Doctrine of Eternal Torment: Part 2

By admin On September 5th, 2013

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Click on credit links below each pic, for licensing names/details/tags/etc.. Most pics cropped/reduced in size

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THIS IS PART 2: A CONTINUATION OF “Planet of Rest: Doctrine of Eternal Torment” (click here to read)

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THE READER CAN ALSO READ A SERIES OF SHORT DEVOTIONALS ON THIS TOPIC… “September 8th (Eternal Torment?)”

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“Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bonnat02.jpgcame out of the belly?….

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For now should I have lain still and been quiet…

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…Then had I been at rest, With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; 

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…Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver…

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…There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.

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…There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.

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…The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.”

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Job 3:11-19 (condensed)

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Job (oil on canvas) by Bonnat, Leon Joseph Florentin (1833-1922) – Wikimedia – Public Domain

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THE ETERNAL MERCY OF GOD

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“But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fritz_von_Uhde_-_Weib,_warum_weinest_du_(1892-94).jpgthings I delight, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:24

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This above verse from Jeremiah, exhorts us to get to know God, and what He is all about! And this is one big reason for this giant experiment in sin, called Planet Earth: so that the host of Heaven might explore just who God truly is…

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And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” John 17:3.

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So God has called the human race to come and search out just what is the true nature of God. God has given us this Book, which must be carefully and prayerfully and thoroughly studied out, in order to ultimately find truth…

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“Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.” Psalm 107:43

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Jesus – Woman why weepest thou – Jesus – Wikipedia – US Public Domain

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AN ANGRY, QUICK-TEMPERED GOD

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When one first approaches the Bible, it does not take long to discover we have a very angry, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hans_Thoma_Jupiter.jpgquick-tempered God. At least that is the way it seems. Thousands are slaughtered in multiple places in the Old Testament! And various people are instantly zapped, for minor infractions, such as “gathering sticks (for firewood) on the Sabbath Day” (see Numbers 15:32-35).

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But as one gets to know God, both by experience and by the knowledge of the Scriptures, more and more is seen a loving, forgiving God! And finally, Jesus appears on earth, and turns out to be totally kind and non-violent!

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So why is there such a seeming disparity in Scripture, regarding our God? 

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Hans Thoma – Jupiter – Wikipedia – Public Domain

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GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN THE CROSS

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The love of God is most profoundly understood in the Cross. This wonderful painting shows all https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_What_Our_Lord_Saw_from_the_Cross_(Ce_que_voyait_Notre-Seigneur_sur_la_Croix)_-_James_Tissot.jpgthe people gazing up at Jesus…wondering just who is this noble Being hanging there, upon the Cross…

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“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness…For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. To crush under His feet all the prisoners of the earth…Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.”

Lamentations 3:22-3:34, 40, 41 (condensed for brevity’s sake).

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In this above passage is revealed that God’s wrath has no purpose other than to turn us away from our love of sin and selfishness!

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James Tissot: As seen from the cross. – Wikipedia – US public-domain

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CHRIST DID NOT SUFFER ETERNAL TORMENT

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The Cross reveals God’s great love. “Eternal Torment” makes no sense, in the light of the Cross. Christ did not suffer “Eternal Torment” on the Cross, and neither does anyone else suffer in flames for eternity.

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Christ paid for each and every sin committed by each and every human who ever lived on this Earth, and still Christ did not suffer eternal torment!

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If He did, then He would still be suffering torment in flames…FOREVER!!! But He’s not!

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But rather… “He (Christ) said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the Ghost.”

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As this above verse declares, Christ said, “It is finished”, and then He died! Mankind’s sins had just been paid for in those six hours! Then Jesus died.

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ABOVE STAR-CHART – Sign of the Son of Man – www.theheavensdeclare.net – Not for commercial uses

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WRESTLING WITH SCRIPTURES…

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But it is such man-contrived dogmas as, “eternal torment of the human race”, that we must search out intelligently, comparing scripture with scripture. And if those church authorities who, long ago, originally came up with this church doctrine had done their homework, prayerfully, they would have realized that this doctrine is un-biblical.

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But this has happened, as is written… “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” 2nd Peter 3:16.

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With so many Bible passages that speak of Hell as simply the grave, one must aggressively wrestle away such contradictions to hold fast to this doctrine of “Eternal Torment”.

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Listen… “His (Man’s) breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Psalm 146:4.

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This is, no doubt, a much neglected verse to many of those who tenaciously hold to the idea that the lost are endlessly tormented, beginning the moment they die. So we see here that God’s Word is written in such a way that, “they that are unlearned and unstable wrestle, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

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ABOVE PICTURE: Adding to or taking from God’s Word, the Bible

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DEVIL PARADES SUCH HERESIES

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While there are basic Bible truths which are easily seen, there are many other truths which are very difficult to understand. And if someone just rashly tries to understand the Bible without http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Holy_bible.jpgcareful and prayerful study, they can really end up with such doctrines as this one of “Eternal Torment”.

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And the Devil has been pleased to parade this heresy before this unbelieving world for the past centuries. Because by so-doing, Satan has caused perhaps, the most rational of humans to turn away from “such an unmerciful God” in disgust, not realizing the true nature of God, who in reality, loathes to see humans suffer.

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And the truth concerning, “What and Where is Hell”, happens to be one of those difficult truths, which is easily misunderstood. God purposely made this one of those truths that must be carefully balanced by comparing together many related verses. And maybe God has purposely allowed this false doctrine to continue, so as to allow those who truly desire truth, to search out these false ideas, and ultimately discover just how much greater and merciful God actually is.

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Holy bible – cropped image – Wikimedia – Creative Commons lic. 

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THE BIBLE IS A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

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“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

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The problem is, that if a person tries to interpret such scriptures by themselves, without searching out EVERYTHING in Scripture which has similar language, they are bound to get into trouble. Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned. We must approach the Bible under those http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_Bible,_Notre-Dame_du_Taur,_septembre_2011.jpgterms. We cannot come to the Bible with carnal hearts…

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“But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1st Corinthians 2:14.

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This above verse reveals that those who are carnally-minded will not, and cannot discern the spiritual truths which lay below the surface. And let’s face it, the house of God is filled with many, who faithfully attend church, and yet have never become Born Again, and are still unconverted: they are what Scripture refers to as, “the natural man.”

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Just listen to Scripture… “Therefore speak I to them in parables…Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” Matthew 13:13 & John 12:39, 40. Christ has written His Bible in such a way that those who are not consecrated to God cannot fully understand the Bible.

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But anyway, We will explore these four commonly misunderstood passages a little bit down this page.

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La Bible, Notre-Dame – cropped image – Wikimedia – share-alike license

 

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AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO INTERPRET SCRIPTURE…

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pharisees_Question_Jesus_(Les_pharisiens_questionnent_J%C3%A9sus)_-_James_Tissot.jpg“For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.” Isaiah 66:15, 16

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Now, it must be noted, that one great reason why this doctrine of,“eternal torment of the lost” has survived over the centuries, is the fact that God speaks so often of His fiery judgment. Listen again to this above passage from Isaiah…

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“For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.” Isaiah 66:15, 16

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Does anyone take this above passage literally? The Old Testament Jews did! And then when Jesus showed up on the scene, they were confused by His mild manners and quiet voice. They were expecting chariots and fire and swords. They thought that Christ was some Divine “Jehu”, furiously riding through the heavens in His chariot, raining down fiery lightning-bolts upon all His enemies. The above passage has probably been the source of much misunderstanding through the ages. When the unlearned, or the carnally-minded attempt to interpret such passages as this, then the result is wrong doctrine and even heretical teachings.

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Brooklyn Museum – The Pharisees Question Jesus – James Tissot – US Public Domain – Wikimedia

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“RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD…”

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But if one will prayerfully search the Scriptures with a consecrated heart, this passage is very simple to interpret. By comparing similar passages in Scripture, we find such verses as this one… “And take the helmet of salvation, and THE SWORD of the Spirit, which is the Word of God:” Ephesians.

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So by searching the Bible we begin to understand the God’s sword is the Bible.

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USMC – Prayer before Bible study – Wikimedia – public domain

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FLAMES = GOD’S MINISTERS

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But what about those flames of fire? Just listen to Hebrews… “(God), who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.” Hebrews 1:7. OK, so now we see that God’s ministers are spoken of here as, “flames of fire”.

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http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/jeastty/3/1303829593/mall-witnessing.jpg/tpod.htmlNow we have unlocked the true meaning this passage… “For by fire (God’s ministers) and by His sword (The Bible) will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.” Isaiah 66:15, 16. And isn’t it true that for 2,000 years now, God has been pleading with all humanity, via His ministers (us), and with His great sword, the Bible?

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So one question remains: Who are the many who are “slain” by God’s ministers and by God’s Bible? Just listen to Paul… “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me:” Galatians 2:20.

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Listen to this next passage… “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” Romans 7:9-11

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So it is by God’s Word, preached by God’s people, that will ultimately result in many people hearing the Word, and at last, becoming “crucified with Christ”. And so His ministers are those “flames of fire”, which slay the wicked (in a spiritual sense).

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Mall witnessing, Panama City, Panama

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BIBLE A TWO-EDGED SWORD

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But though there are those, as just mentioned, who die-to-self, like Paul. Yet there are others who just die. The Word of God is a two-edged sword.

