Have You Lost A Loved One?
The Victorious Gospel of Jesus Christ
I had just lost my son a couple weeks prior to when Gerry Beauchemin asked me if I would write the last pages of his book Hope Beyond Hell. The grief of losing a son at the young age of 35 cut much deeper than I ever imagined, even with the knowledge that he was in a better place. Gerry shared with me an email he received from a woman who had lost her son when he committed suicide. She thanked God that she believed in universal salvation because she would have drowned herself in drugs and alcohol to ease the pain in her former state of mind. I cannot even begin to imagine what our grief would have been like if we belonged to a church at the time of Scott’s death that taught he was sent to Hell to be tormented forever because he didn’t live according to their understanding of the Bible. It would have been unbearable. We are also grateful that our deceased parents are secure in Christ’s love for all mankind even though none of them were “born again” in this lifetime. Death does not stop Jesus from drawing people to Himself despite what many traditional churches have taught.
Dear Christian please take a moment to deeply contemplate what your life would be like believing daily that some of your loved ones will suffer excruciating tortures for all eternity with no hope of escape or mercy. According to some churches even our son, Scott, would be living in a state of terror and pain forever because his life did not line up with their doctrines of holiness. I honestly don’t know how we could have remained sane if we believed such teachings during this time of grief. The death of our son has given us much more compassion for the billions who have lost loved ones and especially when they are uncertain of their eternal fate.
I came to the understanding of Universal Salvation in a rather unusual manner. God showed me that Jesus was the Savior of all mankind right at the beginning of my conversion. He showed me three different ways: 1. He let me walk in perfect love for three days. I couldn’t hate anyone on the earth. And I knew this was God’s love for all mankind – it was not my love. 2. He showed me a vision in which all mankind was dipped into darkness for a season and a reason, but that eventually all mankind would be restored back to Him after each one learned valuable lessons during their separation from Him. 3. I had a deep hunger for studying the Bible and the Holy Spirit illuminated the many dozens of Scriptures shown in this book revealing that through the Cross of Christ, all mankind would be saved.
It was so easy to share Christ during those first few months. The fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out of me like rivers of living water. Sharing the gospel was as natural as breathing. I was bringing many new people into the churches we attended. I say “churches” in the plural because we would sometimes attend several different churches at the same time.
When one of the pastors found out I was teaching that everyone was going to be saved through Jesus Christ, he decided I needed some straightening out. His weapon of choice was the “Authorized Version,” that is, the KJV. He took me to the Parable of the Sheep and Goats where some would suffer “everlasting punishment.” He took me to Luke 16 where the Rich Man was in fiery torment separated from Abraham by an impassable divide. Then he took me to the lake of fire in which people were tormented forever. He rebuked me for telling people that God loves all mankind. He said God hates sin and those who commit sin. God is Holy and cannot abide in sin. Therefore He created a place in which the wicked would be separated and punished eternally. According to him (and most Christians) most of mankind would be in Hell. Only those who were “born again” and lived a holy life would be with God eternally for “narrow is the way which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it.” He told me that the King James Bible is the only infallible word of God -- that I had to abide by the written word and not trust in my emotions or visions that I might have had. Satan has the power to transform himself into an angel of light. He said Satan can easily deceived new Christians like myself. He also said that a Christian who does not submit himself to Godly leadership is easy prey for the Devil. He injected me with fear.
After being thoroughly thrashed with the King James Bible, I went to several other pastors to get their take on this matter. While there was a difference regarding whether Christians can lose their salvation or not and what one had to do to lose their salvation, they were pretty much in agreement that those who were not “born again” in this lifetime would go to Hell. They disagreed as to what constituted Hell and who decided who would go there. Some pastors believed that Hell was a place of eternal conscious separation of the soul from God and His goodness. It was not a physical place where physical bodies were literally burned. Furthermore, they did not believe God sent unbelievers there – unbelievers sent themselves there by rejecting Christ. This was a new kind of Hell invented only in the last hundred years or so. Other pastors believed more along the lines of what the Churches had taught since about the time Constantine and Augustine (fourth and fifth centuries AD) – that it was God seated on the Great White Throne who decided who went to Hell based upon their works. The “wicked” would burn forever. These pastors believed the Lake of Fire to be a literal place where physical bodies connected to their souls would be endlessly tormented in indescribable agonies.
