Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO on Feb. 18, 2007
"There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death" (Prov. 14:12).
The Glory Road has been on the Internet since 1997, when Gary Sigler built our first website. One of the first pieces published was "Primrose Path to Gehenna" (See Link at End), the first article I had written about the Spirit born hope placed within me that God will eventually save everyone. I wrote it under the gentle duress of the Spirit, and not only did it get flung into the far reaches of cyberspace, but the Lord pressed me to send it to my relatives, all of whom believed in an eternal flaming hell. Most of them still do so far as I know, but that began my wondering of what it would take to convince anyone that God really did have the power to reconcile the entire creation to Himself. Since then, we have dialogued with thousands of people who ask the same question. How can Christians still believe in hell after seeing God's plan for the ages delineated everywhere in the Bible for those who have eyes to see? And that's the answer, of course. For His own purposes, God has blinded some eyes and stopped some ears so they cannot see His great plan, in the same way that Paul said He had blinded the Jews' eyes to keep them from seeing Christ as the Son of God. He wrote to the Romans, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day" (Rom. 11:8). Paul knew the scriptures very well, and was in fact, quoting the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 6:9-10). The Apostle John also quoted the passage in Isaiah, concluding that "Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him" (John 12:40-41). Both Paul and John make the point that THE GLORY OF GOD REVEALS HIS SOVEREIGNTY.
I guess I'm a slow learner, but until now, I never connected the dots in quite this way: no one can believe in the reconciliation of all men who does not understand that God is absolutely sovereign over all things, all men, and all circumstances. The two go together like conjoined twins. Think about it this way, if man is responsible for his actions, and accountable for whether or not he accepts Christ, as the church insists he is, then God is NOT responsible and NOT accountable for everything. By their theory, man is in control of his destiny, not God. How can God be the "Sovereign Lord," a phrase which occurs some 288 times in the NIV, and the "LORD God" (376 times in the RSV), if He does not have the ultimate say about the eternal destination of His crowning achievement, man?
Almost everyone gives lip service to the sovereignty of God, declared from Genesis to Revelation, without realizing what it actually means. How could God possibly be sovereign if a pip-squeak man could do an end run around what He planned to do before the foundation of the world? The reason I used Prov. 14:12, at the beginning of this piece is because it becomes abundantly clear that the mind of man is at the root of all the confusion about God and His plan to restore all things to Himself in Christ. This isn't surprising when you consider that Adam didn't believe the word of God was valid (Don't eat the fruit), and allowed himself to participate in Eve's deception spelled out by the serpent that on the day they ate of it, they would become like God, knowing good from evil. That sounded like a swell idea to Eve, who sold it to Adam, who abandoned what He had experienced of God and jumped on the trolley to hell along with her. Not only that, but once they ate of the fruit, they did know good from evil, and that unleashed the twists and turns of the carnal mind to try to figure out what was good and what was bad, which the writer of Proverbs said leads to death. It certainly did for them, and Paul was a tad worried it would for us as well, "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ" (II Cor. 11:3). Notice it is not their spirits Paul was concerned for, but THEIR MINDS.
Since confused minds have been trying to figure out the difference between good and evil for centuries, it's no wonder that people approaching God with only their intellect, haven't a clue about what Paul called "the mystery which was kept secret for long ages" (Rom. 16:25). God uses even this confusion for His glory. Mankind does not have right standing before God because of any ability to obey or "make a decision for Christ," but only because of the grace of God, which Paul said allowed him, "to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph. 3:8-11). Notice that through the church, the ekklesia (the gathered or "called out" ones, which we are), the manifold wisdom of GOD has been made known. What a heady concept that is!
God sent Paul to the Gentiles because the Jews' minds were polluted by religious dogma, and because His eternal plan included the whole world. The Jews believed that because they were sons of Abraham, only they had the inside track to God. Jesus scathingly rebuked the the Pharisees, the religious superstars of His day: "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:9). The commandments of men are fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that Adam and Eve ate so long ago, and the effects of eating it are the same for us today as it was for them: spiritual death.
But not to worry, our "Sovereign Lord," the "LORD God," our "Abba" is the one who gives life to the dead and calls the things that are not as though they were. Paul declared that this mystery hidden for ages and generations, is now made manifest to His saints (Col. 1:26). Some see and rejoice in it; others do not yet, but Jesus said that which is spoken in darkness will be shouted from the roof tops (Matt. 10:27).
Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father and the fulfillment of His plan of the ages.
Isaiah most certainly knew the sovereignty of God as few today seem to know it. He had an awesome measure of the Spirit, as do we, for Christ dwells within us, but somehow, it seems to me that we probably have many more mental distractions than the ancients did, which divert our attention from the important things of life. The major prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, saw the world as they knew it like a giant chess board, with God being the one moving the pawns around, crowning kings and upending knights with His little finger. Man has gotten so self important today, and feels so empowered by the flood of information available to him and the ability to blow up the world six ways to Sunday with weapons of mass destruction, that he has forgotten who calls the shots. When you hear a Christian say that Islam is coming to destroy us, or they can't watch the news because it scares them too much, or they think God can't help them unless they make the effort themselves, you know you've encountered someone who needs to go back to basics. Either God is in control as the Bible asserts, from Genesis to Revelation, or He's not, and if He is not, then we have a way worse problem than insane dictators trying to create nuclear weapons, suicide bombers blowing themselves and others up on their way to paradise, and ice storms or category 5 hurricanes changing the world as we know it.