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Listen… “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:11-13.

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So the Word of God pierces the heart of those who, like Paul, are being saved by grace. Yet for those who turn from His grace, this double edged sword is quick to destroy. And perhaps this is how we must understand Isaiah 66, that one way or another, all must die, and God’s glittering sword, the Bible will judge all, one way or another… “For by fire (God’s ministers) and by His sword (The Bible) will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.” Isaiah 66:15, 16.

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STRONG DELUSION

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The great problem is, that it is impossible to fully discover the deeper truths of the Bible, until one has fully surrendered to the Lord.

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USMC-081218-M-4507D-001.jpgScripture proclaims… “And ye shall seek me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13.

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Those who desire to seek after the cares and pleasures of this world will not truly find the Lord. God accepts no divided service.

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Jesus plainly told His disciples… “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:33.

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And so there are many church-goers who continue to attend church each week, year after year, but who are locked out from ever truly finding God! Because of their divided heart, they are unable to understand the hidden Manna, which is locked up in parables and metaphors.

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On the contrary, they will, quite often scoff at those who see the deeper, more spiritual truths of the various Bible testimonies! They will say things like, “Oh you’re just trying to spiritualize away the Bible!” And in a sense, they are correct! Yes, we must spiritualize away the shadows and types and symbols in Scripture, in order to understand the true reality!

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Prayer – USMC – Wikimedia – US Govt. Public Domain

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“THEY FORSOOK ALL & FOLLOWED HIM”

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When Jesus called His Disciples, Scripture declares… “And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him.” Luke 5:11. These Disciples represent all Christians, as we likewise forsake all to follow Jesus.

http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_65895/Edward-Armitage/Christ-Calling-the-Apostles-James-and-John--1869.

But for those who come into the church, only to withhold from giving all: to this class, the Bible plainly declares… “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2nd Thessalonians 2:11, 12.

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The Bible declares our love for this selfish world is the basis of Man’s sin. Listen… “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4.

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Christ calling His Disciples by Edward Armitage – 1869 – courtesy wikigallery.com – public domain

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CHRISTIANITY: A FULL SURRENDER

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When God calls a person into His service, that person has been called to fully commit his or her http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:New_york_times_square-terabass.jpglife to the Lord. And though we are commanded to work and to provide for ourselves and our families, this doesn’t interfere with our total engagement in pursuit of Jesus. Quite the contrary! The Christian can apply the principles of the Bible to everyday situations, thus receiving practical application of the Bible while on the job in the workplace.

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It is only when the Christian goes beyond and begins to devote his or her self to the pride, and to the self-seeking, that the purity of the Gospel has been compromised with the glitter and pomp and opulence of this present world.

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New York Times Square – terabass – cropped image – Wikipedia – Share-alike License

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WHY DOES GOD ALLOW EVIL AND ITS RESULTS?

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Many skeptics like to point the accusing finger at God and say He’s a tyrant, because He allows all this evil and suffering in the world, when if He wanted, He could stop it all.

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As God looks down upon this renegade planet, He sees the Earth’s inhabitants walking in all our rebellious ways. But God allows us to carry out our devices. He ultimately wishes for this “Planet In Rebellion” to be a lesson-book for all God’s host of Heaven… “Slay them not, lest my people forget:” Isaiah 59:11.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cole_Thomas_The_Course_of_Empire_Destruction_1836.jpg

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So God allows Mankind to carry out our sins and schemes to their ultimate retribution, so that His people will not forget the folly of sin and rebellion. “for when Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9.

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As the sinner experiences the, “vanity and vexation of spirit” which results from our seeking after the things of the world, that sinner will hopefully turn from his folly, and return to the Lord.

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So God is doing what any loving parent might do if a rebellious child will not repent; God has, for a time, placed us in a world full of selfishness, so that we might see the results of selfishness, and finally realize that God’s way was the best way after all.

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“And they that escape of you shall remember Me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from Me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.” Ezekiel 6:9.

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So here God tells us what the expected end will be, when at last, we finally learn that sin and selfishness is not the way to true peace and joy.

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Listen… “For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. To crush under His feet all the prisoners of the earth, Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. ” Lamentations 3:31-34, 40, 41

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This above passage reveals God’s true motives for allowing evil and the suffering which results! So that we will turn again, back to the Lord!

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The_Course_of_Empire_Destruction_1836 Cole_Thomas_- Wikimedia – public domain

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4 PASSAGES WHICH CAUSE CONFUSION…

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This next section deals with those commonly mis-understood passages, which cause confusion concerning the true nature of Hell.

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There are perhaps four passages in Scripture, that if taken out of context, would give a person the idea that God is a ruthless tyrant, who will eternally torture, by fire, all those who refuse to follow Jesus. This next section will discuss these four passages.

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#1 Passage: “And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:11

.http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_274698/Jacopo-Bassano-(Jacopo-da-Ponte)/Dives-and-Lazarus

#2 Passage: The parable of the “Rich Man & Lazarus” found in Luke 16:19

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#3 Passage: The passages from Isaiah 66 & Mark 9, which states… “cast them inot outer darkness, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

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#4 Passage: Peter’s Epistle refers to Jesus preaching to the “spirits in prison”. Listen… “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 1st Peter 3:18-20

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Rich Man & Lazarus – Wikigallery – Public Domain

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#1 Passage:

“And the smoke of their torment

ascends up for ever and ever:

and they have no rest day nor night,

who worship the beast and his image,

and whosoever receives the mark of his name.”

Revelation 14:11

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SMOKE RISING UP FOR EVER AND EVER…

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And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night.”

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Now it is time to fully address this passage from Revelation 14, which speaks of smoke rising for ever and ever. The above verse from Revelation 14 sounds as if it is the last word on the subject of “eternal torment”. Every http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%9F_%D7%A2%D7%9D_%D7%96%D7%9B%D7%95%D7%9B%D7%99%D7%AA_%D7%9E%D7%92%D7%93%D7%9C%D7%AA.pngunbeliever will be tormented forever and ever. And the smoke of their eternal torment will rise for ever.

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But is this the last word on this subject? Of course not! The Bible was written by God to be one whole doctrine. It must ALL be studied. One or two or even a dozen verses do not end the discussion on these more difficult questions. God always has more to say on these confusing issues. And the subject of what happens to unbelievers is of great concern to God.

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magnifying glass – Wikimedia – share-alike license

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ANOTHER ‘SMOKE-RISING-FOREVER’ PASSAGE

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So let’s explore this idea of smoke ascending up for ever and ever.

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Just listen to this passage, and how it ends up… “Come near, ye nations, to hear…For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and His fury upon all their armies: He has utterly destroyed them, He has delivered them to the slaughter…And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll…For My sword shall be bathed in heaven… For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance…And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; THE SMOKE THEREOF SHALL GO UP FOR EVER:” Isaiah 34:1-5, 9, 10.

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Ah-ha! So here we have another “smoke rising forever” passage! And so this above passage gives us further insight into the meaning of Revelation 14, which says… And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night.”

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Church Burning – Burning Man – 2013 – cropped and altered image – Wikimedia – Creative Commons Lic.

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READ ON A LITTLE FARTHER…

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OK, so if we stopped right here, we would have a picture of a fiery planet, after God’s final judgment, in which fire would endlessly burn, and the smoke would rise up forever and ever. Correct? But if we keep reading, a completely different outcome is presented. So let’s keep reading this passage from Isaiah as it continues to describe this Post-Judgment Earth

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Living_desert.JPG

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” It shall not be quenched night nor day; THE SMOKE THEREOF SHALL GO UP FOR EVER…from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever…and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls…There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for My mouth it hath commanded, and His spirit it hath gathered them…they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.” Isaiah 34:9, 10, 15, 16 (shortened for brevity)

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What happened? Where are all the screaming multitudes? Where’s the fire?

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Now the above verse speaks of the day of God’s vengeance. It speaks of desolation and destruction of the Earth. It speaks of the smoke ascending up for ever and ever. It speaks of the land laying desolate…for ever and ever.

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Athene cunicularia -Colorado Desert, California, USA – Wikimedia – Creative Commons lic. 2.0

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WHERE ARE THE SCREAMING MULTITUDES?

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So, the obvious question is: how does this passage fit into the entire scenario of God’s ultimate judgment upon earth? Where are all the screaming people?

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boreal_pine_forest_5_years_after_fire,_2011-07.jpg

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Well, it says here, that they were all utterly destroyed! Just listen again to this same passage from Isaiah 34… “For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and His fury upon all their armies: He hath utterly destroyed them, He hath delivered them to the slaughter”. Does this passage say the people of the world will be endlessly tormented? No, it says they are “utterly destroyed”. Death. And it says here that the fire goes out as well, and becomes re-populated by the beasts of the field and the birds of the air.

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But it also says, “THE SMOKE THEREOF SHALL GO UP FOR EVER:” God has purposely hidden the answer to Revelation 14 here in Isaiah 34. The smoke of their torment may ascend for ever and ever, but the inhabitants have already been “utterly destroyed”. So the smoke here on Judgment Day rises for ever, in spite of the fact that the wicked have previously been utterly destroyed, and the fire has previously been extinguished.