During that same time I went to a local library to compare different Bible translations on this subject. All the translations I looked at taught the same thing. They all had those passages that taught universal salvation but they also had the Hell verses. I came to the same place Dr. C. Ryder Smith, a teacher of eschatology for twenty years came to in his book, The Bible Doctrine of the Hereafter (p. 258) in which he concluded that the Bible teaches both Hell and universal salvation at the same time.
What could I do? The Bible available to me and the church history I was taught was on their side. Not a single pastor confirmed what was in my heart. I was told that to disagree with this vast majority while being so young in the faith would be nothing but a sign of a rebellious and unsubmissive spirit. So I yielded. Little did I know that in that decision I submitted myself to the “traditions of men which made the word of God of no effect.” This decision snuffed out the love, light and liberty I had in Christ. Little did I know that I would soon become the proverbial “Pharisee,” the self-righteous, blind hypocrite as a result of grieving the Holy Spirit and submitting to man-made traditions. (Because I believe a thorough understanding of Jesus’ warning regarding the “traditions of men,” is vitally important, I will be repeating the use of this phrase several times in this writing.)
I would remain in that state for several years before I got so fed up with my hypocrisy and that of the Christians around me that I asked God to just kill me. I was better off as an atheist than what I was as a “faithful” Bible believing, Spirit baptized, Hellfire and damnation believing Christian. On the very day I sincerely asked God to kill me, He put in my hands a series of booklets by J. Preston Eby explaining how the teaching of Hell crept into the church and into leading Bible translations. Eby quoted early church fathers who taught universal salvation. He showed how the mistranslation of a handful of Hebrew and Greek words distorted the nature and character of God and His plan for the redemption of all mankind. It was not long before I found Bible translations that did not contain Hell and reference books that confirmed that the original languages of the Bible did not contain the concept of everlasting punishment. During that time the Holy Spirit reminded me that He showed me this truth at the beginning of my walk. I had completely forgotten it. Wow! How powerful and blinding are the “traditions of men” that Jesus warned about. They truly can make the word of God of no effect in one’s life. (Matt. 15:6-9) I was living proof!
It has taken many years to break off the main chains of religion – the process is on-going. But the Light of the Victorious Gospel of Jesus Christ is shining brighter in my heart than it did during those dark years of religious bondage. Thank you, Father, for giving me the assurance that my parents will be drawn to Jesus – that my son is now at rest with You and that I can once again give hope to every person I meet. Jesus is indeed the Savior of all mankind. My son’s death caused me to reflect on what impact the teachings of the major divisions of Christianity had upon the souls in those systems. During the Reformation Protestant Church leaders called the Popes the Anti-Christ and condemned all those following them to eternal damnation because they did not have true faith. Catholic leaders returned the favor condemning all Protestants to Hell because they were outside the One Holy Catholic Church. Most of us never take the time to consider how tormenting it has been for millions of souls wondering if they or their loved ones or ancestors made the wrong choice in which church they belonged to. During much of Church history a person never really had a choice, they were forced into a State Church. They did what they were told to do by the priests. They were forbidden to read the Bible. They did not know about a “salvation by faith.” Most Christians from about the fourth century on until the Reformation did not know what being “born again” was. They were Catholic or Orthodox in the same way Moslems, Buddhists or Hindus was – they were simply born that way, obeyed the Priests and died in that system of belief. The average Protestant, Fundamentalist, Evangelical, Pentecostal or Charismatic does not realize the mental and emotional torments a non-believer has to deal with when considering becoming a “born again” Christian because of the teaching of Hell. Most Protestants do not realize, for example, that for a Catholic to convert to some form of the thousands of denominations of Protestantism means that they must believe most of their Catholic relatives and ancestors are in Hell because they weren’t “born again” during their lifetime. They must reject their entire family and somehow twist their thinking into believing their entire family and ancestors deserve to burn in Hell for not converting. It is only in recent times under the pressure of Ecumenicalism that some Protestants are beginning to accept Catholics who do not leave the Catholic Church as true Christians. Hundreds of millions of souls rejected Christianity not because they rejected Christ, but because they rejected the hideous traditional teaching of Hell that Church leaders associated with the Gospel. I am reminded of a quote from a Catholic evangelist to Japan in the 1500’s who was asked what would happen to the souls of their ancestors who did not know about Catholicism. He was forced to tell them they were all burning in Hell because that is what the Catholic Church taught. While this grieved the Catholic Xavier greatly, that was the official teaching of the Catholic Church he was forced to present. Hundreds of thousands of Protestant missionaries and evangelists and their potential converts have suffered similar grief due to the false teaching of Hell taught by Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants alike.
