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Yes but… Yes…

I’ve become increasingly convinced that just about anything someone believes about religion, politics, our national constitution, and more importantly the Bible and the words of Jesus, can be countered with— another written text from the Bible.

In many cases the issue isn’t worth living, dying, or risking one’s reputation for. Sometimes, however, and especially when the lives, well-being, love, hope, and faith of others seems to be at stake, I’m thinking it is worth wading into the endless weighing of texts and reasons for trying to understand which written words need to be understood in light of other written words.

For example, anyone who’s been following my increasingly infrequent posts has probably noticed my opinion that everything the Scriptures say about God’s anger, judgment, justice, election, holiness, and righteousness needs to be understood in light of his love for all— rather than just his love for some.

For that reason, I have become increasingly attached to texts that seem to indicate that in the ages to come the justice of God will be seen as an expression of his love and mercy which are forever— rather than his anger which is but for a moment.

So yes, I stake my tent in a place where I can see God’s judgment in light of assurances that God isn’t willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance— and that in the end, every knee will (willingly and happily) bow and every tongue will (willingly and happily) confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Yes, but… I know. Other texts seem to say that, in the end, relatively few will be saved and that the great majority of people will end up in everlasting conscious regret and even torment.

Because I’m not willing to go there, I feel obligated not just to fade away into the sunset, but at least to offer some reason before I’m done as to how I can claim to believe in the God of the Bible and still believe in The Greater Hope that many texts seem to allow for. If I get a chance to do that, I’d like to quote others without implying that they would or would not agree with my thoughts on the subject.

One such person is a British theologian by the name of John Stott who has fairly recently passed from this world into the next. Without implying that he would appreciate being quoted by someone like me, I’m taking the liberty of copying below something that I found in his commentary on The Letters of John. I think he said something very important when he wrote,

“Not only is God the source of all true love; he is love in his inmost being. There are three other statements in the New Testament concerning what God is in substance and nature: he is ‘spirit’ (John 4:24), ‘light’ (1 John 1:5) and ‘a consuming fire’ (Heb. 12:29 from Deut. 4:24). The Gnostics believed that God is immaterial spirit and light, but they never taught that God is love. It is the most comprehensive and sublime of all biblical affirmations about God’s being, and is repeated here twice (8, 16).

Nevertheless, it is important to hold the biblical assertions about God together. It is true that the words God is love mean not that loving is ‘only one of God’s many activities’ (Alexander) but rather that ‘all his activity is loving activity’ and that, therefore, ‘if He judges, He judges in love’ (Dodd). Yet, if his judging is in love, his loving is also in justice. He who is love is light and fire as well. Far from condoning sin, his love has found a way to expose it (because he is light) and to consume it (because he is fire) without destroying the sinner, but rather saving him.”

Stott, John. The Letters of John: 19 (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries) (p. 161). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

Note: Please remember that for several years, this blog has not been affiliated with Our Daily Bread Ministries which is not responsible for anything I write here.

 

 


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36 Responses to “Yes but… Yes…”

  1. saled says:

    Thank you for sharing this awesome hope. This quote from John Stott is so uplifting: “Far from condoning sin, his love has found a way to expose it (because he is light) and to consume it (because he is fire) without destroying the sinner, but rather saving him.”

    Stott, John. The Letters of John: 19 (Tyndale New

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. SFDBWV says:

    Thank you Mart, I am glad to see I am not the only heretic here on BTA.

    Steve

  3. jeff1 says:

    Thank you also, Mart, how absolutely wonderful to hear what I believe with all my heart.

  4. jeff1 says:

    God is love: let heaven adore him;
    God is love: let earth rejoice;
    let creation sing before him,
    and exalt him with one voice.
    He who laid the earth’s foundation,
    he who spread the heavens above,
    he who breathes through all creation,
    he is love, eternal love.

    2 God is love, and is enfolding
    all the world in one embrace;
    his unfailing grasp is holding
    every child of every race;
    and when human hearts are breaking
    under sorrow’s iron rod,
    then they find that self-same aching
    deep within the heart of God.

    3 God is love: and though with blindness
    sin afflicts and clouds the will,
    God’s eternal loving-kindness
    holds us fast and guides us still.
    Sin and death and hell shall never
    o’er us final triumph gain;
    God is love, so love for ever
    o’er the universe must reign.

    based on 1 John 4: 8

  5. Beloved says:

    Agreeing with saled-brilliant!