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Granted this passage has some difficult language. But the point is, you just cannot take for granted that Revelation 14 is speaking of endless torment. Endless smoke rising? Yes! But not endless torment. God has expanded on Revelation 14, here in Isaiah 34. And now it becomes clear that this verse from Revelation 14 has nothing to do with this unbiblical idea known as “Eternal Torment”!

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Boreal pine forest 5 years after fire, 2011-07 – Wikimedia – public domain

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DON’T IGNORE ISAIAH, CH. 34

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And this is thttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SpottedEagleOwl2483MGYawn.jpghe point of this above passage from Isaiah 34: that even though there is smoke rising for ever and ever, there is nobody being tortured here. Is there? Were there people tormented? Oh yes. Revelation 14 makes that abundantly clear! But they were finally destroyed. Isaiah makes that clear. Then the fire goes out. And then it talks of the various beasts and owls, like the one in this photo, which will live there… 

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“There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate:”

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And so this passage ends with a happy ending, saying that all these creatures will populate the Earth after God’s judgment… “And none shall lack her mate”!

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So we begin to understand that when smoke “ascends for ever and ever”, it doesn’t mean that those enemies of God will be tormented for ever and ever. Tormented? Yes! But not tormented endlessly!

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Notice that the land is now desolate. And notice that “none shall pass through it for ever and ever”. And yet this land will be a home for various unclean beasts and owls. But where is all this so-called “Eternal Torment”? Where are all those humans being tormented for ever and ever? They are nowhere to be found! And yet the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever!

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Picture-Spotted Eagle Owl Yawning – Wikipedia – public domain

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ANOTHER “FOREVER AND EVER” BIBLE PASSAGE

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But back to the subject of smoke rising forever.

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Listen to this next passage, speaking of that Mystery City, Babylon… “And he (the angel)…saying, Babylon the great is fallen…Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Burgkmair_whore_babylon_color.jpgand famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judges her. And the kings of the earth…shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying…in one hour is thy judgment come…And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!…for in one hour is she made desolate…And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all…AND HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOR EVER AND EVER.” Revelation Ch. 18 & 19:3 (condensed)

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From this passage, we see that Mystery Babylon, a spiritual city, comprised of all the apostate Christian organizations which have persecuted God’s true Church through the ages (see the article, “The woman Of Revelation 18” ).

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1 HOUR JUDGMENT

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Finally comes her Judgment Day. But notice that her punishment comes in one hour. But the smoke of her torment rises up for ever and ever”. So where’s the eternal torment? This city is cast into the sea. This is spiritual language to indicate that these apostate Christian organizations were to be cast into the sea; the sea representing the world (see Revelation 17:15). It is found “no more at all”. In other words, the apostate church was cast out of God’s kingdom, causing the apostate church to be totally separated from God; totally amalgamated with the world and its secular ideologies and worldly philosophies.

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ABOVE PICTURE – The wicked woman harlot city, Babylon, the apostate church-world, as she rides the Beast, the antichrist world-system – Burgkmair – 1523 AD – Wikimedia – US Public Domain

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DEEPER TRUTHS LOCKED UP IN PARABLES

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And yet the smoke of her burning, “ascends up for ever and ever”. Now we begin to see this phrase, “smoke ascends up for ever and ever”, now taking on an entirely different connotation. As already stated, so many try to interpret these spiritual concepts as though they are to be https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pharisees_Question_Jesus_(Les_pharisiens_questionnent_J%C3%A9sus)_-_James_Tissot.jpgunderstood literally.

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But they are spiritual… “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1st Cor. 2:14.

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Those who are of the apostate Church, the “Jerusalem which is now, and is in bondage with her children” just cannot understand the deeper, allegorical truths, which God has locked up from their understanding.

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To these, Jesus says… “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand…Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear My Word.” Matthew 13:13 & John 8:43

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ABOVE PICTURE:

Brooklyn Museum – The Pharisees Question Jesus – James Tissot – US Public Domain – Wikimedia

 

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SMOKE & FIRE: LITERAL OR FIGURATIVE

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“Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth. There went up a smoke out of His nostrils, and fire out of His mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, He did fly upon the wings of the wind.” Psalm 18:7-10

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo_Buonarroti_016.jpg.

Now this above passage presents a picture which is very seldom discussed to any great degree. And no wonder! How can we deal with such a scenario as this? Just listen to the concepts described here! Are the foundations of the hills going to literally be shaken because of God’s wrath? Or literal smoke coming out of God’s nostrils, and actual devouring fire coming out of His mouth? Or literal coals kindled by that fire? And what about God literally riding on a cherub? or does He literally fly on the literal wings of the wind?

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The question to be asked is this: “Is this language to be understood literally or figuratively?” Is the fire coming out of God’s mouth literally going to kindle coals? Is God going to literally ride on a cherub, and on the wings of the wind?

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Well, one thing is for certain. This passage is a difficult one, to say the least!

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Michelangelo – Wikipedia – public domain

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DISAGREEMENT AMONG THEOLOGIANS

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The fact is, there are many theologians who disbelieve in the notion that the lost will be eternally roasting in literal flames. As a matter of fact, perhaps as much as 50% of Christians believe that Hell is merely an eternal separation from God! And so, the number of Christians who actually believe in a literal hell-fire torment is not as great as one might believe.

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And it must remembered, that only a small percentage of Christians actually study their Bibles to any great extent.

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For instance, one survey found that most Christians believe that the old wive’s fable, “God helps those who help themselves”, is actually a verse from the Bible!

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And so, with such a prevailing ignorance of the Bible, it is no small wonder that such doctrines as “Eternal Torment” have survived so long! And it can only be concluded that most Christians are confused on this issue, and must merely accept what their favorite Bible teachers tell them to believe! Oh yes, we may know the stock verses which are taught in support of these church doctrines! But most of us have never studied the whole matter thoroughly out, considering all related passages.

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And so, there are two passages which are very applicable today concerning the present situation in the church-world… “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” Hosea 4:6

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And the next passage as well… “O My people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” Isaiah 3:12

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Yes, both of these above verses can very well apply to the condition of God’s people today! There is a great lack of knowledge of God’s Word within the church-world. And as a result, we are easy prey for Satan to come through false shepherds who mingle truth with error!

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ABOVE PICTURE – Adding to or taking from God’s Word, the Bible

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FLOODS OF UNGODLY MEN

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Well to find the answer to this puzzling question, let’s go down a few verses from this above http://www.thebiblerevival.com/clipart47.htmpassage and continue reading… “He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters.” Psalm 18:16.

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Now do we suppose that David here was speaking of being pulled out of literal waters? Or was he speaking metaphorically? Well this was obviously metaphorical. And why?

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Because David had previously, in the very same Psalm, made the statement… “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the FLOODS of ungodly men made me afraid.” Psalm 18:4.

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OK, so now this begins to make sense. David is speaking about the “floods of ungodly men.” He is not speaking of literal waters nor of literal floods.

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THE BIBLE IS A SPIRITUAL BOOK

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And so, this is why this passage has been presented. It is just one of many passages which could be offered to illustrate the fact that the Bible is a spiritual book. When God speaks in terms of nature, He is usually speaking metaphorically. When God speaks of trees, or mountains, or rocks, etc., He is making a metaphorical statement.

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David Playing Harp – www.thebiblerevival.com – US public domain

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“THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH,

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WHOM THE WORLD CANNOT RECEIVE”

John 14:17

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And so, to understand much of the Bible, requires the presence of the Holy Spirit to interpret these things. And spiritual things must be compared with spiritual things, in order to get a proper understanding as to the true meaning of what is being presented. And these more difficult passages require much prayer and much searching and comparing scripture with similar scripture.

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It is just as Peter warned us… “As also in all his (Paul’s) epistles, speaking in them of these http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PaulT.jpgthings; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” 2nd Peter 3;16.

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Peter here is warning us that many passages in the Bible are hard to understand. It takes hard work, great discernment and a humble, teachable spirit, to rightly discern the word of truth.

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And good theologians have sometimes searched many hours, just trying to unlock the true meaning of such passages as the one presented in this little section… (“Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth. There went up a smoke out of His nostrils, and fire out of His mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, He did fly upon the wings of the wind.” Psalm 18:7-10).

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And not one of us is beyond the danger of misunderstanding any of these difficult passages. So we must never look down our long noses at anyone else. After all, this erroneous doctrine has been embedded in Christendom for many long centuries!

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Paul the Apostle-Artist-Valentin de Boulogne or Nicolas Tournier- circa 1500s

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JUDE SPEAKS OF ETERNAL FIRE

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But as a further proof that eternal punishment does not mean “eternal torment”, just listen And he looked toward Sodom, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, ahttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Genesis19-17.jpgnd, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.” Genesis 19:28.

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Sodom received the vengeance of God. The smoke of Sodom went up as a furnace.

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But listen to what Jude 1:7 says…“Sodom, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7.

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So, was the fire that fell on Sodom “eternal” in nature? Well this passage from Jude says it was. But did the fire go out? Yes, indeed! The fire went out! As a matter of fact, if you go over there to the Dead Sea, today, and look around, you will find no fire burning! But it says plainly in Jude that “eternal fire” fell on them. This is why a total understanding of truth cannot be arrived at from just one verse.

