Memphis Belle

The Second Resurrection
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 “[These beliefs are the beliefs of three major Sabbatarian Churches of God, as well as the past beliefs of the Worldwide Church of God.  These beliefs which follow (as well as all beliefs about hell and the “unsaved dead”) are totally secondary to the vital gospel of Salvation that we have in and through Jesus Christ---i.e one is totally free to believe or disbelieve what is presented here, without it affecting one’s salvation in the least.  The study is merely being presented to show another view on the subject of hell and the fate of the “unsaved dead.”  You will find it most interesting.  You don’t have to believe it.]

 

"THE SECOND RESURRECTION"

 

THE SECOND RESURRECTION IS FOR ALL WHO ARE NOT CALLED OR HAVE ANSWERED GOD'S CALL TO SALVATION IN THEIR NORMAL LIFETIMES. SOME DENOMINATIONS BELIEVE THIS IS THE TIME WHEN ALL THE UNSAVED DEAD ARE RESURRECTED BACK TO LIFE AND THEN ARE THROWN INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE, HELL-FIRE. THEN A FEW DENOMINATIONS BELIEVE THIS IS A TIME REPRESENTED BY "THE LAST GREAT DAY" AT THE END OF THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES, A TIME WHERE JESUS SAID ALL WHO COME WANTING TO DRINK OF THE WATER OF LIFE WILL BE ABLE TO.

John 7:10,14,37-39. "However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret...Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach..." What was Jesus' message for and on the Last Great Day? It was that anyone wanting to come to Christ and salvation could do so. This applies to now as John indicates, but it also applies to those who will come back to life in one mighty and massive resurrection of humanity back to physical life! "...On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, `If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." Remember, to receive the Holy Spirit is to receive salvation and the promise of eternal life, and receive the ability to live the life of a Christian, walking the Christian life into immortality. Let's learn a little known, little understood mystery the Bible has kept locked away for thousands of years. The book of Revelation, as well as the book of Daniel, are books of prophetic timing. The timing of God's major events are foretold in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 19 the 2nd coming occurs [Trumpets]. In Revelation 20:1-3 Satan is locked away [Atonement]. In Revelation 20:4 we find the just resurrected immortal saints pictured on their thrones just after the first resurrection to immortality. That is where we will start.

Revelation 20:4-5, 7-11, 12-13. "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)..."

Did you catch that? "THE REST OF THE DEAD DID NOT COME TO LIFE UNTIL THE THOUSAND YEARS WERE ENDED..." Only those with the Holy Spirit come up at Christ's return and are made immortal, I Corinthians 15:49-54. This same group is described in Revelation 20:4 and 6. The rest of humanity that has died must be this same group described in verse five as the rest of the dead.

Comment: The next few verses explain a short time-gap between "the thousand years" (the Millennium) and the Great White Throne Judgment, which is this massive resurrection back to physical life. Verse five conclusively shows that the rest of humanity that has lived and died will be resurrected back to life a short time after the end of the thousand years! This is the 2nd resurrection! Many if not all of our loved ones in the world--parents, friends, and yes, even enemies will be in this resurrection back to physical life!

THE FINAL FULFILLMENT OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT: SATAN'S ULTIMATE DEMISE.

(verses 7-10, the final putting away of Satan, the final fulfillment of the ancient meaning of the Day of Atonement) "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth--Gog and Magog--to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever..." Satan and his demons are now permanently removed from influencing earth and it's inhabitants. Understand, whoever is resurrected back to life now is not under the invisible influence of Satan. And remember, all those resurrected in the coming massive resurrection had lived lives in Satan's world, deceived by Satan-hurt by Satan's evil sinful broadcast (including even those called Gog and Magog who had just been deceived by Satan and killed by fire as they surrounded Jerusalem).

 

THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT

(Verses 11-13) "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done." Reading on into verses 14-15 of Revelation 20, one could assume that these people are goners, and that is their first conscious thought as Ezekiel 37 reveals, but what light does Jesus and Paul shed on this subject? Remember, read this with an open mind, putting aside what you have grown up believing from childhood, or taught in church or seminary.

Matthew 13:24-30. "Jesus told them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from? 'An enemy did this,' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'" Satan and the demons not only sow weeds of deception, they are the weeds symbolically! Those that chose to keep following Satan's way in spite of having God's Holy Spirit freely offered when Satan's deceptive influence is removed from them, will be burned up. Most of mankind is blinded to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and salvation. God has allowed this blinding, and even written the Bible in such a way that makes the knowledge of salvation hard to comprehend. Satan is the one who actually has the world blinded, but God has gone along with this, and even made it easy for this blinding to take place. This next group of scriptures show that. To see Satan's part in this look up and read Revelation 12:9 and II Corinthians 4:3-4 and II Corinthians 11:4,13-15. There is a great and loving purpose to this blinding which God has allowed and even made easy. Each "harvest" of saints into the kingdom of God is larger than the one that precedes it. The ones in the first harvest at Jesus Christ's 2nd coming will actually live and reign with Jesus Christ, assisting him in governing all the people living on into the Millennium. All those that train and are changed into Spirit Beings and granted entrance into immortality during the Millennium will assist Jesus and those resurrected at his 2nd coming in governing and training all those to come up in the 2nd resurrection. Just as each harvest in the land of Israel, which God's Old Testament Holy Days occurred on, was larger than the one that preceded it, so it is with God's spiritual harvest. The first spring winter wheat harvest is small by comparison to the great fall harvest in Palestine. So it is with God's overall Plan of Salvation for mankind. We--believers from 31 A.D. to the time of Jesus' 2nd coming--are the "winter wheat harvest" which came in full around the Day of Pentecost. This winter wheat harvest in the land of Israel represents Christianity up until Christ's 2nd coming. The great fall harvest was much larger by comparison and came just before the Feast of Tabernacles. It was a much larger harvest. As we shall see, this harvest and Holy Day season represents God's harvest of the entire world. A harvest is something where you reap the fruits of your labor. It is a joyous occasion for the people who participate. Why would God have a joyous fall harvest Holy Day season and tell the people to rejoice when it represented the death of 95 percent of the human race, the second death? It just doesn't make sense. We are missing something, and Christianity, not wanting to associate itself with Jewish Holy Days (because of false amillennialist "replacement theology" teachings), never became acquainted enough with the Feast of Tabernacles to learn anything about it or what it represents. Thus mainstream Christianity has been spiritually blind to this issue, which yes is secondary to one's personal salvation, but is by no means unimportant, because knowledge in this area shapes our attitude toward the unsaved world. If our perception of those in the world, Satan's world, is wrong, then our evangelistic approach toward these masses of people is going to be wrong and warped also. Pardon me for saying so, but this is an issue that Christianity has ignored for far too long. At least four fundamentalist Christian Churches observe these Holy Days commanded for ancient Israel in Leviticus 23. Some believing they are commanded, some knowing their observance is an optional matter. Another group of Christians that is growing in leaps and bounds, the Messianic Jews, also observe the Holy Days and understand their deep prophetic significance. All of these groups share some of the true understanding of what they represent-God's overall plan for the salvation of mankind. Chuck Missler, although he doesn't observe them, has a tape series titled "Feasts of Israel" which goes very deeply into the meaning of God's commanded feasts for Old Testament Israel. I don't know if he understands about the Last Great Day and how it ties into the Great White Throne Judgment the way several of these fundamentalist Churches do, but the tape series is very informative and well worth the price. [If interested here is his mailing and email address: Koinonia House, P.O. Box D, Coeur d' Alene, ID 83816-0347. Or email K-house at: http://www.khouse.org , Or you can phone: 1-800-KHOUSE-1]

If Jesus and we do our jobs properly, which I do not doubt we will, the 2nd harvest of souls to immortality will truly be far more massive than the first. God as Peter pointed out in II Peter 3:9 wants everyone to be saved! Why should we doubt him? This resurrection of people at the 2nd resurrection could be anywhere from 50 to 100 billion people! God the Father and Jesus Christ are our spiritual support structure. God the Father, Jesus Christ and all resurrected Christianity, made immortal and spirit, will be the support structure for all those resurrected at the 2nd resurrection. God is a God of precise order, not of confusion. He wants to give every human being that has ever lived the very best chance of making it into his kingdom. If everyone knew the truth of God on a saving level right now, at this moment, everyone with that knowledge would be held responsible for that knowledge, and they would be judged on how they acted on that knowledge right now in this present age, or the age in which they lived in. Remember John 6:44,65. Satan has been allowed by God to deceive and fashion man's societies to his own evil design. Why? As a powerful educational tool. Yes, God wants everyone to experience the fruits of Satan's evil way and where it leads to--destruction. When the great tribulation comes, it will be the culmination of Satan's way, the end result. And if Jesus didn't return, mankind, under Satan's evil influence, would totally destroy itself along with all life on earth! That is exactly what all the Day of the Lord prophecies predict, both in the Old and New Testaments! Most of mankind, ignorant of God's truth, will be resurrected back to life and given their first real opportunity for salvation. They've already experienced the fruit of Satan's way, no matter where in history they came from. Now they are brought back into a world refashioned by Jesus and the saints during the Millennium into a glorious garden of Eden paradise. (One very unselfish and very Christian purpose of the Millennium will be to prepare the earth for all those to be resurrected back to life in the forthcoming 2nd resurrection.) When compared to their old lives in the past, choosing God's way will be easy for the majority. Satan will no longer be around, for you read in Revelation 20:7-10 that he was already removed, this time for ever. The majority of mankind is now resurrected back to life after Revelation 20:7-10. You see, there is a very loving purpose for allowing Satan to invisibly create, control and sway man's societies for all of man's past recorded history. If you read history at all, judging by Christian standards, you know it is a history full of evil and pain and premature death. The purpose for God's allowing Satan to do all this is so mankind as a whole will never, ever desire to harbor any of Satan's attitudes which were his undoing. Satan is miserable. He is destined to be miserable for all eternity. God does not want that to happen to his children. So God has allowed Satan to spiritually blind the majority of mankind and they will remain so until after the 2nd coming of Jesus or for the dead, until they rise again back to physical life and learn the saving knowledge of salvation which the Holy Spirit, now given to them, will lead them into. As the world has been blinded so has God's people Israel. God is no respecter of persons. What God allows for Israel God allows for the world. What God will do for Israel, God will do for the whole world--all the other races of people. If God didn't he wouldn't be reliable, and then nobody would have a chance to be saved.

WHAT DOES PAUL HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS?

Romans 11:5-32. "So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: `God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear to this very day.' And David says: `May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their back be bent forever.'

Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!

I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, `Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.' Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: `The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.' [This is talking about the 2nd coming of Christ and time-span thereafter (cf. Zechariah 12-14, Jeremiah 31, whole chapter.]

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. [This one verse (along with the whole chapter of Jeremiah 31) shows the "promise" to Israel through the patriarchs still apply to Israel and not the church, according to the apostle Paul! ] Just as you who were disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. FOR GOD HAS BOUND ALL MEN OVER TO DISOBEDIENCE SO THAT HE MAY HAVE MERCY ON THEM ALL." [cf. Jeremiah 31, whole chapter. These verses show the "promise" is to "the House of Israel" and "the House of Judah", and not to the "church" alone --i.e. the "church" has not supplanted the "promises" given through the "fathers" to the Israelite people.]

NOT ALL ARE CALLED IN TODAY'S EVIL WORLD OR IN THE PAST

The next scriptures back up this theme that God has not intended to call everyone to the knowledge of salvation in their normal lifetimes under the sway of Satan's world, which obviously is until Jesus returns and locks that evil being away.

