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The Rapture

A Popular but False Doctrine

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The rapture is widely taught and believed in Christianity today. Popular books and movies spin themes around this doctrine that essentially teaches Christ will come back twice, first coming only into the atmosphere to snatch believers away to heaven for several years; then actually returning to set foot on the earth.

We live in a time when most are content to get their knowledge of religion secondhand, preferably through dramatic presentations, including stage, screen and novels.

But you cannot afford to neglect your personal responsibility to prove the truth!

Those willing to take a careful look at the Bible will see that the rapture theory doesn't stand up to the scrutiny of God's Word.

The rapture was popularized in the 1970s by Hal Lindsey's writings ( The Late Great Planet Earth, etc.) and more recently by Jim Jenkins and Tim LaHaye in their Left Behind fictional books and films. But where did the idea of the rapture originate?

The origin of the rapture theory

Credit for its origin generally goes to John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century theologian.

Let's define some common terms to help one navigate the technicalities, for in reading about the rapture, you will often encounter the words postmillennialism, amillennialism and premillennialism . First, the root word, Millennium, comes from the Latin for 1,000 years. Religiously, it refers to the first 1,000 years of Christ's reign over the Kingdom of God on earth (Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×
).

A postmillennialist believes that Christ returns to establish the Kingdom on earth after the 1,000 years; an amillennialist doesn't believe that the Kingdom is coming at all; a premillennialist believes that Christ returns before the Millennium to set up His Kingdom as described in Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×
.

In the century before Darby, Daniel Whitby pushed the philosophy of postmillennialism in England. “This interpretation maintains that present gospel agencies will root out evils until Christ will have a spiritual reign over the earth, which will continue for 1,000 years. Then the second advent of Christ will initiate judgment and bring to an end the present order” ( Unger's Bible Dictionary, 1988, “Millennium”).

Postmillennialism gives life to the idea of “the social gospel” and the belief that the Church can actually bring about the Kingdom by its actions. It has led to many Christian churches involving themselves in politics on the premise that they are virtually obligated to lobby governments in the direction of godliness.

There were also amillennialists in Darby's day. He labored to correct both false teachings. Darby believed, rightly, that Jesus Christ would return to earth to establish and rule over the Kingdom of God. Darby was a premillennialist.

But in his zeal for countering error, he added another—the rapture theory. He believed he understood a new truth, an idea that had not been taught in the history of Christendom. While he was most likely sincere, sincerity alone does not make one right.

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20 2 Peter 1:20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
American King James Version×
, New International Version).

How do we know whether God inspired John Darby with new understanding? It actually would not be difficult to verify. Jesus said, “…the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35 John 10:35If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
American King James Version×
), meaning Scripture agrees within itself.

If the rapture were truly a biblical doctrine, it would mesh with all other scriptural references to Christ's coming. But it does not stand up to that test, as we will see.

Scofield picks it up

“Darby's pre-tribulational view of the rapture was then picked up by a man named C.I. Scofield, who taught the view in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible, which was widely distributed in England and America. Many Protestants who read the Scofield Reference Bible uncritically accepted what its footnotes said and adopted the [rapture doctrine], even though no Christian had heard of it in the previous 1800 years of Church history” (“Catholic Answers,” http://www.catholic.com/library/Rapture.asp).

Both Darby and Scofield claimed that the “day of Christ” refers to the rapture and that “the day of the Lord” refers to the actual second coming several years after the rapture.

In fact, “the day of the Lord” and “the day of Christ” both refer to Christ's return to the earth throughout the Bible—that is, to the time when He will step foot on earth. So also do the phrases, “the day of the Lord Jesus Christ” and “the Lord's Day.” They all speak of His actual descent and setting His feet on this earth (Zechariah 14:1-4 Zechariah 14:1-4 1 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the middle of you. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
American King James Version×
). This fact further discredits this principal premise of Darby and Scofield. (See our booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled for further information about this subject.)

The heart of the case offered by Darby, Scofield and their modern counterparts is based upon the English words “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 1 Thessalonians 4:17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
American King James Version×
.

Thin proof

For such a seemingly major doctrine, one might expect a weighty argument, but this is what is offered in The Scofield Bible's Reference Notes (1917 Edition): “…'caught up'—Not church saints only, but all bodies of the saved [that is, not only the living, but also the dead], of whatever dispensation, are included in the first resurrection… [It] is peculiarly the 'blessed hope' of the Church (cf) Matthew 24:42 Matthew 24:42Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come.
American King James Version×
; 25:13; Luke 12:36-48 Luke 12:36-48 36 And you yourselves like to men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he comes and knocks, they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he comes shall find watching: truly I say to you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. 38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 And this know, that if the manager of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. 40 Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not. 41 Then Peter said to him, Lord, speak you this parable to us, or even to all? 42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing. 44 Of a truth I say to you, that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delays his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looks not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
American King James Version×
; Acts 1:11 Acts 1:11Which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven.
American King James Version×
; Philippians 3:20 Philippians 3:20For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×
, 21; Titus 2:11-13 Titus 2:11-13 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;
American King James Version×
.”

This offers surprisingly little information, considering how many accept the rapture doctrine based upon these notes. Additionally, all of the references he cited are about Christ's return and the believer's need to be ready for that event. None of them speak of a “near return” by Christ to snatch away believers.

Some rapturists today cite Acts 8:39 Acts 8:39And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
American King James Version×
, saying it uses the same Greek word that is translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 1 Thessalonians 4:17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
American King James Version×
. They say that the fact the Spirit of God “caught [Philip] away” shows that 1 Thessalonians 4:17 1 Thessalonians 4:17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
American King James Version×
means that the saints are caught away to heaven. Yet the Spirit did not transport Philip to heaven, but rather from one place on the earth to another.

The saints of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 1 Thessalonians 4:17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
American King James Version×
, on the other hand, rise to meet the Lord in the air. (We'll cover more on this point in the next article in this series.)

