The mystery of the Gentile’s spiritual inheritance
Thesis #86 of 95 - The current age is not the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies in a spiritualized form but in terms of salvation history is a dispensation established to recruit Gentiles to the Messianic community.
Thesis #87 of 95 - The Gentile's unexpected, and according to Paul "unnatural" incorporation into the messianic community was to create "the fellowship pertaining to the secret (plan) hidden in God" . Although fore-ordained by the Father, this augmentation resulted from the refusal of God's first-choice nation to acknowledge their Messiah even after His resurrection and ascension to glory


Eph3:9-10 (Paul), shedding light on the administration (or fellowship) of the secret (plan) that in previous ages had been hidden in God; so that the multifaceted nature of His wisdom might become known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

 Acts18:6 But when (the Jewish leaders) resisted and blasphemed, (Paul) shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean, so from now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Rom11:11 (The Jews) did not stumble so as to fall, did they? Far from it! For as a result of their rejection salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy! 

Rom11:16-17a If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are as well. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you (Gentiles), being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches.


The mysteries set out in these two related theses were the focal point of my first book “Fellowship of the Secret”. It resulted from what I am clear was a revelation from the Holy Spirit. But it was the Apostle Paul who first disclosed such mysteries. All, humanly speaking that I did was to take Paul at his word, more particularly in two of the passages quoted above – Eph3:9-12 and Romans11:11 (and related verses 12,15 and 30). Namely, that what we understand as  gospel salvation had never been envisaged (in Old Testament prophecy) for non-Jews in the current age. And it only became available to Gentiles in view of Jewish failure and unbelief.

That is unquestionably what Paul wrote, but he is hardly ever taken literally, largely in view of what the churches understand the New Testament to mean by “salvation” – i.e., that it is referring to the means by which human souls are to avoid perdition. As I have been explaining in the earlier theses that is simply not the case.

So firstly, note Paul’s rebuke to the Jewish leaders in Acts18:6 (above). Why should Paul not have been clean (i.e. have a clear conscience) if he brought such a message of salvation to the Gentiles and the Jews had not rejected it?  Was not such salvation envisaged for all? Clearly not: “For as a result of the Jews’ rejection, salvation has come to the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy” (Rom11:11).

Much as exegetes might seek to dissemble, the Greek wording cannot be made to mean that Paul was speaking of protocol or order (i.e. preach to the Jews first then move on to the Gentiles), the transition occurred because of the Jew’s rejection of Christ and the message concerning Him. This only makes sense once it is has been understood that there is salvation and there is SALVATION. The latter was earmarked for the Jews alone in Old Testament prophecy but was to be made available to the nations through Paul’s revelation concerning the Gentile’s unexpected spiritual inheritance.

“Salvation” as foretold for the Gentile nations meant they would be enlightened by the Jews and pardoned in the name of Jesus if they acknowledged the Jewish Messiah as their Lord and Saviour. They would thereby receive absolution, for “all who call on the name of the Lord shall be spared“.

“SALVATION” on the other hand meant to be born again by water and Spirit, delivered from corruption by means of sanctification in the blood of sprinkling (Heb12:24) resulting in eternal life, being an interior communion with Christ and the Spirit, participation in God’s royal priesthood and a joint inheritance with the Lord of Glory. This privilege had been intended for Israel, chosen of God to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex19:6). But the Church was now to have that role (1Pet2:9). This transfer (or more strictly augmentation) of privilege was a disclosure Paul would sometimes describe as “my Good News” – Paul being God’s chosen vessel through whom “He willed to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles  – being Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col1:27)

The purpose of the current age

So as stated in thesis #86, in terms of salvation history, the current age exists to recruit Gentiles (Paul’s “wild olive plant”) into the Kingdom of God. In more secular terms this period has clearly been the age of discovery for the whole human race, hence its longevity. It is the time in which the world has engaged in the pursuit of knowledge, gained an understanding of science and the universe, discovered new medicines and developed ever more sophisticated means of transport and communication. This is knowledge and innovation that has progressed exponentially in the last century.

It has all been working towards an end, which is not to prepare for global annihilation and a spiritualized eternity but for global renaissance and resurrection. Jesus is to be the Initiator of that renaissance or regeneration (Greek: παλινγενεσίᾳ), the birth pangs for which we may well now be experiencing (Mt19:28; Mt24:8). And so the Saviour of the world has become the “long expected Jesus”.

