Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Is Faith Needed for Salvation?

Well, it depends on which salvation and whose faith we are referring to?

Let's sort out the salvation question first.
As you know, one of our theme texts is 1 Timothy 4 : 10, which sits under the search box beside every post on this BLOG.

We have placed our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all, and especially of those who believe. {GNB]
So all humanity will be saved eventually, but there is something special in store for believers.

Previous posts have explored the universality of the world's eventual salvation using texts such as ...

God made known to us the secret of his will according to his good pleasure, which he himself had previously decided, to be put into effect when the times reach their completion - to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. [Ephesians 1 : 9 - 10 BV]
After everything is under the power of God's Son, he will put himself under the power of God, who put everything under his Son's power. Then God will mean everything to everyone. [1 Cor 15 : 28 CEV]
However, not everyone will need to wait for the ages to be completed to receive their salvation. The "especiallies" are those who have become believers - have believed that Jesus died for the sins of the world - during their lifetime on earth, and will enjoy their salvation and inclusion in the Body of Christ during the remaining ages, which includes the Millennium and the New Heavens and Earth.

So there are two salvations - one for believers during the ages and continuing  beyond them, and one for the remainder of humanity at the completion of the ages - another illustration of the first fruits and the main harvest in Hebrew agricultural terminology.

What about the faith question?
Long time readers of this BLOG will know that many of our popular English translations of the Bible have translation errors which have been used to mislead people regarding several aspects of God's plan for us.
The ownership of the faith needed for both the salvation of the main harvest and the first fruits is another victim of these errors. 

Because of the age-old tradition in many Church circles that we are saved by making a decision for Christ or by inviting Jesus into our hearts or by some other initiative taken by us, most modern translators have read such a position into the texts.

In those translations, the Greek "faith OF Jesus" is translated as "faith IN Jesus". It was the faith or faithfulness of Jesus, Jesus Christ's faith in his Father's purpose for him, that took him to the cross to secure our salvation.
(I have a fuller discussion of this in the post "The Faithfulness of Jesus" published on May 2nd, 2017 for those interested.)

We had (then) and still have (now) absolutely no input into it. Jesus did it all! With no assistance from us everyone will eventually be reconciled to God without lifting a finger. Yes, Jesus was successful in dying on the cross for the sins of the world.

However, to be in the Body of Christ, to be among the first fruits, to have life during the ages, we need to believe in the finished work of Christ for mankind and to be available as a co-worker with Christ in His kingdom work.

We need to have faith in the finished work of Jesus.
And that faith is also a gift from God for those He has selected for that role during the ages.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God [Ephesians 2 : 8 NIV]
Consequently, to be among the first fruits, to be in the Body of Christ, to be saved during the realm of time (the ages), to have age-ian life, we need to have received the faith to believe in the faithfulness of Jesus in dying for our sins.

So, is faith needed for salvation?
For the eventual salvation of the world, the faith of Jesus was needed.
For the prior salvation of those chosen to be in the Body of Christ, the faith to believe in the finished work of Jesus will be given.

(And when the last of these have been been born, and heard the gospel, and been given the faith to believe it, the Body of Christ will be complete and this current age will be completed.)

Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Which is Better - Calvinism or Arminianism?

I have sometimes been asked to choose between Calvinism and Armianism, on the assumption that Christian Universal Reconciliation is not a legitimate option.

Very briefly, the god of the Calvinists has the ability to save all mankind, but doesn't choose to, whereas the god of the Arminians wants to save all mankind, but does not have the power or ability to.

The real God, the God of the Bible, has the will, power and ability to save all mankind, and sent Jesus to be the Saviour of the world to make sure that happens. In the introduction to The Really Good News About God", I briefly describe Calvinism and Arminianism and show the short-comings of each.

There are some people who tell me these are the only two positions that can be held, so, Barry, which one do you hold?
Well, if you put it like that I would have to say I'm a Calvinist, but not a Calvinist of the common variety.

I believe God has the will and strength to save those he has chosen to save ... but I broaden that number to everyone (on the basis of solid Biblical evidence you will find in the book}.

OK. I'll give you a sneak peek right now.

Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
(1 John 2 : 1b - 2 NIV)

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 
(Romans 5 : 18  NIV)

I have also discussed this position more thoroughly in a previous post "The Third View" published on June 6th, 2010.

Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Biblical Challenges to Mainstream World Views

It's my turn to lead a Bible Study at my church this week. One of the Scripture passages chosen by the Lectionary for this week is Romans 5 : 12 - 21, one of my favourites. So I will need to be careful that I don't slip from my prescribed role as facilitator of the group into one of preacher/teacher for the morning. 😎

It is only a short passage, but it deals a fatal blow to several of the world's favourite views (beliefs).

Belief in the Theory of Evolution
(I won't get side-tracked by the "scientific" aspects of this theory, which are erroneous and predominantly quite unscientific. I will just mention one of the Biblical challenges to this theory.)

Therefore just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people ....
(verse 12  NIV)

Note the order of events here.
Man then sin then death.
The Theory of Evolution requires the opposite - long ages of death to precede the arrival of humans on earth.

Belief in Man's Free Will
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people,
so also
one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.
(verse 18 NIV)

We do not choose our destiny, God does.
We are allowed to make choices along the way, which determines how difficult or enjoyable and rewarding the journey becomes.
But the end result has already been determined by God.
(mentioned again in Eph 1 : 9 - 10; Col 1 : 19 -20; etc.)

Belief in Eternal Torment in Hell
For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners,
so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
(verse 19 NIV)

A righteous outcome for all hardly makes room for an eternity in hell or any other place that might be a separation from God.
Romans 11 : 32 also reinforces this point with ...

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience (unbelief) so that he may have mercy on them all. (NIV)
These are very brief comments on these unBiblical, misleading world views.
However if you would like to discuss any of them further, add a comment below and let's start a conversation.

