Tag Archives: hell

Is The Devil In Charge Of Hell?

11 Nov
Well? Does God really keep the devil on His payroll – is he the chief superintendent of hell measuring out the punishment of the lost?  Nearly the entire world holds a very unbiblical view about hell, and you owe it to yourself to know what the Bible really says about it.  Don’t be fooled, because what you think about hell certainly affects what you think about God’s character! Take a few moments to get the amazing facts you need to know today!
The wicked will not be punished until after the judgment.

The wicked will not be punished until after the judgment.

1. How many lost souls are being punished in hell today?

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” 2 Peter 2:9.

Answer:   There is not one single soul in hellfire today. The Bible says that God reserves, or holds back, the wicked until the day of judgment to be punished.

Sinners will be cast into hellfire at the end of the world -- not when they die.

Sinners will be cast into hellfire at the end of the world — not when they die.

2. When will sinners be cast into hellfire?

“So shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and  them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire.” Matthew 13:40-42. “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” John 12:48.

Answer:   Sinners will be cast into hellfire at the great judgment day at the end of the world–not when they die. God would not punish a person in fire until his case was tried and decided in court at the end of the world. Nor would God burn a murderer who died 5,000 years ago 5,000 years longer than one who dies and deserves punishment for the same sin today.

All who have died, both good and evil, are in their graves awaiting the resurrection.

All who have died, both good and evil, are in their graves awaiting the resurrection.

3. Where are sinners (who have died) now?

“The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29. “The wicked is reserved to the day of destruction.” “Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.” Job 21:30, 32.

Answer:   The Bible is specific. Both the wicked and the righteous who have died are in their graves “sleeping” until the resurrection day.

Jesus died to save us from our sins.  Those who do not accept His gift of salvation will receive death.

Jesus died to save us from our sins.  Those who do not accept His gift of salvation will receive death.

4. What is the end result of sin?

“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:15. “God … gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Answer:   The wages (or punishment) for sin is death, not everlasting life in hellfire. The wicked “perish,” or receive “death.” The righteous receive “everlasting life.”

The wicked are not immortal.  The Bible says they will

The wicked are not immortal.  The Bible says they will “perish”, “burn up” and “be destroyed”.

5. What will happen to the wicked in hellfire?

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.

Answer:   The wicked die the second death in hellfire. If the wicked lived forever being tortured in hell, they would be immortal. But this is impossible, because the Bible says God “only hath immortality.” 1 Timothy 6:16. When Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, an angel was posted to guard the tree of life so that sinners would not eat of the tree and “live for ever.” Genesis 3:22-24. The teaching that sinners are immortal in hell originated with Satan and is completely untrue. God prevented this when sin entered this earth by guarding the tree of life.
Bible Clear – Wicked Obliterated The Bible says the wicked suffer “death” (Romans 6:23), will suffer “destruction” (Job 21:30), “shall perish” (Psalms 37:20), will “burn” up (Malachi 4:1), “shall be destroyed together” (Psalms 37:38), will “consume away” (Psalms 37:20), “shall be cut off” (Psalms 37:9), “shall be slain” (Psalms 62:3). God will “destroy” them (Psalms 145:20), and “fire shall devour them” (Psalms 21:9). Note that all of these references make it clear that the wicked die and are destroyed. They do not live forever in misery.

At the end of the world, fire will fall from heaven upon the wicked and devour them.

At the end of the world, fire will fall from heaven upon the wicked and devour them.

6. When and how will hellfire be kindled?

“So shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man … shall cast them into a furnace of fire.” Matthew 13:40-42. “They went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” Revelation 20:9. “The righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.” Proverbs 11:31.

Answer:   At the end of the world, God Himself will kindle hellfire. As the holy city comes down from God out of heaven (Revelation 21:2), the wicked attempt to capture it. At that time, God will rain down fire from heaven upon the earth, and it will devour the wicked. This fire is Bible hellfire.

Hell will be the entire world on fire.  It will be 25,000 miles in circumference--its heat so great that everything on earth will be

Hell will be the entire world on fire.  It will be 25,000 miles in circumference–its heat so great that everything on earth will be “burned up”.

7. How big and how hot will hellfire be?

“The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10.

Answer:   Hellfire will be just as big as this earth because it will be the earth on fire. This fire will be so hot as to melt the earth and burn up all “the works that are therein.” The atmospheric heavens will explode and “pass away with a great noise.”

Jesus will insist upon just treatment for the wicked.  Their degree of punishment will be fair and according to their works, as He promised.

Jesus will insist upon just treatment for the wicked.  Their degree of punishment will be fair and according to their works, as He promised.

8. How long will the wicked suffer in the fire?

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as  his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12. “And then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27. “That servant, which knew his lord’s will, and … neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.” Luke 12:47, 48.

Answer:   The Bible does not tell how long the wicked will be punished before receiving death in the fire. God does specifically state, however, that all will be punished according to their deeds. This means some will receive greater punishment than others, based upon their works.

God will recreate a new world where no trace of the former evils of this world will be seen.

God will recreate a new world where no trace of the former evils of this world will be seen.

9. Will the fire eventually go out?

“Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” Isaiah 47:14. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:1, 4.

Answer:   Yes, indeed, the Bible specifically teaches that hellfire will go out and that there will not be left “a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” The Bible also teaches that in God’s new kingdom all “former things” will be passed away. Hell, being one of the former things, is included, so we have God’s promise that it will be abolished.
Is God a Torturer? If God tortured His enemies in a fiery horror chamber throughout eternity, He would be more vicious and heartless than men have ever been in the worst of war atrocities. An eternal hell of torment would be hell for God also, who loves even the vilest sinner.

The fires will burn until only ashes are left.  Even the bones will be completely gone.

The fires will burn until only ashes are left.  Even the bones will be completely gone.

10. What will be left when the fire goes out?

“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:1, 3.

Answer:   Notice the verse does not say the wicked will burn like asbestos, as many today believe, but rather like stubble, which will be burned up. The little word “up” denotes completion. Nothing but ashes will be left when the fire goes out. In Psalms 37:10, 20, the Bible says the wicked will go up in smoke and be completely destroyed.

The fire from heaven will fall upon the wicked and destroy them, both body and soul.

The fire from heaven will fall upon the wicked and destroy them, both body and soul.

11. Will the wicked enter hell in bodily form and be destroyed both soul and body?

“It is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matthew 5:30. “Rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:20.

Answer:   Yes. Real, live people enter hell in bodily form and are destroyed both soul and body. The fire from God out of heaven will fall upon real people and blot them out of existence.

The devil will be completely destroyed by fire.

The devil will be completely destroyed by fire.

12. Will the devil be in charge of hellfire?

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:10. “I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. … And never shall thou be any more.” Ezekiel 28:18, 19.

Answer:   Absolutely not! The devil will be cast into the fire, and it will turn him into ashes.

13. Does the word “hell” as used in the Bible always refer to a place of burning or punishment?

Answer:   No, the word “hell” is used 54 times in the Bible, and in only 12 cases does it refer to “a place of burning.”
The word “hell” is translated from several different words with various meanings, as indicated below:

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT 31 times from “Sheol,” which means the grave.”
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT 10 times from “Hades,” which means “the grave.” 12 times from “Gehenna,” which means “the place of burning.” 1 time from “Tartarus,” which means “a place of darkness.” 54 TIMES TOTAL

Note: The Greek word “Gehenna” (mentioned above) is a transliteration of the Hebrew “Ge-Hinnom,” which means the “Valley of Hinnom.” This valley, which lies immediately south and west of Jerusalem, was a place where dead animals, garbage, and other refuse were dumped. Fire burned constantly, as it does at modern sanitation dump sites. The Bible uses “Gehenna” or the “Valley of Hinnom” as a symbol of the fire that will destroy the lost at the end of time. The fire of Gehenna was not unending. Otherwise it would be still burning southwest of Jerusalem today.  Neither will the fire of hell be unending.

Destroying sin, sinners, and Satan is the only way to make the universe safe for eternity.

Destroying sin, sinners, and Satan is the only way to make the universe safe for eternity.

14. What is God’s real purpose in hellfire?

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15. “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be.” “The enemies of the Lord … shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.” Psalms 37:10, 20.

Answer:   God’s purpose is that hell will destroy the devil and all sin and sinners and make the world safe for eternity. One sinner, if left on this planet, would be a deadly virus forever threatening the universe. It is God’s plan to isolate sin and blot it out of existence for all time.
Eternal Hell Would Perpetuate Sin An eternal hell of torment would perpetuate sin and make its eradication impossible. An eternal hell of torment is not part of God’s great plan at all. Such a horrible theory is slander against the holy name of a loving God. The devil delights to see our loving Creator pictured as such a monstrous tyrant, and he alone can benefit from such teachings.
Eternal Hell a Man-made Theory The “eternal hell of torment” theory originated not from the Bible, but from misguided people who were (perhaps inadvertently) led of the devil. And, incidentally, no one will be in heaven because he feared hell. People are saved because they love and obey Christ.

Jesus will be deeply saddened when He must destroy those whom He died to save.

Jesus will be deeply saddened when He must destroy those whom He died to save.

15. Isn’t the work of destroying sinners foreign to God’s nature?

“As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” Ezekiel 33:11. “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Luke 9:56. “For the Lord shall rise up … that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” Isaiah 28:21.

