GOD IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ETERNAL FATE OF AFRICANS
A Sermon by:
James Kennedy, A.B., M.Div., M.Th., D.D.,
A Critique by: L. Ray Smith
Dear Dr. Kennedy:
My name is Ray Smith and I love the Scriptures. But I marvel how God's Word is being misrepresented today in such an organized worldwide effort..
There was a time when I too believed many of the unscriptural teachings of modern theology. I see now how the God of Christendom is presented to the world as a God of meager and scant success in the running of His creation resulting in a minuscule reward for His well-intentioned efforts. And what is totally beyond reason or sanity is the teaching that adds colossal insult to this devastating injury. Except for a few who receive God's blessings, billions and billions will receive God's unquenchable frustrated curses for all eternity.
Gentiles accepting this God of Christendom must also accept the teaching that salvation will ultimately come to only a few of their people, not all. This is hardly a fair exchange for the gods these people are supposed to forsake.
First, let me state my position succinctly:
1. Whatever we teach must "glorify" God.
Whatever we teach must not detract one iota from Christ's sacrifice for all humanity.
In your sermon you mentioned visiting a person who had no interest in God. He remarked that if he lived his life the way he considered "good," that was all he needed. He then questioned how God would deal with Africans who know nothing of God. What would be their fate?
You suggested that he posed this question in such a way as to feel self-assured that he had boxed you in. As though, surely, you wouldn't be able to answer him.
You then assured your congregation that he had not trapped you in this question, but that you have the true Biblical answer to this question, which has also been asked by countless truth seekers through the centuries. You used an analogy and a few scriptures on conscience to show that God is not responsible for the eternal fate of billions of unsaved humanity.
It is your "analogy" that is the reason for this letter. Your analogy personifies much of modern theological thinking. Analogies are fine for teaching if they really are analogous to the subject. They should simplify, not contradict the Scriptures on the topic at hand! You opened a "theological can of worms" with your analogy.
You said something to the effect that "sin is what sends people to hell."
"Hell" is an unfortunate translation of numerous Greek and Hebrew words.
In Hebrew "Hell" is translated from the word sheol
This same word sheol is translated into the English word "grave" thirty-one times in the Authorized Version
In Greek "Hell" is translated from the word gehennah [the valley of Hinnom], Tartaros [abyss?], and hades [the unseen].
In I Cor. 15:55 "hades" is translated "grave"
The Hebrew word sheol and the Greek word hades are synonymous (Acts 2:27).
Why would an intelligent translator translate three totally different Greek words into the same English word?
"Hell" never was and never will be a proper translation of the Greek word hades. However, back in the Middle Ages it did have a totally different connotation than today. There is old English literature that refers to people "putting their potatoes in hell" for the winter. And I guarantee you that when they retrieved their potatoes they were still raw and not baked or burned by some fabled fires of hell.
Although not a proper translation of hades, this old English word did (I said "did"-not anymore) have similarities to the word hades. My old Webster's Twentieth Century Dictionary has this definition: "hell, n. [ME, helle; AS, hell, hell, from helan, to cover, conceal.]" To "cover" or "conceal." That definition has at least some similarity to the Greek elements of hades: UN-PERCEIVED [the UNSEEN or IMPERCEPTIBLE].
Before the King James Bible, the old Anglo-Saxon word simply meant a dark, hidden, concealed, or covered hole in the ground. Actually, hell would be a better translation for grave than hades. But now check a modern dictionary and look what we get: Webster's New World Dictionary: "hell (hel), n 1. the place where Christians believe that devils live and wicked people go to be punished after they die." What happened to the definition ... of the word ... "hell?"
It doesn't even purport to define the word. It just tells us what Christians believe it is. I, frankly, don't care what Christians think it means. What a travesty of modern scholarship.
So when unsaved people die, are they really punished eternally in this "Christian" hell?
You know, it's the theologians who should be protecting the people against such modern heresy, but instead it is they who are causing and promoting the heresy.
Let's see if God's Word really teaches eternal torture in a "Christian hell where devils live," immediately after death for unsaved sinners. Let's look at body, spirit, and soul, and see if any dwell "with devils" at death.
When a man dies his body (if not disintegrated) goes into a grave or tomb (Jn. 11:38) where within a few days it begins to smell and decompose (Jn. 11:39), and it returns [Heb. shub] to the dust of the ground from which it was taken (Gen. 3:17-19, Job 10:9, Psa. 9:17, etc., etc). The "person" is said to be where the "body" is and the "person" is resurrected from the place where the body is (Mat. 28:6). Only in a figurative or symbolic sense does a "body" ever go to sheol (Jonah 2:2). Jonah was not "literally" in hell [sheol], but in the fish, and besides he didn't even die. I'm sure Jonah's loss of perception inside the fish resembled his knowledge of the word "sheol."
When a man dies his spirit returns to God Who gave it (Lk. 23:46, Psa. 104:24-30). The "spirit" is never said to go to hades or sheol, and the "soul" is never said to go to Heaven at death. Men and beasts have the same spirit [ruach] and they go to the same place (Ecc. 3:18-21). There is no getting around this: when God takes away a living soul's spirit, it always dies. The spirit "gives life." No one can live without "spirit," no matter how young and healthy he may be. There are no exceptions. If there are, where is the Scripture? A dead person cannot experience anything-not pleasure in Heaven or pain in a fabled hell. This is a serious thing. Rom. 14:23 says: "Now everything which is not out of faith is sin." If one doesn't have Scriptures that show people go to eternal hell fire after death, then it is a sin to teach it.
When a man dies his soul goes to the unseen or imperceptible [Gk: hades, Heb: sheol]. We also know that when man is in this condition (dead) it is likened to "sleep" (Psa. 13:3, Dan. 12:1-2, Jn. 11:11-14). God Himself likens death to sleep,
This is substantiated by the fact that:
Do we think all of these Scriptures lie? According to what we just read in Ecc. 9:5,6,10, do dead people know anything? And these verses are correctly translated.
The words "soul" and "spirit" have become corrupted through theology so that they are now used interchangeably, as if they were synonymous. They are not synonymous. There may be certain similarities between soul and spirit, but similarities do not make them one and the same.
The "soul" is the seat of sensation, consciousness, and feelings, not the body or the spirit. It is the spirit that imparts life to the body and the body then becomes a living soul (Gen. 2:7).
A thorough study of the word "soul" in the Scriptures proves that it is used of consciousness, feelings, and emotions. Hence, "sensation" is a good word to define its usage.
These verses show the wide range of emotions and sensations that "souls" experience, but dead souls experience nothing in the unseen or imperceptible (hades). We need to pay close attention to the meaning of words. Hades comes from the Greek a(i)des. The a is a prefix which is equivalent to our un- and the stem -id means perceive. Thus we have UN-PERCEIVE, or imperceptible: the unseen. Etymologically, your doctrine of torment in hell falls flat on its face. From the words that God chose to call this condition of the soul after death, one thing is crystal clear: There is absolutely no perception there. And the soul has everything to do with perception and sensation as clearly seen from the verses above.
So why do you teach that there is perception in death? The very meaning of the word itself (hades) is unseen or imperceptible, so how can a dead soul have perception in a condition of imperception? God Himself chose this word which teaches us that hades is UN-perceptible or IM-perceptible (NO perception).
Because of the shameful way these words are translated and interchanged in the Authorized Version, it is nearly impossible to understand their true meanings without an exhaustive concordance.
FROM KING JAMES TRANSLATION:
This kind of translating is not responsible scholarship-it's confusing and contradictory.
The Apostle Paul admonished Timothy to "have a pattern of sound words" (II Tim. 1:13) The Scriptures quoted above clearly show the translator's disregard for this instruction.
Man is mortal (Job 4:17). Not one Scripture says that man is "immortal" or has an "immortal" soul. Not one. "Our Lord, Jesus Christ: the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only has immortality" (I Tim. 6:14-16).
It is by means of the "resurrection" that God causes dead people to live again. The Apostle Paul said: "Concerning the expectation and resurrection of the dead am I being judged" (Acts 23:6). The truth regarding the "resurrection of the dead" is not even taught in Christendom today. They teach that there are no dead people (only dead bodies). They teach that people are either alive on earth, alive in Heaven, or alive in Hell. What need have we for a "resurrection of the dead" if there are no dead people to resurrect? This, my friend, is heresy!
