The Impossible Chess Match

The Impossible Chess Match

Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith (Guest Blogger Mary Vanderplas) puts Thomas G. Long’s book, “What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith” into perspective in a very real and powerful way.  The Shaking of the Foundations is the second blog in the series.  Chapter two of Long’s book is entitled “The Impossible Chess Match.”  Long examines how Bart D. Ehrman, a biblical scholar, loses his faith:

As Ehrman grew older… and gained more education, the tight tethers of his fundamentalism began to fray and finally to break loose.  First, there was a crisis over his belief about Scripture.  Ehrman learned the inescapable truth that the texts of the Bible, which he had believed were “God-breathed” and infallible, even inerrant, were actually composed by fallible human hands and heavily edited by others.  The biblical texts, Ehrman discovered, contained contradictions and discrepancies.  What is more, the books that made it into the Bible, into the canon, were there not simply because of inspiration but also because of controversy and political maneuvering.  If the Bible was an inspired book, Ehrman came to realize, it was inspired in a much messier, much more historically conflicted way than he had imagined.  Out went the fundamentalist Bible.  And along with it went Ehrman’s own fundamentalism.

But not his Christian faith… not yet.  While problems with the Bible caused him to change his views of Scripture, they did not prompt Ehrman to leave the believing fold.  What finally closed the chapel door for Ehrman was not something wrong with the Bible but something wrong, he came to believe, in the God of the Bible.

Long explains how Ehrman’s crisis of faith is a modern crisis of faith:

But Ehrman lives on this side of modernity’s ditch, and his crisis of faith leads him not to his knees in prayer but to his mind in thinking things through rationally.  A fourteenth century mind would encounter terrible suffering and say, “This is from the hand of God.  What is God saying to us?”  A contemporary mind encounters suffering and asks, “How does the reality of this suffering fit into  my worldview?  How do the pieces of reality I think of as true fit together logically?

This leads to what is known as the “theodicy problem” – that God exists, is all-powerful, good, and loving, yet there is suffering in the world.  The exhausting attempt to solve the theodicy problem is what Long calls “the impossible chess match,” a theological stalemate.  Ehrman eventually decides that if God exists at all, “he certainly isn’t the one proclaimed by the Judeo-Christian tradition, the one who is actively and powerfully involved in this world.”

According to Long, pastors are taught to stay away from the theodicy problem, because any attempt to resolve it will only result in “more harm than good.”  Instead, they are taught to have a “ministry of presence” in which pastors are simply there.  This is the same approach taken by Diane Komp, a pediatric cancer specialist who hasn’t quite decided whether she’s atheist or agnostic and doesn’t really care to decide.  One of her patients described seeing angels and hearing them sing just moments before she died.  Komp’s response: “Together we contemplated a spiritual mystery that transcended our understanding and experience.”  Neither Komp nor pastors who subscribe to a “ministry of presence” seek to answer the hard questions.

Long recognizes the value of a ministry of presence, but he also recognizes the implications of unanswered questions.  He writes, “What is at stake here is not only the very basis of faith but also our ability to worship authentically.” And Long also makes a point that resonates with me more than anything else in this book:

The inability to make some kind of sense of the actions and will of God in a world of suffering and evil puts pressure on people of faith – sometimes subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle – to abandon the biblical claim that God is a God of history, of time, of material embodiment and actual circumstances, in favor of a mystical God of nature and spirituality.  If people in our day are “spiritual but not religious,” could it be that this is not simply because they are individualistic narcissists or people who find “institutional religion” bland and confining, but because they have lost a meaningful way to speak and thing about a God who acts in history, in institutions, in actual human relationships, in concrete circumstances.

I believe that Long is onto something here.  In many of my blogs, I note that God is called God of the Ages for a reason, and that when we mistranslate “age” as “eternity,” we miss out on a very important aspect of the character of God, that God is, indeed, God of the day-to-day experiences of humanity, that God is intimately involved in every moment of history and nothing happens without Him first sovereignly permitting it to happen.  If there were no suffering or evil, this would not be a difficult concept for the theist.  There is much more to say about this, but for now, I am simply reviewing each chapter of Long’s book.

Long explains that the theodicy is not a problem relegated to the detached arena of theological debate, it is a very real problem for believers who experience suffering.  As an example, Long tells the story of theologian Lewis Smede and his wife, Doris.  They had tried for a decade to have children, and Doris finally became pregnant.  About six months into the pregnancy, the baby died.  A neighbor told Lewis Smede, “God was in control.”  Smede’s response?  “I wanted to say to her, ‘Not this time.'”  Smede explains:

If God could show us that there was a good and necessary reason for such a bad thing to have happened, it must not have been a bad thing after all.  And I cannot accommodate that thought.

I learned that I do not have the right stuff for such hard-boiled theology.  I am no more able to believe that God micro-manages the death of little children than I am able to believe that God was macro-managing Hitler’s Holocaust.  With one morning’s wrenching intuition, I knew that my portrait of God would have to be repainted.

What does this mean?  Is God in control?  If God is in control, does this mean that tragedy isn’t really tragedy?  So tell me, readers, how do you make sense of this?

Next blog in this series: The Climax of All Misnomers

Comments
  • Stephen Helbig September 9, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Smede explains: ~
    If God could show us that there was a good and necessary reason for such a bad thing to have happened, it must not have been a bad thing after all. And I cannot accommodate that thought. I learned that I do not have the right stuff for such hard-boiled theology. I am no more able to believe that God micro-manages the death of little children than I am able to believe that God was macro-managing Hitler’s Holocaust. With one morning’s wrenching intuition, I knew that my portrait of God would have to be repainted.

    I Stephen also believe that the portrait of God needs to be repainted in the heart and minds of our Christian assemblies ~ GOD IS LIGHT AND IN HIM IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL and today this is exactly what God is doing, He is showing us more of Him ~ Why? : Because there is today indeed a great “chess match’ going on and the synagogue of Satan, the lies and false beliefs of the traditions of man that have been handed down to us are being defeated in the plan of ages and God’s TRUTH IS MARCHING ON and will march on……….