The scriptures are not written to be clearly understood by all. Even Jesus' parables were meant to cover up their true meaning! If this weren't so, then why would Jesus say this??? Matthew 13:8-17. "`...Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.' The disciples came to him and asked, `Why do you speak to the people in parables?' He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: `Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: `You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become callused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men [who did possess the Holy Spirit and will be in the resurrection to glory] longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." i.e. Jesus is saying to those called to understand him and his gospel of salvation in their lifetimes, "count your blessings, you understand even more than the prophets were allowed to understand!" Jesus' parables weren't spoken for everyone to understand by Jesus Christ's own mouth! What about the written word of God. Let's see what God said through the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 28:9-13. "Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: for with stammering lips and another tongue will I speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear." [This next verse explains some of God's motive for this "precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little there a little" code that the Bible is written in.] "But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line, here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken." Who is it that snares people? Isn't it Satan? Yes, of course it is! Satan and his evil world full of his evil societies all under his evil sway. There is good and evil in mixture in Satan's world, just like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The world has not been offered the tree of life yet, but we who have answered God's call have that tree freely available to us. Acts 7:42-43. "But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets: `Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Babylon." Basically this scripture indicates that most don't want or seek God's calling anyway. It is apparent that God's calling is open to those who sincerely desire it. If anyone truly seeks Jesus Christ and salvation through him, God's call, apparently, is open to that person. The plain truth of the matter is that most don't desire God's call to salvation at this time.

SALVATION IS NOW OFFERED TO ALL THE "UNSAVED DEAD"

When will all that have lived and died in ignorance to the knowledge of salvation have their chance to receive and respond to the knowledge of salvation, the gospel of Jesus Christ?

As we saw, Revelation 20:5 said it would be a thousand years after the 1st resurrection. How do we know that these people will be given a chance to be Christians, living a Christian life until God chooses to resurrect or change them to immortality? Acts 2:1-4 shows us that the receiving of the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Christian Church and Christianity. Romans 8:9-17 shows us that those who have the Holy Spirit residing in them, Christ in them, have immortality residing in them. The end result of that is the resurrection to immortality (I Corinthians 15:49-54). So if we can see that anywhere in the Bible this group of people--"the rest of the dead"--receive the Holy Spirit, then we can be pretty sure they too will have the same chance to live and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ just as we have had. And then they too will be granted eternal life afterwards. ("Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and always.") Let's cross reference Romans 11 where Paul explains how Israel will be re-grafted into God's cultivated olive tree [remember, realize, all Israel Paul was referring to here is now dead and buried!] with a prophecy for Israel given to Ezekiel by God. Since the Israel Paul was referring to didn't have the Holy Spirit in them, they come under the same category as "the rest of the dead" in Revelation 20:5.

Ezekiel 37:1-14. "The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, `Son of man, can these bones live?' I said, 'O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.' Then he said to me, `Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.'

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, `This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.' So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them, they came to life and stood up on their feet--a vast army.

Then he said to me: 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' Therefore prophesy and say to them: `This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. [Why would they need land if they are going into a short judgment and then condemnation to hellfire?] Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord." [If these people are being given "their own land" to live on, they must, by extension, be given enough time to live on that land, all the while growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord--correct?] "I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land." This very large group of "unsaved dead" are resurrected in a very massive physical resurrection back to physical life and given the Holy Spirit! Revelation 20:5, 11-13 is the only other place in the Bible that mentions the timing of a massive resurrection of people back to physical life. Ezekiel 37:1-14, taken in context with Jesus Christ's revelation in Revelation 20 pinpoints this resurrection as occurring at the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ and the saints.

We see that Ezekiel 37:1-14 applies to Israel specifically. What about the rest of the world that has lived and died before the Millennium? Ezekiel 16:55. "When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou [Judah] and thy daughters shall return to your former estate."

Comment: Sodom and Gomorrah were Gentile peoples. This scripture is saying that when the nation of Israel talked of in Ezekiel 37:1-14 is resurrected back to life, so will the Gentiles, i.e. the rest of the world. Also when Ezekiel 37:1-14 is added to Revelation 20:5, it become obvious that this massive resurrection includes "all the unsaved dead" of not just Israel, but everyone who has ever died unsaved. The number of people that could participate in this resurrection could reach as high as 50 to 100 billion people! With the world's ecosystems cleaned up and running the way God designed them to, and with the world's agricultural systems running in perfect harmony with nature, mankind will graphically learn that doing things God's way really makes it possible for the planet to support what mankind never dreamed possible! This is only a tiny part of what these people will learn. Having received the Holy Spirit in them (Ezekiel 37:13) they will be learning the way of salvation. Jesus makes reference to those in his day who did not heed him then coming up in the judgment, back to life. Read Matthew 11:20-24 and 12:39-42. We have 6+ billion people on earth right now. Each year 139,000,000 people are born. Every two seconds 9 people are born. God loves everyone born into this world, past, present and future! He loves the billions who lived before and he gave his only Son for them also (John 3:16). Don't forget, two thirds of man's written history is before the birth of Jesus Christ. Think on that one for a minute. Other than a few Holy Prophets and kings of Israel, none of these people had God's Holy Spirit in them!

Over the entire history of mankind billions of babies and young children have never even lived a normal lifetime, but have had their precious little lives prematurely snuffed out one way or another. Will an all-merciful God give them any less than a normal lifetime opportunity to live as Christians? We can't be really sure. There is only one scripture that says anything that might give us a clue as to how long a period of time the judgment in Revelation 20:11-13 will last. But Peter makes reference to the fact that we in the household of God are in judgment now. How long does our "judgment" last? It lasts for our normal physical lifetimes (Matthew 24:13 and I Peter 4:17). Remember, when we view prophecy we are looking through the darkened glass, as Paul put it. God knows for sure. We'll know when we can sit with Jesus at the wedding feast and ask him. That one scripture that may or may not apply to this question is Isaiah 65:20-24 which states, "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old: but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer."

The Jews believe that the prophecy of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14 takes place at the coming of the Messiah. This prophecy predicts a massive resurrection back to physical life for all of Israel that ever lived. They believe this resurrection occurs at the Messiah's coming in glory (for Christians, the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ), because they take these verses in context with verses 15-28 of Ezekiel 37 (which comes under heading of a "Day of Lord" prophecy). Verses 1-14 and 15-28 are totally different in context in what they address and depict. But for the Jews who only believe in the veracity of the Old Testament, their conclusions are logical, taking one half the chapter in context with the other.

But for Christians, we're supposed to add the Old Testament to what Jesus said in the New Testament. The book of Revelation, called "the Revelation of Jesus Christ" in Revelation 1:1, is a book of prophetic timing. All the major Old Testament prophecies--prophesied major future events--are put into their proper time context by the book of Revelation. (Daniel is also a book of prophetic timing that amazingly agrees with the timing sequence of events in Revelation.)

Logically, to see WHEN the events of Ezekiel 37:1-14 occur we have to look in the book of Revelation for a major resurrection back to physical life. We find such a resurrection mentioned in the 20th chapter of Revelation, verses 5, and 11-13. Revelation 20:5 says clearly, "but the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished..." Revelation 20:11-13 names this resurrection as the resurrection of the Great White Throne Judgment.

The Old Testament prophecies of the Bible often go into greater detail of the prophesied events while the book of Revelation goes into more detail about the timing of these same events. To learn what's really going to happen and when, the Old Testament prophecy needs to be cross referenced with it's counterpart in Revelation. So to see WHAT'S going to happen we look to the Old Testament, and to see WHEN it's going to occur, we look to the Book of Revelation. So, logically, to see what occurs during the Great White Throne Judgment we have to look to Ezekiel 37:1-14 and 16:54-55. We see that all Israel (unconverted, of course) is resurrected back to physical life (only physical beings need bones, sinew, tissue, muscle and breath!). This same large group of people also receive the Holy Spirit upon coming out of their graves (Ezekiel 37:13-14)! And thus this large group of resurrected humans receive their first real opportunity for salvation. The rest of mankind, as we saw earlier, also come up in this resurrection at the same time, Ezekiel 16:54-55 and Revelation 20:5,11-13. This is the way Jesus intended Christians to use the Book of Revelation, to help unlock the timing of various important Old Testament prophecies. Those who don't accept Jesus right now don't have this vital key. Judaism falls into that category right now, but Christians and Messianic Jewish Christians shouldn't. So why do so few Christians understand this vital truth about the Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Revelation 20:5,11-13? They fail to use the key that lies in their hands properly, under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit who resides in them. We Christians should be asking God to guide us in our understanding of this matter before we do ANY more preaching to the world in general about the subjects of "heaven, hell, and the fate of the unsaved dead." (You preachers and pastors, read that again. Let it sink in.)

To continue, as it appears, this is not a resurrection to damnation, but is a resurrection of opportunity--where most of mankind receives his first real opportunity for salvation.

Satan's deceptive influence over the entire world now is totally removed. Why? Because Satan and his demons were permanently banished in Revelation 20:7-10, and the timing for this massive resurrection is after that event in Revelation 20:11-13! How wonderful it will be for these humans who are brought back to life on a gloriously beautiful planet in perfect harmony with nature again. God wants all to be saved! In II Peter 3:9 it says, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." I'm afraid we as Christians haven't yet begun to understand the length God will go to accomplish this desire of his. The earth will become a virtual "Garden of Eden" and God will place all these future children of his in it. Mankind at last will become reconciled to God. The breach that occurred in the Garden of Eden will be totally healed for anyone who truly desires it.

Why has God let mankind in general be so completely deceived and ruled over by Satan and his demons? God wants mankind to experience the wrong way first, so that when they're resurrected back to life, making the right choice will be real easy for them. Comparing and choosing the right way will be real easy for most of mankind, I'm sure. If you're not so sure, study history for awhile and see how evil and painful man's recorded history really is. Another reason which isn't talked about much in the Christian church is that God does not want anyone in his kingdom who does not thoroughly understand what kind of fruit Satan's way of life, along with Satan's attitudes, bring in the end, when all is said and done. That is why God's overall plan of salvation includes man getting a huge dose of Satan and his evil wavelength of attitudes, and his way of life. Some people don't like history, but history is a huge lesson in Satan's way of life, along with his evil attitudes and what the end result is. Or else, why in the world did God, Elohim, leave Satan and his evil demons on the earth, with Satan himself roaming the Garden of Eden when God created the first humans, Adam and Eve? Tell me the answer to that one if you can. Life is one big history lesson, and in the end, Satan and his demons are put away, and all of "unsaved mankind" is resurrected back to life and given a chance to really learn the gospel, all the while reflecting back on their previous lifetime and how evil and painful it was. Because for most, it was just that--evil and painful. By the end of their new lives, very few won't be joyous, enthusiastic Christians, awaiting their change to immortality. Very few will reject Jesus. What happens to those few who do? Read on, for hell may not even be what you've been taught.

What is Hell?

A THIRD RESURRECTION? THE FEW DENOMINATIONS WHICH BELIEVE MOST OF WHAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN HERE BELIEVE SO, THINKING THIS IS THE RESURRECTION WHERE THE INCORRIGIBLY WICKED ARE THROWN INTO HELL-FIRE, THE LAKE OF FIRE, AND THEN SUFFER THE 2ND DEATH--A MERCIFULLY QUICK END TO THEIR EXISTENCE. ARE THEY CORRECT? THE ONE PLACE IN THE BIBLE WHERE THE MAJOR RESURRECTIONS ARE MENTIONED, AND IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, IS THE TWENTIETH CHAPTER OF REVELATION. IN REVELATION 20:14-15 WE SEE THAT EVERYONE WHO WOULD NOT CHOOSE GOD'S WAY OVER SATAN'S WAY ARE BURNED UP IN THE LAKE OF FIRE. THESE PEOPLE DIE, THEY DON'T REMAIN ALIVE FOREVER BURNING IN THIS "HELL-FIRE." THIS IS CALLED THE SECOND DEATH IN THE BIBLE. IT IS ETERNAL DEATH, NOT ETERNAL LIFE SPENT BURNING IN HELL FIRE, JUST MERCIFUL DEATH. Death means death. I cannot understand how some theologians can say death really means eternal life spent in horrible torment. But when reading Revelation 20:14-15, we have to conclude, when added to Jesus Christ's clear statement in John 5:28-29 and in it's cross-reference passage in Daniel 12:1-5, this is not a third resurrection at all--for there are only two major resurrections mentioned in all the Bible. All those not changed to immortal spirit composition at this point enter into the period of time known as the lake of fire. Are these the ones who were resurrected back to life in the Great White Throne Judgment, the valley of dry bones prophecy of Ezekiel 37:1-14??? Why would God resurrect billions of people back to physical life and give them the Holy Spirit, and then throw them into the lake of fire some years down the road? Can we resolve this dilemma?

