Hope for All Generations and Nations
(This article was written for Christians and non-Christians alike. When the second person plural (you) is used in this article, it usually refers to the Christian audience. The first few pages are addressed primarily to the Christian audience. It is rather ironic and perhaps tragic that the basic message of this book will be better received by the non-Christian community than those in the Church.
You will be hearing the voices of men and women who have passed to the other side. Some of the characters like Methuselah, Havilah, Eliazar, David, Radbod, Abraham Lincoln, Hannah Whitall Smith and others are real historical people. Others like like Ali, Kim, and Rachael Abraham, are fictional composites who represent millions just like them. While these characters are fictional, their experiences and thoughts are not.
Many of you who are presently non-Christians will greatly identify with the thoughts expressed by these characters. Some Christians, due to the doctrines they have been taught will have a difficult time with some of the thoughts expressed by some of these voices. I beg the reader to try to place themselves into the shoes of the voices you will hear in this publication. Christians must learn to identify with our brothers and sisters around the world, not only in our generation, but in all generations. It is sad but true, non-Christians seem to have more compassion for the world-at-large than most Christians. This should not be so. Christ's compassion in a believer should be able to hear the heart's cry of those around us for whom we are to be a guiding light.
With greater compassion, we Christians, must break through our hardness of heart. It is our hope that this writing will open some eyes to truths which have been hidden from much of the Church and the world for many centuries. I pray the Christians who read this book will open their hearts and minds to the questions raised by the following voices who represent billions of others.)
Have you really ever thought through your beliefs?
Since the declaration given by Jesus Christ, "Go ye into all the world," Christians throughout the centuries have felt they have been given the awesome responsibility of declaring the hope of the Christian faith to all mankind. However, this "hope" has taken many shapes and forms since the message was first sent forth. Today, there are thousands of denominations of Christianity each sounding trumpets of different messages which, quite frankly, have not been harmonious to each other. Have you ever wondered if your denomination is sounding the right message?
It is easy to defend our sect's teachings against another sect of Christendom. We just have to believe in our set of Scriptures and hold them up as a shield against other viewpoints. Rarely do we bring ourselves to the place where we truly attempt to see from the other's point of view. Why should we do something like that? We may fall into disbelief and perhaps have to dismantle the kingdom we have built around our set of Scriptures. Furthermore, considering the fact there are literally thousands of different denominations and sects, who has the time to make an honest comparison?
So few Christians really ever embark on a thorough search to test their message, the partial hope which their sect offers to some of the world. Therefore, unless the Lord prepare a fire to test the gold to see if it be pure, Christendom will continue to appear as an orchestra whose instruments have not been tuned to the same pitch, nor are the players playing the same piece of music.
As long as this is the state of affairs in the church, we should not expect the world, our audience, to respond with an ovation. To the contrary, we should expect to be ignored or mocked and scorned because we have the audacity to declare our music is of heavenly origin. As long as the factions of Christendom continue to sound a discordant, contradictory sound, is it reasonable to expect the world-at-large to flock to our message? Of course not! We should expect the very response which we presently are getting, bewildered looks, disdain, sarcastic comments, and thumbs down on a poor performance.
Yahweh declared to Abraham that through him all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. (Gen. 18:18) This is truly a blessed sound which might cause the whole earth to stand in ovation. The angel who appeared to the shepherds of Israel declared joy to all people. (Luke 2:10) This might even bring on an encore! But are these two trumpets in tune and harmony with the message the majority of Christendom has sounded forth? Let us sample the audience of mankind. Let them recount for us the message they heard, whether it was a sound of blessing and joy or the sound of children just learning to play their instruments, or something far worse.
Let us take a trip on the river of mankind and speak with some of the souls the Creator has made. Let us hear from those who have run their course. Hear the words of those who now watch the institution called the "church" race through the decades sounding the clarion call of a thousand different voices to bring what they each call the "good news to all mankind." Let us hear from those who many church leaders say have no further hope. They weren't "born again" or did not make the "right choice" before they died or they weren't among the "elect," chosen of God.
Most of these souls never had the opportunity to join the "right" denomination with the only "true" message of salvation. Few of them ever heard the word "baptism" let alone the "correct" way to be baptized. As to keeping the Ten Commandments, they may have kept thousands of commandments, but as to the Moses' big ten list, few ever heard of such a list, let alone attempted to keep them. Many who have returned to the dust have attempted in their lifetime on earth to do many "good" things to attain a peaceful existence on the other side of the grave. Yet what most of them would call "good" according to their culture and belief system, are often at odds with traditional church teachings regarding what constitutes good and evil.
Contrary to Paul's teaching, Christendom offers many means and methods of salvation. Let us hear from some of those for whom Christ died. Let them tell us what the modern gospel of Christendom means to them. Perhaps, by stepping out of ourselves for a moment, looking at the river of mankind from the viewpoint of those who died before us from different times and cultures, we may learn something about ourselves. Perhaps our journey may enlarge our understanding of God and His plan of redemption.
To those of you who use the name of Christian, who are clinging to your denominational standards as firmly as one would handle their sword in a fight for life itself- since you are unable to hear the sounds of other denominational trumpets sounding a different tune from yours, and since you are probably incapable of rising up from the confusion the world hears to hear for yourselves that the sound of the universal church is not harmonious, not truthful, not rich with mercy, not glorious, but rather the sound of confusion-to you I say: why not be honest and acknowledge that your denomination's trumpet sound is equally discordant and unharmonious? Are you afraid to be honest with yourself? Are you afraid that if you take an honest appraisal, you may be left with nothing on which to cling? Are you afraid you may have wasted years of your life, perhaps all of your life, adding breath to something that is not alive? The breath you have lent to the trumpet sound of your denomination or movement may prove to be very "unsound" indeed.
There are millions of Christians who would rather continue on their courses, even if it is an intercourse with death itself, rather than come to an honest time in their lives to "test" what they are doing, saying, and literally giving their lives to.
But Jesus says, "He who clings to his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake will find it." Repeating the messages of dead men like Luther, Calvin, or Pope Pius may not be life at all. It may be nothing more than the death the elders of Israel were sounding forth in Jesus' day. Oh, they had the Scriptures, did they not? They used those very Scriptures to condemn the Lord of Life. Are we so vain to think that we are incapable of doing the same thing with the same Scriptures? Let us humble ourselves for a moment. Let us put off our robes of tradition and hear the voices of our brothers and sisters from ages past. Some would not call these men and women brothers and sisters. They would call them enemies. O.K., then call them enemies. But hear them out. Did not Christ command us to "love our enemies?" Hearing one out is certainly in the bounds of love. Let us hear them out. Let them tell us if our gospel is truly "good news to all mankind." Let us see if our trumpet sounds reach these dead men and women or whether our sound falls short of the mark. Let us see if the angel who appeared to the shepherds of Israel declaring joy to all people actually reached all people, or if His declaration was nothing more than vain boasting, or a Jewish figure of speech, not meant to be taken literally-an exaggeration for effect.
The men and women whose voices we will hear have run their course. They can speak to us only through history, archaeology, and literary devices such as this article. See if your trumpet sounds like good news to these men and women. Is it a glorious sound of love, joy, and peace to all men, or does your sound fall short, or on deaf ears, or do pursed judgmental lips and gnashing teeth prevent the full measure of liberty from coming forth? See if tradition or fear of what the elders might think is holding back the liberty which is necessary to declare the full sound of the pure gospel. Remember, one day you will have to look into the loving eyes of the One who gave His life for you while you were yet in your sins. To Him, you will one day give an account, not your pastor, your pope, or denominational superintendent.
I have assembled together an audience to judge the sound you have accepted as the pure sound of the gospel. Sound forth the message you have been taught, the message you have incorporated into your very life. Now let us hear from all the corners of the earth to learn what your sound means to them. Listen to their words and re-examine your foundations. Does your trumpet reach all generations with glad tidings based upon Scripture? Or does it fall short, which is what the English word "sin" means in the Greek and Hebrew Languages? Judge yourself, today in the privacy of our own heart. The elders of tradition need not participate. After all, they will not be your counselors at your judgment. So then, learn to speak and hear for yourself. Now then, open your heart to hear their cries.
My name is Methuselah. Your scholars have difficulty determining the meaning of my name. I won't spoil the mystery. I usually appear in your Bible trivia games as the man who lived longer than anyone else. I died in the year of the great flood.
I am quite perplexed at the great variety of Christian doctrines your generation presents to mankind. I will not bother you with all my questions regarding your perplexing doctrines. It would take too much time to ask them all. Furthermore, I am afraid I will get many different conflicting answers depending upon which stream of Christendom I tap. But I will ask one. At the center of this "good news" which is so often mouthed in your day, are Scriptures like, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:30,31) Here is another: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16)
When I was alive I never knew or even heard of this man named Jesus. And saved from what? Death was imputed to me because of Adam's transgression, not my own. Furthermore, death was never defined as everlasting punishment. We, of the pre-flood age, never heard of such things. We also never heard of the Mosaic Law or the Ten Commandments. God never left us a warning about "everlasting punishment." We were never told to accept this Jesus as our savior.
So I ask you Christian, where is my hope according to your beliefs? I only know I died because of Adam's transgression. (Romans 5:14) How can you consign me to everlasting torture because I did not accept the teachings of a man I never heard speak? Am I to be judged by a different standard than you will be? Is God a respecter of persons?
Now some of you are wise enough in the Scriptures to have read the portions which say that Jesus went to those who were disobedient before the flood and preached to them. But most of the Christian sects do not accept that He preached the gospel to the dead because this would violate their sacred traditional doctrine that there is no hope of hearing the message of salvation after death. They consign us all to torment except the eight on the boat. But were the eight in the boat righteous? If they were without sin, wouldn't they never die? But they died just like me! Death was imputed to them just as it was to all the family of Adam. In Adam, we all die! I ask you to think, reason.
As to the ark incident, I ask you for a moment to picture yourself in any of your big cities. They are as corrupt if not more than our generation. Picture some man building a boat in Central Park in New York City. At the same time he tells passerbys that the entire world will be covered with water and destroy everyone who doesn't get into his boat. Be honest with yourself. No one supports the man except his immediate family, no distant relatives, no church leaders, and no government officials, not even religious zealots! Just his immediate family. Do you really think you would get on that boat in Central Park? (Many scholars believe it never rained prior to the flood which would add to one's inability to believe Noah.)
You may glibly exclaim you weren't born in my time. You don't have to think about what you "might" have done in this circumstance. This shows to me your lack of understanding of even the basics of life. You are joined to me much more than you think. There is only one family of Adam in this world and we all share the same grave. "In Adam all died." Being closer to the first Adam then you, I understand the mystery in Paul's words much better than you moderns. I lived longer than any man who ever lived. I understand living in death better than anyone. I understand very well, "The wages of sin is death." Many of you have twisted this to say, "The wages of sin is eternal torment." If any of us on this side of the flood were taught of such a thing and given an opportunity to escape such a fate, surely more of us then one single family would have done so. All we knew was that the "the wages of sin was death." I succumbed to this fate when I was 969 years old. I lived longer than the righteous Noah did. No, I did not enter the Ark. My death served as a marker. But remember, Noah and his family also suffered the same fate that all in the family of Adam suffer, death.
I share this for your benefit. I am joined to you through Adam. We all share the same fate, death. However, your Roman Catholic/Protestant teachings of "salvation from eternal torture" separate you from me. I know nothing of these things. If what you say could possibly be true, then you offer me no hope. Our Creator would certainly be a respecter of persons. Your Scriptures declare Jesus went to hell (Hades) to preach to those who were disobedient in the days of Noah. What do you think He preached-good news or bad? What do you think the outcome of His preaching might be? How do you think you would respond to His preaching being locked up in Hades for several thousand years? Oh, by the way, according to the first three quarters of the Bible, the righteous and the unrighteous before and during the Old Covenant all went to the same place, Sheol. Despite what your modern theologians might say, King David, a man after "God's own heart," was with me in Sheol (Hades in the Greek). All of us went to the same place-Sheol.
Post-flood, third generation
My name is Havilah, son of Cush, son of Noah. I am also confused by the teachings of your "Christianity." You speak of an opportunity for all mankind to be "saved from everlasting torture." Yes, I used the word "torture" to drive home a part of your teaching which is quite foreign to me. We never heard of such a thing. You call it "punishment." We call it barbarism. We know what cruelty is. Is that what you call your God, an eternal torturer?
Now your theology must make sense to all mankind if your God is the God of all mankind. He must make provision for all of us, unless of course, He just arbitrarily does as He pleases with no regard to justice, mercy, and love. I understand some Christians have created gods in such an image. They call themselves "Calvinists" to separate themselves from others of the Christian persuasion. We have many gods such as these, cruel, cold and callused. I know the nature of such gods and do not wish to ask you questions about such gods. They offer no hope. I am looking for hope.
Some Christians say that a man like me can receive salvation by seeing God in nature. They interpret Romans chapter one as saying that one can hear the gospel through trees, and rocks, and the sky. If this is your belief, I ask you, are tree worshippers then saved? Is Christianity pantheistic? Or are you saying that Jesus Christ will reveal Himself in a physical cloud? Or are you saying that just belief in a god suffices for salvation? Then almost all religions of our day will bring salvation apart from believing in Jesus Christ. We all worshipped trees, and stones, and the stars. Of course we did not actually worship the tree itself, we know there is a power superior to the tree, but we need something on which to focus. So then, are we saved because we believe in a god? Are we more saved because we believe in more than one god? How do you reconcile your reasoning here against the many other Scriptures you also quoted telling your generation there is salvation only in the single name of Jesus Chrst? If one can be saved by believing there is a god based upon looking at a cloud, then there is no purpose for Christ, nor his apostles, nor the Bible, nor evangelists, nor the church. This line of reasoning contradicts so many other passages in the Bible, that I am amazed how many Christians have deceived themselves with false interpretations such as this. Faith in Jesus Christ does not come from a cloud, or river, or a tree. Believe me! No one in my day ever heard of such a man as Jesus. Yes, we came to believe in gods from these things, but will that bring the salvation of which you speak? These things never brought us to this Jesus. Where is my hope, Christian?
Canaan, Abrahamic period
My name is Eliazar, a servant of Abraham, the first Hebrew. My name means "God is his help." You must understand, Abraham and I were not Jews, nor Christians. We came from a region which became part of the Babylonian empire. There was no belief in the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" in my day.
But in Abraham came a promise from Yahweh that in his seed would all the families of the earth be blessed. (Gen 12:3) Tell me, does your sect's teaching negate this promise? If it does, then by all means flee from such a monster because this promise shall surely come to pass.
I look at the teachings of the church of your day and it reminds me of what the priests of Babylon taught. Why even the concept of the universe being eternally divided into good and evil comes directly from the land we left behind. I am amazed. I have seen the power of Yahweh and am convinced He will do all He has promised. I suggest Christians carefully study the promises written in the Book. It seems many Christians of the modern era are in great unbelief! Is it not the unbelievers, who find themselves in a great "lake of fire?" (Rev. 21:8)
Goshen, Egypt Pre-Mosaic Law
I am a Hebrew born in the land of Goshen just before the Exodus. I am a slave as was my father and his father before him. I died making bricks. My whole life was spent in the mud. Yahweh decreed that I should live my life out in the mud and die in the mud. Where is my hope? There was no Mosaic Covenant-no New Covenant, just mud. Perhaps you should spend your life stepping in mud. Perhaps you may also feel the anger and frustration which burns in my heart. Shall God remain a respecter of persons, who relegated me to the slime pit, while you enjoy the benefits of the twentieth century and your "gospel?" Does your Bible not say Yahweh is not a respecter of persons? (Acts 10:34) It is easy for you to say he is not a respecter of persons. Come down to the pit with me for a lifetime and then tell me if you still believe that.
So how will He make this right? Where is my hope? Do you care? I do not know this Jesus you boast in. I know only mud and a God who consigned me to it, quite independent of asking me whether I would like to spend my life there. Modern Christians speak of "free will." I would laugh at such a foolish teaching, but it brings tears to my eyes instead. You moderns have lost your connection to the whole human race. I see the modern Christian as passionless, selfish, unreasonable, and cold. What hope do you bring me? I was made of clay and walked out my entire life in it. If hope does not go past the mud grave I am buried in, then I have no hope at all. I find no hope in the Roman Catholic/Protestant gospel for me. May Yahweh provide an arm of salvation for me, for the arm of the modern church is too short to reach me.
Israel, Mosaic Covenant Period
My name is David. All of you know who I am. I am the man after "God's own heart." I wrote much of the Bible. My cries to my God have been the source of hope for countless millions throughout the centuries.
Many sins were committed by me. I killed many in battle. Through my sins many in Israel were punished. Adultery was punishable by death under our law. I had one of my best commanders murdered to hide my adultery with his wife. I allowed the people to behold the Ark of the Covenant, a sin according to Moses. Of the priest's portion did I eat, again, a crime. I raised sons, one who committed every sin imaginable and another who rebelled against me. According to the Mosaic Law, I was to stone Absolom, but I didn't. Between me and my sons, Solomon and Absolom, we piled up a mountain of sins, especially according to modern church theology.
Many in the church say that people who commit the kind of crimes I and my sons have committed, should and will be eternally punished. Have I been condemned to everlasting torture by the very men and women who find comfort in my writings? Or have they waved some theological magic wand and whisked me into the arms of Abraham as an exception to the standards by which they judge others? "Let this one in because he gave us so many great Psalms." If you are a Christian, then hear me! I speak from a heart which is after God. Are you consistent in your judgments or do they change as quickly as do your emotions? Do you judge with balanced scales? Do you really know anything about judgment and mercy? Modern Christian, my psalms were desperate pleas for mercy, for God to change me from within. "Wash me and I shall be clean. Renew a right spirit within me," was my heart's cry. My hope was in the arm of the Lord to deliver me. But I find little hope in your message.
I will take my place among the rest of the adulterers and murders of this world and come before God asking for mercy, a mercy which many of you have denied the sinners of this world. You quote my psalms, but you have lost the Spirit in which I wrote them. I am among the very few in history who was given the revelation of the Messiah. Yes, I a murderer, adulterer and much more. I placed my hope in a man hanging on a tree for me. No, most of my generation does not understand Psalm 22. I could not say that I understood it when I wrote it. Prophets often do not understand what the Spirit speaks through them. I do know that those words gave me great hope, not only for myself, but for all like myself-sinners. I did not know the name of this man. I did not know when and how He would come. But I knew His arm would be long enough to reach me from wherever and whenever He was born. Of this I was certain.
Some of you teach that we "Jews" will enter heaven by a different means than Gentiles. What is this system? The Scriptures declare all Israel will be justified and saved. (Isaiah 45:25; Rom. 11:26) However, the Scriptures equally declare no one will be justified by the Law of Moses. (Rom 3:20) What is your basis for making this separation? Think, meditate, and cry out as I have done many times in my life and you will reach the Rock of Salvation, both of the Jews and Gentiles. You will not have to twist the Scriptures to do so. It will be plain as day.
The Roman Catholic/Protestant "good news" is worthless to me. I know something about the Spirit of the Lord. Your message does not come from the same Spirit. I will keep my hope in my Lord, the Rock of my salvation!
Israel, Davidic period
My name is Sheshai. It means "noble." However, there is nothing noble about my life. I was killed by one of King David's men when they conquered Jerusalem. They killed men, women, and children as commanded by their Law. I did not choose to be born in this time and place. I did not choose my parents. I came into this world in hope. I had hoped to fulfill my name, but my hope was never realized. I was killed because I lived in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I knew the Israelites as savage warriors who showed no mercy, as a foreign people who stole our land. Christians justify David. How? I do not understand. My hatred against Israel is just as yours would be if a foreign army came and killed all your relatives, including the babies. Yet you somehow justify these men in your strange understanding of justice. What about me? I carried no sword. I played like all the children of the world and I died because some man named David thought he had the right to kill my parents and myself and steal our land. I hate these Israelites and the god they claim who makes them the savages they are.
I know nothing about gods. I am a child. My candle was just lit before it was violently snuffed out at the age of five by the "chosen" of God? Do you have hope for me? Can you find it in your Bible without having to twist Scriptures out of context? Oh, I know about this modern concept of the "age of accountability." Many justify this barbaric god by saying that He considers children innocent until they can make moral decisions. Some sects make it the age 7, others 12, and still others say whenever a child is able to make moral decisions, which may vary from child to child.
Conscience prevents many from consigning little ones to the torments of the Christian Hell, but the Christian Scriptures betray them. There are no Scriptures which speak of an age of accountability. Instead, they speak the opposite. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23) "There is none righteous, nay not one." (Rom. 3:10) "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psalm 51:5) "For God has committed them all to disobedience (unbelief, KJV), that He might have mercy on all." (Rom. 11:32, NKJV) "...through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Rom. 5:12)
In light of these and many other similar Scriptures, how can you consign any to sinlessness because of the innocence of youth? If I was sinless, how do you justify your God's command to the Israelites to kill even the children, if we are, as you say, "innocent?" I admire the softness of heart of this line of reasoning, but it does not line up with your Scriptures.
So then, where is my hope? Five short years and then death at the hands of the "chosen ones" of your God. And now eternal torture? Is that what your God of love has in store for me? He made my life on earth miserable through his "chosen" people and now some of you say He Himself will make me miserable for eternity. You speak of a merciful and loving God. As far as I can see, He does not exist in your system of belief. I see a hypocrite made in the same image of the "chosen" people who created Him. Hypocrites create hypocritical gods.
Northern Europe, 692 AD
Radbod is my name, chief of the Frisian tribe. Your historians have recorded a part of my life. I was ready to be baptized into the Christian faith by Bishop Wolpan when I asked him, "Where are my dead forefathers at present?" His reply was, "In hell, with all other unbelievers." Your historians have recorded my words to him. "Mighty well, then will I rather feast with my ancestors in Woden, than dwell with your little starveling band of Christians in heaven." Let me ask you, Christian, are you all still as cold and callused as Bishop Wolpan? If you believe as he did, you make pagans like me look kinder and more concerned than you and your God. Do you still offer no better hope than Bishop Wolpan?
Arabia, 700 AD
My name is Ali. I followed the traditions of my father who followed the traditions of his father. This is the way it has always been in our lands. Our God is Allah. There is none else and His prophet is Mohammed. I was taught this from my father and my tribe. I knew nothing else. We did not have books in our tents. They were useless to us since we did not know how to read. Even the founder of our faith, Mohammed, could not read. I know it is difficult for the modern Western mind to realize most of the peoples of the world could not read anything, let alone the Christian Bible.
Many members of modern Christian sects spend thousands of hours combing their Bibles trying to be certain their lives will be acceptable to their God when they die. If this diligence is needful, then the vast majority of mankind is lost. Furthermore, your God would be guilty of not giving mankind the tools needed to prepare themselves for the afterlife. He did not provide us with teachers, the time to study, nor the Bibles to read. Your Scriptures say God is not a respecter of persons. Then why didn't He provide me all these things you possess? Is it possible for an all-powerful, miracle working God to not be able to provide all these things equally for all mankind if their very life after death depended upon it? Surely He could do such a thing, but He didn't. This tells me your God is either a respecter of persons or the traditional churches' understandings of God's requirements are inaccurate.
Some of you tell me, that even though I could not read, although I did not have a Bible, I am still without excuse. Somehow your God still made a way to give me the gospel.
Hear then, the gospel which I was fed. I was told by my elders Christians were great idolaters. From what little I saw of them, this was true. Why, they ate a piece of bread and said it is a man who died hundreds of years ago. They worshipped dead saints and put their body parts in jars and hid them under their altars. They told us to kiss a stick with an image of a dead man on it. They did and still do many strange things like this and then tell us if we do not join their church and eat this piece of bread which they say is their God, then we will be tortured by their God forever. They say their God is love and yet they killed many Arabs for their properties. These Christians even kill each other, both sides claiming to do it for the cause of their God!
I am not a learned man, but I have some common sense. In my opinion, these Catholics, as they call themselves, must be demon possessed! They have gone mad. Is it any wonder that we Arabs seek to drive them from the earth? There are many of you whose ancestors fought these madmen and now many of you moderns have joined forces with them. Your Protestant evangelists send converts to the Catholic Church by the millions. Tell me, Christian, how can I have hope in such madness? Can you not see how insane you appear to the rest of us? Can you not see how difficult it is for us to have hope in your inconsistency and hypocrisy?
Many modern Christians say that unless I accepted their Christ, I will be endlessly tortured and then you have the nerve to call Islam a cruel religion. To that kind of Christian I would ask, which Christ is the real one? In my day there were two kinds of Christians, those who worshipped statues, their Pope, and the bread and those who worshipped icons, their Patriarchs, and the bread (Roman Catholic and Orthodox). However, the modern Christians, they have multiplied their gods by the thousands. They have divided into so many different sects over thousands of different rituals, rules, and concepts of their God, that my head spins from confusion. Then they say my eternal life depends upon making the right choice! I am a simple man, even childlike in many ways. Christendom is too complicated for me. I am not good at puzzles.
The Christian Bible says do not follow Paul, or Apollos, or any other man, yet Christians have divided themselves between thousands of different men's voices. Do I not rightly say this is confusion? Pray tell me dear Christian, how can I find hope in such a mass of hypocrisy!?
American Inca Empire 1000 AD
I am called by the name of Zuma. I died in a great battle. The year before I died I made my fame. It was I who captured a warrior from another tribe whose heart was offered to the gods to resurrect the New Year. My act was very noble and moral, highly honored among my people. Some of you Christians even say that one can attain heaven through righteous acts, being moral, being a good person. Will my act be counted as a good deed by your God? You see, good and moral, is quite different from one culture to another. To some societies, it is considered good to kill people of other societies. You only need to look to your Bible for examples. So then, to you, Christians, who tell us that doing good will bring one to heaven, who decides whether the act is good or not? Will you, a Greco-Roman Westerner? Or may we choose the standard of our choice like you have? If whether one is good determines their fate, then for what purpose did Jesus Christ die?
Now I have heard another quite foolish teaching among some Christian sects. They say that God must give everyone on earth a chance to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior because He would become a "respecter of persons" if He did not give the invitation to everyone before they died. Therefore, they say that God sends angels to them. The angels deliver the "Gospel." If they accept it, they are then "saved." This reasoning is often used for loved ones who showed no sign of ever being "saved," or "born again." It is also used for civilizations like mine who did not hear the gospel from missionaries since our part of the world did not see Christian missionaries until long after we were dead. Foolish Christian, think! If this fable was true, then your archaeologists should have uncovered hundreds of civilizations with signs of some believing in Jesus Christ. This is not reality. Only where there were Bibles and missionaries does one find traces of Christianity.
Those who have been fed this sort of nonsense are usually told by some missionary of a tale about finding an African native who believed in Jesus Christ through an angel. This "witness" of course is never telling the story, it always comes from a third party. Oh, Christian, please allow your mind to dig a little further than these myths and tales perpetuated by ministers of fear. If this "angel gospel" were true, then archaeologists would find traces of Christian civilization in every corner of the world in all periods of time! However, this is not the case.
Paul, the apostle, made it very clear in his letter to the Romans that the gospel would be delivered by "sent preachers" not angels. (Rom. 10:14,15) What need would there be of Bibles, missionaries, tracts, etc., if everyone had an angel appear to them? Wouldn't an angel have greater effect than those the church has sent forth to preach? Look to the crusades, the money hungry televangelists, and the power thirsty priesthood. Can you see how confusing their gospel message is? Surely angels would be much more effective than these mortals chained to their own lusts and special varieties of doctrine. Archaeology tells us the message of Christ is only found where a "sent one" went. Whether he was sent by God or by "the elders of tradition," is not for me to decide. In light of archaeology, a reasonable person would surely put no faith in the "evangelist angel" myth. Why is it so hard for you moderns to think, to reason past the lame excuses you are fed on Sunday morning? By the way, the missionaries sent to us by Spain, Portugal, and other "Christian" countries did not bring us "good news." They took our gold and gave us their diseases in exchange. They "converted" us at the end of the barrels of their muskets, not with Paul's gospel. Was that my hope?!
Southern Europe, 1213 AD
Maria, (named after the blessed Virgin), is who I am. I was a concubine to one of the cardinals in Rome. I did many shameful things. The cardinal reassured me that all he made me do was for the cause of Christ. I received communion every Sunday. There are many thousands of us belonging to Priests throughout Europe. Why even some of the Popes have lovers and concubines. Many of you modern Christians say that people like me will have their part in the lake of fire. My priests told me I must obey them or be excommunicated. Modern Christians are so quick to condemn people like myself saying the Scriptures make it clear not to follow any man, but only the Word of God, by which they mean the Bible. But I say to you, you may be doing the very thing you condemn me for. Perhaps you are a slave to tradition much more than you realize. From God's Holy View, you may thereby be committing spiritual adultery by co-habiting with churches who have replaced the true image of God with false images of God created by demons through religious men and women who are full of lusts of the eyes, lusts of the flesh and the pride of life. You may discover at the end of your days, that your spiritual fornication with false religious systems may be a greater sin than my own sex sins.
