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A Theology of Restoration Vs. Annihilation Part 1

A Theology of Restoration Vs. Annihilation Part 1

Biblical Worldview Course – 3a

 

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This session will begin to present the Biblical view of creation’s future restoration as the primary thrust behind the theology and doctrine of the Scripture. This will be contrasted with the Hellenistic view which demands it’s ultimate annihilation.

 

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A THEOLOGY OF RESTORATION VS. ANNIHILATION

DEVELOPING A THEOLOGY OF RESTORATION

DEVELOPING A THEOLOGY OF RESTORATION

A.    Before we begin to look at the Biblical doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, we must develop a theology of restoration and renewal. Without a theology which regards the heavens and the earth as God’s beloved creation which He will restore on the Day of the Lord, the Scripture is forever destined to be viewed within the fog of modernity’s haphazard hermeneutic.

B.    Much confusion has come in the absence of a simple understanding of God’s love for His creation. When understood rightly, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, is simply a myopic reiteration of what is reinforced throughout the Scriptures. Namely, if God loves His creation and if He is faithful, then He will restore it and not destroy it.

C.   Essential to us understanding true Biblical theology is the understanding of God’s heart and original intent for creation. God created this earth to be His own dwelling place with man.

8 The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. (Gen 2:8 NASB)

8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day … (Gen 3:8 NASB)

D.   While this purpose for creation has been interrupted it has not been discarded by the Creator. Throughout the Scripture the intent of God is continual—God’s desire for man is always that man would be on the earth with Him.

8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8 NKJV)

11 I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. (Leviticus 26:11-12 NIV)

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14 NIV)

E.    Ultimately, the Lord’s plan to dwell on the earth with man will be fulfilled.

26 I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Ezekiel 37:26-27 NIV)

10 Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you, declares the LORD. (Zechariah 2:10 NIV)

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them , (Rev 21:3 NASB)

F.    The way that we view God’s heart in the beginning, and the way that we interpret it at the end determines the trust with which we give our hearts and our lives to Him. In any normal relationship past information about a person’s character, present consistency in walking out this character, and future assurance of faithfulness to this character are essential to determine how trustworthy the person is.

G.   Likewise, we can give lip service of devotion to God, but unless we understand the depths of His faithfulness and proven loyalty to His creation, we always lack the courage to trust Him with our lives when things are difficult unless we are backed into a corner. Thus, a theology of restoration relies wholly on a theology of God’s faithful character.

H.   The original earth was completely suitable for God’s original intent to dwell on the earth with man. (cf. Gen. 3:8) Following the creation of the heavens and the earth God’s evaluation was that it was “very good”. I.e. it was perfectly suitable to that for which it was intended.

I.      This is why there is no need to destroy this present earth or the heavens. Instead God’s original intent for THIS creation will be fulfilled.

9 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; (Isa 46:9-10 NASB)

A THEOLOGY OF GOD'S STEADFAST LOVE

A THEOLOGY OF GOD’S STEADFAST LOVE

A.    Throughout the Scriptures the anchor to which all of the promises are tied is to God’s nature which is essentially and wholly faithful. Based on this foundational revelation to the Adam and creation, and then to the patriarchs after them, God establishes His covenant with them.

19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you”… 5 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. 6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness (Heb. ‘chesed’) and truth (Heb. ‘emeth’); (Exd 33:19, 34:5-6 NASB)

  • 2876 חֶסֶד (ḥě∙sěḏ): n.masc.; ≡ Str 2617; TWOT 698a—1. LN 25.33–25.58 loyal love, unfailing kindness, devotion, i.e., a love or affection that is steadfast based on a prior relationship[1]

“The word is used only in cases where there is some recognized tie between the parties concerned. It is not used indiscriminately of kindness in general, haphazard, kindly deeds; this is why Coverdale was careful to avoid using the word ‘kindness’ in respect of God’s dealings with his people Israel. The theological importance of the word chesed is that it stands more than any other word for the attitude which both parties to a covenant ought to maintain towards each other. Sir George Adam Smith suggested the rendering ‘leal-love.’ The merit of this translation is that it combines the twin ideas of love and loyalty, both of which are essential… God’s loving-kindness is that sure love which will not let Israel go. Not all Israel’s persistent waywardness could ever destroy it. Though Israel be faithless, yet God remains faithful still. This steady, persistent refusal of God to wash his hands of wayward Israel is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated loving-kindness.”[2]

  • 622 אֱמֶת (ʾěměṯ): n.fem.; ≡ Str 571; TWOT 116k—1. LN 31.82–31.101 faithfulness, reliability, trustworthiness, i.e., a state or condition of being dependable and loyal to a person or standard [3]

B.    It is upon this foundation and self-revelation that God enters into covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. God is the God of creation, and He will lovingly restore the creation which He loves. He is faithful, and He will never abandon His creation.

