Could Luke 20:38 support Universalism?

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Re: Could Luke 20:38 support Universalism?

Post by Paidion » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:01 pm

Hi, Seballius! Let's examine the Matthew passage. Jesus said those words in the following context:

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, "Can this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons." (Matthew 12:22-24 ESV)

So Jesus said:
"Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (verses 31and 32)

Jesus was referring in particular to the words of the Pharisees who ascribed the work of God's spirit through Jesus as being the work of Beelzebul, the prince of demons. To go this far, indicated that those Pharisees had so hardened their hearts against Jesus and the working of the holy spirit within Him that they were incapable of repentance. And true forgiveness is a response to repentance. Jesus said the following words:

Watch yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. (Luke 17:3)

Unfortunately, many people confuse "forgiveness" with "pardon." You can pardon a person who doesn't repent of his wrong behaviour. In pardoning him, you don't require restitution or anything else from him. You just "let him off the hook" so to speak. But you cannot truly forgive a person who does not repent. For true forgiveness implies a restoration of relationship.

It would be impossible for God to forgive these Pharisees, because there was no chance of their repenting, since they were hardened into a mind set which opposed Jesus and even the God's spirit working in Jesus. As the creators of "electic notes" put it, "No forgiveness is possible because none is desired."

Also, it may be the case that "this age" could refer to those under the former covenant that then was, while "the age to come" could refer to the new order under the new covenant, so that those who blasphemed God's spirit, would stubbornly hang on to their rejection of Christ in both ages. But as I see it, Jesus' words that they would not be forgiven do NOT imply the impossibility of post-mortem repentance and God's forgiveness of them in response.

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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Could Luke 20:38 support Universalism?

Post by Seballius » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:25 pm

Paidion - Thank you for responding. That’s a good and reasonable response!

Bro. Peter Hiett wrote me back and he sent me two (2) links: one was a blog link and the second a sermon.

Here is a copy of his blog post.

What’s the “Unforgivable Sin?” And How Could God Make Such a Person New?

Question: I am confused about a verse in Matthew 12:32. Any help on this would be appreciated. And how do we reconcile both Matthew 12:31-32 & 1 Corinthians 15:22 “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven, and whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Matthew 12:31-32 “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22

Response: Matthew 12:31-32 has given commentators, of every theological variety, fits for two thousand years. Actually, I think Jesus meant it to do just that. For when you chew on it, it opens some pretty fascinating doors. When I preached through Matthew, I addressed it in a sermon titled “The Sign of Jonah”. You can find it on our church website here if you’d like to explore Matthew 12:31-32 more, but for now, how do we reconcile those texts?

Well here are a bunch of thoughts:

Matt. 12:32 is a challenge for anyone, but especially those that hold to an unlimited atonement. Didn’t Jesus die for the sins of the world? “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2).

Even for those who don’t think Jesus died for the sins of the “whole world,” what is so special about the “blasphemy against the Spirit.”?

It’s interesting that Jesus begins by saying, “Every sin… will be forgiven people…except blasphemy against the Spirit.” Blasphemy against the Spirit isn’t listed as one of the sins in Jesus’ story of the Sheep and Goats in Matt. 25, nor is it in the list in Rev. 22:15 where John describes those outside of the New Jerusalem. That would clearly imply that all those sins are forgiven. That’s amazing… but how is this one different?

It occurred to me that there is one other “unforgiveable sin” or maybe it’s the same sin? “…but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” That’s what Jesus says in Mathew 6:15. All of us have refused forgiveness to others at some point. We weren’t forgiven until we also forgave. Perhaps Jesus meant the same thing in Mathew 12: “You’re not forgiven until you stop blaspheming the Spirit.” Just like, “You’re not forgiven until you forgive.”

The word translated “forgive” is the Greek word aphiemi. It means to “let go” or “release.” In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” When you forgive a debt, you release that debt – you tell the debtor that they don’t have to pay. Even if you don’t forgive a debt, it can be canceled through payment. In Christ, we don’t have to pay the debt for our sins… but maybe, in some way, we have to pay for this one.

Every commentator that I’ve read on this verse seems to argue that “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” is rejecting the testimony and work of the Spirit. In the context of Matt. 12, Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees who argue that Jesus casts out Satan with Satan rather than the Holy Spirit. You’ll remember that the Spirit is sent to testify to the work of Christ (John 16:7-15). If we reject the testimony of the Spirit, we also reject the work of the cross; we reject God’s forgiveness; we reject God’s Grace. This was the sin of the Pharisees and the religious leaders.

I don’t think that means that they could never be redeemed, for indeed Scripture is pretty clear that “all Israel will be saved” (Ezekiel 37:11-14, Romans 11:26, etc.). Actually, Paul was one of these Pharisees, or at least one like them, and it seems to me that he blasphemed the Spirit. The Lord said to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard to kick against the goads.” (Acts 26:14) What would those goads be but the promptings of the Holy Spirit? If that’s the case, Saul wasn’t “forgiven” or “released” of his unbelief until he paid with belief.

Commentators will say that it’s “persistent unbelief,” the idea being that at a certain point God’s patience runs out or reaches its limit.

That doesn’t make sense to me.

How could we come to the end of God’s patience, when Scripture is clear that His Mercy NEVER comes to an end?

