By Femi Aribisala
When God kills, his killing does not nullify his love. He kills to reprove and with the firm intention to redeem and renew life.
The writer of Hebrews says: “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). This one-time death is not in the future, but in the past. “In Adam all die.” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Therefore, the judgment that comes after death is also “in Adam” and in the past. In Adam we all died, and in Adam we were all judged.
Accordingly, we are not just in danger of God’s future judgment, as Christians presume; we are already going through the judgment here on earth. Isaiah says: “When (God’s) judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9). Paul also notes that: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18).
Life of death
God’s wrath against ungodliness is evident in the life of death we have been living since Adam. It is life defined by aches and pains; tragedy and sorrow; sicknesses and diseases; and fear and torment. It is life defined by sitting in darkness, blind to the glory and majesty of the invisible God. It is a life dead to God and to his divine attributes of love, joy and peace.
But thanks be to God, contrary to the position of hell-fire Christians: “men are not cast off by the Lord forever.” (Lamentations 3:31). “(God) does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in mercy.” (Micah 7:18). “His anger is but for a moment, his favour is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5).
Instead of consigning sinners to demonic eternal torment, God says: “For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you.” (Isaiah 54:7-8). Therefore, he sent his Son Jesus to broker peace between God and men.
The psalmist says: “God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God. Also to you, O Lord, belongs mercy; for you render to each one according to his work.” (Psalm 62:11-12). This is very instructive. It means if God speaks once, it is absolutely essential that we hear him twice. The first might be the expression of his power, but the second will be the expression of his mercy.
God says: “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (Ezekiel 33:11). Therefore, when God kills, he does not kill according to malicious men with the sole intention to destroy. When God kills, his killing does not nullify his love. He kills to reprove and with the firm intention to redeem and renew life. Thus, he says: “I, even I, am he, and there is no God besides me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal.” (Deuteronomy 32:39).
If God speaks once, hear him twice: “The dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.” (Genesis 41:32). If God speaks, listen to him again. Often, what he says a second time seemingly negates what he says the first time: “For God does speak- now one way, now another- though man may not perceive it.” (Job 33:14).
The reason for this is that God often presents an action with a reaction. The reaction would seemingly contradict his action by providing it with sharp relief. So, while his action might display his anger and wrath; his reaction would then reveal his grace and mercy.
God will surely punish sinners, but after he has punished, he will redeem. Should God say he is going to kill you, recognise that he will. But also note that after he has killed you, he will then give you new life. Thus, Job says of God: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before him. He also shall be my salvation.” (Job 13:15-16).
Job’s faith, like that of David, led him to conclude that God will not leave his soul in the grave.” (Psalm 16:10). Jesus confirms that the same God who takes life is the one who raises the dead back to life. (John 11:25).
Salvation for all
Since all sinned and died, Jesus “tasted death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9). Thereby, he became “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:2). As a result, 2000 years ago, we were all forgiven for our sins. The only sin that now remains is the sin of not believing in Jesus.
Thus, Jesus says the work of the Holy Spirit is to: “convict the world of sin.. because they do not believe in me.” (John 16:8-9).
Jesus’ salvation will go on for the ages to come. At the end of that process, everybody will be saved. God has decreed that: “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11).
This means everybody will receive the Holy Spirit because: “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3). It also explains Jesus’ assertion that: “If I am lifted up above the earth, I will make everyone want to come to me.” (John 12:32).
This will bring God’s prophecy to full circle: “It shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” (Joel 2:28). Accordingly, Paul says: “Since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at his coming.” (1 Corinthians 15:21-23).
This means salvation will not be exclusive to those who receive Jesus in this lifetime. There is coming in the future a Jubilee marking: “the times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21), whereby: “all beings in heaven and on earth would be brought back to God.” (Colosians 1:20).
In the ages to come, God promises to rebuild the tabernacle of David: “so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord.” (Acts 15:17). He says: “I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not my people, ‘You are my people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’” (Hosea 2:23).
In effect, those insisting God will consign the major part of humanity to eternal torment are no different from the hypocritical Pharisees of old. Jesus says: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13).