Another thing I learned the hard way along the way was that security is not found in being in the majority. Most Christians believe in Hell today because most of the Church does due to faulty Bible translations and hundreds of years of man-made traditions. But in the Bible, the majority was usually wrong and opposed to God! Interestingly, democracy (another man-made tradition) is not a Biblical concept. The majority of Jews missed the time of their visitation even though they had an accurate Bible because the “traditions of men” which they received from their leaders “made the word of God of no effect” in their lives too. (Matt. 15:6-9)
Much of the Church and many Jews are anticipating a coming of the Lord in this generation. Should He return in bodily form in our generation, would we miss our visitation because man-made traditions in our minds prevent us from seeing what is plainly written in the Scriptures? I cannot emphasize enough the importance of understanding how powerful religious, political and societal traditions are in hindering spiritual sight into the kingdom of God and its righteousness. The pagan teaching of Hell has permeated the entire world including the Christian world. The concept of Hell was one of the key pagan myths the Jews picked up from the nations around them, especially during their stay in Babylon. Of course they added their own modifications to conform it closer to classical Judaism, but this barbaric teaching grossly maligned the image and nature of God as revealed in the Scriptures. When Israel began to burn alive their own first born children and offer them to Moloch thinking they were pleasing Yahweh, God said such a thing never entered His mind. (Jeremiah 32:35) And yet we, Christians, say God created an eternal place in which billions of souls He brought into being would be tortured far beyond what Israel’s babies endured. Their pain was short. We do not think through the ramifications of our teachings based upon tradition! This barbaric teaching has touched too many of our institutions. Most of us are clueless how far removed we are from Christ’s teaching of living humble, peaceful lives because our institutions are built upon fear, violence, man-made laws, pride, materialism, etc. Look at the amount of violence in our movies, television shows, video games, etc. Take a good look at the thousands of commercials we are bombarded with daily and see how much of it involves the lusts of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life. We become what we worship thereby becoming blind to the darkness within. Read Josephus’ account of the last generation of Jews under the Mosaic Law who mixed the pagan Hell into its beliefs. These people did not realize how far they had fallen from virtue. Will we?:
"I cannot say it without regret but I must declare it as my opinion, that if the Romans had delayed to come against these wretches, the city (Jerusalem) would have been swallowed up by an earthquake, or overwhelmed by a deluge, or else been consumed by fire from heaven, as Sodom was; for it produced a generation of men more wicked than those who had suffered such calamities. To reckon up all their villainies is impossible; but never did any city suffer so great calamities; nor was there ever, from the beginning of the world, a time more fruitful of wickedness than that was."(Josephus, a Jewish historian and priest, Jewish Wars, Book v., chap. xiii. sect. 6; chap. x. sect. 5)
I doubt those Jews born into that generation would be pleased with such an epithet over their lives. But these people are not unlike ourselves. We are just as capable of spiritual blindness as they were. “Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.” (Edmund Burke) Do you want words like the above spoken about you, or your church or your country? How could they have been so blind? Surely they were warned….and so are we.
