The Really Good News

In my previous post ‘Grace is Outrageous’ I made it fairly clear that I believe in ἀποκατάστασις πάντων (apokatastasis panton), meaning the restoration of everything and everyone (derived from Acts 3:21, but implied in lots of other places too).

Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Acts 3:21

When I say that this is what I believe, I encounter a number of objections, but one in particular crops up most frequently. It is usually expressed something like this:

“If everyone is saved anyway, then there was no point in Jesus dying on the cross.”

I’m sorry, but I completely fail to see the logic behind that argument.

God’s stated aim is that everyone be saved.

God ourSaviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4

I suggest that, if Jesus’ life and death saves anything less than everyone and everything, His incarnation is a pointless failure and God is a serial liar…

No one is cast off by the Lord forever, though he brings grief, he will show compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing loveLamentations 3:31-32

Did Christ fail? Can God do what God wills or is The Almighty not really all that almighty after all?

As Isaiah 46:10 says, God will accomplish all that he wants:

I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’

Is that a lie?

It must be a lie if Jesus’s mission and God’s will fail. The absurdity of God or Christ failing is made plain in scripture and if all that stuff about the eternal punishment of all those who are not Christians is not errantly translated, as I’m virtually certain it is, we are left with the supposedly divinely inspired bible contradicting itself and therefore of no effect.

Why do we not hear more preachers echoing the prophet Isaiah’s statement of God’s solemn oath that all mankind will worship him and freely give their loyalty and commitment?

“I have sworn by myself, the words have left my mouth in righteousness and will not be revoked, that to me, every knee will bow and every tongue will swear allegiance.” Isaiah 45:23 .

Try to imagine that said in a voice appropriate to an Almighty who doesn’t regard failure as an option and who came in person to ensure that everyone and everything is reconciled to Him.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19-20

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:16-17

Jesus was totally victorious over sin and death on the cross by his grace and his faithfulness. That’s a gift from God - we cannot do anything to save ourselves - God is entirely and solely responsible for it . Our faith or belief in Christ is also a gift which leads us to the path of knowing God and what he has done and wills for us.

When we read the crucifixion story we hear Jesus say:

“It is finished.” John 19:30

The Greek word translated here as ‘It is finished’ is Τετέλεσται (tetelestai). It means a good deal more than just a bald ‘finished’ - it has the sense of ‘it is accomplished’ or ‘what was intended has been completed’ - and if we look back at the quotation from Isaiah 46:10, the implication is clear…

The implication is that, ultimately, we will see that God has done it: by his incarnation, death and resurrection He has succeeded in rescuing absolutely everyone.

Some will say ‘But what about our free will? Surely God won’t, or can’t, force us?’ My answer to that is that, no, He won’t force us but I would say that at the ‘general resurrection’, when we are all faced with the reality of God’s amazing love and truly radical grace ‘up close and personal’ - who is, honestly, going to be able to resist Him and His love?

God doesn’t need to violate our free will - He only needs us to see Him as He truly is.

Let me simplify it for you:

Jesus is God - John 10:30-33

“...I and the Father are one.”

Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

God is love - 1John 4:16

…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Love NEVER fails - 1Corinthians 13:8

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

God saves absolutely every sinner - Romans 3:23-24

…all have missed the target and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

It is finished. Case closed. The end. Full stop.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022