The Judgment of the World by the Cross (Part 2)
This paper is a continues The Judgment of The World by the Cross (Part 1)
In Part One we examined how that Jesus Christ declared his own death - his crucifixion - to be the judgment of the world. Not only did we witness the "hell" creed missing from the epistles, but also how often traditional theology misconstrues the message of salvation from sin to be about salvation from hell, obscuring the gospel message. Finally, we examined how the judgment of the world - the crucifixion of sin within man - begins with the house of God through "fiery trials" and persecutions unto reflecting the character of Christ.
In Part Two, we will finish by talking about:
- The Biblical key to understanding the parables and scriptural fire
- How Christ's parables reflect the Cross as judgment for all
- The spiritual and scriptural meaning of Gehenna and the Lake of Fire
- How the crucifixion of "the flesh" (the carnal mind) will be finished in the world unto its salvation
- The ultimate and final restoration of all mankind when "cometh the end"
Christ's Parables and the Biblical Key to Understanding
The scriptures, as laid out in Part 1, exhort man to delight in God's coming judgment of the world. Accordingly, the Westboro Baptist Church has made itself infamous for travelling the country "thanking God for dead soldiers" and proclaiming "no hope" for the world in God's coming judgment. Is that the idea? Certainly, they are rejoicing in what they believe is God's judgment, so why is the outcome so twisted? Most Christians hopefully don't revel in other people's misery, especially those they believe are roasting in hell.Psalm 96:11-13
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all it contains Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the LORD, for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness (Hb - enumah).
The Hebrew "enumah" was the word for faith, which they understood to be faithfulness. It means fidelity or loyalty. David, the prophet who was able to look forward and see Christ, is telling the heavens and the earth rejoice for God is coming to judge in righteousness and the people in his loyalty. God is loyal. And, it should be no stretch of the imagination to assert that God would be loyal to his Son's status as "The Savior of the World."
Some scriptures in the New Testament seem to contradict that notion, says Christendom. We will examine that. What about that scripture proclaiming, "when thy judgements are in the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness?"(Isaiah 26:9) Would that be something to rejoice about? Through judgment, if God could produce that outcome - the world learning righteousness - surely we could rejoice without joining in Westboro's hostile glee toward the so-called hellbound.
What about "hell fire?" Todd Friel host of Wretched Radio, and colleague with Kirk Cameron, once educated listeners to his radio show that, "an analogy never proves a point; it only illuminates a point." He is quite right about that. But, can we apply such logic to the parables? Parables are analogies, after all.
Jesus compares the church to a vineyard, where the workers produce grapes. We can see the clear parallel in that believers are to produce the fruit of the Spirit. These are spiritual applications, of course. Obviously, parable vineyard should not be used as proof that God's church is literally a vineyard, that we ought to be growing grapes. Yet, Christians commit this very error when they employ parables to teach "hellfire."
Apostle Paul said that we achieve spiritual discernment by "comparing spiritual to spiritual." If so, what happened to spiritual discernment with regard to God's method of judgment described in the parables? As Mr. Friel said, "an analogy never proves a point." If so, the parables don't prove punishment in literal fire, but "illuminate" a truth about judgment. In other words, fire has properties which can be compared to God's judgment without literally being the method by which God judges, just like vineyard grapes are symbolic. By the end of this paper, you will know how the Apostles interpreted fire spiritually. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)
Remember, the word "hell" in Christ's parables was translated in the King James Version from from the Greek "gehenna," the Valley of Hinnom, outside earthly Jerusalem. This valley was used by Israelites for idolatry: sacrificing their children in literal fire. Would it make sense that Jesus is using that fire as a comparison between the erosive qualities of physical fire, to the erosive quality of idolatry, or sin? Such a possible interpretation would bring "fire" in line with how parables were used in Christ's time, "to illuminate a point."
The King James Version was completed in 1611 AD, and up to that time most laity did not own Bibles; this means for over a thousand years the clergy had already interpreted "The Valley of Hinnom" as "hell" before Christians owned Bibles by which to scrutinize and debate that interpretation. Perhaps they weren't entrusted to such a task by the official church.
The word Gehenna, after all, is a proper noun like Sahara Desert. If you were tasked with translating an Egyptian parchment, would you render a occurrence of the Sahara Desert as "hell" just to satisfy a religious interpretation? This tactic effectively buried the truth, deterring Christians from poring over the scripture to determine why Jesus alluded to this mysterious valley.
As it happens, a Bible translation does render "Gehenna" literally, the Young's Literal Translation (YLT).Mark 9:47 (Young's Literal Translation)
And if thine eye may cause thee to stumble, cast it out; it is better for thee one-eyed to enter into the reign of God, than having two eyes, to be cast to the gehenna (Valley of Hinnom) of the fire
Notice that the YLT refrained from injecting its own interpretation as "hell." It simply rendered the word Gehenna, being a proper noun (the name) of the valley. The Valley of Hinnom. Thanks YLT. Now, we Christians can determine from the rest of scripture what the Valley represents.
Did Christ mean to use Gehenna to represent Christendom's hell? Surely, a modern Christian may claim so, but it's a fallacy of begging the question, assuming a truth without proof. Does any scripture literally state, "Gehenna represents hell?" Of course not. So, the claim is without proof, and becomes a matter of interpretation. As stated in Part 1, nobody is required to believe another Christian's interpretation on its face. Neither can a Christian claim it represents Hell, just because he thinks so, or because church tradition demands it, or it's what he's always believed, or it's what he was taught. These are unconvincing appeals. Proof must come elsewhere in scripture.1 Cor 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
What happened to spiritual discernment? What happened to "comparing spiritual with spiritual?" After all, Christ spoke the parables to hide meaning:Matt 13:10-11
And the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why do you speak unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, "Because it is given unto YOU (the disciples) to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but unto them (the crowd) it is NOT given."
Jesus used parables for hiding the mysteries of the kingdom from people to whom it was not given to understand. So being, if literalism is the way to understand parables, nobody would need scriptural validation for their interpretations. Anyone listening to Christ could have uncovered the mysteries of the Kingdom by taking the parables literally...but "unto them it was not given." If literalism is the way to understand parables, nothing would be hidden.Matthew 10:27
There is NOTHING concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.
The parables were spoken by Jesus "in the dark" therefore, keeping the mysteries hidden, until his disciples could speak "in the daylight." Maybe the best way to understand the parables is to seek meaning from other scriptures. After all, Jesus only explained his parables to the disciples - not to the larger crowds - and even those explanations were laden with mystery.
In the explanation of the Parable of the Sower, for example, Jesus explains that the the seed is "the word," not who is the sower. Is that God? Is it the Apostles? He says that the word is "sown" within people, but doesn't say how. From the later epistles, we now know God's word is "planted" into us by the Spirit. But Jesus refrained from explaining that even to his disciples.
He explained that for some people, the word does not have root and they fall away in persecution. But, what does the root represent? He doesn't say. Elsewhere, Jesus does say, "I am the root and the offspring of David." He says that the deceit of wealth "chokes" the word so that it bears no fruit. What fruit are we talking about? Not literal fruit. We get these answers elsewhere in the Bible.
By the way, what is "the word?" Is that the Gospel? The Bible? Jesus Christ himself, the word made flesh? All three? What does it mean to "choke" the word. Since the word "spirit" is translated from the same word for "breath," is Jesus saying that the deceitfulness of wealth cuts off our connection to the spirit causing a lack of spiritual fruit?
In fact, immediately prior to his ascension we see the Lord with his disciples where, "then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures" (Luke 24:45). Even at the end of his ministry, after his parables, the disciples needed to have their understanding opened. They needed intervention into their understanding to get what God was saying.
Why then do Christians assume that such intervention is unnecessary to understand the parables? Their adherence to wooden literalism is nothing more than a fabrication to interpret scriptures according man's understanding to make scripture easy for everyone. But, you cannot place interpretive formulas on scripture. God must open understanding.
The Cross and The Flame, Outside the City
So what about the "fire" of the parables? What does that represent? Well, we've seen it before, but lest we forget: Jesus said that his death was the judgment of the world. The cross is the judgment of the world. The death of the flesh is the judgment of the world. But, that does not mean physical death.Romans 6:5-7
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
For believers, this is the pathway to salvation from sin, through grace, which teaches us to live godly lives in this present age. But, Paul also said that we all have had our conversation with sin (Eph 2:3), and Jesus came to save us from sin. But, here is what happened first: repentance. All believers needed to repent of their sin, and to repent of sin they needed to be aware of it first. And, once repentance comes, the flesh dies. In effect man becomes crucified to his sin. In other words, death IN sin can propel one to become dead TO sin, through repenting, when the believer becomes aware and calls out to God for healing.
Sin itself is a destroyer. But, true and meaningful repentance leads to salvation from destruction. What better way to represent this process than fire? Fire brings down tall buildings by the erosion of its strongest parts, until the building comes down. What an apt description of being humbled. What a coincidence: The Valley of Hinnom was located outside the city. Jesus Christ crucified outside the city also (Hebrews 13:12). That's where the flesh is crucified: outside the city. These correlations are no accident and will come up again when we look at "the lake of fire" in the book of Revelation.
When you see Christ hanging on the cross, his flesh dying, that's the picture of how everyone will be judged unto the salvation of the world. That's what makes Jesus THE SAVIOR OF THE WHOLE WORLD. If you are familiar with the Parable of the Prodigal Son, you have an idea of how the flesh can be crucified outside the city, how someone can be dead, but come to life when his own sin causes him to thirst for better things. We'll look into that more to come.
As we know from Peter, judgment has begun with the house of God. There are two ways this world will be judged: Judge (krino) yourselves, or be katakrino (judged-down), with the world. Both are sufficient to meet God's ends, "until his purpose is accomplished." Resistance to the Gospel only prolongs the inevitable: the crucifixion of the flesh.
