Click to listen to an audio of this: Universal Salvation Part 4
(Parts of the audio are expansions of some of the points in the written version and do not appear in the written version.)
by Fred Pruitt
Understanding the Gospel
One of my other “beefs” with the question, is the view of salvation and God I often hear presented along with or leading to universal salvation. Many of the presentations I have read, come from a viewpoint of God “judging” and “deciding” our fate, our “punishment,” etc. It all seems to hinge on “forgiveness.” Forgiveness being what gets you in the door.
But forgiveness is not what gets us through the door. It is a fact in heaven that forgiveness has already been provided for all, because of the Blood of the Lamb Slain in the midst of the Throne from the foundations of the earth. Every one is, in God’s eyes, already forgiven.
That is why Jesus could announce to people who came to him, who offered no words of repentance but wanted healing or to wash His feet with their tears, “Your sins are forgiven you.” That announcement for some would have been like pouring fresh water on a wilted house plant. Come back a few minutes later and it is back up and shining again, and the realization of God’s forgiveness of our personal sins, can be that very same for us, when we acknowledge that it has been provided for us as well, that God personally forgives “Me!” Coming to the realization God has forgiven us, sets the stage for what might be the real issue in this regard, which is accepting or receiving that forgiveness. God’s forgiveness of us gives us the right to believe we truly are forgiven, and therefore we can forgive ourselves.
But it is not the entering in. It clears the deck, prepares the way, for no one can come to the Lord except through this beginning door. But it is only preparatory. Why is that? It is because those of us who are “the forgiven,” have no part in “being forgiven” at all. “Forgiveness” is all in the power of the “Forgive-er.” It is entirely one-sided. Forgiveness, for it to truly be forgiveness, can ask nothing in return. “You are forgiven, period!” It means you are forgiven whether you repent or not. It means you are forgiven whether you receive it or not. At least, it means that to the “Forgive-er.” The “Forgive-ee,” the one receiving forgiveness, can either thank and praise or consider it nothing and have no acknowledgment of it at all. That part is in the power of the recipient. But whatever response or action the “Forgive-ee” takes, the one who has extended forgiveness, cannot call it back, since it was condition-less when it was sent out. If it was not condition-less, it was not really forgiveness.
That is also why the shedding of Jesus’ Blood for the remission of sins, was something exclusive to Him, in which we only participate as recipients. The shed Blood is completely one-sided. He has forgiven all, and He spoke it in His death on the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for the know not what they do.”
Paul tells us God is not sending him to tell people about their sins, but to announce their reconciliation with God.
But there is another part of His Passion, in which we do share. In His broken body. It is because of Jesus’ body death that we are enabled to enter in. As we said earlier and in many other places, our fall was spiritual, and not just into ignorance or soulish life. We did “fall” into ignorance and soulish life, but those were the effects of having been kidnapped by the kingdom of darkness.
When Jesus met the woman at the well, she mentioned the “right place” to worship God, on the mountain in Samaria, or the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus cut her off, and told her something completely unexpected.
“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24).
Jesus is saying something entirely new in the world at this point. Everything is about to change. This is not talking about what kind of church service we have. This is something much more far reaching than how good a service we have at Sunday night church. He is talking about a whole new reorientation of life, something not known before – the Spirit LIFE!
Life has not really been about our deeds and attitudes, primarily. We cannot discount them, but we must find their source for our full liberation. Otherwise we will always judge ourselves and others by outer appearances or purely by how we feel. There is a better life than that.
I have said over and over for years that this issue as well as certain others often divert our attention from that which is the most important and the deepest. If we could see past those surface diversions into the deepest issue of all, we would see the answer is found all in our inner identity and knowing in substance the full internal housecleaning we have experienced in Jesus Christ. We can talk about a future heaven or hell all day but if we are already in Christ it is not an issue to us. Heaven is our home. Our conversation is in heaven. We walk in the Spirit. We are God’s life expressed in the earth.
Through the death of Jesus body, what I just expressed above has been acquired for us. We WERE sin. We were run by sin, did the deeds of sin, thought the thoughts of sin. If anyone disagrees with that they are not ready for what I am saying. We were sick with sin, no matter how bad we were or how good we were.
In Numbers 23 the Israelites we complaining and serpents came and bit many of them and made them deathly sick. God told Moses to raise a brass serpent attached to a pole so that everyone could see it, and that everyone who looked at the brass serpent raised up on the pole would be healed. Jesus brought up the same story to Nicodemus in John 3, telling Nicodemus that the “Son of Man” would be raised up the same way, and like the serpent, all who came to Him would be healed of their snakebites – satanic infection, SIN! Then Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21 finishes with the full meaning and import of that story: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” This is one of the most liberating verses in the New Testament!