Referring back to Old Testament expectations,  His shed blood was not exclusively to avail “as a fountain for sin and defilement for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” as Zechariah had foretold (13:1) – but for “the elect from every nation”. What is more:

“He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens” (Heb7:25-26).

How the above fits in with Scripture as a whole has been set out in my book, freely available in PDF form HERE; larger print version for mobiles HERE.

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Thesis #85 of 95. The elect are not the totality of God's children but their firstborn, the first fruits of all true humanity.


 Heb12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn ones who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect

James1:18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

Rom8:23  We who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body!

Rom8:29 Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, so that He would be the Firstborn among many brothers.

Rom13:9 For this, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”


Firstly, a word about the terminology. “Firstborn” in the bible can mean in the literal sense the first  person out of a mother’s womb, for example Jesus being the firstborn of Mary. In the Old Testament the firstborn son is the one who inherits his father’s estate. It brings responsibilities as well as privilege and honour, which is why Esau incurred divine condemnation for disowning his birth right as firstborn son for the sake of a  tasty meal. However, first-from-the-womb is not what is being referred to in  the verses quoted above, either in the case of Jesus or His elect people. The title infers a superiority in privilege and authority over others, who nevertheless have a familial connection with that firstborn.

The clear and incontrovertible case is that of Jesus with respect to His faithful followers, aka the elect [Rom8:29 (above) which also indicates why they are referred to as “the elect”]. The amazing thing is not that Jesus is superior to His disciples but that He regards the latter as His own family. For as Paul affirms, the Christian is to be adopted into the bosom of God’s family, at least once his body has been redeemed (Rom8:23). [If you have been following my recent posts, you should know why that is.]

But the point of this thesis is that the elect (whose Firstborn is Christ – Rom8:29) themselves act as the firstborn of the whole human race. James also describes Christ’s people as “the first fruits of all creation” (James1:18). The writer to the Hebrews depicts the elect of God as the “church of the firstborn” (Heb12:23), the key point being that “firstborn” [Greek: πρωτοτόκων] is plural. It is not referring to Christ but His people.

Of whom are they the firstborn? It is of all who are “of God”, most of whom are not “the elect”. For as the New Testament also affirms, everyone who loves is born of God and knows God (1Jn4:7); everyone who loves his neighbour as himself fulfils the spirit and heart of God’s law (Rom13:9); everyone who possess “agape”  such that they show compassion to the needy (with whom the Son of Man personally identifies) shall be accepted into God’s Kingdom (Mt25:40).

Yet by no means are all the above “saved” in the gospel sense. For, referring back to my earlier post, that pertains to being delivered from “the body of this death” (Rom7:24-25) through a relationship with Christ and the enabling of the Holy Spirit. It enables God’s chosen ones to “put to death the deeds of the body” and have their “consciences cleansed from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb9:14). Paul also refers to God’s elect as having the “first fruits of the Spirit” (Rom8:23). In all the above cases, “first fruit” is indicative that more shall follow. Likewise, the church being “the firstborn ones” infers that they have (or are to have) an overseeing/ruling/representational role within a much larger family.

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Thesis #84 of 95 - The precise function and destiny of God's elect people has yet to be disclosed - but it in view of their designated status it must align with that of their Spouse, whose universal governance and reign of peace shall continue for ever.


Is9:6,7 A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace.

Mt19:28-30 At the regeneration [παλινγενεσίᾳ], when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you (the 12) also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms on account of My name, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.

1Cor6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?

Rev5:9-10 You (O Christ) purchased people for God with Your blood from every tribe, language, people, and nation. You have made them to be kings and priests to our God, and they will reign upon the earth.”

Rev19:7 Let’s rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself.”

Gen15:5 He took (Abram) outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if indeed you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be. 😲 יִצְחָ֔ק


Given that God’s elect are designated to be the future corporate-Spouse of Jesus Christ, one would expect they would share in His activities, which must pertain to sovereignty, rule, judgement and the like. As Isaiah foretold concerning the Church’s Bridegroom-to-be: “Unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His Kingdom, to order and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even for ever”.

The concept that the Jesus people are to judge, rule and enlighten others is not restricted to Old Testament prophecies, it is evident in the gospels, epistles and Revelation, some verses from which have been quoted above. However, the qualities required for those who have already  been reconciled to God as His children are faithfulness, humility and self-discipline. That is why Jesus taught that it is next to impossible for the rich and powerful of this age to enter the Kingdom of God (Mk10:25) – they lack the humility. And ironically in view of what I am disclosing here, they believe they have too much to lose in following Christ.

