Friday, July 28, 2017

Pretending Evil Doesn't Exist

Truths We Believe About God, Part 10

A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s book, Lies We Believe About God

Part 1: Truths We Believe About God 
Part 2: Doing the Universalist Twist 
Part 3: OUR Way or THE Way? 
Part 4: An Imaginary Cosmic Reality 
Part 5: Universalism & Trinitization 
Part 6: A Catena: The Chain of “All”
Part 7: A Catena: Universalism's Troubles With “All 
Part 8: A Catena: Universalism's “World” and “Everyone” 
Part 9: A Catena: The “Catenization” of Universalism  

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn
Electric barbed wire at Dachau
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord,
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven;
but he that doeth the will
of my Father which is in heaven.”

—Jesus, Matthew 7:21, Emphasis added.

A Review of the Book's Chapters, Concluded
“A Final Word from Dietrich Bonhoeffer” and Acknowledgments

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 
Paul Young concludes his book by drawing upon the emotional memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) who has achieved iconic status among evangelicals. Bonhoeffer is to be admired for opposing the evil of the Reich and paying the ultimate sacrifice for his resistance. But as Young’s quotations from Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics indicate, he apparently believed in universal salvation.[104] (LWBAG, 249-250) As William Macleod assessed:

Bonhoeffer was a universalist, believing in the eventual salvation of all. He wrote that there is no part of the world, no matter how godless, which is not accepted by God and reconciled with God in Jesus Christ. Whoever looks on the body of Jesus Christ in faith can no longer speak of the world as if it were lost, as if it were separated from Christ. Every individual will eventually be saved in Christ.[105]

The soteriology (teaching about salvation) articulated by Wm. Paul Young and C. Baxter Kruger (that Jesus’ incarnation revealed His primordial identification with humanity, that all people were positioned in Him before creation, LWBAG, 9-10, 119) bears similarity to that of Bonhoeffer’s; that people are saved not because Jesus atoned for their sins on the cross, but rather that from before time they shared being in union with Christ. Thus Jesus’ incarnation becomes a cosmic announcement of His identification with humanity and their salvation for reason of their being in Him.

Ignoring the Fall, the entrance of sin into the world and the curse upon creation (Genesis 3:1-7, 17-19; Romans 5:18-21), universalists believe the incarnation was the event which shows that from eternity all humanity was, is and forever will be united with Jesus inside the Trinity. Jesus’ incarnation and suffering highlighted His identification with humanity and that corporately, they shared in Jesus’ suffering, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. The incarnation was the event in which God wrapped His arms around humans to remind them that they’re not alone in a suffering universe, but that they really do live, move and have their being inside Jesus and the loving Trinity (Acts 17:28). Hugs all around! To quote Macleod again,

Indeed Bonhoeffer [ed., as Young and Kruger] would argue that we are saved by the incarnation—Christ taking our nature—rather than by His atoning death. He taught that in the body of Jesus Christ, God is united with humanity, all of humanity is accepted by God, and the world is reconciled with God.[106]

Curious it is however, that Bonhoeffer’s belief in universalism did not translate into the reality of his earthly ministry. As the apostate Reich Church began to dominate Germany, many pastors believed Adolf Hitler was another Christ. So opposing that church, Bonhoeffer established a seminary to train pastors to minister in congregations that shunned the Reich Church. This seminary, the ministerial alliance and these congregations belonged to the “Confessing Church” and opposed and separated from the Nazi religion.[107] Bonhoeffer’s separation from the Reich Church may indicate he was not the universalist some make him out to have been. Nevertheless when good confronts evil, subtle or blatant, “life together” does become impractical; that is, if evil is still going to be considered evil.

The Nuremburg Trials (1945-1949) during which Nazi villains were prosecuted bear this out. Human courts, lawyers and judges did not prosecute those accused of crimes against humanity because they did good but because they committed evil. Good and evil are not mutually acceptable in courts of law. So if evil and good do not belong together in history then neither will they exist together in eternity. Love does not provide cover for evil by pretending evil never existed. God, if He’s just and demands fair play in life, can’t just smooth evil over. That’s why, like it or not, the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross was necessary and why there’s a heaven on the one hand and a hell on the other. 

Sometime ago I viewed a cable TV talk show (The O’Reilly Factor) in which the host—in the context of the controversy raised by the publication of Rob Bell’s book Love Wins—interviewed a pastor and psychologist-counselor who like Bell believed in universal salvation; that in the afterlife, no eternal reality will exist called Hell. The dialog took place as follows:

Pastor McKinney: “No, I don’t believe in a literal Hell. I think it’s a historical and theological mistake.”
Bill O’Reilly: “Do you believe in a literal Heaven?”
McKinney: “Ah (smiling contentedly and assuredly), I do!”
O’Reilly: “Okay, so that means you’re going to see Adolph up there. Say hello to him for me, ’cause I got to tell you, I don’t want to be anywhere near him.”[108] 
As evident from that exchange, it can be seen that the idea of universal reconciliation conflicts with the sense of fair play residing in the human conscience (Romans 2:15). So while Young calls the passages from Bonhoeffer “a” final word, we can rest assured that the paragraphs are not “the” last word. That word belongs to neither Young nor Bonhoeffer, but to God, and He has already spoken that word in His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Further, by diminishing the cross of Christ as a necessary component of the Gospel (“that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3) a question needs to be asked: Do not universalists, who believe and teach that everybody’s saved, reveal they are in fact “enemies of the cross” of Christ? (Philippians 3:18)? After all, who needs the cross if everybody’s going to heaven anyway? In the next verse in the same context the Apostle adds about teachers whose faith and life do not jive with the Apostolic message and example, that “[their] end is destruction... [their] God is their belly, and [their] glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Philippians 2:19). In that Young and Kruger preach a salvation that’s earth-centric—that everything’s inside the Trinity—does this not indicate they’re minding earthly things?