Paul also stated: "Now if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been roused. Now if Christ has not been roused, for naught, consequently, is our heralding, and for naught is your faith" (I Cor. 15:14-15). The very salvation of mankind rests on the resurrection.
To show that God cannot be held responsible for the orthodox hell-bound fate of the peoples of Africa, you used an analogy of a man snake-bit in the Everglades. You said that a snake-bit man in the Everglades could not hold a nearby medical center responsible for his death even if they did have at their disposal the antiserum that would have saved him.
How is your analogy of a snake-bit man in the Everglades analogous to all the people of Africa (or China and the rest of the heathen world) who do not know God? If your analogy stands, then he doesn't even know who or what his savior is. And even if he does, he is hardly in any condition to get there by himself. Is it the responsibility of a dying man to accomplish the impossible, namely, to reach an unreachable Savior? Is it the Africans' responsibility to find a Savior they don't know or never even heard of? What logic is this? Or is this a case of "God helps those who help themselves?" No. Many Scriptures show that God helps those who can't possibly help themselves.
Instead of inventing an analogy, why didn't you just use an analogy that is already in the Scriptures? You put this snake-bit man in the same predicament as the "lost sheep." Let me tell you why. Because the analogy of the "lost sheep" utterly destroys the fallacious point you are trying to make.
Of course a snake-bit man couldn't hold a hospital (who had no knowledge of his tragedy) responsible for his own death. This analogy is a "straw man." There are no similarities between this analogy and God's responsibility toward His creatures for their eternal salvation.
Is the snake-bit man "responsible" on his own to swim three miles and then crawl five miles on his belly to his savior (the hospital)? How, pray tell, can this man come to his savior by himself, by his own ability? He's dying.
Look at your analogy: No one at the hospital had any knowledge of a man dying of a snake-bite or they would have come to his rescue. Do you doubt this for one second? Surely they would have used trucks, airboats, helicopters, or whatever it took to save him. Is God less responsible? Now, had they received word that this snake-bit man needed immediate medical assistance but refused to go to his aid, they would be considered criminally negligent. Is God just as negligent as they would have been? God is fully aware that His sheep are now lost:
"How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains [or the Everglades], and seeketh that which is gone astray? ... even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." (Matt. 18: 12 & 14)
When God almighty says something is His will or is not His will then that's the way it will be done (Mat. 6:10). In God's time and in God's way, ultimately, there will be NO lost sheep anywhere. It is the "will of your Father" that this is the way it will be done! Almighty God will not fail in His desire to accomplish all His Will. Notice Isa. 46:10-11:
But the shepherds (Pastors and Clergymen) of the world teach that God will never fulfill His own will and desires. They teach that most of the sheep will be lost. And worst than lost; they will supposedly be tortured in the fires of Hell for all eternity. You CONTRADICT God and His Word when you teach these things. Read Jer. 50:6 again, it is the "shepherds" that have led the sheep astray:
Maybe it's God's time to let the world know who these fraudulent shepherds are and how they are leading millions astray from God's truths.
But God will bring them back safely (in case you doubted, God is a better shepherd than we). God will save ALL Israel (Rom. 11:26), and it is His delight to give Israel the Kingdom (Lk. 12:32), and God will perform ALL of His desires (Isa. 46:10-11). How can you doubt God's ability to perform His Own WILL? You attempt to diminish God's very Will into little more than a weak wish. If one cannot even believe the Scriptures, how can one teach them?
Your theology is up-side-down, Dr. Kennedy. The shepherd (the Savior) goes after the lost sheep (the Africans or whoever). Since when is it up to the "lost sheep" to find the Shepherd?
And what about "the ninety and nine?" Remember: "All we like sheep have gone astray" (Isa. 53:6). Were the "ninety and nine" shrewd enough, and strong enough, and clever enough by their own instincts to avoid all the jagged rocks, and holes, and cliffs, and ditches, and wolves, and foxes, till one by one they all saved themselves until they found the shepherd?
If sheep could do all of those things by themselves, they wouldn't need a shepherd.
Dr. Kennedy, learn something about analogies. Why does God Himself use the analogy of "sheep" to represent lost mankind? Because we have the same number of feet? God uses the analogy of "sheep" because sheep are totally unable to save themselves. They need a shepherd.
Pastor Hagee says: "When one realizes just how helpless and dumb sheep really are, it's offensive that God calls us sheep." If that's how he feels, I don't know what he thinks of God's ultimate analogy of what man is (Isa. 64:8).
This "straw man" analogy of yours is foolish, and any analogy that attempts to relieve God of His responsibility for the salvation of His creatures would be equally foolish. There is no analogy that can be used to demonstrate something that is false.
You don't seem to understand that God is not trying to save all of His sheep in this lifetime. There are Scriptural reasons why God allows people to die without ever having known Him. They are not eternally lost, they are only "dead." And let's be completely honest here. When a person is "dead," how does God view that condition? As sleep (John 11:11). Are you suggesting that every night when your children go to bed that their eternal fate is sealed? I didn't say death is like sleep, but God Almighty has, many times.
Do you believe God when He says death is "sleep?" Do you really believe that tired and overworked saints in Heaven go to sleep? Do you really believe that after a hard day at the furnace, people in Hell go to sleep? Why is it such a hard thing for you to just believe the Scriptures when God says death is like sleep? God awakens dead people out of sleep in resurrection. This is sensible and understandable: Your teaching is strange and ridiculous.
You make it clear from your sermon that when a person dies you think his fate is eternally sealed. This, however, is also unscriptural. Death is an enemy, but not too formidable an enemy for God. Death cannot separate anyone from the love of God, be he sinner or saint (Rom. 8:36). More proof on this later. Besides, even death itself will be abolished (I Cor. 15:26). God abolishes death by vivifying everyone who is dead. The only way to abolish the darkness in a room is to turn on the light. The only way to abolish death is to make everyone alive.
Look at the giant difference between God and a hospital. The hospital was ignorant of a man needing immediate help. But, not only did God know full well that this man was snake-bit and dying, it was God Himself who created the poisonous snake, and created the Everglades, and created the man.
I think if you reconsider your premise, we will probably be agreed that had the hospital been called to help this man they would have responded quickly.
But now look at the implications of your analogy. Sinful medics at a hospital, in the final analysis, are much, much more loving, concerned, caring, and responsible toward a perfect stranger than your God is toward one of His own sons!
The use of an analogy presupposes that the one using the analogy already knows the truth of the subject being analogized, else how could he devise the right analogy to substantiate his premise? Why not just skip the analogy and tell us plainly that you believe billions and billions of Africans, Chinese, and most of the population of the entire world are doomed to eternal hell without ever being given an opportunity to know Jesus Christ as their personal savior? Why not just admit that you don't think God is the least bit "responsible" for this, the most tragic disaster in the history of the universe?
If that's the way you feel, why not come out and admit it instead of hiding behind a man-made analogy.
Let's look deeper into why your analogy doesn't work. I'll use the exact same "premise," but let's change the characters and their location.
Let's change the snake-bit man into a five-year old girl, the snake into an alligator, and the medical center into the little girl's father. Next, let's move this alligator-attack on this little girl from the Everglades to the little girl's back yard. Let's place her father twelve feet away from her on the back porch. Now. Do you really think this analogy is going to work, Dr. Kennedy?
You don't like my changes? Okay, let's use your analogy again. As I recall, the snake-bit man was apparently some miles from the Medical Center, correct? Would it still work if he were only one mile from the Center? What about a hundred yards? Let's try this. Let's say this man is thirty feet in front of the hospital moat with the Medics witnessing his snakebite through a window. Does your analogy still, work, Dr. Kennedy?
It's the "distance" that makes the difference, isn't it? Did I put the "Savior" too close for comfort?
If the father were just across the street, maybe he could be justified in not saving his daughter. What do you think? Or must we put him out of screaming distance, say two or three blocks away? That suits your analogy better doesn't it? If one doesn't know what's going on, he can't be held "responsible." Isn't that what your analogy really portends? If the "shepherd" is out of sight, out of town, or on vacation, nowhere to be found, then he is no longer responsible for saving the lost sheep. Is that correct, Dr. Kennedy? Or if the shepherd is sleeping on the job, I guess he wouldn't be responsible for saving the lost sheep, either.