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No, Bible truth is found by a prayerful adding of “line upon line, line upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept, here a little there a little”.

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Picture–Lot Escapes – Genesis3-www.thebiblerevival.com offers free Bible clipart-public domain.

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“THEY HAVE NO REST (UNTO THEIR SOULS) DAY NOR NIGHT”

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“And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:11

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Now let’s confront this concept of having “no rest, day nor night”.

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This word for “rest” in the above passage is the same word found in the following passage… “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find REST unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30.

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In Greek this word “rest” means to “rejuvenate” or “recreate”. Or simply put, it means “to rest”. But the important thing is, it is exactly the same Greek word found in the Mark of the Beast warning in Revelation Ch. 14, (“and they have no rest, day nor night”).

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Christ says in the above passage from Matthew 11:28-30 (“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find REST unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”) 

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Here is a plea to the whole Human Family! God knows how weary and heavy laden we can get. He sees our struggles, and secret sorrows and private fears. And Jesus bids us come and enter into His “Rest unto your souls”. Yes, Rest is something that only God can give. And only those who have taken the yoke of Jesus, will experience this Rest unto the soul.

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ABOVE PICTURE – winter – Orion the Good Shepherd (Orion Constellation and rod made of Gemini stars) – www.signsofheaven.org

 

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“WICKED LIKE THE TROUBLED SEA”

Isaiah 57:20

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Look at a similar passage from Isaiah… “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Backhuysen_Storm.jpgREST, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is NO PEACE, saith my God, to the wicked.” Isaiah 57:20, 21.

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This verse is not speaking about some Hellish afterlife-existence! It’s talking about now! It’s speaking of you and me, and every one of us who has sin in our lives. It speaks to everyone who has not fully entered into God’s Spiritual Rest.

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Jesus bids each and every one of us to… “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30 (condensed).

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Sin brings unrest. Sin steals away our peace. It makes us weary. Sin causes illness, misery and ultimately, Death. Yes, we must agree with Isaiah’s confession… “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” Isaiah 57:20, 21.

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When it says “There is no peace…to the wicked”, this word “peace” is also translated as “rest”. You could scripturally say here… “There is no REST…to the wicked.” But either word, “peace” or “rest”, works very well.

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De Windstoot A ship in need in a raging storm (Willem van de Velde II, 1707)

 

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“…VEXATION OF SPIRIT…”

Ecclesiastes 2:17, 26

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The point is, this unsaved world cannot enjoy the peace and rest which the abiding child of God http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Girl_with_a_Bible_(Faith_of_Our_Fathers).jpgenjoys. Oh yes, Mankind sleeps at night. Oh yes, they enjoy recreation, and get their “R & R’s”. But there is an inner-turmoil and vexation of spirit, which underlies Mankind’s existence. This inner torment will remain with each member of Humanity until at last, they cease from troubling in the grave.

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But should one turn away from this world of sin and confusion, and turn to Jesus, then the following verse may be said concerning them… “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7.

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What an incredible promise! Peace that surpasses all understanding!

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To fully understand this concept of rest and torment, just read Mark of the Beast–”They Have No Rest, Day Nor Night”

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Girl with a Bible – Wikimedia – US Public Domain

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#2 Passage:

The parable of the “Rich Man & Lazarus”

found in Luke 16:19

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THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS…

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A PARABLE OF EXAGGERATIONS

Luke 16

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The only time in Scripture that a person is roasting in flames, is in the parable of “The Rich Man and Lazarus”.

.http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_274698/Jacopo-Bassano-(Jacopo-da-Ponte)/Dives-and-Lazarus

This parable is a series of exaggerations, which Jesus was presenting to the Pharisees. And the Pharisees no doubt enjoyed frightening the commoners with exaggerated stories about hell-fire. The Pharisees looked upon poor people as cursed, and looked at rich people as blessed by God. So in this parable, Jesus was turning the tables on the Pharisees, by having a rich man in Hell-fire, and a poor beggar sitting in “Father Abraham’s” lap. The Pharisees no doubt loved to evoke the name, “Father Abraham”, so this parable was a real slap in the face to the Pharisees, no doubt.

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One very prominent exaggeration was that the angels carried Lazarus into Abraham’s bosom. How absurd! As if Lazarus spent all his time in Heaven, sitting in Father Abraham’s lap! This is so far-fetched, that Jesus was letting us know that this parable could not be taken literally.

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Another exaggeration is that the rich man asked “Father Abraham” to send Lazarus to get “a drop of water”. Here is another absurdity. One drop of water!? As if one drop of water would do anything!

.http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Bad_Rich_Man_in_Hell_(Le_mauvais_riche_dans_l'Enfer)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall.jpg

Another exaggeration is that there would be communication between the lost-dead and the redeemed in Heaven. Nowhere in Scripture is this idea supported. Only in this exaggerated parable.

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Another exaggeration is when the rich man talked and pleaded with Father Abraham. This could never be understood in the literal sense, because the Bible plainly states… “For none there is in death, that is mindful of Thee; but in Hell who shall acknowledge to Thee? (For there is no one among the dead, who remembereth Thee; who shall praise Thee in Sheol, or the land of the dead? who shall praise Thee in the grave?) Psalm 6:5 Wycliffe Bible Translation. So this passage contradicts the parable of the Rich Man & Lazarus.

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(Now, it must be said, that this parable is an exaggeration when interpreted literally, but makes sense when interpreted as an allegory. This will be discussed a little down this page.)

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Rich Man & Lazarus Wikigallery Public Domain

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Bad_Rich_Man_in_Hell_(Le_mauvais_riche_dans_l’Enfer)_-_James_Tissot_overall wikipedia public domain

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THIS PARABLE SPOKEN TO THE PHARISEES

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“Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;” John 12:9, 10

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Now here is the point to the story: the rich man begs Father Abraham to send Lazarus to warn the rich man’s five brothers about this place of torment.

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To this, Father Abraham answers, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31.

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Here’s the big point of this parable. Jesus was speaking of Himself, being raised from the dead. Not only would Jesus be raised from the dead, but Jesus’ friend, Lazarus was going to get sick and die…and Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. So when Lazarus was raised from the dead, these very same Pharisees who heard this parable, were no doubt astonished when the real Lazarus was raised from the dead! Not only did they plot to kill Jesus, but they plotted to kill Lazarus as well, thus proving this parable of “The Rich Man & Lazarus” quite true.

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In other words, when the real Lazarus rose from the grave, the words of that parable were fulfilled which stated… “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

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Lazarus did rise from the grave. And they simply wanted to kill both him and Jesus, for raising him, to cover up this great miracle.

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Tissot – the Pharisees and the Herodians conspire against Jesus – www.joyfulheart.com

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ABRAHAM’S BOSOM

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“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;” Luke 16:22

Abraham's Bosom wikipedia public domain

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To the left is a depiction of Abraham’s Bosom. To the below right is a depiction of the parable of The Rich Man & Lazarus, by the same artist. To the bottom left, you will notice the depiction of Hell.

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There are various groups today, which teach that there is a netherworld place called “Abraham’s Bosom”. The above verse from the parable of The Rich Man & Lazarus is the proof-text used for their doctrine. This so-called “paradise” is supposedly deep within the depths of the Earth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Meister_des_Codex_Aureus_Epternacensis_001.jpg

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Proponents of this unbiblical doctrine also use the following verse… “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” Luke 23:43.

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So Jesus supposedly went to this netherworld paradise existence, after He died on the Cross.

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While proponents of this idea, are trying to interpret the Bible as literally as possible, they nevertheless go too far, adding to the Bible a name and a doctrine, which the Bible has not given. God never, never, said in Scripture that there was a place with the name, “Abraham’s Bosom”.

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If they want to take this parable literally, then they would have to conclude that Lazarus was literally sitting in Abraham’s lap, as is written… “And in Hell he (the rich man) lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” Luke 16:23.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Meister_des_Codex_Aureus_Epternacensis_001.jpg

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This verse from this parable says that Lazarus was actually sitting in Abraham’s bosom. It never says once, that Lazarus went to some netherworld place called “Abraham’s Bosom”. It simply says that Lazarus was sitting in Abraham’s bosom. But to simply say that all Believers go to sit in Abraham’s bosom would sound ridiculous. Hence they have supposedly resolved the issue by inventing the title “Abraham’s Bosom”, as if we don’t actually sit with Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, as this exaggerated parable suggests. We go (they say) to a large place or room below the Earth, with the title “Abraham’s Bosom”, which is a type of holding-area for those waiting to go to Heaven.

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Rich Man & Lazarus Meister des Codex Aureus Epternacensis – Wikipedia – public domain

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NOT TO ADD TO SCRIPTURE

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Now some of the proponents of this doctrine are quick to point the accusing finger at other groups who use unbiblical titles for unbiblical doctrines; and rightfully so! And seeing that they know better, they will be without excuse for adding their own self-concocted names and titles for this doctrine of a netherworld “paradise”, called “Abraham’s Bosom”.

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The problem is, as has already been mentioned, this was a parable of exaggerations. The entire parable was purposely exaggerated by Jesus, as He spoke to the Pharisees.