  • Young: Young tells readers that his book Lies We Believe About God, “is built on Christology, the question of who Jesus Christ is.” He adds that, “most of the lies we believe about God” stem from “inadequate and often pathetic apprehensions of the Person of Jesus.” He concludes that because we might “believe, sadly, in a very small Jesus, our view of humanity is even smaller.” (LWBAG, 251) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him [Jesus], and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things 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; see Ephesians 1:21; compare Hebrews 2:9.). 

Comments: Think universally! Think big! Even though they seldom call Him Christ or the Lord Jesus Christ, Young and those who believe in universal reconciliation claim to honor a “big” Jesus—“Our Jesus is bigger than your Jesus!” So everyone who doesn’t believe in universalism is ridiculed as pathetically believing in a “small” Jesus. I assure you the Apostle Paul, as the above Philippians quote attests, neither believed in a small Jesus nor in universal salvation! In fact about his brethren the Jews he wrote in deep sorrow of heart: “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). Furthermore, other Prophets and Apostles of the Bible (Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 16:16; etc.), and for that matter Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:18), did not believe in universal reconciliation.

As has been noted previously,

one can observe that in Wm. Paul Young's novel, The Shack, Jesus is never referred to as Christ or Lord....  [W]e ought all remember that “no one can say, Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). If we should find a deficiency within us making it difficult to refer to Jesus as “Lord” there may be an indication of a deeper problem going on within our souls....[109]

Let me say at this juncture, I will choose to believe the Apostle's testimony about the Lord Jesus Christ rather than Paul Young's about Jesus.

Berlin, 1945

To be concluded . . .

[104] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1995). Many evangelicals deny that when considered in their totality, Bonhoeffer’s writings indicate he was a universalist. At the time of his death, His Ethics was a work in progress and perhaps not what he intended to have published. Eberhard Bethge, the editor of Ethics, wrote that the book, “is a compilation of the sections which have been preserved, some of them complete and others not, some already partly rewritten and some which had been committed to writing only as preliminary studies for the work which was planned.” (p. 11). As has been pointed out, Bonhoeffer’s actions toward the Reich in life contradicted his belief in universalism. Nevertheless, whether accurate about what he believed or not, Bonhoeffer’s words remain, and Young thereby seeks Bonhoeffer’s support for his universalism.
[105] William Macleod, “Bonhoeffer—A Reliable Guide?” Banner of Truth, September 23, 2016 ( Macleod acknowledges his summary of Bonhoeffer’s theology was indebted to “The Troubling Truth About Bonhoeffer’s Theology,” by Richard Weikart, Christian Research Journal, Volume 35, Number 06 (2012). 
[106] Ibid. 
[107] Mark and Barbara Galli, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Did You Know?” Christian History, Issue 32 (
[108] Personally transcribed from You Tube, Bill O’Reilly, “Is there a Hell?” O’Reilly Factor, April 26, 2011. Interview can be viewed on You Tube. (
[109] Pastor Larry DeBruyn, "Jesus Talk," Guarding His Flock Ministries, April 19, 2010 (

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The “Catenization” of Universalism

Truths We Believe About God, Part 9

A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s book, Lies We Believe About God  

Part 1: Truths We Believe About God 
Part 2: Doing the Universalist Twist 
Part 3: OUR Way or THE Way? 
Part 4: An Imaginary Cosmic Reality 
Part 5: Universalism & Trinitization 
Part 6: A Catena: The Chain of “All” 
Part 7: A Catena: Universalism's Troubles With “All
Part 8: A Catena: Universalism's “World” and “Everyone” 

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

A Review of the Book’s Chapters

A Conclusion About Young's A Catena  
Paul Young’s A Catena exhibits thirty-four Scripture passages to support and promote among Christians his belief in universal salvation, especially those persons who reside within the spectrum of pan-evangelicalism. “I have listed a chain of scriptures, a catena, that relate directly to this conversation.” (LWBAG, 119) Note: Young calls his “chain of scriptures” (plural) A Catena when more accurately it should be titled A Catenae (Lat. plural.). If Young is intentionally using the collective singular (Catena) , then it must be concluded that the singular verses in his A Catena are to be chanted or meditated upon together as a collective unit, in one long chain; i.e., a narrative. In other words, it is a package deal. In order to describe this process, I have coined the word Catenization:

The “Whole, Every, Cosmos and Other” Passages (29-34)

The “Whole” Passage 

29. 1 John 2:2 (Berean Study Bible, emphasis Young’s): 
“He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.” 

Prevalent in the ancient world was the belief that the gods were offended, and that the sacrificial rite would “atone” for the offense. In short, sacrifices to the gods were the way ancient people sought to appease their gods so that they would become kindly disposed toward them. Leon Morris wrote that, “In the ancient world the universal religious rite was sacrifice. All over that world people offered animals on their altars, trusting that their gods would accept their sacrifices and that their sins would be forgiven.”[91] In her national life in that ancient pagan world, Yahweh ordered Israel to annually observe the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16-17). The idea of “atonement” is rooted not only in the sacrificial systems of the Gentile peoples, but also by the Law God gave to Israel. But does John’s use of the word “atonement” (Greek hilasmos) in this verse to describe Jesus’ death—that He died not for our sins only but for the sins of the whole world—communicate that all humanity is therefore saved? Again the answer is, “No!”

Though Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, the whole world is not of consequence saved. John’s Gospel clearly communicated that the benefit of Jesus’ atonement applies only to those who, as Jesus stated, exercise acceptance by faith; that “whosoever believeth should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). In his last testimony about Jesus, John the Baptist bore witness to Jesus as follows: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). So what does it mean that Jesus’ death was atonement for the sins of the whole world?

