THE TERROR OF THE LORD
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
From: The Mainspring
A foolish, silly attitude is often found among Christian believers. There is much jesting and lightness. This blithe attitude, this false sense of security, which is not characteristic of true Christianity, has arisen because there is little terror of the Lord in the churches. There is little terror of the Lord in the churches because of a misunderstanding of the nature of the Christian redemption. It is time for Christian people to repent of their carelessness, sin, and self-seeking and awaken to the righteous behavior required by the Lord.
Table of Contents
Why repentance is not preached
A further misunderstanding
The Role of Divine Judgment in Our Salvation
Judgment on sin
Judging the living and the dead
Hell and Heaven as the only alternatives
Saved as by fire
Saved with difficulty
The First Resurrection
How we overcome
Steps to the first resurrection
The purpose of the first resurrection
What it means to be free from the authority of the second death
The Goal of God—People Who Behave Righteously, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God
THE TERROR OF THE LORD
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (II Corinthians 5:11)
What has happened to the terror of the Lord? We do not see believers working out their own salvation with fear and trembling. Why is this?
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
Are the believers of today working out their own salvation with fear and trembling or with silliness and a carefree spirit of false assurance, the false assurance that goes with today’s preaching? “Say the four steps of salvation and you never can lose the favor and blessing of God. God has saved you eternally and unconditionally no matter how you behave. The blood of Jesus is your ticket to Paradise when you die.”
Our preaching today is lacking a vital element—the call to repentance, to a change of behavior. We are preaching “another gospel,” a gospel that does not make the Divine demands on the hearer.
John the Baptist preached repentance. The Lord Jesus preached repentance. The Apostles of the Lamb always preached repentance. They did not preach let Jesus into your heart, or you must be born again, or slip up your hand and accept Jesus, or anything of the kind. The Book of Acts portrays the Apostles preaching repentance, and water baptism as a sign the believer has turned away from the malice and wickedness of the world.
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47)
The first message of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is “repentance.”
“Repent, and be baptized.” The Apostle Peter spoke to the Jews concerning the Lordship of Christ. Then he commanded them to change their behavior and to be baptized in water so they could have their sins forgiven.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (Acts 3:19)
Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. (Acts 3:26)
“Repent ye therefore.” “Turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”
The message of the Book of Acts is, “Repent”!
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)
“Repentance unto life”! It is repentance, a change of behavior, that leads us to eternal life.
Repentance, a change of behavior, was preached by the early Apostles in view of the coming of Christ to judge the deeds of people. God in Christ shall judge the world “in righteousness.” The concept was (and is) that if you do not change your manner of living you will suffer at the coming of the Lord. This was the original Gospel.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:30,31)
Why repentance is not preached.
Repentance is not preached today because of a misunderstanding of the nature of the Christian salvation, a misunderstanding that has been with us from the first century.
From the beginning of the Christian Era some teachers of the Gospel have proclaimed that the grace Paul preached signifies that Christ saves us apart from our behavior. Immoral, lawless behavior is acceptable because redemption was completed on the cross of Calvary.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [immorality] and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
“Turning the grace of our God into lust.” It is possible to turn the grace of God into an excuse for animal lust.
The blood of Jesus then becomes a ticket by which we enter happiness when we die regardless of our behavior on the earth.
Protestants often define Divine grace only as forgiveness. We are justified (forgiven our sins and made acceptable to God) by faith alone, some proclaim. This in spite of James’ teaching that faith alone, not accompanied by works of righteousness, is dead.
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (James 2:17)
“We are saved (meaning we will go to Heaven when we die) by faith alone” is the prevailing understanding of the Christian salvation in our day. Christian preachers and teachers maintain that Christians ought to live a godly life, but if they do not they will go to Paradise in any case because we are saved by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done.
It is true that we are saved by Divine grace. But the concept that we shall be brought to Paradise when we die on the basis of “accepting Christ,” even though we have lived an immoral, lawless life, reveals a total misunderstanding of the program of redemption, of its goal, and of Divine grace.
The practitioners of Judaism thrust aside the need for righteous behavior by stressing ceremonial practices derived from the Law of Moses. The Christians thrust aside the need for righteous behavior by stressing a profession of belief in Christ. In both instances the practices of religion have taken the place of justice, mercy, and faith.
Few forces on earth are as effective in destroying integrity, conscience, and common sense as is true of religion.
In other places we have mentioned that the Great Commission has been changed from making disciples into building churches. If we truly believe that the Christian salvation is a ticket to Heaven, that godly behavior is not the purpose of redemption, and that our goal is to build a large and “successful” church, then we are not going to emphasize the need for repentance.
We do not preach repentance today because we do not believe a change of behavior is absolutely necessary—or even possible, in some instances! Also, the preaching of repentance will drive today’s “believers” away from the church (we suppose), thus frustrating those who view the adding of numbers of people as the evidence of “success in the ministry.”
A further misunderstanding.
Back in the minds of many Christians is the concept of “faith alone”: that is, even though I do not make the supreme effort necessary to turn away from the world and follow the Lord I will find peace and joy when I die. This is a false, unscriptural hope.
“The just shall live by faith” has been changed from a description of the manner in which the righteous live to a formula by which people can ignore the need for righteous behavior in favor of a “statement of faith.”
We hear Christians saying, “As long as we are in this world we will sin. No one is perfect. We ought to try to be good but it is impossible to overcome sin.”
The idea that sin cannot be overcome in this world is compatible with the concept that the blood of Jesus is a ticket that brings us to Paradise whether or not we live a godly life, and with the doctrine of the “pre-tribulation rapture” of the believers.
The reason Christians do not attempt to overcome sin is that they believe it is neither necessary nor possible to do so. What fighter would enter the ring if he knew he could not win? What runner would strain the last nerve if he understood that no matter how hard he strove victory was impossible? Thus Christian believers, attempting to survive in a demon-saturated environment, do not make the effort necessary to overcome sin.
