Posted By Thomas Perez. May 21, 2011 at 4:05pm. Copyright 2011.
This Study Is Designed For Those Who Are Not Bigoted or of a Narrow Minded Consensus.
I’m often amazed how some would accept Full Preterism and yet while doing so reject Ultimate Reconciliation. If you happen to be a Partial Preterist or Futurist for that matter, then the concept of Universal Salvation fitting into your understanding of eschatology should not be considered impossible. But if you are a full preterist, the balancing of the two (universal salvation and full preterism) can create a conflict of interests. Even the topic of freewill and God’s sovereignty can often be seen as two polar opposites heading into two different distinct ideologies and spiritual destinations, especially when it comes to universal salvation and/or the efficacy of the atonement of Christ. These topics are often mired in endless debates and unintentional contradictions. However, any good Biblical apologetic would tell you that the Bible does not contradict itself; and their assertion of that statement would be true. Therefore, it is my intention to try to harmonize the topics by bringing their proclamations together harmoniously, without contradictions.
We all know of the countless Scriptural quotes and citations from early Apostolic Church fathers that the very thought of ultimate reconciliation was a given. We also know of the various Scriptural citations & early Apostolic Church father’s quotation’s by some, as indicating a judgment did occur in 70 AD with the destruction of the temple. Yet we also know of many citations indicating certain prophetic events yet to be fulfilled. When one couples the thought of such findings along with what the Scripture’s cite, we can either look at it as all fulfilled or partially fulfilled. As far as the complete futurist is concerned, and even the full preterist for that matter, I would encourage them to study the Scriptures thoroughly, church history, and anything concerning the counter reformation and onward.
With That Said, Let Us Examine Some the Topics.
Hab 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea”. Moreover, according to Zeph 3:8-9, “My decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out on them My indignation, all My burning anger; for all the earth will be devoured by the fire of My zeal. For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.” Here, found within the two verses quoted, we learn that God is both; a Judge and a Purifier of men’s deeds. This purification can only be accomplished through the Mediator – The Lord Jesus Christ (I Tim 2:5). For truly this is the Lords doing – it is His decision to gather nations, and His decision to purify them. Calvinists at this point would argue, “Nations, yes, individual people, no” If this is the case, then how do we account for the rendering of the word “peoples” and the phrase “shoulder to shoulder in this context? Moreover, how does a Calvinist account for all people calling upon the name of the Lord, when the Scriptures reveal that in order to call upon the name of the Lord, one must receive the knowledge of the Lord – as promised by Habakkuk and St. Paul and hence call upon His name – (Rom 10:13).
Also (and this is most vital), how can God give all men the ability to call upon the name of the Lord with purified lips after he has poured out His indignation with all His burning anger and devour the earth with the fire of His zeal? According to some, aren’t the unrighteous cast out for all eternity before the new Heavens and Earth? If this be the case, how can they call upon the name of the Lord and serve Him after the destruction of this present age, but there they are – as in the partial preterist view. Or if you prefer; full preterism – our present New Heaven & Earth / Age, will be the breathing grounds for such revelation of renewed knowledge now or after death. But neither view; full preterism or Partial preterism, can ever truly interfere with the salvation program of God and the ultimate saving of ALL men. But there they are. No doubt, this may be what John meant when he said, “Blessed and holy is He that hath part in the first Resurrection, for the second death has no power over him”
Upon this, many (futurists & partial preterists) would quickly cite Rev 20:12-14 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God’; and the; books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in those books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead that were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” While quoting this Scriptural citation, it is important to realize that when the book of Revelation was written, it had no individual chapters or verses, it was one big letter. Therefore, it is important that we do not rip this particular quotation out of the context of the book or the entire Bible for that matter.