Blessings, Barry

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Correct Grammar Exposes the Truth about Life

Adjectives formed from nouns have the same basic meaning as their noun.
For example, the noun 'truth' has an adjective 'true' which may be illustrated with "a statement that contains the truth is a true statement".
Another example could be the noun 'day' and its adjective 'daily' which may be illustrated with "each day we wash the dinner dishes, so washing the dishes is a daily chore".

The English words 'age' and 'eon' are nouns that refer to a period of time, often a very long period of time, which has a beginning and an end.
Unfortunately in English we don't have a simple single word adjective corresponding to the noun 'age', although 'eon' does have the rarely used 'eonian'.

The closest we can come to a "single word" adjective for the noun 'age' might be 'age-during' or 'age-lasting', or we might try to use an adjectival phrase like 'belonging to the age', 'pertaining to the age', 'during the age', 'of the age' or 'for the age'.

As difficult as it is to find an adjective for age that we are comfortable with, we should never use words like 'forever' or 'everlasting' - words that convey the idea of never-ending, nor a word like 'eternal' - a word that conveys the idea of no beginning and no end.

In the New Testament, the Greek noun that translates into age or eon in English is 'aion' and its corresponding adjective is 'aionian'. Possible uses might be: We are living in the aion of the church, so we are the aionian church, and, Believers will live and reign with Christ in the coming aion, so they will have aionian life.

Unfortunately, most of our popular English Bibles quite wrongly translate 'aionian' in the Greek as 'eternal' in English. And this error causes us to miss the distinction between eonian life (life during the ages) and eternal life (life beyond the realm of the ages).

Here are a few examples of using eonian correctly.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have eonian life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eonian life.
[John 3 : 14 - 16 NIV corrected]

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eonian life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. [John 5 : 24 NIV corrected]
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’“Then they will go away to eonian punishment, but the righteous to eonian life.”
[Matthew 25 : 44 - 46 NIV corrected]

As you know, because of Jesus' death on the cross, everyone will receive eternal life eventually (at the end of the ages), but only believers in the gospel will receive eonian life in the coming millennium, illustrating that although God is the Saviour of the world, there is something special for believers. [see 1 Timothy 4 : 10]
That special
something is eonian life, life that continues through the coming eons.

So correct grammar reveals the difference between eonian life and eternal life - between life in the kingdom ages for believers and life in eternity beyond the ages for everyone. Indeed, without this correction, it is difficult to find the millennial kingdom anywhere other than in Revelation 20. 

(I am beginning to use 'eonian' more and more in recent times, instead of the other age-related options, because it is just one word and because it closely resembles the Greek 'aionian'. Having said that, I am tempted to create my own word: age-ian, which looks very strange but is growing on me.)

Blessings Barry

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

God's Great Steering Wheel

I have taught my four sons to drive. 
That teaching began when they were quite small. They would sit on my knee behind the steering wheel as we drove deserted country roads or the longish driveway from the front gate to the carport.

They had their hands on the steering wheel and (mostly) looked out the front window as we travelled. They thought they were driving the car and it was totally in their control.

But, of course, I was driving the car, deciding where we were going and how fast we were travelling. I also decided on how much force I allowed my son to exert on the steering wheel, depending on whether he was trying to direct us where I had previously decided to go or not.

Our prayer life is a bit like this.
God knows where He is going and how fast He wants to get there. And He does allow us, indeed invites us, to put our hands on the steering wheel. How much effect we have on the steering wheel depends on whether we are heading in the same direction He is or not.

So if we want to be effective in prayer, we need to be on the same page God is. We need to know His will regarding the subject of our prayer so we can pray "in Jesus' Name" and be gently placing our hands on His steering wheel.

Praying for something that is not in God's will is as useless as my son trying to pull the steering wheel in a different direction to where I have chosen to go. I will just "out-pull" him with my stronger grip.

So how do we know God's will?
First, we need to know what God has revealed about His intentions in His Word.
Second, we need to spend time (in prayer) asking God what he wants us to pray for before we begin asking for things to be done.

I often answer the question, "How do you get all your prayers answered?" with the one-word instruction, "Cheat!"
Find out what God is planning to do, and pray for it to happen.

A beautiful example of this cheating is demonstrated by Daniel in the Old Testament.

... I was studying the sacred books and thinking about the seventy years that Jerusalem would be in ruins, according to what the LORD had told the prophet Jeremiah. [Daniel 9 : 2]
What had Jeremiah prophesied?
This whole land will be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. [Jeremiah 25 : 11]
For Yahweh says, “After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.
[Jeremiah 29 : 10, 11]

With this information about God's plan, Daniel continues :

And I prayed earnestly to the Lord God . . . [ Daniel 9 : 2, 3 ]
You can read the whole prayer in the following verses.
A Biblical example of cheating! Knowing God's plan and praying for it to happen.

It gives me great peace to know God's will cannot be overridden by the will of any of his children.
Can you imagine the chaos if God granted every request, especially those prayers that ask for very different (even opposite) outcomes or actions from God in the same circumstance?

We need to gently place our hands on God's Great Steering Wheel if we are to get all our prayers answered, and be co-workers with Christ in the Body of Christ.

Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Step On The Way

Because this Blog is centred around God's extravagant grace, most of the posts touch on some aspect of the eventual, universal, reconciliation of mankind to God; which fulfills God's role as the Saviour of the world. (1 Tim 4 : 10)
Today's post highlights the salvation of Israel, a step on the way to the salvation of the world.

There are many references to this event in the Old Testament, like Psalm 130 : 8 and Psalm 103 : 2 - 3, together with King David's confidence of his expectation to be "dwelling in the house of the Lord for ever" in Psalm 23.

