QUESTIONS FROM MIKE
BY: E. M. ‘ED’ DUPAS
Revised MARCH 2006
Thanks for responding so quickly and candidly to my comments last night. I need and appreciate this kind of feedback.
I don’t know whether to apologize or explain, or both. You probably noticed that I am usually more reined in than I was last night, but whenever I meet someone who is not steeped in the doctrines of men I throw out a line, hoping that God has brought someone to me who doesn’t have a wall built up in his mind. I suppose I did not handle the situation well, forgetting that I might be stepping on some toes. For that I do apologize.
I keep wondering why God has brought us together. We make a fine “team”, but you have no idea how hard it is for me to hold back, trying to respect and tolerate some of the teachings of men which interpret God’s word as though it pertains primarily to our physical life on the earth, beginning with our physical birth, and ending with our physical death. Talk about putting God in a box fashioned by the minds of men! THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO OUR SPIRIT—DEEP CALLING TO DEEP. THE BEST APPLICATION OF IT IS SPIRITUAL, AND ITS REVELATION AND UNDERSTANDING SHOULD COME TO OUR SPIRIT FROM THE SPIRIT OF GOD. Things should not be discarded because we can’t get our minds (reason) around them.
I do appreciate your candor and honesty. It is always best to share what we are thinking. With that in mind I will honor your questions by commenting briefly on them.
1) The concept of Heaven being a “fairy tale” is really a turn-off for some Christians to hear. After all, it’s what most are in this for. Paul talked about the third Heaven, etc. Can you explain this thinking?
Fairy tale may have been a poor choice of words, but makes the point. The idea of going to a glorious vacation spot/resting place called heaven when we die is not biblical. The word ‘heaven’ in this context means spiritual realm or level (while ‘heavens’ usually connotes the sky and beyond). I equate the church’s idea of heaven to the biblical term ‘eternal life’ or ‘aeonian’ life. How readily we accept the idea that ‘heaven’ begins when we are born again, but how hesitantly we let go of the idea of the streets of gold up in the sky. Of course there is something called paradise, which we may enter when we die repentant and our sins have been forgiven (e.g. the thief on the cross), but I am not convinced that the grave wipes away our love for the things of this world. In other words, the thief on the cross was “promoted”, but may have been still a long ways from the mature image of Christ, to which believers are called. But I’ll leave the understanding of that to Father…
In the beatitudes Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth,” not a mansion in heaven.
The bible does refer to the third heaven, calling it paradise. Keep in mind that all we know is that in that place Paul saw glorious things – so glorious that it was risky to reveal (men could become puffed up). This seems to suggest that the impact or rewards of man’s affairs carry more significance than we give them on earth. I don’t know any more than Paul revealed, but I am persuaded that oneness with the Father is the eventual goal for his children.
Jesus wasn’t concerned about stepping on toes. There was a time when those who weren’t called by him left him because his sayings were too “hard.” To a lesser degree I have experienced the same thing.
2) When you mention Hell as a temporary place of teaching, what is that based upon? I never believed God sent people there but that we sent ourselves by rejecting His Son. That we will “judge angels” always referred to Satan and his gang, as Hell was prepared for them, as I read it. I’m interested in your take on that.
My belief that Hell is a place of correction, and not of damnation, is based on several fundamental precepts:
1) God is truly our spiritual father, in the same way that our earthly dad is our earthly “father.” This should be self-evident from scripture. God is love, and love never fails, nor gives up on those it loves. No loving dad would commit his children to death because they couldn’t pass the testing he devised. Far less would our heavenly Father be able to do this. I don’t see this in the definition of Love.
2) We are spiritual beings, in our Father’s image and likeness. As the Apostle Paul said, the unseen things are eternal (i.e., aonian-ages long). Our spirits existed before this age, and will continue to exist through all the ages and beyond.
3) God is all-seeing, all knowing, and all power rests in Him. The notion that God COULD NOT deliver his children, from the deception of the enemy which He created, is ludicrous. The notion that He WOULD NOT deliver his children, the fruit of His spiritual “womb”—whom He deliberately allowed to be deceived—is inconsistent with a Father’s love for His children, regardless of what the doctrines of men say. “…For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21 NASB) These verses prove that it was God who subjected his children to sin so that they would one day be free of corruption. There is no Plan B involving damnation.
4) Nowhere in scripture is the idea of Hell one of permanent damnation. It is always intended as a refining fire, for purification. To begin to understand how this can be, I refer you to J. Preston Eby’s teaching “Just What Do You Mean, Eternity,” to be found at http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/eternity.htm. Eby shows that virtually every reference in the King James Bible to the word ‘eternal’ or ‘forever (and ever)’ is an erroneous translation of the Greek noun “aion,” which means “age.”, and its related adjective “aionios” This word is also sometimes translated as “world,” as in “the world to come” (Luke 18:30). It is abundantly clear that the consuming fire of God is for the refinement of the soul, not the perfection of the flesh. The soul’s journey continues on past the grave, and God’s hands are not too short to do his work of purging there – lest we think the creator of death and the grave is bound by his own creation.