As we continue to follow along the reading of the letter, we come across the next paragraph, where John declares that he saw a New Heaven & New Earth. Instead, we see, what appears to be a reconciliation of man. We also see that the tabernacle of God is with man. We will also notice that the phrase “elect” “saints” or “believers” are no where to be found in this instance. And again, we see a happy ending so to speak – a wiping away of tears, no pain, sorrow, or death – these things are passed away; thus declaring that He made all things new! Hence fulfilling Paul’s declaration that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Moreover, it is also a confirmation of the words spoken by Isaiah the prophet who declared that God will destroy the veil that is spread over all nations. Some may say, this is referring to salvation as given to the gentiles – I say nay, it is salvation given to all, every individual – note – Isaiah’s next verse is what Revelation confirms – a wiping away of tears from all faces (Isa 25:7-8). In light of the aforementioned thought, I pose this question, since death is the last enemy to be destroyed, then why do some claim that those without Christ will suffer endless spiritual death, separated from God, when the Scriptures teach the exact opposite? How can death continue to exist in any form, when God promised that it will cease to exist.
All things are new according to Rev 21:5, yet in verse 7 we see an exhortation to overcome. How can this fit in the context when all things have become new? There is nothing to overcome according to verse 5. The answer to this little dilemma is that John is writing an overall exhortation of repentance least one suffer the wrath of God, that is why the topic pertaining to a lake of fire is mentioned again in verse 8, actually the whole thought begins from verse 7-8. However, after that, the term is no where to be found in the book. Verse 3 indicates “And there shall be no more curse” If the curse, which is the result of the law, and the result of the law is death to exist for eternity, why does the passage indicate that the curse is destroyed?
Furthermore, as we continue to read we come across a peculiar verse “the gates shall not be shut.” Noah’s gate was shut as the waters came, in this instance the gate is open (vs. 25 of Rev) thus allowing the proclamation of the death of the curse to be understood as indicated in vs. 3. As we continue reading, we come across Rev 22:11, who is this in ref to? It is obviously in reference to two kinds of individuals; the unjust and the just, the filthy and the righteous. We also come across the proclamation that those who are righteous will maintain their righteousness, while those that are filthy will maintain their filthiness. But we must remember the gate is open. The open gate is the open invitation to ALL men everywhere. The invitation is given by the Bridegroom – who is Christ, it is given by the bride – who is the restored house of Israel, or as some see it the Church (I see it as both, because the Scriptures teaches that, but that’s a different topic), it is given by those who are declared righteous , and it is given by all who are thirsty.
It will appear that the individuals listed in vs. 15 are not permitted into the open gate because they are filthy, yet they thirst, and they quench this thirst by God graciously allowing the water of life to spring from His throne on either side of the streets and on either side of the river: It is the tree of life. Hence the term “the healing of the nations” in vs. 2 apply. This thought correlates with the everlasting priesthood of Melchisedic. Apparently the Scriptures teach that Jesus, who is the Bridegroom, is forever a Priest after the order of Melchisedec (Heb 7:17). While the priesthood, or Covenant of Christ, is eternal, His sacrificial offering for all (the house of Judah, and the house of Israel – who were the scattered tribes outside the covenant and any all other nations of man) happened once (Heb 9:24-28). It is the promise of His Word and the eternal wounds of the Word that the New Covenant advocates for all men.
It will appear that this is so. Based upon the conditional verse’s of self application, one should aspire to the aspirations found in Rev 21:7, 22:11, and vs. 17 in this life also.
Apparently God’s decision is to save all men, regardless. As a result, the purified lips of the individuals according to Zephaniah would call upon the name of the Lord with renewed knowledge after destruction. Perhaps, unwittingly; when you read Calvin’s work, Calvin revealed that the glory and knowledge of the Lord shall be established for all to see and understand as rendered in his citation of Augustine when he said: “We must walk, advance, increase, that our hearts may be able to comprehend those things which they cannot now comprehend. But if the last day shall find us making progress, we shall there learn what here we could not” Did not the Prophet Daniel claim that in the “last days knowledge shall increase” (Dan 12:4)? Many within the camp of dispensationalism would argue that this verse is speaking of general knowledge – as in the secular – I tend to disagree with that concept, simply based on Daniels overall context in chapter 12 and earlier; during his fasting, praying and supplication before the Lord in chapter 9.