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ABOVE PICTURE – Adding to or taking from God’s Word, the Bible

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PHARISEES & JUSTICE

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Now you must remember that the Pharisees were real big on justice! These proud ones applauded when someone received his or her just reward for the punishment of sin. In their own https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Bad_Rich_Man_in_Hell_(Le_mauvais_riche_dans_l%27Enfer)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall.jpgfoolish pride, they looked down on poor people, thinking that being poor was a punishment from God. These Pharisees felt little sympathy with those who were suffering. They simply decided that suffering was the result of sin. So those who were poor and those who were suffering were merely getting their due recompense from God. These Pharisees looked upon their own personal financial affluence as a sign of God’s approval.

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And so when Jesus spoke this parable of the Rich Man & Lazarus, having the poor suffering Lazarus going to Heaven, while the rich man was suffering the tormenting fires of Hades, it was no doubt an absolute shocking turnabout for the Pharisees to hear.

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Brooklyn Museum – The Rich Man In Hell – James Tissot – Wikipedia – US Public Domain

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SPIRITUAL THINGS SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED

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To understand this parable properly, it must be discerned spiritually. There are many in Christianity who http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Holy_bible.jpgbelieve they are being righteous because they interpret the Bible literally. But these actually fall into the camp which Paul describes this way… “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” 1st Corinthians 2:13-15.

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So this passage reveals that carnally-minded persons cannot see the spiritual nature of such passages as this parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

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Holy Bible – cropped image – Wikimedia – Creative Commons Lic.

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ONE DROP OF WATER!?!

.http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bartolomeo_Di_Fruosino_-_Inferno,_from_the_Divine_Comedy_by_Dante_(Folio_1v)_-_WGA01339.jpg

While it is true that the stories in Scripture actually happened, they nevertheless were pointing us to Jesus. So as we search the Bible, we find that these stories have little relevance to Salvation until we begin to see the allegorical meaning to them. And those who attempt to interpret literally must try to explain these obvious exaggerations rationally.

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So you might hear a Bible teacher say that there exists some place below the earth called “Abraham’s Bosom”. But if we read this parable, it doesn’t say that! It says that Lazarus was actually talking with Abraham as he was in Abraham’s bosom. And the only explanation for the Rich Man begging for a drop of water, is that this was the water of Grace, the rich man desired. That’s the only drop of water which could ever do any good to a man roasting in flames of Judgment Day!

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Hell – Bartolomeo_Di_Fruosino – Inferno, from the Divine Comedy by Dante – Wikimedia – pub.dom.

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LITERAL FIRE?

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And the flames of course represent judgment. “How long, LORD? wilt Thou hide Thyself for ever? shall Thy wrath burn like fire?” Psalm 89:46.

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Now this is obviously speaking metaphorically concerning fire! And what about this next verse? Listen… “Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among His fat ones leanness; and under His glory He shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire. And the Light of Israel shall be for a fire, and His Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour His thorns and His briers in one day;” Isaiah 10:16, 17.

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God refers to Himself as fire, repeatedly in Scripture. Just listen to this next referral of God as a fire… “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” Deuteronomy 4:24. So now there begins to be a rational understanding of this parable, when we compare Scripture with Scripture and “spiritual things with spiritual.”

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Campfire Pinecone – cropped image – Wikipedia – Share-alike license

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PARABLES NOT LITERAL

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Take for instance, the parable of the “Ten Virgins” found in Matthew 25:1-13. Does anyone suppose that this story is to be understood as a literal event that will actually take place? This parable is to be rather understood spiritually. The ten virgins represent the Church. The five foolish virgins represent the apostate portion of the Church and the five wise virgins represent the True Worshippers in the Church. Does anyone believe that the Church will actually have oil lamps? Or is this just a symbolic concept of the Holy Spirit?

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As far as the five wise virgins, God frequently uses the number “five” in connection to “family”. These five wise virgins represent the countless Christians who will comprise the Church-Faithful, the true bride of Christ.

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five wise virgins matt25 www.thebiblerevival.com public domain

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#3 Passage:

The passages from Isaiah 66 & Mark 9, which states…

“cast them inot outer darkness,

where their worm dieth not,

and the fire is not quenched.”

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WHAT IS “OUTER DARKNESS”?

http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_309219/Bernardo-Cavallino/The-Parable-of-the-Wedding-Guest

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“Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:13

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So this above verse from the Parable of the Wedding Supper, speaks of an uninvited guest. And this parable comes to a climax in which judgment is executed against one of the guests who had no wedding garment (symbolizing Christ’s “Robe of Righteousness”).

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parable of the wedding guest wikigallery US public domain

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WEDDING FEAST NOW!

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Most people assume that wedding supper takes place after this world is ended, and we are up in Heaven. But the wedding supper begins right now, even as we speak! When a person answers the call to become a Follower of Jesus, that wedding feast already begins.

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Listen… “Wisdom hath builded her house…She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table…She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city…Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.” Proverbs 9:1-3, 5.

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So this passage reveals that the feast to which we are called, is to partake of God’s Word, every day, yea, every hour of the day! So in essence, when a person has been called to come follow Jesus, they have likewise have been called to the wedding supper of the Lamb. And what do little lambs do all day? They nibble on grass. And as God’s lambs, that exactly what we are to do all day too! Right?

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Virtuous Woman with Bible – Braet von Überfeldt – 1866 – Wikipedia – US Public Domain

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MOST TOO BUSY!

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But in this parable of the Wedding Supper, the Lord invites many guests. But those guests were http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shoppers_on_Dundas,_near_Yonge.jpgall too busy to come! So they began to make excuses.

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Listen… “But they made light of it (the wedding feast), and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:” Matt. 22:5.

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And so it is with Christianity. Many are invited to come and partake of Christ, and His heavenly bread, and His water of life, and of the “fruit of the Spirit”, and of the wine of Salvation. But just like this parable, most are too busy to give Christ their all. We have our careers, and our families, and our seeking after the things of the world!

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Shoppers in Toronto – cropped image – Wikimedia – share-alike license

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MANY ATTEMPT LIMITED RELATIONSHIP!

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But just like this parable, most are too busy to give Christ their all. We have our careers, and our families, and our seeking after the things of the world, even some humanitarian ministry.

http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_309219/Bernardo-Cavallino/The-Parable-of-the-Wedding-Guest

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So what do we do? Well, we find a church that caters to one-day-per-week Christians. And we think that by weekly church attendance, paying tithes, getting baptized, living a fairly moral life, and perhaps doing a 15 minute, daily Bible study, that this somehow will satisfy God.

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But it won’t! Nothing short of becoming a “New Creature in Christ” will satisfy God. Nothing short of a 24/7/365 communion with Christ will suffice. And participating in the daily purifying of the soul is the life of anyone who has truly been born into God’s kingdom.

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And so, when this parable culminates with the following words… “And He saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:12, 13.

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This man without a wedding garment represents all those who try to go through the motions of being a Christian, and yet have no garments of Salvation (“for He hath clothed me with the garments of Salvation,” Isaiah 61:10)

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parable of the wedding guest – Wikigallery – US public domain

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OUTER DARKNESS RIGHT HERE!

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“Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:13

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Now, for every one who assumes this parable of the Wedding Guest takes place in Heaven, there are just as many who assume this above verse is speaking of Hell, when it says that the man was cast into “outer darkness”. And of course, they are correct about outer darkness speaking of Hell. But thttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pharisees_Question_Jesus_(Les_pharisiens_questionnent_J%C3%A9sus)_-_James_Tissot.jpghis passage is really speaking of that Hell which a person enters into when he or she falls away from the Lord, into an apostate condition.

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So Hell is more than just the grave. It is a spiritual condition. It is spiritual darkness. Perhaps the same spiritual darkness which the fallen angels are in.

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Just listen to Jesus… “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walks in darkness knows not where he is going.” John 12:35.

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Jesus here, makes perfectly clear that there is a darkness, which is a spiritual condition. And He wasn’t speaking to staunch unbelievers. He was speaking to those who claimed to be children of God. And He is likewise warning all of us, too: “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you:

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Brooklyn Museum – The Pharisees Question Jesus – James Tissot – US Public Domain – Wikimedia

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DECEITFULNESS OF SPIRITUAL DARKNESS

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But the fact is, that all those who attempt to have a part-time relationship with Jesus, and still go after the things of the world, are represented by this man who was cast into outer darkness. You see, all those who http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shoppers_on_Dundas,_near_Yonge.jpghave not forsaken all, cannot be Christ’s Disciple.

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Listen… “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:33.

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Oh no, such people won’t know that they have been cast into outer darkness. The world will appear like a nice happy place to all such. But we will not be able to enjoy the moment-by-moment feast that Jesus offers to anyone who will forsake all, to follow Him. We won’t ever know the closeness and communion that we could be experiencing. We won’t have that peace that surpasses all understanding. We will not have a clue why we always live by the flesh, instead of by the Spirit. We might still attend church each week, pay our tithes, and serve on a committee!