Take a look at the following passage:Deuteronomy 4:19-29
Do not be enticed into bowing down to [natural objects] and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.
Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed.
The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.
God himself is like a fire. But notice also that Egypt is also like a fire. And by reading that passage, you can see the manner in which God might use Egypt to bring about a kind of judgment, one that would cause Israel to repent of its idolatry. Moses said that if they worship idols, God will give them more idols. Why? For repentance sake:Jeremiah 29:12-13
(after slavery in Babylon) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart
God's very purpose in packing Israel off to Babylon was to bring them to humility. It's not a question of "if," but Jeremiah was proclaiming that repentance is what Israel would absolutely do. God's methods work. The Bible says, "Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked?" declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?" (Ezekiel 18:23)
The Christian church keeps teaching about a God who desires the salvation of the world, but doesn't know how to achieve it, because "free will." They teach a weak Jesus, standing on the sidelines weeping for the state of the world, without an ability to fix it. Believe me, when God decides to bring about repentance, he knows how to get it. This world is NOTHING compared to his wisdom and power. He knows how to see his plan through to the end.
You see, God is a consuming fire, and it's not advisable to be burned, but God is also love (1 John 4:8), and so his fire is like salt to bring forth repentance. One way or another, whether by growing in Grace, or by God resisting the proud, everyone will be salted with fire. Everyone will be brought to repentance.
That is how fire can burn the dross away, to be an "iron-smelting" furnace. Smelting is a process of removing metal from the surrounding stone, a way of burning away the unwanted material. That's God's purpose above, to bring repentance. Even as God is a fire, who can destroy a house, he does so by using the surrounding nations to bring captivity.
"God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). The Crucifixion - outside the city - is the confirmation and promise that everyone will be salted with fire, that the flesh will die. When you picture Christ on the cross, that is the picture of the salvation of all mankind through the salting of fire which destroys their carnality. He died so that according to his resurrection LIFE, he would have the power to save all mankind.
The Wrath Revealed From Heaven
The Apostles never preached hell. They always preached salvation from sin itself and how grace can heal us from sin by God's chastening. So, when Jesus preached about Gehenna fire, he was warning against being consumed by sin just like the Apostles taught, but in a metaphorical way. Again, Jesus spoke in the dark what his disciples would proclaim in the light. Jesus spoke in parables about things the Apostles would teach plainly: salvation from sin.
Let us return to The Parable of The Sower because according to Jesus it lays a foundation for understanding the other parables. You can read it here: Mark 4:3-8. So that no seeker is left in the dark, Jesus explains this parable to his disciples.Mark 4:13-20
“Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.
To understand Christ's use of the Valley of Hinnom in the parables, first understand what you just read about in the Parable of the Sower: a lack of fruitfulness the word. That's what the parable is about. Some people are fruitful in the word, and others are not. Some people cannot accept the word in the first place, and other accept it but fall away. So, we have two groups revealed here.
In one group:
- The fearful
- The unbelieving
- The self-possessed
In the other group:
- The overcomer, the one who stays faithful and fruitful in the word
Now, from everything we have talked about to this point, you know that when one is not fruitful in the word, death in transgressions and sin naturally results. This Parable contains just as much information about the Judgment as any other parable, though it does not correlate it with fire in this case. "Unfruitfulness in the word" is no different than being metaphorically enslaved in Egypt, "bound hand and foot." Just as Egypt was an iron-smelting fire, slavery to sin is also a refining fire, bringing man to a point of repentance when the taskmaster (sin) becomes to hard a weight to handle.
Remember, God is a jealous fire, which Moses warned Israel about. He told them that if they worshipped idols, God would cut them off from the land and send them into slavery to an idol worshiping nation. Essentially, he would give them all the idolatry they wanted. He didn't do that for his health, but to affect change in the hearts of Israel to remember God's goodness. Recall how they grumbled in the wilderness after they were delivered from Pharoah. That's a picture of how sin tempts us to return to its grip. We miss the pleasure, but we forget the destruction it brings to our lives. Sometimes, God simply allows us to return to slavery to remind us.
Consider again the parable of The Prodigal Son. He represents the first group in the Parable of the Sower, those who are "unfruitful in the word." He represents what happens when the seed "is sown among thorns." According to the "deceitfulness of wealth," and the "cares of this life," he "falls away" from his father into sin. In fact, his father gave him all the money he needed to do it.Luke 15:13-20
"The younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! So he got up and went to his father.
The lost son repented, but before he could do that, he needed to "come to his senses." He needed to be humbled. When he eventually repents, the other son complains and asks why such a great feast for the lost son when the first son was faithful. The father gently rebukes the first son.
So, as we had two groups of people in the Parable of the Sower, we have two kinds of sons in this parable:
- The faithful son, working in his father's house, who had the company of his father, was also imperfect, and his father gently rebuked him unto godliness (chastening grace)
- The lost son who left the father's side, fell away into the destruction of the flesh, lived in darkness as one who was unfruitful in the word, and was humbled by his destruction (resisting the proud)
Look at how a similar the Prodigal Son's judgment was for King Nebuchadnezzar:Daniel 4:33
The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.
That led to his repentance. Again, lack of fruitfulness in the Word results in sin and trespasses. Observe the wrath of God:Romans 1:18,24,26
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness... Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
God judged them by giving exactly what they wanted. Christians teach that the "wrath of God" is executed by EXTERNAL recompense, through physical fire. But, the wrath of God here is that they "received in themselves the due penalty for their error." (Romans 1:27). This wrath was experienced internally. The Green word for "in" is "en," meaning "within." The internal corruption of sin is punishment unto itself. Speaking about the "decievableness" of those who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved from sin (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11), Paul reveals how they will be repaid according to their works:2 Thessalonians 2:12
And for this cause, God shall send them (the wicked) strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned (krino - judged) who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
God sends "strong delusion" to those who, in all "decievableness" rejected a love for the truth. To those who practice immorality, he turns them over to the same immorality. He repays according to their works. And the punishment is experienced internally. The Israelites wanted idols. So God turned them over to Babylon to receive judgment among a sea of false idols. Repaid according to their works. A strong delusion is a BINDING deception (hand and foot) that God will send to judge the people. This is the "fire" revealed in the parables, as with the Parable of the Sower, for those who are unfruitful in the word. Being unfruitful in the word can quickly turn into a devouring fire among those who are unwatchful.
Those who have pleasure in unrighteousness will discover a truth that some have discovered today: Sin that seems pleasurable now, can quickly turn around to devour you. A small cloud can become a hurricane. That's why some people today have lifted up their voices in tears for a Savior, because they learned that lesson. They found out that sin was not their friend.
Interpreting Gehenna Fire like an Apostle ("Wickedness Burns Like a Fire")
Everybody was born flesh. Everyone was born with a carnal mind. Remember, from above, how God compared Egypt to a furnace, and how he would scatter the people into slavery to an idol worshiping nation to bring repentance? From Part 1 of this paper, we saw the following reference to Gehenna from the Old Testament:Jeremiah 7:30-31
The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the Lord. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it. They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom (Gehenna) to burn their sons and daughters in the fire —something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.
When Jesus spoke of judgment in the Bible, he was drawing from Israel's own dark history with "fire." Here, we see Gehenna in close relationship to idol worship, to sin, to disobedience, to man going his own way, and doing things which are against God's prescription. Jesus said, once again, "what I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight." While Jesus did not explain his use of Gehenna, to expound on his intended meaning, James provides valuable insight:James 3:4-6
Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by The Valley of Hinnom.
According to James, to be "set on fire by the Valley of Hinnom" is when one's life is directed into and ultimately consumed by iniquity, starting with the tongue (which is symbolically a fire unto itself.) He is applying spiritual discernment here, "comparing spiritual to spiritual" to arrive at these correlations.
The valley of Israel's historical idolatry and the tongue are connected by the symbol of fire, to say that idolatry begins with the tongue, then leads to the eventual defilement of the body. You can start by speaking hate against your brother, and soon you are plotting to kill him. Thus, the entire body is engaged and defiled and consumed by a smaller iniquity, just as a large fire spreads out from a smaller one. Fire emerges, then, as a perfect metaphor for the iniquity which causes destruction in one's life and brings them downward. The Valley of Hinnom fire is a perfect symbol for a life consumed and damaged by sin.
Remember, Jesus is named Jesus (Jehovah saves) because he will save people "from their sin," not from hell, which the Apostles never speak about. To be saved from Gehenna is to be saved from sin and its destructive consequences. We witnessed from Paul how "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven" (a direct reference to the fire of Sodom and Gomorrah as we will later see) as how God turned people over to their own carnal desires "to receive in themselves the due penalty for their error." What's next but salvation from such a condition? Would it interest you to know that when James compares Gehenna fire to our own iniquity, that he is actually referencing an Old Testament scripture?Isaiah 30:28
And [God's] breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity (futility): and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.
Tophet was a specific location within the Hinnom valley where the children were sacrificed by fire, the fire of Israel's idolatry. Notice that God himself is kindling that very fire: "There shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people causing them to err." Does that remind you of how the wrath of God is revealed from heaven? "For God gave them up to vile affections." A bridle is a device placed into the mouth of a horse to lead them. Remember how Moses warned that for idol worship, that God would LEAD Israel into the hands of an idol worshiping nation?
James warned about that too. He said the tongue is a fire, so don't let the fire spread. Don't let a small part of your body lead you into greater and greater sin, which is idolatry. But, if we fail to control ourselves, notice how "the breath of the Lord kindles," the Tophet fire. When you breathe on a fire, it becomes larger. So, if the tongue is a "world of iniquity" on fire of Gehenna, God himself will make that fire larger, "causing them to err." This is essentially a way of saying that God will allow your tongue to get you into trouble. Not only well he let it happen, but will cause it to happen, in order to bring your house down to humility. He talks about that earlier in the chapter:Isaiah 30:12-14
Thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Since you have rejected this word And have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them. Therefore this iniquity will be to you like a breach (a gap) about to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant, whose collapse is like the smashing of a potter’s jar, so ruthlessly shattered that a sherd will not be found among its pieces
Wow. Notice here that the sin itself is the breach in "the wall," but when the wall topples, it becomes crushed to powder. Do you see how that might be a parable for being humbled?