    One can and will believe in the absolute Providence of God instead of rationalizing our carnal thinking to death. The church, the called out ones will understand these mysteries of Theodicy, in HIS LIGHT ~ and until these discrepancies are answered we must remain in faith to see it. And let me say the way to remainin the faith and to overcome is via the ministry of presence, ~HIS PRESENCE IN LOVE” of which I personally have been a recipient, and am very thankful for this presence ~ His Presence manifested in the flesh. Just that presence alone in many times past has been sufficient. That presence in God’s love without the necessary answers much like what Mary has offered and stated in the opening Guest blog is a gift that comes from our God and has held up the weak hands, and strengthened many a feeble knee. Truly, ~ For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; why? So that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty (Job 6:14)

    However I also see today a move of our God ~ moving us forward in His plan of the ages to the place of the reconciliation of ALL things, including seeing the answers of theodicy, ~ and many hard things to be UNDERSTOOD ~ with the mind of CHRIST which we have. Once one begins to see the Ultimate Reconciliation of ALL, we will also see that tragedy is NOT tragedy ~ Why? ~ because ~THE END SPEAKS ~ and it will not fail. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

    • Stephen Helbig September 10, 2012 at 12:43 am

      p.s. ~ Something to ponder

      The following you will find a few quotes of Charles Spurgeon taken from Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume 4 (# 187) Delivered on Sabbath Morning, April 11, 1858 The text Spurgeon uses is ~ “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”—Matthew 10:30.

      Qoute ~“From the text I shall draw one or two points. First of all, the text says, “the very hairs of our head are all numbered.” From this I shall infer the minuteness of providence. Again, inasmuch as it is said of believers that the hairs of their head are all numbered, I shall infer the kind consideration, the generous care, which God exercises over Christians. And then, from the text, and from our Saviour’s reason for uttering these words, I shall draw a practical conclusion of what should be the spirit and temper of the men who believe this truth—that the very hairs of their head are all numbered.”…
      …“Now, I shall want you to notice, how little circumstances of daily life, when we come to put them all together, evidently betray their origin. I will take a Scripture history, and show how the little events must have been of God, as well as the great results. When Joseph was sent into Egypt by his brethren, in order to provide for them against a day of famine, we all agree with Joseph’s declaration, “It was God that sent me hither.” But now, if we notice each of the little ways through which this great result was brought to pass, we shall see God in each of them. One day, Joseph’s brethren are gone out with the sheep; Jacob wants to send to them. Why does he send Joseph? He was his darling son; he loved him better than all his brethren. Why does he send him away? He sends him, however. Then why should it have happened at that particular time, that Jacob should want to send at all? However, he did want to send, and he did send Joseph. A mere accident you will say, but quite necessary as the basement of the structure. Joseph goes; his brethren are in want of pasture, and therefore leave Shechem, where Joseph expected to find them, and journey on to Dothan. Why go to Dothan? Was not the whole land before them? However Joseph goes there; he arrives at Dothan just when they are thinking of him and his dreams, and they put him into a pit. As they are about to eat bread, some Ishmaelites came by. Why did they come there at all? Why did they come at that particular time? Why were they going to Egypt? Why might they not have been going any other way? Why was it that the Ishmaelites wanted to buy slaves? Why might they not have been trading in some other commodity? However, Joseph is sold; but he is not disposed of on the road to Egypt, he is taken to the land. Why is it that Potiphar is to buy him? Why is it that Potiphar has a wife, at all? Why is it again that Potiphar’s wife should be so full of lust? Why should Joseph get into prison? How is it that the baker and the butler should offend their master? All chance, as the world has it, but every link necessary to make the chain. They do both offend their master; they are both put into prison. How is it that they both dream? How is it that Joseph interprets the dreams? How is it that the butler forgets him? Why, just because if he had recollected him, it would have spoiled it all. Why is it Pharaoh dreams? How can dreams be under the arrangement of God’s providence? However, Pharaoh does dream; the butler then thinks of Joseph; Joseph is brought out of prison and taken before Pharaoh. But take away any of those simple circumstances, break any one of the links of the chain, and the whole of the design is scattered to the winds. You cannot get the machine to work; if any of the minute cogs of the wheels are taken away, everything is disarranged. I think it seems very clear to any man who will dissect not only that, but any other history he likes to fix upon, that there must be a God in the little accidents and dealings of daily life, as well as in the great results that tell upon the page of history, and are recounted in our songs. God is to be seen in little things.” ~ end qoute

      p.s.s. ~ Now I must say that in my early years (age 26) I greatly admired the man, and the works of Spurgeon, for he truly was called of God. A Chosen vessel and called out ~ to the Kingdom of God. But in saying that I also know each one of us has to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. Some teachings that Spurgeon embraced ~ like most men can be fallible and are set by how one perceives God ~ with the many traditions brought to us through our piers, and traditions of our history. Our learning must be continually put to the Test of whether this be of God. I too also preached Hell fire and brimstone as one can find in many of Spurgeon’s teachings, but I have now come to embrace today the teachings of ULTIMATE RECOCILLATION AND THE RESTORATION OF ALL IN CHRIST. For of Him, and through Him, and TO HIM, are all things; to Him be glory forever and ever! Amen! (Rom. 11-36). May God’s Truth continue to march on in my Life and the body of Christ for there is a progression in The Kingdom of God to maturity in the full stature of Christ, ~ His body.

      • Stephen Helbig September 10, 2012 at 1:38 am

        p.s.s.t. Joseph stated this to his brothers ~ But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.. Genesis 50:20
        ~to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive; ~ the nation of the Egyptians and the neighboring nations, as the Canaanites and others, and particularly his Father’s family: thus also is the SIN of the Jews in crucifying Christ, which, notwithstanding the determinate counsel of God, they most freely performed, was what wrought about the greatest good, ~ to the salvation of men. ~
        WE FIND a wonderful prayer found in Acts 4:23-28 that portrays the wisdom and foreknowledge of God and shows perfectly that everything that happens is ordained of God and is part of the eternal purpose. The disciples of Christ were under great persecution and in danger of death when they assembled or prayed to God. The following is the prayer they prayed: ~
        “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord and said, ‘Lord, THOU ART GOD, which hast made heaven and earth and sea and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of Thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage and the people imagine VAIN THINGS? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ. For of a truth against Thy Holy Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together for TO DO WHATSOEVER THY HAND AND THY COUNSEL DETERMINED BEFORE TO BE DONE’.”
        Can anything be plainer than that? The crucifixion of Christ, the opposition to the apostles, the persecution of the church was appointed, ordained, and determined long before it happened by the counsel and the hand of God. Verse 28. I do not think it is necessary here to multiply scripture to prove that God not only KNOWS the future, but that He PLANS the future and that the MINUTEST thing that He plans is part of an ETERNAL PURPOSE that He purposed BEFORE THE AGES BEGAN. Everything is planned of God before it starts. Everything is BEFORE ORDAINED.