Answer:   Yes, the work of God has always been to save rather than destroy. The work of destroying the wicked in hellfire is so foreign to God’s nature that the Bible calls it His “strange act.” God’s great heart will ache at the destruction of the wicked. Oh, how diligently He works to save every soul! But if one spurns His love and clings to sin, God will have no choice but to destroy the sinner with his sin when He rids the universe of that horrible, malignant growth called “sin” in the fires of the last day.

After sinners are destroyed, God will create a fantastic new earth for His people, where they will live in peace, joy, and love forever.  Sin will never rise again.

After sinners are destroyed, God will create a fantastic new earth for His people, where they will live in peace, joy, and love forever.  Sin will never rise again.

16. What are God’s post-hell plans for the earth and His people?

“He will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.” Nahum 1:9. “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Isaiah 65:17. “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” Revelation 21:3, 4.

Answer:   After hellfire goes out, God will create a new earth and restore it to His people with all the beauties and glories of Eden before sin entered. The horrors of sin and the past will be forgotten. Pain, death, tragedy, woe, tears, sickness, disappointment, sorrow, and all sin will be banished forever.
Sin Will Not Rise Again God promises that sin will never rise again. His people will be filled with perfect peace, love, joy, and contentment. Their lives of complete happiness will be far more glorious and thrilling than mere words could ever describe. The real tragedy of hell is in missing heaven. A person who fails to enter this magnificent kingdom has made the saddest choice of a lifetime.

Hidden Eyes and Closed Ears

27 Oct

By Joe Crews

Narrow is the Way

Some of the most astonishing prophecies in the Bible have to do with the proportion of people who will be saved at the coming of Christ. Jesus clearly taught that only a comparative few would be ready to inherit His kingdom. He said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14).

In Luke 18:8, by asking a very penetrating question, Jesus implied that the “few” might be even less than we could hope or imagine. “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Again, the Master spoke of the final separation in these words: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26). Only eight people were saved from the flood and “as it was then” so shall it be at His coming. Other Bible writers and prophets use similar language to portray the “little flock,” the “remnant,” and the “few” who will prove faithful to the very end.

The fact that so few will be saved is not nearly as shocking as the reason given in the Bible for their loss. It seems obvious that great multitudes will be excluded from heaven even though they professed Christ, worshiped Him regularly, and spent much of their time doing wonderful works in His name. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).

These verses reveal that the earth will be flooded with a lot of false religion in the last days. Millions will be spending their time, their effort, and their money in promoting a religion that involves apparent miracles, apparent spiritual gifts, and much enthusiastic activity. All of this is explicitly spelled out in the teaching of our Lord. Yet those many will finally be utterly rejected by Jesus and shut out of heaven. Talk about startling truth! More people need to get their eyes open to this little-understood situation that will characterize the end time. Then we need to find out how to avoid the vast spiritual delusions which will cause so many religious people to be lost.

Why will they be rejected in spite of their devoted worship and ministry in the name of Jesus? It has caused some people almost to despair of salvation. How can one know that his own religion will not finally be found in this category? Let us seriously look for the answers to these questions. Our salvation does not depend upon our sincerity, but upon finding the truth in God’s Word and obeying it!

Obedience is the Acid Test a Valid Religion

The first point we must understand is this: RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY IS QUITE USELESS IF WE ARE NOT DOING THE WILL OF GOD. Christ declared that calling on God’s name, and even leading out in great selfless humanitarian programs, will be wasted if obedience to God’s will is excluded. Mark this fact upon the table of your mind and never forget it—the Scriptures exalt OBEDIENCE as the distinguishing test of a valid religion. Those who engage ever so fully in the preaching of the name of Jesus—with time, talent, and money—and do not keep His commandments, cannot meet the approval of God. In fact, because they are not obeying Christ, such worshipers actually open a door by which Satan can enter unrecognized and work miracles through them, IN THE NAME OF JESUS, which they ascribe to the power of God. The plaintive plea, “Have we not prophesied . . . and in Thy name cast out devils?” is proof positive that their miracles had been done by some other power than that of Christ, albeit in His name. If Jesus never knew them, who else could work such miracles? Only Satan. The Bible speaks of “the spirits of devils, working miracles” (Revelation 16:14).

By the way, what did Jesus mean when He said, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”? How does one really come to “know” the Lord? The beloved John tells us, “Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him” (1 John 3:6). “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). Knowing Him means we obey Him. Biblically, it is impossible to be a true child of God while refusing to obey the commandments of God. Willful disobedience cuts off the relationship, drives away the Holy Spirit by which we are sealed, and effectively removes the individual from the position of grace.

Now we begin to see how simple it is to test the religious spirits that are in the world today. It is time that we look past the stimulating music, the spellbinding oratory, and even the exciting witnessing programs and apply the test set up by the great Author of all truth—Jesus Himself. He made it exceedingly clear that the original requirements of God have remained unchanged. The condition of obedience which would have kept man in Eden becomes the condition for his restoration to Eden. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Love is Not Legalism

We must not fail to emphasize at this point that element of love which must also attend all acceptable obedience. Forcing the forms of compliance without a personal love-experience with Christ the Savior is fully as fatal a mistake as omitting all obedience. Jesus had to deal with the cold formalism of the Pharisees over and over again. And because He so thoroughly condemned the program of salvation by works, many have hastily assumed that He considered obedience unimportant. Now we need to see the beautiful balance in Christ’s doctrine of faith and works. He taught that obeying in order to be saved is the worst kind of legalism, but obeying because we are saved is the acid test of a true religious experience. Obedience follows true faith just as surely as day follows night. Incidentally, the word “legalist” has been thrown around with too much abandon. I greatly fear that many sincere Christians have been accused of legalism only because their love for Christ led them to be more particular in their obedience than their accusers. Never forget that a legalist is one who believes that he can be saved by his works. The person who keeps the commandments because he doesn’t want to displease the God he loves is not a legalist at all. The old argument is often heard, “I’d rather see a happy, loving Christian who doesn’t keep all of the commandments than to see an unloving one who strictly obeys the law.” Why try to measure degrees of guilt? Both are completely wrong. Our feelings have nothing to do with it. Christ has established the standard of measurement. Nothing less than a “faith which worketh by love” will be accepted.

But let us return to the alarming proposition that most of mankind will be lost, including the fervent religious activists. Worship is commanded in the Bible and is a necessary ingredient of true religion, but will a host of worshiping Christians be lost? Jesus said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). Another shattering statement of truth! People will engage in vain worship if they reject true doctrine in favor of man’s tradition.

When is Worship Vain?

On several occasions Jesus urged the necessity of walking in all known truth. “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin” (John 15:22). “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:41). When a man learns a point of truth in the Bible and refuses to obey it, he is guilty of practicing sin. Such a man is fighting the Holy Spirit whose primary work is to guide into all truth. This refusal to obey hardens the conscience, causing the Holy Spirit to finally withdraw and leads to the unpardonable sin. No wonder such worship is vain. By rejecting the commandments of God in favor of human traditions, the Holy Spirit is spurned. According to Acts 5:32 only those who obey are eligible to be filled with the Spirit.

Let us pause now and consider the profound significance of what we have discovered. The vast majority of people will be lost, including many who work miracles in Christ’s name, worship Him, and claim to know Him as His children. The reason they will be lost is that they do not love Him enough to keep all of His commandments. For some reason these ardent church workers have learned to look lightly upon the law of God. Most of them consider it legalism to believe that disobedience could keep them out of heaven. Satan has blinded their eyes to the beautiful, intimate relationship of love and obedience. Millions of Protestant Christians have actually been taught that their obedience or disobedience can have no effect whatever upon their ultimate salvation.

In view of the deep-rooted tradition of popular Christianity today, we can see how Satan has manipulated millions into a state of mind to reject the claims of God’s moral law. Under the twisted interpretation of a cheap grace (someone has called it “sloppy agape”) the stage has been set for the devil’s master strategy of deception. The final contest between truth and error will revolve around the basic issue of loyalty or disloyalty, obedience or disobedience. And the focus will be squarely on the fourth commandment which contains the great distinctive sign of God’s creative power and authority.

Sunday—A Tradition of Man

It seems more than coincidental that Jesus spelled out “traditions of men” as the false doctrine that would lead into vain worship. The chief tradition today which has turned multitudes from keeping the Ten Commandments is the doctrine of Sunday-keeping. Almost any Christian of any persuasion can defend and extol nine of the Ten Commandments. It is only the Sabbath which has stirred deep hatred and prejudice against the holy law of God.

Who inspired that attitude of contempt for the only part of the Bible which God wrote with His own hand? How have so many millions been led to equate obedience with legalism? The tragedy is that ministers have largely been responsible for turning people away from obedience. Repeatedly in my evangelistic crusades people tell me of angry tirades made by their own pastors against the Sabbath. Unable to give any Bible reason for Sunday observance, and frustrated by the insistent questions of their flock, many pastors turn to emotional attacks upon the validity of the law. I have found that these attacks generally follow two lines of argument. The fundamentalist group of preachers emphasizes the “spirit of the law” while insisting that the letter is not binding. This allows for the specific seventh day to be set aside for Sunday. The other group of more liberal theologians contends that no special day of worship is necessary and the believer is entirely free from all claims of the law.