Have you no comprehension of how few people in this world throughout the course of mankind have ever seen a Bible much less ever read one? I, as well as most of those who have come into this world, was illiterate!! Even if I was literate, it was forbidden for a common person to have a Bible. Do you not quote, "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word?" Do you not read, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe on Him in whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?" (Rom 10:14,15) Tell me, do you think my master, the cardinal, was a "sent one?" Do you have any idea of the kind of "gospel" I heard from my master, the cardinal? The only kindness he ever showed me was after he had his way with me in bed! And tell me, dear Christian, what will become of all my illegitimate children who hate anything to do with God because of what has happened to them in the name of Christ!
So tell me, Christian, from your great knowledge of the Scriptures which were denied me, is there hope for me? I never heard of this "born again" jingle you Evangelicals throw around. Do you have any hope to sell, my friend? You object to my use of the word "sell?" Believe me, in the church of my generation, there was nothing free, except my body, which I had to freely give to the cardinal. Hope, Christian, can you sell me some hope?!
Kagoshima, Japan, 1550
My name is Kim. I was perhaps among the first in the history of Japan to hear about Jesus Christ. This was over 1500 years after Jesus walked this earth. For hundreds of years, while monks and priests canvassed Europe Christianizing all those nations, we Japanese heard nothing from your God. All our ancestors died without hearing of the one Name in which men might be saved. What is their hope?
According to the missionary who shared his "good news" with me, they have no hope. He, himself wrote in his diary in 1552, "One of the things that most pains and torments these Japanese is that we teach them that the prison of hell is irrevocably shut. For they grieve over the fate of their departed children, of their parents and relatives; and they often show their grief by their tears. So they ask us if there is any hope . . .and I am obliged to answer that there is absolutely none. The grief at this affects and torments them wonderfully; they almost pine away with sorrow . . . I can hardly restrain my tears sometimes at seeing many so dear to my heart suffer such intense pain about a thing which is already done and can never be undone."
The man who wrote these words is Saint Frances Xavier, who was canonized as a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church. You see, he did not bring us hope-he brought us tears and torment!
Some Christian evangelists excuse the fact that few Japanese convert to the fact that we are involved in deep pagan ancestry worship cults. They say that the demons which hold us to our ancestors are strong. How cruel! The tears "Saint" Frances Xavier saw were not a manifestation of demons-they came from a deep love of our family and all our brothers and sisters who had gone to the grave before us!! They came from love!! How is it that so many Christians can confuse love with demons?
Japan will never become a Christian nation until the Western Church abandons its heathen doctrines and its cruel and demonic ways! You say you are not heathens? Do I need to remind you, Christian Americans, how many innocent civilian Japanese you killed in Hiroshima? Oh, by the way, you had Christian missionaries preaching your "good news" in the two cities in which you burned to death tens of thousands of Japanese.
Since the day your first missionary set foot upon Japanese soil, you have not given us "good news." We are still waiting for the "Good News." We are still waiting for hope. We are still waiting for a message which will open the graves of our ancestors, whom we love dearly-a message which goes to the graves and delivers the captives from their bondage. We are still weeping over our ancestors. We are also weeping over the fact that such a beautiful person as Jesus could be marred and smeared by His own people with such a hideous doctrine as everlasting sufferings. Suffering we understand, but everlasting torture for never having heard the name of Jesus is beyond the grasp of my sense of justice. We remain weeping, waiting for a better hope.
My name is Hannah Whitall Smith. Some of you are aquainted with some of my writings, the most popular of which was the book The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life. In one sense, I really don't belong in this section of this book. You see, I died having great hope. I died quite secure in my own salvation and not only my own, but the salvation of the entire world!
This hope did not come to me from my denomination's doctrines, it came by way of divine revelation and Scripture!
The reason why my words are placed in this portion of this book are two: first of all, I couldn't think of a place in this book that would make me more happy. As you will see from my brief testimony, my heart greatly goes out to those without hope. What a wonderful place to allow me to express my joy-between two groups of people who have been greatly hardened to the hearing of the truly Good News. These people (Japanese and Jews) have yet to really hear the news which will set them free from their bondage.
I have been given this Good News. I wrote about it in my autobiography entitled My Spiritual Autobiography: The Unselfishness of God and How I Discovered It.
And this brings me to the second reason why I prefer my testimony be placed among those who have died without hope. I wrote this last book for the very purpose of giving great hope to all mankind. I hoped that my book would continue to be published after my death, which it was. Several Christian publishing companies have been reprinting my books. The first book I mentioned has sold millions of copies.
However, the greatest hope I wanted to share with all the world was my discovery that our Heavenly Father will draw all mankind unto Himself. I share this wonderful news in my autobiography and these modern Christian publishers have removed this message from my book!! The very heart of my book, that God Himself showed me He was going to save all mankind-that part of my book they removed without notifying the reader they did such a deceitful thing! How in the world are people going to believe in Jesus as the Truth when Christian publishers behave in such a manner. I know that I am not the only writer suffering at the hands of dishonest religious publishers. Even the Bible translations of deceased Christians have been reworked by some publishers changing major doctrines without bringing this to the attention of the readers.
Cutting out those chapters was like cutting out my heart. They have taken my "Unselfish God" and made Him into their own image-very selfish. They cut those chapters from my book because it was not "popular theology." It did not fit in with the traditional "Evangelical" circles. In other words, they "cut out" those chapters because they would have "cut into" their profits. They felt they needed to "edit" it to attract the largest readership. Therefore they removed that which they felt might offend some of their readership. Imagine-Christians being offended that God is loving and powerful enough to save all of us! It grieves me greatly to know that many Christians are offended by the love and mercy of the True God.
I am grateful that the heart of my autobiography is printed in this book Hope for All Generations and Nations and located between these peoples who have longed for so many centuries for a hope which would reach all their ancestors. I pray that my testimony be used to reach some in every nation of the world.
Here are the chapters which the "workers of iniquity" have removed from my autobiography. Thank you, Father for restoring what You Yourself have given me to share with my brothers and sisters around the world:
The Unselfishness of God and How I Discovered It
by Hannah Whitall Smith
"During all the years of which I speak the Plymouth Brethren were, as I have said, among my principal teachers. But I began gradually to find some things in their teachings that I could not accept; and this was especially the case with their extreme Calvinism.
There have always been, I believe, differences of opinion among them in regard to this view; but those with whom I was thrown held very rigidly the belief that some people were "elected" to salvation, and some were elected to "reprobation", and that nothing the individual could do could change these eternal decrees. We of course were among those elected to salvation, and for this we were taught to be profoundly thankful. I tried hard to fall in with this. It seemed difficult to believe that those who had taught me so much could possibly be mistaken on such a vital point. But my soul revolted from it more and more. How could I be content in knowing that I myself was sure of Heaven, when other poor souls equally deserving, but who had not had my chances, were "elected", for no fault of their own, but in the eternal decrees of God, to "Reprobation"? Such a doctrine seemed to me utterly inconsistent with the proclamation that had so entranced me. I could not find any limitations in this proclamation, and I could not believe there were any secret limitations in the mind of the God who had made it. Neither could I see how a Creator could be just, even if He were not loving, in conigning some of the creatures He Himself, and no other, had created, to the eternal torment of hell, let them be as great sinners as they might be. I felt that if this doctrine were true, I should be woefully disappointed in the God -whom I had, with so much rapture, discovered.
I could not fail to see, moreover, that, after all, each one of us was largely a creature of circumstance-that what we were, and what we did, was more or less the result of our temperaments, of our inherited characteristics, of our social surroundings and of our education; and that, as these were all providentially arranged for us, with often no power on our part to alter them, it would not be just of the God who had placed us in their midst, to let them determine our eternal destiny.
As an escape from the doctrine of eternal torment, I at first embraced the doctrine of annihilation for the wicked, and for a little while tried to comfort myself with the belief that this life ended all for them. But the more I thought of it, the more it seemed to me that it would be a confession of serious failure on the part of the Creator, if He could find no way out of the problem of His creation, but to annihilate the creatures whom He had created.
Unconsciously, one of my children gave me an illustration of this. She waked me up one morning to tell me that she had been lying in bed having great fun in pretending that she had made a man. She described the color of his hair and his eyes, his figure, his height, his power, his wisdom and all the grand things he was going to do, and was very enthusiastic in her evident delight in the joy of creation. When she had finished enumerating all the magnificent qualities of her man, I said to her, "But, darling, suppose he should turn out badly; suppose he should do mischief and hurt people, and make things go wrong, what would thee do then?" "Oh," she said, "I would not have any trouble; I'd just make him lie down and chop his head off."
I saw at once what a splendid illustration this was of the responsibility of a Creator, and it brought to my mind Mrs. Shelley's weird story of the artist Frankenstein, who made the monstrous image of a man, which, when it, was finished, suddenly, to his horror, became alive, and went out into the world, working havoc wherever it went. The horrified maker felt obliged to follow his handiwork everywhere, in order to try to undo a little of the mischief that had been done, and to remedy as far as possible the evils it had caused. The awful sense of the responsibility that rested upon him, because of the things done by the creature he had created, opened my eyes to see the responsibility God must necessarily feel, if the creatures He had created were to turn out badly. I could not believe He would torment them forever; and neither could I rest in the thought of annihilation as His best remedy for sin. I felt hopeless of reconciling the love and the justice of the Creator with the fate of His creatures, and I knew not which way to turn. But deliverance was at hand, and the third epoch in my Christian experience was about to dawn."
The Third Epoch In My Religious Life
"As I stated in the last chapter, after a few years of exuberant enjoyment in the good news of salvation through Christ for myself and for those who thought as I did, my heart began to reach out after those who thought differently, and especially after those who, by reason of the providential circumstances of their birth and their surroundings, had had no fair chance in life. I could not but see that ignorance of God, and, as a result, lives of sin, seemed the almost inevitable fate of a vast number of my fellow human beings, and I could not reconcile it with the justice of God, that these unfortunate mortals should be doomed to eternal torment because of those providential circumstances, for which they were not responsible, and from which, in a large majority of cases, they could not escape. The fact, that, I, who no more deserved it than they, should have been brought to the knowledge of the truth, while they were left out in the cold, became so burdensome to me, that I often felt as if I would gladly give up my own salvation, if by this means I could bestow it upon those who had been placed in less fortunate circumstances than myself.
I began to feel that the salvation in which I had been rejoicing was, after all a very limited and a very selfish salvation, and, as such, unworthy of the Creator who had declared so emphatically that His "tender mercies are over all His works," and above all unworthy of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came into the world for the sole and single purpose of saving the world. I could not believe that His life and death for us could be meant to fall so far short of remedying the evil that He came on purpose to remedy, and I felt that it must be impossible that there could be any short-coming in the salvation He had provided. I began to be convinced that my difficulties had simply arisen from a misunderstanding of the plans of God, and I set myself to discover the mistakes.
As I have said, my first refuge had been in the annihilation of the wicked. But this had soon seemed unworthy of a wise and good Creator, and a very sad confession of failure on His part, and I could not reconcile it with, either His omnipotence or His omniscience. I began to be afraid I was going to be disappointed in God. But one day a revelation came to me that vindicated Him, and that settled the whole question forever.
We very often had revivalist preachers staying with us, as we sought every opportunity of helping forward with we called "gospel work". Among the rest there came one who was very full of the idea that it was the privilege and duty of the Christian to share, in a very special manner, in the sufferings of Christ, as well as in His joys. He seemed to think our doing so would in some way help those who knew nothing of the salvation of Christ; and he had adopted the plan of making strong appeals on the subject in his meetings, and of asking Christians, who were willing, for the sake of others, to take a share of these sufferings upon themselves, to "come forward" to a front bench in the meeting to pray that it might be granted them. Somehow it all sounded very grand and heroic, and it fitted in so exactly with my longings to help my less fortunate fellow human beings, that, although I did not go "forward" for prayer at any of his meetings, I did begin to pray privately in a blind sort of way that I might come into the experience, whatever it was. The result was very different from what I had expected, but it was far from tremendous.
I had expected to enter into a feeling of Christ's own personal sufferings in the life and death He bore for our sakes, but instead I seemed to have a revelation, not of His sufferings because of sin, but of ours. I seemed to get a sight of the misery and anguish caused to humanity by the entrance of sin into the world, and of Christ's sorrow, not for His own sufferings because of it, but for the sufferings of the poor human beings who had been cursed by it. I seemed to understand something of what must necessarily be His anguish at the sight of the awful fate which had been permitted to befall the human race, and of His joy that He could do something to alleviate it. I saw that ours was the suffering, and that His was the joy of sacrificing Himself to save us. I felt that if I had been a Divine Creator, and had allowed such an awful fate to befall the creatures I had made, I would have been filled with anguish, and would have realized that simple justice, even if not love, required that I should find some remedy for it. And I knew I could not be more just than God. I echoed in my heart over and over again the lines found by one of George Macdonald's characters engraved on a tombstone.
"Oh Thou, who didst the serpent make,
Our pardon give and pardon take."
I had been used to hearing a great deal about the awfulness of our sins against God, but now I asked myself, what about the awfulness of our fate in having been made sinners? Would I not infinitely rather that a sin should be committed against myself, than that I should commit a sin against any one else? Was it not a far more dreadful thing to be made a sinner than to be merely sinned against? And I began to see that, since God had permitted sin to enter into the world, it must necessarily be that He would be compelled, in common fairness, to provide a remedy that would be equal to the disease. I remembered some mothers I had known, with children suffering from inherited diseases, who were only too thankful to lay down their lives in self-sacrifice for their children, if so be they might, in any way, be able to undo the harm they had done in bringing them into the world under such disastrous conditions and I asked myself, Could God do less? I saw that, when weighed in a balance of wrong done, we, who had been created sinners, had infinitely more to forgive than any one against whom we might have sinned.
The vividness with which all this came to me can never be expressed. I did not think it, or imagine it, or suppose it. I saw it. It was a revelation of the real nature of things--not according to the surface conventional ideas, but according to the actual bottom facts--and it could not be gainsaid.
In every human face I saw, there seemed to be unveiled before me, the story of the misery and anguish caused by the entrance of sin into the world. I knew that God must see this with far clearer eyes than mine, and therefore I felt sure that the sufferings of this sight to Him must be infinitely beyond what it was to me, almost unbearable as that seemed. And I began to understand how it was that the least He could do would be to embrace with untold gladness anything that would help to deliver the being He had created for such awful misery.
It was a never to be forgotten insight into the world's anguish because of sin. How long it lasted I cannot remember, but, while it lasted, it almost crushed me. And as it always came afresh at the sight of a strange face, I found myself obliged to wear a thick veil whenever I went into the streets, in order that I might spare myself the awful realization.
One day I was riding on a tram-car along Market Street, Philadelphia, when I saw two men come in and seat themselves opposite to me. I saw them dimly through in veil, but congratulated myself that it was only dimly, as I was thus spared the wave of anguish that had so often swept over me at the full sight of a strange face. The conductor came for his fare, and I was obliged to raise my veil in order to count it out. As I raised it I got a sight of the faces of those two men, and with an overwhelming flood of anguish, I seemed to catch a fresh and clearer revelation of the depth of the misery that had been caused to human beings by sin. It was more than I could bear. I clenched my hands and cried out in my soul, "O, God, how canst thou bear it? Thou mightest have prevented it, but didst not. Thou mightest even now change it, but Thou dost not. I do not see how Thou canst go on living, and endure it." I upbraided God. And I felt I was justified in doing so. Then suddenly God seemed to answer me. An inward voice said, in tones of infinite love and tenderness, "He shall see the travail of His soul and be satisfied." "Satisfied!" I cried in my heart, "Christ is to be satisfied! He will be able to look at the world's misery, and then at the travail through which He has passed because of it, and will be satisfied with the result; If I were Christ, nothing could satisfy me but that every human being should in the end be saved, and therefore I am sure that nothing less will satisfy Him." And with this a veil seemed to be withdrawn from before the plans of the universe, and I saw that it was true, as the Bible says, that "as in Adam all die -even so in Christ should all be made alive." As was the first, even so was the second. The "all" in one case could not in fairness mean less than the "all" in the other. I saw therefore that the remedy must necessarily be equal to the disease, the salvation must be as universal as the fall.
I saw all this that day on the tram-car on Market street, Philadelphia--not only thought it, or hoped it, or even believed it--but knew it. It was a Divine fact. And from that moment I have never had one questioning thought as to the final destiny of the human race. God is the Creator of every human being, therefore He is the Father of each one, and they are all His children; and Christ died for every one, and is declared to be "the propitiation not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). However great the ignorance therefore, or however grievous the sin, the promise of salvation is positive and without limitations. If it is true that "by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation," it is equally true that "by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." To limit the last "all men" is also to limit the first. The salvation is absolutely equal to the fall. There is to be a final "restitution of all things", when "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Every knee, every tongue-words could not be more embracing. The how and the when I could not see; but the one essential fact was all I needed-somewhere and somehow God was going to make every thing right for all the creatures He had created. My heart was at rest about it forever.
I hurried home to get hold of my Bible, to see if the magnificent fact I had discovered could possibly have been all this time in the Bible, and I had not seen it; and the moment I entered the house, I did not wait to take off my bonnet, but rushed at once to the table where I always kept my Bible and Concordance ready for use, and began my search. Immediately the whole Book seemed to be illuminated. On every page the truth concerning the "times of restitution of all things" of which the Apostle Peter says "God Hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began," shone forth, and no room was left for questioning. I turned greedily from page to page of my Bible, fairly laughing aloud for joy at the blaze of light that illuminated it all. It became a new book. Another skin seemed to have been peeled off every text, and my Bible fairly shone with a new meaning. I do not say with a different meaning, for in no sense did the new meaning contradict the old, but a deeper meaning, the truemeaning, hidden behind the outward form of words. The words did not need to be changed, they only needed to be understood; and now at last I began to understand them.
I remember just about this time, in the course of my daily reading in the Bible, coming to the Psalms, and I was amazed at the new light thrown upon their apparently most severe and blood-thirsty denunciations. I saw that, when rightly interpreted, not by the letter, but by the spirit, they were full of the assured and final triumph of good over evil, and were a magnificent vindication of the goodness and justice of God, who will not, and ought not, and cannot, rest until all His enemies and ours are put under His feet. I saw that the kingdom must be interior before it can be exterior, that it is a kingdom of ideas, and not one of brute force; that His rule is over hearts, not over places; that His victories must be inward before they can be outward; that He seeks to control spirits rather than bodies; that no triumph could satisfy Him but a triumph that gains the heart; that in short, where God really reigns, the surrender must be the interior surrender of the convicted free men, and not merely the outwar surrender of the conquered slave. Milton says, "Who overcomes by force hath overcome but half his foe," and I saw that this was true.
Read in the light of these views, my whole soul thrilled with praise over the very words that had before caused me to thrill with horror. "Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; let them also that hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melted before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God." God's wrath is against the sin not against the sinner, and when His enemies are scattered, ours are also. His sword is the righteousness that puts to death sin in order to save the sinner. The fire of His anger is the "refiner's fire", and He sits, not as the destroyer of the human soul, but as its purifier, to purge it as gold and silver are purged.
"Implacable is love
Foes may be bought or teased from their malign intent;
But He goes unappeased Who is on kindness bent."
The Psalmist says, "Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou takest vengeance on their inventions;" and with this key to interpret it, all the denunciations of God's wrath, which had once seemed so cruel and so unjust, were transformed into declarations of His loving determination to make us good enough to live in Heaven with Himself forever.
I might multiply endlessly similar instances of the new illumination that shone in entrancing beauty on every page of the Bible, but these will suffice. I began at last to understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he said that he had been made the minister of the new testament, not of the letter but of the spirit, for "the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life". Things I had read in the letter, and had shuddered at, now, read in the spirit, filled me with joy."
The Unselfishness of God
"I have always felt that this time my real discovery of the unselfishness of God began. Up to then, while I had rejoiced in the salvation for myself that I had discovered, I had been secretly beset from time to time with a torturing feeling that, after all, it was rather a selfish salvation, both for Him and for me. How could a good God enjoy Himself in Heaven, knowing all the while that a large proportion of the beings He had Himself created were doomed to eternal misery, unless He were a selfish God? I had known that the Bible said that He was a God of love, and I had supposed that it must be true, but always there had been at the bottom of my mind this secret feeling that His love could not stand the test of comparison with the ideal of love in my own heart. I knew that, poor and imperfect as my love must be, I could never have enjoyed myself in Heaven while one of my children, no matter how naughty, was shut out; and that He could and did enjoy Himself, while countless thousands of His children were sht out, seemed to me a failure in the most essential element of love. So that, grateful as I had felt for the blessings of forgiveness and of a sure and certain hope of Heaven for myself, I still had often felt as if after all the God I worshiped was a selfish God, who cared more for His own comfort and His own glory than He did for the poor suffering beings He had made. But now I began to see that the wideness of God's love was far beyond any wideness that I could even conceive of; and that if I took all the unselfish love of every mother's heart the whole world over, and piled it all together, and multiplied it by millions, I would still only get a faint idea of the unselfishness of God.
I had always thought of Him as loving, but now I found out that He was far more than loving:--He was love, love embodied and ingrained. I saw that He was, as it were, made out of love, so that in the very nature of things He could not do anything contrary to love. Not that He would not do it, but actually could not, because love was the very essence of His being. I saw that the law of love, like the law of gravitation, is inevitable in its working, and that God is, if I may say so, under this law, and cannot help obeying it. I saw that, because He is love, He simply, in the very nature of things, must be loving. It is not a matter of choice with Him, but a matter of necessity. And I saw that, once this fact was known, to trust in this God of love would be as natural as to breathe. Every doubting question was answered, and I was filled with an illimitable delight in the thought of having been created by such an unselfish God. I saw that as a matter of course the fact of His being our creator was an abolute guarantee that He would care for us, and would make all things work together for our good. The duties of ownership blazed with tremendous illumination. Not its rights, of which I had hitherto chiefly thought, but its duties, the things ownership necessarily demands of its owner. I saw that just as in a civilized community people are compelled by public opinion, or if necessary by the law, to take proper care of things that belong to them, so our Creator, by the laws of common morality, is compelled to take proper care of the creatures He has created, and must be held responsible for their well being.
It was all so glorious that it often seemed too good to be true, that we actually did belong to such an unselfish God; that many a time, when a fresh insight into His goodness would come over me, I would be obliged to get my Bible and open it at the texts that declared we really were His property, and put my fingers on them, and read them aloud, just to reassure myself that they did actually say, without any limitations, that He was my owner.
The expression "Remember thy Creator" assumed a totally different aspect to me. I had always thought of it as a kind of threat held over us into good behavior; but now it seemed full of the most delightful warrant and assurance that all was well for the creatures this unselfish Creator had created. I saw that God was good, not religiously good only, but really and actually good in the truest sense of the word, and that a good Creator was of course bound to make every thing go right with the creatures He had created. And the fact that nothing was hid from His eyes, which had once been so alarming, now began to seem the most delightful fact in the whole universe, because it made it certain that He knew all about us, and would therefore be able to do His best for us.
My own feelings as a mother, which had heretofore seemed to war with what I had believed of God, now came into perfect harmony.
My children have been the joy of my life. I cannot imagine more exquisite bliss than comes to one sometimes in the possession and companionship of a child. To me there have been moments, when my arms have been around my children, that have seemed more like what the bliss of Heaven must be than any other thing I can conceive of; and I think this feeling has taught me more of what are God's feelings towards His children than anything else in the universe. If I, a human being with limited capacity, can find such joy in my children, what must God, with His infinite heart of love, feel towards His; In fact most of my ideas of the love and goodness of God have come from my own experience as a mother, because I could not conceive that God would create me with a greater capacity for unselfishness and self sacrifice than He possessed Himself; and since this discovery of the mother heart of God I have always been able to answer every doubt that may have arisen in my mind, as to the extent and quality of the love ofGod, by simply looking at my own feelings as a mother. I cannot understand the possibility of any selfishness on the mother's part coming into her relation to her children. It seems to me a mother, who can be selfish and think of her own comfort and her own welfare before that of her children, is an abnormal mother, who fails in the very highest duty of motherhood.
If one looks at what we call the lower creation, one will see that every animal teaches us this supreme duty of self-sacrifice on the part of the mother.
The tiger mother will suffer herself to be killed rather than that that harm should come to her offspring. She will starve that they may have food. Could our God do less? I speak of self-sacrifice, but I cannot truthfully call it sacrifice. Any true mother, who knows the reality of motherhood, would scorn the idea that the care of her children involved a sacrifice, in the ordinary sense of sacrifice, on her part. It may involve trouble or weariness but not what I could call sacrifice. The sacrifice would be if she were not allowed to care for them, not if she were. I know no more fallacious line of argument than that which is founded upon the idea that children ought to be grateful for the self-sacrifice on the mother's part. Her claim to love and consideration on the part of her children depends altogether to my mind upon how true a mother she has been in the sense I describe; and I believe that thousands of disappointed mothers, who have not received the gratitude and consideration they would like,have only themselves to thank, because they have demanded it, instead of having won it. All this has taught me to understand God's feelings towards us that what we call self-sacrifice on the part of Christ was simply the absolutely necessary expression of His love for us; and that the amazing thing would have been, not that He did it, but if He had not done it.
Since I had this insight of the mother-heart of God, I have never been able to feel the slightest anxiety for any of His children; and by His children I do not mean only the good ones, but I mean the bad ones just as much. Are we not, distinctly told that the Good Shepherd leaves the ninety and nine good sheep in order to find the one naughty sheep that is lost, and that He looks for it until He finds it? And, viewed in the light of motherhood, has not that word "lost" a most comforting meaning, since nothing can be a lost thing that is not owned by somebody, and to be lost means only, not yet found. The lost gold piece is still gold, with the image of the King upon it; the lost sheep is a sheep still, not a wolf; the lost son has still the blood of his father in his veins. And if a person is a lost sinner, it only means that he is owned by the Good Shepherd, and that the Good Shepherd is bound, by the very duties of His ownership, to go after that which is lost, and to go until He finds it. The word "lst" therefore, to my mind, contains in itself the strongest proof of ownership that one could desire. Who can imagine a mother with a lost child ever having a ray of comfort until the child is found, and who can imagine a God being more indifferent than a mother? In fact I believe that all the problems of the spiritual life, which are often so distressing to conscientious souls, would vanish like mist before the rising sun, if the full blaze of the mother-heart of God should be turned upon them.
Moreover I saw that, since it was declared we were created in the image of God, we were bound to believe that the best in us, and not the worst was the reflection of that image, and that therefore things which to us in our best moments looked selfish, or unkind, or unjust, or self-seeking, must never, no matter what the "seeming", be attributed to God. If He is unselfish, He must be at least as unselfish as the highest human ideal; and of course we know He must be infinitely more.
All the texts in the Bible revealing God's goodness shone with a new meaning, and I saw that His goodness was not merely a patronizing benevolence, but was a genuine bona fide goodness that included unselfishness and consideration, and above all justice, which last has always seemed -to me one of the very first elements of goodness. No unjust person could ever, in my opinion, lay the slightest claim to being good, let their outward seemings of goodness be as deceiving as they may. I had in short such an overwhelming revelation of the intrinsic and inherent goodness and unselfishness of God that nothing since has been able to shake it. A great many things in His dealings have been and still are mysteries to me; but I am sure they could all be explained on the basis of love and justice, if only I could look deep enough; and that some day I shall see, what now I firmly believe, that His loving kindness is really and truly over all His works.
I do not mean to say that all this acquaintance with God came to me at once; but 1 do mean to say that when I had that revelation on the tram-car in Philadelphia that day, a light on the character of God began to shine, that has never since waned in the slightest, and has only grown brighter and brighter with every year of my life. It is enough for me to say "God is" and I have the answer to every possible difficulty.
The amazing thing is that I, in company with so many other Christians, had failed, with the open Bible before me, to see this; and that all sorts of travesties on the character of God, and of libels upon His goodness, can find apparently a welcome entrance into Christian hearts. To me such things became at this time well-nigh intolerable. I could listen patiently, and even with interest, to any sort of strange or heretical ideas that did not touch the character of God, but the one thing I could not endure, and could not sit still to listen to, was anything that contained, even under a show of great piety, the least hint of a libel on His love or His selfishness.
I shall never forget a memorable occasion in our own house, when a celebrated Preacher from Boston, was visiting us. The conversation at the breakfast table turned on the subject of God's love, and this Preacher declared that you must not count on it too much, as there were limits as to what His love could endure, just as there were limits to a mother's love; and he went on to declare that there were certain sins a daughter could commit which the mother never could forgive, and which would forever close her heart and her home against her child, and he asserted that it was just so with God, and that he considered it was a grandmotherly religion that taught anything different.