In the New Testament, the most descriptive mention of this event is in Romans 11, just after Paul illustrates God's faith community using his wonderful Olive Tree allegory.
He tells us that although Israel has stumbled, she will not be rejected, nor has she fallen beyond recovery.
In fact, God has used her stumbling to bring salvation to the Gentile, the non-Jewish, nations in order to make Israel envious or jealous.

Paul then says ...

"Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way, all Israel will be saved."
So Israel will be saved after the full number of Gentiles has come in.

Come in to what?
The context of Romans 11 is the Body of Christ, the disciples or followers of Jesus, part of God's faith community that is illustrated by an olive tree.
So when the Body of Christ is complete, then all Israel will be saved.

(Paul is not talking here about the salvation of the world at the end of time, at the consummation of the ages. 

He is talking about the Body of Christ, the Church, the believers who are chosen as a first group, before the kingdom ages begin, for life and administration responsibilities in those coming ages.)

And we are living in the era or age when the Body of Christ is being filled; so at the end of this age, when this filling is completed, all Israel will be saved.
Looking at the world situation, and the Middle East in particular, it is difficult to imagine how this event might happen.
I certainly don't know *how* it will happen: all I know is that it will - because God's Word has declared it. And even that is a strain for many people.

Let me illustrate.
Suppose a mother says to her child, "You will be in bed by 7.30 pm.".
The child starts thinking, "How does she know that? There's no way that's going to happen. I still haven't finished my homework, I haven't fed the dog yet, or cleaned my teeth."
So how does mother know?
She knows because she has previously made that decision and will make sure that it happens.

So how does God know that all Israel will be saved?
He knows because he has previously made that decision and will make sure that it happens.

We have a role to play in completing the Body of Christ. That's one of the reasons we have been called, chosen early, before the rest of the world who will come to God later.

One aspect of that role is sharing the good news that God loves us and does not count our sins against us - because Jesus has already died for the sins of the world.
When we share God's good news, others who have been chosen to complete the Body of Christ will hear it, be given the faith to believe it, be drawn to Christ and added to his Body - in the same way we were.

Each time that happens the Body of Christ will get that bit nearer to completion and Israel's salvation will be that bit nearer too.

When all Israel are saved, the next part of God's plan for his creation, the kingdom ages, will commence with the Olive Tree having administration responsibilities that we are currently in training for.

Blessings, Barry

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Free Will Torpedoes the Gospel

First of all, let's be clear about what the Gospel is.
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.
[2 Corinthians 5 : 19 NLT]

Most churches would claim that they faithfully proclaim this gospel message.
But many don't.
Their main message is:

We are all sinners with our sins standing against us.
We have a choice. 
If we repent of our sins and we accept Jesus as our Saviour we will be forgiven and secure peace with God and a place for ourselves in heaven.

However, if we refuse to do this, we are forever lost, alienated from God, and on our way to everlasting torment in hell.
The difference between heaven and hell as an eternal destiny is determined by our freewill choice.
In Chapter 2 of "The Really Good News About God" (beginning on page 78) I deal quite extensively with the common concept that mankind has freewill by showing that, at best, we have limited freewill.
I have also addressed this topic in several earlier posts. You can find these by typing freewill in the search box on the right.

Today's post deals with a serious consequence of this belief in freewill.
It torpedoes the gospel !
Let me explain.
The salvation message of many churches is that because we are sinners, our sins stand against us and, unless we do something about it, we are on our way to everlasting torment in hell.
And this is where our freewill comes in. We can freely choose Jesus or not.
If we use our freewill to choose Jesus, we are forgiven for our sins and we avoid that terrible hell consequence.

In other words, our freewill choice saves us. Unless we make that choice, we are lost. Jesus doesn't save us; our freewill choice does!

Wow! How subtle is the deception.
The truth is that God, through Christ, is the Saviour of the world.

We struggle and work hard, because we have placed our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all and especially of those who believe.
[1 Timothy 4 : 10 GNB]

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
[1 John 2 : 2 NIV]

Jesus has done it all - with absolutely no assistance from us.
Salvation is a done deal because of what Jesus achieved on our behalf.
That is THE gospel.

We must not dilute what Jesus has achieved by claiming he needs our assistance to complete the deal or to put the deal into effect.

Blessings, Barry

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Eternal Life Has Always Been God's Plan

In the previous post I mentioned that "eternal life is a given for everyone because of what Jesus achieved on the cross".
Yes, this is true. Remember ...

God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.
[Ephesians 1 : 9, 10 GNB]

So then, as the one sin (Adam's) condemned all people, in the same way the one righteous act (Jesus') sets all people free and gives them life.
And just as all people were made sinners as the result of the disobedience of one man, in the same way they will all be put right with God as the result of the obedience of the one man.
[ Romans 5 : 18, 19 GNB]

And let's also remember that it is our job (the already chosen's job) to present this good news to the world. Churches often spend so much time telling people what they must do to be saved (see previous post) instead of telling them they are saved already.
And all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
That is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. And he has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.
[2 Corinthians 5 : 18, 19 EHV]

But just as amazingly we are told that this has been God's plan from the very beginning, before time began, before the world was created, yes, even before any of us was born - it's not a Plan B or something God has added to his agenda for the world.
The Bible mentions this pre-determined purpose of God often.
Here's an example.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
[Ephesians 1 : 4, 5 NLT]

If this has always been God's plan, and He created the heavens and earth (and you and me) as the vehicle for its happening, then we can confidently expect it will happen.
Some of it in some ages, some of it in others, but at the end of the ages, the plan will be complete.

Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.
[1 Corinthians 15 :28 NLT]

Let's get busy sharing the "message of reconciliation" we have been entrusted with. Let's be telling people what Christ has done for them so they might love him and be given the faith to join the Body of Christ.

Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Eternal Life is Not on Offer

At the beginning of Chapter 5 in "The Really Good News About God" I mention preachers who ask their congregations, "Where will you spend eternity?"- a question designed to prepare the audience for a "fake news" promotion.