Revelation 20:14-15. "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." By what we have seen, everyone resurrected in this second resurrection is given an allotted period of time to "grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ" and be saved. Those who haven't accepted Jesus Christ and met this criteria obviously don't have their names written in the book of life or have them erased, whatever the case may be.

The Bible gives a pretty good description of the type of people that will go into the lake of fire. It is found in II Peter 2:1-22 and 3:1-13. Of course, there are people in this world right now who have this attitude and who have had this attitude in past history by nature, people who are not presently or who weren't presently called to a knowledge of salvation. They all will be coming up in the 2nd resurrection and will have their chance to repent. But people who have had God's Holy Spirit offered to them and then rejected that call and Spirit, if they don't repent of that, will end up in this lake of fire. Those who fit this category at the end of the period of the 2nd resurrection will live on into this period of time and suffer the same fate, going into the lake of fire. That is what the prophecies clearly seem to indicate when all is taken into account.

II Peter 2:1-22. "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. For God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; [this word "hell" in the Greek "Tartaru" is not the Gehenna fire of Revelation 20 nor is it Hades, but a place of restraint] if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)--if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed--an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey--who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness.

These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: `A dog returns to its vomit,' and `A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.'" This group will be resurrected in the 2nd resurrection also, where the Lord will continue to work with them, since we have proven this resurrection is one of opportunity and decision. They will find it harder to turn around and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, just as Jesus said it would be for the Pharisees of his day.

I think you can see why God in his mercy has not called the majority of mankind to a saving knowledge of him, and won't do so until Satan is locked away and removed permanently from influencing them. God wants the majority to have the best opportunity to achieve salvation and eternal life!

II Peter 3:3-13. "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 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.' 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. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 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. [Peter is projecting way forward beyond the 2nd coming to the lake of fire of Revelation 20:14-15 and the remaking of heaven and earth of Revelation 21:1.]

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. [There are two fulfillment's of the "day of the Lord," one at his 2nd coming, and the final fulfillment at the 2nd death, when as Peter now describes, the heavens and the earth are melted down.] The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." [The King James states, "and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."] "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness." This directly cross references to Revelation 21:1. PLANET EARTH IS OBVIOUSLY MELTED DOWN TO BE RECREATED AT THE SAME TIME THE UNIVERSE IS MELTED DOWN AND RECREATED. WHAT'S NEXT?

What Is "HELL"?

Who will go to hell? Who is in hell--some of our loved ones, our enemies? It may indicate that hell is not what most people and Christian religious organizations have imagined. This may be what the Bible reveals is true about the subject of Hell [as taught by some Sabbatarian Christian churches]. The subject of hell has been a most misunderstood subject, for every Christian group seems to have a different interpretation of what Hell is (as we just read in the previous article-"Battle Over Hell"--written by Keith Stump!).

As I brought out, almost all the various Christian Churches and fellowships have differing interpretations of what they think Hell is and who really goes there--and why. Is hell a literal place, a geographical place or location? Is it somewhere in the interior of the earth, as many believe? Or is it in remote space, say in a black hole?

Or does the word "hell" refer to a troubled mental state found here on this earth. Or does "hell" refer to the troubled spirits of deceased people who did not go to heaven upon death? Some Christian denominations and fellowships take the parables of Lazarus literally, and believe just that. Others look to other scriptures which paint a somewhat different picture. What follows is one of those different pictures. It is well worth looking at because differing and wrong beliefs in this area have caused Christianity's collective preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to the world to be seriously hindered. Unconverted mankind may be ignorant of the things of God as Paul says in I Corinthians 2. But unconverted mankind isn't stupid. They know disunity when they see it. Every child ever born knows when his or her parents are in disagreement about something. People learn early-on how to spot disunity because they learn to spot it in the home! So every single area where the differing Christian fellowships can agree on a doctrine but don't' agree, is an area where mankind can point at us and with laughter and scorn. It doesn't hurt us as individuals as much as it hurts and cripples our efforts to preach the gospel to the world! So don't be selfish and put this aside, thinking "I know what I believe"--this isn't important to my salvation. And yes, compared to the saving knowledge of the gospel of Christ, this is secondary knowledge. But achieving unity in some of these secondary areas may affect the future salvation of others.

A survey once showed that 78 percent of Americans believed in heaven, but only 60 percent believed in the reality of a hell.

Why all this difference in percentages? Probably because many of those who believe in a heaven cannot bring themselves to think that an all-merciful and loving God would condemn anyone to a place of ETERNAL TORMENT--No matter how evil that person was.

 

WHAT DO CLERGYMEN THINK? 

Many theologians today do not believe in a literal hell, but believe that "hell is a separation from God--not really torture, but mental torment." Some believe that when the unsaved die, their spirit wanders in this state of mental torment until the Great White Throne Judgment, when they are then resurrected back to physical life in physical bodies and then thrown into Gehenna Fire, where their torment ends. As we saw in Ezekiel 37:1-14, the Bible seems to indicate that this is not an accurate picture of what takes place after this massive resurrection back to physical life occurs. Ezekiel 37:1-14 indicates that a massive group of people, all of unsaved Israel that ever lived are resurrected back to physical life, where they are then given My Spirit [a direct reference by God to His Holy Spirit], and then given lands to live in. The only massive resurrection back to physical life that the Bible mentions anywhere else (Revelation 20:5, 11-13) is the Great White Throne Judgment. So why in the world would a loving God allow the disembodied spirits to wander around the world in mental torment and then be resurrected back into a world that God has turned into a paradise during the Millenium? This is a very good question, plain statements of the Bible tend to shoot the disembodied spirits scenario in the foot, so to speak. These are all secondary issues, when compared to the gospel of Christ which is the specific knowledge of salvation. But this secondary knowledge is mighty important in shaping our approach toward what and how we preach "this gospel of the kingdom" to the world, which Jesus said we Christians would do just before his glorious return (Matthew 24:14).

 

One theologian, Clark H. Pinnock, theology professor at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, asked "How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness" as to inflict "everlasting torture upon his creatures, however sinful they may have been?" He said that a God who would do such a thing is "more nearly like Satan than like God." Is this theologian correct in his judgment of what many Christians take on what "hell" is, and how God will administer it to the unsaved dead?

Then there are those theologians who view hell as "the loss of communication, insensitivity to spiritual values, the realization of how far short of our capabilities we have fallen, the memory of some of the things we have done." They don't say as to whether they think those suffering with these thoughts are wandering spirits of individuals who never accepted Jesus Christ.

Pope Paul VI stated that "those who refuse the love of God are going to the fire that is not extinguished ("Credo of the People of God", issued June 30, 1968). So that spells out the basic belief of the Catholic Church, a major Christian denomination.

The Encyclopedia Americana states: "As generally understood, hell is the abode of evil spirits; the infernal regions...whither lost and condemned souls go after death to suffer indescribable torments and eternal punishments." Some have thought of it as a place created by God, where He punishes, with inconceivable severity, and throughout all eternity, the souls of those who through unbelief or through the worship of false gods have angered Him, a place of Divine revenge, untempered and never-ending. This has been the idea most generally held by Evangelical Christians, Catholics, and Protestants alike. It is also the idea embodied in the Mohammedans' conception.The main features of hell as conceived by Hindu, Persian, Egyptian, Grecian, and Christian theologians are essentially the same. (from the article on "Hell"). But the big question is "Why do people believe what they believe?" Where does this concept really come from? Does is come from the Bible, as most Christians assume? Assuming can be dangerous.

 

FROM THE PHILOSOPHERS

 

A few influential men since the time of Christ left writings and teachings that became so universally believed that they became accepted doctrine of the Christian world. One of the most important of these influential writers was Augustine who (even though he was a Christian) reasoned that there should be a temporary cleansing of imperfect souls in purgatorial fire. He, like many other early Christian theologians, was influenced by "pre-Christian doctrine" [doesn't Revelation 2 and 3 preach against this "pre-Christian" doctrine?]--the doctrine of the ancient pagan philosophers--and other early church fathers (see Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, article "Purgatory").

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) wrote a tremendously popular poem, La Divina Commedia, in three parts--Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. "Of all poets of modern times," says a modern author, "Dante Alighieri was, perhaps, the greatest educator. He possibly had a greater influence on the course of civilization than any other man since his day.[He] wrote.an imaginative and lurid account of a dismal journey through a lurid hell--a long poem containing certain phrases which have caught the attention of the world, such as 'All hope abandon here, Ye, who enter here'" (Thomas N. Page, Dante and His Influence, pp. 3,7).

This Dante is reported to have been so fascinated and enraptured by the ideas and philosophies of the philosophers Plato and Virgil that he believed they were divinely inspired. But who were Plato and Virgil?

Says the Encyclopedia Americana: "Virgil, pagan Roman poet, 70-19 B.C. belonged to the national school of pagan Roman thought, influenced by the Greek writers. Christians of the Middle Ages, including Dante, believed he had received some measure of divine inspiration."

Plato, a Greek philosopher, born in Athens, 427 B.C., was a student of the renowned Socrates. Plato's famous literary work Phaedo taught the immortality of the soul--the foundation for other writings on the doctrine of an eternal hell where wicked souls are supposedly punished forever. Apparently if this is the main source of Christianity's concept of eternal punishment in hell, Christianity had better take a long hard look at every scrap of Biblical teaching it can find on eternal rewards and punishments, and then re-orient it's beliefs according to God's Word completely, no matter what the consequences. But these concepts, even if totally wrong in the minds of believing Christians, will in no way stop God from bestowing Eternal life on the believer. But these wrong concepts must be corrected before we can have an affective work of preaching the gospel Jesus wants us to preach to the unconverted world (over 6+ billion strong at this point in time!). This takes us into the next area.

 

WHAT ABOUT THE BILLIONS OF MANKIND?

 

Before we examine the Bible to see whether the common ideas about hell could possibly be true, let us carry this concept of hell to its logical conclusion.

On this earth there are more than over six billion people. The most populous lands are China, India and other parts of Asia. But in spite of the efforts of Western missionaries (who are very sincere and zealous in their efforts to fulfill Matthew 28:18-20), more than half of all the people on the earth have never so much as heard the name of Jesus Christ--the only name by which men may be saved (Acts 4:12).

In the past, literally billions of people on this earth have lived and died without having known anything about salvation--without ever so much as having seen a Bible. As a matter of fact the full Bible wasn't complete until some years after 90 A.D., and wasn't printed for general distribution until Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1400's! The Bible never saw widespread printing in the language of the common people until the 1600's, although Peter de Waldo did produce hand-written copies of it in the vernacular French and Spanish during the 1100's. Much of mankind, historically, has remained ignorant of God's Word, and thus of the true path to salvation through Jesus Christ. Much of this is through no fault of mankind. Much fewer people have had adequate exposure to God's Word for a decent chance to obtain a saving knowledge of the way of salvation than one would expect. The number of people who reach this knowledge and properly apply it has always been relatively small by comparison to the world population of any period one may be looking at. If you don't believe, me, then study history--both Christian and secular.

Now think what all this means. If all unbelievers go immediately to a fiery hell at death--or into some limbo of a spirit world where mental torment reigns--the two concepts of hell commonly believed in--then more than half of the people who have ever lived on this earth [and my estimate, being an avid student of history, is more along the lines of 85 percent!] have been consigned to this terrible punishment--and they are there, now, without ever having had a chance to escape it.

Can you really believe that is the product of the mind of an all-wise, all-merciful loving God???

We face these alternatives: Either the Creator reveals the truth on this subject in his inspired Word, or else we must confess we just don't know. Either we believe what the Bible says, or we must--if we are rational and honest--admit ignorance.

What does God say about hell in the Bible? You may surprised.

