Tag Archives: Matthew

Is Obedience Legalism?

26 Nov
People might feel like they can get away with violating a traffic law or cheating on their taxes, but God and His laws work much differently.  God sees everything we do, hears everything we say, and He really does care about how we behave.  While the Lord offers forgiveness for our sins, there still are deadly consequences for breaking God’s law.  Amazingly, some Christians say any attempt to obey God’s law amounts to legalism.  Yet Jesus said if you really love God, you’ll do what He asks.  So is obedience legalism? Take time to read this Study Guide carefully… eternal consequences are at stake!
God knows and cares for YOU personally.

God knows and cares for YOU personally.

1. Does God really see and take note of me personally?

“Thou God seest me.” Genesis 16:13. “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou … art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.” Psalms 139:1-4. “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Luke 12:7.

Answer:   Yes, God knows each one of us (every person on earth) better than we know ourselves. He takes a personal interest in every human being and carefully watches all that we do. Not one word, thought, or deed is hidden from Him.

Search the Bible for God's will.  It is your only safety.

Search the Bible for God’s will.  It is your only safety.

2. Can I be saved in His kingdom without obeying His Word, as found in the Holy Bible?

“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.” Matthew 7:21. “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. ” Matthew 19:17. “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Hebrews 5:9.

Answer:   No! Scripture is very clear on this point. Salvation and the kingdom of heaven are for those who obey the Lord’s commands. God does not promise eternal life to those who merely make a profession of faith or are church members or are baptized, but rather to those who do His will, which is revealed in Scripture. Of course, this obedience is possible only through Christ (Acts 4:12).

Only one path leads to heaven.  The Bible is the map that shows us the way.

Only one path leads to heaven.  The Bible is the map that shows us the way.

3. Why does God require obedience? Why is it necessary?

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14. ” But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” Proverbs 8:36. “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive.” Deuteronomy 6:24.

Answer:   Because there is only one narrow path that leads to godlikeness, and thus to His kingdom. All roads do not lead to the same place. The Bible is the map and guidebook with full instructions, warnings, and information on how to safely reach that kingdom. To disregard any part of it leads away from God and His kingdom. The universe of God is a universe of law and order. Natural, moral, and spiritual laws are involved. Breaking any of these laws always has certain fixed results. If the Bible had not been given, people would sooner or later have discovered (by trial and error) that the great principles of the Bible exist and are true.
These Bible principles are written in our nervous systems, glands, and minds. When ignored, they result in shattered nerves, disease, and unhappiness of every kind. So the words of the Bible are not merely advice which we can accept or ignore without consequences. The Bible tells what these consequences are and explains how to avoid them. A person cannot live any way he wishes and still become godlike any more than a builder can ignore the blueprints for a house without running into trouble. This is why God asks all to follow the blueprint of the Holy Scripture. There is no other way to become like Him and thus be fitted for a place in His kingdom. And there is no other way to true happiness.

Sin can be safely destroyed by God only after all people understand and admit that He is just, loving, and merciful.

Sin can be safely destroyed by God only after all people understand and admit that He is just, loving, and merciful.

4. Why does God permit disobedience to continue? Why not destroy sin and sinners now?

“Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 14, 15. “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 14:11.

Answer:   God permits disobedience and sin to continue until all people everywhere are at last fully convinced of God’s justice, love, and mercy. All will finally realize that God, by requiring obedience, is not trying to force His will upon us, but rather is trying to keep us from hurting and destroying ourselves. The sin problem is not settled until even the most cynical and hardened sinners are convinced of God’s love and confess that He is just. It will take perhaps a major catastrophe or worse to convince some, but the horrible results of sinful living will finally convince all that God is just and right. Then, and only then, can sin and disobedience be safely brought to an end by the Lord.

All who knowingly choose not to follow Christ will finally be destroyed with the sin they love.

All who knowingly choose not to follow Christ will finally be destroyed with the sin they love.

5. Will God actually destroy the disobedient?

“God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” 2 Peter 2:4. “All the wicked will he destroy.” Psalms 145:20. “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8.

Answer:   No question about it. The disobedient, including the devil and his angels who sinned, will be destroyed. This being true, surely it is high time to abandon all fuzziness regarding what is right or wrong. People had better stop letting their own foolish whims and egotistical notions guide them and pay attention to God’s great book. And they had better do it now–there is not much time left!

