H O M E
B A C K
THE LAKE OF FIRE PART .4
THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH
Understanding the judgements of God
L. Ray Smith (Bible Truths)
J. Preston Eby (Kingdom Bible Studies)
Is Was and Will be
THE LAKE OF FIRE PART 3: "JUDGMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD"
THE LAKE OF FIRE PART 6: "THE TWO JUDGMENTS BY FIRE"
"FROM THE CANDLE STICK TO THE THRONE"PART 92
"FROM THE CANDLE STICK TO THE THRONE"PART 93
"PARTAKERS OF THE SECOND DEATH"

 

Introduction

 “There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceit than this distant image of our tiny world.”  (Carl Sagan)

In 1990 – at the request of the American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and author Carl Sagan, the spacecraft Voyager 1 having completed its primary mission, turned its camera around and took a photograph of Earth before leaving our Solar System. The distance from Earth the picture was taken from, was approximately six billion kilometres. Our planet is shown as a tiny dot (0.12 pixels in size) against the massive vastness of space.

Due to the light reflecting off the satellites metal structure, an illusion of a beam of light - like that of the sun shining through the blinds of an abandoned warehouse, seems to purposely illuminate and suspend our fragile home, like a speck of dust. This famous photograph is commonly known as “the pale blue dot.” It is one of the most poignant images of the Twentieth Century.

Reflecting upon the Voyager image taken of Earth, Carl Sagan gave his famous commentary;

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

 

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

 

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

 

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

 

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

 

These are moving words. In the light of mainstream Christian doctrine, Carl Sagan’s agnostic view of a foreboding and hostile Universe could easily be forgiven. You see, Gods vast universe consists of more than 100 billion galaxies, and each galaxy, on average contains more than 100 billion stars, which accounts for more than 10 billion trillion stars i.e. 1 followed by 22 zeros. Even on the clearest night, the human eye can only see about 3,000 stars. There are an estimated 100,000,000,000 in our galaxy alone!  

 

Furthermore, consider that modern scientists think that we probably know less than 4% of what there is to know about this “space” that we live in. It is estimated that the number of stars in the universe is greater than the number of grains of sand on all the beaches in the world! On a clear night, we can see the equivalent of a handful of sand.

 “Can you bind the chains of [the cluster of stars called] Pleiades, or loose the cords of [the constellation] Orion? Can you lead forth the signs of the zodiac in their season? Or can you guide [the stars of] the Bear with her young? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule upon the earth?” (Job 38:31-33)

And guess what? God made it all! But why? For what mighty purpose? - or more importantly, for what “spiritual” purpose? After all the Scriptures clearly state that it is God alone who stretches out the heavens.” (Job 9:8) What of this tiny mote, this speck of dust that delicately sits upon such a colossal galactic tapestry - this miniscule blue planet of ours? Are the starry firmaments above us nothing more than a vast illuminated advertisement for God’s constant muscle flexing? And is it all but destined for the eternal rubbish heap as stated by Christendom?

You see, these are age old questions - the kind of questions that keep you up at night and set your head spinning. The greatest philosophical minds have all but drawn a blank in trying to explain our freakishly unlikely existence within such a hostile Universe. Poets have mused and pondered, scientists have hypothesized and questioned, only to be left perplexed and awestruck at the magnitude of it all.

 

Even most Christians theologians shrink away in embarrassment for sheer lack of an appropriate answer considering their genocidal endgame doctrine of eternal damnation -  the “final solution” of humanity. What a waste! Is this the sole purpose of the universes’ very existence? For it all to be hurled upon a never ending funeral pyre?  Divine wisdom and love in action huh?

 

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!” (Rom 11:33)

 

Indeed, just how deep and rich is the wisdom of God? Why oh why, would a God so gloriously capable and so immensely powerful, create such great vastness and then turn all His attention to one infinitesimally small planet in order  to cast most of its human inhabitants into a sadistic bloodbath of “eternal” torture by fire, like that of a burning Sun? Who could worship such an alien monster? What twisted, evil and corrupted mind could conceive of such an idea?......Why the carnal religious mind of course.

 

 

 

 

Heavenly signs and symbols

 

Why all the questions and why the astronomy lesson you may ask? Well, it is one thing to grasp the sheer physical magnitude of “space,” but understanding the spiritual meaning and significance of the “heavens” and “heavenly bodies” throughout the Scriptures, is quite another. The religious mind has NO capability of doing so. You see, most theologians stare at the vast array of obscure and awe inspiring scenes in Revelation the same way scientists stare at the night skies, devoid of understanding and tangible answers.

 

The Bible is overflowing with symbolism! We previously looked at the symbol of “the sea” in the last study. It is important to point out, that the vast majority of the events in the book of Revelation take place in one of three dimensions: HEAVEN, EARTH, and SEA. All these are of course, symbolical and prophetical terms of reference!  Few students of the Word understand that they represent spiritual states of being also - life-styles, levels of consciousness, spheres of existence, and dimensions of life WITHIN each of us!

Notice that the lowest of these three realms (geographically) is the sea. Throughout the book of Revelation a number of things transpire in the sea.  A few of them are as follows.  “And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and a third part of the sea became blood.”  “I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns.”  “And the sea gave up the dead that were in it.”  “Woe to the inhabiters of the sea, for the devil is come down unto you.”  “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth…and there was no more sea.

Just to recap - We know now that the “sea” represents the raging body of humanity. Throughout the scriptures the sea is a type of the inner storms and turbulent nature of the Adamic man. The prophet Isaiah penned these inspired words:

“The wicked are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.  There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isa. 57:20-21). 

Jude also described wicked men when he said,

“These are raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame” (Jude 13).  

John, on the isle of Patmos, had a vision of a great whore sitting on many waters.  The angel revealed the meaning of the many waters, saying, “the waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Rev. 17:15).

The natural sea is a great deep, an abyss (Gen. 1:2; 7:11; 8:2; Deut. 8:7; 33:13).  The Psalmist wrote of this abyss of the wickedness of man;

 “They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart is D-E-E-P (an abyss)” (Ps. 64:6).

To the enlightened mind of David the depth of iniquity of which the human heart is capable is so great that it is beyond the ability of man to comprehend.  The heart of man is an unfathomable depth, or, as Jeremiah observed,

 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). 

While John the Revelator saw a beast (bestial nature) rising out of the sea (abyss, depth) of humanity, Jesus expressed the same truth thus:  “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed all these evil things!”

No one can dispute the fact that it is this restless, turbulent, raging, evil heart of the fleshly man that inspires every evil and devilish perversion, and has filled the world with ever increasing confusion, faithlessness, immorality, falsehood, fraud, hatred, violence, greed, cruelty, strife, wars, bloodshed, and oppression.  There are wars and rumours of wars and terrorism that strike fear into the hearts of men.  Among the ruthless surging tide of unbridled crime, drugs, rebellion, illicit sex, disease, suffering, abuse, poverty, sorrow, and injustice, we hear the groans of the dying.  The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain!  

Men’s hearts are failing them for fear in looking after those things which are coming upon the earth.  It is more than a raging sea of evil - it is a virtual tsunami of self-destruction!  As we look at the sad earth today, it is plain for every eye to see that, flowing from the corrupt minds of the corrupt rulers of every corrupt government on earth, taught in the schools, practiced in business and in the courts, and propagated by the media and Hollywood, we find the evil fruit of sin and death manifesting itself.  Everywhere on the planet mankind is being overwhelmed by its evil until the earth is filled with violence and the thoughts and imaginations of men’s hearts are only evil continually.

The natural man is not getting better, as some affirm.  The unregenerate man, old Adam, is corruptible. That means not only that he is dying, but that he is continually being brought into a worse state and inferior condition leading to destruction.  He is on a never-ending downward spiral into oblivion.  Is not this the terrible danger of the hour in which we live? - enough bombs stockpiled to not only blow planet Earth to smithereens but twenty more like it!  And all in the hands of unpredictable, corruptible men. Human nature never improves. Old Adam can never reform, for his is a corruptible nature, growing steadily more vicious, deceitful, and immoral.

For us the seashore is a place of vacation, and a cruise across the sea is for many the dream of a lifetime.  But NOT so for the ancients!  To them the sea symbolized danger, chaos, destruction and unrest! Think of all those galleons and ancient trading vessels strewn across the seabeds of the Mediterranean. THIS is the “sea” of the Scriptures!

Biblically, these things, gathered together in the concept of the hostile sea, represent a part of human existence.  The disquiet that goes on in many souls is sometimes almost beyond bearing.  Have you ever stood beside someone and felt by way of empathy a groan of inner misery so deep that it cannot even find its way into words?  Some of you have known people who have so suffered.  Some of you have experienced some of these things yourselves!  But there is a place - a place in God’s new heaven and in God’s new earth, in the realm of the Spirit, where the anguish represented by the sea exists for us no more!  “And there shall be no more sea.”   Thank God!

“Who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?  When I brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed” (Job 38:8-11).

During creation God arranged and limited the “great deep” at the time He was fashioning the earth as a habitation for man.  He describes His action of dividing the dry land from the seas.  At times, when there have been fierce hurricanes or terrible tsunamis sweeping the shores, has the thought not entered our minds of the devastation that would occur if no limits had been put upon those fierce and powerful waves?  What if they should break forth from the invisible barrier which holds them in place and sweep far inland and engulf even the height of the mountains beyond!  The scriptures assure us that God Himself controls the seas.  Though storms may arise, and waves rage, they may boil and crash in fury, but their boundaries are set.  No matter how strong the wind or how powerful the earthquake, they can go no further than God has decreed: “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed!”

The raging of the sea also indicates that the forces of the flesh and the world are all against us! There is much opposition from our own carnal mind, and from the powers that be without, to the great plan and purpose of God that is before us!  Sin and death are everywhere!  Tyranny and conspiracy dominate the world scene and militate against the rule of the kingdom of God!  If it were possible, carnality and death would overwhelm us!  Death at its worst!  The powers of sin and death control this world!  But, praise God, though the raging waves crash upon the shore and run up the beaches, yet they have to fall back within the boundaries God has set for them.  In every temptation and trouble there is a place of refuge in a realm higher than the storm-tossed sea!  Thank God, there are realms above sea level!

“The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea” (Ps. 93:4). 

It is certain that the Lord has the power and ability to control the mighty waves of the literal seas.  But we know there is more involved here than just the “literal” waters of the oceans!  It is the sea of humanity, the wickedness of man which “casts up mire and dirt,” to which the Spirit would point us. The Lord is stronger and mightier than the masses of the world who wickedly cast up the mire and dirt of the carnal, evil works of the flesh.  The “floods” of sex, drugs, crime, divorce, broken homes, abuse, profanity, licentiousness, and godlessness they lift up and by these floods they have deluged the world with sin, darkness, perversion, and shame. But the Lord shall speak peace to the troubled waters of wickedness!  The abundant salvation and restoration of the Lord shall calm the troubled waters of the wicked!  God is even now preparing a great “counter wind” to blow the waves back into their place, and by the ministry of the manifest sons of God all mankind shall be quickened to experience and manifest the righteousness, peace, and joy of the kingdom of God.  Oh, yes!

After all, It is the Lord “which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people” (Ps. 65:7). 

Here the noise and commotions sent through the earth are a result of the tumult of the people.  Only the Lord can quiet the noise and calm the waves!  Only the Lord can heal and soothe the passions of the flesh and the evil works of men!  The carnal mind and the flesh nature constitute the “seas” within us, whereas the corrupt systems and evil works of this world make up the “seas” without. Only the Lord can still the ravings of the carnal mind!  

Know this. It is His great work in His elect as He has moved mightily in us by His Spirit, raising up the pure and holy nature of Christ within.  In this new day of the kingdom of God the Lord is prepared to speak to the noise of every sea, to the raging of every wave, and the tumult of all the people of the earth!  The sons of God shall arise and through them Christ shall rule the world in righteousness and subdue every enemy and subject all things by that mighty power whereby He is able to still the noise of the seas and calm the anger of their waves. The Lord shall show that He is the one who made the seas, the seas are His possession, and He is the one who has power over the seas;  then shall every enemy, the raging “seas” of man, bow at His feet.

History is full of tyrannical empires and wicked rulers that were permitted to exist for just so long, and the Lord raised up another power in the earth to crush the evil into the dust.  He says to the despot ruler who afflicts a portion of mankind, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.”  The prophet Daniel lived in such a time and he said,;

“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that  the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it (even) the basest of men” (Dan. 4:17).

In our personal experiences there are trials, testings, troubles, temptations, emotions, problems, and perplexities that come upon us and try the metal of our character in Christ.  Some of these experiences are permitted for a short time - others are of longer duration - but our mighty, omnipotent Lord of all stands before His elect who are faced with principalities and powers of darkness and the outbreaks of the carnal mind and fleshly nature, saying to all those dark powers, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.”  Marvellous are the promises of God to those who know His power over the seas!  Paul understood this great control of the Lord over every raging wave when he wrote, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape” (I Cor. 10:13).

This is the measure used by God to determine what trials, testings, and provings are necessary for us to endure.  When our need and God’s purpose has been fulfilled and satisfied, we can rest assured that His voice will command the waves.

So, the sea is by far the lowest realm on earth, and this vast sea of fleshly, Adamic humanity represents mankind at his lowest point - as bad off as man can be!  Individually it speaks of the lowest aspect of our human nature and life - the body with its passions and lusts.  The sea represents the physical desires and impulses that are restless, driving, compelling, and raging out of control!  God is now in the grand process of bringing men out of the lowest realm of the sea of vanity, sin, and death, up into the highest realm of heaven, the realm of the spirit, to the fullness of His life, nature, wisdom, authority, and glory.  This shall be fully accomplished by the omnipotent power of God’s Word and by the moving His Spirit, and not by man’s carnal mind, self-efforts, or worldly wisdom.

Yet “the sea” is but one aspect of the human condition. There are many more. Suns, moons, stars, falling stars, lightening, thunder, clouds, wind, the Earth, Earthquakes, Dragons, Beasts, fire...the list goes on and on. But what do they all mean, and what does it this have to do with “the lake of fire” and the judgements of God? Well, as we have discovered, these “symbols” and “types” can only be understood by those who have been given “the (spiritual) eyes to see (interpret).Believe it or not, understanding these particular symbols, is a major key to unlocking the Scriptural answers to the purpose of our existence and the importance of our “spiritual” progression a human race.

In fact, most Christians don’t even know about the “physical” mysteries of the Word, let alone the “spiritual.” There are some astoundingly profound statements hidden throughout the Scriptures regarding the “physical” creation of the universe. They prove things that science only in recent times has come to understand, yet it was there all along in the Bible. Just look at the prose of King David for example.

“Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who STRETCH OUT the heavens like a curtain.” (Psalms 104:2) 

Or Isaiah;

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits upon (it should be above) the circle of the earth…” (Isa 40:21-22)

Did you catch that? How did they know the Earth was a circle? Some of the most intelligent scientists just a few hundred years ago thought it was flat. How come the Bible knew it was a circle?

v. 22 cont’d…“And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who STRETCHES OUT the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in (or under).”

The Scriptures liken this canopy to a celestial tent. But here’s a revelation. It says “stretches” and it’s in the indefinite - like the Greek aorist tense. Much of King James has it rendered properly but sometimes it doesn’t. Unfortunately in key Scriptures, lot of times it doesn’t. Look at John 3:16 for example;

“For God so LOVED the world…”  (NO, that’s not what it says in the Greek. He didn’t ‘loved’ the world once and now He doesn’t. It’s in the aorist tense.) “For God thus LOVES” He loved them, He loves all along, He loves now, He will love in the future. It’s indefinite, it’s the past - present - future tense.  “God so loves the world…”  You see that’s how it should be translated. Any Scholar knows that this is indefinite. The Concordant version translates it “who is stretching out…”  Now that really puts it in the present, Young’s has the same.  

“…Who is (present tense - now is) stretching out as a thin gauze the heavens…” (CLV Isa 40:22)

Wow. How could they say that? How would any ne know that the heavens are being stretched out? Any logical person, being a Godly man or atheist, if he was to consider that somebody did make the heavens, they would say, ‘well up there is a star and somebody made it.’ Where did He make it? ‘Well right there where it is.’ There are stars on the other side of the earth, looking the other way. Up there is the moon. Where did He make the moon, over in Palestine or down in Africa?  ‘Well there, that’s where it is, so that’s where He made it.’ Here’s the sun, well where did He make the sun? ‘Right there, where it is, that’s where He made the sun.’ Anybody would see that. That’s the only logical conclusion that your brain could come to. Where ever it is, if there is a God, that’s where He made it. 

But that’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says, “He is (present tense) stretching out… the heavens.” How could they know that? The best scientist in the world didn’t know that until just a few years ago. This is amazing stuff. This is mind boggling stuff. 

The writers knew that the heavens are moving out!!! You can’t see that, it takes the most sophisticated knowledge and instruments that science could come up with in thousands of years to finally measure that they are moving. Yet Isaiah and King David they knew it thousands of years ago. It’s unbelievable, it’s just unbelievable. Now this is very specific and it’s very scientific.

 

So if there are revelations regarding the physical “heavens” that few have ever heard, imagine how few understand the meaning of their “spiritual” counterparts.

Take the book of Revelation for example. It sure sounds like the physical fabric of space is going to be ripped apart by the at the seams;

 

“The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” (Rev 6:14)

 

But remember. Revelation is a book of SYMBOLS! Mainstream Christian theology always gravitates towards that which is physical, tangible! Not many understand that the book of Revelation actually reveals more about the nature of Christ Jesus than anyone could ever hope to learn in one lifetime! These “earth shattering” events point to more that something “physical” out there – they point to far greater cataclysmic events of a more “spiritual” nature....where? INSIDE US!

 

“The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine.” (Joel 3:15)

 

Blinded by dispensationalist fervency, we have all too often been directed to look to “end time” fulfilments of Scripture, forgetting that the Word must be relevant to ALL who pass through great tribulation and suffering. There are plenty of times in church history where the “moon” has turned to “blood!”