      • Stephen Helbig September 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm

        p.s.s contination of above p.s

        @ Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith (Guest Blogger Mary Vanderplas)

         Mary Vanderplas says: July 25, 2012 at 7:21 am
        A paradox is, by definition, is something that doesn’t make sense to finite creatures, something that frustrates human logic. I am “okay with” paradox not because the paradox “makes sense” to me, but because I believe that it is a mystery that needs to be preserved, not dissolved. To dissolve the paradox by subordinating one side to the other is, I think, to risk having a small God. In general, I don’t see paradoxical teaching in scripture as a puzzle to be solved, but as a mystery to be embraced.
         The above words of Mary are indeed wisdom from GOD . Many times in meeting people who are of a broken and of a contrite spirit, (Which God loves) ~ (i.e. see song/ link below), WE are dealing with the paradox of Theodicy and going through calamity with others needs to meet ~ “ALL” parties involved, and this meeting must be with and in the wisdom from above; Knowing where they are and not in need to fully disclose some form of truths which cannot be met at this particular junction and time.
         I am reminded here of the Greek word “praotes” “gentleness” which is the most untranslatable of words. In the New Testament it has three main meanings. (a) It means being submissive to the will of God (Mat. 5: 5). (b) it means being teachable, being not to proud to learn (Jas. 1: 21). (c) Most often of all it means being considerate (1 Cor. 4: 21 ; 2 Cor.10: 1 ; Eph. 4 :2). Aristotle defined Gr. “praotes” as the means between excessive anger and excessive angerlessness This MEEK person is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time. What throws light on its meaning is the adjective praus is used of an animal that has been tamed and brought under control. Think of a wild stallion being so tame as to bid his master (a little child) every command.
         The reason I brought this forth is in the first blog Mary stated “At one point, at the grandmother’s request, I prayed out loud. What I prayed was a bold prayer that God would act in power to spare the boy’s life. Since it was evident that they were overwhelmed by the pain of watching their beloved child/grandchild suffer, I did not even attempt to help them make sense of their experience of tragic suffering. I knew that to do so at that moment would have been wholly inappropriate. Instead, I tried to communicate by my presence and actions the presence and care of God in the midst of their tragic situation. And by my bold prayer, I made (indirectly) a statement about protesting the expressions of evil in the world and calling upon God to do something about these expressions being a faithful response in the face of suffering.” ~ end quote
        Now I personally am not aware of the outcome of this prayer hear on earth, nor do I need to know, but what does matter is that even though I may see a purpose in what was an injustice from the view of these hurting people and even though I may see this as ~ not a tragedy, but rather a minute aspect of Gods Divine plan; ~ The people involved needed the hopes of Gods power to heal there and then. Not knowing the outcome I see that that prayer was answered, because I see ~ A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. Perception is relative to where one is and a broken and contrite heart is a thing of beauty before the Lord. Also concerning the woman in the car accident whose husband died the woman exclaimed in Mary’s quote ~ “Why did God have to take someone who was so good?” Even though my best judgment told me that it wasn’t the time for a deep discussion of the theological issues that her question raised, I responded in brief to her question, which arose out a struggle (in its beginning stage) to make sense of her experience in light of what she believed about God and his ways. First, I challenged her understanding that God had caused the tragic death of her husband. “God didn’t take him,” I said. “I don’t believe that God caused this terrible thing to happen.” Second, I acknowledged that I didn’t know the ultimate source of her terrible loss and that I didn’t think that it could be known whose doing it was. Third, I acknowledged that I didn’t know why God didn’t intervene to prevent it from happening or to save her husband’s life after it happened. I told her, too, that what I believe and am assured of is that “God cares and he is and will be with you in this.” ~ end quote Notice (in its beginning stage) ~ Thus wisdom speaks through Mary ~ “God didn’t take him” This is not false nor an unanswered paradox,
        but line upon line, precept upon precept here a litlle there a little to whom God will teach knowlege to ~ meeting us where we are ~ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

        ( i.e. Song/ link) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD_pCr_Xrnc

  • Lanny A. Eichert September 9, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Alice, your questions exist because you remove the foundation of the perfect literal Holy Bible that God superintended throughout the centuries and replace it with Enlightenment. You make God’s Book unreliable leaving you only with individual experience as the source of reality, making it non-absolute and relative; and as such answers are universally meaningless. In such an environment there is NO such thing as an absolute faith in the Saviour Jesus Christ meaning there is NO salvation.

    {2 Timothy 2: 19} “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.”

    Please return to sane thinking and abandon calling what God does not linear, which is just normal theological rot, same satanic universalist trick you’ve used to justify what cannot be. Face your crooked not linear thought for what it is. You don’t have a straight line chronology, but instead one that doubles back on itself if it is even a continuous line at all.

    The Lord knows those that are His are a minority {Matthew 7: 14} and the remainder, the vast majority {Matthew 7: 13} of the human race, He will first judge and then immediately {Revelation 20: 11 – 15} cast into eternal torment in the Lake of Fire as vessels He fitted for destruction {Romans 9: 22}. There’s nothing not linear about it and there’s no escape about it either in any of the Scriptures.

    Who are you to say the Scriptures say there is the reconciling of all things when you don’t even TRUST the accuracy of the Scriptures; you who say you can’t have it both ways? You are speaking some kind of new age voodoo or something. Smarten up and see yourselves for what you are.

    The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. {Psalm 12: 6 & 7} Those who are “His” have always trusted in a perfect Holy Scriptures in written form.

    When did the Holy Spirit inspire {2 Timothy 2: 19} “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” to be written, Alice, while Jesus was in His humanity or when Jesus had already returned to His full deity? What THEN is the meaning of “knoweth them that are his” and “I never knew you” ?

    What THEN IN HIS FULL DEITY means this statement, dear Alice, because in His full deity carries well before and after His incarnation: before and after includes more than the context because a PRINCIPLE is stated not a mere single occassion’s explanation. Stop missing the fullness of the question. You are the one that volunteered that there are persons NOT included in “them that are his” when you objected to the finality of that thought because it terminates in eternal torment for the not”s.

    How far back toward creation and how far forward to the consummation of the ages does the principle {2 Timothy 2: 19} reach, Alice, in His full deity? Who is left “out” for how long?

    • Stephen Helbig September 10, 2012 at 2:55 am

      Lanny states above ~ “Please return to sane thinking and abandon calling what God does not linear, which is just normal theological rot, same satanic universalist trick you’ve used to justify what cannot be. Face your crooked not linear thought for what it is. You don’t have a straight line chronology, but instead one that doubles back on itself if it is even a continuous line at all.”