If those preachers understood that Jesus died for the sins of the world (1 John 2 : 2), 

that God is the Saviour of the world (1 Timothy 4 : 10),
that Jesus came to save the world (John 3 : 17) and
that God no longer holds people's sins against them (2 Corinthians 5 : 19),
then they would not ask such a silly question. 

They should all just know the answer: we'll all be together with God.
Eternal life is a given for everyone because of what Jesus achieved on the cross.

An interesting way of saying this is : If you are a descendant of Adam, then you have eternal life.
Yes, 1 Corinthians 15 : 22 says, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."
(Beware of people, including some translators, who change the order of the words in this verse to support their claim that not all who die because of Adam will be made alive because of Christ.)
I like using the CEV version of this verse, because it makes the order of the words harder to change,  "Adam brought death to all of us, and Christ will bring life to all of us."

For many people this will not happen until the conclusion of the ages.
They will live their life on this planet giving God no consideration at all, will die, will remain asleep until the resurrection at the end of the realm of time, when, among other things, death is abolished and only life remains - eternal life with God.

Now, about this fake news or fake sales promotion.
Preachers who are trying to sell "eternal life" are trying to promote something to people they already have.
"You need to confess your sins, you need to repent, you need to be baptised, you need to join our church, you need to ... and you will be saved, get eternal life," is a frequent line of approach.
But the fact is: we don't need to do anything now to get eternal life - it's a done deal, for all descendants of Adam.

So what justification is there for preachers to offer eternal life to people?
Unfortunately, poor translation of our English Bibles.
Most of our popular translations of the New Testament mention eternal life 42 times which gives preachers the Biblical backing for asking their question.
However in all of those 42 occasions, the underlying Greek word is aionian, which means "belonging to/during the eon or age", not "eternal". **

For example, look at 2 Peter 1 : 11 from two popular translations (ESV and NIV) and two literal translations (YLT and CLV).

  • For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (ESV)
  • and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (NIV)

  • for so, richly shall be superadded to you the entrance into the age-during reign of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (YLT)
  • For thus will be richly supplied to you the entrance into the eonian kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (CLV)
Given that Jesus is going to hand over His kingdom to the Father at the end of the ages (1 Cor 15 : 24), it is impossible for His kingdom to be eternal, just age-during or eonian, showing how obvious is the translation error in our popular translations.

So the offer really being made is for eonian life, life during the ages, life in the kingdom of Christ, life in the Body of Christ during the remaining eons, and not having to wait till the end of the ages when all will receive eternal life.

So what about those verses that say you have to be a believer to have eternal life?
Correctly translated, they are saying you have to be a believer to be in the Body of Christ, to have life and rule with Christ through the coming ages.
And what a blessing that will be!

Blessings, Barry

 ** To read more about this wrongly translated word, go to our webpage at www.ibtechservices.com.au, enter Main Website, click on The Bible image, click Bible Background, click on Translations, and read about Nouns and Their Adjectives.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Languauge of Salvation

I think some of the language relating to salvation needs some fine tuning, and the date when we were saved needs a major correction.

Many a person will say something like "It was on the 3rd December 2009 when I decided to invite Jesus into my heart and become a Christian".
And we praise God for such a person's experience and their inclusion in the Body of Christ, becoming part of the first fruits of God's great harvest.

Let's assume this person's name is Shirley.
Then may I suggest we rewrite this description of Shirley's experience in more Biblical terms, not to be petty, but to help us understand God's ways a little better.

Firstly, we were all saved about 2000 years ago when Jesus died, was entombed and rose again in about 30AD. (Notice I didn't say Jesus was buried because he wasn't, he was placed in a tomb.) Shirley was saved at that time - she just didn't realise it or had been given the faith to believe it until 2009.

"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died." [2 Cor 5 : 14]
"one who has died has been set free from sin". [Romans 6:7]
Sometimes an enthusiastic evangelical Christian will ask a new acquaintance, "Are you saved?", which demonstrates a limited understanding of what happened on the cross. If Jesus was successful when he died for the sins of the world then it should be obvious that the new friend is saved, even if they are not aware of it.
God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them, and entrusting to us this message of reconciliation.
[2 Cor 5 : 19]

Jesus praying to his Father: 
"I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do." [John 17: 4]
And on the cross, just before he died, Jesus said,
"It is finished." With that, he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.
[John 19 : 30]

So Shirley was saved when Jesus finished his work on the cross about 2000 years ago.

Secondly, Shirley did not choose God, but God chose Shirley, just as he chose his first disciples. [John 15 : 16]
He chose her to be one of His first fruits, by drawing her to Him and giving her the faith to believe the good news on that December day.

People cannot come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me. [John 6 : 44]
(And Jesus promised that everyone would eventually be drawn, see John 12 : 32)

So here's the rewrite:
"It was on the 3rd December that God gave me the faith to believe that Jesus died on the cross to deal with my sins and has chosen me to serve him in the Body of Christ."
And she may well add, "What a joy and privilege that was, and still is."

So is this being petty?  I don't think so.  It recognises the full value of what Jesus accomplished on the cross and corrects our theology by putting God in control, not us.
I am more persuaded by the Biblical doctrine of God's sovereignty than the mainstream church's doctrine of mankind's free will.
However, I know I am in a fairly small minority as we have been indoctrinated with the "free will" message for so long, both inside and outside the church.

Blessings, Barry

Monday, June 4, 2018

Don't Leave John 3:16 Alone

John 3 : 16 is probably the best known verse in the Bible and has been committed to memory by millions.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
(As long-time readers of this blog will know, "eternal" is not a correct translation of the Greek in this verse, but we won't focus on that in this post.)

Clearly this verse states that belief is needed for anyone to attain life.
So this restricts life to those to whom God has given belief (faith).

Now let's look at the next verse (sentence).