 

Peter (for example) considered himself to be living in these “last days”. Peter was inspired to quote Joel as God started pouring out His Spirit on Pentecost. How long do the last days last?  Until they are over! He assured the witnesses to this great outpouring that these Spirit filled believers weren’t drunk - rather they were like the people prophesied in Joel  “they shall dream dreams and see visions” etc,

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the day of the Lord come, That great and notable day.” (Acts 2:20)

Did that happen on Pentecost?  Yes it did!  How so?  How did the sun not give its light?  How did the moon instead of reflecting light, turn to blood? Well, the scriptures liken “light” to the symbol of God’s “truth.”  We know that Jesus Christ is the “light.”  The brightest physical symbol of light, brightness, is our sun.  So light comes from the strongest source.  God - Jesus Christ is that light. 

Remember, John the Baptist said, “..the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light,” (John 3:19).  Christ was that light.  The Son gives light, that’s direct revelation from God! Now the moon is the reflected light.  That should come through the church and through the ministry.  They get it from the Son.  The moon (church) reflects its light from the Son (Christ), it doesn’t have its own light (Truth).  If the sun went out, the moon would go out, because the moon has no light, its reflected light. Simple. The TRUE church of God is always likened to that of a chaste “woman.” The apostate church also is liked to a “woman” (though one of lets say – ill repute!)

So, we see then that the sun/Son isn’t going to give its light anymore.  God is not going to give direct light to the people anymore.  The light that should be coming, that was already given to the moon, to be reflected, is now not going to give its light.  It’s going to be turned to blood!  What on Earth is this talking about? Their revelation from God was going to cease! Apostasy is going to set in.  The church is going to go amuck and instead of teaching the light from God and passing it on, they are going to turn to blood! Did that happen? It sure did!

On that very day they stoned Stephen (Acts 7).  Instead of giving light to the world, they turned to blood. History is full of men, (who on wanting to present God’s Word to everyday people) had to pay with their lives.  Again, who would do such a dastardly thing?  The moon!  The secondary light of God’s Truth - the apostate church! - the Popes! - the Bishops!  If you even had a copy of Tyndale’s Bible, back in the days of great reformation upheaval - you were put to death. Tyndale was burned at the stake, Russ was burned at the stake, lots of people were burned at the stake.  Even Calvin (adored by so many) didn’t see anything wrong with burning people at the stake!

It is just amazing how revealing God’s Word really is when we follow the spiritual patterns and types of the scriptures. Let’s briefly look at the “woman/church” in regards to what light they reflect.

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars...” (Rev 12:1)

You may be familiar with this heavenly scene of this “woman.” Now from the Word of God, we can know with confidence what a woman in Bible prophecy represents.

“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor 11:2)

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” (Ephesians 5:23)

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” (Rev 19:7)

“I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.” (Jer 6:2)

We can see from the start that the prophecy of Revelation 12 is concerned with the church of God. We know that this is the true church because the woman is dressed with the sun. The light of God is shining through her. Again, Jesus is the “light of the world” and this church has Jesus at the centre. If you take a look at the woman in Revelation 17:3, you will see a stark difference, as that woman represents the apostate church.

“Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.  The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery: Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth...”

Notice that the TRUE woman is standing on the moon and has a crown of 12 stars. This moon reflects the TRUE light of the sun. So this true church stands on the Word of God and holds on to the truth of His Word. Stars in Bible prophecy represent can angels, or messengers. The number 12 is significant because we had the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles – God’s chosen governance. These were God's chosen messengers to the world. So this woman represents the true church of God throughout history, and she also represents the remnant church who are God's chosen faithful. One of the lessons here is that we, the true church of God, have inherited from literal Israel the position of the descendants of Jacob, as the messengers of God.

But we digress. Hopefully we are beginning to understand that the Scriptures speak so much more “spiritually” to us through such symbols, than they do physically. The heavenly signs, the analogies of “the sea,” “the Earth” and even the “sands” of the Earth – and we must not forget “a lake,” all speak of varying realms of spiritual enlightenment – the processes of understanding. In upcoming studies, we shall look in depth at these symbols along with many other mysterious elements of judgement – “the beast,” “the false prophet” and “the Anti Christ”.....and no, they’re not what you think! But before we get into all that (so called “end time” judgement stuff) there is a more pressing issue at hand, one that few dare to acknowledge. It involves a current judgement - upon a realm we are all too familiar with; “the Earth.”

 

 

God’s Two Areas and Eras of judgement

JUDGMENT BY FIRE MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD

Here is a truth about judgement which remains virtually unknown in the Christian world. Few realise it, but before God brings a final judgment on the entirety of the world, He must first perform another judgment on another group of people. It’s true! This judgment is going on right now in fact! The world (and most Christians) are totally unaware of it although it has been going on for two thousand years. It is happening behind the scenes. Only a relative few are participating in this judgment by fire.....and they are all volunteers!

We of course know for a fact that there is coming a WORLDWIDE judgment on mankind, for Scripture has stated such:

“Because He hath appointed A DAY, in which He will JUDGE THE WORLD [Greek" inhabited earth] in righteousness...” (Acts 17:31).

But as we have discovered during our studies on “Gehenna Fire,” there is a judgment that involves believers, NOW! It was Peter, who was given many keys to the kingdom, who introduces this judgment to us:

“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For   the TIME IS COME that JUDGMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD...” (I Pet. 4:16-17).

Ohhh! Really? What do you know about this judgment on the house of God. Do you know anything specific? Well, don’t feel too badly, most people don’t. Apparently theologians and clergymen don’t know too much either, seeing that it is not a popular subject to teach. If they had even a superficial understanding of God’s judgments on the house of God, they wouldn’t interpret the great white throne and the lake of fire as some hideous act of divine eternal terrorism. These two judgments have much in common.

Again, just what is this human life on Earth for, anyway? -- Why are we here? -- What is our purpose upon the “mote of dust?” -- What is God’s purpose for the Christian? As children we are taught that Christian people live; they die; their souls go to heaven. Bad people live; they die; their souls go to hell. Live, die, go to heaven or live, die, go to hell. Nice and simple – this “soul factory” called Earth.

Yet we know all too well that Christian souls do not go to heaven at death, neither do wicked souls go to hell at death. Contrary to all Christian belief, the Bible reveals (as does elementary science), that dead people are DEAD. What a revelation! That’s right, boys and girls, living people are “ALIVE” and dead people are “DEAD.” This is not rocket science! If ALL the dead are either alive in hell or alive in heaven, who, pray tell, is God going to resurrect back to life from the dead when He returns to judge the world in righteousness? How can the dead be living in heaven or hell when they haven’t as yet been judged as to where they should be living in the first place?

So indeed it does appear that there is a judgment on the house of God, but certainly it’s not a judgment by FIRE, is it? Doesn’t God judge non-believers with fire, but not believers? As we now know, that’s what Jesus’ “Gehenna fire” is all about! So this only sounds strange to you if you have never been taught the Scriptures.

“Beloved, think it NOT STRANGE concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some STRANGE thing happened unto you” (I Pet. 4:12).

For sure, Peter makes it sound as though going through fiery trails is the norm rather than the exception! The New Testament is filled with the fiery trials of the Saints.

Unless God Almighty through the purging power of His FIERY SPIRIT, is BURNING OUT the lusts and passions and vanity and haughtiness and greed and self-righteousness and laziness and weakness and hypocrisy and wickedness and pride and materialism and cynicism and depravity and carnality in your life, then Jesus Christ is not choosing you to reign with Him as the Sons of God in the Kingdom of God to bring all Heaven and Earth to repentance and salvation! And anyone who teaches and takes delight in thinking that God would ever torture anyone for all eternity, will NEVER BE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITH SUCH AN ATTITUDE!

Such damnable character flaws of the mind and spirit are going to be burned out of us all! God will either BURN OUT these filthy impurities from our hearts and minds NOW, or He will BURN THEM OUT IN THE LAKE OF FIRE, but either way, make no mistake about it, THESE THINGSARE COMING OUT!!!

JOHN THE BAPTIST: John the Baptist said that Jesus would be baptizing repentant believers with fire.

“I indeed baptize you with water unto REPENTANCE: but He that comes after me is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, AND WITH FIRE” (Matt. 3:11).

JESUS CHRIST:

“For EVERY ONE [sinner and saint] shall be salted with FIRE” (Mark 9:49).

APOSTLE PETER:

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it [your faith] be TRIED IN THEFIRE, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:7).

APOSTLE PAUL:

“Every man’s work [including believers] shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed BYFIRE, and the FIRE shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (I Cor. 3:13).

With such noble and august witnesses, does anyone deny that the repentant, converted, dedicated, believing Christian will escape being “revealed, tried, salted,” and “baptized” by FIRE? These Scriptures are undeniable! Whatever this “fire” is, it is going to be used ON EVERYONE. These four Scriptures have the believer specifically in view, but it says and includes “EVERYONE shall be salted with FIRE,” and “EVERY MAN’S WORK ... shall be revealed by FIRE.”

And there is absolutely NO DIFFERENCE when it comes to the non-believers:

“And I saw a great white throne ... And I saw the dead... and the dead were JUDGED... according to their WORKS... and they were judged EVERY MAN according to their WORKS” (Rev. 20:11-13).

And are these non-believers judged differently from believers who are “revealed, tried, salted and baptized IN FIRE?” Just HOW are these non-believers judged in the book of Revelation? How are the “...fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars...” JUDGED? Answer: “...In the lake WHICH BURNS WITH FIRE...” (Rev. 21:8)!

Is this “fire” in the book of Revelation DIFFERENT from the fire that tries the works of believers in the book of I Corinthians? NO. The word “fire” used in the four examples above concerning believers, is the SAME word "fire" used in the book of Revelation concerning non-believers:

STRONG’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, page 219, #4442, pur; a primary word; "fire" (literally OR FIGURATIVELY. Puris used (besides its ordinary natural significance):

(1) of the holiness of God, which consumes all that is inconsistent therewith, Heb. 10:27; 12:29; cf. Rev. 1:14; 2:18; 10:1; 15:2; 19:12;

(1a) similarly of the holy angels as His ministers, Heb. 1:7;

(1b) in Rev. 3:18 it is SYMBOLIC of that which tries the faith of saints, PRODUCING WHAT WILL GLORIFY THE LORD;

(2) of the divine judgment, testing the deeds of believers, at the judgment seat of Christ I Cor. 3:13 and 15;

(3) of the fire of DIVINE JUDGMENT upon the REJECTERS of Christ, Matt. 3:11 (where a distinction is to be made between the baptism of the holy Spirit at Pentecost and the "fire" of divine retribution; Acts 2:3 could not refer to baptism); Lk. 3:16.”

This is quite a broadened definition from Strong’s Concordance. In Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance it has but one line after the Greek word pur. It states that pur is "fire" either (literal or figurative), fiery, lightning. We could easily spend twenty pages just commenting on the examples used in this expanded version of Strong’s, but let’s take a brief look at a few enlightening items: First, we learn that this word can be, and is, used “figuratively.” And in fact, the first five examples given in Strong’s ARE examples of figurative usage of the word fire. And of the 500+ times the word “fire” is used in the Bible, hundreds of times the word “fire” is used in a figurative or symbolic sense.

 (1b) In Rev. 3:18 it [fire] is SYMBOLIC, of that which tries the faith of saints, PRODUCING WHAT WILL GLORIFY THE LORD!

Christian Scholars will occasionally just absolutely "nail" a Scriptural Truth. Notice this beautiful and profound Scriptural Truth: The symbolic fire of Rev. 3:18 tries the faith of the saints, and PRODUCES what will GLORIFY THE LORD! ASTOUNDING!

Carefully note that it is not the “believer” who “produces” these glorious things, but it is the “SYMBOLIC FIRE” that produces them. And just Who is this “symbolic fire?” It is, of course, GOD – “For OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE (Heb. 12:29)!

Therefore it is GOD who “PRODUCES” qualities in the saints that will GLORIFY HIMSELF! God’s consuming SPIRITUAL fire (remember that “GOD IS SPIRIT” Jn. 4:24) does the “producing,” not the saint,

“For HIS ACHIEVEMENT are we, being created in Christ Jesus...” (Eph. 2:10).

“Now what have you which you did not OBTAIN? Now if you OBTAINED it also [from GOD] why are you boasting as though [you are] not obtaining [it from God]?” (I Cor. 4:7 Concordant Literal New Testament).

“All is of God” (II Cor. 5:18).

“The One Who is operating ALL in accord with the counsel of HIS will” (Eph. 1:11).

Etc.

In statement (1) the editor of Strong’s cites seven more Scriptures that are used symbolically and figuratively to demonstrate “the holiness of God, which CONSUMES ALL that is inconsistent therewith.” It doesn’t consume their physical bodies, nor does it burn their physical bodies to produce pain, but it “CONSUMES” all that is not consistent with God’s holiness. And these are the things of the heart, mind and spirit! It is not the “body” that needs chastisement and purification, it is the MIND, HEART, AND SPIRIT that needs purification from unholiness. You cannot burn pride and vanity out of one’s heart with REAL FIRE (besides the advocates of torturing with real fire for all eternity admit that it accomplishes NOTHING). It takes the fire of God’s spirit to burn away evils that have their origin in the realm of spirit.

This teaching is so absolutely elementary that it seems strange to even have to explain it. And yet, many of the greatest minds in theology today have not a clue as to these simple spiritual truths. All over the world Christian leaders continue to teach that the way God will deal with people who have wicked and carnal hearts, minds, and spirits, is to BURN THEIR FLESH IN REAL FIRE FOR ALL ETERNITY! And what, pray tell, does this infinite mountain of eternal pain accomplish? Why it is “justice” cry the high priests of Christendom!

Webster’s Concise Dictionary p. 392, justice n. 1. The quality of being just, fair, or impartial; evenhandedness.

So first and foremost we are told that burning billions and billions of men and women, and boy and girls, in fire for all eternity is “QUALITY!” - QUALITY? HELL IS A PLACE OF “QUALITY?” Just how sick can the human mind get, and just how low can the human heart sink? And this not from infidels, but from the leading advocates of the Christian Faith!

 

 

Back to SPIRITUAL Basics

God gives us perfectly simple and understandable examples of HOW He deals with our sins and faults. In Hebrews 12:6 we read:

“For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not?”

Of course when we ask this question today, the answer is not so obvious as back when the writer of Hebrews asked it. Less and less children are chastened by their fathers today, and look at the disastrous results. But ideally a son should be chastened -- chastened, not BEATEN!

Continuing:

“Furthermore we have had fathers of our FLESH which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of SPIRITS, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His HOLINESS.

Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:9-11).

This is not difficult to understand. Our fathers in the FLESH have corrected us with rods, straps, belts, sticks, paddles, and the back of their hand. This was done for our teaching and correcting. And it worked, “...we gave them reverence...” Now then, “...shall we not MUCH RATHER be in subjection unto the Father of SPIRITS...?”

Our Heavenly Father is NOT FLESH, but is the Father of SPIRITS! God is SPIRIT. God is working with our SPIRITUAL life. God does not chasten and correct us believers in Christ Jesus with physical rods, straps, belts, sticks, paddles, and the back of His hand! So how is it that God our Father of spirits accomplishes on a spiritual level what our physical fathers tried to accomplish on a physical level? Verse 29 gives us the answer:”For our God is a CONSUMING FIRE !”

As trash is burned and precious metals are purified by the use of LITERAL and PHYSICAL fire, so God burns our spiritual trash and purifies those qualities of character worth saving by His SYMBOLIC and SPIRITUAL fire. Physical fire is inanimate and uncaring. God’s spiritual fire is caring and loving.

There it is. There’s the gospel; there’s the purpose for human existence; there’s the plan of God. God is forming man into the very image of Himself. This requires not only a knowledge of good and evil, but an experience of good and evil. God provides both. He is calling just a few select ones out of this world now, and He will call the remainder of the human race later.

Some sinners are called, given faith, brought to Christ, repent, receive God’s spirit and are being saved NOW. All the rest of the world’s sinners will also be called, given faith, brought to Christ, repent, receive God’s spirit and will be saved LATER. And God uses the same method to convert and save both groups of sinners. That’s because God CHANGES NOT and God is NO RESPECTER of persons, and God WILLS to save all mankind, and God will perform ALL HIS WILL, PURPOSE, AND PLEASURE!!

All of the above verses regarding fire are used in a figurative and symbolic manner. Christ does not literally “baptize” (IMMERSE) His saints in REAL PHYSICAL FIRE. It would burn them all up, and there wouldn’t be any saints or believers! Likewise we saw in the earlier parts of this study series, that the “lake of fire” is also symbolic and used in a metaphor to describe a SPIRITUAL TRUTH.

And so we are assured that EVERYONE will be “revealed,” “tried,” “salted,” and “baptized” “in FIRE.” And these fiery trials as Peter calls them go on for a lifetime. If it were real, physical fire, all believers’ lives would be short indeed. God is SPIRIT, and God is a CONSUMING FIRE. It is God’s SPIRIT that is likened to fire. The spiritual teaching in this symbol is to recognize what real fire accomplishes and to then use that as an analogy as to what God DOES TO US (or more properly FOR US).

Fire does a number of things:

1. Fire CHANGES things. Fire brings about molecular changes in the materials that are burned. God’s spiritual fire will make changes in our mind, heart, and spirit.

2. Fire PURGES. In times past if a building were diseased and rat-infested, they would purge away the filth by burning it down. We are to be purged from all our diseases of sin and carnality. Jesus Christ paid the penalty of sin for us, but now God wants to get at the root and core of what caused us to sin in the first place. We all need desperately to be CHANGED and PURGED.

3. Fire BURNS UP combustible materials that have no value in saving. God will burn out of all of us the straw, grass, and stubble, which represent evil and wrong doctrines, idols of the heart, and philosophies that exalt themselves against God.

4. Fire PURIFIES things of value which we do want to retain. The analogy is used in the Scriptures of purifying gold by fire to make it more beautiful and more valuable. Gold represents the highest doctrines of spiritual understanding such as the Love of God and the Sovereignty of God, and salvation of all.

