It’s Time for Judgment to Begin with the House of God (1 Peter 4:17)
For it is time for judgment to begin with the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Pet 4:17)
This is a passage that seems to come up whenever something bad happens to Christians.
If a pastor stumbles in sin and his church splits, it’s God judging his house.
If an earthquake wipes out a city, it’s God judging his house.
Some people seem to take perverse delight in threatening others with the sword of God’s judgment. They seem to forget that all of our sins were dealt with at the cross. We have been redeemed and sanctified by the blood of the Lamb. There is a day coming when Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats, but this is only bad news if you’re a goat. If you are a sheep it is a day to look forward to with confidence. Where does this confidence come from? It comes from a revelation of the Father’s love as expressed in the Son’s perfect work on the cross.
So what is Peter talking about when he says it’s time for judgment to begin with the house of God?
I’m going to give you two interpretations. The first interpretation emphasizes things we must do while the second emphasizes things Christ has already done. However, let’s first read the scripture in context:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Pet 4:12-19)
Interpretation #1: Work harder
There are only two kinds of religion – religion based on our works or religion based on his blood. Someone whose faith is in the former will interpret the judgment of 1 Peter 4:17 as punishment for Christians. Of course they won’t come right out and say it. They will use words like purification and discipline but what they really mean is condemnation and wrath. They will refer to patterns of judgment in the Old Testament but make no mention of the cross. They may talk about Ananias and Sapphira but ignore Jesus.
Strip away the jargon and their message is: “Bad things are going to happen to you. God is behind these bad things, but don’t worry because far worse things are going to happen to sinners.” They may try and pass this off as “good news” by saying it’s better to suffer a little wrath now than hellfire later.
And what should we do in response to such a message? More works of course! Try harder to be a better Christian. Repent more and confess more. Straighten up and fly right.
There’s no way around it. Interpret 1 Peter 4:17 through the lens of works and you will end up with a condemning message. “Because God loves you he’s going to give you a whipping. It’s for your own good.”
How is it, then, that in the preceding verses Peter uses words and phrases like “rejoice,” “be overjoyed,” “you are blessed” and “praise God that you bear his name”? How in the name of all that is sensible are we supposed to get joyful over a divine whipping? Either Peter has lost touch with reality, or he has something completely different in mind.
Interpretation #2: Trust God
The key to understanding 1 Peter 4:17 is the word judgment. In the original Greek this word is krima which means decision or decree. It’s the decision of a judge or authority. A judgment can be good or bad, in your favor or against you, but in the New Testament krima is usually bad.
When Peter says it’s judgment time for the church, he is most likely referring to the judgment of Nero against the Christians. Look at how Peter describes this judgment:
v.12: “the fiery suffering among you that is coming to try you”
v.13: “you participate in the sufferings of Christ”
v.14: “you are insulted because of the name of Christ”
v.16. “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed”
v.19: “(you) who suffer according to God’s will”, meaning for the gospel
Peter wrote during a time of great persecution. In the beginning, the New Testament church only had to worry about persecution from religious folk. But things since escalated. Now the Rome itself was out to get them.
Because of Nero Christians were being tortured and killed for their faith in Christ. Paul was probably dead and Peter would soon be crucified. If you were a follower of Christ back then, martyrdom was a real prospect.
In light of this awful persecution, Peter wrote to bring perspective. He did this by comparing what happens to the righteous (persecution in this life) with what happens to the ungodly (eternal condemnation). Peter says four things:
(1) Don’t be surprised that you are suffering for the gospel (4:12). If they persecuted Jesus they will persecute you.
(2) Even though persecution is painful, rejoice on account of the coming glory (4:13). It hurts now, but justice is coming.
(3) Don’t let these trials cause you to be ashamed – it’s actually a blessing to be insulted on account of Christ’s name (4:14,16).
(4) In view of this, don’t run and hide (like I once did) but commit yourselves to your faithful Creator and keep doing good (4:19).
Is Peter saying Christians can lose their salvation?
Not at all. In verse 19 he encourages the believers to commit themselves “to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Who is faithful? God is! You may be worried about persecution but you do not need to worry about God letting you go. In the words of Spurgeon, “if he has loved you once he will love you forever.”
The concern is not that Christians could lose their salvation, but that they might be driven underground in fear (3:6,14). This is why Peter urges them to continue doing good, even in the face of persecution (4:17). Peter knew from personal experience what it was like to run from Jesus and he didn’t want his readers doing that. The good news of God’s grace will not be heard unless those who preach it are bold.