The words “blessed hope” also often appear in rapture literature. In fact, “The Blessed Hope” is the name by which some denominations refer to the rapture doctrine. They take “blessed hope” from Titus 2:13 Titus 2:13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;
American King James Version×
, where Paul writes, “looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

The implication is that the word “appearance” conveys something secretive and sudden; that is, the rapture. Therefore, “blessed hope” becomes a sort of shorthand for the rapture in literature and films on the doctrine. A few other New Testament references that mention “the appearing of Christ” are also often cited, as if these scriptures strengthen their case.

But all of these are simply referring to Christ's coming, either the first time as a perfect sacrifice for sin, or the second time, as an invincible King.

Flawed foundation

The word rapture comes from the Latin rapere, meaning, “to seize” or “to abduct.” It is translated from the Greek word that is rendered “caught up” in English Bibles today.

All advocates of the rapture agree that the main argument is based on 1 Thessalonians 4:17 1 Thessalonians 4:17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
American King James Version×
. Here the argument stands or falls.

First, look at verse 17 in the New King James Version: “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

The Greek verb for “caught up” is harpagesometha. Does it convey the sense of an abduction here? No, “[it] combines the ideas of force and suddenness seen in the irresistible power of God” (Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Revised Edition, 1984, p. 94).

Why would Paul use such a strong word? Let's allow the Bible to speak for itself. The context of the subject begins in verse 13 and concludes in verse 11 of the next chapter. Paul wrote this section of the letter in answer to concerns of the local Christians.

As you read verse 13, you discover that Christians in Thessalonica were grieving over the unexpected deaths of members of their congregation.

Albert Barnes comments: “There seems some reason to suppose…that some of them believed that, though those who were dead would indeed rise again, yet it would be long after those who were living when the Lord Jesus would return had been taken to glory, and would always be in a condition inferior to them” ( Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, notes on 1 Thessalonians 4:13 1 Thessalonians 4:13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
American King James Version×
).

Paul wrote that they should not grieve over this: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus [believers who had died]” (verse 14).

Was he responding to a worry about whether Christ would rescue believers from the Great Tribulation? No, nothing is said of this.

Nor is there anything in these verses that intimates Christ making a swooping pass by the earth to snatch off a few people to take them to heaven. These verses refer only to the doctrine of the second coming, at which time Jesus sets foot on the earth.

A reunion with friends who died

There is more to Paul's encouragement. Dr. Morris observes, “There will be a reunion with Christ, but there will also be a reunion with the friends who have gone before” (Tyndale).

The Commentary on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown observes something further. “The leading topic of Paul's preaching at Thessalonica having been the coming kingdom (Ac 17:7), some perverted it into a cause for fear in respect to friends lately deceased, as if these would be excluded from the glory which those found alive alone should share. This error Paul here corrects.”

Verse 15 amplifies the point: “We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.”

Verse 18 reiterates this main point: “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” Paul sums it up in verses 10-11 of chapter 5 (there is no chapter break in the original text): “…that whether we wake or sleep [remain alive or die], we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

Any claim that “the comfort” of these verses was about being snatched away to heaven takes incredible license with the Bible.

Paul's reason for using such a strong word as harpagesometha was to reassure people that, at Christ's return, God would reunite believers who remain alive with believers who had died. The dead won't be behind in any way!

But why will the saints meet Christ in the air? We will cover that in the next article. WNP

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    Comments

  • Bro.Jason

    Very nicely put Cecil!

    I should also remember Paul teaches us in 2 Thessalonians 2:3

    “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;:

    Meaning that the anti-christ must reign “first” before we are called up.

    As I said earlier very nicely put though, I just felt that should also be added!

    Regards,
    Dr. Jason Thompson PhD

  • Charles Goodman

    Excellent article, straightforward and to the point, and needs saying so badly to the brotherhood of Christ. Gives me some quick, concise “firepower” when debating this very timely topic. I feel this single doctrine will lead so many of our brothers and sisters away from the Lord and into the clutches of Satan. As said in Hos 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. Thanks Cecil, Respectfully, Chuck

  • Keith

    Well said. Jesus never said the way to the Kingdom of God would be a tip toe through the tulips. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. In the world we shall have tribulation, in Christ we shall have peace. Matthew 24 tells all. Immediately after the tribulation, the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, the Son of man will be seen coming with power and great glory, then shall he send his angels to gather his elect. AMEN! Yet, we must endure to the end and love not our own lives unto the death if be so. We are the salt of the earth and we must be here through the tribulation to give our testimonies for all to see (Rev. 7:14) No repentance after death. We must be right with God now and we must be in the 1st resurrection to be saved. The second is of the damned. Those teaching that we shall rise before the tribulation or that there is a second chance for those left behind. Teach lies!

  • Skip

    Hi Keith,

    There is no 2nd chance, but what about a first chance?
    Some, unlike you or me who have been raised in an “Christian” country,
    had the “misfortune” to be born in a different country at a time when
    the very name Jesus was unknown. They had no first chance at all!

    God’s Plan, as explained in at least two of our booklets,
    clearly explains from scripture the sequence of events that
    the Apostle Paul alludes to in 1 Cor 15: 23.
    Christ is the first of the Firstfruits.
    “Afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
    (Those at His coming are also called Firstfruiits.)
    Here are three supporting scriptures:
    Romans 8: 23
    James 1: 18
    Rev 14: 4

    Now I want to ask, why is anyone called a Firstfruit
    if there are not at least, second fruits?
    If everyone not in the first resurrection is just tossed into hell,
    what are they called? Rotten fruit? unripe fruit? What?
    That whole idea makes God totally ineffective, wimpy, weak!

    But the Truth of the matter as Paul & others explain elsewhere
    is that God has a plan to give everyone ONE chance.

    But you are so correct about the challenge to sustaining
    our enthusiasm until we greet the returning Jesus Christ:
    It will not be a tip toe through the Tulips!

    But it certainly is worth the effort to be part of the First Fruits.