There are at least three passages that one could employ to prove that sin cannot be overcome while we are in the world:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10)
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (Romans 7:15)
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (I John 1:8)
The Scriptures are written in such a manner that if someone wishes to disobey God, he can defend his actions with Scriptures. God deals with the rebels by sending a strong delusion on them. If one wishes to prove it is permissible for him to sin, he can support his desire with Scripture verses.
The fact is, none of the above passages proves we cannot overcome sin through Christ while we are alive in the world.
Let us take the first passage. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” This is a quotation from Psalms.
They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Psalms 14:3)
This passage does not indicate there are no righteous people in the world. Notice a following verse:
There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous. (Psalms 14:5)
There is in the world a “generation of the righteous.”
The concept of Psalm 14 is that there were wicked people in Israel who were not calling on the Lord; but God was among the righteous who indeed were trusting in the Lord. There were righteous people in Israel at that time!
Did Paul maintain that all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God? Yes, he did. No individual can save himself. All of us were born in sin and have a sin nature. But Paul’s motive in saying this was not to prove it is useless to attempt to live righteously but rather to show that we must come to the Lord Jesus for salvation. We cannot save ourselves by the works of the Law of Moses or by practicing any other moral code.
What about the second verse? “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” Doesn’t this prove that no matter how hard I try I cannot overcome sin? No, it assuredly does not prove anything of the kind.
Paul is addressing Jewish teachers (“I speak to those who know the Law”) who believed they could attain righteousness by obeying the Torah, the Law of Moses.
Paul states in Romans, Chapters Six and Eight that if the believer continues to serve sin he shall die spiritually. Therefore he is not stating in Chapter Seven that it is impossible to overcome sinful behavior through Christ.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
For if ye live in the appetites of the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
Paul’s meaning is that he himself, as a follower of the Law of Moses, found there was a law of sin in his flesh that drove him to disobey the Law, a compulsion to sin that caused great distress to him because of his desire for righteousness. Paul was stating that the adamic nature is unable to obey the Law of Moses, not that we cannot overcome sin through Christ.
If we would press forward to resurrection life we must gain victory over sin by walking in the Spirit of God.
What about the third verse? “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” Doesn’t this prove that as long as we are in the world we shall sin? No, it certainly does not.
The following verse informs us that if we will confess our sins God will forgive us and cleanse us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
“From all unrighteousness”!
The entire Book of First John is an admonition to Christians concerning righteous behavior, warning them that sin has no place in Christ, in the eternal Life and Light who was with the Father from the beginning.
Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (I John 3:6)
The entire New Testament stresses one fact: if we come to the Lord Jesus in repentance, changing our manner of life, we will be forgiven our past sins and find wisdom and strength to walk before God in holiness and righteousness.
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [appeasement] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:25)
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. (Luke 1:74,75)
“Might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him.”
From Genesis to Revelation we are taught that sin brings destruction and death. In the New Testament we are instructed that those who will come to Christ can find in Him the wisdom and power necessary to overcome sin and thus to enter eternal life.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end [and the result is] everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)
It is both necessary and possible to overcome sinful behavior through the grace of the Lord Jesus. Major portions of the New Testament are exhortations to believers to crucify their flesh and live a godly life, warning them that if they do not bring forth the fruit of Christ’s moral image in their personalities they will come under the judgment of God.
The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation speak to the conquerors, the victorious saints. The rewards we ordinarily associate with being a Christian are assigned to those who overcome the sins and problems associated with the churches.
These two chapters are a perfect example of the importance of works in the Christian redemption. The emphasis is on the behavior of the consecrated saints, not on their belief in doctrine.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (Revelation 2:5)
“Do the first works.”
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
“Be faithful unto death.”
Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. (Revelation 2:22)
“Except they repent of their deeds.”
And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)
“I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” “According to your works.” “Your works”!
There are numerous other passages throughout the New Testament.
A spirit of blindness has fallen upon Christian believers. They cannot see what is plainly written. They do not have eyes to see or ears to hear the Lord. The result of the lawless-grace-rapture teaching is spiritual blindness.
The teaching of Dispensationalism, that being “under grace” means God no longer insists on righteous behavior but views the believer only through the righteousness of Christ, makes it difficult for the student to perceive what is plainly written in the Scriptures.
It is necessary to keep in mind, as we are reviewing the bases of the current apostasy, that salvation is not eternal residence in Heaven. Salvation is deliverance from Satan, change into the moral image of Jesus, and oneness with Jesus and the Father. The purpose of such deliverance, transformation and oneness is not that we might live forever in Heaven. It is that we might please the Father and perform the many roles and functions that have been assigned to the royal priesthood. Until the program and goal of salvation is clearly defined in one’s mind it is very difficult if not impossible to understand the Scriptures or the working of God in the individual.
The Role of Divine Judgment in Our Salvation
The fourth chapter of First Peter presents the role of Divine judgment in our redemption.
Judgment on sin.
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (I Peter 4:1)
“Hath ceased from sin.”
This first verse sets the stage for the discussion of the role of suffering in the Divine salvation. The suffering that comes upon us is a judgment on the evil that dwells in our flesh so we will cease from sin.
Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (II Thessalonians 1:5)
“Manifest token of the righteous judgment of God.” “Worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.”
The persecutions and tribulations being endured by the Christians in Thessalonica were evidence of the righteous judgment of God—a judgment falling on the believers so they would not be condemned with the world.
The expressions “hath ceased from sin” and “worthy of the kingdom of God” reveal that it is both possible and necessary that Christians overcome sin while they are living in the world.