A final word on judgment
Jesus said two things about judgment that are relevant here:
For God sent not the Son into the world to judge (krino) the world… (John 3:17a, ASV)
For judgment (krima) I have come into this world… (John 9:39)
Jesus did not come to judge the world, yet the world will be judged on account of Jesus. Remember that another word for judgment is decision. Now if Jesus said he is not the one doing the deciding (krino), but that decisions (krima) will be made on account of him, then who is making these decisions? We are. Every single one of us responds to Jesus one way or another.
When Jesus returns in glory he will not judge anyone. He will simply separate those who have found their rest in him from those who refuse him. The Grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, but not all men will put their faith in him.
Let me finish with three questions for those who still think God is judging/punishing the church:
- Those who are in Christ are complete (Col 2:10) and perfect forever (He 10:14). If Jesus said he would not judge even the lost (Jn 12:47), why would he judge those he has redeemed and are now reckoned perfect?
- Peter said “Christ died for sins once for all” (1 Pet 3:18). If my sins have been removed and God is now “done with sin” (1 Pet 4:1), then what is left to punish?
- Finally, if the punishment that brought us peace was placed on Christ (Is 53:5), how can God now punish us? Would he not be unjust if he punished twice for the same offence?
Just something to think about.
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The Adam Clarke Commentary, has a good entry on this, too. But I could not find even one translation that does not use the word “judgment” – surprising, really!
I argued with this topic a few weeks ago. thanks for the clarity.
Paul you do a great job that is very encouraging for me to shift into total grace!
Great article! I contest that the “goats” are man’s Adamic nature. The “self” we’re told to deny is our nature we inherited from Adam’s fall. If by Adam many fell than by Christ the same many will rise. God will lose no one. That Adamic nature has many names, imho: self, carnal man, earthy, vessel of dishonor, goat, chaff, etc. God is an ever consuming fire. If God is Love also than simple Algebra tells us Love is an ever consuming fire. We are to be baptized by the Holy Spirit and Fire! Those adulterers, liars, etc. that get thrown into the Lake of Fire is the carnal man not the man God created. If Judgment fell on Christ for everyone than how can folks still be lost in the end? If God loses just one to hellfire or whatever than Satan and Adam did a greater work than Christ. I’m mindful and Apostle will have a greater reward in Heaven than let’s say a guy who lived a wicked life and never embraced what Christ did but that same wicked man will one day no longer be wicked and will live. If Christ took those who were wiped out in the Flood to heaven than he will do the same for the lost. Christ won and Satan, sin and death lost. All men are saved through Christ and Christ alone. My 2 cents.
We don’t get many universalists commenting here so, first off, welcome and thanks for writing. I wish that what you said is true, that God will save all. I have friends who died rejecting His overtures and I wish that somehow they would yet qualify. But the Bible teaches clearly that God will not violate His own nature by withdrawing His good gifts. When God gave us the freedom to choose, He knew that some would choose to reject Him and that death and eternal separation would be the result. This is not about Satan being mightier. This is about God being true to Himself. If God were ever going to override our freedom, why didn’t He do that back in the garden? It’s not in His nature. He doesn’t force Himself on anyone.
A universalist might say that God will one day reconcile the world to Himself, but Romans 5:10 and 2 Cor 5 tell us that God has already done that through Christ. We have been reconciled. We have been forgiven. It really is finished. We are exhorted to preach the message of reconciliation. Why? Because people need to believe it. It’s a gift that needs to be received. Some won’t and the end for them will be horrific. But God will not do again what He has already done at the cross. It was a perfect, never-to-be-repeated sacrifice. The door is now open, the curtain torn, and the way is clear. Satan has been defeated and the prison walls are down. But you’ve still got to get up an walk out. Sadly, some won’t. The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men but unless you receive it by faith it will be of no effect to you. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith (Eph 2:8).
“but Romans 5:10 and 2 Cor 5 tell us that God has already done that through Christ. We have been reconciled. We have been forgiven.” I don’t consider myself a “universalist” but the above quote from your reply backs up what I believe. It’s finished! Where was our freedom when Adam fell and doomed us all to an everlasting torture chamber? Because of one man we all got cursed yet Jesus came to fix that yet many will still are doomed? Oddly God never mentioned an everlasting torment when he kicked Adam out of the Garden. That’s quite an oversight!
