Hope In History

         

               A dear friend of mine, Gerry Beauchemin, has written two books:   Hope Beyond Hell and Hope For All.  In Hope For All, Gerry lists ten "anchors" or ten reasons why God gives us hope both in this life and the next.  This teaching is my supplement to Anchor One.

 

Let us begin. There’s an ancient teaching that essentially was abandoned or set aside as being incorrect about 1500 years ago, but which was resurrected in part about 150-175 years ago and is now rapidly spreading around the world. It’s a teaching from the Bible that before He is all done God is going to lovingly restore everything—including all humanity—to Himself through what Jesus accomplished on our behalf by his sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary.

To teach about how the history of understanding how God will ultimately restore all humanity to Himself, we must go far back in time before history—back into pre-history, back to pre-creation even. I’ll begin by sharing a little about the concepts and phenomena of time, space, and eternity.

            In Isaiah 57: 15, the Bible clearly teaches that God inhabits eternity, a state of being in which there is no time and no space—as we experience space. Eternity is a state of being in which everything is absolutely simultaneous. Everything is Now. That is one reason God calls Himself in the Bible “I Am,” not “I was” or “I will be.” Everything is always now to God, although we humans are presently locked into time and space having past, present, and future. God perceives all past, present, and future time as always now, always in the immediate present, always simultaneous.

Time and space are inseparably connected: for example, one cannot move through space without the passage of time, and without the passage of time, one cannot move through space. But eternity is not a place of time and space. It is not a place of unending time; rather, it is a place of timelessness in which time does not even exist. In pre-creation eternity there was neither time nor space—only God. In a very real sense, eternity is in God; it’s part of who God is. In eternity, everything is in God—and God is in everything. Time is simply a tiny dot in the infinity and limitless, measureless, boundless vastness of eternity.

In an atomic second of time God spoke creation into existence—including time and space. Time and space are both created phenomena just as humans, kitties, puppies, elephants, flowers, carrots, water, and bears are created phenomena. As part of God’s creation, time and space can be studied and measured just as anything else in God’s creation can be studied and measured.   In fact, the late scientist Albert Einstein did much to advance the study of both time and space, especially in his famous theory of relativity which scientists are still studying in depth and attempting to prove true.

As Gerry Beauchemin puts it in the very first sentence of Anchor One in Hope For All, “The story of God’s prevailing love begins before creation—before the beginning of history.” On page 17, Gerry then lists a number of references from the Bible supporting that statement. God’s plan to save all humanity by lovingly drawing them to Himself has always been on his mind both in eternity, at the beginning of creation, and throughout all the ages of time within creation.

That brings us back to the concept of time and hope for all humanity in historical time. In the beginning God created time. Sometime thereafter He created the human race and since then has been working throughout all human history to bring about his eternal, pre-creation plan to save all humanity, relentlessly drawing back to Himself every person who ever has, or ever will, live—from Adam to the very last human who will be born. It’s going to be exciting to see who that last mortal human person will be, closing out the human race as we’ve known it. God has always had only one plan; there is no plan B if plan A doesn’t work out or fails—which it won’t.

About 4,000 years ago when recorded Bible history began with a man named Abraham, God began to sharpen and hone his ultimate plan through Abraham and others as recorded in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. Then about 2,000 years ago the apex or pinnacle of God’s plan was accomplished when Jesus appeared on the world stage in God-human form as a baby, lived a sinless human life, died an excruciating death on the cross of Calvary to save us from sin and death, was raised from death by the power of Holy Spirit, and returned to Heaven shortly thereafter. Jesus is now in Heaven possessing all power and authority in the universe—lovingly, patiently drawing all humanity to Himself, ultimately saving, restoring, renewing, and reconciling everything and everyone in all creation. There is no other power in the universe that even comes close to being as powerful as God in Jesus. None! Especially the sharply limited power of a created being named Satan.