 

 

JESUS SPOKE OF "HELL FIRE"

 

What punishment did Christ warn would ultimately befall those who refuse to quit sinning? Mark 9:43 (He obviously did not mean we should literally cut off parts of our bodies, but rather stop using them to commit sin.) "And if your hand makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched--where 'their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched." and so on and so on, goes the thought through verse 48. The word "Hell" is an English word. When Mark recorded Christ's words, he wrote them in the Greek language. The Greek word translated "hell" which Mark was inspired to write down, is gehenna. Since in this verse Christ says the sinner is "to go into the fire," it follows that those who go to gehenna will receive punishment by fire. Keep in mind, then, that Christ associated the Greek word gehenna with fire.

 

The English Word "Hell" Has Been Misapplied

 

In A Dictionary of the Bible, edited by James Hastings, it has this to say about "hell" in the Old and New Testaments. Keep in mind as you read this that the Old Testament was originally written in the Hebrew language, and that the New Testament was originally written in the Greek language.

Hastings says: "In our Authorized Version the word "hell" is unfortunately used as the rendering of three distinct words with different ideas [or meanings]. It represents (1) the 'sheol' of the Hebrew Old Testament, and the 'hades' of.the New Testament..It is now an entirely misleading rendering, especially in the New Testament passages. The English revisers, therefore, have substituted 'Hades' [going back to the original Greek word] for "hell" in the New Testament..In the American Revision the word "hell" is entirely discarded in this connection..

"The word "hell" is used (2) as equivalent to [the Greek word] 'tartaros'.in II Peter 2:4.[and] (3).as the equivalent of [the Greek word] 'gehenna'"

So we see that the real meanings of three different Greek words--hades (equivalent to the Hebrew sheol of the Old Testament, tartaros and gehenna--have been confused with each other because translators have attempted to make the one English word "hell" cover the definitions of all three words. No wonder millions have been confused about this subject.

What do these three words really mean?

The Old Testament word sheol and the New Testament Greek word hades mean the same thing--simply the grave. These words have been correctly translated as "grave" in many places in the Bible. However, these words have also been translated "hell."

"Hell" is an old English word. More than 350 years ago, when the Authorized Version was translated, the people of England commonly talked of "putting their potatoes in hell for the winter"--a good way of preserving potatoes--for the word meant merely a hole in the ground that was covered up--a dark and silent place--a grave. But misconceptions caused people to misapply the old English word "hell" to the lurid imaginations of Dante.

The second Greek word, tartaros, occurs as a verb form in the New Testament. It is found only in II Peter 2:4, where it has been translated into the English expression "cast.down to hell." Tartaros does not refer to humans, but to the restrained condition of fallen angels (or demons). Its meaning, translated into English, is "darkness of the material universe," "dark abyss" or "prison."

But what about gehenna? This Greek word is derived from the name of the narrow, rocky Valley of Hinnom, which lies just outside of Jerusalem. It was the place where refuse was burned up. Trash, filth, and the dead bodies of animals and despised criminals were thrown into the fires of gehenna, or the Valley of Hinnom. Ordinarily, everything thrown into this valley was destroyed by fire--completely burned up. Therefore, Christ used gehenna to picture the fate of unrepentant sinners.

 

Two Different "Hells"

 

In many of the passages of the New Testament where we see the word "hell," the Greek word is not gehenna. Often it is hades--which does not refer to fire at all, but to a grave--a hole in the ground. Yet the translators have confused and obscured the two entirely different meanings of these words by indiscriminately rendering them both by the same English word "hell."

Let's study the proof.

1.               What did Jesus say about "hell" in Luke 12:5? ""But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!" If you were to look up the Greek word that is here translated into the English word "hell," you would find it is gehenna. Gehenna, remember, is the place where dead bodies were thrown and destroyed by fire.

2. How is the same English word "hell" used in Acts 2:31? "he foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption." [New King James Version has properly switched the translation back from Hell, which was a proper 1611 rendering of Hades, to Hades."] Hades means the grave, as its usage in this verse clearly shows. WE can plainly see that the English word "hell" can have different meanings. So when we come to the word "hell" in the New Testament (except in II Peter 2:4), we must keep in mind these two vastly different meanings and carefully determine by the context whether it refers to destruction by fire, or the grave where the dead lie buried.

 

Whenever you're in doubt about the intended meaning of the word "hell" in the New Testament, look it up in an exhaustive concordance, such as Strong's or Young's, to see which Greek word it was translated from, and hence its true meaning.

 

Where to After Death?

 

According to this verse found in the Bible, when a person dies and is buried in his grave, he knows absolutely nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5). He merely lies quietly and silently there as in a "sleep," totally oblivious to everything.

Let's briefly examine several scriptures that illustrate this important understanding.

What one things befalls both men and beasts? Ecclesiastes 9:5-6. "For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing. And they have no more reward. For the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished." This indicates that even conscious thought ceases when one dies. This scripture would indicate that the spirits of the dead are not conscious. The spirit in man gives man his intelligence and mind-power to comprehend the things of a man [i.e. Algebra, history, languages, things a cow or turkey or dog have no comprehension of.] This verse indicates all conscious thought ceases when life ceases--no wandering spirits of the deceased in mental anguish for all eternity, as some interpret, or until they're resurrected in the Great White Throne Judgment, as others interpret. Now let's turn to Ecclesiastes 3:19-20. "For what happens to the sons of men also happens to beasts; one thing befalls them; as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust." Now verse 21 gets interesting. The spirit of man, and the spirit of or in beasts is mentioned. "Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward [upon the death of the person], and the spirit of the beast, which goes down to the earth?" [And this Scripture indicates the spirit of "all" dead people goes "upward" (obviously to God for safe keeping).] I Corinthians 2:11 sheds a little more light on this "spirit in or of man." "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?." The Bible, if you honestly research the subject of the spirit of man or spirit in man, indicates that this spirit in man, this human spirit, is what grants mankind human intelligence, as opposed to animal intelligence, which is much lower. In modern terms, this spirit component is like the software that gives your computer it's intelligence, it's computing power. Computer's analyze data, which can come in from various sources, the keyboard, the phone modem, etc. Our data comes in through our five senses, touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste. Obviously, the power or mental software which gives us the ability to process data comes from this spirit in man which God puts there. The book of Ecclesiastes, part of the Word of God, says this spirit in man, ceases to function upon the death of an individual, and that it goes back to God. It does not say only the spirit of good people goes back to God. It says this spirit in man for every human being, goes back to God upon death, and that all conscious thought ceases. That is what the Bible appears to teach on this subject. Some fellowships believe differently based upon their interpretation of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. We'll get to that one a little later. Genesis 3:19. "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

Is there any remembrance of God in death? Psalm 6:5. "For in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give you thanks?" Now there are certain fellowships which say that Solomon spiritually lost it before he died and so what he wrote is subject to question. For one thing, God is the One who decides what writings are inspired and belong in His Word. But if you insist on following your own reasoning and think Solomon was a disqualified writer, then David cannot be put in that category. He died a righteous man in God's eyes on all counts. He basically re-iterates what Solomon stated in Ecclesiastes about the dead knowing nothing after death.

What place does God say man goes to when he dies? Ecclesiastes 9:10. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going."

The Word (Logos) became Jesus by the act of incarnation. Jesus was God incarnate--God made of flesh (John 1:14). Did he share the same mortal flesh of which we are composed? Hebrews 2:14. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is the devil."

And did he also go to the grave as other mortal men do? Acts 2:31. "For he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption."

 

The Greek word in Acts 2:31 is hades which, as you now know, means the "grave." Jesus did not see corruption (did not decompose in the grave) because he was resurrected after three days and three nights. While in this section of Acts, let's look a couple of verses. Let's combine them, and see what they appear to tell us. Concerning what we learned about the righteous dead being resurrected to glory in the first resurrection which Paul described in I Corinthians 15, they make sense. Acts 2:29,34. "'Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.For David did not ascend into the heavens."

So, if what these scriptures indicate is true, the spirit in man, or the spirit of man is not a conscious entity, but just the spirit software that God places in every person, probably at conception. Yes, as Solomon stated in Ecclesiastes, it goes back to God, in the third heaven, but no it is not conscious. It merely holds all the memories and the exact image of what that person was. Then in one of the two major resurrections, God will use that spirit software that was in the person to reconstruct that person physically, as in the description found in Ezekiel 37:1-14 or into a Spirit body, as described in I Corinthians 15:49-54. This is what we've just seen in scripture. Now let us cut to the quick, so to speak, and turn to the area in scripture most frequently used by those who hold to the spirits of those who die either wander in mental torment, or if righteous, go to be with the Lord God in the third heaven. As we saw in Ecclesiastes, the spirit in every person 'rises to God in heaven.' So the wandering spirit theory seems to get blasted right there. Other groups also use the Lazarus parable of Jesus to prove there is an eternal hell fire of the Dante's Inferno type.

 

 

The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man

 

What lesson did Jesus intend to illustrate by this oft-misunderstood parable (found in Luke 16:19-31)? Let us carefully study this entire parable, comparing it with other crystal-clear scriptures.

 

Did Lazarus--a poor but righteous man--die? Was he later carried by angels to "Abraham's bosom"? Luke 16:22. "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried."

 

Now there are two ways we can look at this parable--literally or figuratively. The scriptures of the Old Testament, when added to I Corinthians 15:49-54 and Revelation 20:5,11-13, and Revelation 20:14-15 indicate 1) the dead know nothing until they are resurrected back to life. The righteous dead will be in the first resurrection to immortality. The unrighteous dead or unsaved dead will all come up in the general resurrection at the period of time spoken of in Revelation 20:11-13 as the Great White Throne Judgment. Ezekiel 37:1-14 fleshes out the skimpy details of this resurrection and shows us two things: 1. They will all be given God's Holy Spirit. 2. The will be given lands, beautiful farmlands, to live out their lives on. 2) Then all who remain unrepentant go into the "Lake of Fire", as indicated by Revelation 20:14-15. No third resurrection is spoken of anywhere in the Bible, so obviously all who don't repent remain on earth as physical humans. God then proceeds to make the new heavens and new earth by setting them all on fire and melting them down, referred to in II Peter 3:10-11 and Revelation 20:14-15 and 21:1. All those whom God has not changed and given new Spirit bodies will perish in the fire God is using to make the new heavens and new earth, obviously. Adding all related Scriptures in both Old and New Testaments together indicates the Lazarus parable of Jesus was meant to be taken figuratively. The parable itself fits right into Greek mythological thought about their own beliefs about Hades, a place of torment for the dead. If we are to take the parable in a figurative sense, then we must realize that Jesus was being a bit tongue-in-cheek about the Greek interpretation of Hades to make a point. But also knowing that everyone reads and sees the various scriptures in slightly different ways, he obviously knew he would be allowing for division in his body of believers who would make up his Church. But this division isn't over the primary knowledge of salvation for those that are saved, but a secondary area, the area of the unsaved dead. Remember, a good 85 percent of all who have ever lived have never known God or his Word and Jesus Christ, nor have they had an adequate opportunity to know God. Jesus is the door to Eternal Salvation! He didn't arrive on the world scene until four thousand years had elapsed after the creation of man. The Church was founded two thousand years ago. At least 85 percent of the known world from then to now never responded to the message, which really hasn't been all that available until modern printing arrived, and even then the availability wasn't like it is today through the modern media tools and information transfer systems! This is also Satan's world right now. He is the unseen ruler of the world, and in Matthew 4 he offered the nations of the world to Jesus Christ if He would only bow down to him and serve him. Jesus didn't correct Satan in his statement of ownership of the nations of the world. God's redemptive plan for all of mankind doesn't really kick into passing gear until after Jesus arrives back on earth and locks up Satan and his demons in the bottomless pit, the abyss (Revelation 20:1-3).