That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (I Peter 4:2)
It is not the will of God that His people live in the lusts of the flesh after the manner of unsaved mankind. The purpose of the new covenant is to do that which the Law of Moses was unable to accomplish, that is, to produce worshipers who will practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
How could the Scripture be clearer, more pointed? Have we not been grievously deceived with the lawless-grace-rapture teaching?
For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness [immorality], lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: (I Peter 4:3)
Here is the concept of repentance. Before we became a Christian we behaved in a sinful, shameful manner. But now through our Lord’s grace we have turned away from the abominations practiced by the Gentile nations.
Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: (I Peter 4:4)
The true Christian conducts himself in such a manner that the unsaved regard his behavior as strange, as unusual. The world cannot see imputed (ascribed) righteousness, only actual righteousness of behavior. Actual righteousness of behavior, the moral image of the Lord Jesus, is the only light of the world.
Judging the living and the dead.
Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick [living] and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (I Peter 4:5,6)
“Ready to judge the living and the dead.”
We need to think a great deal about the fact that the Lord Jesus is ready to judge the living and the dead. We find later in this chapter (I Peter, Chapter Four) that the Divine judgment begins with the household of God. The judgment, which includes suffering as long as there is sin and self-seeking in our personality, falls equally upon living and dead persons. The dead are alive in the spirit world but are judged as though they still were alive in the flesh.
It has been assumed that once we accept the Lord Jesus we need have no fear of death. No matter how believers behave on the earth, death will prove to be removal from pain and dread and passage into a land where all is joy and security.
The Scriptures do not support this concept.
It is our understanding that unless there is a widespread repentance in our day, many if not most believers will face pain and torment after death. They will experience pain and torment because they have not obeyed the Gospel. They have not repented of their worldly ways. They have not presented their body a living sacrifice. They have not denied themselves, taken up their cross, and followed the Lord Jesus. They have not forgiven their enemies. They have not crucified their flesh with its appetites and lusts. They have not been diligent in the use of their talents.
They shall be judged and rewarded according to their behavior when they die. It is possible that many Christian believers in the wealthy nations of our day are not prepared to meet Christ. They are trusting in an unscriptural “pre-tribulation rapture” to save them. They are careless and lukewarm concerning the things of Christ.
They have not worked out their own salvation with fear and trembling. They will not hear well done, good and faithful servant. They sometimes are foolish, silly, spiritually lazy people who have neglected their salvation. They shall be terrified when they die and find themselves in the hands of God.
It is because of the terrifying prospect of finding ourselves in the hands of God that we are exhorted to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Although we may have minimized the demands of God, the demands of God have not actually changed. Therefore we Christians can expect to experience the terror of the Lord when we die.
We are as children whose parents have been indulgent, caring more for our approval than our welfare. We are self-centered, selfish, despisers of those who are good, arrogant, proud, believing that God stands ready to wait on our every desire. How little we understand the consuming Fire of Israel!
When we turn away from the sin of the world and receive the Lord Jesus we are saved. What does it mean to be saved, in this sense? It means that Christ has become responsible for us. He paid the price for the whole world; therefore He can give eternal life to whomever He chooses.
To be saved means the Lord Jesus will work with us until we are in His moral image and filled with His life. To be lost means the redemptive processes of the body and blood of Christ and of the Holy Spirit no longer are available to us. We are cut off from the Presence of God forever. We are lost!
To be saved means the Lord assumes responsibility for us. He chastens severely every son whom He receives. The chastening is described in the fourth chapter of First Peter. The chastening consists of fiery ordeals designed to drive the sin and self-seeking from us, making it possible for the Divine Seed to grow in us, and for us to enter union with the Father through the Lord Jesus.
The chastening, the fiery ordeals, the prisons we endure, the tribulations, are Divine judgment upon our personality. The Divine judgment produces salvation: this is to say, the suffering separates us from Satan and his works, makes possible the maturing of the Divine Seed in us, and brings us into the dependence on Christ and union with Himself that God desires.
It may be true that some of this judgment and suffering will take place in the spirit realm after we die or at the coming of the Lord.
It is appointed to men once to die and after that they shall be judged. We understand this to be true, but what does it mean? Will Christians be judged? Of course! Christ is ready to judge the living and the dead. The fiery trials that come upon the living may come upon the dead also, as far as we know. God judges the living and the dead whether or not the individual is a Christian.
The lashes that are to be given to the Lord’s servants who did evil works worthy of lashes may very well take place after death.
Let us think about the Judgment Seat of Christ. There is widespread misunderstanding of the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Greek term is beema. The word beema is employed in the New Testament to indicate a court where accused criminals must appear.
It commonly is taught that the Judgment Seat of Christ is a kind of awards banquet in which some Christians are given first prize and others are handed lesser prizes. But there is nothing to fear. All shall be given a reward and there absolutely is nothing for the believer to fear at the Judgment Seat of Christ; no terror of the Lord.
This is what is taught to Christians in our day. Can you see why Satan would desire that Christians be taught not to fear the Judgment Seat? It is no wonder the fear of God is gone and in its place is silliness, foolishness, joking from the pulpit. Are we truly ready to be lifted in our foolishness into the Presence of Him whose eyes are a flame of fire.
Let us look at the Scripture, the unchanging Word of God.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
It seems clear that:
- All of us shall appear (be made manifest) before Christ.
- For most Christians this judgment will take place in the spirit realm after death or at the coming of the Lord.
- The believer will receive at the hand of Christ the things he has done while living in the physical body.
- The believer will receive good for the good things he has done and evil for the evil things he has done.
- The Judgment Seat of Christ is not based on our statement of faith but on the things we have done.
Some readers may find this verse difficult to reconcile with Paul’s teaching of grace in the first part of Romans. The difficulty arises from the fact that we do not understand the early chapters of Romans. The same apostle wrote who wrote about grace in the early chapters of the Book of Romans also penned II Corinthians 5:10.
