Wednesday, October 26, 2011

God's Plan of the Ages - Then Comes the End

Joseph Herrin (10-26-2011)

























It may seem odd to begin a book with a chapter that focuses on the end, but there is a good purpose in doing so. When Yahweh set forth to form the creation He had the end and culmination of all His works in mind. He had determined from the beginning of the creation what the conclusion of all things would be. What Yahweh planned will be fulfilled. The end of Yahweh’s works contain no loose ends. Nothing that has been conceived in God’s mind will remain partially fulfilled. It is important to grasp this aspect of Yahweh’s plan of the ages, for it differs substantially from the experience of man.

When men set forth to accomplish some goal they often fall short of seeing the fulfillment of everything they had envisioned. Man learns to make peace with partial successes and partial failures. A man may be satisfied to have accomplished many of the things he set forth to do, conceding that he gave a good effort and progressed far along the path he had chosen. Man is finite both in wisdom and power. Man does not control all circumstances, nor rule in absolute sovereignty over the creation. Therefore, it is unrealistic for men to anticipate that they will be able to fulfill every detail of the goals, dreams, and visions that originate in the Adamic soul.

In contrast, Yahweh is all powerful. He possesses all wisdom. He knows all things. Yahweh sees the end from the beginning. There is no power in existence that can hinder Him in the fulfillment of the things He has planned. All things have come from God, and all things lie in His power. When Yahweh establishes a plan, He is assured that it will be absolutely, completely, and perfectly fulfilled at the precise moment that He has determined.

Isaiah 46:9-11
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;  Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.”

The church has embraced many false doctrines about the ages to come. These doctrines are riddled with error that has arisen by failing to reckon on Yahweh’s determinate will to bring a full, complete and perfect end to the entire creation, and by not considering that He possesses all power and wisdom to accomplish what He has planned. The church teaches that the creation will continue on into eternity with rebellion, judgment, and torment. The church teaches that the vast majority of the men who have ever lived, and one third of the angels, will never be reconciled to God, but will continue on for eternity without end in separation and unending punishment.

Such concepts are unworthy of the One who possesses all power to subject the entire creation to Himself.

Philippians 3:20-21
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Yahshua Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

If Christ were to confront the false doctrines relating to the ages to come and to eternity, doctrines that leave a great portion of the creation in a state of estrangement to His Father, He would surely reply as He did to those who reckoned errantly in the days of His earthly ministry.

Matthew 22:29
But Yahshua answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.”

Even the righteous who have some knowledge and experience of God often fail to reckon accurately concerning those things Yahweh has planned and will surely accomplish.

Genesis 18:13-14
And Yahweh said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for Yahweh?

The church’s beliefs and doctrines concerning the coming ages are the product of “not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Christ has been given ALL authority and power. Yahweh has determined to reconcile ALL THINGS to Himself. His work will not be completed until His desires have been fully and perfectly accomplished. In a myriad of places throughout the Scriptures, the Creator has declared His intent to bring the entire creation back into a place of peace with Himself. The church has failed in her understanding of Yahweh’s determined purpose to restore all things to a perfect state of unity. The apostle Paul understood the plan of God, and he declared it openly to the saints.

I Corinthians 15:24-28
Then comes the end, when He (Christ) delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

Is the apostle not speaking about “the end” of Yahweh’s work among the creation in these verses? Does the apostle declare that all things will end with billions of men and angels in the bonds of eternal torment? Does the apostle declare that the creation will continue on eternally without a reconciliation of all things to the Father? Absolutely not! Paul understood both the Scriptures and the power of God. He proclaimed the truth of Yahweh’s plan of the ages. Paul tells us exactly what the end of all things will encompass.

Christ must reign, but not eternally! Does this statement offend? Christ must reign UNTIL He has accomplished all things which the Father has determined must be brought to completion under the rule of His Son. What has the Father determined? He has declared that all enemies must be vanquished. All rebellion must come to an end. Every creature on earth and in heaven must be reconciled back to the Father. All creation must be summed up in the Son of God, coming under a perfect submission to Yahshua. The ONLY being left out of this is the Father. The Son is in a state of perfect submission to the Father. Once all things are brought under submission to Christ, then all things subjected to the Son will also be under subjection to the Father. Yahweh will then be “all in all.”