Since sin is defined in the Bible as “the transgression of the law,” and Paul affirms that “Where no law is, there is no transgression,” any attack on the law serves only to weaken man’s convictions about sin (1 John 3:4; Romans 4:15). James tells us that the breaking of even one commandment is a violation of all ten, and constitutes transgression or sin (James 2:10-12).

Is it a serious matter to tear down confidence in this great hand-written moral code of God? Do men take sin more lightly when they lose faith in the authority of the Ten Commandments? Without question they do. The strange circumstance of ministers teaching people to sin is not easy to comprehend. It is only when we study the great lines of prophecy concerning these last days that we can begin to understand the phenomenon.

Apparently, God had to deal with unfaithful pastors in both Old and New Testament times. Some strong judgments had to be pronounced against the shepherds who misled the flock. Watchmen who would not tell the truth about approaching dangers were held accountable for the deaths which resulted. Such preachers are actually turned into agents of the evil one. Paul wrote, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15).

Only the inspired Book would label these ministers in such a blunt manner. Apparently, God looks upon such men as actual ministers of Satan because they fear to tell the truth and, instead, give their own ideas. It is time to understand the great conspiracy of Satan to lead men of the cloth—high-placed religious leaders—to teach perverse doctrines in the name of Christ. Paul predicted that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine . . . And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4).

It is interesting to note that these last-day teachers are described as turning their ears away from the truth. This means that they saw it, understood it, but did not want to acknowledge it. God made exactly the same charge against His priests in the Old Testament. “Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them” (Ezekiel 22:26).

The priests of the Old Testament hid their eyes from the Sabbath and the ministers of the last days would turn their ears from the truth. How tragic! In other words, they would see it but would try to get away from it by refusing to keep looking. I have often talked to ministers of various persuasions on the subject of the Sabbath. Some have honestly admitted that Saturday is the true Lord’s day of the Bible. Others reject it for various reasons. A few just could not believe that God was so particular about which day to observe. They reasoned that God would be understanding with those who found it more convenient to keep a different day than the seventh day. Some ministers that I talked with do not really accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God.

Preachers in Doubt

It is shocking to realize how skepticism and higher criticism have robbed many pastors of their faith in the Bible. Even many of the old-line conservative evangelical denominations are becoming riddled with doubts about the inspiration of the Scriptures. Often that is used to justify their rejection of the Sabbath.

In one Amazing Facts crusade I spent an interesting afternoon with a Southern Baptist minister who had requested an interview on the Sabbath subject. Some of his members were attending the Amazing Facts crusade and had questioned him about what they had learned. For the first time in his life he delved into the subject in order to find answers for his people. Then he asked me to meet him in his church office. I listened in amazement as he explained why he could not accept the Sabbath. I was amazed because the Southern Baptists have had the historic reputation of being fundamental, Bible-believing Christians. But this young man, who graduated from the Louisville Southern Baptist Seminary in 1975, did not believe in the Genesis story of creation. He denied the flood story and affirmed his belief in evolution as the explanation of man’s existence. He explicitly rejected the story of Jonah and the whale. Finally, I asked him if he believed in the virgin birth of Jesus. His answer was, “I don’t believe it is necessary to believe in the virgin birth to be saved.”

I wish I could tell you that this attitude is exceptional among the Baptists, but it is not. This pastor assured me that over half of the Southern Baptist ministers believed just like he did. I certainly hope he is mistaken about that estimation, and I’m frankly of the opinion that he was exaggerating the numbers. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that the majority of this young preacher’s classmates had lost their faith in the inspired Word while studying at the seminary, just as he had.

Finally, under close questioning, he weakly affirmed some kind of personal faith in the virgin birth even though he didn’t think it was too important. I asked him if his congregation knew about his views on the Bible, and he assured me that they did not. He did not dare preach the things that he believed. I said, “Dave, if your church knew what you have expressed to us, they would fire you on the spot.” I could understand perfectly why he was afraid to preach his convictions.

It should not be too great a surprise to see this wave of skepticism growing. Basically, it is one of the signs of the end of time. We are watching prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes. What I have just told you is only one of the dramatic signs that Jesus is coming very soon.

Do you wonder how the seminaries and great denominations have drifted into this sort of open doubt of the Word of God? One reason is obvious. By denying the Sabbath they opened the door to doubts about the literal six-day creation. Another easy step led to the vast periods assigned to evolution. God gave the Sabbath as a divine reminder of His sovereign creative power. Representing His authority as the only true God, the Sabbath was to be a weekly reminder that the only God deserving of worship is the One who alone had the power to create and recreate. As a sign of both creation and redemption, observance of the Sabbath would be a perpetual protection against the evil of evolution as well as modernism. When the churches rejected the Sabbath, they also rejected the strongest bulwark which would
have protected them from the kind of deadly disbelief which the young minister expressed. No man can be an evolutionist or a modernist who truly believes and keeps the Sabbath.

If the Sabbath Can Be Changed Then the Bible Can Be Changed

This state of confusing doubt is also the fruit of antinomianism which has been so widely espoused. By trying to do away with the moral law of the Ten Commandments, the churches have compromised the doctrine of an infallible Bible. If the Sabbath can be explained away, if the great basic moral law can be nullified, then almost any other part of the Bible can be rationalized. And it has been, by millions who were taught to do so by the preacher behind the pulpit.

What does God think about those who have created this shameful breach in His law? Through the prophet Malachi God describes the failure of His ministers to uphold the law: “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law . . . according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law” (Malachi 2:7-9).

God charges the preachers with being partial in the law. That means they preached part of it but not all of it. They caused people to stumble at the law, which indicates that they influenced people to break it. Throughout the Old Testament God outlined the development of a Satan-inspired program to set aside His law.

Closing this subject, I would like to trace one chain of such prophecies, all links of which are related by a common symbol. I want you to notice the connecting thread which is picked up by both major and minor prophets and woven through their writings.

God’s Law—A Protecting Wall

The chief symbol of God’s law seems to be that of a wall, and it is used extensively throughout the Old Testament. Isaiah dramatically represented disobedience to the law as a break in the wall. “This is a rebellious people . . . children that will not hear the law of the LORD . . . Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall” (Isaiah 30:9-13).

Follow closely now as we allow other inspired writers to enlarge upon this basic concept of the breached wall. Ezekiel indicated that some transgressors of the law would try to cover their act of sin by smoothing over the break in the wall. Unfortunately, they would substitute some weak, counterfeit material to make the wall look good but which would not prove to be acceptable at all. “Woe unto the foolish prophets . . .Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge . . . and one built up a wall, and lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar” (Ezekiel 13:3-10).

Here God rebukes the spiritual leaders for not making up the gaps and breaches in the wall. As the watchmen on the walls they were to be the very first ones to notice any weakness and to warn of the break immediately and make restoration of the defenses. In this case, not only were the priests not making proper repair of the breach but were condoning a dangerous substitute of weak materials which God could not approve. The untempered mortar represents an effort to gloss over the seriousness of the defect by false teaching instead of leading the people back to full obedience. Repeatedly God had to warn the priests against weakening the authority of His law. Malachi warned the priests: “Ye have caused many to stumble at the law . . . ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law” (Malachi 2:8-9). It was such an attitude that caused God to rebuke them for daubing the wall with untempered mortar.

The Wall Broken — The Sabbath Breach

Now we are ready to establish the interesting fact that the primary breach in the law had to do with the fourth commandment. The prophet picked up the theme of the wall again in Ezekiel 22:26-28. “Her priests have violated my law, and profaned mine holy things . . . and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths . . . And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar saying, Thus saith the LORD GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken.”

Here we have a specific breach of the law (Sabbath breaking) connected with the untempered daubing. Again, it is the priests, or preachers, themselves who are responsible for the error. As we have already noted, they have broken the law by hiding their eyes from the Sabbath. This indicates that they clearly saw it but deliberately turned away and refused to recognize or obey it. But what does it mean that they daubed the wall with untempered mortar? It doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to see that they were trying to fill up the Sabbath breaking with counterfeit material that did not really restore the wall at all.

Furthermore, they would try to make it seem that God had approved what they had done, saying, “Thus saith the LORD GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken.”

Question: Have religious leaders tried to put some false, un scriptural day in place of the true Sabbath and tried to make it appear that God condones it? Indeed they have! Instead of restoring the true seventh-day Sabbath, which had been breached by pagan infiltration of the early church, they brought in a day dedicated to ancient sun worship. Without a line of biblical authority they honored that day with the title “Lord’s Day” and continually say, “Thus saith the LORD, when the LORD hath not spoken.”

God Measures the Wall

Does the Lord indeed approve of this unholy tampering with His perfect law? Jesus said, “In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). No amount of daubing with foreign, untempered material can make the wall whole again. Only the restoration of the original material, the seventh day of the week, can satisfy the great plumbline of God’s scrutiny. He is the Author of that law—the builder of the wall—and He will accept nothing less than the full original strength and proportion. “Thus he showed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in _his hand. . . . Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people” (Amos 7:7, 8). A plumbline is used to determine the exact straightness of a wall, and God will measure His people by His holy law. Jesus declared that even worship is vain and empty when the commandments of men are taught instead of His commandments. “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matthew 15:6).

By these words Christ surely established that tradition will be used to nullify His law. Thus we can see how the untempered mortar represents the tradition of Sunday worship, which is applied to the breach in the law. The result is the institution of a section of wall which is alien to the original, perfect one.