Disregarding the debate as to whether the atonement’s scope is limited (Calvinism—Jesus died only for God’s elect) or unlimited (Arminianism—Jesus died for everybody), I believe that there’s another sense in which “the atonement for the sins of the whole world” can be understood (1 John 2:2); and this against the backdrop of all the sacrificial systems prevalent in the ancient world, including Israel’s. It is this: Jesus’ “once-for-all” atonement is the only sacrifice by which people may find atoning forgiveness for their sins from God! No more sacrifices, animal or human, need be to offered by any people anywhere to obtain forgiveness. Completed in the Son, God accepts no other atonement for sin other than Jesus’. Exclusively, His atonement is for the whole world. As Jesus is “the only way” to come to the Father, so Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross is “the only basis” upon which people can find forgiveness for their sins from the Father. So this atonement statement (See also 1 John 4:10) not only forbids any continuance of sacrifices, but also sends a message that both syncretism (an ecumenical system that tries to combine—synthesize—all religions into one) and pluralism (there are many—plural—paths leading to God) are wrong, both of which Wm. Paul Young espouses (The Shack, 182). As Dick Lucas insightfully wrote:

Christians have always confessed that there is but one God; they have also found themselves in loyalty bound to confess that there is but one way to that God, the God-man Christ Jesus. He alone is the God-given mediator. God has made him the agent of reconciliation for all just because there is no other mediator capable of reconciling any.[92]

The “Every” Passages 

30. Philippians 2:10-11 (NASB, emphasis Young’s): 
“At the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 

In the transition between time and eternity, all the glory in the universe will pass through the Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. All “things celestial, and terrestrial, and subterranean” will “bow to the imperium [Lat. command, ed.] of the exalted Jesus.”[93] All beings in heaven are worshipping the Lord now and when resurrected, all persons living, whether believers, skeptics, agnostics, atheists, rebels or unbelievers will kneel, bow and publically confess, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” That every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord is understood by Paul Young to imply that in the end everyone in the universe will abruptly become fond of Jesus, choose relationship with Him and be saved. But one blunt statement in Philippians, as do others in Paul’s letters, contradicts such an assumption.

The Apostle exhorts the Philippians to follow his Christian example and teaching but grievously warns the congregation about those who neither follow his behavior nor preach the true Gospel.

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
—Philippians 3:17-19, Emphasis added.
Questions: Will these “enemies of the cross of Christ” who “mind earthy things,” whose “glory is their shame,” whose “God is their belly,” and whose “end is destruction” be saved? Will these enemies who now despise the cross of Christ suddenly become enamored with the cross and be reconciled to God? Will their confession “Jesus Christ is Lord” be rendered because they suddenly morph to love the cross? (“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:18.). Will these “worldlings,” these false teachers and their followers, have an after-death break-though experience when they abruptly change from being enemies of the cross to being friends of the cross?

That’s what Young would have us believe, and he advocates this interpretation despite dogmatically stating that if the Son’s Father “originated the Cross... we worship a cosmic abuser.” (LWBAG, 149) In my thinking, if people are not “fond” of the cross now, they will not become “fond” of it in the end. Motyer summarizes the submission of everyone to the Lord Jesus Christ like this:

[A] confession made for the first time in response to the visible manifestation of his glory will not be a saving confession, but a grudging acknowledgement wrested by overmastering divine power from lips still as unbelieving as they were through their whole earthly experience. All will submit, all will confess, but not all will be saved.[94]

31. Revelation 5:13 (Holman CSB, emphasis Young’s): 
“I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say: Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” 

Again Young interprets “every creature” to include without exception every human who ever lived. The problem with “cherry picking” this biblical text to support a scenario of universal/redemption/salvation is that Young’s “picking” ignores other contradictory passages in Revelation. Because these statements conflict with what Young considers Lies We Believe About God—“You need to get saved.”; “Hell is separation from God.”; “Not everyone is a child of God.”; “Sin separates us from God.”—the author gives no mention of these contradictory passages. So while choosing a verse he twists to support his universalism, he ignores other statements in Revelation which do not support his hope that in the eschatological end every human being will wind up in heaven. Yet Revelation clearly identifies unrepentant sinners who will not reside in the eternal city. These examples are offered:
  • And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)
  • For without [the New Jerusalem] are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:15)
  • But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8) 

The Apostle Paul also lists sins, which when persisted in and not repented of, disqualify people from life in “the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21).

Please note: The passages cited above do not teach salvation by works. Rather they characterize the lifestyles of people who are aliens either from God’s kingdom now or to come (John 3:3, 5; Matthew 25:34). We Christians can number ourselves among those who commit sin, but by God’s grace have been forgiven of it. To the Corinthians the Apostle Paul explained, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of out God” (Emphasis added, 1 Corinthians 6:11). The Gospel gives no room for self-righteous people to get into heaven, but only those who submit to and receive the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). As Dr. Walvoord described:

Obviously many will be in heaven who before their conversions were indeed guilty of these sins [Revelation 21:8] but who turned from them in the day of grace in trusting Christ as their Savior. Though works are the evidence of salvation or lack of it, they are never the basis or ground of it.[95]

As someone once put it, three surprises await us in heaven. First, some people we expected to be there will not be there. Second, others we did not expect to see there will be there. And finally, “Surprise!” we’re there.

The “Cosmos” Passage 

31. 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NIV/Greek NT, emphasis Young’s): 
“For God was in Christ reconciling the cosmos to Himself, not counting their sins against them.” 

Young does not accurately quote the NIV. He uses the preposition “For” when NIV translations read either “For in Christ” or “that God.” Scholars debate how the comparative particle plus the subordinating conjunction (Greek particle hos + conjunction hoti) should be understood. Various English versions reflect this: “to wit” KJV, ASV; “that is” NKJV, NRSV, ESV, HCSB; “namely” NASB; “that” or “for” (NIV); not translated (NCV); “for” NLT; “how that” Young’s Literal Translation, Darby; “our message is” TEV. But these versions share one thing in common: they suggest that verse 19 defines the message of reconciliation (as also verse 21) which ministry God delegated to the Apostles and the Apostles to the church (i.e., “us” and “we,” verses, 18b, 19b, and 20). The delegated message of reconciliation is this: God “was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses sins against them,” (NASB), and God “hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (1 Corinthians 5:21). This message therefore demanded the apostolic command: “be reconciled to God” (1 Corinthians 5:20).