God himself grants the iniquity to grow and bulge until assuredly it collapses under its own weight. This is precisely what happened to the Prodigal Son. His wall (his strength and pride) collapsed under its own weight aided by the erosion of his sin. His sin grew until finally he had nothing left and was crushed to powder. He "received in himself the due penalty for his error," and returned to his father. Obviously, this is not the recommended path for believers, but it still underscores Isaiah's point that, "when thy judgments are in the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness."
See, Jesus came to save people from sin, but some people, even believers, still want it, and God will oblige them; be careful what you wish for. God is so consistent in this form of judgment all throughout scripture.Isaiah 9:18-20
His anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised. Surely WICKEDNESS burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns, it sets the forest thickets ablaze, so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke. By the wrath of the Lord Almighty the land will be scorched and the people will be fuel for the fire; they will not spare one another. On the right they will devour, but still be hungry; on the left they will eat, but not be satisfied.
Take a look at that "column of smoke" in Isaiah 9. You'll see that again when we talk about "the lake of fire" and the coming judgment. We are now engaged in "comparing spiritual with spiritual" which the natural man finds to be foolish. We are going to let God define his own terms in his own scripture rather than lean on our own understanding. Wickedness burns like a fire. Why? Because fire is naturally erosive. It has the ability to weaken the strongest parts of a house, to bring it down.
The Bible says that God is a consuming fire in the manner of giving idol worshipers over to idol worship, essentially giving them too much of what they want, until it ends in repentance. This is why "Tophet is prepared from the old days," why God stokes the fire with his own breath. This is why the father of the Prodigal Son parable gave his son the resources he needed to destroy his own spiritual house, and why the father waited at his own gates for his son to return. He waited because he anticipated the natural result.
Since the tongue is a fire, here's what Jesus says to do to avoid the process of being destroyed by sin.Mark 9:43-50
If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into The Valley of Hinnom, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into The Valley of Hinnom.
And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into The Valley of Hinnom, where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
Everyone will be salted with FIRE. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
See, the "fire" never goes out by itself. One must leave it to be saved. So, since the tongue is a fire, when it offends us, we must spiritually cut it out and throw it outside our city, where idolatry belongs, so that it does not overtake our whole body like a forest fire. And we must do this for all parts of the body, metaphorically speaking, of course. But, everyone will be salted with fire. Even the "fiery trials of our faith" represent the wickedness of man. The fire was the persecution. But, unlike with the persecutors, God used that fire to strengthen the faith of his people, the same fire that devoured the persecutors themselves. Their own wickedness.
Everyone will be salted with fire whether to be strengthened by the wicked persecution of others, or to be brought to repentance by their own wickedness.
Indeed, Paul said: "To be carnally MINDED (Greek - sarx phronema - flesh minded) is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:6) The body parts Jesus is speaking about represent the mind of the flesh. Remember, he said a man who LOOKS upon a woman with lust has committed adultery even in the heart (Matt 5:28). The heart itself is literally nothing more than a muscle pumping blood. Everything happens in the mind. This is why the churches are not filled with blind amputees. Because they instinctively interpret Christ's words spiritually.
This is what the Gospel is about, being "transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 2:12). So when Jesus is telling them to cut out "their eyes" and throw them into Valley of Hinnom fire for destruction, he is spiritually saying "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." He is saying, get rid of the fleshy influence of sin by "a circumcision of the heart." (Romans 2:28-29). Jesus revealing how the disciples should be maintaining their circumcision of the heart: use the fire of Gehenna to do it.
The whole "body" is a symbol of a spiritual condition of sin.Romans 6:6
Our old man was crucified with him (Christ) in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
God delivered Israel from slavery...but he also sent them back to slavery (in Babylon) for the purpose of repentance, as he also uses wickedness itself as a fiery judgment. Believers are cautioned to avoid that judgment, to grow up in grace instead. Egypt represents slavery to sin, and God brings deliverance. But, he can also SEND one into slavery to show the unrepentant that sin is not a friend, but a betrayer. It's a totally logical and effective form of judgment and brings forth good fruit.Matthew 5:22
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca fool, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of Valley of Hinnom fire.
Many have misinterpreted this scripture to mean that Jesus himself will throw people into eternal hell for saying a single word. When we understand Gehenna fire in relation to the tongue, as James did, we can see that whoever says "fool" is in danger of further self-defilement. Jesus is saying that they are in danger of following the tongue into deeper sin where the rest of the body acts in accord with the tongue. Again, when you start by speaking the word "fool" against a brother, pretty soon, you might be plotting his murder.
In that way, Jesus taught that those who did not believe in him were already judged. After all, everyone has sinned and fallen short of God's glory. Since Adam's judgment, everyone is born with a carnal nature, and has acted on it.John 3:18-21
He who believes in Him (Jesus) is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This…is…the...judgment (Greek - krisis), that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
Folks, when Jesus Christ says something like, "and this is the judgment..." it behooves us to PAY ATTENTION! He is giving us accessible and critical instruction on a silver platter. Will we not receive it? This is why James correlated the tongue and Gehenna together with "fire." He understood what Jesus was talking about in that scripture.
That "judgment" word "krisis" is the same as in "how will you escape the judgment (krisis) of GEHENNA!" (Matt 23:33). The "krisis" (from which we derive the English "crisis") is in our own evil works! They were a judgement upon themselves, "receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error."Matthew 22:13-14
Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
A scripture like this can cause quite a bit of fear, certainly among those who believe that Jesus is speaking of physical darkness. Does an analogy prove a point? No, it illuminates a point. Jesus told us what the judgment is: men LOVE the darkness. So being, why bind a man hand and foot and throw him into the darkness? For the same reason that the Prodigal Son's father gave him the resources to lead to his own destruction. Did the father not know what would happen? Of course he did! The very sin that the son loved through "hand and foot" turned on him like a wild animal and brought him misery. But, it also brought repentance.
The Bible says that God's wrath is revealed from heaven in that God turned man over to his wickedness and "receive in himself the penalty for his error." How is that dissimilar to being bound hand and foot and turned over to darkness which Jesus says that the sinner loves? When Jesus asked the Pharisees how they could escape Gehenna without him, the light, he is asking how they can escape the judgment of loving darkness? In rejecting him, how can one be saved from his own iniquity by the "deeds manifested having been wrought (worked) in God?"
Christendom teaches the judgment as in Jesus hurting people in literal fire. Why would they do that when Jesus already told you what the judgment is? He is spoon-feeding us. The judgment is that man loves the darkness, and the judgment of Gehenna is that God allows them have it. He turns them over to it, and they practice evil, loving the darkness and hate the light.
The judgment has nothing to do with literal fire. NOTHING! This judgment is already happening, and will continue to happen until everyone is humbled. Those who do not believe in the Son do not have Life. They are judged already because they already practice evil, and their works are their own judgment. If you spoke to the Prodigal Son during the height of his wickedness, do you think he would listen? No! He needed to be brought down, humbled.
Peter's writings confirm these interpretations of Gehenna fire. 2 Peter 2 is where we find the word "hell" translated from "tartaroo" for chained angels awaiting judgment. Again, you know from Part One that no human being in the Bible is ever said to be in "tartaroo."
On the Valley of Hinnom however, Peter brings teaching that clearly agrees with James' interpretation.2 Peter 2:6
And (God) turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned (katakrino - judged) them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
He starts by saying that the fire which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha is an ENSAMPLE (an example) toward those who afterward will live ungodly, which we see even unto this present modern time. As with James, we we see Peter employing spiritual discernment here. They both see fire in relation to the defilement of sin, while Christendom teaches that Peter's example represents hell. That is NOT what Peter says. Keep reading:2 Peter 2:12
But these (the wicked), as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish (Greek - kataphtheiro - spoil entirely, be depraved) in their OWN corruption;
And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
What you've got to understand about Sodom and Gomorrah is that they were already under the wrath of God. When the Lord destroyed them with fire, it was simply a physical sign of the wrath they were already receiving "in themselves" through their own wickedness. Peter simply recognizes the symbol and employs spiritual discernment to explain how the wicked perish in the Day of the Lord.
How shall they "utterly perish?" By being sent to hell? NO! By being spoiled entirely, or ruined "in their own corruption." The Apostles didn't teach salvation from hell. When Paul said God "gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts" he had said that "the wrath of God is being revealed....from heaven." That's why Peter compares this spiritually to the fire which came down from heaven to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Oh yes, Peter knew how to "spiritually discern" the things of God, that to which the "natural man" in the church finds foolish.2 Peter 2:20-21
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
What did these sinners escape from? Hell? NO! They had escaped "the pollutions of the world." Why is it better that they had not known the way of righteousness, than to know and turn away? Because God is going to send them to hell? NO! Because "they are again entangled and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."
This is the example of the destructive fire of Sodom and Gomorrah; it's an example to those who live ungodly. Peter and James confirm Paul's message: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven" in that, "God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts."Job 31:9-12
If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour's door; Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her. For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.
For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase.
The "fire" in this scripture is in how Job describes the outcome of sin: "let others bow down upon her," and "root out all my increase." All Apostles agree on God's wrath, and how it will be expressed, and it has nothing to do with literal fire, or the revolting sermons of Christendom at large.
The Prodigal Son met with judgment over the desires of his heart, and was perished (apollumi - lost) in the furnace of his own sin, and received "in himself the due penalty for his error." (Romans 1:27). The Prodigal Son received retribution through his own actions, not literal fire. The desires of his heart weren't so enjoyable when he was feeding pigs and wishing he could eat their food.