Someone may object that we are taking verses out of context and that the wall symbol does not refer to God’s law in these modern days. The prophet Ezekiel indicated that the counterfeit wall would be daubed with untempered mortar in the last days, and that the seven last plagues would bring its total destruction. “Say unto them that daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall . . . and a stormy wind shall rend it” (Ezekiel 13:11).

Wall Daubers Destroyed by the Plagues

Does the Bible give us any information about the time of this great deluge of hail? John the revelator describes the event in these words: “And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven . . . and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great” (Revelation 16:21).

Here is evidence that the false wall of tradition will be dealt with at the time of the seven last plagues. God speaks of that judgment on the wall as “my wrath” in Ezekiel 13:14-15. “So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered mortar . . . and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof. . . . Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall and upon them that have daubed it.” What is His wrath?

God refers to the seven last plagues as His wrath: “Seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God” (Revelation 15:1). Do you get the picture now? His wrath in the destruction of the counterfeit wall is accomplished by the overflowing hail, which is one of the last plagues, also designated as God’s wrath. This places the judgment on the wall-daubers at the end of time when the seven last plagues are poured out.

But how can we be sure that this untempered mortar is truly the tradition of Sunday worship? In case there is any doubt remaining on this point, please weigh this final proof. The wrath of God falls ONLY upon those who have the mark of the beast. “If any man worship the beast . . . and receive his mark . . . The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:9, 10).

Now let’s do some reasoning together. The facts of God’s Word are before us. Since the seven last plagues fall only upon those who have the mark of the beast, and since the counterfeit wall-builders receive the plagues, we have to conclude that the wall-builders have the mark. We have already shown that the Sunday tradition was used in the daubing. Does this mean that Sunday-keeping is connected with the mark of the beast? Indeed it does. For a full explanation of this fascinating connection, write for the free booklet, The Beast, The Dragon, and The Woman. Even without looking into the subject any further we can see that those who daub the wall (change God’s law) are Sunday advocates and that they also receive the plagues which fall ONLY upon those who have the mark of the beast. One would have to be blind to miss the fact that the mark is tied closely to Sunday-keeping.

Let us now pursue the wall symbolism further in the writings of the Old Testament prophets. God was deeply concerned about the gap or breach that had been made in His law. He is quoted as saying, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me” (Ezekiel 22:30).

In view of the diversionary tactics of daubing tradition into the breach, creating a false wall, God is represented by the prophet as searching for someone who will “make up the hedge” and “stand in the gap.” What a picture is presented here! Did God find those who would have the courage to restore unpopular truth? Does the Bible finally describe the faithful rebuilding of the wall to meet the specifications of God’s plumbline?

Let Isaiah take up the thread now and paint the final picture. “And they that shall be of thee (of God) shall . . . be called, The repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable . . .” (Isaiah 58:12, 13).

Here, without any equivocation, we find a clear description of those who will repair the breach and restore the original wall. It is those who turn back to the true Sabbath, and who enter into the work of clearing the debris of tradition, so that the Sabbath may again glow as the delight of God’s people—a holy day and honorable. Freed from the false allusions cast by antinomians and libertines, the law of God will be recognized as the great moral standard of grace-saved Christians—evidence of a genuine love relationship with Jesus.

Gathering up these golden threads of Bible truth, we can summarize the prophetic story very easily and quickly. In the last days great thrusts will be made by false shepherds to weaken the authority of God’s law.

Influential religious groups will join forces to lead people to reject the true Sabbath. By setting aside the fourth commandment, a breach is made in the law which is represented as a protecting wall. While counterfeit material is used to restore the gap in the form of Sunday worship, God finds a people who will be called the repairers of the breach and who turn back to keeping the true Sabbath. Those who try to change His law by substituting the pagan day of the sun receive the mark of the beast and experience the punishment of the seven last plagues.

But let us close this discouraging prophetic picture on a note of hope and assurance. Not all will be found tearing down
or trying to change God’s law. In the book of Revelation God points out His saints and describes them in these words: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). A remnant will not go along with the traditions of men. They will not accept any substitute for the requirements of God. As the last end-piece of the apostolic church, they are characterized by loving Jesus supremely and keeping His commandments. Satan’s final desperate battle against God will take place over the loyalty of this little group. Here’s the way John viewed that clash: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17).

May God grant you the courage to be a part of that remnant church which has the faith of Jesus, the testimony of Jesus, and keeps all of His commandments. These truly may be designated as the saints.

In summary, note how link upon link of related texts show the fortunes and misfortunes of the wall—God’s law.

1.The wall represents God’s law. A breach in the wall represents breaking the law [iniquity] (Isaiah 30:9-13), “This is a rebellious people . . . children that will not hear the law of the LORD . . . therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall.”

2.False ministers did not repair the break. But they did try to mend the gap with weak, untempered mortar, a counterfeit material (Ezekiel 13:3-14), “Woe unto the foolish prophets . . . ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge . . . and one built up a wall, and lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar.”

3.The breach in the wall was the Sabbath, which the preachers saw, but hid their eyes from it. Instead of restoring the true Sabbath, they used the pagan Sunday [untempered mortar] as a substitute, claiming that the Lord said it was all right, when “the LORD hath not spoken” (Ezekiel 22:26-28), “Her priests have violated my law, and profaned mine holy things . . . and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths . . . and her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar . . . saying, Thus saith the LORD GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken.”

4.The counterfeit wall [Sunday] will be revealed and destroyed when the plagues fall [hail] (Ezekiel 13:11), “Say unto them that daub it with untempered mortar that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall and a stormy wind shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.”

5.Hail is one of the seven last plagues (Revelation 16:21), “And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven . . . and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

6.The plagues are called “the wrath of God” (Revelation 15:1), “Seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.”

7.The wrath of God [plagues] fall on those who have the mark of the beast (Revelation 14:9, 10), “If any man worship the beast . . . and receive his mark . . . The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.”

8.God’s wrath [plagues] fall on those who used the untempered mortar [Sunday]. The plagues and destruction prove that these events take place at the end of the world and that these prophecies apply to our day (Ezekiel 13:13-15), “I will even rend it . . . and great hailstones in my fury to consume it. So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered mortar . . . Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall and upon them that have daubed it.”

9.God looked for those who would repair the gap or breach in His law correctly (Ezekiel 22:30), “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me.”

10.God finds those who will repair the breach. They will restore the true Sabbath to its right place (Isaiah 58:12, 13), “And they that shall be of thee . . . shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of the paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day.”

End Time Delusions by Steve Wohlberg
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Hell-Fire: A Twisted Truth Untangled

22 Oct

By Joe Crews

 