God promises that if I seek His Word for truth and sincerely follow it, I will not end up in error.

God promises that if I seek His Word for truth and sincerely follow it, I will not end up in error.

6. I want to obey all of God’s rules. How can I be certain I will not overlook one?

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.” Matthew 7:7. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, … rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” John 7:17. “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.” John 12:35. “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me.” Psalms 18:44.

Answer:   God leaves no room for doubt. He promises to keep me from error and lead me safely to all truth if I: (1) pray earnestly for guidance, (2) sincerely study God’s Word, and (3) follow truth as soon as I am shown.

Playing ostrich in spiritual matters leads to tragedy and destruction.

Playing ostrich in spiritual matters leads to tragedy and destruction.

7. Does God count me guilty for disobeying Bible truth that has never been made clear to me?

“If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” John 9:41. “To him that knoweth to do good,and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.” Hosea 4:6. “Seek, and ye shall find.” Matthew 7:7.

Answer:   If I have had no opportunity to learn a certain Bible truth, God does not hold me accountable. But the Bible teaches that I am responsible to God for all the light (knowledge of right) I have and all I can have! Many people who refuse or neglect to study, seek, learn, and listen will be destroyed by God because they have “rejected knowledge.” To play ostrich in these exceedingly crucial matters is fatal. It is my responsibility to hunt diligently for truth.

Only two of the thousands of Israelites who left Egypt followed God fully and were able to enter the promised land of Canaan.

Only two of the thousands of Israelites who left Egypt followed God fully and were able to enter the promised land of Canaan.

8. But God isn’t particular about obedience on every point and in small details, is He?

“Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt … shall see the land … because they have not wholly followed me: Save Caleb … and Joshua … for they have wholly followed the Lord.” Numbers 32:11, 12. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14.

Answer:   Indeed, He is particular. God’s people in Old Testament times learned this the hard way. Those who left Egypt for the promised land of Canaan were 603,550 in number. Of this group, only two (Caleb and Joshua) fully followed the Lord, and they alone entered Canaan. The other 603,548 died in the wilderness. Jesus says we are to live by “every word” of the Bible. There is not one word too many or one word too few. They are all important.

Unless I follow light as soon as it is revealed, it eventually turns to darkness.

Unless I follow light as soon as it is revealed, it eventually turns to darkness.

9. When I discover new truth, I wait until all obstacles are removed before embracing it. This is best, isn’t it?

“Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.” John 12:35. “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.” Psalms 119:60. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33. “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me.” Psalms 18:44.

Answer:   No, once you are clear on a Bible truth, it is never best to wait. In fact, procrastination is the devil’s most dangerous trap. It seems so harmless to wait, but the Bible teaches that unless a person acts immediately upon light, it quickly turns to darkness. Obstacles to obedience are not removed while we stand and wait; instead, they usually increase in size. Man says to God, “Open up the way, and I’ll go forward.” But God’s way is just the opposite. He says, “You go forward, and I will open up the way.”

Satan invented the lie that obedience is impossible.

Satan invented the lie that obedience is impossible.

10. But isn’t full obedience an impossibility for a human being?

“With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:14. “He that abideth in me, and I in him, … bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19.

Answer:   None of us can obey in our own power, but through Christ we can and must. Satan, in order to make God’s requests appear unreasonable, invented the falsehood that obedience is impossible.

If I ignore God's loving warnings, I will perish.

If I ignore God’s loving warnings, I will perish.

11. What will happen to a person who willfully and knowingly continues in disobedience?

“If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:26, 27. “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” John 12:35.

Answer:   The Bible leaves no room for doubt. The answer is sobering and shocking, but true. When a person knowingly rejects light and continues in disobedience, the light eventually goes out, and he is left in total darkness. A person who rejects truth receives a “strong delusion” to believe that falsehood is truth (2 Thessalonians 2:11). When this happens, he is lost from that moment.

No child will fully obey his parents unless he loves them.

No child will fully obey his parents unless he loves them.

12. I thought love was more important than obedience. Isn’t it?

“Jesus answered … If a man love me, he will keep my words. … He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings.” John 14:23, 24. “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3.

Answer:   No, not at all! In fact, the Bible teaches that true love to God cannot exist without obedience. Nor can a person be truly obedient without love. No child will fully obey his parents unless he loves them, nor will he love his parents if he does not obey. True love and obedience are like Siamese twins. When separated, they die.