Isaiah quoted God: "I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness. I bring prosperity and create disaster. I, the Lord do all these things" (Isa. 45:6-7). Did you get it there that God brings it all, good and bad, light and darkness, sickness and health, prosperity and disaster? Part of the problem religious men have always had, beginning with Job, whose travailings with the Divine are recorded for us to read, is they want to limit God to only good things and assign the bad things to the devil, or to punishment of sins. To Job's credit, he stood up against his "Baptist friends" (Lenny's little joke), who tried to tell him that all the bad things he experienced were as a result of his sins. If he would only repent, they insisted, he would get through it OK. He knew that wasn't true, but until he met God in person, He didn't know HIM.
The voice from the whirlwind, which by the way is often how we hear Him as well, reminded Job with these questions: Who laid the foundation of the earth "while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy" (Job 38:4-7); Who flung the stars into the velvet night, setting the constellations on their courses; Who sends the lightning bolts; and Who controls the great beasts of land and sea? God asked in conclusion, "Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me" (Job 41:10-11). At the end of this tremendous discourse with the Almighty, Job said, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6). What did this perfect man have to repent of, you wonder? Lenny has pointed out that many Christians need to repent of the same thing Job did: listening to religious men tell them about God rather than going to God Himself. Most religious practices are designed to tell people ABOUT God, but as Job learned, the only truth comes from God Himself. I said earlier that the glory of God reveals His sovereignty, and clearly, in this passage, we see that God's glory made a believer out of Job and it has made a believer out of millions today all over the world.
We have a tremendous advantage over those Old Testament types, who did not have the indwelling Spirit. The Spirit came upon the prophets when they had a word to deliver, but the ordinary man on the street, had only his mind to depend upon, for his spirit was dead in trespasses and sin. Christ came to deliver us from the darkness of our carnal minds. Isaiah put it this way, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined" (Isa. 9:2). Matthew identified Jesus as that light (Matt. 4:16), and John quoted Jesus as saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). Jesus declared that we are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14), and Paul contrasted who we were with WHO WE ARE NOW in Christ: "For you WERE once darkness, but now you ARE light in the Lord. Live as children of light" (Eph. 5:8).
We can only walk in the light because He IS the Light and we are IN Him. It has nothing to do with self effort, and everything to do with Life in the Spirit. I personally don't think the darkness is any stronger than it ever was; it just seems like it is because every wicked act is broadcast immediately by Satellite TV and the Internet, but whether evil is stronger or not makes no difference, because where sin overflows, grace floods in, every time (Rom. 5:20). You can take that to the bank whether the grace makes it to the evening news or not. It's there, a gift from God to the afflicted and down trodden.
It is in the context of world events of his time that Isaiah brought good news and very stern warnings from God to Israel. To those who doubt God's power and authority, he said, "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, "He has no hands?'" (Isa. 45:9). I would encourage you to read the entire chapter 45. It is a thrilling account of God's sweeping power. The prophet concludes his thoughts on sovereignty with the assurance of God's reconciliation of all: "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, 'In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength'" (Isa. 45:22-24).
Those who have been apprehended by the sovereignty of God are the elect in this hour, the ones chosen to be a lighthouse shining across a storm tossed sea, a beacon of safety in the darkness beckoning those seeking refuge and relief. They know Him Who knows the end from the beginning, and they walk in the will of the One who declares "My purpose will stand and I will do all that I please" (Isa. 46:10). They seek no glory for themselves, but rather, declare that "the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it" (Isa. 40:5). Please notice two things about Isaiah's proclamations: 1) God is the one who will do all He pleases. Our decisions and actions have nothing to do with His purpose, which will stand. 2) All flesh shall see His glory, that is all mankind. Because of His sovereignty, He has the will and the power to reconcile all to Himself. If He is not willing that any should perish, then none will (II Peter 3:9). We have His word on that! Hallelujah! We also have His word on this passage containing our "job assignment": "in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation" (II Cor. 5:19).
Father, may Your glory shine forth through our lives bringing light to all the dark corners of the Universe. May all Your children know the incomparable power of Your strength and Your grace. With the same power which raised Jesus from the dead, awaken us from our slumber, Father, that we may proclaim Your name and Your purpose throughout the earth and beyond. In Christ, we rest in Your will for our lives, amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
The Primrose Path to Gehenna
Back to Basics: The Sovereignty of God
Back to Basics, III: A Practicum on Sovereignty
Back to Basics, IV: Out of the Box
Back to Basics, V: The Codependency Factor
Back to Basics, VI: The Tomb Is Still Empty
Back to Basics, VII: Where Is Hell?
Back to Basics, VIII: God Is Love
Back to Basics, IX: By Man Came Also
Back to Basics, X: Victory Over Death
Back to Basics, XI: Provision
The Glory Road
We're always happy to hear from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 02/05/07
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/02/08.