The Law of Circularity
by J. Preston Eby
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator and Sustainer of ALL things and ALL people. He either does or allows everything that is done in heaven or on earth. If one hundred billion helpless human beings are being tortured, then Jesus is doing it. Satan has brought suffering and death to the whole human race. However, if eternal torment IS TRUE, then Jesus Christ will torture forever the whole human race, except the small handful who will be saved. In one hour , in a hot searing hell, our Lord will inflict more pain and agony on each person than Satan inflicted on that person during his entire life .
If this torture lasts throughout eternity, then each unsaved person will suffer more than all the suffering of all the people that ever lived on earth. Think of it! Billions have suffered horrible pain for hours, days, weeks, months, and years, during the time they were alive. And yet, after they die, EVERY unsaved person will suffer more agony than all the suffering of the whole race put together from Adam until now. This is so horrible, so frightful, that it is difficult for our minds to grasp. Except Satan himself, Pharaoh, Nero, and Hitler were among the most horrible killers of men this world has ever known. Yet, the doctrine of eternal torture makes Jesus a million times more vicious and vindictive than these three put together. You see, these brutal murderers killed their victims. Death brought sweet relief in a moment of time. However, that Man of Galilee, that Man whom we love, praise, and worship, that Man who taught that we should forgive four hundred and ninety times a day, that Man who told us that we should love our enemies and bless them that curse us , that Man who died for all men, will never, never forgive ANYONE who has rejected Him in this frail life, or, worse yet, who merely failed to believe on Him during this brief time. Instead of torturing them for a season and then ending their suffering with death, He will torture them through all eternity .
Even the hardest, cruelest, most brutal men cannot torture their fellow men for more than two or three hours without growing weak, faint, and sick (see Fox Book of Martyrs). However, Christian leaders teach that our Lord will torture His victims through endless ages. The Scripture reveals that Christ Jesus is the kindest, the most tender-hearted and merciful Person this world has ever known. His mercy endures forever, or to all generations of time. The doctrine of eternal torment pictures Him to be the most horrible monster, the most beastly, brutal, cruel, vicious Person this world has ever known . The governments of this world, ruled by unregenerated men, put their rebels in prisons, and the very worst offenders they put to death. But our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator and Redeemer of the world, will mercilessly torture those who offend Him to the most hideous and incomprehensible degree. Surely, this pagan and Romish doctrine of eternal torture does NOT glorify HIM!
One of the theologians of the Church of England (Jeremy Taylor) speaks of the fate of the wicked in the following terms: "In hell every sense and organ shall be assailed forever with its own appropriate and most exquisite sufferings. We are amazed at the inhumanity of Phalaris who roasted men in his brazen bull, but THAT WAS A JOY IN COMPARISON WITH HELL."
And here is what the renowned evangelist, C. H. Spurgeon, said on the same subject: "There is real fire in hell. The body shall be suffused with agony; your head tormented with racking pains; your eyes starting from their sockets; your ears tortured with horrid sounds; your pulse rattling with anguish; your limbs crackling in the flame; every vein a pathway for the fire to tread; every nerve a string on which the devil shall forever play the diabolical tune of hell's unutterable lament."
If it were true, it is so awful that it should never be spoken without tears and a broken heart. How does the mother of a murderer speak of the corning execution of her boy? Yet the prospect to her is only one of time, and in the limits of the physical. If the people believe it, then their attitude about the whole thing reveals that they could care less if the creation burns forever. The fact is, NO ONE really believes in an eternal burning hell if we are to judge by their actions. If they saw a person in a burning building, they would put forth every effort to save them; they would cry and scream for help; they would be late for work; they would not rest until the victims were rescued. Yet, those who teach eternal torment can spend their hours relaxing in front of the television screen, visiting and feasting upon rich dainties with their friends, and whole days in camping, vacationing, fishing, and playing, and then lay their heads upon a pillow every night and sleep soundly, while, according to their own teaching, countless millions are going to a place a million times worse than a burning building!
If they believed what they teach, they would never cease, day and night until they dropped, and others came to take their places, in their efforts to save men from such a place! They excuse themselves by saying, "All we can do is warn." But if they were standing before a burning building would they preach a thirty-minute sermon, then turn and walk away, saying, "All we can do is warn!" And how many do they meet day after day, and never mention their danger? Ah, precious friend of mine, if my concept of hell were what modern Christendom's is, then it is my conviction that I would not be able to wait for God to send me to preach the Gospel! I would have to spend my every wakened hour pleading, working, struggling, fighting to save men from such a fate. I would be compelled to spend hours upon hours in the chronic wards of hospitals, in rest homes, with the elderly and those working on dangerous jobs, begging men to repent and turn to Jesus before they die. And I am convinced that anyone with the love of God in his heart would do the same if he really believed the fables that are being taught today about hell. I will say this, either those who teach eternal torture are extremely calloused or they do not believe what they teach!