That in part is because, as considered in my previous thesis, many Christians have an over-spiritualized view of the afterlife: harps, clouds, beatific visions and the like, which naturally is reflected in the churches’ evangelism. For sure, such a scenario may indeed apply to what is currently experienced in heaven, and no doubt it is more blissful than anything that could be experienced whilst in mortal flesh. But the souls of the departed are depicted in Scripture as being  asleep whereas I am referring to the soul’s ultimate destiny – when it shall be re-embodied and very much awake.

What Jesus indicates in that context is a perfected and perpetual version of what we have experienced on earth (e.g., Mt19:28-30). And given the indisputable physicality, the new age of necessity must be at least as hierarchical as the current one (cf. Mk10:40), albeit that the order shall have radically changed. For as Paul affirmed (1Cor1:26), relatively few from the higher ranks of human society have come to gospel salvation. The weak and foolish of this world are to shame the wise and mighty (1Cor1:26-27) so that no one may boast in God’s presence. [As Jesus affirmed, His disciples are necessarily “losers” in the worldly sense Mt16:25].

And there will be no boasting, for personal priorities and aspirations will be so very different. Many who seek power and privilege in the current age do so out of greed or hubris. But having in life been conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29), that will not be the case for the elect of God. The apotheosis of their joy will be to see Jesus Christ and Him glorified; their greatest privilege to be that they of all people will be the most closely associated with Him. And the thrill of their hearts will be that the new earth “WILL be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea(Hab2:14). As to yet more distant aeons, speculators might look to the skies and extrapolate.

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There is life AFTER life-after-death
Thesis #82 of 95 - The Christian's ultimate destiny is bodily resurrection as Joint-Consort to the King of Kings, not "Requiem Eternam"
Thesis #83 of 95 - There is to be a new Heaven AND a new earth where righteousness dwells


1Cor11:30 For this reason (disrespecting the Eucharist) many among you are weak and sick, and a number even asleep.

1Cor15:51-52 I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised!

Rom8:23 Also we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons and daughters, i.e., the redemption of our body!

2Cor5:2  In this tent we are groaning, longing to be clothed with our dwelling which is FROM heaven [Greek: ἐξ οὐρανοῦ]

2Pet3:13 According to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness has been established.


The essentials of these two related theses are summarized in the verses above. Firstly, that physical death, as depicted by Paul and others, is described as falling asleep and  those who have died are regarded in Scripture as being asleep. It follows therefore that what departed souls are currently experiencing in the afterlife is a temporary situation. Just as in life, sleep is a transitory and confined state of being.

The Good News is there is to be life after life-after-death, and it shall be physical in nature – both in terms of individuals’ state of being and their environment. That is not speculation but the indisputable teaching of the bible. It was demonstrated by Christ Himself after His resurrection when he met and breakfasted with His disciples. And Paul describes Jesus in this context as the first-fruit of all who sleep (1Cor15:20).


As I have been explaining, mankind’s problem resulting from the Fall is what Paul variously describes as our “vessel” (1Thes4:4), “tent” (2Cor5:2)  “body of sin” (Rom6:6), or “body of this death” (Rom7:24). I tend to refer to this entity as our “procreated intellectual vessel”. “Procreated” to indicate its immediate and material origins and “intellectual” in that it incorporates the brain. As an earlier thesis explains, Paul’s teaching here is at the heart of what gospel salvation is for and seemingly has been misunderstood by virtually everyone. It is evident from the verse quoted from Rom8 that what Paul understands the Christian awaits so as to be adopted into God’s immediate family is the redemption of the body (v23).

Christians have traditionally understood the source of fallen mankind’s problem to be his “heart” and soul. In terms of the spiritual component’s origins, soul-creationists rightly understand that God implants our spiritual essence (that which survives physical death) within the embryo at or prior to birth. This accords with Paul and Peter’s vessel/tent language – the spiritual essence is the real us, the body and brain make up the vessel in which our eternal souls temporarily reside. That, no doubt is why Augustine came to reject soul-creationism. The implication in the context of his theology (largely adopted by the Western Church), is that man had been divinely provided with what is sin-ridden and then punished for possessing it. The alternative perspective (traducianism) is the extraordinary idea that the spiritual and eternal essence of man is derived from that which is material and temporal (sperm and ovaries). Soul-creationism (in the context of Western theology) is unavoidably God-maligning whilst traducianism is quite irrational. Both will have delighted Satan’s ears, for in the first case it depicts the Creator as perverse or hateful, and in both cases depicts man as rotten at his core.

