Jerry C. Brewer
Confusion in religious teaching is rampant in our world, usually coming from those who are, themselves, confused. That’s the case with an article published in the Nov. 20, 2014 issue of The Penny News, a free weekly shopper published at Elk City, Okla. Under the title, Believing The Gospel Of Jesus Given To Paul?, the article says on page 14:
Most believe the message ‘Christ Crucified’. But what about Grace being a Gift from God, saving us by Jesus before time began, not in accord with our own acts (1 Tim. 1:9)? Does not scripture say that Jesus is the Saviour of ALL mankind (1 Tim. 4:10) and all created creatures are reconciled to God by the Blood of Jesus (Col. 1:16-20)? A lot of people believe in ‘Hell’ but there is not one mention of it in Paul’s writing! Why the different beliefs? Paul tells us in 2 Tim. 4:3 there will be times when men will not tolerate sound teaching, following teachers in accord with their own desires, and believe in myths.”
One would be hard pressed to find more gobbledegook in such few words as these. The writer apparently concocts a contradiction between Jesus and Paul. Note the following:
1. The message of “Christ Crucified” is “Grace (sic) being a Gift (sic) from God.” It was God’s grace that sent His Son to die for all men.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6-8).
The grace of God that sent His Son to die for us was motivated by His love for all men (John 3:16).
2. “…saving us by Jesus before time began, not in accord with out own acts (1 Tim. 1:9)?” The reference to First Timothy 1:9 is incorrect. The passage the writer had in mind was probably Second Timothy 1:9, which says, “…who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” This passage does, indeed say God purposed our salvation before the world began. Before the world began, God purposed to save a class of people. Those were to be the ones who would be “in Christ.” Every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3), which includes being chosen as His adopted children (Eph. 1:4-5), being accepted of Him (Eph. 1:6), being redeemed and having forgiveness of our sins (Eph. 1:7), and having an inheritance (Eph. 1:11) all are obtained in Christ. That was God’s purpose from eternity—to save all who would be in Christ. That raises the question of, “Who are those in Christ?” They are those—all men—who have been baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4) Search the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation and you will find no other way to get into Christ, except through obedience to Him in baptism. Christ died for all and the provision has been made for all to enter Christ, but God saves no one out of Christ.
3. “…and all created creatures are reconciled to God by the Blood (sic) of Jesus.” Now that is a strange statement, indeed! Does the writer really think Christ died for “all created creatures?” Moses wrote,
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind, and God saw that it was good. …And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good (Gen. 1:20-21, 24-25).
“All created creatures are reconciled to God…?” Elephants? Catfish? Moose? Monkeys? Baboons? Whales? Vultures? Rattlesnakes? That’s the conclusion of this inane statement. Christ did not shed His blood for “critters.” He died for men. Animals are not created in the image of God. Which animal did God forbid to eat certain fruit? (Gen. 2:16-17). Which animal disobeyed God? Of all God’s creation, only man is made in His image. Only man sinned, and it was only for man that Jesus died. It is a stretch of mighty proportions to apply Col. 1:16-20 to reconciliation of all animals to God!
4. “A lot of people believe in ‘Hell’ but there is not one mention of it in Paul’s writing!” Does this mean the writer of this article does not believe in hell? Is he sure Paul never mentioned hell in his writing? Is he pitting Paul against Jesus? That’s the tactic of infidelity. There are no contradictions in the Bible.
How does the writer explain Paul’s statement to the Thessalonians?
…seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power…(2 Thess. 1:6-9).
That Paul here refers to hell is evident from Jesus’ description of the final judgment. “Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: …And these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:41, 46). Paul spoke of hell when he referred to those, “who shall be punished with everlasting destruction.” His “everlasting destruction” is the same as Jesus’ “everlasting fire” which He termed “everlasting punishment.” No mention of hell “in Paul’s writing?” What did Paul refer to in 2 Thess. 1:6-9, if not eternal hell?
5. In an apparent effort to explain, “the different beliefs” on hell, the writer says, “Paul tells us in 2 Tim. 4:3 there will be times when men will not tolerate sound teaching, following teachers in accord with their own desires, and believe in myths.” Paul did say that and what he said is true. In fact, denying the reality of hell because Paul didn’t mention it by name is, “in accord with their own desires, and [a belief] in myths” and is precisely what Paul was writing about to Timothy. To say there is no hell is a myth.
The writer of that article needs to heed Paul’s admonition to study the word of God, (2 Tim. 2:15), before making false allegations against Paul and adding his personal confusion to an already confused religious world. A knowledge of the Bible will cure such nonsense.