I have no doubt his object was to combat my views on Restitution, although we were not talking on that subject; but he evidently wanted to convince me that God was not quite so foolishly loving as I thought. It was more than I could endure to hear both mothers, and the God who made mothers, so maligned, and, although the speaker was my guest, I broke forth into a perfect passion of indignation, and, declaring that I would not sit at the table with any one who held such libelous ideas of God, I burst into tears and left the room, and entirely declined to see my guest again. I do not say this was right or courteous, or at all Christ-like, but it only illustrates how overwhelmingly I felt on the subject. The honor of God seemed to me of more importance than any ordinary rules of politeness. But I see now that I might have vindicated that honor in an equally effectual but more Christ-like way.
Still, to this day, the one thing which I find it very hard to tolerate, is any thing which libels the character of God. Nothing else matters like this, for all our salvation depends wholly and entirely upon what God is; and unless He can be proved to be absolutely good, and absolutely unselfish, and absolutely just, our case is absolutely hopeless. God is our salvation, and, if He fails us, in even the slightest degree, we have nowhere else to turn."
Auschwitz, Germany 1947 AD
My name is Rachael Abraham. I'm sure you know much about me just by my name and the year in which I died. The fire was very hot, perhaps not as hot as the fire that vaporized those poor Japanese. And you say the fire of G-d's wrath upon unbelievers will be much hotter and last much longer. You are a stupid person who says such foolish things!! Don't quote me your, "call no man of fool" Scripture. I probably know the Scriptures better than most of you. You should read some of the things your Jesus and His apostles said of some religious people in their day. Their words would make stupid sound very mild. White-washed tombs, den of snakes and hypocrites were among some of Jesus' words for people who acted very much like many of you. Yes, you people who believe such nonsense are stupid. Innocently stupid, maybe, but still pretty dumb. You don't think. You don't feel!
Tell me, my dear, do you really think you have this salvation business figured out? My life was ended in fire. Who put me there? Christians (Catholics and Protestants) wearing belt buckles inscribed with "In God we trust!" Who is going to get these eternal flames you warn about?! Those Lutherans who made me stand in a tank of human excretion up to my nose for hours? Or me, for hating the very name of Jesus for what Christians have done to my people in His name?
Oh, you may glibly say, they weren't true Christians! Tell me, is Martin Luther a "true" Christian? Listen to what he thought should be done to us. Here are his own words: "Whenever you encounter a real Jew, you may in good faith make the sign of the cross and openly and fearlessly pronounce the words 'This is a veritable devil.' Therefore, do not doubt and never forget, beloved Christians, that apart from Satan himself, you possess no more deadly, poisonous, and dreadful enemy than a real Jew. I know that. They poison wells, kidnap and maltreat children....It is impossible to teach or re-educate the Jews...Were God to promise me no other Messiah than for whom the Jews hope, I would much rather be a pig than a man...Never ought a Christian to eat or drink with a Jew."
On being asked whether it would be right to box the ears of a Jew, Luther replied "Certainly. I for one would smack him on the jaw. Were I able, I would knock him down and stab him in my anger. It is lawful, according to both the human and the divine law, to kill a robber; then it is even more permissible to slay a blasphemer...If I had to baptize a Jew, I would take him to the bridge of the Elbe, hang a stone round his neck and push him over with the words 'I baptize thee in the name of Abraham....We ought to take revenge on the Jews and kill them."
Little wonder the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. William Temple said, "It is easy to see how Luther prepared the way for Hitler." Perhaps now you can understand why you hear so much anger in my voice-why I call Christians who believe in an eternal torturing God "stupid." Don't you realize that you yourself will be conformed to the God you hold in your heart?! If you worship a ruthless, wrathful God who plays the hypocrite, telling his followers to love their enemies while He endlessly tortures His own, then you will become just like that kind of a God-an ugly hideous hypocrite! Think! Reason this out! And don't stick your heart in the freezer. Let it bleed for a moment. Do you realize Martin Luther ordered the death of tens of thousands of his own Christian countrymen who rebelled against the Princes due to lack of food!? Listen to how he speaks about his own poor starving Christian countrymen. These were not Jews, they were Christians!
What is so terribly sad is that Luther was the catalyst and leader who started the "Peasants War." Listen to what he at first had to say about the German Princes who had greatly oppressed the peasants: "God Almighty has struck our princes with madness so that they imagine they may treat and command their subjects just as they please; and the subjects too are crazy enough to think that it is their duty to obey all that is commanded them...God has delivered the princes up to a perverted mind, and means to make an end to them...All the princes could do was to rob and oppress the people, heaving tax upon tax, and rate upon rate...The princes are the greatest fools and the worst scoundrels on earth. The people cannot, will not any longer, endure your tyranny and your presumption." Words like these encourage the peasants to surround themselves around their champion, Martin Luther-a man bold enough to come against the highest powers of Germany. The peasants, under the encouragement of Luther, drafted a document asking for better living conditions. The document was a very reasonable and Christ-like plea for improved living conditions.
When things finally came to a head, what did Martin Luther, the very one who encouraged the peasants to rise up, do? He sided with the Princes! Here again are Luther's own words: "To kill a peasant is not murder; it is helping to extinguish the conflagration. Let there be no half measures! Crush them! Cut their throats! Transfix them! Leave no stone unturned! To kill a peasant is to destroy a mad dog!. . . Our princes must in the circumstances regard themselves as the officers of the divine wrath which bids them chastise such scoundrels. A prince who failed to do so would be sinning against God very badly. He would be failing in his mission. A prince who in such circumstances avoided bloodshed would become responsible for the murders and all the further crimes which these low swine might commit. It is no longer a question of tolerance, patience, pity. It is the hour of wrath and for the sword; the hour for mercy is past."
See, I told you so. If one worships a god who is a hypocrite one becomes a hypocrite. Or perhaps Luther's god of wrath was nothing more than an idol he created in his own image-a wrathful god of hypocrisy. He also said, "I will not forbid such rulers as are able, to chastise and slay the peasants without previously them offering terms, even though the Gospel does not permit it." We see here that Luther placed his own words above the Gospel itself! After all this (and much more that I could tell you about him) Luther had the nerve to call us Jews "swine." What nerve! (Quotes from Martin Luther were taken from Martin Luther: Hitler's Spiritual Ancestor by Peter F Wiener, Hutchinson and Company LTD publishers.)
Let's change the subject. My stomach turns when I think of some of the things Christian leaders have done. What sickens me even more is that few pew-warmers know these things ever happened. Worst of all, most Christians probably don't really want to know. There, there little ostrich. Put your empty little head back in the hot sand and bake it a little longer.
You know Jews like to study. That's why many Jews become doctors, lawyers, professors, etc. I personally happen to know more about Christian history than most Christians. After all, we Jews share a part in your history. You might be surprised at how many of my ancestors have been killed in Christian wars, inquisitions, and progroms. I am not surprised because I have read European history which really is also Church history.
I'm not too bad on your Bible either. Did you ever read in your own Bible, "Salvation is of the Jews?" (John 4:22) You know, of course, the Bible was written by Jews, even the New Testament. Oh, I know Luke may have been a Gentile, but the rest of the Bible was written by Jews. Do you know, we Jews know of no such thing as "hell?" We know of one place "Sheol" where all go, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Oh, I know the King James Bible translators divided Sheol into "hell," "grave," and "pit," but they never consulted a good Rabbi on that one. They were as anti-Semitic in those days as many are today. Now your modern scholars are getting much smarter. They don't have "hell" in the Old Testament anymore, because it was never in the Hebrew Scriptures in the first place!!
Now you ought to get busy cleaning up your New Testament Scriptures. Maybe we Jews might start listening to what you have to say when you stop talking foolishness! Think! God never spoke about hell to any of His people from Adam to Malachi. Why should He start talking about it in the first century AD? Your scholars should have gone to us for advice instead of the pagans. That is where you got your concept of hell. Gehenna, which your translators translate Hell, was the Valley of Hinnom outside the southwest wall of Jerusalem.
It was the dump, a symbol of worthlessness, and not a symbol of "eternal torture." Yeshua (Jesus) used it as a symbol of a place to put things that are worthless. Jesus told the religious leaders of his day that their lives weren't worth anything. To a pious Jew, this was the worst of insults. But where did you get the idea Gehenna was a place of eternal torture or even a symbol of it? Certainly not from the Jewish Scriptures! Oi Veh!! Such nonsense from the mouths of those who parade themselves as G-d's know-it-alls. You have lost your ability to think. You accuse us of following the "traditions of the elders," and yet most of you Christians follow a bunch of theologians and preachers who have so totally rewritten history and twisted the original languages of the Bible that the God of the Bible is hardly recognizable anymore.
As a Jew, I am not too fond of Paul, the apostle. But you Christians, if you want to follow the "gospel" thing had better pay attention to Paul. He said something like, "If anyone preach another gospel other than mine, let him be accursed." Those are pretty strong words. Now I have a question for you. Before you try to answer it, put a little oil in the brain, crank up the gears and think! Ready? If salvation is deliverance from this "hell" which most of you modern Christians say is a place of endless torture, why did Paul never use the word even once!!!! Think! No hell in the Old Testament. Paul, whose commission it was to declare the gospel to the nations, forgets to use this word, or did he? Maybe he didn't forget. Maybe Hell, as is commonly taught in Christendom, was never part of G-d's plan! Maybe it never was in the Scriptures, New Testament or Old. We Jews have never had a "hell" in our Scriptures. All we have ever had is Sheol. Remember, the Scriptures are from us. Yes, we do know better on this one! Now you should go and study for yourselves.
If you don't want to study this out, then study out my fate. I despised this Jesus you Christians have been trying to cram down our throats literally for two thousand years. Do you know how many Jews have been killed because we wouldn't call a piece of cracker, "Jesus Christ?"
Are you so pure and righteous that you think you will escape the barbecue you so vividly describe for us? Wake up! Think! Study! And pray sincerely. Remember, your God is an "all-consuming fire." Why don't you go to Him and let Him burn some of the dross clogging up your brains and your heart. Who knows, maybe then enough of Christ's love will flow out of you so that all can finally see their Messiah. We, Jews have waited a long time for the mercy which Christians are supposed to be filled with to flow forth to the nations. After all, aren't you supposed to provoke us to jealousy? (Rom. 11:11) We have become very cynical from waiting so long for the love of the Messiah to soften our hearts. We are still waiting. "How long, Oh Lord!" When will a people come forth exhibiting your character and love?!
Moscow, USSR, 1954 AD
My name is Ivan Magog. Yes, I know my name is in the Bible. I know many of you Western Christians believe we Russians are the Anti-Christ power on earth. I am in the third generation of Russians programmed from birth into atheism. We knew no God. Most of the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church in my day were stooges of the KGB. Most of them value their own lives more than their so-called faith. We remember the evils the Russian Orthodox Church and what its aristocracy did to the Russian people.
You Americans do not know what we peasants suffered in the name of your Christ. You Americans are very ignorant of the things done in the name of your God in Europe and Russia. Sadly, you cannot understand why Marx called religion "the opiate of the people."
Many of you despise the cold, inhumane appearance of the Russian Communist. Perhaps you should take a good look at many of the priests your religion has produced and the blood they left behind. The blood we spilled in the name of atheism is but a puddle compared to the sea of blood spilled by your church leaders. Look to your history and see how many wars were fought by Christians. Your Prince of Peace leaves a trail of blood up to the horse's bridle!
Ah!! But you disassociate yourself from this history, but we can not! We have seen nothing but corrupt priests and royalty feeding upon our children and our children's children!! So we picked up the sword just as your priests have done.
Do you hear anger in my voice? Yes, there is much anger!! Who will quench it? Communism gave me nothing. Promises, but no fulfillment. The Communist leaders made themselves gods. They act just like the priests who ruled before them. The priests lied to us, stole from us, and yes, even killed us. The hope I had in Communism also faded away. I am locked up in my anger and frustration with no place to turn. Is there hope only in a bottle or the end of a gun? But even this hope you Christians take away from me. You tell me I will be tortured forever by your "God of love." Oh, you say, it is not He doing it; that it would be my doing. Did I create this place you call the lake of fire? Did the devil? Did Krushchev? Who created these kind of monstrosities? Can you be honest one single time to one very angry, confused, hopeless Russian? You Christians say there is hope only in your faith. Why is it that I cannot see it? Am I not sincere enough? Do I speak the wrong language? You appear as monsters to me, hypocrites, double-talkers, and yes, robbers of poor people!! How can I possibly have hope in your God? You Christians through your actions and teachings throughout history have painted Him so ugly that I find no beauty in Him. I see coldness all around me. My heart is as ice. I look at your church history and it reminds me of Siberia, cold and lifeless. You speak to me of "good news." I would rather drink my vodka than to swallow this concoction of poisons. Hope. I desperately need real hope and you, Christian, do not have it for me!
USA, 1996 AD
My name is Joseph Simon. A part of me doesn't feel akin to these other voices who just spoke. You see, I am a "born again Christian," although my conscience has been gnawing at me to the point that I am not sure what I am anymore. Although, I believe I truly had a conversion experience, I am finding my assurance has slipped away. Even hope seems to be alluding me.
I was raised Roman Catholic. I must have been a pretty good Catholic because the priests never came down on me too hard. There were times when they felt they had to squeeze me for a few more dollars, but then nobody's perfect- right?
One day I heard a preacher on television telling me all my good deeds were nothing but filthy rags. Oh, I can't tell you how enraged I was! But then he had the nerve to tell me that was what the Bible said. Well, I was going to show him! He probably was quoting one of those Satan inspired Protestant Bibles. I was taught never to read one of those Protestant Bibles so I went to my big Catholic family Bible, (which commanded a very prominent place on our bookcase) to see how badly he twisted that verse. After I cleaned off the dust, I went to the verse he was talking about. (It's amazing how much dust a book can pick up in 10 years!) But to my absolute amazement, my Catholic Bible said the same thing!
Well, this made me listen to this preacher more, until one day I found myself following his instructions on how to receive eternal life. I can't explain to you how, but something deep inside of me changed. I felt clean and new. What a wonderful experience! Why didn't this happen when I went to my Catholic Church for mass every Sunday? Now don't get me wrong, I had many good "feelings" at my Catholic Church. I used to get all kind of "holy" feelings when I looked at all the stained glass and beautiful architecture. The ritual of the mass used to give me goose bumps. But this experience, when I confessed Jesus as my Lord and Savior, well, this came from an entirely different place inside of me. It brought a change in my life.
One of those changes was an incredible hunger for the things of God. My Bible no longer collected dust. I spent many hours devouring the Bible and read a lot of material which I ordered from that television evangelist.
In no time I was surrounded by various different Protestants flooding me with tapes, booklets, and all kinds of teachings. I know that many of you hearing me right now know what I am talking about. This has happened to millions of Catholics in recent years.
I had a hard time with the fact that there were so many different Protestant points of view on many areas of the Bible. What made matters worse is they all felt they were right. Everyone one of them said they based their teachings on the Bible.
I was a hard working man. While I loved to Bible study, I didn't have the time to study each one of these different denominations to find out which one was right. In the Catholic Church, "right" was easy. The priests had all the answers and we had an infallible Pope who was "Vicar of Christ." (Substitute of Christ) It was easy being a Catholic. Follow the rituals, listen to the priests, and don't make too much trouble.
When I made it known at work I was looking for a new church, I was bombarded with all kinds of reasons why to go to certain churches and to definitely stay away from others. I imagine it is difficult for people to understand how fearful and confused a person might become being told by various church leaders from organizations like United Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Full Gospel, Methodist, Unitarian, Jehovah's Witness, and Fundamentalist that their system is the only one which is true to the Bible. They told me my very soul was at stake in the matter of joining the "right" Church. How could I know for certain which one was right? I knew I couldn't spend the rest of my life studying all these different denominations. The pressure was enormous!
One of these men, who was an elder in his church, seemed to know the Bible much better than the others. At least he backed up everything he said with a Scripture. He often even quoted chapter and verse. He quoted a Scripture which really caught my attention and caused me to decide to close the door to these other denominations and join this group. He said the way to life was narrow and straight and few find it, but the road to destruction was broad and wide and there were many on it. I decided that day to chose "his" narrow way. I see now that what I really chose, was the "narrow-minded" way.
At that time, however, not having to deal with the many different teachings from dozens of Protestant denominations all telling me they had the real truth took a lot of pressure off me. Why, the Protestants not only had many different teachings in which they differed, they even had many different Bible translations that differed from each other.
As a Catholic, I didn't have to worry about things like which translation is closer to the original languages. We were not encouraged to read the Bible at all. We just needed to follow the Priests.
I read a book one day on the subject of Bible translations. This writer's view was that only the King James Bible was God's "authorized" Bible. He made a case that all the other Protestant Bible translations could be traced back to false Greek texts coming from Alexandria, Egypt. His reasoning sounded plausible to me, especially in the light of the fact that I was desperately crying for some simplicity in my life. The peace and joy I had found at my conversion had eroded leaving great anguish in my mind.
As a Catholic, I was not a very "moral" person. I drank, I cussed, and yes, I did some things much worse than that. But as a Catholic, as long as you went to Mass and went to the confessional from time to time, one was alright with God. True, one might have to spend some time in Purgatory for some of the serious stuff, but even there, the Catholic Church had ways to shorter a Catholic's stay there. They had indulgences and prayers for the dead which would reduce the time spent in Purgatory. I felt pretty secure that with as large as my family was, they would buy enough prayers from monks locked up in monasteries somewhere to make my stay in Purgatory short.
As a Protestant, this assurance quickly vanished. While I was given the assurance by the televangelist that if I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior I would receive eternal life, I soon discovered that was not the case at all. I was told one could "lose" their "eternal" life. A person could forsake Christ and return back to the mire from which he came.
From the comparing of the different denominations of Protestantism that I did , I noticed that what would cause a person to lose their "eternal" life varied greatly from one denomination to another. Looking back on this subject now, I wonder how these evangelists could promise "eternal" life, if in fact one could lose it again. It's not very "eternal" if a sin can undo it. I guess I didn't think that through at the time. As a matter of fact, I didn't do much thinking at all, just listening to Church leaders as if God was speaking and memorizing God's Word, the Bible. They encouraged this kind of reasoning. After all, wasn't it a sin to "question" God's Word? Doubt came from Satan, we were told.
Anyway, every pastor had his own view as to how one could lose their salvation. This was very frustrating for me. Who was right? How did forgiveness work? Most of them agreed that almost all sins were forgiveable except the "unpardonable sin" of blaspheming the Holy Ghost. That is, if a Christian committed a sin and repented of it before he died, he would be forgiven of it. But if he did not repent of it, he would have to pay the penalty for it. Here is where everything was very fuzzy-which unrepented sins could cause one to end up in Hell?
The torment to my mind trying to understand exactly where I stood with God in the sin issue was great. The joy of my salvation was gone. The teaching that there was only one Bible authorized by God helped simplify my life and so I closed the door to all other Bible translations and anyone who used those Bibles. I convinced myself they were all wrong. They were deceived by Satan himself, who was blinding them because they were reading Satanically inspired Bibles.
So I found myself among the hard line branch of Evangelicalism-the Fundamentalists. We were tough on sin and sinners. Judgment, damnation, Hell, Godliness, Holiness, righteousness were among our favorite words. We knew all the Scriptures which proved the way to eternal life was very narrow and there were few who were on it. Most of the world, including most Christians were on the broad road which leads to destruction. (Matt. 7:13) Of course we had many of the passages of Scripture which supported the idea that most people would go to Hell memorized. We could quote chapter and verse on many of them. Among our favorites were: Hebrews 6:4-8; Heb. 10:28, 29; Matt. 25:31-46; Mark 9:38-48; Rev. 20:7-10; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Rev. 21:8; Jude 6, 7, as well as others.
Looking back at that time in my life, I now realize that the more often I used Scriptures like this to condemn others to Hell, the less love, joy, and peace I had. The more I focused on why others deserved to go to hell, the smaller became the group I thought might make it to heaven. Those who left our group were immediately shunned and condemned to the torments of Hell. We would quote Scriptures like, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us." (John 2:19)
Because we believed that the way to eternal life was narrow, we isolated ourselves from other groups which might influence us away from the truth. The leaders spent much time warning us of the errors of these other groups and denominations which were leading people to Hell.
Although I was among believers who spent much time together in church related activities, I was very lonely. At my conversion, my marriage became a disaster. My wife was a strong devotee to Mary and the Catholic Church. The Protestants had not Mary. Our fights about religion drove us further and further apart, ultimately climaxing into a divorce.
Being a man with normal sexual needs and being without a wife became a very difficult situation for me. Our denomination was very clear regarding sex. Sex outside of marriage was clearly forbidden. Of course adultery was out of the question. Three years of being without a physical relationship was extremely difficult for me. There were certain Scriptures I read which just seemed impossible for me to live by. In Matthew 5:27 and 28, Jesus said that to have lust in one's heart was equal to committing adultery. To have hate in one's heart was the same as murder. (Matthew 5:21, 22)
These two Scriptures were giving my conscience fits. There were many times when I looked at an attractive woman in Church, or at work. Watching television, my imagination went wild. I never acted upon my lusts. However, according to the words of Jesus, I was guilty of adultery! As to hate, when I was really honest with myself, there were several people who I despised.
One day my problem with lust got so bad, I felt I needed to talk to my pastor about it. Memorizing Scriptures and cold showers was not giving me victory over my imagination. Being in the neighborhood, I decided to stop by to see if he could spare me a few minutes of his time. His wife answered the door and invited me in. She told me the pastor was away on a men's retreat and was not expected to return until the next day. Knowing by the expression on my face that I was troubled, she asked me what the problem was.
From hindsight I can now see my response to her question was not prudent. I told her that I just couldn't seem to overcome the lustful feelings I often have when I looked at an attractive woman.
Within a few minutes she explained to me that she knews exactly how I felt. She and the pastor had not had sexual relations in the last two years. She found it suspicious that on many of the trips her husband made, the church secretary was also not available. She could never prove anything, but she knew that for the last two years she needed something her husband wasn't giving her.
I still can't quite figure out how we got to the bedroom, but it didn't take long. While laying in bed, she related to me that many couples in their Church were having great difficulty overcoming sin in their lives. She said it seemed that the more her husband preached against sin, the harder it was for the congregation to have victory over sin. She told me her husband didn't love her anymore. They were just staying married because divorce was severely frowned upon. The pastor knew that if he got a divorce, he would lose his Church.
All of a sudden the door burst open. "You're both going to rot in Hell!" were the last words I heard before I felt the burn of a bullet burying itself deep into my chest. The pastor had come home early from his "men's" retreat. The court hearings revealed that the pastor's secretary had put an end to their affair that weekend. She had fallen in love with a new young convert.
The pastor was released on a temporary insanity plea. He asked his congregation to forgive him of both his affair and double murder. His denomination asked for his resignation. According to the Church's doctrine, because he asked for forgiveness, he was forgiven by God of his crimes and sins. His wife and I did not have a chance to ask for forgiveness. I died guilty of unconfessed adultery. According to my denomination, I would go to Hell. The pastor's wife would also go to Hell, while her husband, being forgiven because he asked for forgiveness, would qualify for heaven.
Quite frankly, I don't see justice in this. Looking back, it seems rather strange now how we placed the eternal fate of so many people on simply speaking a handful of words. If someone spoke "Jesus come into my heart," and then died, we would say that person was in heaven even though he murdered dozens of people. Commit adultery and then ask for forgiveness and you're home free. Forget to ask or don't have time and your fate is being tortured endlessly for all eternity.
Since I have had a lot of time to think about it, this type of teaching just doesn't seem fair or just to me anymore. I wish I had thought this through before I joined that denomination. I just wanted simplicity. Religion had become too complicated for me. Now I await the resurrection of the just and the unjust, wondering what is the truth. While living I didn't have much concern for all those lost unbelievers and Christians caught in what we thought were false religious systems which would lead them to Hell. Oh, we mouthed concern-but our words were pretty empty of action or compassion. We felt the Scriptures were plain enough. If we could figure it out,. so could everyone else-but most people loved the things of this world more than God. Therefore they deserved to go to Hell.
Now I'm not sure about anything. I am not too quick to judge anyone. Confusion fills my mind. The hypocrisy which we all practiced in our denomination stands out so clearly now. Why couldn't I see it while I was living? When we evangelized we were so confident we were the only ones who had the truth. We told the world we had the true hope. Now I am without hope. I pray that the mercy we denied to most of the world somehow finds a place for me. All my foundations and traditions have been shaken and tested. They were found wanting. Did I ever really know God? Is there still hope for me?
Now, for some
Rome, 1st Century AD
My name is Paul. This city, Rome, along with the city of Jerusalem have given me much grief throughout history. Many church leaders from these cities have done much to hinder the hope which comes from the gospel commissioned to me to be delivered to the whole world for all generations.
My message of reconciliation came from above-from Jesus Himself and from the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, not from men of tradition and earthy cities. Those who truly heard and walked in my gospel became ambassadors of Christ, (not the Pope, or Luther, or Calvin or any other man.) They received their instructions from the above, not from political/religious centers of the world.
Over the centuries apparently few have really heard my Gospel. Rome has resurrected the Gospel of the Circumcision, (Peter's gospel), which mixes law and grace. Peter's Gospel, the gospel of the Circumcision, was a temporary gospel which was given to those born under the Mosaic Law to give them time to come into pure grace through faith. But God ended this Gospel when the last generation born under the Mosaic Covenant died. This occurred at the end of the generation in which Jesus the Messiah was born. Yahweh made it abundantly clear that the Mosaic Covenant was to end and be replaced with a New Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant was a detailed set of laws and rituals which had to be performed exactly according to the instructions Yahweh gave Moses on Mount Sinai. These rituals could not longer be performed according to God's instruction to Moses after Rome destroyed Jerusalem, the Temple and its priesthood.
(To those of you who are not Christian, forgive me for going into something of which you may have no understanding. But believe me, it is quite clear to me that the Church-at-large in your age doesn't have much understanding of these subjects either, so you are not too far behind. I do not exaggerate when I say you will learn more about true Christianity in these next few pages than you will sitting in many Churches. So bear with me, as I speak about some unfamiliar things. Perhaps it will stir you to pick up a Bible and search these things out a little further for yourself.)
The Mosaic Law was one single package. To violate one part of it was to violate it all. (James 2:10) Furthermore, it was a two-sided Covenant between a specific group of people and Yahweh, that is, the Hebrews. It is very important to note, this covenant was not with any other peoples or nations other than Israel. Many modern Christian denominations and sects have tried to force the laws and rituals of this covenant upon the nations and peoples of this world. This covenant was never meant for that. This covenant is finished! It was only for Jews up to 70AD at which time God made it quite clear He had inaugurated a New Covenant not based upon nationalism or ethnic preference.
Jerusalem was the only lawful place to fulfill the sacrifices and rituals commanded by Yahweh through Moses under what Christians term the "Old Covenant." One of the specifications in this Covenant was that the priests, especially the High Priest, had to be able to trace their descendency back to Aaron and Levi. (Exodus 40:12-15; 2 Chronicles 35:3) When the Roman Army entered Israel to stop the rebellion, they raped thousands of Jewish women, thereafter making it difficult for many Jews to prove a descendancy which was pure. Furthermore, when the Temple was burned, the genealogical records were burned thus destroying any evidence which could prove one's descent.
But the Temple was torn apart stone by stone just as Jesus had prophesied. The furniture was taken to Rome. In later years, it was even unlawful (at the pain of death) for a Jew to even visit Jerusalem which was once the only lawful place, according to Moses, where a Jew was commanded to appear before God three times a year- Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Those who say the Mosaic Law was still in effect after the destruction of Jerusalem do not understand the Law. They are blind guides. It is the very Law which they cling to which makes them blind! Did I not call the Ten Commandments, the cornerstone of the Mosaic Law, the ministry of death, the ministry of condemnation whose glory was fading away even as I wrote? (2 Cor. 3:7-15)
The Mosaic system, after 70AD, could no longer operate lawfully. It was finished. And so was Israel as God's "chosen" nation. Since Yahweh inaugurated a New Covenant, not based upon genealogy or race, Peter's Gospel to the Circumcision (Israel) no longer served any purpose. In Christ, circumcision avails nothing! (1 Cor. 7:19)
If we study history, however, a group of Jewish Pharisees, seeing that the destruction of Jerusalem totally destroyed their religious system of laws and rituals, created a new type of Judaism, not based upon the sacrificial system, but based upon "good deeds." Yahweh never authorized creating such a system. Modern Judaism is not based upon God's covenant with Israel made on Mount Sinai, but is based upon a group of Pharisees who refused to accept the Messiah which Yahweh had sent to them. Modern Judaism is a perversion, not true to Moses nor true to the Messiah! Do not be entangled with Judaisers whether they call themselves Jews or Christians! But don't hate or kill them either! They must be won with the love of Christ in you, not with hate. But do not join yourselves to these systems-they are false.