Do you think all those billions of unbelievers are being lost because God is out of town on an extended vacation? Or is He "sleeping on the job?"
My question to you is: How far, Dr. Kennedy - how FAR must you "distance" God from Africa until "His hand is too short to redeem or save" (Isa. 50:2 & 59:1), and He can no longer see or hear or feel or be "responsible" for all these poor helpless people who you think are on a daily death march into the eternal doom of a Christian Hell? According to your absurd analogy, it takes only a few miles to disable God's ability to save.
This characterization of God Almighty comes a whole lot closer to blasphemy than I think you want to be standing, Dr. Kennedy!
All who are dead asleep in their graves will be resurrected from death to life (Ezek. 37:13-14). Christ will draw all men (including Africans) to Himself (Jn. 12:32). It is God's WILL that they come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (Tim. 2:4). Every tongue in heaven and earth will, " ... ACCLAIM that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the Glory of God, the Father" (Phil. 2:11). God will not lose one single sheep (Matt. 18:14). God will save all Jews and all Gentiles (Rom. 11:32). So that God may " ... be ALL in ALL" (I Cor. 15:28).
Distance is immaterial to God. Can "distance" separate God from His love for His African people? Rom. 8:35-39 plainly says "no!"
There is no partiality with God. You need to read these Scriptures and ponder them deeply.
Your reasoning that lost sheep must find their own shepherd and unbelievers must find their own Savior or else be doomed reminds me of Lazarus' sister Mary who came to our Lord and said:
Amazing what we humans think are insurmountable problems for God. But you see, Christ was not there and Lazarus did die. But then Christ did come and He did resurrect Lazarus from the dead.
Did Christ resurrect Lazarus out of Hell fire? If He did, then Lazarus went to Hell by mistake. Did Christ resurrect Lazarus out of Heaven? If He did, then Christ lied eight chapters earlier when He said, "NO one has ascended into heaven ... " (Jn 3:13). Christ resurrected Lazarus out of the TOMB (Jn. 11:38-39). Because that's where Lazarus WAS, in the TOMB, dead ASLEEP. This historical example of Christ's resurrection powers was a foretaste of what Christ will do in the future resurrections. This is how it is done. Dead people (not just dead bodies) will be resurrected from the dead, not from life at some other geographical location (not heaven and not hell), but FROM THEIR GRAVES, wherever they may be.
If it is essential that a man be saved before he dies, then God, indeed, would be derelict in His responsibility toward His creatures. But where does it say that a man's eternal fate is sealed at his death? Where? Nowhere!
Here is an analogy that is applicable and easy to understand: God's spirit gives life to the body. Only in life does a man have consciousness or sensation. When God takes back His spirit, the body and soul are dead.
Picture a TV console as representing the human BODY with all its intricate circuitry and components.
Now picture ELECTRICITY as the invisible, powerful force representing God's life-giving SPIRIT.
Picture the blank PICTURE TUBE as representing the SOUL.
Without the electricity (God's spirit), the TV and picture tube (body and soul) are dead. All the time I hear preachers talking about our souls and our spirits as if they were one and the same. Soul and spirit are not one and the same.
Next plug in the electricity (God's spirit). The TV comes to life, and we see the picture tube (soul) animated. We see color, sound, dancing, singing, talking, intelligent conversations, all live via satellite. The dead TV becomes a living, visible, animated, intelligent entity-"Soul." But notice very carefully, the Soul (the animated picture in the TV tube) is not one of the original components. It is not a component in and by itself, but is rather the result of two other vital components, Body and Spirit (the TV console and electricity).
At bedtime I sometimes tell my daughter to give the TV a rest. When one turns off the "on/off" switch the TV goes to "sleep." The power light is still on, but the TV is blank and silent.
But now, pull the plug and take away the electricity (spirit) and what happens to the TV console (body)? It dies. It's just a box of circuits. Not even the power light is on anymore. If left unplugged it will, in time, decay and return to the dust of the ground.
And what happens to the colorful animated picture on the screen (soul) when we take away the electricity (spirit)? Want the real answer? Ask a child. Let several children watch TV together, then pull the plug and ask them where the picture went? A child will shrug his shoulders or say "I don't know" or say "It disappeared." Guess what? He is Scripturally correct on all three counts.
Without spirit there is no life and no consciousness. Without power a TV has no life and no animated picture. It's dead.
If you were to ask an ancient Hebrew person what happens to the soul (the thinking, feeling, animated, sentient personality of a man) at death, he would shrug his shoulders or say "who knows" or just say "it disappears." That's what "Sheol" meant to the Hebrews. It was a question mark. And the Greeks had their word for the same idea (Hades-the UNSEEN, the IMPERCEPTIBLE), and hades and sheol are synonymous in Scripture (Acts 2:27).
There is one more profound Scriptural truth that is also perfectly analogous to the operation of a TV, and that is this. Picture God's Throne as the Broadcast Headquarters. The TV picture Tube, by itself, is not the source or originator of the picture it portrays on the screen. It is a channel for the signal transmitted from the TV Station and Tower. It can only manifest and portray on its screen that which is sent from the source [God]. And often the source [God] uses intermediaries like satellites [Angels] to relay the signals.
In Scripture, death is called a "return" [Heb. shub]. Before we were born we had no body, no soul, and no perception of any kind. At birth God gave us a body, implanted to us His spirit, which gives the body perception (through the brain and the five senses). At death, we [shub] RETURN. The reversal of what happened at birth. The spirit returns to God (Ecc. 12:7), the body returns to the dust (all the elements of man's body are found in the ground or earth) (Job 10:9, Ecc. 3:18-21), and the soul returns to no perception again (the imperceptible or unseen-hades) (Acts 2:27 and Psalm 49:15). This is what the Scriptures very plainly teach: where all that man "is" came from, that's where all that man "is" returns to.
You mentioned "free will" in your sermon. People would rather have their arms and legs cut off and be thrown into a pit of snakes than to give up their "free will." Well guess what? They don't have to give it up. They never had such a thing in the first place! Even God Almighty is governed by the law of His own nature.
But the buck stops at God's throne. He has not given us the same powers He possesses; that's for sure. But man, puny man, thinks he has "human free will" that is never caused or made to think or do anything. Man thinks himself sovereign in this assumed free will.
The Scriptures know nothing of "human free will." This is just another case of human ignorance. Men do not possess free will, because free will does not exist. The reason that "free will" (the ability to make uncaused choices) does not exist is because it is a physiological impossibility!
The first edict of the universe is "cause & effect."
Nothing in heaven or earth can happen without a cause. For every effect there is a cause. There are no exceptions. No effect or happening of any kind in the universe, on earth, in our bodies, or in our minds can come into existence without a cause. And if something is caused, it cannot be free. That would be a total contradiction of words and logic. Humans do have wills. But wills are not free from causality.
This involves countless unperceived forces.
Don't confuse "will" with "choice." Someone might say: "If our choices, are caused, then how can one call it a 'choice'-isn't that a contradiction?" Not at all. Free will demands that when someone makes a "free will" choice, no thing or no one made or forced him to do so. It was completely up to him-one way or the other. People simple confuse the meaning and definition of words. The word "choice" has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the choice could have been avoided. A choice is merely what we prefer. Nowhere does the word "choice" carry with it the notion of "avoidability."
When one makes a choice, one selects what one prefers most at that instant. Nevertheless, something still caused that choice, whether one sees or feels its presence or not. One can argue that one made a free choice because one desired to do so. It still doesn't matter-the desire caused the choice, and the desire, itself, was caused. There are no exceptions. One may suggest that one did or said something without a cause simply because one willed to do so. Fine. But then even you are admitting that the choice had a cause, namely your will. One's wills and desires are not free from the laws of God or the laws of physics. These demand a cause for every effect. Man is not a deity. Man's will is not independent from his Creator (Phil. 2:13).
Read Mat. 7:18-23. Our Lord speaks of a large group of people (many), " ... in that day," who will justify their Christian walk by: "prophesying in Christ's name," "casting out demons," and "doing many wonderful works." (Ver. 22). Sounds pretty good to me. But there seems to be a problem when Christ says: " ... depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Ver. 23).