For Daniel, knowledge was concealed and hidden, to be revealed in the last days or the end. The knowledge that Daniel may have been referring to might have been the knowledge that he was seeking, the glory and knowledge of God as his predecessors – Isaiah, Micah, Amos, Jonah, & Hosea. claimed would be accomplished in their prophecies, and lifetime. However, to Daniel’s disdain, he was instructed to wait his turn (Dan 12:13). While he was waiting, it was revealed onto him that many shall be purified and made white, and that the wicked shall not understand. It is of no doubt that this verse of Scripture is in reference to the plan and salvation of God as declared by the Prophets; Isaiah, Micah, Amos, Jonah, and Hosea. Such expectations were seen in the writings of these Prophets.
In Isaiah 42:1-4 “Lo, My servant, I take hold on him, My chosen one – My soul hath accepted, I have put My Spirit upon him, Judgment to nations he bringeth forth. He doth not cry, nor lift up, Nor cause his voice to be heard, in the street. A bruised reed he breaketh not, And the dim flax he quencheth not, To judgment He bringeth forth truth. He doth not become weak nor bruised, till he setteth judgment in the earth, And for his law isles wait with hope.” Similarly, Isa 40:5 reveals, “Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Yet, he (Daniel) was not permitted to see this event in its fullest, but only dimly. Little by little, God doeth reveal Himself to man in various ways, as the book of Hebrews cites – “In these last days He has revealed Himself in His Son.” (Heb 1:1-2). The revelation of Himself was consummated in the giving of Himself upon the cross, as He judged the world. Note the phrase; “He shall not become weak nor bruised until he sets judgment in the earth” Isa 42: 4 (not upon it), for such a rendering of words would indicate a random scatter of justice against sin. But the Scriptures reveal a judgment in the earth (in the very fabric of man’s domain). I am sure Daniel contemplated the oracle of the suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 and the Messenger who was to declare the acceptable year of the Lord – (Isa 61:1-2).
While it is true that, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever,” (Deut. 29:29), what becomes of the New Testament? Is not the New Testament the fulfillment of the first advent of Christ? As Jesus said, “I did not come to destroy the law or the Prophets, but to fulfill.” Such a revelation of knowledge was revealed through the mouth of Peter, who confessed “Thou art the Christ” – for truly this was knowledge given in the last days – for the Kingdom of Heaven was upon them. Yet, Daniel had no indication of this, neither did Solomon, who declared “What is His Sons name?” But, as we study the Scriptures; such men were not ignorant of the bigger picture either, for this is revealed in Daniel chapter 2 and 9:24-27. Furthermore, it is also revealed from Jesus Himself said “your father, Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). A full preterist should at a least know His name – Rev 19:12, unless knowledge for them has ceased.
Therefore, upon this injunction, we can safely assume that knowledge will be obtainable to all men, howbeit, some men receive it sooner than others (for this is also the will of God) as revealed in Hosea Chapter 3:1 “Cut off have been My people for lack of knowledge, Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I reject thee from being a priest to Me, And thou forgettest the law of thy God, I forget thy sons, also!” Upon reading this pronunciation of judgment, one may assume the seemingly obvious, that God will do what He sets out to do in regards to judgments and decrees. But if we are to believe the Scriptures at face value, the Bible reveals God to be full of mercy, repenting / relenting of the evil He intended to do on many occasions, of which I would expound on later. But for now, let me reveal one case in particular as seen in the story of Jonah.
In the book of Jonah, it is revealed that God will overthrow Nineveh, but He does not! He goes against His own decree and relents of the intended destruction (Jonah 3:4-10, 4:11). I suppose this lead many in the Sanhedrin wondering of the credibility of Jonah as a Prophet, when considering Deut 18:22 – was Jonah a false prophet? I rather not think so, considering Jesus used the story of Jonah to illustrate a deeper meaning and purpose to the moral of the story – “As Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights, so must the Son of Man be in the belly of the earth.” Upon Jonah’s allegorical resurrection, Jonah proceeded with his message of doom, but the people of Nineveh repented and sat in ashes and sake cloth. In this instance we know for certain that the people of Nineveh had no knowledge pertaining to the things of God, yet they believed upon Jonah’s message. How much then is the resurrection of Christ effective for all men? Who came into this world not to condemn the world but to save it. In the case pertaining to the message of Jonah, he came preaching doom, In the case pertaining to the message of Christ, He came preaching salvation. Which is the greater?