The beema of Christ is not an awards banquet. It is a court where accused criminals are brought to judgment. Every human being, Christian or not, will be brought here. We are a fallen, rebellious, lawless race.
Christians will receive not only good but also bad, depending on their works while in the body.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28,29)
“They that have done good… they that have done evil.”
We have been taught wrong doctrine for so long we are unable to understand the clear, simple words of the Scripture.
The current teaching is that the believer need have no fear of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Let us see if Paul agrees.
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (II Corinthians 5:11)
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” Persuade what men of what terror? We would respond, all men, including Christians. Of what terror are we speaking? Of the terror of receiving the evil we have practiced, at the hands of the resurrected Christ. The Judgment Seat of Christ is a good reason for every sinner to be terrified whether or not he is a believer in Christ. We think the Apostle Paul would agree with this.
We have stated that Christ is ready to judge those who are alive in the world and those who are deceased. We have suggested that the Divine judgment comes in the form of fiery ordeals and that for most of us, most of the judgment, the ordeals, may take place in the spirit realm after we die or at the coming of the Lord.
Notice, for example, the following:
But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:45-48)
We are speaking of the Lord’s servants, not of those who are not His servants. The Lord’s servants clearly stand in danger of receiving the inheritance of the unbelievers. The problem is not one of unbelief in the doctrine of the atonement but of beating people and drunkenness. The time setting is the coming of the Lord to His servant (perhaps not the historic coming in the clouds). The misbehaving servant will be cut into pieces and appointed his portion with unbelievers.
- The Lord’s servant who understood His will and did not do it shall be beaten with lashes from a whip.
- The Lord’s servant who did not know the Lord’s will but did things worthy of lashes shall be beaten less severely.
We must prepare ourselves by doing the Lord’s will.
How anyone could be cut into pieces and then appointed a portion with unbelievers must be explained in the spirit realm. It will have to take place in the last days, in the time when the spirit and material realms converge. Once the convergence takes place it will be possible to cast the physical body into a spiritual fire, and also to cut someone into pieces and then assign him a place with unbelievers.
We would say that the prospect of being cut into pieces and then assigned a place with unbelievers is terrifying indeed! But this is the destiny of the Lord’s servants who have displeased Him by their conduct.
It is customary today to assign passages such as the above to the Jews, maintaining that Gentiles are saved by grace and never shall experience pain at the hand of the Lord.
If there is a more abominable, more unscriptural, more illogical, more indefensible argument than that of assigning all pain and judgment to God’s chosen people we do not know of it. This anti-Semitic teaching is the result of the destructive scheme of biblical interpretation termed “Dispensationalism.”
We are in doctrinal chaos today.
The Reconstructionists reveal the presence of Satan in their midst by their hatred of Judaism and their desire to remove the Kingdom from Jerusalem.
The Amillennialists show their ignorance of the Divine intention by replacing the apocalyptic vision of the return of Jesus in thunderous triumph at the head of His armies with the hope of a gradual increase of righteousness as believers try to do better. They are missing the very iron, the very fire of the Kingdom of God.
The Replacement theologians, who would remove Israel in favor of the Christian Church regarding the promises and blessing of God, apparently do not bother to consider the clear statements of the Apostle Paul in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans, or the hundreds of promise to the people and land of Israel found in the Old Testament.
The teachers of faith and prosperity are not adhering to the writings of Paul that warn us against setting our heart on riches.
All of this confusion is founded upon the lie that “accepting Christ” relieves us from all concern related to the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The original lie is still being repeated: Thou shalt not surely die.
Hell and Heaven as the only alternatives.
One aspect of current belief that confuses our thinking is the Hell-Heaven division. The concept is that all the lost go to be forever in Hell (sometimes thought of as the Lake of Fire, or Gehenna) and all the saved go immediately to Paradise. Hell or Heaven. Lost or saved. The term “outer darkness,” which is employed several times in the Gospels and has to do with God’s unfaithful servants, is usually ignored.
The quotation from Luke (above) speaks of many and few lashes. In no manner can this apply to the Lake of Fire. Lashes are punishment with a view to correction and purification. One ordinarily does not whip a man and then hang him.
The Lake of Fire, the second death, is eternal confinement in a lake burning with fire and sulfur. It has nothing to do with many or few lashes or with punishment with a view toward correction.
By the same token, the New Testament often speaks of rewards. The destiny of the saved individual after death ranges all the way from being saved by fire to being seated on the throne with Christ—and everything in between.
Saved as by fire.
If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (I Corinthians 3:15)
What does this mean? What does it mean to be saved “yet so as by fire”?
Being saved as by fire means Christ has judged the person worthy of being brought over to the new heaven and earth reign, but in order to be acceptable to God that person must endure prolonged suffering.
Because of the unscriptural “gospel” of today we have believers saying it does not matter how they live because they will be saved as by fire. They suppose this means that they will not have as ornate a mansion or may sit on a lesser throne than is true of other more diligent believers.
Have they no idea of the torment of the fire of God? Are they aware that they may spend many years in great suffering as the immorality, viciousness, lying, scheming, and self-will are burned out of their personality? Are they anxious to die and pass into the spirit realm in their nakedness, devoid of any reward or inheritance, so they may begin what could be a very long time in the flames of spiritual torment?—perhaps to be thrown into outer darkness where they can see from a distance the light and glory of the Kingdom but not participate? Where they can hear the children laughing and singing but not be permitted to draw near? Where all around them is darkness, despair, gloom, the faces of demons, and weeping and gnashing of teeth from remorse over opportunities forever lost?