Moses, the inaugurator of the Old Covenant, (a Covenant of death according to Paul, the apostle), prophesied at his death the fate of the Israelites who covenanted with God. Summarizing Deut. 31:26-29, Moses said that Israel was rebellious and stiff-necked throughout their time under his authority -- that they would remain that way after he died. He further said that they would provoke God to anger through the work of their hands and that evil would befall them in the “latter days.” For well over a thousand years God sent prophets and holy men to Israel who, according to Jesus, were killed by them. (Matt. 23:31, 32; Luke 11:47, 48) Jesus said He would send them apostles and prophets many of whom they would also kill. According to Jesus, the righteous blood from Abel to Zecharias would fall upon the generation to which He came fulfilling Moses’ prophesy. Those who rejected Jesus 2,000 years ago were quick to say they were Moses’ disciples (John 9:28). Surely they had read Moses’ words in Deut. 31:26-29 many times, but the “traditions of men” preached to them over centuries of time prevented them from seeing the fate of which Moses prophesied and Jesus bore witness to. Jesus gave them a chance to escape it, but their tradition hardened hearts prevented them from seeing it. They could not see that God’s promises and plans included the Gentiles who Jews thought were their enemies and therefore God’s enemies. They could not see that God’s plans would move beyond the bounds of Israel and the Mosaic Covenant. The teaching of Hell for God’s enemies and a false understanding of “election” are preventing Christians from seeing beyond the Church dispensation. Even as most Jews never comprehended what they were chosen for, so too, the traditional Church does not understand election and the purpose of the Body of Christ in God’s plan to “reconcile all things to Himself.”
God made it plain to Israel through Moses’ prophesy what the end of the Mosaic Covenant would look like, yet the traditions of Judaism prevented them from seeing what was plainly written in the Scriptures. After Paul, the apostle to the nations, laid out the “mysteries of God” and revealed what he called “the Glorious Gospel” of grace, he let us know that believers in Jesus were abandoning his Gospel and going to gospels which were no gospels at all. Those in Asia were forsaking him (2 Tim. 1:15); believers were dividing the Body of Christ by following men; many were adding the “wisdom of this world” to the wisdom from above (Gnosticism); many were quenching the spirit through legalism mixing parts of the Old Covenant with the New (Judaizing). Many Christians are taught the Mosaic Covenant is still in effect today even though Paul made it quite plain in his writings that it was abolished (Eph. 2:15; 2 Cor. ch. 3. Ultimately, the Church would be incorporated into the Roman Empire and use its military might to “evangelize” the world using the sword. Those who preached love quickly became the enemies of the state and church. This is why there is little written material from those who believed in Universal Salvation for much of Church history. They were forced underground. When caught they were killed and their books burned. (Some Christians would do the same thing today if it were legal.)
Speaking of Jewish prophetic writings over the course of the Mosaic Covenant, Paul, the apostle to the nations, said, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Cor. 10:11 The “ends of the world” were the “latter days” Moses and other prophets spoke of -- but they couldn’t perceive what would happen because they became spiritually blind calling good “evil” and evil “good. They wanted judgment to come upon “God’s enemies” and prayed accordingly. Their prayers were answered, but not in the manner they expected. Well over a million Jews were killed in the 7 year tribulation from 67AD to 73AD with 100,000 sold into slavery. 30,000 Jews were consigned to building the Roman Coliseum in which Rome would show the world how an empire that seemed to be so “civilized” could have a heart that was so barbaric. Have we really progressed?
The Greco-Roman-Jewish world of the first century is alive and well in the Western World. All the institutions and the mindset of the time in which Jesus visited the earth 2,000 years ago are all still here today only greatly magnified in power and influence. Do we know which side we are on? The teaching of Hell is a major barrier to seeing this world from God’s point of view.
