruel than any human could possibly be, let alone want to be! He has put his heart of love in each of us – we know what love is, he describes his own character in 1Cor 13. So its not only impossible to think that God would just say “oh well, you lost your chance – off to hell with you and no chance of redemption”, it is incomprehensible, and loathsome on any level. We to easily fob it off by saying His ways are higher than ours and other stuff about his justice being pure etc, but how come our standards are higher than His?

So where does that leave us? I have wrestled with this for years, and my passion for Jesus has only grown as I discover more and more of his grace. As I let more of His love fill me this question becomes a bigger issue, something I can’t just cover up with a bunch inconsistent scriptures. I’m not afraid to be wrong! But God gave me a brain and a heart, that I have used with as much integrity as I can muster. Something is wrong with this picture – and I think its time we stopped burying our heads in dogma and had sensible discussions knowing that we can trust Holy Spirit in each other!

Posted by Jim Marjoram at 12/09/2011 01:51:00 PM
http://jmarjoram.blogspot.com/

This is an opinion piece. If I quoted scriptures, choosing the version that best fits my purpose (and even thought I generally like the most literal) I know that many would be more than happy to quote other scriptures that contradict what I say. So, none of that. Just my thoughts, trying to express has been revealed to my heart by God. Yes, by God.

We who are saved and know it, are the most blessed on the earth. Those who are not saved can only hope for the best when they meet their maker. This is extremely good news for those who know their redeemer. It is in fact called the good news, the gospel. We are called out to spread the good news.

Does this mean that the rest of the world is going to hell? Some would say so. I can’t (except that yes, all are going to the grave). Those who lived between Adam and Moses sinned, but God says He doesn’t charge it against them. They did all die, which is the penalty of Adam’s disobedience. Then the law of Moses came, and there were also penalties for transgressions, but the guilt and judgements were staved off by the sacrifices. Except for the occasional stoning.

Then Jesus came. He paid it all. The penalty of death, and the punishment of the law, even though he did not break the law. He paid to the uttermost, every mouth is stopped, and it is finished.

What does that mean to the unbelievers? It means that sin (click on the link) was taken away from the world. The lamb of God did that. He did not fail. So, no sinning remains. Those who see sinning do not understand the finished work of the Jesus, and neither to they understand grace.

People who do not believe are said to have the principle of the law written on their hearts by God, and they have had it since Adam. They still have it and will be judged by it, whether they did what they knew was right or did not. Still, there is no penalty for breaking the law in the heart. Never was one given.

I believe that God of course will do the right thing by all his creation. I believe that when the dead works of all are burnt up, the people themselves will be saved by the same fire, purified and right with God. Will some not make it through that fire? I don’t know. But I do believe that there will be a lot of happy surprises in the time of resurrection.

Christ made the way back to God for us. He has rescued humanity by his sacrifice. It is confirmed by his resurrection, as the first among many. All died in Adam and all will be made alive in Jesus. There are many abodes in Papa’s house.

Those who believe have his life now in this age. And in the life to come. Those who don’t believe must wait and hope. Knowing is much better! I’d like to think I’d choose to know, but that is not how it works. We believe, and then we know.

The church needs to stop basing its concepts on Dante’s Inferno. It’s fiction, people. Hell is the grave. It’s also a garbage dump. In Jesus’ day, people understood it as continually on fire, where animals gnashed their teeth fighting for scraps, where there was wailing – a place of waste and destruction. His hearers would have gotten the point. We have missed it.

Sometimes it’s a mythological place of the dead, or Hades. Mythological. I don’t recommend believing myths.

So why even bother to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom? Why did the early Christians turn the world upside down? Why? Because it is gloriously freeing news. It brings us back to our Father. Then we go out make disciples and more come to know their Father. He desires that. And there is healing in salvation. Why would we not want to go out and bring the will of heaven to earth?

The kingdom is in our midst, and we spend too much time sitting around the table with our immediate family. Our family includes all who are not sitting at the table yet. Go out and invite them in. We debate about who will be in or out. Let’s let them in and then let God sort it out.

The upshot of what I am saying is that some are saved in this life – made whole, rescued, preserved, healed. The called out ones. We are in the kingdom now. We are righteous because Jesus has made us righteous. To be righteous means to be accepted by God, to be innocent, and as to the law, guiltless and virtuous.

But many will also be accepted by God in that new day that is coming. Righteous. Multitudes. Great and small, He loves them all. Is this Christian universalism? Maybe. But I’d rather have to explain why I drew a bigger circle and took them in, than to explain why I excluded the very ones Jesus died for.

Will there be multitudes in the kingdom, or will there be a relative few? How big is your God? How many made it out of Egypt? Was it not a mixed multitude? Most eventually died after the law was given. That’s what the law does. It brings death.

Jesus brings life and reconciliation. That is our ministry – reconciliation. We are His hands and feet. We can allow things, or disallow them, and God will approve. We can forgive sin. We can hold up those who need to be held up. We have authority to do these things. We bring God’s will, which lives in us by grace, from heaven to earth.