“Satan has been defeated and the prison walls are down. But you’ve still got to get up an walk out.” But none of us had that choice with Adam did we? Why didn’t God just punish Adam and Eve and let his offspring be free to make a choice as well? Because we inherited a nature that wasn’t of our doing. But Christ came through the womb and saved us all. All I’m saying is if what you say is true than Adam and Satan did a greater work than Christ. I used to believe in the doctrine of Hell thankfully no more. It’s a pagan doctrine that crept into the Church.
“I wish that what you said is true, that God will save all.” You mean to tell me that my view of the Gospel is greater than God’s? Impossible! If an earthly father knows how to give good gifts to his children how much more your Father in Heaven? The Gospel isn’t Good News if most people will suffer an unspeakable torment forever.
BTW my comments aren’t written with an argumentative spirit by any means. I write this as I would write to a friend talking about deep and heavy matters. Again great site! Learning about God’s Grace is liberating. Thanks.
Hi again Lou,
You seem to be making arguments on the basis of your sense of fair-play. These arguments are inconsistent. You say it wasn’t fair that we weren’t involved in Adam’s choice. But you then argue that we have no choice now – all will be saved. How can one be fair and the other not? You cannot have it both ways.
Similarly, you cannot claim that Christ saved you while preaching “pagan doctrines” about hell. Either Jesus is Lord or He isn’t. Choose. If He’s the Savior, listen to Him.
The fact is, you and I were in Adam when he made his choice AND we are each offered a choice of our own. We can remain in Adam’s family or we can get adopted out. My ancestors made a choice to leave England and come to New Zealand. I was in them when they came here. I had no choice about where I was born, but I can’t blame my ancestors if I’m unhappy here yet don’t choose to leave. Anyone can leave Adam’s family. We all have the same choice.
Your argument that “Adam and Satan have done a greater work than Christ if any die” is specious. The Bible tells us that God is love. Love will not take hostages. Love will not lock you up in a prison, even a paradise like the Garden of Eden. This is why God provided a way out. God did not force Adam and Eve to love Him; He let them choose. They chose poorly. They left and took us with them. Yet even now God offers every one of us a choice. God doesn’t send anyone to hell; we send ourselves.
I agree that hell is not part of the gospel. Indeed Paul never mentions it. The good news is not “you’re going to hell;” the good news is that Jesus died so that you don’t have to. Actually the good news is even better than that, but you get my drift.
Finally, a universalist by definition is one believes that all will be saved. You seem to believe this. If all will be saved no matter what, then faith is irrelevant. Ephesians 2:8 is just one scripture that demolishes the universalist argument. You must choose. Don’t shy away from your God-given right to choose. Time is short. If you’re on the platform waiting for the 12-noon train but you can’t make up your mind whether you want to get on it or not, by 12:01 you will have chosen.
The words of Jesus in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus do not support your view Lou. Luke 16:19-31 clearly defines the reality of Hell. There are numerous other verses supporting it as well. There are also numerous verses that clearly show that repentance and a confession of faith are required to receive what was accomplished in the cross. It has nothing to do with Satan or Adam doing a greater work than Christ. Christ universal victory is freely available to all, but they have to accept and embrace it. What you describe Lou typically translates into a license to sin. Not saying that is the case in your life, but the Word is very clear about a need for surrender on our part.
Awesome article (as usual)! The universalist view negates any faith response from a believer and rejects any form of responsibility. They are merely “victims of circumstance”. God did not create puppets, he created mankind with a free will and said “You rule the earth” (Gen 1:28). Adam did not rule and therefore lost his authority – bottom line. The writer of Hebrews talks about how Israel heard the gospel, but rejected it – they didn’t mix it with faith:
Heb 4:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
It’s one thing to hear the gospel, but another to receive it. If someone gives you a gift for your birthday, you have to receive it to make it your own – or like the universalist, you can leave the person standing knocking at the door with the gift in his hand without actually taking it from him, but think he will someday hunt you down and force you to take it 😉
Here on earth if someone forces their love on you without your consent, it is considered to be rape. And yet this is exactly what universalists accuse God of… He is like a life saver, pushing us into the swimming pool just so He can pull us out again.
Faith: Another common universalist view is that since faith is gift of the spirit, He is solely responsible for making us place that faith in Christ. On the one hand the universalist believes that ALL will be saved, regardless of what they believe or whether they even believe at all. On the other hand they believe that IF faith is required in order to be saved, then God will give us that faith, no… force that faith onto us. They support this by very cleverly devising Gal 2:20 from the King James Version which talks about “living by the faith of God”.
