Anchor Points to Peace
in Biblical Interpretation in the Face of Ultimate Human Destiny
By Gerry Beauchemin author of “Hope Beyond Hell.”
The most crucial study ever undertaken is the study that determines
the ultimate destiny of human beings. What could be more important?
There are three views held by Christians, all defended by
* Eternal Punishment
* Ultimate Reconciliation
I have reached the conviction of Ultimate Reconciliation
as truth. It has the greatest Biblical, historical, moral,
and logical support. It is the only view that provides peace
to those who love their neighbors “as” themselves.
It honors and glorifies God. The revelation of God’s
unlimited power and unfailing love for all people has brought
countless thousands of believers in Jesus Christ true and
lasting peace. I believe the peace I have come to know in
Christ is the result of having applied (even without realizing
it) the following critical anchor points in Biblical interpretation.
Each of them has solid Biblical support. Our natural human
tendency regarding death and judgment always tends toward
fear and anxiety. In order to protect our peace, we must make
a determined effort to remember the following anchor points
as we reflect on the Scriptures.
Twelve Anchor Points
Passion of heart
Loving God in truth
Knowing the Scriptures
Knowing God’s power
Judgment has purpose
God trumps death
Meaning of “Forever” “Everlasting”
Elected to “bless,” Not to “bliss”
Purpose of the ages
Metaphor is abundant
Conscience must rule
Meditate on what is lovely
Jesus prayed, “I praise you, Father…
because you have hidden these things [about judgment] from
the wise and learned, and have revealed them to little children”
(Mt 11:25 NIV). Are any of the book authors and spiritual
teachers or pastors in your life among the “wise”
and “learned” that Jesus referred to here? How
can you know? What is it about your mentors that have won
your trust? Is it their preaching style, power of persuasion,
academic degrees, resume, charisma, humility, love, authoritative
nature or high self-confidence? What is it? How can you know
if God has not hidden His truths from your teachers (about
judgment) as seen in this passage? First of all, beware of
the possibility of error. Then pray for truth. Test what you
hear by searching the Scriptures for yourself. And, finally,
be sensitive to the Spirit’s voice guiding your heart.
“Our sufficiency is from God…not of the letter
but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives
life” (2 Cor 3:5-6). The mark of a true teacher (the
acid test) is this: “How beautiful are the feet of those
who preach the Gospel of Peace, who bring glad tidings of
good things “(Rom 10:15, Isa 52:7, Nah 1:15). The angelic
messenger said, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of
great joy for all people” Lu 2:10. Is the message you
are hearing truly good tidings of great joy for all people?
“How beautiful are the feet of those
who preach the Gospel of Peace” (Rom 10:15).
Passion of heart: Do our hearts burn
In Luke 24 two disciples on a journey were
discussing the momentous events of Christ’s resurrection.
When Jesus joined them as they walked, their eyes were restrained
so they did not know Him. Beginning with Moses and all the
Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things
concerning Himself (v 27). That evening while at dinner, they
recognized Him, then, He vanished. They said to each other,
“Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to
us?” (v 32). They hurried back to Jerusalem. Once His
disciples were reunited, Jesus stood in their midst and said
“Peace to you,” – His first public words
after conquering death! He repeats it, “Peace to you!”
(Jn 20:19, 21). And once again Luke says (v 45), “He
opened their understanding that they might comprehend the
We cannot understand the Scriptures unless
Christ opens our hearts to them. And when He does, something
burns within (v 32)! That’s because God’s message
is the GOOD NEWS of PEACE (Acts 10:36 NIV). Please get this:
When Christ opens our minds to the Scriptures (v 27), our
hearts burn within us (v 32). His words fill our hearts with
peace, even “joy inexpressible and full of glory”
(1Pet 1:8). If the message we are hearing is not producing
joy with a burning effect in us, filling our hearts with peace,
maybe we are not hearing from God.
Bible reading without hearing from Christ is
lifeless. It is about communing with Him, not of duty, but
desire. It is our desire for Him that causes our hearts to
burn when we hear His gracious words. They “marveled
at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth”
(Lu 4:22). When is the last time you “marveled”
at His wonderful words, and your heart burned within you?
When our hearts burn within us we know
that God has talked with us.
Loving God in truth
“We love Him because He first loved us”
(1Jn 4:19). We have truly experienced God’s love when
we feel totally safe in his loving arms. Such Love never abandons
us or our loved ones (Heb 13:5). We can be confident that
He will complete the good work He begins in us as He promised
(Phil 1:6). He is ever interceding for us before God (Rom
8:34). Can anything separate us from His love? No. Nothing
can. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!