  6. poohpity says:

    Mart, I am confused. Are you saying that there will not be those who do not want anything to do with God and those will still be saved?

    I understand that it is the will or desire of God that none should perish but does that mean that none will perish and be eternally separated from God by choice?

  7. Beloved says:

    At the same time it sounds like the reformers had it all wrong? Why all the fuss about studying scripture then if we only believe none will perish. Period. And that everything that Paul and Jesus taught about the consequences of sin are merely descriptive but not prescriptive or even consequential to our lives- as all will be saved anyway. So we just grab our lollipops and skip merrily on our way through life! Oh boy! What a Savior!? Or, oh boy, what a Savior 😀

  8. Beloved says:

    This song was going through my mind as I awoke this morning and still is…

    Jesus What A Friend For Sinners
    Song by Matthew Smith

    Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
    Jesus! Lover of my soul;
    Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
    He, my Savior, makes me whole.
    Hallelujah! what a Savior!
    Hallelujah! what a Friend!
    Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
    He is with me to the end.

    Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
    Let me hide myself in Him.
    Tempted, tried, and often failing,
    He, my Strength, my victory wins.
    Hallelujah! what a Savior!
    Hallelujah! what a Friend!
    Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
    He is with me to the end.

    Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
    While the billows over me roll,
    Even when my heart is breaking,
    He, my Comfort, helps my soul.
    Hallelujah! what a Savior!
    Hallelujah! what a Friend!
    Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
    He is with me to the end.

    Jesus! I do now receive Him,
    More than all in Him I find.
    He has granted me forgiveness,
    I am His, and He is mine.
    Hallelujah! what a Savior!
    Hallelujah! what a Friend!
    Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
    He is with me to the end
    Hallelujah! what a Savior!
    Hallelujah! what a Friend!
    Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
    He is with me to the end.

  9. Beloved says:

    Dear Steve, stop whining. Even the narcissists here will be saved. You’re good. One thing I’ve learned is that God can save even the most insecure persons. ❤️

  10. Beloved says:

    After seeking God about this subject I was drawn to something I missed on Marts post:

    “If I get a chance to do that, I’d like to quote others without implying that they would or would not agree with my thoughts on the subject.“

  11. SFDBWV says:

    Joyce, some Scriptural advice. Psalms 141:3 KJV. “Set a watch, O Lord before my mouth; keep the door of my mouth.”

    Steve

  12. Beloved says:

    Sometimes when we miss something important it’s best to seek God who always answers with loving kindness.

  13. Beloved says:

    Yes Steve and to you as well ❤️

  14. Beloved says:

    Ephesians 4:15
    King James Version
    15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

  15. bratimus says:

    My thought,

    God’s love will destroy all flesh of man, all flesh will perish.

    Man is just not flesh, also has a soul, if that soul still has a spark of the light of God in it even as small as a mustard seed.

    It does come down to God who is saved.

    The concern with this line of thinking is some might think they can live any old way they want, if none shall perish, whats it matter.

    The words sat “That” none should perish, it doesn’t say “none shall perish”.

    In Christ Jesus name
    Bratimus

  16. Mart DeHaan says:

    Deb, I can’t imagine anyone being reconciled to God without a repentance that God enables. Yes

  17. Beloved says:

    Mart before you decide to disappear into the sunset I want to thank you for this forum. Chance to really think about our faith and do Bible studies and share in one another’s burdens and griefs. Being Mother’s Day tomorrow I’m sure it will be sad and lonely for you. May Gods comfort surround you and your children. Joyce

  18. bubbles says:

    Then why would Jesus speak of Hell and what happens to those who go there? Just because people wish and want something to be so doesn’t it make it so. What would be the point in telling anyone about Jesus or missionaries going to other places then if “everyone” will end up on Heaven? What was the point in Jesus coming to earth then? I respectfully disagree with this post. It is not in mine with Scripture and it is definitely not what Jesus taught. I don’t want anyone to go to hell, but me wanting it to be so does not make it so.

  19. jeff1 says:

    Beloved, let us love: love is of God;
    in God alone has love its true abode.