John 6:40 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
If God were somehow going to save everybody, why didn’t He just plainly state it? Why put His Son through all the anguish of dying on a cross if He was going to save everybody in any case?
Lou, I’ve had endless discussions with universalists over the past few months (sorry for putting you in a “box” brother 😉 ), but it appears to me that only those who grew up alongside other people who hold the universalist view, also hold to it. You had to have sat for years and years under this teaching to begin interpreting scripture this way. You also need to do some pretty good gymnastics with certain scriptures to make them “fit” with this view. If the universalism view were the truth, then only those who hold a Greek degree would be able to grasp it.
I love the idea of nobody being lost – I really do – after all, it’s God’s will that none should perish. Yet by looking around us we can clearly see that God’s will is not manifesting in our world: There are wars, famine, diseases, violence, etc. So the argument that God will force salvation onto everybody does not hold water – if God’s grace will override mankind’s rebellion in the spiritual dimension, why doesn’t He step in right now and put an end to all the suffering in the natural realm as well?
In Grace, Andre van der Merwe
HI Paul love your article, my question might be abit way off your topic here but would love to hear what you understanding in this Gal 1:8&9 that Paul preached “but even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” And then he repeated again on verse 9 about preaching any other gospel that they will be accursed. By question is how do you read it in the light of grace since Gal 3:13 says ” Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law….?” How can one who is saved and redeemed still be accursed if he preaches ‘any other gospel’ which I supposed is that he preaches law and be accursed? IF so, what curses is Paul talking about? Do you have any insights in this?
Lou, the parable doesn’t make any distinction about gentiles or Jews. It refers to a rich man and a beggar, that’ it. You seem to be reading more into it than what is present. Jesus whole point was that it was too late for the rich man who was experiencing separation from God and that if his brothers didn’t believe based on the revelation they’d already been given, someone coming back from the dead wouldn’t make any difference. The whole message of the Bible reveals salvation dependent on repentance and faith. That parable is also just one of many many verses referring to Hell (regardless of root words) and the concept of an eternal separation from God for those who persisted in their unbelief. Romans 5:18 only means that it is available for all people, not that all people will receive what’s available. The apostle Paul makes very clear in numerous verses that not all will receive what is available to them.
The Lord also said to pluck an eye out if makes you stumble. Did He mean it literally or was it symbolic. Parables are to be read with the Spirit. All His parables had great meaning and symbolism. He even had to to tell His own disciples what they meant because they themselves weren’t sure. So just disregard “root words” when it doesn’t fit the doctrine? “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.” -Romans 5:18. That one verse is clear as day don’t know what else I can write. Oh well I tried.
Lou, parables were meant to convey a truth. As I already said, the parable is not the only part of Scripture that supports the existence of Hell. There is NO place in Scripture that suggests it does not exist. You are attempting to make an assertation based on what is not there. You have to stretch and speculate to arrive at your conclusion. Your comment about plucking an eye is an example of hyperbole. Jewish culture was well known for making an exaggeration to highlight or draw attention to a truth. It is impossible for your eye to make you stumble. What makes you stumble is your choice, the exercise of your will, to act in a way not in alignment with Christ. Nobody is disregarding the root word. The root word does not take away or detract from the fact that the Bible teaches there is a place of eternal separation from God. Eternal separation in and of itself IS hell, whether you use a lower case or upper case h/H.
I believe why it says many were affected in the fall is to be taken in the same sense as ,” many will be affected because of Jesus”. Even in the o.t. God said children won’t pay for the fathers sins. He means if a person should decide he doesn’t want to live without God the way he’s seen his parents live then that person will be forgiven and not held in some bondage because his father put him there. So it is the same now. Whosoever wants to drink of jesus ( the many) , will be saved but whosoever wants to follow in Adams steps ( the many) he can do that too. Also God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, NOW be ye reconciled to Him. I seriously came 2 inches to accepting the teaching that all are automatically born again just for being human but there is so much twisting of scripture i see done in order to accept it. I can’t embrace this doctrine aand still be faithful to scripture. I also came close to believing the bible is ,”just a book” which ade believing this doctrine super appealing and easy to embrace. 🙂 But I could not dismiss the many great times me and God had in His Word. I’m pretty sure I love my bible and I believe the scriptures you quoted are misunderstood by you and many other universalist. Not on purpose I’m sure. But ALL des not mean ALL whether they believe,recieve or not. He’s referring to all who believe and recieve His gift. Also in my studies of what,” all knowing’ means it never means God knew every move every man would ever make before he made it. Just ‘cuz it says Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world doesn’t mean because God knew he would sin. It means He was well able,willing,and prepared to do whatever He had to. God would never knowingly put this entire world in the chaos it is in. But i know nobody believes that. lol I really do thugh
Lou, you say hell is an uncertain place and that the parable doesn’t prove eternity. It seems you are prepared to risk much on an uncertainty. If hell is eternal, all is permanently lost. Of the two possible errors, the one you risk is infinitely riskier. You will no doubt disagree, but the evidence of scripture is squarely in the “tormented day and night forever” camp (Rev 20:10-15). You build foolishly if you ignore the words of Jesus. Jesus didn’t share your uncertainty about hell. Was Jesus serious about plucking eyes? Absolutely! A reader asked me about this several weeks ago and I have now have post on this very topic primed to go. It is in the queue to be published probably next week. Stay tuned.