 

Now why would Jesus want the various members or fellowships that compose his body of believers to remain divided over the two thousand year period from his first arrival to his second arrival? Satan knows that when Matthew 24:14 is accomplished the gig is up for him and his demon empire! But as long as all the various Holy Spirit led Christian fellowships that make up the collective body of Christ are in disunity over such issues as Eternal rewards, heaven and hell, and what the gospel message Matthew 24:14 is supposed to be composed of, then that Matthew 24:14 gospel has no way of being powerfully and collectively preached by the body of Christ! It's like a massive chess game between Satan and God. Satan knows the Word of God as well if not better than we do. He knows what he must do to prevent Matthew 24:14 from ever happening. Disunity of beliefs destroys effectiveness of collective preaching, and the effectiveness of the message being given to non-believers. Satan isn't stupid, be we Christians have been, in not understanding Satan's devises.

 

Jesus has allowed for this division within his body, until He wants to end it. Most of Christianity takes the Lazarus parable totally literally, with all of its Greek mythological overtones included. If taken literally, all other related scriptures which may modify this parable, giving it a different meaning, have to be ignored, which isn't a sound method of Biblical interpretation. If taken literally, not allowing for any modification of meaning by the rest of the Bible scriptures relating to this subject the parable has this meaning:

 

1)               The spirit in man remains conscious after death. The good ones go to heaven to be with the Lord, and the unrepentant ones wander the earth in mental torment until the 2nd resurrection. [But why would God then resurrect them all (Revelation 20:5,11-13), give them beautiful farmland, and give them all His Holy Spirit?] Then sometime after the Great White Throne Judgment God will then proceed to burn up all the unrepentant. (There is possibly one other reason Jesus has allowed Christians to believe that all the "unsaved dead" go into eternal torment--that this belief is a motivator to preaching the gospel around the world. The central question now is--should we allow a flawed teaching to be our primary motivation for wanting to see humanity saved now before a horrible World War III?)

 

2)               Hades is a place where the unrepentant spirits of man wander in torment and anguish, even flame (Luke 16:23). [cf. Ezekiel 37:1-14.]

 

 

3)               The dead go there upon their death, immediately (Luke 16:27-29.) Notice Jesus never said this was a place of eternal torment, but just a place of torment (vs. 28).

 

The parable: Luke 16:19-31 (New King James Version). "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. [20] But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, [21`] desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. [22] So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom [this would have to be the spirit of Lazarus, as he does not receive his new Spirit body until the time of Jesus' return (I Corinthians 15:49-54).] [23] And then being in torments in Hades, [this is definitely a Greek mythological view of Hades. Were the Greeks right? Or was Jesus just making a figurative point?] he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] Then he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' [25] But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.' [26] 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.' [27] Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, [28] for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' [29] Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' [Now almost all the children of Israel directly under Moses in the Sinai did not possess the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. Go and look up the incident where Moses cried to God about being all alone and needing some assistance. God granted that seventy elders would receive His Spirit. Two of these seventy couldn't be present. But God nonetheless granted them his Spirit. They went about the camp prophesying. Joshua then asked Moses, "Should I go out and stop them?" Moses reply was telling. "God forbid! I wish that all of Israel had the Spirit of God in them!" So apparently 'the time Moses and the prophets' was not a door to salvation for most of Israel, only for a select few whom God chose to call.] [30] And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' [31] But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'"

 

If this parable is to be taken figuratively, as it is indicated when all the other related scriptures pertaining to eternal reward and punishments are put together, then this is how the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man should be interpreted: "If we are Christ's, we become heirs with Abraham to receive the promises God made to him (Galatians 3:29). Through faith we all become the spiritual "children of Abraham" (verse 7). This is an intimate relationship--a close or bosom relationship, spiritually speaking--with Abraham. We are to be in close contact with him in sharing eternal life. This is the sense in which righteous Lazarus was taken to "Abraham's bosom" if we are taking this parable figuratively and not literally.

When, then, will Abraham and the Lazarus of Jesus' parable actually receive the promises? The answer given in the Bible is that Abraham and the saints--his spiritual "seed"--will inherit the promises at the resurrection of the just, when Jesus returns to earth (cf. I Corinthians 15:49-54; Revelation 19, 20:4; 11:15-18).

The word "hell" [in the King James Bible] used here is translated from the Greek word hades, which we know means the "grave." It is not from the Greek word gehenna, which represents the future lake of fire that will destroy the wicked forever. The rich man is pictured after he has come out of his grave through a resurrection and some time afterward (if he remains unrepentant) enters into the lake of fire.

This phrase depicts Abraham and Lazarus having already inherited eternal life in God's kingdom (Matthew 25:34). They are pictured as having been immortal for more than 1,000 years before the wicked rich man is resurrected. Then if he remains unrepentant, then at the time God makes the new heavens and new earth, he will be burned up in the lake of fire which the earth will become--i.e. the whole earth will be engulfed in fire, the very rocks will become molten, like in a volcano. At this time the rich man will see the flames of the lake of fire beginning to surround him. If Revelation 20:14-15 is a reality, he will then die in this lake. No more eternal torment. No eternal torment at all, just merciful death. The great "gulf" between the two represents the difference between mortality and immortality. Those who will have been made immortal shall never die because they will have inherited eternal life. Abraham and Lazarus are pictured on the immortal side of this gulf--the rich man on the mortal side, facing imminent eternal death by fire.

The parable graphically illustrates the rich man wanting to have his relatives warned (verses 27-28), not realizing how much time has already elapsed since he died. They in all probability will have arisen at the same time as him, thinking all their hope is lost (Ezekiel 37:11), which is the first conscious thought-reaction we see in the people rising up in the Valley of Dry Bones prophecy of Ezekiel 37:1-14. Proper discernment of God's Holy Scripture must include all scriptures relating to a subject, as God pointed out through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 28:9-10,11-13. God put the Bible in a form of code, so the unbelieving masses would go on their merry way, never comprehending until they had a chance to learn just how awful Satan's way really is. You learn by eating the fruit in this world. The true lessons of man's horrible history will not be comprehended by all until God brings all the unsaved up in this massive general resurrection of the dead, where all can compare notes and realize just how bad it truly was. Jesus Christ and we will then instruct them and help them learn by eating the fruit of God's way of life (Ezekiel 37:13-14). But when we as Christians don't fully follow the code-breaking formula outlined in Isaiah 28:9-10, then our proper understanding of God's Word stumbles also, as verses 11-13 so graphically predict will happen to anyone not following it. Like scripture must be added to like scripture, here a "little and there a little" to gain the proper Bible definition on any one doctrine in the Bible. When we fail to do this our understanding in that particular area or doctrine "stumbles and falls backward" just as it does for those unbelievers in Satan's world.

 

The parable of Lazarus and the rich man does not prove eternal punishing by God in hell fire if all the other related scriptures on eternal rewards and punishments are included in the mix. If the parable is left by itself, with no other related scriptures added to it to properly modify it's intended meaning, then yes, it would tend to lend support to an eternal torment of lost souls (spirit component of the deceased), until the Great White Throne Judgment. And then these lost souls would be resurrected and burned into nothingness, by an apparently cruel and vindictive God. Many people can't bring themselves to believe in such a God, but most Christians today don't know what else to believe simply because they have not done an exhaustive study on the whole subject, including all the related scriptures on the subject. Adding all the related scriptures on the subject indicates that Jesus used this short illustration to picture to his listeners the reality of the resurrection from the dead of both the righteous and the wicked. He was picturing the resurrection to eternal life as contrasted with the ultimate fate of the wicked--death for all eternity for those who will live on into the period when this planet will be set afire and melted down along with the whole vast universe (Revelation 20:14-15; 21:1).

 

GOD IS LOVE

 

Why do so many people have a false concept of hell? I believe I have pretty well explained that. When you add like scripture to like scripture for all the scriptures dealing with eternal rewards and punishments you come up with a thorough understanding of God's master plan of salvation. When you don't follow this process of Isaiah 28:9-10, verses 11-13 you get a faulty picture--an inaccurate picture.

God has no desire to torment or to torture anyone. God is love if we are to believe what the apostle John said in 1 John 4:8. He created us mortal. He will condemn no one because of ignorance, and will see to it that every person ultimately learns the truth and has a real opportunity for salvation upon sincere repentance, no matter how terrible his or her sins have been. To say any less is a denial of the Grace of God given through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

God is "longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).

The ones who accept Jesus and live a life walking in the Spirit will be given the free gift of eternal life. But the unbelieving disobedient must pay the "wages" they have earned, since they have not desired the precious Blood of the Lamb to cover them and their sins. It is the final or second death--death in the lake of fire. These are the two alternatives God places before each of us and that is just what he is trying to illustrate to us in the parable.

While a Christian is free to believe either way on this issue about "hell," realize these differing views color our gospel witness to the yet unconverted world being held captive by Satan. This interferes with the effectiveness of that gospel message. Believing in a literal or figurative interpretation of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man and all the accompanying different views on eternal rewards and punishments will not hinder ones receiving eternal life in the resurrection to immortality! This is what makes it a secondary issue for the saved. If you wish to keep believing the parable is to be taken literally, that won't effect your salvation is Christ. Individuals and even whole Christian fellowships and denominations may continue to take the parable literally. Jesus just won't be able to use any of us as effectively in accomplishing Matthew 24:14, for our differing interpretations on "hell" will be hindering our efforts. Therefore it's time for the body of Christ to hammer this one out and come to some Jesus Christ inspired conclusion under the direct influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, following the sound guidelines God gave us for scriptural discernment in Isaiah 28:9-13.

 

RESURRECTED TO JUDGMENT

 

You may have heard that some ministers preach that unbelievers go directly to hell fire when they die. If there is a place of eternal torment, this teaching would mean they are condemned to a fiery inferno formally judged and sentenced. That would be worse than our own imperfect criminal justice systems we have on earth today! Let's notice when and how the dead will be judged.

 

1)   Is there to be a future resurrection to judgment of the unsaved dead? John 5:28-29. (The word "damnation" in the Authorized Version--verse 29--is correctly rendered as "judgment" in most modern translations, and is literally interpreted from the Greek word meaning "discernment." This accurate rendering is further proof that the unsaved dead are not being tormented in a fiery hell. They are now dead. But there is coming a time ("the hour is coming," said Jesus) when they will be resurrected for judgment. "Do not marvel at this: for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life [cf. I Corinthians 15:49-54), and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation [Strongs #2920: krisis: decision (for or against).]

2)Do the first sentence of Revelation 20:5 and verses 11-12 also prove there is to be a future resurrection to judgment? (Note that the first sentence in verse 5 is a parenthetical statement inserted within verses 4-6, which describe the first resurrection.) Revelation 20:5,11-12. "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.[11-13]Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened which is the Book of Life. [In ancient Greece, every city had a Book of Life, which had recorded every living person in it. When a person died, his name was removed from the Book of Life.] And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one of them according to their works."

 

Some of the dead--the "dead in Christ"--will be resurrected to eternal life in the first resurrection at Christ's second coming (I Corinthians 15:49-54; I Thessalonians 4:16-17). But the "rest of the dead" will not live again for a thousand years. They will then be resurrected to mortal life. These are the unsaved dead who will rise in the second resurrection to be "judged."

The Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-13 is the period when the vast majority of mankind (the dead, and most who are now alive) will be resurrected and given their first real opportunity to learn about God's redemptive Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ. They will come to know Jesus and learn of his ways in a graphic personal way as they never had the opportunity to do so before, being held captive under Satan's deceptive sway and deception. These billions--some estimate as many as 50 to 100 billion strong--are those who never heard or understood God's way of life due to Satan's deception. What does Revelation 12:9 say about Satan? "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

 

Think about this. All Israel with the exception of a few righteous people, were unsaved. They died in their sins. The apostle Paul addressed this matter in Romans 11 where he said, "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited [the other time Paul uses this phrase is to describe a major resurrection from the dead]: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godliness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant when I take away their sins [Isa. 59:20-21; Jer. 31:33-34].'

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. For God has bound ALL MEN over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on THEM ALL." That last sentence is very interesting. Let us see what it might mean. We're not taking Paul and God literally enough in this statement. The way we Christians have interpreted this scripture (Romans 11:32) is "God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on 20 percent or less of them all!" For when we take a good honest look at world history, we cannot possibly say that any more than 20 percent, and perhaps far less, fit the description of being "called, chosen and faithful."

