By Femi Aribisala
The redeemer will not stop redeeming until he has saved the whole world.
Moses warns Israel: “The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken me.” (Deuteronomy 28:20).
But would God really do something like this? Would God afflict his erring offspring until he is destroyed and perishes? You better believe it!
The disciples asked Jesus a similar question. He was asleep in the stern of a boat when they ran into a terrible storm. Afraid that they would drown, they woke him up with an accusation: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:39).
However, Jesus rebuked them: “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). But what precisely are they supposed to have faith in?
They are supposed to believe that, because Jesus is in the boat with them, they will not perish. They are supposed to believe that, even if they perish, Jesus is nevertheless still more than able to save them. They should know that Jesus is “able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him.” (Hebrews 7:25).
Saviour of the world
What a shame that most Christians today still don’t have this kind of faith in Jesus. Instead, they conclude that once a soul perishes or is destroyed, it is beyond salvation. They say once a soul perishes or is destroyed it spends eternity in a burning fiery furnace in hell.
However, Jesus reveals God is love. (1 John 4:8). So, how can God who is love consign his beloved offspring into a burning fiery furnace for eternity? Only a god who is hate would do that. God is love and love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8). That means God will never fail to love. Accordingly, Jesus, our saviour, will not fail to save. Indeed, Jesus will not stop saving until he has saved every human being that has ever lived.
Jesus asks: “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:12-14).
Jesus is not just the saviour of Christians: he is the saviour of the world. (1 John 4:14). John says to believers: “(Jesus) himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:2).
James says: “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:13). It is the mercy of God and not his wrath that endures forever. (Psalm 136:1). When the judgment of God collides with the mercy of God, it is God’s mercy that prevails.
Take another look at this doxology: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19).
Redemption from destruction
Some scriptures are mistakenly believed to contradict this. For example, Paul says: “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.” (Philippians 3:18-19).
But while, indeed, the actions of many will lead to their destruction, the wrong translation in King James should not lead to the conclusion that their end is destruction. Many will be destroyed but destruction will not be their end.
Scripture must be used to understand scripture. Jesus says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 1:8). Since God is the end, the end of everything must be love for God is love. Since God is the end, the end of no man can be destruction or a burning fiery furnace. Since God is the end, the end of everything must be good.
The psalmist confirms destruction is only a means to God’s end: “You turn man to destruction, and say, ‘Return, O children of men.’” (Psalm 90:3). We all come from God and will all end with God. (Ecclesiastes 12:7). We are all the offspring of love and will end with love.
God, “the Mighty One of Jacob,” is not only our saviour; he is also our redeemer. (Isaiah 49:26). Christians need to know that nothing, absolutely nothing, is beyond God’s redemption. Because God is love, he even redeems what he destroys. The redeemer will not stop redeeming until he has saved the whole world.
Jesus says to the Jews: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19). This shows the destruction of a thing or person is not the end of the thing or person. God is more than able to redeem what has been destroyed.
The psalmist says: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:1-2). Nevertheless, there is one benefit that, as Christians, we insist on forgetting. The psalmist reminds us that God redeems our life from destruction. (Psalm 103:4). If so, destruction can never be the end. There is redemption even for the destroyed.
Israel was destroyed but not beyond redemption: “O Israel, you are destroyed, but your help is from me.” (Hosea 13:9). God will still help Israel even though Israel is destroyed. Israel is destroyed, nevertheless: “All Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:26).
God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Nevertheless, Sodom and Gomorrah will be redeemed: “When I bring back their captives, the captives of Sodom and her daughters, and the captives of Samaria and her daughters, then I will also bring back the captives of your captivity among them…When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state.” (Ezekiel 16:53-56).
The truth of the matter is that God’s love cannot and will not be limited by anything.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39).