Now based upon God’s commission of the Apostle and his urgent appeal for the church to declare this “word (i.e., logos) of reconciliation,” a question arises. If everybody’s reconciled to God, why did the Apostle make this appeal to the church—“we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God”? (2 Corinthians 2:20, NKJV). In Young’s scheme of universal reconciliation, everybody’s either actual or potential friends with God anyway. Is the appeal to be reconciled really just an announcement to the cosmos that God was “not counting their sins against them,” end of story? By including this verse in his A Catena about the salvation of the cosmos Young apparently desires to communicate to his readers that this is just an announcement, not appeal.

To shed some light on Paul Young’s belief about reconciliation, we look at a conversation in The Shack between Papa and Mack. Crossing her arms on the table, Papa leans forward and says to him, “Honey, you asked me what Jesus did on the cross; so now listen to me carefully: through his death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the world.” (The Shack, 192) Fully reconciled Elousia told Mack, as if there was/is no further obligation on the part of people to believe and be reconciled to God. So what’s all this ambassadorial “appealing” and “begging” and “ordering” people to “be reconciled to God” about? Why such urgency on the part of the Apostle if in the grand cosmic scheme of redemption everybody’s already saved?

In a later conversation with Mack, Papa tells him, “In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.” (Emphasis mine, The Shack, 225) “Be reconciled” is reduced from an urgent appeal to be saved into a mild nudging for the Corinthians to choose relationship with God. That he invites humanity into “relationship” negates any thinking that Jesus’ atonement was either penal or substitutionary, thus softening Young’s inference that any God demanding the Cross is a “cosmic abuser” and unworthy of worship. (LWBAG, 149) In Young’s scheme of salvation it’s more important for God to be subjectively reconciled to man than it is for man to be objectively reconciled to God. If Young is right, then any urgency to command “be reconciled to God” can be dismissed. This reduces the understanding of Christ’s atonement and sacrifice to be mystically and morally inspirational, a divine nudge for people to choose “relationship” with God.

About Young’s use of the word cosmos to suggest that all humanity is redeemed-reconciled to God, Colin Kruse makes this distinction: “It [the word cosmos] hardly applies to the created order, as the trespasses involved are those of humanity, and it is difficult to see it applying extensively to every individual human being, because elsewhere Paul clearly implies that the sins of unbelievers are and shall be counted against them (cf. Rom. 1:18-32; 2:5-11; Eph. 5:3-6; Col 3:5-6).”[96] Philip E. Hughes adds that, “This should not be understood in the sense of an indiscriminate universalism....”[97]

In making forgiveness one-sided, Paul Young makes God, being the bigger person He is, to be the one who needed to forgive sinful human beings so that they might be inspired to choose “relationship” with Him. But as James Denney (1856-1915) pointed out in his classic work The Death of Christ,

Where reconciliation is spoken of in St. Paul, the subject is always God, and the object is always man. The work of reconciling is one in which the initiative is taken by God, and the cost borne by Him; men are reconciled in the passive, or allow themselves to be reconciled, or receive reconciliation. We never read that God has been reconciled.[98]

“Other” Passages 

33. Ephesians 2:8-9 (Aramaic Bible/Greek NT): 
“For by grace we have been saved through faith, and this [faith] is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast.” 

After the pronoun “this,” Paul Young inserts the word “faith” in brackets suggesting that “faith” is “a gift of God” and not like Abraham sourced in a believer’s heart (Genesis 15:6). Young interprets this verse like a deterministic hyper-Calvinist. So the question becomes, is a believer’s faith irrelevant to salvation? In fatalistic theologies like hyper-Calvinism or universal reconciliation-ism, faith becomes unnecessary because either God gives faith to some, or as in Young’s belief system, He gives faith to everybody.

Young cites a version of Ephesians 2:9, he claims to derive from the Aramaic Bible/Greek New Testament. By inserting “faith” in brackets after “this,” naïve readers, under the appearance of scholarly interpretation, will think that the pronoun and bracketed defining noun are grammatically related, that “this” is explained by “faith.” Young’s bracketed insertion means to suggest that Young finds reason for his interpretation in the Aramaic Bible and New Testament’s original language, Greek. But it does not.

Koine Greek: the lingua franca
From the about the 6th to 5th centuries BC onward Aramaic (an ancient Semitic language with characters similar to Hebrew) became the lingua franca of the ancient world. Ancient peoples used Aramaic to conduct commerce. Part of Daniel and Ezra were written in Aramaic. Likely, John the Baptist and Jesus spoke it. Though Jesus’ original sayings may also have been preserved in Hebrew/Aramaic, the New Testament Scriptures were written in common (koine) Greek, the new lingua franca of the Roman Empire. But scholars claim to find influences from Hebrew (called Hebraisms) and Aramaic (called Aramaisms) in the Greek New Testament. Those findings though suggestive, can be subjective. Nevertheless, the extant manuscripts of the New Testament were written in Koine Greek (i.e., common Greek as opposed to Classical Greek). Though written in a “rugged and vigorous koine,” the Apostle Paul’s letters appear “marked throughout by his close acquaintance with the LXX [the Greek translation of the Old Testament which appeared in 70 B.C., ed.] and by his native Aramaic.”[99] But that acquaintance does not change the grammar of Koine Greek. I raise this issue because Young cites the Aramaic Bible as if it bears upon the interpretation (i.e., exegesis) of this verse when it does not. So we turn to Greek grammar to see whether or not the noun “faith” defines the pronoun “this.” Is faith the gift of God? 