Just before the destruction of Jerusalem, many who I preached to had abandoned my gospel. As I said, they returned to Moses or their pagan practices, or they mixed some of my teachings in their old ways. This mixture made the word of God of no effect in my day and it has the same effect in your day.
When the Temple was destroyed, my gospel received a breath of fresh air. For a brief season, many saw what I was trying to explain-that Yahweh was doing a new thing. Old things were passing away-Yahweh was making a New Creation, yes, even a New Man in which there was no Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave or free. The destruction of Jerusalem vindicated my Gospel, a Gospel based upon grace through faith, not of works of the Mosaic Law. Those Judaizers who were destroying my work among the Gentiles were exposed as deceitful workers by the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. The last generation of Jews born under the Law saw the judgment of God upon Israel as a nation It was a terrible judgment, indeed! (Read Josephus' Wars of the Jews) The Lord fanned the fire and my gospel spread throughout the Roman world.
I did not preach Moses. I preached the Law of the Life in Christ Jesus, a New Law, and a New Word. I preached a New Man, a New Creation, a New World, and for those who could hear it, a new heaven and earth.
I spoke of the ministry of reconciliation. I spoke of the in-gathering of all things in heaven and earth, and yes, even under the earth, under the headship of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. But today I see thousands of different sects of Christendom and I weep. I said do not divide based on men's teachings. Paul and Apollos are nothing! Yet most Christians have divided themselves under names like Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and the list becomes endless. Why do you read my words?! Why do you keep them in their Bibles?! You should tear them out!! Apparently no one heeds them.
Most church leaders preach a salvation FROM everlasting torture. Where did they ever get such an idea? Certainly not from my writings! Where did I ever preach deliverance from the pagan concept of Hell? Where did I ever use the word Hell? Where did I ever close the door of hope to anyone? I boldly declared more than hope, I delivered a message of assurance. I made it clear that as all died in Adam, the same all shall be made alive in Christ, each in his own order! (1 Cor. 15:22)
I realize many of your Bible translations have twisted a few words out of their true meaning. Some Bible translations have translated Gehenna, (Jerusalem's dump), Hades (the unseen), and Tartarus (holding place for angels) all into the Germanic, pagan word "Hell" which has caused great confusion. Translating the Greek word "aion" which meant in my time "an indeterminate period of time," certainly never everlasting, eternal or forever, has also brought about misunderstandings. And then literalizing many passages, especially the parables and John's Revelation, is something I never dreamed would ever happen. The languages of the Bible Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, were languages which used many types of figures of speech. The Greek language alone has over 200 different kinds. A literal translation of these passages would totally change the meaning. We Semites employed many figures of speech. We painted our words with wide brushes, so to speak. You Westerners have done yourselves and others in the world a great disservice by translating our words into the modern languages often without due consideration of our idioms and customs. You will never really understand the Holy Scriptures apart from understanding our culture and ways of communication. Many modern Bibles contain passages which do not truly convey the writer's thoughts. There are many Bibles translated after various "traditions of the elders." I realize this.
But for those with discernment, my message should still have come through loud and clear. Sometimes what a writer DOES NOT write about can say more than what they put in ink, so I remind you once again-I did not write about Hell! I did not write about deliverance from "everlasting punishment." I boldly stated that if anyone preached another gospel other than mine, let him be accursed!! Anyone who does is not preaching my gospel! If there is anyone in the entire Bible who should have taught a place of everlasting torture, it should have been me, since it was my responsibility to declare the gospel to the entire world. My message was the message of hope to all mankind!! I taught a ministry of reconciliation. "Be ye reconciled!"
I warned the foolish Galatians that mixing Law and Grace would not bring forth the fruit of the New Covenant of grace. I should have warned all nations because it seems all the denomiNATIONS have forsaken my gospel and gone after another, which is not the true gospel of Christ at all.
I preached Christ crucified for ALL MANKIND! I exempted no one, past, present, or future, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth! Please, please stop this foolish preaching that my Father and yours would torture any of his children in literal fire forever!
Have you all become pagans in the name of Christ? Can you not discern any of the Biblical symbols and their meaning? Do you really think there is a dead lamb on a throne in heaven? If your mind is quick enough to recognize this as a symbol, why do you literalize something that should naturally be recognized as a symbol? Is there really a woman riding a beast somewhere? Then why would you think the fiery lake is not also a symbol? Did John not make it plain at the beginning of his Revelation, "These things 'sign'ify things that must shortly take place." (John 1:1) Notice also that he even told you these things were to take place shortly. How can those who put these events 2000 years later say they rightly divide the word when John said several times in his Revelation book that these things would take place "shortly?" He also said that these visions were symbols of what would take place. In your modern world can you not see that for a third of the stars to fall upon the earth would be an impossibility? Why one single star remotely close to the earth would snuff out all life. Tell me, if the stars fell to earth, do you think there would be any life or even the planet itself? We find this verse in Revelation 6:13, yet in the chapters following this account, we find peoples and entire nations still alive. Surely, the world has been greatly harmed by literal interpretations of Revelation and many other portions of Scripture which were never meant to be taken literally.
Now I implore you, put off these foolish preachers of nonsense who parade around as ministers of the gospel who paint my God and yours as some fire breathing dragon lurking about seeking to devour his own children. Throw these scoundrels into the den of myth-makers and let them spin their tales amongst themselves. Separate yourselves to your heavenly Father, even the Father of us all. Draw neigh unto Him and He will draw neigh unto you.
I beseech you. Read my letters bound into your Bibles, especially my later ones, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians. Remember the race I was running had nothing to do with salvation. Salvation is a gift, not a race, especially the kind of race the hell-fire preachers have portrayed it.
Now hear my words again. Let them sink deeply into your hearts and minds. Let them erase the dark, even demonic images burned into your conscience by men dragging through the ages the traditions of the same pagans I did battle with in my generation. Put down the superstitions fabricated by the carnal mind and rise up to your inheritance in Him Who purchased you with His own life. For God so loved you...that He gave His life to you and for you.
I am not boasting when I say that if a person does not understand my gospel, he doesn't understand God and His plan of salvation. I left ample warnings of those who would enter in bringing with them all sorts of abominations. I warned of the Judaisers sent from Jerusalem who would mix Mosaic Law with Grace which would leaven my whole message and produce all manners of abominations. My warnings are still in your Bibles and they are very plain. Heed them!
Did I not say that I was the example of those who would follow in Christ? Did I "decide" to follow Jesus? Or was I shown what I must suffer for the Lord's name sake? Did Christ Himself not say that no one can come to the Father except the Father draw him? And did He not further say that He would draw all mankind unto Himself? (John 6:44, 12:32) Does the sea have the ability to rise into the heavens in its own strength or decision? Or is it the sun which draws up the water? The sea of humanity cannot come into the heavenlies unless drawn by the Son of Righteousness. And when drawn by the sun, does the water of its own will have the ability to resist the sun?
I have made it perfectly clear that God locked up all mankind in unbelief and disobedience. For what purpose? That He may have mercy on ALL!!! How many? ALL!! (Rom. 11:32)
The Mosaic Law was sent forth not to do away with sin, but that sin might abound!
"Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 5:20-21)
The Law never perfected anything. It just brought up what was latent in man, sin! Israel, after 1500 years under the Law, became some of the most lawless people on the face of the earth. Read Josephus' Wars of the Jews and see for yourselves. They used the Holy Law of Moses to accuse and despise the Gentiles while they were guilty of the very same things themselves! I say this to your shame, you moderns do the same thing and with the same religious zeal, a zeal which will surely bring forth death. Look at church history. Is it not a stream of blood up to the horses bridle? This mixture has not produced life, and never will. It will produce self-righteousness which will always gravitate to death!
My letter to the Romans, especially chapter 5, makes it abundantly clear again that all have sinned; Christ died for all while they were yet sinners; that just as death was imputed to all men from the transgression of one man, Adam, righteousness would be equally be imputed to all mankind. Did men "choose" to die? No, it was imputed to them. In exactly the same way, no one can "choose" life. It is also imputed to them.
This teaching of "deciding" to follow Jesus is a lie out of darkness. Did Jesus' disciples choose Him? Did I, Paul, "choose" to follow Jesus? No! I chose to persecute the church. Jesus called me and I became a bond-slave who was shown what I must suffer for His name's sake. Did I not say that I was made the example of those who would follow? I am the chiefest of sinners and I was "dragged" to the throne of grace. "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all long-suffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting (aionian) life.
I tell you this, those of you who think you made a decision to follow Christ are still in your sins!! It was saving grace which caused you to open your mouth to even be able to confess His name!! Stop your foolish boasting and repent. Salvation is all of God, not of man lest you do what most of you moderns are presently doing...boasting in your works, even if it is as simple as boasting in your "decision." This way of thinking, my friends, will surely lead to self-righteousness and spiritual death.
The all or "the many" who were imputed death in Adam, this same group would be imputed Life in Christ. Some translations have eliminated the definite article in front of "many" making it appear that many would be made righteous, not all. But I made it perfectly clear in the Greek that "the many" who were condemned in Adam was all mankind! Equally "the many" who received the free gift resulting in justification of life was the same "the many." Oh, Christian study to show yourselves approved! Will you have the sin of Adam abound more than the righteous act of Jesus Christ? Wake up sleeper!! Please read the last half of the fifth chapter of my letter to the Romans slowly and carefully. Use a Greek/English Interlinear Bible. One will clearly see the definite article "the" (oi, in Greek) in front of "many." Compare the KJV and NIV in Romans 5. The KJV eliminated the definite article whereas the NIV put it in. The Greek clearly has the definite article. This kind of study is what Christians should be spending more time on instead of Soap Operas and Sunday Football! The world needs to know this. It has been appointed to His people to make these things known to the world.
I preached the Abrahamic covenant, a covenant God ratified with Himself, not with Abraham! Abraham fell asleep as God sealed the covenant as a smoking oven and a burning torch passed between the pieces of animals. (Gen. 15:5-21) If Abraham had a part to play in this covenant, he was required to also pass between the animal halves, but he didn't.
And what was the promise of this covenant, and to whom would this blessing go? "Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him." (Gen. 8:18) This promise was repeated to Isaac (Gen. 26:4) and expanded to all the families of the earth to Jacob. (Gen. 28:14) All the families of the earth shall be blessed by God's promise to Abraham! Not some, not just Israel, or those grafted into Israel ...all the families from beginning to end! And what does it mean to be blessed by Yahweh-to be endlessly tortured??!! Oh, I am mad enough right now to come out of my grave to shake some of you who claim to be alive out of your state of death!
Tell me! Where did I limit God's redemptive plan in any way? Where did I cut short any of God's promises to mankind? I declared in full boldness and in the power of the authority Jesus Christ gave me as apostle to all the nations that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind to be testified in due time. (1 Tim. 2:4-6) John, the apostle declared Him the Savior of the whole world in his gospel in 4:42 and his first letter in 4:14.
In the very first chapter of my letter to the Ephesians I clearly stated that ALL would come INTO Christ in the fullness of time. Think! Will the pagan concept of Hell be eternally "in" Christ? Never!
Tell me, if you paid the price for all mankind, would you be satisfied if you got less than what you paid for? Isaiah speaks of Christ's great suffering on the tree of crucifixion and tells us that Christ shall see the travail of His soul and will be satisfied. (Isaiah 53:11) Would you be satisfied if you gave your life for all, but only received a handful? Or half? Or ninety per cent? No, my friend, Christ's love for mankind shall not be satisfied if even one is lost. He will leave the ninety-nine to find the one lost.
Now hear this and carefully think it through. Jesus purchased those who belong to Him. From Whom did He purchase them? The Devil? The powers of this world? Hear the Scriptures and not your traditions! "This is the will of the Father Who sent Me, that of all He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but raise it up at the last day." (John 6:39) "The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands." (John 3:35, NIV) All were LOCKED UP in unbelief! The Father's wrath was on all. And Jesus redeemed, purchased, ransomed, restored, reconciled all unto Himself. He will impute to them all His righteousness and then deliver them back to the Father Holy and blameless! Praise His wonderful Name! I just want to shout hallelujahs when I think on the wondrous things our Savior has done for us all.
I declared to you that God subjected ALL to unbelief (disobedience). No, I didn't blame the Devil, or Adam, or free will! I put it directly on the shoulders of our Creator! For what purpose would God do such a thing? So that He could show mercy to ALL! (Rom. 11:32) Our Father put all of His children in a position of needing His mercy so there would be none who would boast in their own righteousness. All will receive His mercy because ALL of us need it. Did Ezekiel not tell us, that even Sodom, the example of God's fiercest judgments, would be restored to her former estate? (Ezekiel 16:55)
You modern Christians are so afraid of fire. Where did this fear come from? The Bible is full of examples that our God is an all-consuming fire! Are you not like the Israelites when God desired to come into their midst? They did not want God to come into their midst because they feared they would die. (Ex. 20:18,19) Did He not often appear in fire? Remember the burning bush, the pillar of fire, the refiner's fire of Malachi? Do the Scriptures not say that everyone would be salted with fire? (Mark 9:49) How about the three children thrown into the fire seven times hotter than normal in the Book of Daniel? Yes, God's children had better get used to being in fire. Will there not be some saved by fire? (1 Cor. 3:15) Did we not warn of fiery trials which would come upon you sent from on high? Look to heavens and what do you see? Billions of very hot stars which sometimes speak of Saints. Read the Book of Revelation. See how the symbols of fire and light are used there. Fire everywhere! Why even the lake of fire, which many of you moderns have grossly distorted, speaks of a divine cleansing fire. Look at the Greek word your translators translated "sulfur." It is derived from "Theos" which means God. Learn of the manners and customs of our day. Was sulfur a sign of wrath or was it a sign to us which speaks of healing and divine purification? We used sulfur to purify temples and heal wounds!
Go find a good lexicon and see what the true meaning of the Greek word "basanos" meant in my day. Many of your translators horribly translated that word as "torment," but it really is nothing more than a touchstone. Go see for yourself! A touchstone was a stone mined in Lydia used to determine the quality of gold. The lake of fire is a divine fire to test divinity which is what gold represents!!! But more importantly, it speaks of the work which God does in the hearts of men and women. It does not speak of physical fire burning physical flesh! Oh, foolish modern Christians, why do you spend so much time entertaining yourselves with the lies from your television sets? Do you know the word of God so well than you can spend hundreds of hours a year watching men and women chasing balls of all sorts around sports fields? You have so much to learn of the precious things entrusted you by our Father. The entertainment of your day reminds me of the circuses of the Greeks and Romans. You have become blind guides leading the blind. Will we again one day see true believers used as human torches to light up festivities as Caesar Nero did in my day? Or will you once again ecome like Nero as did the Christian religious leaders of the Inquisition, Progroms, and Crusades? If your generation of believers does not repent and spend time in diligent study and prayer, your lack of light (understanding) will surely bring back days as dark as the Dark Ages.
I said Jesus would be heir of ALL things. Please, study this ALL out very thoroughly in the contexts I used this word. I said Jesus would "fill all things." (Eph. 4:10) I said after Jesus subdued all His enemies, the last being death, He would deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, that the Father might be ALL in ALL. (1 Cor. 15:28) When this happens, we can be assured that: "every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess Jesus as Lord to the glory of God the Father". (Phil. 2:9-11) No one can do this apart from the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:3) This word "bow," my Christian brothers and sisters, is not a military term of one submitting under force. No, my friend, this is a worship word. John tells us that even those under the earth will worship and confess Jesus as Lord. (Rev. 5:13)
The angel declared Jesus a joy to all people. (Luke 2:10) How could this be if most of the world would be tortured endlessly? If the love of Christ were truly in all Christians, do you really think there could ever be true joy and peace in heaven knowing that someone's mother, father, brother or sister was being tormented? Can you not see that even one single soul being tortured would be a blot, a stain on the very power, love, and character of the One Who created us, gave Himself for us, and redeemed us? Oh, Christian will you please use the new heart you have been given and find the compassion of your heavenly Father? You say His wrath is endless, yet the Scriptures declare He would not always be wrath, but His mercy would last forever. Psalm 136 declares 26 times that His mercy would endure forever. Yet the church of your day says just the opposite. Do we have another contradiction? The Hebrew word "Olam" often translated as forever actually means an "indeterminate period of time." It is a period of which the length cannot be determined until the end comes. A man's life was considered an "olam." Jonah was in the belly of the fish for an "olam." God's wrath and His mercy exist until there was no longer a need for them. God will determine that. When God becomes All in All (1 Cor 15:28), neither wrath nor mercy will be needed. One only needs mercy when one falls short of the law. When we all return into Christ, many things we depended upon on earth will lose their power and need. We will enter a higher kingdom in which dwells perfected righteousness peace, and joy. We will enter Love Himself in Whom all needs are fulfilled. The Scriptures speak of these things. Who has turned you from them?
I tell you this, I am furious enough right now to raise from the dead to speak right into the faces of those who would move you so far from the truth which I delivered and made plain in my epistles. I suffered much reproach in my day and I'll gladly suffer it again, if by my suffering I might deliver you from the darkness which has beset you. For what message did I labor and suffer? "For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, Who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. These things command and teach." (1 Tim. 4:9-11) This I want to know from you. Who deceived you into not following my teachings? A little leaven leavens the whole lump. From what I see almost the entire congregation of Christendom has been infected with this pagan disease you call Hell.
Can love ever fail? (1 Cor. 13:8) Is anything impossible with God? (Jer. 32:17) Can anything or anyone upset God's plans, promises, word, will, or desires? (Psalm 135:6; Prv. 19:21; Dan. 4:35; Isa.46:10; 1 Tim. 2:4-6)
As sure as I am that I was called to deliver the good news to the nations, even more sure am I that God will meet His promises, keep His word to all generations, and draw (drag in the Greek) all mankind back unto and into Himself, not to endlessly torture His creation, not to pour out vindictive vengeance upon His creation, but to pour out His nature, which is an unconditional love without respect to race, time, place of birth, gender, color or anything else which would make Him a respecter of people. Mercy will triumph over judgment, even if there is presently a church which will not stand in agreement with Him. (James 2:13) The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and I, Paul of Tarsus, do testify that in due time all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (1 Tim. 2:6; Gen. 12:3; Gen. 28:14) The Father has always had witnesses to this glorious truth throughout all generations. (If you humble yourself to hear them, this writing could be the fire you need to turn wholeheartedly to God Himself and become one of those witnesses to His Love which never fails.
I knew even at the end of my life that most would forsake my gospel and, like a wild ass, run after other gospels which smell more like flesh than the fragrant pure grace which I was commissioned to pour out. Never in my wildest dreams, however, did I think those who espoused the name of Christ would divide under so many lies and gospels which are not good news at all. Any gospel which closes the door to anyone, is not good news. Who knows ... the one to whom the door would be closed just might be you!
Now repent! Enough of this foolishness. Return to my gospel which is really good news to all mankind. Don't turn to flesh and blood for your answers. Turn to the Holy Spirit Who, I am certain, will bear witness that my gospel is the gospel to all mankind ...Christ crucified ... for all ... and the travail of His soul shall be satisfied! (Isaiah 53:11) I tell you this . . . Christ shall not be satisfied until He has found and restored every single lost sheep!
It was given to me to declare a great mystery which was hidden from all ages and generations before me, that is, Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27) Oh, how I wish you would all take to heart and know by the Spirit what I tried to express in my latter letters to the Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians.
Oh, how I wish the body of Christ would believe my words written to the Corinthians:
"Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors of Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Yes, Christians are to be ministers of reconciliation, but I fear you have become estranged from Him again in your consciences, having mixed all sorts of abominable teachings to the simplicity found in the message of grace through faith, a gift, not of works, lest anyone should boast. The fire will test what manner of works has been brought forth from these strange doctrines of which I greatly warned against, especially in my letter to the Galatians.
I want to bring you all to a place of strength, joy, and hope. To those of you who have never tasted of the goodness of the Lord, I say, be ye reconciled to God. Our Father, yes, the Creator of the Universe is your Father, Who demonstrated His love and forgiveness towards us by allowing man to crucify Him and still forgiving us. Perhaps you have heard that God the Father poured out His wrath, which mankind supposedly deserved, upon His Son-that Jesus Christ took the penalty which rightfully was ours. What foolishness and what a horrible and abominable teaching!! God the Father was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself! (2 Cor. 5:19) This horrible teaching has made Jesus a hero and God the Father look like a fiend! Jesus Christ is the visible image of the Father. They are one in Spirit. The nature of Jesus was expressed as an innocent lamb. This is also the nature of our Father! No wonder Christians and non-believers have a hard time coming to the Father, yet that was the very purpose of Jesus' coming-to reconcile us to our Father. The wrath which Jesus received came from man, not from the Father. Jesus, on the cross demonstrated the power which will ultimately conquer all, even death. That power is the ability to lay down one's life rather than to take another's life. Here is the demonstration of the power of the Creator. Jesus proved this power by being resurrected from the grave. Death, hatred, and murder could not, and never will, overcome true love-a love than esteems others over itself, a love which would lay down its rights, its liberties, its very life, rather than take someone else's. Here is manifested the "vengeance of the Lord." His vengeance is mercy!! The power which will overcome the murderous vengeful spirit in man is the power to lay down one's life. God has the power to raise that life back up again and Jesus Christ is the living proof of that. Here is the hope of mankind. Here is the goal, the mark. This is what the church should be demonstrating each day around the world.
I weep as I reflect upon the history of the church. I do not see this spirit in action to the degree I had hoped for. The Israelites were told by God that they would not stay true to the covenant they made. That came to pass. It seems the Church has followed the pattern of Israel-unfaithful. I, as well as some of the other apostles like John and Peter, warned there would be a great falling away. This falling away has gone on for hundreds of years. God is not surprised by this. He will weave even this into His marvelous plan of Creation and bring forth an end too wonderful to put into words.
It seems that those who God chooses to use for His purposes often get carried away with self-importance. There is a tendency to think we are more important than others because He chose us rather than someone else. But the Jews and Christians have forgotten for what they were "chosen" to do-they were chosen to be a blessing and a light to those around them. Instead of being a light, they looked down upon those who weren't chosen and therefore lost the light they had. This is one of the key bad side-effects the doctrine of eternal torment has had on many Christians. Because most Christians think they have been chosen for eternal life while others either have not been or have disqualified themselves from it, they quite naturally think they are in better standing with God then others. This arrogance is the very power which makes a Christian's witness either negative or worthless.
I am deeply grieved at the sickness of mind this teaching of Hell has caused in many Christians. I have heard some Christians say that if there is not Hell, why bother living a Holy life? Why not go out and live it up if there are no eternal consequences for doing wrong? Such reasoning reveals the lack of Christ's love in this kind of Christian. How can someone with the love of Christ in his bosom even voice such words without hiding their head in shame? This kind of person surely has not been touched in any measure by Christ's compassion.
A Christian who has been touched by the love of Christ loves out of nature, not out of rewards for doing do. The act of doing good IS their reward. They desire to live Holy lives because a Holy God lives inside them and they see that this Holiness is desirable. A true Christian no longer finds pleasure in dark deeds. They are of the light and desire to live in the light. Those who have tasted of the fruit of the Holy Spirit and experienced His power no longer desire to wallow in the mire. So to those of you who espouse the name of Christian, who make remarks like the ones above, I say, "Hang your head in shame and repent!" Does a son or daughter who truly loves and honors his or her Father desire to do things which would disgrace His Name? Surely not! And if your only reason for not indulging in the pig pen is your fear of Hell, then by all means, plunge in, because you have already been judged and found guilty. Have you forgotten Jesus' words saying that if a person has lusts in their heart like hate or adultery etc., that they are already guilty even as if they had committed the acts? (Matthew 5:19-48) If you chose to live by the Law of Moses, surely you will die by that very Law.
To those of you who are not Christians who have been stumbled by the actions or doctrines of Christians or Churches, remember-Truth is not in a man or in a system of belief-Truth is a person. This person has prepared Himself to also be the Way to True Life. His name is Jesus. Knowing about Him or using His name is not the same as truly knowing Him. When you do, your life will never be the same. May your heart be opened to receive Him.
I suppose most people in your era remember me as a great American President. I suppose I am best known for freeing the slaves, the Gettysburg Address, keeping the United States united and the fact that I was killed while serving in the office of the President of the United States.
Very few people I suppose remember the parts of my life which meant the most to me. You see, my election to the Presidency was quite remarkable. My life was riddled with failures. I failed in business at the age of 22; was defeated for legislature at 23; failed again in business at 24; finally elected to legislature at 25; had a nervous breakdown at 27; was defeated for speaker at age 29; defeated for Elector at 31; defeated for Congress at 34; elected for Congress at 37 only to be defeated again at 39; defeated for Senate at 46; defeated for Vice President at 47 and then finally elected as President of the United States at the age of 51.
I was not a very popular man in many circles, one of which was the religious circle. Many "orthodox" Christian leaders in my day called me an "infidel." I suppose from their point of view I was an infidel. You see, I didn't believe in denominationalism and complicated religious structures. I believed in a much larger, more Sovereign, Omnipotent God who was not defeated by man's so-called "free-will" and Satan's power to deceive. I believed in a God who through His Son would restore all mankind (not just some) back to fellowship with Himself. Once when asked about how many people would ultimately be saved, I said, "All or none." One of my favorite jingles which I repeated often went like this:
"Here lies Johnny Kongapod.
Have mercy on him, gracious God. As he would do if he was God
and you were Johnny Kongapod."
Few people realize that beneath the act of freeing the slaves was my strong Christian belief that God loved all mankind and commanded men of all colors to love each other. I once wrote an exposition on 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 that I thought of publishing. I showed it to my tutor, Mentor Graham. I used this passage as a text proof for Universal Salvation.
Yes, from the Baptist, Methodist, Congregational, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic point of view, I suppose I was an "infidel." You may not realize, however, there were many "infidels" like myself during my times. As a matter of fact, there here hundreds of thousands of Christians who believed in the ultimate salvation of all mankind, who believed in the Bible, and many of them even went to church on a regular basis during my times. The 6th largest denomination of Christianity in America in the 1850's was the Universalist Church.
I am amazed how your educators rewrite history to conform to their whims rather than to simply record the facts. I was a man of the Bible. I knew it well. I believed in Divine Providence. As a matter of fact, the recorded dreams and visions of the Bible meant much to me. I also had prophetic dreams. Shortly before my death I dreamt I was in the East Room of the White House. I saw a catafalque with a corpse guarded by soldiers. "Who is dead in the White House?" I demanded of one of the soldiers. "The President," came the reply; "he was killed by an assassin!"
Yes, I believed in predestination. I believed in an absolutely sovereign God. He chose a man like myself to head the United States at a time when its people would not have ordinarily elected a man such as myself. In the natural, I was a failure. God's methods of humbling a man to prepare him for His service may appear as failure to the unwise. But my whole life was but a preparation for what I would be called to do when elected President of the United States at one of the most critical times for the country.
While I am primarily remembered for keeping the United States together and freeing the slaves, I would like to be remembered by all of you for the spiritual convictions behind my actions. While I was never one for creeds, church membership and confessions, I wrote a short paper outlining my beliefs. I would like to be remembered for this:
"I believe in God, the Almighty Ruler of Nations, our great and good and merciful Maker, our Father in Heaven, who notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our heads.
I believe in His eternal truth and justice.
I recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history that those nations only are blest whose God is the Lord.
I believe that it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.
I believe that it is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father equally in our triumphs and in those sorrows which we may justly fear are a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our reformation.
I believe that the Bible is the best gift which God has ever given to men. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.
I believe the will of God prevails. Without Him all human reliance is vain. Without the assistance of the Divine Being, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail.
Being a humble instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father, I desire that all my works and acts be according to His will; and that it may be so, I give thanks to the Almighty, and seek His aid.
I have a solemn oath registered in heaven to finish the work I am in, in full view of my responsibility to my God, with malice toward none; with charity to all; with firmness in the right as God gives me to see the right. Commending those who love me to His care, as I hope in their prayers they will commend me, I look through the help of God to a joyous meeting with many loved ones gone before."
There may be some of you reading this booklet who are surprised at my spiritual beliefs. Perhaps you did not know I was called an "infidel" by many of our religious folks. In your times, the word used to describe me would probably be "heretic."