George Hawtin has so aptly written:
"Is it any wonder that in the face of such sadistic humbug there has been a wholesale manufacture of infidels? All these statements (by eternal hell-fire preachers) may be a show of oratorical eloquence, but they are nothing more. They hold no part of truth. They deny every attribute of God. They make wisdom foolishness, turn eternal love into exasperated hate, make omnipotence helplessness, and make the justice of God the grossest injustice in the universe. To say that I believe in such repugnance would be a lie of the first order. I do not believe it because it is contrary to the nature of God. It is contrary to the love of God. It is contrary to the justice of God. It is contrary to the power of God. It is contrary to the Word of God and it puts God in the ridiculous position of being the almighty King of kings and Lord of lords yet having dominion a vast pocket of hate and resistance that even He cannot overcome. Further than this it makes the mighty sacrifice of Christ that was made for all the world to be almost impotent in its power and scope. Worst of all, it frustrates the purpose of God laid down in the beginning when He said, 'Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.' Some will immediately ask me whether I do not believe in hell. My answer is very definite on this point. I most certainly DO BELIEVE in hell, but the hell of the Bible and the hell of human tradition are not the same thing at all. The hell of tradition is hopeless and eternal, while the hell of the Scripture like every judgment of God is corrective, remedial, and restorative."
I do not like to differ, even in minor things, from those whom I esteem for their devotion to Christ and their valuable service in the cause of His Kingdom. But in the immortal words of the great Martin Luther, "Here I stand - I can do no other. So help me God!"
Long centuries ago the faithful apostle Peter penned these inspired words, "Who by the power of God are kept through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (I Pet. 1:5). My conviction before God is that the extent of the salvation of Jesus, the Christ, our Lord, is to be known only in the last time. Jesus Himself said to His disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now." But He said when the Holy Spirit should come, He would lead his people step by step - patiently lead them into the way of All Truth; so that when the last time (end of the age) came, the full revelation of that salvation would be made. I believe that I am writing in the last time. Writings of this kind do not endear the hearts of many people. I fear that enemies are made instead. Every time a truth is spoken, many become offended and many are filled with wrath. People always astonish me. It is never possible to know what attitude they will take under any given circumstance. They will believe and trust you and feed from your table, and for many years, only to become suddenly offended because of some point upon which they disagree, and often become hostile and sometimes even vicious, calling you a heretic and a false prophet, cutting you off from an fellowship and spiritual communication, and warning other saints near and far not to have anything to do with you.
I am also perfectly aware that these profound truths will be misapplied by another class, and some will twist and wrest them to their own destruction in their carnal and wicked endeavor to set aside all repentance of sin and annul all holiness of life, as some men in their zeal to display the grace of God have done, ridiculously living in sin and turning the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 4). These beautiful truths are not now written to men of corrupt minds who have no desire to walk in the Spirit, but to all who walk in the whole counsel of God, serving God because they love and know Him and not in fear of some dreadful judgment that hangs like a horrible terror before their eyes. I do not address those who would pervert the right ways of the Lord, using God's gracious plan and His great mercy as an excuse for careless living or unconcern for lost men, but to those children of the Most High God who, seeing their infinite identity in Christ, are consumed with the holy passion of becoming the very instrument of God to fight the good fight of faith, destroying sin and death and hell, and bringing all men back into the loving embrace of their God and Redeemer. So be it!
I recognize that there will be some still unanswered questions in some minds, but there is neither time to write nor finances to print a treatise dealing with every small point. How can we put the ocean of eternal truth into the limited pages of one small book? If God will have all men to be saved, and the Scripture is very clear on this point, then there must be a way by which this truth falls into perfect harmony with every other Scripture which seems to teach otherwise. We do ourselves much injury when we seize upon every Scripture which proclaims the salvation of all men, but carefully avoid all Scripture which speaks of the fearful judgment of the wicked. Yet even greater harm is done when people insist upon taking the other point of view, as almost the entire Church system has done for centuries, emphasizing only those Scriptures which seem to teach the unending doom of those unfortunate creatures who never once heard that God had a Son and skillfully avoiding every direct statement of Scripture which indicates that God has reconciled all things to Himself, and that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess to God of things in heaven and things in earth and under the earth. There is always a place of harmony if we look for it, and it is not usually difficult to find. Otherwise we will be forced onto that untenable ground of having to say that the Bible contradicts itself - which, of course, it never does. Whenever you find two Scriptures that seem to set forth conflicting views, there is always a simple explanation, and, if we will diligently inquire of the Lord, He will give us a definite answer. Human understanding is almost always prone to seize upon one side of a statement and will cling to that with the grip of death, refusing to even investigate or seek the wisdom of God to harmonize the truth. Worldly wise men are forever saying that the Bible contradicts itself.
I have never believed that by teaching the ultimate salvation of all men we were pitting one group of Scriptures against another, for it is my conviction that the solution can only be found in the correct harmonization of all the Scriptures, not ignoring one group while advancing the other. I believe I speak by the Spirit of God when I assert that the only sensible harmonization of all the Scriptures lies in the fact that Jesus is indeed the savior of all men, that He is in very fact the savior of the world, and that He will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, drawing all men to Himself. To me this is a most glorious and wonderful fact! I find all the judgments of God to be correctional and disciplinary rather than vindictive and final. Therein lies the harmonization of which I speak. This leaves us free to believe ALL of God's Word. It magnifies the cross. It glorifies God. It honors the atonement. It gives meaning to the ministry of the Sons of God. It gives purpose to the ages yet to come, all planned and arranged beforehand by our wonderful Creator. Sin, judgment, and death are temporary, all to be dealt with by the mighty power of God invested in His saints. The entire universe will be reconciled to God through the blood of Christ's cross. God will become All-in-All. Here is a God worthy of your worship and adoration!