  • Keith

    Thanks for your comments Skip. However I read nothing in the scripture concerning 2nd or 3rd fruits. Keep in mind that in the days of Noah, only 8 people were saved. (I Peter 3:20) Jesus said in Matthew 7:13,14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth ti destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
    The world has been given it’s one chance that is Jesus Christ, he is the door and there is no other door. Since the time that Jesus walked the earth we have been in the last days. That is why John the baptist came preaching, (Luke 3:9) The axe is laid unto the root of the trees, every tree not bringing forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.
    Remember also the parable of the wise and the foolish virgins. They that were ready went in, those that were not ready, were shut out and could not get in even after they came back to knock on the door.
    God dose not put people in hell, hell was created for the devil and his angels, man enters as an intruder. However we put ourselves there but ignoring Christ. Sorry to say heaven will not be crowded, but hell already is!

  • Steven Britt

    Keith,

    The “firstfruits” are, by definition, the BEGINNING of the harvest. In farming terms, the firstfruits are simply the produce that ripens earlier than the main portion of the crop; therefore, it stands to reason that if Christians today are the firstfruits of God’s harvest then there must necessarily be an analogue of the main portion of the harvest that will come after those of us who follow God’s way at the present time.

    Furthermore, when you say that “we put ourselves there [hell] by ignoring Christ,” you are automatically excluding huge numbers of people throughout history who were never exposed to Jesus or the true God - you can’t “ignore” Christ if you’ve never even heard His name! I agree with your statement that everyone gets ONE chance, but there are obviously many living and dying today without getting that chance because God has not revealed Himself to them - John 6:44 says that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws them. The only reasonable conclusion, in light of the fact that many people now are NOT being given a chance because God has not revealed Himself to them, is that those who have already died without being called by God will receive their one chance at a future time; however, Christians who are called in this life today are living out their one chance and will not get another. Those who have died without receiving their chance will be resurrected from the dead (where they are presently asleep, not in heaven or hell, Ecclesiastes 9:10) and the gospel of God explained to them so that they can choose fairly as Christians called by God have done. Revelation 20:4-5 says that the “rest of the dead” who were not in the “first resurrection” will live again when the 1000 years is finished, and this is the time period in which the masses of humanity who never knew God will get that chance.

  • Charles Goodman

    I would like to take a try at the “First Fruits” question. In Revelation, it states there is a special gift for those who understand it. I think there is no time in history you could have actually understood it until now, much like in Daniel where it says the book is shut up until the end. I think being a “First Fruit” is the gift you will recieve for understanding it, and by making the sacrifice that is required of that understanding. In simple terms, to stand against and resist satan when he is on earth. Through history, men have spoke of Satan, but they have not been personally “tempted” by him. Sure we are all tempted by his spirit, but only Christ has succeeded in actually resisting him in the flesh. When the Bible tells us, that satan showed Christ the kingdoms of the world, I believe that’s literally what happen, I see no reason to “spiritualize” it. When satan arrives on earth, as stated he will in Rev.12:7-9, which I also don’t spiritualize, we will face the same temptation as did our Lord. That’s different than for example, my parents faced in life. I think that it is reflected in Rev.20:3-7. It says in Vs.4 some particular requirements there, having given their life for the witness, or the word, and not excepting satan’s mark. You may wish to expand this, I’m sure most will, but it doesn’t say that. And it also adds a new parameter, that they would live and reign with our Christ. What does that mean, I think when you move down to Vs.5, what it is telling you is that all who have not faced the three criteria mentioned above, while now in spiritual bodies, are still mortal. By mortal, simply meaning that they could die. I am not implying that aunt Rose, having lived an exemplary christian life is going to hell, what I am implying is that she as well as all, will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgement. Note in Vs.7 at where it says satan will be loosen again for a short while, one again reiterating Vs.3. What I think it is saying, is all will be tempted by satan. I don’t think there is a “free” pass. God is no respecter of person. Why should just those at the end be subject to satan’s temptation, truthfully I believe it’s not the case. In Vs.6, it says those that are blessed & holy, as outlined in Vs.4 parameters, are free from the worry of losing their spiritual bodies, they have made it, they have recieved the gift promised in Revelation!

  • Skip

    Hello again Keith,
    Let’s see if I can answer you.
    Rev 20: 5 says “the rest of the dead did not live again until the 1000 years were finished.” Who are “the rest of the dead”?

    Verse 4 has just told us that some people “beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image…” will live & reign with Christ for a 1000 years. These are the First Fruits.

    The “rest of the dead” are whom?

    The possibilities as I see them are:

    They are not good people & they are ultimately tossed in the Lake of Fire. (Rev 20: 15)

    The 2nd possibility is, they are just ordinary people who lived their lives & died without ever being offered a chance by God to understand the TRUTH. They never were given a first chance and now —– at the end of the thousand years they are being resurrected to physical life to be taught and given their very FIRST chance.

    Several scriptures state the need for enduring faith and righteous living but unless a person actually is Given the understanding of what life is all about, there is a gulf that exists between living a good human life and living a truly Godly life.

    God has built in rewards & punishments for living a good human life but God will not pass final judgement on a person’s eternal life (or death) unless that person has really understood the Rules & how they work.

    Read God’s Holy Day Plan, The Promise of Hope for All Mankind, especially P. 44 to 57. Then let’s talk again.

  • Keith

    Hi Skip,
    Thanks for the answer, but sorry, still don’t see it that way. The first resurrection is unto life which the second death has no power. Truly there is a second resurrection, as you mentioned, however these are those that rise to damnation as stated in verses 12 through 15,the dead will stand before God and the books will be opened, and all will be judged by their works, and another book will be opened, which is the book of life, and those not found in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire, THIS IS THE SECOND DEATH!
    Jesus said on the cross, “IT IS FINISHED”. The plan of salvation has already been laid out for us. The time to obey the word of God is now! No need for us to go through great tribulation if God is going to give mankind chance after chance after chance.
    I’ve traveled around the world and have been to many countries, and have yet to meet one single person who has not at least heard of the name of Jesus Christ and for what he stands for. No one wants to say it but the fact is, a lot of people are going to hell, that’s just the way it is and if you and I do not endure unto the end, so shall we!
    Personally, I am looking to go up in the first resurrection in which the second death shall have no power over me. How about you? Remember that we are here to share God’s word with people to give them that CHANCE, not to make excuses for them or tell them, Not to worry, if you don’t catch this bus, there will be another one along later.