In Scripture, there are prescribed penalties for all sorts of sins and Jesus pays the penalty for them all. But I can think of no prescribed penalty for a “lack of faith in Grace” other than having “faith in Grace.” In other words, “lack of faith in Grace” will not be “forgiven;” you cannot enter the Kingdom, without “Faith in Grace.” Indeed, “Faith in God’s Grace, in Christ,” is the Kingdom. The Spirit is the one who gives us that faith. I think Jesus is saying, “You can only be saved by faith through Grace in Grace.” Jesus is that Grace—come to us, and the Spirit testifies to His Truth in our hearts. So when the Pharisees looked at Jesus and attributed His work in the Spirit to Satan, perhaps Jesus was saying: “That will have to change; that cannot be released.”

In the same way, I can’t enter the Kingdom of Forgiveness unless I also forgive – unless I have faith in Grace. Lack of faith in forgiveness is unforgiveable… I think that’s what it means. We have all lacked faith in forgiveness.

Lack of faith in Grace is the old man; the flesh and the works of the flesh. The old man must die and is not “forgiven.”

The degree to which we lack faith in forgiveness is the degree to which we’re stuck in Hell. This all fits with what Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 20:1-15, when He tells the parable of the Vineyard. The ones that end up outside are the ones that “begrudge” the master’s generosity; the one’s that don’t like Grace; the ones that aren’t “forgiven” are the ones that hate the master’s “forgiveness.”

That’s the amazing irony in Christ’s words. It’s the people that hang on to the idea of others in Hell that are most likely to spend some time there. “…many will come from east and west and recline at table…while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (Matt. 8:12-13). But did you notice, they’re still called “sons of the kingdom?” It seems that God uses the “outer darkness” to help people receive the testimony of the Spirit, call out for Grace, have faith in Grace, and forgive as they are forgiven.

In 1 Timothy 1:20, Paul talks about two men that he has “delivered” (paradidomai) to Satan that they may “learn not to blaspheme (same word).” In 1 Corinthians 5:5, Paul talks about “delivering” a man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit might be saved on the day of the Lord. Maybe this “blasphemy” is the “blasphemy against the spirit.” It is not “released,” that is forgiven, it is destroyed and the person guilty of this blasphemy must “learn not to blaspheme.” That is: You can’t pay for blasphemy with something else, the guilty must “learn not to blaspheme.” As Karl Barth puts it, God “burns them right down to faith.” This happens at the “day of the Lord,” the Judgment, the end of the age.

So you cannot be forgiven “blasphemy against the Spirit.” You must “learn not to blaspheme,” and perhaps this is what “delivering” a person to Satan is all about. I think the verses in 1 Cor.5 and in 1 Tim. 1:20 are thoroughly fascinating, for Paul is saying that God uses Satan to destroy the flesh. That’s why Paul gives these guys over. Perhaps that’s the only reason that anyone is given over to Satan.

Some argue that there is a time after “this age and the age to come”… so these folks (“not forgiven in this age or the age to come”) will be forgiven this blasphemy then (at the end of this age and the next). Technically, they have a point about the ages, since Jesus is the “end of the ages,” however this misses the point in my opinion.

Well, that’s a long answer. I hope it helps.

I’m not arguing it’s all right, but it’s my best shot at understanding a really challenging chunk of Scripture.

Bless You!


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Re: Could Luke 20:38 support Universalism?

Post by steve7150 » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:45 pm

Now He is not the God of the dead but the living; for all live to Him.”

"All live to Him" is in the present indicative active tense which tells us the action (living) was occurring as Jesus spoke. As Jesus was speaking Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive. I can see no support for universalism in His words but it would appear to rebut both annihilation and Paidion's position.

"For all live to him" can not imply universalism? It certainly can although it's also certainly not clear what this "all" may mean in this context. The phrase "live to him" implies these "all" are or will be saved and most may be saved through the lake of fire if Rev 22.17 applies to the unsaved still left in the LOF.

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Could Luke 20:38 support Universalism?

Post by Seballius » Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:36 pm

Hello Paidion

Given your view of the soul, what do you make of scripture when Jesus preached to the imprisoned spirits of Noah’s day? 1 Peter 3:18-20


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Re: Could Luke 20:38 support Universalism?

Post by Singalphile » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:11 pm

Seballius wrote:There is always more to learn and discussions in places like FB just don’t flow as well or go so deep: at least in my opinion.
I tried to follow the Narrow Path FB group for a while, but I agree that it's not as conducive to fruitful Christian fellowship and idea sharing (at least imo, for me). But I can understand that some of our wonderful Christian bros and sisters have other things to do besides online discussions, so that's cool.

Regarding Luke 20, it's a bit hard to understand what Jesus is saying (different language, different culture after all). The passage does appear to be explicitly and primarily about "the resurrection", but I agree with Homer (I think), that Jesus probably had so-called "life after death" in mind. According to Wikipedia, the Sadducees did not believe in any kind of afterlife for anyone. So, perhaps their opinions about life after death and the resurrection were generally conflated. As such, it sounds like maybe Jesus was affirming a life after death, at least for all of His people, if not all humans, for the purpose of resurrection. If He was not, then I don't understand His answer. How would God's title as "the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" mean that there will necessarily be a future resurrection?

In any case, that has nothing to do with one's opinions about the future, post-resurrection judgment, whether it's annihilation, ECT, or universalism. I don't think universalism nor any of those views has anything to hang its hat on regarding Luke 20:38.

However, verses 35 and 36 talk about those who are "worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead ... for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection," which strongly implies that some will not be resurrected or at least that some will not attain an immortal resurrection.

That doesn't fit very well with universalism, imo.

For the record, half of the time, I'm an annihilationist/conditionalist, and the other half of the time, I think we have no idea.
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23

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