The pronoun “this” (touto, neuter gender) does not agree in gender with either the nouns “faith” (pistis, feminine) or “gift” (charis, feminine). This grammatical fact marks Young’s equating of the pronoun “this” to the noun “faith” questionable. Dr. Daniel Wallace states that, “On the grammatical level, then, it is doubtful that either ‘faith’ or ‘grace’ is the antecedent of touto.”[100] So lacking gender agreement, what then could the neuter pronoun “this” refer to? Does the context provide a better option? Agreeing with a host of other scholars, Professor Dr. Harold Hoehner (1935-2009) preferred that, “Rather than any particular word it is best to conclude that touto refers back to the preceding section.”[101] (Wallace calls this a “conceptual antecedent.”)[102] In the preceding section (Ephesians 2:4-7) the Apostle Paul states that “when we were dead in our transgressions” God in His mercy did three things for us: 1. He “made us alive together with Christ”; 2. He “raised us up with” Christ; and 3. He “seated us... in the heavenly places” with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5-6). So as regards salvation’s security and hope for heaven we’re as good as “there.” Here is there! The pronoun “this” can be interpreted as generally referring to the whole “package” of God’s gracious works for us—making us alive, raising us up, and seating in heavenly places in Christ. These gracious acts of mercy, not faith, are the gift. The recurrent statement “by grace you have been saved” verse 5 and “by grace you have been saved” verse 8, ties the section together (Ephesians 2:4-10). The whole described package of salvation is wrapped in grace. Now there’s a Christmas gift to believers! As regards Young’s implication that this verse inferences universal salvation, Hoehner wrote:

Whereas “grace” is the objective cause or basis of salvation, “through faith” is the subjective means by which one is saved. This is important, for the salvation that was purchased by Christ’s death is universal in its provision, but it is not universal in its application. One is not automatically saved because Christ died, but one is saved when one puts trust in God’s gracious provision.[103]

Further, thinking that faith is a gift disregards the Apostle Paul’s quotation that personally and actively, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3, 9; See also Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23.). God’s word was the objective stimulus of Abraham’s faith (If God had not spoken to Abraham he would not have been justified.) while Abraham’s faithful response was counted by God unto him for righteousness (See 1 Thessalonians 2:13.).

34. Romans 8:38-39 (ESV): 
“For I am convinced [ESV “sure”] that neither death, [ESV no comma] nor life, nor angels nor principalities [ESV “rulers”], nor things present, [ESV no comma] nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, [ESV no comma] nor depth, nor any other created thing [ESV “nor anything else in all creation”], will be able to separate us from the love of God, [ESV no comma] which is [ESV no “which is”] in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

In comparing my copy of the English Standard Version to Young’s above quotation of it, I observed discrepancies which are marked by bracketed inserts. For comparison purposes, my ESV copy reads:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, ESV) 

Without any notice, Young’s citation appears to conflate the ESV with other translations and their punctuations, most noticeably the King James Version and the New American Standard Bible. Though he documents to readers that it is, Young’s citation is not strictly from the ESV. Now we turn to the question, do these “no separation” verses teach universalism?

We notice first the objective pronoun “us” and the possessive pronoun “our.” Nothing shall be “able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Can the meaning of these personal pronouns of address be expanded to refer to everybody in the world? Is there no distinction say... between Christian and non-Christian (i.e., Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, or even nominal Christians, etc.)? As Christ Jesus is “our Lord,” is He also everybody’s Lord? I don’t think so! One can only believe these verses teach universalism by warping the pronouns to mean something other than “us” or “our.” By the way, in this section of the Romans letter, the personal pronouns “we” occur thirty-eight times, “us” eleven times, and “our” nine times. By what arbitrary leap of faith, if language means anything at all, can such pronouns be transformed into meaning everybody. While this section of Romans makes mention of unbelievers, it was not written to them but to believing Christians. The following statements bear this out. Dear readers, about these quotations from Romans ask, “Do they unlimitedly refer to everybody alive or limitedly refer to believers who are alive to God in Christ?”
  • “Consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). 
  • “Sin shall not be master over you” (Romans 6:14). 
  • “Having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit... the outcome of eternal life” (Romans 6:22). 
  • “But now we have been released from the Law... so that we serve in newness of the Spirit” (Romans 7:6). 
  • “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1). 
  • “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9). 
  • “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). 
  • “The Spirit... intercedes for all the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27). 

From these statements in Romans chapters six through eight, it’s obvious that the chapters and the two closing verses sloppily quoted by Young to support universalism, apply to believers who are spiritually alive in Christ as distinct from unbelievers who are spiritually dead in the world (See Romans 1:18-3:18). To say otherwise, obliterates the obvious.

A Conclusion About A Catena 
Paul Young intends for his A Catena to feign massive Scriptural support for universal reconciliation which it in fact does not. For those who might not believe that Young is promoting the salvation of everybody, what he states to readers in exposing a lie “You need to get saved.” is here repeated:

Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? 
That is exactly what I am saying! 
This is real good news! (LWBAG, 118) 

That Young views his amplified gospel to be “real” good news, implies that the New Testament gospel is just “good news.” Young doesn’t really believe “3:16.” The Apostolic Gospel is not like Young’s apostate gospel, and believers must understand that his message as such, is “accursed!” (Galatians 1:6-9; See 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.) Because the Apostle Paul placed other apostate gospels (i.e., health, wealth and now universalism) under a ban, believers are to have nothing to do with Young’s gospel. Disappointing it is to see that much of pan-evangelicalism reads the book or watches the movie, The Shack, with no regard for anything other than the good vibes they get from them (See Jeremiah 23:16-17.). If people really believe what they are reading and seeing, it appears that universalism is building to become the next wave within the evangelical movement, and devoted souls will either catch this wave and ride it or get “left behind.”
(Mesmer, who developed Mesmerism,
an induced hypnotic-like
altered state of consciousness*)

Because Young advises reading his A Catena aloud with gravitas, suggests he believes that such a ceremonial recitation of the verses will enhance the meaning of the written Word he errantly quotes. Sound becomes more important than substance (“OM....”).  Perhaps Young intends for the gravitas to mesmerize* readers into accepting the error he is teaching. Fact is, not one of the thirty-four verses he “catenizes” teaches universal reconciliation. Young might wish and hope they do, but they don’t.