How does the old phrase go? Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.
Take a look at the most famous sermon of all time, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards. Compare Mr. Edwards' interpretations to Peter's spiritual discernment. Notice Mr. Edward's inconsistency with spiritual symbolism:
Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire. Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom: "Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed."
He knows that the"ax," the "root," the "trees," and the "fruit" have spiritual application, but not the "fire?" Really? He has taught throughout the entire sermon that the fire is literal, and makes reference to God's wrath by way of Sodom to close out. But Peter didn't teach the ensample of Sodom as a literal fire punishment, quite clearly. Therefore, Mr. Edwards has led the world into fear of the wrong thing.
Recall how Paul never mentioned the word "hell" even once, and never "gehenna." Do you want to know how many times Mr. Edwards uses the word "hell" in this sermon? Fifty-One times! Fifty-One occurrences in a single sermon, to Apostle Paul's ZERO in his entire body of writing. Putting aside the lack of word occurrence, what about the concepts? Why didn't Paul write such a long letter with such graphic and methodical detail about the single subject of hell? Why did he, or the other Apostles, leave that solemn duty to Mr. Edwards and his successors? After all, Paul said, "What you heard from ME, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim 1:13-14)"
If aliens landed on earth and found only the book of Romans, they would know something about judgment and nothing about hell. If they found "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" instead, they would be scared witless of a God that hates his creatures with a vicious ferocity and wants to torture them forever. The reason for the disconnect is that Paul "compared spiritual to spiritual" and Mr. Edward's did not, neither his contemporaries. They discerned according to the natural man: comparing spiritual to natural.
I don't mean to single out Jonathan Edwards, but this happens to be the most famous hellfire sermon of all time. Yet, it's claims are demonstrably carnal minded, and he is therefore preaching "another Gospel" which is not a Gospel at all, and he is NOT keeping the pattern of sound teaching he heard from Paul. There is a "strong delusion" in the church today alright. Make no mistake, the Apostles warned and pleaded with people to be saved and to grow in grace, but so that they would, as Peter said, "escape the pollutions of the world" and the wrath of "strong delusion that they may be judged," and "perishing in their own corruption."
You see, by including the Prodigal Son parable in his kingdom preaching, Jesus is giving us a BIG clue as to what he wants judgment to accomplish, and how the wrath of God is to be expressed. It screams the truth loud and clear. Will you receive it and finally understand his heart concerning his judgment?
Pastor John Hagee himself once said: "Every man, every woman, every boy, and every girl who dies without knowing Jesus Christ spends an eternity in a city where the fire is never quenched and the worm dieth not." And, Children's missioner Reverend J. Furniss (real name) wrote in a book called "The Sight of Hell (1874)" which was to "charm, instruct and edify youthful classes" this horror show. Notice the "See Jane Run" cadence:
The fifth dungeon is the red hot oven. The little child is in the red hot oven. Hear how it screams to come out; see how it turns and twists itself about in the fire. It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor.
What disgusting filth emanates from the carnal mind, into the eyes and ears of little children! It's no better than torture pornography. But what did we see from Jeremiah 7:30-31? That literally burning children in fire never entered into God's mind. By insisting that children will literally be burning in Hell, they contradict the very scripture they claim to uphold.
I assure you, it never occurred to Christ's to engage in something so vile. He says this is an "evil" and "detestable" thing which never entered into his mind! And now they expect Christ to engage in the same torture of children that he already rebuked idol worshipers for doing?
To "teach" anyone that the Savior of the World will have anyone to be literally burned in the Valley of Hinnom is a blasphemous accusation against Christ. It never occurred to the man who said "love...thy....enemies." (Matthew 5:44). Remember him? Remember the man who was struck in the face during his trial at the Sanhedrin but did not repay evil with evil?
Oh, this wicked and perverse generation, how they will weep and gnash their teeth when they discover how they perverted Christ's beautiful Gospel of glory into a loathsome, grotesque narrative of evil. Woe to them that drew away the world from the true love of Christ. I beg them to repent now than to face that day naked, exposed and wanting. I have no smooth things to speak to them today.
Nevertheless, what the people of Judah meant for evil, in his genius, God turned around for good. He used this human sacrifice in a spiritual way, to represent the destruction of the flesh in a spiritual way.John 6:63
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Since the Lord's words are spirit, does anyone mind if we interpret his words spiritually according to the scripture? And, since Christ's words "are life," what if spiritually discerning those words ultimately leads to life in the end? God already told us what his intentions are with this "fiery" wrath:Isaiah 5:14-16
Death expands its jaws, opening wide its mouth; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers. So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant HUMBLED. But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts.
Rest assured, nobody will be tortured in literal fire. Their own sin torments them, even today, and in the fullness of time it will bring them to their knees to cry out for a Savior. You can also rest assured that the man from Galilee, to forgive our enemies, will be there to take them in his arms. God will do this.
There is nobody alive who will not humble themselves before God. This is why Paul never mentions "hell," but he does talk about God turning the disobedient over to their own destruction and defilement. The Prodigal Son found out about that. Fire is a general symbol for God's judgment against the flesh in various ways: God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud.
For the house of God, for which the judgment of the world has begun, they have "fiery trials" able to train them in the character of Christ. They spiritually remove the offending flesh and cast it into "the fire" of the Valley of Hinnom, where the flesh is spiritually "burned" and "eaten" by "worms" until the flesh is gone. Thus, they are salted by fire.
However, when someone is bound in slavery to sin, that's spiritual death. And the Valley of Hinnom was where literal dead bodies of criminals were burned. So, following James' spiritual interpretation, as an expression of God's wrath, they are turned over to be destroyed in the "fire" of their own transgressions, starting with the boasting of the tongue. Their judgment is to be consumed and ultimately humbled by their own sin and transgressions unto the moment when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.
The Prodigal Son found out all about what happens when "the fire" spreads to the rest of the body to consume even his very soul. His problem was that when his offending tongue spread fire to the rest of his body, his "hands and feet" were bound over into a furnace of "a world of iniquity." He said: "father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me." (Luke 15:12). That set his course, like a ship, into a furnace, defiling his whole body and he was a spiritually dead criminal being burned up by his sin. This humbled him and he came to repent. Bye, bye flesh. Thus, he was salted with fire.
Either way, we see the JUDGMENT OF THE WORLD here: the spiritual crucifixion of the flesh, outside the city, one way or another.
When the Prodigal Son returned to his father, his father said: "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost (Greek - appolumi - destoyed, perished), and is found. And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:24). Remember, though, the father gave his son everything he needed to be destroyed. He turned the Prodigal Son over to it.
Jesus warned about this judgment: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction (appolumi), and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14).
Which gate did the Prodigal Son choose? Which gate did he enter into to be dead and destroyed? Do you see what happens when you enter the wrong gate? When Paul says that God, "turned man over to the desires of their hearts," that is an expression of God's wrath against sin by sending the flesh to the destruction of its own works. He WILL humble ALL men one way or another. And when Paul says God will "send strong delusion to believe a lie," he binds them up "hand and foot" and throws them into a furnace, "a world of iniquity" for their own destruction.
For as the Lord says, concerning the fire of Gehenna, one way or anther, "everyone will be salted with fire." And the destruction of the flesh occurs outside the city, where Jesus crucified his own literal flesh on the cross. By the judgment of the world, all flesh shall be crucified.
The valley of Hinnom represents destruction of all kinds. As you will see, even death itself, an abstraction, will be destroyed by judgment fire. The disciples destroy the flesh in their hearts according to Gehenna fire. Man himself can be destroyed by Gehenna fire in the form of "a world of iniquity." Yes, all through the Bible you will find God using evil for his own good purposes, such as humbling man.
It would be much better for man to spiritually cut out his tongue, and throw it into the Valley of Hinnom, from within Jerusalem, before the whole body catches fire, but if not, so be it. Does man want sin rather than receive grace? OK, God will turn him over to it, where he can be choked with sin until he repents, which he will. Again, ask the Prodigal Son all about that.
Do you see the significance of the Jewish captivity in Babylon to these judgments? For their idol worship and disobedience, God sent the Jews OUTSIDE Jerusalem to be BOUND in captivity, into slavery to an idol worshiping nation! They wanted idols? God gave them idols in spades. He choked them with with Babylon's idols, for 70 years...until they repented. That is what God is interested in, humbling man. And he knows exactly how to get it done even as he knows the exact count of the hairs on our heads.
As we witnessed in Matthew 23:13, Jesus says, through his parable, that those found, within "the wedding feast," (spiritually the Bride, the church) to be wearing the wrong robes (to be unrighteous), are to be BOUND "hand and foot" and "taken away" to the "outer darkness." Many Christians assume that this judgment is for unbelievers only. No, it's a warning to them as well. In fact, Jesus said, warning his own disciples who believed in him:Matthew 10:28
And fear not (you disciples) them which kill (Greek - apokteino) the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy (Greek - apollumi - to lose) both soul and body in
This is a very telling verse. From this, we know that the judgment has nothing to do with "killing," not a physical judgment. Rather, this judgment has to do with "apollumi," destroying, or being lost. We know that the soul will be destroyed in this judgment, but not as in a physical destruction. Killing brings physical destruction. Don't forget that "the fire" of Gehenna - according to James - is not physical, but represents death in sin. The Prodigal Son was himself LOST, in that he was once dead in sins and transgressions. He found his soul destroyed, as he was starving to death feeding pigs.
"Surely wickedness burns like a furnace." Physical burning destroys physical things. But, a spiritual furnace destroys in a spiritual way. Yes, even Christians who persist in sin will be turned over, bound "hand and foot" cast out into the fire, "the outer darkness," into "strong delusion," and given over to their own lusts to be consumed and judged down with.