    3 Beloved, let us love: for they who love
    are born of God, his children from above.

    3 Beloved, let us love: for love is rest,
    and they who have no love remain unblessed.

    4 Beloved, let us love: for love is light,
    and those who have no love dwell in the night.

    5 Beloved, let us love: for only thus
    shall we behold that God who first loved us.

    based on 1 John 4: 7-12

  20. street says:

    yes….but, yes

    i understand in the end of this universe the elements will end in intense heat/light where root and branch of wickedness will be no more.

    thinking of the permanent Mercy Seat in Jesus, The Priest Forever, where our heart are seated at rest. not the temporary mercy seat that was removed in 70 A.D. the end of sin and death for the elect. new life in a Spirit that is given by faith freely in God’s Love. a place of trust hope and love.

    thinking about how Christians over the centuries have alienated discriminated and vilified people. makes you wonder, ” Did I miss something?” i sure hope so!

    how could we get God so right and people so wrong? when we are one of them peoples?

    i do not completely understand the consuming fire aspect of God from the Scriptures, but i do understand that we over come by the Blood/Life of The Lamb of God. i do understand we are to abide in this light and walk by it.

    Emmanuel

  21. street says:

    thinking of…screwed as a snake and innocent as a dove.

  22. street says:

    I’m thinking it is worth wading into the endless weighing of texts and reasons for trying to understand which written words need to be understood in light of other written words.

    light required

    the silence is deadly when the snakes are in the camp.

    thinking how light reveals everything….somethings we would rather not see. yet necessary to deal with correctly….love finds away. thinking of paul and corinth. seems he had issues with galation and the were issues with the 7 churches.

    6
    I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
    they will never be silent day or night.
    You who call on the Lord,
    give yourselves no rest,
    7
    and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
    and makes her the praise of the earth.

    Isaiah 9:7
    There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of armies will accomplish this.

  23. street says:

    14 For this reason I bend my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with

    power through His Spirit in the inner self, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,

    that you may be filled to all the fullness of God.

  24. foreverblessed says:

    That is a wonderful bible verse!
    Amen

    If everybody would get to heaven, why did Jesus have to come?

    If Jesus did not come nobody could go to heaven

  25. foreverblessed says:

    As you can imagine, with all the talks we had, I am thrilled with this topic!

    Going to hell is horrible, terrible, and totally darkness.
    But the bible says, the hell, it is for aionas ton ainonas, ages and ages…

  26. Mart DeHaan says:

    Bubbles,
    I think I understand your questions; the sincerity with which you ask them; and the importance of not accepting anything that does not ring true to our conscience.
    As I see it, the urgency of the Good News is that without the knowledge of a Creator, Lord, and Savior who bore the anger, contempt, and suffering of our sin, and who overcame the power of the grave, and who exposed the lies of our enemy — an enemy who has never wanted anyone to know how much we are loved— or how costly our unbelief and self-government is— or how willing our God is to forgive us… and how much better our lives can be when we allow our God to begin filling us with his self-sacrificing life and goodness– and that– without the assurance of such a God, and so much more, we are apt to live our lives in shame, insecurity, fear of death, fear of people, without hope, and without real purpose–without knowing the Source and availability of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control…. in anticipation of something far better later.

    Yes, that’s a ridiculously long and run on way of saying it, but I’m trying to make the point that the Gospel is not just for giving us something inexpressibly good later, but for giving us and those who don’t yet know… an opportunity to get a taste of something inexpressibly good and wonderful now.

  27. jeff1 says:

    Maybe its my lack of understanding the English language but I don’t believe Mart suggested there was no hell but rather that God will change peoples hearts and minds to His will and destroy hell as is His desire is that no one will perish.

    When I hear a man of the cloth focusing on a young man’s soul burning in hell because of his sin and preaching it at his funeral leaving his young friends traumatized then I am on my knees thankful that it is God’s call and not mine or anyone else’s as to whom He saves.

    I have seen God at work in the Holy Spirit because I have been seeking Him and He has revealed Himself to me but would I wish anyone even this hell focused minister (who not only traumatized my young son but no doubt helped turn him away from the faith he was raised in) to spend their life in hell I think I would have to be something of a sadist
    to want that.

    Mart, truly a man of God, I have learned so much from your topics and am so sorry for the loss of your wife and may God bless and keep you and yours as He always has and will.