"Iniquity" is not the proper translation here. The Greek word is anomon-UN-LAWness or LAWLESSNESS. Man thinks by nature he is above the law in that "free will" is, itself, lawless. Thinking himself equipped with "free will" man feels a certain equality with his Creator. "Human free will," therefore, becomes the epitome of man's lawlessness. Man thinks himself a potter. However, to man's chagrin, God says He is the Potter and man is the "pot" (Isa. 64:8).
And God hates pride (Prov. 6:17, 16;18, 29:23), which is the bed-buddy of human "free will."
Anyone who is so deluded as to think he possesses powers so great as to be able to thwart the very Will of God, is certainly disqualified from being a teacher of the Word of God!
Free will is lawlessness.
Not only are all the billions of heathens who never heard the gospel not responsible for their own salvation, but neither are we responsible for our salvation either. Nowhere in the Scriptures does God hold man responsible for anything. This is just another man-made doctrine that clashes with the Scriptures.
We can use the word "responsible" in a relative sense, such as: "It is a man's responsibility to provide for his family." We all know what the word means. But even if this man doesn't provide for his family, God will hold him accountable not responsible.
The problem with your sermon, Dr. Kennedy, is that you want to present God as a "fair" God. You know most men have lived and died never knowing God or even hearing His Name, so you try to relieve God of His responsibility for His creatures. You know that there is "no other name under Heaven by which man must be saved." You do know that, don't you? I'm betting that you do.
But God doesn't need to be relieved of His responsibility.
Knowing that billions of heathens have lived and died, never hearing that Name or knowing the true God, (and since you have all these man-made doctrines that clash with the Word of God), you try to "get God off the hook." And so you place the burden of responsibility for being saved on man's shoulders. God is not "on the hook." He doesn't need your help, my help, a missionary's help, or anybody else's help to save His children. God does use teachers, pastors, etc. to acquaint people with His Word. But this is a privilege for us, not a necessity for God. Remember the Scripture, that God can "raise up stones" if needed. The Scriptures tell us that all men everywhere are accountable to God, not responsible:
Even the King James Version, with its thousands of discrepancies, does not even once in its fifteen hundred pages, use the word "responsible" or "responsibility."
Yet churches evolve whole doctrines around this word "responsibility." Things like: "you're responsible for going to hell" or "it's your responsibility to accept Christ" or "the age of responsibility" or "everyone is responsible for his or her deeds." Strange to make so big a deal of a word that does not even appear in Scripture.
When a minor (a child) commits a crime, even the unjust courts of our land do not hold him responsible. Is his crime simply overlooked? No. He must give an account for his actions. He is accountable. He might be the victim of a broken home, with a drunkard father, a prostitute mother, drug-hooked sisters, and gang-member brothers. Thus, he is not considered responsible. Nonetheless, he is still accountable.
Read the dozens of scriptures where we are likened not only to "children," but to "little children." God is dealing with mankind as minors. He holds them accountable, but nowhere does God hold man responsible. Show me one Scripture.
The church can only see the relative in God's word. They fail to see that God is behind everything in the "absolute."
The only One in the universe Who is responsible [able to respond] is God And so, God takes full responsibility for everything even though He holds man accountable for his deeds. Man is accountable for his deeds, not because he could have done otherwise, but because he thinks he is responsible through his presumed free will. Because he actually did the things he did. However, the Scriptures tell us that, "not in all" is this knowledge. Puny man really thinks he is in control of his own destiny. He really thinks he is a "god unto himself." And the Christian Church hasn't done very much to educate him out of this dilemma.
There's a poem that personifies man's "self-appointed inner deity". It's called INVICTUS, by William Ernest Benley. It appears in a book called: The Best Loved POEMS of the AMERICAN PEOPLE. I heard Oprah Winfrey comment once that this is her favorite poem. It goes like this:
Well, Dorothea Day wrote a rebuttal version of this same poem:
Wow! This girl should have been a theologian. One can go to church for many, many years, and not hear this much Scriptural truth.
But wait. I think I hear cries of protest from the Theological Peanut Gallery:
"No! No! Christ can't 'conquer' your soul. It's not allowed. Not even God can tamper with man's 'free moral agency-will.' Everyone must come to Christ of this own 'free will.'"
"No! No! God doesn't sway the circumstances of life. Man 'brings about' his own circumstances. Man makes his own heaven or hell. It's all up to man!"
"No! No! It isn't 'rule by God' it really is 'chance.' And men get only one chance."
(Well not really. According to Christendom the billions of Africans and Chinese who never heard the name of Christ don't even get one "chance").
And since when is salvation a thing of "chance?" Salvation through Christ's sacrifice is "sure!" Rom. 8:32-- "Surely" [Gk: ge, a particle indicating that no doubt is possible] ... "Surely, He Who spares not His own Son, but gives Him up for us all how shall He not together with Him also, be graciously granting us all?" It is worse than sin to relegate God's supreme sacrifice to a thing of "chance"!
"No! No! The punishments will never be 'cleared'-not in the next billion eons or the billions that follow, not ever, never! Punishment is eternal-why world renowned theologians tell us it will be a great part of our happiness, and God's happiness, to watch billions of boys and girls, men and women being burned and tortured, screaming with insanity for eon upon eon. Won't that be fun."
Do you think they'll all get season tickets to this "Great Heavenly Coliseum of Eternal Torture?" This is sick!
"No! No!" shouts the peanut gallery. "Everyone's 'fate' is in his own hands. Why 'you send yourself to Hell' shouts Pastor Hagee."
"No! No! You are your own Captain. You have to find Christ, and if you live in Africa or China that may not be possible, but it doesn't matter because God gave them a 'conscience.' It won't save them, but they'll get 'fewer lashes' for all eternity. Christ is 'our little helper' in time of need, but never forget-you are your OWN captain."
To some Christ would be at least their 2nd Lieutenant.
I always thought that bumper sticker I see so often is one of the most blasphemous things anyone could ever think, let alone parade in public on their car bumpers: "God is my co-pilot" Yeah, right. That is if you "allow Him" I guess, the great high honor of being seated at your right hand.
I wrote my own childish poem to personify the theologian's view of God:
You see, to the theological peanut galleries of the world, if God is responsible for everything in His creation, then He couldn't be justified in burning billions in eternal Hell fire! But if they can make man responsible, then it's his own doing. But for man to be responsible, God would have had to have given him much greater powers than even our Lord ever possessed.
Are we greater than our own Lord? Answer:
Well, there it is. God has given man no such powers.
I know that this verse is shocking to contemplate. It is a real ego deflator. People do not want their self-esteem brought that low. They love to talk humble pie, but they won't eat it. If God tells us we can't even "direct our own steps," pray what can we do by ourselves? The true and Scriptural answer is just as shocking:
I know this truth is too high for most. Most don't really meditate on such verses. They certainly would never preach a sermon on them. They wouldn't be able to take credit for their own salvation anymore (if they actually believed these Scriptures). They would be forced to get rid of all their self worth. They couldn't feel all puffed up like the King of Assyria if they acknowledged God's total Sovereignty in their lives. They don't have to believe it now. God isn't breaking anyone's arm to accept these truths. But don't try to skillfully contradict these truths of the Scriptures, for that only makes you look silly.
I'll let you in on a secret, Dr. Kennedy. It's not God that theologians are trying to protect from responsibility so much as it is their own ego. They will cling to freewill at the expense of "burning billions" in their eternal hell fire.
If God is absolutely responsible for the salvation of all His creatures (and He absolutely is), then He is obligated to save them. He would have to save them. Their salvation would be assured. (Wouldn't that be a terrible thing for theologians and clergymen to contemplate?) In other words, since God is going to bring peace, happiness, and salvation to all of His creatures in Heaven and Earth, God is a real God. A God worthy of the name. A God to truly be GLORIFIED!