Some of you might question, well what’s wrong with reading the Scriptures aloud? (By the way, this contemplative activity is known by the Latin words lectio divina, reading sacred things.) Don’t pastors do it all the time? The error lies in the intent as well as the content of the various Bible versions Young conflates and cites. Intent is determinative. Are the Scriptures being read aloud by sound to support God's truth or promote the Devil's error? In tempting Jesus the Devil may have quoted Scripture with gravitas, but he assigned meanings to his narrative that the Old Testament Scriptures did and do not possess (Matthew 4:1-11). And that is what Paul Young is doing with his A Catena. The Apostle Peter states that like the Devil, false teachers “wrest” (KJV, ASV), “distort” (NASB), “falsely explain” (NCV) or “twist (NKJV, NRSV) Scriptures to say what their words do not communicate. Young believes occurrences of words like “all... every, etc.,” teach universalism. But not one of these passages in his A Catena... let it be repeated, not one of these passages when considered semantically, grammatically, syntactically, and contextually support universalism; that everybody’s saved. For sound exegetical reasons I conclude that Young’s A Catena does not support universal salvation at all. Let A Catena be anathema!

[91] Leon Morris, New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986): 73. 
[92] R.C. Lucas, The Message of Colossians & Philemon: The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1980): 57-58. 
[93] Handley C. G. Moule, Philippian Studies: Lessons in Faith and Love (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, n.d.): 96. 
[94] J.A. Motyer, The Message of Philippians: The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1984): 122. 
[95] John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” Bible Knowledge Commentary: 2, 985. 
[96] Colin G. Kruse, The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987): 127. 
[97] Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962): 208. 
[98] James Denney, The Death of Christ (Minneapolis, MN: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, Inc., 1982 Reprint): 103. Hafemann points out, “Reconciliation is God’s initiative and God’s work.” But then explains that “God is not reconciled with us, as if we were the point of reference and God were the transgressor (!); we are reconciled with God.” Scott J. Hafemann, 2 Corinthians: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000): 245. Leon Morris also states: “It is interesting to notice that no New Testament passage speaks of Christ reconciling God to man. Always the stress is on man being reconciled.... It is man’s sin which has caused the enmity.” See Leon L. Morris, “Reconciliation,” The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, Organizing Editor (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962): 1077. Of the eleven New Testament mentions of reconciliation, “in every instance man is said to be reconciled to God.” See John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969): 179.
[99] J.N. Birdsall, “Language of the New Testament,” The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, Editor (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,1962): 715.
[100] Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: 335.
[101] Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2002): 343.
[102] Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: 335.
[103] Hoehner, Ephesians: 341.

1. The definition of catenization is inspired by the late Pastor Ken Silva, who often satirically coined new words along with Pastor Larry DeBruyn and Sarah Leslie for posting either on his website and/or the Herescope blog. 
2. The two graphic images of lingua franca and catena are adapted from definitions posted at, which also influenced the definition of catenization
3. Most of the graphic images of chains in this 4-part A Catena commentary are from photographs taken by Sarah H. Leslie. A few unattributed images were obtained via Google Images. 
4. This series by Pastor Larry DeBruyn is being concurrently published at his website Articles are used with his permission. 
5. The photo of the shack in this post comes from the book cover of Larry DeBruyn's book UNSHACKLED, his critical review of Young's book The Shack. See:  

*Mesmer, mesmerism: See: and See also our article "Altered States: A Different Gate" at

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Universalism's “World” and “Everyone”

Truths We Believe About God, Part 8

A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s book, Lies We Believe About God

Part 1: Truths We Believe About God
Part 2: Doing the Universalist Twist
Part 3: OUR Way or THE Way?
Part 4: An Imaginary Cosmic Reality
Part 5: Universalism & Trinitization
Part 6: A Catena: The Chain of “All”
Part 7: A Catena: Universalism's Troubles With “All”
By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

“Therefore, beloved... regard the patience of our Lord as salvation... just as also our beloved brother Paul... wrote to you, as also in all his letters... which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
—The Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:14-16, NASB) 

A Review of the Book’s Chapters 

Commentary on Young’s A Catena continued
The “World” Passages and the “Everyone” Passage (23-28)

The World Passages

23. John 1:29 (NASB, emphasis Young’s): 
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” 

John the Baptist’s recognition of Jesus occurs at the beginning of His public ministry. “Behold the Lamb (amnos) of God who takes away the sin of the world,” John proclaims. Though Jesus was born after John, the prophet testified to Jesus’ preexistence by stating He “existed before me” (John 1:30). In John’s statement about Jesus the repetition of the definite article is evident: “the” Lamb (ho amnos), “the” sin (ten harmartian) and “the” world (tou kosmou). That Jesus was “the Lamb” indicates He was/is the only Lamb from God (Greek tou theo, is a genitive of source meaning from). God would require no further or other sacrifice than He provided with His Lamb (Genesis 22:1-14). With the Cross all sacrificial systems end. The focus for the Lamb’s coming was to die for the sin (singular) which constitutes humanity and the world’s system. The sins (plural) which people commit are not the focus of John’s statement though Jesus’ sacrifice provides also for their forgiveness (1 John 1:8-10). Jesus died for the sin of the world (cosmos). Fulfilling the anticipation inspired by the one-thousand and four-hundred year old sacrificial system demanded by God’s Law, John declared the scope of the Lamb’s coming could/would not only be the final sacrifice for the sin of the Jews in particular but also for all humankind in general, “Samaritans” and “other sheep” (John 4:42; 10:16).
Zurbarán Lamb of God, Prado Museum, c. 1635-1640 (Source)

In contrast to the Day of Atonement which required the sacrifice of goats on a yearly basis (Leviticus 16:1 ff.), John identified Jesus as “the Lamb of God.” This designation associates His sacrifice with the slaying of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:1-13), as well as the Suffering Servant the prophet Isaiah portrayed (Isaiah 53:13-53). While other Jews, as regarded the Levitical sacrifices, were so parochially minded that they were no “worldly” good, John the Baptist understood the worldwide mission of Jesus from the beginning. But “In all of this, John the Baptist’s testimony is clear:” comments Pate, “Jesus is the Messiah, not him.”[86] The Apostle Paul too associated Jesus’ self-sacrifice with the Passover Lamb, “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed,” he wrote (1 Corinthians 5:7b).