There is no suffering as excruciating as spiritual suffering. Once in the hands of the consuming Fire who is our God we no longer will be able to faint, go to sleep, flee, or die. After death we shall be intensely alive, intensely conscious, intensely aware of opportunities missed while alive on earth. The unbearable mental agony that will be experienced by those who did not recognize the day of their visitation, who wasted their Divinely given gifts and opportunities, would drive men on earth to insanity. But insanity is not possible there. There simply is no escape from the burning fire of the Lord.
“Knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men.”
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:3)
“If we neglect.” How many “believers” of today are neglecting their salvation. Neglect, a casual approach, an unwillingness to consider the worth of the Kingdom of God, is prevalent among us. We are willing to strike the arrows three times and after that stop in disinterest (II Kings 13:18).
We teach the careless, the lukewarm, the distracted, that they need have no fear of death because they are saved by grace. The serpent is speaking in the ministry: “Thou shalt not surely die.” This is why Christians are not working out their salvation with fear and trembling. But the Word of God declares: “You shall not escape. You have despised the blood of My Son!”
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
“Yes, but we have been taught not to fear God, only to love and reverence Him. Perfect love casts out fear. It is true that we do not have perfect love, but God is good and would never let us suffer.”
This is how people think and speak in spite of the record of history, in spite of the fact that today thousands are suffering for the Gospel. It is said that more believers have been martyred in the twentieth century than in any preceding century and that in the present time a thousand Christians are being martyred each day. Are being martyred!
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
How many believers sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth? There is no second “Calvary” that will forgive their sins. “A fearful looking for of fiery judgment” is the result of such behavior. They by their actions prove themselves to be the adversaries of God, to be unworthy of the Kingdom of God.
As for being cast into the Lake of Fire to be with Satan and his angels forever, this is a fate so incomprehensibly horrible that the human mind is completely unable to fathom it.
Let us continue in the fourth chapter of First Peter.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (I Peter 4:12)
The passage above reminds us of the first verse of the fourth chapter, which urges us to arm ourselves with a mind to suffer. The fiery trial is Divine judgment—judgment designed to drive sin and self-will from us and make us partakers of God’s holy Nature.
There were three great convocations of Israel:
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty: (Deuteronomy 16:16)
The feast of Unleavened Bread typifies the basic salvation experience through the blood of the Lamb.
The feast of Weeks represents the Pentecostal experience in which we learn to walk in holiness and also are empowered to bear witness of the atoning death, triumphant resurrection, and soon coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The feast of Tabernacles is that which we are approaching now. Included in the feast of Tabernacles are the blowing of Trumpets and the solemn Day of Atonement. The ten days from Trumpets to the Day of Atonement are known as Yomim Noroim (Days of Awe); for during these ten days God judges the world, in Jewish tradition.
After Pentecost we enter a time of fiery judgment, the purpose of which is to reconcile us totally to the Lord.
It is not possible to pass directly from Pentecost to Tabernacles. We must endure the pains and prisons of the Day of Atonement. Only then is it possible for the Father and the Son to enter us fully in the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.
Since God is now ready to judge the living and the dead we assume some parts of the household of God in the spirit realm may be passing through the fiery judgments of the Lord in order that God’s witnesses of every era can come to perfection together. We must keep in mind also that numerous saints of the past endured fiery trials while they yet were alive on the earth, as we can observe in the fourth chapter of First Peter, and also in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:40)
Peter goes on to say:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (I Peter 4:13)
The fiery trials we endure are a sharing in Christ’s sufferings.
Christ suffered for two reasons: first, to make an atonement for the sins of the world; second, to become perfect in obedience to the Father.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
“To make the captain (the Lord Jesus) of their salvation perfect.”
Did Christ need to be made perfect? The Lord Jesus was made perfect in obedience to the Father. From the beginning the Lord chose to obey the Father, saying, “I delight to do your will, O my God.” Even with this attitude the Lord still learned perfect obedience through the things He suffered.
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:8)
If Christ learned obedience to the Father by suffering, what kind of fires shall we experience in order to prepare us to dwell with Him who is the consuming Fire?
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28,29)
We are reminded that if we do not serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear we will fall into the hands of the consuming Fire.
Because of the disobedience of the fallen angels, Adam and Eve were led into disobedience. Perhaps because of their disobedience, Abraham, the father of all believers, was tested sternly in the realm of obedience.
Then the Son of God, Christ, was tested to an extent no human will ever comprehend—tested throughout His life and finally in Gethsemane, in the realm of obedience.
Now we who are following the Lord must be tested rigorously in the area of obedience to the Father.
The original sin was disobedience—the rebellion that occurred among the angels of God. Every son of God must be tested to the last measure in order to demonstrate total, stern, unyielding obedience to the Father.
The fiery ordeal, the test of obedience, is Divine judgment on us—a judgment that will work to our good if we remain faithful.
The spirit of disobedience to the Father’s will still fills the universe. It is in the fallen angels and it is in the Christians. How many Christian do you know who will do God’s will without question no matter what it is? Any believer who will not do God’s will without question is still rebelling against God.
After a thousand years of righteous rule, Satan still will be able to gather the peoples of the earth and lead them in rebellion against God.
The godly remnant of today are being taught obedience to the Father. The learning of obedience is part of the spiritual fulfillment of the Levitical Day of Atonement (Day of Reconciliation). The Day of Atonement will continue from now throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium). Then all persons, except the members of royal priesthood, will be raised from the dead, stand before God, and be judged according to their works. This is the final phase of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
After that there will be a new heaven and earth. The holy city, Jerusalem, will be surrounded by a wall in order to keep out those who do not do the Father’s will. The saints will govern the new world in order to prevent future rebellions.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17)
First we learned that Christ is “ready to judge the living and the dead.” Now we see that the Divine judgment begins at the household of God.
The Divine judgment falls upon us in the form of suffering—suffering designed to purify us of immorality, worldliness, and especially of self-will and self-seeking.