OK. The happy heretic is done. Fire at will.

1 Cor. 1:20 (New Living Translation) For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in him. That is why we say “Amen” when we give glory to God through Christ.

Promises are good. Warnings are about something bad. Threats are always bad. God’s promises are good and are fulfilled in Christ. All the things He promised are given to us in Jesus. And it is finished – in the Amen.

God is good. He has good things for us and has good thoughts toward us. Judgment fell on the enemy at the cross. The enemy is the father of lies. He is the one who seeks to steal, kill, destroy, deceive, devour, and enslave. God gives good gifts, gives life, restores us, is truth, and brings us to freedom.

So, if anything you hear is negative, especially in terms of what Jesus said, or what the scriptures teach, or what God is doing/will do/has done, run. It’s not God, but is the enemy and the world system, confounding the truth.

Think of what is good and true and helpful, because that is from God. Learn God’s ways, not just His acts. His ways bring us into intimacy with Him. Through Jesus, we are no longer fearful, but come boldly and unafraid. Like a child who knows his father loves him and can’t wait to hug him. We can call Him Papa.

All the promises are fulfilled in Christ. Jesus is the demonstration of the Father, and is the embodiment of perfect theology. God said Jesus was His son, and to listen to him. Not the prophets that came before John, not to Moses, but to the Son. The one who did not come to judge the world. The one who came to take away the sins of the world. The one who never snuffed out a smoking wick or broke a bruised reed.

Whenever I hear a Christian start a sentence with, “Be careful” or “You/they can’t” or “You/they have to” ……. I immediately shut down and don’t hear the rest of what that person says. I can’t help it. The negative direction is not God.

The same thing happens after every “but”.  “You/they are forgiven, but….” “You/they are free, but…..” “You/they are saved, but…”  There are no “buts” to these statements.

I do believe that it’s true – “if you can’t say anything good to someone, say nothing at all.” Not that you have to remain silent when there is something terribly wrong. But it must be in love, and not followed with a “but” and then go on to patronize, ridicule, or demean the person, or clobber them with scripture. Love doesn’t lord itself over any.

Our ministry to the world is reconciliation. We are to cast a big net and draw in the world He died to save, not use it as a barrier to keep them out. If we have the love of Jesus, we have all that is necessary. Love is the thing, and never fails, for we are one in the bond of His love. We need to answer, “Yea, and Amen” or not at all.

“This much is certain, that we have no theological right to set any sort of limits to the loving-kindness of God which has appeared in Jesus Christ. Our theological duty is to see and understand it as being still greater than we had seen before.” Karl Barth

 

If grace does not produce acceptance, we aren’t operating in grace at all.

Grace cannot produce awareness of sins. Awareness of sin, as a transgression, is known from the law and the law is done away in Christ. Awareness of our failings and our weaknesses is not sin. We should not even speak of remaining in sin (Rom. 6:1). How can we? We are dead to it.

We are in relationship with God. Like lovers, we seek to please Him. And for His part, He does not see our failings. He gives us grace, favor, a work in the heart.

So, if we are dead to sin, and it is not charged against us, how can we accuse others of it?

How can we point the finger and refuse to accept any? By grace, we have gained a brother or sister and have not been a stumbling block to them. And we have not fallen from grace back into law.

It is strong grace, from an almighty God! We are to deal with problems with the goal of restoration. For instance, Jesus was not saying to permanently exclude anyone for whom He came to die. Love is to be our aim.

The law is done away, and we have no relationship to it, to obey or disobey. God does not reject any of His children based on what we may think of them or what they do.

We can demand certain behavior, or forbid it, but those efforts will fail. Grace never fails – it is sufficient to keep us from falling back into law. Grace teaches us godliness. The law is not our teacher.

Neither are we taught by stories in Genesis. The Gentiles did not know the stories of the Jewish faith. They believed and received the same grace as the Jewish believers, and that grace taught them,  just as it does us today. We are not to try living by the Old Testament. Period. We live by faith in the Son of God, the grace placed in our hearts.

When we live with sin consciousness, we have forgotten we are forgiven and are not living in knowledge of the grace that has cleansed us (2 Peter 1:9). When we are conscious of sin, we judge others and thereby place ourselves under the same law. This is mixing law and grace. This is being double-minded.

We are called to a ministry of reconciliation – to bring in those who are outside the household of faith. We are also called to be in relationship with God, not to live by an external morality. 

Grace is actually a two-way relationship as we return love for love. We are under the rule of the spirit of life in Christ. Grace and the fruit of the spirit are very much alike, and the love it produces is described in the ‘love’ chapter (1 Corinthians 13).

So, there are none to throw the first stone, and none to accuse, for grace won’t allow it. Grace draws a large circle and takes everyone in. Law draws a small circle and keeps most out.

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