No one teaches us more regarding the fiery trials of life than the apostle to the nations, Paul. Paul was “revealed, tried, salted, and baptized” in God’s “CONSUMING FIRE,” and yet never a single hair on his head was ever singed.

 

THE CALL OF PAUL

When Jesus desired to ask the worst sinner who had ever lived (that would be Paul):

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS; OF WHOM I AM CHIEF.” (I Tim. 1:15)

To volunteer to teach the gospel to the Gentiles, He merely shined a bright light in Paul’s face to get his attention. Here are just a few revealed events in the life of Saul before God turned him into PAUL:

“Now Saul [Paul], yet breathing out THREATENINGS and SLAUGHTER against the disciples of the Lord...” (Acts 9:1):

“And I [Paul] persecuted this way unto THE DEATH, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” (Acts 22:4).

“And I PUNISHED them OFT in EVERY synagogue, and compelling them To BLASPHEME; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them unto strange cities” (Acts 26:11).

“For I am the LEAST of the Apostles, that am not meant to be called an apostle because I PERSECUTED the church of God” (I Cor. 15:9).

“For ye have heard of my conversation [behaviour] in time past in the Jews religion, how that BEYOND MEASURE I persecuted the church of God, and WASTED it” (Gal. 1:13).

Most people believe that when Paul said he was the “chief of sinners” he was just blowing hot air--trying to play super humble or something. That he was so spiritual that he equated persecution of the church with being the grossest sin of all time. Not so. God’s Holy Spirit did not inspire Paul to “blow hot air” to make himself look artificially humble!

Paul (Saul before his conversion) really was THE WORST SINNER THAT HAS EVER LIVED IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD! (Including Hitler!)

There is a very important reason for understanding how gross a sinner Paul really was. There is a paramount reason why you will NEVER be able to out-sin Paul. NO ONE has ever been able to out-sin Paul. Men like Hitler and Hussein may even come close, but no one will ever hold that infamous distinction of being the “chief, preeminent, foremost sinner of all time” but the apostle Paul. Jesus Christ had to fill that position two thousand years ago for our understanding of upon whom the ends of the ages are come! Here’s the proof:

The phrase “beyond measure” in the KJV (Gal. 1:13) is translated from the Greek word hyperbole and has two primary usages:

1. “TRANSCENDENT” as found in Scriptures such as II Cor. 4:17

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more EXCEEDING AND ETERNAL
 [eonian] WEIGHT of glory.” 

The Greek translated “exceeding” is huperbole, and means TRANSCENDENT. Transcendent describes something that is highest, incomparable, consummate, matchless, preeminent, sublime, perfect, unequaled, unparalleled, and unrivaled! In other words the highest possible degree. Nothing is higher than that which is huperbole -- TRANSCENDENT!

2. “INORDINATE” as we read in Gal. 1:13, 

“For you hear of my behaviour once, in Judaism, that I INORDINATELY persecuted the ecclesia
 [church] of God and ravaged it.”(Concordant Literal New Testament). 

Inordinate describes something that is excessive, exorbitant, extravagant, unreasonable, and too much. Now here’s the kicker: “Inordinately” is translated from the SAME GREEK WORD huperbole which is also translated “transcendently!” (For more details on this see my paper entitled Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh Identified).

Here then is the Biblical truth of this matter. To the degree that “transcendently” describes the HEIGHT of God’s goodness and glory, so likewise does the word “inordinately” describe the HEIGHT of evil that Paul perpetrated on the Church of God. God’s transcendent (huperbole) goodness and glory are UNPARALLELED! Likewise, Paul’s inordinate (huperbole) slaughter (murders) and threatenings are also, UNPARALLELED! God’s Word does not say in vain that Paul was the CHIEF, FOREMOST, PREEMINENT (very, very WORST) of ALL SINNERS WHO HAVE EVER LIVED! He really WAS.

Now then, what do we read next after all these “threatenings and slaughter?”

“And as he [Saul] journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth... And he TREMBLING AND ASTONISHED, said, ‘LORD, WHAT WILL YOU HAVE ME TO DO?” (Acts 9:3-6).

By all Scriptural indications, it probably took no longer than 30 seconds before Paul was fully committed to His New Lord. Do you reckon Jesus could ever do such a thing again? Or, was this incident a mere fluke? Don’t you fancy that Jesus could possibly convert one of the lesser sinners of the world (say Ted Bundy) in maybe 29 seconds? Or 28 seconds? Then why do you suppose that the High Priests of Christendom are teaching the world that there are billions and billions of LESSER sinners that Jesus CANNOT convert in 29 seconds or 29 QUADRILLION CENTURIES?

Paul’s conversion is more than just an interesting story, it is an amazing and marvellous story, and it portends profound hope for a lost and sinning world. Why does Paul tell us that he was the chief of ALL SINNERS? Why did our Lord choose this worst of sinners to be His apostle at this particular time in history? Why didn’t He choose a mediocre sinner like James or John to be His apostle to the Gentiles? Why did it have to be THE WORLD’S WORST SINNER? What did our Lord prove by using the world’s worst sinner that He couldn’t have done by using a lesser sinner? MUCH!

How many of us have exclaimed “God won’t save me; I have committed too many horrible sins for God to ever save me!” Oh, how we humans love to put limitations on an INFINITE GOD! Here’s the answer as to why God needed to chose the world’s WORST SINNER to be the apostle to the rest of the world:

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting” (I Tim. 1:16).

The King James really does not do justice to this verse at all. Most have read right over this verse and never saw the profound, universal, all-embracing teaching in this verse. Let me quote it from the Concordant Version:

“But therefore was I shown mercy, that in me, THE FOREMOST [the worst sinner ever] Jesus Christ should be DISPLAYING[publicly] ALL HIS PATIENCE [yes God has ‘patience’ with even the worst of sinners], FOR A PATTERN, of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian”

Jesus Christ chose Paul, the WORST, CHIEF, FOREMOST, PREEMINENT SINNER THAT EVER LIVED (huperbole), to be put on PUBLIC DISPLAY for the whole world to see Jesus Christ demonstrating ALL HIS PATIENCE, for a “PATTERN” that will be repeated over, and over, and over again billions and billions of times for all those that Christ will likewise bring to repentance at any second He so desires!!!

Here’s the lesson: If Jesus Christ can bring to repentance, and convert, and save the WORLD’S WORST SINNER THAT HAS EVER LIVED in about 30 seconds, then that drunken, vile relative, friend, work associate, neighbour, etc of yours (the one that is supposedly going to hell for all eternity), is NO MATCH FOR THE CONVERTING POWER OF JESUS CHRIST! And ALL OF THE LESSER SINNERS of the world also are no match for the converting, saving power of Jesus Christ. Once the Giant of all sinners has been conquered, converting the sinning MIDGETS will be an easy task! Has no one ever considered what would happen if God were to strike down Hitler with a BLINDING LIGHT FROM HEAVEN? Do you really think he would shake his fist toward heaven in total human defiance? Well, if you do, you think as a fool!

 Paul despised the Church of the Loving God. He hated it with evey fibre of his being. He went to great length and personal hardship to seek out and TORTURE the Saints of God. But when God struck him down with a blinding light from heaven, Paul “trembled” (Greek, tremo, dreadful and terrifying FEAR), and was “astonished”(Greek: thambeo, to stupefy, astound, amaze, astonish), and melted like jelly in the noonday SUN!

And some would suppose that Hitler or any LESSER sinner would do otherwise? Well, God didn’t strike down Hitler with a blinding light from heaven, but guess what? HE WILL YET DO IT! And when He does, Hitler will sob like a babbling idiot! He will violently shake and tremble in UTTER DESPAIR AND TERROR, and he will REPENT, make no mistake about it! OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE! God has ways to MAKE carnal-minded, God-defying men and women VOLUNTEER real fast!

Yet there are still many that contend that: “God will NEVER make anyone do anything against their own free will.” Oh, really? Are any so STUPID as to believe that on the very day that Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute and torture the Saints of Jesus Christ with nothing else on his mind, but he paused for a moment in the middle of the road and thought to himself, “You know, I think that I will not go to Damascus today and persecute Christians. I believe that I will right now exercise my ‘free will’ and repent of all these sins and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ Whom I have been persecuting. Yes, I think I will do that right now, BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.” Is THAT what the Word of God says?

 IS IT? Or rather did not Christ MAKE His will PAUL’S WILL in mere SECONDS? So many people just do not see that they are BLASPHEMING the very name, nature, and character (LOVE) of God by their demeaning accusations about what God can and cannot do! God went AGAINST the will of Paul (Saul), and God MADE His will PAUL’S WILL in a matter of SECONDS. But Christendom teaches that God doesn’t do such things. It just isn’t right. It just isn’t God’s way. WELL, YES, IT IS RIGHT, AND IT IS GOD’S WAY, AND HE WILL DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN UNTIL ALL HUMANITY IS SAVED!

And so we learn that God converted the world’s worst sinner in a matter of seconds. We learned that The Father inspired Jesus to pray: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We also learned that the “them” in this prayer includes the whole world, for the Scriptures plainly tell us that it is the whole world that is accountable for Christ’s Crucifixion, even though it was performed by the express foreordained will of the Father.

Now then, what do these marvellous and profound Scriptures accomplish in the hearts and minds of those who are teaching “eternal torment?” Nothing. Absolutely NOTHING! These Scriptural truths have NO effect on the hearts of those who delight in the prospects of an eternal hellhole of torture for most of humanity. But at God’s choosing, they will all melt as Paul did in the blinding light of God’s noonday Sun!

For those few of you whom God is beginning to speak to through His spirit, it should now start to become clear that nothing can thwart the will of God which is to SAVE ALL HUMANITY. God has spoken it; He has willed it; He will perform it.

 

FOR WHAT DID PAUL VOLUNTEER?

All who will have a part with Christ when He comes to rule this earth in His kingdom must volunteer for judgment now! Remember how Paul volunteered: “What will You have me to do?” But just what was Paul volunteering to do?

Was he volunteering to be praised and adored by the public?

Was he volunteering to wear thousand-dollar suits, $500 shoes, $20,000 Rolex watches, drive $80,000 automobiles, live in multi-million dollar multiple homes, fly in private executive jets, and collect millions and millions and millions of dollars of poor people’s money to promote the gospel of prosperity and worldliness?

Did our Lord tell Paul that his ministry and calling would be a “walk in the park” with never-ending comforts and pleasures, having medals and honours bestowed upon him by the leaders and dignitaries of pagan nations, living in a five and a half-million dollar mansion large enough to be a luxury hotel, while feasting like a fat king in the opulence of Babylonian extravagance?

Is this the description of a successful minister of the Gospel?

Was Paul’s message to all the Gentile nations that they had to give to him (or they would be ROBBING GOD) ten percent of all their gold, silver, salaries, or money, so he could flaunt his worldly and lavish lifestyle in the faces of these poor Christian converts.

Let’s “get real” as they say.

“For I will shew him [Paul] how GREAT things he must SUFFER for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16).

In II Cor. 11:22-28 we learn that Paul suffered the following:

weariness

jails

blows

deaths

thirty-nine lashes

flogged with rods

stoned

shipwrecked

day & night in swamp

journeys

dangers of rivers

dangers of robbers

dangers of his race

dangers of the nations

dangers in the city

dangers in wilderness

dangers in the sea

dangers from false brethren

toil and labour

vigils

famine and thirst

fasts

cold and nakedness

“Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me DAILY, the care of ALL THE CHURCHES!” (2Co 11:28)

Add a little “fire” to the above scenario and we might conclude that Paul was being tortured and punished in a Christian hell.

But Paul was not being “punished,” he was being “JUDGED,” and there is a world of difference. Paul was being made STRONG. Paul was being moulded into a SPIRITUAL GIANT! And being trained, educated, purged, perfected into a spiritual giant is NOT a walk in the park!

Was it just Paul that God singled out to endure such hardships and trials? No, we too must partake of the same:

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that WE [Christians, followers of Christ] MUST through MUCH TRIBULATION [Greek: thlipsis--affliction, troubles, burdens, persecution, anguish] enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

How many Pastors teach that you must go through such things if you are to be a follower of Jesus Christ and rule with Him in the Kingdom of God? No, they teach that if you are going through just such things that you probably need to get your life in order and repent because you obviously have many, many sins in your life that are bringing on all these troubles and therefore, you are not being blessed of the Lord? Their prosperity gospel of worldliness and gross materialism is a travesty of the gospel of Jesus Christ! You can hear this prosperity gospel of worldliness and materialism every time you turn the TV on. But what do the Scriptures say?

Of course we must stress that although we are to go through extreme hardship, persecution, and tribulations, God nonetheless strengthens us so that we can endure these things. It is not God’s purpose to discourage us. We have this promise from God:

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape [Gk: ‘sequel’] that you may be able to bear it” (I Cor. 10:13).

“Blessed [Gk: HAPPY] is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the CROWN OF LIFE, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him” (James 1:12).

It is most important that we consider, however, some of the many Scriptures that relate to our suffering, afflictions, and persecutions. This is necessary if we are to ever acquire a deep spiritual understanding of God’s judgment on the world in the lake of fire and second death. As we go through these many Scriptures, be aware of the fact that we are not going through all these things as punishment. God is not punishing us, He is chastening us, and there is a BIG difference.

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we SUFFER with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:17).

“That no man should be moved by these AFFLICTIONS: for yourselves know that we are APPOINTED thereunto” (I Thes. 3:3).

Paul suffered much to get the gospel to the Thessalonians:

“...Suffering ...being outraged ...a vast struggle ... [why?] ...We have been TESTED by God to be entrusted with the gospel... God, Who is TESTING our hearts” (I Thes. 2:1-4, Concordant Literal New Testament).

Then he tells them that they too are “appointed” to such like sufferings and afflictions. Paul praises the faith and endurance of the Thessalonians because of: 

“...all your PERSECUTIONS and the AFFLICTIONS with which you are bearing... which you are SUFFERING... you who are being AFFLICTED...” (I Thes. 1:5-7).

Now then, was this because the Thessalonians lived in a bad part of town, or bad part of the world, or that they lived at a bad time in history? Or does God bring these things upon all who would follow Christ in all ages?

“Yea, and ALL [in every era] that will live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL SUFFER PERSECUTION” (II Tim. 3:12).

But aren’t all these persecutions and afflictions at the hands of evil men rather than God? For sure wicked men commit many wicked deeds against the true followers of Jesus Christ, but who is ultimately responsible for ALL things, including the tribulations and persecutions of believers? It is, of course, GOD

“Who works ALL things after the counsel of His Own WILL” (Eph. 1:11).

“So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in ALL YOUR PERSECUTIONS AND TRIBULATIONS that ye endure; Which is a manifest token [display] of [of WHAT?] ...OF the RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT [Gk: ‘just judging’] OF GOD!”

And for what grand purpose?

“...that ye may be counted WORTHY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, for which ye also SUFFER” (2 Thes. 1:4-5).

Just how much are we expected to give up and suffer for Christ in order to be worthy?

“And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than Me is NOT WORTHY of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is NOT WORTHY of Me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, IS NOT WORTHY OF ME” (Matt. 10:36-38).

What does God consider a “reasonable” sacrifice to become members of the Family and Kingdom of God?

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).

Make no mistake about it; if you will follow Jesus Christ, you will experience many of the hardships spoken of in these Scriptures. It is of course unnecessary to teach youngsters in Sunday School these deeper truths of God, but if we adults are to ever go on to maturity in Christ, it’s time to get our heads out of the sand!

The good news is that if we have a volunteering heart and accept the judgments of God on our lives now, we will be sure to avoid the harsher judgment on the whole world reserved for “that day.”

“For if we would JUDGE [Gk: diakrino=THROUGH JUDGE, separate thoroughly, to withdraw, discern, judge] OURSELVES [members of the called-out House of God], we should not be judged [Gk: krino=judge, set right, decide, to try, condemn, punish]. But when we are judged [the same Greek word krino as used above with reference to judging the wicked world] we are CHASTENED of the Lord, that we should not be condemned [Gk: katakrino, an adverse sentence] with the world” (I Cor. 11:32).

Pay close attention to the three Greek words, diakrino, krino, and katakrino, used in this verse.

There is so much contained in this verse. There is a judgment now on God’s saints. We are judged by being “chastened of the Lord.” What does that mean? “Chastened” is from the Greek word paideuo and here is what it means: "to train up a child, i.e. educate, or (by impl.) discipline (by punishment): -- chasten (-ise), instruct, learn, teach" (Strong’s Greek Dictionary p. 54).

You will now learn a marvellous truth of Scripture that is rarely taught in any theological seminary anywhere in the whole world!

We are “judged” by God, and the vehicle that God uses to do this judging is “chastening.” In other words, we are “judged” by God by being "trained up" like a child, by being "educated," by "discipline" involving "punishment," "instructed," by which we "learn," and all these "teach" us WHAT WE SHOULD BE.

There is no doubt that some of this chastening can be harsh, sorrowful, and painful. Much of it is not very pleasant and God admits as much to us. And it is not possible for one single son of God to avoid this chastisement! Let’s read it:

 

 

When Grace is a verb

Grace means favour, a gift, to be cheerful, well, happy, graciously, freely, deliverance from danger, and a dozen other benevolent qualities of peace, joy, goodness, and salvation. It is one of those truly wonderful words of blessing. But just how does it operate in “the real world” as we say? A definition does not tell us everything about a word. We can, likewise, define “love” as, a deep, tender feeling of affection. But does that definition tell us how love actually functions?

We learned that “...when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord(I Cor. 11:32).

Chastening defines how it is that God judges us. Now then, we are about to learn one of the most remarkable spiritual truths in the whole Bible:

“For the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared to all men , teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world [eon or age]” (Titus 2:11-12).

Here then is the remarkable parallel between God’s judgment and His grace:

God "judges" us by "chastening" us! (I Cor. 11:32)

"chasten," Greek: ‘paideuo’ #3811

God "graces" us by "teaching" us! (Titus 2:12)

"teaching," Greek: ‘paideuo’ #3811

WOW! Do you even begin to understand what you have just read? Whether God “JUDGES” us (and later the wicked world), or “GRACES” us, He does it THE SAME WAY!!