There is no escaping the Divinely imposed suffering. We cannot escape by physical death. Sooner or later, in one place or another, the worldliness, immorality, and self-will in our personality must be driven from us if we expect to walk in white with the Lord Jesus as a member of the royal priesthood.
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)
Saved with difficulty.
Now we come to a verse that makes no sense in terms of today’s teaching. But it makes perfect sense in the light of what we have written in the preceding pages.
And if the righteous scarcely be saved [is saved with difficulty], where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:18)
“If the righteous are saved with difficulty.” In what manner are the righteous saved with difficulty? For whom is the salvation of the righteous a difficult task? If we are saved by the blood of the Lamb upon our acceptance of the Lord Jesus, where is the difficulty?
There is no difficulty according to modern teaching. The job was finished two thousand years ago.
The truth is, the righteous are in the process of being saved and it is a difficult task. It is difficult for God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the elect angels, the ministry, whoever is praying for us, and for us ourselves.
All of these are in travail as we struggle with God in the process of changing us from the adamic nature to a life-giving spirit. The love of the world must be burned out of us. The lusts of our bodies must be burned out of us. Our romanticism and idealism must be burned out of us. Our ambition to be preeminent must be burned out of us. Our self-will and self-centeredness must be burned out of us. Our willingness to covet another person’s inheritance and even to seek to supplant him or her must be burned out of us.
This is the program of salvation. We are being saved from Satan and brought fully into God’s person by means of all the Virtue, Substance, wisdom, and power of God that have been given us through Christ in order to save us from the world, from Satan, from our own lusts, and from our stubborn self-seeking.
We are in the process of being saved and it is very difficult for us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in every detail. We can succeed through the grace of God in Christ, but only as we pay full attention to the program. Many are called but few are chosen. The chosen few are then tested rigorously in the area of faithfulness.
Those who will ride with the Lord Jesus in that Day are called, chosen, and faithful.
The First Resurrection
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
The first resurrection is the first resurrection. There is no resurrection of the saints prior to the first resurrection.
The first resurrection is not the resurrection of salvation but the resurrection of the royal priesthood, of those who have attained this preliminary resurrection by accepting crucifixion so Christ may live in them. The ruling priests are given back their bodies so they may govern the nations of the saved from the city of Jerusalem along with the Lord Jesus.
The first resurrection is only for the victorious saints—God’s true witnesses of every period of history.
And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. (Micah 4:8)
The former kingdom, the kingdom of David and Solomon, shall be given to the “tower of the flock.”
Consider the following in which the mature of the Church are compared with the less mature “sisters.”
I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour. (Song of Solomon 8:10)
The types of the coming of the Lord, such as the events attending the attack by Gideon’s army of 300, show that the Lord Jesus will govern first with a small part of His elect. There also are other major types that portray the same concept, such as the separation of the Ark from the Tabernacle of the Congregation and the three anointings of King David.
The believers of today must be warned that the resurrection and ascension that will attend the return of the Lord Jesus from Heaven are for the blessed and holy members of the royal priesthood, not for the careless, lukewarm, neglectful, spiritually lazy members of the wealthy churches of today.
The rewards of rulership and closeness to God are for the victorious saints.
How we overcome.
The victorious life is the normal Christian life. The overcomer is not a special kind of saint that has risen above the daily problems that most of us experience. All the promises of the New Testament are to the victorious, not to the defeated. God expects us to gain victory, through Christ, over the world, over the sin that dwells in us, and over our self-will and disobedience.
Each day contains a portion of evil we must overcome. The evil of the day may come as a surprise from some unlooked for place, or it may be part of an irritating or painful circumstance we have endured for a number of years.
The evil is a tool that is permitted to overtake us so we shall be changed into the image of Christ and also pressed into union with Him, learning complete dependence on Him.
There are several ways in which we can respond to the evil of the day.
We can view the evil as coming from the devil and attempt to drive it away by strong rebukes, using our own adamic faith.
We can become bitter, because the evil often comes at the hand of an individual—our husband or wife, a member of the church, our employer, or some other person. “If only they would not be this way!”
We can evade the evil by breaking God’s laws in order to ensure our continued happiness.
None of these ways of responding will build up Christ in us or bring us into union with God.
The correct manner to respond to the evil of the day is to go to God in prayer, asking Him what we should do. We always ought to pray that God will remove the evil from us. If we do not we may suffer needlessly.
But as we pray we always are to submit to the Lord’s will.
Some are teaching that if we say, Thy will be done, we will not get an answer. We must attempt to force the answer by “faith.”
This concept reveals an ignorance of God and His ways. We always are to pray Thy will be done.
As we look to the Lord in fervent prayer He may give us the assurance that the answer is coming speedily. Or He may give us the wisdom and strength to go through the trial.
God always hears and answers even though the answer may not be what we expect.
As we pray the Lord gives us His body and blood, the “hidden manna,” so we will possess sufficient virtue to forgive all those who harm us; to cease fretting and always think about that which is pure and lovely; and to overcome every other dark force that would attempt to pull us down from our position in Christ at the right hand of the Father. Christ always helps us as we turn to Him.
When we overcome the evil of the day by turning to the Lord, Christ is formed in us. The adamic nature dies. We are pressed into union with Christ.
When we overcome the evil of the day we are an overcomer and eligible to receive all the promises to the overcomer.
Tomorrow is a new challenge to our peace and we must turn once again to the Lord for His Virtue, wisdom, and strength.
The Christian who is not praying and overcoming in this manner is not a victorious saint. He or she shall not receive the rewards to the overcomer. He or she is not worthy to walk in white with Christ in the robes of the royal priesthood.
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)
What about the remainder of the believers of the church in Sardis? Are they not facing the terror of the Lord?
Steps to the first resurrection.
The rewards to the overcomer, as set forth in the Book of Revelation, are steps to the first resurrection. They constitute a love letter to the Bride as Christ calls her out from the Christian churches on the earth.