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Photo-Shoppers_on_Dundas_near_Yonge-by-Ian-Muttoo-for – cropped image – Wikipedia – share-alike-license

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JONAH IN THE BELLY OF HELL

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The story of Jonah was a picture of a man who wanted to go his own selfish way, rather than to be God’s mouthpiece to wicked Ninevah.

http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_334242/Frederik-van-Valkenborch/Jonah-And-The-Whale

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And when God cast Jonah into the dark belly of that great fish, Jonah cried… “Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and He heard me; out of the belly of Hell cried I, and Thou heardest my voice.” Jonah 2:1, 2.

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So in this story, the belly of this fish represented Hell. So how are we to understand this story? Simple. It’s a true story with spiritual implications. Jonah represents all of us who have wandered away from the Lord, to pursue the cares and pleasures of the world. But by so-doing, God may allow us to walk straight into “outer darkness”.

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Jesus said… “Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” John 12:35. Here is the answer to the story of Jonah. This is what that belly of Hell was all about. Spiritual darkness.

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Jonah & the Great Fish – Wikigallery – Public domain

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“GNASHING OF TEETH”

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And Jesus is at the same time, speaking of that very darkness in which there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth! Notice that there’s gnashing of teeth in that darkness.

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Just listen to Psalm 35… “With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon Me with their teeth.” Psalm 35:16.

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Yes, when I begin to go after the things of the world, I too become a hypocritical mocker. I too begin to gnash on my teeth against God and Man.

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In this painting, this crowd is mocking a drunkard.

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Listen again… “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…and it is set on fire of hell…But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.” James 3:6, 8, 9.

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The Mockers by Illarion Michajlowitsch Prjanischnikow – Wikipedia – public domain

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MOCKING OTHERS

Fat People - Wikimedia - share-alike license

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No, we don’t purposely curse God. But when a man or woman becomes apostate, that apostate person usually becomes hyper-critical of other people. And as this verse from James states, when we gnash on our teeth against people, we are in reality gnashing on our teeth against God.

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Do we ever mock people? Do we mock fat people? or homely people? Or funny-looking people? Or lazy, or “dumb”, or rich, or poor, etc.? Well then, we might just fit right into this painting quite nicely!

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But it doesn’t stop here! We might rather be what’s known as a “scorner”. Have we fallen into the habit of criticizing other people’s faults? Do we love to sit around and gossip? Well, we might just have fallen into outer darkness, no longer under the leading of the Spirit of Holiness. These terrible habits are what is known as “gnashing on teeth”.

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Fat People – Wikimedia – share-alike license

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“THERE SHALL BE WEEPING…”

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http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_198722/William-Brassey-Hole/The-sorrow-of-king-DavidAnd as to the matter of weeping in this passage (“there shall be WEEPING and gnashing of teeth.”), quite often an apostate person convicted by conscience that there’s something very wrong in his or her life. They realize they are still prisoners of their own flesh. They longingly remember those joyful times when they rejoiced while in the prayer closet, or while in Bible study. They mourn for the days when they were close to God. They too, like Jonah, realize that they are in the “belly of Hell”. They know they’re in trouble.

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And perhaps, while lying in bed, they cry softly at times… “Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.” Psalm 51:11, 12.

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Oh, these people may still attend church each week. But the excitement of Salvation is gone. The light of the eyes has become darkened… “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” 1st John 1:6.

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David’s sorrow – wikigallery – public domain.

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“SO AHAB SLEPT WITH HIS FATHERS”…

1st Kings 16

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How could this above verse be true? After all, Ahab was one of the most wicked of the Kings in the Bible! What it should have said was… “So Ahab was tormented with his fathers”.

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But it doesn’t say that! It says… “So Ahab slept with his fathers”.

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Again, we ride roughshod over such verses as this, saying, “Well, ‘slept’ is just an expression. We’re not to take that literally”. This is the kind of bad Bible interpretation by those who are heavily invested in the doctrine of “Eternal Torment”.

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Listen to Job… “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. O that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that Thou wouldest keep me secret, until Thy wrath be past, that Thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!” Job 14:12,13.

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So where is the torment in this passage? And furthermore, it states here that lost Mankind will sleep, “till the heavens be no more…”. So how does this fit the “Eternal Torment” model?

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Elijah and King Ahab – Wikipedia – Share-Alike Lic.

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SLEEPING (IN DEATH) USED MANY TIMES

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As a matter of fact, this expression… “slept with his fathers” is used many, many times in both the books of Kings and Chronicles, concerning the various kings who died. The Bible repeatedly states http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bonnat02.jpgthat “This king slept with his fathers” or “That king slept with his fathers”. They all slept! Even the bad ones. God does not use words indiscriminately. God could have said “Ahab died and went to the place of torment”. But God did not.

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Again, this brings us right back to Job… “For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest, With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver: Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light. There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. Job 3:13-18.

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So there are more passages that speak of death as sleep than the several which seem to suggest torment. Notice it says here, “There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. Job 3:18. Does this verse say anything about torment? No it doesn’t! And many “Eternal Torment” advocates say that Job, Chapter Three is not to be considered as anything more than the mere ramblings of Job! In other words, these “Eternal Torment” advocates say that Job, Chapter Three cannot be considered true Bible doctrine!

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But Paul says, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit… “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2nd Timothy 3:16

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So, if all Scripture is profitable for 1. Doctrine. 2. Reproof. 3. Correction. 4. Instruction in righteousness, then how can theologians dismiss Job, Chapter Three as the mere ramblings of a desperate man, Job!?! So these theologians who say that Job, Chapter three cannot be understood as sound doctrine, show that they believe this church doctrine more than they believe the infallibility of Scripture! Incredible? Yes, incredible!

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Job (oil on canvas) by Bonnat, Leon Joseph Florentin (1833-1922) – Wikimedia – public domain

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“THEM THAT SLEEP…

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WILL GOD BRING WITH HIM”

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“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” 1st Thess. 4:14.

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Now there are some who say this refers to those whom Jesus will bring back to Earth. But is this what it says? No, it says that God will bring these sleeping ones with Him. Most get tripped up on King James English. Perhaps a more modern way of saying this is that “God will bring these sleeping ones TO Him”.

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In other words, God the Father is not returning. But God, the Father is certainly sending Jesus back to this Earth to awaken those who are sleeping in the dust of the Earth, to take them back to Heaven!

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Listen… “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2.

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But for those who insist that this passage means that God is bringing these sleeping ones back to the Earth from Heaven, let’s just look at the rest of this passage.

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Listen… “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. 

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“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1st Thessalonians 4:14-17.

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It’s hard to imagine how so many get this passage so completely messed up! But by reading it in its entirety, then one begins to get a correct picture of just what it means. Oh yes, we which are alive and remain, shall meet those previously dead ones in the air. But only because these previously dead ones have just risen from their graves, just prior to our meeting them and Jesus together in the air!

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Triumph of Christianity by G. Dore www.christimages.org Limited use license – see their website for restrictions

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WHAT THEN IS THE TRUE NATURE OF HELL?

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Will Your great works be known in the darkness, and Your right and good works in the land where all is forgotten?” Psalm 88:12

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Let’s look at this subject of “eternal judgment” from a little bit different perspective, for a moment. Now listen to what the Book of Job says about death… “Why died I not from the womb?…For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest, With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver…There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.” Job 3:11-19 (condensed for brevity).

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Does this above passage sound like eternal torment? If death begins the never-ending torment of the wicked, then why does this above passage say that death causes the wicked to “cease from troubling”? And if death brings us into some sort of a fiery Dante’s Inferno, then why does it say, “There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.” ?

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Picture-Old Jewish Cemetery Prague Czech Republic – Wikipedia – share-alike license

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WE MUST FACE EVERY SCRIPTURE

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So if, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2nd Timothy 3:16, then why does Job say that death will be release from suffering?

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Some theologians try to rationalize this passage by saying that only Job’s body would be resting, but his departed soul would be tormented endlessly. Well if that was true, then Job would never have made such a comment. Nor would God have bothered to put this in the Bible.

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If the Eternal Torment doctrine were true, then Job would have counted himself lucky to still be alive…even in all his earthly suffering! But the fact is, the Bible never once says there will be Eternal Torment. These words, “Eternal Torment”, are not found even once in Scripture! They are merely theologian-given words!

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Eternal Torment is a totally man-made name coined by people who tried to lift a few verses out of context. They then saw all the passages talking about the fires of Judgment Day; and not realizing that fire is used very metaphorically, when speaking of Judgment Day, they simply decided that Eternal Torment must be true.

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Listen again to James… And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…and it is set on fire of Hell” James 3:6. Now is anybody’s tongue literally on fire? Is anybody’s tongue literally set on fire of Hell? Of course not! God quite often uses fire in Scripture, as a metaphor depicting judgment.

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Gossips in the Altstadt in Sindelfingen, Germany. Sally Kennison – share-alike license – cropped image – Wikimedia Commons

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EVERY SUPPOSED DOCTRINE MUST BE TESTED 

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But most theologians reject this passage about the dead being in a quiet state, as not to be trusted. But what we don’t understand, is that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Magnifying_glass_on_book_iconsfor doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2nd Timothy 3:16.

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This eternal torment doctrine denies so many Bible verses. And rather than alter one’s bad theology, it is easier to just dismiss such passages by saying, “Well God doesn’t really mean what He’s saying here.”