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [John 3 : 17]
This verse claims that God is going to save the world, for this is the reason Jesus came.

So let's put these two claims together.
Belief (faith) is needed to attain life AND God is going to save the world (everyone).

These two claims can only be consistent with each other IF God is going to give belief to the world, to everyone.
And if he hasn't done so by the time anyone dies and leaves this planet, he must be planning to do so in the ages still ahead of us.

One of our most-quoted verses shows this link ...

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
[1 Timothy 4 : 10]

So to understand God's plan for everyone we can't afford to consider John 3 : 16 on its own. We need the next verse with it to complete the picture.

Blessings, Barry

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

How has the Good News of Universal Reconciliation Changed Me?

I am often asked this question.
When asked by those who hold to the view that only a relatively few will be saved, it is usually designed to shame me into admitting that I no longer share the gospel with unbelievers and have lost my evangelistic drive.

As mentioned on page 20 of "The Really Good News About God", my motivation to share the gospel has actually increased.

  • I now have a better gospel to share, which is much more exciting and satisfying than the old good news-bad news one, because it's all good news.
  • I now see each person as a creation of God, made in his image, for whom he has a definite, positive purpose.
  • I now understand my role in the Body of Christ better. I am not here to help God save the lost before they die, but to announce the good news so that those who have been chosen to be early believers can hear it and be given the faith to believe it and be added to the Body. (I am engaged in Christ's Body-building program.)
  • I am no longer stressed when people fail to respond to the gospel, knowing full well that their time will come, either in this age or in a later one, depending on whether God has chosen them as a first fruit or as part of the main harvest.

And I now have a greater appreciation of God's love and sovereignty, and, of course, a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of God's purpose for his creation.

So, how has the really good news of universal reconciliation changed me?
It has given me a better gospel to share and a greater enjoyment in sharing it.

As an aside, I guess the thing that surprises me most since receiving this understanding is the lack of determination and urgency in sharing the good news-bad news message by those who are convinced that the majority of their neighbours (and families in many cases) are on the way to "eternal damnation" if they don't "get saved" before they leave this planet. And they are often the first to suggest that I might have lost my drive to share the gospel now that I see that all will be eventually reconciled.

Blessings, Barry

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Is the Gospel Really Good News?

"Most sections of mainstream Christianity preach what they call the good news. But, in many of these, it really is a mixture of good news for a few and very bad news for the majority." (Quote from page 23 of "The Really Good News About God".)

It does not seem to faze these Christians that they gather each Sunday to worship a God of supposed unconditional love who will oversee, even orchestrate, the fearful unending torment of the majority of His creation, the same ones for whom Jesus died.

When I try to explain to any of these Christians what the really good news is, I am treated like a heretic who should be burned at the stake.
Questions like "You don't really believe God will save people like Hitler, do you?" are designed to put me on the defensive and make me abandon the discussion.
And I sometimes do ... until very recently.

I now offer my own provocative questions.
"You don't really believe a God of love would torture those he loves and created in His image, do you?"
"Do you think Jesus was successful when he died for the sins of the world?"
"Do you love your children? If one of them disappointed you, would you torture him/her forever?"

I have changed from leaving myself open to being attacked to asking those sorts of uncomfortable questions. I now avoid being put on the back foot by a person advancing an unbiblical, traditional church position by advancing the true good news found in the Bible.

And what is this good news that the Bible announces?

The end of all things is ...

  • Jesus, the Omega (Revelation 1 : 8, 11 and Revelation 21 : 5 - 6)
  • When all of creation have life and God is everything to everyone
    (1 Corinthians 15 : 22 - 28)
  • When all of creation has come to repentance (2 Peter 3 : 9)
  • When all of creation is in unity and perfect harmony (Ephesians 1 :  10)
  • When everything is reconciled to God (Colossians 1 : 19 - 20)
  • When the whole world is saved (John 3 : 17 and Luke 3 : 4 - 6)
  • When all of creation is restored (Romans 8 : 20 - 21)
  • When all of creation will worship God ( Revelation 15 : 3 - 4 and
    Philippians 2 : 9 - 11)

The Bible has a much better "end of all things" than does mainstream Christianity, and I am becoming much more adventurous in sharing this good news.

Blessings, Barry

(BTW, Hitler is discussed on page 159 of "The Really Good News About God".)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Why Evangelise?

I am often asked, "If everyone is going to be reconciled to God eventually, why bother with evangelism?"
Let me offer an answer within the context of God's sovereign choices.

God is the Designer, Creator and Ruler of the universe. As such, He made and makes all the decisions involved in its creation, maintenance and affairs.
Unless He chooses to delegate some decisions to us, he makes all the choices - and even the choice to delegate is His.

Here are some examples of God's choices.
God chose to create the heavens and the earth.
God chose to commence the human race with a man, Adam, made in his image, and a woman, Eve, made from that man.
God chose Noah, the ark-builder, to save 8 people from the global flood.
God chose Abraham to become the father of a new spiritual race.
God chose Jacob to be the father of God's special nation, called Israel.
God chose Joseph to save Israel from starvation. 
God chose Moses to free Israel from Egypt.
God chose David to be the greatest of the kings of Israel.
God chose Solomon to build a most elaborately adorned temple in Jerusalem.
God chose Jesus to be the Saviour of the world and Jesus chose to draw all people to himself.

Those last choices involving Jesus were to guarantee that God's ultimate choice that all creation would spend eternity in unity and harmony with Himself would be achieved. (Ephesians 1 : 7 ff)

However, some of His creation are chosen earlier than others, and for a special purpose.
These early-chosen are given belief (faith) and are called believers, disciples, first fruits or the Body Of Christ.

And what do they believe?
According to St Paul, they believe the good news "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15 : 3 - 4)

And what is their special purpose?
The task of the Body of Christ is to announce this good news - the gospel - to the world: that God has reconciled the world to Himself. (2 Corinthians 5 : 18 - 19).