  • Keith

    Hi Charles G.
    I agree, that all will be tempted, for satin himself will make a final desprate attempt to deceive all both phisical and spiritual so that he might try to raise an army against the true and great God of heaven and against his saints. Let us not forget, we are at war. This goes along with what I was trying to explain to Skip. The second resurrection may very well be those deceived by satin to take up arms with him against God. Rev 20:8-9 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
    And they went up on the breath of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
    To me, the firstfruits of God’s creatures is the best, and that is what Christ gave us the chance to be. Angels desire to look into our salvation and satin himself is quite distrot over it because his pittition to be forgiven has been dinied. So he makes war with us and with God our creator. No glory to that, but all glory to God. Keep fighting the good fight, Jesus is soon to come!

  • Ivan Veller
    Christ said, “ ‘If you were blind, then you would have no sin’ ” (John 9:41 John 9:41Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you should have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains.
    American King James Version×
    NKJV). Many people are “blinded” now (Romans 11:7 Romans 11:7What then? Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for; but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
    American King James Version×
    NKJV; also see Ephesians 4:17-18 Ephesians 4:17-18 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you from now on walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
    American King James Version×
    )–“a veil lies over their hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:14 2 Corinthians 3:14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same veil not taken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.
    American King James Version×
    and context). For some, this veil will be lifted only after Christ’s return, when God bestows “the Spirit of grace and supplication” (Zechariah 12:10 Zechariah 12:10And I will pour on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look on me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
    American King James Version×
    ). The Spirit is necessary to discern spiritual things; God’s grace is offered and they respond in prayerful repentance–after Christ’s return. Here is a link to our booklet on God’s Holy Day Plan: http://www.ucg.org/booklet/gods-holy-day-plan-promise-hope-all-mankind/
  • Keith

    Hi Ivan,
    Thanks for the comment, however, sorry, no dice, don,t see it that way in the scriptures. God has already pored out his spirit upon all flesh. Remember the upper room. Now is the time to repent, not after Christ returns. Jesus died on the cross for a reason, why do we try and make a different gospel then that which has already been preached? If the righteous are scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? I Peter 4:18 We need to stop telling people that we have all the time in the world to be saved, that they will have second chances, and making excuses why God is not going to put them in hell! The message should be and truthfully is “REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!

  • Keith

    Hi Steven,
    Sorry, not so, the Bible teaches us that after death there is no repentance, And Christ already preached to the spirits in prison (those who died before Christ) when he died on the cross and was in the ground for three days before he rose from the dead. There is no scriptural basis for your theory that those rising in a second resurrection will be given a second chance to except Christ. It is correct that a person must be drawn by the spirit of the Father, however that is why Jesus came, He told us that when he was taken up that he would send us a comforter from the Father, this is the Holy Ghost which will lead us and guide us into all truth. This is the pouring out of God’s spirit upon all flesh. Joel 2:28 (prophesy) Acts 2: 16,17,18 (prophesy fulfilled)The spirit of the Father is already here to draw all men to him, if people are ignoring that spirit then that is there choice. I simply do not understand how that you can believe, with God’s spirit in the world today,all the technology we have: TV, radio, printing presses and the internet, not to mention all the Christians in the world today that are suppose to be spreading the good news every place we go. that their are simply so many people today dying having never even heard of Jesus Christ or have, in some point in their lives been drawn by God’s spirit. You make the word of God of no effect and the power of Christ void! By the way, Firstfruits refers to the best. Go on with yourself and try to offer God second best, see if he will except your offering. Second best, or second resurrection, take your pick, will not be excepted by God or be in heaven. Its time we stop trying to pacify the dead and soften God’s word. Tell the living the truth. Today is the day of salvation, now is the time to repent! Less God hold us accountable for telling lies and costing souls to miss heaven because we were afraid to offend some by telling the truth. There is a hell and it’s filled with souls of once, so called, good people. And there is a place of peace called Abraham’s bosom were the righteous await the kingdom. There is also a place worse than hell called the lake of fire. And a place better than Abraham’s bosom called heaven! I leave you with this final thought, Ecclesiastes 9:10. Choose wisely!

  • Ivan Veller

    Hello Keith,

    I’ll excerpt from: http://www.ucg.org/booklet/gods-holy-day-plan-promise-hope-all-mankind/feast-pentecost-firstfruits-gods-harvest/

    “Romans 8:29 speaks of Jesus Christ as ‘the firstborn of many brethren.’ Yet the New Testament Church is also considered to be firstfruits…James said, ‘Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures’ (James 1:18).

    God’s Spirit within us identifies us and sanctifies us—sets us apart as Christians. ‘If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ,’ wrote Paul, ‘he is not His,’ and ‘as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God’ (Romans 8:9,14).

    Paul also referred to the members of the Church as those ‘who have the firstfruits of the Spirit’ (verse 23). He alluded to several first-century Christians as the firstfruits of God’s calling (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15).

    The significance of…calling these people of God firstfruits becomes evident when we consider John 14:6. Here Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’

    How many, throughout the centuries, have really accepted and practiced the way of life Jesus taught? Even today many people have simply never heard much, if anything, about Jesus Christ. How will God offer them salvation?

    Few people understand that God follows a systematic plan, symbolized by His Holy Days, to save all of humanity by offering all people eternal life in His Kingdom. In this world we are simply at the beginning of the harvest for the Kingdom of God.

    …Paul understood this: ‘But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming’ (1 Corinthians 15:20,22-23). Anyone who is now called and chosen by God is included with Christ as God’s firstfruits (James 1:18).

