These words by Tim Challies certainly resonate with me. I also appreciate his statement, “I find much beauty in traditional Protestantism, but realize that in some areas traditions are not Scriptural. Where that is the case I am open to change and improvement.”
Though we are in very different places in the Protestant tradition, I certainly identify with his words above.
I think that more and more Christians, no matter what their denominational affiliation, will be drawn by the power of the terrifically salvific message of the Bible. They will realize that mainstream Christianity has been too judgmental of the sins of the unbelieving world, while too lenient in evaluating and correcting its own sins.
Here are a dozen or so questions that I believe explore how salvific the work of Christ will yet be — so terrifically salvific that it will reach all people — bringing the Christians who responded in this life to heaven, and then restoring the rest of the world through a judgment or probationary process to life on earth…
- God says it is his will for all to be saved, and that he performs all his good pleasure. Who can stop God from accomplishing this “will”? Can Satan stop him? Can human “willfulness” or “hardness of heart” stop God from causing the redemption of Christ from reaching everyone? (see my post from yesterday on this)
- Jesus said God could do more to teach Sodom and the other cities of ancient Israel. He said, if the mighty works done in Capernaum were done in Sodom, they would have repented. Evidently God could have done more for them, but chose not to at that time.
- God says during Christ’s reign he will bind Satan, keeping him from deceiving the nations until the “little season” at the end of the millennium. If God can do that, and now is the only time for man’s salvation, why doesn’t God bind Satan now and keep him from deceiving people?
- Ezekiel 16 says that God will indeed restore Sodom along with the nation of Israel, and forgive them, etc. If God is going to forgive Sodom and “restore” them — and Sodom was set forth as an example of what it means to suffer the “vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7), then can there be any doubt that eternal fire does not mean everlasting torment, but rather the annihilation or death of the wicked?
- God tells believers that they should continue to dwell with unbelievers as long as they are willing, in the hope that eventually the unbelievers would respond to their righteous character and be saved. Is God any less committed to trying to recover unbelievers than he instructs his children to be?
- God tells believers to love their enemies. This love is sacrificial and redemptive. Does God ask his people to stop thinking that way the moment their enemy dies? After that point, is it godlike to stop one’s ears to any future appeals, cries of help, or expressions of repentance by an enemy?
- 1 Corinthians 15 states that God will swallow up death in victory through the resurrection. Does anything in this chapter state that the resurrection only benefits those who were followers of Jesus in this life?
- Doesn’t it speak of the followers of Jesus as part of the “first resurrection”? Who, then, are part of subsequent resurrections? Would it not be the same “all” who died in Adam?
- Jeremiah speaks of God as changing the stony selfish hearts of man into responsive, teachable hearts of flesh. Is this a power and intention of God that ends when people pass into death?
- Romans 8 states that the whole creation groans, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. Does this imply that they will stop groaning when the sons of God are revealed, or that they will continue groaning in agony forever, since they were not part of the “sons of God” class at their death.?
- Romans 11 states that God loves Israel in spite of their sins, because of their fathers. Will God forget this loyalty and commitment to the fathers, and instead send all unbelieving Jews into eternal death or even worse, eternal conscious punishment? If so, then why does it say, “all Israel shall be saved”?
- Jesus said that his followers would do even greater works than he would. He speaks of raising all the dead who have ever lived, etc. When does this promise have its fulfillment? Are the ‘greater works’ things that have already been happening on earth during the Christian era, or are they some events we have never really seen yet?
- Peter speaks of “times of restitution of all things”. What does restitution mean? What was lost by mankind, and what is promised by all the prophets to be restored?