And what happens when they do?
Many people will hear this good news and those who have been chosen to join the Body of Christ, to become an early-believer, will be given belief (faith) and will join in this ministry (Acts 13 : 48}. 

This process will continue until all those who have been chosen to be early believers have heard the gospel and been given faith.

At this point, the body of Christ will be complete and the events due to be unfolded at the consummation of the ages will commence - the salvation of Israel (Romans 11 : 25 ff) and the commencement of the millennium kingdom (Revelation 20 : 1 ff), for example.

So what is the purpose of evangelism, of announcing the gospel?
It is to complete the Body of Christ, those chosen before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1 : 3 ff) to show the incomparable riches of God's grace in the heavenly realms in the coming ages. (Ephesians 2 : 6 - 7)

We are blessed to have been chosen early, but we also have a major responsibility - to preach the gospel so that God can give faith to the not-yet members of the Body of Christ. (Romans 10 : 17). We usually call this activity or ministry evangelism.

Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Brave Israel Told Only Half the Story

Israel Folau has caused quite a stir in saying God's plan for gays is that they will go to hell "unless they repent of their sins and turn to God".
He has since quoted 1 Corinthians 6 : 9, 10 to support his opinion.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
The word "hell" is not mentioned in this quote and, in a correctly translated Bible, would not likely be used at all. (You can read about "hell" in previous posts "What is Hell?" published on 4th August 2010 and "Jesus Visits Hell for Three Days" published on 4th September 2013.)

So all Paul (and Israel) are saying is that there are some people who will be in the unseen realm (hell) and therefore will not inherit (be present in) the kingdom of God during the remaining eons of space and time.

Before discussing this further, let me first congratulate Israel for standing up strongly for what he believes. So few Christians seem to be brave enough to do this, especially if they are being attacked in the public arena and their livelihood depends on their public acceptance.
So well done Israel. I sincerely wish there were more Christians like you.

Now to the other half of the story.
It is true that people who are not yet reconciled to God will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

The kingdom of God is the rule of God in the heavens and on the earth during the present and future ages (or eons) and is a joint venture administered by Christ and his chosen followers.
Clearly only those reconciled to Christ, those chosen by God to believe the gospel in their lifetime, will be co-workers with Christ in this enterprise. In other words, only the righteous, those with right-standing before God, are going to be comfortable being in a joint venture with him.

And who will these people be?
They will be those who have been called by God "to repent of their sins and turn to God", using Israel's simple description.

And so those whom God set apart, he called; and those he called, he put right with himself, and he shared his glory with them. [Romans 8 : 30 GNB]
The co-workers with Christ in the kingdom are just the first-fruits of the harvest. Beyond those kingdom ages, when the ages have completed and we progress into the eternal realm, all of God's creation will be in unity and harmony with God. Yes, there will be eventual universal reconciliation as a result of what Jesus did on the cross for all of us.
In all his wisdom and insight God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ.
This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head. [Ephesians 1 : 8 - 10 GNB]

Although all of us are sinners while we live in our earthly bodies here (and the list of sins is even longer than the one Israel quoted above), there will not be sinners in the kingdom of God or in the eventual eternal realm - only ex-sinners of all shapes and varieties who have been changed by God into Christ-likeness. 

So Israel is correct. All sinners not reconciled to God will miss the kingdom of God era: however all will be reconciled to God in the eternal realm after the ages have been completed, just as Jesus promised.

"When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me." [Jesus quoted in John 12 : 32 GNB]

Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Benefits of Knowing God's Plan

First of all, let's remember what God's plan is for His creation?
Paul in writing to the Ephesian church tells us what God revealed to him about His plan - the plan which had not been disclosed previously, although hints of it had been given to some of the Old Testament prophets.

He (God) made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment -- to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. [Ephesians 1 : 9 - 10 NIV]
If this is to be so, then sin and death must be dealt with along the way.
Well, Jesus dealt with sin 2000 years ago ...

Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
[1 John 2 : 2 NIV]

and, as a result, God no longer holds our sins against us ...
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. [2 Corinthians 5 : 19 NIV]
And Jesus will deal with death at the end of the ages (when the times reach their fulfillment) ...
For he (Christ) must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. [1 Corinthians 15 : 25 - 26 NIV]
So all is in place for God to achieve His "unity plan" at the end of the ages.

Now, let's consider the benefits of knowing this?
There are quite a few for me.

One, my opinion of God as a God of unconditional love is reinforced.

Two, I have a terrific single-focused good-news message for the  world, that God is not mad with them, He is reconciled to them and plans to give them the best eternal future possible.

Three, I can distance myself from the good-news/bad-news dichotomy often presented by mainstream Christianity that God is love on the one hand yet He will oversee the torture of the majority of His creation forever on the other.

Four, I can relate to everyone of my friends, colleagues and neighbours as people on the journey to the same destination as me, even if they are at a different stage of that journey. As such, I can pray for people with much more hope and optimism than I previously might have had, knowing I am praying in line with God's will.

To know the end result of the space-time realm in which we live is as reassuring as it is empowering, and encourages me to roll up my sleeves and be involved in the ministry to which God has called me - the ministry of sharing "the message of reconciliation".

What about you?
Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

I Just Can't Believe It

One of my very best friends, who is almost as big a Bible junkie as I am, just can't believe that all of creation will eventually be reconciled to God.

He acknowledges what the Bible says in verses like

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Christ), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
[Colossians 1 : 19-20 NIV]

For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfilment in him. [Ephesians 1: 9 - 10 Phillips]

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
[1 Corinthians 15 : 22 NIV]

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. [Romans 11 : 32 NIV]

and genuinely hopes this really might happen 
BUT ...
just can't believe people like Hitler will ever accept God's offer of salvation.

There are three major problems here.