What is this outer darkness? Remember the Parable of the Sower: Lacking the WORD, lacking truth, lacking salvation from trespasses and sin, lacking Christ who is the Light of the world. These are all judgments. What are hands and feet good for? Walking and working. A man's walking and workings are all bound up in the destruction of the flesh and darkness, when he is turned over by God to a wicked and debased mind. That's judgment. That is a criminal's death unto the destruction of the flesh. Don't forget, Jesus died a criminal's death outside the city, up on that cross for the salvation of the world.
The Lake of Fire and The Bride
Yes, everyone will be salted with the fire. There are no exceptions, no excuses, and no compromise. What is your name? Are you a person? Do you have arms and legs and eyes and hair? Are you reading this paper right now? Great, you will be salted with fire. How about your mom and dad? Salted with fire. Your grandparents and distant relatives? Salted with fire. Your friends and their families? Salted with fire. Your neighbor? Salted with fire. Your enemies? Salted with fire. God's enemies? Salted with fire. Everyone who ever taken a breath on this planet? Salted with fire…and salt is good. Salt is good.
God gives grace to the humble and resist the proud. But the the fire is good either way, because fire is the salt to do the salting. Whatever brings humility to man is good. Being humbled by grace WITHIN the city however, is the best.
We saw in Peter 2:12 that - regarding the ensample of Sodom and Gomorrah's judgment by fire - that the "natural brute beasts" shall "utterly perish in their own corruption." In the very next chapter, Peter talks about "a new heaven and a new earth" and the "day of the Lord." John will give us much more detail about this, which we will examine now. Peter says,2 Peter 3:7
By the same word (which had formed the world) the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
Peter didn't have a schizophrenic theology. In the previous chapter, he had JUST told us how the "natural brute beasts" will be destroyed, by "utterly perishing in their own corruption." He is keeping with the comparison of this judgment to the literal fire of Sodom and Gomorrah. Just as Apostle James, and the Prophets understood, the image of "fire" is an illumination of what that judgment will do: bring the ungodly to "ashes," to bring them down low.
What Peter is talking about is called "the day of the Lord," saying that "the day of the Lord will come as a thief." (2 Peter 3:10). Paul also preached on it saying,1 Thess 5:1-3
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as LABOR PAINS on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
Labor pains on a pregnant woman? Out of all the hundreds of possible metaphors for torment in the world to describe this Day, Paul picks "labor pains on a pregnant woman?" Not to minimize the pains that woman feels in labor, but do you see what he is talking about? As painful as labor pains may be, Paul saw hope in the Day of the Lord for a man cast out of the church for sexual immorality:1 Cor 5:1-5
When you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved (sozo - healed)...on the day of the Lord.
It's perfectly clear why Paul used a labor pains metaphor; he saw that salvation is possible even from the ashes of destruction. Two things we know about "labor pains on a pregnant woman:"
- Labor pains hurt alot! And yet,
- Labor pains ultimately produce new life
Destruction will come upon them suddenly, as labor pains of a pregnant woman. Pain leading to life. For God has given "an evil travail" (pain) to the sons men that they be "humbled thereby"(life) (Ecc 1:13 ). God's use of Satan as a corrective measure was by no means an isolated incident.1 Tim 1:20
Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
2 Corinthians 12:7
In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Labor pains on a pregnant woman. This is God's use of evil and destruction as a method to resist the proud and bring them to humility. Even Paul experienced this correction under grace, as protection from his own temptation toward conceit.
The Gospel is all about the crucifixion of the flesh, the death that Jesus died. But we don't need to experience that destruction by being thrown into it wholesale. Instead, we can grow in grace. But whether by grace for the humble, or resistance of the proud, God will save his own creation.1 Timothy 4:10-11
For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach.
Oh, but I am commanding and teaching that Jesus Christ is the Savior of ALL MEN especially of those who believe, and I have suffered reproach for it. Now, we can understand by Paul's teaching on the Day of the Lord why believers are not exclusive receivers of salvation. Jesus is the Savior of ALL MEN, and believers especially because they do not attain salvation by way of "labor pains on a pregnant woman."
It's not that the Day of the Lord makes the Cross of Christ of no effect for the world. Quite the opposite. It fulfills the cross of Christ, yet for some, again, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, that the spirit may be saved on the Day of the Lord.
Most Christians, if they really look at some of Christ's parables, should be concerned that most of the harshest warnings have to do with THEM. This man that Paul had removed, from the church, engaging in sexual immorality with his father's wife, was much like:
- A man in the "wedding feast" wearing the wrong "robes," cast out of the "wedding" (Matthew 22:1-13).
- A bad "fish" in "the net" called the kingdom of God, who was cast out with other bad "fish" (Matthew 13:47-48)
- A "wicked, lazy servant" who hid his "gold" in the "ground" producing no more "wealth" (Matthew 25:14-30)
- A "fig tree" planted in "a vineyard" who did not produce "fruit" and was "cut down" (Luke 13:6-9)
- A man who says "Lord, Lord" but Christ says "I never knew you, away from me you evil doer" (Matthew 7:21-23)
Did you notice in the Parable of the Wedding Feast that those who did not attend the wedding at all had their "cities burned" and YET those who indeed were in the wedding feast caught wearing the wrong robes (evil works, not producing fruit), were bound hand and foot and cast out? These Parables are not just speaking about those outside of the church. They are a warning to Christians! They are a warning to those who say "Lord, Lord." Everyone will be salted with fire one way or another.
You can witness these parables in action when Paul recommends this man, this fig tree not producing fruit, be cast out of the church reserved for the Day of the Lord, for "destruction of the flesh by Satan." However...and this is a BIG however...it will be to this man as a woman in the pain of labor. The pain of labor is how this man will have his spirit saved in the Day of the Lord.
It seems that when the Bible says that "when God's judgments are in the earth the people of the world will learn righteousness" that was the truth! He will learn righteousness as a woman in the travail of labor producing new life.
One way or another Christ's death for the world will be satisfied in the salvation of the same for which he died. Some continue in Grace, and crucify their flesh daily, for glory and honor on the day of the Lord. Others take the wide road. Nevertheless, Jesus died for all mankind.
In this "day of the Lord," some are looking toward "a new heaven and a new earth" having "escaped the pollution of the world."2 Peter 3:13
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
Through the book of Revelation, you will see Apostle John will provide much more detail about this new heaven and new earth, the "day of the Lord" judgment by fire related to it. He will talk about a certain people called "the Bride" who have a Christ ordained function in regards to those who are in the "lake of fire." This function, as you will see, operates in the love of Jesus Christ.
John will talk about a judgment outside the city. Ask any Christian what the "judgment of the world" is and they probably will not say it's the crucifixion of the flesh that Jesus accomplished on the cross for the whole world. They will most likely defer to the Great White Throne and The Lake of Fire as though they were unrelated.
Yet, the book of Revelation not only refuses to deny Christ's death as the judgment of the world, it lays a foundation to confirm it. Here is the single passage by which any human is said to be tormented "for ever and ever."Revelation 14:9-11
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever (Greek - eis aion aion - unto the age of the age).
There's that column of smoke again as in Isaiah 9:18. Surely, "wickedness burns LIKE a fire, it sets the forest thickets ablaze, so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke." One of the golden rules in Bible analysis is to let the scriptures which are easier to understand be a guide to the ones which are more mysterious. Well?
The language about the lake of fire in Revelation so similar to Isaiah 9:18 it boggles the mind. Yet, Christianity asks (or demands) that we believe this lake - rather than a symbol for the destrictive and ultimately humbling power of man's own sin - is a literal fire where God sends people to writhe in agony, this God of love. We are to believe this literal interpretation, why? Oh, just because. Because, that's the way it's always been understood. Even though the Bible itself gives us more than ample reason to believe otherwise.
What do you think, Jesus is some kind of monster?
Notice in Revelation 14:10, above, the reference to "wine" in the same verse as "fire." The "lake of fire" is the "wine of God's fury." What does wine do when you drink too much? Do you see any correlation there between pleasure and judgment? How about back in Romans 1 when God turned man over to his debased mind to recieve in himself the penalty for his error? He turned them over to become drunken with their own iniquity. Take a look at how God uses the "wine" of his wrath in other scriptures. He practically spells it out for us:Jeremiah 51:6-7
"Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the Lord's vengeance; he will repay her what she deserves. Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord's hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad. 8 Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken. Wail over her! Get balm for her pain; perhaps she can be healed. 9 "'We would have healed Babylon, but she cannot be healed; let us leave her and each go to our own land, for her judgment reaches to the skies, it rises as high as the heavens.'
21 Rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom, you who live in the land of Uz. But to you also the cup will be passed; you will be drunk make thyself naked. 22 Your punishment will end, Daughter Zion; he will not prolong your exile. But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom, and expose your wickedness.
15"Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies 16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed. The cup from the Lord's right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.
What's the purpose of the "wine of God's fury?" 1) To make people drink and become drunken and mad. 2) To let them drink and "make thyself naked" - nakedness being a symbol of shame. 3) So that God will expose their nakedness.
is what happened with the Prodigal Son. It's an Isaiah 9 fire. Both fire and wine are symbols of this judgment because wickedness brings both pleasure and suffering. Suffering exposes the shame. Shame brings forth humility and a desire for God. And this is why God turned Israel over to Babylon in the Old Testament, to bring about repentance. In the coming wrath of God, there will be plenty of sowing and reaping, but as for Jesus sending people to be roasted in literal fire? Not going to happen.
Did you ever notice how the Bible says that in the "lake of fire" they are not tormented in the presence of a lion with sharp claws and big teeth? That's not the image John saw here. No, they are tormented in the presence of a Lamb, one who is stained with the blood of his own sacrifice for them. Do I mean the Lamb who said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do?" (Luke 23:34). Yeah, that Lamb.