Now we turn to the issue raised by Young’s quotation of John’s statement about Jesus: Does John the Baptist’s mention of “the world” imply universalism, that all will be saved? If understood, the Apostle John’s concept of the world answers “No!” W. Robert Cook offered the following definition of “world”: “It is a way of life ordered apart from and contrary to God, ruled by Satan, and encompassing all mankind who are not in the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ.”[87]

The antagonism of the world toward God is such that though Jesus prayed to the Father for Himself, His Apostle-disciples and the church, He did not pray for the world (“I do not ask on behalf of the world,” John 17:9). Though Jesus loves all people, He viewed the world’s system to be both deceptive to and destructive of the very people He, His Father and Spirit love. That Satanic system—“the lust of the flesh” (the love of Pleasure), “the lust of the eyes” (the love of Possessions) and “the boastful pride of life” (the love of Position/Power)—utterly hates the Father, His Son and those who believe on the Lamb (1 John 2:16; John 15:18). The world is a satanic and unloving system which blinds people to the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). So if people love the world, love for [objective genitive, ed.] the Father is not... is not in them (1 John 2:15). Might it be said that in God’s eyes and taken in this sense, the world is a “lost cause”? So Jesus neither prayed nor sacrificed Himself for the system called the world and those who love to live in it. Such people demonstrate they do not love the Father. That many people love the world indicates that these “worldlings” are not saved because love for God has not been poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
The lesson: unbelievers whose life purpose is to bask in the adulation of society, to indulge their fleshly wants and desires and to accumulate wealth unto themselves, indicate they do not love God. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15b). In the end, these systematic worldlings are not “fond” of the Father, and neither is the Father “fond” of them.

That Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world indicates that forgiveness can only be obtained through faith in the only begotten Son of God (John 1:14). He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, KJV; See Hebrews 9:27-28; 1 Peter 3:18). We should not look to anybody or anything else for salvation—to the church, priests, rituals, prayers or good works—but only to Jesus. “Behold the Lamb from God!” Lord Jesus, we praise you! Your sacrifice alone is the only basis whereby our sin and sins can be taken away.

Jesus talking to Nicodemus depicted by William Hole (Source)

24. John 3:16-17 (KJV/NIV, emphasis Young’s): 
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” 

In contrast to the satanic system called “the world, God loves “the world” of people, so much so that He gave His only begotten Son to die for them. Does this mean that all the people in all the world are thereby reconciled to God? Not if the entirety of verse is read and understood! Jesus stated that whosoever believes in Him will “not perish” but receive “everlasting life.” “He who believes in Him [the Son] is not judged; he who does not believe in Him has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

The point: All of humanity is separated into two camps, unbelievers and believers or rejecters and receivers; those doing evil deeds, loving their “dark lifestyles” and therefore hating the Light; or those practicing truth, revealing their “Light-styles” and loving the Light. Light and darkness do not mix, and God does not want us to live in the shadows. We’re either in the dark and away from the Light, or in the Light and away from the dark. The categories of Light and dark as also belief and unbelief belie universal reconciliation. All do not believe in God’s Son therefore all do not have everlasting life. John’s Gospel is filled statements about belief and the consequences of unbelief (John 1:10; 3:36; 5:38; 6:36, 64; 8:24; 10:25; 12:47-48; 16:9); as also the rest of the New Testament (Acts 13:40; 19:9; 28:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 3:2; Hebrews 3:12; 1 John 2:22-23; Revelation 21:8). I don’t know why Young even refers to this verse because to him any Father who would give His “only begotten Son” to die for the world, who would conceive of such an offensive idea as the Cross, is in his view “a cosmic abuser” (Young’s words). (LWBAG, 149)

By the way, world does not mean all humanity without exception, but all without distinction, no distinction between Jew and Gentile (John 10:16). All are invited to believe in the Lamb God provided to take away their sin(s). According to Jesus, salvation is limited to “whosoever believes in Him” (John 3:16; See Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:11-22.).

The Water of Life Discourse between Jesus and the 
Samaritan Woman at the Well
 by Angelika Kauffmann,
17–18th century (Source)

25. John 4:42 (Holman CSB, emphasis Young’s): 
“We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.” 

Establishment Judaism, for a complex of grievances, despised the schismatic and cultic Samaritan sect. After the captivity, the Samaritans set up their own worship center on Mt. Gerizim. During the Maccabean revolt (the rebellion of devout Jews against the sacrilege imposed on them by Antiochus Epiphanes, circa 200 BC) and to appease the invader/occupier Syrians, the Samaritans dedicated their temple to Zeus Xenos. For accommodating Antiochus (who in mockery and defiance of Israel’s Law and God offered a pig on the altar of sacrifice in the Temple on Mt Zion in Jerusalem) the Jews adopted an official policy, “have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9). Yet for Jesus and His disciples the shortest route from Judea in the south to Galilee in the north was a straight line. So despite the sectarianism of the Samaritans and the attitude of official Judaism toward them, the Lord decided that that He and His disciples would not abide by the dictated Jewish custom, but would “pass through Samaria” (John 4:4). It was in this highly charged spiritual and social situation that Jesus engaged in conversation with someone who was not only a Samaritan but also a woman!

As a result of Jesus’ loving interaction with her, this many-times-married woman went into Samaritan town of Sychar and told the men—“Come, see a man who told me all things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” (John 4:29, 39). Many believed on Jesus’ word not because of “hearsay” from the woman, but because “we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:42). Note the repetition of the word many: from Sychar “many of the Samaritans believed in Him... [and] many more believed because of His word”; many but not all (John 4:39, 41). When they too came to believe in Jesus, this group told the woman “we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is the Savior of the world” (John 4:42). They were surprised that not only was Jesus the Savior of Jews who would believe in Him, but also Samaritans! Welcome to their “world.” Before Pentecost Jesus told His disciples, “and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Emphasis added, Acts 1:8). So this verse Young cites does not teach universal reconciliation.