The rewards begin with access to the tree of life and proceed to the throne of God and Christ, and finally to the inheriting of all that will be included in the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
The rewards of Revelation, Chapters Two and Three (the steps to the first resurrection from the dead) include the power of incorruptible life, crowns, authority, power, total deliverance from the authority of the Lake of Fire, eternal establishment as a pillar in the Temple of God, and other capacities and roles associated with the governing priesthood. These abilities and roles constitute and will result in the manifestation of, the first resurrection from among the dead.
There are no promises to the defeated believer, only the inference that he will be barred from the tree of life, will not rule with the Lord, may be injured by the second death, and—worst of all—may be in danger of having his name removed from the book of life.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5)
It has been customary for pastors and teachers to rush to assure their followers that it is not possible to have one’s name blotted from the book of life. In this way the Christian leaders have subtracted from the words of the Book of Revelation. Unless they repent their names will be removed from the book of life and they will inherit none of the promises of the Book of Revelation. They will experience the terror of the Lord when they die.
When the God of Heaven gives a revelation to His Son and Heir, Christ, and in that revelation states that the overcomer shall not have his name blotted from the book of life with the clear inference that all others are in danger of this dreadful fate, then there is a reason for this warning. In fact, there is a very good reason for this warning because God is not at all the person being presented by a great part of the Christian ministry of today.
When ministers of the Gospel remove the Divine warnings they are playing with fire—Divine fire. The Lord has departed from them because of their lack of faithfulness, and so they say to their followers, in so many words, “Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.” They lessen the demands of the Gospel so they may have “friends.” The result is Christian churches full of believers having a false assurance of the favor of God. The Lord says the faithless ministers are wise to make friends in this manner because then they will have someone to receive them when they die (Luke 16:1-12).
Numerous believers have not borne the fruit of righteousness in their lives. They have not been taught to repent, to confess their sins, to walk in openness before God and man. They suppose that God will say to them, Well done, good and faithful servant. This is what they expect to hear when they die.
The truth is, they are facing terror—the terror of the Lord.
But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)
Do Christian people suppose that the above verse is written to the unsaved or to the Jews? The Book of Hebrews is a book of warning to God’s elect that it is not sufficient merely to begin to walk with Christ. The same confidence, the same daily trust in God, must persevere to the last moment on earth. If it does not, the believer is in danger of the burning wrath of God. The Book of Hebrews was written to seasoned, experienced Christians who were beginning to backslide.
We must pursue the “rest of God” every day of our discipleship. We must fear that after having been given the marvelous promises of God we then come short of the Divine rest. We must overcome all forces and things that would prevent our resting in the center of the Lord’s will. If we do we will attain the first resurrection from the dead.
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
The purpose of the first resurrection.
The purpose of the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, is to change the occupants of the thrones located in the air above the earth.
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (Ephesians 2:2)
“The ruler of the authority of the air.”
The reason the royal priesthood is caught into the air to meet the Lord is that God’s priests, the brothers of Christ, are to be seated on the thrones presently occupied by the fallen dignitaries of the heavens.
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. (I Thessalonians 4:17)
“To meet the Lord in the air.”
Earth’s multitudes will be forced to continue in their debauchery, in their howling agony, until the rebellious lords of the heavens are forced down from their thrones in the air and the Lord’s victorious saints assume those thrones.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them:…. (Revelation 20:4)
But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. (Daniel 7:18)
The purpose of the first resurrection is not that the saints may go to Paradise to dwell in beautiful mansions but so the thrones that govern the creation may be occupied by holy people of the highest integrity—saints who obey God with great sternness and exactness.
No one else will be raised at the next coming of the Lord. To tell the lukewarm believers of today they are going to be raised from the dead, given glorious bodies of supreme power and ability, and then caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in Heaven so they may live in golden mansions is a cruel, unscriptural promise. Nothing of the kind shall ever take place. Tremendous disappointment, and in some cases intense terror, are ahead for the believers of today unless God sends us a revival of repentance.
We need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, to rejoice with trembling, as the Scripture commands us.
What it means to be free from the authority of the second death.
Every person who is raised in the first resurrection is no longer under the authority of the second death.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of [be harmed by] the second death. (Revelation 2:11)
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power [authority], but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
The second death has no power over them.
The second death has authority over all wickedness. As long as wickedness remains in the personality of the believer, the second death has authority over that part of his or her personality.
Let us say we have a lying spirit, even though we are a Christian. The Lake of Fire, the second death, has authority over that spirit of lying. All liars are destined to have their part in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
If through the Lord Jesus we are able to gain total victory over lying, the Lord forgiving us and cleansing us from all unrighteousness, then the second death no longer possesses authority over that part of our personality.
As long as one behavior concerning which God has given authority to the Lake of Fire remains in us, then we can be hurt by the second death.
The members of the royal priesthood, those who attain the first resurrection from the dead, have gained victory, through the Lord Jesus, over the wickedness in their personality. Therefore they are eligible to be raised from the dead, clothed in glory, raised to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him for eternity, and return with Him to Jerusalem to govern the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
The believers who have not been faithful in cooperating with the Holy Spirit in the work of judgment of their personalities are not eligible to be raised from the dead when the Lord appears, to be clothed in glory, to be raised to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him for eternity, or to return with Him to Jerusalem to govern the nations of saved peoples of the earth. It is as specific as this.
If we are willing to work with the Holy Spirit in the judgment of our personality, it is possible to finish that work while yet in our body on the earth. Then, when the Lord appears, our sentence is to be raised in glory and to be with Him for eternity. If we are not willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the process of judgment, then we will be judged at His appearing and His Kingdom. We shall receive the good we have done and the evil we have done.