On pages 19 – 24 of Hope For All, Gerry Beauchemin does an excellent job of citing Old Testament Bible references about God’s final restoration of all things--references from the time of Abraham forward through 2,000 years of history after Abraham up until the time of Jesus. In the spring of approximately 27 A.D., Jesus founded and began building his Church, his living Body on earth composed of living building materials—which we are: you, me; we humans who are Jesus’ followers are his living building materials.

Since 27 A.D. Jesus has continued to grow and build his Church, his living Body, until now in the year 2020 A.D. about 2,000,000,000 people or about ¼ of the world’s entire population of 8,000,000,000 people comprise the Church consisting of Jesus’ followers around the world. And Jesus continues to grow his Church every day; for example, in China alone, approximately 50,000 people become followers of Jesus each day! No power in the universe and on earth can stop the growth of Jesus’ Church until the last building block—the last mortal human—is in place as the capstone of Jesus’ ever-expanding Church and Kingdom!

                Now by furnishing you the following simple illustration, I will make my next point about the historical belief in God’s eventual salvation of all humanity. In our present era of history, certain leaders among Jesus’ followers worldwide are considered somewhat as spokespersons for evangelical Protestant Christianity. Such people as Reinhart Boehnke, David Yongghi Cho, Joyce Meyers, David Jeremiah, Joel Osteen, Pat Robertson, Beth Moore, John McArthur, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Billy Graham (recently deceased) and Oral Roberts (also recently deceased). These are just a tiny smattering of names of such spokespersons. There are many more. They communicate their views to the world by means of radio, television, Facebook, YouTube, etc. I’m not saying I necessarily agree with any or all of their teachings, simply that they are well-known spokespersons for the teachings and doctrines of the worldwide Protestant evangelical segment of Jesus’ Body, the Church.

                Well, in the same manner the early Church had its spokespersons who were widely known and respected, although they didn’t have the means of communication we have in our modern era. But because of the amazing Roman road system throughout the far-flung Roman Empire, and because of excellent sea travel on the Mediterranean Sea and beyond, travel and communication were not as limited as we have been led to believe. People traveled readily throughout the Empire and as far away as India, Sinim (China), the British Isles, Ireland, and northern Europe.

If someone was a teacher of the Bible in Carthage, North Africa, for example, it wasn’t long before people in the city of Istanbul in present-day Turkey knew and read that person’s teachings. Leaders of churches throughout the Empire were in constant communication with one another. Paul’s travels throughout portions of the Empire are a case in point. Such real, historical people were spokespersons for the clear, biblical view that God is drawing all humanity to Himself, just as today’s leaders I mentioned previously are spokespersons for evangelical Christianity.

                Yes, for the first 500 years of so of the Church’s history many men and women who were considered spokespersons believed and taught that the Bible clearly sets forth the view that God lovingly draws all humanity to Himself through the sacrificial work of Jesus by means of Roman crucifixion on Mount Calvary on the outskirts of the city of old Jerusalem. The writings of many of those early spokespersons are still available today. Here are names of only a few of those early spokespersons whose writings are still available today hundreds of years later: Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Diodorus of Tarsus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Gregory of Nazianzus, Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chrysostum, and numerous others. They all taught and popularized the view that the Bible clearly teaches God is lovingly and patiently drawing all humanity to Himself. And because of those teachers most early believers in Jesus held that view.

Gerry Beauchemin wrote in Anchor One these words on page 25: “Belief in endless punishment was not the predominant view of the Christian world during its first 500 years when Jesus’ followers read the Scriptures in the Original Greek!”

                Why was that prevailing view lost in the western world for many centuries after approximately 500 A.D.? It’s a long, long story how that happened, but can be summarized by simply stating that politics and dead, empty, powerless religion entered the Church, causing other—opposing views—to be set forth and diminish and eclipse the biblical view of God’s restoration of all humanity to Himself. Such opposing views—including the concept of people suffering in an ever-burning hell—then prevailed from about 500 A.D. until about the 1800’s—except for little pockets of Jesus’ followers here and there throughout the intervening centuries in Europe and Asia who still clung to the original views of the early Church—even in the face of severe persecution, torture, and death at times for maintaining those views.