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But the Bible says, “ALL SCRIPTURE, is profitable for doctrine…”. We CANNOT come up with this doctrine of “Eternal Torment” unless it will harmonize with every other related passage in the Bible. And this doctrine of “Eternal Torment” does NOT harmonize with many, many other Bible passages. So therefore, this Eternal Torment doctrine is a false doctrine, for the simple reason that it just WILL NOT harmonize with everything else that Scripture has to say on the subject.

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The fact is, there are many who claim to believe “The Bible and the Bible only”! But truth be told, the only thing they actually believe is infallible, is their church doctrines!

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magnifying glass – Wikimedia – share-alike license

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THEIR WORM DIES NOT…

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Bad_Rich_Man_in_Hell_(Le_mauvais_riche_dans_l'Enfer)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall.jpg“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:43, 44.

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ETERNAL FIRE-PROOF WORMS IN HELL-FIRE!?!

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Now if a person is goihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dipyl_can_worm1.JPGng to take the above passage literally, then take it ALL literally! Does anyone really suppose that there are worms with eternal life in the fires of Hell? Oh, perhaps a few believe this is literal. But every one else takes this passage figuratively. So then, almost everyone interprets this passage figuratively to a certain extent.

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Brooklyn Museum – The Bad Rich Man in Hell – James Tissot – Wikipedia – US Public Domain

Tapeworm – Wikimedia – public-domain

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SOUL IS NOT A SUITABLE FOOD FOR WORMS!

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So almost everyone realizes there won’t be any fire-proof worms with eternal life. But what would those worms have to be feeding on anyway, even if they did exist? After all, when one dies, his or her body goes back to the earth. It is the spirit of a man which would be in Hell. Correct? There would be no hands or feet or eyes or tongues in death.

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Listen to Scripture, as it declares the state of a man after death… “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7.

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And so here is another aspect which must also be taken figuratively and not literally. In other words, these fire-proof worms would have to feed on soul. And it says right there in Ecclesiastes that a man’s spirit “shall return unto God who gave it”. The spirit returns to God who gave it. “For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29. He’s the eternal fire we need to fear and dread.

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Brooklyn Museum – The Bad Rich Man in Hell – James Tissot – Wikipedia – US Public Domain

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WHY DON’T CHRISTIANS CUT OFF THEIR HANDS!?!

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And while we’re on the subject of taking Scripture literally, does anyone really believe that Jesus is telling us to cut off our hands?

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After all, it clearly states… “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter inhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mano_hacia_la_izquierda.jpgto life maimed, than having two hands to go into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:43, 44.

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If they did take this passage literally, there would be a lot of people sitting in church with no hands. But there aren’t! So we can safely assume that they don’t take this aspect of this passage literally either.

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So how then, are we to understand this passage? After all, Jesus is not a liar. These must be true statements. And of course, cutting off the hand has to do with cutting off all needless encounters with temptation. For instance, if a man is a former alcoholic and he walks home from work, and passes by a liquor store each day, then he needs to go home a different way. That is most likely what is meant by cutting off one’s hand!

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Mano hacial a zquierda – cropped image – Wikimedia Commons – share-alike license

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FIRES OF HELL

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Let’s take a closer look at fire, and how it is used in Scripture. The church leaders of the early http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nicaea_icon.jpgcentury European churches, when defining what they believed to be the nature of Hell, did not understand the spiritual and allegorical nature of the Bible. And so when they saw the word, “Fire” in Scripture, they only saw it as being literal and not allegorically.

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Now if only these erring men had understood the Biblical that says… “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1st Cor. 2:13, 14.

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If they understood this principle, then they could have understood that God quite often uses fire in a metaphorical sense.

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Nicaea icon – Wikipedia – Public Domain

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THE LAKE OF FIRE

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“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever…And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:10, 14, 15

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The above passage, from Revelation speaks of the future, when the Devil, the Beast, and the False Prophet will all three be thrown into the Lake of Fire, only to be forever destroyed. And along with them, anyone whose name is NOT FOUND in the Book of Life will also be thrown into that lake. So what does all this mean?

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So what does all this mean? Just what is this Lake of Fire? What does the Bible have to say about all this?

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David Howard Hitchcock -Lake of Fire’ – 1888

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LITERAL OR SPIRITUAL FIRE?

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One of the first questions to be answered is this: “Is the Lake of Fire & Brimstone to be understood literally or spiritually?” Well, those who maintain that we must understand, as far as possible, the Bible literally,http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FIRE_01.JPG must conclude that the Lake of Fire & Brimstone is literal fire. But then, how does one explain this… “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Rev. 20:14.

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So what does this mean? Does this mean that death and Hell are to be burned up in literal fire? Or are we talking of a spiritual concept?

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Well, as already discussed in this article, fire is often a symbolic concept.

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FIRE by Marcus Obal – cropped image – Wikimedia Commons – share-alike license

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“GOD…A CONSUMING FIRE”

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For instance, it says… “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USMC-081218-M-4507D-001.jpgdwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly;” Isaiah 33:14, 15.https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angel_prayers.jpg

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Now does this actually mean that God’s people will forever dwell with literal fire? After all, it says here that… “who among us shall dwell with EVERLASTING burnings?”

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Perhaps this next passage clears up this confusion… “For our God is a consuming (devouring) fire.” Hebrews 12:29. Obviously, these passages are speaking metaphorically. God is not literal fire. God uses fire metaphorically here in describing Himself.

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Prayer – USMC – Wikimedia – US Govt. Public Domain

Girl Praying – Wikimedia – Public Domain

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GOD’S BREATH…BRIMSTONE

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Now here’s another passage… “For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like

a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.” Isaiah 30:33.

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Now if we were going to take this passage literally, then we must conclude that Tophet (Hell) will have large piles of wood, which God Himself will ignite with His breath (which is like brimstone).

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But do you really believe that Hell will be literally filled with piles of burning wood, or is God speaking metaphorically here? And do you believe that God’s breath is actually brimstone? Or is God speaking of His Word here, as if His Word is that fire and that brimstone in a figurative allegorical sense? 

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Buddhist Hell – Wikipedia – public domain

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THE DEVIL, BEAST & FALSE PROPHET

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Burgkmair_whore_babylon_color.jpgThe first thing which must be considered is, that the Beast and False Prophet are concepts. There is no literal Beast or False Prophet. The Beast is revealed in Revelation 17 as kings, and kingdoms. Likewise, the False Prophet is described as having horns like a lamb. This is symbolic language to say that he is like Christ.

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Now these two beasts symbolize the two different ways in which the Devil rules this world. These also represent the two ways that the Devil deceives and persecutes God’s people.

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To read more on the Beast and the False Prophet, see “Floodwaters of the False Prophet: “Atheism & Psychology”” and also, “The Dragon, The Beast & His Image & His Mark”

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Babylon mystery woman – Burgkmair – 1523 AD – Wikimedia – US Public Domain

ABOVE PICTURE: Satan, The False Prophet who offers a world-loving gospel – www.signsofheaven.org

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SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED

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The Bible is its own interpreter. In order to understand any passage, we must go to the Bible and examine every other related verse. Listen to Job again, as he unwittingly prophesies about the coming Messiah… “How then can man be justified with God?… yea, the stars are not pure in his http://theheavensdeclare.net/sign-of-the-son-of-man-in-heaven/sight…How much less man, that is a worm? and the Son of man, which is a worm?” Job 25:4, 6.

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How then can a man be justified with God? The answer is hidden in this last line… “and the son of man, which is a worm?”.

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But somebody might say,“Oh but don’t call Jesus a worm!” That’s blasphemy…right? Wrong!

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Listen to scripture… “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Psalm 22:6.

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You see, we don’t have to call Jesus “a worm”, because He calls Himself “a worm” in this famous Messianic Psalm 22!

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ABOVE STAR-CHART – Sign of the Son of Man – www.theheavensdeclare.net – Not for commercial uses

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JESUS, OUR WORM, DIDN’T DIE THERE

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So how does this idea fit into the passage in question? Simple… “And if thy hand offend thee, cut http://theheavensdeclare.net/sign-of-the-son-of-man-in-heaven/it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:43, 44.

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In other words, Jesus suffered the fires of Hell in place of humanity…but Jesus didn’t die there…He rose from the grave. He lives! And He is the only “worm” that did not die in those eternal flames! “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Psalm 22:6. 

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ABOVE STAR-CHART – Sign of the Son of Man – www.theheavensdeclare.net – Not for commercial uses

 

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#4 Passage:

Peter’s Epistle refers to Jesus preaching to the “spirits in prison”.

Listen… “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins,

the just for the unjust,

that He might bring us to God,

being put to death in the flesh,

but quickened by the Spirit:

By which also He went

and preached unto the spirits in prison;

Which sometime were disobedient,

when once the longsuffering of God

waited in the days of Noah,

while the ark was a preparing,

wherein few, that is, eight souls

were saved by water.

1st Peter 3:18-20

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SOULS IN PRISON

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“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” 1st Peter 3:18, 19

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There is a passage which is misconstrued to be speaking of Hell, when it is not.

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First, those who assign this passage to Hell, say that this above passage refers to Christ at the time He was in the grave. They say that while in the tomb, He went to Hell and preached to the lost souls who were suffering in flames.