Several brethren have written or discussed this subject with me through the years, adamant against the truth I see. But their arguments are shallow and twisted and their spirits generally harsh against men whom God loves and for whom the Christ died, as though they wanted to make CERTAIN that everybody gets every thing they "deserve." Their theology is lopsided, distorted, out of balance, and it will be smashed in the end! Those who walk in that attitude know but little of the love of Him who is at the same time the JUDGE OF ALL and the SAVIOUR OF ALL. He is not the Judge of some and the Saviour of some , but both Judge and Saviour of ALL! If "Judge of ALL" means that He judges all, then "Saviour of ALL" must mean that He saves all, for the Scriptures plainly make both statements. Within that one fact again can be seen the HARMONIZATION of the justice and the love of God - His judgment leading to repentance and a knowledge of His mercy. Praise His wonderful name!
It is estimated that about one hundred and sixty billions of human beings have lived on the earth in the six thousand years since Adam departed from Eden. Of these, the very broadest estimate that could be made with reason would be that less than five billion were saints of God. This broad estimate would leave the immense aggregate of one hundred and fifty-five billions (155,000,000,000) who went down into death without faith and hope in the only name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved. Indeed, the vast majority of these never knew or heard of Jesus, and could not believe in Him of whom they had not heard. What, I ask, has become of this vast multitude, of which figures give a wholly inadequate idea? What is, and is to be, their condition? Did God make no provision for these, whose condition and circumstances He must have foreseen? Or did He, from the foundation of the world, make a wretched and merciless provision for their hopeless, eternal torment, as many of His children claim? To these questions, which every thinking Christian asks himself, and yearns to see answered truthfully, and in harmony with the character of God, comes a variety of answers:-
CALVINISM ANSWERS: God is all-wise; He knew the end from the beginning; and as all His purposes shall be accomplished, He never could have intended to save any but a few, the Church. These He elected and fore-ordained to be eternally saved; all others were equally fore-ordained and elected to be lost - to go to eternal torment; and they are there now, writhing in indescribable agony, where they will ever remain, without hope.
ARMINIANISM ANSWERS: Yes, God is love; and in bringing humanity into the world He meant them no harm - only good. But Satan succeeded in tempting the first pair, and thus sin entered into the world, and death by sin. And ever since, God has been doing all He can to deliver man from his enemy, even to the giving of His Son. And though now, six thousand years after, the Gospel has reached only a very small proportion of mankind, yet we do hope and trust that within six thousand years more, through the energy and liberality of the Church, God will so far have remedied the evil introduced by Satan that all then living may at least know of His love, and have an opportunity to believe and be saved. We believe that God excuses many of them on account of ignorance. Those who did the best they knew how will be sure of being a part of the saved, even though they never heard of Jesus.
FUNDAMENTALISM ANSWERS: Only those who here and now, during the fleeting years of this life, truly repent and receive the Lord Jesus as Saviour are saved. All others have been and are and shall be eternally lost without retrieve and go to a merciless, hopeless, hell-fire and damnation.
There is one beautiful and undeniable truth in the Word of God. The Scriptures clearly show that there is only one ground of salvation and that is FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST as our Redeemer and Lord. "By grace are you saved, through faith " (Eph. 2:8). Justification by faith is the underlying principle of the whole system of New Testament revelation. When asked, "What must I do to be saved?" the apostles answered, " Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31). "There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13).
The apostle Paul warned of those who would depart from the utter simplicity of this truth to preach ANOTHER WAY, and ANOTHER GOSPEL. "I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that comes preaching ANOTHER Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if yea receive ANOTHER Spirit, which yea have not received, or ANOTHER Gospel, which yea have not accepted, yea might well bear with him" (11 OCR. 11:3-4). ANOTHER JESUS, ANOTHER SPIRIT, ANOTHER GOSPEL - ANOTHER WAY!
Many today who claim to be "Bible believing," "Evangelical" or "Fundamental" preach ANOTHER GOSPEL and ANOTHER WAY OF SALVATION. There are some who feel the burden of the awful doctrine of eternal torture which they embrace, and unconsciously their souls revolt at the ghastly conclusions to which it leads. Such ones have resorted to various makeshifts to escape the inevitable conclusions. I will mention two or three of these. It is said that although it is true that the great mass of the race have thus far died in their sins, yet it does not follow that they have been lost; for if those who are unavoidably ignorant live up to the light they have, they will be saved . These claim that Paul teaches that IGNORANCE will save men, when he says that "The Gentiles, which have not the law, are a law unto themselves" (Rom. 2:14). They gather from this that the law which their conscience furnishes is sufficient to justify them.
But such persons misunderstand Paul. His argument is that the whole world is guilty before God (Rom. 3:19); that the Gentiles, who had not the written law, were condemned, not justified, by the light of conscience, which, whether it excused them or accused them proved that they were unworthy sinners and thus estranged from the life of God, even as Israel who had the written law were condemned by it; "For by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20). The law given to the Israelite revealed his weakness, and was intended to show him that he was unable to justify himself before God; for "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight." The written law condemned the Israelite, and the Gentiles had light enough in their conscience to condemn them; and thus every mouth is stopped from claiming any inherent life, and all the world stands guilty before God.