      Note this POSSIBLE refute to THE CRONOLOGY presented in one of Lanny’s chronological thoughts and linear thinking. (i.e. ~ “IF” indeed one believes the marriage to our Lord is future tense, and is not past or present tense for believers as Lanny emphatically states July 28,2012 @ 12:47 a.m in the bloq~.Mr. Fielding’s Real Problem ~Posted: 12th July 2012 by admin

      ~ Lanny quotes ~“Stephen, some time ago I showed Revelation 22: 16 & 17 is the conclusion of the vision in which John is returned to his own first century church age of grace because the instructions are for the church which still is the BRIDE of Christ {it hasn’t yet become the Lamb’s wife as per 19: 7 the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready}. The chronology of the Revelation makes this invitation only available until 20: 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” end qoute

      Stephen says NOT SO, ~ Lanny, your chronological thinking of the book of Revalation is in error ~
      My rebuttal is thus; We are married to Christ the day of our believing; ~ the day of our espousals is a marriage ~ a betrothal or wedding to the Lord Jesus, and we enter upon a life of dependence on him and duty to him: MARRIED TO ANOTHER, even to him who is raised from the dead (Rom.7:4). This is a periphrasis of Christ, an expression that states something indirectly and very pertinent here; for as our dying to sin and the law is in conformity to the death of Christ, and the crucifying of his body, so our devotedness to Christ in newness of life is in conformity to the resurrection of Christ. We are married to the raised exalted Jesus, a very honorable marriage as one can clearly see in this 7th chapter of Romans. Compare 2 Co. 11:2; Eph. 5:29.30.

      NOW we are thus married to Christ, ~ why? ~ it is exclaimed; so ~ “That we should bring forth fruit unto God”, see Romans 7: v. 4.

      Romans 7: ~ (3)So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though SHE IS JOINED to another man. (4)Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. (5)For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. (6)But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that WE SERVE in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. (Rm. 7:3 -6 NASB)

      Another translation says~

      Romans 7: 3 ~So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, THOUGH SHE BE MARRIED to another man. (4)Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. (5)For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. (6)But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should SERVE IN THE NEWNESS of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. (Rm. 7:3 -6 KJV)

      Again ~ The day of our believing, is the day of being united (JOINED) to the Lord Jesus. We enter upon a life of dependence on him, and duty to him. Good works are only from UNION (marriage) with Christ, “ONLY BY UNION; ~ ONENESS WITH HIM”; ~ as the fruitfulness of the vine is the product of its being united to its roots; there is no fruit to God, till we are united (JOINED) to Christ.

      p.s.
      BOTH ~ SHE IS JOINED (NASB), and ~ THOUGH SHE BE MARRIED (KJV), ~ are Aorist participle middle
      BOTH ~ WE SERVE (NASB), and SERVE IN THE NEWNESS (KJV), ~ are Aorist subjunctive active
      We cannot serve effectively until we are JOINED ~ married to our Lord, Works done in Jesus name without this union is as the statement ~ “I NEVER KNEW YOU”

      • Lanny A. Eichert September 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm

        Stephen, you fail to acknowledge the SECOND picture: the CORPORATE body of Christ, which is His church. Surely the first picture is the Romans 7 picture of the individual convert was a wife married to the Law as a husband figure, but upon the death of Christ and His resurrection is righteously married to Christ. Yet the WHOLE assembly of New Covenant believers, the CORPORATE body of Christ, which is His church is meant in Ephesians 5: 25 – 27
        “as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
        Stephen, that “presenting” is the Revelation 19: 7 “the marriage of the Lamb is come” in the chronology I gave occurring in heaven since the church was entirely taken up to heaven immediately before the Tribulation.
        Certainly if you make it all ONE figure you have problems, but in seeing two figures there is consistency. Don’t you folks at all perceive how you have conflicts trying to make everything one and the same? You don’t rightly DIVIDE the Scriptures and that’s so very evident to me as the source of your confusions, which comes with your own territory in which you refuse to accept eternal torment. If you’d only accept the Christ of ET, you’d likely get the understanding that comes with true conversion.

        • Stephen Helbig September 11, 2012 at 12:42 am

          verse (31) ~ …AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. (32) This mystery is GREAT; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church

          one and the same? I think so

        • Stephen Helbig September 11, 2012 at 6:55 pm

          Wrong premise ~ Lanny quotes the following ~ “Stephen, that “presenting” is the Revelation 19: 7 the marriage of the Lamb is come” in the chronology I gave occurring in heaven since the church was entirely taken up to heaven immediately before the Tribulation.

          The premise is much debated and this thinking of yours actually did not come into church history until the mid 1800s, yes there are many who have been brought to this but scripure clearly states ~ …But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven…

          Verb – (Perfect Indicative Active – second person plural) The perfect tense usually characterizes an action that was completed in the past but also has continuing results in the present (or, stated differently, it characterizes a state of completion that endures presently).The perfect tense is normally translated into English with the auxiliary verb “have” or “has” coupled with the English past participle

          • Stephen Helbig September 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm

            Lanny, “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (I Cor. 6:17). “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us … and the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me” (Jn. 17:21-23). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male or female: for yea are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him” (Eph. 1:10).

            Lanny you also see this restoration into oneness has not yet fully been wrought out. Now our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect). But when the complete and perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away” (I Cor. 13:9-10, Amplified). As one has written, “Herein lies much of our training and discipline, yes, and travail, because we do receive ‘IN PART’, and it is FROM GOD, but it is fragmentary. If we try to claim perfection from that which is imperfect, we shall blush, be ashamed and found wanting. But if we are exercised by that which we have received, and let it work in us according to His purpose, then we shall be prepared to receive more, then we come to that hour when the ‘in part’ shall be swallowed up in the whole.” We are his workmanship created unto good works.

            • Lanny A. Eichert September 12, 2012 at 12:39 am

              I’ll try a htird time to get it following Stephen’s 6:55 pm and 8:09 pm 9/11 posts.

              Stephen, what is this you write about my premise only recent in the past 200 years while yours is just again emerging from a 1600 year absence as if yours is more acceptable than mine, while you can’t prove yours was mainstream the first 500 years.

              You really need to see BOTH pictures of Christ: the New Husband of the individual born again convert and the Bridegroom of the Church corporate.

              Ephesians 5: 25 – 27 fits only the Church as a whole, not separate individual believers that constitute the Church. Can’t you see that?

              • Lanny A. Eichert September 12, 2012 at 1:21 am

                Thank you, Alice.

              • Stephen Helbig September 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm

                •TWO different peoples of God.
                •TWO different plans of salvation. (Jew Gentile)
                •TWO different destinies.
                •TWO …

                “ Division the most dangerous heresy currently to be found within Christian circles.” ~ AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE ~ Father make them ONE~

                ALL IN ALL

                • admin September 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm

                  I don’t have a way to rearrange comments. sorry

      • Patrick Strickland September 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm

        Amen Stephen:

        I agree we must be married to him before we can serve Him acceptably.