Not so, writes Paul in Rom7:14-25 – at least, that will be seen to be the case once it is accepted that the apostle affirms man to be comprised of body, soul and spirit (cf. 1Thes5:23). Also, that his references to “flesh” literally mean flesh, not “sinful nature”. Likewise, his references to “mind” in that passage pertain not to the brain but to the moral outworking of the spirit or “inner man” (v22). The latter, Paul affirms in v20 is his true self – not his temporary vessel, but the eternal essence it houses which departs the body at death. That is itself an intellectual, memory-retraining entity (cf. Lk16:25). This contextualizes the inner mental conflict he is describing in Rom7 that results in two opposing laws or governing principles within his psyche (v23). And when the apostle speaks of “the law in my members” he is of course referring to the bodily senses as they are processed through the brain. That organ, wondrous as it is, is the ultimate, albeit temporal source of man’s problem with sin.


2Cor5:2 when rightly translated affirms that the soul’s eternal dwelling is not “our heavenly home”, as in many bible versions, but that which is from heaven (ἐξ οὐρανοῦ), namely our resurrection body (the NASB rightly affirms this in its annotation). And as the apostle Peter (2Pet3:13) writes, the current earth is to be either renewed or replaced by another earth in which righteousness has been established” [Greek: κατοικεῖ]. It should be evident by now, even to non-premillennialists, that such cannot happen on this earth until Christ has returned.

This, like much else I have set out, will be alien to many. But unlike any theological system I am aware of, these interpretations are integrated within a cohesive synopsis of the whole bible in The Little Book of Providence. It is that intrinsic cohesion that, apart from the extraordinary experiences I have encountered, is the greatest evidence of the Holy Spirit’s enabling in this undertaking. For I know it to be far beyond anything I could possibly devise unaided.  

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Thesis #81 of 95 - There are verses in the bible that hint of absolute universalism. Given that the wicked shall undoubtedly receive post-mortem punishment, the matter should have no impact on one's conduct or life choices.


1Tim4:10 [NASB] – We have set our hope on the living God, who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of believers.

Rom7:23-25 I see another law in my (bodily) members, warring against the law of my (spiritual) mind bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of THIS death? Thanks be to God, (it is) through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I in my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Rom8:20-21 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it,  in hope  that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 

1Pet4:6 [KJV] For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.


Many Christians, not least those of my former ilk, have problems with the verses I have quoted, particularly the one from Paul’s letter to Timothy concerning God being the Saviour of all mankind ESPECIALLY of those who believe. It appears to undermine their raison d’être, indeed the very purpose of the gospel as they understand it. As a former Evangelical myself I remember questioning my pastor about the verse. I was assured that theologians were working on the matter; the matter being the meaning of “μάλιστα” rightly translated as I have quoted from the NASB as “especially”. Presumably, these theologians are still working on it for “μάλιστα” is “μάλιστα” – it can only be translated as “especially” or some very similar synonym/phrase such as “chiefly” or “most of all”. It cannot be translated as “specifically”, “exclusively” or “that is” which is what most would have expected Paul to have written in this context. The Greek word’s usage can be verified by examining every occurrence of μάλιστα in the New Testament on bible hub and noting that in all cases it can only sensibly mean what has just been stated.

Other attempts to explain this verse in the context of traditional binary soteriology include the notion that Paul is referring on the one hand to human life and on the other to a soul’s eternal destiny. The problem is that whilst God certainly sustains all life, He does not in any sense save everybody from the disasters of life, even from an early grave. A significant proportion historically have through no fault of their own or their parents failed to survive infancy. Paul must therefore be referring to people’s eternal estate. For, after all, why did God create man in His own image in the first place? It was surely that as the pinnacle of His creation along with the angels, we should come to know Him, worship Him and enjoy Him – if not in this life, then in that which follows.