First: Salvation is not a Gift.

God's salvation does not depend on people's acceptance of it.
God doesn't offer salvation as a gift to be accepted or rejected. He has already graciously given it through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
It's a done deal.

God was in Christ personally reconciling the world to himself—not counting their sins against them—and has commissioned us with the message of reconciliation. [2 Cor 5 : 19 Phillips]
A bit like someone putting a million dollars in your bank account rather than offering the money in cash for you to accept or not. It's in your account - it's already in the bank - it's a done deal.

Let me share a real-life illustration of this happening in 2018.
A couple from our church dined at a local High Street Italian restaurant. After finishing their meal, the husband went to pay the bill. The waitress told him there was no need as the bill had already been paid.
He contested this, saying he still had a debt to pay. Then the waitress explained that a local High Street trader has a table selected for each sitting and that he always covers the bill from that table.
So my friend and his wife had no debt to pay - it had already been taken care of before they had even eaten, and no matter how much the bill might have come to.

That's how it is with our sins. They have already been paid for - 2000 years ago. We have no debt to pay, our salvation was secured on the cross of Calvary centuries ago. It was all God's doing, we had nothing to do with it - it's a done deal.

Second: Jesus' Sacrifice Was Successful

Either Jesus was successful in His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world, or He wasn't.
All Christians I have met, including my friend, will agree that Jesus' mission to die for the sins of the world was successful. But then, illogically, assert that all will not be saved because some will not choose to accept God's gracious gift, thus contradicting their initial assessment of Jesus' success.

He (Jesus) himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. [1 John 2 : 2 NLT]
And when I (Jesus) am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. [John 12 : 32 NLT]
Third: God is Sovereign and Will Always Get His Way
Although God has chosen to save all, skeptics believe many (most) people will choose not to be saved and therefore overrule God's choice. In other words, the created being will overrule the Creator and His plans for His creation.

But who are you, my friend, to talk back to God? A clay pot does not ask the man who made it, "Why did you make me like this?"
After all, the man who makes the pots has the right to use the clay as he wishes, and to make two pots from the same lump of clay, one for special occasions and the other for ordinary use. [Romans 9 : 20 - 21 GNB]
People may plan all kinds of things, but the Lord's will is going to be done. [Proverbs 19 : 21 GNB]

God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.
[Ephesians 1 : 11 BV]

Believing salvation is a done deal, Jesus' sacrifice was completely successful and God's sovereignty will make sure His plan for the full reconciliation of His creation is achieved is the correct Biblical view and gives God the honour and respect He deserves.

Blessings, Barry

Monday, April 2, 2018

How Will We Look in the Millennium? - Part 2

In our previous post, we noted two different resurrection bodies of Jesus.
One looked quite human and one looked very celestial.
The human-looking one was worn by Jesus when he was on earth after his resurrection and the other was worn by Jesus after his ascension to heaven.

So what body we have probably depends on where we will be ruling with Jesus in the millennium.
If on earth, then with a human-looking body like the resurrected Jesus on earth: if in heaven, then with the celestial body like the resurrected Jesus from heaven.

So where will we be in the millennium?

My guess about where we will be and therefore what bodies we will have in the millennium is influenced by another guess that I am currently investigating.
I am guessing (and trying to establish) that redeemed Israel will rule on earth while the Body of Christ will rule in the heavens, the celestial realm.

So my current guessing leads to ...
If you are a believer, and therefore a member of the Body of Christ, you will be ruling with Christ in the heavenlies and will therefore have a heavenly body, a celestial one, one like Jesus had when he met Saul on the road to Damascus.

If you belong to redeemed Israel, and therefore a member of the Bride of Christ, you will be ruling the nations with Christ on earth and will have a human-looking body, one like Jesus had when he ate breakfast with his disciples on the seashore.

What do you think?
Blessings, Barry

PS 1. If you are an non-Israelite unbeliever, the only category of humankind remaining, you will not be aware of the millennium as you will be asleep until you are resurrected at the consummation of the ages.

PS 2. I promise I'll get back to more faith-building topics next.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

How Will We Look in the Millennium?

This post is a thought bubble about our millennium bodies. Hardly an important, faith-building topic, but one that sometimes piques our curiosity.
I haven't delved too deeply into it, nor have I tested it to see if it is consistent throughout Scripture as I usually do before posting. But I wanted to share this thought from left field with you and invite your feedback on a "lighter" subject for a change.

With Easter approaching, I started this thought trip while musing about the resurrected body of Jesus.

Firstly, Jesus kept on just turning up, seeming to arrive from nowhere.

On that same day two of the disciples were walking to Emmaus, a village seven or eight miles from Jerusalem, and were conversing about all these recent events; and, in the midst of their conversation and discussion, Jesus Himself came and joined them, though they were prevented from recognizing Him.  [Luke 24 : 13 - 16 Weymouth]
Secondly, Jesus moved through walls, a bit like sound does, maybe.
It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. "Peace be with you," he said.

A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." [John 20 : 19, 26 GNB]

Thirdly, Jesus looked "normal", having flesh and blood and eating food.
"Look at my hands and my feet and see who I am! Touch me and find out for yourselves. Ghosts don't have flesh and bones as you see I have."
After Jesus said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

The disciples were so glad and amazed that they could not believe it. Jesus then asked them, "Do you have something to eat?" They gave him a piece of baked fish. He took it and ate it as they watched. 
[ Luke 24 : 39 - 43 CEV]

But then the resurrected Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus.
When Saul had almost reached Damascus, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice that said, "Saul! Saul! Why are you so cruel to me?"
"Who are you?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus," the Lord answered. "I am the one you are so cruel to.  [Acts 9 : 3 - 5 CEV]

Wow, that one's different.
The resurrected Jesus from heaven (after His ascension) looks a bit different to the resurrected Jesus on earth (before his ascension).