When Jesus physically died, His spirit separated from His body. In some way the Father allowed or caused the spirit of Sin to take Him there on the Cross, that the Holy One as Son of Man could endure and take in the full force of Sin’s mightiest blow, and most aggressive attempt at rebellion. He took it all, whatever it was, the full force of the spiritual eternal effect of sin, by dying to it. It was the Sin that was rightly ours but He took it and condemned it, making it of none effect for anyone, like in the desert, who would gaze at and trust in the One Who died for us, Who was made sin for us, and Who was raised by the power of the Father unto newness of Life and we rose with Him. We were sin and He was righteousness. But He took our Sin and “was made it,” and in that WE became the righteousness of God. One cannot be more liberated on a daily basis than waking up every morning and knowing you are going to go out and be the righteousness and love of God because that is not what you are striving to be, but Who you are. This is fellowship with God in the Spirit. We live in spirit lives through our mortal flesh which, because of what He has done and we have entered into by faith, expresses the life of Jesus “in our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor 4:11).
Understand what this is, to be a “new creation.” A “new man.” As we were the first man, Adam, of the earth, even so in Christ we are the Second Man, of the “Lord from Heaven.” The reason we have fellowship with God, is that in Christ we have been reborn into what He is, the Living Will of God in us, one with the Father, Son and Spirit as Jesus prayed in John 17: 11, 20-23, to be “one” with them even as Jesus is one with the Father. One in spirit – 1 Cor 6:17. We have fellowship with the Father because we have been born into His true family. His true family is One Heavenly Man, expressed in numbers as the “sand of the sea” or the “stars in the heavens.” His true family is many branches on the One True Vine, Christ, Who is the Vine the Father planted, and onto which we have been grafted into union and oneness with Christ. As branches on His Vine, He tells us, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16)
When we rose with Him, we rose new creations, newborn from heaven, and began to live a divine life. This is the basic truth of who we are and how, in brief, we “became” who we are.
I really could have much much more to say. But I have always said these issues divert our attention from the heart of the matter in the current moment. The heart of the matter, for me, are not these side-issues of eschatology, how to do church better, etc., or even whether people are “going to heaven or hell” after they die, but the fact that people are NOW IN HELL! This independent self thing that I harp on all the time, is not just a doctrine, IT IS THE DEVIL IN HUMANITY! It is his kingdom (of wrath), expressing in humanity in good and evil. That is the issue that must be settled in some way in each of us.
THAT is the issue — which inner consciousness? Hell or heaven? Satan or God? Independent self is not just a mistaken uninformed mental idea — IT IS THE DEVIL! Hell is CURRENT! People keep looking for hell in the bye and bye just like they look for heaven in the bye and bye. We do not have to settle it in this life, but it is the key to a conscious victorious life. Oh, if we are born again, then while we are not really independent selves (just as we were not independent before Christ, since the devil was our master and lord), since the devil is no longer our heart of hearts. We no longer belong to him. But he tempts us constantly that he still owns us, that we are no different from before, and that we are still his. We don’t believe that fully, but because we still feel all those things we think he still has a good part of us.
God leaves us that false consciousness of independence to use later as He brings us into our maturity in Him. It is confronting that false deceptive attachment in ourselves (the sin that dwelleth in me) that brings us into not just “dead with Christ in baptism” as our doctrine may say, but knowing our “death” because we experience it in ourselves. In past days they called that “identification.” Knowing we “died” in His death, is the precursor to knowing we “were raised” with Him into newness of life. That is the reason for our struggle in Christ between flesh and spirit.
It is really a struggle of mindsets – a mind “set” (consciousness) on the Spirit, or a mind “set” on the flesh. This isn’t a back and forth thing as if, “Ok, I need to “set” my mind on spirit, because it has been “set” on flesh.” Do not think of it like that, like a tuner on a radio that I can keep changing. This “setting” is not something we do. The mind “set” means it is a consciousness that has developed. Like I have a mindset of being Fred Pruitt. I don’t determine everyday to “set” my mind on the fact of my own identity. I just know who I am. That’s what a “mindset” is.
That is the issue and one we can solve through faith RIGHT NOW, and the person in whom it is “solved” has the current inner witness that it IS solved, and they can begin a new life in the Land of Promise, where many more adventures await!
However, there is PLENTY to be concerned with if one fritters away his life in self-absorption, never heeding or answering the call of conscience within.
I am not going to promise them that they’ll make it to heaven, no matter what. In my experience people do not find “heaven” even on earth, without Christ. Even on earth, to not be in Christ, is to be in hell. It is the devil’s kingdom but covered up and hidden by the good and evil world and the pastimes and pleasures that can partially keep it at bay, but when all that is gone – who is to say?
I take Peter’s word to heart when he gave spoke with the Roman Centurion Cornelius and his friends:
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 10:34-45)
God remains safely and securely on the Throne, declaring the decrees, and whatever they are, we may all cast our crowns and say, “True and righteous are thy judgments altogether!”