Specious means spurious and your logic is demonstrably so. Jesus did a greater work because redemption leaves us far better off than Adam was before He fell.
Rms 5:18 “justification that brings life to all men” sounds like “grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Tit 2:11). God has no favorites. All are welcome. But His gift will count for nought if you don’t receive it by faith. See Eph 2:8, Rm 10:10 – I don’t know how more clear the Bible could be on this point.
Hi Paul, I’m so glad you posted this article….thank you! Diane
Great stuff again. What do you make of some of the things Jesus talks about in Revelation 2-3 to New Testament Churches living in the New Covenant? I’ve often wondered how to reconcile that with believers’ secure salvation and place of no condemnation through faith in Christ Jesus. It talks about him killing Jezebel and removing lampstands.
I began Escape to Reality with a series of studies on the churches of Revelations 2-3. If you take a look at my post on Thyatira, you will find links to the other churches (Ephesis, Sardis, and Laodicea) at the bottom. Philadelphia has been on my to-do list for about a year. Smyrna and Pergamum will have to wait.
I am a newcomer to this site. Like it.
2 Thess 6-10, Paul does talk about hell. The good news is believers have nothing to fear 1 Thess 1:8,10. Regardless, Peter said its Gods will that no one perish but change thier mind (non Christians) look away from themselves and believe (1 Pet 4:17 AMP, 2 Pet 3:9, Acts 18:30-31).
I mean’t Acts 17:30-31, sorry. (scriptures in parenthesis)
Love your judge picture Paul.I was channel surfing and saw a particular preacher talking about the churches with this same look last night.My thought was wow that look will draw people.Very scarey.I am going to take more time looking at your articles on the churches in Revelation.Again thanks for your teachings.You do realized we have to “change” our whole way of thinking on these matters if we look at it differently than what we have been taught.One part says wow this is out there.The other parts says Has the church been wrong all these years.How could the Holy Spirit let that happen since Jesus is the head of the church?
At first glance thought the judge was Cornel in a wig. I like the article very much and also the latter discussion about Universalism. It has struck me funny that SOME Universalists, who already believe everyone is going to be saved, are so concerned about teaching the truth about the need for salvation. It seems like they have to prove they are right, to fully persuade themselves about what they believe because they are hoping they are correct. If they truly believed what they say then they would care less that someone preached salvation or anything else for that matter. Thanks again for the article.
i love it when the Spirit leads each of us in our personal studies of God’s Word into the same revelation of Truth!
So is question #3 referring 2 the fact thst Jesus dying for our sin indicates that if we fornicate or committ adultery we will not be punished for it?
Temporary earthly consequences for sins committed? Yes. Eternal judgment? No, because your sins were covered and paid for by the blood of Christ. There is none of this Jesus died for only some kinds of sin. He died for all sin.
Contrary to popular mythology, knowing all sin has been paid for does not encourage people to go and see how deeply into sin they can jump. It humbles most folks because they know they are not worthy for so great a gift.
You are teaching a gospel of believing in Jesus and afterwards doing whatever you want. That is not right. We are saved by grace but we must then live by the Spirit, stay away from sin, confess and repent continually. Proverbs 14:12 NIV “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
paul is teaching the gospel of grace… that offers salvation to all people and teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, so that we will live sober, righteous and godly lives in the here and now (titus 2:11-12)
The rest of my post didn’t come up, only the end part of it. It was more in-depth about what I was saying; I don’t know why it didn’t come up. But the way you put it sounds right. It just sounded to me from other topics that he was teaching a Christian can live life anyway he’d like and that’s not it. If a Christian could do whatever he wanted we would not be constantly told in the Bible to stay away from all the Earthly things.