(See Rom 8: 35-39) Have we anchored our hearts in His love?
Reading the Scriptures is like the above story
of the two disciples. The climax comes when Christ shows himself
to us! He IS the living Word and the Truth (Jn 1:1-14, 14:6).
He is not the “letter” that kills, but the “Spirit”
that brings life (2 Cor 3:6). The main reason we should read
the Scriptures is to know Him (Jn 5: 39-40). But reading the
Scriptures alone is not enough. Not quite…
“He who has My commandments and keeps
them is he who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved
by My Father and I will love him and manifest Myself to him”
(Jn 14:21; Mk 10:21). Does this mean Christ only loves those
who love Him? No. It means He loves them more intimately.
Remember “the disciple whom Jesus loved” mentioned
five times in the gospel of John? (Jn 13:23, 19:26, 20:2,
21:7, 21:20) Jesus had a closer relationship with John than
He did with Peter and James. But He still loved Peter and
James and all His disciples; in fact, the whole world, so
much so that He weeps for us and gives His life for all humanity!
(Mt. 9:36, Lu 19:41; 2Jn 2:2). The essential point is this:
Christ reveals Himself to us in a special way and sense when
we love Him through keeping His commands. And what is His
greatest command? To love our neighbors as ourselves; it’s
called the royal law (Ja 2:8).
“For this is the love of God, that we
keep His commandments…” (1Jn 5:3). I have great
news for you. Do not fret this passage! There is a second
clause that will grip your heart. “And His commandments
are not burdensome.” Did you get that? Not burdensome!
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and
learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you
will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my
burden is light” (Mt 11:28-30). Do you believe His encouraging
words? And why are His commands not burdensome and His yoke
is easy? Because “God is at work within us, giving us
the will and the power to achieve His purpose” (Ph 2:13
Phillips Modern English). We are His workmanship and God always
completes His projects (Eph 2:10; Ph 1:6). “The grace
of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus” (1Tim 1:14). Even faith and
love are His gifts to us, as they are “in Christ”
– thus are part of His work in us. (See also Eze 36:25-27;
As we love Him (by loving others) He manifests
Himself to us in a special way.
Knowing the Scriptures
Jesus said “You err not knowing the Scriptures
nor the power of God” (Mt. 22:29). We must keep the
totality and summary of God’s revelation and promises
(the global picture) at the forefront of our minds when interpreting
individual passages. Mt 6:22-23 says that if our “eye”
is good we will be full of light [understanding], but if our
“eye” is bad, we will be full of darkness. Our
view of God’s character in His inexhaustible love for
all people is our “good” eye and it will of necessity
dictate our interpretation of all Scripture filling us with
light. But I say with great sadness that the converse is true
for those who view God as an eternal tormentor. Their “bad”
eye guides their interpretation of all Scripture filling them
with darkness. It is so sad.
The God I know and love is the One who has
demonstrated His love for all humanity on the cross. “God
was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself…”
(2 Cor 5:19, 1Jn 2:2, Isa 53:6). God confirms His all encompassing
love to all humanity through numerous promises and proclamations
to bless all people. This is particularly seen in the message
of the Gospel as the Apostle Paul states it in Galatians 3:8,
which Peter amplifies in Acts 3:25-26, and which Moses announced
at the beginning of the Old Testament in Genesis 12:3; 18:18;
22:18; 26:4; and 28:14. God has given us “exceedingly
great and precious promises that through these we may be partakers
of His divine nature” (2Pet 1:4). What are those “exceedingly
great and precious promises?” (Appendix I of “Hope
Beyond Hell” contains 186 wonderful promises and proclamations
that I treasure and hope you will too.)
Mercy Aiken wrote: “Traditional doctrines
teach us to interpret the “victorious” Scriptures
in the light of the “judgment” Scriptures. But
what if God wants us to see it the other way around? Is not
Christ’s victory the greatest revelation in the Bible?
Standing on this highest peak – that is, the finished
work of the cross, causes us to see a much larger and far
more beautiful panoramic view of God’s plan throughout
the ages.”¹ Paul said, “For I determined
not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him
crucified” (1Cor 2:2)!
On the practical side, please visit http://www.hopebeyondhell.net/blog/further-study-links/
for resources I recommend to help you in your Bible study.