One of the most theologically confused subjects in the Bible is that of hell. It has been fumbled by the clergy and distorted by the laity until the word has become best known as a common vulgarism and expletive. Everywhere people are asking the same questions: What and where is hell? What is the fate of the wicked? Will a God of love torture people throughout eternity? Will the fire of hell ever burn the wickedness out of sinners?
These are questions which deserve sound Bible answers, and the controversy surrounding the subject should not discour- age us from exposing all the truth as it is in Christ. First of all, we need to understand that there is a heaven to win and a hell to shun. Jesus taught that every soul will be either saved or lost. There is no neutral place, and there are no second prizes. “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, And them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Matthew 13:41-43.
In view of these two ultimate destinies for all who have ever been born, how earnest we should be in seeking to find the right way. Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” The only absolute safety for anyone is to take exactly what Jesus taught about hell. His doctrine is the only one which is wholly dependable and true. He said some will be cast into the fire, and some will shine forth in the kingdom.
Strangely enough, Christ has been charged by many religious leaders with teaching a falsehood on this subject. They have accused Him of teaching that an immortal soul flies away from the body at death to either heaven or hell. This is not what Jesus taught at all. He never gave the least intimation that some disembodied soul separates from the body at the time of death. And surely He did not ever give the impression that the wicked suffer an eternal torment as soon as they die.
Now let’s get a sample of what Jesus really taught on the subject of hell. “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell …” Mark 9:43. These words of the Master prove beyond any shadow of doubt that it is the body which goes into the fire, and not some mystical soul. In Matthew 5:30 He spoke of the “whole body” being cast into hell. That means hands, feet, eyes, and all the other members of the physical body.
In contrast to the doctrine of Christ, modern pulpits resound with dramatic portrayals of imaginary souls leaving the body at death-souls that have neither substance nor shape. This view, popular though it may be, is totally contrary to what Jesus taught. Mark it well, for the great Master Teacher spelled it out repeatedly in the gospels-those who are cast into the fire of hell will go there with hands, feet, eyes, and all the physical features of the body. They will not go in some ethereal state of formless spirit or soul.
Now we are prepared to examine four great facts from the Bible which will illuminate most of the questions which have been asked about the fate of the wicked.
Punishment After the Judgment
The first important fact about hell is this: The unsaved do not go to any place of punishment as soon as they die, but are reserved in the grave until the day of judgment to be punished. Christ explicitly taught this truth in the well-known parable of the wheat and the tares. After the householder had sown the wheat in the field, his servant came to report that tares were growing among the grain. His question was whether he should pull up the weeds while they were still very small. The householder’s answer was, “Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:29, 30.
Now follow the words of Christ as He explains the meaning of the parable: “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:37-42.
No one can simplify the parable by enlarging on what Jesus said. It is so clear that a child can understand it. He said the tares represented the wicked people, and that they would be cast into the fire “at the end of the world.” It was in the harvest that the separation would take place, and He plainly stated, “The harvest is the end of the world.” How can anyone misconstrue these words of Christ? The whole idea of the wicked going into the fire at the time of death contradicts our Lord’s specific teaching that they would be cast into the fire at the end of the world.
Since the judgment also takes place after Christ comes we can see how impossible it would be for anyone to be punished before that time. Justice demands that a person be brought into judgment before being punished. Peter declared, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” 2 Peter 2:9. That certainly makes sense, doesn’t it? Suppose a man should be brought into the court accused of stealing, and the judge said, “Put him away for ten years; then we’ll try his case.” Listen, even a human judge would not be that unfair! He would be impeached for such an action. Surely God would not be guilty of such a farce.
If we let the Bible mean what it says, there can be no doubt on this point. The wicked are “reserved” until when? Until the “day of judgment.” To be what? “To be punished”! This means they cannot be punished before that judgment day. Does the Bible tell where they are reserved until then? Christ Himself said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29.
How plain! Jesus said that both good and bad will come forth from their graves to receive either life or damnation. This proves that from the time of death until they come forth in the resurrection they are not receiving any recompense or punishment. It all happens after they come forth. They are reserved until that day just as Peter indicated, but Christ spelled out where they will be reserved-“in the graves.”
If plainer words are needed, listen to Jesus speaking in Luke 14:14, “Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Or hear Him again in Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” When is “then”? When He comes with His angels. No reward or recompense is handed out until the resurrection of the just, when He comes with all the angels. These verses are beyond controversy. Taken in their context, they contain no ambiguity or hidden meaning.
Again Christ is quoted in the very last chapter of the Bible, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12. Here He reminds us that “every man”-every person-will receive his just reward when Christ returns to this earth. Job declares “that the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction. They shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.” Daniel wrote that they which “sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2.  Can there be any doubt where the wicked are reserved before facing resurrection, judgment, and punishment? We have the testimony of Peter, Daniel, Job and the Master Himself. There is no room to quibble. They are reserved in the grave.
Now we come to the second great fact about hell: None of the unsaved will be cast into hell-fire until after the second coming of Jesus at the end of the world. Although we have already seen substantial evidence on this point, let’s look even more. Describing the punishment of the wicked, John wrote: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.
No Second Death Before the Resurrection
Here the lost are pictured in the fires of hell, suffering the punishment for their sins. And what is that punishment? “The second death,” says John. Do you realize what this proves about the wicked? It proves they will not be cast into the lake of fire until after the resurrection takes place. These people die the second death in the fire, but they cannot suffer a second death until they get a second life. They lived the first life in this world and died the first death, going into the grave. Before they can die a second death they must be resurrected-they must be given a second life. This, of course, is what happens at the end of the world. Jesus said, “All that are in the graves shall come forth.”
Now after getting that second life in the resurrection, the wicked will be punished for their sins in hell-fire, “which is the second death.” By the way, that second death is the final, eternal death from which there will be no resurrection. But the point to be noted is the time of this hell-fire punishment-it is after the resurrection at the end of the world. It does not take place at the time of the first death as so many have been led to believe.
Does the Bible tell us how the wicked will be cast into the lake of fire? Yes, it does. John describes the dramatic events that take place at the close of the millennium. “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” Revelation 20:7-9.
Here at the end of the millennium all the wicked people who have ever lived will come forth in the second resurrection. After describing how the righteous would come to life and reign with Christ during the thousand years, John wrote, “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” Revelation 20:5.
The rest of the dead, of course, had to be the wicked, and their resurrection will provide opportunity for Satan to take up his continuing battle against God and the saints. He goes out to gather the host of lost ones, who have been raised from the dead. He has people to deceive once more, and he convinces them that they can prevail against the New Jerusalem which has descended from God out of heaven (Revelation 21:2). As they march up and encompass the city, the wicked are suddenly cut down by the devouring fire which rains upon them from heaven. This is the hell-fire which is the final punishment for sin.
Location of Hell
The Bible clearly asserts that this fire devours the wicked right here on “the breadth of the earth.” Every Bible writer who speaks on the subject of hell adds new insight on this second death of the wicked. Peter states: “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:7. Then he goes on to describe the day of the Lord which will melt the very elements with fervent heat.
The language of Peter is very explicit about the place of punishment for the un- godly. He says this earth is reserved for that fire which will bring judgment and perdition to the wicked. Their punishment will be in this earth. Isaiah declared, “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.” Isaiah 34:8, 9.
The prophet portrays the entire planet enveloped in the destroying fire. Even the streams and dust are transformed into an exploding combustion of pitch and brimstone. Isaiah says this is God’s vengeance and “recompense” at the end of the controversy.
David adds to the testimony with these words, “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” Psalm 11:6. Notice that he uses almost the same words as John and Peter in describing the fate of the wicked. All agree as to the place of the punishment (the earth) and the agent of punishment (fire).
This brings us to the third great fact about the subject of hell. Hell as a place of punishment will be this earth turned into a lake of fire at the Day of Judgment. But this also raises some other very interesting questions about the fate of the lost. One of the most intriguing and puzzling has to do with the length of punishment. How long will the wicked continue to live and suffer in that fire?
No one can answer that question precisely because the Bible says they will be punished according to their works. This means there will be degrees of punishment. Some will suffer longer than others. But one thing we can say with certainty-the wicked won’t live in that fire throughout eternity.
Hell-Fire Not Endless
There are several reasons for being so sure on this point. First of all, this earth is also declared to be the final home for the righteous. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek: For they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5. Peter, after describing this earth exploding and burning with a great noise, saw a new earth filled with righteousness. “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:13.
The wicked cannot continue to live in this planet because it has been specifically promised, in its entirety, to Abraham’s spiritual seed (Romans 4:13). After being purged of all the curse of sin, it will revert to the first dominion, and to God’s original plan for it. It will be finally what God intended it to be-a perfect home for a perfect people.
In the second place, the wicked cannot continue to live in this earth because they have never trusted Christ for eternal life. It is only the righteous who receive the gift of eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish. …” John 3:16. But what about those who don’t believe in him? They surely will perish. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. Please don’t miss the pointed simplicity of these verses. The wicked are never promised life. They are promised death-eternal death. Only the righteous are promised life-eternal life.
But there is only one way to get life without end, and that is through faith in Jesus. John describes it this way: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 John 5:11, 12. Let me ask you a question: Do those wicked ones in the lake of fire have the Son of God? Of course not. Then how could they have life? John says, “Ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15. Will those murderers in hell-fire continue to have life for eternity? Never.
It would be the rankest heresy to believe that eternal life could be obtained from some other source than Jesus. Where would the wicked get it? Paul declares that Jesus Christ “hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:10. Inspiration reveals no other source of immortality except through the gospel of Christ. Where is a text in the Bible which describes the conferring of immortality upon the wicked? You can read often about the righteous receiving it, but never the unbeliever.
Paul said, “Behold I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.
This text speaks of a certain point in time when the righteous will be instantly changed into immortal beings. That time is still future. It occurs when Jesus returns, at the last trumpet sound, when the resurrection takes place. Nowhere in the Bible do we read of the wicked being changed in this manner. And it is precisely because they never receive this gift of eternal life that they are unable to keep living in the lake of fire.
