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When God created all things, He pronounced it “good” at each stage of creation and then “very good” at the end (Gen.1:31). Sin was not built into creation but was a later invasion, so to speak. But as time passed, men began to think that evil was inherent in creation and that matter itself was evil.
Soon they constructed theologies around that misunderstanding, wherein good and evil, light and darkness, spirit and matter, were opposed to each other eternally. The fall of man was said to be a matter of light mingling with darkness and good mingling with evil. Thus, the logical goal of history, they said, was to separate these two opposing “kingdoms” into their respective domains.
This dualistic theology presumed that good and evil were eternal kingdoms that would always coexist. The final goal of history was to separate men into heaven or hell, and all the evil and darkness would continue forever as one dark blot in God's creation.
By the fifth century A.D. the Church had drunk deeply from this non-biblical theology and had begun to adopt it officially in its own teaching and persecute those who denied it. This was one of the greatest tragedies of all time in the history of Christian thought.
In my view, sin is temporary. Because it had a beginning, it also will have an end. The whole idea of “restoration” implies that history is the process by which God is showing us the results of sin before finally restoring all things under His feet as it was at the beginning. Through this process, we will gain more at our maturity than we had in our naive beginnings. In Gen. 1: 26 we read,
26 Then God said, Let us make man in our own image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
This was the dominion mandate given to man, and it was the point where man's authority began, operating under the sovereignty of God. Sin, of course, made man a debtor in the eyes of the law, and so he was “sold” into bondage as “slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:17). With him was sold his wife, his children (descendants), and his entire estate, which was the whole earth.
Technically, he was sold to the earth itself, legally making him an earthly man with a carnal mind. This is why Gen. 3:17 says, “cursed is the ground because of you.” Verse 19 says, “by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground.” In the divine law (Ex. 22:1-4), a thief was to be “sold for his theft” if he could not pay the restitution required. He who bought the thief actually bought the thief's labor for a specified amount of time, and for this he was also required to pay the debt which the thief owed the victim.
The fact that Adam was required to labor for the earth until he died--and even then, the earth was to reclaim him--shows that the earth was the legal redeemer in this case. The earth, of course, was incapable of fulfilling its obligation to pay the debt for Adam's sin. And so the earth came under a “curse” as well. Cursed Time is always in terms of 414-year cycles. In this case, the flood came upon the earth (for non-payment of debt) after 4 x 414 years. A study of the genealogies in Genesis 5 proves that the flood occurred 1656 years from Adam, or 4 x 414.
This law also reveals the principle of redemption, because the he who purchased a debtor (with his debt note) was known as a redeemer. Jesus, of course, was the great Redeemer, who paid for the sin of Adam and for the sin of the whole world (1 John 2:2). What the earth could not do, Jesus did. Paul expounds upon this in Romans 6, where he reminds believers that by the law of redemption, they were now free to stop sinning, because they were purchased with a price.
They were now to serve their new Master, rather than continue in sin. The law of redemption makes this clear in Lev. 25:53, saying of the redeemed debtor, “Like a man hired year by year shall he be with him,” that is, the redeemer. The law of redemption does not set the debtor free, but rather it gives him a new master. In other words, because Jesus has redeemed us, we are now to serve Him and have no right to continue in sin that grace may abound. We have only been set free from the dictates (or laws) of Sin, which is here personified as our former master.
Getting back to our original subject, Adam lost his authority over the earth through sin, at which point the earth was given authority over him. The law of redemption in Lev. 25:49 made provision for the debtor to pay for his own freedom, saying, “if he prospers, he may redeem himself.” In the ultimate sense, of course, no man can redeem himself from the bondage of sin. It is an unpayable debt. For this reason, the whole world came under the law—that is, under the penalty of the law, which decreed man’s enslavement to the earth.
Jesus came as our near kinsman with the right of redemption, having come both of the seed of Abraham and as flesh and blood to establish kinship with Adam (Heb. 2:14). The price of redemption was His life, His blood on the cross, which, admittedly, was worth far more than the entire debt that mankind has ever incurred for sin. Yet He was willing to pay that price to redeem mankind and His creation.
Based upon the law of redemption, then, the whole creation became His servant, for He purchased it and obtained the divine right to receive the dominion that Adam had lost. So we read in Heb. 2:7-9,
7 Thou has made Him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou hast crowned Him with glory and honor, and hast appointed Him over the works of Thy hands; 8 Thou hast put all things [panta] in subjection under His feet. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we do not YET see all things subjected to Him. 9 But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
The first half is a quotation from Psalm 8:4-6, which is, in turn, a reference to Adam's Dominion Mandate over the earth. The book of Hebrews applies this to Jesus Himself, telling us that all of creation, (panta) has been subjected to Him. The “all” is further defined for our benefit so that we do not misunderstand: “For in subjecting all things to Him, He left NOTHING that is NOT subject to Him.”