Others argue that Paul meant that God is the only One who can save anyone. But read the verse through again – “μάλιστα” (=especially) simply cannot be made to fit that meaning. Others again (μάλιστα😊 Arminian Evangelicals) say Paul is making the point that Christ’s atonement was unlimited – He died for all. He did, but, as they would agree, only those who come to know Him as their personal Saviour are saved in the gospel sense. So again, μάλιστα” cannot be made to fit the bill.

No, either Paul is being dangerously clumsy with his wording, or he is theologically unsound (in which case we cannot really trust his teaching at all) OR he means exactly what he writes. That is effectively that there is salvation and there is SALVATION – which is precisely the case I have been making throughout. My other quotation from Romans 7 indicates how this comes about, but only when that passage is taken literally (e.g., “flesh”= bodily flesh, not “sinful nature”). As I have been explaining, the central soteriological problem he identifies in that chapter is “the body of this death”. That is, the procreated intellectual vessel in which (from a  soul-creationist perspective) the God-given spirit temporarily resides.

The result is that whilst our “inner man”/”heart”/spiritual essence/conscience  inclines us to do what Paul affirms elsewhere fulfils both the spirit and summation of God’s Law (treating others as we would ourselves – Rom13:9), we tend to act more selfishly in view of the “different law in the bodily members” (Rom7:23), i.e. the opposing impulses of the bodily senses as they are processed through the brain. So, asks Paul, who alone can deliver us from the body of this death such that we are consistently enabled to overcome our fleshly instincts?  It is our Saviour God through Jesus Christ (v25).

Thus, only the Christian can be saved from the corrupting influence of the procreated intellectual vessel whilst the soul and spirit inhabit it. In Paul’s language, only the Christian “can possess his own vessel in sanctity and honour” (1Thes4:4). The remedy for the rest is more drastic – physical death when body and brain are buried or incinerated. But except they die in infancy, their souls will have been tainted, potentially poisoned and corrupted by the lives they have lived in mortal flesh. As covered in the previous thesis, that could require what Jesus described as “salting in fire” before the soul can rest in heaven prior to bodily resurrection within “the new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells” (2Pet3:13).

As should also be evident from the previous thesis, my endeavour has been to outline a vastly broader benign providence than traditional bible-based Christianity has previously envisaged, not to make the case for absolute universalism. Paul on the other hand could be, if he had been given insights concerning what is to happen in future epochs (cf. Eph2:7). Unlike him, I have not been “caught up into paradise to hear unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2Cor12:4). I have to rely on what has been at least implicated in Scripture. So going back to Jesus’s teaching, He indicates that some people are  beyond salting or purging (Mk9:50). That implies they could never repent or change from what they have become – whatever enlightening or processing they might receive. They refuse to be saved.

Yet even if that is the case, God can still be regarded as the Saviour of all humanity. For, if given further opportunity to repent and having been enlightened with gospel truth (which is assuredly not the case for the majority in this life  – cf. 1Pet4:6), a soul still refuses to acquiesce, God, however loving, would not force anyone against their will to act and be what they are incapable of doing and being – most especially to love and serve Christ. But then such a soul might no longer be regarded as fully human – if there is not so much as a flicker of resemblance to the divine image, at the heart of which is love. And so, it could be said, for all true humanity, God is their Saviour, but more immediately and gloriously so for those who having believed (and also shared in Christ’s suffering), become the heirs of God and co-heirs with His Son (Rom8:17).    

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Thesis #78 of 95 - Hell is as much a reality as Heaven and may involve sensual pain for its inhabitants.

Thesis #79 of 95 - As in life, post-mortem punishment can be for the purpose of healing as well as destruction.

Thesis #80 of 95 - God has intimated that every soul that can be healed and restored shall ultimately be so, for He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.


Luk16:24 Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame

Mk9:45-50 If your foot should be your downfall, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye should be your downfall, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, in which their worm will never dies nor their fire be put out. For everyone will be salted with fire – salt being a good thing but if salt has become insipid, how can you make it salty again. Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.

1Cor3:14-15If anyone’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet only so as through fire.


This is undoubtedly a perplexing area of biblical study and not surprisingly has been a catalyst for distortions in both the practice of the Christian faith and the presentation of the Gospel. These three related theses affirm that such a place as hell exists, but also that judgemental fire can be for the purpose of purification as much as for punishment.

The featured photo is the township of Hell in Michigan, USA. Likewise, Gehenna (the hell of the bible) was named after a place on earth – the Valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem. That had been used as a waste dump for the city, constantly smouldering and smoking. Heinous deeds were also associated with this valley during the time when Jerusalem was ruled by pagans, including the sacrifice of children.