This declaration of the perfect reconciliation of the entire creation to Yahweh is not found in only in this one passage. This is not an obscure and isolated Biblical doctrine. The plan of God to subdue all things on earth and in heaven to Himself is widely declared throughout both the Old Testament and the New. The prophet Isaiah wrote the following:

Isaiah 45:22-24
"Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance. They shall say, ‘Surely in Yahweh I have righteousness and strength.’ To Him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him.”

There is no greater assurance offered anywhere in Scriptures than when Yahweh swears something by Himself. What He declares, must be accomplished. The will of God cannot be thwarted, hindered, or delayed. Yahweh has testified that He will bring every enemy into a perfect allegiance to Himself. This is not a mere forced obeisance. It is not a coerced confession that occurs while rebellion and enmity still exists in the heart. Look at what Isaiah testifies. “All shall be ashamed who were incensed” at God. Shame reveals that a change of heart has occurred. Rebellion has ended. Regret, and repentance have arisen. Those who were formerly enemies, reviling the character and power of Yahweh, are now freely testifying, “Surely in Yahweh I HAVE righteousness and strength.”

The apostle Paul, writing to the saints in Philippi, declares again the understanding of the entire creation yielding in worshipful subservience to Christ. Paul taught much on the end of all things. He proclaimed openly that the end would not come UNTIL all things had first been reconciled back to the Father through the Son.

Colossians 1:19-20
For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile ALL things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say whether things on EARTH or things in HEAVEN.

The church, not understanding the Scriptures or the power of God, have adopted many spurious doctrines. God is effectually depicted either as powerless to reconcile all things to Himself, or unwilling to do so. Both thoughts are unworthy of Yahweh. Satan is the architect of these lies, and the church has readily believed them. Satan ever seeks to cast Yahweh and His Son in an unflattering light. He would have God appear as exceedingly harsh, being too difficult to deal with. Satan has convinced myriads of Christians that God will cast men and angels into a fiery lake whose torments are exceptional in their intensity and duration. Satan has persuaded the church that this torment is eternal, never to come to an end.

I could argue against such false doctrines based upon the revelation of the nature of God, His love, mercy, and propensity to forgive. Yet, there would be those who would accuse me of sentimentalism, and of forming doctrines based upon feelings. I have therefore chosen to avoid such arguments in favor of presenting the consistent testimony of Scripture. Let the word of God speak. Let us rightly divide the word of truth. What have we read thus far? It is the Father’s good will and pleasure to reconcile ALL THINGS in heaven and on earth to Himself through Christ, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

The Father has given His Son all authority and power. After His resurrection from the grave Christ appeared to His disciples. Matthew recorded what He said.

Matthew 28:18
Yahshua came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

David wrote prophetically of the power to be entrusted to Christ.

Psalms 110:1-2
Yahweh says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." Yahweh will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, "Rule in the midst of Your enemies."

Isaiah also prophesied of the coming Messiah.

Isaiah 9:6-7
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace...

What truth is contained in the words, “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace”? Do we not find in these words the promise that Christ will reign until everything in creation is brought into full submission to His rule? Is it not promised that peace will increase until in the end all things are reconciled to God and there exists no more rebellion? Yes! This is what is declared.

Of the power and authority of Christ, the apostle Paul writes with adulation and praise.

Colossians 1:16-18
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

In the very next sentences the apostle declares what the rule of Christ will accomplish.

Colossians 1:19-20
For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Christ is given ruling authority for the purpose of bringing peace to the entire creation. Yahshua is called “the Prince of Peace.” He has been given the power to subject all things to Himself. He will rule until He accomplishes the purposes of the Father. The end will come only when the Father is “all in all.” Every former enemy will be ashamed. They will confess that they have found in God both righteousness and strength.

Christ has the power to reconcile ALL THINGS to Himself. Will He not employ this power to its full extent? Most certainly He will. Christ “must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” What then of the church’s doctrine that the enemies of God will be put into a fiery lake of eternal torment? Such doctrines are a product of not understanding the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

In the book of Revelation we read that “death and hell (hades) are cast into the lake of fire.” Christians have been taught that the duration of the souls of men and angels in the lake of fire is eternal. This is not what the Scriptures teach. The lake of fire is synonymous with “the second death.”

Revelation 20:14
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

The apostle Paul has written that death must come to an end before Yahweh’s plan of the ages has been concluded. Let us look at Paul’s words once more, highlighting the pertinent section.

I Corinthians 15:25-28
For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

Death, even the lake of fire which is “the second death,” cannot continue on eternally. The work of death among the creation will be brought to an end when all things are reconciled back to the Father. The lake of fire, death itself, exist to serve a purpose in the fulfillment of Yahweh’s plan. They are to bring an end to sin and rebellion. When all things are subjected to the Father then death will be no more. The wages of sin is death. Where there is no longer any sin there is no longer any death.