May the crowning glory of Christ crucified
for all (Is 53:6, 1Jn 2:2) and His exceedingly great and precious
promises (2Pet 1:4, Phil 4:8) guide our interpretation of
Knowing God’s Power
Jesus said “You err not knowing the Scriptures
nor the power of God (Mt. 22:29).” Even a profound knowledge
of Scripture in itself is not enough. We must know God in
His unlimited power in achieving His total will in the lives
of all His creation. Abraham “did not waver at the promise
of God through unbelief, but was …fully convinced that
what God had promised He was also able to perform” (Rom
4:20-21). “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly
abundantly above all that we ask or imagine according to the
power that works in us” (Eph 3:20). I can imagine some
awesome and powerful things about God, especially when meditating
on His “exceedingly great and precious promises”
(2 Pet 1:4). I believe He has the power and will to fulfill
all His promises. Do you?
Only in knowing God’s unlimited power
to fulfill all His promises can we have true peace.
Judgment has Purpose
Each time we encounter a judgment passage, any
threat whatsoever, we should recall that God always has a
righteous purpose in it. “For when Your judgments are
in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness”
(Isa 26:9). “You have appointed them for judgment, O
Rock, You have marked them for correction” (Hab 1:12).
God integrates both mercy and chastisement in all our lives.
It is not “either, or” as our tradition has implied.
(See chapter three along with “Mystery to Ponder”
in chapter four of “Hope Beyond Hell”) For example:
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.
If you forgive… your heavenly Father will also forgive
But if you do not forgive… neither will your Father
forgive your trespasses.
(Mt 5:7; Ja 2:13; Mk 11:25-26)
All God’s judgments are righteous,
purposeful, and according to our works. God integrates and
applies both mercy and judgment to each of us as He deems
necessary and best for our good.
God trumps death
Death and destruction do not mean annihilation.
And even if they did, God will resurrect all people, either
in the first or the second resurrection. The phrase “eternal
death” is not found in Scripture. God has the last word,
not death. “He is not the God of the dead, but of the
living, for all live to Him” (Luke 20:38). “For
to this end Christ died, rose, and lived again that He might
be Lord of both the dead and the living” (Rom 14:9).
Lordship implies hope, not hopelessness. “The last enemy
to be destroyed is death” (1Cor 15:26)! And when death
no longer exist what’s left? Life! “The Gospel
was preached also to those who are dead” (1Pet 4:6).
“Oh death where is your sting, Oh Hades where is your
victory” (1Cor 15:55)? “Fear not, I…have
the keys of hell (Hades) and of death” (Rev 1:18). Scripture
loudly proclaims hope beyond death and hell for all people!
See chapter three of “Hope Beyond Hell.”
Death and destruction are not the last
word with God.
Meaning of “Forever” “Everlasting”
Each time you come across the words “forever”
or “everlasting” or “eternal” in your
English translations in the context of judgment warnings,
recall that they are based on the Greek words “aion,”
“aionios,” and the Hebrew “olam.”
These words indicate a period of unknown or limited duration,
unless the context implies eternal by association with God
or His worship. “Aionios” also refers to an essence
of character apart from the idea of time as seen in John 12:50;
17:3; and 1John 5:20. Understanding this fact helps us to
harmonize the promises of God for all humanity with His judgment
warnings, whatever they may be. This fosters a deep peace
in us that is sure and steadfast, one which continues strong
in all our Bible reading and meditation. For more on this,
see chapter one of “Hope Beyond Hell.”
The Greek and Hebrew of “forever,”
“everlasting,” and “eternal” in themselves
do not carry the sense of infinite duration.
Elected to “bless” Not to
God promised Abraham and his seed that they
would be heirs of the world! (Rom 4:13-16) With this comes
great purpose and responsibility. We, the members of Christ’s
body, are His “elect” called to “be”
a blessing, not merely to be blessed. “…And you
shall “be” a blessing (Gen 12:2). “He saved
us and called us with a holy calling… before time began”
(2Tim 1:9). “He brought us forth…that we would
be a kind of first – fruits among His creatures”
(Ja 1:18 NAS). “First – fruits among His creatures”
naturally implies “second” fruits. Who are they?
They must be those whom God will reach in “due time”
(1 Tim 2:3-6). Christ will draw [lit. drag] all to Himself
(Jn.12:32). See chapter five of “Hope Beyond Hell.”
Understanding the role of election in God’s
plan for the world helps us make sense of many difficult passages.
Purpose of the ages
The fulfillment of God’s will to save
all people is not limited to this age or life-time. Ephesians
2:7 speaks of the “ages [plural] to come.” God’s
salvation plan spans the ages and our role in election takes
place in the context of the ages. We will rule and reign with
Him (2Tim 2:12, Re. 20:6). Some will rule over one city, others
over many (Lu 19:17-20). But whom will we govern and for what
purpose? See chapter five of “Hope Beyond Hell.”