“Judging” is CHASTENING (Strong’s #3811), and “gracing” is CHASTENING (Strong’s #3811). It is the SAME WORD!

“Grace” is not a stagnant feel-good noun -- it is also a verb -- that is, it does something; it accomplishes something; it produces something of great value in the believer.

“Teaching” accomplishes something essential in making man into God’s very image.

The next verse tells us what it “teaches” us: “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts... living soberly, righteously, and godly!” Just the words “living godly” will cover every single thing that God EVER ASKS OF US -- EVERYTHING. “Living GODLY” covers every possible act of faith, love, and obedience that anyone could ever conceive of.

When God uses the SAME WORD to describe something that He wishes to accomplish, it behoves us to study deeply what that word means, especially when that word has to do with the very destiny of all peoples who have ever lived.

The subject of I Cor. 11:32 is JUDGING. 
The subject of Titus 2:11 is GRACE AND SALVATION.

HOW does God “judge” us? BY CHASTENING (#3811, paideuo)!. 
HOW does God's “grace and save” us? BY CHASTENING (#3811, paideuo)!

God JUDGES by chastening (I Cor. 11:32), and God GRACES by chastening (Titus 2:11).


By GRACE GOD JUDGES US and by JUDGING GOD GRACES US!

Gracing us by means of chastening, TEACHES US TO LIVE GODLY and brings salvation. Judging us by means of chastening, also TEACHES US TO LIVE GODLY and brings salvation!

It is high time we dispense with the hypocrisy.

When God JUDGES US THROUGH CHASTENING (I Cor. 11:32) it is for our good and for our benefit and for our salvation. Why then do we think that God changes character when He likewise judges the wicked, unjust, and non-believers at the great white throne? Why? God changes NOT! God is NOT a respecter of persons. You read all of these Scriptures. Do we think the Scriptures LIE?

If we are not rejoicing over these profound and marvellous revelations, then we are spiritually asleep. “And what on Earth does this have to do with the lake of fire?” EVERYTHING! I “judging" (Greek: krino in I Cor. 11:32 by chastening that brings godly living and salvation is also the very same “judging” (Greek: krino) used in Revelation 20:12 with reference to “the lake of fire.”

Seriously, do many believe that these God-inspired Greek words have one meaning when applied to God judging and gracing believers now, but then have a totally different meaning when applied to as yet non-believers in the day of judging? Well, regrettably, many do think that God is fickle, inconsistent, and a respecter of persons.

This is an absolutely marvellous teaching. God “judges” us by “chastening” (paideuo) us, which means, teaching, training, learning, disciplining, punishing, instructing, and educating. And God “graces” us also by this same “chastening” (paideuo) which does not change meaning from one Scripture verse to another. Notice how other translations render this word paideuo in Titus 2:11-12:

“Teaching us...” King James

“Instructing us...” American Standard Version

“Disciplining us...” New Testament (Henry Alford)

“And schooling us...” The Centenary Translation (Montgomery)

“Training us...” The New Testament in Modern Speech (Weymouth)

Now it is true that the Greek word paideuo #3811 can also mean “punishment.” But punishment is not the main force of this word. Notice that none of the above translations  translate this word, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, PUNISHING us that denying ungodliness ...” No, the force of this word is to DISCIPLINE, TRAIN, INSTRUCT, SCHOOL AND TEACH. Let’s at least have the sensibility of a ten year-old. Of what value is “disciplining, training, instructing, schooling, and teaching” if it goes on forever and ever and ever, and while being burned with fire, for ALL ETERNITY? Gee, do we think they will EVER “learn their lesson?”

All of these aspects of paideuo are with a view to amendment, correction, and setting right, not merely punishment for punishment’s sake. A father chastens his children with a view to amendment and correction, not for the sole sake of CAUSING PAIN! Why do we think carnal-minded human fathers are a billion times more noble and merciful in the disciplining of their children than God is in the disciplining (chastening -- judging -- gracing) of HIS children?

There is a need for much repenting in the teaching of this vile doctrine of eternal torment. This doctrine of eternal torture blasphemes the name of our Loving Father. It is heresy on a level with hypobole -- inordinate -- TOO MUCH! It is a damnable teaching. And it is among the filthy trash of wood, straw and stubble that will be purged out and burned out in God’s Lake of Fire from every person who teaches and delights in this most disgusting of all disgraceful theologies of depraved men and women.

Oh yes, there are things that are going to be burned out of existence in God’s “lake of fire,” and this deplorable doctrine of eternal torment will be the first to be abolished and death will be the last to be abolished--and so, let it burn ... LET IT BURN!

Remember that Jesus Christ does not change and that He does not respect (have partiality) with regards to persons. With those two thoughts in mind, what is accomplished by the “chastening” of the Lord? He “graces” us by chastening and He “judges” us by chastening. What does it always accomplish? Answer:

“For the grace of God [that chastens us] ... BRINGS SALVATION” (Titus 2:11)!!

And all of this is of God. God judges, God graces, God chastens, and God brings SALVATION!

Notice:

“Being CONFIDENT of this very thing, that He [that’s Christ] which hath begun a good work in you WILL PERFORM IT until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

And when Christ's

“... JUDGMENTS are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world [the whole world] WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Isa. 26:9).

As far as Christian theory goes, this Scripture in Isaiah might just a well be a lie, for they say it will never happen. They teach that the whole world will never ever learn righteousness and receive salvation. That’s because they neither believe the gospel nor teach it. And so rather than bring the gospel of universal salvation, they threaten the world with universal damnation in the fires of eternal hell if they don’t follow their short-cut-formulas to material wealth and spiritual salvation. And thus the name of God is being blasphemed among the nations (Rom. 2:24) to this very day.

 

 

Punishing vs Chastising

While considering all of the hellfire and brimstone material disseminated by Christian teachers, preachers, writers, and educators around the world, just how many hundreds of times do you suppose the word “punishment” is used in the entire New Testament with regards to sinners? Hundreds? Would you believe less than fifty? Would you believe less than ten? Would you believe ONCE? That’s right, the answer is one time.

“Of how much more punishment [Gk: timoria], suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29).

Yet those who have committed the above crime towards the Lord are few indeed. Most of humanity that will be judged in the lake of fire have NEVER EVEN HEARD of Jesus Christ, let alone, “trodden underfoot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, an UNHOLY thing, and done DESPITE unto the Spirit of grace.” Most have never even heard of such sins, let alone committed them!

This is a most powerful Scripture to be sure, but it does not speak of “eternal” punishment, and it is the ONLY SCRIPTURE IN THE ENTIRETY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT that uses the word “punishment” with reference to punishing sinners!

There are three other places in the KJV that the word “punish” or “punished” is used correctly. They are Acts 4:21; 22:5; and 26:11 where it Saul (later Paul) is punishing not sinners, but members of the church, the followers of Christ.

II Thes. 1:9 should be translated, “eonian extermination” and not “punished ... everlasting.”

II Peter 2:4 & 9 should both be “chastening” as it is the same Greek word kolazo and not timoria which means punish.

The KJV uses “punished” in verse nine, which should be “chasten,’ and ironically it doesn’t even translate the Greek word kolazo (chasten) in verse four -- the KJV translators left it out completely. Maybe the translators thought that it was redundant to say, “chastening judging.” But then again, they didn’t bother to look at II Cor. 2:6 which should read “rebuke” (another Greek word, epitimia), not “punish.”

And lastly, I Pet. 2:14 should read “vengeance” ( still another Greek word, kdikesise), and not punishment.

So in the case of “punishment” we have but ONE Scripture to deal with, and we will deal with it.

This next fact doesn’t necessarily “prove” anything, it’s just the way my mind works. Jesus Christ said:

“O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the ABUNDANCE of the heart the MOUTH SPEAKS” (Mat. 12:34).

Most of us understand that statement: What is heaviest and most dominant on our heart is what we talk about the most. Now, we learned of the one time that punishment is used in reference to sinners. Would you all be interested in knowing how many times the opposite of punishment is used? Okay, the word “mercy” (-ies, -iful) is found in the Bible over THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY times! Could it be that the “abundance of God’s heart” consists of many more MERCIES than it does of vengeance and punishment?

Where do you suppose we find nearly a hundred of these occurrences? That’s right, in the writings of King David. No wonder blind Bartimaeus ...

“began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son OF DAVID, have MERCY on me” (Mk. 10:47).

God promised to give His Son “...the sure MERCIES OF DAVID” (Acts 13:34). You see, David’s heart spoke such an abundance about God’s mercies, that God said of him:

“...I have found DAVID the son of Jesse, a man AFTER MINE OWN HEART which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22).

Three hundred and thirty to ONE! Probably doesn’t mean a thing. Just an observation. By the way, even among those who love the doctrine of eternal torment, no Scripture in the Old Testament has ever been brought forth which even vaguely defends their theory.

 

 

Punishment and the Gospel

For all those who have never heard the real Gospel of God, here it is:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publish peace; that brings GOOD TIDINGS [that means gospel] of GOOD [not evil tidings of a Lord who administers infinite acts of eternal terrorism], that publishes SALVATION [not DAMNATION] ... The LORD hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of ALL THE NATIONS [that’s the whole world], and ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH [that’s everyone] SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF OUR GOD (Isa. 52:7 & 10).

Did you even know this verse was in the Bible?

Now let’s be straight here. There are MANY Scriptures that speak of death, destruction, and perishing of wicked people. And we won’t forget the one Scripture with regards to punishment. All those Scriptures are true. They are NOT, however, God’s final judgment on the wicked. The final judgments of God will bring salvation to all and there are no scriptures that contradict those saving declarations of Almighty God. God has declared it; He has spoken it; His Word has gone forth: He has willed – it.

“Who WILL have ALL men to be SAVED, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4).

Here then is a declaration of God from His own inspired Word. It is found in all Bibles and in all languages on earth for all to see and believe. But the Church of Babylon has tried to destroy this declaration and make it of no effect in the minds of millions and millions of people around the world. They teach that this verse and declaration of Almighty God WILL NEVER EVER HAPPEN! Well, be it known, that they LIE!

Here’s what God says about His own words and His own declarations.

“So shall MY WORD BE that GOES FORTH OUT OF MY MOUTH [as in I Tim. 2:4 and a hundred Scriptures like it]; it shall NOT return unto me void [unfruitful, negated, ineffective, ineffectual, inoperative, invalid, null, worthless, vain, unsuccessful], but itSHALL ACCOMPLISH THAT WHICH I PLEASE, AND IT SHALL PROSPER [bear fruit, benefit, do well, flourish, increase, multiply, progress, make good] in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

Oh, the audacity and blasphemy of those who proudly teach that God cannot and will not ever accomplish His own will, save five percent! Does Isaiah 55:11 sound like only a FIVE PERCENT gospel that Christendom is preaching around the world for TEN PERCENT of your money? Like those who crucified our Lord, they know not what they say, and God will forgive them too. But for those who are ready to learn and believe, let’s see how God answers such utter foolishness:

“Remember the former things of old:
For I am God, and there is none else;
I AM GOD, and there is none like Me,
Telling from the BEGINNING, the HEREAFTER,
And from AFORETIME, what has NOT YET been done,
Saying, ‘ALL MY COUNSEL SHALL BE CONFIRMED,
And ALL MY DESIRE WILL I DO.
Calling from the sunrise, a bird of prey,
From a land far off, the man of My counsel.
Indeed, I SPEAK! INDEED, I WILL BRING IT ABOUT!
I formed. Indeed, I WILL DO IT” (Isaiah 46:9-11).

Nothing can hinder God’s words or declarations. Even the things that are perceived to be hindrances to God’s will (such as the lake of fire and the second death), are not hindrances at all, but rather are the very instruments for the accomplishment of His will. God has a ONE HUNDRED PERCENT GOSPEL, AND IT’S FREE!

 

 

Grace and Judgement

“For whom the Lord loves He CHASTENS...” (Heb. 12:6).

There is no escaping it. If you are to be a “son of God” you will be chastened. As you can see from the definition above, the word "chastened" is paideuo, and is not too severe. Even if involving some punishment, the whole thrust of the word is to train, educate, discipline, instruct, etc. These are all good things not to be feared. But there is more, so we might just as well read it and get our attitudes adjusted to it. The rest of the verse:

“For whom the Lord loves He CHASTENS, and [AND] ...SCOURGES every son whom He receives [or is assenting]” (Heb. 12:6)

“SCOURGES?” No, not scourging! Does God show His love toward us by scourging us? It is absolutely necessary. Scourging is definitely even more severe and harsh than chastening.

The word “scourge” in Heb. 12:6 is from the Greek word mastigoo and here’s its definition: “to flog (literally or figuratively) – scourge” Strong’s Greek Dictionary, page 46. And what does “flog” mean?

"flog 1. To beat severely with a whip or rod." Page 531 American heritage College Dictionary.

This word “scourge” in Heb. 12:6 which God performs on us, is the very same word found in John 19:1 where it says they took Jesus and “scourged” Him. Now then, will God literally “BEAT SEVERELY WITH A WHIP OR ROD” every son that He receives? No, not necessarily, even though they did literally do so to Paul and many other followers of Jesus Christ. Remember that the definition said it can be “literal OR figurative.”

Let’s remember. Many people have come to know Christ in their senior years, and God does not literally beat every little old lady with whips and rods when they turn to Him. However, the chastening of God’s grace which we read about in Titus 2:11 can certainly seem like a real flogging. God will chasten us until He drives out the beast in us. The beast of supposed “free will” which is really self-will does not want to leave peaceably! It takes the very presence of Jesus Christ to dispel the beast of humanistic self-determinism, commonly called “free will.”

Although we are not condemned when God judges us, we nonetheless must be chastened.

“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? But if you be without chastisement, whereof ALL are partakers, then are you bastards, and NOT sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection into the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for OUR PROFIT, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but GRIEVOUS: nevertheless afterward it yields the PEACEABLE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:7--11).

So it is essential that we accept God’s chastisement which is how He “judges” us.

The reason we are not “condemned” with the world is because we accept God’s judgment in our lives

“There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1).

But can we compare the judging that believers go through with the judging that the wicked receive at the end of the age in the lake of fire. Surely there is no comparison, is there? “For there is no respect [Gk: partiality] of persons with God” (Rom. 2:11).

So we learn from Scripture that if we would volunteer to have God judge us now that we would not need to be condemned with the world in “the lake of fire.” And Peter tells us that this judgment (like the one the Thessalonians were going through) must begin at the HOUSE OF GOD. It involves much tribulation, sorrow, affliction and suffering. These things are God’s judgment on believers to try their hearts and prove them worthy for the Kingdom of God. Christ told us that if we do not forsake all (even give our very bodies as a living Sacrifice, according to Paul) and take up OUR cross and follow Christ into persecutions that start in our own household, then He doesn’t want us in the kingdom with Him -- we are NOT WORTHY (at this time)!

Now if you are following these Scriptures closely you will see that we are to give our bodies as a living sacrifice and endure suffering, affliction, and persecution. But there is MORE! Oh NO, how much more can we take? What else? TRIALS. There are trials! The word “trial” in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word dokimion and means TESTING. God is going to TEST us. It must be done! We must go through it! Peter tells us the many trials and temptations are a heaviness to your hearts, but because we know why we are going through it, we can, nevertheless, REJOICE!

“Wherein ye GREATLY REJOICE, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in HEAVINESS THROUGH MANIFOLD TEMPTATIONS” (I Peter 1:6).

Ah, yes, how sweet it is in the mouth (REJOICE), but how bitter it is in the belly (HEAVINESS) (Rev. 10:10). But these trials are for a season. Remember there is NO partiality with God. We know that those in the final judgment in “the lake of fire” will also be there for just “a season” not eternally!

 

 

Becoming perfect

Few today believe it, but Jesus Christ DIED FOR OUR SINS, and that accomplishes the SALVATION OF THE WHOLE WORLD, because God will eventually bring every creature in HEAVEN AND IN EARTH to repentance and humble submission to Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:9-11, Rom. 10:9, I Cor. 15:25). But forgiving sin, pardoning sin, justifying our sinful past, or even redeeming our bodies and giving us incorruptible and immortal bodies, does NOT make us perfect in deed and character!

God is PERFECT! And God wants His children to BE PERFECT! And believe it or not God WILL ... MAKE ... US ... PERFECT!

“He [God] chooses us in Him [Christ] before the disruption [foundation] of the world, we to be HOLY and FLAWLESS[PERFECT] in His sight...” (Eph. 1:4).

“You, then, shall be PERFECT as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mat. 5:48).

“I in them, and Thou in Me, that they [that’s US] may be made PERFECT in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and hast loved Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me” (John 17:23).

“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man PERFECT in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28).

“For it became HIM, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many [that’s us and the rest of the world] sons unto glory, to make the CAPTAIN of their salvation PERFECT [how?] Through SUFFERING” (Heb. 2:10).

No one but Christ is perfect now, but it won’t always be that way. Paul knew that it was a process and that it would be ultimately God’s achievement. This is amazing stuff!

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; For thePERFECTING OF THE SAINTS...” (Eph. 4:11-12).

It shouldn’t be overlooked, that even Christ was perfected through “SUFFERING!” Are we not to bear our own Cross? If they hated and persecuted Christ, will they not do likewise to us? Do we think the Scripture says in vain;

“Herein is our love made PERFECT, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He [Christ] IS, SO ARE WE in the world” (I Jn. 4:17).

Paul tells us in I Thes. 2 and II Thes. 1 that suffering and persecutions are a big part of the judgment that God uses to test us and to deem us worthy of His kingdom and salvation. The bottom line is this. Unless you are SUFFERING real PERSECUTION, you are NOT a follower of Jesus Christ nor are you living godly in Christ Jesus!

“Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted ME, they will also persecute YOU; if they have kept MY saying, they will keep YOURS also” (John 15:20).

“And at that time there was a GREAT PERSECUTION against the church... and they were all scattered abroad... except the apostles” (Acts 8:1).

“YEA, and ALL that will live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL SUFFER PERSECUTION” (II Tim. 3:12).

Yes, God has a way of making imperfect people perfect. It is called FIRE! Whether purging or clearing a garbage dump, or refining gold and silver, there is nothing like the purifying, purging, and perfecting power of FIRE!