Remembering the statement of James (2:10), that whosoever shall keep the whole law, except to offend in one point, is guilty of all, and cannot claim any blessing promised by the Law Covenant, we realize that indeed "there is none righteous; no, not one" (Rom. 3:10). And thus the Scriptures close every door of hope save one, showing that not one of the condemned is able to secure eternal life by meritorious works, and that it is equally useless to plead ignorance as a ground of salvation. Ignorance cannot entitle anyone to the REWARD of faith and obedience! Salvation by IGNORANCE! Indeed! ANOTHER GOSPEL! ANOTHER WAY! "For there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved!" (Acts 4:12).
Many Christians, unwilling to believe that so many billions of ignorant heathen will be eternally lost (which they have been taught means to be sent to a place of eternal and hopeless torment), insist, notwithstanding these Bible statements, that God will not condemn the ignorant. I admire their liberality of heart and their appreciation of God's goodness, but urge them not to be too hasty about discarding or ignoring the words of Scripture. God has a blessing for all, in a better way than through ignorance!
But do these erring ones act in accordance with their stated belief? NO! Though they profess to believe that the ignorant will be saved on account of their ignorance, they continue to send missionaries to the heathen at the cost of thousands of valuable lives and untold millions of dollars. If they all, or even half of them, would be saved through ignorance, it is doing them a positive injury to send missionaries to teach them of Christ; for only about one in a thousand believes when the missionaries go to them. If this idea be correct, it would be much better to let them remain in ignorance; for then a much larger proportion would be saved. Continuing the same line of argument, might we not reason that if God had left ALL MEN in ignorance, ALL would have been saved? If so, the coming and death of Jesus were useless, the preaching and suffering of apostles and saints were vain, and the so-called Gospel, instead of being good news, is very bad news. Leave the heathen alone in their darkness and ignorance and the majority will be saved by living up to the light they have. Send them the Gospel and we know from past experience that the majority of them will reject it and be lost. These conclusions are inevitable. You cannot escape them while you entertain the notion of the majority of the heathen being saved by living up to the light they have. Such reasoning is a hideous affront to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, and a wicked blasphemy against God and His plan of redemption. ANOTHER GOSPEL! ANOTHER WAY!
Others, craftily seeking to evade these conclusions, invent the silly myth that in some unexplained way all men have been dealt with by God. These conniving souls presume that in some mysterious way God reveals Himself to each and every son of Adam sometime during his life. Perhaps through the conscience - or one dark night while the heathen is standing under the canopy of the heavens observing the majesty of the star-studded sky - there suddenly comes that burst of inner revelation there is a God! And if, in that instant, we are told, that man will seek after God he will find Him. To which I answer: -Tommyrot! Rubbish! ANOTHER GOSPEL! ANOTHER WAY! And those who teach the lie are deceivers. Why, bless your heart, if God habitually and consistently reveals Himself sovereignly and independently to every man who lives upon this earth, then what need is there to print Bibles, or send missionaries, or intercede in prayer, or preach the Gospel? You will have to tear the Bible all to pieces if you teach such nonsense. It is blasphemy.
The Word of God asks the burning question: "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe on Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?" (Rom. 10: 14-15). And these poor deluded souls pretend to answer all these "how shalls " of Scripture by creating a method by which it can be done! They have invented a system by which men can believe without hearing and hear without a preacher, and under this system no preacher need be sent.
But, I ask, how are the heathen, or any lost men, to be justified by faith by this method since "faith comes BY HEARING and hearing by the Word of God," and "it pleased God BY THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING to save them that believe" (Rom. 10: 17; 1 Cor. 1:21). Nowhere in all the pages of God's blessed Book does it state that God sometime, somewhere, somehow, reveals himself to every man during his brief life in the flesh. Show me! Here is God's estimation of the condition of the heathen: "Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time you were without Christ , being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having NO HOPE, and without God in the world..." (Eph. 2:11-12).
If God independently and sovereignly reveals Himself to every man then the "Great Commission" is a monstrous farce and should be torn out of the Bible and deposited on the garbage heap. No need to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE" if the Spirit deals with EVERY MAN sometime, somewhere, somehow during his life apart from the ministry of the Body of Christ. Ah! The argument is really the great "cop out," a silly invention of conniving deceivers who are unwilling to face the fact that God would permit billions of men to pass through this life without any chance of salvation, and equally unwilling to concede that God has any plan for the salvation of those billions in the future. So - in order to consign them an to eternal damnation they concoct this outrageous lie that God really DID give these billions a chance, apart from the preaching of the Gospel of God's grace in Jesus Christ, that these rejected His dealing, and have of their own free wills been damned. Such a teaching contradicts the Word of God, making a travesty of the fact that "God has committed unto US the word of reconciliation" and has "given to US the ministry of reconciliation" (II Cor. 5:18-19).
The fundamental flaw in the theory is that even if a heathen looked up at the stars one beautiful night and became deeply impressed that there must be a great God out there somewhere, such understanding in no way reveals to his darkened heart the wonderful truth that this God has a Son, that His Son's name is Jesus, that Jesus died for His sins, and that only by faith in Jessu Christ can a man be saved. I challenge anyone to prove that the vast multitudes of heathen die having rejected Jesus Christ who died for them who was revealed to their hearts by the Holy Spirit apart from the preaching of the Gospel. How foolish can men be! Let someone answer - if they can! Ah, it is but ANOTHER GOSPEL! ANOTHER WAY!