John didn't see the image of Christ in his earthly form either. He sees a judgment of the world by "a fire" and "wine" in the presence of "the lamb." The lamb is a symbol of sacrifice which is exactly what will happen in the judgment. They are all being sacrificed to themselves as Jesus was sacrificed on the cross, even if means coming to the end of themselves.
As in everything else in Revelation, this is deliberate imagery. We know what the lamb represents: Jesus, of course. But, it presents Jesus according to the death that he died, which he had already said was "the judgment of the world." He is confirming that for you here. The two judgments share ONE CUP. They both have the same purpose, and according to him who we call "The Savior of the World" he will drag all men unto him...regarding the death that he would die.
You know - because Jesus told you - that everyone will be salted with fire. And you know - because he told you - that salt is good. Do you believe that? Why do people fall to their knees to cry out to the Lord? They do that because they were brought to the end of themselves, unto genuine repentance. Everyone needs a Savior. That's what the Lamb does. Think about the Prodigal Son. What did it take for him to come to the end of himself? Think about how dead he was, how destroyed he was.
They are being humbled for "eis aion aion," unto the destruction of the flesh. As I present, in a paper titled Eternal Torment, Godly Love?, any translator will tell you that, sometimes, they need to insert extra words for sense between one language to another. After all, literally translated, "eis aion aion" would be "unto age age" which makes no sense for anyone in English. So, the KJV translators gave us four words "for ever and ever."
Somehow, "aion" turned into "ever" and we got, not only "ever," but "for ever AND ever." Supposedly, one "ever" was not enough to communicate "forever." The most literal translation for sense would be "unto the age of the age." Those who worship the beast and accept his mark are tormented "unto the age of the age."
In fact, the Young's Literal Translation does exactly that:Revelation 14:11 (Young's Literal Translation)
... and the smoke of their torment doth go up to ages of ages;
Don't blame the YLT. It simply translates the words as they are, and leaves interpretation to others. Does this passage - concerning this "age of the age" judgment - have anything to do with the Cross? Christendom thinks not. To them the Cross is the Cross, the cup is the cup, and the fire is the fire. But, according to Revelation 14, the "cup of God's wrath" is the very expression of the "age of the age" tormenting in the presence of the Lamb. "The cup" of God's wrath, and tormenting by "the fire" are one and the same.
Jesus drank from a cup of wrath too - a judgment by mortal men upon his literal flesh - though he was innocent.Matthew 26:39
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 1 Cor 11:25
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
We see that Revelation is not denying Christ's death on Cross as "the judgment of the world." Revelation 14 is confirming the cross of Christ as the judgment of the world, a cup of wrath against the flesh, and applying this truth in its text. When the disciples drink the cup, it signifies that "judgment has begun with the house of God" and that this judgment the death that Jesus died.
Once again, as with the literal Valley of Hinnom where mortal men sacrificed their children in literal fire, God uses the evil of mortal men for his Good, and uses Christ's death on the cross as the method by which those same men will be saved from their internal flesh: the carnal mind, their own sin.
Yes, Christ's death will be finished in the rest of the world. If it begins with the house of God, where will the rest of the world appear?
Since they are "of their father the Devil," then "the lust of their father will they DO" (John 8:44), and that will be to them as a fire of indignation from God to bring them down to stubble. That is where they will appear. It would have been better for them to have grown in Grace, than to have the Day of the Lord come to them as a thief in the night, to know this judgment as a woman in the pains of labor.Hosea 7:1-7
Their (Israel's) sins engulf them; they are always before me. "They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises. On the day of the festival of our king, the princes become inflamed with wine, and he joins hands with the mockers.
Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
All of them are hot as an oven; they devour their rulers. All their kings fall, and none of them calls on me.
As their sins engulf them, they can't see that they are before God. John says that those who are in the lake of fire, are in the presence of the Lamb. Why doesn't John say that they are screaming to God for help, like your preacher does? Why don't they call out to him? It's because they are in the outer darkness. They cannot see the Lamb because pride of their heart keeps them blind as their sin destroys them. The Prodigal Son didn't think about his father until he was made desolate by his own sins which beset him like a flaming fire. Only when his pride was demolished that his flesh was crucified as he ran to his father.
"That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air;"
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Jonathan Edwards
Is this some kind of joke? Are we on Candid Camera? This man was a world famous preacher. So, what fellowship does Mr. Edwards statements have with Apostle James' clearly spiritual interpretation of the Valley of Hinnom and fire? I never saw Paul or Peter teach anything like that. What fellowship do his words have with spiritual discernment provided through prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea?
Seeing that God's wrath is "revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men," what do Christendom's carnal discernments have to do with what the BIBLE reveals about that wrath? I wish Christendom would clean her mind of such carnal abominations of doctrine. All through the Old Testament, God used his own enemies as instruments of his judgment unto repentance. Concerning God turning man over to the furnace of his own sin it's no different in Revelation, or Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.Habakkuk 1:12
O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to CORRECT us, to punish us for our many sins.
Your own wickedness will correct you, And your apostasies will reprove you;
God is able to use man's own evil actions to bring about correction or discipline, just as he used the Babylonians for the same purpose. The Prodigal Son is a shining example.
In today's church, salvation from hell is much more important to them than "escaping this corrupt generation" and the laundry list of defilements listed in Romans 1:26-32. They are much more concerned with being saved from physical pain, rather than sin itself, rather than "escaping the pollutions of the world" as Peter put it.
The repercussions of this deception are obvious: When Christians see the phrase "saved from sin" they immediately translate that as "saved from hell." The Devil has them subtly taking their eyes off salvation from sin itself, bringing them security, that though they may still be in slavery to sin, at least they won't go to hell, right? Salvation from sin itself, therefore, takes a secondary position in their Gospel, though that was the very reason Jesus was given his name. The Devil is a subtle and capable deceiver.
The Gospel is about the the crucifixion of the flesh. Those who refuse Grace, will be given over to "the Babylonians" for correction, just as the Prodigal Son was dealt with and swiftly met with his destruction.Revelation 14:18-20
Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe."
The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress OUTSIDE THE CITY, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
Jesus called his death on the Cross "his cup." So, it's no accident that the judgment of the world depicted in Revelation is compared to a cup of wine.
One night, Jesus brought together his disciples. He drank from a cup of wine saying, "this is my blood." Then, he handed the cup to his disciples, and they all drink from the same cup of wine. Then, we see, in Revelation 14, God forces the rest of the world to drink from a cup of wine themselves. The judgment of the world. Is that all a pointless coincidence?
Didn't Jesus say he would DRAG all men to him, regarding the death he would die?
Israel was no stranger to being turned over unto their national enemies for judgment. But, sin is God's ultimate enemy which he uses the same way. Here, Jerusalem cries out about this fiery judgment:Lamentations 1:13-15
“From on high, he (God) sent FIRE, sent it down into my bones. He spread a net for my feet and turned me back. He made me desolate, faint all the day long.
“MY SINS have been bound into a yoke; by his hands they were woven together. They (the sins) have been hung on my neck, and the Lord has sapped my strength.
He has given me into the hands of those I cannot withstand.
“The Lord has rejected all the warriors in my midst; he has summoned an army against me to crush my young men. In his winepress the Lord has trampled Virgin Daughter Judah.
Do you see what is happening here? To judge them, God hung their sins around their neck, a heavy yoke to bring them low. God himself makes them desolate to sap their strength. This "fiery" judgment, targets not just the outer flesh, but the "bones." If man is proud, God attacks the source of his strength, thus weakening him to bringing him down. This prepares the way for what prophet Isaiah confirmed, that every tongue shall swear an oath, saying "In the Lord I have righteousness and strength."Psalm 32:1-5
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them AND in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the HEAT of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Through David we again witness the difference between grace to the humble and resistance of the proud. For the humble they receive forgiveness of sin. Blessed is NOT ONLY the one whose transgressions are forgiven, but in whose spirit is no deceit (read: forgiveness of sin unto salvation from sin). Nobody is blessed whose sins are forgiven, yet in whose heart remains deceit.
For those who live not by faith, who keep silent, and cover their own iniquity, again, we see the sapping of strength by the heat (tormented without rest, "day and night"). Notice that through this day and night tormenting by one's own iniquity, that God's hand is heavy on them. It's a judgment. This scripture does not contain the threat of hell, but the wrath of the Day of the Lord as labor pain on a pregnant woman. Sapping strength, humbling man by rendering unto him according to his works: his own sin as a judgment upon him.
If man finds both his strength and pride in sin, God will surely burn that house down, humble them and they will come to him and see that in the Lord is strength. And they will swear an oath to God, every tongue: "in the Lord I have righteousness and strength."
In Revelation 14, we see an angel who had charge of the fire, coming from an altar (which is for sacrifice) calling for a judgment of the world. That judgment is called "the winepress of God's wrath." We have a cup, being the judgment of the world. We have a lake of fire, being the judgment of the world. And we have a winepress being the judgment of the world. All these images are of a judgment occurring "outside the city." These images are so perfect to describe this: Christ's death on a Cross, outside the city. Crucifixion of the flesh: the judgment of the world.
A "winepress" is an image of trampling DOWN. A "fire" is an image of burning DOWN. A" cup of God's wrath" on the flesh, is something they "drink," signifying his wrath upon the internal self which opposes him: the carnal mind. These are images of the world being humbled which God warned and promised he would do.
Outside the city, the cup, the wine, the winepress, and the Valley of Hinnom fire, find unity in the Cross, which itself reveals the humbling of the flesh unto its death. That is where Jesus died to save God's creation FROM their carnal minds, to sacrifice their flesh through his good and timely judgment.
As we turn to Revelation 21, John sees a City descending from heaven as "a Bride" prepared for "her husband." This is critical to our understanding of the lake of fire.Revelation 21:2-3
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, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
The city represents the bride, the people of God. Christendom tells us that this city IS Heaven. No. That is a lazy reading. That's not what it says.
