Further thinking led me to write the following short essay this morning, also posted at Abovetopsecret.com.
The Gospel (Good News) According to Laz
It all begins, literally, with Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning [time] God [intelligence] created [energy] the heaven [space] and the earth [matter]. Besides having the things with which science is concerned, time, energy, space, matter, and intelligence, stated from the start, we see this very important omission, for God's Word should be read, not only for what it says, but for what it does NOT say. It does not mention the creation of Hell – quite an omission if Hell actually exists. No, He only made the heaven and the earth. Thus, the creation is a hierarchy, God, heaven, earth, man – not a dualistic Heaven versus Hell with man as a prey between them. I see this as good news.
If there is a Hell, and if most of humanity will end there forever, as so many preachers say, God is not being honest with us. But wait – Jesus said in John 14:2 "…if it were not so, I would have told you." Therefore, I take Genesis 1:1 at face value: God did not make Hell. Now in John 1:3, we see that if God didn't make Hell, then no one else did either: "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." Bring all the theological arguments to bear that you care to, quote all the proof texts you know – there is no getting around this: God didn't make Hell, and no else did. I see this as good news too.
If there is no Hell to go to, there is only Heaven (aka, the Kingdom of God). But how? Paul tells us, in I Timothy 4:10 "…we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe." It is good to be a believer, but Paul, the apostle who never wrote of Hell, is saying that ALL are saved. Saved! Maybe not at this moment, maybe not in this life, maybe after being tossed into the Lake of Fire, but every last human will walk those streets of gold – eventually – and that's good news!
Revelation 20:13 & 14 tell us that death and hell (the grave would be a better translation) give up their dead, and some are cast into the Lake of Fire – death and the grave are also tossed in. This is called the Second Death, but Revelation 22:15, at the very end of the Bible, describes the unholy still skulking outside the New Jerusalem. Are you confused? Me too, but let's look ahead to "…the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father…he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:24 – 26) At the end of the Revelation, Jesus is still reigning, but at the "end" Jesus gives the rulership back to His Father. At this time, death is destroyed. I ask you, how can anyone be dead at this point, let alone, in Hell? It cannot be, and that is good news!
The ultimate outcome comes quickly in I Corinthians 15:28, which states that all things are subject to Jesus, and Jesus is subject to the Father, so that "…God may be All in all." As I stated about death, if God is going to become All in all, how can anyone, even one person, be dead and/or in Hell then? It cannot be – and that is the Gospel according to Laz.