While it is true that God dispensed His grace to all men, the Scriptures make it very plain that all are not saved at the same time as indicated in 1 Tim. 2:6, R.V. “Who gave Himself a ransom for all; The testimony in his own times” Similarly, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order” (1 Cor. 15:22-24). At the present time God is saving those He has chosen and called unto the special salvation of the ages (1 Cor. 1:26-30; 1 Tim. 6:12). He will use these in various ways in bringing about the salvation of the rest (Eph. 3:8-12; 2:6-10). Note, please, the text says, “God is the Savior of all men especially (not, exclusively) of them that believe.” Because of this the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore I endure all things for the elects sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (literally, ‘eonian’ or ‘age-lasting’ glory, 2 Tim. 2:10). And again he wrote, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling-block, and unto Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23, 24).
The non elect will be saved at the end of the ages (as partial preterists can insist) or they very well may be considered saved without really ever knowing it, until God lifts the veil solely by the result of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ on His behalf. And one way this is accomplished is through the Evangel, us, for saviours shall arise. Does this mean a second chance? By no means! Salvation is not a matter of chance, first or second (Rev 20: 12-14). Had it been left to chance no one would have been saved, now or later (Rom. 3:10-12; 1:28-32). Salvation is of God! He assures us that He will save all.
Let no one think for a moment that there will not be judgment and condemnation. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18). Those who are hard and impenitent of heart treasure up for themselves wrath in the day of the revelation and the righteous judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to His works. To them that are factious and obey not the truth but obey unrighteousness shall be wrath indignation, tribulation, and anguish – See Rom. 2:1-16; Rev. 2:11-15; etc.
All that the Scriptures actually teach about the wrath of God will surely come to pass. The wrath of God is an awful thing and it is not my purpose to minimize it in the least. However, too much condemnation and punishment is just as unrighteous as too little. But pertaining to election, God did indeed elect many to Salvation, while yet at the same time, issued His decree to save every human individual to ultimate reconciliation. However, it behooves us to ask ourselves this question, ’How is the veil lifted? Which brings me to my definition of the ordained and the various freewill notions.
Determinism: The Pre-Socratic Thought
Determinism is the view that every event occurs necessarily.
Hard Determinism: B.F. Skinner and Sigmund Freud
Predictability of human behavior are discovered. Hard Determinism holds that things happen because of antecedent causes, our own behavior being one of these causes.
Soft Determinism: The Stoics and Enlightenment Philosophers
‘Soft Determinism’ is the view that Determinism is true, but that freedom and responsibility can exist despite the truth of Determinism.
Indeterminism: Werner Heisenberg
Indeterminism is the view that there are such things as uncaused events and that therefore; Determinism is false.
Libertarian Model: C.A. Campell and Richard Taylor
The Libertarian Model is the view that freedom exists. This model consists that determinism is false and that freedom does exist.
Existential Freedom: Jean – Paul Sartre
Sartre recognized that we are free in only some of our acts, not in all of them which entailed that Determinism might be true despite our experience to the contrary. In this sense Sartre is claiming that we choose our own destinies as we fulfill what life throws at us.
What Sartre is saying is that there is no accident in life. One makes a choice based on random alternatives (as provided by the ‘Libertarian Model’). But while in so doing, we have the ability to make our own random decision to choose destiny life ‘A’, ‘B’, or ‘C’. Yet, Sartre recognizes alternative ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ as being part of a ‘Deterministic’ Model, since we are given various options of choice as defined in his ‘being-for-self’ and ‘being-in-itself’. We make or fulfill our own destinies as we are dealt the cards that are given to us in life.