        As a side note We each must be baptized into Christ, and put off the old man and put Christ on. We must be baptized into his name which means we must be immersed into His nature, His character, and His authority. John baptized with (IN) water as the medium but Christ Jesus is baptizing us with (IN) the Holy Ghost and with fire as the medium he is immersing us into. Most men only baptize us in water by the authority of the name of the father Son and the Holy Ghost. But we must be baptized INTO the nature and character of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

        This baptism brings us into the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is righteousness peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.

        Zion is where the throne of David is; watch this carefully the throne is in the tabernacle of David.

        Isa 16:5 KJV And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.

        The tabernacle is in the city of David.

        2Sa 6:16-17 KJV And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. (17) And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.

        The city of David is Zion.

        2Sa 5:7 KJV Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.

        In Acts when Pete declared to the other apostles that the gentiles were coming to the Lord; James said this

        Act 15:14 KJV Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

        And he quoted an old testament scripture to verify this fact.

        Act 15:15-17 KJV And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, (16) After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: (17) That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

        Meaning the tabernacle of David where the throne of David is had been reestablished and the proof of that fact James declared was the fact that the Gentiles were now being saved by calling upon the name of the Lord.

        Religion is still waiting for Jesus to return someday and set up His kingdom in the middle east at mount Zion in Jerusalem, but the truth is that God has already set up the kingdom in the spirit and Jesus’s throne in spiritual Zion is where he is already reigning from, in the heavenly Jerusalem, which he has raised us up and made us sit in Him in His throne.

        Heb 12:22-25 KJV But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (23) To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (24) And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (25) See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

        We each of us must now raise up and come to Zion and hear His voice, and when we hear his voice then we shall be given a kingdom which cannot be shaken and let us each have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably.

        Heb 12:26-29 KJV Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. (27) And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (28) Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: (29) For our God is a consuming fire.

        Grace and Peace Patrick

    • Lanny A. Eichert September 11, 2012 at 1:48 am

      Alice, your whole reconciling of all things requires the physically dead persons of all human history hearing and responding to the Gospel and Mary asked how do I know they can’t hear and respond? The perfect literal Holy Bible says so:

      For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? {Psalm 6: 5}
      let the wicked be ashamed, [and] let them be silent in the grave. {Psalm 31: 17}
      they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them {Psalm 49: 14}
      among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. {Psalm 88: 5}
      Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? {Psalm 88: 10 – 12}
      for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. {Ecclesiastes 9: 10}
      The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. {Psalm 115: 17}
      For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. {Isaiah 38: 18}

      You Amazing Hope is impossible and as impossible is proven a falsehood. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” None in the grave are redeemable because they are not His neither will He reconcile them the way you think. He reconciles them to eternal torment as I’ve always prior told you. Everything in its place and there is an eternal place for God’s trash: all those who have physically died without first confessing Christ, even those you have loved. That has always been God’s plan for the ages and the Revelation 17: 8 omitted names are further proof God doesn’t seek unbelieving souls after death.

      • admin September 11, 2012 at 10:05 am

        Lanny, you hold up a “proof” claiming “You Amazing Hope is impossible.”

        I refute it outright or debate through your line of reasoning (attempting to reach its end).

        You:

        1.retreat into chronology.
        2.switch to an entirely new line of reasoning that has nothing to do with your original so-called proof.
        3.ignore the fact that your argument has already been refuted and continue to repeat it over and over again.

        I wonder what you will do this time.

        You may either claim the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus or you may claim the literal meaning of the verses you quoted, but you cannot claim BOTH. If you claim the parable, then these verses must be taken figuratively, that is, the dead AS UNDERSTOOD from the viewpoint of the living. If you claim the literal unresponsive dead, then the parable cannot be taken literally, because the Rich Man and Lazarus have all the attributes of the unresponsive dead that you named.

        You must choose one or the other, because you can’t have both (at least not from a chronological perspective).

        • Lanny A. Eichert September 11, 2012 at 10:25 am

          Alice, can’t have it both ways, but you will have Lazarus and the rich man figurative and now these passages figurative also. You pick which, dear lady.

          There is no contradiction , for in both sets conscious awareness is present, but NO positive response to the truth that saves, NO movement to repentance is as obvious as can be, nor is God seeking them in either.

          Sorry, Alice, your amazing hope isn’t possible and still proven false.

        • Lanny A. Eichert September 11, 2012 at 10:52 am

          For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? {Psalm 6: 5} The rich man didn’t remember God nor did he give thanks.

          let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave. {Psalm 31: 17} The rich man’s shame is evident and he is silent about his own salvation, since it never can be.

          they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them {Psalm 49: 14} The rich man is tormented by the flame of this death.

          among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. {Psalm 88: 5} The rich man experiences being cut-off from God.

          Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? {Psalm 88: 10 – 12} The rich man receives no revelations of God’s wonders or grace.

          for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. {Ecclesiastes 9: 10} The rich man has nothing to do but groan and he certainly gains no wisdom as is evidenced by Abraham’s “no-can-do’s”.

          The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. {Psalm 115: 17} The rich man doesn’t worshipfully praise God and has only silence as far as any further pleadings from God or man.

          For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. {Isaiah 38: 18} The rich man has no hope for himself and neither praises God nor celebrates His perfect judgment.

          Your trend toward soul-sleep will not work here either, so your amazing hope is still false, Alice.

      • Mary Vanderplas September 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm

        What about the Bible that says that the gospel was proclaimed to the dead (1 Peter 4:6)? Is this also the “perfect literal Holy Bible”?

        • Lanny A. Eichert September 12, 2012 at 1:14 am

          Mary, I had already given you 1 Peter 4: 6’s context is the first five verses and must be kept in context as those saints living experientially Galatians 2: 20 and Romans 6: 4

          Let especially Psalm 88 dictate physically dead unbelievers cannot be meant in 1 Peter 4: 6 when their death with Christ is so obvious in verse 4 of 1 Peter 4. Besides Psalm 6: 5 says the dead neither remember God nor give Him thanks; Psalm 31: 17 they are ashamed to silence; Psalm 49: 14 spiritual death is eating at them; Psalm 88: 5 God remembers them no more and they know they are cut off from Him; Psalm 88: 10 – 12 wonders, lovingkindness, faithfulness, nor righteousness of God is shown them, nor do they offer praise to God; Ecclesiastes 9: 10 they gain no knowledge or wisdom which would be the result of the Gospel; Psalm 115: 17 again they remain silent of praise to God; Isaiah 38: 18 “cannot” used three times: they are UNABLE to praise God, celebrate God, or hope in God.

          How many times must God give you His Holy Spirit’s inspired texts {plural} before you believe them and correct your desired meaning.

