would love to remove all the verses and images of God's judgment
but it is just not possible. It diminishes the very need for
the cross. If I can live a life completely consumed with myself,
without having to come under the authority of Christ, and
still be in heaven with Christ, why would I live a life like
Paul (beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, persecuted from every angle)?
this paradigm of Ultimate Restoration is first presented it
immediately creates a confusion over the purpose of the cross.
This is because we have believed that salvation was a rescue
from primarily a location and not from a condition.
But we are told that "the wages of sin is death"
not an eternal place of torture. The cross was a redemption
from a "body of death" that included a physical
death as well as a mindset of death ("the mind of sinful
man is death" Rom 8:6). Our need of the cross is indeed
desperate for without it we are left in our sins and its penalty
of death which we have experienced its permeation into every
area of our lives.
say that it diminishes the need for the cross is to have been
blinded by the doctrine of an eternal hell to the extent that
we have traded our fear of sin for the fear of an eternal
hell. We need to understand that we have been rescued from
sin itself! We have been saved from the condition
of a sinful mind and it's resulting death affecting every
area of our lives, not from a location out there
in the future. Yes, our lives here do have serious ongoing
implications into the coming ages but we need a fear of sin
(coupled with an absolute 100% confidence in God's love) to
replace our fear of an eternal hell to empower godly lives
here, in the now.
Christ's death rescued us from sin (death from carnal minds,
Rom 8:6) then your point about "If I can live a life
consumed with myself, without having to come under the authority
of the cross " reveals you believe the cross was primarily
to rescue you from a location and not from the condition of
death caused by your sin. When you see that Christ died to
deliver you from sin and it's resulting death your devotion
to Christ will soar and you will even be willing to die for
Him! It's His love, goodness and kindness that,"leads
us to repentance" and changes us, not cruel threats!
assume we are saying that we can live a totally selfish life
"and still be in heaven with Christ" is because
again, you are failing to see the purpose of the cross. It
was first to eradicate through death the death we
inherited through the first Adam and the subsequent agreements
we make with it everyday (choosing sin is choosing death).
Also God said He will not be mocked; sin will have consequences
and He seems to have His methods for "bringing us to
our senses" as in the case of the prodigal son or of
Saul. We can be sure there will not be anything left of the
Sauls of this world by the time they reach the "pearly
gates", they will only answer to the name of Paul.
will end by saying that this fear of an eternal hell that
has eclipsed the fear of sin itself has not proven to be an
effective restraint for sin within the Church. I do not think
anyone would argue that the Church has little to show for
a people who claim to believe in a big cross and a big Savior.
I have never experienced the level of love, joy, worship and
desire to please God than since I traded my fear of an eternal
hell for gratefulness for His deliverance from the source
of the problem, my own sinful nature. I thank Him that He
lifts me up from the grave of my "body of death"
and gives me a new life with a new identity to be a part of
a new people in this world. A people with a heart finally
in alignment with Him, the Source of all this world needs
to be healed and free. That is the great exchange and that
is again, the Good News of the Kingdom.