Isaiah 25:8
He will swallow up death for all time, and Yahweh God will wipe tears away from all faces...

One of the greatest declarations found in the Bible is that mercy ultimately triumphs over judgment.

James 2:13
For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

If Yahweh requires His sons and daughters to show mercy and demonstrate forgiveness to their enemies, will He not also do the same? Yahweh’s wrath endures  for a moment.

Micah 7:18
Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.

The church in declaring a doctrine of eternal torment is doing the work of Satan by declaring God to be angry forever. The testimony of Scripture is that Yahweh “does not retain His anger forever.” Yahweh does not delight in endless punishment. He seeks the reconciliation of His creation.

Ezekiel 33:11
"Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares Yahweh God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!’”

Yahweh is abundantly rich in mercy. He will not hold the sinner guiltless, but neither will His wrath endure forever.

Ephesians 2:4-5
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)...

The grace and mercy of God will reign supreme, accomplishing reconciliation of the entire creation before the time of the end.

The truth of Yahweh’s merciful reconciliation of the entire creation back to Himself is offensive to a great many people. Is God unjust to forgive all His enemies? You and I were at one time numbered among the enemies of God. He showed mercy and forgiveness to us. Will we account it an evil thing for God to show mercy and forgiveness to all before the conclusion of His plan of the ages? We should rejoice that Yahweh is merciful. Apart from His mercy we would all be consumed.

Isaiah 54:7-8
"For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you," Says Yahweh your Redeemer.

We have not looked at all of the testimonies found in Scriptures that speak of the work of Christ to reconcile all things back to His Father. The Bible is rife with statements of the plan and purpose of God. To the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul writes:

Ephesians 1:9-10
He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to a stewardship suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth in Him.

This present chapter is seeking to convey one foundational truth. It is a point we cannot neglect. There is an end to the work of Christ. In stating that there is an end, I mean to convey that there is both a goal and a conclusion to Christ’s work. He has come to reconcile all things to God the Father. The rule of Christ is granted to Him UNTIL He accomplishes the reconciliation of all things to the Father. “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death (including the second death, the lake of fire).” When Yahshua has accomplished the goal of His reign, then will come the end of the ages.

There are ages yet to come. We do not see the reconciliation of all things in this present age. This book will look at the ages that preceded this present time, as well as those that follow. We will examine the role and duration of the lake of fire even as we examined the role and duration of the Law in the previous book Laying Down the Law.

I entreat those who have read this far to remain patient in examining this subject. Every question and objection cannot be answered in a single chapter. The author is striving to present the matter in a way that will lead to understanding. Precept is laid upon precept. Those who remain patient will be rewarded. I exhort you to test all that is written. Examine the many Scriptures cited. Keep your Bible and your heart open that you might discover truth.


Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws    

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

3 comments:

Rock Elements said...

This is very meaty Joseph. A message in due time ~ and a Loving answer to a recent question, that has come to my mind and heart. Makes more sense than the controversial stances. Very meaty, indeed! Thanks.

Kim said...

I ask this with all respect, Joseph. Does this belief make you a "universalist"?

Kim

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Kim,

You would have to define what you mean by the term "Universalist" as the word means very different things to different people. Some who consider themselves "Universalists" are clearly heretical in their beliefs. The Unitarian church is an example of this. They believe that all religions are various paths that lead to God.

What I proclaim is that there is only ONE Mediator between God and man, and that is Yahshua, the Son of God. He is THE gate through which ALL MEN must enter. There is no other name given under heaven by which men must be saved.

There are many who are called Universalists who deny the uniqueness of Christ. Like thieves and robbers they seek to enter by another way. I would not want to in any way be associated with such false doctrines and beliefs.

For this reason, I find it expedient to avoid labels. I do not call myself a Universalist. I am a son of God who believes that Christ has been given the singular role to reconcile the creation back to the Father. I believe His power is sufficient to subject all things unto Himself, and by extension, unto the Father. I believe Christ's reconciling work will not be complete until every enemy has been brought to repentance, and every knee bows before the Father. I believe that what God has sworn is true. Every tongue will confess "Surely in Yahweh I HAVE righteousness and strength," and all who were incensed with Him will be ashamed.

This is what I teach, for it is what has been delivered to the saints by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.