Another makeshift theory is the theory of salvation by innocence. Most Christians today, including the so-called "Fundamentalists" who claim to believe the whole unadulterated Word of God, believe this lie. They tell us that a baby that dies in infancy, or a small child that dies before reaching the "age of accountability," whatever that is, is alright, automatically covered by the blood of Jesus-SAVED! This evidently becomes a SECOND WAY to salvation, since it is apart from FAITH in Jesus Christ. "Oh," they glibly recite, "the little child is INNOCENT, and therefore free from the guilt of any sin." Is that so! The Scripture says otherwise. "Behold, I was shaped in iniquity , and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps. 51:5). In this verse David was not attempting to prove that his mother was having an adulterous affair at the time of his conception, but states the true inner condition of his own nature from his mother's womb.
Again, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon ALL MEN, for that ALL HAVE SINNED" (Rom. 5:12).
"For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
"For God has concluded them ALL in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all" (Rom. 11:32).
If even one infant is saved without personally believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, then there is indeed another way! "He that believes shall be saved" is the unceasing and unalterable testimony of God's Word. Some of the basic ingredients in salvation are repentance, faith, and confession. No infant can do any of these things! "Ah," you say, then you believe that all the little babies that have died are burning in hell!" What I am saying is what the Bible says, that all men are born sinners, and that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. "As many as recieved Him, to them gave He authority to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name" (Jn 1:12). The child who dies goes into the loving hands of God who watches over the souls of all men, who is the Saviour of all, and who deals with all out of His heart of infinite love, drawing each in the perfect timing ordained by His wisdom and omniscience. We can trust Him with the fate and destiny of our little ones, for the Judge of all the earth shall do right, but He does not cancel His redemptive process for any offspring of Adam, all must come the same route, the infant included.
The truth is, we who believe in the faithful dealings of God after death are the only ones who have the answer to the problem of the child that dies in innocence and ignorance of God and salvation. We are the only ones who correctly harmonize the whole plan of God and the processes of redemption. The rest contradict their own teaching that all men are born sinners, arguing rather that all men are born saved and afterwards become sinners, when, reaching the so-called "age of accountability," they become guilty before God. These offer us a salvation by innocence. It would be much better to die as infants, if such were the case! What an act of mercy the wicked old king Herod performed when in Bethlehem he sent thousands of babies into eternal heaven by the swish of the sword! Why should he be judged for his crime when in fact he saved more people from a life of sin, and sent more souls to heaven in a few days than many preachers are able to show for a lifetime of ministry! Think of how many hundreds of millions of souls we could secure for heaven and eternal life simply by killing all the little children! Chances are, if we let them live they will live in sin and end in hell. But, again, how foolish our reasoning! It would be very profitable to meditate deeply upon these things. There is but one way for all, rich and poor, male and female, bond and free, Israelite and Gentile, old and young, and a personal encounter with Jesus Christ most surely IS THAT WAY ... now and forevermore!
The Bible, which is full of the missionary spirit, does not teach that there are several ways of salvation, one way by faith, another by works, another by ignorance, and another by innocence. Neither does it teach the God-dishonoring doctrine of fatalism. While it shows every other door of hope closed against the race, it throws wide open the one, only door, and proclaims that whosoever will may enter into life; and it shows that all who do not now see or appreciate the blessed privilege of entering shall in due time be brought to a full knowledge and appreciation. The ONLY WAY, by which any and all of the condemned race may come to God, is not by meritorious works, neither by ignorance, nor by innocence, but by a living faith in the precious blood of Christ, which takes away the sin of the world (I Pet. 1:19; Jn. 1:29). This is the Gospel, the good tidings of great joy, "which shall be unto all people ."
Suppose we now look at these things just as God tells us of them, and leave the clearing of His character to Himself. Let us inquire, What has become of this one hundred and sixty billions of people who have lived upon this planet? Whatever may be their present condition, it cannot be their full reward; for Peter says, "The Lord knows how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" (II Pet. 2:9); and He will do so. But the thought that so many of our fellow creatures should at any time be lost from lack of having had the knowledge which is necessary to salvation would be sad indeed to all who have a spark of love or compassion. Then, too, there are numerous Scriptures which it seems impossible to harmonize with all this. Let us see: In the light of the past and the present as the only opportunities, laying aside all hope through a restoration in the coming age and ages, how shall we understand the statements, "God is love," and "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish" (I Din. 4:8; Din. 3:16)? Would it not seem that if God truly loved the world so much He might have made provision, not only that believers might be saved, but that all might hear in order to believe?
Again, when we read, "That was the true light that lights every man that comes into the world" (Jn. 1:9), our observation says, Not so; every man has not been enlightened; we cannot see that our Lord has lighted more than a few of earth's billions. Even in this comparatively enlightened day, millions of heathen give no evidence of such enlightenment; neither do many now living on our street; neither did the Sodomites, nor multitudes of others in past generations and ages.
We read that Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death " for every man " (Heb. 2:9). But if He tasted death for the one hundred and sixty billions, and from any cause that sacrifice becomes efficacious to only five billion, was not the redemption comparatively a failure ? And in that case, is not the apostle's statement too broad? When again we read, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people " (Lk. 2:10), and looking about us, see that it is only to a "little flock" that it has been good tidings, and not to all people, we would be compelled to wonder whether the angels had not over-stated the goodness and breadth of their message, and overrated the importance of the work to be accomplished by the Christ whom they announced.