Understanding that God works through the
ages also helps make sense of many passages.
Metaphors abound in Scripture
Greek scholar William Barclay writes, “It
was the eastern custom to use language in the most vivid possible
way. Eastern language is always as vivid as the human mind
can make it.” 2 As well, Thomas Allin, author of “Christ
The whole Bible is oriental. Every line breathes
the spirit of the east, with its hyperboles and metaphors,
and what to us seem utter exaggerations. If such language
be taken literally, its whole meaning is lost. When the sacred
writers want to describe the dusky redness of a lunar eclipse,
they say the moon is ‘turned into blood.’ He who
perverts Scripture is not the man who reduces this sacred
poetry to its true meaning. Nay, that man perverts the Bible
who hardens into dogmas the glowing metaphors of eastern poetry
¬- such conduct Lange calls ‘a moral scandal.’
So with our Lord’s words: Am I to hate my father and
mother or pluck out my right eye literally? Or take a case
by Farrar: ‘Egypt is said to have been an iron furnace
to the Jews (De. 4:20; Jer. 11:4), and yet they said, ‘it
was well with us there,’ and sighed for its enjoyments
(Nu. 11:18).’ Therefore I maintain that no doctrine
of endless pain can be based on eastern imagery, on metaphors
mistranslated very often, and always misinterpreted. 3
Take the terms “fire” and “burning”
for example. It is unfortunate that these terms are taken
literally when the judgment context demands a metaphoric application.
We must not take literally the countless
metaphors of Scripture.
Conscience must rule
Paul writes, “We…commend ourselves
to every man’s conscience in the sight of God”
(2Co 4:2). So does Christ. He exhorts us to “judge for
ourselves what is right regarding the very subject of judgment
(Lu 12:57).” Paul says to “test all things and
hold fast what is good” and to “judge for ourselves”
what he says (1Th 5:21, 1Co 10:15). You see, testing what
is “right” and “good” calls into action
our God-given conscience. We are to test Paul’s own
words, Scripture itself, by the witness of the Holy Spirit
in us. God’s truth will not violate our conscience,
His moral witness in our heart. It is His alarm system, if
you will, protecting us from error.
Some of the world’s most horrendous acts
of hate and cruelty have been committed by religious extremists
who have had their conscience seared by religion. This was
tragically seen in New York City on Sept. 11, 2011. Christians
are just as guilty. Remember the Inquisitions and the Crusades?
That same spirit is alive and well in Christianity (Lu 9:
54-56). It dwells in the hearts of many popular Christian
writers, teachers, speakers, public personalities, and Bible
translators. God alone knows who they are. But I know how
my conscience is grieved when I hear their words and read
Like Paul, I appeal to your God-given conscience.
Judge and test what is right. Be alert to mistranslations
and misinterpretations. We have well over 50 English translations
of the Bible. Which ones should we trust? I use the New King
James Version because the footnotes provide the Greek manuscript
variants. I often refer to from 6-12 translations, sometimes
20 if needed.
Note carefully: When the subject of our Bible
study puts in question a central tenant of our tradition (such
as judgment), we especially need to keep in mind the bias
of translators. We must do our own research, compare translations
and rely fully on the Holy Spirit. As we are faithful to study
and show ourselves approved before God, He will unfold His
truth to us. Do not trust any translation at face value. For
example, I was shocked when I read 1Peter 4:6 in a very popular
translation. It added a three letter word (which is not present
in the Greek) which changed the entire meaning of the passage.
This was obviously done to deny any hope for salvation after
death. By adding “now” before the word “dead”
the translators attempted to deny that the gospel was preached
to the dead while being in the death state. How tragic! The
context, starting at verse 3:18, clearly supports the actual
Greek text. There is no justification for adding the word
“now.” This is blatant proof of textual manipulation
to support the theology of Bible translators. Let us beware!
Whatever seems unjust to our God-given conscience
most likely is unjust. Let us trust God’s testimony
in our hearts. If a passage seems unfair, unjust, or out of
character with a loving and just God, then it has probably
been mistranslated, or we are misinterpreting or misunderstanding
it. So what should we do? We give it to God and put it aside.
We allow Him to unfold its meaning to us in His good time.
He has not limited Himself to any “difficult to understand
text” in teaching us any necessary or critical truth.
The Scriptures abound with clear and unambiguous teaching
to guide our lives and reveal God’s ways and character.
We need to form our theology from the whole of Biblical revelation
and not only certain isolated parts.
I trust God’s still small voice in my
heart when interpreting the Scriptures. See chapter eight
of “Hope Beyond Hell.” Also “The Judge Does
Truth will not violate our God-given conscience.
