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The Bible is the written record of the progression of the Kingdom of God from its creation in Genesis 1:1, through the disruption of sin, and finally to the great Jubilee of Creation when all things owned by God are fully restored to Him.
It is important to recognize that this physical creation is part of the Kingdom. Paul says in Romans 11:36,
"For OF HIM [that is, from or out from Him] and through Him and to Him are all things."
The Greek word for "of" in the above verse is ek, which means out from. It denotes motion from the interior (God) to the exterior. As a child, I was taught the view from the Middle Ages that God created all things out of nothing (ex nihilo), but Paul tells us that all things came out from Him. In other words, God created all things out of Himself.
All matter is made of God particles--substance that cannot be further subdivided. These God particles are much smaller than atoms, because the atom can be split into smaller particles. No man has yet discovered the God particle.
That is a problem for physicists, not for students of Scripture. It is enough for us to know that creation is actually an extension of God Himself, and as such it has value. The current arrangement of those God particles is constantly changing as life is born, grows, and dies. It changes as rocks erode and chemical reactions take place everywhere. For this reason, all that is seen is "temporal," that is it is a temporary arrangement of God particles.
In the end, however, all of those God particles that came out of Him must return "to Him," either to form a new arrangement of matter or something else that is new. Not that any of them have ceased to be a part of Him. I speak rather of the problem of sin and death in the universe, in which these God particles have been subjected to disharmony.
The point is that if any of those God particles fail to return to Him, then God will forever remain incomplete. If sin is not eradicated, if some part of His creation remains separated from Him, if not all things are reconciled to God, then it will prove that God is not really perfect, nor is He capable of restoring all of His body parts to Himself.
This is why the reconciliation of all things is so vital--not so much to us, but to God Himself. Colossians 1:16 says,
"For by Him were all things [ta panta, "the all"] created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created by Him and for Him."
The context defines "all things" as being everything that God created, including all things in both heaven and earth (as per Gen. 1:1). Paul even throws in things that are both "visible and invisible." There is no question about the scope of Paul's definition of "all things" here. It really does include everything that God created. Then He follows through by saying in verse 20,
"And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things [ta panta] unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven."
Once again, the context makes it abundantly clear that "all things" includes everything that God created. That is the clear context of Paul's use of ta panta, "the all." Reconciliation is peace between enemies that resolves a conflict. In the theological sense, Adam's sin created a conflict between God and His creation. Jesus came to earth to reconcile the two "through the blood of his cross."
Paul apparently believed that Jesus' work was successful. It is only a matter of time before the effects of His death and resurrection are seen. Paul says in Heb. 2:8,
"Thou hast put all things [panta] in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all [ta panta]in subjection under Him, He left NOTHING that is not put under Him. But now [at the present time] we see not yet all things put under Him."
So in spite of the fact that the world today is still not entirely subject to Christ, the day will come when Christ's death on the cross will prove to be 100% effective. All of the God particles that make up His creation will be fully reconciled to Him.
This does not mean that God did away with divine judgment for sin. Far from it. No man will be reconciled to God until they have faith in Jesus Christ. Their faith must be based upon the truth of the cross. In fact, it is because of this requirement that we do not yet see "all things put under Him," as Heb. 2:8 mentions.
Some find faith in Jesus Christ during this life time. Most do not, and so these must be brought before the Great White Throne for judgment. That judgment, however, is designed to instill faith in them, not to torture them without end.
In my book, The Restoration of All Things, I give a more complete study of this issue. I show that the "fire" of divine judgment is a biblical symbol of God's law (Deut. 33:2). In fact, "brimstone" is from the Greek word theon, which is just another form of Theos, "God." Hence, Theon speaks of divine cleansing.
The "lake of fire," then, is the judgment of divine law. But God's law never judges anyone by burning anyone alive. Torture is MAN'S way of judging in order to punish as endlessly as they can as a type of revenge.
Secondly, the "everlasting punishment" that many Bible translations employ is a gross mistranslation of the original language. The Hebrew word olam means "obscurity," and indicates an obscure or unknown period of time. The Greek equivalent is eonian, pertaining to an eon or an age.
There is an age of divine judgment which begins with the Great White Throne after every knee has bowed and every tongue has confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10, 11). No man can make such a confession apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). No man will be able to lie on that witness stand, and this confession will be made in sincerity, for that is the only type of confession that is "to the glory of God the Father."
All those in that age of judgment will have faith in Jesus Christ, but they will have to learn righteousness through judgment (Isaiah 26:9). Their condition will not differ substantially from ours today. Though we now have faith in Jesus Christ, we too must learn righteousness in this age of Pentecost, whose purpose is to teach us obedience through the baptism of fire.