261. The Final Judgment

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

To reconcile all things

…and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.  And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Col 1:20-22).

Jesus has reconciled only a certain, select group of people, according to what most of us have believed, in order to present us blameless and beyond reproach. We have limited the scope of this reconciliation, thinking it could not possibly include everyone and everything. Inevitably, different groups have had different opinions about who is in and who is out.

Everyone and everything is included. Jesus reconciled all things to Himself. If Jesus did it already, no one needs to do anything more. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves holy and blameless and beyond reproach because He already did it. He died our death, dealt with our separation and brought us back into a restored relationship.

…namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world (Greek: kosmos) to Himself, not counting their sins against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:19).

God is not counting anyone’s sins against them. That is forgiveness. Psalm 103 tells us that as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. No matter how far you travel trying to find them, you never will.

Vine’s dictionary will tell you that kosmos means ‘the sum-total of human life in the ordered universe, considered apart from, and alienated from, and hostile to God, and of the earthly things which seduce from God.’ Even if you believe that, the kosmos is what ‘God so loved’ in John 3:16 and what ‘God was in Christ reconciling’ in 2 Cor 5:19. It has all been reconciled.

We have this word, that Jesus has reconciled everyone, but what have we done with it? Have we shared with people the good news of what God has done for them, or bad news, that they are not reconciled with, and still separated from, a God who doesn’t even like them?

The final judgment

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is age-enduring life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:23).

Jesus died our death and now there is no longer any sin, and therefore no wages due. If no one’s sin is counted against them, based on the power of the cross, then all subsequent judgments must produce life and not death. As Francois Du Toit says in the Mirror Bible translation of 2 Cor 5:19, “the fallen state of mankind was deleted.” There is no double jeopardy in God’s kingdom: you cannot be tried for the same thing twice. No one can be judged again for what Jesus already died for. The cross is the final judgment. There is no future ‘judgment day’: it already happened at the cross and we have all been declared blamelessly innocent.

Sadly, we judge people all the time, based on their behaviour and what we consider to be right or wrong rather than looking at them in love through the eyes of Jesus. We do not necessarily condone everyone’s behaviour, but we need to be careful not to think that it excludes them from God’s love and reconciliation.

Pleased to reveal His Son in me

Paul recounts his encounter (as Saul) on the road to Damascus:

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles… (Gal 1:15-16).

He does not say that God revealed His Son in the bright light that blinded him, but that “God was pleased to reveal His Son in me”. God had been at work in him all along; Jesus had been in Him all along; now God revealed that to him. God is not separated from people, even from someone like Saul who was implacably opposed to Him. He is at work in all people to reveal Himself as love and light – and through them to others.

For too long the good news has been presented something like this: “There is a big gulf between you on one side and God on the other. The cross bridges the gap and you can walk across that bridge and engage God.” The real good news is that there is no gulf. God is already at work in everybody, and our job is to help them see that (not to tell them that they are dirty, rotten sinners who deserve to suffer eternal conscious torment as their punishment in hell). There is no separation.

The fullness of God was in Christ

Let us not imagine that the incarnation separated Father, Son and Spirit; nor even the crucifixion. Scripture tells us that all the fullness of God’s being dwells bodily in Christ (Col 2:9) and that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19). On the cross, Jesus felt the agony of fallen humanity when he quoted the opening line of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But every Jewish person who heard Him knew where the Psalm was going, with David crying triumphantly “He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him but has heard when he cried to him.” (Ps 22:24).

Resurrection

The restoration of all things is based on the victory of the cross over all things that would hinder our reconciliation and restoration to relationship.

All judgment and justice are based on the victory of the cross over sin, death and the grave; every hindrance or legal obstacle is overcome. Jesus holds the keys of death and of Hades (Rev 1:17) and He is using them to unlock the door, not lock it. That is totally contradictory to some of our belief systems. God has opened access to everyone. The gates of the New Jerusalem are never shut. Everyone is included, no one excluded.

…so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to age-enduring life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 5:21).

The power of the resurrection has defeated death (and it is what enables everything to be restored). The resurrection has overcome death and grace now reigns.

All will be made alive

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor 15:21-22).

Take note of the ‘all’ in both parts of that last sentence. It seems that no one has much trouble with the first ‘all’ meaning ‘all’. The second ‘all’ is where the trouble begins, because if it is the same ‘all’ then much of our theology bites the dust. So we have made ‘in Christ’ conditional, in a way that we do not with ‘in Adam’: so that only those who are ‘in Christ’ will be made alive. And we have gone on to define what being ‘in Christ’ looks like, according to our various denominations and streams.

Both mentions of ‘all’ are the same ‘all’. Christ was the last Adam and the Adamic race ended with Him. From this side of the cross, no one is descended from Adam any more but from Christ. From that point on, all are ‘in Christ’ (though some do not know it and the ‘gospel’ we have preached has consistently told them that they aren’t). And Paul says that ‘in Christ’ all of us are going to be made alive.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:56).

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Rom 8:2).

Those are very familiar scriptures and we read them as if they apply exclusively to ‘us’ (those we consider as being ‘in Christ’). But who is under the law, since the cross? No one, not even the Jewish people who were the ONLY ones under the law in the first place!

Everyone has victory over death and sin through the power of the cross.