C.   Having expressed His loving intent at the beginning, He promises also how it will conclude. Just as everything was ‘very good’ in the beginning, so it will be in the end. Genesis 1-3 then becomes the blueprint for all eschatological interpretation.

9 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; (Isa 46:9-10 NASB)

D.   This is why there was virtual unanimity of eschatological expectation within the first two hundred years of church history. Prior to 3rd century, Gnostic perspectives were swiftly condemned because they were understood as an affront to the Gospel and as dishonoring to the Lord’s character.

E.    The synthesis of Gnostic belief with Biblical theology became the seedbed for various eschatological beliefs, all of which stand as an accusation against God’s faithfulness to His creation in varying degrees. (See Eschatological Chart—In relation to God’s Faithfulness)

F.    However, God’s purpose for creation seen in Genesis 1-3 will stand. Just as the bodies of the righteous will be raised, so creation will be resurrection from it’s bondage to decay. Just as our bodies will be changed, so this earth will be cleansed like it was in the flood.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 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 (i.ethe same ‘freedom’ that we receive from our slavery to decay). 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption (not annihilation) of our body. (Rom 8:20-23 NASB)

5 … by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire (i.e cleansed like it was in the flood), kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (i.e cleansing the face of the earth of all wickedness). (2Pe 3:5-7 NASB)

G.   Just as the Holy Spirit will raise up the bodies of the saints in the resurrections by the Word of Jesus, so the Spirit’s power will renew this earth.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (Jhn 5:25 NASB)

63 “It is the Spirit who gives life (i.e. the resurrection)… (Jhn 6:63 NASB)

5 “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath (lit. ‘spirit’) to enter you that you may come to life. … 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army (lit. congregation). … 12 “Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves… 14 “I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life… (Eze 37:5, 10, 12, 14 NASB)

30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. (Psa 104:30 NIV)

H.   Thus, the ‘passing away’ of the ‘old man’ will be comparable to the ‘passing away’ of the ‘old earth’.

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away (Gr. parerchomai); behold, new things have come. (2Cr 5:17 NASB)

  • 3928 παρέρχομαι parĕrchŏmai, par-er´-khom-ahee; from 3844 and 2064; to come near or aside, i.e. to approach (arrive), go by (or away), (fig.) perish or neglect, (caus.) avert:—come (forth), go, pass (away, by, over), past, transgress.[4]

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away (Gr. parerchomai), and there is no longer any sea. (Rev 21:1 NASB)

3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men… 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear (Gk. parerchomai, “pass away” KJV/NKJV/NASB/ESV/NRSV/NLT) with a roar; the elements (Gk. stoicheion) will be destroyed (Gk. luo “loosed”) by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (Gk. heurisko; “exposed” ESV, “disclosed”, NRSV— MT Gk. katakaio; “burned up” KJV/NKJV/NASB). 11 Since everything will be destroyed (Gk. luo “loosed”) in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? … 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (2 Peter 3:3-13 NIV)

I.      Another significant point is that God’s covenants have all been made in the context of the promise of the eternal existence of the earth. The word ‘erets’ in Hebrew can either be translated ‘earth’ or ‘land’ depending on the context. The seldom emphasized, but painfully obvious, implication of this is that it is a reference to this earth. Thus, God’s faithfulness to His promises hinges on His preservation this earth forever.

14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17 NIV)

7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you (also implying the eternal existence of Abraham on the earth) and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:7-8 NIV)

3 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me 4 and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.'” (Genesis 48:3-4 NIV)


[1] Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] Norman H. Snaith, Theological Word Book of the Bible, ed. by Alan Richardson (New York: MacMillan, 1951), 136-7.

[3] Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] Strong, J., S.T.D., LL.D. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Bill Scofield Bill Scofield (52 Posts)

Bill is husband to Charis, and father to their 6 children. He is a Bible teacher, elder, and missions trainer.


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