There are some reading this booklet, who, like myself, know deep inside you have been called to a special purpose. If this calling is from God, do not be surprised if He prepares you to face many adversities alone. Do not be surprised if the very religious leaders in your community wish to discredit you. To you, my son, I say, do not be moved by the fear of man, but be moved by a reverence and respect for a Holy God who delights in those who exhibit mercy, love, and justice. Daughter, God raised up those who hold to truth even though their entire nation may be against them. Standing up for righteousness is sometimes a lonely walk in the natural. But my son, my daughter, in this lonely walk, your Creator and Father walks by your side! With the Creator on your side, you are the majority even though the voices against you may be many thousands strong! You may be defeated a hundred times at the polls of man, but when you are ready to be placed into the work of our Heavenly Father, He will lift you up aboe the slanders of petty men and cause you to stand on His Word, His Work, and His Will shall always prevail. Let every man be a liar and God be true.
I exhort you to rise above the petty shallow desires of jealous men and women who create gods in their own image, gods who like themselves loved to hold people beneath themselves. Our Father delights in raising up the lowly of heart.
Remember the Bible story about a farmer who hired men at various times of the day, yet paid them all the same day's wages. Do not be like those hired at the beginning of the day who felt they were mistreated because those hired at the end of the day received the same wages. Too many Christians have this kind of spirit. These Christians must surely face a day of judgment in which their un-Christ-like attitude will be made plain to themselves. This kind of attitude does not serve the Kingdom of God.
Remember-to exhibit the greatness of your heavenly Father may require you to be labeled a heretic by your religious judges. The glory which comes from man is but for a short time-but the glory which comes from above is everlasting. Rise up and enter into the work of the Creator of the Universe! All of creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption by the sons of God whether you believe it or not.
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us. Or the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." (Romans 8:18-22)
I was warned by Father Chiniquy, an ex-Roman Catholic priest, that the Roman Catholic Church was plotting to kill me. Few people have been told the full story surrounding John Wilkes Booth and his Catholic ties. Very few historians have revealed the spiritual side of my assassination. Remember, "We fight not flesh and blood, but spiritual wickedness in high places." I did not bow down to denominationalism. I did not exalt the God of Eternal Torture preached by paganism and the deceived churches of the world. I declared an Omnipotent Loving Father who would ultimately redeem all mankind from its futility. For this cause I was called an "infidel." For this I was hated by religious men, yes, Christian religious men, Protestant and Catholic alike.
You, too, will be hated by the religious spirit if you choose to bring glory to your Heavenly Father by believing His Word above the traditions of men. You will taste of the bitter cup of being rejected for His name's sake. You will be "despised and rejected of men" as your Savior was. Will you follow in His footsteps? Or will you bow to the gods of this world which are no gods at all? Will you follow the traditions of dead denominational leaders or will you allow yourself to be resurrected from the bondage of corruption of the vain religious mind? Will you rise to worship your Maker in Spirit and Truth and not in formal, dead rituals of men who seek the praises of each other-who use fear to enslave each other to themselves.
My Heavenly Father called me to "set the captives free." I followed His command and He chose to honor me, not only in the heavenly places, but He honored me among men as well.
Yes, while our Father was grooming me for the Presidency, I was mocked, despised, ridiculed and called "infidel" by my fellow Christian brothers and sisters, particularly those in leadership positions in their denominations. This was all used to humble me that I might become a true servant of God and man. Was not Jesus rejected by His own, particularly by the leadership in His day? If you choose to declare the Salvation of all mankind, if you choose to allow Him to humble you and to share in His Son's sufferings, expect to be scorned by religious men and women. If you are afraid, ask for boldness. Remember, "Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." (Luke 17:33) Choose Life! A life worth living is a life free of fear. Perfect love casts out fear.
(For more information on Abraham's Lincoln's religious life and the Roman Catholic conspiracy against him, read 50 Years in the Church of Rome by Father Chiniquy, Fleming H Revell Co. Facts on Abraham Lincoln's religious life taken from The Almost Chosen People by William J. Wolf, published by Doubleday & Company, 1959)
My name is Gary Amirault. Although I am dead, nevertheless I live, but not I, but Christ in me. (Galatians 2:20) Paul, the apostle and writer of much of the latter portion of the Christian Bible tells us that in one sense we are all dead. This is a great mystery which can only be understood by revelation. "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." (2 Corinthians 5:14,15)
I am the author of this publication. I still find it quite remarkable that I am at this time in my life spending many hours studying various subjects related to the Scriptures. Having been an atheist most of my life, it still seems rather strange being in my office surrounded by hundreds of Bibles and reference books related to Biblical topics.
The first time I actually remember reading a portion of Scripture was when I was still a young boy. I remember reading a few pages from Genesis thinking it was all a bunch of nonsense, mythology, folklore. Today I think quite differently.
I was born in Nurmberg, Germany shortly after World War II. My mother went through this war as a teenager. She walked through a living hell on earth, where men kill each other for all sorts of insane reasons.
She was raised a good Evangelical Protestant. The war tested her faith. It proved her religion was empty.
She married a Roman Catholic when I was 5 or 6. I found myself surrounded by nuns force feeding me "catechism." I don't recall anything they taught me as far as "teachings" go, but I do remember that my experience with nuns and "Fathers" was not a very holy nor pleasant experience.
But that didn't completely squelch my curiosity about God. When I was around 12 years old, I went to a Methodist church one Sunday quite on my own. My parents never went to any kind of churches except for weddings. I remember expecting something very special. After all, entering the "house of God" should be a pretty important occasion. I sat in the last pew. I was quite amazed that friends I knew were playing in the other last pew. One old man was sleeping through the service. The women seemed more interested in what everyone else was wearing than on what the minister was saying. But what really made an impression on me that day, as a 12 year old boy, was the minister. It was very plain to me, that his heart was not on what he was doing. All these people came to this building to "worship the Lord." Well, from a little boy's viewpoint, they were all pretending and their God never showed up. As for the minister, I used to ride by his beautiful parsonage watching him practice his golf swing in the backyard. "There," I thought, "is what holds his heart. This is what he truly worships."
I think it was at about that time, I came to the conclusion there was no such thing as God. I had some unpleasant experiences happen to me which made me feel that if God was good, He wouldn't have let me experience such pain. And what about the horrors my mother went through in Nazi Germany! Well, I looked at the world with all its misery and suffering and just could not see how a loving God could stand by and watch all these things happen without intervening. I certainly wasn't interested in worshipping a God who wasn't good. So I gradually fell into the mold of an atheist. Having been poor during my childhood, I decided to chase the "Almighty Dollar" and buy myself some happiness.
In college I met a Jewish girl who I ended up marrying. Her parents wanted me to convert to Judaism before getting married. I went to conversion classes. The way this reformed Rabbi laid out his understanding of Judaism, it sounded pretty good. But all the Jews I was familiar with certainly didn't live what he taught. What good is a religion of words without substance, I thought. So, I didn't convert, but we got married anyway.
For the next few years I chased the American dream and finally ended up coming very close to fulfilling it. I had my own business, a lovely home in a rich neighborhood, still married, two kids and enough acreage to satisfy my desire for peace and quiet. But these things did not really satisfy. I was not happy with my marriage or my business or really anything else. In reality, I was not happy with myself. I spent my evenings drowning myself in either television or work mixed with large quantities of alcohol. My drinking came to a place where I knew I was in trouble. Strange, having seen what alcohol does to a family from my childhood, I swore to myself that I would never become an alcoholic. As a matter of fact, there were several things I swore I would never be: I would never be prejudice towards blacks or Jews, I would never smoke cigarettes, and I would never drink. These were some of my parents traits which I despised. Over the course of time I became and did all the things I hated about my parnts.-a bigot, a smoker, and an alcoholic. (To those of you who are young, be careful what you despise. Seeds of hatred will eventually take root and bear fruit-very bitter fruit.)
During this crucial time in my life, where everything seemed to be a problem or something to rob me of my peace, my Jewish wife one day came out of the bathroom declaring to the family that she received the revelation that Jesus Christ is, in fact, the Jewish Messiah-He is the Son of God. Since religion of any kind was not practiced in our home, you can probably understand how this declaration made me feel. She began to attend a Presbyterian Church. I can't deny that there was a genuine change in her character, but I certainly wasn't going to credit her changes to a real God.
One day this ugly green Living Bible found its way onto the family room coffee table, the place where on the evenings when I wasn't working, I would buzz out on television and beer. One day, not too long after my wife's "revelation," I decided to read this Bible to show her how ridiculous the book really was. I remembered enough about the Bible to know there were certain places that showed the God of the Bible was a blood thirsty sort, commanding even little children to be ruthlessly killed. Since she was trying to tell me how loving God was, I wanted to show her how cruel and merciless the God of the Bible was. While I was reading this Bible, the thought occurred to me to write a book entitled "Gold Calf Worshippers." The book would expose both Judaism and Christianity to be nothing more than a system for practitioners of these two religions to deceive and cheat people in the name of God. In other words, I saw them as hypocrites. From my experience in the business community, I felt Jews seemed to be much more materialistic than most cultures and practiced more of what I would call "unethical" practices to get more profits. Since Jews have been known to be dishonest and money motivated throughout history, I felt this characteristic must somehow come from their religion. Therefore, I went right into the heart of the Jewish faith-the Mosaic Law-the Tanach.
I would point out to her how many people this angry God killed for seemingly slight infractions. A rebellious son deserved to be stoned to death under the law. Women and children of surrounding nations were to be killed when captured.
For the next few weeks, I would go to bed earlier, read Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy while drinking about a half a case of beer every evening. When I came across a good piece of evidence against my wife's "loving" God, I would attempt to rub her nose in the evidence.
When she wasn't looking, every now and then I would sneak over into the New Testament and read a few pages from there. I had a very difficult time connecting this Jesus Christ with the God of the Old Testament. I felt I was seeing two completely different pictures of God. Jesus seemed to be someone Who could easily be admired and yet He said, "if you have seen Me you have seen the Father." I and My Father are one." Well, I just couldn't put them together.
I did notice during those few weeks that as my wife seemed to become more loving, I was getting meaner all the time.
One evening, my wife and I were watching a television program together while I was nursing my beer. It was a fictional piece which was made to appear as if it were a documentary about something which actually had happened recently. I felt the producers of this program were using their power to distort a part of history. In my rage I told my Jewish wife that I bet it was a bunch of Jewish producers who put this sham together. While I stood there very hot under the collar, my wife, in a voice quite unlike her natural former self, said, "Gary, you might be right about everything you are saying, but look at yourself. Who is going to listen?"
I found myself looking at my accusatory finger pointing at the television screen while my other hand was cradling my beer. The word "hypocrite" seemed to hit me right between the eyes. In some strange way I felt I had no right to continue my rampage against deceitful Jewish producers and drink as excessively as I had been doing. I had tried to quit several times in the past and was unable to kick the habit. Having been able to overcome most challenges which came my way during most of my life, this alcoholism was quite a defeat for me. I was too proud to go to Alcoholics Anonymous or something like that and yet I was unable to kick the habit with my own will power.
In that strange moment of looking at my accusing finger on one hand and my beer in the other, I blurted out a promise to quit drinking the very next day. At her prompting, I proceeded to get a piece of paper and wrote upon it "I quit drinking." I signed and dated it and gave it to my wife. I told her I would finish the beer I had in the refrigerator. The agreement would start the next day February 14, Valentine's Day.
Just before she went to bed, my wife suggested I might trying praying to God for help. She knew how difficult it would be for me since I failed at all "my" other attempts. How does an atheist pray to a God he doesn't believe in?
For some strange reason, as I dazed at the television set relishing what might be my last beers on earth, I did not get to the "numb" stage of my drinking session. I remained quite sober trying to figure out how I was going to quit drinking the next day. I had failed so many times in the past that I had little hope that I could really do what I promised my wife I would do. I could just see my wife taking the piece of paper I signed, taping it to my forehead and writing "hypocrite" across it. For some reason that word "hypocrite" had a tremendous effect on me that night. I knew that I had to give up my accusing or my drinking in order to avoid that distasteful label.
As I dazed at the television screen, searching the canyons of my mind for an answer to my dilemma, any sliver of hope that I had, vanished. I came to the humiliating conclusion that if it was up to me, my strength, my mind, I would not be able to cure my addiction to alcohol. For one who took great pride in his determination and ability to achieve his goals, this was very humiliating.
The next few minutes were spent thinking about what alternatives might be available to me in the form of "outside" help. I thought of "treatment" programs like Alcohol Anonymous. My great pride revolted at such a thought. Somehow, I pictured myself surrounded by street people, those who spent the day begging for enough money for a bottle of wine; those who slept under cardboard and newspapers in the alleys of Washington D.C. I just couldn't relate at all.
I recall very clearly that I came to the conclusion there was no hope for me within myself, nor any institution in this world. I was without hope. Realizing I was not going to be able to keep my contract, I spent about an hour (from about midnight to one o'clock in the morning) trying to find a legitimate way of getting out of the dilemma. The fact that I signed that piece of paper for some reason had a great effect on me. In the past I had promised to quit drinking and then usually found a good excuse to continue. But this time something was quite different. Some of you many recall the account in the book of Genesis where Jacob, the heal-grabber had a wrestling match with someone. This passage of Scripture makes it unclear whether Jacob wrestled with God, an angel, or a man (perhaps himself). I can today relate greatly to that Biblical passage! I had a very similar battle going on in the center of my being.
At about one o'clock in the morning, still quite awake and very sober, I had to go to the bathroom. Sitting on the throne (toilet), quite naked, I looked out the window, noticed it was raining, and finally acknowledged that I would wake up the next day, and continue my drinking habit. I was incapable of doing anything about it. At that point, my wife's words bubbled up to my conscience... "Gary, if you need help with this, just ask God."
So I prayed, "Well, Big fella, here's your chance to prove yourself. I have a problem and no one in this world can solve it for me. So if you want to prove to me you're up there-here catch! Tomorrow, I'm not going to mess with this thing." I took my problem and in my mind just kind of wrapped it up like one would crimple a piece of newspaper into a ball and threw it up in the air.
It usually takes me quite some time to fall asleep, but after that "prayer" I immediately slept like a lamb.
It was Valentine's Day morning. I still remember quite clearly as I was looking at my face while shaving, that I looked quite differently. My face seemed to glow or radiate. I usually woke up growling, certainly not very hospitable until after a couple of cups of coffee. But this morning, there was a joy in my heart which was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I did not connect it to the prayer the night before.
My wife was surprised at how friendly I was that morning. She also recalls that my whole being seemed quite different from my normal self. I seemed to shine.
I went through that day happy as a lark. Although it was a rainy day, which would normally make my disposition worse than normal, on that day, I was just plain up. I felt great!! Even my employees noticed.
At the end of the day, my normal routine was to go to a local liquor store, buy two six packs of beer, drink 3 or 4 on the way home, and finish most of the rest of them during the rest of the evening while watching television. If I stayed at the shop working late, I would drink most of the two six packs there. But on this day, Valentine's Day, I went straight home, not even thinking about getting beer. It was as if that part of my brain which contained my normal drinking habit was completely removed from my memory bank.
I was sitting in the breakfast area next to the kitchen talking with my wife when she said, "Gary, aren't you going to look out the window?" You see, 5 months earlier, I had a pond dug in the back of our property which hadn't filled up during the fall or winter. As a matter of fact, all that it was the day before was about three and one half feet of mud and water. The pond was built to contain about seven and one half feet of water.
When I had the site inspected by the county to determine whether it would hold water, the county recommended we not put a pond there because there was no natural spring or stream to feed for the site.
But I was obsessed with having a private bass pond in my back yard. You see, somehow in my way of thinking, having my own business, lots of land, coming home from work, changing clothes and going into my backyard to catch a nice sized bass, which would be cooked on a barbecue grill next to the lake while watching the sun set, was what I thought would be my sign to myself that I had made the American Dream-my sign that I had arrived. Our community had a very nice pond with lots of fish in it within a half a mile. In addition, one mile behind our house was a huge reservoir with great fishing. We had three rivers within a few miles of our home On top of that, the Chesapeake Bay, one of our nation's great fishing places, was about one hour's drive. The Atlantic Ocean was only a couple of hours' drive away. All these fine fishing areas so near, yet I felt I had to have my own, private fishing pond in my backyard. (Now I see the selfishness of it all.)
With some unexpected money that came our way, we had a choice of putting on a deck, putting a stone fire place in the family room, or having the pond dug. Looking back at it now, the first two options a were far more practical way to invest the extra funds. But I had a vision, a dream, a lifetime goal, which blinded me to practicality or thinking about what my wife really desired.
Because of the changes in her, she didn't fight me on this. Normally she probably would have given me a good fight regarding how to spend the extra money. The deck was really more practical and a fireplace had always been one of Michelle's dreams.
After the area was excavated, sometimes I would leave work early to see how much water was added to the pond. I had sticks planted along the bank marking the levels each rain added. During those five months, the best rain or snow added about two inches of water to the pond. By the time Valentine's Day arrived, I was quite discouraged regarding my expectations for the pond. I was beginning to see the county officials were right. This pond would never get full. I would have to dig a well to feed it, which I probably would have done.
Knowing how obsessed I was with that pond, now you may be able to see why my wife was so surprised that I didn't even look at the condition of the pond considering that it rained that day. She finally said, "Aren't you going to look at the pond?" I turned my head to look down the path which led to the pond about 400 feet away-the pond was full and overflowing-over four feet of water in one day! On the day I prayed for God to take away my alcoholism, He also gave me what I thought was my pinnacle of success, my own filled private bass pond!
At this point, however, I still didn't connect all this to the prayer. I still did not comprehend there was a real God Who actually did hear prayers and furthermore answered them. At the end of Valentine's day all I realized was that my hope of the bass pond actually filling, which I had pretty much given up on, was fulfilled. I also wasn't suffering from withdrawal symptoms and had no desire to have a drink. From that day forward my desire to get drunk was completely gone! Having attempted to quit drinking on several occasions before and experiencing how difficult it was, I came to realize that God had done something supernatural to me to bring me through this. He had done a real miracle in my life. The fact that the pond, my "heaven on earth," was filled on the same day I prayed, was also a clear sign from above that God was manifesting Himself in my life. But it didn't really register until the next day.
Driving from Savage to Laurel, Maryland on February fifteenth, I heard a voice in my car which seemed to come from every direction. I looked into the back seat to see if someone was hiding in the back seat. No one was there. I won't go into all the details of the next few moments, but in summary, this voice told me that Jesus Christ was going to come into my life. I did not understand the meaning of what was going on and so I somewhat argued with Whoever was speaking to me that such a thing couldn't happen. In attempting to argue with this Voice (for I didn't see a person with it) I noticed that Whoever I was speaking with had the answers to my thoughts before I could actually bring them to my conscience. It was a terrifying experience. I felt completely undone. I was afraid to even think. I finally told this Voice that He could do whatever He wanted, but to just go away, leave me alone.
For the next three days after this incident I walked this earth in what seemed to me to be perfect love. I think it was absolutely impossible for me during that time to hate anyone, not even the most evil person I could think of. I felt like a small child holding on to the back of Jesus, looking at the world through His eyes, hearing with His ears, and loving with His heart. For three days this earth was paradise. Everything was beautiful. All the awful people were gone. Now you have to understand there were a lot of people I hated during that time of my life. I had become extremely prejudice, anti-Semitic and quick to write off people in general.
For several days thereafter, but especially the first three days, there was a love operating in me which either blinded me from seeing the awful side of people or dispelled some power in me which made me perceive people in a way different from what they really were. Whatever was going on, I had genuine love and concern for people to whom I would not normally give the time of day. Something totally not me was going on inside of me.
After three days of intense perfect love, there seemed to be a gradual decrease until by the eighth day, I felt almost like my normal self. That was awful!! I didn't know how I was going to live with myself the way I used to be, having experienced life in such a glorious way. What a downer! Having been an atheist all my life, I really had very little exposure to religion. I had no idea what was going on. I knew that I needed help. Whatever I experienced, I wanted to go back to that state.
My wife had been attending a conservative evangelical Presbyterian Church over the previous few weeks. I made an appointment with the pastor to discuss with him what had happened and hoped that he might help me understand what was going on. It was a very large church and he was quite busy. I had to wait three weeks for an opening in his schedule. When I finally met him, I poured out my heart to him. For those of you who know anything about different denominations of Christianity, this man was certainly not ready to give me any advice regarding my dilemma. He said, "Gary, I don't know what to tell you. I need to seek advice on this." On the way out of the office, however, he prayed with me and then pulled out a book from a bookshelf entitled The Way of Holiness by a man whose name I believe was Kenneth Prior. He said that book had helped him in the past and perhaps it might help me. I immediately devoured the book. I was desperate. I knew after reading the book, that my answer must have something to do with something called the "Holy Spirit." I never knew such a thing or person or power ever existed, but I knew the answer to my problem was there. Over the next few weeks I would find myself in prayers which words could not express. I was praying, but it didn't seem like I was praying. I was asking for things to change in my life which I would have never even conceived of praying about.
I can't go into most of what happened to me during those first few months after Valentine's Day. It would take a long book. An atomic explosion might be the best way to describe it. Surely my life was being torn apart and reassembled in ways I never dreamed could possibly happen. Not all of it was a picnic. There were many very puzzling, terrifying, and mysterious events that to this day I can not completely make sense of. Perhaps I never will on this side of the grave. But one thing I was certain of...there was a God, He had a Son Who was revealing Himself to me, and there was this mysterious Holy Spirit Who had begun to bring about changes in my life which were impossible for me or any human being to bring about.
About six or seven weeks after Valentine's Day, I had a very strong desire to visit a congregation of Christians who were what they called Messianic Jews, that is, Jews for Jesus, or Jews that had come to believe that Jesus (Yeshua) was the Messiah, as prophesied in the Old Testament. My wife had heard about this congregation and wanted to attend to see what it was like since she was brought up Jewish. I felt very strongly I was to go, but I felt I had to go alone so I didn't invite my wife to go along with me.
Not having been there before, I got lost. The service had already begun when I entered the sanctuary which was packed wall to wall with perhaps three to four hundred people. No seats were available so I stood leaning my back against the rear wall. All the people were standing singing songs. The atmosphere was quite different from the Presbyterian Church I had begun to attend during the previous few weeks. Some of these people had their hands up, many with their eyes closed, others with tears streaming down their faces. I thought to myself, these people are acting as if God were actually here! They did not have hymnals.
The words of the songs they were singing were projected onto screens in the front of the room. There were only a few verses to each song which they repeated several times. Quite different from the way songs were sung at the Presbyterian Church. From the way the people looked and their repeating the verses more than once, I came to a quite unrealistic conclusion that these people had been put into a trance through the music. Little did I know that the songs they were singing were Psalms.
Looking back on the scene, I find it quite remarkable that as a child, I rejected the reality of God's existence after attending a Methodist church because I felt they were all pretending. They did not act the way they probably would if God was really there. But in this church, the people looked as if they were really communing with God, and I attributed it to being in a trance induced by music with which I was unfamiliar. The mind is a strange bird indeed!
What I am about to relate may make some of you think that I was right in thinking these people were hypnotized. I hope not. I am trying to relay as honestly as I can, without twisting or misrepresenting anything, what happened on this occasion because I think it is vitally important for many people to understand the power of God. It is also vitally important to show the power of the traditions of men.
After I came to the conclusion these people were hypnotized, I became very suspicious and very defensive. My posture was stiff, my arms folded across my chest as a sign that I was not a part of this service. I did not participate in the worship. I only observed the faces of the people in the congregation. These people looked like they were REALLY worshipping God and the expressions on their faces seemed to indicate they were in some way in communion with Him. Yet I was fearful.
After the singing was over, the pastor announced they were having a special speaker from an Organization named "Christ for the Nations." He was a teacher at this institution as an expert in ancient Semitic languages. While being of Jewish upbringing, he was a believer in Yeshua the Messiah.
His topic of discussion dealt with the Jews who were trapped in Russia. There was a real move at that time to get them out of Russia and send them to Israel. I don't remember much of what he spoke about, but one thing he said really caught my attention. He introduced one part of his message with, "God spoke to me last night..." That caused my ears to perk.
You see, over the previous few weeks, the members of the Presbyterian church were beginning to let me know, as gently as they could without driving me away, that God does not speak to people anymore except through the Bible. They were gently trying to tell me that the voice I heard, the dreams and visions I was seeing, and the emotionalism I was displaying were not from God, but perhaps from Satan himself. The message I was getting from most of the Presbyterians who were trying to "disciple" me, was that true faith was a very rational kind of thing. Much of what had happened in my life over the past few weeks was certainly not very rational, and with that, I certainly agreed! I couldn't make sense out of much of what was happening. So when I found another believer who said that he heard God, well, that aroused my curiosity.
After his main message, he gave a short message regarding healing and salvation. He invited anyone who did not know Jesus as their Messiah as well as anyone who had an illness to come forward. Still very much in my stiff posture, I thought to myself rather smugly, "Well, I'm already saved and healthy so there is no reason for me to go forward." After that thought passed through my mind, I found myself going down the aisle to the front of this assembly. Those that came forward found themselves in a line of about thirty people running parallel to the stage or altar. The guest speaker stepped off the stage and began speaking with the person at the end of the line furthest away from myself. After speaking with the woman, he placed his hands on her head and she fell over. I had never seen anything like this in my life! Needless to say, I began to pray to God to make sure this man didn't put his grimy hands on me. He kept going down the line, speaking with each individual, some cried, some fell, and some remained standing. I had no idea what he was saying or why some of these people were falling down, but I was certain that I did not want to be humiliated like that.
After praying that this man not touch me, I found myself beginning to pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This was a rather strange thing for me to pray considering the fact that I had not been indoctrinate in a positive way that these supernatural gifts were still available to a believer. I suspected the Presbyterians were against these gifts considering their seeming avoidance of anything too mystical or supernatural. Nevertheless, I just found myself deeply praying for my gifts to be revealed in me. The closer the guest speaker came to me, the more I was praying, "Don't let him touch me!" To my great delight, after praying with the person to my right, he skipped me and went to the person on my left! At this time my prayer regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit greatly increased in intensity.
The guest speaker then went back up on the platform and prayed for a boy who had something wrong with an arm. Then he introduced a woman who was diagnosed to have some kind of cancer. When he said the word "cancer" I felt like it cut deeply into my prayers. The speaker had his hand on the woman's head, her back facing me. I proceeded to walk up onto the stage, and put my hand on this woman's shoulder. Almost immediately, a surge of power, energy, or something came through my hand on her shoulder; it went up and down my whole body. All my strength seemed to leave me which caused me to collapse in a heap landing on the three or four steps of the altar. There I lay, sobbing like a little child. You cannot imagine how humiliated I felt, laying in front of all these Jews completely without strength, uncontrollably sobbing. Yet each time I tried to get up ended with defeat.
I don't know how long I was laying there, perhaps ten or fifteen minutes. The service was over. I am not sure they knew what to do with me. They sang a few more of those songs and all I could do was join their chorus with deep sobs.
To this day, some of what transpired that Saturday morning remains a mystery. Once thing I am certain of-my attitude toward life and my fellow human beings made a dramatic positive change. It did not come about through a teaching or course of some kind-it came through a Divine intervention in my life. It was not an accident and I certainly did not plan to place myself in such a humiliating pose in front of the Jews I had previously come to resent. There was design in that whole day, a design which went far beyond any human mind manipulation through a hand full of songs. God was doing a much needed work in me.
After that day, it seemed I was much more bold in sharing my faith. The gifts of the Holy Spirit began to operate in my life. When I read the book of Acts in the Bible, I felt perfectly in tune with the power exhibited by those early believers. Some people believe that what happened to me that day was called the "baptism of the Holy Spirit." I don't really know what to call what happened that day. I just know that something very significant happened which was different from what happened a few weeks earlier. I also found out later, that whatever happened that day would separate me from many other Christians who did not believe in a second, more supernatural experience after conversion. Those who espouse the name Christian divide themselves over many doctrines and rituals. This second experience is a major dividing factor among many Christians.
Well, after that day, I certainly didn't fit in the Presbyterian Church anymore. I found out that there were many denominations which believed that God still has a voice and that the power which was available to the early church is still available today.
The first church I attended which believed in the gifts of the Holy Spirit was an Assembly of God Church. While attending this church, I felt there was much more understanding to be found in the Old Testament than what I was being taught. I reasoned that the Jews who believed in Jesus would probably have that understanding. So I found a congregation of Jews that believed in Jesus who also believed in the gifts.
Being quite outgoing and evangelistic in nature, I found myself talking to all kinds of Christians from many different types of denominations. Of course, they all invited us to visit their church. Being as hungry and curious as I was, I attended many of them. There were weeks in which I was at some kind of church several days of the week. While this turned out to be very helpful down the road, going to all these different types of churches caused a great deal of trouble and turmoil in my family and in myself. You see, Christians are divided very firmly over many teachings and interpretations of the Bible. I didn't know this before I became a Christian. I thought all Christians were pretty much the same.