26. John 6:33 (NIV, emphasis Young’s): 
“For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 

This statement occurs in the context of the first of seven “I Am” sayings in John’s Gospel (John 6:35; 8:12; 10:7; 10:11; 11:25; 14:6; and 15:1)—“I am the bread of life.” Though not wandering in the wilderness like Israel after the Exodus, a crowd of people following Jesus caught up with Him at Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee’s north shore. Jesus recognized the crowd was seeking Him because He had fed them and now they were hungry again. Trying to get Jesus to provide another miracle meal for them, they referred to the Exodus where the Lord gave Israel manna in the wilderness to eat (Exodus 16:4). If the Lord fed Israel in the wilderness, why can’t you feed us now, Jesus? Make a meal for us again! So they used Scripture to try and manipulate Jesus to do what they wanted Him to do; to give them the food they wanted (John 6:30-31). (How like so many of today’s health and wealth Christians!) But Jesus took the occasion of their physical hunger to speak to them about spiritual hunger. He told them that the Father, not Moses, provides “the true bread out of heaven” and “the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world” (John 6:32-33). To the crowd this sounded like an offer of “the fast food” they wanted. So they said to Jesus, “Lord, always give us this bread” to which Jesus responded, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:34-35).

Then Jesus told the crowd, “you have seen Me, and yet do not believe”; then He added an invitation, “everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 6:36, 40). Regarding obtaining eternal life, only those who behold and believe will receive it. The salvation of the world does not include all humanity without exception, but only those who behold the testimony about Jesus and believe it (John 5:39; Luke 24:25, 27, 44-47).

For an observable reason this statement by Jesus—the bread from heaven gives life to the world—does not teach universal reconciliation. Consistent with how the Gospel presents the concept, “world” does not refer to all people without exception. The difference between people remains: those who behold the Son and don’t believe (John 6:36) and those who behold the Son and do believe (6:35, 40); those who come to Jesus and those who do not (6:37). Rather than believe in Jesus, some people prefer to remain spiritually starving and dehydrating (John 6:35). Even though they were in His presence, Jesus told the Capernaum crowd “you have seen Me, and yet do not believe” (John 6:36). But those who do place their faith in Jesus will “on the last day” be resurrected from the dead and find everlasting security (John 6:37, 39-40). Those who don’t won’t. As regards Jesus’ offer of spiritual nurture, some would rather starve and thirst than by faith eat the bread and drink the water of life Jesus promises to provide. In unbelief they remain insecure regarding Jesus’ promised presence, symbolized by eating the bread and drinking the water He provides, with and in them.

Personally, I find satisfaction in my every thought about our precious Savior. Because of Jesus’ presence with and in me, I neither hunger nor thirst after “something more.” Christ’s promised inner presence is my spiritual reality and satisfaction. He is with and in me always. He is with and in me always. I accept this by faith and will not try to manipulate my soul and spirit into feeling His presence by engaging in unbiblical activities like contemplative prayer, mood music, lectio divina, Taize worship, repeating the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”) like a mantra, etc. But I would be careful to testify that though I am satisfied in Christ, I am not smug in my Christian faith. I need to grow in grace but not by exercising the legalisms of spiritual disciplines. What began in the Spirit will not be perfected “by works of the Law... [or] the flesh” (Galatians 3:2, 3; Read verses 1-14.).

27. John 8:12 (ESV, emphasis Young’s): 
“I am the light of the world.” 

This is the second great “I Am” statement in John’s Gospel. As John’s prologue intimates, the Word for the world is the Light of the world. For reasons previously stated, this does not mean that inherently the world becomes saved. Allow Jesus’ own teaching to qualify this.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
—John 3:17-21, Emphasis added. 

Some people will not come to the Light because they love darkness; they love “the night life.” Stated bluntly, many people are already condemned because they’re married to the night wherein they, the ungodly, commit “their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way” (Jude 15). The real reason people do not come to the Light is for reason of their immorality (Compare Romans 1:18-32.). They love their ungodly lifestyles. They prefer the cover of darkness to hide, so they imagine, their evil deeds. All are not saved because many love the night and will not come to the Light.

The “Everyone” Passage 

28. 1 Timothy 4:10 (Holman CSB, Emphasis Young’s): 
“We labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe.” 

In this statement the Apostle Paul presents the scope of salvation to be broadly available to all sorts of people (the living God... is the Savior of everyone) but narrowly applicable to believers only (“especially those who believe”). Hiebert comments that, “This concluding phrase [‘especially of those who believe’] shows that God is not the Saviour of unbelievers in the same sense that He is of believers. This statement cannot be used to support an unscriptural universalism which teaches that all men are saved.”[88]

Another pastor states: “With this clause the Apostle moves from the universal scope of the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice (“the Savior of all men”) and narrows the field regarding the limited scope of its efficiency (“especially of believers”).”[89] If in this verse the Apostle Paul intended to state that everyone is saved, he would not have added the qualifying adverbial phrase “especially” (Greek malista: “specially” KJV, ASV; “particularly” NLT) of those who believe.” Further, had his intent been to communicate the salvation of everyone, he would have contradicted other of his statements in which “he clearly regards some people as bearing God’s retribution and punishment in the penalty of eternal destruction (cf., e.g., 2 Thes. 1:7-10; 1 Thes. 1:10).”[90]

To be continued . . .

[86] C. Marvin Pate, The Writings of John: A Survey of the Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011): 57. 
[87] W. Robert Cook, The Theology of John (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1979): 117. 
[88] Hiebert, First Timothy: 84. 
[89] John A. Kitchen, The Pastoral Epistles for Pastors (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2009): 178. 
[90] George W. Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992): 203.