There is a hard, bitter rivalry between the Christian west and the Muslim east. If the Muslims are right the Christians are all going to hell. If the Christians are right all Muslims are going to hell. That raises the natural human fear of death and life after death.
Both sides frantically need the other side to be wrong. I think one way we try to cope with this fear is to prove my side is right and to comfort ourselves is by trying to increase our power in the world. If I am powerful I must be right and he must be wrong
I am going to suggest a radical idea. What if neither side is going to Hell. What if God has chosen to accept both peoples and with them all of mankind. This feels risky to me because it goes against the things I have believed and taught all my life.
I have come to believe in world wide grace through my study of scripture. I have read scriptures word by word backwards trying to get past what I think it says and deal with what it actually says. If you disagree please love me and pray for me because I so deeply love you.
I want to trace a wonderful if shocking trail of the salvation story in the sayings of Christ I begin with Jesus saying “I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the World ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
I am reminded of another beloved verse “For God so loved the world” Jesus came because God loved the whole world not just part of it. The work of Jesus does not necessarily depend on humans. The Last part of Romans most emphatically teaches that salvation is in the world because God designed, activated and completed His salvation.
My enjoyment of God’s salvation depends on if I surrender to God’s plan but if I choose not to surrender to it my salvation does not disappear. My salvation began long before my birth will last far beyond my death. Salvation is an all world work of God and God alone. My peace only depends on if I build my life on the reality of the words of Jesus “I have overcome the world’.
While I do not hear of an overcome world on the nightly news I do hear of people in every meeting I go to say that there own personal world feels much more of an overcome world as they have learned to surrender to God’s will. That is why the 11th step suggests we pray only for a knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry it out. Doing God’s will gives serenity.
If my formula becomes God’s will plus anything equals serenity whatever I put in the addition to God’s will equals serenity my disease uses that additional demand to torment me. However, if I build my life around doing God’s will I can have serenity. In my world I see personal examples of an overcome world as people I know live out their surrender to God’s will.
I do not want to write about this world. I am thinking about life after death. In that sense I feel the world of the afterlife is totally overcome. No one is going to hell. To indicate why I feel that way I am going to refer to a few scriptures that acknowledge the horrible world of human sin but then say how God has dealt with that world and in an eternal sense by His/Her Grace.
When Jesus prayed “Father forgive them” who was he asking God to forgive? Was it the people actively involved in the crucifixion?
I believe that since God sent Jesus into the world because God loved the whole world, Jesus is asking God to forgive the whole world including me. He came to the whole world including this one in which I live, it makes sense to me that he is asking forgiveness for all the world past present and future. On the one hand Jesus in his moment of absolute surrender to God’s will hanging on the cross dying in agony he asked for and I am sure receives from God forgiveness for us all.
We still don’t know what we are doing and live in a chaotic world as the result. Still since we are all forgiven at request of Jesus we are all forgiven.
The pattern I see is a frank, clear recognition of the chaos and pain of sin followed by an stunning response in grace that in an eternal sense solves the problem of sin. The following are all verses from the writing of Paul in this pattern.
H To begin look at Romans 3:23 and 24
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
The deadly nature of sin creates a massive problem for the human race. That is the dilemma that God sees as mankind’s problem’
The response of God that is the solution God gives us is to declare us all justified. The best definition of justification I have ever heard I learned in Sunday School. It is that when we are justified itis “Just as if we never sinned” That is an obvious comparison of our justification we become in God’s eyes like the one who never sinned Jesus.
Yes our problem of sin is solved but the result of God’s mercy is he see’s us just like Jesus. If that was not something I see in the Bible I would feel that uttering those words was blasphemy. But it is not blasphemous it the precise truthj about me and you. That is an incredible gift’
Romans 6: 23 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The problem of our sin is that even if we are physically we are doomed. People on death Row in prison’s are sometimes refered to “Dead Men walking” because the inevitable result of their limited days is death by execution. Out side of God’s mercy we are all “Dead men walking” because our doom is sealed.
God’s response ie not jus a limited human life it is eternal life. It is divine life that never ends and includes all the depth and joys of God become ours.
That means the result of God’s gift of life goes far, far above just human life. It is the life god has and lovingly gives us. John writes in first John of the amazement he feels when he considers what God has given, He Says “What manner of love is this that we should be called the sons of God.
That leaves as all of are bound for heaven. No matter your religion, no matter when you lived, no matter how sinful or righteous you are we all are going to heaven because “God so loved the world”.
Paul summed it up this way.
But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
We are all within the boundary of Gods love. God did not miss anyone at all we He included us all in his grace. God did not respond to our sin by turning us into a “Pillar of Salt”. God did not respond to our sin by drowning us in the Red Sea like the Egyptian Army. There is a new thing that happened. God dealt with our sin with His infinite grace.
We all need to be very, very grateful.