          • Stephen Helbig September 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm

            (1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; (19) in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, (20) who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

            Notice desired meaning; ~ Jesus died ~ made alive ~ preached to ~ spirits in prison ~ who were once disobedient ~ during days of Noah

            • Lanny A. Eichert September 13, 2012 at 1:44 am

              Stephen, the text says who Christ desires to bring to God and it is NOT “the spirits now in prison” but it is “us” and I’ll quote the KJV texts above written before 1 Peter 3:18 – 20 meaning Peter knew these texts and would surely not write contrary to them:

              For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? {Psalm 6: 5}
              let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave. {Psalm 31: 17}
              they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them {Psalm 49: 14}
              among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. {Psalm 88: 5}
              Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? {Psalm 88: 10 – 12}
              for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. {Ecclesiastes 9: 10}
              The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. {Psalm 115: 17}
              For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. {Isaiah 38: 18}

              Peter knew there was NO hope for the dead so he clearly didn’t mean to communicate that Jesus went to the “spirit prison” to preach the Gospel to those poor spirits and see them repent and believe, redeem them, and bring them to heaven thus emptying “spirit prison” accomplishing all that between His death and His bodily resurrection. Peter didn’t declare “spirit prison” was thus emptied, now did he? Can’t you see such an interpretation of 3: 18 – 20 doesn’t make sense? Don’t you realize that if Jesus preached the Gospel to them for the purpose of saving them that they’d surely been saved since there is no more perfect Evangelist than the Son of God Himself and if He intended their salvation He’d certainly avail to them saving grace so that He’d accomplish that for which He went preaching to them? Did your Jesus accomplish anything by your so called “made proclamation to the spirits now in prison” and if so what?

              I don’t believe there’s anything to be accomplished in your interpretation and if I’m right, your amazing hope is proven false by your own interpretation of 1 Peter 3:18 – 20 being a failure even by your Son of God not saving them all and emptying “spirit prison.”

              Alice, Mary, Stephen, do all three of you understand what it means if Jesus truly did preach to the spirits in prison immediately after accomplishing His substitutionary death for us? What are ALL the implications? Think, people, THINK. You haven’t thought it ALL through.

            • Mary Vanderplas September 13, 2012 at 6:36 am

              Why would I run to the psalms – which reflect a pre-resurrection-of-Jesus-the-Christ view of death and the state of the dead – in interpreting a text from the later writings in the New Testament? I should think you would know by now that I don’t employ your run-around-the-Bible-until-I-find-what-I-need-to-support-my-doctrine hermeneutic. As I’ve stated, it seems clear to me from reading the context that the author is referring to the physically dead: the gospel was proclaimed to the physically dead.

              By the way, regarding the concept of Sheol in the psalms, see 22:29, 49:15, and 139:8. It seems that the psalmists were expanding the usual conception of this place where the dead were, presumably without God and thus without hope.

              • Lanny A. Eichert September 14, 2012 at 2:48 am

                Mary, you’re not thinking it through: “the gospel was proclaimed to the physically dead” BY WHO? FOR WHAT PURPOSE? DID IT WORK?

                Mary, it accomplished NOTHING if that be the explanation. Jesus FAILED.

                Your interpretation makes Jesus a FAILURE, Mary. Is that what you want? I thought you all believed Jesus accomplishes what He purposes to do. It is non-sense to proclaim the Gospel without the purpose of saving souls. You think Jesus proclaimed the Gospel for no reason at all? If He did have a purpose, why didn’t He accomplish it right then and there?

                • Mary Vanderplas September 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

                  The gospel was proclaimed “even to the dead,” the text says, so that they might “live in the spirit.” There is only one purpose for which the gospel is proclaimed: that the hearers might know and trust God’s saving love in Jesus Christ. The author doesn’t give any details. That this is so doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or that the mission was a failure. Jesus already accomplished God’s saving mission; he did it some two thousand years ago on the cross. Exactly how it is and will be that God makes known his gift to each and every one of his lost creatures for their final salvation hasn’t been given us to know.

                  I’m not going to discuss this any further. I have nothing more to say. And I’m tired of these fruitless, speculative discussions about things that can’t be known. Your obsessive interest in what happens after death and in the eschaton distracts from what, in my view, should be the focus for Christ-followers: embodying and enacting the life of the reign of God here and now, for the world’s blessing and healing.

                  • Lanny A. Eichert September 15, 2012 at 3:37 am

                    Mary says the psalmists were expanding the usual conception of this place where the dead were, presumably without God and thus without hope.

                    BUT she is unable to admit it applies to 1 Peter 3: 18 – 20 and disproves the whole of Alice’s amazing hope. Isaiah also, dear Mary: For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. {Isaiah 38: 18}

                    WITHOUT HOPE, dear people, there’s no hope for the dead. Get that through your heads. You cannot disprove that. Once they are physically dead they are locked into inescapable condemnation and eternal torment.

                    All you folks do is deny these texts withouit offering another meaning other than literally what they say. I’ve told you what 1 Peter 3: 18 – 20 and 4: 6 means in the light of these texts and you say “pre-resurrection of Christ” as if that’s supposed to mean anything. Define and prove how the resurrection changed the outcome of the dead. All you got is misinterpretations building upon misinterpretations. Assumptions, and bad ones at that.

                    Death is their cut-off. They are thereafter without hope forever. Mary said so. Scripture proves it and makes everything else foolishness, including your amazing hope. See, Alice? Defend your position against the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Isaiah if you can or dare.

                    • Mary Vanderplas September 15, 2012 at 7:57 pm

                      “Mary said so.” Baloney. Stop distorting my words – and stop trying to use me to bolster your groundless claims.

                      How does the resurrection of Jesus Christ change the outcome of the dead? “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died…..for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:20, 22) Amazing Hope, indeed!

                    • Lanny A. Eichert September 16, 2012 at 12:20 pm

                      Mary, keep the context both of my comments and the Scriptures. You, folks, are terrific abusers of context. You said this with regard to the Psalms: “the dead were, presumably without God and thus without hope.” The dead have never any hope, Mary, and 1 Corinthians 15:20, 22 is all about the believers’ hope to whom it was written and not the unbeliever. The “all” are all those that believe and nobody else. Keep the context. It is undeniable, Mary.

                      Amazing hope is proven false again by the Psalmists, Solomon, and Isaiah.

                    • Mary Vanderplas September 17, 2012 at 5:54 am

                      “Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.” (1Corinthians 15:24-28)

                      What part of “inclusive” does the context here given not show? See also Romans 5:18. And regarding the conception of Sheol, see Psalm 22:29, 49:15, and 139:8.