What a marvellous metaphor God uses when He compares Himself and His Holy Spirit with that of “FIRE” – “For our God is a consuming FIRE” (Heb. 12:29). There are so many marvellous qualities and mysteries of fire that multiple books are needed to elaborate upon them. Fire CHANGES things. This fact is most important in understanding the purpose for the “Lake of Fire.”

1. Fire changes combustible things (even undesirable things) into useful heat and energy.

2. Fire changes the quality of precious stones, gold and silver by purging out the impurities, thus making them perfect.

Now, we must not draw the erroneous conclusion that since we must go through a plethora of trials, tribulations, suffering, and persecution that all God is interested in is putting us through a living hell.  This is not the case at all. Each and every trial and persecution that comes upon us is designed to MAKE US SPIRITUALLY STRONG. And with spiritual strength comes PEACE, FULFILLMENT, TRUE HAPPINESS, AND JOY.

Happiness does not come from the abundance of things we possess (although those things have their place too). True happiness is from the inside out. Happiness is produced from within, and not by things from without. True happiness is a heart and mind at PEACE! Every single epistle that Paul penned has in the salutation: “GRACE to you and PEACE from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” We have already learned that “grace” is God's gift of not only salvation, but a training, schooling, disciplining, chastising power that changes our character from carnal to godly! And what is the result of all this?  PEACE!  Peace of mind, peace of heart, peace of spirit.  When God grants us “PEACE,” we are truly blessed, fortunate, well-off and very CONTENT!

Peace of course is the fruit of the Spirit! God likens believers to a garden that is to produce fruit. Of course God also likens our spiritual development to that of a building. We (the elect) are to produce much “spiritual fruit” which will also make us “living stones” in a great temple prepared for God’s dwelling place. And upon what exactly is all this spiritual structure is to be built?

 

JESUS CHRIST—THE ROCK

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which IS Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation…” (I Cor. 3:10-12).

We are God’s building of living stones that are to produce garden varieties of spiritual fruit. Paul gives us an even clearer description of this spiritual building process in Eph. 2:19-21,

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are [being] built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed [being connected together] grows unto an holy temple in the Lord: In Whom ye also are built together for an habitation [dwelling place] through [in] Spirit.”

God’s Word portrays a far different and higher spiritual destiny than the Christian candy-coated heaven of a Disney World Magic Kingdom with pearly gates, streets of gold, fluffy clouds, and chubby-cheeked cherubs strumming their little harps while huge choruses sing rock-n-roll gospel music and the saints practice rapping with the angels in a land of endless mountains of chocolate and candy where everyone has his own mansion in which to live in the lap of perpetual luxury, laziness, and non-accomplishment, catering to the lusts of the flesh while delighting over a vision of countless billions writhing in unspeakable torturous pain of an eternal lake of fire. What a HELL that would be!

Maybe it is time we rid ourselves of all the fabled fantasies of pagan nirvanas. Saints are never going to a geographical location on a huge rock or planet in outer space called "heaven." There will never descend out of heaven a literal city with pearly gates or streets of gold. We will never live in such a literal, physical, material city! These are symbols, metaphors, and word pictures to describe SPIRITUAL REALITIES.

God’s kingdom is SPIRITUAL. All in God’s kingdom will be SPIRITUAL. And all this is being build on a huge SPIRITUAL ROCK—The CHRIST. Jesus Christ is the “Chief Corner Stone,” the “Foundation,” the “ROCK!” Jesus Christ is the spiritual bedrock upon which we are to become a spiritual and fit dwelling place for God. In times past God made His presence known within the physical temple at Jerusalem. But the physical tabernacle in Jerusalem is long gone. The Levitic priesthood is long gone. But there is still an high Priest:

“But Christ being come an HIGH PRIEST of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building… For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God FOR US” (Heb. 9:11 & 24).

And speaking of spiritual rocks, contrary to popular Christian tradition, Jesus did NOT say that He would build His church upon Peter. ‘And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [Greek, petros, a piece of detached stone or rock], and upon THIS ROCK` [Greek, petra {a different kind of rock}, a mass of rock that cannot be moved as in Matt. 7:24 and 27:60, which is distinct from petros which is a smaller detached rock that can be moved] will I built MY CHURCH; and the gates of the unseen [hades] shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Jesus named Simon, "Cephas"(Peter is the Greek translation of Cephas which is Chaldee):

“And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:42),

...that is, a smaller detached stone or rock in contrast to Himself Who is a huge unmovable mass of foundational BEDROCK. See Luke 6:48. The Church of the Living God is build upon CHRIST, not Peter! And so it is upon this SPIRITUAL, unmovable, foundational, bedrock of Jesus Christ that we are to be built into a new spiritual creation.

 

TAKE HEED HOW YOU BUILD

Constructing a building is a process that requires time and activity. Since God likens the building of His spiritual temple to the assembling of a physical building, then this process, likewise, requires time and activity. Time and activity is what we call living our lives. Now then, when does judgment begin at the building of this house of God? Answer:

“For the time IS COME that judgment must begin at the house of God…” (I Peter 4:17).

And so it clearly has already begun with the Apostles and New Testament Church nearly two thousand years ago. And it is still going on in the Church of God today, in every believer’s life, as he lives his life.

Therefore, Paul warns:

“But let every man take heed HOW he builds [his building’] thereupon” (I Cor. 3:10).

And so judgment is upon the building of God’s house as each individual believer is framed and fitted for the calling that God has for each individual. This judgment began in the days of the Apostles after the resurrection of our Lord. It continued generation after generation down through the age until today when it yet continues. And it will continue still further until the entire harvest of firstfruits is completed. Remember we already learned that if we would judge ourselves now, Paul said we would not be condemned with the world later (I Cor. 11:32). It is while we are living and building that our works are being tried and judged BY FIRE according to HOW we are building. What fire? God’s fire.

Yes God’s “CONSUMING [spiritual] FIRE” (Heb. 12:29)! God is SPIRIT and likewise His fire is SPIRIT. Few ministers or teachers today would consider to preach on the good and beneficial side of God’s FIRE. Fire is usually portrayed as bringing about pain, evil, and destruction. Since God is GOOD (Luke 18:19), and God is SPIRIT (John 4:24), and God is INVISIBLE (Col. 1:15), why does the church teach the world that God as a CONSUMING FIRE (Heb. 12:29) is visible and not invisible, literal and not spiritual, and bad rather than good?

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones [valuable traits of Godly spiritual character] wood, hay, stubble [carnal traits of no value]; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because IT SHALL BE REVEALED BY FIRE; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is”

Every thought, every word, and every deed that proceeds out of the heart and mind of man is his “WORKS.” And every thought, every word, and every deed of man will come into the judgment of Almighty God’s “CONSUMING FIRE.” Notice that it is both our things of great value: "gold, silver, precious stones," and our things of no value: “wood, hay, stubble” that are tried in the fire, God’s Consuming Fire. Every person possesses knowledge, therefore, every person is a combination of both good and evil (for knowledge can only be a combination of both good and evil knowledge).

 

EVERYTHING IS RELATIVE

Everything in the universe is a contrast with or to something else in the universe. Nothing can be known about anything without contrasting it with other things. You cannot think a thought nor can you perform a deed without a working knowledge of these contrasting factors. If anyone should say that a box is big, you could not have any conception of what they are saying unless you also know what it is for something to be small. Something is only smooth in contrast to it being rough. Up is only up in relation to down. Without the contrasting relationship between two opposites “up” could just as easily be “down.” And all big boxes might be perceived as small were it not for the fact that there would be no concept of small without a knowledge of big.

Think about space again for a moment. In the physical universe, all things are what they are by contrast and relativity. Very hot stars are only very hot relative to cooler stars. If there were no knowledge of cooler stars, there could also be no hot stars. Things are either hard or soft, or harder or softer (but harder or softer than WHAT?—always, something else). Things are light or dark (or somewhere in between, (but the in between can also only be known by gradations of relativity as well). Things are heavy or light, sharp or dull, big or small, tall or short, strong or weak, hot or cold, left or right, north or south, in or out, new or old, beginning or end, fast or slow, fat or skinny, straight or crooked, up or down, high or low, moving or still, positive or negative, visible or invisible, etc. You get the idea.

Now then, this same law of knowledge pertains to inanimate things and things of a spiritual nature as well. Again it is only by understanding one thing relative to another or one thing contrasted with another that enables us to intelligently communicate and live our lives. Let’s look at a few of these: happy or sad, giving or stingy, build or destroy, kind or cruel, energetic or lazy, haughty or humble, intelligent or stupid, wise or foolish, right or wrong, true or false, good or evil, righteous or wicked, love or hate, life or death, temporary or eternal.

Having a working knowledge of these relative and contrasting terms and concepts is absolutely essential in living our lives. We must all come to know and to experience both good and evil. The universal teaching that God “never intended” for man to eat of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is as know, false and unscriptural as anything could ever be. It was both essential and paramount that man should eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Knowledge of both good and evil is an attribute of God Himself. If we are to be the “sons of God,” we too must partake of this quality of God’s nature. How could man ever be fully made into the very image of His Creator God if he did not possess even the basic fundamental attributes of his Creator and Father? Know this though. “Evil” is not good nor is it eternal.

 Nonetheless, a “knowledge of evil” is good and is eternal. All evil will take its place in “the lake of fire,” but a knowledge of evil is eternal just as sure our God, Who possesses a knowledge of evil, is eternal. And just remember, that God alone introduced His creation to “good and evil” by placing the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” right smack bang in “the middle” of the garden, right in the dirt, the clay, the soil...the EARTH! Right there “in the beginning” we can see the plan of God regarding Mankind’s spiritual progression.

The EARTH is an interesting symbol in our journey of enlightenment. In contrast with “the sea” and “the heavens,” the “Earth” is the symbol of the second dimension of life, a realm higher than the sea, but lower than heaven, an intermediary realm which at its highest peak kisses heaven, and at its lowest level embraces the sea; and yet, in the true sense it is, of itself, neither heavenly nor degenerate.  The sea, as we have seen, comprises the masses of restless, surging, sinning, warring men who live only and always after the unrestrained desires of the flesh (body realm).  Heaven, on the other hand, speaks of those who have been quickened, raised up, made alive in Christ, seated together with Him in the heavenly places, who walk only and always in the Spirit.  Those who “dwell upon the earth,” however, are a moral class, religious folk, with many up-right citizens of the community and church-going Christian people in  their ranks; but these, while not overtly wicked, are not spiritual either, but in most aspects of their daily lives “mind earthly things.” Yes, the “Earth” is the realm of CARNAL RELIGION!

Most of us would be familiar with the expression “down to earth” – usually in reference to some-one who is grounded, as opposed to having their head in the clouds all the time. This expression is all very scriptural! On the individual level the “earth” does indeed speak of the soulish.  These are the entities that grew in the midst of the garden of Eden!  The tree of life (the life of the spirit) - and the tree of knowledge, of GOOD and EVIL (the soulish realm) our inner, psychological part which includes our human desires, emotions, will, and intellect.  Adam (humanity) is on all accounts “down to earth.”

The living soul (a human being) is an intellectual realm, but also a realm of the carnal or natural mind. And we were made that way. It maybe the realm of knowing good from evil, but it is NOT the realm of Life!  Out of this realm comes our organized society, law and order, charities, good works, social activities, education, the arts, and man-made religious realms which are deemed spiritual, but which do not originate out of the spirit.  The man who walks in this realm of “earth” is that good neighbour of yours, a nice fellow, a good person, who wouldn’t cheat you or lie to you or misuse you in any way.  In fact, he may be helpful, caring, and compassionate.  He may attend First Methodist or Saint Mary’s Church; he may be a Sunday School teacher, a deacon, a board member; he is socially and religiously active, a God-honoring, flag-waving man, but has never ascended into the heavenlies and does not live out of a heavenly dimension. 

You can’t accuse him of any gross sin, or any wicked or ungodly act, but if you start talking to him out of a spiritual realm he will look at you like you came from Mars. He has absolutely no idea, not the foggiest notion, of what you are talking about!  He doesn’t live in the sea, he doesn’t wallow in the lusts of the flesh, in pornography, crime, drugs, adultery, dishonesty, or any lustful or hurtful thing.  BUT NEITHER HAS HE BEEN TO HEAVEN!  THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT ARE NOT LIVING REALITIES TO HIM! This is what we call having “good religion.” The scriptures (particularly in the New Testament) point to more abstract dimensions of the soul - the soul including the mind, will, emotion, and desire of the natural man. 

Before the John on Patmos heard the voice calling him to “Come up hither,” John was in his own mind, his own will, his own emotion, and his own desires.  There is nothing wrong with that!  These were not ungodly or corrupt, but neither were they the Spirit of God or John’s own spirit.  We need to think spiritual sense about these things!  The “flesh” on the other hand, is the realm of sin in our members – our sinful nature.

 “the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, ill temper, selfishness, divisions, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like…” (Gal. 5:19-21).

John came to be “in the Spirit.”  It is a blessed thing to be in the Spirit!  God is making a spiritual man today!  When God formed man of the dust of the ground, he became a living soul.  Adam was sinless when he came from the hand of his Creator, and he lived and walked in the dimension of his soul.  It is natural to live in the soul realm!  Adam was of the earth, earthy (I Cor. 15:47).  He was also a living soul (I Cor. 15:45). The soul realm is not in itself wicked - it is just natural.  We don’t have to do a thing to get into the soul realm.  We were all born into this world in that realm!  When we came out of our mother’s womb we weren’t born in heaven, nor were we born in the sea. We were born on earth, into the earth, in the soul realm!

The soul finds union with either the “flesh” or the “spirit!”   When it walks after the flesh, it dies. When it walks after the spirit, it lives!

“The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (I Cor. 15:45). 

It is in conscious union with Christ that we become “in the Spirit.”  This was John’s “rapture!”  In this rapture John became spiritual.  He became one who heard; who turned; who saw; who was caught up into heaven!  His own consciousness, life, identity, and reality were swallowed up in the vision of Another!  He moved out of being an earth-dweller to being a heaven-dweller!

Because of the soul the whole world is religious!  They have religion but no life and no power.  It is only as God Himself increases in the life of the child of God that power can increase, and this can never happen until self decreases.  Oh that God’s people could realize that it is “Not by MIGHT nor by POWER, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). 

The might and power here spoken of refer to man’s might and power — not to God’s.  To the natural and not to the supernatural.  There are two sources of power!  Many great church organizations today boast of their “power,” “influence,” or “popularity” in their community.  Their power and influence are derived from the magnificence of their great church plants, the efficiency of their organization, the appeal of their programs, outreaches, entertainment, and ceremonies, their numerical strength, their connection with the “right” people - those with wealth and influence and prestige in this world.  Their fine talent, and soothing worship services, their beautiful forms, and exciting teaching and preaching, all help to make them popular - to give them power in a world of “religious,” “respectable” earth dwellers.  Yet It is from such as these that Paul has warned us that we must separate ourselves!  “Having a form of godliness, but DENYING THE POWER THEREOF, from such turn away” (II Tim. 3:5).  Wow – what a kick in the teeth huh?These people would be greatly displeased if God should interrupt the controlled orderliness of their procedures by moving in a supernatural way by the power of His Spirit!

Yes, the world today has its own religious dictionary of definitions of “God” and “Spirit” and “Church” and they think and speak in the framework of those definitions.  But GOD SPEAKS A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE and has a different dictionary of definitions by which He speaks to His people and according to which He works.  If all the multiplied practices and methods employed by the churches today were suddenly swept away it would in all probability cease to function!  If the churches had to drop all their rituals, forms, programs, ceremonies, and special activities; all their confirmations, baptisms, and communion services; all their special singing, organ music, and altar calls, they would feel as though they had been stripped naked and could not serve God in any way. 

All this simply demonstrates the terrible fact that the faith and dependence of the churches is NOT in God, but is in the trappings they have accumulated to themselves throughout the centuries. The thought that God is perfectly able and fully willing to run His church without the aid of anything in the way of soulish contributions, is found to be abhorrent to the average church member. These are they that DWELL UPON THE EARTH! You will find them mentioned many times throughout the book of Revelation!

In the earth realm one can touch the sea, and one can touch heaven, but one doesn’t dwell there!  The hour of temptation is to “try them that dwell upon the earth,” the Spirit says (Rev. 3:10).  The Greek word for “dwell” is not the ordinary oikeo, but the strengthened form of the word, katoikeo, meaning those who have settled down upon the earth, who have identified themselves with it.  They are content to remain in a carnal, soulish, natural-minded state of being!  The man of earth lives out of the dimension of the first man Adam — the living soul!  It is a soulical realm of life.

And so man’s life consists of a combination of both good and evil thoughts, words, and deeds. The most saintly of men have had their flaws and the most evil of men have possessed at least a few qualities of good. Even Adolph Hitler loved his mother and was kind to his dog. But loving your mother and being kind to your dog will not get you into the kingdom of God. Oh that the church could have the faith to believe that God Almighty is able to accomplish His will for humanity:

“For this is GOOD [not evil] and acceptable [but NOTHING SHORT OF THIS IS ACCEPTABLE] in the sight of God our Saviour; Who WILL have ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, and to come to the knowledge [both the good knowledge and the evil knowledge] of THE TRUTH” (I Tim. 2:3-4).

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation [so here is another statement that is ‘worthy’ and ‘acceptable’ in the sight of God]. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God Who is the Saviour of ALL MEN [and nothing short of ‘all men’ IS worthy or acceptable to God], specially [specially does not mean ‘exclusively’] of those that believe” (I Tim. 4:10).

 

 

The SAVIOUR of ALL men, specially believers

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” (1Ti 4:10) 

Many Orthodox Christians take great exception to the “typical universalist” treatment of I Tim. 2:4. The usual vitriol involves claiming that those defending the salvation of all, have no knowledge concerning proper interpretation, homiletics, hermeneutics, or exegesis. They point out that the “context” of “all men” is found in I Tim. 2:4 is found in I Tim. 2:1-2,

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for ALL MEN; For kings, and for ALL that are in authority…”

The argument is that the “All men” that God wills to be saved in verse 4 is speaking of kings and those in authority of verse 2 ONLY! Oh really?