Yet at the present time, we do not YET see all things subjected to Him (vs. 8). There is still much sin and rebellion in the earth. However, this does not mean that He has not purchased them already. It does not mean that they will be lost in the end, for that would indicate that in fact they were not really subjected to Him in the first place. But yet the FACT of universal reconciliation has already been established at the cross. It is only a matter of time before this is manifested in the earth.
Again quoting Psalm 8, Paul speaks of the extent of Christ's dominion also in Eph. 1:21-23,
21 far about all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things [panta] in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as Head over all things to the Church, 23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.
In 1 Cor. 15:22-28 Paul explains the concept of the Restoration of All Things in the most detail. First, he establishes the thesis in verse 22,
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
Next, he shows that not all will be “made alive” at the same time. Verse 23 says, “but each in his own order.” We have seen earlier how the word “order” is from the Greek word tagma, which means “squadron.”
Paul goes on to explain that in the end, Christ “must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet” (vs. 25). The phrase “under His feet” means to put them under subjection, so that they become His servants. Finally, Paul reveals the end of the matter, after all of mankind has become subject to Christ in His Kingdom. Verses 26 and 27 say,
26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death, 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet.
It is important to understand that death is the LAST enemy to be abolished, and not the first. Most modern eschatology is based on the idea that Christ will shortly return, at which time all the saints will be raised from the dead, and thus death will be abolished.
There are some, however, who move closer to the truth by saying that Christ will reign in the Millennium until the Great White Throne, at which time death will be abolished at the general resurrection. In other words, they say that all things will be in subjection under His feet by the end of the Millennium.
The problem with this view is that there is then a “second death” that exists after the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:14), which subjects unbelievers to the “lake of fire.” Unfortunately, Paul did not distinguish between the two types of death in his statement about death being abolished. This leaves some in doubt about which death was being abolished. But if we take it as death in general, then it must refer to the second death—not the first death (mortality).
The issue is clarified only when we link the abolition of death to the subjection of all things under His feet in verse 27:
27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He [God the Father] is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.
These verses, along with Heb. 2:6-8 and Eph. 1:21-23, show us that there are NO EXCEPTIONS (apart from God the Father) in the scope of His dominion over mankind and the creation in general. Col. 1:16-20 reinforces this by saying,
16 For by Him all things [ta panta, “the all”] were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions--all things have been created by Him and for Him. . . . 20 and through Him to reconcile all things [ta panta] to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
In other words, God created “the all” and then has reconciled “the all” to Himself by means of the cross. People often object to the idea that “the all” actually means what it says. “You have to take it in context,” they insist. Well, alright, let us take “the all” in context here. The context defines “the all” as that which God created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, including thrones and dominions. Please tell me what part of creation Paul left out? It takes serious blindness to refuse to believe the plain words of the Apostle Paul.
See how many ways the Restoration of All Things is taught in the Scriptures. First, there is the law of Jubilee, which cancels all debt (sin) at the end of the time of judgment. Secondly, there is God’s vow in Num. 14:21 to fill the whole earth with His glory. Thirdly, Jesus says that if He were “lifted up” (crucified), He would draw [literally, “drag”] ALL MEN unto Himself. Fourth, Paul quotes Isaiah in Phil. 2:10, 11 that “every knee” will bow and “every tongue” will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Fifth, Paul quotes Psalm 8 in many places to show that “the all” will be subjected to Christ in the end.
The only reason people find Paul’s teaching offensive is because they really do not want all sinners to be saved. They give their money to the Church for the purpose of “saving souls” that they have never met, but they do not want certain ones to be saved, because they feel that they “deserve” to be punished forever.
It comes down to three primary objections. The first is to say some people are such huge sinners that their debt to the law exceeds the value of the blood of Christ. It says that Christ's blood was insufficient to pay for the sin of the whole world.
The second objection says that Christ paid for the sin of the whole world, but that most of it was undeliverable, due to the will of man. This was the scenario presented by Moses in Numbers 14. God’s answer was that the whole earth will be filled with His glory, and not just Israel as a nation.
The third objection says that God does not love the world enough to actually purchase all of creation by His blood. This is the idea of limited atonement. It says that God elected only a few to be saved, and decided by His own sovereign will to cast away all others. But Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world.”
Those who do not want to see all mankind saved are those who do not yet have the mind of Christ. Those who harbor grudges in their hearts against those who have abused them or wronged them in the past are those who do not know the love of Christ.
But those who have come to know the God of the Bible and to know the love of Christ which passes understanding are the ones that God is training to reign with Him both now and in the Age to come.