Only the citizen who obeys the law has freedom.  Likewise, true Christian freedom means freedom from disobedience.

Only the citizen who obeys the law has freedom.  Likewise, true Christian freedom means freedom from disobedience.

13. But I always thought that true freedom in Christ released me from obedience. Doesn’t it?

“If ye continue in my word, … ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:31, 32, 34. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:17, 18. “So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.” Psalms 119:44, 45.

Answer:   No. True freedom comes only from obedience. It means freedom “from sin” (Romans 6:18), or disobedience, which is breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4). The citizens who obey the law have freedom. The disobedient are caught and lose their freedom. Freedom without obedience is like the false freedom of the drifting balloon or the driverless car. It leads to confusion and anarchy. True Christian freedom means freedom from disobedience. Disobedience always hurts a person and leads into the cruel slavery of the devil.

Loving children obey their parents even though they may not always understand their request.  The same is true of children of God.

Loving children obey their parents even though they may not always understand their request.  The same is true of children of God.

14. When I believe God requires a certain thing, should I obey even though I do not understand why He requires it?

“Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord … so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.” Jeremiah 38:20. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.” Proverbs 28:26. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Psalms 118:8. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9. “How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” Romans 11:33, 34. “I will lead them in paths that they have not known.” Isaiah 42:16. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life.” Psalms 16:11.

Answer:   Most assuredly! We must give God credit for being wise enough to require some things of us we may not understand. Good children obey their parents even when the reasons for their commands are not clear. Simple faith and trust in God will cause us to believe that He knows what is best for us and will never lead us in any wrong path. It is folly for us, in our ignorance, to question God’s leadership, even when we may not fully understand all His reasons.

The devil wants you to disobey God because he hates you and wants you to be lost.

The devil wants you to disobey God because he hates you and wants you to be lost.

15. Who is really behind all disobedience, and why?

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” 1 John 3:8, 10. Satan … deceiveth the whole world.” Revelation 12:9.

Answer:   The devil is responsible. He knows that all disobedience is sin and that sin brings unhappiness, tragedy, alienation from God, and eventual destruction. With bitter hatred he tries desperately to lead every person into disobedience. You are involved. You must face the facts and make a decision. Disobey and be lost, or accept Christ and obey and be saved. Your decision regarding obedience is a decision regarding Christ. You cannot separate Him from truth, because He says, “I am … the truth.” John 14:6. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Joshua 24:15.

Following the miracle of the new birth (conversion), God continues working miracles to bring us Christian growth.

Following the miracle of the new birth (conversion), God continues working miracles to bring us Christian growth.

16. What glorious promise regarding a super-miracle does the Bible give God’s children?

“He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.

Answer:   Praise God! He promises that just as He worked a miracle to bring us the new birth, He will also continue to work needed miracles in our lives (as we gladly follow Him) until we are safe in His kingdom.

17. It brings me joy to know that Jesus not only provides the new birth to those who accept and follow Him, but He also continues to work needed miracles in their lives until they are safe in His kingdom.  I want to begin lovingly obeying and following Jesus fully at once

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The Ultimate Deliverance

12 Nov
It’s no fairytale – one day, you can be free from all the hurt, hunger, aloneness, crime, and chaos infecting the world today.  Doesn’t that sound wonderful? But it’s not going to be some charismatic earthly leader who’s going to deliver you… no, He’s much more superior than that!  Jesus is coming soon, but there is a lot of popular misconceptions regarding just how He’s coming. So take a few minutes to understand what the Bible really says about the second coming so you won’t be left behind!
Jesus taught that He will return to earth the second time.

1. Will Jesus return to this earth the second time? Can we be positive?

“Christ … shall … appear the second time.” Hebrews 9:28. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.” John 14:3.

Answer:   Yes! In Matthew 26:64, Jesus testified under oath that He would come back to this earth again. Since the Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35), this is proof positive. Believe it just as it reads. It is Christ’s own personal guarantee.

Jesus said He will return to earth in the clouds.

2. In what manner will Jesus return the second time?

“While they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11.

Answer:   The Scriptures promise that Jesus will return to this earth in the same manner that He left at His ascension–in a visible, literal, bodily, personal manner. Matthew 24:30 says, “They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” He will come in the clouds literally, as a personal being with a body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:36-43, 50, 51), and His coming will be visible. Scripture is clear on these facts.