It is inconceivable and unreasonable to fabricate such an event. It is contrary to the Bible and repugnant to the senses. Ezekiel declared, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4. No matter what we understand a soul to be, let’s accept the simple Bible fact that it can die and will die as a result of sin.
If the wicked live eternally in the fire, then they have the same thing as the righteous except in a different place. Who could give them eternal life but Christ? John 3:16 settles this issue so clearly and simply. Those who do not believe in the only begotten Son will perish. They will die. They will die the second death-an eternal death from which they will never be raised. That death will never end. It is an endless, eternal punishment, because it is an endless, eternal death.
Unquenchable Fire
Someone may raise this question: What about the unquenchable fire that burns the wicked? Doesn’t that mean it will never go out? Of course, it doesn’t. To quench means to extinguish or put out. No one will be able to put out the fire of hell. That is the strange fire of God. No one will be able to escape from it by extinguishing it. Isaiah says of that fire, “Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor a fire to sit before it.” Isaiah 47:14. After it has accomplished its work of destruction, that fire will go out. No one can deliver themselves from its flame by putting it out, but finally not a coal will be left. So say the Scriptures.
Jeremiah prophesied that Jerusalem would burn with a fire that could not be quenched (Jeremiah 17:27), but it burned down to ashes (2 Chronicles 36:19-21). Read those verses and see how the Bible uses the word “quench.” It does not mean fire that will never go out. It only means what it says, “unquenchable.” It can’t be quenched.
And what can we say about the expressions “eternal” “everlasting” which are used to describe the fires of hell? There is absolutely no confusion or contradiction when we allow the Bible to supply its own definition of terms. Many make the mistake of applying modern definitions to those biblical words without reference to their an- cient contextual usage. This violates one of the most fundamental rules of interpretation.
The fact is that eternal fire does not mean a fire that will never go out. The same expression is used in Jude 7 concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha. “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
It is quite obvious that Sodom is not still burning today. The Dead Sea rolls over the place where those ancient cities once stood. Yet they burned with “eternal fire,” and we are told that it was an example of something. What is it an example of? “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” 2 Peter 2:6.
There it is! That eternal fire which brought Sodom to ashes is an example of what will finally happen to the wicked. If this text is true, the same kind of fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha will also burn the wicked in the lake of fire. It will have to be eternal fire. Does that mean it will also burn the wicked to ashes? The Bible says Yes. “For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch … And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:1, 3.
No words of any language could make it more forceful or clear. This eternal fire burns up eternally. Even Satan, the root, is finally consumed. How consistent the whole picture appears as we let the Bible explain its own terms. What devious manipulation of words would be required to evade the obvious meaning of these words. Yet those who have been prejudiced by a lifetime of tradition can read those words “burn them up … they shall be ashes” and still insist that the wicked are alive and suffering.  Admittedly, there are some ambiguous verses on this subject, but we are finding that they all harmonize when the context is considered, and the Bible is allowed to be its own commentary.
Even Christ’s words in Matthew 25:46 are not confusing when we the obvious meaning. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Many are troubled over the expression, “everlasting punishment,” but notice that it does not say “everlasting punishing.” Whatever the punishment is, it will last eternally. Does the Bible tell us what the punishment is? Of course. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. So Jesus was simply saying that the death would be everlasting. It would never end. It would never be broken by a resurrection.
Paul simplifies it further with these words: “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished … ” Now, listen, Paul is going to tell us what the punishment is. “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9. So the punishment is everlasting destruction – a destruction that is everlasting. From it there will be no resurrection or hope of life.
But what about that worm which dieth not? Many have read the words of Jesus about hell, “Where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:45, 46. Some have interpreted the worm to be the soul. Is that what Jesus meant? Nowhere in the Bible is there any allusion to the soul as a worm.
In this instance Jesus used the word “Gehenna” for the word “hell.” It so happened that Gehenna was an actual place of burning just outside the walls of Jerusalem. No doubt, Christ’s listeners could see the smoke curling up from the Valley of Gehenna, where dead bodies and garbage were constantly being burned. If anything fell outside the destructive flames, it was quickly consumed by maggots or worms. With the vivid scenes of utter extinction before their eyes, Jesus used the Gehenna fire as an example of the complete destruction of hell-fire. The fire was never quenched, and the worms were constantly at work upon the bodies-a picture of total destruction.
Perhaps the most easily misconstrued text about hell is John’s allusion to the smoke ascending “for ever and ever.” For those who are unfamiliar with other uses of this phrase in the Bible, it can be very confusing indeed. But a comparison of verses in both Old and New Testaments reveal that the words “for ever” are used 57 times in the Bible in reference to something that has already come to an end. In other words, “for ever” does not always mean “without end.”
Many notable examples could be cited, but two or three are noteworthy. In Exodus 21, the conditions are laid down concerning the law of servitude. If a servant chose to continue serving the master he loved rather than his freedom when it came due, then his ear was to be pierced with an awl and the Scripture declares, “He shall serve him for ever.” Verse 6. But how long would that servant serve his human master? Only as long as he lived, of course. So the words “for ever” did not mean without end.  Hannah took her son Samuel to God’s temple, where he would “there abide for ever.” 1 Samuel 1:22. Yet in verse 28 we are plainly told, “As long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord.” The original meaning of the term “for ever” indicates an indefinite period of time. Generally it defines the period of time in which something can continue to exist under the circumstances prevailing. Even Jonah’s stay in the whale’s belly is described by him as “for ever.” Jonah 2:6.
Someone may object that this could also limit the life of the righteous in heaven, because they are described as glorifying God forever. The terms are the same for both the saved and the lost. But there is one tremendous difference in the circumstances involved. The saints have received the gift of immortality. Their life now measures with the life of God. Immortality means “not subject to death.” The words “for ever” used in reference to them could only mean “without end,” because they are immortal subjects already. But when “for ever” is used to describe the wicked, we are talking about mortal creatures who can die and must die. Their “for ever” is only as long as their mortal nature can survive in the fire which punishes them according to their works.
Soul and Body Destroyed
This brings us to the final fact concerning the fate of the wicked. After the unsaved are punished according to their sins, they will be wiped out of existence, both body and soul. Jesus states it very simply, “And fear not them which kill the body … but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28.
In the light of this statement, how can anyone continue to claim immortality for the wicked? Jesus, the only One who can bestow the gift of life, rejects the possibility that those in hell can continue to live in any form whatsoever. The life will be snuffed out for eternity, and the body will be annihilated in the flames.
The psalmist wrote: “But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.” Psalm 37:20. “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.” Verse 10.
The most powerful, definitive words in human language are used to describe the destruction in hell, but people still insist that the writers do not really mean what their words express. “Destroy,” “consume,” “burn up,” “devour,” “death”-do these words have some mysterious, opposite meaning in the Bible than they have in other books? We have no reason to think so. The fact is that theology has made an ogre out of our great God of love. He has been portrayed as more cruel than Hitler. Even though Hitler tortured people and experimented with them, finally he allowed them to die. But God will keep these deathless souls alive for the purpose of seeing them writhe and scream throughout eternity, so the theologians claim.
God’s Justice Vindicated
Not only is such a picture misrepresentative of God’s love, it also distorts His justice. Think for a moment about the implications of a doctrine that would consign every lost soul to an immediate, never-ending hell at the time of death. Suppose a man died 5,000 years ago with one cherished sin in his life. His soul would go instantly into the fire to be tormented for eternity. Then picture another death; that of Adolph Hitler, who supervised the deaths of millions of people. According to the popular doctrine, his soul also would immediately enter hell to suffer eternally. But the man who was lost because of only one sin, will burn 5,000 years longer than Hitler. How could that be just? Would God deal in such a manner? It would contradict the Bible statement that each one must be punished according to his works.
There are two extreme views in current circulation concerning the punishment of the wicked. One is Universalism, which contends that God is too good to allow anyone to be lost. The other is the awful doctrine of endless torment which would perpetuate for all eternity a dark abyss of anguish and suffering. Both are wrong. The truth lies in between. God will punish the wicked according to their works, but He will not immortalize evil in the process.
I truly believe that many honest souls have been turned away from God because of their revulsion at this misrepresentation of His character. They can’t love someone who would arbitrarily keep evil people in endless torment with no purpose in view. No rehabilitation is possible. Only a vindictive spirit of revenge could be served by such an unspeakable arrangement. Is God like that? After hearing the Bible truth about hell, a bank president threw his arms around my shoulders and said, “Joe, I’m a believer again. For years I’ve been an agnostic because I had been taught that God would torture the wicked eternally.”
No More Pain Or Death
Someday soon God will have a clean universe. All the effects of sin will be banished forever. There will be no sin, no sinners and no devil to tempt. It will be just exactly like God planned it in the beginning.
John described that future home in these words, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4.
Can you find any room in those precious words for any suffering on the part of anybody in the whole recreated universe? God said crying and pain would be no more. Do you believe His Word or do you choose to believe man’s surmising? Just four verses before writing this promise, John described how the wicked would be cast into the lake of fire. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” Revelation 20:15; 21:1.
That lake of fire is right here on planet earth according to Revelation 20:9. But please notice that this place where the wicked burn will pass away, and God will re-create the new earth in its stead. The new Jerusalem descends before that fire devours the wicked, and afterwards, according to verse 4, there will be no more sorrow, pain, crying, or death.      In order for no more pain to exist, there can be no eternal hell existing either. The two things are mutually exclusive of each other. We should thank God every day that His plan will finally bring an end to suffering. Satan will not be here to cause pain, and God promises that His new kingdom will not even contain a shadow of a pain.
Hell Not Intended For Us
Finally, we should rejoice that hell was never intended for you and me. Jesus said it was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41. If we stumble into that fire, it will be the most colossal blunder we could ever make. You would have to go there over the broken body of Jesus Christ and in spite of the Father’s love, the Holy Spirit’s pleading, and the heavenly influence of a million angels. The most unanswerable question in the whole world is this: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” There is no answer because there is no escape except through Christ and His cross.  No one will be lost because he sinned, because everyone has sinned. No one will be left out of heaven because he lied, stole, or committed adultery. The only reason anyone will be lost is because he refuses to turn away from his sin into the arms of a loving Saviour who stands ready to pardon and cleanse from all unrighteousness. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