    …God must call people (John 6:44; 6:63). Our Creator, therefore, controls the timing of His harvest. When God founded His Church by imparting His Spirit to believers on the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 31, He was expanding His spiritual harvest. It was the beginning of what Joel prophesied, that God will ultimately pour out His Spirit on ‘all flesh’ (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:14-17).”

  • Ivan Veller
    Hello again, In regards to the substantial scriptural basis for the teaching that those rising in a second resurrection will finally be given their opportunity to come to God, Christ said that “if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented” (Luke 10:12-13 Luke 10:12-13 12 But I say to you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. 13 Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
    American King James Version×
    , ESV 2007)–implying neither repented. Now, if “after death there is no repentance,” then why say “it will be more bearable in the judgment for [them] than for you’ ”? (Would a just God sentence people to a ‘hellfire’ punishment prior to rendering judgment?) And why does he say that “it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom” (KJV)–a city so “exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD” (Genesis 13:13 Genesis 13:13But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
    American King James Version×
    NKJV) that God himself personally destroyed it with fire and brimstone? Christ said this because “these thoroughly pagan and sinful people will be treated very mercifully in a coming day of judgment (Matthew 12:41 Matthew 12:41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
    American King James Version×
    ). He spoke very highly[ of] their opportunity[] to have a chance to repent and to understand and come to know God…[(something] they [ha]dn’t [had]…in their lifetime[)]” (“Is Today the Only Day of Salvation?”). http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today-daily/doctrinal-beliefs/today-only-day-s… “It is God’s desire that no human beings perish but that all come to repentance so as to become members of His family as sons and daughters in His Kingdom (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
    American King James Version×
    ; 2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
    American King James Version×
    ). As part of this process, God is now calling some individuals to inherit eternal life at the return of Jesus Christ to the earth (1 Corinthians 1:26-28 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 26 For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are:
    American King James Version×
    ; Matthew 20:16 Matthew 20:16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
    American King James Version×
    ; John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
    American King James Version×
    , 65), with others to be called later” (“God’s Purpose for Mankind”). http://www.ucg.org/booklet/fundamental-beliefs/gods-purpose-mankind/ “The ultimate intent of God’s master plan is to change the hearts of all peoples so He can give them His gift of eternal life. The New Covenant promises are already available to people from all nations…But only a ‘little flock’ (Luke 12:32 Luke 12:32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
    American King James Version×
    ) is responding through real repentance at this time…At Christ’s return…a crucial aspect of His mission will be to lead all people on earth to repentance…in every nation…‘And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him’ (Zechariah 8:20-22 Zechariah 8:20-22 20 Thus said the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. 22 Yes, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.
    American King James Version×
    , NIV)” (“All the World Under the New Covenant”). http://www.ucg.org/booklet/new-covenant-does-it-abolish-gods-law/all-wor…
  • Ivan Veller

    “Is there hope for the unbelieving person who rejected God’s calling and spurned His way of life? No, a person who has knowingly refused God’s calling and the way of life He reveals has only the lake of fire to look forward to, which will end his or her existence for eternity (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-29). However, there is another type of unbeliever—one who never had the opportunity to choose or reject God’s way of life. Many sincere people believe that we must ‘accept Jesus’ in this life or we are lost forever. But what about the billions of people who have lived out their lives without ever hearing the name of Christ and therefore had no chance at salvation (Ac. 4:12)? Is it fair for God to destroy them forever when they never really had an opportunity to understand His truth?

    ‘Many know that God will resurrect the saints at Christ’s return (1 Th. 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:52), but most read right over Christ’s teachings about a second resurrection. He spoke of people from different ages coming face-to-face in ‘the day of judgment’ (Mat. 11:20-24, 12:41-42; Lk. 10:12-15). God will bring back to life the people of Sodom, Tyre, Sidon and Ninevah along with the queen of Sheba at the same time as those people who heard Christ speak these words [then]. The only way for this to be possible—for people who lived literally many hundreds of years apart to live again at the same time—is for God to resurrect all of them at the same time.

    ‘A second resurrection allows a first chance at salvation[.] As we saw in Hebrews [6 & 10], the Scriptures are plain about the fact that all people have only one chance at salvation. However, a second chance at life is not the same as a second chance at salvation. Coming to life again will enable those brought to life in the second resurrection to have their only chance for salvation” (“Will everyone have a chance for salvation?”).

    http://www.ucg.org/bible-faq/will-everyone-have-chance-salvation-what-happens-after-death-resurrection-judgment-day

    “‘I tell you…now is the day of salvation’ (2 Cor. 6:1-2, NIV)…In the original Greek there is no modifier before the phrase…Other versions translate this…as ‘a day of salvation’…the world at large will have an opportunity for salvation in ages yet to come” (“Is Today the Only Day of Salvation?”).

    http://www.ucg.org/booklet/church-jesus-built/responsibility-and-mission-church/today-only-day-salvation/

  • Keith

    Hi Ivan,
    I agree with the scriptures you have put forth, for example in I Corinthians 15. Jesus truly is the first fruits of them that slept. He is the second Adam! We shall be like him, and because he lives, we shall live also. As we know flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of heaven. We shall be transformed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. Behold the resurrection! And we know further that Paul said, “thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die.(verse 36). We, that believe and obey the word of God shall receive glorified bodies at his coming that know not death, sickness, corruption or sin. AMEN! However, what does this have to do with souls being saved after the coming of Christ? Jesus said, “I come as a thief in the night.” We must watch and be ready for know not at what hour he does come. As in the parable of the 10 virgins. Remember 5 were wise and 5 were foolish. Those that were wise and ready, went in through the door to be with the Lord when he came. But the foolish who were not ready when the Lord came did not go in, and neither was the door opened unto them afterwards. Do I think that these were cast out into outer darkness? YES, I DO. Those that are not ready to meet the Lord when he comes, simply will not make it to the kingdom. No chances after that. The scriptures do not support that theory, and it is exactly that, a theory not based on scripture or fact. Why is it that we should be concerned over the dead anyway when they are already in the hands of a living and just God. We need to be concerned with the living that still have the need and chance to repent. No one seems to want to take responsibility and say that hell is as real as heaven. Well, let me speak plainly, MANY ARE GOING TO END UP IN HELL! Few there be that find the way to life eternal with God. Jesus spoke of this himself,(Matthew 7:13,14) No more excuses, we must tell the truth, Jesus is SOON to come and we all must be ready. Today is the day of salvation! Let me speak plainly again, as I read in the scriptures, there is no salvation for anyone left behind after the coming of Christ. God’s spirit is drawing all men to him as we speak, but many are WILLINGLY IGNORANT! (II Peter 3: 4,5,6) Who’s falt is that? Not God’s. May you find truth and not excuses.