Every person living on earth will see Jesus when He returns the second time.

3. Will the second coming of Christ be visible to all men or only to a select group?

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Revelation 1:7. “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:27.

Answer:   Every man, woman, and child living in the world when Jesus returns will see Him at His second coming. The staggering threefold (Luke 9:26) brightness of His coming will stretch from horizon to horizon, and the atmosphere will be charged with brilliant glory like lightning. No one will be able to hide. Every living soul will be forced to face Christ. Christ left no loophole for doubt or misunderstanding.
Note: The secret rapture so commonly believed and taught today is not in the Bible. It is a human invention. Nor is the second coming a spiritual coming into the heart at conversion. It does not take place at a man’s death, nor is it figurative, to be manifested by better world conditions. These theories are all of human origin. The second coming will be a literal, worldwide, visible, personal appearance of Christ in the clouds to bring this world to an end and to reward or punish all men and women.

All the angels of heaven will be with Jesus at His second coming.

4. Who will come with Jesus at His second coming, and why?

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.” Matthew 25:31.

Answer:   All the angels of heaven will come with Jesus at His second coming. As the cloud nears the earth, Jesus will send His angels, and they will quickly gather together all of the righteous people in preparation for the trip back to heaven (Matthew 24:31).

Jesus will take His people to heaven and restore to them everything Adam and Eve lost.

5. What is the purpose of Jesus’ second coming to this earth?

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12. “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:3. “And he shall send Jesus Christ … Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things.” Acts 3:20, 21.

Answer:   Jesus is coming back to this earth to reward His people as He promised and to take them to the beautiful home He has prepared for them. He will restore to His people all of the joys and glories of Eden that Adam and Eve lost by sinning. His second coming will bring an end to this present age of evil.

Little babies taken from their parents by death will be returned to them at Jesus’ second coming.

6. What will happen to the righteous people when Jesus comes the second time?

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven … and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. “We shall all be changed, … and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. For … this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. “We look for … the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20, 21.

Answer:   The righteous dead will be raised from their graves, given perfect, immortal bodies like that of Christ, and caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord. Then the righteous living will also be given bodies like Christ and will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. And Jesus will take the righteous to heaven with Him. Note that Jesus does not touch the earth at His second coming. The saints meet Him “in the air.” So God’s people will ignore any report that Christ is in Baltimore, New Orleans, Los Angeles, etc. False christs will appear and do miracles on the earth (Matthew 24:23-27), but Jesus will remain in the clouds above the earth at His second coming.

The wicked will be slain at Jesus’ second coming.

7. What will happen to the wicked people when Jesus comes again?

“With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” Isaiah 11:4. “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 25:33.

Answer:   The wicked will be slain by Jesus.

Today’s earthquakes are minor in comparison with the massive earthquake at Jesus’ coming.

8. How will Christ’s second coming affect the earth itself?

“And there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” Revelation 16:18, 20. “I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord.” Jeremiah 4:26. “The Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste.” “The land shall be utterly emptied.” Isaiah 24:1, 3.

Answer:   The earth will be seized by a great earthquake at the coming of the Lord. This earthquake will be of such a devastating nature that it will leave the world in a state of total destruction.

Millions of Christians died during the Dark Ages.  Many were burned at the stake.

9. Does the Bible give specific information regarding the nearness of Christ’s second coming?

Answer:   Yes, it does! And Jesus Himself said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” Matthew 24:33.  The Lord placed signs all along the way from His ascension to His second coming. They are listed below. Study them carefully.
A.  The Destruction of Jerusalem Prophecy:  “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” “Let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.” Matthew 24:2, 16.
Fulfillment:  Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Roman warrior Titus.
B.  A Great Persecution, or Tribulation
Prophecy:  “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world.” Matthew 24:21.
Fulfillment:  This prophecy points primarily to the long period of tribulation that took place during the Dark Ages and was instigated by the apostate church. It lasted more than 1,000 years. Over 50 million Christians were slain for their faith in this terrible tribulation period. One writer says the apostate church “has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind.” W.E.H. Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, (Reprint New York: Braziller, 1955) Vol. 2, pp. 40-45.
C.  The Sun Turned into Darkness
Prophecy:  “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened.” Matthew 24:29.
Fulfillment:  This was fulfilled by a day of supernatural darkness on May 19, 1780.  It was not an eclipse. Timothy Dwight says, “The 19th of May, 1780, was a remarkable dark day. Candles were lighted in many houses the birds were silent and disappeared, and the fowls retired to roost. … A very general opinion prevailed, that the day of judgment was at hand.” Quoted in Connecticut Historical Collections, compiled by John Warner Barber (2nd ed. New Haven: Durrie & Peck and J.W. Barber, 1836) p. 403.
D.  The Moon Turned into Blood
Prophecy:  “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” Joel 2:31.
Fulfillment:  The moon became as red as blood on the night of the “dark day,” May 19, 1780. Milo Bostick in Stone’s History of Massachusetts says, “The moon which was at its full, had the appearance of blood.”