As Jesus makes clear in his parable, the hell of the bible is a place of punishment and is best avoided. But for most attendees it is likely to be a place of learning (the hard way), self-enlightenment, purging and preparation. For there is no distinction between the fires of hell and “purgatory” either in the bible or the writings of those who had received the Faith directly from the apostle.

And whilst we have a merciful and pardoning God, pardon per se is not sufficient for souls that have been poisoned and corrupted. Pardon is one thing; fittedness to play a part in the Apostle Peter’s longed-for “new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells” is another. Purging and salting will be necessary for some; neither can such be guaranteed to be devoid of suffering – sensual and mental.

In terms of longevity, if punishment is to be proportional – the principle applied to God’s peoples’ offences against Old Testament Law – it arithmetically cannot be eternal. The New Testament speaks of post-mortem punishment enduring for an age (Greek: αἰώνιος which tends to be translated as “eternal”). The notion that punishment in hell can be temporary should be evident from Jesus’ teaching regarding name calling. Note the gradations: “I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be answerable to the Sanhedrin, whilst whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to experience hell fire” (Mt5:22). Think about it.

Think also about what was scripturally established in the previous few theses – that God is equitable and reasonable, even from a human perspective. What is more, He is rich in mercy. The Creator’s predisposition is as follows: “As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure at all in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek33:11). He desires that all who can be redeemed are redeemed and knows that that process will not be completed for many in this life (Jn6:44; Mt7:14).

An earlier post  citing Paul’s reference to those who are saved “as through fire” covers the subject of post-mortem judgement in a bit more detail, including what Jesus meant by the need for souls to be salted. That is the key to unravelling this more fearsome dimension to the God-who-is-love’s providential plans for humanity (Rev10:7).

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Thesis #77 of 95. Everyone is to be judged and rewarded according to their life and legacy; not for the gifts they were privileged to receive but how they have been utilized


Rom2:6-11 (God) will repay each person according to his works: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek after glory, honor, and immortality He will give eternal life. But to those who are self-serving and do not obey truth but unrighteousness He will give wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of mankind who does evil, for the Jew first and for the Greek, but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who does what is good, to the Jew first and to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.


1Jn4:16b-17 GOD IS LOVE, and anyone who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in them. Thereby love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because just as God is, so are we in this world.

Mt16:27(KJV) The Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with his angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works.

Mt5:45-47 Prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven! For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. So if you only love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Even the Gentiles, do they not do the same?


The two Pauline texts included above are regarded by many as anomalous, i.e., contrary to what they understand to be at the heart of the rest of Paul’s teaching. As I am in the process of demonstrating, that is because in the footsteps of Augustine they are misunderstanding the apostle’s teaching concerning faith, justification, law and the economy of grace. My earlier post summarizes the juridical aspects, whilst the above texts from Romans chapter two and Titus summarize Paul’s understanding of what God is like and how He will judge the world. And it is in line with every other author and teacher of the New Testament including Jesus Himself.

God is a rewarding God, fair and just towards all; utterly impartial. His judgements will be on the basis of our works and legacy – whether or not the world is a better place for us having been a part of it. And as Jesus and James tend to emphasize, that judgement will also be redistributive and compensatory. As another earlier post explains, it will take account of  circumstances and opportunities (disabled beggar Lazarus had little of either whilst the rich man had plenty).

The Creator’s ways may be extraordinary but in the starkest contrast to the god of Luther and the Reformers, Paul’s God and mine is thoroughly comprehensible and reasonable in terms of His justice and judgements. And that is just as well, for as John astonishingly affirms (above), Christians are to be like God in the world. God is love personified; everyone who loves is of God whilst the Christian is being perfected in love such that God abides in him and he in God.

Volumes more could be written concerning the subject of this thesis, and they have been.  The above biblical references summarize the situation regarding God’s nature, justice and judgements. And I have capitalized the passage from Titus where Paul summarizes the pivotal role Jesus Christ and His elect people play within God’s saving purposes for this fallen, broken world. [Note who the Christian elect are and what they are for, according to Paul: “a specially chosen people for God, purified and burning with zeal to perform good works”]

All this has to be (and now has been) reconciled with the rest of Scripture to provide a cohesive account of God’s wondrous providential purposes for humanity and the Good News of His coming kingdom. According to One who should know, such is to be proclaimed to the nations before the current arrangements on Earth are concluded (Mt24:14).