Let us remember right here, for those of us who are saved and in the Lord and fit the description of "called, chosen and faithful", this information is not primary knowledge about salvation, and belief one way or the other will not affect a saved individual's salvation one single bit.

So how will all Israel be re-grafted into God's Olive Tree, according to how some Christian fellowships view this issue? Ezekiel 37:1-14. "The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then he caused me to pass by them all around, and behold there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And he said to me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' So I answered, 'O Lord God, you know.' Again he said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 'Thus says the Lord God to these bones; 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.'

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord God: 'Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.' So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

Then he said to me, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!' Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: 'Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, O my people, and cause you to come up from your graves and BRING YOU INTO THE LAND OF ISRAEL. [WHY GIVE THEM LAND IF THEY ARE ABOUT TO GET BURNED UP IN THE LAKE OF FIRE?] Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up from your graves. [Does it say these dead were wandering spirits from the time they died to the time of this massive resurrection back to physical life?] I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT IN YOU, AND YOU SHALL LIVE, AND I SHALL PLACE YOU IN YOUR OWN LAND: [NOTE THIS: THESE PEOPLE ARE GIVEN GOD'S HOLY SPIRIT. THUS THEY ENTER THEIR TIME FOR SALVATION RIGHT HERE AND NOW, WHENEVER THIS MASSIVE RESURRECTIOJN OF THE DEAD TAKES PLACE.], THEN YOU SHALL KNOW THAT I THE LORD HAVE SPOKEN IT, AND PERRFORMED IT, SAITH THE LORD.'"

Now when Jews read this passage, they put these verses in context with verses 15-28 of the same chapter 37 of Ezekiel, which is a "Day of the Lord/2nd Coming of Jesus Christ prophecy. So the Jews and some Christians believe that all dead Israel will be resurrected back to physical life at the glorious coming of the Messiah to rule the world.

But we Christians are supposed to put all the related scriptures on a subject together, letting them modify the whole picture as Isaiah 28:9-10 states--showing us the timing of various Old Testament prophecies that deal with The Day of the Lord, or what we call 2nd Coming of Christ prophecies. Ezekiel 37:1-14, as we read, is about a massive resurrection of ALL Israel back to physical life. Ezekiel 16:55 indicates that the rest of humanity will come back to physical life at the same time all Israel does. Ezekiel 16:55. "When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters [Gentiles], return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state." This is only one verse, but when we combine it with a New Testament verse, we see that it is talking about these people, Gentiles, rising up at the same time as all Israel. Now we see that a massive resurrection of physical human beings takes place some time in the future (Rev. 20:5, 11-13; Ezekiel 37:1-14). The Jews, taking Ezekiel 37:1-14 in context with verses 15-28 of the same chapter, say this resurrection of all Israel takes place at the glorious coming of the Messiah to rule over the whole world. Christians should be letting Jesus' Word found in the New Testament, given to John in Revelation modify the Old Testament prophecy that describes a massive resurrection of physical human beings back to life. And look as hard as you want to, you will only find two major resurrections mentioned or prophesied in the whole Bible (John 5:28-28; Daniel 12:2-3; Revelation 20:4-6, 5,11-13; I Corinthians 15:49-54; I Thess. 4:16-17). Since one is to immortality at Jesus Christ's 2nd Coming, the other massive resurrection is after the 1000 year reign of Jesus over the earth. Ezekiel 37:1-14 is a massive resurrection to physical life. 1 + 1 still equals 2 where I come from. If Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Revelation 20:5,11-13 are one and the same resurrection back to physical life, and Ezekiel 37:14 states that these people are to have God putting His Holy Spirit in them and then resettling them in their own land, then these people are receiving their chance at salvation in Jesus at this point in prophesied history. The book of Revelation is clearly a book of prophetic timing of events that occur starting with the great tribulation, going through the Day of the Lord, on into the millenium and then to the massive Great White Throne Judgment, the Lake of Fire, and then ending with the creation of the new heavens and new earth (regardless of what amillennialists would have you believe). Many prophecies are recorded in the Old Testament, but without the book of Revelation, the proper time context for many of them is lost, and no idea exists as to where they fit into the whole picture. So logically, this would be the book of the Bible where we would look for a prophecy about a massive resurrection of humans back to physical life. And we find just such a resurrection mentioned in Revelation 20:5,11-13, which states, But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works."

 

So we find Revelation 20:5,11-13 gives the briefest description of this massive resurrection back to physical life. But it does give accurate timing of the event in future historical context. Ezekiel 37:1-14 gives a lot of physical details, especially the most important one, are these people lost, or do they get their chance to accept Jesus Christ and salvation through him and him alone? Ezekiel 37:13-14. "Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves. I will put my Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land." The first reaction to coming up is that they think their hope is lost, gone--they're on the way to the Lake of Fire. But the very next thing to occur is that they receive the Holy Spirit (verse 14)! Now we know, only those called to a saving knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ receive the Holy Spirit, who then dwells in them (read Acts 2:1-41; Acts 5:32; John 14). This is a clear cut scripture showing "unsaved dead" rising in a resurrection back to physical life and receiving God's Holy Spirit! That ought to give all Christians cause to re-think this question on the "unsaved dead" now oughtn't it?

That's a clear example of the New Testament book of Revelation showing us when this massive resurrection occurs. Then the Old Testament prophecy in Ezekiel 37:1-14 fills in the details of this resurrection and what it is for. The apostle Peter stated that judgment has now begun in the house of God. If being called into a saving knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ is our judgment, then it would only make sense that the rest of humanity's judgment at the Great White Throne Judgment would be similar, for God is no respecter of persons.

As I brought out before, there are several different interpretations amongst Christian fellowships on the two resurrections listed in the Bible in John 5:28-29, Daniel 12:1-5 and Revelation 20:4-5,11-13. One takes the view that the Great White Throne Judgment leads right into the Lake of Fire with no chance of redemption for those who are in this resurrection back to physical life. You have seen that there is good reason in scripture to question this interpretation. But let's go a little further. And don't forget, we are doing this in a spirit of desiring truth in this matter and not in an effort to be divisive. The next question we need to ask is this. Revelation 20:5,11-13 shows this massive resurrection. Verse 14-15 of Revelation 20 goes right into the Lake of Fire scenario. If a redemptive work of Jesus Christ is to occur for all these billions of people at this time, there must be an event/time gap between verses 13 and 14 of Revelation 20 which is not mentioned in Revelation 20. (We also saw in verses 12 and 14 that God said he would "bring them back to the land of Israel". These two verses strongly indicate these people enter into a period of time for life.)

Does the Bible have any previous precedent for such an event/time gap? Yes it does. It is found in Genesis 1:1-2, between verses 1 and 2. It is known that a massive unspecified amount of time and events occurred between the events mentioned in verses 1 and 2-31, the original creation of the heavens and the earth, and the re-creation of life-forms one earth along with the creation of man. Some don't believe in this event/time gap, but the record in the rocks tends to conclusively prove there were two distinct creations of life-forms which occurred on this planet. The Bible backs this up in other places, just as it does the event/time gap in Revelation 20 between verses 13 and 14. The universe was not created "Tohu" and "Bohu" as the Hebrew reads in verse 2 of Genesis 1. "Tohu" and "bohu" translate to "empty" and "void." Genesis 1:1-2. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. [verse 2] And the earth was {Hebrew: became] without form [Tohu] and void [Bohu]; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." The universe was not created originally "tohu and bohu", but became "tohu and bohu." We can see this by adding together the Scriptures about this same event that would modify and add meaning to the word translated "was" which can be translated "became". Some people, deep into Hebrew grammar are judging this word entirely on how it is used within this one sentence, but not including other Scripture passages that would and do add meaning to the word. This is being entirely nearsighted in our approach to Bible interpretation. Let us look further at some of the Scriptures that can and do modify this word translated as "was" which can and should be translated "became".

In Job 38:4-7 it talks of how the angels sang for joy at the creation of the heavens and the earth. These angels would be just a little bit strange for singing joyfully at the creation of an earth described as "tohu and bohu," now wouldn't they? In Ezekiel 28:13-17 a description of the fall of Lucifer is given. It is repeated in Isaiah 14:12-17. God repeats in scripture what is important. He saw fit to record two descriptions of Lucifer's fall in the Old Testament. In the New Testament Jesus himself remarked how he saw Lucifer fall like lightning to the earth, and in Revelation 12:3-4 it describes Satan drawing a third of the stars of heaven, referring to a third of the angels, and throwing them to earth. This same Dragon tried to destroy the Christ child (Rev. 12:4-5). So between the original creation of the heavens and the earth and the creation of man and re-creation of plant and animal life conducive to man, a great gap of time and events has occurred. [This is called the "gap theory," and would account for the dinosaur age in the pre-history of man. 65 Million years ago a massive cataclysm occurred which destroyed all life on earth, dinosaurs included. The record in the rocks is undeniable, and this cataclysmic destruction of all life on earth along with the sudden creation of fauna and plant life conducive to man along with man totally baffles evolutionary scientists. So between the original creation of the heavens and the earth and the creation of man and re-creation of plant and animal life (different from the previous plant and animal life of the dinosaur age), a great gap of time and events has occurred. Some Christian groups that like to deny the "gap theory" also say that Satan created the dinosaur fossils as a hoax to muddy the waters. This is not true. God is a creator--The Creator of heaven and earth--Satan is not, and cannot create anything. God has not given him or any of the demons that power. We don't even know if he's given the angels any of that power. That is something wholly reserved to God, by the very essence of what Scripture reveals about God--as the Creator. Look up all the verses that cover who created. God created, and he did this through God the Son, Jesus Christ. That's it. If fossils of dinosaurs are out there, they're real. Satan can't create or manipulate matter at this point. He can destroy, and that's about it. That power hasn't been removed from him, yet. (Log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/dinosaurs.htm for a more in-depth study on the record of the rocks, and what it tells us about creation, and that the theory of evolution is indeed a very false theory.)

When looking at Revelation 20:11-13 and 14-15 some say one event goes right into the other without a break in time or events, when judging and interpreting verses 14-15 as they stand alone. Others think there is a break in time and events between Revelation 20:11-13 and verses 14-15 of Revelation 20. I personally believe that Christianity as a whole ought to thoroughly examine its' beliefs about the "unsaved dead" and those not called in this evil world before they teach or preach one more word on the subject publicly before the unsaved world. If Christianity's take on this subject is wrong then our preaching of the gospel to this dying world is tragically flawed and thus hindered by this flaw. If an error in our perception of these verses is being preached we all share in the responsibility for that error.

DEATH BY FIRE

 

What is the ultimate penalty--the "wages," or reward--of sin? Is it eternal life in torment? Or is it eternal oblivion? What is the ultimate fate of incorrigible sinners? The Bible makes the truth very clear.

What are the "wages of sin"? Romans 6:23. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Death is the opposite of life. The final wages the incorrigible will receive is the complete cessation of life.

What does Paul warn will be the judgment or sentence of those who, knowing God's commands and having tasted of his way of life, sin willfully? Hebrews 10:26-27. "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries." Will the wicked, these adversaries as Paul calls them, live on in torment in fire--or will they be devoured by it? Verse 27.

Does Jesus compare false prophets who don't bring forth good works to trees that don't bring forth good fruit? What did he indicate would happen to them? Is combustible material that is put into a fire only tormented--or is it burned up? Did Jesus indicate that all who do not bring forth "good fruit" will likewise be cast into fire? Matthew 7:15-19. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

What did Christ say to the unrepentant scribes and Pharisees of his day? Matthew 23:33. "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" The Greek word translated here as "hell" is gehenna--meaning the Valley of Hinnom. Christ used the fire that burned up refuse in the Valley of Hinnom as a type of the final fate--complete destruction--of the wicked by fire. Those rebellious and stubborn religious leaders could well understand Christ's analogy. They knew they were being threatened with complete destruction by fire.