The True Identity Of The Antichrist!

13 Oct
Who, or what, is the Antichrist? Evil alliance, or sinister individual? Some say his appearance is still in the future. Others say he appeared long ago in the days of ancient Rome. But the Bible indicates that he is alive today! The Bible prophecies teach this antichrist power will play a crucial role in the final events of earth’s history. Do you know who he is? Are you sure? You need to be, for you can’t understand last-day events until you understand this evil power. Be prepared for one of the most intriguing Study Guides yet! This Study Guide, based on Daniel chapter 7, clearly and unmistakably identifies the Antichrist. But it is only an introduction. Future lessons will reveal details of some of his activities that will have worldwide impact. What you discover today may displease or sadden you, but please remember that the prophecy of Daniel chapter 7 comes from Jesus, who loves you. Pray for God’s guidance as you delve into this urgent subject. Be sure to read Daniel 7 before studying this guide.
In prophecy, God uses beasts to symbolize nations.

In prophecy, God uses beasts to symbolize nations.

 

1. As the chapter begins, Daniel sees four beasts coming up out of the sea. In prophecy, what does a beast represent? What does the sea represent?

“The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth.” Daniel 7:23. “The waters … are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15.

Answer:   Beasts represent kingdoms or nations. Water represents multitudes of people or large populations.

 

The lion beast of Daniel 7 represents the empire of Babylon.

The lion beast of Daniel 7 represents the empire of Babylon.

 

2. The four beasts of Daniel 7 represent the four world kingdoms (verses 17, 18). Babylon, the first kingdom (Daniel 2:38, 39), is represented as a lion in Daniel 7:4. (See also Jeremiah 4:7 50:17, 43, 44 for Babylon pictured as a lion elsewhere.) What do the “eagle’s wings” mean? What do the “four winds” of verse 2 represent?

“The Lord shall bring a nation against thee … as swift as the eagle flieth.” Deuteronomy 28:49.

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, … a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth.” Jeremiah 25:32, 33.

Answer:   The wings of eagles represent speed.
(See also Jeremiah 4:13; Habakkuk 1:6-9.) Winds represent strife, commotion, and destruction. (See also Revelation 7:1-3.)

 

The bear with three ribs in its mouth symbolizes Medo-Persia.

The bear with three ribs in its mouth symbolizes Medo-Persia.

 

3. What kingdom does the bear represent (Daniel 7:5)? What do the three ribs in its mouth symbolize?

Answer:   Read Daniel 8. Notice that the beasts in chapter 8 parallel those in chapter 7. Daniel 8:20 specifically names Medo-Persia as the kingdom that precedes the rough goat, or Greece, of verse 21. It is the second world kingdom, the same power as the bear of Daniel 7. The empire was made up of two groups of people.

The Medes came up first (represented in Daniel 7:5 by the bear coming up on one side), but the Persians eventually became stronger (represented in Daniel 8:3 by the ram’s second horn which grew “higher,” or taller). The three ribs represent the three principal powers conquered by Medo-Persia:

Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt.

 

The leopard beast of Daniel 7 represents the world kingdom of Greece.

The leopard beast of Daniel 7 represents the world kingdom of Greece.

 

4. Greece, the third kingdom (Daniel 8:21), is represented by a leopard with four wings and four heads (Daniel 7:6). What do the heads represent? What do the four wings represent?

Answer:   The four heads represent the four kingdoms into which the empire of Alexander the Great was divided when he died. The four generals who headed these areas were: Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus. The four wings (instead of two like the lion) represent super-speed, which was true of Alexander’s conquests (Jeremiah 4:11-13).

 

The world empire of Rome is symbolized by the monster beast of Daniel chapter 7.

The world empire of Rome is symbolized by the monster beast of Daniel chapter 7.

 

5. The Roman empire, the fourth world kingdom, is represented by a horrible monster with iron teeth and 10 horns (Daniel 7:7). What do the horns represent?

Answer:   The 10 horns represent the 10 kings or kingdoms into which pagan Rome was eventually split (Daniel 7:24). (These 10 kingdoms are the same as the 10 toes of the image described in Daniel 2:41-44.) Roving barbarian tribes swept in upon the Roman empire and carved out land niches for their people.

Seven of those 10 tribes developed into the countries of modern Western Europe, while three were uprooted and destroyed. The next section will discuss those kingdoms that were rooted up.

Visigoths – Spain

Anglo-Saxons – England

Franks – France

Alemani – Germany

Burgundians – Switzerland

Lombards – Italy

Suevi – Portugal

Heruli – Rooted up

Ostrogoths – Rooted up

Vandals – Rooted up

 

The little horn of Daniel 7:8 represents Antichrist.

The little horn of Daniel 7:8 represents Antichrist.

 

6. In the Daniel 7 prophecy, what happens next?

“I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Daniel 7:8.

Answer:   The “little horn” power appears next. We must identify it carefully because God takes more space describing it than the other four kingdoms combined. Why? Because the biblical characteristics identify it as the Antichrist of prophecy and history. There must be no mistake in making this identification.

 

The Bible says Antichrist would persecute God's people.

The Bible says Antichrist would persecute God’s people.

 

7. Are there clear points of identification?

Answer:   Yes, God gives us nine characteristics of Antichrist in Daniel 7 so we can be certain of his identity. And even though some may find these truths from God’s Word painful, we must be honest enough to accept them as His revealed will. Now let’s discover what Jesus’ nine points are:

A. The “little horn” or kingdom “came up among them”the 10 horns which were the kingdoms of Western Europe (Daniel 7:8). So it would be a little kingdom somewhere in Western Europe.

B. It would have a man at its head who could speak for it (Daniel 7:8).

C. It would pluck up or uproot three kingdoms (Daniel 7:8).

D. It would be “diverse” or different from the other 10 kingdoms (Daniel 7:24).

E. It would make war with and “wear out” or persecute the saints (Daniel 7:21, 25).

F. It would emerge from the pagan Roman empire, the fourth world kingdom (Daniel 7:7, 8).

G. God’s people (the saints) would “be given into his hand” for “a time and times and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:25).

H. It would “speak great words against” or blaspheme God (Daniel 7:25). In Revelation 13:5, the Bible says the same power speaks “great things and blasphemies.”

I. It would “think to change times and laws.” Daniel 7:25.

Don’t forget all these identification points come directly from the Bible. They are not some human opinion or speculation. Historians could tell you quickly what power is being described. These points can fit only one power, the papacy. But in order to be certain, let us carefully examine all nine points, one by one. There must be no room left for doubt.

 

The papacy clearly fits all nine identification points.

The papacy clearly fits all nine identification points.

 

8. Does the papacy fit these points?

Answer:   Yes, it fits every point perfectly. See items A through H below.

A. It “came up among” the 10 kingdoms of Western Europe.
The geographical location of the papal power was in Rome, Italy the very heart of the territory of Western Europe.

B. It would have a man at its head who speaks for it.
The papacy meets this identifying mark because it does have one man at the head (the pope) who speaks for it.

C. It would pluck up or uproot three kingdoms.
The emperors of Western Europe were largely Catholic and supported the papacy in its growth and authority. Three Arian kingdoms, however, did not support the papacy, the Vandals, Heruli, and Ostrogoths. So the Catholic emperors decided they must be subdued or destroyed. Here is how Dr. Mervyn Maxwell, a theologian and historian, described the results in volume 1, page 129, of his book God Cares:

“The Catholic emperor Zeno (474-491) arranged a treaty with the Ostrogoths in 487 which resulted in the eradication of the kingdom of the Arian Heruls in 493. And the Catholic emperor Justinian (527-565) exterminated the Arian Vandals in 534 and significantly broke the power of the Arian Ostrogoths in 538. Thus were Daniel’s three horns the Heruls, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths’plucked up by the roots.’ ” It is not difficult to recognize that the papacy fits this point.

D. It would be “diverse” or different from the other kingdoms.
The papacy clearly fits this description, also. It came on the scene as a religious power and was totally different from the secular nature of the other 10 kingdoms.

E. It would make war with and persecute the saints.
That the church did persecute is a well-known fact. The papacy clearly admits doing so. Much supportive evidence exists. Even conservative historians claim the church probably destroyed at least 50 million people over matters of religious conviction. We will quote here from two sources:

1. “That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge of history. 1

2. In The History of the Inquisition of Spain, D. Ivan Antonio Llorente provides these figures from the Spanish Inquisition alone:

  • 31,912 persons were condemned and perished in the flames.
  • 241,450 persons were condemned to severe penalties.

F. It would emerge from the fourth kingdom of iron – the pagan Roman Empire.
We are quoting two authorities on this point:

1. “The mighty Catholic Church was little more than the Roman Empire baptised … The very capital of the old Roman Empire became the capital of the Christian empire. The office of Pontifex Maximus was continued in that of the pope.” 2

2. “Whatever Roman elements the barbarians and Arians left … [came] under the protection of the Bishop of Rome, who was the chief person there after the emperor’s disappearance. The Roman Church in this way privily pushed itself into the place of the Roman World-Empire, of which it is the actual continuation.” 3

So, once again, the point fits the papacy.

G. God’s people (the saints) would “be given into his hand” for “a time and times and the dividing of time.” Daniel 7:25.

Several things need clarification in connection with this point:

1. A time is a year, times is two years, and the dividing of time is a half-year. The Amplified Bible translates it: “Three and one-half years.” 4

2. This same time period is mentioned seven times (Daniel 7:25 12:7 Revelation 11:2, 3 12:6, 14 13:5) in the books of Daniel and Revelation: three times as a time, times, and half a time twice as 42 months and twice as 1,260 days. Based on the 30-day calendar used by the Jews, these time periods are all the same amount of time:

3 1/2 years = 42 months = 1,260 days.

3. One prophetic day equals one literal year (Ezekiel 4:6 Numbers 14:34).

4. Thus, the little horn (Antichrist) was to have power over the saints for 1,260 prophetic days or 1,260 literal years.

5. The rule of the papacy began in A.D. 538, when the last of the three opposing Arian kingdoms was uprooted. Its rule continued until 1798 when Napoleon’s general, Berthier, took the pope captive with hopes of destroying both Pope Pius VI and the political, secular power of the papacy. This period of time is an exact fulfillment of the 1,260-year prophecy. The blow was a deadly wound for the papacy, but that wound began to heal and continues healing today.