Yet do the “all men” of verses 4 and 5 also pertain ONLY to the “context” of verse 2. Let’s read it:

“For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men [all mankind], the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for ALL [mankind], to be testified in DUE time” (I Tim. 2:5-6).

Seriously, did Jesus Christ gave Himself a ransom for “all kings and all in authority” ONLY (in keeping with the theory of "context, context, context")? Do we feel a verse coming on?!

“Alleging themselves to be wise, they are made STUPID…” (Rom. 1:22, Concordant New Testament).

We should point out that the “kings and authorities” of verse 2 are only two categories of the “all men” in verse 1. Do we really think that what Paul was actually meaning to say is this: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all kings and for all that are in authority, ONLY?” NO! The supplications, intercessions and giving of thanks were to be made “for ALL men.” Paul then gives us two categories of men out of “all men” that should be included. Namely kings and those in authority, because these have the power and authority to make our lives miserable if they become our enemies, and Paul desired that the saints live a “quiet and peaceable life” as much as is possible in this wicked world.

This truly is a remarkable Scripture. Many traitors of the truth claim that when God speaks of “all” being saved it always means “all saints” or “all in the context” or “all in Christ” or some other “all,” just as long as it can never ever mean “all of mankind.” You see, the truth holds its own every time. Let’s look at I Tim. 4:9-10 in any context you wish:

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, Who IS THE SAVIOUR OF ALL MEN, specially of those that believe.”

Now had God left off that last phrase, “specially of those that believe,” then maybe our detractors could once again say that, “Well, yes, God is the saviour of all men, it’s just that He doesn’t actually save all men.” Know this, God has so tightly book-ended this verse that it is absolutely impossible for even the most devious minds of detractors and traitors of the truth to misrepresent this verse with an ounce of intelligence. This verse is IRON CLAD!

Notice that this verse does not say: “God is the Saviour of ALL MEN, specially ALL MEN,” does it? No. And this verse does not say: “God is the Saviour of ALL THAT BELIEVE, specially ALL THAT BELIEVE,” does it? No. The “specially of those that believe,” BELIEVE. The rest of the “all men” do NOT BELIEVE. These are two different groups—(1) Believers and (2)NON-believers. Since the “believers” are “specially” saved, in relation to the saving of the “all men non-believers,” then they will be saved also. See it doesn’t say that God is the Saviour of all men but will ONLY save believers. No, the “all men” ARE SAVED and the “believers” are SPECIALLY SAVED—BOTH will be saved! The word “specially” does not mean “exclusively.”

The word “specially” is translated from the Greek word malista, which means “in the greatest degree or particularly” (Strong’s Greek Dictionaryp. 155).

 It is translated “specially,” “especially,” “chiefly” and “most of all.” In every single usage of this word in the New Testament it is used in relation to others who are not excluded, but included in the same subject. Let us notice a few of these so that we can be absolutely convinced in our own minds that the “specially believers” can in no possible way exclude the “all men” of the same verse.

“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, SPECIALLY [Gk: malista] they of the circumcision” (Titus 1:10).

Is it even necessary that I point out that this verse does not in any way insinuate that the “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers” are ALL from the circumcision ONLY?

“Not now as a servant but above a servant, a brother beloved, SPECIALLY to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?” (Philemon 16).

This verse says for sure that Onesimus was “special” to more than just Paul. And so it is with every single use of this Greek work in the New Testament.

It is absolutely clear and irrefutable that the believers of I Tim. 4:10 are saved in a special way, that is, they are saved before the rest of humanity, and they are given the gift of eonian (age-abiding) life reigning with Christ in the Kingdom of God, ages before the rest of humanity are saved.

Only those called and chosen NOW will EVER reign and rule and bring salvation to the rest of the world and to the universe — THIS is a special gift of God to believers being called in this age ONLY. But … BUT, the rest of humanity WILL ALSO BE SAVED (albeit by way of the lake of fire in the great white throne judgment).

And so it is that long before the rest of humanity is purged through the lake of fire, believers must also be purged through FIRE. It is so sad that these things are not taught in Sunday school or church. Salvation is by grace through faith. But if we isolate these two words “grace” and “faith” from all the thousands of Scriptures that show us how grace and faith operate in the real world, then we will fail to see or understand the most fundamental of New Testament teachings. GAL, 2;20.

Let’s face it. In today's world of Christendom, it is hardly admitted that the life of a Believer is to be one of tribulations and trials, pain and suffering, sorrow and death. It is rather taught that Believers are to be healthy, wealthy, worldly, and wise. After all, who wants to live a life of “dying?” If the Christian life of overcoming is such a great life, why not live it FOREVER? No, our goal is to GET OUT OF THIS LIFE.

 

 

The trials of Paul

Yes, there is joy in knowing that our suffering and trials, and FIRE, is producing something of eternal value, but the process is not the goal. Look at Paul's life:

THE TRIALS THAT PAUL SUFFERED:

FROM: II Cor. 11:23-28

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more;

in labors more abundant,

in stripes [blows] above measure [in excess, inordinately, exceeding reasonable limits],

in prisons more frequent,

in [perils of] deaths often.

five times received I forty stripes save one.

Thrice was I beaten with rods,

once was I stoned,

thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

In journeys often,

in perils of waters,

in perils of robbers,

in perils by mine own countrymen,

in perils by the heathen,

in perils in the city,

in perils in the wilderness,

in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

In weariness and painfulness,

in watching often,

in hunger and thirst,

in fasting often,

in cold and nakedness.

Beside those things that are without... daily, the care of all the churches.

All of these things took place over a period of about 25 years in Paul's life. How great was his normal day? Without the hope laid before him, he would not have endured such pain and abuse as he outlined for us in II Cor. 11. Like it or not, here is our lot in life as Believers:

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him that endured such contradiction [strife, disobedience] of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If ye endure CHASTENING, God deals with you as with SONS ; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye BASTARDS, and not SONS” (Heb. 12:1-8).

We are on a road that leads to son-ship. We are to be THE SONS OF THE LIVING GOD (Amazing huh?!). See: John 1:12, Rom. 8:14, Rom. 8:19, Phil. 2:15, I John 3:1 & 2. Do we think that such a task can be accomplished with little or no effort? If we are not on the road to son-ship, then we are spiritual BASTARDS! I for one don't desire to be a spiritual bastard. One cannot be a “Son” and be drunk on worldly materialism, filled with pride and vanity, consumed with self-aggrandizement, and hell-bent on personal “free will,” and presume to be on the road to son-ship.

Let's rehearse these words of encouragement again:

“...let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Notice that Jesus endured the cross, and all that went with it, “...for the joy that was set before Him...” There is a purpose for what we do and for what God is doing through us. There is a great goal set before us. There is great joy NOW, but only because what is “set before us.”

This “spiritual fire” business is real. It is extremely emotionally trying and difficult. But it is necessary. There is a saying in body-building: “No pain, no gain.” It is equally true for building spiritual muscle.

But it is an enigma. It is a paradox. It appears to even be a contradiction. Paul stated with a clear and spiritual mind that:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (II Cor. 12:10).

WHAT? Is Paul crazy? “For when I am WEAK, then am I STRONG?”

Yes, Paul is crazy; crazy like a fox! When we think that we are strong, then we are truly weak. But when we KNOW THAT WE ARE WEAK, then God can make us strong. Listen how perfectly the truly great apostles understood these marvellous truths of God:

“Humble yourselves [admit your weakness] in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up (James 4:10)

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (I Pet. 5:6).

Peter likes to add “details.” He adds to James statement by saying, “in due time.” Yes, God will “lift you up,” but not always today or tomorrow, but for sure, “in due time.”

“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (I Tim. 6:11-12).

What else is involved in living the life of a believer?

“For by GRACE are ye saved through FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast. For we are HIS workmanship [Gk: achievement], created in Christ Jesus unto [unto what?] … unto GOOD WORKS, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). We are not saved by OUR WORKS, but we are preordained to walk in GOD’S GOOD WORKS, nonetheless.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be BORN AGAIN, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3;3). Notice that Eph. 2:10 says that we are “created IN Christ.” Something new happens when we are “IN” Christ. There is a NEW birth and there is a NEW creation, “Therefore if any man be IN Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE [Gk: creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). Albeit, this new creation has its perils as we will see in the next verse.

“Yea, and ALL that will live godly in Christ Jesus [as a new and different creature] SHALL SUFFER PERSECUTION.” (II Tim. 3:12). This is not just a possibility; it is an absolute PROMISE.

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through MUCH TRIBULATION [pressure, afflictions] enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

“For if we would JUDGE OURSELVES, we should not be judged. But when we ARE JUDGED, we are CHASTENED [Greek:paideuo, to train, educate, discipline, punish, chastise, instruct, learn, and teach] of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world [at the great white throne judgment] (I Cor. 11:31-32).

“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My Son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him. For whom the Lord loves He CHASTENS [Prov. 13:24] AND SCOURGES [see I Pet. 5:9] EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES. But if you be without chastisement, whereof ALL are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons” (Heb. 12:5-8). “Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be REVEALED BY FIRE; and the fire shall try EVERY MAN’S WORK of what sort it is” (I Cor. 3;13).

“Fear NONE of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give you a CROWN OF LIFE” (Rev. 2:10). “To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the TREE OF LIFE [eternal, immortal life] (Rev. 2:7), “He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death” (Rev. 2:11), “And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give POWER OVER THE NATIONS” (Rev. 2;26), “He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment [righteousness] and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life [Christ is the book of life] but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels”(Rev. 3:5), “Him that overcomes will I make a PILLAR [a main and vital support in the very government of Almighty God] IN THE TEMPLE OF MY GOD…” (Rev. 3:12), “To him that overcomes will I grant to SIT WITH ME IN MY THRONE, even as I also overcame [see John 16:33], and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).

There we have a very brief overview of the life of a believer. Is it not obvious that the life of a believer consists of a whole lot more than just “believing” that Jesus is the Christ? God has bigger plans for the human race than just “saving” them. God can “save” chickens, but God doesn’t want chickens for sons! God wants sons that are PERFECT as He is perfect! We can surely all agree that becoming perfect might just require a whole lot more than singing gospel music once a week? Perfection requires many things that only God can perform in our lives. We are, after all, His workmanship, His achievement. Having ALL OUR WORKS tried in the fire of His Holy Spirit is no small part of becoming perfect.

 

REVEALED AND TRIED BY FIRE

“Now if any man build upon this [spiritual] foundation [Christ] gold, silver, precious stones [godly character traits], wood, hay, stubble [carnal character traits]; Every man’s work [thoughts, words, and deeds] shall be made manifest [become known, come to light]: for the day shall declare it [make it evident], because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (I Cor. 3:12-13).

The fire in these verses is no more literal than are the gold or stubble suggested as building materials. People do not construct large buildings out of gold, neither do they set them on fire after completion to see how well they will fare. This is all figurative and symbolic language to instruct us in much higher spiritual development. We are not literaI gardens of God neither are we literal buildings of God. But we are like gardens in certain ways—we are to produce good spiritual fruit. We are like buildings in certain ways—we are to be a spiritual dwelling place for God. We have works that are like gold and silver in certain ways—we have thoughts, words, and deeds of good and lasting value. We also have carnal and evil works—bad thoughts, crass words, and evil deeds that are of no lasting value and are only fit for destruction. Only God’s SPIRITUAL FIRE can burn away spiritual wickedness and evils of the heart.

All of these material items are used as symbols of spiritual things. Therefore, of necessity, the fire that tries these material symbols is also SPIRITUAL. It is not possible to burn up with fire an inanimate character flaw without burning up the person who harbours it. Likewise, it is not possible to purge and purify the good qualities of character in a person with literal fire without burning up the individual that possesses them. But spiritual fire, God’s all consuming, purging and purifying fire is perfectly suited to do just that. This trying and purging is not always pleasant, however, it is not a torture chamber either. Does this fire harm the person being purged in this fire? NO! The fiery judgements of God taking place within ALL His elect believers upon the “Earth” are all for their benefit. These “trials” are what separate the “boys from the men” – the overcoming of the carnal religious mind, to that which is “heavenly.”

 

 

Living in HEAVEN

If we are to understand the purposes of Gods judgments now and beyond the veil of death, we have to let go of the pagan concepts of “heaven” as taught Christendom. The very idea of some “cloud city” floating out in space somewhere is found NOWHERE in the scriptures. (we shall look at the this closer in a future study of the dispensation of the ages beyond the kingdom – including the so called “rapture” and other such fallacies) The typical ethereal Christian nirvanas – the idea of our loved ones “smiling down on us from heaven” – the countless “testimonies” of Loved ones “visiting their families on Earth” – or “appearing in dreams from the beyond” are nothing but pleasant fictions. After all;

NO MAN hath ascended up into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man Who is in heaven.” (John 3:13)

“The living know that they will die, BUT THE DEAD KNOW NOTHING” (Ecc 9:5)

We have to understand that HEAVEN is NOT a location – it is a REALM OF THE SPIRIT! Beyond the “sea” and the “earth” is the highest of the three realms – “Heaven.”  This is the highest dimension of life, the dimension of spirit!  Those who live out of the spirit are spiritual and heavenly! 

The Greek word for heaven is ouranos - meaning elevation, height, exaltation, eminence.  It has both physical and spiritual applications. 

3772 ouranós – heaven, (a) the visible heavens: the atmosphere, the sky, the starry heavens, (b) the spiritual heavens.

heaven (singular), and nearly as often used in the plural ("heavens"). "The singular and plural have distinct overtones and therefore should be distinguished in translation (though unfortunately they rarely are)" (G. Archer).

“Heaven” in its spiritual sense  bespeaks of the eternal, invisible, and omnipresent realm of the spirit in which God and all celestial beings dwell — far above the realm of the physical, material, earthly, and mortal.  It is not a geographical or astral location.  It is not a planet or a solar system or a galaxy or any kind of place.  It is a DIMENSION OF LIFE, REALITY, AND BEING.  It is a SPHERE OF EXISTENCE.  It is a PLANE OF CONSCIOUSNESS.  It is above the earthly not in terms of space or location, but in respect to kind, quality, and state of being.  Every life-form lives on a plane of awareness.  Each of these planes constitutes a “heaven,” a spiritual realm above the physical.

Simply put, heaven is just the biblical name of the REALM OF GOD’S SPIRIT - the invisible and omnipresent dimension of Spiritual Reality.  And guess what?  It is all around us!  It is as near to us as the air we breathe, closer to us even than the blood coursing through our veins.  We are one with it by virtue of our spiritual life.  “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”  We touch heaven as we touch God in our spirit.  We behold heavenly things as with our spiritual mind we behold spiritual realities.  We walk in heaven as we walk in the Spirit.  We think like celestial beings when we think with the mind of Christ.  We act heavenly when we live by divine nature.  Heaven is, furthermore, the realm of God’s government - His infinite power and almighty authority.  The kingdom of God is rooted in our spirit, the heavenly dimension of our life. Wow!

No word written or spoken could hold more truth in this regard than the words of the apostle Paul when he speaks of;

 “the power which God exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavens, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:20-21). 

These wonderful terms used by Paul are figures of speech.  God is omnipresent spirit — He doesn’t physically sit on anything!  Nor does He physically have a right hand!  It means that Christ is raised up permanently into that highest spiritual realm where He has all power and authority!  The “throne” spoken of in other scriptures refers to His omnipotent power.  So now we know where Christ ascended!  He didn’t necessarily “go” anywhere.  He simply vanished out of this lower material and physical sphere of existence and ASCENDED INTO THE OMNIPRESENT, INVISIBLE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION OF SUPREME AUTHORITY AND ALMIGHTY POWER!

Paul says, “And He raised us up together with Him, and made us sit down together with Him in the heavenly sphere” (Eph. 2:6, Amplified). 

What a day for us when God makes it clear to our hearts, that we have already been raised up and given joint seating with Christ in the very same heavens where He is enthroned with the Father.  YOU ARE WHERE HE IS!  That is the true heaven - not visionary mansions, golden streets, or a flowing river out of the throne.  And yet Christians continue to sing, “When we all get to heaven…”  Most Christians have no idea where heaven is, what heaven is, how to get to heaven, or where they are!  Therefore they live in the consciousness of a lower realm out of which they think, walk, act, and live.

Those who are God’s called and chosen elect in this hour have been taught of God, they have been given an understanding for they have been quickened, made alive, raised up into the higher than all heavens, and in consciousness, in spirit, in reality are seated even now in the heavens in Christ Jesus!  People think they are where their natural mind tells them they are.  They have missed the spirit reality altogether and understand not that they are born from above and their citizenship is in heaven!  That high and holy realm is not a place away off beyond the galaxies, but a place in our spirit where we rise up above our earthiness and learn to compare spiritual things with spiritual things.  It is there that we discover reality!

So how can we live in the heavens? Just by being in Christ!  Christ has ascended.  Christ is now Himself the highest heaven in this universe!  If we can understand what it means to experience the ascended Christ, to daily live our lives in the victory and triumph of the Son of God who dwells in our spirit, then we are residents of the heavenly. If we rate our contentment in Christ far above the sorrows, strife, sin, problems, perplexities, limitation, struggles, fears, disappointments, and death of the carnal realm of our lives then we are “sons!” THIS is sonship!

“Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Rev 12:12)

 Is this starting to make sense? In spirit you too may hear and understand the wonderful words falling upon the ears of the prophet of Patmos, “Rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them!”  Oh, yes!  We dwell there!  That’s us he’s talking about!  This should help us see how it is that the promise of the Lord is fulfilled in us;

 “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”  (Rev 3:10)

Those who dwell in heaven, who walk in the spirit, who think with the mind of Christ, who live out of divine nature, have no need to be “tried” as men who dwell in an earthly state. Those who truly walk after the spirit are not overcome by depression, worry, nor are they victimized by any kind of “earthly” situation.  When our affections are set upon things above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God, and where we sit with Him and in Him, we are resurrected and ascended, for the Christ with whom we are joined in spirit is the Christ who has ascended into the heavens!  When you stand in union with Him you are high above the mountains, not in the valleys.  You are in the heavenly places, far above the earth-realm.  The things of earth grow strangely dim for those who truly are in Christ.