Are there any other clues?
What about the glimpse Jesus gave to Peter, James and John in the presence of the "resurrected" Elijah and Moses?

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John (the brother of James) and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone.
Jesus' appearance changed in front of them. His face became as bright as the sun and his clothes as white as light.
Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them and were talking with Jesus. [Matthew 17 : 1 - 3 GW]

And John's frequent reference to Jesus as the Light.
John wasn't that light. He came only to tell about the light. The true light that shines on everyone was coming into the world. [John 1 : 8 - 9 CEV]

Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, "I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won't be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life." [John 8 : 12 CEV]

"While I am in the world, I am the light for the world." [John 9 : 5 GNB]

Now John says that we, the children of God, will be like Him.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever he is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. [1 John 3 : 2 LEB]
So, if we are going to be like Him, which Jesus will we look like?

I will continue this thought bubble in the next post (after Easter).

In the meantime, what are your thoughts?

Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Parable of the Local Football Match

To ensure there was a good crowd for the opening match of the season, the coach of a local football team was authorised to give tickets to every person who lived in their small country town.

In addition, he gave gold passes to those who were his close friends, which entitled them to attend the pre-match lunch in the clubrooms with club officials and the players involved in the match.

So everyone in the town got to enjoy the first match of the year, and there was a special treat beforehand for the coach's close friends.

Sounds a bit like what God has in store for His creation, doesn't it?

We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, and especially of those who believe. [1 Timothy 4 : 10 NIV]
All of creation gets to enjoy eternity (the match) with God, but the friends of the Coach (believers - members of the Body of Christ) get to enjoy the pre-eternity ages with Him.

And just as the coach's friends were chosen by the coach well before the day of the match, so believers (members of the Body of Christ) have been chosen well before eternity, even before the ages began.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ. [ Ephesians 1 : 4, 5 NIV]
How exciting is that?
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of the world, you have been chosen before the creation of the world to be adopted into sonship.
Indeed, you weren't chosen because you believed, you were given belief (faith) because you were chosen.

Just like these Gentiles ...

The Gentiles listened with delight and extolled the Lord's Message; and all who were pre-destined to the Life of the Ages believed.
[Acts 13 : 48 Weymouth]

We are very privileged people. But we also have great responsibility, not only in the now, but also in those pre-eternity ages - yes, we have been chosen for a purpose.

In the now ...

God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.  [Ephesians 2 : 10 GNB]
In the pre-eternity ages ...
... and did raise us up together, and did seat us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that He might show, in the ages that are coming, the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, [Ephesians 2 : 6, 7 YLT]
Doesn't that excite you? Chosen for ministry on earth now and ministry in the heavens in the coming ages. I don't feel as if I can stop writing about this at the moment. But I must. Just one more verse...
Do you not know that we shall judge the angels? How much more, then, the things of this life!  [1 Corinthians 6 : 3 GNB]
Blessings, Barry

PS. I am not tempted to de-gender "sonship" in the Ephesians 1 quote above because to do so would lose so much of Paul's thrust here. "Adoption to sonship" is a legal expression that referred to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in the Roman culture of his time. So Paul is saying that believers have full legal standing as adopted sons (I call them male sons and female sons) and heirs with Christ in God's family.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Re-Writing the Bible (Again)

On several occasions I have referred to English translations of the New Testament Scriptures that have led many Christians to misunderstand the plans, and indeed the character, of God.
I won't go over old ground with this post, just draw attention to a new translation recommended for my consideration and opinion by my beautiful granddaughter.

It doesn't take long when looking at a new translation to discover the theology or doctrines of the translator or translation team.
For example, a minister once told me he changed his preferred translation because the translation team of his new preference was more evangelical than of his previous choice. It really can be that obvious.

What did my granddaughter recommend I review?
The Passion Translation (TPT).
It reads really well and has many very helpful comments at the bottom of each page, and I have enjoyed its fresh, passionate approach. It claims to use italics to show words used to clarify the narrative that are not in the original texts, which again is very helpful.

However lack of consistency in using italics (or not using them, actually) demonstrates the translator's personal bias and beliefs. This is what I call the Bible PUB test - Personal Unverified Bias or Belief.
Take, for example, two verses that are used to demonstrate God's sovereignty and God's purpose for His creation.

Here's the first - Acts 13 : 48

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. 
(Acts 13 : 48 NIV)

When the non-Jewish people in the crowd heard these words, they were thrilled and they honored the word of the Lord. All who believed that they were destined to experience eternal life received the message.
(Acts 13 : 48 TPT)

Let's overlook the wrong use of 'eternal' in both translations, and focus on the added words in TPT that were NOT italicised.
God's sovereignty in appointing/predestining has been replaced by mankind's belief/decision to determine their own destiny. There's that free-will myth again, discussed in "The Really Good News About God" page 78ff, showing the translator's PUB.

Here's a second - Romans 11 : 32

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. (Romans 11 : 32 NIV)

Actually, God considers all of humanity to be prisoners of their unbelief, so that he can unlock our hearts and show his tender mercies to all who come to him. (Romans 11 : 32 TPT)

Let's overlook the TPT's diluting of God's action and involvement to just considering, and focus on the added words in TPT that are NOT italicised.
We again have God's sovereign action replaced by the freewill action of those who have chosen to come to him.

TPT is dotted with "salvation by mankind's freewill action" rather than God's gracious provision through the faithfulness of Jesus - all occurrences are displayed in the same type as the main text - which leads to so much incorrect thinking and theology.

I don't mind an author (or translator) publishing a book with these personal beliefs (which I can read and agree with or not), but I don't appreciate these beliefs being inserted into the text of an English translation without proper notation.

Having a literal translation on hand, like a Young or Concordant or Rotherham, will help evaluate the Bible translations we most frequently use and will keep us on track with understanding and appreciating God's character and His plans for mankind.

Blessings, Barry