6. This same period of persecution is mentioned in Matthew 24:21 as the worst period of persecution God’s people will ever experience. Verse 22 tells us it was so devastating that not one soul would have survived if God had not shortened it. But God did shorten it. The persecution ended long before the pope was taken captive in 1798. It is plain to see that this point, likewise, fits the papacy.

H. It would speak “great words” of blasphemy “against the most High [God].”
Blasphemy has two definitions in Scripture:

1. Claiming to forgive sins (Luke 5:21).

2. Claiming to be God (John 10:33).

Does this point fit the papacy? Yes!

Let’s first look at the evidence for it claiming to forgive sins: “Does the Priest truly forgive the sins, or does he only declare that they are remitted? The Priest does really and truly forgive the sins in virtue of the power given to him by Christ.”

5 The papacy further undermines Jesus by setting up a system of confession to an earthly priest, thus bypassing Jesus, our High Priest (Hebrews 3:1 8:1, 2) and only Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).

Next consider the evidence for it claiming to be God: “We [the popes] hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.”

6 Here is another: “The pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ, Himself, hidden under the veil of flesh.”

7 Its obvious this point, likewise, fits the papacy.

I. It would “think to change times and laws.”
In a future Study Guide we will deal with the “times” of this point. It is a major topic and needs separate consideration. But what about changing the “laws”? The Amplified Bible translates “laws” as “the law.” The reference is to changing God’s law. Of course, no one can really change it, but has the papacy attempted to do so? The answer is “yes.”

In its catechisms, the papacy has omitted the second commandment against veneration of images and has shortened the fourth commandment from 94 words to eight and divided the tenth commandment into two commandments. (Check this for yourself. Compare the Ten Commandments in any Catholic catechism with God’s list of the commandments in Exodus 20:3-17.)

There is no doubt that the little horn power of Daniel chapter 7 (the Antichrist) is the papacy. No other organization could possibly fit these nine points. And incidentally, this is no new teaching. Every Reformer, without exception, spoke of the papacy as Antichrist. 8

Words of Care and Concern
Lest some should think that we are attacking fellow Christians by identifying this little-horn power, please keep in mind that the prophecy is aimed at a system and not individuals. There are sincere, devout Christians in all churches, including the Catholic faith. Daniel chapter 7 is simply a message of judgment and correction upon a large religious institution which compromised with paganism, like so many other churches that arose after her.

Prophecy Reveals Faults of All Faiths
Other prophecies point out the faults of Protestant and Jewish faiths. God has true people in all religions. His true people (no matter what their faith) will always humbly accept the correction of the Lord and will not shut their ears and hearts against Him by self-defensiveness. We should be very thankful that God’s Word speaks with impartial honesty on every subject.

1 W. E. H. Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, Volume 2, p. 40.

22 Alexander Clarence Flick, The Rise of the Medieval Church, pp. 148, 149.

3 Adolf Harnack, What is Christianity? (New York: Putnam, second edition, revised, 1901), pp. 269, 270.

4 The Amplified Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1962.

5 Joseph Deharbe, S.J., A Complete Catechism of the Catholic Religion (New York: Schwartz, Kirwin & Fauss, 1924), p. 279.

6 Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter “The Reunion of Christendom” (dated June 20, 1894) trans. in the Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII (New York: Benziger, 1903), p. 304.

7 Catholic National, July 1895.

8 R. Allen Anderson, Unfolding the Revelation, p. 137.

 

The angel told Daniel that the prophecies of this book would be sealed until 1798, the time of the end.

The angel told Daniel that the prophecies of this book would be sealed until 1798, the time of the end.

 

9. Wasn’t Daniel told to seal up his book until “the time of the end”? (Daniel 12:4) When will Daniel’s prophecies be opened to our understanding?

Answer:   In Daniel 12:4, the prophet was told to seal parts of the book till “the time of the end.” In verse 6 an angelic voice asked, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” Verse 7 says, “It shall be for a time, times, and an half.” The angel assured Daniel that the section of the book dealing with end-time prophecies would be opened after the end of the 1260-year period of papal control which was, as we learned earlier in this Study Guide, 1798. So the time of the end began in the year 1798. Obviously, the book of Daniel contains crucial messages from heaven for us today. We absolutely must understand it.

 

All religious teachings must be compared with Scripture to determine their accuracy.

All religious teachings must be compared with Scripture to determine their accuracy.

 

10. Many Christians today have been tragically misinformed regarding the Antichrist. To believe an untruth about the Antichrist could easily cause a person to be deceived and lost. What should a person do when new Bible teachings are encountered?

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11.

Answer:   When a new Bible teaching is encountered, the only safe procedure is to compare it carefully with Scripture to see if it is in harmony with God’s Word.

 

11. I am willing to follow where Jesus leads, even though it may be painful?

 

 

11. I am willing to follow where Jesus leads, even though it may be painful?

Concluding Remarks

Many momentous prophecies from the Bible books of Daniel and Revelation will be featured in upcoming Amazing Facts Study Guides. God has given these prophecies to:

A. Reveal earth’s closing events.

B. Identify the participants in the final phase of the battle between Jesus and Satan.

C. Clearly reveal Satan’s sinister plans to ensnare and destroy us all.

D. Present the security and love of the judgment God’s saints will be vindicated!

E. Uplift Jesus, His salvation, love, power, mercy, and justice.

Major Participants Will Appear Repeatedly

Key participants in the closing war between Jesus and Satan will appear repeatedly in these prophecies. These include: Satan, Jesus, the United States, the papacy, Protestantism, and spiritism. Jesus repeats and expands His messages from the prophets to make certain His warnings of love and protection come through with clarity and certainty.

Answer:   

 

Thought Questions

1. I always thought Antichrist was a person rather than an organization. Am I wrong?
Antichrist is an organization–the papacy. The words “eyes of man” in Daniel 7:8, however, do point to a leader. Revelation 13:18 speaks of man with a number being involved. In Daniel
chapter 8, Greece is represented by a goat and its leader, Alexander the Great, is symbolized by a horn. The same is true of Antichrist. The organization is the papacy. The pope in office is its representative. The prophecy of Daniel chapter 7 is not saying that popes are evil and that Catholics are not Christians. There are many warm, loving Catholic Christians. The system, however, is called Antichrist because it has usurped Jesus’ authority and attempted to change His law.

2. Do you think it is wise or Christian to pass laws to enforce Christianity?
No. The Bible is clear that all should have freedom to choose the direction they wish to go in matters of conscience (Joshua 24:15)–even if they choose to deny God and be atheists. God permitted Adam and Eve to choose to disobey even though it hurt both them and Him. Forced worship is not acceptable to God. Forced worship is the devil’s way. God’s way is loving persuasion. History shows that virtually every time the church passed laws to enforce its beliefs, persecution and murder of others resulted. This is a lesson we can learn from the Middle Ages history of the little horn.

3. Perhaps I have misunderstood, but my concept has always been that Antichrist would be an evil being who openly opposed God. Is this concept incorrect?
We usually consider the word “anti” to mean “against”. But in “Antichrist” it means “in the place of” or “instead of”. Antichrist is guilty of assuming the prerogatives of God. It claims:

A. Its priests can forgive sins which only God can do (Luke 5:21).

B. To have changed God’s law by dropping out the second commandment (on worshiping images) and splitting the tenth into two parts. God’s law cannot be changed (Matthew 5:18).

C. That the pope is God on earth.

Satan’s Original Plan
Satan’s original plan (in heaven) was to assume God’s position and authority. His aim was to oust God and rule in His place. (See Study Guide 2.) When Satan was ejected from heaven, his aim did not change, but rather intensified. Through the centuries he has endeavored (using various human agencies) to discredit God and take over His position.

Antichrist Appears to Be Spiritual
Satan aims to replace God in these last days by deceiving people into following Antichrist, who appears spiritual and holy. The main purpose of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation is to expose Satan’s traps and strategies and lead people to anchor in Jesus and His Word for safety.

Antichrist Will Deceive Many
Most people will follow the Antichrist (Revelation 13:3), thinking they are following Christ. Only the very elect will be safe (Matthew 24:23, 24). They will be safe because they test every spiritual teaching and leader by Scripture (Isaiah 8:20). Religious deception is everywhere today. We cannot be too careful.

4. Doesn’t the Bible say in 1 John 2:18-22 that there are many antichrists?
Yes, there have been many antichrists down through history who have worked against the kingdom of God. However, there is only one entity that specifically fulfills all the prophesied characteristics of the Antichrist. In Daniel chapters 7 and 8 and in Revelation chapter 13, you will find at least 10 identifying traits of the Antichrist. These 10 identifying marks can be fulfilled in only one entity, the papacy.

5. In prophecy, does the symbol “beast” mean “beastly” characteristics?
Not at all. God uses the symbolism of a beast to signify a ruler, nation, government, or kingdom. It is His way of depicting governments in prophecy. We do this ourselves to some degree: We have depicted Russia as a bear, the United States has an eagle, etc. The symbol “beast” is not a demeaning, disrespectful term. It is synonymous with “animal” or “creature”. Even Christ is portrayed as a Lamb by John the Baptist (John 1:29) and the apostle John (Revelation 5:6, 9, 12, 13). The term “beast” is utilized by God to give us a message about nations and leaders, good and evil.\

This is taken from the amazing facts website.

There is no doubt who the anti christ is after this post.

May God keep you.

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