 

 

Entering the “heavenly” realm

As we have already stated, this series only scratches the surface of what it is to understand the “spiritual” applications of God’s Word regarding His holy judgments. Much of what we know of the risen, glorified Christ can be found this most misunderstood book of the Bible – Revelation. But this spiritual story-telling, concerns not the physical earth – rather the earthy, soulish realms within ourselves. Here we can catch but a glimpse of the glories of “heaven.” In the book of Revelation everything that comes out of heaven is good and wonderful!  Angels, great and mighty, come out of heaven (Rev. 10:1;  18:1;  20:1).  Voices of wisdom, revelation, and power come out of heaven (Rev. 10:4,8;  11:12,15;  14:2;  18:4-5;  21:3).  The all-conquering army of God, Christ the firstborn with all the holy sons of God, come out of heaven (Rev. 19:11-14).  And a city, a glorious city, the New Jerusalem, comes down from God out of heaven (Rev. 21:2,10).  The throne of God is in that city, the Lamb is on the throne, and every over comer is on the throne! What a wonderful realm. All who live and walk in the spirit live there!

If however we live in fear of those things which are upon the earth, we are but the Devil’s fodder.

“Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on THE EARTH” (Lk. 21:26). 

 If we live in fear of some coming Luciferian world government, some future antichrist, the various earthquakes, storms, tsunamis, wars, and we interpret every new political development is as some fulfilment of some imminent “end-time” prophecy, then surely we will live out our lives on the level our vision beholds and will be captured by the bestial system of this world, for “all who dwell on the earth shall worship him!” (Rev. 13:8).

Take note that the fearful are among those who have their part in the lake of fire! (Rev. 21:8), for these have not learned to dwell in the secret place of the most High, under the shadow of the Almighty; they have remained inhabiters of the earth!

You see, all who have their vision focused on the “below realm” stand in jeopardy, for the false prophet “deceives those who dwell on the earth…telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image of the beast” (Rev. 13:14).  The sea and the earth are the realms of the beast:

“And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea…and I saw another beast coming up out of the earth” (Rev. 13:1,11). 

The earth-realm is the sphere of the dragon’s power and authority, for “the dragon was thrown down…he was thrown down to the earth, and his messengers were thrown down with him…Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and the sea!  because the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath” (Rev. 12:9,12).

What is happening in the heavens is all that pertains to the elect!  Satan is bound to the dust realm, and he is there to remind us that dust is not our heritage, we belong to the heavens where we are called walk with God in the spirit!

Those of us that have been called to reside in the “heavens” have the uncanny ability to sleep soundly in the bow of the boat while all around them the storms rage.  The dwellers in heaven are the manchild company “caught up to God and His throne” (Rev. 12:5). The dwellers in heaven are the 144,000 who stand victorious with the Lamb upon mount Zion “having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1).  These are the overcoming saints standing upon the sea of glass who sing a new song of victory, deliverance, and praise (Rev. 15:2-24).  The dwellers in heaven are the New Jerusalem coming out of heaven from God (Rev. 21:2).  The dwellers in heaven are ‘those who are with Him who are the called and chosen and faithful’ (Rev. 17:14), and “the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, who were following Him on white horses” (Rev. 19:14) as in righteousness He judges and wages war.

Those who have ascended into the heavenlies have no fear of an earthly beast, for they are beyond his grasp, even as he “opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven” (Rev. 13:6).  God is calling a people to “come up hither,” and to walk in the reality of such a dominion in this very hour!” 

Know this. Every man on earth fits into one of these three categories (the sea, the earth and heaven) - every man!  There’s not a man on this planet who isn’t living out his life from one of these three realms.  All of God’s processing in our lives, as He conforms us into the image of His Son, takes place only in the realms of earth and sea.  Everything that comes out of heaven affects and deals with the earth and the sea! Isn’t it amazing how all these symbols and allegories throughout the scriptures, bare witness to the truth?

Remember our study of the symbolism strewn throughout the Biblical Dead Sea region? Fire comes down from heaven and brings corrective, purifying judgments upon those who dwell upon the earth and in the sea.  Mighty messengers come down out of heaven and the sea rages and the earth shakes and quakes.  Oh, yes!  When heaven comes down and touches earth there are voices, and lightnings, and thunderings, and earthquakes, and judgments, fires, blood, hail, and mighty transformations.

Thank God these judgments are set upon our soul realm!  There is nothing more wonderful that could descend in power upon the self-consciousness and self-righteousness of the soul, our lusts and our passions - to bring much needed change in us.  In the book of Revelation, nearly all that happens in the earth and in the sea originates out of heaven! 

Consider again that dot! This Earth of ours – this work in progress! Those who dwell upon it must know that heaven is nothing else but the invisible, omnipresent realm of the spirit in which God dwells.  It is the divine spiritual world!  We understand that God’s presence fills the expanse of the universe.  There is no place where God is not.  There is no place you can imagine on this side of the grave, on the other side of the grave, in this visible universe, in other invisible parallel universes, no matter where there is time or space or dimension — God is there!  He is everywhere because He is the Source, the Creator of all things.  All is “of Him,” “out of Him,” and “in Him all things consist.”  The physical cosmos is completely enveloped and permeated by a spiritual dimension.  The material universe is the effect of the great Cause, and that Cause is God.  We are surrounded not only by God’s Spirit, but by the spiritual world, by a great cloud of witnesses, by an innumerable company of angels, by principalities and powers in the celestial realms.

Heaven is not merely the spiritual dimension outside of us, it is also the spiritual dimension inside of us.  That is where each of us touches the spiritual world, or heaven, - within ourselves.  When our spirit is quickened by His Spirit the heavenly realm is first opened within us.  As we walk with God we are learning to connect with the heavens of God’s Spirit within us.  We are being drawn to go deep inside and find ourselves in that most holy place of the spirit, resting upon the mercy seat, beneath the wings of the cherubim, in that perfect, full, holy and glorious place where the curse has never touched.  Heaven!  When you see heaven in the scripture just think of the realm of the spirit.  The closest and most perfect and real dimension of heaven is within each of us.  You will never know the true heaven anywhere else until you discover it there!

The more we learn to make our connection with heaven the more we grasp reality and understand the true nature of all things.  Once having identified with the spiritual world of the heaven within, in the midst of chaos and crisis; in the midst of loss, collapse, disappointment, and destruction in our outer world; in the midst of any situation or circumstance we are able to translate ourselves immediately to that safe and secure haven of rest.  As we dwell in the heavenlies of God’s presence we are heavenly and in heaven.  As we consciously enter into the depths of God within we then learn also how to bring that realm out into our outer, conscious, visible world.  As men behold the heavenly life expressed through our outer man we become the “gate of heaven” to those about us!

 “Let the earth fear the Lord” (Ps. 33:8).  “All the earth shall worship Thee, and shall sing unto Thee; they shall sing to Thy name” (Ps. 66:4).  “His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled” (Ps. 97:4).  “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth” (Isa. 1:2).  “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord!” (Jer. 22:29). 

Manifestly the literal earth cannot fear the Lord, nor worship Him.  Nor can the literal earth sing unto the Lord.  Nor can the literal earth “see” the lightnings of the Lord.  Neither can the literal heavens and earth hear the word of the Lord. These texts refer to US!

“If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13). 

According to Paul it is only through the spirit that one can bring to death the deeds of the body.  There is only one way to deal with both the soul realm and the sea, and that is to deal with them out of heaven, in the spirit and by the spirit.  It is impossible to conquer and subdue the activities of the soul and the body by any effort that originates out of those realms.  They have no power to either reform or transform themselves!  But if you through the spirit, which is the power and authority out of heaven, put these realms into neutral, out of gear, you shall then live by the spirit and in the spirit.  Paul continues, “For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”  Be glad!

 

 

From the Wilderness and beyond

As we know, the “wilderness” of the scriptures is an immensely profound analogy of the long journey we must take to attain sonship in God. The flight out of Egypt (literally escaping the SEA!) through the wilderness (the earth) to the promised land (heaven) is a necessity for all called of God. Since we are continually being “saved” from ourselves, we must ask the Spirit of God to lift the veil that is upon our minds and reveal the truth of whether we are presently living in the realm of the body (sin, sensuality), the soul (carnality, self-will, intellect, emotions, etc.), or the spirit (life, light, love, victory, peace, joy, righteousness, power, etc.). With reverent heart let each of us ask the Lord to search us in order to be clear where we are.

Frankly, many of us are wandering day after day in the wilderness of the soul!  In the morning we may have joyful countenances, but ere long the pressures of the day take their toll and we become irritable, frustrated, upset, anxious, and dismayed.

Yesterday one can seemingly dwell in the heavens, but today one suddenly makes their bed in hell, discouraged, fearful, depressed, and defeated.  Yesterday we were full of faith and courage, ready to believe God for exploits, but today we are disheartened and full of doubts and questionings.  Sound familiar? Perhaps you are continually wandering about in the soul, the wilderness, without rest, circling in the same rut day after day, getting nowhere.  Like the children of Israel, they may have been walking with God for forty years, but are still going around in the same vicious circles, with no improvement and no progress, never possessing their promised land of righteousness, peace, joy, and power.  Why?  Because they are living in the soul, they are earth-dwellers!  The soul is barren and desolate, there is no life in it.  Those who live in the body realm are still spiritually in the bondage of Egypt, under the taskmasters of Satan’s kingdom; but when we are in the soul we are with the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness!

The Word of God must pierce us so that we may know how to press on from the soul into the heaven of our spirit, where Christ dwells.  We must bring our body and our soul into the holy place of the spirit so that the whole man may live in His sight!  Only God can teach us these things, and He does so as we sit at His feet in fellowship and communion.

God is calling out sons from the barren dust of the wilderness of the soul and soulical religious activities to sit together with Christ in the heavenly places of the spirit.            Now, God has made us partakers of His Holy Spirit, and that simply means He has called us to explore the inexhaustible sphere of the deep things of God and the infinite summits of His glory, wisdom, power, and holiness.  Our spirit has been quickened by His Spirit for this very purpose: “that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (I Cor. 2:12).  The natural mind cannot discover these things, hence the Spirit of God is sent into our spirit to reveal them unto us and to search out and explore “all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Cor. 2:10).

Those who live in heaven are in the spirit. they walk in the spirit, pray in the spirit, worship in the spirit, speak by the spirit, and do all things in and by the spirit.  This is sonship!  We find that as we live and walk after the spirit, judgment is brought into our lower realms of soul and body, and we have not to do anything about it.  It is all accomplished out of a heavenly realm, by the spirit!  There is no other way. 

If we go around preaching death to self, the need to crucify the flesh, to kill the old man, to reform and change the old Adamic nature by some form of “willpower”, then we’ll never succeed. It is heaven that comes down and fills the earth with glory and stills the raging waves of the sea! Nothing will ever happen in your earth or in your sea until there is an administration of life out of your heaven. This comes by seeking only and always HIS PRESENCE IN THE SPIRIT. THIS IS THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST found in HIS book!

 

 

The two Heavens and the two Earths

There is yet a further truth which is vital to our understanding of the visions John saw relative to these realms in Revelation.  The reality is that there are TWO SETS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH!  There are, indeed, TWO CREATIONS, TWO WORLDS, AND TWO HEAVENLY UNIVERSES! “Heaven and earth” are the two realms first mentioned in the Bible in fact.

 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). 

The symbolisms of scripture are always appropriate and fitting.  The literal heavens and earth bare a certain relationship to each other which well illustrates the operation of the spiritual heavens and earth.  The heavens, for example, control earth’s tides, atmospheric conditions, day and night, and seasons.  The heavens rule and the earth is ruled.  Heaven influences earth, but earth in no way affects heaven.  From the very first pages of scripture, the sun was spoken of as the ruler of the day, the moon and stars as the ruler of the night.

 “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth…and the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Rev. 6:12-14).

Let’s look at the symbols of the moon and sun again. The natural sun is the brightest luminary in the natural heavens. And to help us in correctly interpreting the meaning of the spiritual sun, we find that God made “the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” (Gen. 1:16). Here we first have the idea expressed of both sun and moon being rulers.  Then we find that God, the supreme Ruler, is called in the Word a “Sun.”  “For the Lord thy God is a SUN and a shield” (Ps. 84:11).  Also, our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, is called “the SUN of  Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2).  He rules. Furthermore, we find that in reference to this principle of the sun and rulership we read, “He that RULETH over men…shall be as the light of the morning, when the SUN ariseth” (II Sam. 23:3-4).  Then we find David the king called “the LIGHT of Israel” (II Sam. 21:17).

But there’s more. Concerning saints who are ordained as kings and priests in the kingdom of God we find that they are compared to the sun: “Then shall the righteous SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father” (Mat. 13:43).  Of these same ruling members of God’s elect Jesus says, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations and he shall RULE them with a rod or iron” (Rev. 2:26-28).  Then He hastily adds: “And I will give him the MORNING STAR.”  That is, I will give him power over the nations - rulership - and I will give him the position as the morning star to give direction to mankind, to announce and proclaim the new day of the Lord!

 Now consider these meaningful words of Daniel the prophet where he foretells the manifestation of the sons of God, saying; “And they that be wise shall SHINE AS THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE FIRMAMENT; and they that turn many to righteousness as the STARS for ever” (Dan. 12:3).

 Then we find in Daniel 4:26 that “the HEAVENS DO RULE.”  God’s heaven is His throne.  “Heaven is my throne” (Isa. 66:1).  The heavens of God’s Spirit in the symbolic terminology of prophecy is the seat where the sun, the mighty God Himself, sits and rules!  And as God’s heaven is His throne, so the prophetical heavens include all the governmental realm through which God rules, and He is Lord of all.

But there is another heaven of rulership which is not that of God by His Spirit. It speaks of the rulership of men, including even the basest of men. This natural governmental realm is demonstrated quite clearly in the words of the prophet Daniel to king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon; “thy greatness is grown, and REACHED UNTO HEAVEN” (Dan. 4:22). 

He had just become the most exalted monarch of earth, the greatest ruler among men: the SUN of that “heaven.”  The prophet Isaiah, describing the casting down of earthly kings from their thrones, says, “THE LIGHT IS DARKENED IN THE HEAVENS THEREOF” (Isa. 5:30).  This statement is most meaningful when compared with the words of Jesus when He foretold the removal and destruction of all the rulers and governmental powers of both Judaism and the entire pagan world, saying, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the SUN BE DARKENED, and the MOON SHALL NOT GIVE HER LIGHT, and the STARS SHALL FALL FROM HEAVEN, and THE POWERS OF THE HEAVENS SHALL BE SHAKEN” (Mat. 24:29).   These words of signified the complete dissolving, darkening, and abolishment of all the governmental orders of His day!  Those were the “heavens” that passed away! Amazing huh?

The sun in prophecy is therefore the most exalted ruler of any order, the moon the second or lesser, and the stars are other governmental authorities and powers. The heavens are the thrones which these rulers occupy, whether the rulers be men, spirits, powers, organizations, ideologies,  or some other entity. The earth is that which is ruled by the heavens - that which looks to the sun, moon, and stars for its light and direction.  There is an order of human government now, but all these are soon to pass away, be darkened, fall from heaven, and a new order shall be inaugurated.  In this new day of the kingdom of God the manifest sons of God shall arise in the power of Christ’s resurrection and glory to constitute the heavenly bodies that shall rule the earth in the wonderful age now at hand! 

We are being made to know that all that has been giving light in the past, and that has ruled in the past, is going out and shall be darkened forevermore.  The glorious Christ company shall take the place of all the former sun, moon, and stars.  A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH – how often do we hear this stuff preached in church?!

There is much to be learnt regarding the notion of there being two heavens and two earths. Christendom is full of anxious Christians  waiting with rapturous expectation to be whisked away and “evacuated” off this earth in the “rapture” to spend eternity in some far-off heaven somewhere.  Oh dear. After all, Peter expressed with urgent and profound aspiration the true desire of all sons of God who groan for the deliverance of creation from the bondage of corruption and the triumph of the kingdom of God in all realms, saying;

 “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found in Him in peace, without spot, blameless” (II Pet. 3:13-14). 

It is an incontrovertible fact that the vast majority of Christians today is not looking for the same thing Peter was looking for - NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH!

Peter also said in this connection, “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” (II Pet. 3:7). 

But Peter had prefaced these ominous words with the following illustration from the world of Noah’s day which was destroyed in the flood.  “By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (II Pet. 3:5-6). 

The heavens and earth of old perished, Peter says, but he does not mean the literal earth we walk on or the literal heavens whose sun, moon, and stars still shine upon us every day and night.  Oh, no!

When righteous Noah stepped out of the ark that bright morning he stepped onto the soil of the very same earth that existed before the flood, and at night he gazed into the star-spangled splendour of the same heavens above.  Yet - all was changed!  The old order of things was gone, and a new order, or a new heavens and earth, would now be manifested. 

Now, ask yourself. Was it not a new heaven and a new earth by being purged through the overflowing waters of the flood from the wickedness and corrupt order that previously polluted the earth?  With what joy and satisfaction do we now entertain the promise: “For behold I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isa. 65:17). 

What a wonderful thing that God will so thoroughly cleanse our own world and the whole vast cosmos that even our minds will be purged from the remembrance of it!  God will make such a good job of His work, that the past will be completely obliterated and never thought of anymore!  God shall not end this present evil world and call forth the new by destroying either His creatures or His creation.  Not one thing, not one precious person shall be lost! He shall bring this world to an end and establish new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness by MAKING ALL THINGS NEW - changed, purified, and transformed by the fire of His Word!

  “And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.  And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful” (Rev. 21:5).  Not all new things, but all things NEW!  That is the wonder – NOT burned in some eternal hell hole or destroyed....again...MADE NEW!

But if this isn’t amazing enough, there is a deeper work to be revealed by these symbols. Here we have the two heavens and the two earths - the OLD and the NEW!  The Apostle John beheld this scene in spirit and cried out, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…” (Rev. 21:1). 