What did Christ warn would happen to those who will not repent of their sinful ways? Luke 13:3. "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." "Perish" means to cease existing. It does not mean to continue living. Life in eternal torment is not what God has decreed for incorrigible sinners. The punishment revealed in the Bible is death--cessation of life forever. Eternal life is something we were not born with. It is a gift of God that he will bestow upon those who have accepted Jesus Christ and are living their lives in Jesus, living a repentant life, not a lifestyle of constant sin as the world does now (Romans 6:23). Eternal life and death are contrasted throughout the Bible.

Did Christ show by his parable of the tares that there is to be a future harvest? Did he say the evil people--the "tares"--will afterward be burned? Matthew 13:30. "Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" Jesus likened the earth to a "field" (verse 24), the obedient or saved people to "wheat" (verses 25,29), and the disobedient to "tares" (verses 25,29-30).

Does Malachi 4:1 also show that the ultimate fate of the wicked will be destruction by fire? Will this fire be so hot that it will burn up--consume--the wicked? Same verse. What will be left of the wicked? Verse 3. Who will burn up the wicked--Satan and his demons, or the eternal God? Same verse. Malachi 4:1-3. "'For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,' says the Lord of hosts, 'That will leave them neither root nor branch.You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,' says the Lord of hosts." The "hell fire" that the Bible speaks of will be thousands of degrees hotter than the imaginary hell fire that most of you preachers preach about--which is only hot enough to torment. The Biblical hell fire will totally consume the disobedient--those not under Grace and the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb. Never will they exist again.

The Bible plainly shows that those who have been given "exceeding great and precious promises" (II Peter 1:4) and willfully disobey and refuse to repent, will reap the wages of sin--death for all eternity (Romans 6:23). This scripture means what it says. The attempt by many of you theologians to explain away death and to interpret it as mere "separation from God" cannot be reconciled with Scripture. Death clearly does not mean eternal life in the horrifying torments of an eternal hell.

The author of this deception is none other than the father of lies--Satan the devil (John 8:44). It is time now that we weed out of our midst some of these hurtful lies that the enemy has so cleverly sown in our midst, right into the doctrines of our Christian Churches!

 

WHAT IS THE "LAKE OF FIRE"?

 

And now comes a most interesting revelation. Exactly what is gehenna fire that will consume the wicked? When and where will it occur?

Are all who stubbornly refuse to repent and accept Jesus Christ as their personal saviour, and then leading lives that show forth that fruit, the fruit of the Spirit of God who dwells in them, to find themselves in a lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death? Revelation 21:8. "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolators, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

We've already seen that the fate of the wicked is gehenna fire. So gehenna and the lake of fire are the same. A very large fire would have the appearance of a fiery lake, hence its description.

Will it cause the death of the wicked? Notice Revelation 21:8 again. Also notice which death it will cause. Mortals naturally die once, because we just wear out. Some of us die untimely deaths of disease, or in accidents or wars. But if anyone dies the second death, that individual will have been judged by God to be guilty of persistent disobedience and incorrigible rebellion. The second death will be for all eternity.

After God's plan of salvation for mankind is complete, will the flames of the "lake of fire" purify the earth's surface, burning in one vast worldwide inferno? Will all the things man has created be burned up, as well as the rest of those people who will not have received salvation and eternal life because of willful rebellion against God? II Peter 3:7,10 and Revelation 20:15. II Peter 3:7,10. "But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word, reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." Revelation 20:15. "And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." Now in Revelation 21:1 we see this: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea." Adding like Scripture to like Scripture tells us how the new heaven and new earth will be created by God. And unless God replaced the sea, naturally it wouldn't exist anyone, after a fire like that! So we see Peter gave us some insight into how God will remove the wicked and give us a new heaven and new earth. So here is God's description of the final hell fire. It is yet in the future. It has not yet occurred. Nothing is said anywhere in the Bible about souls descending into the earth into hell fire, or torture for all eternity. Rather, the Bible shows that all incorrigible human beings and their works will suffer destruction once for all eternity.

Are the wicked to be reduced to ashes by the fire that will consume the earth's surface? Turn to Malachi 4:3 once again. Malachi 4:3. "'You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,' says the Lord of hosts." Can ashes be tormented forever and ever? Of course not! The death of the incorrigible wicked will have suffered will be eternal, everlasting punishment, not an everlasting punishing. There is a big difference between punishment and punishing. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), not eternal life in hell fire.

 

HELL FIRE "NEVER QUENCHED"?

 

Did John the Baptist ever speak of "unquenchable fire"? Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17. Matthew 3:12. "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Did Jesus say that hell fire will never be "quenched"? (Recall that the Greek word for "hell" in verses 43, 45 and 47 is gehenna.) Mark 9:43-48. "And if your hand makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go to hell [gehenna], into the fire that shall never be quenched--where 'their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' And if your foot makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched--where 'their worm does not die and the is not quenched.' And if your eye makes you sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire--where 'their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'

People have carelessly assumed the "fire that shall never be quenched" (verse 43) is a fire of torture that has been in existence for centuries, and will continue to exist for eternity. But we have proved that this idea is absolutely false. Notice the biblical truth about unquenchable fire.

Did God (more than 2,500 years ago) warn the inhabitants of Jerusalem that he would kindle a fire in Jerusalem's gates that would not be quenched? But what would that fire do to the city's palaces? Same verse. Jeremiah 17:27. "'But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.'" This fire occurred a few years later, and it destroyed all the houses of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 52:13). Since God said this fire "shall not be quenched" and since it is not burning today, it obviously went out by itself after devouring all combustible material. This is something simple science/chemistry students know in High School, but theology students can't seem to grasp. But God's Word even explains its' own phraseology, for those willing to look hard enough. Nothing is really left to chance interpretation if you are willing to look hard enough and be thoroughly honest with yourself and what you read. But our honesty in proper interpretation must go beyond the emotional comfort-zone of what we were brought up believing or taught to believe by others.

What punishment befell the notorious cities of Sodom and Gomorrah? Genesis 19:24-25. "Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground." Was it literal fire that destroyed human beings? Luke 17:29. "But on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all." [Jesus speaking to the Pharisees, vs. 20] What do we read in Jude 7 about this event? Is there still a fire burning in those cities that God destroyed long ago? Jude 7. ".as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh [homosexuality], are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Is there still a fire burning in those cities that God destroyed long ago? The term "vengeance of eternal fire" is used here, and we can plainly see that it does not refer to an eternally burning fire. The term "eternal fire" in Jude 7 means a fire whose results are permanent or everlasting--obviously not a fire that burns forever. Sodom and Gomorrah were utterly destroyed centuries ago--they are not burning today. The fires that burned these wicked cities simply died out after consuming all combustible material. These scriptures prove that "fire that never shall be quenched" will not torment people forever.

The fires were never quenched or put out prematurely by anyone. The flames merely died out when they had nothing more to consume. So it will be with the final gehenna fire that will consume the wicked. It will be unquenched--but it will finally burn itself out. It will be part of the creation process God will use to create the new heaven and new earth (II Peter 3:10; Rev. 20:15;21:1).

 

 

"THE WORM THAT DIETH NOT"

 

A startling statement is found in Mark 9:44, 46 and 48. In these verses, Christ spoke of a worm that "dieth not" [old King James language]. Are these immortal worms? Some people think Jesus referred to people as worms, and that he was trying to say that these "people" never die but live on forever in agonizing torment. However, those who believe this fail to notice that what Jesus spoke of was "their worm." So the wicked themselves are not the "worm."

What is this mysterious "worm" that does not die? Notice what Jesus really meant. Jesus clearly had reference, as the marginal notes of many Bibles show, to Isaiah 66:24, where a similar statement is made about "their worm"--the worm of "carcasses." (Be sure to read this verse in your Bible.)

Now what is the "worm" of a decaying carcass? If you have ever seen a putrefying carcass, the answer should be obvious. To put the matter beyond all doubt, we find that the lexicons define as grub or maggot both the Greek and the Hebrew words translated as "worm" in Mark 9:44 and Isaiah 66:24.

When a dead body occasionally lodged on one of the rocky ledges above the garbage fires of the Valley of Hinnom, it was soon infested by many worms or maggots, which hatched out of eggs laid by flies. It was simply these worms to which Christ referred when he said, "their worm dieth not."

But Jesus didn't mean that each individual worm continued to live forever. Actually, the larvae--maggots--would hatch from eggs, eat the flesh, continue in the larval form only a few days, then go through pupation or metamorphosis and finally emerge as flies. The worms didn't die--they became flies. Later, the flies died.

The misunderstanding of Christ's simple statement by some people should be an object lesson to always be careful to use wisdom and common sense in studying God's Word. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). Let's always study these perplexing scriptures carefully and not jump to hasty, erroneous conclusions. 

 

WHAT IS HEAVEN?

Revelation 21:1-25. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'

He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, `Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'

He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death [which this verse looks back to, its having already occurred].

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.' And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

"The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia [margin: That is about 1,400 miles] in length, and as wide and high as it is long. He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man's measurement [that is about 200 feet or 65 meters], which the angel was using. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth, sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light...On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there."

This new Jerusalem described in Revelation will be God's headquarters city for the entire Universe! Apparently it will be in the shape of a pyramid, standing 1400 miles high and being 1400 miles across in length and width! [Some believe it will be in the shape of a square.]

The dogmatic approach the church I belonged to used to take toward these scriptures, trying to nail down every last little detail of these coming prophesied events, was very disconcerting to many other Christians. It wasn't a correct way to present things. These prophecies paint a beautiful picture of future coming events. The events depicted are very specific but our perception of them is not. God did not give us every last little detail. The farther into the prophetic future we try to look the darker Paul's "looking glass" gets, almost like those self-darkening sunglasses. If Ezekiel 37:1-14 and 16:55 are really Old Testament prophetic descriptions of the same event as Revelation 20:5,11-13, which I personally believe they are, then truly all of humanity will receive the opportunity for salvation through Jesus Christ for verses 13-14 of Ezekiel 37 state, "...Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.'" And as we saw before, to receive God's Holy Spirit--Christ in us--is to receive salvation and eternal life (cf. Acts 2:1-4,38-41; Romans 8:9-16, I Corinthians 15:49-54.) God is no respecter of persons. God is love (I John 4:8). God loves us all, everyone who has been or ever will be born (John 3:16). God wants us all--everyone--to be saved (II Peter 3:9)!

Just another point. Heaven is where God is. As Paul brought out, God dwells in the 3rd Heaven. In Revelation 21:1-17 it clearly shows that God the Father brings the New Jerusalem, along with Himself, down to earth to dwell with what is the resurrected spirit composed family of man! God has told us in Hebrews that with Christ we are to inherit all things!!! That includes the 50 Billion galaxies in the universe! [And that figure is growing by leaps and bounds as the Hubble telescope probes deeper and deeper into outer space.] If resurrected mankind will number 50 to 100 Billion strong, does that mean we each get a galaxy? Do you have the slightest idea of how large a galaxy is? We can only dream at this point. And this is just the physical aspect of what we are to inherit as co-heirs with Jesus Christ. The spiritual rewards in the Kingdom of God which will go on into Eternity will far surpass anything we may inherit in this physical universe. But Jesus hasn't told us too much about that because we are not yet made of spirit, so we wouldn't understand even if he did tell us. We can't even understand the concept of the Triune God at this point. That concept, which is proper Bible doctrine, tends to blow the mental fuse if you think on it too long, and so does the concept of God existing forever.

The Unfathomable Grace of God

[The Church I used to belong to used to teach that there would be a third resurrection to the lake of fire. Three other Sabbatarian denominations still (mistakenly) believe there will be a third resurrection. But we have come to see that this is not accurate at all. As a matter of fact, it is totally un-Scriptural. There are only two major resurrections predicted in the Bible, as most of Christianity already properly realizes. They just don't fully comprehend the full meaning of the 2nd Resurrection or the tremendous mercy of God. What follows explains what may happen. The following was given as a sermon by a minister, preaching about the mercy of God's judgment, when we believed there would be a third resurrection for the unrepentant wicked. This man's sermon brought us to see that God's mercy is far, far greater than we ever thought, and that there was indeed only two prophesied resurrections in the Bible. Our Church was beginning to cast off doctrinal error when this sermon was given.]