…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity [literally, from before the times of the ages] but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim 1:9-10).

Death is abolished. It no longer has power over anyone. This was already decided ‘from before the times of the ages’ but has been ‘brought to light’ by the gospel.

More to come

God is not holding anything related to sin against the world and is restoring all things, first to original condition and then to His original intention. God is looking for all things to grow and mature from their original condition to fulfil their potential, His original intention. Original condition is just the start: there is more to come!

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Background for header meme by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.
The text, "Blamelessly innocent" is a reference to the Mirror Bible translation of Ephesians 1:3-4 by Francois Du Toit:
Let’s celebrate God! He lavished every blessing heaven has upon us in Christ! He associated us in Christ before the fall of the world! Jesus is God’s mind made up about us! He always knew in his love that he would present us again face-to-face before him in blameless innocence. God found us in Christ before he lost us in Adam!

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260. Coming Back into Alignment

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

In this series of blog posts we have embarked on a journey to discover the full meaning of ‘the restoration of all things’ (Acts 3:21) and the part we all have to play as sons of God in that restoration.

All things

What are the ‘all things? For me, the phrase ‘the restoration of all things’ refers to all physical and spiritual things that have been lost, distorted, damaged, destroyed, broken or disconnected; everything that God created in line with His original intent and purpose. That would include:

  • Creation and everything in it
  • Everyone, everything, everywhere, throughout all time and all history
  • All relative dimensions of time and space
  • Our eternal memory, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and position as light beings, as we were before we came into this realm
  • All our abilities and powers
  • All dark and light matter and dark and light energy, including the restoration of the speed of light (which has diminished over time1)
  • Access to all places and all realms everywhere, at any time, inside and outside of time and space as we presently know it
  • Our inheritance, identity, position and authority as sons. This is fundamental and impacts the whole of creation because it is as sons that we will play our part in the restoration of all things.

God is looking to see everything restored which was lost when the light of glory was removed. It is in His nature to bring healing, reconciliation, redemption and restoration. Why would He not want all things restored to their original condition and functionality, back to how He always intended them to be? It is not as if He has changed His mind or had a better idea! Restoration for us – and for all creation – is nothing more nor less than coming back into alignment with God’s eternal thoughts about us.

Father and son(s)

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God… The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ… For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God… 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 8:14-21).

We are heirs of the Father and co-heirs with Jesus. He has empowered us as sons and given us authority for the created realm, and creation will recognise and respond to us when we are manifested as sons. Therefore whatever is revealed about ‘all things’ in context of the relationship between Father and Son directly relates to our own sonship.

‘All things’ in the Bible

Before we launch into a consideration of ‘all things’ in the Bible, a brief word about how we read our Bibles. As we read, we have a tendency to automatically revert to the familiar assumptions that we (or others) have made, both about what a particular passage is talking about and what it is saying about it. Instead of merely thinking we know what it says, let’s engage with, meditate upon and enter into the scripture and allow God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) to reveal what He is saying through what we are reading. That takes awareness and practice but it opens up a whole new vista of revelation.

All things in subjection

For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:27-28).

But what does ‘in subjection’ mean? Who and what is going to be brought into subjection?

If we are ‘in subjection’ to Him, then we acknowledge that we are His subjects. The Greek word hupotasso means ‘to place under’. We are under His protection, under His blessing, under His love, under His covenant.

And not only we but ‘all things’ are to be brought into agreement with God’s plans and purposes. We may look around and wonder how that is ever going to happen. I suggest that it starts with a group of people who say “Yes, God, I want to be in agreement with You. I come into agreement that I am a son, and for my sonship to be revealed to all creation.” That is not what religion has encouraged but Jesus is our example: through His relationship with the Father He only did what He saw the Father doing.

None of this is about theology or doctrine, whether we agree or not with a particular person or teaching. It is all about relationship with God; with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and about being willing to maintain a loving relationship with other people with whom we do not necessarily see eye to eye. We can be in relational agreement even if we hold different views. We do not need to be ‘right’ and so reject everyone else as being ‘wrong’. Again, this is not something religion has encouraged or modelled for us.

Some Bible verses

Here are some New Testament verses mentioning ‘all things’. I am not particularly going to explain or teach on them. In line with what I wrote earlier, I would encourage you to take some time to meditate upon them, engage with them – perhaps read them in some other translations – and see what God has to say to you about them.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Rom 11:36).

…but just as it is written,
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God
(1 Cor 2:9-10).

…yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him (1 Cor 8:6).

all things originate from God (1 Cor 11:12).

There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all [persons] (1 Cor 12:6).

[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Cor 13:7).

…with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth (Eph 1:10).

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11).

He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things (Eph 4:10).

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him (Col 1:16).

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Col 1:17).

…and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven… He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Col 1:20, 22).

Reflection

In light of what God has shown you in love as you meditated on these verses, do you believe there is potential for all things to be restored to God’s original intent and purpose?

Do you believe that there are some things that could not (or should not) be restored to God’s original intent and purpose? Why not?

The only thing which I consider really cannot be restored is the DIY (do-it-yourself) pathway itself, the pathway of the knowledge of good and evil. That was never part of God’s intent and purpose for creation in the first place.

Reference

A time varying speed of light as a solution to cosmological puzzles – article by Andreas Albrecht and Joao Magueijo (Cornell University, 1999).

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