 

 

Living under the law of heaven

We will all understand a great mystery when we see how it is that whatever has ruled or does rule our lives apart from the spirit is our “old heaven.”  The thing that rules or motivates or controls you in either soul or body, in mind, emotion, desire, will, or physical expression and activity, constitutes the “heavens” over your life!  If Hollywood with its glitter and entertainment, its values, standards, and spirit rules you then the heaven over your head is Hollywood.  If you “eat, drink, and sleep” sports, then sports are the heavens that rule you.  If politics, political ideology, politicians, and some political party is what lights up your life, then you are governed out of the political heavens! It’s that simple....and we cannot fail to mention the “religious heavens” that rule over billions of lives on planet earth!

Men governed out of the religious heavens fight over religion, condemn everyone else to hell, demand obedience upon penalty of eternal damnation, lay heavy yokes of external rules, regulations, laws, dress codes, you cannot do this or that, cannot go here or there, demand tithes and offerings, fleece widows and rob the poor, make merchandise of men’s souls, burn heretics at the stake, and blow themselves up as suicide bombers! True indeed.

By the time many so-called “holiness” groups get through with the women in the church, putting them through the dress-making and appearance departments, these very women have lost most of their appeal to their husbands, and then they wonder why the world is filled with “unsaved” husbands!  All through the years these holiness groups have imposed an external appearance of “holiness,” forcing their people to conform to certain contrived standards of conduct.  Such “holiness” focuses primarily on what they wear and the kind of places they go. Such actions are surely the “heavens” of men. No wonder so many non believers look at the church with utter contempt and distain! Every man has his “heaven” and every man is the earth that heaven rules over!  For many of those reading and understanding these lines the most recent heavens that have passed away are the heavens of the old-order church systems! This is profound stuff! Who knew all this was wrapped up in such seemingly “literal” symbols!           

And know this. Living in the true “heavens” does not mean we forget our humanity, those around us, on the contrary! We are to be no less that salt to a bitter, tasteless world and light to an Earth shrouded in the darkness of our natural state. Jesus never neglected those so desperately in need and God forbid if we do! We have to understand that this earthly journey, this human experience is the proving ground for God’s elect - it is preparing us for the kingdom of heaven that shall eventually befall upon all men’s hearts through the purging work of the lake of fire.

We have to think in terms of doing things on earth according to God’s NEW WAY, not our own way, which is the old way, or the way we were accustomed to doing things in the past.  A NEW HEAVEN HAS COME FORTH.  And that new Heaven is a new Spiritual order, with new principles and new plans for the kingdom of God on earth, which will provide us with NEW METHODS OF WORKING WITH THE LORD and doing His perfect will on earth, during this new, Kingdom Day!  It is difficult for us to imagine what that new ministry will be like, for we tend to think of ‘ministry’ in the context of church order, which is the old order of the past.  But a new ministry exists in the Heavens of God’s Spirit, and those who are Spirit-led and Spirit-directed will be able to read, see, hear and receive that new ministry, in the Spirit and by the Spirit. 

The Lord’s chosen elect are ready for change, and they have progressed spiritually with the Lord, as the Holy Spirit has led them.  These are they… who are motivated by the Spirit, and are therefore able to discern the will and the way of the Lord pertaining to His kingdom, for the Heavens of Spirit are open to them.

This is all heavy stuff, but it is good for us to digest this information slowly and thoroughly. A new heaven and a new earth necessitate the passing of the former or old heaven and earth. The former and the present. The old and the new.  Each heaven has its sun, moon, and stars, its primary source of dominion (sun) in our life; its rules, culture, and pressures (moon) which also direct our thinking and activities; and the myriad lesser influences (stars) which likewise affect our actions. The way we think, act, walk, and live out our life is the earth-realm ruled from those heavens! 

And every earth has its mountains and valleys, its rivers and streams, its air and oceans.  Here is the truth we must consider.  When we see in the book of Revelation events taking place in the sun, in the moon, in the stars, in the earth, with mountains, trees, grass, rivers, streams, seas, and in the air we must understand and know whether these belong to the OLD HEAVEN AND THE OLD EARTH or to the NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH!  John saw them both!  And until we learn also  to see them both and are able to distinguish between them, our understanding of the Revelation will be dismally defective.  The beautiful truth is that THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH DO NOT PASS AWAY! Yes there is still much to learn.

Indeed the new heavens and the new earth which remain before the Lord cannot be darkened, removed, fall, turn to blood, be shaken, visited by earthquakes, plagues, disasters, fire, pestilence, judgments, or ruled by beasts.  Can we not see by this that many times in the Revelation it is our old heavens and our old earth that are being affected, for all of the above mentioned things happen in the heavens and in the earth as they are judged by the mighty power of the Spirit!  It is our old heavens and earth that pass away!  It is the sun of our old heavens that is darkened!  It is the stars of our old heavens that fall unto the earth!  It is the moon of our old heavens that turns to blood!  It is our old earth, our natural, carnal, fleshly life that is being shaken, devastated, shrouded in darkness, burned with fire, and brought to naught! Contrary to Christian teaching – this is A GOOD THING!

As we meditate deeply upon the wonder and glory of the new heavens and the new earth, be inspired by the words of the apostle Paul;

 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, He is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  And all things (of this new creation) are of God…” (II Cor. 5:17-18).

Look at how the following versions render this verse.

“When anyone is united to Christ, THERE IS A NEW WORLD; the old order is gone, and a new order has already begun.  From first to last, this has been the work of God!” New English version

 “For if anybody is in union with Christ, he is the work of A NEW CREATION; the old condition has passed away, a new condition has come.  This has all originated with God!” The Williams translation

Our new heavens and earth, our new world, our new order and condition originated in Christ Jesus, and entering into Him brings to an end the old corrupt order of consciousness, lifestyle, and nature, and the establishing of the new which “after God is created in righteousness, and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24).

 

 

Letting the spiritual symbols speak

So let’s just get our heads around all this. These “new heavens” and “new earth” are not a new material heavens or new literal earth.  The physical heavens and earth were made perfect, and the scriptures show they will remain for the ages (Ps. 89:36-37; 104:5). 

The new earth is a new kind of people, those who live out of a soul that is under the dominion of the spirit, and new heavens are the new authority and order out of the heavens of God’s Spirit within us.  When the Daystar of the new creation, Christ the Lord, arises in our hearts; when the life-giving rays of the morning sun, even the Lord the Spirit, break forth upon us in His glory, warmth, and splendour, then this old world within us begins to be dissolved. The old heavens and the old earth within us meet with the all-consuming heat of the Sun of Righteousness and fall away to nothing in the light of the glory of God. The Spirit of Jesus within then begins to frame a new heaven and a new earth in soul and body, even one wherein dwelleth righteousness.  All things are born anew within us by the creative word of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus and not only the heaven and the earth pass away, but there is no more sea; no more great overflowings of the carnal mind, no more inundations of the carnal nature, no more swellings and surgings of fleshly emotions and ungodly desires, no more roarings of Adamic pride, intellect, wisdom, knowledge, ego and self-hood, or worldly glory, for the sea is dried up within us never to be anymore at all!

 Yes, Revelation is for US to understand – not the world! Every apprehended son of God is coming to experientially know the new heaven and the new earth!  This is what was transpiring in John’s experience when he said, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Rev. 21:1). 

John saw the new heaven and he saw the new earth!  To see the new heaven and new earth means to have a fresh understanding or a new concept about heaven and earth.  John saw the new heaven and earth by being caught up in the spirit into the day of the Lord. This is a wonderful truth that shows that the new heaven and earth can only be seen in the spirit and by the spirit!  John said, “And I saw…”  The verb “saw” means to discern, perceive, cognize, discover, recognize.

Yet there is an order to what John saw!  He said, “And I saw a new heaven.”  He then followed this by saying, “and a new earth.”  Can we not see by this that we can only see a new earth when we see a new heaven!  If you have not seen a new heaven, you will never see a new earth, for earth is set in the heavens!  From the beginning this has been the divine order.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).  

In the spiritual sense the new heaven is a new or quickened spirit and the new earth is a new redeemed, transformed soul - New!  “For the former things are passed away.”  “Behold, I make all things new.” 

When one has truly experienced this his first concept of heaven and his first concept of earth have passed away. He has received a new understanding and touched a new reality!  It is a state of being and an identity beyond what we have been consciously aware of. The new heaven and the new earth are indeed the new man, the new mind, the new life, the new nature, and the new creation that we are. The sons of God are within themselves the new heaven and the new earth!  It is a new way of thinking, a new perception of reality, a new consciousness of being, a new dimension of expression, a new plane of living! 

We know the reality of the new earth when God comes down out of the heavens of His Spirit to dwell and manifest in the earth realm - the visible, tangible realm.  John said that he saw a new heaven and then he said;

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, 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” (Rev. 21:2-3). 

The New Jerusalem, the Holy City, is God coming down out of the invisibility of spirit to manifest His presence, life, and glory visibly in and through a people. The New Jerusalem is the capital of the new earth - the dominion of God formed and crystallized in and through a people in union with Christ. These are God’s elect in whom the heavenly reality has been fully formed!  These are they who are the light of the world, for the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of this city!  The New Jerusalem is the firstfruits of the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness!

Believers the world over have missed out on so much spiritual teaching. Multitudes of Christians are possessed by the Babylonish notion expressed in the popular “Stop the world and let me off” rapture mentality. There is no need to go anywhere!  God manifested in and through your soul is the new earth! Where else would you want righteousness to dwell?  Where else does righteousness need to dwell?  Where can righteousness dwell in such a measure that it transforms everything in the whole world? Only in the lives of mankind!  When the elect of God are finally clothed in “incorruption” - followed in turn by the sinning masses, then truly all the earth shall be made new.

“I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, THAT I MAY PLANT THE HEAVENS, AND LAY THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE EARTH, and say unto Zion, THOU ART MY PEOPLE” (Isa. 51:16).

We can look upon this amazing verse with new understanding! God is creating a new heavens and a new earth. Beyond question this is the allegory proclaimed by the Lord to the prophet Isaiah, Zion is a people, the Lord’s elect, and it is in Zion that the Lord plants the heavens of the new spirit by His word, and lays the foundations of the new earth wherein He dwells.  It is God’s called and chosen elect, His glorious city and mount of Zion, that He sets in the tabernacle of the heavens to be in a settled place, firmly established by His love and grace, secure in the new spirit and the new nature,  no more to be lost or wandering in the emptiness of selfhood.

The Lord said that He would plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth in Zion, His people.  But the Lord prefaced this by telling Isaiah how it would be done!  Hear it!  “I have put my words in thy mouth…that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth. It would be accomplished by THE WORD OF THE LORD IN THE  MOUTH OF HIS SPOKESMAN!  How would you suppose God would create a new heaven and a new earth? How did He create the physical heavens and earth?  “And God said, let there be!”  The apostle Peter tells us that it was “by the word of God” that the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water (II Pet. 3:5). John tells us in His Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word…all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (Jn. 1:1-3).  God creates by His Word!  God creates the new heavens and the new earth with a “Creative Word”!  He is moving within us in this hour by His revelatory word, His living word, His omnipotent creative word to plant within His elect the new heavens and to lay the foundations of the new earth.  This word is nigh us, even in our mouth and in our heart! (Rom. 10:9-10).  This word has no corruption in it at all - it is the incorruptible seed of the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.

 

 

Conclusion

Yet what does all this spiritual symbolism have to do with the “lake of fire?” Well, EVERYTHING! It should be abundantly clear by now, that all the visions in Revelation (the lake of fire included) are not LITERAL representations of themselves – but rather are representative of something HIGHER, more SPIRITUAL, indeed more HEAVENLY! - things that can only be discerned by those who are called to “come up hither!” God is in the process of making an entirely new creation, or making all things new - not this time a mere natural creation, nor yet a purely spiritual one, but a spiritual - physical one. We are not going anywhere! The Lord is coming back and we shall be caught up with Him – to rule and reign with him HERE!

 This present natural creation is really only a step in the process of making the creation God had in mind from the beginning.  “First that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual,” is the divinely revealed order.  Does that mean the natural is completely done away with, supplanted by the spiritual, burned up and thrown upon the giant funeral pyre of eternal shame?  Not at all!  It means that the natural is swallowed up by the spiritual.  The natural is a necessary step in the process of making the kind of creation God purposed from the beginning.  Jesus Christ, the firstborn Son of God, is the proto-type of that new creation — the PHYSICAL SPIRITUALIZED, RAISED UP INTO THE DIVINE AND HEAVENLY!  The physical body of Jesus was raised from the dead, brought out of the tomb, spiritualized, and made a spiritual body. So it will be with us! It’s interesting that Jesus (even though He is spirit) is still referred to as a man all through the New Testament, not only after His resurrection, but also after His ascension.  “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” This is a subject worthy of its own study, one we shall tackle later – God willing.

So the firstborn of this new creation order is Christ upon the throne of universal power!  Think of it!  When you see Jesus as a one of the natural creation metamorphosed, spiritualized, raised up into the celestial and incorruptible, then you see exactly what God is after in the whole creation, and you also see what the finished product of the new heavens and the new earth within you will be like!  “This corruptible must put on incorruption.”  “This mortal must put on immortality.”  How unspeakably wonderful!  We see the natural creation all around us, but this natural creation is not the finished product any more than the ore dug out of the earth is the fine piece of jewelry the artisan has in mind when he begins his work.  It takes FIRE and HEAT to produce that which is of WORTH – even a LAKE OF FIRE! The whole creation is still in the process of being made into the kind of creation God started out to make.  God is still Creator!  And He is still creating a new heavens and a new earth!  The work has only begun in us!

The new heaven is the mind of Christ and the new earth is the body of Christ, the members of which have put on incorruption. The new heaven is the new mind of the spirit, and the new earth is the soul quickened and governed by the spirit.  Surely the fullness of redemption includes possessing the “mind of Christ” as well as a body “fashioned like unto His glorious body.”  And being conformed to His image, partakers of His divine nature, we shall be His “all righteous” ones - a new heaven and a new earth WHEREIN DWELLETH RIGHTEOUSNESS!

The coming “world” will be one that will see the fullness of God in operation through His Zion people, His sons, the demonstration of the mighty power of the new heavens and the new earth.  It is not a mansion over the hilltop, or a cabin in the corner of gloryland, or white night gowns, or harps, or palm branches, or dangling feet in some stream of celestial water.  There is a job to be done!  A battle to be fought!  A victory to be won!  An enemy to be conquered!  “And there was no more sea.”  “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.” This is God’s will for humanity on this earth, and this is what our call to sonship is all about!  Oh that all of Christendom could have an open vision that would enable them to understand the glory of God’s purpose on earth, and His election in man! Unfortunately, they will not, they cannot – God wills it to happen this way.

 Jesus said, “Greater works than these shall ye do!”  According to the writer to the Hebrews, there are MIGHTY WORKS OF A COMING AGE, GREATER WORKS THAN JESUS DID TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO!  And all we have experienced of God, of His Spirit, of His Word, of His power, glory, miracles, and revelation, has been merely a small taste, a little sampling, of the glory and power of that coming age!  We have only seen the firstfruits of what God will do through His in-Christed body upon this earth.  Imagine a world where the hospitals have been emptied, the doctors’ offices deserted, the prisons closed, the policemen all laid off, the armies dismantled, the mortuaries locked, the dead raised, all nature tamed, controlled, and subdued, the nations turned to the Lord, all men transformed into the image and glory of God, and the whole world system transformed — and GREATER WORKS THAN THESE SHALL YOU SEE as the glorious mind of Christ rules and reigns over the earth realm through the manifest sons of God!  The fullness of what we have just had a taste will be the normal works on behalf of humanity in that blessed world to come.  This will be the new heavens and the new earth in all the fullness of what that means! 

“Behold, I make  all things new!” saith the Lord.  “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”

Read this verse with NEW understanding! Yes what a wonderful age it will be! And yet we haven’t forgotten that for the raging seas, it will be a frightful and fearful day of reckoning when God plunges them into His “lake of fire.” BUT their torment will not last forever – be sure of that! It shall redeem ALL humanity into His glorious image where every knee shall be bowed and heart surrendered before the throne of Christ! Know this. If this is not the true and fitting end of God's great plan of the ages then Calvary is a failure and redemption a farce.

Current so-called “orthodox” theology incorporates into its system belief in the superior power of Satan, the deathlessness of sin, the indestructibility of error, and the permanence of evil. The doctrines of the harlot church system teach that since sin and death have entered upon the scene in God's universe, they have come never to go out again, unconquerable, ineradicable, endless.

Is God, who is sovereign Lord, destined to possess the ultimate allegiance and obedience of only about 3% of all the billions who have sprung from His creative hand? Shall the absolute majority of all these created beings perpetuate hate and blaspheme against their blessed Creator throughout an endless eternity? Is Jesus, who died, effecting the death blow to all sin and to the works of Satan (I Jn. 3:8), destined to reign in a universe where sin shall exist in staggering proportions throughout eternity?

What a blessing that we know better! That we UNDERSTAND the scriptures! That we have been given the “eyes to see” it all for what it really is! – For what it is God is purposely ACHIEVING! May the Lord continue to reveal to us these most precious revelations of His Word.

We must accept that the subject of the Biblical “lake of fire” is not one that can be summed up nicely in a single study or indeed a short series of studies. Explaining this “all consuming fire” would be like trying to explain God Himself – exhaustive, encyclopaedic and impossible. What we can do however is explain what it is not and why it is not! Know this - the judgements of God are all consuming and all encompassing –and ongoing throughout this age and the next. Their relentless purposes go well beyond our own comprehension. It is only by comparing “spiritual” with “spiritual,” that we can glean answers to deep mysteries and discern spiritual truth from a sea of fictions.

We shall endeavour to uncover the “deep things of God” in upcoming studies that shed further light on the meanings of the vast array of symbols and allegories strewn throughout the scriptures – including the symbols of the “sand.” Yes, what we stand and build upon is crucial to our understanding and to our spiritual journey!  Most importantly, we shall unlock a major key to understanding prophetic interpretation of the scriptures. It involves all that which “is..... was....and will be!”

 

 

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