                    • Lanny A. Eichert September 18, 2012 at 1:14 am

                      Mary, I told you to keep the context and “the free gift came” {Romans 5:18} to be RECEIVED. Only those who receive Christ are justified and have eternal life during this mortal life time. “The righteousness of one” in mortality {Jesus mortal human righteousness was necessary for humanity’s salvation} provides justification in mortality for all who receive this gift.

                      Tell me, when in 1 Corinthians 15:24 – 28 is death destroyed? Hint: the Revelation 20: 14. When it is cast into the Lake of Fire following all the spiritually dead people. Death does not cease to exist; it exists in the Lake of Fire, God’s trash bin where He throws all His angelic and human trash who refused to believe before they physically died. The subject {1 Corinthians 15} of the context is “they that are Christ’s at his coming”. Only “receivers” are the “all” in “even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Nobody can be made alive without receiving Christ in this mortal life time. Therefore “they that are Christ’s at his coming” can NOT include unbelievers. Since His Coming is “before” the {Revelation 20: 11 – 15} “Final Judgment” and God isn’t saving anybody in the grave, nobody is “Christ’s” that are cast into the Lake of Fire where death is their state, the Second Death, from which there is no salvation.

                      Chronology again proves your foolishness in believing there is salvation after physical death. Alice’s Amazing Hope is proven false.

                    • admin September 18, 2012 at 10:35 pm

                      If death is as you say, then Paul exaggerated and gave false hope in penning what I would call “spiritual smack-talk,” that is, “where, O Death, thy sting? where, O Hades, thy victory?” If the majority of mankind remains subject to death forever in the Lake of Fire, then Death most certainly does sting and Hades most certainly does have victory. God is not bound by chronology. Nowhere in scriptures does it say that “Nobody can be made alive without receiving Christ in this mortal life time”, neither will you find anything in scripture about “God isn’t saving anybody in the grave,” and you also won’t find “nobody is ‘Christ’s’ that are cast into the Lake of Fire where death is their state, the Second Death, from which there is no salvation.

                      What you will find is:

                      God is before time is, and God as Creator of time is sovereign over it. (Genesis 1:1, Deuteronomy 33:27, Revelation 22:13)

                      God answers when Jonah cries out to Him from “the depths of Sheol,” first century believers were baptized “for the dead,” Jesus preaches to the “spirits in prison,” and you see the “kings of the earth” thrown into the Lake of Fire in Revelation 20 but in 21 they are entering the heavenly city (presumably because they’ve had their robes washed), etc.

                      ALL THINGS belong to Jesus Christ, He has power over all things, and He will give life to all things. The Son succeeds in reconciling everyone to the Father. John 3:35, 6:37, 17:2, Ephesians 1:9-10

                    • Lanny A. Eichert September 18, 2012 at 1:41 am

                      Mary, Psalm 22:29 is a Millennial reference to mortal unbelievers during His thousand year reign on the earth {verses 26 & 27}.

                      Psalm 49:15 & 139:8 are the Old Testament saints’ {believers’} assurance which is the same as John 5: 24 and has nothing to do with unbelievers after death. Remember the thief on the cross. The only change Christ’s resurrection brought was no longer do saints go to Paradise upon physical death, but rather straight to the presence of Christ in heaven. No change of the condition or place of unbelievers is taught in the New Testament.

                    • Lanny A. Eichert September 19, 2012 at 12:56 am

                      Alice, will you agree death is swallowed up in victory for the believer?

                      1 Corinthians is an epistle written to believers and chapter 15 is addressing how Christ’s resurrection benefits believers.

                      Isaiah 38: 18; Ecclesiastes 9: 10; Psalm 6: 5; 31: 17; 49: 14; 88: 5, 10 – 12; 115: 17 all tell you there is no hope of salvation after physical death.

                      Jonah was already saved before he went on that mission.

                      First century believers were baptized for their ministers who died as martyrs to take their place in the ministry. {Fundamental Baptist church people don’t enter the ministry without first having been baptized in water.

                      I already told you 1 Peter 3: 18 – 20 is not what you and Mary think as I’ve demonstrated above.

                      You have two different “kings of the earth” groups, one in chapter 20 and a different group in 21. Don’t presume either, Alice, that they are the same.

                      The Son succeeds in reconciling every one of His Elect to the Father, every one He died to save, which are only those given Him by the Father.

                      If death is as I say, then you need to heed the context and make your understanding to conform to it.

                      They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. {Isaiah 38: 18} and Psalm 88 tells you there’s no preaching to the dead. You’re proven absolutely in error by those verses, dear Alice and all your friends. You cannot deny Isaiah 38: 18; Ecclesiastes 9: 10; Psalm 6: 5; 31: 17; 49: 14; 88: 5, 10 – 12; 115: 17 as previously quoted.

                      Alice, why is there an OLD Covenant and a NEW Covenant, or better still the “first” covenant and a “second” if God is not bound by chronology? I mean God uses the words old, first, new, second. {Hebrews 8: 7, 13; & 9: 18} Alice, God does conform to human time chronology, so you’re proven absolutely in error by real chronology.

                    • Lanny A. Eichert September 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm

                      Jesus preaches to the “spirits in prison,” and NOTHING comes of it, dear Alice, proves your whole interpretation is not consistent with your characterization of your loving saving sucessful God. Your denial of chronology is your standby answer for all the problems of your false structure. The literal perfect Holy Bible still concludes with the Lake of Fire populated without remedy. Jesus still prophetically called Judas Iscariot perished without an offered remedy and the Lord knows those that are “His.” The Bible is still void of any mention of souls saved after physical death and in fact it states such is not possible:

                      For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? {Psalm 6: 5}
                      let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave. {Psalm 31: 17}
                      they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them {Psalm 49: 14}
                      among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. {Psalm 88: 5}
                      Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? {Psalm 88: 10 – 12}
                      The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. {Psalm 115: 17}
                      for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. {Ecclesiastes 9: 10}
                      For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. {Isaiah 38: 18}

                      How much Scriptural proof do you need before you abandon you false amazing hope, dear people?

  • Pattie September 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I am new to reading this blog and while I am enjoying the thought processes here…I feel inadequate to jump into the discussion and proclaim understanding or answers. I did enjoy the topic and folks responses…so thank you for sharing. I am not well versed in the language of the bible…but I am a babe in having faith in God and his undying love for all. While I can appreciate the intricacies of exploring The Word….I manage best by keeping things simple and to the core. The core being….Gods love and his plan. We are all in this journey of life together and when one suffers tragedy or finds the road to be challenging or unbearable..it is my hope that God will reveal to us his love, his light, and he will provide us with his grace to be patient and kind, to step up and help one another and give us the ability to observe reality and see some of the beauty that ensues…through experiencing pain or joy….through the “quiet presence (I love that!) of ministry” ..of going through our journey…. Not alone….but through faith and hope with community. We can only be so humble and take note of the teachings of God’s ways and strive to do what we can to play our part in the ways of our Lord!