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Thesis #76 of 95 - Covenantal admission is by grace alone; faithfulness is required to continue benefitting from its privileges.


Jn15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit

Gen4:7(Masoretic) If you (Cain) do well, shall you not be accepted? But if you do not do well, Sin lies at the portal. And his desire shall be for you but you must rule over him

1Jn3:12 Be not as Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And for what reason did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil, but his brother’s were righteous

1Jn4:7-8 “Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love

Rom8:29 For those He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers

Rev3:21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne

Rev5:9-10 You (Christ) purchased people for God with Your blood from every tribe, language, people, and nation. You have made them into a kingdom of priests to our God, and they will reign upon the earth

Mk8:34-35 “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it

1Cor9:27 I (Paul) strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified!

Rom8:17 Being heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if in fact we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him


This thesis is affirming that everyone who enters a covenant with God does so on the basis of grace alone, i.e. divine favour and generosity not dependant on merit. Unmerited grace clearly applied to a Jewish baby born within the Abrahamic Covenant; equally to the Christian baby baptized by the Church and incorporated within the Covenant of Christ’s blood. Likewise, to the adult convert given faith to apprehend Christ (Eph2:8) and receive Christian baptism. And the human baby, starting with Cain as the world’s first infant, freely incorporated within the theologically eluded Universal Covenant of life through the two-way age-enduring merits of Christ’s righteous act that universally nullifies Adam’s act of disobedience (Rom5:18).

The issue then becomes how one retains the benefits of that covenant as opposed to defaulting. The answer is faith or faithfulness [same word in biblical Greek] evidenced by fruit. The Jew who turned from JHWE to idolatry defaults his covenantal privileges. Those in Christ who fail to produce fruit may remain in the Church but will not participate in the marriage of the Lamb, for every branch in Christthat fails to bear fruit will be removed (Jn15:2). Members of humanity who fail to produce any fruit in the form of compassionate love (agape) like Cain and the Matthew 25 “goats” remain on earth but become alienated from God’s loving care. They have a new master to look after their interests, and at least as far ahead as Scripture permits us to foresee will not be incorporated within God’s eternal Kingdom but will receive post-mortem punishment (Mt25:45-46).

The above is almost diametrically opposed to what so many Christians believe today. They understand men and women to have an innate ability to come to a saving relationship with Christ. And for those who do it is “all of grace” thereafter; perseverance being guaranteed. Hard-line Calvinists such as myself in the past rightly understand covenantal election to be unconditional. But in view of their binary soteriology, they cannot avoid impugning God’s equitable and loving nature. For the logical implication is that those excluded, being the bulk of humanity, have been destined for eternal misery at the Creator’s behest. Not only is this an odious distortion of divine providence, but it is clearly at odds with the Christmas angels’ message of “Good News of great joy for all people”. Thankfully, such a denigration of Christ’s saving work cannot be squared with Scripture as a whole.


In the starkest contrast to the Reformed theology that I grew up with, the covenantal arrangements outlined in para one are entirely equitable; the economy of a Creator who is comprehensively and comprehensibly adorable. That is, at least once it is understood that the vast majority who are excluded from the covenants of promise (non-Jews in the OT, non-Christians in the current age) are not all “bound for hell”. The destiny of the soul after death, as Jesus indicated in the definitive final judgement passage of the New Testament (Mt25:31-46) and as I have been delineating in my writing has little if anything to do with religious faith or practice. It pertains rather to whether one is “of God” or from the Evil One [Greek: ek tou ponerou” 1Jn3:12; cf. Mt13:25-28 (see note#1); Mt15:13]. As Mt25 affirms, such a categorization is not determined by religious faith or practice but whether one has shown in life the capacity to exercise “agape” (compassionate love), of which our Creator is the personification (1Jn4:7-8 vis-a-vis 1Jn3:12).

In terms of God’s justice, God’s “elect” enjoy privileges now and shall do so immeasurably more in the ages to come compared to the rest. But their glorious inheritance is something that the majority have simply not been prepared for, in this life at least (Rom8:29; Rev3:21; Rev5:9-10). And as related in this thesis, their rewards are dependent on continued faithfulness. “Rewards” indeed, for as Jesus and Paul in particular make clear, to “attain to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ” involves personal sacrifice, self-discipline, even suffering in the present (Mk8:34-35; 1Cor9:27; Rom8:17).