Are we, Christians, exempt from the blindness Israel was under? Is the end of the “Church Age” upon us? Is there a Messianic fervor in the air in Israel and in the Church these days as there was in Jesus’ day? Was the Church warned that it would fall away after Paul’s revelation of the “Glorious Gospel?” Did Paul, at the beginning of the New Covenant prophecy similar to Moses about a great falling away? Many Christians believe there will be a great falling away near the end of this age, but the fact of the matter is, according to Paul, the Church fell away right at the beginning just like Israel! It was the Church that brought on the Dark Ages in Europe! It was the Church that brought on the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Programs and hundreds of religious wars that have gone right into the twenty-first century. The “majority” of the Church over the last 1600 years has been every bit as rebellious and stiff-necked as Israel was. Israel in their “latter days” expected a military Messiah who would judge and destroy their enemies. Interestingly, some even expected a supernatural “rapture” of Jews.
Following the predictions of one who presented himself as a prophet, 3,000 Jews went to the top of the temple during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70AD expecting to be raptured away. Instead they all died as the temple burned to the ground. I don’t think being burned to ashes that would be “caught up” into the air was the kind of escape from the tribulation they had in mind when they were told by the prophet they would be caught up in the air. (See War of the Jews, Book 6, chapter 5, sections 2 and 3.) Millions of Christians today are listening to and reading prophecy in books, TV, radio, conferences and churches predicting Christians being raptured into the air as God’s enemies are destroyed. Is the majority of the Church going to go the way of the majority of the Jews in Jesus’ day? Are Christians, “the elect,” going to miss the time of their visitation as badly as the Chosen People? There is still time to wake up.
The Body of Christ has been split into tens of thousands of denominations through thousands of “traditions of men,” and “doctrines of demons” that blind us from the true Word of God. There does not seem to be a desire among the leadership of these denominations to destroy those things that divide us. Paul warned 2,000 years ago these denominations are evidence of believers following the traditions of men instead of being led by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 1 Cor. Ch.3) Why are we not heeding his God-breathed warnings? If the reader can see what happened to Israel, it should be plain to see what has happened to the Church. The question is, will you turn from these traditions and will you suffer the reproach that will come from doing so? Will you leave the false security of the majority to suffer “outside the camp?”
During this dispensation, in which we have had only an earnest of the Holy Spirit, NOT the fullness, according to Paul, we could be seduced to follow “men drawing disciples after themselves” -- we could be drawn away by legalism -- by seeking knowledge that wasn’t from God -- by lusts and pride, all of which would distort the true image of the Incorruptible God to bring Him down to the fallen image of corrupt man. Read this book. Ask Jesus to let you see it with His eyes of perfect humility. Allow Him to expand your vision of the height, length, depth and width of His love for humanity. Ask Him to reveal traditions and doctrine you may have swallowed that may be veiling truth from you. Jesus came that we might have abundant life and be filled with unspeakable joy here and now and beyond. (John 10:10; 15:11) Yet hospice workers inform us that the average Christian is more afraid of dying than typical atheists. This is surely a symptom that the man-made tradition of Hell has robbed many of His people! How much more it is robbing the world of faith in the love of God? May the Lord use this book to return to you and your loved ones all that the Evil One has stolen through his most powerful weapon – “the traditions of men the make the word of God of no effect.” Remember, Israel was warned time and time again, but they did not heed the warnings. The Church has been warned time and time again. And so have you. Throughout Jewish and Church history God has been looking for those whose love and respect for Him and His righteousness overcomes the fear of man and his institutions and traditions. It is not easy to stand against the tide of the kingdoms of this world and the Hell they leave behind. The herd mentality is the norm for the sheep of this world. May the Lord of all grace give the reader the sight and boldness to rise above the norm and find “Hope Beyond Hell.”
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” James 4:10
“…when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8
“What if some did not believe and were without faith? Does their lack of faith and their faithlessness nullify and make ineffective and void the faithfulness of God and His fidelity [to His Word]? By no means! Let God be found true though every human being is false and a liar.” (Rom. 3:3, 4, Amplified)
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Hope Beyond Hell