    • admin September 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Pattie.

  • Mary Vanderplas September 10, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    I don’t think the Bible teaches that everything that happens, including evil and suffering, is part of God’s purpose for his creation. So, I would say ‘no’ to the question of whether God is in control. I am with Lewis Smedes here in rejecting any notion that God is somehow behind tragic suffering and evil. I do believe, however, that nothing can finally frustrate God’s good purpose – that he can redeem evil and make it serve him. If evil and suffering fit into God’s plan, if they are part of his will, then, yes, I think the implication is that they are not really evil after all. To assert, in the face of evil and suffering, that God is in control is to legitimate the evil; it is to make it less than the horror that it is.

    To confess the eternity of God is not, in my view, to remove God from history; it is not to place God above or outside time. Rather, it is to say that there is no time when God is not present and active in history to work out his loving and just purposes for the world.

    • Stephen Helbig September 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Mary, think on the following concerning you staement, “I don’t think the Bible teaches that everything that happens, including evil and suffering, is part of God’s purpose for his creation. ”

      ~ “From that first moment of the Fall and its consequences, there was the pronouncement of deliverance; and the deliverance is in the seed of the woman which would bruise the head of the serpent. God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head (serpents authority), and thou shalt bruise His heel (mans walk) (Gen. 3:15). What is the serpent’s seed? The take-over of the human family created in the image of God by a “FALSE GOD”-FATHER who would express his nature of self-centeredness in the sea of humaity. Thus they would be the seed of the serpent eating the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And what is the seed of the woman? ~ The take-over of humanity by God, the “TRUE FATHER GOD”, expressing the fullness of His own nature and image in and through man. Jesus Christ was the first man to be so possessed by the fullness of God, and into the woman’s seed. He ~ JESUS came, the One capable of destroying the works of the devil, and turning the devil’s captives into HIS captives. He led captivity captive, who gave Himself for our sins, a debt paid for redemption of man so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. Yes there is evil that exists in our world and our TRUE FATHER GOD is not evil. Notice this FACT; ~ Just as darkness is swallowed up in Light, the evil is swallowed up in His Divine presence and True Nature,” IN HIM” it does not exist, it is ruled by His righteousness and does not exist at all, for it is not one iota of His Nature. It is Hidden,~ SHEOL. Notice this simple truth: Light rules over darkness to the point that there is no darkness manifested at all. The Light of Life is TOTALLY dominate; It is OVER–COME (All darkness ) ( All Evil). At creation there was divisions ~ but “Our Gods Plan” is “Oneness”, the Lord our God is ONE, the consummation of all thing is ALL IN ALL. ~ In Him

      I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil. I THE LORD DO ALL OF THESE THINGS” (Isa. 45:7). God creates evil! For what purpose ~ The law of circularity into Him, ~ “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. — For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him. To Him be glory forever! Amen.” [Romans 11:36, Amplified].

      Let me give you now a Scripture that shows the hand of God in this and the extensive scope of both the departure from, and the returning unto, God. ~ Ps. 90:1-3. “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You have formed the earth or the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. YOU TURN MAN TO DESTRUCTION; and say RETURN YOU CHILDREN OF MEN.” You could never read this word “return” here, if you had not first read that man had been “turned” away to destruction. In this passage the word “destruction” has this meaning in the original: A COMPLETE COLLAPSE, crumbling man to a contrite condition. Why? That man may know and RETURN to GOD, ~ The LIGHT, ~ The LIFE, ~ The Tree of Life for the healing of the nations ~ “LIFE FOREVERMORE” ~ When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” … again He says …“I will draw all men unto me”

      To say that God didn’t take him (concerning the womans husband and accident) (in your pevious testimony) is true be cause of this present evil world that was created with the fall of man, ~ and “In Him” is no darkness at all

      And I know you agree with this ~ that all is within the boundaries of eternity for your truly wonderful statement shows His wisdom, and Ii quote ~ “To confess the eternity of God is not, in my view, to remove God from history; it is not to place God above or outside time. Rather, it is to say that there is no time when God is not present and active in history to work out his loving and just purposes for the world.”

      • Stephen Helbig September 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm

        p.s. to above comment

        The answer is so simple, so plain, so basic, I blush and bow my head with shame! How does one create darkness? Just by turning off the light! Anyone can perform this simple task at any hour of the day or night. The sequence is totally correct, as we read in Isa. 45:7, “I FORM THE LIGHT, and create darkness.”
        The initial state is light. God is light and He was before all things – eternal, omnipresent Light. Withdraw that light and there is darkness. But the light came first, and therefore is always able to swallow up the darkness into light itself again. “The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out” (Jn. 1:5, Phillips). The light will always conquer darkness, but darkness shall never conquer light. But to create darkness – it is only necessary to withdraw the light, which we all have done.

      • Mary Vanderplas September 13, 2012 at 6:17 am

        Stephen, I agree that God is only good – light – and that he is powerful to swallow up evil (and that his power is working in the world even now to oppose evil). And I believe that he will finally destroy evil completely. I do not believe that evil has its origin in God, that God causes it or allows it for some purpose, that evil is a necessary condition for good. This I do not believe; and I agree with Tom Long that trying to justify God by finding some explanation for why he causes evil and innocent suffering is not the way to go in dealing with the theodicy problem. Regarding the Isaiah 45 text, it can and more likely does mean that God creates “woe,” i.e., the just judgment of God against sin, not evil and innocent suffering. In any case, it seems clear to me that the Bible testifies to the truth that God is only good. “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) Regarding the Psalm 90 text, I can only say that for every text that speaks of God acting directly to control the events of history and of the lives of people, there is at least one other that argues against such a view. And the larger issue dealt with in Long’s book is how anyone can believe in a good God who governs the world in the face of so much evidence to the contrary – and whether it is morally possible for a good God to will evil as a means to achieve his good ends.

  • Awakening, by Asia Samson « www.whatgoddoes.com September 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

    […] and the Crisis of Faith (Guest Blogger Mary Vanderplas), The Shaking of the Foundations, The Impossible Chess Match, The Climax of All Misnomers, Road Hazards, and The Soul’s Complaint, based on the book, What […]

  • […] and the Crisis of Faith (Guest Blogger Mary Vanderplas), The Shaking of the Foundations, The Impossible Chess Match, The Climax of All Misnomers, Road Hazards, The Soul’s Complaint, Awakening, by Asia […]

  • Post a comment

    Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.