The great star shower took place on November 13, 1833.

E.  The Stars Fall from Heaven
Prophecy:  “And the stars shall fall from heaven.” Matthew 24:29.
Fulfillment:  The great star shower took place on the night of November 13, 1833. It was so bright that a newspaper could be read on the street. One writer says, “For nearly four hours the sky was literally ablaze.”*  Men thought the end of the world had come. Look into this. It is most fascinating, and a sign of Christ’s coming.
*Peter A. Millman, “The Falling of the Stars,” The Telescope, 7 (May-June, 1940) 57.
F.  Jesus Comes in the Clouds
Prophecy:  “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:30.
Fulfillment: This is the next great event. Are you ready?

Strife between capital and labor is a sign of Jesus’ second coming.

10. How may we know when we have reached the very last days of earth’s history? Does the Bible clearly describe the world and its people in the last generation?

Answer:   Yes, indeed it does. Look at the following specific signs of the last days. You will be amazed. And these are just a few of many, many positive signs that show we are in the closing days of earth’s history.
A.  Capital-labor troubles
“The hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord.” “Be … patient … for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:4, 8.
Trouble between capital and labor is predicted for the last days. For fulfillment, consult your newspaper.
B.  Wars and commotions
“But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass.” Luke 21:9.
Wars and the ravages of civil distress are affecting thousands worldwide. Only Jesus’ soon coming will bring an end to the pain and destruction of war.
C.  Unrest, fear, and upheaval
“And there shall be … upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity … Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” Luke 21:25, 26.
This sounds strangely like an editorial from a current newspaper a perfect picture of the world today and there is a reason: We are the people of the very last days of earth’s history. The tense atmosphere present in the world today should not surprise us. Christ foretold it. It should convince us that His coming is near.
D.  Increase of knowledge
“Even to the time of the end … knowledge shall be increased.” Daniel 12:4.
The Information Age makes this one all too obvious. Even the most skeptical mind must admit that this sign is fulfilled. Knowledge is exploding in all directions. It is said that 80 percent of the world’s total knowledge has been brought forth in the last decade and that 90 percent of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive today.
E.  Scoffers and religious skeptics who turn away from Bible truth
“There shall come in the last days scoffers.” 2 Peter 3:3. “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 not difficult to find scoffers today in fulfillment of this prophecy. Even religious leaders are denying the plain Bible teachings of Creation, the Flood, the divinity of Christ, the second coming of Christ, and many other vital Bible truths.  Psychiatry and the traditions of pseudo-intellectuals have replaced the Bible in many religious circles. Secular educators teach our youth to scoff at the Bible record of these great truths and substitute evolution and other man-made, false teachings for the plain, simple facts of God’s Holy Word. A recent poll discovered that only two percent of American student ministers believe in the literal second coming of Christ.
F.  Moral degeneracy; decline of spirituality
“In the last days … men shall be lovers of their own selves, … Without natural affection, … incontinent, … despisers of those that are good, … Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
America is in the midst of a tremendous crisis. People from all walks of life are saying so. Suicide is becoming a popular solution to human problems. Divorce rates are climbing wildly, with nearly one marriage in two ending in the divorce court. The current immoral generation, with its obsession with sex and filth, with its increasing church membership but decreasing true spirituality, is plain and positive fulfillment of God’s Word. For a real shock, see how many of the last-day sins listed in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 you can find depicted in any issue of your Sunday newspaper. Nothing short of the coming of the Lord will stem the tide of evil that is now engulfing the world.
G.  Craze for pleasure
“In the last days … men shall be … lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” 2 Timothy 3:1-4.
The world has gone crazy for pleasure. Only a small percentage of the citizens of our large cities attend church services regularly, but they jam pleasure resorts by the thousands. America is spending billions each year for pleasure and only “peanuts” (in comparison) for God. Pleasure-mad Americans waste billions of hours in front of the TV set in direct fulfillment of 2 Timothy 3:4.
H.  Increasing lawlessness, bloody crimes, and violence
“Iniquity shall abound.” Matthew 24:12. “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse.” 2 Timothy 3:13. “The land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence.” Ezekiel 7:23.
It is all too obvious that this sign is fulfilled. Crime and lawlessness are increasing with shocking rapidity. Most people in large cities do not answer their doorbells after dark. The wisest statesmen of our time are concerned for the survival of civilization because crime sweeps forward seemingly beyond control.
I.  Destructive earthquakes, storms, and famines
“And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences.” Luke 21:11.
Earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, etc. are increasing at an unprecedented rate. One-third of the people of the world are hungry, and thousands die daily of starvation. All these things are further proof that we live in earth’s last hours.
J.  A special message to the world in the very last days
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14.
The great, solemn, last warning message of Christ’s second coming is now being presented in more than 900 languages and dialects. Nearly 95 percent of the world’s population has access to this message. Before Jesus’ second coming, every person in the world will be warned of His soon return. People will be lost only if they reject the warning message.
K.  A turning to spiritism
“In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits.” 1 Timothy 4:1. “They are the spirits of devils.” Revelation 16:14.
People today, including a vast number of the heads of nations, seek counsel from psychics, channelers, and spiritualists. Spiritism has invaded the churches, as well, with the false teaching of the immortality of the soul. The Bible teaches that the dead are dead.