                What happened in the 1800’s that began to shift thinking back to the prevailing views of the early Church? It’s a complex story, but simply stated a Scottish Pastor and writer named George McDonald came on the scene. McDonald was a prolific writer and speaker, authoring almost 100 fiction and non-fiction books. In fact, during the latter part of the 1800’s McDonald was a more popular writer than Charles Dickens! Vast numbers of people in the western world read McDonald’s writings. He clearly taught, preached, and wrote that God will eventually save all humanity.

                After McDonald, in the early 1900’s an American believer in Jesus and in the truth and trustworthiness of the Bible named Charles Pridgeon wrote a book titled Is Hell Eternal or Will God’s Plan Fail? His book was widely read during the early 1900’s clear up until the early 1960’s, but fell into disrepute and has been virtually unavailable for the past 50+ years; Pridgeon’s book has only recently been reprinted and is for sale at amazon.com. During the years when Pridgeon’s book remained fairly popular and widely read, other preachers, Pastors, teachers, and writers began to once again espouse and spread the views set forth in Pridgeon’s book based on the Bible’s teachings—until now it seems that almost every week a new article, essay, or book is published promoting such views.

One such scholarly book is titled The Doctrine of Apokatastasis by a female Italian theologian, Ilaria L.C. Rameli. Her book is only 900+ pages in length and sells for the remarkably low price of approximately $350.00! The word apokatastasis in the title comes from Acts 3: 19 – 21 in the New Testament where the original Greek language word apokatastasis is translated as the English word “restoration.”   I’m sure you’ll want to rush out right after this meeting to purchase a copy of the book for yourself and a few others for friends—at that low price of only $350.00!

Also, with the advent of the internet and the worldwide web, scores—even hundreds—of websites are springing up promoting the biblical view that God is in the process of lovingly restoring all humanity to Himself through Jesus’ finished and completed, sacrificial work on the cross. Examples of such websites are tentmakers.com, hopeforallfellowship.com, and ptm.org, to name only 3 out of hundreds of such websites.

                Anchor One of Hope For All concludes with these words on page 26: “God’s promises and actions in biblical history demonstrate His prevailing love for all people.”

                Thousands of people coming to believe that simple statement are creating a groundswell—a tsunami—that is rapidly spreading around the world in these early years of the 21st century! You who are viewing or listening to this teaching are likely a part of this amazing worldwide movement. You are not alone in having come to believe this ancient, resurrected biblical view that God is restoring all humanity to Himself. In fact, you are the vanguard, the spearhead of this worldwide movement.

                A paraphrased rendering of a few verses in the 43rd chapter of the Old Testament book of the prophet Isaiah reads something like this (quote):I’m about to do something brand-new for you, setting you on a new course, but you must be reaching out for it, or it’ll whiz right on by you. You’ll recognize it as it approaches. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it comes!

                I’m going to clear a road for you up and out of this desert wilderness you’ve been in. New rivers will spring up and gush through the badlands of your life, cleaning out and washing away all the debris that has accumulated and held you back. New LIFE is going to blossom and grow inside you!” (End of quote)

                And a paraphrased reference in the 29th chapter of the Old Testament book of Jeremiah reads like this (I quote): “Listen to me,” says God, “Don’t you think I know what I’m doing? After all, I’m God. I have your life all planned out and there’s really nothing you can do to change my plans. I love you. I’m a good God. I plan to take good care of you. I will never abandon you. And I will certainly give you the future you hope for.” (End of quote).

As it was boldly proclaimed to stunningly beautiful Queen Esther long ago in an ancient time: “God has summoned you to his bright, ever-spreading Kingdom for such a time as this!”

I pray earnestly that this brief teaching will give you a large measure of renewed hope for the bright future God has in store both in this life and the next—for you and your loved ones and friends, and—ultimately—for everyone. Hope is defined as “confident expectation that God will do what He promises He will do.” There is hope for all--for YOU!

NOTE: My books may be reviewed and purchased at billsbooks.org

 

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Posted June 2020 

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