Story of ananias and sapphira really bothers me. Where is the grace of God.
Either the cross is the once and final solution for sin (Heb 9:26), or it isn’t. If it is, God is unjust in judging the same sin twice and he didn’t kill A&S. If it isn’t, then Jesus is not the Savior and you should live in mortal fear. I choose to believe in the finished work of the cross. I choose to believe that what Jesus did was a perfect work that cannot be added to or improved upon. I choose to believe that God condemned ALL sin – including yours, mine, and Ananias and Sapphira’s – in the flesh (ie: in Jesus), just as the Bible declares (Rom 8:3). That’s the good news of the cross.
That’s good news. I would rather die for persons than causes. Thanks.
I think there are some events in the bible we just don’t understand yet because we refuse to fully embrace ideas that we do not want to agree with. Quite possibly because we still are not totally seeing things from God’s perspective so we just try and surmise what happened to justify our limited understanding. Whether it is Ananias and Sapphira, King Herod, or even when Paul commanding blindness in Bar-jesus. It is quite possible that there are aspects of life that we may put too much value on and other parts we do not want to accept. Sometimes it takes looking at all the events as a whole and letting God teach us what is in common. An example is take the two instances where Jesus spoke of people who had great faith. What was in common? They were not Jews under the law……
Why are you so concerned about them what about Moses , what about Elijah, what about Enoch. Just because one leaves in a chariot of fire you think he is better of. When Jesus met with Moses and Elijah it seems they were both in pretty good condition Peter even asked if this was to be our permanent dwellings.
Thanks so much for reply. I choose to believe the cross was a finished work also.
Grace is the only way gospel sets you free. I have ask God many times if it is the truth and all I hear is I love youu unconditionally so now when I start thinking old religious ways I meditate John 3:16. God bless you for this site. It has encouraged me so much.
Hey Paul, this has been one of my favorite posts of yours (a solid third to your series on Inclusionism and the other on hell), but I wonder if you still hold to the idea of original sin in light of what i’ve read of your stuff lately? Do you still believe we are all “born” goats or that we all simply choose to be a goat of our own free will early on in life. In other words, do you believe we are condemned for Adam’s sins or our own? I hold to the latter more now than before, seems tom make more sense to me in light of Jesus’ finished work. Certainly glad to be a sheep 🙂
I’ve been dodging this question for years, not because I’m unsure, but because I don’t want to start a flame war. So I’ll give you the short version and leave it at that: I don’t believe anyone of us is born with a “sin gene.” Surely, we a born in a world bent towards sin. But I strongly disagree with those who say we are born fist-waving, hell-bound rebels. I find nothing in life or the Bible that supports this and much evidence to support the contrary notion that we go astray or are led astray.
Oh, one more thing: I don’t believe we are condemned for Adam’s sins or our own. I believe all sin was dealt with on the cross. What condemns us is our refusal to lay hold of the free gift of life (John 3:18).
I like this. In the rush of the past few years I felt I was still dealing with this beast. But the good news was worth it. Your friendship was worth it. And I can even boast because the bible isn’t primarily concerned with our sin, though we must be against it, but with getting what Jesus paid for – a relationship with Abba Father. However, good genes means everyone has good genes. that’s good news. and a bit disturbing since what we’ve built at others expense will be gone. But God’s gifts are greater, right? No worries.
Part of our original sin was to put a measure on God, and freedom from this is to accept his limitless goodness. Many are still part of the original sin but still have life. We are given a simple choice choose life or death. Some have trouble choosing life as they believe they were and allways alive, they are only saved, and they then debate what they were saved from.They have life but don’t really believe it, like Martha .
I have been wrestling with this for sometime. People would tell me this , but I could not wrap my head around it. Thank you for putting it in words that I could understand.
Can I ask you about sheep and goats. Matt 25.31. How do you read this? It seems like it is the act of not doing certain things which gets the goats judged differently from the sheep. What is this judgement and why did Jesus not say the sheep put their faith in me where the goats don’t & think they are good enough by themselves?(not that I doubt that as truth for a second).
Thanks for your thoughts as always.
Jesus did say the sheep put their faith in me. He said they helped me without even seeing me, faith.Off the goats he said they thought they were so good in works they missed the purpose of my comming they missed me, even though they thought they were good people, they were surprised that they had not done the right work, to believe and see.
But my point is that He DIDN’T say that HERE.
I was wondering what thoughts people may have as to why He said what He did here.