We are living in the final moments of time.

11. Just how near is the Lord’s second coming?

“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Matthew 24:32-34.

Answer:   The Bible is very specific and plain on this point. The signs have almost all been fulfilled. We cannot know the exact day and hour of Christ’s return (Matthew 24:36), but we can be confident that we are the people who will live to see Jesus return. God has promised to finish things very quickly now and cut the work short (Romans 9:28). Christ is coming back to this earth for His people very soon. Are you ready?

What appears to be Jesus in a seance chamber is one of Satan’s impersonating demons.

12. Satan is telling many falsehoods regarding the second coming of Christ and, with lying wonders and miracles, will deceive millions. How can I be certain I will not be deceived?

“They are the spirits of devils, working miracles.” Revelation 16:14. “And shall shew great signs and wonders insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matthew 24:24. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.

Answer:   Satan has invented many false teachings about the second coming and is deceiving millions into believing that Christ has already come or that He will come in some non-biblical manner. But Christ has warned us of Satan’s strategy, saying, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Matthew 24:4. He then exposes Satan’s plans and falsehoods so we will be forewarned, and He reminds us, “Behold, I have told you before.” Matthew 24:25. For example, Jesus stated specifically that He will not appear in the desert or come to the seance chambers (verse 26). There is no reason to be deceived if we learn what God’s book teaches about Christ’s second coming. The acid test is this: What does the Bible teach about it? People who know what the Bible says about the second coming will not be led astray by Satan. All others will be deceived.

e must not become so busy that we have not time for Christ.

13. How can I be certain to be ready when Jesus comes back?

“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” John 1:12. “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.” Hebrews 8:10. “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57.

Answer:   Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door [this door represents the human mind or heart], and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in.” Revelation 3:20. Through the Holy Spirit and my conscience, Jesus knocks and asks to come into my heart so that He can change my life. If I unreservedly turn my life over to Him, He will erase all my sins of the past (Romans 3:25) and give me the power to live a godly life (John 1:12). As a free gift, He bestows upon me His own righteous character so I can stand unafraid before a holy God when my life is changed by Jesus. Then doing His will becomes a pleasure. It is so simple that many doubt its reality. But it’s true. My part is simply to give my life to Christ and let Him live within me. His part is to work the mighty miracle within me that changes my life and prepares me for His second coming. It is a free gift. I need only to accept it.

14. Of what great danger does Christ solemnly warn?

“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:44. “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” Luke 21:34. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37.

Answer:   There is great danger in becoming so busy with the cares of this life or so entranced by the pleasures of sin that the coming of the Lord may slip up on us as the Flood did on the world in Noah’s day, and we will be surprised, unprepared, and lost. This will be the experience of millions. How is it with you? Jesus is coming back very, very soon–in our present day. Are you ready? Nothing else matters.