I'm the kind of person who likes to have a sound and reasonable answer to all questions. For example, I might find myself one day in a Baptist church which may have handed me a brochure on the doctrine of eternal security, that is, that once a person was "saved" or "born again," they could not lose their salvation; the gift of eternal life could not be revoked nor lost even by turning away from God or denying Him. I would take the brochure to perhaps the Assembly of God pastor or some other denomination which taught one could lose their salvation, (which by the way, is what the vast majority of Christians are incorrectly taught). I would wrestle back and forth with the various pastors until I felt I could see which group was right from a Scriptural point of view.
About a year after my conversion, I would typically go to a Messianic Jewish service on Saturday, a Charismatic, prosperity church on Sunday, and attend Bible studies, evangelistic/missionary speakers, or praise services at various different churches throughout the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. As I mentioned, I started attending the Messianic Congregation because I wanted to gain understanding of the Old Testament. My pastor there was a real character with an incredible conversion experience. His doctrinal beliefs came from a greatly varied background. He was ordained in a denomination like the Church of Christ. However, on the subject of eternal security, his position was Calvinistic (once saved always saved). He spent a year in the Jehovah's Witnesses and learned the doctrine of annihilation from them. As a Jew, he felt he had to keep the Mosaic Covenant, which he saw as an everlasting covenant with the Jews. Therefore, he kept the dietary laws of the Old Testament as well as he could in addition to the festive Jewish Holidays, and a number of other laws from the Mosaic Law. He believed non-Jews did not have to keep these laws, but he strongly encouraged they participate. This pastor knew the Scriptures perhaps better than any pastor I had ever met.
I am sure it is difficult, if not impossible, for you to image the frustration and torment I experienced every week trying to make all these teachings harmonious. It was impossible. Since some of the churches I attended maintained that if we do not believe correctly we will not enter heaven or at least lose rewards for not believing correctly, I spent a great deal of time studying and praying about these many different and contradictory teachings I was exposed to. Of course, all of these Churches felt and taught that they had the correct system.
Because I was extremely evangelistic, I felt a deep responsibility to declare the truth. After all, if their eternal life was at stake (which most of these denominations claimed was the case), then it was vitally important to get it right. Few can imagine the torment I went through (unless they went through similar experiences) of just determining the proper method of doing communion or baptism. Some denominations maintained that if these were not done properly, one could not enter into the kingdom of God. I spent months studying everything I could get my hands on to determine what communion was really all about.
After a few years of all this kind of wrestling, I finally began to settle into the Charismatic expression of Christianity, usually frequenting independent Charismatic churches strongly focusing their Sunday service toward singing part of the service. I found the Presence of God strongest in that environment.
In a manner too awesome and too complicated to explain in this booklet, the Lord sovereignly had me sell my business, sell our home, and move my family to Hermann, Missouri. We had nothing to speak of naturally which would draw us to this town. I had no job, no family, no friends, nothing! We began to attend a Charismatic church which strongly emphasized what they called the "five fold ministry" outlined in Ephesians chapter four, verse 11. "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
During the first few weeks of our visitation to this church, they had joined a federation of like-minded churches which aligned themselves under a man which they called an apostle. A teaching at that time was incorporated and then announced to the congregation that the ministers in the "five fold" calling should be called by their anointed office. Those who the church ordained as "five folders" should be called by their title-Prophet John, Pastor Jim, Apostle Chuck, Evangelist Henry, etc. This rubbed me a little even though they prophesied (said God said) to me that I was ordained among the five fold ministry.
During this time, they invited a teacher from another state to teach a series he entitled "The Anatomy of a Scorpion." It was one of the most horrible abusive teachings I have ever heard. It was so bad, that on one occasion I shouted a rebuking "No" in the middle of his message in response to his teaching. His teaching was strongly teaching that few Christians are really saved. Most are full of sins they have not confessed which will send them to hell. They established counseling sessions with members of the church to analyze their private lives to see if they could uncover any past sins which might prevent them from entering heaven. This man taught that if one committed certain sins, and died immediately after committing that sin, without a true repentance, they would go to hell. What constituted a sin which would qualify one to go to hell was left very nebulous, unclear, which kept people in constant fear of whether they were in right standing before God or not.
Having bounced back and forth between Calvinistic churches like Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Reformed, etc., which teach the eternal security of a believer and Arminian type of churches, which comprise most of the rest of the denominations, I became thoroughly convinced that the Doctrine of Eternal Security was Scripturally correct. I cried out greatly to my heavenly Father about this important doctrine and I believe He divinely gave me the assurance the Doctrine of Eternal Security was correct. (I have since made an audio teaching entitled Saved to the Uttermost which dealt with that subject.) Taking that security away from a believer, I felt was putting them back under some system of Law or works. Salvation, according to the Bible is "By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9) If the gift was not earned through works of doing good versus evil and if this gift was life eternal, then it could never be lost or else it would not be eternal. One cannot lose something that is eternal or else it becomes temporary. Jesus promised a quality of life which would pass through all the ages. After death was conquered He would bring us into a relationship with the Father which is described as the Father being "all in all." (1 Cor. 15:28) (I am not going to get into the dozens of Scriptures found in the Bible which give assurance to the believer that their life is completely secure in Him, but if anyone wants a copy of the tape on the subject, I'll gladly send it to them.)
Anyway, this difference in belief caused the pastor to ask me to leave the church. So now we found ourselves in the middle of the country, with no job, no family, no church, and no home. We had been staying in a house which belonged to that church and were asked to vacate. I wanted to get out of town, but the Lord made it quite clear then that we were to buy a particular house in that very town. I tell you, the story of Abraham being told by God to leave his country and go to a country which he did not know about is very real to me and my wife. We feel very close to Abraham.
At that time, I felt I was a Charismatic Christian, non-denominational style. Because of the crisis at that church over the "eternal security" issue, I called a number of leading Charismatic organizations to find out how they stood on that subject. To my great surprise, I discovered the vast majority of them taught one could lose their salvation. Most of them explained on the phone that it was difficult to do, but they certainly did not teach eternal security. If one was given a free gift, they said, one could just as easily give it back. Yes, some Christians will go to hell, was their reply.
Around this same time, I went to a large conference on evangelism which featured some of the Charismatic movement's most well-known evangelists and leaders. I was hoping to see a great move of God. I created some evangelistic T-shirts which I sold there to pay for my trip.
I left Phoenix feeling like I was part of a carnival act. The evangelists were the main attraction and I was one of the sideshows peddling my cute little T-shirts. The Bible story about Jesus coming into the Temple and driving out the money-changers was often in my mind during this "Great Evangelistic Event."
Coming back to Missouri from that trip was a real heart searching experience. It seemed all my hopes of realizing my purpose in the church were coming to a rapid end.
The final straw came while driving home from a visit to a Charismatic/Baptist pastor. He gave me some tapes from a well-respected minister. Listening to them for about an hour, I yelled in my heart, "This man is using twenty letter long words to say absolutely nothing!" I just wanted to scream. And that is exactly what I did. I don't recall exactly what words I used to express my despair, but essentially I told God to just take me home. I was tired of playing the Christian thing. Everything I was seeing was a mass of contradictory, hypocritical, man-made, circus-like nonsense. I could not bring people into this insanity. My heart wanted to bring people to Christ, yet what was going on in the many dozens of churches I had attended seemed to fall very short. I didn't know what, but something was foundationally wrong.
"Just take me home. I know I'm saved. I don't want to play this game anymore" was the cry of my heart. I decided to visit an old preacher living a few miles from my home just to let off some steam. He was the kind of man who would let you pour out your heart without condemning you. After a long winded pouring out of my soul to him, he felt that a set of booklets he recently received would be of some comfort to me. After I got home, perusing through the titles, the booklet entitled Just What do you Mean, Eternity? caught my attention. The booklet explained that the words in the Bible translated "everlasting," "eternal," and "for ever and ever," should have been consistently "age," "age-abiding," "age-during," or something similar. The original Hebrew and Greek words were expressions of time with end and did not express thoughts of endlessness or a dimension outside of time. What this meant is that the Greek and Hebrew did not express the idea of an eternal place of endless punishment. In other words, this booklet said there was no such thing as the literal, fiery eternal "hell" described in most denominations of Christianity! The rest of the thirteen booklets dealt with the same subject, but emphasized different aspects.
After reading all the booklets, I realized why I had such a difficult time in all these different denominations. I had to know if what this man, J. Preston Eby, was saying could be proved to be correct. He mentioned there were Bibles on the market which did not contain the word "Hell" nor mention "everlasting punishment." I bought copies of some of these Bibles, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, Young's Literal Bible, and the Concordant Bible. Sure enough, Mr. Eby was right. There were Bibles on the market, translated from the Greek and Hebrew which did not contain the concept of a place of eternal torture. The publishers of the Concordant Literal Bible, Concordant Publishing Concern told me there was a man who lived not too far from me who had a very large library of Greek and Hebrew reference works who through many years of intense study also came to the realization that Jesus Christ was, in fact, the Savior of all mankind, and not just some.
I went to his house located in Stover, Missouri. He showed me dozens of Bible reference works, several other Bibles, and early Christian writings, all attesting to the fact that the Doctrine of Hell, the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment was not to be found in the original languages of the Bible, nor was it found among most of the early church leaders of the first few centuries. Hell did not gain a foothold in the church until after Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. It was not until the paganism of the Roman Empire was mixed with the teachings of Christianity that the pagan concept of a god who would end up torturing most of mankind became the god of Christianity!
This man, Louis Abbott, spent the last fifty years of his life studying the Greek New Testament. He would spend most of his evening and weekend hours reading the Greek New Testament and hundreds of Bible reference works. He had just about every lexicon, concordance, Bible translation, commentary set, Greek grammar, and church history book one could think of. He also had read many of them from cover to cover. He would put the date he finished the book on the first page of the book along with noting pages for future reference. He put some of the major points he discovered into a paper entitled An Analytical Study of Words. We, at Tentmaker, decided to turn it into a book by that name.
Louis Abbott at one time was a pastor of a conservative church. He was challenged by a man in his community regarding the teaching of Hell. Louis, at that time believing in Hell, took up that challenge to prove the man was wrong. After three years of studying, Louis realized he was wrong and his challenger was right. He stopped preaching Hell and was soon booted out of his denomination.
Over the next few years, I would encounter many stories of men and women who came to the same realization J. Preston Eby, Louis Abbott, and myself came to. Many of them also suffered persecution at the hands of those who embraced a god of eternal torture. I discovered men like Abraham Lincoln, who believed in the salvation of all, was called an infidel by the fundamentalists of his day. The greatest theologian, teacher, and scholar of the early church, Origen, would be marked a heretic by the church councils of later times.
I read some of the writings of the great early church leaders, Gregory of Naziansus, Gregory of Nissa, Diodore, Didymus, Theodoret, Clement, and many more. I discovered many orthodox church historians, Geisler, Doerderlin, Oxenham, Pfaff, Dietelmaier, Reuss, Neander, as well as others, acknowledged that the early church by and large taught and believed in the restoration of all things. Very few, in deed, taught the pagan concept of Hell, and of those that did, their lives and words usually made manifest what manner of spirit they were of. (For an example, order our audio tape entitled, Sinners in the hands of a loving God.)
I discovered there were many founders of this country who either embraced the message of the salvation of all mankind or were favorably inclined to it. Even the Declaration of Independence found signatures upon it written by men like Benjamin Rush, a man who believed that all would be saved through Jesus Christ's work on the cross.
Little did I know or was told during my school years that many of the poets I was required to read, believed in the restoration of all mankind through Jesus Christ. Robert Burns, Elizabeth and Robert Browning, Lord Byron, and Charles Dickens. Humanitarians like of Florence Nightingale also join the ranks of those of God's creatures who seek to give our Father full glory, not wanting to stain His nature with the repugnant and wicked doctrine of eternal torment. Even great men of the orthodox church opened their mouths, at the risk of losing their positions, to openly declare that the teaching of a Hell of everlasting punishment was not in harmony with the love Christ exhibited on the cross for all mankind. Great churchmen like William Law, Professor Plumtre, Thomas Moore, and the great Bible teacher William Barclay add their voice to the heavenly choir all harmoniously declaring an end to punishment and sin-the end being the final ingathering of all souls created back to God our Father. The book A Cloud of Witnesses by J.W. Hanson written in 1880 contains portions of writings of many great men and women who expressed belief in universal restoration.
Please forgive me for getting carried away here. I would love to make this publication several hundred pages full of the words written by men and women throughout the last two thousand years who have risked their lives or reputations by declaring their belief that Jesus Christ is truly the Savior of all mankind, (not just some of mankind.) I have mentioned enough to hopefully arouse enough curiosity in readers who have a hope in their heart that what I am writing is true, that they will go, seek, research, and discover for themselves, that we are all in truly good Hands- Hands which undergird all of His creation-Hands which are not willing that any should perish-Hands that are wise enough to have made provision from the very beginning of time, that after a season of suffering which would work great thankfulness and His character into our lives-our Father will dry every tear shed, restore every broken heart, heal every wound inflicted, and love every son and daughter who ever walked this earth, back to Himself.
As in the past, so also today, there is a host of Christians who believe in the ultimate restoration of all. There are writing ministries all over the world whose audience reaches all the continents of the world. Kingdom Bible Studies, Letters of Truth, The Pathfinder, Unsearchable Riches, Dew From Mount Hermon, Promised Seed Ministries, The Idle Babbler, and dozens of other periodicals declare the everlasting gospel to all mankind.
The ranks of those who hope that what I speak is true, but who have not had the courage to speak out due to fear of rejection by their own Christian Brothers is also endless.
We are told by many of those who insist the church must maintain this hideous doctrine, that if we remove this restraint from mankind, it will completely disintegrate. Well, first of all, most of mankind are still slaves to sin, and cannot be made the righteousness of God by a doctrine-any doctrine. Christianity, the Ten Commandment, the Sermon on the Mount, nor the Doctrine of eternal torment, nor membership in a particular church will make a person Holy or righteous. Only the Holy Spirit can do that and He doesn't need fear of eternal torture to cause us to want to be Holy. The real love of God expressed through true believers is a better tool than all the doctrines an apostate church can assemble and sell!
Look at the history of Christian nations. European Christian nations have the doctrine of an Eternal Torturing God for many centuries. The Roman Catholic Church has used this doctrine to the furthest extreme, especially in the dark ages. Did it produce law-abiding and righteous people? No, it produced the most corrupt priesthood of Christendom who turned out the light and brought Europe to the brink of disaster. Even today, while the Roman Catholic Church uses the doctrine of eternal torment to hold its members captive, we are seeing many in its priesthood are alcoholics, homosexuals, and child-molesters. Why? Most of these priests do not have a real personal relationship with Jesus. Look to the churches which preach against sin the most, who use Hell as their main weapon to keep their members in line, and I will show you a church full of hypocrites with more skeletons in the closet than you can count. I have been in well over two hundred churches during my search for truth. I have noticed that those ministers who use the doctrine of eternal torment the most will have a very unloving congregation of self-righteous people.
I was in one church where I heard the pastor use the King James Bible to prove to a new convert that God marvelously set free from hard drugs that he was going to Hell if he didn't shave off his mustache. His congregation consisted of sin-laden women who were so self-condemned, they had to go up to the altar each week to get saved again. One such woman was married over twenty times. She was taught that premarital sex would send one to Hell for sure. So every time she wanted to fulfill her sexual lusts, she would get married. But she was so impossible to live with due to her religious brainwashing, she would immediately be divorced.
Having been in a great variety of churches which have taught a broad variety of doctrines, I am convinced of this: If you take one hundred people who have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ and teach them that regardless of how many times you fail or fall short, He will never leave you nor forsake you. Furthermore, His love and power will ultimately reach everyone ever born under the sun. If you teach them that there are consequences for sin, but that they are not eternal-if you encourage these people to conform to the image of their Savior, Who loves all mankind, they will begin to manifest the nature of the God they worship, a God of Love.
But if you take another group of people, some who have been genuinely converted mixed with others who have been compelled to join the church because they were convinced they were going to Hell if they didn't, and pound into them a list of do's and don'ts which must be maintained in order to stay on the good side of a God who will eternally torture them if they don't obey this set of rules, this group of people will also eventually manifest the nature of their god-a god who is a hypocrite who tells us to love our enemies, while He tortures His-a god who is a respecter of persons-a god of wrath.
I have seen groups of Christians who believe in the salvation of all mankind through the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, and I have seen many different denominations which teach a God of love who will ultimately have to consign most of mankind to endless punishment. One would think that those who were conditioned by fear would be most law-abiding, holy, and Christ-like, but that is not the case. The groups who were taught that God loved them despite their short-comings, who promised them that they would ultimately be made perfect, who were taught to love their enemies and pray for those who persecuted them, who were brought into the precious communion with the Spirit of God, who were encouraged to walk the path of maturity in Christ, who were not beaten into submission by an authoritarian leadership, but who were cared for by shepherds willing to give their lives for the sake of Christ's body-these Christians looked much more Christ-like than those who were nurtured by fear of endless punishment. The only thing the doctrine of eternal punishment has produced is pridefulness, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and men who malign the name of God. It has driven many soft-hearted souls into insane asylums and suicide. History tells us that those evangelists who were most skilled at dangling the audience over the tormenting flames sometimes drove some in the audience to kill themselves. There is the fruit of the doctrine of eternal torment, death!
Those Christians with compassion in their hearts who have taken the literal hell-fire doctrine as true, often could not bear living knowing most of those people they were looking at were going to be endlessly tortured.
Great Christian women like Hannah Whitall Smith nearly went insane from this horrible teaching. God finally delivered her from her torment of soul when He supernaturally showed this great woman evangelist that He would save all mankind. She found it bewildering that her love for mankind seemed to outstrip God's love for them. How could this be? She tells of the great revelation she received from her Maker in her autobiography, My Spiritual Autobiography: The Unselfishness of God and How I discovered it. (It grieves me to say, that Christian publishing companies who today are reprinting her autobiography are editing out the very chapters in which she describes how God supernaturally showed her that He was going to save all mankind. To read her true autobiography, one must get an original edition of her work.)
I have letters from people who said they went through mental breakdowns as a result of the teaching of Eternal Punishment. Have you ever wondered why the doctrine of Hell has been such a grievous torment to the soul of tender-hearted Christians, while many cold and callused dogmatic type of Christians seem to thrive on it? Surely, this must be a sign that this doctrine does not come from the Prince of Peace.
As I said before, I am the writer of this book. God has given me a life which has allowed me the time to search and seek in ways and places few Christians dare to go. Hannah Smith's anguish was my anguish. I identify with the cries of the voices we have just heard. They are my brothers and sisters twice over. In Adam, we all experienced the sufferings of separation from God. We experienced the pain of lack, of selfishness, of short-sightedness. We were all slaves to sin. We all missed the mark. "There is none righteous, nay not one." No, my friend, not even you. But in the last Adam, Jesus Christ, shall all be made alive, just as Paul, the apostle has told us. In Him we will all be made righteous, none will fall short, all will enter Christ Who will bring us to our Father. (1 Cor. 15:22) Today, while we still stumble around in the darkness of our souls and minds, we still see each other dimly, imperfect, sometimes even as enemies. Darkness often causes us to see what really isn't there. But when the fullness of the Light from above shines in each heart of mankind, then we will know who we truly are and we will see in all our brothers and sisters the world over, past and future, made righteous, holy, and perfect in Jesus Christ, Lord, Savior, and King of the whole universe. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Now look into the mirror given us, by Paul, the apostle.
"Even if I could speak the languages of men and of angels, if I am without love, I am no better than a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. Even if I have the gift of prophesy, even if I understand all the secrets which only the initiates know; even if I am wise with all knowledge; even if I have faith so complete that it can move mountains, if I am without love, it is all no good to me.
Love is patient; love is kind. There is no envy in love; there are no proud claims; there is no conceit. Love never does the graceless thing; never insists on its rights, never irritably loses its temper; never nurses its wrath to keep it warm. Love finds nothing to be glad about when someone goes wrong, but is glad when truth is glad. Love can stand any kind of treatment; love's first instinct is to believe in people; love never regards anyone or anything as hopeless; nothing can happen that can break love's spirit. Love lasts for ever. Whatever prophesies there may be, they will some day be ended; whatever utterances of ecstasy there may be, they will some day be silenced; whatever knowledge there may be, it will some day pass away. We have but fragments of knowledge and glimpses of prophetic insight; but when the complete will come, the fragmentary will be ended. When I was a child, I had a child's speech; I had a child's mind; I had a child's thoughts. But, when I became a man, I put away childish things. Now we see bewildering shadows in a mirror, but then we shall see face to face; now I know a fragment of the truth, but then I will know as completely as I am known. The truth is that these three things last for ever-
faith, hope, and love-
and the greatest of them is love."
(1 Corinthians Chapter 13, William Barclay Translation)
Herein, you will find the standard for God because "God is love." (1 John 4:16) Herein also will you find yourself because this is your eternal home. You will be this perfect love only in Love Himself, the Father of us all, the Father of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha Machiach), the Son of Yahweh, which is the Hebrew form of the name of God ascribed to Him in the Bible.
Here, and only here, is true life. No religion, not a single denomination of Christianity can give you the quality of life that Jesus Christ promised. No one can earn it. No one can perform the proper rituals to attain it. As a matter of fact, unless the Father draws a person into that personal relationship, no one can even begin the journey. "No one can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44) Of course, the Father will eventually draw everyone, even out of their graves. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw (drag in the Greek) all mankind unto Myself." (John 12:32)
I used to want to save the whole world. Now I know the whole world is already saved; it just doesn't know it yet. Every now and then, our Father lets me be the messenger to bring the truly good news to someone. They awaken out of their slumber and begin living for Christ instead of self. I receive the joy of seeing another one of my brothers or sisters begin their journey back to our Father. There is the joy of evangelism. Declaring the great news and seeing the power of the Son of God draw the person to Himself. Seeing people freed from the clutches of darkness gives me a high I could not find in the bottle, nor sports, nor television, nor any other form of entertainment. True evangelism is not a burden; it is pure joy! Jesus came that our joy might be full. I cannot describe to you how much more joyful it is to share the true gospel, knowing that Jesus has already finished the work. All we have to do is be an expression of His love for mankind. Salvation is of God and not of man!
Choose to offer hope to all mankind! Do not enslave yourself to demonic doctrines which make our Creator look like a cruel tyrant Who out of a mere whim chose to "elect" a handful of men and women to eternal bliss, while He equally elected to send countless billions to everlasting sufferings merely to exercise His sovereignty. This is not justice. Nor is it the Love of a merciful Father. It is nothing less than an awful beast! This is the god of Calvinism-a merciless beast.
Neither make room in your heart for the worm preached by the rest of Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, and the Orthodox branches of Christendom, who preach a wimp of a god who has miscalculated the power of man's rebellious nature and the power of Satan-who could not move man off his course to destruction. The Scriptures boldly declare that "Love NEVER fails!" Yet most of Christendom preaches a God Who made a mistake greater than all of mankind's mistakes put together. This God's miscalculations plunged most of His own children into the most miserable existence conceivable. Imagine, a God who is ever-present, all-knowing, who knows the beginning from the end, who is all-powerful, ever merciful, full of a love far greater than man without His Spirit is capable of exhibiting-and yet somehow, with all this going for Him, the outcome of His great Creative process will find billions upon billions of His own children frying in an eternal lake created by their Father for the purpose of inflicting endless sufferings upon them because they failed to understand the profound confusion of rules, creeds, rituals, dogmas, statements of faith, etc. laid out by the ecclesiastical elite who claim to be God's authority on earth.
Oh, these Arminianists say that God tried to prevent this from happening. He did all He could do to prevent this from happening. Rubbish!!! He never purposed a Hell of everlasting torture. This was never a part of His plan nor did He ever describe such a place in the Bible in the original languages. This nonsense came from the depraved carnal mind of fallen men and women, not from our Father. Yes, they placed it in some of our Bible translations, but there are many scholars and translations by some of these scholars which do not contain the doctrine of a place of endless torture. (See our booklet Bibles Translations That do not contain a Hell of Eternal Torment. Do not make room in your mind or heart for the thought that sin, rebelliousness, fear, hatred, prejudice and other forms of darkness will have a place of eternal existence in the heart's of unregenerated men and women. God subjected creation (including mankind) to futility in hope, but not for eternity. (Romans 8:20) Once the purposes of God subjecting man to futility are accomplished, He will bring to an end the darkness of the heart and mind.
No, a place where our heavenly Father will forever literally burn the human beings (which He brought into existence) is not found on the pages of the Bible in their original form. However, there is a passage of Scripture which comes close to the kind of fiendishness which the doctrine of Hell represents.
Israel, during one part of its history began to mix the worship of Yahweh with some of the customs of the pagan nations around them. They molded a statue which was half man and half Bull. They called this god, MLK. (The original Hebrew had no vowels. One had to put in the vowels from memory.) Some scholars render these three consonants Molock or Molech, others believed it was the word Melech, which means "king" in Hebrew. The latter view would mean that Israel had made an image of Yahweh (their king) in the image of being half man and half animal. Either way, they felt they had not abandoned the worship of Yahweh. They felt this new practice was harmonious with the other religious traditions of the Hebrew faith.
Regardless of whether he was called Moloch, Molech or Melech, the Israelites took their own babies and placed them in the hands of this statue. Beneath the hands was a pot under which was a very hot fire. The child would fall out of the hands of MLK into the burning pot. As the child screamed with pain, the adults would go into a sexual frenzy as the sounds of the burning children mixed with the beating of drums. MLK was a fertility god.
In other Jewish rites, the Jews were commanded to offer up the first-fruits of a harvest unto Yahweh that He might bless the rest of the harvest. The Israelites extended this practice by offering up some of their children as a burnt-offering. Yahweh told Jeremiah the prophet He was going to destroy the city in which they were committing these horrible acts. The location where these rites were performed was in the Valley of the son of Hinnom (also called Tophet in the Bible) right outside the Southwest wall of Jerusalem! Now hear the true heart and power of the God of the Jewish and Christian Bible:
"Then the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, saying,
'Behold I am Yahweh, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?' Therefore thus says Yahweh: 'Behold, I will give this city into the had of the Chaldeans, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it. And the Chaldeans who fight against this city shall come and set fire to this city and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs they have offered incense to Baal and poured out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke Me to anger; because the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done only evil before Me from their youth. For the children of Israel have provoked Me only to anger with the work of their hands,' says Yahweh.
'For this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My fury from the day that they built it, even to this day; so I will remove it from before My face because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke Me to anger-they, their kings, their princes, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face; though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not listened to receive instruction. But they set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
'Now therefore,' thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, 'It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence':
'Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God: then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good: but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul. For thus says Yahweh: Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them." (Jeremiah 32:26-42)
There is more here in this passage of Scripture than we can possibly talk about in this book. I just want to bring out a few points which might open some new understanding to some people.
First of all Israel was raised up as a nation by Yahweh to be a light to the nations around them. God wanted a nation of priests who would intercede on behalf of the other nations of the world. (He still does.) They were also to obey His commands.
When Israel went astray, they no longer represented Yahweh. Yahweh judged Israel to bring about correct, not to appease His anger. We see that although Israel certainly did enough to perhaps deserve to be thrown into a Hell of everlasting punishment, He promised to restore them, not eternally torture them. The reason why Yahweh demands that vengeance be in His hands and His hands alone is because only He is able to kill and make alive again. He can resurrect people He previously judged with death. Once man kills, he is unable to bring them back. The hope of Israel has always been in the resurrection of the dead.
When speaking of Israel burning their own children, Yahweh said that such a thing never entered His mind. If God prepared a place in which He was going to torture billions of the human beings He created, how could He say it never entered His mind. Obviously, God never intended, nor ever will eternally burn and torture the men and women He created! This cruel teaching came from the same place from which Israel got the idea of burning their own children, that is, from a mind which was not subject to the true God; from a depraved mind.
It seems one of the hardest things for people to understand is that when we do not have a true relationship with the True God, we substitute all sorts of other concepts of God which often cause us to manifest some very strange or evil behavior. Israel is a perfect example. I believe most Christians who believe in a Hell of everlasting burnings would feel Israel's sins were worthy of being sent to Hell. Please note that in the above passage of Scripture, Israel did not repent. Yet Yahweh, nevertheless promises to "do them good" and to make them once again His people. Here we see a loving Father who punishes to bring about correction, not vindictive rage. Here we see the True image of our Maker, not the modern Christian image which has been made just like Israel made their false image, by mixing the Truth with pagan superstitions and devilish practices.
Modern Christianity is presently in the same condition Israel was during the time of Jeremiah the prophet. Modern Christianity tells unbelievers that the God of Christianity purposes to torture most of them with a fire far more torturous than the fire Israel used on their children. It is very fortunate for these Christians that Yahweh's promises to apostate Israel will also be applied to Christians. You see, if there is anyone who might deserve going to a place of everlasting sufferings, it would be people who have painted such an evil picture of their own God, their own Maker and Father. Yet Jeremiah tells us that our loving Father will forgive even such a horrendous sin as this.