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The Great Flood – G. Dore – Wikimedia – Public Domain

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JESUS PREACHES VIA THE HOLY SPIRIT

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The first problem with this idea, is the phrase… “…that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison…” 1st Peter 3:18, 19.

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Now notice that it says, “but quickened by the Spirit: By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison”.

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Now it says here that He preached by the Spirit to those souls.

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But how could this be if He went to Hell literally? Simple. This is not speaking of Hell. It is speaking of His Old Testament ministry, via the Holy Spirit, to humanity, living on Earth at the time of the Great Flood.

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The Great Flood – G. Dore – Wikimedia – Public Domain

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“SPIRITS IN PRISON”

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First, the problem that most people have with this passage, is the phrase “spirits in prison”. They automatically assume that this is referring to Hell, because it speaks of “spirits in prison”. After all, what other prison is there, which has spirits in it?

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Listen to this… “I the LORD have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee forTV indoctrination a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” Isaiah 42:6, 7.

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This isn’t just speaking of Hell. It’s speaking of all those who have been bound in Satan’s prison-house of sin.

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Listen to Paul… “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” 2nd Timothy 2:25, 26.

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Each and every human in this world is a prisoner of Satan, “the god of this world”. It is only possible to escape from Satan’s prison-house, through the mercy of God, as this above passage states.

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EIGHT SOULS SAVED

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Now as far as the reference to “spirits” being in prison, remember that this passage also refers to Noah’s family as “souls”.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Domenico_Morelli_Noahs_Dankgebet.jpg

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Listen… “while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”

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Now if this same word wasn’t used when speaking of Noah’s family being saved, we might likewise conclude that it is speaking of dead people. But it’s not. It’s speaking of living people: “eight souls”.

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So why did Peter refer here to living people as “souls”? Because Peter is trying to work up to the concept that this story, while historically true, was also a picture of Salvation.

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Noah’s Ark – Domenico Morelli – Wikipedia – public domain

 

 

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SO WHY “SPIRITS”?

 

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So why did Peter speak of “spirits” in prison, if he was speaking of living people? Probably because people are not in a literal prison-house. But those of us who are still prisoners of sin, are not physically in prison. But our spirits are in a spiritual prison-house.

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So now, this verse from Peter’s epistle begins to make real sense… 

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“…that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which (Holy Spirit) also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison…” 1st Peter 3:18, 19.

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Yes, Jesus, via the Holy Spirit, preached to those who were in Satan’s prison-house of sin and selfishness at the time of Noah’s Flood! And of course, nobody repented, and all were ultimately swept away in that flood!

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The Great Flood – G. Dore – Wikimedia – Public Domain

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THE BOTTOM LINE:

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STOP LISTENING TO MAN’S DOCTRINES!

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“Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” Isaiah 2:22

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PaulT.jpgNow that we are at the threshold of eternity, God’s people need to finally let go of our dependence on Man. The above verse really states it very well… “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” Isaiah 2:22. We don’t need Bible teachers telling us what to believe. We must know for ourselves what the Bible says, and stop accepting man-made doctrines.

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Listen to Paul as he gently scolds us for still drinking the milk of the Word… “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.” Hebrews 5:12, 13.

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STOP LETTING OTHERS TELL US WHAT TO BELIEVE

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:PD-US

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Yes, we need to get off the baby bottle, as the Bible puts it, and quit letting others tell us what to believe! We should be able to simply quote Scripture on any given subject, without relying on this doctrine or that one. We should not feel the necessity to put any man-made label on God’s Word. After all, God’s Word warns against adding to His Word.

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Listen… “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” Revelation 22:18.

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This goes for the whole Bible, not just for Revelation. People just have to quit trying to help God out. If God wanted to name a certain doctrine, He would have done it! He doesn’t need your help, and He certainly doesn’t need mine!

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EAT, DRINK, WORK, AND SLEEP THE BIBLE

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It’s just that God’s people are too busy with the cares and pleasures of this world, instead of hiding God’s Word into our hearts. So then we simply let others tell us this or that doctrine. As if they’re going to spoon-feed us with the “Readers Digest” version of Scripture in the form of man-made labels and man-made doctrines.

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Just stop listening to erring humans… “But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you:” 1st John 2:27.

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Study, study, study! Carry a little pocket Bible, and read a passage here and there. Listen to an audio Bible. Eat, and drink, and sleep, and walk and work the Bible. Become so skilled in the Word, until every one of us can “sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.” Judges 20:16

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Paul the Apostle-Artist-Valentin de Boulogne or Nicolas Tournier- circa 1500s-Wikipedia-Public domain.

Osmar_Schindler_David_und_Goliath-wikipedia US public domain

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THE END

.picture - soldiers of the cross - armor up!

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A HEAVENLY HOBBY

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Starry_Night_at_La_Silla.jpg

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“Lift up your eyes on high, and behold Who hath created these things; that brings out their host by number: He calls them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth.” Isaiah 40:26

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ABOVE PICTURE – Starry Night at La Silla – Wikimedia – Share-Alike license

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The above verse is a plea from God to look up at the Heavens and behold Who has created these http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:New_york_times_square-terabass.jpgthings.

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In this busy work-a-day world, there are many very interesting things which can occupy one’s time and energy: hobbies, and careers, and entertainments and http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shoppers_on_Dundas,_near_Yonge.jpgworries, and habits, to name just a few.

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But as the child of God devotes his or her life to God, there should be a jealous guarding of one’s own heart… “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23.

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The Christian wants nothing to get in the way of running that Christian Race.

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New York Times Square – terabass – Wikipedia – Share-alike License

Shoppers in Toronto – Wikimedia – share-alike license

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“AND WHEN YE SEE THESE THINGS…

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LOOK UP, LIFT UP YOUR HEAD”

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But having said this, there is one hobby which every ‘Noble Berean’ may take up, which only compliments the pursuit of the heavenly Prize.

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Yes, Signs Of Heaven becomes a wonderfully rewarding hobby which, unlike many less meaningful hobbies, pays off with rich, heavenly rewards. Everlasting rewards!

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And unlike these people in this photo with equipment, all you need is fairly good vision, and a dark, starry night.

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And once a person really gets to know these heavenly messengers, it will become very apparent that the message connected with these signs is truly a message to be heeded.

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Thus will the Christian be able to share this message with others. And there are perhaps many nuances and hidden biblical truths to these signs which have yet to be discovered.

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Astronomy Amateur – Wikipedia – share-alike license

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.summer w/woman & doves

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“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;” Luke 21:25

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ABOVE CHART: Summer Constellations with Doves (Sagittarius) & Woman (Ursa Major)

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FIRST FIND ORION & 7 STARS

.Orion Constellation

The very first step in finding these many constellations, should be to find the two main constellations: Orion, and the 7 Stars (aka, The Big Dipper).

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These two constellations represent Christ (Orion), and His Chur7 stars as Crossch (7 Stars).

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And just as these are the easiest constellations to find, so too, the first place to begin studying the Bible is the Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).

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These four books present Christ and His Church, when He walked the earth, just as Orion and the 7 Stars represent Christ and His Church, as seen up in the heavens.

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Then, once you are comfortable finding these two constellations, you can begin to locate the next closest constellations, and so on.

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ABOVE PICTURE: Orion the Soldier and the Revelation 12 Dragon (Hyades & Pleiades, etc.) – winter constellations – www.signsofheaven.org – not for commercial use

ABOVE PICTURE – 7 Stars Constellation as the Cross (aka Big Dipper) – winter – signsofheaven.org – not for commercial uses

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ANOTHER HEAVENLY HOBBY: PRAYER-WALKS

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Now if you’re fortunate enough to be able to go on nightly walks, and you live in an area where you can safely view the stars, here is another Heavenly Hobby which Signs Of Heaven endorses…

.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Starry_Night_at_La_Silla.jpg

Why not combine star-watching with prayer, as you walk? What a great way to draw closer to God!

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It cannot be over-stressed, just how wonderful it is to walk under the dark canopy of Heaven, while lifting up one’s heart to our Heavenly Father! There is a closeness to God that cannot be described with words!

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(And even if you cannot safely do this, you can always do such prayer-walks in the daytime, in a safe place, such as a mall, which is every bit as effective, prayer-wise.

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And for those who are in confinement, one can view these starry signs on the Internet, or simply listen to Scripture on audio.

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Either way, all such may enjoy God’s richest blessings at this very time in which God is pouring out all Heaven’s treasures upon anyone willing to forsake all, and follow Jesus!)

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Starry Night at La Silla – Wikipedia – share-alike license

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THRICE-DAILY PRAYERS

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marines_at_Prayer_by_Alex_Raymond.jpg.

Now of course, the Bible commands us to, “pray without ceasing“. The Christian is to constantly talk with our Heavenly Father throughout the day.

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But the Bible also holds up the godly life of Daniel, who, when captive in Babylon, still set aside three times daily, in which he knelt for special prayer.

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And furthermore the Bible also says… “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:17.

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Even those who are bed-fast or in a prison cell can begin to imitate Daniel in this way. And if one is fortunate to be able to walk, then this thrice-daily prayer regimen can be combined with three walks daily and even nightly.

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Marines at Prayer by Alex Raymond – Wikimedia – public domain

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