Another statement is, "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all " (I Tim. 2:5-6). A ransom for ALL? Then why should not all involved have some benefit, from Christ's death? Why should not ALL come to a knowledge of the truth, that they may believe? Without the KEY, how dark, how inconsistent these statements appear; but when we find the KEY to God's plan, these texts all declare with one voice, "God is love." This key is found in the latter part of the text last quoted - "Who gave Himself a ransom for all, TO BE TESTIFIED IN DUE TIME." Ah, God has a "due time" for everything! He could have testified it to these in their past lifetime; but since He did not, it proves that their "due time" must be the future . For those who will be of the Church, the body of Christ, the firstfruits of His redemption, the present is the "due time" to hear and receive; and whosoever now has an ear to hear, let him hear and heed, and he will be blessed accordingly. Though Jesus paid our ransom before we were born, it was not our "due time" to hear of it for long years afterward, and only the appreciation of it, quickened by the Holy Spirit, brought responsibility; and this, only to the extent of our ability and appreciation. The same principle applies to all: in God's due time it will be testified to an, and all will then have the glorious opportunity to believe and be blessed by it. The prevailing opinion is that death ends all opportunity; but there is no Scripture which so teaches; and all the above, and many more Scriptures, would be meaningless, or worse, if death ends all hope for the ignorant masses of the world.
Nothing is more evident in the Word of God than the fact that man had his beginning in God. Every son of Adam, born as he is in trespasses and sins, enters into this world shrouded by the darkness of the carnal mind and imprisoned by the power of the carnal nature. But it was not always so! Everything everywhere Outside of Christ belongs to the realm of death, and because it belongs to the realm of death, it likewise belongs to the realm of darkness. Before ever man touched this dreadful realm the record states: "In the beginning WAS the Word, and the Word WAS with God, and the Word WAS God. In Him WAS life; and the life WAS the light of men" (Jn. 1:1,4). Was! It is a wonderful fact that in Him IS life, and His life IS the fight of every man who believes, but, wonder of wonders, in that long ago beginning Christ was then the life and His life was then the light of men. It was into this realm outside of Christ, the realm of outer darkness, that Adam was banished when he partook of that strange tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There he died, as God had warned, and we all died in him. Thus death passed upon all men, for all have sinned. Has mankind not fully proved throughout the centuries that he is in truth the son of Adam? Which of all God's commandments have we not broken, justifying ourselves in having done so even as Adam seemed to do.
Oh, sweet mystery of the ages, that a second Adam should stand upon the earth and declare, "The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE LIFE, and that they might have it more abundantly. For the bread of God is He which comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world. I am that bread of life. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (Jn. 10:10; 6:33, 48,51).
No greater revelation can break upon any man's consciousness than this simple truth that there is only one life in the universe, and that one life is Jesus Christ. May God make this truth real to your heart! When a man comes to Christ, he comes not only to the life that is the light of men, but to the same life that in the beginning was the light of men. What we have received in Christ's opening again of Paradise is a return, a restoration, a renewing, a redemption, a reconciliation, a resurrection. The prefix "re" means back again-anew and all the words with this prefix speak of something that left its place and has now made its circuit and come back to the point of its beginning.
Let me give you now a Scripture that shows the hand of God in this and the extensive scope of both the departure from, and the returning unto, God. I quote from Ps. 90:1-3. "Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You have formed the earth or the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man to destruction; and say return you children of men." You could never read this word "return" here, if you had not first read that man had been "turned" away to destruction. In this passage the word "destruction" has this meaning in the original: a complete collapse, crumbling man to a contrite condition.
Here is the picture: For the magnificent purpose God had in mind He made all the provision necessary before the foundation of the world. He made provision for a Lamb to be slain (Rev. 13:8). He made provision for a company of people to be chosen in Christ, to be holy and without blame before Him in love, as a firstfruit of His redemption in the earth (Eph. 1:45,10). Then He brought into Eden a poisonous serpent, a murderer, a MANSLAYER (Gen. 3: 1). Having prepared all this HE THEN BROUGHT MAN INTO THE GARDEN. Having brought man into the Garden, GOD PUT HIM INTO THE PATHWAY OF A COMPLETE COLLAPSE. It was God who turned man to destruction, set him on this downward course, sent him into outer darkness, and made him subject to vanity.
God our Father has never once blamed man for the fall, but takes the responsibility for it Himself when He says, "For the creation was subjected to frailty - to futility, condemned to frustration - not because of some intentional fault on its part , BUT BY THE WILL OF HIM WHO SO SUBJECTED IT. YET WITH THE HOPE that creation itself WILL BE SET FREE from its bondage to decay and corruption and gain an entrance into the glorious freedom of God's children" (Rom. 8:20-21, Amplified). Man did not volunteer for this time of travail, but the plan of God included this process, so God turned man into this route, this experience, and it will also be the sovereign work of a sovereign God who shall BRING BACK INTO HIMSELF the whole of His creation.
