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I had unexpected company this morning. Charles came to visit me. Since he is only a few months old, it was necessary for his mom to bring him to the office. I had never met them. Recently, the mom discovered that her neighbor had some of my books as well. They were both surprised that they knew of me. They live just down the road from the office.
Her question was mainly about the word “eternal,” which, of course, is an important topic when discussing the nature of “hell” and its duration. Is “eternal punishment” the same duration as “eternal life”? That, we know, was Augustine’s argument, which I discuss more thoroughly in Appendix 1 in the back of Creation’s Jubilee.
“Eternal” is from aionian, which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word olam. Olam means “an age,” same as aionian. An age is an indefinite period of time. Olam comes from the root word alam, which means “hidden, unknown, secret.” In other words, one does not know how long it is, because it is indefinite. An age can be three days (as in Jonah 2:6) or 300 years (as with the “covenant of an everlasting priesthood” that God made with Phinehas in Numbers 25:13 KJV).
When applied to God’s judgments on men, the law prescribes a different length of sentence to each man according to his sin. When applied to God Himself or to our reward of immortality, it lasts forever. Therefore, just because aionian is a word describing both judgment and life, it does not mean that these are of the same length of time.
I had this discussion a few times over the last weekend in Duluth as well, where I met a number of young men who were just beginning to search out the issue of the Restoration of All Things. This concept was taught by most Church leaders until the year 400, and then, because of a political struggle, the teaching began to be banned by the popes in Rome. Even so, it took centuries and multiple Church Councils to eradicate it entirely.
Those Church Councils essentially put a curse of blindness on the people, which we are still dealing with to this day. This curse might have been avoided if a certain bishop of Alexandria had had the character of Christ.
Nonetheless, we are making progress in restoring some of the teachings of the early Church that were lost in later centuries. This aspect of Church history is known in the seminaries, but the seminarians normally keep it a secret, not wanting the people to know that most of the early Church taught the salvation of all men, including nearly all of the most prominent leaders of the early church.
The seminarian code of silence is meant to give the impression that the Church has always believed in an “eternal hell.” This has caused the Church to remain in darkness and blindness as to the purposes of God in the earth.
God’s Kingdom Ministries attempts to fulfill its mandate, given by a prophetic word in 1986 to “teach the whole counsel of God.” The teaching of the Jubilee and the Restoration of All Things is one of the most important parts of “the whole counsel of God.” Its importance has, perhaps, been exaggerated due to the code of silence in the seminaries, for if they had been teaching this to the people, it would not have been as important for me to spend as much time on it.
I have found that Jubilee-minded believers can more easily bear good fruit that God requires of the overcomers. They see unbelievers not merely as sinners bound for hell but as future believers when the promises of God finally apply to them. This makes the overcomers less judgmental of the unbelievers and more compassionate toward them. Even as “God so loved the world” (John 3:16), so also are the overcomers able to love the world as He does.
Further, it makes us confident of victory, rather than giving us a sense that God has to do a rescue operation to rapture us out of danger. God’s enemies are the ones losing this battle. We are more than conquerors. God is always the Winner, for if He should lose, then He would be a sinner. To sin is to fail to reach the mark/goal.
Though most Christians claim to believe that God is sovereign and that He is the great Winner, in practice they believe the opposite. They claim to believe the promises of God, but they water down those promises so that God is able to fulfill them. In the end, they believe that God is able to save only a small portion of His creation. The devil wins 98 percent of humanity; God wins about 2 percent (or less) and yet He declares Himself to be the winner!
Such is the theology of Old Covenant minded people who believe that their salvation is based upon the will of man (as in Exodus 19:8). We, however, agree with John, who said that we “were born, not of bloodline, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).
Anything that is based in the flesh or the will of man is fatally flawed and is destined to fail in the end. Only the promise of God will succeed, for it cannot fail. That is the foundation of New Covenant faith (Romans 4:21, 22).