    I think living on this earth has given me a taste of hell and so it is not hard to imagine that there is one but thank God for His constant presence in my life which assures me of a better world to come where He will live with us in a new heaven and earth and the fear of hell shall be erased from our minds and hearts.

    Comfort, comfort ye my people,
    speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
    comfort those who sit in darkness
    mourning’ neath their sorrows’ load.
    Speak ye to Jerusalem
    of the peace that waits for them;
    tell her that her sins I cover,
    and her warfare now is over.

    2 Yes, her sins our God will pardon,
    blotting out each dark misdeed;
    all that well deserved his anger
    he will no more see nor heed.
    She hath suffered many a day,
    now her griefs have passed away,
    God will change her pining sadness
    into every-springing gladness.

    3 Hark, the voice of one that crieth
    in the desert far and near,
    calling us to new repentance,
    since the kingdom now is here.
    Oh, that warning cry obey!
    Now prepare for God a way;
    let the valleys rise to meet him
    and the hills bow down to greet him.

    4 Make ye straight what long was crooked,
    make the rougher places plain;
    let your hearts be true and humble.
    as befits his holy reign.

    For the glory of the Lord
    now o’er earth is shed abroad;
    and all flesh shall see the token
    that the world is never broken.

    based on Isaiah 40: 1-5

  28. Mart DeHaan says:

    I tried to send another comment earlier, but it seems to have gotten hung up. So will try to remember what I wrote earlier. It was something like,

    Bubbles, I think I understand your questions, the sincerity with which you ask them, and the importance of not accepting anything that doesn’t ring true to our conscience.

    As I see it, the importance of the Good News is that without a knowledge of a God who has sacrificed himself for us– to bear the contempt, anger, and suffering of our sin, to give us the assurance of his willingness to forgive us, to break the power of the grave, and to expose the lies of an enemy who has never wanted us to know how good our God is, how compassionate and gracious he is… without the knowledge of such a God who is the source of real love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… we are all apt to live our lives without purpose, afraid of God, afraid of death, afraid of people, accident, disease, and circumstance… and in the process miss an opportunity to begin to taste now, together, the wonder of a life that will soon be caught up in something and with Someone far better on the other side of the grave.

    Yes, this is a ridiculously long and run on sentence, but am trying to say, I think there is no end to the answer of why the Gospel is so urgently needed by everyone today…

  29. jeff1 says:

    Mart, who is it that changes the Gospel only us humans who think we know God better when the truth is He knows us better than we know ourselves.

    The CROSS was necessary because God knew we would mess up and He would have to do the cleaning up as history shows we are more apt to repeat it than learn from it.

    Alleluia! raise the anthem,
    let the skies resound with praise;
    sing to him who found the ransom,
    Ancient of eternal Days:
    God form God, the Word incarnate,
    whom the heaven of heaven obeys.

    2 Long before he raised the mountains,
    formed the seas or built the sky,
    love eternal, free and boundless,
    moved the Lord of life to die;
    fore-ordained the Prince of princes
    for the throne of Calvary.

    3 There, for us and our redemption,
    see him all his life-blood pour;
    there he wins our full salvation,
    dies that we may die no more;
    then, arising, lives for ever,
    reigning where he was before.

    4 Yet this earth he still remembers,
    still by him his flock are fed;
    for he gives them food immortal,
    gives himself, the living Bread;
    leads them where the precious fountain
    from the smitten rock is shed.

    5 Laud and honour to the Father,
    laud and honour to the Son,
    laud and honour to the Spirit,
    ever Three and ever One,
    consubstantial, co-eternal,
    while unending ages run.

    Job Hupton (1762-1849)
    and John Mason Neale (1818-66) altd.

  30. foreverblessed says:

    Looking at the character of God,
    As this John Stott said: God is love and every act He does He does out of love.
    Anyway, I am so glad, God knows, and only God knows, He is in control, He cares, He purifies with His fire, not to consume us, but to sanctify us.
    Everything He does is so that people would come to their senses, and repent, meaning, that they turn to Jesus.

    I shared this topic with my husband, and he said: only God knows, so why discuss this, why just not wait?
    I had to smile, and I said: that’s why you are not on this Beenthinking blog.

    Been thinking 🤔

    I am thankful for the thinkers in our church history, Paul was one!
    He did think a lot about the Old Covenant, in comparison to the New Covenant. He has done some thinking.
    With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that is.

