Today I was reminded of my friend Ellen who died over a decade ago from eyelet cell cancer in her liver. She fought it off bravely, won many battles--but cancer won the war.
The last time I saw Ellen she looked like a Holocaust victim, so thin and not like herself at all. It was shocking. Really. But she was Ellen just the same and we enjoyed our last visit only months before she finally could not fight anymore.
But what I am thinking about today is how when we as Christians ask for prayer for our friends or relatives people usually say, "Are they saved?" or some sort of reference like that. If we have had a loved one die, they ask it too.
The implication is, "Are they burning forever in hell or dancing with the angels in heaven." And it hurts if they are not dancing with the angels. I mean, then the person will say something like, "Well, maybe they accepted Christ at the end." And somehow that makes it all right. But, maybe they didn't. Maybe they were the sweetest aunt you ever had and they did all sorts of good works and were loving and kind and baked you cookies when you were small, but they just didn't buy Christ as Saviour. Or, maybe they are a devout Jew--God's chosen people, or maybe they are of a different faith and love God but don't know about Jesus, or maybe...
But it doesn't matter. Lost is lost. God is holy and all that jazz.
I don't buy it. I used to. I was a pastor's wife for crying out loud. We both bought it. We taught it. We staked eternity on it. But we were wrong.
After carefully reading scripture, not just one or two verses or one or two chapters or books--but after reading the whole of scripture we see that Christ is the Saviour of all, especially of believers [not exclusively]. If you read I Corinthians 15 with an open mind, you can see that truth-- the truth that at the end of the ages, all will be saved.
ALL. "For even as in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ shall all be made alive [resurrected for the eons]." ALL. All are subject to death because of Adam, whether we accept him or not. The same is true of Christ. There is a lot more, but this is a blog post, not a theology book, but if you are interested in more on this topic you can go to GraceEvangel.org.
Also, to the question of if my loved ones are burning or dancing, I would say right now, neither. They are resting in the unseen place--like King David of old.
I Corinthians 15 also says that first Christ is resurrected, then those who are Christ's in His presence [when he returns which has not happened yet], then the rest at the consummation. [So far Christ is resurrected, but the rest are waiting for Him to return when they will be resurrected. ] At this point when all enemies are under his feet [including the last enemy death] he turns it all over to God who is then the All in All. All are subjected to Him. All are saved. And God's purpose for the Eons is accomplished.
This is the Good News! This is the amazing Good News that needs to be shared. All will be saved. God will be All in All and none will be lost. All will be subjected. No more worries about Old Aunt Sarah who never seemed to accept Christ or about a teen who died before really making a commitment or about people from other religions, cultures and times who did not know about Christ.
Eventually, at the end of it all, all will know and trust in Christ. All will be reconciled.
Good News! Good news indeed.
PS--As a note, if you think I am theologically deceived and worry about Ellen. No worries. She loved God and Jesus with all her heart, soul and mind and she loved her neighbor as herself. According to traditional theology she is dancing with the angels...and all that jazz.