What does it say? New Jerusalem is BELOW heaven. In fact, to see the city closer, the angel takes John to the top of a great and high mountain (Revelation 21:10). We see the city in connection to a high place regarding the earth. This all has significance: the church of Christ in a high position concerning the earth.
Nevertheless, unlike what you heard in your church, the Lake of Fire is not set in contrast to Heaven itself, but positioned external to a City which is below Heaven. The lake of fire, therefore, is everything that is external to The Bride of Christ.
Outside the Bride we have this the lake of fire, wherein we see the fearful, the unbelieving and selfish. (Revelation 21:8). So, what is happening in this "lake of fire?" I can tell you what is not happening: Jesus will not be torturing people in literal fire. Reflect back a moment to the "Parable of the Sower," where we likewise see the fearful, the unbelieving and the selfish all sharing this single trait: unfruitfulness in the word. What happens when one has no fruitfulness in the Word? Death. Destruction. Sin.
The soul takes the damage for sin and transgressions as they are bound over, hand and foot (their works and their walk), and turned over to their own lusts. Again, turned over to the outer darkness, and as Christ tells us, men love the darkness. It's judgment upon the flesh to bring them to their knees like the Prodigal Son, who didn't love the darkness for long, when he discovered it's end result. Thus, all are humbled through judgment, because according to Apostle Paul, by "the judgment seat of God," (as in "the great white throne") every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord.
As for the overcomers within New Jerusalem, who have already been brought low by their sin to call out for a Saviour and enter into grace, they are continually spiritually cutting out their eyes, hands, and feet and throwing them outside for more spiritual destruction of the flesh.
But one thing you have to know about New Jerusalem, the bride:Revelation:21:25-27
And the gates of it (New Jerusalem) shall NOT be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
You were told that the "gates of Heaven" will be "locked shut" at the end of time to all unbelievers in the lake of fire. No they won't! You see here, regardless of the lake of fire, the gates of the Bride stay open. And Revelation does not say this represents the end of all times, or the culmination of the fullness of time. We'll get to that after this section. You will find out what happens "in the dispensation of the fullness of time."
The subject matter here is not "the end of time." Revelation 20, 21, or 22, never says that what John is seeing represents the end of God's plan, or the end of time. In fact, regarding the Bride, God says "Behold, I make all things NEW." (Revelation 21:5) not that everything has ENDED. The Bible contains only one passage of scripture that tells us what happens when "cometh the end." We will get to that soon, and it's much different than you were told in church. And, it's magnificent.
We see that those whose names are written in the "Book of Life" have entry into the Bride, the city. But it NEVER says that those whose names are not there, are forever unredeemable. Don't assume. Nothing will enter the city which defiles.1 Cor 6:9-11
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Wait a minute. If the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God, why does Paul say "and such were some of you?" If they were unrighteous, then how did they inherit the kingdom? They had to be cleansed first, of course. As long as anyone is not cleansed, they have no part inside. But once cleansed, they they entered the kingdom.
Nevertheless, let's take account of everything Revelation says and does not say about the lake of fire to this point:
- The lake of fire is not contrasted with heaven itself, but the city descended from heaven, which is the bride. The bride is the church.
- The doors of the city Bride are always open, though nobody remaining in sin may enter.
- Those who are inside the Bride are cutting out their "flesh" and throwing the flesh outside to be burned.
- Those on the outside are tormented by their own wickedness, and being burned up by that "fire."
Having established this contrast between the city Bride and the lake of fire outside, John receives this word, a message from the Spirit and the Bride to everyone on the outside.Revelation 22:17
And the Spirit and the Bride say "come." And let him that heareth say "come." and let him that is athirst come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
That's the Bride talking, along with the Spirit. That's the Bride, with its open gates, speaking to who? Everyone outside the city. The Bride is certainly not speaking to itself! It wouldn't need to. There they are, gates open, still preaching the Gospel to everyone outside the city! And they will continue to preach the Gospel until every last fragment of God's creation is saved. The Bride says, "anyone who is thirsty, come take a drink!" And "whosoever will" let him do it. They have God's permission to come inside.
Since the gates remain OPEN, everyone on the outside has the ability to do that. Well, if I was in a lake of fire, I'd be pretty thirsty, wouldn't you? And if I was tormented by total submersion in my own wickedness, I would want some Living Water. That's a pretty generous invitation, because for those to whom the Bride and Spirit are speaking, the water is INSIDE the City.
Remember the man who Paul sent out of the church (outside the City), for his flesh to be destroyed by Satan? The Bride will be saying those words to him, gates open, so that his spirit will be saved in "the Day of the Lord." The Bride is HOW that man's spirit will be saved.
As we have seen, the cup of God's wrath, the fire of the Valley of Hinnom, the lake of fire, and the Crucifixion all occurred "outside the city." Having been lit on fire of the Valley through their own transgressions and sin, being brought to their knees by the defilement their sins have caused to their souls, they may enter the city upon repentance. How do we know this? Because, according to Apostle Paul, by the judgment seat of God, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Do you recall where the Prodigal Son's repentance occurred?Luke 15:18
I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
Outside the father's city, the Prodigal Son experienced for himself a crucifixion of his flesh, unto humility and repentance. In the end, he experienced a salting fire, a fire that flavored him before his father because it produced humility. And everyone will be salted with fire. So when the Spirit and the Bride say "come." to everyone outside, their beckoning call will bear the fruit that God has promised through his Son's death.
With all the above in mind, I would like somebody to e-mail me just one scripture where Jesus talked about "hell." His Apostles sure had nothing to say about it. So, I would like to know exactly where JESUS spoke about it either. Just one scripture.
"...Then Cometh The End"
In an article titled "Stay Behind" by Kirk Cameron, he says this:
As I write this, I am feeling convicted myself. We as the Church have become so complacent about the lost. Bill Bright said only 2% of Christians share their faith regularly with others. Do we really believe what Jesus said about Hell? How does God view our self-centered complaints disguised as prayers about feeling tired, weary, and worn out, in light of the long, hot, agonizing days of those in the Lake of Fire?
His question is deeper than he may know. Christians either don't care what Jesus supposedly said about Hell, or deep inside, they don't really believe in it. If you really believe in hell torture, why are you doing selfishly reading this paper right now? Why aren't you outside begging the world to listen to your "gospel?" Either you don't really care or you don't really believe it, because you cannot fathom it. Something in you knows how absurd their doctrines are.
Everyone is going to burn and scream and beg for forgiveness and not receive it! That's what the Bible says, right? Either you believe that or you don't, and if you do, it's a cruel thing to let it happen and not be helping right now. Are you watching TV, and eating dinner with your family, while the whole world slips into a hopeless pit of terror and cruelty all day? Either you don't care or, you don't believe it because you cannot fathom something so horribly cruel.
For those who do care, and do try, they know that more souls are lost in a single day than they could hope to evangelize in a year. They are tired. It's not working. They wish they could believe in a Lord who really can bring all to repentance. They wish they could preach about a Jesus who can do what they cannot do. The world is slipping away, and it hurts them that they can't get them to stop and listen. They cry about it sometimes.
As it is, carnal doctrines of severe torture are judgments upon the "natural man" who outright reject "spiritual discernment" as foolishness and cannot receive it. Disobedience to God's word comes with a price. Therefore, Christians bear the grotesque - like "long, hot, agonizing days of those in the Lake of Fire" - around their necks like a iron yoke. The only way out is to repent.
Anyone reading this - with even a fraction of a heart for people - hopes I am right. You hope Jesus will save them all. You know you do. No matter what you say, deep down inside, you so want this. You want your Lord to save everyone because he told you to love your enemies and that seed remains deep within you. I have good news for you.
Concerning Revelation, most Christians assume and suppose that this division between Bride and Lake is the end of the story. Maybe they get their assumptions from the fact that Revelation happens to be the last book of the Bible as MEN have placed it there. I suppose we are accustomed to having the end of a fictional story at the end of our books - but this is not a common work of fiction.
This is the word of God as canonized into an order set by man. HUMANS placed the book of Revelation at the end of the Bible, but Jesus never claims this revelation as concerning "the end." That's another tradition of man. So, what does happen next?
- We see the City adorned as the Bride, which is God's people
- We see others in a lake of fire, but not "for ever and ever"
- Finally, both Spirit and Bride inviting everyone else: "come take a drink"
...then cometh the end.
Yes, there is actually a scripture in the Bible - while not in Revelation - that literally says "then cometh the end." And you can believe that everything that cometh in "the end" - according to that scripture - is just as much true as the book of Revelation.
"The end" commences here:1 Cor 15:22-28
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him . . .
OK, let's stop right there for a second. As in Adam ALL die. EVEN SO, in Christ, ALL will be made alive. Many Christians will see this and say that Paul is simply speaking about resurrection, not spiritual Life. The problem is that they ignore the words. Let's look at all the words: As in Adam all die...so...in Christ...shall all be made alive.
What does it mean to be "in Adam?" Is that spiritual? Of course. Adam died long ago. Being "in Adam" today, therefore, means to be carnally minded, which the Bible says is death, a spiritual death (Romans 8:6). Ok. So, what happens to spiritual death when someone moves away from being "in Adam" to "in Christ?" Death is destroyed.
Did Paul say that all who were dead "in Adam" will be made alive BY Christ? No! Paul makes a systematically all inclusive statement, and declares that "as IN Adam all die, even so, everyone shall be made alive"in Christ." That's makes perfect sense since Jesus himself says, "I AM the resurrection and the Life." (John 11:25).
Life is about more than being conscious and animated. It's also about being "in Christ." That's why he says "I am the resurrection AND the Life." You now know the reason that the gates of New Jerusalem are always open. When they have repented and enter the City, all who died in Adam will be made alive.....in Christ.
