From: Keith Lockwood
A letter recently printed in this column contended that the belief that God will eventually save all mankind was developed from one verse in scripture and that it contradicts with what the Bible teaches about the eternal destiny of the unbeliever.
The following verses can be added to 1 Timothy 2:4 which support the belief that the power of the cross will save all mankind: 1 Timothy 2:6, 1 Timothy 4:10, John 1:29, John 4:42, John 12:32, Romans 5:18-19, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 2 Corinthians 5:19, Ephesians 1:10, 1 John 4:14, and there are more.
It would appear that there is a contradiction in the Bible because it teaches both reconciliation for all and also eternal damnation for the unbeliever in hell. The contradiction is not found in the Bible. Christian theology, especially belief in eternal torment in hell for the unbeliever, is what creates the contradictions. This theology has developed misconceptions based on pulling verses out of context and the mistranslation of original words used by God through the writers of the Bible.
Misconception #1: The Bible teaches that we have an immortal soul. This is not true. Gen. 2:7 teaches that when God formed man from the dust, He then breathed into man the breath of life, and then man became a living soul (nephesh). At death, our bodies will return to the earth, the spirit will return to God Who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7) and we will be in a state of unconsciousness (Job 14:10-12, Ps. 6:5, 13:3, 88:10-12, 146:4, Daniel 12:1-2, Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, Isaiah 38:18, etc.). If we truly did possess an immortal soul, then what is the need for resurrection?
Misconception #2: Christian theology tries to take the judgments which are only for the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ (such as Matthew 10:28) and smash them into, attempting to make them fit, the white throne judgment of Rev. 20:5-15. These judgments are a thousand years apart (Revelation 20:4, 6)!
Misconception #3: The second death of Revelation 2:11, 20:14-15, and 21:7-8 is a spiritual death or separation from God for eternity. The second death is exactly what the Bible says it is; death. As I stated above, death is a state of unconsciousness. The only beings tormented in the lake of fire and brimstone are Satan, the false prophet, and the beast (Revelation 20:10).
Misconception #4: The Greek words "aion" and "aionion" are translated for ever (aion) and eternal or everlasting (aionion). These words were never intended to mean endless time. An "aion" is a period of time that has a beginning and an end. "Aionion" refers to a distinct period or age. Robert Young, in his analytical translation of the Bible, translates aion as "age" and aionion as "age-abiding" (also see Companion Bible appendix 151 II). The Concordant Literal New Testament translates aion as "eon" and aionion as "eonian". Eonian life refers to life during the two eons to come; the millennial reign of Christ and then the new heavens and new earth of Rev. 21 and 22. Eonian damnation refers to those who will not have life during these two eons to come. Instead, they will not be raised up until after the thousand year kingdom of Christ on earth, and then they will be judged before the white throne and cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (the second death) where they will be in the unconscious state of death until the consummation. Thank God that this will not be their eternal destiny, for at the consummation they will be made alive in Christ and God will be All in All (1 Corinthians 15:22-28)!
When God pulls away the veil of Christian theology for us, the so-called contradictions in the Bible disappear and our eyes and our understanding can begin to perceive the unsearchable riches of God's grace towards all.