ARE YOU READY FOR THIS? GOD'S ALL-ENCOMPASSING COMPASSION AND MERCY IS FAR BEYOND OUR HUMAN COMPREHENSION. THERE IS STRONG SCRIPTURAL EVIDENCE THAT ANYONE WHO WASHES OUT OR FALLS SHORT OF SALVATION, EVEN IN THIS LIFE, WILL BE COMING BACK UP IN THE 2ND RESURRECTION SO GOD CAN CONTINUE THE GOOD WORK HE WAS WORKING IN THEM WHEN THEY WERE OVERCOME BY SATAN.

The clear indication which this sermon points to is that everyone who doesn't make it into the first resurrection or is not changed to spirit composition after a normal Christian lifetime during the Millennium is resurrected back to physical life at the 2nd resurrection. Then, those who don't make it spiritually after that time live on into the period spoken of as "the lake of fire" in Revelation 20:14-15. No real 3rd resurrection is mentioned in Revelation 20:14-15 or anywhere else in the Bible. If this point is true, then God's mercy is truly beyond our comprehension. Many of us would fall far short of God's standard of mercy and condemn those whom God will bring back in the 2nd resurrection--condemning them to the lake of fire. For God that is a punishment of last resort, reserved for those, apparently, who will not change, no matter what.

[The following is a sermon given on The Last Great Day at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Worldwide Church of God around 1991 by a minister named Mr. Dennis Johnson. It sort of re-enforces the concept the rest of Christianity has about "once you are saved you are saved", but puts a new spin on it. God apparently isn't going to abandon anyone he starts working with and puts his Spirit in, even though they may "wash out" or reject him now, having been overcome by Satan. But neither are those who fit this category going to be in the first resurrection to immortality--kind of modifying the "once saved, always saved" theology of some denominations.]

"A NEW UNDERSTANDING ON GOD'S MERCY TOWARDS THOSE WHO HAVE LEFT US

John 7:2. "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." Acts 17:31-32. "Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance [offered faith] unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter." i.e. All people who've never had a chance at salvation, to hear the truth, get that chance. Many in the Church of God [and I might add, in other Christian denominations as well] may never have really had a complete chance to make it spiritually--this includes many of those who attended with us but left us. Who will be in the 2nd resurrection? What constitutes 'never having had the chance?' God wants each and every living person to have a complete chance to make it. II Peter 3:9. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some might count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Deuteronomy 31:9-13. "And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, 'At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates [resident aliens], that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: and that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it." "'...that they may hear His Law...'" The 'calling' is an opportunity, not a judgment. Let's read on and see what God said about these Israelites being addressed by Moses. Deuteronomy 32:20-21. "And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation." What was God telling Moses? He was telling him that 'hearing the truth' is not the same as having 'faith.' It is essential that you have faith to be judged. Very few [in the Worldwide Church of God or the other Christian denominations] don't believe that the truth is not the truth, if you get my drift, just as ancient Israel of Moses time. Romans 10:18-20. "But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you."

Now think about those who have heard the truth and yet aren't with us for various reasons. When they've heard the truth the invitation is open. Paul goes on talking about this same Israel, and by extension the Jewish nation of his time and all mankind in general, and yes, those that were among us. Romans 11:1-8,25-26. "I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot [know] ye not what the scripture saith in Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day...For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob."

What will they be thinking? Let's go to the Old Testament prophecy which addresses these same Israelites, and is, in all probability the most graphic description of the 2nd resurrection written in the Bible. What will they be thinking when God brings them up and puts sinews and flesh on them? Ezekiel 37:11. "Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts." They will be thinking that their grounds for hope are perished, that their hope for salvation is gone--thinking, "I blew it! I blew it!" God has surprises for people who come up in this frame of mind. These thoughts are not so relevant to those who never knew [or understood] the truth of God and salvation.

John 12:47-48. "And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." "and believe not," i.e. "has no faith." i.e. Jesus Christ chose not to judge these people. [Apparently, from the direction this sermon is taking, those who lack faith to obey or follow the direction of the ministry and leadership of the Church or Jesus Christ, and leave as a result, from a genuine lack of faith, are not being judged right now, just as those who never darkened the door of a true Christian Church.] Jesus is in essence saying, "I defer my judgment on these people." When is Our Lord deferring his judgment to, what period of time? Revelation 20:11-13. "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away; and there was no place found for them. [this earth and heaven fleeing away could be referring to it fleeing away from Jesus Christ at his 2nd coming, identifying him as the one who sat on the throne in verse 11 of Revelation 20, because God the Father doesn't come down to earth to dwell with men until Revelation 21:1-17 in the time-order of prophetic events.] And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life ["the book of life" is an analogy to a book of records kept in Greek cities which was used to record the names of all the living citizens of that city. Whenever a person was born his name was added to the book. Whenever a person died his name was removed from the book of life. The beautiful allegory of this phrase should make this verse perfectly clear.]: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in them: and they were judged according to their works."

All those who "have heard" are called now in this present age--i.e. our children. But they cannot be judged until they really understand and have faith. This faith is a faith gained from and is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The lake of fire is for those who have known and had a relationship with God and have had faith and then reject God permanently. Ones that leave the Church through offense demonstrate a lack of faith--they are not being judged. How will God's fairness in judgment lead to the conversion of all? God will not judge a matter until the person has had a chance to see "the real truth." Those offended by misinterpreted truth taught earlier are not judged."

Those that think, 'I know the truth but I can't do it,' are getting warm, ready for conversion." But some have been in that position and gone astray. What does the Bible have to say about them? I Timothy 1:19-20. "Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made [themselves] shipwreck: of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme."

God doesn't judge until the facts are known. I Corinthians 4:5. "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." Every one who stands before God in the judgment will have something good said about him or her. When do you experience the mercy of God?--When you realize you've blown it. When you realize you're wrong and repent.

Most of this material appears to be written about Israel. Is it intended to be or will God shower the same mercy on everyone? Let's look at God's answer to this one in the Old Testament. Is God being racist? When you read the next prophecy you'll know he isn't. Ezekiel 47:22-23. "And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to strangers [resident aliens] that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance saith the Lord God." That is quite a prophecy for the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ! Each person who isn't an Israelite who wants an inheritance (in Israel) will get one! [General Ariel Sharon may have trouble swallowing that one! But he'll have to consider where the authority for that command comes from.] What this command amounts to is a proclamation of open borders for the future Millennial nation of Israel. Anyone who wants to be a citizen of Israel during the reign of Jesus Christ can be! The intent of this command alone shows us that everyone will have the some opportunity and chance for salvation and repentance.

God will make his Spirit, his Holy Spirit, available to ALL who are willing to accept it and repent [in reality, true repentance doesn't come without God's Holy Spirit dwelling in a person]. Ezekiel 37:13-14. "And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves. And shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord."

You don't judge your child as an adult when he is a child. You don't even judge your teenager as an adult when he is a teenager, do you? You wait and say "wait until you have kids!". John 15:14-18. "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 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. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." Psalm 119:165. "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." Those who have been offended and have left, they didn't love God's law--they didn't have an active relationship with God. I John 2:19-20. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things."

The following is intended to be a comfort, especially for those of us who have had friends of ours leave the body of Christ, or those who have been called but are not with it spiritually. The Jubilee is every 50 years. Liberty is proclaimed. There will be a Jubilee at the time of the Great White Throne Judgment. Isaiah 12:1-6. "And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou was angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation [a direct reference to the Holy Spirit!]. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee." This cross references to Jesus Christ's statement at the Feast of Tabernacles on the Last Great Day which says in John 12:37-39, "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive." Those who come up in the 2nd resurrection will certainly come to believe in Jesus also.

The following is traditionally sung on the Last Great Day by the Jews. "Judgment, Mercy and Faith" are the weightier matters of the law. Psalm 118:22-29. "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." This is an allusion to the Jubilee. This is about the 2nd resurrection."

As you have seen, there is strong indication in the Scriptures that everyone not resurrected in the 1st resurrection to immortality, will be resurrected in the 2nd resurrection which is at the time of the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20:11-13. Finally, as Revelation 20:14-15 indicates, everyone whose name was not found in the book of life is thrown into the lake of fire. i.e. those not resurrected to immortality just before the earth and heavens are set ablaze live for a very brief period of time into this span of time when the heavens and earth are set ablaze and melted with fervent heat as Peter describes in II Peter. Apparently there is no third resurrection, as such. Those that are not found written in the book of life, which in Revelation refers to those who will ultimately be resurrected to immortality, have their lives mercifully snuffed out. They don't live on in eternal torment in some ever-burning hell. It is Satan who lives on in mental torment for ever and ever, not unsaved people!

Revelation 21:1. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away..."

Remember, we are looking through a darkened glass at these events. This is the way things look like they may happen. We can't be dogmatically sure for now, but when we sit with Jesus at the wedding feast, I'm sure he'll make the specifics known to us.

This concludes the Bible doctrine of the resurrections. Understand that this is secondary knowledge about salvation when compared to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, called the gospel of Christ. If you possess and are led by the Holy Spirit, whether you come to believe this secondary knowledge or not will not affect your reward and your entrance into eternal life, for this is assured by Jesus himself. The knowledge of how we attain salvation through Jesus far outweighs the method by which Jesus will bring us to immortality!

It is not my desire, nor do I believe it is God's desire to see all the various parts of the body of Christ meld into one massive denomination of its' own. As Paul explains, each part of the body of Christ has its' own function and identity, Ephesians 4:16. God does desire unity in "the faith" and "in the knowledge of the Son of God." He also desires unity in major doctrinal understanding, Ephesians 4:11-16. I am sure Jesus will bring about the unity he desires, regardless of how we feel about it. He is all powerful, and will work through the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this.

 

The Resurrection Prophecies, Were They Written Intentionally To Be Vague?

Have you ever wondered why the specifics of the 2nd resurrection and lake of fire scriptures are somewhat vague? In the Old Testament things seem to be more specific as to detail and in the new, in Revelation 20, the timing of the events seems to be more specific, but the details are more vague. And as a result, the picture is not all that clear. I have often wondered why this vagueness. What might the purpose be? God doesn't explain his reasons for this vagueness, but an indication is given in the fact that we will be kings and priests ruling with Jesus Christ. We will be used to help fill in some of the details in the very manner in which we rule. All the specifics haven't been filled in yet! It could be that we'll be used to help fill in some of the planning details for the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ. Revelation 5:9-10 states, "...for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." Revelation 2:26 states, "To him that overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations--He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery--just as I have received authority from my Father." Revelation 3:12 states, "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God..." And Revelation 3:21 states, "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne." I think it is plain to see that we will be co-ruling with Jesus Christ. Don't forget the influence Abraham had on the Lord's decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. If there had been but 10 righteous people within those two cities (five per city!) their annihilation would have definitely been suspended or put in hold. We are to co-rule with Jesus in a husband-wife relationship where the world will become our spiritual children, born-again in the Holy Spirit. Revelation 19:7-8. "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, an his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)." If you are married, you know that smart husbands rely heavily on their wives at times for precious insight in child-rearing and certain decisions where women have a greater insight. For example, if we feel that everyone coming up in the 2nd resurrection or Great White Throne Judgment ought to receive a 100 year chance to live as Christians and then be changed to Spirit composition so that the billions of babies and children, or young men and women who died early on in life could have a full life as Christians, learning of Jesus and the way of salvation, then I am positively sure our Husband, Jesus Christ, will give our suggestion full and total consideration. How many of us husbands have been swayed by the strong conviction of our wives, even against our own personal judgment? It is we, the collective bride of Christ, who will possess that ability to give precious input to how the details of the future will be worked out in the Kingdom of God during the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ. Think about it. It is enough to blow the mental fuse of our minds--the power and influence we will possess and exercise over this world of humans. It is we--along with our Husband Jesus--who will shape and direct the course of future history!

 

Content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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