For those believers who have ignored the call of God upon their life, who have left their family to marry another, who have harmed the Kingdom with their selfish, bitter, rebellious attitude and actions, who have lived a halfhearted, lukewarm Christian life, physical death will bring terror they cannot imagine in the present hour.
They may cry and insist that God loves them too much to allow them to suffer, but it will be to no avail. They may justify themselves today, as did the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, but when they die they shall experience terror! They shall be shown what could have been true had they been faithful, and now must be accounted as eternal loss for them and for those for whom they were responsible.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, not only on the part of the heathen but on the part of the Lord’s elect—a weeping over opportunities forever lost; an agonizing because of people who remained ignorant of the Gospel, who could have been fine fruit for the Lord’s table had it not been for the laziness, neglect, and disobedience of the Lord’s servant.
Every believer shall be shown clearly and in detail the opportunities he had and the results of his choices. That shall be a time of the most extravagant rejoicing or the most piercing remorse and terror.
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:26-30)
These words are not addressed to the unbelievers or the Jews but to the Lord’s servants, the Christians.
If we repent and seek the Lord, He will come to us and help us get back on the path that leads to eternal life. But if we do not, and continue in our carefree, presumptuous, arrogant apathy, we are facing the terror of the Lord.
The Goal of God—People Who Behave Righteously, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to practice righteousness, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)
Both the Judaic and Christian religions have preferred their religious beliefs and practices over the Lord’s desire, which is that people behave righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
We do always err in our heart.
It is time for judgment to begin in the household of God. After the saints themselves have been judged they will judge the remainder of the creation of God.
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (I Corinthians 6:2,3)
God’s wrath is upon man because of man’s behavior. God desires that people be loving, kind, peacemakers, joyous, patient, gentle, good, faithful, teachable, and self-controlled. Instead people are hateful, merciless, arrogant, troublemakers, selfish, bitter, impatient, grasping, harsh, workers of evil, faithless, hardhearted, and given to lust, perversion, and drunkenness.
- If we are hateful toward people we will suffer for it.
- If we are merciless we will suffer for it.
- If we are arrogant we will suffer for it.
- If we are a troublemaker we will suffer for it at the beema of Christ.
- If we are selfish we will suffer for it. The rich man entered Hell after his death, not because he had rejected Christ or committed adultery but because he was selfish.
- If we are bitter we will suffer for it.
- If we are impatient we will suffer for it.
- If we are grasping we will suffer for it.
- If we are harsh, a worker of evil, faithless, hardhearted, we will suffer for it.
- If we are given to lust, perversion, or drunkenness we will suffer for it.
If through the Lord Jesus Christ we repent, confess our sin, and seek the Lord’s forgiveness and the power to overcome our sin, God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We then are on our way toward the first resurrection from the dead.
But if we choose to believe the current “gospel” that teaches we will hear well done good and faithful servant even though we have been neither good nor faithful, and do not walk in continual confession and repentance as the Holy Spirit guides us, then we are facing the fire of God.
We may experience the Divine fire in this life. We may die and face the fire in the next life.
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (I Corinthians 11:30)
Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. (I Timothy 5:24).
The idea that we can walk with God by a kind of magic, that is, we can continue in our untransformed state and God will see us only through Christ, is not true.
This is what is taught. But is it actually true that when a believer fornicates God sees only the purity of Christ? We need to consider carefully what we truly believe!
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. (I Corinthians 5:1)
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. (I Corinthians 6:18)
Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. (I Corinthians 10:8)
And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness [immorality] which they have committed. (II Corinthians 12:21)
And so on and on and on.
If this is the case with fornication, is it not true of all other sins? And if it is true that Christians are to avoid fornication and all other sins, is it not then true that the present doctrine that God sees us only through Christ is utterly false and morally destructive? Are we saved “by faith alone,” meaning that if we subscribe to the correct doctrine our behavior does not really matter? It is the change in our personality through Christ that is salvation.
Will we repent or will we keep on courting the terror of the Lord?
Numerous sincere, selfless, courageous people of our day have left the comforts of their home and traveled to remote areas in order to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the heathen. The desire of these self-sacrificing individuals is that the heathen will go to Heaven instead of to Hell when they die.
But the current pressures and expectations soon may draw the missionary into the construction of churches. He or she may attempt to do that which only the Lord Jesus can do properly, which is to add to the churches such as should be saved, and may not pursue the missionary’s actual responsibility, which is to make disciples.
Instead of building saints he may find himself building a church. Instead of godly behavior, the numbers in attendance may become the measure of success.
Instead of a ringing call to repentance there may be an invitation to lead a successful life by inviting Jesus as a partner, to obtain His assistance as one pursues his own interests.
There may not always be the change from hate to love; from bitterness to joy; from trouble making to peace.
In the instance where the people are not changed but only added to the church or the denomination there has been no salvation from Hell. Hell always claims the hateful, the bitter, the troublemaker.
The current gospel in many instances is not producing the Kingdom of God but only the empire of man.
There are harsh warnings in the New Testament directed toward the Christian assemblings:
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (I Timothy 6:10)
Notice that the individuals have “erred from the faith,” that is, they at one time had been believers but then began to covet money—like Ananias and Sapphira.
And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: (II Peter 2:13,14)
The above is referring to people who were joining in the activities of the saints. Sometimes commentators, in their effort to prove that no Christian need fear the terror of the Lord, state that such sinners never were true Christians. On what basis do the commentators make this conclusion? The commentators judge these church attenders by their behavior. Thus the commentators establish our thesis that true Christianity consists of righteous works, and where there is unrighteous behavior there is no evidence of salvation.
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. (Jude 1:11)
Jude is speaking of “certain men” who had entered the assembling of the saints, people who sought to turn the grace of God into animal lust.
They are facing—THE TERROR OF THE LORD!
(“The Terror of the Lord”, 3289-1)