After turning man to destruction God then says, "RETURN TO ME, children of men." In verse four of Psalm ninety, the writer makes the statement that in God's sight a thousand years is as a day when it is passed. But in verse thirteen the Psalmist exclaims, "Return, O LORD, HOW LONG?" In the beginning of the Psalm the writer is joyful in the knowledge that though the Lord has turned man to destruction, yet God has also given the command to return, and what if it does take a thousand years or more, it is but a day in God's sight. But by the time the writer reaches the position of the thirteenth verse, he begins to cry out, saying, "O Lord, HOW LONG is all this going to take? HOW LONG before our full return to You?" A thousand years had become an unbearably long time. Surely this is the cry from the hearts of men today! This is the crying, groaning, and travailing we find the creation passing through in the eighth chapter of Romans, waiting for the manifestation of the Sons of God.
There was a day when Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus (Mars Hill Auditorium) declared to the philosophers of Athens, "The God who produced and formed the world and all things in it, made from one common origin, one source all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined their allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation - their settlements, lands, abodes; SO THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK GOD, IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MIGHT FEEL AFTER HIM AND FIND HIM, although He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, FOR WE ARE ALSO HIS OFFSPRING" (Acts 17:24-28, Amplified).
Oh, yes, He turned us to destruction, but planted deep in the subconsciousness of every man the secret command to return, which is revealed in that inner desire, yearning, craving, seeking, feeling, compulsion which is never satisfied until man does find himself home in God once more. All the religiousness of men, from the witch doctor in the jungle to the modernist in the pulpit in America, is the manifestation of this FEELING AFTER GOD, IF HAPLY THEY MIGHT FIND HIM. While mankind in general is still lost in the hellish darkness of sin and death, yet there is a firstfruit company whose hearts have been charged by the inward call to return, and with the Shulamite maiden in the Song of Solomon share this blessed experience: "By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loves; I sought Him, but I found Him not. I will arise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broadways I will seek Him whom my soul loves: I sought Him but I found Him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw Him whom my soul loves? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I FOUND HIM WHOM MY SOUL LOVES AND WOULD NOT LET HIM GO" (S. of S. 3:1-4). As the Spirit has witnessed through the prophet, "And yea shall seek Me, and find Me, when yea shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jeer. 29:13).
Mankind is yet groping about in the dense darkness of the carnal mind, knowing not that HE is standing right there in the shadows, were their eyes opened to see. Yet He has appointed a day - Oh glorious day! - when His light shall shine forth and the plan shall be completed as the apostle says, "For God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan, and it is this: He purposed long ago in His sovereign will that all human history should be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth should find its perfection and fulfillment in Him . In Christ we have been given an inheritance, since we were destined for this, by the One who works out all His purposes according to the design of His own will" (Eph. 1:9-11, Phillips).
The very laws of physics and mathematics establish with indisputable certainty the absolute inevitability of the creation's return back to God. Psalm nineteen was long a source of amusement to Bible critics. In speaking of the sun, the Psalmist says: "His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat there of' (Ps. 19:6). It was claimed that the writer of this verse, obviously believed in the ancient notion of the sun's revolving about the earth. This charge is most unjust, since we still use words and phrases of the same sort, simply because from our natural viewpoint the sun does rise in the morning, move across the sky, and set in the evening. The whole science of nautical and engineering astronomy is based on the assumption, made purely for convenience, that the earth is the center of a great celestial sphere, moving along the surface of which in ordered paths are the sun, moon, planets and stars. And as far as any practical usage is concerned, this is so. On this assumption, courses can be plotted, positions determined, and scores of other applications made.
But the words of the Psalmist have a deeper, more scientific meaning than that. It is now concluded by the leading astronomers that the sun, with the entire solar system, actually does move through space at the tremendous speed of 600,000 miles per hour in such a gigantic orbit that it requires over two million centuries to complete it, but complete it it shall, returning again and again, as the ages roll onward, to the point of its beginning. Furthermore, it is believed that our galaxy is also moving with respect to other galaxies. The sun's circuit IS from one end of the heavens to the other! Who can accuse the Holy Spirit of ignorance of modern astronomy?
The entire universe is an infinite sphere and each galaxies solar system, star and planet within it moves continuously and harmoniously in circular motion; thus, all worlds and suns have circles for their pathway. This principle has been referred to by scientists as the "law of circularity." Science is beginning to tell us that in the highest development of physics and mathematics the old theory of straight lines of infinite length has to be changed and modified to satisfy all the data of electro-dynamics, light, and some of the new electrical phenomena. There is no such thing in the universe as an absolutely straight line of infinite length. All straight lines will be found to be portions of immense circles. This law of circularity runs through all nature. If you were to leave planet earth traveling steadily in one direction, the day would surely come, be it in some distant age millions or billions of years hence, when you would arrive back at the precise point of departure, having completed the circuit - home again! Someone has said (a scientist) that if we were to build a telescope that could see into infinity, we would one day be looking at the back of our heads!
This great law of circularity by which all things in God's creation are seen to RETURN to the place of their BEGINNING, in its spiritual significance, is expressed in Rom. 11:36: "For FROM HIM and THROUGH HIM and TO HIM are all things - for all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to CONSUMMATE AND TO END IN HIM. To Him be glory forever! Amen" (Amplified). All manifestations of nature discernible to the senses confirm this law of circularity. "The sun also arises, and the sun goes down, and hastes to its place where he arose. The wind goes toward the south, and turns about unto the north; it whirls about continually, and the wind returns again according to his circuits . All the rivers run i into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again" (Eccl. 1:5-7).