When Jesus in the New Testament used the word which has been incorrectly translated "Hell" in most Christian Bible, the place He was referring to was this valley in which Israel burned their own children, not God. The place called Gehenna (translated Hell) was the Greek form of the Hebrew Ge Hinnom. This valley became a disgraceful reminder to Israel of what their forefathers did. It became the city dump.
Jesus warned the very generation in which He lived that if they did not repent, they would find themselves thrown into this valley of garbage which burned night and day. To tell a Jew something like this was the absolute worst of insult. It meant that their lives were worthless. A Jew's honor was very important to him especially at his death. It was not uncommon to hire professional mourners at one's funeral. Imagine paying someone to cry tears at your funeral. This is an example of how vain God's own people were during Jesus' physical presence on earth. Jesus told some of the most religious people of His day, their lives were only fit to be thrown into the city dump! What an insult! And what a prophecy! The very people who heard these words would find their bodies thrown over the Southwest wall of Jerusalem during the siege against the city in 70AD. Because they did not follow Christ and participated in His crucifixion, their lives truly did become worthless.
But the God of the Bible is able to take a worthless vessel, throw it back into the mine from which He took it and remake it! (Jeremiah Chapter 18) He can do that with an entire nation and He can do that with a single person like you and me. Oh, please believe me when I say to you that God does not need nor desire to endlessly torture someone. He is able to ultimately bring all of us back to our senses.
I would like those of you who presently do not have faith in the God of the Christian Bible to meditate very carefully on the next point I want to make. Jeremiah, the Hebrew prophet spoke and recorded these words and many other strong words which painted Israel and its leadership to be a wicked people in the seventh century B.C. His words entered into the sacred writings of Israel and were considered inspired. It was the responsibility of the religious leaders of Israel to make copies of these words for every generation which followed. Imagine being a Jewish scribe paid by Jewish political and religious leadership to rewrite the words of the Jewish prophets who were constantly railing against God's leaders. Surely, there would be a great tendency to soften these harsh words aimed at yourself and the Jewish leader's who hired you to rewrite those strong indictment's against them and yourself. I find it absolutely amazing that scribes and priests would pass on these words without making enough changes which would put themselves in a better light than the way these prophets described Israel's leadership. The Roman historians who were paid by the Caesars to write Roman history went to great extremes to glorify their leaders. They used the white wash very heavily. Not so, with the Jewish scribes who handed down from generation to generation the writings which would become largest part of the Christian Bible.
Since these writings had to be handwritten on sheep skins which wore out, there were many opportunities for the scribes to "rewrite" the Jewish history which cast them in unfavorable light, but they didn't. If these were just man's words and God wasn't divinely involved with the transference of these words from generation to generation, wouldn't it seem natural that these harsh indictments of Israel would ultimately be softened or completely eliminated by the scribes?
These strong words from Yahweh against Israel have caused Israel much grief. Many men who have hated the Jews have used these passages of Scripture to prove that the Jews were a wicked people who God hated and should therefore be hated by us. I believe these Scriptures in their Hebrew form help prove that the Bible is divinely protected and inspired. Yes, there are translation errors. Yes, there are some minor scribal errors in the Hebrew manuscripts. But the hand of God is clearly on the book which we call the Bible.
One of the many things mankind needed to experience is what it is like to be without the blessings of God; this makes one able to truly appreciate them when they are restored. We generally do not appreciate or value things unless we are deprived of them for a season or unless they are scarce. Many people value gold; few value sand. Once mankind has experienced the measure of lack our Maker has appointed in order for us to learn to appreciate Him and our fellow brothers and sisters, He will put an end to suffering, lack of provision, sickness, and all the other sins mankind is presently experiencing.
God does not just give us His nature, He works it into us through our experiences. Ultimately, we will all come to see that Love is the only power which will united us in peace. God has ordained a very long season for mankind to see the ramifications of what man is like without this love. As we have seen from our generation and previous ones, man is capable of being worse than the beasts in the field. Animals usually kill for food. Man kills his own brothers and sisters for things as worthless as a pair of Nike shoes. Contrary to what many Christians teach, His wrath will not last forever, but His mercy surely will last until He becomes "all in all." Mankind's season of vanity will surely come to an end once we all see the futility of living without Him. (Isa. 57:16; Psalm 145:9)
Oh, brother! Oh, sister! If you truly knew the heart of the Father of us all, you would never entertain for a moment such disgusting thoughts which religious man has created that have stained the precious Name and Character of the Holy One of Israel. Seek the highest thoughts your mind can imagine about our Father and they will greatly fall short of His Glory. Is it so difficult to imagine His Love capable of reaching all of fallen creation? Surely you would never consign one of your own children to such an awful fate. Yet so-called orthodox Christianity and other false religions of the world tell us the Creator will consign most of the human beings He made to this place. Are you more loving, merciful, and compassionate than the Creator and Father of all mankind? Can you now see the spirit from which this hideous teaching comes? It comes from prideful and arrogant dark-minded men and women who through their doctrines tell us their love is greater than God's love! This is the height of pride! And thinking man's will is more powerful than God's will is just as foolish.
To you, my brother or sister of this world, who do not yet personally know the Creator of the Universe and His Son, Jesus Christ, I apologize for the terrible way, we, who have used His name, have tarnished His true character. Surely we Christians have marred His image much more than the whips, the crown of thorns, and the nails marred His physical body on the Tree of Crucifixion. It is no wonder that most of mankind has not found refuge and comfort in the shelter of the branches of Christendom. I am deeply sorry. I pray the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus promised to send will wipe away the false concepts and ideas which have been perpetrated upon the minds of the peoples of the world. Forgive us, my brothers and sisters. May the idols we have created in place of the True God be smashed and forever destroyed and be replaced with the reality our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus the Messiah.
To those of you who seek to project your own lust for vengeance upon your own image of God which is nothing more than a reflection of what is in your own heart, I have nothing to say which will steer you from your course of madness. You, who place yourself above your fellow man through prejudice, nationalism, denominationalism, racism-you who demand judgment in diabolical measures upon your enemies while you, yourselves commit the same acts you condemn others to eternal torture for-you will have your day of judgment. If you do not fall upon the Rock, the Rock will fall on you. Eventually, you will be humbled. You will be brought down to the place where you will realize your own depravity and wickedness of heart. You will see the depth of your self-righteousness and hypocrisy. You will one day be brought to realize that in God's plan we are all one-no one has anything which hasn't been given from above-no one has any right to boast in themselves.
My words will not convince you that you are on the broad road which leads to destruction. You are convinced you are on the narrow road and every one else is on the broad road to destruction. You are convinced the fiend you have painted on the wall of your imagination is the true image of God. Surely, I will not be able to steer you from your course. I leave you in the hands of your Loving Father who knows how to break the pride without destroying His creation. He knows how to do heart surgery like no cardiologist known to man. We, humans, have specialists who can help us with hardening of the arteries. Our Creator is the only One in the universe who is always successful with the disease all of us are afflicted by-hardness of heart. Your Father and mine will one day cure all of us of this dreadful disease and we will be restored with a sound mind, a clean conscience, and a pure heart like His.
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of our Father's plan of Creation to understand is why He allows us to remain in our fallen, self-centered lives so long. Why does He allow us to hurt each other in such awful ways? Religious men and women trapped in their own wicked imaginations have perpetrated some of the most cruel sufferings upon mankind, often upon the most innocent. Yet through much of this suffering, it seems God was asleep, not caring, or dead.
This was why I was so angry with God during my childhood. I could not understand how a loving and all-powerful God would allow the cruelties I had witnessed. It made absolutely no sense to me. However, now, having seen His marvelous plan to work His nature into all of us through our experiences of seeing what life would be like apart from His government upon us, I now can bear the pain. I know now that it is temporary and serves a wonderful purpose for all of our eternal beings.
We have seen with our own eyes what man apart from God is like. We have seen it in religious people, power-hungry, political leaders and greedy merchants. Some of us have seen it in ourselves. Many are still blind to the wickedness which is in their hearts. They still think they are better than most others. God will eventually let them see what abominations really hide there which they are unwilling to look at. I have tasted the bitter fruit of living in self. It is poison to all of our souls.
You, my religious brother and sister, may go on thinking you are doing God's will while actually serving yourself. The word "religion" comes from two Latin words "re" and "ligare." Interestingly, it means "return to bondage." While thinking you are representing God, you are only enslaving people to your own bondage to religion-a slave set out to enslave others-the blind leading the blind. It does not matter what label you put on your religion, whether it be Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, or even Christianity. You are only serving your own hate and projecting it on an image you call your god.
You claim that you have the keys to the kingdom of God, but in actuality you have not entered in yourself and thereby hinder others from entering. Jesus told that to the religious leaders of His day. This has not changed. I cannot break your pride. Only our Father can do that and I am certain in His time, He will. You will be healed. Then you will put your long extended bony index finger down and begin to open your arms to embrace those you once despised and consigned to the lowest pits of your fiery prison of hell. I have faith this will happen to you because it happened to me, a chief Pharisee. He knows how to break down the mountains of religious pride which cover this earth. The winds, rains, and snow eventually weather even the highest mountains down. So too will the religions of this world be brought to nothing. One day, "every knee shall bow , of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:9-11) Oh, I know you think you honor His name, but you do not, you disgrace it with the doctrines you accepted from men. When I taught eternal torment, I also disgraced His name. But He is faithful to forgive. His Grace is able to remove the deepest of shames and your shame will surely one day be removed. First it must be revealed to you. You think you have nothing to be ashamed about. One day your head will hang very low with shame and only the Love of Christ will be able to bring it back up again.
One day, our Father will show every man and woman ever born that without God ruling in them, they are no better or worse than the most evil person on earth. As long as a person thinks they are better than anyone on earth, they are still in a state of blindness or partial blindness. In Christ, we are all one. We are all made righteous through His righteousness. Apart from Christ we are all dead and smell of death. We are self-centered which is death.
I know the religious spirit very well. I drank from its cup. It is a blinding drug that makes men mad raving dogs ready to bite anyone who doesn't line up with our own standards. To you my religious brother or sister, I say, your very own words will one day judge you. They will declare you guilty of trampling upon the blood of Christ shed for the sins of all mankind. When the reality of what you do in your judgmentalism strikes your heart and mind, you will be healed and you will put down your stones. In the meantime, you will continue to make this world a place of suffering using fear and violence instead of God's love. We all will pay the price for the religious wars started, the systems of intolerance created, and the hate planted in innocent children's souls.
But I am learning not to take vengeance into my own hands. I am learning that I cannot change you by killing you. I now see that in His time, our Father will discipline each of us and restore us to a sound mind. I am learning walk in tolerance, patience, and trusting that God will deal with each of us in His own time. I have learned that vengeance belongs in our Father's hands. Mankind does not know how to use this power. Mankind can only kill with this weapon. But we serve a powerful God Who is able to kill and then make a live again. (Deut. 32:39) We are incapable of doing that. We cannot undo our killing. That is why we must put down our swords and stones.
Now I want to say something to the atheist, rationalist, secular humanist, evolutionist-those of you who trust in reason, man's "innate" goodness, and the grave. I say the grave because that is your only hope. Many of you believe creation was started by a series of accidents; life ultimately evolved out of these billions of accidents and here you are-an accident waiting to be undone by the grave. I know you very well. I was like you for 37 years. I want to tell you something very rational, very reasonable, and very true. Your mind will have great difficulty with it because the fact of the matter is that atheists are just as irrational as religious people. Let me attempt prove the point.
Each of us views our environment somewhat differently depending upon our cultural background and our passions for living. In my former state, I was a businessman. During my course through an average day, I would look at life from a businessman's point of view. I saw bottom lines where others may have seen beauty. I saw potential clients where others may have seen friends. Now let me drive this point deep into your mind with this illustration.
As a businessman, I would look at the watch on my wrist and see countless things most people would never dream of seeing. In my business, I was constantly looking for new opportunities, new products, and new ways of making things better and more profitable. When I looked at a watch, here are some of the things I would see. I would see several entire industries which brought this watch to market. I would see of industries like the metal industry, the plastic industry, mold makers, transportation companies, sales companies, advertising agencies, etc. all working harmoniously to make and deliver this watch to me.
But in my tunnel vision world of chasing the dollar bill, there was also something there as plain as day which I also saw in the watch, but could not see in my life.
If a watch salesman came to my company to sell me an intricately designed watch and told me this watch was produced by an explosion, I would laugh him out of my office. If he told me that it came from a soup made billions of years ago, I would surely laugh right in his face.
My rational mind knows design. A watch is full of many components all of which were designed with purpose by an intelligent being. As a businessman, when looking at a watch on my wrist, the design in that watch naturally and quite rationally pointed to a designer! Any reasonable person would come to the same conclusion. No atheist or evolutionist would ever have the nerve to come into a classroom of college students and tell them the watch they are wearing evolved out of an explosion that occurred a few billion years ago. We all know the truth here. But that same person would go into a classroom and tell these impressionable minds that the wrist which holds the watch was created from an explosion! A human wrist is thousands of times more complex than a watch. How is it that we "rational scientific" types cannot see the ridiculousness in our reasoning when it comes to the great design of our bodies?
A watch speaks of intelligent design which speaks of a designer outside of itself. A human wrist screams even louder of design and an independent DESIGNER! Someone made the wrist!
Spend a few moments studying the complexity of a single cell. Go to the medical dictionary and read about the various systems which run through the wrist to make it perform its function in the body. Read about the nervous system, muscle system, circulatory system, etc. Compare them to a gear on a watch. Which is more complicated?
Why is it that atheists, especially many of the "scientific" types, cannot see their own irrationality in this example? Because they live by faith and not by rationalism! They have placed their faith in a system which locks out a Designer because they do not want to be accountable to Him. They, in the darkness of self, want to establish their own rules of conduct apart from being responsible to their Designer. I know that when I was chasing the dollar bill, I did not want Someone looking over my shoulder telling me how I should earn and spend it. I wanted to be accountable only to myself.
I would like to say something right now that I believe will change the lives of some who are reading this booklet. If your mind is truly open, it will be a seed that will bring greater peace and understanding into your lives.
When a person in this world creates something, he or she first has a purpose in mind. The primary purpose behind a watch is to tell time. The purpose is not in the watch, the purpose for the watch is in the mind of the designer! (Oh, Father please open the hearts of the readers as they dwell on the next few sentences.)
If you have been designed by an intelligent Designer (which I hope is now quite obvious and rational), then you have been created with purpose in mind! But that purpose does not reside in you-that purpose resides in the Designer Himself!
For 37 years of my life, I thought I was the designer of my life. I created an environment around me to make me happy, often at the expense of others, especially those who I could easily manipulate with my powers of persuasion. I loved the capitalist system which allowed the strongest achievers to go as high as they could. I was strong, reasonably intelligent, and determined-I had purpose-I set my goals. When I finally pretty much reached them, I realized I had made a mess, not only for myself, but for many around me. I was empty deep inside. No one knew this because I hid it very well. I even hid it from myself. But the day of reckoning finally came. The alcohol I used to numb my conscience finally got the better of me.
Man's purpose in himself is shallow, greedy, and selfish. It will never bring peace to this world. Never! But when we discover that our true purpose is in the mind our Maker, then a whole new world opens up! Oh, brothers and sisters, think about these words for a few hours. They may be the most worthwhile hours you have spent. You have been created with purpose. It is time to discover the One who can unlock that life in you.
Our Maker sent Jesus the Messiah into the world to open the way to reveal God's purpose for each of us. We can only find our true identity in Him. Every other plan, every other design, every other system of belief is false and futile. "He who clings to his life will lose it; he who loses his life for My sake finds it." (Matt. 10:39)
Mid-life crisis is nothing more than a person beginning to realize their plans are falling apart. They want to design a new life. They are not happy with the one they built previously and so begin to contemplate a new plan. Of course, they rarely attribute the failure of the previous one to themselves. Some will find an expensive Freudian psychiatrist who will allow them to blame their failure on someone else. It is usually their mate who is fouling up their perfect paradise. The fact of the matter is one can design a thousand plans for their lives and none of them will bring true contentment. Our fulfillment, our very purpose for our existence, rests in our Creator and in Him alone.
The Father of all mankind sent His Son to bring us back to our senses and to show us a healthy pattern for our lives here on earth. He came to give us abundant life. In Him are all the things God purposed for us-all of them. But in order to receive them, they must replace the parts of our lives which hold us in darkness-which would look at our wrist and say "An explosion caused this." We must make room in our hearts and minds for the wisdom from our Maker. We must empty ourselves. This is called humbling ourselves even as Jesus, the Son of God did.
Allow me to give another illustration showing the condition of man trapped in himself. A tribe in Africa had an ingenious way of catching monkeys which they sold to Westerners for biological research. They built a cage with six sides without a trap door. They simply placed a large hard fruit in the cage allowing enough room between the bars for the monkey to put his hand in the cage to grab the fruit, but narrow enough that its hand while holding the fruit could not press back through the bars. The monkeys desire for the fruit was greater than their desire for freedom. These monkeys were trapped by their own refusal to let go of the fruit once they had their hands on it. Freedom required that the monkey simply let go of the fruit, but they would not.
This is the condition of some of you reading this book. Freedom is available to you by simply letting go of your desire to run your own life the way you think it should be run. Freedom is as close as letting go of your life and receiving the life of Jesus Christ. Millions of people run around this earth in their own purpose. They manipulate and engineer their environment and fellow man in order to create a paradise for themselves. This world was not created for that purpose. The true purpose of all things is in Him. "In Him we live and breathe and have our being."
So my atheist or agnostic friend, are you yet tired of holding onto your fruit? Apart from Christ, it will surely ultimately become very rotten. Are you really content with your life deep within yourself? If you can admit that you are not, you are one step closer to true freedom. You are on the road to repentance. (Perhaps God is drawing you now.) Repentance simply means "to turn, to change one's mind." It's the beginning of trusting Him instead of yourself. Simply recognizing that you are not a very good designer of life is a very important realization. This is often very difficult to do because of the images of God and the purposes for man attributed to Him by the thousands of "religions" of the world, (which are often not very good substitutes for our own plans.) I believe the doctrine of eternal torment for most of mankind has been one of the greatest hindrances to people trusting our Maker. Only when we see that God truly has good purposes towards us and that He will not fail in those purposes, will we ever be able to abandon our lives to Him whole-heartedly. That is why I fight this doctrine so fervently. It is a great hindrance to truly trusting our Maker. I hope this book has been helpful in dispelling some of the power of this horrible doctrine in some of your minds. Room must be made in our hearts in order to receive the fullness of the real life of Christ. Since our very lives are at stake, how can we honestly place our trust in Someone who we have been told is going to torture most of our friends and family? It is almost impossible.
I cannot give you my trust in Him. It is my hope that my testimony, my experiences of having been in the self life, and now my learning to walk in His purposes for me will soften the soil of your heart.
Friend, Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life and that you might have it abundantly." (John 10:10) He said that He came to make your joy full. He came to give you true life. He came to dispel the lies which have flooded your senses and give you a truly rational mind-a mind that will never again come to unintelligent conclusions like wrists and brains being created out of explosions and soups. He will give you His very own mind-the mind of Christ! (1 Cor. 2:16) Let go of the bitter fruit of self and enter into the life you were designed for-a life full of purpose, good works, much peace, and great joy-a life which truly can make this world a better place in which to live.
I have found that the most nasty mean foul-mouthed violent people are usually the ones who have been wounded the deepest some time in their past, usually during their childhood. From personal experience I have come to believe that only Jesus the Messiah can completely heal those wounds. I can testify that my life is much more rich and meaningful since Jesus brought healing to my soul. Turn to Him and allow Him to fill your heart with indescribable joy!
To you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, who have been deceived by the traditions of men and the doctrines of demons to believe in these hideous false religious images of our Father, but who now see the lies for what they are-vanity from the minds of prideful man-to you I say there is a stream of forgiveness open to you from our Father. Repent, turn from these awful images, and let the King of Glory wash away the shame and disgrace you might feel from having supported and been a part of systems of men which have brought such shame to the Name of the Holy One. He is always ready to pardon, to heal, to forgive, and to exalt the humble and lowly of heart. Ask Him for the boldness to withstand the onslaught of the flood of evil words, thoughts and actions which come from darkness disguised in the form of light, which pervade the denominations of Christianity. Lay down the "respect" you may have in your denomination and allow the King of Glory to replace it with the only true honor-the Honor which comes from your Heavenly Father. As you remove your voice from the discordant chorus of Hell, your absence from this pit will weaken the fetters and chains of power hungry men and women who have used you to support their lust for power. This world needs a compassion from God's people which those who embrace an eternal torturing god cannot muster up. We are conformed to what we worship. You will manifest the god you hold dear to you. Stop manifesting a fiend! "Come out of her My people. She has become a home of every foul and unclean bird." (See Revelation Chapter 17 and 18) Remember, God is speaking to His people here.
Afterword From The Author
I want to apologize for my lack of writing abilities. A sign of good writing is the ability to not use the word "I" very often. Obviously I failed in this regard. But I rejoice in the fact that I serve a God who is capable of using imperfect vessels for His honor.
The statement has been made in this book that the Bible in its Greek and Hebrew form does not contain the Doctrine of an Everlasting Torturing God. A serious study of early Church history will bring out the fact that the majority of the early believers in Jesus did not believed in such a horrible doctrine. If you want to search this out for yourself, (as you should) I will be more than happy to direct you to the many reference books which prove this out.
"My people perish for lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6) Choose life! I believe this Scripture speaks to us who are Christians. Be about your Father's business and study this out for yourself. Remember. You will not be able to blame your pastor or hell-fire evangelist for your lack of study. You will one day have to give an account for the time allotted you here on earth. Will the time spent in front of the television be greater than your time spent seeking Him and His righteousness? Will all your work be nothing but wood, hay, and stubble? It is not too late to repent, turn, and seek His Face. Do it now and be blessed with His reality so that you might become a blessing to the nations. The Japanese are still waiting for someone to come and wipe away their tears. Somehow, I believe Jesus is weeping with them waiting for us to be bold enough to break off the shackles of tradition. The compassion needed to set the Japanese and all nations free comes from knowing and manifesting the True God. Unless we believe He loves all mankind and is willing and able to draw all mankind unto Himself, we will project the wrong image of God and we will manifesta spirit which falls short of God's Glory.
(Please Read Isaiah Chapter 52)
A Cloud of Witnesses in Support of
The Larger Hope
(The following quotes come are a small handful of the many more well-known voices from all generations who stood against the cruel and diabolical doctrine of Hell as a place of everlasting torment. They expressed hope in a God able to draw all of His Creation back to Himself. For a longer list of men and women who expressed their hope in the salvation of all mankind, write Tentmaker Publications. We begin with the promise of Yahweh (God) Himself.
Yahweh- "In you (Abraham) all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Gen 12:3)
David (King of Israel)- "All the ends of the wold shall remember and turn to the Lord (Yahweh), and all the families of the nations (Gentiles) will worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord's (Yahweh's), and He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive." (Psalm 22:27, 28)
Isaiah (Hebrew prophet)- "All nations shall flow to Yahweh's house." (Isaiah 2:2)
"The Lord will make a feast for all people." (Isaiah 25:6) You're invited!
Ezekiel (Hebrew prophet)- "Sodom will be restored to her former estate." (Ezekiel 16:55; read all of the chapter)
Jesus (Yahshua)- "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw (drag in the Greek) all mankind unto myself." (John 12:32)
"The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands." (John 3:35)
John (the apostle)- "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world." (1 John 4:14)
Paul (apostle to the nations)- (We will only quote a couple Scriptures. Paul wrote much on this subject. Our tract Do you believe All in the Bible lists many more of his references.)
"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)
"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, Who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. These things command and teach." (1 Timothy 4:9-11)
"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him whether things on earth, or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." (Colossians 1:16-20)
St. Clement of Alexandria (Church Father)- "All men are his...for either the Lord does not care for all men...or he does for all. For His is saviour; not of some, and of others not...and how is He saviour and Lord, if not the saviour and Lord of all? For all things are arranged with a view to the salvation of the universe by the Lord of the universe both generally and particularly." (Ante-Nicene Fathers v. 2 P.524-5)
Origen (Greatest early Church scholar)- "The Stoics indeed, hold that, when the strongest of the elements prevails, all things shall be turned into fire. But our belief is, that the Word shall prevail over the entire rational creation, and change every soul into his own perfection...for although in the diseases and wounds of the body, there are some which no medical skill can cure, yet we hold that in the mind there is no evil so strong that it may not be overcome by the Supreme Word and God. For stronger than all the evils in the soul is the Word, and the healing power that swells in Him, and the healing He applies, according to the will of God to every man. The consummation of all things is the destruction of evil...to quote Zephaniah: 'My determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kings, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger, for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent'...consider carefully the promise, that all shall call upon the name of the Lord, and serve Him with one consent; also that all contemptuous reproach shall be taken away, and there shall be no longer any injustice, or vain speech, or a deceitful tongue." (Celsus, 6k8, ch. 72, Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 4 p. 667)
Didymus (Head of Catechetical School of Alexandria in the fourth century A.D.)- "Mankind, being reclaimed from their sins...are to be subjected to Christ in the fullness of the dispensation instituted for the salvation of all." (Comm. in 1 Peter 3)
St. Gregory of Nyssa (bishop and leading theologian of the early Church)- "Our Lord is the One who delivers man (all men), and who heals the inventor of evil himself." (Catechetical Orations)
Titus (bishop of the early Church)- "Abyss of hell is, indeed, the place of torment; but it is not eternal, nor did it exist in the original constitution of nature." (Lib. 1, ch. 32)
Diodore (bishop of the early Church)- "For the wicked are punished, not perpetual, but they are to be tormented for a certain brief period...according to the amount of malice in their works. They shall therefore suffer punishment for a short space, but immortal blessedness having no end awaits them."
Theodoret the Blessed (bishop of the early Church)- "He shows the reason of penalty, for the Lord, who loves men, chastises in order to heal, like a physician, that he may arrest the course of our sin." (Hom. in Ezekiel ch. 6)
John Scotus Erigena (Scottish Scholar)- "Evil, being negative, as is punishment, neither can be eternal."
La Fontaine (French Writer)- "I have lately taken to read the New Testament, which I assure you, is a very good book; but there is one article to which I cannot accede; it is that of the eternity of punishment. I cannot comprehend how this eternity is compatible with the goodness of God."
Sir Isaac Newton (Scientist)- "The degree and duration of the torment of these degenerate and anti-Christian people, should be no other than would be approved of by those angels who had ever labored for their salvation, and that Lamb who had redeemed them with his own precious blood."
Isaac Watts (Hymn writer)- "I grant that the eternity of God himself before this world began, or after its consummation, has something in it so immense and so incomprehensible, that in my most mature thoughts, I do not choose to enter into those infinite abysses; nor do I think we ought, usually, when we speak concerning creatures, to affirm positively, that their existence shall be equal to that of the blessed God, especially with regard to the duration of their punishment."
William Law (English Christian writer)- "In how many ways have I proved and asserted that there neither is, nor can be, any wrath or partiality in God; but that every creature must have all the happiness which the infinite love and power of God can help him to. As for the purification of all human nature, I fully believe it, either in this world, or some after ages.
Bishop Newton (English Bishop)- "Imagine such a doctrine, you may; but seriously believe it you never can. The thought is too shocking even to human nature; how much more abhorrent, then, must it be from divine perfection. The creator must have made all his creatures finally to be happy; and could never form any one whose end he foreknew would be misery everlasting. We can be sure nothing, if we are not sure of this.
Benjamin Franklin (Scientist, Statesman)- "No system in the Christian world was so well calculated to promote the interests of society, as the doctrine which showed a God reconciling a lapsed world unto Himself."
Florence Nightingale (Humanitarian, Nurse, Hospital Reformer)- "Is it not a simple impertinence for preachers and schoolmasters, literally ex cathedra, to be always inculcating... what they call the commands of God...and often representing Him as worse than a devil? Alas! for mankind might easily answer- 'I cannot love because I am ordered. Least of all can I love One who seems only to make me miserable here to torture me hereafter. Show me that He is lovable, and I shall love Him without being told." But does any preacher show us this? He may say that God is Love, but he shows Him to be hate, worse than any hate of man. As the Persian poet says, 'If God punishes me for doing evil by doing me evil, how is He better than I?' And it is hard to answer. For certainly the worst man would hardly torture his enemy, if he could, for ever."
Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration of Independence)- "The universal doctrine prevails more and more in our country, particularly among persons eminent for their piety, in whom it is not a mere speculation, but a new principle of action in the heart, prompting to practical goodness."
F.E. Schleiermacher (German Theoligian)- "The figurative language of Christ has led men to accept over against the doctrine of eternal blessedness, that of a state of unabatable misery for those who die out of fellowship with Christ; but this language will be found hardly sufficient for such a conclusion if we examine it more closely."