What does the church say about every unbeliever who was dead in Adam eventually living "in Christ?" Nothing. In fact, they actively deny it. And yet, they will be the first to tell you that nobody can be made alive without being "in Christ." They'll just deny the scriptural truth, that being "in Christ" is the very method that Christ himself will use to make everyone alive when "the end" comes. I'm just repeating the words here. Send your complaints to Apostle Paul if you have them.
Moving on:. . . then the end will come (KJV, "then cometh the end"), when he (Jesus) hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under-his-feet (Greek - hupotasso - under control). The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” (Greek - hupotasso)
Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him (hupotasso), it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything (hupotasso) under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject (hupotasso) to him who put everything under him (hupotasso), so that God may be ALL in ALL.
You just witnessed - unlike Revelation 20, 21, and 22 - everything that will happen when "cometh the end" what will happen with "the times will have reached their fulfillment:" the restoration of all things. We see the order described as first Jesus, then his Bride...then the end. What happens in "the end" is much different than what you heard in church. In the end, Jesus places all enemies under his feet. The phrase "placed everything under his feet" stems from one Greek word (hupotasso).
It appears six times in the original Greek text between verse 24 & 28 alone! That's alot of hupotassos! Here is the definition according to Strong's Concordant:
To subordinate; reflexively to OBEY: - be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto."
Let's break it down: As "in Adam," all die. Even so, "in Christ," all shall be made alive, but each in his own order:
1. Christ, the firstfruit
2. His followers
3. His enemies
Then, after EVERYTHING (in Adam) has been made to "be under obedience" to Christ - and made alive (in Christ) - he will hand the kingdom over to His Father, and voila! The whole of creation wrapped up "in Christ." The result: "So that God may be ALL in ALL." If you don't believe it, read it again. The sheer number of "all in all" is not limited contextually. Contextually, the subject matter is "as in Adam all die." That's everyone, folks. The scripture follows it down logically (once again) to the ultimate result: "So that God may be ALL in ALL."
All the enemies of Christ, outside the city, will enter the city for this reason:Matthew 21:43-44
Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
If you know how important it is to spiritually discern the things of God, what is he saying in that scripture, by comparing it to a stone? He is saying that anyone outside the kingdom who has not inherited it will be "ground down" to powder and "broken" by it. When the Bride says "come everyone who is thirsty" they are telling the thirsty the truth about themselves: they are desolate and wanting. Grinding down to powder and being broken, signifies that "every knee shall bow." It signifies the humbling of man. That's why it's important to inherit the kingdom, than to be "broken" and "ground" by it, and enter as one who was put through the Day of the Lord as a woman enduring labor pains.
Again, what Jesus was speaking "in the dark" about that "stone," Paul is explaining to you in the daylight. The stone is Jesus. Anyone within the stone is in his Kingdom. That stone will demolish all rule and authority, and guess what? That includes SELF authority, and SELF rule. That is why "hupotasso" is being used so frequently. He is going to grind it all up and break it all down, and hand it all to his father so that God will be "all in all."
Now, one thing we know about the lake of fire is that it is "the second death." But according to Paul, when the end comes, "the last enemy to be destroyed (done away with)…is death." So not only does Revelation not claim to be "the end" we have assurance through Paul, that when the end DOES come death itself will be done away with.
Death, after all, is an enemy to God. But, the reason death will be destroyed is stated in the next sentence, "for he has placed everything under his feet." (hupotasso) The word "hupotasso" appears within 32 verses of the Bible and it is never, not even once, translated to mean anything other than being placed under obedience to greater will.
So, the reason death will be destroyed because Jesus will bring death itself, along with every other enemy, fully under subjugation to him, and thereby dissolve death's power completely. What happens, therefore, to "second death" when man becomes obedient to God? It goes away. Then, all that remains is LIFE. So when "the end" comes, you can say, "bye, bye, lake of fire," and you can say, "bye, bye, second death, enemy of God."
As every man dead in Adam has an order to which he will be made alive by Christ, we get more detail from Paul as to how that is happening today. Paul establishes God's absolute supremacy as to who receives his Gospel NOW, that is, today by explaining that while the Gentiles were in unbelief in times past, now a spirit of blindness has come onto the Jews for the present time.
He explains: "Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them (Israel) the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their (Israel's) fulness?" (Romans 11:12)
Then he follows with, "All Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11:26-27)
All Israel shall be saved in its fullness…(from hell?)…no, all Israel shall be saved, for as it is written, God shall "turn away ungodliness from Jacob." For this is God's covenant with them, "when he shall" ...(save them from hell?)...take away their sins."
Indeed, Paul talked about God's wrath, but he also knew that all this productive wrath was applicable up when "cometh the end." Speaking about the Jews who had prevented Christians from converting the Gentiles, Paul says this:1 Thess 2:16
(They were) Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved (healed), to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come upon them to
Telos does not mean "uttermost." The word "telos" is the same word Paul used to say "then cometh the end (telos)" when death shall be destroyed. For the Jews, therefore, Paul says that the wrath of God "is come upon them, unto the end." The Jews will not have wrath upon them forever, but only "unto the end" when Christ will subdue all his enemies and give everything to God to be "all in all."
For the Gentiles, notice the association Paul makes with salvation yet again. He wants the Gentiles to be saved/healed, so that they will not ....(go to hell?) ...."fill up their sins." He wants them saved from sin, not hell.Romans 11:25
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 fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
All mankind will indeed see the fullness of Israel gloriously saved. First, however, we will see the fullness of the Gentiles come in.Romans 11:30-32
For as ye (Gentiles) in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these (Israel) also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
For God hath concluded
The word "them" does not occur in the Greek text in that last sentence, thus the strike-through. In context, Paul is talking about everyone's unbelief (both Jew and Gentile). So, it literally says, that God "has concluded all unto unbelief that he may have mercy on all." So, when "cometh the end" when God is "all in all" we will see two expressions of "fullness" of those whom Christ has made obedient and placed under his feet to destroy death: The fullness of the Gentiles, then the fullness of Israel.
We have been trained to believe that "the fullness of the Gentiles" is an exaggeration, as much as Christ being "the Savior of the world" is an aspirational appointment rather than a commanding and fully effective appointment by God, unto the actual, literal salvation of the world. But if you look at the translations of "fullness" you see a trend.1 Corinthians 10:26
For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.
Well, I can take that one literally, can't I? That doesn't look like an exaggeration to me. Neither does this one:Colossians 1:20
For in him (Christ) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
What part of the fullness of God does not exist within Christ?Ephesians 1:9-11
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
Interesting. We can believe that in Christ all fullness of God was pleased to dwell to reconcile "all things." What did Jesus reconcile on the cross? The whole world. Do you see the parallel from Colossians and Ephesians? We see a two part process:
- First Jesus died to "reconcile all things" to himself, "whether on earth or in heaven" to make peace. Amen!
- Next, "in the dispensation of the fullness of times," God gathers into ONE all things in Christ "which are in heaven and on earth" becoming "all in all." Amen!
Really, it's simple math:
The fullness of the Gentiles + the fullness of the Jews = The salvation of all mankind
This is really no different than Christ subjecting all things to himself to hand the kingdom to God to be all in all, seeing that everyone who died in Adam shall be made alive "IN CHRIST." That is how the Father will have "gathered together in one all things in Christ which are in heaven and earth."
This all happens according to the "purpose of him who worketh all things to the council of HIS OWN WILL." That whole doctrinal idea of God subjecting himself to the human will and accepting rejection forever? Yeah, that's garbage. The Bible never says that God will withhold asserting his own will to accomplish his plans. All who were disobedient to God will be actively SUBJECTED to Christ to be made alive in Christ, when death (including second death) is destroyed, leaving nothing left but Life.
It all culminates into the perfect end to God's plan.Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject all things to himself
So while the lake of fire burns "unto the ages of the ages" when the ages are complete, we will have the glorious time to come:Acts 3:20-21
and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of the restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the ages began.
We have seen how the prophets declared the restoration of all things, how every tongue WILL swear an oath to God and say that "in the Lord they have righteousness and strength.
But I want to share with you one more prophecy concerning the restoration of all things. We know that Jesus used the Valley of Hinnom as a symbol for judgment on the flesh of all mankind, the crucifixion of all mankind on the cross. Jesus used that valley in prophecy, for that is what the parables are, prophecies. Jesus took a specific valley and widened its application to all mankind, as a picture of the death that he died, as a criminal for the world.
Concerning the judgment of Israel by the Babylonians, Jeremiah also prophesied about the the fate of the Valley of Hinnom when they would be restored. You might be pleased by what he says concerning the widening of Jerusalem:Jeremiah 31:39-40
The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown (Hinnom), and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.”
When Jesus used the Valley of Hinnom in his prophetic parables, he widened its application to the whole world, "for everyone shall be salted with fire." Israel thought their prophecies were only for them. Not so. Jesus made them for everyone. So, with regard to how the prophets were speaking about "the restoration of all things," you now know the final fate of the Valley of Hinnom: it shall be holy unto the Lord.
When cometh the end, and God is all in all, remember that prophecy. It will make you rejoice.
"The Times of The Restoration of All Things"
When anyone quotes the Bible to say that "God is Love" (1 John 4:8) Christians often sigh, and remind others not to forget that God is also wrathful. But, they cannot find a scripture that says "God is wrath." I hope you have seen in this paper that even God's wrath finds it's place in Love, and that his purpose for mankind is good for them.
Let the Bible do the talking:
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw (drag) all people to myself.
God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved (sozo - made whole, healed) through him.
I Tim. 4:9-10
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, Who is the savior of all men, especially of those that believe.
For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.
I am God, there is no other, I am God, and there is no one like me; I reveal the end from the beginning, from ancient times I reveal what is to be: I say, "My purpose shall take effect, I will accomplish all that I please."
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The way of God is perfect.
Feel free to e-mail me directly about this or any other subject on this website. God bless you.