  • Keith

    Hi Ivan,
    Sorry, still not happening. It will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon because they sinned when the Son of man walked not on the earth. They didn’t see Christ in the flesh and the great works that he did. Those that did see Christ in the flesh and his mighty works, then still rejected him, so much worse will it be for them, knowing that they walked with Jesus and had great opportunity to be with him forever and chose not to. Jesus was just stating that those in Tyre and Sidon would have repented if they would have seen him in the flesh when those that walked with him in the flesh were even more responsible for their rejection of God seeing they had the light walking among them. Don’t misunderstand me. I know and believe that God will not bring wrath on the innocent and ignorant. He is a just God not willing that any should parish, more that even you and I know. However God is also a man of war and a consuming fire. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God. As I stated before, the Bible says that Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison the time he was in the belly of the earth for three days. From the time of Adam and Eve to the time of Christ on earth God gave opportunity to those spirits in prison to come to Jesus, for at that time he was manifest. Now we have Jesus and we have the Holy Ghost and the word. We, all people, now have the way into the Holiest of all. ( Hebrews 9:3) Remember when Christ died the veil in the temple was rent. Jesus is the mediator between men and God. The whole world now has no cloak for sin and no excuse for ignorance. Having eyes to see, and see not. Having ears to hear, and hear not. If what you say is true about the second resurrection and a second chance after death, then Jesus would not have told us to watch that we may be ready at his coming. Is Jesus then a liar?
    John the baptist came to prepare the way of the Lord and he stated that the ax is laid unto the root of the trees!(Matthew 3:10) And every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is cut down and cast into the fire. Ecclesiastes 11:3 If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or towards the north, in the place were the tree falleth, there it shall be. Ivan, I see men as trees!

  • Ivan Veller

    Hi again Keith,

    John 12:32a does not necessarily indicate time sequence: “If [or When] I am lifted up…I will draw all people” (Expanded Bible 2011). 25 translations (KJV, ASV, HCSB 2009, etc.) use this chronologically neutral word “if.”

    I agree that not everyone will be saved: “The Bible explains that unrepentant sinners are cast into the lake of fire…at the end of the age. ‘But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’ (Rev. 21:8)…the doctrine of universal salvation is false. Not everyone will be saved. Some will, in the end, refuse to repent—and they will suffer punishment…God will bring retribution on the wicked for their rebellious, reprehensible ways” (“Will a Loving God Punish People Forever in Hell?”).

    http://www.ucg.org/booklet/heaven-and-hell-what-does-bible-really-teach/will-loving-god-punish-people-forever-hell/

    However, “Not all are called now to salvation… [Why did Christ speak] in parables instead of being more direct[?] …’Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given’ (Mat. 13:11). Many today would be shocked to consider what Jesus was saying here. It was not His intent to present salvation clearly to every person in this age. Rather, His message was meant to be understood by only some at this time… Jesus taught His disciples that God must grant spiritual insight. No one can come to Jesus unless God the Father ‘draws him’ (John 6:44)…‘at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace’ (Rom. 11:5). A remnant is just a trace, a remaining vestige. And the ‘election’ Paul mentioned refers to a relatively small part of mankind. Clearly, God has revealed that He will call only a few to salvation in this age. Notice how Jesus explains this: ‘…there are few who find it’ (Mat. 7:13-14)” (“How Eternal Life Will Ultimately Be Offered to All”).

    http://www.ucg.org/booklet/what-happens-after-death/how-eternal-life-will-ultimately-be-offered-all/

    In summary: “If someone hasn’t been called in this life, at another time he will be raised to physical life and learn about God’s plan for him and all mankind” (“Is Everyone Being Judged Now?”).

    http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/everyone-being-judged-now/

  • Keith

    Ivan,
    By the way, let me make myself clear on this mater. The second resurrection, as you so call it, is not unto repentance as you would have people believe. It is, according to Revelation 20:5-10, the rising of Gog and Magog along with all those deceived by satin to do battle against the Lord Jesus Christ and the saints. Again ,I say, we are at war. This is simply not a passive situation. We must choose wisely now, not after death, FOR ALL WILL RISE, The question is on which side will you rise. Choose wisely!
    Think on these things:
    Some men’s sins go before unto judgment, some men’s sins fallow after. Also, it is better to be broken in pieces than to be ground to powder. and the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force. Tell me if you can, what do you think is the meaning of these?

  • Keith

    Ivan,
    Knock and it shall be opened unto you, seek and ye shall find.
    Jesus spoke in parables because is it up to us to seek and find. With out faith it is impossible to please God. All men have not faith, all do not believe. have you not read the parable of the talents?
    Matthew 25:29,30 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
    And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
    You, as many others just refuse to understand that many, many people do not want to believe, don’t want to have faith, don’t want to understand, don’t want to confess their sin, humble themselves and repent. They just don’t want Jesus. Have you not also read the parable of the sower?
    Mark 4:11,12 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables
    That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
    It is not because of God that people do not understand, nor is it because his spirit is not drawing them or that the spirit is only given to a select few. It is because of the hardness of their own hearts!
    Take care of what you think you know and teach others because you may be closer to hell fire than you think! Heaven is FOREVER, and so like wise hell and the lake of fire are FOREVER!
    Put simply, YES, souls that are lost will suffer for eternity. We are not God’s judge, he is the judge of all and his word has warned us of the wages of sin. It’s not bad people that will be lost only, because we have all come short of the glory of God. There is none good, no, not one. People will go to hell for their unbelief, lack of repentance and disobedience to God’s word. Not because their bad people. They just refuse to come to Christ.
    I can see that you can not and will not understand these things just as your theories will never be excepted by me. So at this point we will just have to agree to disagree.