Meditate on what is lovely
Paul exhorts us to meditate on what is true,
noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy
(Ph. 4:8). This point has become my plumb-line. I do not allow
any passage that seems contradictory to God’s character
(as seen most fully in Christ) negate or nullify His “exceedingly
great and precious promises” – that which He has
burned in my heart. True and lasting peace is not possible
a) Anchor our hearts in God’s great and
precious promises (Ps 119:11, 2 Pet 1:4)
b) Rest in His loving and merciful character
(Heb 2:13, 13:8, Jn 14:9)
In doing this we will keep our hearts from
doubts and fears when confronting unsettling passages. Jesus
Himself exhorts us in this: “Let not your heart be troubled…”
Fearful texts are fearful principally because
of mistranslations, misinterpretations, and man’s traditions.
Jesus and Isaiah warned of this: “You invalidated the
word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Mt 15:
6 NAS). “Their fear toward me is taught by the commandment
[tradition] of men” (Isa 29:13). What causes more fear
than the thought of an eternal torture chamber awaiting all
of us? Praise God there is no torture chamber. He disciplines
us, His children, with firmness and love for our good. That
is why Jesus could say “Peace to you” (Luke 24:36).
The fact that peace is even possible for any believer undermines
any theory of an eternal Hell. Peace is simply impossible
to experience when an eternal hell is hanging over us. I know.
I lived it.
“Peace I leave with you…Let not
your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn
14:27). The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, …
(Ga 5:22). “The Kingdom of God is righteousness and
peace and joy…” (Rom 14:17). Peter said, “you
rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1Pet
1:8). In other words, the fruit of our Christian experience
should produce indescribable joy! To make this your experience:
Let us memorize His precious promises –
those of peace and comfort. A few each day, adding more as
He unfolds them to our hearts.
Peace at last
This is what we may experience once these twelve
points are well anchored in our hearts:
Our hearts will burn within us, knowing God’s
deep and lasting peace – the fruit of His unfailing
As we experience His love, we will begin to
love others “as ourselves” – the truest
expression of our love for Him (1Jn 4:19-21). Such love unveils
the Father and Son to us revealing their wonder and glory
God’s limitless power assures us He will
fulfill all His wonderful purposes for creation.
Death no longer terrorizes us as it poses no
barrier to God’s saving work in the lives of those we
love most dearly. We can rest assured about their destiny
as well as own.
God’s judgments are truly honorable,
respectable and just. We need no longer be embarrassed or
ashamed when sharing the Gospel with those grieving over lost
Even the phrase “eternal punishment”
in Matthew 25:46 lifts our spirits, because we know what it
really means in Greek* and what it does not mean. What a relief!
As we meditate on what is noble, lovely, and
of good report, we anchor our peace even deeper. We treasure
His exceedingly great and precious promises, keeping them
close to our hearts, minute by minute, every day. They literally
transform us just as Peter said they would (2 Pet 1:4).
We see all people differently – through
God’s eyes – as each person is His child, deeply
loved by the Father and Creator (Acts 17:28-29). He never
abandons anyone. And as a result, neither do we abandon hope
for any person, even the worst of people, as we begin to truly
love them “as ourselves.” It is no longer about
“me” and Jesus, but about Jesus and everybody
The idea of “election” is not puzzling
or unfair to us anymore. It is a special call from our King
to serve Him – not for our own personal glory or bliss,
but to bless the world.
Our time on earth takes on a wonderful new
meaning when we discover God’s purposes for this age
and for the ages to come.
We appreciate more than ever God’s still
small voice speaking in our conscience. His voice is our trusted
friend, our guardian, protecting us from grave error.
And God’s extreme poetic and parabolic
style of speech, though shocking at times, does not unsettle
our peace as it once did. Even the terms “fire”
and “destruction” have lost their terror since
we have discovered their transforming power and essence. “We
went through fire…but you brought us out to rich fulfillment”
(Ps 66:12; Mal 3:2-3, 6; Mk 9:49; Jn 12:24).
Our life’s experience can be summed in
one word. Peace. “Peace to you” said Jesus (Lu
Please read and study “Hope Beyond Hell.”
© October 13, 2011
1 Aiken, Mercy. If Hell Is Real. www.tentmaker.org/articles/ifhellisrealprintable.htm
2 Barclay, William. Daily Study Bible Series. “The Gospel
of Luke.” Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978. 1963
3 Allin, Thomas. Christ Triumphant. 1878. Rpt. 9th ed. Canyon
Country, CA: Concordant, n.d. 265-266.
* See Hope Beyond Hell chapter one for a detail examination
of this text.