    Why talk about this topic?
    Because many christians think they know, what only God knows.
    I do not know, but I hope that finally after eaons and eaons of time, slowly one by one the list will cry out to God, “save me, in Jesus Name”
    What a real great work that will be, to get them out and restore them. What loads of work there will be for us, the first fruits, who do believe in Jesus as our Savior. I am hoping that this is do. I hope…
    not that this is my doctrine…

    Jesus, only because of the blood of Jesus, through the Body of Jesus can we enter the Holies of Holies, that is the curtain.
    There is no other way.
    Hebrews 10:19-20

  31. foreverblessed says:

    The list=the lost

    After posting our comment is in the nowhere, we learn to go by faith here!
    😂
    Even Mart experiences this now!
    I was wondering with what topic Mart would come, and it is this one!

    For the preaching of the Gospel it makes no difference, an aeon of time in hell, is just so dark, so terrible!
    But as Jeff said, many already live in a hell here on earth.
    To bring them the good news of the Gospel, to free them from their yoke, to give them sight,
    Wait, isn’t that a Bible verse?

    Street, I had to think about Eph 2:15-18
    One body, the Body of Christ?

  32. street says:

    I’ve become increasingly convinced that just about anything someone believes about religion, politics, our national constitution, and more importantly the Bible and the words of Jesus, can be countered with— another written text from the Bible.

    thinking about the scribes and pharisees coming to the point of not daring to ask Jesus anymore questions. in other words they were silenced. yet they made up their minds to kill Jesus, The Son of God, thinking they were doing God a favor.

    thinking that receiving Jesus, The One the Father sent, is to receive the One Who sent Him. to receive Him is to receive New Life, New Birth or Born Again. not born of the flesh or the will of man but born of God. The gift of God in earthen vessels.

    so why is the gospel important?

    created in Christ Jesus for good works,

    the work of………love

    the work of ………joy

    the work of …….peace

    the work of…..patience

    the work of…..kindness

    the work of…..goodness

    the work of faithfulness

    the work of…gentleness

    the work of self control

    A work of God. God’s handwork for God’s Glory.

    thinking of Abraham’s active participation in faith….. and many others.

    thinking of the ends of Mark’s Gospel.

  33. street says:

    two groups, the legalist and the lawless brought near by the blood of the Lamb and made One in Christ Jesus. given a New Spirit. the growing is the part we struggle with, mortifying the flesh by this Spirit.

    thinking daily bread for growth and development, The Word of God. exercised in faithful obedience in Spirit and Truth. living sacrifices

  34. street says:

    can’t but help noticing the picture mart chose for yes…but yes. we have all been there. brokenness despair sever disappointment betrayal getting thrown under the bus or being the scapegoat. being rejected by man is one thing, but to be rejected by God would be not only just, but loaded with eternal consequences. yet some people believe they can be accepted by God on the terms they have set up! i wonder if this is the cause of all the grief and evil in the world?

    what is humility? what is the motive behind it?

  35. Beloved says:

    What is humility? What is the motive behind it?

    The sermon on the mount comes to mind. The motive? Christlikeness-eternal reward- peace love kindness etc. “Not as the world does…but as I do” A new and better Kingdom. Living now in the shadow of the old kingdoms of the earth. It’s hard to stay out of the shadows sometimes. Plato was right. But for the Light we would dry up and never grow. Blessed Jesus thank you.

  36. foreverblessed says:

    Some more on humility:
    “Harmony Within”

    Follow My Guidance. Be afraid to venture on your own as a child fears to leave its mother’s side. Doubt of your own wisdom, and reliance on Mine, will teach you humility.

    Humility is not the belittling of the self. It is forgetting the self. Nay more, forgetting the self, because you are remembering Me.

    You must not expect to live in a world where all is harmony. You must not expect to live where others are in unbroken accord with you. It is your task to maintain your own heart peace in adverse circumstances. Harmony is always yours when you strain your ear to catch Heaven’s music.

    Doubt always your power or wisdom to put things right, ask Me to right all as you leave it to Me, and go on your way loving and laughing. I am wisdom. Only My wisdom can rightly decide anything – settle any problem. So rely on Me. All is well.

    Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand
    of God, that he may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:6

    God calling, May 9

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