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 very IMPORTANT three angels messages to the world

15 Oct

14:6-7 The Three Angels’ Messages: The three angels brought to view in this next section have messages of utmost importance for the world. They are God’s last call to the world before Christ comes as portrayed in verse 14.

The First Angel’s Message:

This angel has the “everlasting gospel” to preach “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” The attacks of Satan had so weakened God’s true church that to all appearances the gospel commission, to take the good news to the whole world (Matthew 28:19-20), could ever be fulfilled; but God’s purposes will go forward to completion. In the early 1800s God worked through faithful men to create a mighty advancement in spiritual fervor. This hastened the good news of the gospel forward by leaps and bounds throughout the world. Christ prophesied that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all world…and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14.

The gospel is the good news of salvation by grace, through Christ’s sacrificial life, death and resurrection. John 3:16-17; Romans 1:3-5; 3:23-24. But notice what this angel says under the heading of the gospel: “Fear God,” “Give glory to Him,” “The hour of His judgment is come,” and “Worship Him” as the Creator. To “fear God” is to depart from evil and reverence Him. Exodus 20:20; Proverbs 3:7; 14:16, 27; 16:6.

God’s glory is the perfection of His character expressed in His wonderful goodness and wisdom, in His matchless love, justice and power. Exodus 22:18-19; 34:5-6. We “give glory to God” when we worship Him, show Him respect and demonstrate faith in Him. We glorify Him when our lives represent His character through our love for others, and our obedience to His commandments. 1 Corinthians 10:31; 6:18-20; Matthew 5:16; Romans 4:20.

This is the judgment that was described in Daniel 7:9-10. The purpose of the judgment is to vindicate God’s people and condemn the powers that are persecuting them. It is often called the pre-advent judgment, in which the books of record are investigated, to determine the fate of each professed believer in God. In the 1820s Godly men around the world began preaching the message, “The hour of His judgment is come,” applying it to the second coming of Christ, and setting the time around 1844. God’s hand was in the movement, and by 1844 the message had been taken to a significant portion of the world. In America, William Miller advanced this message to a point of great prominence. However, the appointed time came and Jesus did not come and deliver His people. These earnest Christians suffered a terrible disappointment similar to what Jesus’ disciples suffered when their hopes for an earthly kingdom ended with the death of their Master on the cross. The advent believers soon discovered their mistake; they found that the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary, which began in 1844, announced the beginning of the Pre-advent Judgment, not the second coming of Christ.

The angel bids mankind the “worship” God as the Creator of all things. Contrasts this with the warning against worshiping the beast and his image in the third angel’s message (vss. 9-11). The first four commandments of the Decalogue (Exodus 20:3-11) are at issue here. The beast’s demand for worship is a violation of the first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3. Worshiping an image (vss. 9, 11) is a violation of the second commandment against the worship of images. Exodus 20:4-5. The first angel specifically cites the Sabbath commandments “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea.” Exodus 20:8-11. Thus the command of worship God applies to keeping the first our commandments, especially the Sabbath command, which is a memorial of creation. Exodus 20:4-11

 

14:8 The Second Angel’s Message:

Because God mixed up the people’s language at the tower of Babel, the term “Babylon” has come to mean confusion. See Genesis 11:1-9. The ancient kingdom of Babylon took God’s people captive and has long been recognized as the enemy of God’s truth and of His people. Jeremiah 50-51. God uses the term here as reference to the doctrinal confusion in the modern churches. The announcement that “Babylon is fallen” refers to their departure from Bible truth. This message was first preached in the summer of 1844 to the churches of the United States, where the warning of the judgement had been most widely proclaimed and most generally rejected. But the message of the second angel did not reach its complete fulfillment in 1844. In a larger sense, “Babylon” encompasses all the system of false religion in the world. Revelation 17:4, 5; 18:2.

14:9-11 The Third Angel’s Message: The third angel g.ives a fearful warning to those who “worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark.” See notes on Revelation 13:15-17 and 14:6-7 for the nature of this mark. Those who drink the wine of Babylon’s impure doctrines will “drink the wine of the wrath of God.” This will be fulfilled both in the seven last plagues (Revelation 16:1-2) and in the lake of fire. Revelation 20:10, 15.

PLEASE HELP TO SPREAD THESE MESSAGES ITS VERY IMPORTANT

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