Hi Lewis, the point is that it does say just that in the passage you refer to it depends what lense you look through, for me this is one of the great grace messages Jesus gave. Think about this why is it do you think, that the sheep did not recognize each other and not know they had helped another brother, would it not have been obvious by that brothers behavior he was a brother? The response to the goats is even more provocative , here the word brother is not used when referring to these, and this may indicate the unwillingness to help someone who is not by what we can see ( behavior ) able to be defined as a brother, and because of this these are the goats, it false seems these goats thought they were all ok , or self righteous.( when did we not ). You have every right to disagree with me but I would ask that you read what I have said previously and now and try and see what I am saying.There is much more that could be said about these words and it all in my view points to Grace.
Thank you Chris.
Jesus exposes the motivation of both groups as being what is important. It is that His sheep help where help is needed not just where they think it is justified and they do so because of the effect of grace on them.The wording implies that the goats consider these people the least showing again that they do not exhibit Grace.
The action or inaction is irrelevant.It is the reason we do that indicates the presence of a RELATIONSHIP with God which supplies the power to act as sheep do. So even though sometimes the sheep dont act how God would want this action is not the determining factor- how could it be as no one other than Jesus has always done the right thing.
Grace and peace.
I have answered from the NKJ bible from others , other conclusions will be made.
I know I’m late to the party here, but I had two thoughts I wanted to share:
1) John 9:39 “for judgment I came into the world…’ Don’t you think Jesus could have essentially been saying that His mission in coming to earth was to RECEIVE judgement – namely the judgement due the human race? In context, I think this makes sense – both in the specific context of this Scripture as well as the context of Jesus’ finished work. I could be wrong.
2) My second question/ comment is in reference to ‘universalism’ vs. whatever the specific version of an irremediable sentence to hell one believes in. What about Phil. 2: “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (the Greek word here can mean ‘subterranean; infernal, belonging to the world of departed souls), and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This could mean that eventually EVERY soul will realize who Christ is – unless this verse means that God is forcing some to kneel against their will – which I know you cannot abide the thought of (and neither can I.) There are many other Scriptures that speak of second chances, mercy triumphs over judgment, etc etc. These are just my thoughts. I personally wonder if the inextinguishable fires of hell are reserved for Satan and the fallen angels who tormented, deceived, etc. (all the atrocities that our Father never meant for us to experience) God’s beloved children for thousands of years. Anyhow, I just wonder why being united with our physical body here on earth is a prerequisite to accepting Jesus? Can’t that happen after we are no longer in our earthsuit?
Thanks, btw! I love your blog!
Sorry that comment above was super long; my bad. But I wanted to add something. 🙂 Rom 8:38-39 says that nothing, not even death, will be able to separate us from the love of God. I propose that God never stops loving any of us (believer or unbeliever), even after death. Why would we need to be in our mortal bodies in order for God to pursue us or for us to respond to His love, to Christ? Think of this: a child that dies prematurely – that child’s parents will continue to love them passionately loooong after that child has departed from their human body. Why would God, who IS love, put such a strict boundary on Himself as to the reach of His love? Imagine God saying ‘Sorry, you got swept away in a tsunami and drown, you are beyond the reach of my saving love.’ Um, that sounds positively bonkers!
You raise some interesting points. You may be interested in my recent “Conversations about hell” and “What happens to babies who die?”
However we define love, we must include freedom, for without the freedom to walk away, there can be no such thing as love. My take on the “every knee will bow” verse is this: Every eye that looks at the sun shall blink. This has nothing to do with one’s love or hatred for the sun – it’s just a natural reaction to the brightness of the sun.
Similarly, falling down in reverence is a perfectly normal reaction to seeing Jesus in all his true glory. Isaiah (and Paul in Philippians 2) are not speaking to the issue of universalism one way or another. They are speaking to the vindication of the Lord. Not everyone sees Jesus as Lord; one day they will. Some will fall in adoration; others may fall in terror. What happens after that is the Lord’s business.
I seem to remember every knee bowing when they came to take Jesus in the garden. Must have been quite a shock to most everyone there except the Lord of course.
Hey Paul, another great post! 🙂 I notice you don’t have any comments on Hebrews 13:4 in your scripture archive, and wondered which conclusion you come to about this verse?
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
Is it that the writer is talking about unbelievers? (non-christians) Or that this needs to be understood through the filter of the cross?
Neither seem likely. Of course we know that all sin is paid for in Christ, so I can only assume that the word to be looking at here is judgement. However, I can’t quite work out what this judgement looks like, if it is not the re-trying of sin which has already been paid for. It certainly cannot be a good judgement or reward!