Sadly, however, this is not the God of Christendom. This is not the God being presented to the nations. Instead they are presented with a god who is thwarted by the Adversary, thwarted by feeble demons, thwarted by self-appointed preachers and teachers, and ultimately, thwarted by most of his own children. And how does this god of Christendom respond to his failure in fulfilling the role of a true God? He TORTURES the vast majority of his creatures, without mercy, for ALL ETERNITY! And the "few" who were wise enough to get themselves saved from this eternal hellhole of sin, evil, and unspeakable torture, will supposedly worship this alien monster of a failed and foiled would-be god. This is not hyperbolic emotionalism; this is the ultimate goal of Christian theology; this is the "good news gospel" of Christendom.
This, my friend, is sheer heresy, and this is how the name of God is being blasphemed among the nations today!
Behind every relative truth there is an absolute truth.
Because He is the Alpha and Omega, God knows the beginning from the end.. God is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). That's how God knows everything that is and will be. He makes (causes) everything to turn out the way He predetermined it must be. The Scriptures are full of statements and examples of how everything is operating according to God's predetermined intentions. Theologians just don't approve of it. They don't like it. They will allow for God to cause the sun to go up and go down every day, just as long as God hasn't determined when they get up and lie down every day. But, like it or not, God has determined not only when they get up and when they lie down, but also everything they will do in between.
If the translators understood this grand truth they would never have dared to translate Rom. 8:26 as we find it in the Authorized Version. A proper translation of Rom. 8:26 is thus:
God has determined that even our prayers must be " ... to accord with WHAT MUST BE ... "
"Accord" and "what must be" are in the original Greek manuscripts. God really did inspire Paul to write this Scripture. Our prayers must " ... accord with WHAT MUST BE ... "
Rather than fight these grand declarations of God, we should glory in them and shout them from the rooftops:
GOOD AND EVIL
God created good and evil (Isa. 45:7). That covers it all. God planted the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" - not Satan. When God planted that tree He said everything (including this tree) was "good."
People think that God never intended for man to eat of that tree. Of course He did. How else could man know "good?" He had to eat of that tree. "Good & Evil" are two separate things, but the "knowledge of good and evil" are not separate. One cannot have knowledge of good without knowledge of evil. It is impossible. And that's why they were both in the same tree. The same fruit. The first time I saw the truth of this verse, that both "good and evil" are in the same tree, I was shocked. I had never seen it before.
Pastor Hagee said that it was God's intention that Adam and Eve walk with Him in the Garden and obey Him. So Adam apparently went against God's intention. Untrue and impossible. If true, then God made a mistake-He sinned! If true, then God doesn't "know all" - He lied! Then God had to go from plan "A" to plan "B." How absurd. Adam did not withstand God's intention. God did NOT make a mistake. God does not lie. God knows all. God did not go to plan B, but rather intended for Adam to sin. At this point in Adam's life, God made him a vessel of dishonor (Rom. 9:21).
Religion and theologians have so clouded men's minds that many can't even think straight anymore. Most do not meditate at any length or depth on what they read in God's Word. If Adam and Eve had NOT eaten of the tree of the knowledge of "GOOD and evil," would they have had a realization that they had done a good thing by being obedient? No. They wouldn't. Why? Because they didn't have a knowledge of "good and evil." That knowledge is in the fruit of a tree that they wouldn't have eaten from. If Adam and Eve never obtained a "knowledge of GOOD and evil," how could they ever know ("knowledge") good?
Since this tree contained not only the knowledge of evil, but of good also, why did God forbid them from eating it in the first place? Or, why didn't He plant another tree in the garden that contained ONLY the knowledge of "good?" Why not two trees: (1) the tree of the knowledge of good, and (2) the tree of the knowledge of evil. They could have eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good only, and rejected the tree of the knowledge of evil, and all of the suffering of the human race would have never came about, and we would all be living in a garden of happiness and bliss to this very day. Or would we? Why didn't God do it this way? Because God is intelligent and wise, not stupid and foolish like the people who come up with questions as these.
God is good (Mark 10:18). God possesses a knowledge of "good and evil" (Gen. 3:22). God wants Sons (Eph. 1:5). Sons possess the attributes of their Father. There it is. One cannot know good without a knowledge of evil. That's why they are both in the same tree, in the same fruit. We cannot know one without a knowledge of the other. Eph. 2:10 says:
What is an "achievement?" Webster's Dictionary says: "to do ... succeed ... accomplish ... to get ... to reach by trying hard ... gain ... victory ... by skill, work, courage, etc." Webster's New World Dictionary, p. 7. Do we think "achievement," "goodness," or "virtue," are things that fall out of the sky like rain, or grow wild on trees?
Try to name ONE virtue that is not the direct result of overcoming some form of EVIL. If theologians insist that God never intended for man to sin or experience evil, then they are also saying, of necessity, that God never intended for man to have any virtue or to know good!
Let's not delude ourselves. Under the same circumstances as Adam, I would have sinned, you would have sinned, everyone would have sinned.
Yes, Adam and Eve "sinned" when they disobeyed and ate the fruit. But it was God who was behind it. He had already made provision for their salvation from sin.
God wants sons. (Eph. 1:5). And God "designated us beforehand" for this purpose. God knows "good and evil" already (Gen. 3:22). Man has no knowledge apart from contrast. We can't know what light is unless we also know darkness. We can't appreciate health without having experienced sickness. And we cannot fully appreciate life without also experiencing death. And so God created all these in order to produce sons.
FREE WILL VS. GOD'S INTENTION
Until we come to believe that God Almighty is sovereign and " ... is operating all according to the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11) we will never fully understand the Scriptures or appreciate the marvelous works of God.
To say that man has a "free will" and absolutely nothing "causes" it to accept or reject God, and then say, "But God already knows who will and who won't and how many," is not only unscriptural, but defies all logic. To say, "But God knows all" will not solve your dilemma. Because if nothing causes man to choose as he does, then that knowledge does not even exist until the choice is actually made. Yet you yourself insist that one could have chosen good when he chose evil. If God does not cause people's choices, then even God would have to wait until the choice is actually made before knowing the choice.
You might postulate that God sees and knows all things so God can deduce from "this event" or "that event" or "a condition over here" or "a circumstance over there" or "some other thing" that a man will make the choice that God knows he will make. Okay, I'll accept that. Only one problem for your position, however. If this is your reasoning, you just threw your own "free will" theory out the window. This is, in the main, how our choices actually work. Something over here or other there, this event or that event, a word spoken here or there, the condition of our stomach or the condition of our bank account, etc., are the very things that daily cause us to make the choices that we make. And God controls and operates all of these unseen, unknown circumstances that then "influence" (just a softer way of saying "cause") our every thought.
But your position contradicts hundreds of plain declarations of Scripture. God does know all and God causes all. All is of God, and God is operating all according to the Counsel of His will. Besides, why is it then that none choose "good?" Why did our Lord say that even He could do nothing except by the Father? And didn't our Lord plainly state that we, of ourselves, can also do nothing? You know that verse is in the Bible. You know it is true. But it upsets theologians like you when people like me actually believe it.
God's "grace" is more than a pious sounding word. It is a great power. It is not by laws, the threat of punishment, or the wranglings of self-appointed preachers that men's lives are changed, but by the powerful, miracle-working, heart-changing grace of God. When will men start giving God the credit He is due in our lives? "Yet, in the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace, which is in me, did not come to be for naught, but more exceedingly than all of them toil I - yet not I, but the grace of God which is with me" (I Cor. 15:10). The great and marvelous works of Paul were certainly not of himself or by himself, but, rather, through him, by the grace of God.
Theologians view the Scriptures in the same way little children view a marionette show. Like little children, they suppose that the marionettes are "truth." They suppose that what they see is the absolute truth. These marionettes really do walk and talk "by themselves;" they really do sing and dance "by themselves." Certainly to the immature and the uninitiated, they have that power within themselves. But, they haven't a clue as to what is happening behind the curtain. They haven't a clue as to how these little marionettes do what they do! They haven't even considered that there may be a higher power "operating" these marionettes.
In this, theologians are like little children. Theologians don't want to know what's going on behind the curtain. They are perfectly happy in their ignorance. They are entertained by their own false delusions, and ever so proud of their independence from God!
And why is it that little children are deceived by marionettes' lifelike behavior? Because the strings are very thin and the operators are hid behind the curtain. They can see them perform with their own eyes. They can hear them singing with their own ears. Surely that is proof enough for a little child. And what more proof do you have that humans "perform" independent from the One Who is operating all (Eph. 11:1)? None. God doesn't need thinner strings to fool us-God operates by Spirit. God doesn't need to hide behind a curtain-God is invisible (II Cor. 4:4).