5) We have all heard “fire and brimstone” preaching at one time of another. It is assumed that brimstone is somehow related to fiery bricks in the furnace of hell, as in the following verses:
“…The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone 2303 in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:10-11)
Let’s look at the meanings of the Greek word for brimstone, which is ‘theion.’ Can you see the root ‘theos’ there, which we should recognize as relating to God?
G2303 theion, thi’-on; prob. neut. of G2304 (in its or. sense of flashing); sulphur: – brimstone. (Strong’s Concordance)
G2303 theion, apparently the neut. Of the adj. Theios i.q. divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off contagion (Thayer’s Greek-English lexicon)
G2304 theios, not only used by the Greeks to denote the divine nature, power, providence, in the general, without reference to any individual deity, but also by Philo, and by Josephus of the one, true God, hence most appositely employed by Paul, out of regard for Gentile usage (Thayer’s Greek-English lexicon)
Note also that Verse 11 talks about the smoke of their torment ascending up forever and ever (literally for the aion of the aions), and they have no rest day or night. Where is this torment supposed to be taking place, since there is day and night? Surely not in outer darkness! It is somewhere under the (a) sun. You might have guessed it is here on earth! I would like to discuss this further. So far you should see that what we have been taught is not entirely true, so… what else is not entirely true… hmmmm?
3) Evangelism… conversion… what’s the point if we’re ALL already accepted by God? That’s a major part of how I’m wired and that affects me personally. Explain?
First of all, there is a vast difference between being accepted by God, and being all we are called to be in Christ.
Evangelism is not about getting people converted. Jesus said “Go make disciples FROM all the nations, teaching them to do all I have commanded you.” This is not saying to make disciples of everybody. Rather, I believe it is implying something like, “Go to all the nations… my Father’s elect are there. They need to hear the word and be taught to do what I am doing, (i.e., follow me).” IT IS THE DEVIL’S DECEIT THAT HAS CONVINCED SO MANY THAT WE ARE TO GET THE WHOLE WORLD SAVED, AND THEN THE END WILL COME. Common sense, the exploding world population and the experience of history should tell us that it is not possible. Nothing would please SATAN more than to see us on another 2,000-year wild goose chase.
I have to tell you that I believe that every knee will bow, as both the O.T. and N.T. say. There is no way to salvation but through the nature, character, and identity (i.e., the name) of Jesus the Christ. However, I believe that for some it may take longer than this life or this age. That is how I understand the bible.
4) In all honesty, when I consider how easily the “universalist” approach appeals to people, I can’t help but wonder if this is that “ear tickling” stuff the Bible refers to. I read that there were many Fathers of the faith with similar viewpoints but I am not understanding how that could be.
If you mean that the “universalist” approach appeals to the unchurched, I suppose I could agree. I have not found the church very receptive.
Time and again in scripture, God tells us that he will save all his people Israel. We know that his people, Israel, today are his church. Here is one O.T. example of his intent to deal with every one in Israel…
“For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, that you may not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations.” (Ezek. 36:24-31)
You have heard me quote this verse from the New Testament… “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (1 Tim. 4:10) As I have said before, ALL means ALL to me.
Speaking of ear tickling… what sounds more like ear tickling, a) saying the sinner’s prayer, and confessing the name of Jesus, as our “ticket to heaven,” or b) “taking up one’s cross, denying one’s own self life, and following Jesus, where we do what He did—lay down our lives for the gospel and the brethren?” I resent the use of the word “universalism,” as though it were a cult of deception. If it is, then I am sorely deceived, and should be ashamed and shunned. Remember that those who coined the word universalism are the same theologians who have largely missed and ‘dissed’ the teaching of the Kingdom for almost 2000 years.
I have learned so much about loving people “regardless” from watching you and Marlene and that alone makes learning this stuff VERY interesting to me. I’m just not grasping the concept if it IS to be grasped by me at all. Can you explain? Thanks!
I appreciate those words. Jesus spoke about this idea, saying “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38 NASB)
I understand why men don’t grasp the concept… they never have… not the Pharisees, not the followers and disciples of the man, Jesus, not God-fearing theologians through the centuries. It is because the cost of believing is too great. We have to lay down the idea that this life is the greater reality. That’s what Kingdom living calls us to. Why do you think Jesus invited Peter to get out of the boat and to come to Him on the water? What do you think that was about? Once again He was calling Peter to leave behind the reasoning of men, and live by faith. He started teaching Peter by suggesting he drop the nets on the other side of the boat, against all odds. That cost only some time, and maybe some pride swallowing, but was a long way from stepping onto the surface of a lake.
I don’t have all the answers, not nearly, but I do not need the whole truth to detect that certain things are false. How many false things do there have to be before the entire theology becomes suspect? As it is written, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. I am on a mission—to bring more truth about God’s plan for those who will deliver the kingdom to those who will inherit it. According to the prophetic types of scripture, this involves the “children”—those who aren’t satisfied with what Egypt has to offer, and are willing to believe God for the possessing of the Kingdom.
By now you can understand why I am virtually never asked to teach or lead a bible study. That has become OK with me, because my Father lets me know that it is not my time, but I must be ready for that time when it comes.
QUESTIONS FROM MIKE [E. M. ‘Ed’ Dupas] Rev. Mar. 2006 1