  • Steven Britt

    Keith,

    I’d like to focus this discussion onto a fundamental difference in our beliefs that causing a lot of this head-butting on these issues. You believe that people do not actually “die” when they die - that every human being has an immortal soul that either goes to heaven or hell where they live forever either in bliss or in torture - correct?

    We in the United Church of God believe that death means the cessation of existence similar to sleep. This is corroborated by scriptures such as Ecclesiastes 9:10, which says, “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave where you are going.” Additionally, the consistently delivered ultimatum given to humanity by God throughout the bible is “choose my way and live forever, or choose another way and die” (see Ezekiel 18:4, John 3:16, etc.) God’s promise of salvation is eternal life - if a person goes to hell, then they are still alive.

    You can see how this shapes our view of the fate of the dead. 1 Peter 3:19, for example, cannot be taken to mean that Christ preached to anyone while He was dead because there is no knowledge or wisdom in the grave. If you go back and read 1 Peter 3:19 carefully with an open perspective, you will see that it does not say that Christ preached while He was dead - you may INFER that based on your understanding of the rest of the bible, but it’s not explicitly stated there.

    Like I said, the key to understanding each other in this argument is to settle the issue of what “death” is. All of the other points that have been raised hinge on this, and there is no point in continuing to argue them if we are reasoning from completely different understandings of something so basic as the nature of death - it may be that the best we can do is agree to disagree, but that will be better than endless arguing that doesn’t cut to the heart of the matter.

  • Keith

    Steven,
    As I stated before, let us agree to disagree. And may God’s truth be received by us all. That may not happen, but it is my prayer. It’s not about you, me or anyone else being right, let every man be a liar, and let God’s word be true.
    So may we lift up Christ that he may draw all to him.

  • Ivan Veller

    From “The Mystery of Death”:

    “[T]he Bible does not speak of the dead going to live on forever in a place or condition of ‘heaven’ or ‘hell.’ …mankind and animals are destined for, in death, a common fate. ‘For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals…All go to one place…all return to dust’ (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20).

    …‘And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt’ (Daniel 12:2)…a resurrection from death…will take place in the future. Some will receive immortality then, and some will not. So clearly we are not immortal souls at present. Moreover, the passage compares death to sleep—and explains the resurrection as waking up from that sleep. Sleep connotes unconsciousness…

    [T]he dead have no awareness…: ‘For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing…for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going’ (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). The person who has died is unconscious and unaware of the passing of time…

    Job noted the stark reality of death: “So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep” (verse 12). Job understood that death was the absolute cessation of life…

    [In] Genesis 3:4…[though] God [had] said that man is mortal and subject to death[,] Satan contradicted God and said that man would not die—that man is immortal. Isn’t it amazing that, as evidenced by the pervasive belief in the immortality of the soul, more people accept Satan’s teaching than God’s?”

    http://www.ucg.org/booklet/what-happens-after-death/mystery-death/

  • Keith

    Ivan
    No, it’s really not amazing that so many fallow satan and the lies he teaches seeing that the whole world will wonder after the beast. Man kind does have an immortal soul, this is God’s image that he made us after. Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Adam and Eve, mankind, were never meant to die. Only after disobeying God did we become mortal flesh. And so 900 and some years later, Adam and Eve went to the grave. And now , scripture says, that the days of a man shall be 120. Not many people live past that age today. However souls live on. Its just a question of where.
    I know why you want to believe that there is no feeling, no consciousness and no awareness after death. Everlasting torment is hard to swallow, isn’t it? Kind of scary when you think about it. Yet I chose to believe the scripture rather than your theory. All souls are eternal. It is the flesh only that dies. And the second death is one that’s lived. Seems to me that you are having a hard time distinguishing between the flesh and the spirit.
    Those that are in the truth are not worrying about the torments of hell. We look for a new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. And we look for new bodies that are immoral and incorruptible, as Jesus is the second Adam, so shall we be like him. Jesus is taking his people back to the garden and even better than it was before. I Corinthians chapter 15.
    You have also failed to note the story Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus. Luke 16:19-31 Note verse 23 ” And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” verse 23 ” And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on be, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
    Is Jesus now the one fallowing the teachings of satan? Has Jesus lied to us , or is he just using scare tactics on us to keep us on the straight and narrow?
    Sleep on if you want Ivan, but the death sleep is not the same as the sleep we experience here in the flesh upon this earth.
    This life is but a passing moment, but life on the other side is eternal! We need to take care how we treat this life for it will determine how and where we will spend eternity.

  • Sabrina Peabody

    Hi Keith,
    I agree that life is but a vapor and we should be taking care of our spiritual life now in order to have one in the future. I have a few more thoughts on your statements above.

    Concerning the soul referred to as nephesh in the Old Testament:
    “The soul ( nephesh ) is not immortal, because it dies. This is clear in the Bible. For example, through the prophet Ezekiel God proclaimed, “Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, see also verse 20). Again, the Hebrew word translated “soul” here is nephesh. Indeed, the same word is even used of corpses—dead bodies (see Leviticus 22:4; Numbers 5:2; 6:11; 9:6-10).So Scripture plainly states that the soul can die. It is mortal —it is in no way im mortal— because it is subject to death and decay” (“What Happens After Death?”: http://www.ucg.org/booklet/what-happens-after-death/mystery-death/).There does have to be a part of us that God can “record” and keep so that when we are resurrected, we are restored to ourselves if we prove ourselves to be righteous.