All views are plausible to say the least. It seems to me that there are things that operate in this universe with predictability and are therefore functioning in what it is meant to do, and thus can do no other, as in determinism. However, from a practical standpoint; it is also observable in our everyday behavior that we can make choices, e.g. what we choose to eat on a given day, what college we will we attend, who will we choose to marry, and what we will ultimately believe in. Would we choose to believe in a God. If so, what faith would we choose to follow? Perhaps, we may choose a life of unbelief instead. Yet within this practicality, much of its fruitions are based upon some type of original origin, such as: culture, society, upbringing, and personality traits as seen in our DNA. So are we the products of randomness based upon the deck of life that we have been dealt with, or do we have freedom in the truest sense of the word?
In this instance, I can agree with Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existential Freedom. It would appear that life, at any given time, can be pretty much predictable (as in the sun rising and setting). Yet, life can throw us a curve ball from time to time. Life may throw at us the unexpected; like an accident, a death in the family, or some type of financial crisis. The list goes on and on.
However, such curve balls that are thrown at us in life are not all entirely bad. For e.g. one can be given a curve ball in life to believe in a sovereign God or not. It may well be called a curve ball due to its potential consequences if one chooses a life of disbelief. But, then again why would a sovereign God ask us to choose Him, if He already knew that some would disbelieve in Him to begin with? Moreover, if upon hearing the words of the evangel, one chooses to believe and live a holy life separated unto God, how is his/her belief system (faith), established to fruition, when we by nature are creatures of imperfection? Pelagianism in this instance can not hold water, due in part to various verses of scripture declaring the heart, (the very core of man) as desperately wicked, so wicked that even his righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa 64:6, Jere 17:9).
So I say in this instance, “who are we to be so boastful as to declare that we chose Him and therefore He accepted us in return.” I say “nay,” there is none that seeketh after God (Psa 5:9, 10:7, 14:1, 36:1, Pro 1:16 cross ref – with Rom 3:10-18, 23). The very word “choice,” by definition means “desire,” according to Webster’s Dictionary. And to desire something is to wish or long for (crave). If our hearts are so wicked, how can it desire God to make that so-called choice?
Therefore; from a theological standpoint, how does one reason with the Lord as Isaiah exhorts us to do (Isa 1:18) if we are so desperately wicked? Before, I answer that question, let us look at, what I call ‘The 5 R’s’. According to modern day Apologist Norman Geisler, they are as follows 1. Reason over Revelation, 2. Revelation over Reason, 3. Revelation only, 4. Reason only, and 5. Revelation and Reason (An Introduction to Philosophy, pg 64). To me, it would appear that a revealing God revealed Himself through Revelation as (Gen 12:1-3, Ex 3:1-18, I Sam 3:21, Isa 40:5, Matt 11:25-27, 16:17, 20:16, Jn 1:12-13, 12:32, Acts 9:1-16, II Cor 2:10-11, Eph 3:1-3, II Thess 2:13-14, James 3:17) indicates, otherwise we would have no concept or idea of an eternal being because no man has seen God at anytime, except the mind (Logos), the very person of God that became flesh! Hence producing an individual, ‘Revelation over Reason’, thereby producing what is called ‘faith’ which then becomes the Revelation and Reason. It is God choosing to save man. Truly a reason to believe (Jn 3:16-17, 36)! Thus, resulting in perfection.
If one were to accept Reason only or Reason over Revelation, then that would be implying a system of Epistemology (a philosophical viewpoint that concerns itself with the nature and scope of knowledge. What does it mean to know the truth and what sort of things go beyond the evidence of our senses). This type of reasoning is dependent upon our opinion and knowledge. If freewill is reason, then our salvation, or at the very least, our aspirations’ of perfection from a theological standpoint is invalid due to our fallible wisdom. And since epistemology seeks the truth through reason (a questionable and fallible attribute of man), then truth can never be discovered unless it is revealed to us by the epitome of all truth, ‘Jesus Christ’. Therefore, Revelation must reveal itself first to us. It is God choosing us to faith (which is not seen), and repentance through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. To the unbeliever it is a faith built and produced upon ideologies. But to the believer, it is a faith that is seen by knowing that it exists in our minds, much like a thought that exists, but is never truly seen unless the thought is acted out.