Today, scientists tell us that there is just so much water in the earth. There has always been that amount and there always will be. We should understand that neither water, nor anything else, can be destroyed. Its form can be changed, but it eventually will return to its original form. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that water is taken from the oceans in the form of moisture by the sun. Then the winds in their circuits carry that moisture as clouds over the land. There through certain actions of cold and heat, according to the laws of God, that moisture falls to the earth in the form of rain or snow or hail. Creeks and rivers are formed that carry this water back into the oceans, thus completing the circuit or cycle. Water may be frozen, but under the right condition it will return to water. It may be heated and converted into steam, but the steam will eventually condense, becoming water again. Water sinking into the ground is either evaporated, or taken up by plants and evaporated, or perhaps finds its way to underground streams. In any event it eventually finds its way back to the sea, and the circuit continues on, unseen, unheard, almost unknown, but it is by the law of God.
Ray Prinzing has written,
"We have known what it is to take the downward journey, picking up the debris of the flesh and self, until we come to the bottom, a filthy pool. But there is another river, much more invisible, spiritualized, we might say, and that is the one which forms by the DRAWING OF THE SON, lifting us up out of the 'dead sea' and raising us again into the heavenlies, to bring us back to the height of the mount of God. Of this glorious river we read, 'There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God' (Ps. 46:4). Some are still on the low road, taking the downward path in self, sin, wayward rebellion. And some, praise God, are already being irresistibly drawn upward, to take that HIGH WAY back to Father's house.
"What is true in the cycles of our own life, is also true concerning God's dealings with His whole creation. That which was turned away from Him, to run an erratic and wild course of self-will, shall eventually come meekly and submissively back to its Source, our Creator. Thus we need this perspective, to view from the vantage point of God's great purpose to BECOME ALL IN ALL, for without this purpose there would be no rhyme nor reason to any unfolding event. We often say that the 'way UP is DOWN,' bit to always have to go down, without a way up, would bring forth a hopeless frustration that would surely end in defeat. But, in God's law of circularity, there is a place in our going down process, God knows when and where, we come to a curve and begin that upward way"
We read in Isa. 40:22, "God sits upon the circle of the earth." While the word for "circle" in the Hebrew denotes the sphericity of the earth, it may also indicate the cycles of nature. These cycles are the continual goings and comings of the seasons, days, months, years, etc., which were ordained of God in the beginning. Everything in nature moves in cycles: winter and summer, seedtime and harvest; generation after generation, all show the might and wisdom of God. Even electricity must have a circuit. A battery has a positive and a negative to complete the circuit. SO IT IS WITH GOD IS WORK. In the spiritual realm God is the positive, and Satan is the negative. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that man, the highest of God's creation, came out of God, was then lowered into the world of vanity, darkness, and death, but will return to God, thus completing the cycle, not in part, but in full. Even Jesus came out of God, and descended into the depths of man's fall, then arose and returned to God.
The King James version of Rom. 11:36 begins, "For of Him..." This word "of" comes from the Greek word "ek" literally meaning OUT OF. This clearly places God as the one Source of all things, and hence the Amplified's beautiful rendering, "For all things originate with Him and come from Him." Col. 1: 16 says, "For it was IN HIM that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers or authorities" (Amplified).
The law of circularity requires that EVEN AS ALL THINGS BEGAN IN CHRIST, ALL SHALL END IN CHRIST. "I am ALPHA and OMEGA, the beginning and the end , the first and the last ," says the Lord (Rev. 22:13). Only the glorious mind of Christ can reveal to our hearts what that means! Through a glass darkly I can see that He was the FIRST - "before all things." Can I also believe that HE IS THE LAST? If He is the BEGINNING, can my feeble mind dare to comprehend what it signifies when He says that He is also the END? All that existed IN CHRIST before the ages began, shall RETURN INTO HIM AGAIN that He may be the FIRST and the LAST, the BEGINNING and the END. All that came out of Him, lowered into the realm of the negative, completes its circuit and returns once more to its former estate - IN GOD! The first Adam had power to take ALL with him into death, without their knowledge, or consent: therefore, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, gathers up the same number in His redemptive work and man who came out of God shall return, that the circle may be unbroken.
To quote Ray Prinzing once more:
"When we understand the glorious truth that our God is both the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, then we realize that no matter how vast the cycle and circuit, the end is secure, for all things return unto Him again. To read only a portion of God's Word, the facts are too few to rightly calculate the CURVE of God's plan. And while HE does, gloriously, illumine a specific verse or sentence to speak to our hearts for that day, we also need the full sweep of the Book to gain an overall view of His purpose, and then understand the tremendous victory which is ours in Christ."
Long milleniums ago Adam was banished from the Paradise of God and its life-giving tree. But God has provided a way by which His banished may return! Some glad morning, when the unfolding plan of God is complete, all who once stood "in Adam" in the Garden will again be gathered together and their eyes will behold with endless joy that heaven blest Eden in which walked Adam, the son of God. But even now there is a remnant, the election of grace, the firstfruits of His redemption who in spirit have entered those once-closed portals and have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life! In the power of the Christ, the last Adam, though the firstfruits of Christ's redemption still move about in a world which is under the curse, where the traces of sin are visible on all hands, these have found their way, by faith, to the bosom of the Father, and are now at home again in God! The mighty transformation that has come and is coming to our lives shall be experienced ultimately by ALL MEN, God's own law of circularity secures it, and none can resist it, praise His glorious name!