    And for the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, it seems to be an allegory or familiar story of the time to point out a spiritual lesson of not being hardened to the poor or oppressed. I was reading a bit more about it in the “Heaven and Hell” booklet here: http://www.ucg.org/booklet/heaven-and-hell-what-does-bible-really-teach/will-loving-god-punish-people-forever-hell/laza/ and in the BFAQ: http://www.ucg.org/bible-faq/what-does-parable-lazarus-and-rich-man-mean.

  • Steven Britt

    Keith,

    If the story of Lazarus and the rich man were literal, then this would imply that the dead are already judged. This is contrary to Revelation 20:12 - “I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”

    It is not until the 2nd resurrection that “the dead” are judged, so how could this rich man already be in torment unless he had already been judged? (On a side note, it does not specify that these are the unrighteous dead, as you claim them to be, and especially so since the Book of Life was also open and verse 15 would be superfluous if ALL of the people in the 2nd resurrection were cast into the lake of fire).

    Even if you believe that souls are immortal and burn in hell for eternity, shouldn’t you have to be consistent with the scripture about the timing of such? Revelation 20 makes it clear that God will not judge the dead until the appointed time after the 2nd coming of Christ and the 1000 year reign of the saints on earth. If the rich man had already been sent to hell, then he had already been both judged and sentenced. So no, the story of Lazarus and the rich man is not literal.

  • Keith

    Sabrina,
    Hi, thanks for your comment, but I’ll have to disagree with you on this matter as well. Jesus states that flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God. Neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Read again (I Corinthians chapter 15 carefully). If the dead rise, then with what body do they rise? There are bodies terrestrial (fleshly) and there are bodies celestial (spiritual).
    There is a spiritual realm and a physical realm in which we are now partakers of upon this earth. But we shall all be partakers of that spiritual life on the other side. You simple must know that there is a difference between the spiritual and the physical or fleshly life. The bible says to be carnally minded is death. (Romans 8:6-7)
    Spirit or soul does not decay as flesh does, it merely transforms or transcends to another realm. Sleep in the spiritual is not the same as it is in the physical. Just the same, death is not the same for souls as it is for the flesh. It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this, the judgment.
    As for the word nephesh in Hebrew, it had many meanings depending upon it’s use in a given content. The word also could mean bodily in a physical or figurative sense; beast, creature, dead, as you stated, man, desire, lust, mind, one, person, pleasure and so on. You must understand though, that the word nephesh was taken from the root of the word naphash witch means breathe or refreshed, life giving.
    The word for soul in the Greek is (psuche) meaning, from breath, human, animal or even plant, but the key meaning here is spirit or immortal soul. We need not play with words to understand God’s truth. Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
    I tell you this Sabrina, there is a hell just like there is a kingdom of God and they are both very real, and they will both stand forever. The rich man and Lazarus is only one of many warnings given to us by Jesus. and it has much more to do with than just feeding the poor. Jesus talked of a place where the fire is not quenched, and the worm dieth not, many times.
    The second death is one thats lived. My hope and prayer for you is that your name will be written in the book of life so that the second death can not touche you. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  • Keith

    Steven,

    Both death and hell are cast into the lake of fire. Judgment has been set at the time of Jesus Christ. and who says that the 1000 year reign with the Lord is here on earth? Not the Bible. Yes, the dead small and great shall stand before God and be judged. But remember there are greater sins to be punished for just as there are greater rewards to be had in the kingdom of heaven.
    Yes, I do believe the parable of Lazarus and the rich man to be very literal just as Jesus asked the Pharisees, (Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?) You talk as if God is week and will not or can not punish the unbelievers and the ungodly. You talk of a second resurrection for those that will be saved and forgiven after death, which is totally not scripture. You speak with dogma theory and not scripture. It is as the serpent in the garden of Eden told Eve, “surely you shall not die” What are we trying to say here? “surely you’ll have another chance after death, and surely there is no eternal damnation”. If so, then Jesus Christ himself is a liar. AND THAT IS NOT THE CASE.
    We are to warn people to repent for the coming of Christ is at hand. You are only seeking to pacify them into a false sense of security. There is no 2nd resurrection of the saints! What do you think Jesus is speaking of in (Mark 9:42-49) When he talks of a place were the fire is not quenched and the worm dieth not?
    Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. Remember, only 8 people saved in the days of Noah.

  • Steven Britt

    On the contrary, Keith, you are the one who has believed the words of the serpent, who said, “you shall not surely die.” If someone is consciously suffering eternal damnation in hell, that’s still life (albeit a miserable existence). God told Adam that “from the dust you came, and to the dust you shall return” - not “your flesh will become dust, but the part of you that actually matters, your brain, will go somewhere else and either live happily ever after or miserably ever after.” I don’t know how it could be any more clear - Jesus came and died for us, “that we should NOT PERISH, but have EVERLASTING LIFE.” How can you quote the scripture, “fear He who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell,” and yet deny that God will destroy the soul? Which of us has read into the scripture that which isn’t there?

    As for Christ’s reign being on the earth, Zechariah 14:16-21 states plainly that the Lord will reign from Jerusalem, that all nations will travel there to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, and that those who do not will not receive rain as a punishment. More well known is Isaiah 2:2-4, which states that God’s law will go out from Jerusalem, that all nations will go to Jerusalem, that God will “judge between the nations” (i.e. arbitrate disputes), and that people in those nations will beat their weapons of war into farming tools. Revelation 12:5 states that Christ will rule the nations with a rod of iron, and yet at the present time Satan rules over this world according to 2 Corinthians 4:4 (i.e. Christ’s reign over the earth has not started yet, unless you claim that it started sometime after Paul wrote those words.)

    Concerning the current state of the dead, how do you explain 1 Thessalonians 4:16? If the “dead in Christ” are already raised incorruptible into their spirit bodies in heaven, then what need is there for them to rise at the last trumpet?

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