Thomas Moore (English Poet and Writer)- "The restoration of the whole human race to purity and happiness. This benevolent doctrine-which not only goes far to solve the great problem of moral and physical evil, but which would, if received more generally, tend to soften the spirit of uncharitableness, so fatally prevalent among Christian sects-was maintained by that great light of the early church, Origen, and has not wanted supporters among more modern theologians."
Washington Irving (Writer, On hearing a sermon by I.A. Williamson entitled Endless Misery Refuted.)- "Thank you, sir, for that sermon. There was more of sound sense in it than I often hear in a discourse. That is the doctrine I believe and want to practice."
Thomas Erskine (Christian Writer)- "I cannot believe that any human being can be beyond the reach of God's grace, and the sanctifying power of his spirit. And if all are within his reach, is it possible to suppose that he will allow any to remain unsanctified? Is not the love revealed in Jesus Christ a love unlimited, unbounded, which will not leave undone anything which love could desire? It was surely nothing else than the complete and universal triumph of that love that Paul was contemplating when he cried out, 'Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!'"
Abraham Lincoln (responding to a conversation about salvation)- "It must be everybody or nobody."
Charles Kingsley (Canon of the Anglican Church)- "We, too, believe in an eternal fire; but we believe its existence to be not a curse but a blessing, and a Gospel, seeing that that fire is God himself, who taketh away the sins of the world, and of whom it is therefore written, 'Our God is a consuming fire.'"
Frances Power Cobbe (Writer)- "I challenge those who forbid us to believe in the infinite mercy of God to say which of these three ways of viewing sin is most godlike, most probably nearest to the way in which God must view it... I think, if we were not caught in the meshes of that wretched Augustinian scheme of theology which makes the atonement necessary to appease God's wrath, and postulates eternal hell to compel us to accept it,-I think, I say, if it were not for this theology, all Christendom must have long ago come to see, that, at the very least, God feels towards a sinner as a father or a saint would do, and not as a man less good or wise or merciful...The Lord of conscience who bids us forgive till seventy times seven, the Lord of life, the Father of spirits, who reveals himself to us in the supreme hour of heartfelt prayer; that God whose voice has so often called us back from our wanderings, and put us right again and yet again,-that God, we know, is never to be alienated. We do not think man's evil can, in the long-run of the infinite ages, outspeed finally God's ever-pursuing mercy. He must overtake us sooner or later. We may doom ourselves to groan beneath the burden of sin, and writhe beneath the scourge of just and most merciful retribution again and yet again, no one knows how long. We may chose evil rather than good, and vileness instead of nobleness, and be ungrateful and sinful almost as he is long-suffering and infinitely holy; but it is almost, not quite. God will get the better of us at last."
George Macdonald (Writer and Preacher)- "Nothing is inexorable but love. For Love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love's kind must be destroyed. And 'our God is a consuming fire.' It is the nature of God so terribly pure that it destroys all that is not pure as fire. He will have purity. It is not that the fire will burn us until we worship thus, if we do not worship God, but that the fire will burn us until we worship thus, but as the highest consciousness of life, the presence of God. In the outer darkness, where the worst sinners dwell, God hath withdrawn himself, but not lost his hold. His face is turned away, but his hand is laid upon him still. His heart has ceased to beat into the man's heart, but he keeps him alive by his fire. And that fire will go searching and burning on in him, as in the highest saint who is not yet pure as he is pure. But at length, O God, wilt thou not cast death and hell into the lake of fire even into thine own consuming self? Death shall then die everlastingly, and hell itself will pass away, and leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day. Then indeed will thou be all in all. For then our poor brothers and sisters, every one,-O God, we trust in thee, the consuming fire, shall have been burnt clean and brought home."
F.W. Farrar (Canon of the Anglican Church and Writer)- "But if there be one thing which He must loathe whose name is Love, it is the hallelujahs of exultant anathema, and the thinly disguised hate which rages and protests with so fierce an ignorance against a trust in Mercy founded only on these two great doctrines (which they say they own)-the doctrine of Christ's infinite redemption; the doctrine of God's boundless love.
William Barclay (Bible Teacher, Writer, and Translator)- "But in one thing I would go beyond strict orthodoxy-I am a convinced universalist. I believe that in the end all men will be gathered into the love of God." (William Barclay: A Spiritual Autobiography, page 65)
New England, 1815
I am honored that the editor of the book should place my testimony among the names of men and women who, at one point in my life I would certainly not have wanted my name to be associated with. I am honored to be among this Cloud of Witnesses. Surely pride is the leading cause for religious people not seeing the perfectly finished work of the Cross of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Messiah. Certainly pride was the great stumbling block which I stumbled over many times before the Lord finally humbled me enough to begin to see His marvelous ways. I, John Murray, was born at a time when religious study in England was at its highest. I studied under John Wesley and George Whitefield themselves.
At first, I was among the Methodists, but after carefully studying Mr. Whitefield's system, I became convinced that "election" was the proper Scriptural view, quite in opposition to Mr. Wesley's Arminian view centering around man's so-called "free will."
I came to realize that man's will, according to Scripture and from nature itself, was not nearly as free as Mr. Wesley thought. After all, none of us "chose" to enter into this world of sin and death, did we? If one was to be told the conditions we would face here on earth and that most who ever chose to come to this planet would be eternally tortured after our stay here, I doubt that few would "chose" to begin such an experience. Better that we never existed. Yet none of us is given this "choice," are we? Neither did we choose the condition of our bodies, our parents, our birthdates, the countries in which we were born, nor a host of many others things which effect our decision-making processes.
And so, Mr. Whitefield's system of the Sovereignty of God, predestination, and election made much more Scriptural sense to me at that time.
I enjoyed the privilege of studying under some of the most outstanding preaching and teaching found in the Protestant sector of Christianity. It was during this time, however, the Lord sought to humble me to prepare me for doing something I would have dreaded while I was among London's "best" Christian people.
After losing my most precious wife and our only child, the Lord found it necessary in His wisdom to destroy my financial resources too. I found myself after His humbling process with absolutely nothing. No family, no business, no friends, nothing. I desperately wanted death's hands to lay my body to rest.
I had become weary of life. In this condition, I left England to hide in the wilderness of the New World. Little did I know then that all my misery and rejection by all my former religious friends in England would prepare me for what He would do through me in the New World.
Little did I know I would be traveling up and down the American Colonies during their formation to become the United States of America, preaching the Salvation of all mankind through the work of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Little did I dream that my presence in America would touch the lives of men like George Washington, signers of the Declaration of Independence like Benjamin Rush, and influential families like the Sargeant family. The rejection I received from my former religious friends would prepare me for the rejection I would receive from American "orthodoxy" in the colonies.
My preaching would become the seeds from which would grow hundreds of churches scattered all over America which declared the universal salvation of all mankind. Within one generation from my time on earth, there would be several hundred thousand people who would embrace what would become called at that time "Universalism." Few Americans realize how much of their religious freedom rests upon the sufferings of men and women bold enough to break off the shackles of the "established" churches who wished to snuff out religious freedom in the colonies. Universalists, Baptists, Quakers, and a few other small Christian groups had to fight in courts and on the streets for your religious freedom. I knew religious persecution first hand.
But as I said, before all this would transpire in my life, the Lord first had to greatly humble me in England. My trust in religious systems had to be broken down and destroyed. The Lord chose to use the mouth of a babe to begin the process. Below is a recount of a conversation I had with a young lady I hoped I would set straight in her doctrines. She had accepted from a Mr. Relly, a preacher who was making quite a stir in London, the pernicious doctrine of Universalism. Prior to this conversation, I had never met the man, yet I despised him for the influence he was having among the citizens. I thought it would be quite a simple matter to set this young deceived babe straight. Little did I know that I was the one who needed straightening out. Once my pride was reduced a little further, I would eventually attend Mr. Relly's meetings personally and find there, (and not at Mr. Wesley's and Mr. Whitefield's meetings) the True Gospel delivered once for all mankind. Below is the conversation I had with the young damsel I thought was in distress and whom I hoped I would deliver from the clutches of Mr. Relly.
I went to visit her and after the first ceremonies, we sat for some time silent; at length I drew up a heavy sigh, and uttered a pathetic sentiment, relative to the deplorable condition of those who live and die in unbelief; and I concluded a violent declaration, by pronouncing with great earnestness, He that believeth not shall be damned.
"And pray, sir," said the young lady, with great sweetness, "Pray, sir, what is the unbeliever damned for not believing? Why, he is damned for not believing.
"But, my dear sir," she asked, "what was that, which he did not believe, for which he was damned?"
Why, for not believing in Jesus Christ, to be sure.
"Do you mean to say that unbelievers are damned for not believing there was such a person as Jesus Christ."
No, I do not; a man may believe there was such a person, and yet be damned.
"What then, sir, must he believe, in order to avoid damnation?"
Why, he must believe that Jesus Christ is a complete Saviour.
"Well, suppose he were to believe, that Jesus Christ was the complete Saviour of others, would this belief save him?"
No, he must believe that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour; every individual must believe for himself that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour.
"Why, sir, is Jesus Christ the Saviour of any unbelievers?"
"Why, then, should any unbeliever believe, that Jesus Christ is his Saviour, if he is not his Saviour?"
I say he is not the Saviour of any one, until he believes.
"Then, if Jesus be not the Saviour of the unbeliever, until he believes, the unbeliever is called upon to believe a lie. It appears to me, sir, that Jesus is the complete Saviour of unbelievers; and that unbelievers are called upon to believe the truth; and that, by believing they are saved in their own apprehension, saved from all those dreadful fears which are consequent upon a state of conscious condemnation."
No, madam; you are dreadfully, I trust not fatally, misled. Jesus never was, never will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever.
"Do you think Jesus is your Saviour, sir?"
I hope he is.
"Were you always a believer sir?"
"Then you were once an unbeliever; that is, you once believed that Jesus Christ was not your Saviour. Now, as you say, he never was, nor ever will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever; as you were once an unbeliever, he never can be your Saviour."
He never was my Saviour till I believed.
"Did he never die for you, till you believed, sir?"
Here I was extremely embarrassed, and most devoutly wished myself out of her habitation; I sighed bitterly, expressed deep commiseration for those souls who had nothing but head-knowledge; drew out my watch, discovered it was late; and, recollecting an engagement, observed it was time to take leave.
It is really much easier for an unbeliever to see the truth of the ultimate redemption of all mankind than it is for one who has been indoctrinated into the major "orthodoxy's" of Christendom. The Roman Catholics trust a man in the form of the Pope who they have exalted to a position of God on earth. The Arminians (most of Protestantism) have put their faith in the "free-will" of man, thereby accrediting their salvation to their decision to choose Christ. The Calvinists draw their pride from their teaching that God has "elected" them for eternal bliss, while He has not chosen the vast majority of mankind. Unfortunately, Calvinists do not know what they were chosen for. They are quite mistaken in this regard. Nevertheless, Calvinism breeds perhaps one of the highest forms of pride known to mankind. Having partaken of the pride myself, I still have a very bitter taste in my mouth from this poison which blinds the eyes and makes one deaf to spiritual truths. The Greek and Russian Orthodox branches of Christendom follow the pride of Roman Catholicism except that they divide the power among several "patriarchs" instead of a single Pope.
All of these systems have a common characteristic: man is exalted at the expense of God's character and power. Only true humility will unblind the religious man to see the errors of his system. By far, the leading characteristic lacking among Christians of all faiths is humility, brokenness of heart, a contrite spirit, compassion for all brothers and sisters throughout the world in all generations.
I came to realize that it is nearly impossible for Christianity to attain this humility apart from seeing the salvation of all creation through the finished work of God Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. Christianity simply will not be able to deliver the goods of the kingdom apart from destroying the false foundations upon which it is presently built. It is built upon the fear of man and the exaltation of man.
If one seeks to be conformed to His humility, one must be delivered from the fear of what men think. This can be quite a devastating experience in one's life. It certainly was in mine. However, if we want to experience in our hearts what we often voice half-hearted with our mouths (that we want to be an expression of His life); if this cry comes from a truly sincere heart, it will lead to the destruction of all the fore-mentioned religious systems. Religious man is afraid of this destruction. Pride is a powerful force, especially in places of power like the political, religious, and economic communities.
Human beings are very much a "herd" animal like sheep. They are easily moved to follow shepherds pursuing their own lusts and not the interests of their Lord Jesus Christ.
To both shepherds and sheep I say, You do not know the blessings you are missing working in religion rather than the true kingdom built upon the righteousness of our Lord. Yes, there is a big difference. His ways are so much higher than ours. Walk away from the high towers of religion which do not united us under the headship of Jesus. He will restore to you much more than you ever could have built on your own. What you build in your own strength will all one day come down anyway-why prolong the day? Do it today. Cry out to the Lord of all to make room in your hearts for His humility. Make a cry from the heart inviting the Holy Spirit to put a torch to all that you have put your hand to do for Him that you might see what is really of Him-that you might be able to discern what has been built upon the pride of man, the fear of man, and the traditions of man. Remember, it was because Jesus suffered the shame of the cross that He was exalted above all men.
Pick up your cross. Put the works of the flesh to death and He will lift you up. Place your religious life upon the altar sprinkled by the most precious blood of the Savior of all mankind. Ask for strength and boldness that you might be able to break free from supporting and participating in systems which will come to naught. Why prolong the inevitable? Why delay the fire which will test all foundations? Invite the Spirit of Truth to lead you into all Truth.
Do not place your confidence in numbers. God was not pleased with David when he numbered his people to see how large his army was. David had forgotten that his strength came from the Lord and not from his army.
Jesus said there was something more powerful than the word of God: 'You have made the commandments of God on no effect by your traditions.' (Matt. 15:6) Surely, the power of the Wesleyian and Calvinist traditions had held the power of God in my life in check until I was delivered from such systems.
Remember, if you follow in His footsteps, you will taste of His suffering. Those who have embraced the teaching of the salvation of all mankind through Jesus Christ will learn what it means to be rejected by your own brothers and sisters. But this only opens the door to love as Jesus loved. Herein one will discover the suffering for His Names' sake at the hands of one's own friends. But herein also is the opportunity for Jesus to draw nigh to you and give you a comfort which words cannot describe. There is a price for believing and declaring the drawing power of the Son of God who said,
'And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all mankind unto Myself.'" (John 12:32)
Michelle Amirault--Wow, my wonderful husband, Gary Amirault, author of this book has given me the last word! For most of our marriage, each have fought to have "the last word." And here I have it and didn't even ask to be included in the book! This may not seem like much to some of you, but this is a tiny example of the wonderful things Jesus Christ has done in our marriage.
The Christian Bible makes it quite clear that God highly values the institution of marriage and family. A lasting marriage and healthy family is also very important to me. Having been born in a family broken apart twice by divorce and having seen first hand the effects this has on the children, made it clear to me that I wanted a happy, healthy marriage and family that stayed together.
Therefore, it was perhaps the most painful moment in my life, when my marriage, a marriage I felt I worked so hard to keep together, was falling apart. There seemed to be nothing I could do to keep it together. Gary and I just couldn't communicate anymore. We couldn't speak more than five minutes without fighting, and usually it was over the most meaningless things.
Perhaps the most pathetic part of the situation was the fact that even after we both had become very zealous Christians, this constant battling continued, and actually became worse, instead of better.
I was brought up in a liberal Jewish family. Gary was raised by a father who was raised Roman Catholic, but never set foot in a church except for marriages. His mother was raised German Evangelical, but the horrors of going through WWII in Germany took any faith she may have received from her Church right out of her. When we married, we just decided to be the best people we could be, and not let "religion" be an issue for us.
Little did either of us realize our backgrounds (German and Jew) would foretell the next world war-our marriage. There's no room here to tell our full story, but I want to share enough to bring some hope to those of you who are having or have had problems in your marriages or family relationships. Often unresolved problems we have had in our families as children are brought into our future marriage.
Since neither of us were raised in a strongly religious family, we didn't think religion would be a big problem for us. And it wasn't until twelve years into our marriage, when I discovered, quite miraculously that Jesus was truly my Messiah! This did not come about by underhanded proselytizing or anything like that. One day I had a "knowing," or "awakening" to God's reality that was more real than anything I had ever experienced. God is awesome!
I began to attend church while my atheist husband (yes, he became an ardent atheist) did his absolute best to show me my faith was nonsense. During his attempts to destroy my new found faith, he made a big "mistake." He started reading the Bible to prove how ridiculous it was and how cruel the God of Christianity was, especially in the Old Testament. Two and a half months later, Gary found himself in love with a God he had denied for 37 years!
One would think everything would be wonderful for us now, both having in common a realization of a living, loving God. Please understand this change in our life was not a simple change of adding a church service or two per week to our routines. This "experience" with the Creator of the Universe effected our entire beings. Our whole outlook on just about everything dramatically changed. We thought we were going to experience heaven right here on earth. Well, sadly, this was far from the case. After the glorious joy in the beginning, came a split, which became a chasm, which ultimately became a canyon that seemed unbridgeable.
Initially, my husband got a much bigger dose of God's love and power. This compassion took him to people who really had a lot of serious problems in their lives, like a lice-ridden alcoholic who lived under a bridge. I was quite content confining my faith to Bible studies with the ladies and attending Bible conferences. Of course I would faithfully pray daily and even attend Church twice a week. For God's purposes, Gary was given an incredible love and compassion for people that was far more than the average Christian starts with. Along with this quite supernatural love, came some supernatural powers and experiences, not unlike those that the early Christians experienced which have been recorded in the Book of Acts in the Bible. It was quite a remarkable time, looking back on those years.
However, his zeal was just too much, not only for the children and myself, but for most of the people I attended Church with. Lice-ridden street bums just didn't fit in with upper-middle class Christian ladies and our formal Bible studies. Gary was living the Bible; most of our Christian friends and neighbors were just studying the Bible and talking about Jesus.
Reading the New Testament one can see that Jesus performed many wonderful miracles and possessed many great powers. We discover He gave some of those powers to His disciples and those who would be added to the Church in the generations to come.
Quite remarkably, there were actually people during the time He walked this earth who were offended and even angry by the fact that Jesus performed these miracles.
He called them some very "unkind" words like hypocrites, vipers, white-washed tombs, and two times the sons of Gehenna (the city dump). Jesus' power came from His compassion for the people. The religious leadership of His day (feeling their power over the people threatened) did not have the compassion they should have had as leaders of God's people. They, as many Christians today, became "self"-righteous. When this happens to God's people, whether they be Jews or Christians, they become worse than useless-they actually hinder others who are seeking God. Jesus said it something like this, "They shut up the kingdom of heaven against men for they neither go in themselves, nor do they allow those who are entering to go in." (Matthew 23:9) Gary saw that the modern Christian Church was in exactly the same condition as was Israel 1900 years ago. Jesus would have said the exact same words to the same positions of authority in the Church today. Oh, those Jews were zealous for all kinds of laws, and rituals, and their traditions were endless. (Again like many people today.) But their hearts were far from personal experiences with the living God.
Anyway, the Holy Spirit showed me personally one time, in a way I'll never forget, that thinking I was better than others because of what I did and didn't do is being self-righteous. He showed me self-righteousness to Him is uglier than what a cigarette does to the lungs of a heavy smoker. Have you ever seen a gross picture of a black lung? Could you even imagine God thinking your heart is uglier than that? He showed me that mine would be, especially if I let my judgments get in the way of His love for others. It is a life changing revelation only the Holy Spirit can give.
So many things (like our judgments) divide His creation, including "Christians," as one should see clearly having read this booklet. But what I want to leave you with is that that is not the heart of God for us. He has a heart of love like most in this world are starving for, and can not find. I have come to know for certain that only He can fill the voids, heal the hurts, and erase the loneliness deep within all of us. Christians are supposed to be this love, agape, to the world. Christians are supposed to be one big family. The Church is divided into thousands of different denominations which have actually killed one another (and still do) in the name of Christ! The general problems of the Church today (like the lack of sacrificial love) can be seen more easily by outsiders than those who have a vested interested in "their" churches. The problem inside the churches is really a manifestation of the problems on the inside of their members-problems of the heart.
First, we, His people, need to find the real Jesus. Most of us do not even know Him, much less how to really receive His love for ourselves and let it overflow to others. We have really misunderstood His heart and horribly misrepresented His character to this world. We have relied on men's teachings and not the Holy Spirit. One cannot truly reflect God if one does not really know Him intimately. No wonder the world wants to divorce themselves from us. Their problems are just magnified reflections of the problems of the Church.
As much as I know God loves us, we are in great need of a fresh revelation of Who He is, and what His plan for us and mankind is. We need to humbly turn to Him and seek His face and pray, and then He will heal us, and our land, and the nations. We need to see His heart with the eyes of His Spirit-then we will see everything and everyone differently.
Most of Israel did not recognize the Son of God when He came because He did not match up with their concept of Who He should be. I'm concerned for many Christians today because I sense that their concepts also blind them to His reality. As I said-most still don't recognize Him. You would probably be shocked by how many unkind words Gary and I get from those who espouse the name of Christ, when we declare that Jesus loves all mankind and will ultimately draw every single soul to Himself? We get the same treatment Jesus received when He healed people. They wanted to stop Him. We have had many Christian leaders and lay-people try to stop us from declaring the salvation of the whole world through Jesus Christ. This message will also bring great healing to many badly wounded hearts and relationships.
I know that nothing is impossible with God. We are doing this booklet in honor of our heavenly Father. It is because of Him that we happen to be joyfully celebrating the 25th year of our marriage! It is too much to go into all the details, but I hope it will suffice to say that God is so real that He was able to supernaturally stop us from breaking our covenant of marriage to each other. It was a miracle because everyone, including our families, friends, church counselors (who did not believe a Christian should ever get a divorce), and even we gave up on "us." But God did not. His Holy Spirit gave me a picture on the night before the papers for a legal separation were to be mailed, that showed me that my Gary, who the church thought was demonic and beyond hope, had a heart like King David. Was David a perfect man? Far from it! But he had a heart after God, and was honest with Him! The "yuck" that was between Gary and me, hid the heart that God could see, and He graciously allowed me to see Gary as He saw Him. This changed my heart towards Gary, and strengthened our hearts toward God and each other.
We learned that God does NOT ever give up. He is faithful and gave us, in His unending mercy, the faith we needed to overcome our own darkness. For what is darkness, but inability to see the light or the truth as God sees it. He caused us to see with His eyes of Love. He gave us hope that we could literally bank on.
We are PEOPLE of a GREAT HOPE FOR ALL MANKIND. We are blessed beyond measure and we seek to share that blessing by telling you the GREAT NEWS OF OUR GOD! We are learning to be filled with a love that cannot fail, for it is God, Himself.
We now understand that we, as God's awakened people, are here to help shatter the man-made imitation light of God, so that the real light of God Himself within each of us can come forth. We are all His, and we are all beloved of our Father.
Whether you have a natural father and/or mother or no family at all or have a family you feel lucky to be a part of-God really is your heavenly Father and your true family is every member of the human race! You do not have to wait until you "pass on" to find out how wonderful a close relationship with a perfect Father can be. You can experience it now, here, on this side of the grave, or you can remain a coward, and/or selfish, and miss the pleasures of knowing and bringing God's love to the earth. We all need Him in order to be complete! If you feel any desire to know Who He really is, then ask Him with all of your heart to reveal Himself to you. If you seek Him with all of your heart, you will find Him. (Jer. 29:13.) It is His promise to all of us. When Jesus laid down His life for us, He knew that His (our) Father had the power to raise Him up again. He knew the real plan of God. After this happened, He sent His Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us into all truth. It is never too late to get real with God. What are you waiting for?
Immanuel means God with us. When we truly from the heart are able to love everyone on this earth with His love, then all will see "Immanuel" with us. He wants us to see everyone as He sees them-His own children whom He loves dearly enough have to given His life for. Only eyes of love can see this. Only those whose hearts have been delivered from all fears and traditions of men can hold this kind of love. Do not let men and women who do not know Him , tell you about God or what they think the Bible says. Let the Holy Spirit teach you. Let the Holy Spirit remove the "yuck" that blinds you from letting God's love flow to yourself and others.
Christians are nothing in and of ourselves except when God moves through us. Let us all, Christian or Jew, or any other religion or even the atheist and agnostic-let us give Him our "self"-righteousness in exchange for His eyes of Love-a love that will first cleanse the recipient that he might become a receptacle of a never ending love which is poured out to all peoples of this earth. The Jewish and Christian Bibles both prophesy that all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Wouldn't you like to be part of the deliverance of that blessing? It is for that purpose that we were formed and called. We are one family in Him. It's time for the world to know His Peace.
The written Word of God says we are to praise Him. It is an effortless and delightful task once we get to really know Him. Please do not let your pride or the teachings of other men and women limit Who He is. Find out for yourself. We have hope for you from on high. Glory be to God, our Father, the HOPE of the World!
A final word for the Christian reader: The message of this book is usually easily accepted by those who have not yet come into the household of the faith. But as I said, some Christians are very offended by this message. Some, using human reasoning, say that if Jesus saves everyone, then why not live as you want? We can sin all we want and it won't make a bit of difference. Hitler won't get punished and neither will Charles Manson, so go ahead and do whatever you want to do. It doesn't matter. They say this message makes the cross of Christ worthless-the "Great Commission" becomes a joke.
It is sad to say, but true, that Christians who reason this way reveal that their hearts are far from being full of the sacrificial love of Christ. It is clear they are "serving" God to get something in return, that is, they want something for their service that others, who have not put in the same amount of time or money will not receive. Their reasoning proves that while they may say salvation is a free gift that one cannot earn, the fact of the matter is, they are trusting in their perceived good works to get themselves a little closer to Jesus than those who have not sacrificed as much as they have.
True "sacrificial love" gives and expects nothing in return. The Christian who reasons like the one above certainly expects a return for his or her investment of time and money. This is not the love of Christ. This is the "self"-righteousness which blinds all of us, regardless of which religion we belong to.
A Christian truly filled with the love of Christ delights in giving of the goodness of the kingdom of God. They are filled with joy when they see a brother and sister restored to the heavenly Father. They do not want anything in return for this labor because they know it is God's doing, not their own. The joy of seeing a member of their family restored is reward enough.
On the Cross of Christ, Jesus said He paid for all the sins of the world. Those who seek to keep some of the people of the world out of heaven, are actually the ones who despise the Cross of Christ. Will you deny to Christ what He has already purchased? What greater glory could one bestow upon Christ than declaring that His Powerful Love overcame all evil and sin in the world? To deny this is to bring shame to the cross. No, my friends, the message of the salvation of all mankind does not nullify the cross, it brings to light the fullness of what was accomplished there. "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth will draw (drag in the Greek) all mankind unto Myself." (John 12:32) The wages of sin, according to the Bible, is death, not everlasting torture. In Christ's death all mankind is "imputed" the righteous life which the Messiah lived while here on earth, just as death which is nothing more than spiritual separation from God, was "imputed" to all mankind in the first Adam. The second Adam (Jesus Christ) has undone everything which has caused the miseries which come about when mankind has lost its relationship with God. Here is the drawing power of true sacrificial love-it leaves no one out!
The world, and the church, are crying out for "justice." Many say that justice will not be served by so great a pardon. People like Hitler will not get what they deserve, here again, the one reasoning like this reveals their lack of understanding of the Scriptures and their lack of sacrificial love. Salvation is not about what one deserves; it is about the mercy of God-about a God Who loved us while we were yet sinners and gave Himself a ransom for us while we were His enemies. It is about a God's who pours out the rain on the just and the unjust; it is about a Love which conquers His enemies by His very nature-an all consuming fire of sacrificial love that would express itself in its purest form on the Tree of Crucifixion. "For God so loved, that He gave..." (John 3:16)
When this Love begins to be perfected in a Christian, we will begin to manifest God's love. When a Christian's love begins to maturate they no longer serve or give to get something in return, they serve because they have been conformed to the Servant of servants, Jesus Christ, Who gave His life out of His nature of a selfless love. Born first into a Jewish family, I am being softened enough to see that even Hitler needs salvation. If he knew God's true love, he could not have done what he did. But he saw no examples of it. It was not easy for God to show me that Hitler needs the same medicine we all need-mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Surely I didn't deserve His mercy. Neither does Hitler. No, God is not "fair." He is more than fair! Where there is a need, Sacrificial Love seeks to satisfy. It is like water. It naturally seeks the lowest place on earth. So too, the Love of God seeks to replace the darkest and most evil places in the hearts of mankind. Come Lord Jesus and fill your Creation with your Love where ther is neither "Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female," (Galatians 3:28). Where we are all one big family forming a new Creations, a New World delivered from the bondage of corruption which has divided us for thousands of years. I have found the peace the world so longs for. The Hope of us all lies in the Father of us all. In His time, we hope you will seek Him and see for yourself these Truths. Amen.