Truly, we shall praise God with uprightness of heart when we have learnt of His righteous judgements (Ps119:7).

NOTE#1 The parable of the wheat and darnel is often portrayed by commentators as relating to the church whereas Jesus makes clear the satanic seed has been planted in the world (Mt13:38). The related parable for the Church is provided by Paul (2Tim2:19-21).

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God’s elective choice
Thesis #75 of 95 - Christ as personal Saviour may only be apprehended by those the Father chooses for Him


John6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

John1:12-13 As many as received (Christ), to them God gave the capacity to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God.

Rom7:24-25a Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God (it is) through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Rom8:29 For those He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

Heb1:3 (Jesus) is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, who upholds all things by the word of His power, and who when He had provided a purification of sins (καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος), sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Jn14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been such a long time with you and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He that has seen Me has seen the Father; so why say ‘Show us the Father’”?


Jesus is later joined by Paul, John and Luke (in Acts) in affirming that fallen man is incapable of coming to gospel salvation unless fore ordained and divinely enabled to do so (e.g., Jn1:13 & 6:44; Rom8:29; Acts13:48). This is a profoundly difficult concept for many bible-believing Christians to get their heads round – evangelistically, theologically and philosophically. At least that is the case for those who think the matter through. In reality, many do not, or dare not.


So, should one “go liberal” and reject the bible’s teaching on the matter altogether? Or, like myself in the past, one could adopt the Protestant Reformers’ maxim, “Let God be God”, i.e. He may appear incomprehensibly unjust and harsh to us but that is His prerogative. Such might be a feasible supposition if the One who “exactly represents His Father’s nature (Heb1:3) even during His earthly ministry (Jn14:9) had not demonstrated that that simply cannot be the case. Like Jesus, our Heavenly Father is comprehensively and comprehensibly adorable. He is compassionate, loving and equitable from an enlightened human perspective. Satan (gleefully) and many Western theologians (reluctantly) would have us believe otherwise.

As I have been explaining, such mystifying and unintentional maligning of the divine nature arises from a misunderstanding of the context of election/predestination within broader providence. That in turn results from a failure to understand what the elect are being saved from and for what purpose . The verses from Rom 7&8 (above) supply clues for each aspect, the solution is set out in full in the Little Book of Providence.

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A cause of rejoicing AND LAUGHTER יִצְחָ֔ק

Thesis #74 of 95. Like Isaac, those within the Covenants of Promise are elected through unmerited grace.


Gen17:18-20 Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!”  But God said, “No, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.  As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and make him fruitful and multiply him exceedingly.

Gal4:28 And you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are the children of promise.

Phil3:13-14 Brothers, I do not regard myself as possessing it as yet, but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.


This follows on from the previous thesis’s assertion that the Church like Isaac are the children of promise. Yet the Church has generally understood there to be one covenant for each testament period and an exclusive one at that. Such a concept should be repudiated, firstly by the reality of Abel and others declared righteous before the Abrahamic Covenant was established. Still more so by the story of Ishmael. He had been circumcised, blessed by God and by his father Abraham, sent on his way in peace. Yet he was excluded from the covenant initiated through his father, for the seed of his union with Sarah were to be the children of promise.

And such is the Church in the current dispensation (Gal4:28). Yet through Abraham, all nations were to be blessed, and that included the twelve that would spring from the seed of his son Ishmael, yet not necessarily through incorporation into an exclusive covenant.

Covenantal election

The point of the thesis is that Isaac had been elected to that exclusive covenant, and Paul mentions him by name as effectively he is its patriarchal head, Abraham’s other son Ishmael having been excluded. It therefore hardly needs to be said that Isaac’s election was entirely a matter of grace. He was chosen simply because he was the child promised to Sarah and Abraham in their old age.

The same is effectively the case for those who are called out from the world and into the Church [Greek ἐκκλησία = the called-out ones]. Such all-of-grace election and the staggering rewards that go with it (Rev3:21😲) may appear to challenge God’s loving and equitable nature. Not so once the self-sacrificial demands and conditionality of attaining such a goal has been grasped (Phi3:13-14 above) together with an understanding of biblical salvation’s context within broader benign providence that i have been outlining.

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A book exploring the mystery of divine providence