The New Testament contains a number of apparently contradictory statements. Reason and logic demand that one cannot believe both to be true. Let me explain, giving examples of both sides.
GOD’S TOTAL VICTORY. The following verses have been lifted out of context,
but seem to stand in their own right, and by their own merit, as statements of fact.
1. “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL MEN to Myself.” John 12:32
2. “God, who is the Saviour of ALL MEN, especially those who believe.” 1 Tim.4:10
3. “He must reign until He has put ALL ENEMIES under His feet.” 1 Cor.15:25
4. “He has appeared – – to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself.” Heb.9:26
5. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 6. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands ALL MEN EVERY WHERE to repent” Acts 17:30
7. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have ALL MEN to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim.2:4
8. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” 1 Tim.1:15 (Who is not?)
9. “He is the Mercy Seat for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of THE WHOLE WORLD.” 1 John 2:2
10. “He tasted death on behalf of EVERY MAN.” Heb.2:9
11. “He died on behalf of ALL.” 2 Cor.5:15
12. “Christ has been manifested for the PUTTING AWAY OF SIN by His sacrifice.” Heb.9:26
13. “That at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Philippians 2:10
14. “And EVERY CREATURE which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Revelation 5:13
EVERLASTING HELL-FIRE AND PUNISHMENT. The following verses have likewise been extracted from their context, but equally stand in their own right.
1. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into EVERLASTING FIRE, prepared for the devil and his angels” Matthew 25:41 “And these shall go away into EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT: but the righteous into life eternal” Matthew 25:46
2. “But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and YOU ARE TORMENTED.” Luke 16:25
3.”And the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be TORMENTED DAY AND NIGHT FOR EVER AND EVER.” Revelation 20:10
4. “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be PUNISHED WITH EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” 2 Thess.1:7-9
5. “Whose END IS DESTRUCTION, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.”Philippians 3:19
6. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to DESTROY BOTH BODY AND SOUL IN HELL.” Matthew 10:28
7. “If any man defile the temple of God, HIM SHALL GOD DESTROY; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Corinthians 3:17
8. “And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and those who fear your name, small and great; and should DESTROY THOSE WHO DESTROY THE EARTH.” Revelation 11:18
9. “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the VENGEANCE OF ETERNAL FIRE.” Jude 1:7
10. “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were CAST ALIVE INTO A LAKE OF FIRE BURNING WITH BRIMSTONE.” Revelation 19:20
11. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in THE LAKE WHICH BURNS WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE: which is the second death.”Revelation 21:8
12. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that LEADS TO DESTRUCTION, and many there be who enter by it.” Matthew 7:13
Here then is the problem. To believe the Hell-fire verses is to contradict the plain statements made in the Total Victory verses.And vice-versa. It seems impossible to compose a theology capable of holding BOTH sets without a severe strain on logic.
But it is necessary to make a decision. I have found that most people believe the second set about hell, torment, and destruction rather than the first set. Why is this? Why should those who have tasted the Good Gift of Life through Jesus’ sacrifice PREFER to believe the verses about destruction, and therefore imply that ALL THE FIRST SET ARE FALSE? (Probably without realising that they have done so.) This has puzzled me for a long time.
Hey! But wait a minute! We don’t have the liberty to choose between these two sets of verses. We are required to believe in BOTH! We cannot help ourselves. Both are Scripture, and both are plentiful enough in occurrence to substantiate their worth, and force us to stop and consider the problem at face value. That’s why I’ve called it a MORAL dilemma, because to opt for ONE SET at the expense of the other is to suggest that God has lied to us, one way or the other.
I’m not planning to provide answers in this Wayside Pulpit, merely point out the problem, and ask each reader to sort out the problem in his/her own way. But I would suggest that in doing so, the key to the solution must lie in the CHARACTER OF GOD, and that we should never come to conclusions that in any way reduce, demean, cast slurs upon, or degrade that Wonderful Character as revealed throughout the Volume of the Book.
I am prepared to give my own answer if it is requested.
From Arthur & Rosalind Eedle, Lincolnshire, England.