Just as surely as children are fooled into believing that marionettes perform by their own powers, theologians and the wise of this world are fooled into thinking that man too can operate, in and by himself, independently of his own Creator.
Theologians teach this falsehood because they live by sight not by faith. Like little children, they don't perceive any strings nor the Operator, which are both invisible. So with them, as with children, they assume there are no operating forces in their lives-they are "free." Hence they refuse to believe even the Scriptural declarations that God is Operating all according to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 11:1), and that apart from Christ they can do nothing (Jn 15:5).
We are witnessing a worldwide Christian movement where the blind are leading the blind. They are like a Hollywood horror film where renegade marionettes band together and try to cut off the controlling strings, never to be operated against their wills by their Creator again. They want to have powers beyond what their Maker built into them. Everyone wants to be a Potter, when in reality, he is just a pot. "And now, Lord, Thou art our Father. And we are the clay. Thou art our Former, and the doing of Thy hand are we all" (Isa. 64:8).
Someone might retort: "Mr. Smith, are you saying that I can't even move my little finger unless it is God's intention that I do so?"
That is exactly what I am saying. Because that is exactly what God is saying: " ... not far from each one of us is He [God] inherent, for in Him we are living and moving [our little finger] and are [exist] ... " (Acts 17:28). I'm sorry that there are people who are not happy with this arrangement; I am. It gives me confidence and hope to know that God is controlling everything to a perfect conclusion. Man only thinks he has independent free will from God, and look where this world is headed. Imagine the state of affairs if man actually did have free will.
Free will or independence from our Creator God is just an illusion. It is, nonetheless, a marvelous illusion. The genius of God is overwhelming. It is this very illusion that enables mankind to actually believe he is the master of his own fate. And God helps bolster this illusion by actually giving men a certain amount of success in their quest for power, fame, and fortune. But just like the King of Assyria, Pharaoh, and others, all, one day, will realize and appreciate the fact that it was God " ... operating all ... "
These inspired words of the Apostle Paul are so clear that one has to be downright stubborn as to the truth, not to believe them:
God said He raised Pharaoh up for the express purpose of displaying His power in him (Ver. 17). It is an historical and Scriptural fact that God did this to Pharaoh. Ver. 18 then states that, consequently then, God is either "merciful," or "hardens" anyone He wants to. And whosoever they are have nothing to say about God's doing so.
Well, of course, if one is hostile against God and His word, his retort to this statement of Paul's would then be:
How can God hold people accountable for their sins when it was "He" [God] who brought about their condition? At least Paul's detractors had the sense to realize that if what Paul was saying is true, then they are solely at God's mercy (not their own ability) to ever change their condition, because their next statement is:
God intends for men to go against His will (that's how men become lost so that God can then save them), but no one, absolutely NO ONE, has ever gone against God's INTENTION! Hey, don't get angry with me - I'm just quoting the Scriptures.
Notice that Paul does not even deign to answer such carnal questioning of God's wisdom. His response is:
God is GOD, and He does what He pleases. God "pleases" to have many Sons. God "pleases" to save ALL humanity and ALL in the heavens (Eph. 11:10-11, Col. 1:20, I Cor. 15:22, 28). Who are we to question God's process? Since God is both loving and wise and also possesses all power, why should anyone question God's ability to accomplish His own Will?
Theologians are audacious. They not only question God's ability to accomplish His own will; they flat out teach the whole world that the Great Creator God will NEVER accomplish His Own Will. Paul told Timothy:
Theologians the world over say: "IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!" They try to make God out a liar. They are the liars, deceivers, hypocrites, and blasphemers!
One thing is certain; God's greatest enemies are not qualified to be great teachers of His Word.
Maybe it's time we pulled back the curtain of tradition, ignorance, and immaturity and acknowledge Who is really "pulling the strings" of the universe.
But wait. I think I hear the Theological Peanut Gallery objecting already:
"Are you saying that people are mere 'marionettes'?" Or "robots?"
No. But what if there are certain similarities between robots and humans? Is that a "sin" on God's part? Certainly the human brain is many times more complex than all the computers in the world, but nonetheless, the human is still not independent of God.
I understand these things, but I don't go around all day feeling like a mechanical robot. We are highly complex creatures, with powerful emotions, brain power, and physical dexterity. For all these I thank God.
Every day we go places, do things, feel things, and make hundreds of choices. And God is not going to force you, against your will, to eat cherry pie for desert at lunch when what you are really craving is apple pie. But, nonetheless, it is God's operation of circumstances that will cause you to desire and choose the apple pie. Lest you think God is not concerned with tiny details, remember the story of the war that was lost because one nail came out of a horse's hoof.
Don't think that this is Eastern Fatalism. This is not "blind chance" or "whatever will be, will be." This is perfect foreknowledge and design of the Great Creator God Who is "operating all according to the counsel of His will." It doesn't just happen. There is perfect design behind all that God does. This is not fatalism. God causes it all.
RELATIVE VS. ABSOLUTE
If a theologian can't see the "absolute" versus the "relative" in Scripture, he is in no position to teach anyone.
A little boys asks: "Why did God say in Gen. 3:9: 'Where art thou [Adam]?' Mommy says that God knows everything." (I Jn 3:20). You say, "Of course God knew where Adam was. Adam sinned. Adam felt bad. He thought he could hide from God. God was condescending to man's level. It was for Adam's benefit that God asked, 'Where art thou Adam?'" You say, "That's not a problem. That's easy to understand and answer. It's stupid to think that God didn't know where Adam was."
And, of course, we have Scriptural proof that God knew where Adam was because "He [God] knows all" (I Jn 3:20)
Neither did our Lord ask questions out of ignorance:
Christ asked dozens of questions during His ministry. But He already knew all the answers:
Christ even answered questions by asking questions. The Pharisees asked why His disciples transgressed the "traditions." Our Lord knew how to "answer a fool according to his folly" (Prov. 26:5) by asking: "Wherefore are you also transgressing the precept of God because of your tradition?" (Mat. 15:3)
This brings up another apparent contradiction, however, because Prov. 26:4 says: "answer not a fool according to his folly ... " Our Lord knew how to do that as well: "Neither am I telling you by what authority I am doing these things." (Mat. 21:27). These two scriptures in Proverbs should teach us to never pit one verse of Scripture against another. Verse 4 and 5 do not contradict. They are both true.
So if it's stupid to think that God didn't really know where Adam was, a relative statement condescending to man's level, isn't it then, likewise, stupid to believe that God contradicts Himself in the following verses:
One is the "relative" the other is the "absolute." One is from man's point of view, comparing men with men, the other is from God's point of view. One shows how a thing is perceived while the other shows how it actually is. One is for minors while the other is for the mature.
Both Scriptures are true. The relative is true and the absolute is true. They do not contradict. However, one really is "relative" while the other is "absolute."
Theologians are always taking Scriptures that speak of the relative, from man's point of view, and insist that these verses are absolute. By doing this they commit a double sin. Because then they insist that these relative truths actually nullify God's absolute declarations. They won't admit to this in their own words, but this is what they do when they retain the "relative" at the expense of rejecting the "absolute."
Even theologians admit that their free will theory is limited. So they have invented "limited free will." They use analogies like a cow on a tether or a fly in a jar or a lion in a cage. Their freedom is limited to the confines of their restraints, but within those confines they are nonetheless, free. Is this true? Is there such a thing as "limited" free will? Or is this just more theological double-talk?
Only in religion do simple words lose their meaning. Let's look at Webster's Twentieth Century Dictionary: Page 963, "limited, a. Restricted." Page 682, "free, a. without restriction." So here then is what theologians want us to believe: Man has a will that is restricted without restriction.
Man does not have "limited" free will. Otherwise God would have "limited" sovereignty. Man has no free will and God has total sovereignty. Theologians try to make high what is low and try to bring low what is high. These teachings do not glorify God.