Your insight is always appreciated! 🙂
What you say about 1 Peter 4:17 makes sense, but then how do we interpret the next verse? “If it is with difficulty the righteous are saved….” I don’t understand how or why we believers (the righteous) are saved with difficulty. Btw, i am so grateful for your help. I always consult e2r when it comes to difficult scriptures. Thank you so very much.
Given the context – state-sponsored terrorism of Christians and the very real threat of persecution unto death – I think Peter is encouraging the saints. “It’s going to hard for us who are Christians, but ultimately it will go harder on those who are not.” The first-century Christians of Judea were suffering because they obeyed the gospel; so “what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (v.17). Peter is not saying we have to go through difficulties to prove ourselves righteous or save-worthy, he’s quoting an old Proverb (Pro 11:31 if you’re interested) to make his point which is that there are consequences to whatever we choose. Better to suffer “according to God’s will” (v.19) meaning on account of the gospel, than to suffer the far greater consequences of rejecting the life that Christ offers.
this is a bit confusing. your tone of voice says your angry, yet I can’t see a worshipping child continuing in faith angry. I know I’m asking you not to be religious. Would you please respond. I don’t want a confusing lap of realities. If you are angry, I’ll go join the army and put it to use. If not, what else is there? Life. haha. of course.
that’s a bit of immaturity since so many of us are scared of hell, those of us who know better shouldn’t be afraid. thanks to you and thanks to Christians everywhere who count me their brother.
You omitted vs 18 to suit your emotional and sentimental teachings in the name of hyper GRACE?
Wow. My fraudulence has finally be exposed. Well done.
Thank you for the opportunity to share what I think. I like this site, because we are asked to share what “we think”, rather than what god is saying. Reading the article and many reports I take it all this is what people think, what people think is not necessarily what god is saying. It is my understanding only those who understand who the God of the Bible is, would be able to understand the mind of God and his word.
In saying this, It is very simple to know that Man through Adam have lost his righteousness, because of disobedience.Than Christ comes along, and redeems man from the sin of unrighteousness that he may be righteousness once again, man has been set free from the bondage of sin and disobedience. It is man’s responsibility to walk in that righteousness, common sense would tell anybody that when one disobeys he loses his righteousness unless he repents remorsefully and get connected again to the living God. Imagine a person being set free from prison and committing a crime after he was released, what would happen to that person. Imagine again telling Christians that Christ died for our sins , past, present and future and if one steals, rapes, or even commits adultery he is safe because Christ already died for his sins. May I say, you may get away with Christ, but not the law or the prison cells.
Hi Dr. Paul, I thank Jesus for blessing you with His wisdom which by the same spirit you impart to me as I read your writings. I have a doubt on eternal security I need you to help dissolve. As I preach on eternal salvation, someone confronted me with Revelation 3 “Jesus promised to SPEW the Christians out of His mouth” because they don’t please Him. He said it’s a promise from Jesus, so we can be rejected and send to hell. How do we reconcile this with the truth of eternal security?
Hi Kavin, thanks for your comment. You can find an article on that scripture in the Archives>Scripture Index. You may also be interested to learn that I am writing a grace-based book on Jesus’ letters to the Revelation Churches.
Hi Dr. Paul, thanks for the direction. I’m glad to hear you’re working on a grace based book. I’m interested in having it as soon as it is published. But the only trouble is where I live. I’m at the East Region of Cameroon in Africa and I’ve earlier searched for your books here to no avail. Probably because the place is remote or because French language dominates. Truth is your books are not here.
Nevertheless, when it is published I desire to have the book together with others like THE GOSPEL IN TWENTY QUESTIONS etc. I think it can be possible through DHL, post office or any other postal agency.
Sir, even though I hardly comment, I’m addicted to your blog– E2R and I’m blessed by it. From what I learn from you many people are being liberated here from the bondage of sin every single day. Thanks for availing yourself to Jesus and for revealing to million of people the hyper grace of Jesus Christ. Sir, we are blessed.
Very helpful. I admit my thinking was this refers to judgment in terms of condemnation and damnation, etc. It was confusing though, in the context of talking about suffering as a believer. I do see the phrase, “household of God” as an indication that there are
Genuine beliebers and also those who profess to believe but are not… they are like Pharisees, wolves in sheeps clothes, tares, etc. Not everyone who professes to believe is saved, and I do see this being dealt with in this context.