by A.E. Knoch

The following testimony from the pen of the editor of Der Schmale Weg shows clearly that the great truth of universal reconciliation does not impede the gospel.

"Now another experience, which shows how little believers understand the Scriptures. Lately a few evangelists, speaking of the writer of these lines, said to a leading brother: 'With the teaching of universal reconciliation he takes the weapons out of our hand. Without them how can we preach the evangel?' It seems that these beloved brethren are of the opinion that threats of eternal damnation and an endless hell are vital to the evangel. Is this not a great mistake? Have we not enough people already in the churches who from fear of hell - as they think - have been converted? People who seldom attend meetings, who do nothing for the Lord, who need to be run after, or given some office, if you wish to hold them - are not these converts a sad spectacle? Let us wake up! The writer of these lines for decades has been a recognized evangelist, yet he never threatens with eternal damnation, and he has had more permanent success than many others. To this day his are among the largest meetings and weekly Bible studies. And the Lord continues to give conversions. To these dear brethren we commend the following facts, which we hope they will examine and earnestly consider.

"Were not Paul and others mentioned in the Scriptures better evangelists than we are?...The word hell (the Greek hades) is used by Peter twice, when he referred to the death of our Lord (Acts 27:31). Never do we find anyone threatening with the word lost or hell in the book of Acts. Notice that they never threatened with them.

"Did not Paul and the other apostles understand how to evangelize? Yes, they understood it much, much better than we because they were not hardened with theology. For them there was no evangelical tradition such as we, alas, not only have, but which we rate higher than God's Word itself. Many of us do not see or know how many heathen, philosophical, and Catholic elements are to be found in our tradition.

"The word 'Gehenna of fire,' which is also translated hell, does not appear in Acts or Paul's epistles at all. The 'lake of fire' is found five times in the Revelation, nowhere else. Paul does not use hades, or Gehenna of fire, or lake of fire, and yet he was the most successful of all evangelists. 'I toil more exceedingly than all of them,' are his words (1 Cor.15:10). Why, then, are we branded as heretics, and called false teachers, when we, like Paul and the other apostles, as well as his helpers, do not threaten with these things? We certainly have the right to follow Paul in this matter (1 Cor.11:1). Or is this not allowed? By the way, eternal damnation is found nowhere in the Bible. In the original we find 'judgment' where the translators have 'damnation.' There is much talk in these days about matters which are not to be found in the Bible. Therefore we call: Back to the Scriptures! God's Word alone counts! Let us learn to evangelize from the apostle Paul, as he did it, and as he charged his fellow workers" (1 Cor.1:19-2:16; Eph.3:1-12; Phil.2:5-11; 1 Cor.15:20-28; Col.1:9-20; 1 Tim.4:9-11; 1 Cor.11:1).

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