Somebody has been taking William James too seriously. God is not sitting around waiting to see what man will do through his "free will" so that He can then figure out what to do about it. Rather than conclude from the "wisdom of the world" that man has a free will (and thus deny the sovereignty of God), we must conclude that since God is sovereign, man can not and does not have a free will. This is logical, sensible, and lawful. It is Scriptural and it glorifies God.
Theologians condemn scientists for their inability to see beyond the "relative" in our universe. Surely these scientists must see that a God must be behind everything. However, except for rare persons like Dr. Einstein, they can't.
ARE WE SAVED BY CHANCE?
We are plainly told by Christian teachers that everyone gets only ONE CHANCE! This Christian teaching sounds more chancy than the tables in Las Vegas. But here's my punch line. Here's where Dr. Einstein outshines the masters of theology. After a lifetime of studying the marvelous workings of the universe on a level most of us can't even imagine, Dr. Einstein said something more profound than a thousand volumes by theologians. Dr. Einstein said: "GOD IS NOT PLAYING DICE WITH THE UNIVERSE!" Almighty God is NOT going to "win some; lose some." God is NOT gambling with the eternal fate of humanity. God is NOT a God of chance. God will surely succeed.
Theologians condemn evolutionists for their inability to tie creation to a Creator. Yet theologians become practical "theistic evolutionists" by tracing human thoughts back to man's "free will" and not to God's causal force. Hypocrites!
It's one or the other. There is no third alternative. Either the great almighty God is in control of everything, or He is out of control.
THE KING OF ASSYRIA
The king of Assyria was as proud of his "free will" as theologians are of theirs:
And what does God have to say concerning this King of Assyria's self-appointed proud "free will" heart?
God says He used the Assyrian King just as surely as if the King were an axe in God's own hand. This was all of God. But the King, he didn't think so. That's not what was in his mind. Ver. 5 is so clear and so simple to understand: "Oh Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation."
It wouldn't matter if there were a place in Scripture that lumped altogether every single concept of man's choices, powers, abilities, authority, talents, intentions, desires, wishes, plans, sayings and doings into one single verse; it still wouldn't prove that man has a "free will." Why? Because God claims to operate it all (Eph. 11:1).
Surely you can see from Isaiah 10 that that is how God operates. If one refuses to see this, then he is stubborn as to the truth.
The king of Assyria did say, in effect, that by himself, he planned and carried out his own choices according to what his heart desired. But GOD says that He Himself did it. God planned it and God carried it out. And furthermore, God punished the king for being so proud and haughty as to think he did it himself. He actually did what God caused him to do. This was not wrong on God's part. It will be good for the king of Assyria to understand this in resurrection. He will be embarrassed by his own vanity and will give glory to God (Phil. 2:11).
Dr. Kennedy, give glory to God. Africa will be found of God even though they are not seeking God (Rom. 10:21). How could anyone doubt that God is telling us the truth in these Scriptures? Rather than assigning the Africans and nonbelievers to an eternal Hell fire, wouldn't it be better to tell them the truth of the Scriptures and give their people hope?
There is one last question from the Theological Peanut Gallery:
"Well, Mr. Smith, if God is behind all the circumstances that cause men to sin, why does He blame us?" Don't say "If God ... " say "Since God ... " I'll let Paul answer: "Consequently, then, to whom He will, He is merciful, yet whom He will, He is hardening. You will be protesting to me, then, 'Why, then, is He still blaming? for who has withstood His intention?' O man! who are you, to be sure, who are answering again to God? That which is molded will not protest to the molder, 'Why do you make me thus?'" (Rom. 9:18-20).
What do you have to say to this? God makes vessels of honor and He makes vessels of dishonor. Do you deny this? God is merciful to whom He wishes to be merciful and hardens those whom He does not wish to bless at this time. Do you deny this? If this is God's intention to do these things, who can ever "withstand His intention?" Paul uses extremely strong language when he says:
The reason that Christendom as a whole does not teach these plain declarations of Scripture is not because they never read these things, but because they don't APPROVE of God's operations! But just because most of mankind doesn't know God's operations, or doesn't believe God's operations, or doesn't approve of God's operations, it doesn't mean God isn't operating. And I assure you that God Almighty is not on trial before the ethical bar of men.
It is God's will that "all be saved" (I Tim. 2:4) and "His will be done." But before God's will is done He has set man against His will. During this time of human stubbornness God is working out His plan according to His intention. And no one, absolutely no one has ever withstood or gone against God's "intention."
King James has: " ... For who hath resisted his will?" The Greek word for "will" is thelo [decision, choice, or purpose]. But the Greek word in Rom. 9:19 is not thelo, but boulema [COUNSEL-effect]. "God is operating all according to the counsel [Gk:boule] of His will. No one has withstood this COUNSEL-effect, for sure. These two words are different and the Scriptures admonishes us to " ... be testing what things are of consequence [Gk: distinguish between things that 'differ']" (Phil. 1:10).
Dr. Kennedy, I'm going to share with you the three most important things I have ever learned. These things revitalized the Scriptures for me and have revolutionized my attitude toward God, my fellow man, and life in general.
GOD CREATES AND USES EVIL FOR GOOD
Far too many theologians misrepresent the Word of God, and therefore pervert it to suit their unscriptural biases. I have heard of theologians who graduated from seminary and still did not know that God says in Isaiah 45:7: "I ... create EVIL." And most who have read it, don't believe it.
Evil has no moral bias. God does not sin when He uses evil for His good purposes. Men sin when they do evil to other men. Evil [Heb. ha' = TO SMASH] is only a "sin" when it is used wrongly. God uses evil for good. The glorious culmination of God's plan will justify His use of evil a trillion times to the power of infinity! Notice how often God uses evil in the Scriptures:
Scripture proves that God not only created evil, but that He, Himself, is responsible for it.
Maybe these aren't Sunday School verses, but they are Scripture. These are strong verses. At times it is hard to emotionally deal with the evils of this world. But I thank God that it is HE and not Satan or man who controls evil. It is important to understand that God puts limitations on evil. He doesn't use it indiscriminately. Jeremiah 18:11 says: " ... I frame evil against you ... " This verse alone shows the boundaries and limitations that God Himself puts on evil.
GOD IS NOT EVIL
We can accomplish no good of ourselves. What we are to learn is contained in the next passage: "Be not deceived [but of course, most people are deceived], my beloved brethren! ALL GOOD giving and EVERY perfect gratuity is from above, descending from the FATHER of lights ... " (Jas. 1:16). That is the lesson we, not God, are to learn and our trials are a great aid in understanding God's goodness.
Again, consider Joseph and his brothers. Joseph told his brothers:
What? Don't be "grieved," or "angry with yourselves," for committing such atrocious sins, crimes, and evils? This was certainly a severe trial on Joseph and his brothers. God brought it about, not so He could see how they would handle this trial-God already knew that. That's why God, Himself, "tries no one".
Not so that God would learn something He didn't already know. How silly. It was ALL of God, and the end more than justified the means. Why do men doubt God's ability to bring about good from evil, and to save all mankind in the only way they could ever really appreciate God's love and goodness? Even that greatest of evils, death, will be "Swallowed up by Victory" (I Cor. 15:54). "For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ shall ALL be vivified" (I Cor. 15:22). What was God's purpose in bringing this severe trial on Joseph and his brothers?
God's plan is all about "life." God creates life. God chastises us in life. God makes life miserable at times. We are often weak and diseased in life. Even still, we love our own lives. But ultimately, God takes away our lives. Our parents die, our friends and relatives die. We know for certain that we, ourselves, will die. Without faith, it is a frightening expectation. But, we will all be beside ourselves with joy when God finally gives back our lives with immortality-never to suffer, sorrow, or hurt again. We simply need to trust God. We'll all be so glad we took the journey at journey's end.
So, no, God is not evil, but God has determined and declared that we all must experience a certain amount of evil in this life. I hear so many ministers on TBN telling their congregations that if they are having any problem or trials in life, they must be sinning and therefore are not receiving the blessings God wants for them. There is often a heavy guilt trip laid on them. They guarantee a three-way solution to overcome this, or seven steps to chase off the devil, or five rules for something else, or 10 keys to solving the other thing. The idea is that if everyone obeyed God properly, none of these trials and problems would ever enter their lives.
Nonetheless, God is still going to scourge every son whom He receives. What they should do is read Heb. 12:5-6:
I am aware of the extreme degrees of evil God uses at times. But God knows what is best for humanity. And really, when we come right down to it, most men do not suffer more than a few hours, or days, or years, in the extreme. But even then, there are pain killers, and other comforts. Certainly it does not deserve to be compared with the end result that God has in store for all His Creatures. Our Apostle said that the glories that are to be revealed to us are so great he calls them "a burden!" Imagine having so much happiness it almost becomes a burden.
Was Paul unacquainted with evil? I think not. Note:
This is not to mention all the daily problems of the churches (II Cor. 11:23-28). And Paul was well aware that it was GOD Who brought all these evils upon him, even though God may have used intermediaries (II Cor. 12:7, Acts 9:16, II Tim. 2:9). All these evils, and yet, Paul's ministry was beyond reproach.
GOD AND PROVIDENCE
Even if one denies these truths of Scripture, they still have to deal with providence. Recently fifteen people died in a Colorado school. That's tragic. But a week later fifty people died from tornadoes. That too was tragic. Recently, over 10,000 died in a Turkey earthquake. Next, thousands perished in an earthquake in Taiwan, with still more thousands buried alive. Not that long ago, 600,000 perished in a typhoon in Bangladesh. The disease that followed may have raised the toll to one million. One may suppose God's eyes were closed during the Colorado school shooting. But who would deny that God controls the forces of nature and the weather?
Look at what we call "nature." Nature is filled with evil. In nature almost everything eats another thing for lunch. Lions eat deer. Foxes eat rabbits. Big fish eat little fish. All creatures engage in a lifetime vigil for their own preservation.
The sun gives warmth and life, but also causes skin cancer. The air gives life-sustaining oxygen, but in swift motion becomes deadly tornadoes and hurricanes. Water gives life and enjoyment. But water in swift motion kills everything in its path. The seas furnish us with food. But her waves and icebergs have claimed countless victims. If you don't think the sea is evil, watch Titanic. Fire warms, yet when out of control, it destroys. After hurricane Andrew struck South Florida, I went a few miles south to help a friend in need. The area looked as if a hydrogen bomb had flattened it. These powers are all of God.
I am acquainted with evil, Dr. Kennedy. My seven year old son, Blake, was bitten by a mosquito and contracted encephalitis. He became comatose. I will never forget the anguish I felt when signing the papers authorizing doctors to remove him from life-support But I will not protect God from any responsibility for evil. God Almighty is the Creator of evil (Isa. 45:7). God created mosquitoes that carry encephalitis that killed my son. I can't deny that. The encephalitis was only the "relative" cause of my son's death. I don't flinch at the fact that it was God who really took my son.
But here's the good news. God knows how painful are these evils that He created. It was no sin on His part to create and use these evils. God uses evil for good. And furthermore, the evils are only temporary. The time is coming when " ... there shall be no more any doom ... " (Rev. 22:3). And God will resurrect my dead son. He will resurrect all the dead (Job 14:13-14). And notice please. God doesn't just resurrect dead "bodies," but dead "people." When God removes all evil, no one will be sad or suffer again. "And He will be brushing away every tear from their eyes. And death will be no more, nor mourning, nor clamor, nor misery; they will be no more, for the former things PASSED AWAY" (Rev. 21:4)!
This is the good news that ought to be taught, rather than the contradictory and unscriptural nonsense taught by mass media Christianity.
What astonishes me is that the same theologians who balk at the many Scriptures I just quoted, then turn around and teach that this same God will mercilessly torture most of humanity for eternity. And He supposedly supernaturally keeps them alive so that they can't escape the pain. Hypocrites! I can't imagine how such minds function. Think about this. Lesser, temporary evils, (brought for a GRAND purpose) are rejected, while gross eternal torturing (for no purpose) is accepted. Here is the depth of Satanic delusion.
How much more comforting it is to believe the Scriptures. God created evil and uses it for a good purpose. Evil's existence is only temporary (like the scaffolding on a new building). When the building is completed, the ugly scaffolding is removed-it serves no further function to the finished building. Only a knowledge of evil, not evil itself, has eternal value. How awful to think that God did not foresee the coming of evil, can't justify its existence, can't dispose of it, can't save most of humanity because of it. There is no justification for, nor redeeming value in, eternal torture. None.
God is Wise. God wants Sons who will know both "good and evil." God's "end" more than justifies His "means." As Paul said:
Of necessity, this letter needed to be critical in some areas. This has not been an attack on your character. A wise man once said to me: "The hardest thing you will ever do is to admit that you are wrong." Experience has proven true his observation many times. Sir Winston Churchill is reported to have said: "Sometimes in the course of history some men occasionally stumble onto the truth. Most, however, are able to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and be on their way again just as if nothing ever happened." This could possibly be one of the most important days of your life, Dr. Kennedy. Don't just "dust off" this letter.
I want you to see what you are doing, Dr. Kennedy. Since you have already concluded that God is not going to save all of the Africans and Gentiles, you devise an analogy to get God off of the hook of responsibility for their salvation.
I believe that maybe even you have trouble believing and justifying God in torturing most of humanity for all eternity. But, unwilling to believe God's Scriptural declarations concerning the salvation of all, you find it necessary to lower God to the level of carnal, sinful, hospital workers by analogy. Maybe in a cleverly disguised human analogy there is justification in not being accountable for failing to come to the rescue of a fellow human being. But no, you would lower God even beneath the character of sinful medics. We have already seen that hospital medics (or for that matter, policemen, firemen, or even private citizens), are ready and willing, at a moment's notice, to not only come to the aid of a dying man, but to jeopardize life and limb if necessary to rescue a fellow human being in need of saving.
But here is where your analogy turns from simple error to an insult on God character. The medics would do everything within their power to save the dying man, while your god does nothing! If notified in time, the medics' immediate response would produce success, while your god's apathy produces failure! Eternal failure!
God is not a human. God is GOD! Why analogously dethrone and reduce Him to a mere human with human faults, weaknesses, and failings? Surely, your theology does not glorify Almighty God and makes Christ's supreme sacrifice of no effect for most of history's humanity.
Our Apostle Paul gave instructions to "Herald the word. Stand by it, opportunely, inopportunely, expose, rebuke, entreat, will all patience and teaching" (II Tim. 4:2). There's forty-four pages of "exposure". Now here's the "rebuke". It is wrong, unscriptural, and ungodly for you to teach on national and international television such evil and demeaning heresies about God, The Creator and Saviour of ALL mankind (I Tim. 4:10). I think that God is not pleased with your rendition of His complete and perfect plan for the salvation of all. Your teaching comes frighteningly close to blasphemy!
And here's the "entreaty". It is evident from your sermon that there are Scriptures of paramount importance that you either fail to understand or acknowledge. Of course you understand that I am referring to the Greek and Hebrew SCRIPTURES - not the King James revision of some Latin Bible. Not that the Authorized Version is not a great work, but nonetheless, there are not a few gross errors in critical areas as I have outlined.
Study these marvelous truths. Check the original Hebrew and Greek to verify the validity of what I have humbly tried to present in this letter. The truth concerning the "aions," for example, is one of the simplest truths in all the Bible to prove and understand. That Christ really is "the Saviour of the whole world," is, likewise, simple to prove and understand.
And what marvelous truths these are! God really is a God worthy of the name! Christ Jesus really is THE SAVIOUR OF THE WHOLE WORLD! How could anyone ever have a doubt that He would succeed? How dare a mortal even entertain, let alone teach, the Satanic idea that God ALMIGHTY will fail or fall short of completely and perfectly fulfilling HIS OWN WILL?
Who would deny that God Almighty has a heartfelt will?
Who would deny that His will involves the salvation of all mankind (I Tim. 2:4)?
Who would deny that God is operating all in accord with His own will (Eph. 1:11)?
Who would dare call into question God's declaration that: "ALL My counsel shall be confirmed, And ALL my desire WILL I DO" (Isa. 46:10)?
"Falling short" is a definition of "sin" (Rom. 3:23). Are there mortals audacious enough to insinuate that God Almighty is going to "fall short" of His Own Will and thus become a "SINNING God"?
Teach "THE WORD," Dr. Kennedy-not the unscriptural theological nonsense of depraved men!
L. Ray Smith