SIX UNSCRIPTURAL TRADITIONS
SIX UNSCRIPTURAL TRADITIONS Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There are at least six unscriptural traditions that influence the thinking of Christian people. If they weren't causing problems we would not examine them for it is written we should not remove the old landmarks. But these landmarks were not established by the Lord and their effect is not edifying.
The first unscriptural tradition is that the Lord is coming to take His Church to Heaven.
The second unscriptural tradition is that Heaven is the eternal home of the saint.
The third unscriptural tradition is that every believer when he or she dies will live in a mansion and walk on a street of gold.
The fourth unscriptural tradition is that we shall receive our reward when we go to Heaven.
The fifth unscriptural tradition is that our physical body will not be raised from the dead.
The sixth unscriptural tradition is that we can never be lost once we have been saved.
Table of Contents
Introduction The Lord Is Coming To Take His Church to Heaven Heaven Is the Eternal Home of the Saint Every Believer When He or She Dies Will Live in a Mansion and Walk on a Street of Gold We Shall Receive Our Reward When We Go to Heaven Our Physical Body Will Not Be Raised From the Dead We Can Never Be Lost Once We Have Been Saved Conclusion
SIX UNSCRIPTURAL TRADITIONS
There are at least six unscriptural traditions that heavily influence Christian thinking:
The Lord is coming to take His Church to Heaven.
Heaven is the eternal home of the saint.
Every believer when he or she dies will live in a mansion and walk on a street of gold.
We shall receive our reward when we go to Heaven.
Our physical body will not be raised from the dead.
We can never be lost once we have been saved.
When you pick yourself up from the floor we shall proceed.
It may be helpful to the reader to realize the writer of the above paragraph is a deeply committed Christian, one who believes firmly in the full verbal inspiration of the generally accepted Hebrews and Greek texts. He also is an ordained pastor in a respected Pentecostal denomination.
We will discuss the six traditions from a scriptural rather than a philosophical viewpoint. We do not use analogies or deductive reasoning, for the most part, but support our position with clear passages of the Scriptures kept in context.
Why devout leaders more intelligent than we would miss the obvious error of the six traditions is not understandable, unless it is true that because we are so close to the return of the Lord and the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth the former beliefs will not meet the present needs. It seems the seals are being removed from the Book.
Also, the coming to maturity of the tares of wickedness requires a firmer hold on the Scriptures than we have had. Today is the day of the Lord's power, a time for strength and victory in the earth, which necessitates strength and victory in the spirit realm.
"Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." (Luke 24:39—NIV)
The above verse may appear to be an interruption of our thought, But it is not. Let us hasten to explain.
Jesus rose physically from the dead. The Bible tells of the fall, and then of the redemption of man through the Lord Jesus Christ. A physical man sinned and returned to the dust, as God warned. A physical man came forth from the cave as a promise that physical man will one day gain immortality. Adam and Eve and their saved descendants will once again live in Paradise on the earth.
The physical earth is very good and this is where man is destined to live forever, although as a humanity superior to that which we presently enjoy—and without the corrupting presence of the fallen angels.
Satan views the physical earth as his domain. He will oppose fiercely any move of Jesus Christ and His saints that appears to be capable of disturbing Satan's hold on the flesh of mankind. The serpent has been condemned to eat dust and possesses an unquenchable lust for the flesh of humans.
Satan could wish we all would go to Heaven (where he came from) and leave him and his demons to satiate their lustful appetites through the flesh of people.
But the unchanging Word states that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world and those who dwell therein.
We shall yet come to realize the Scriptures are oriented toward the physical world, which by the way is superior to the spirit heavens. The Kingdom of God is the clothing of the Glory of God and Heaven with flesh and bones. Isn't this what emerged from the cave of Joseph of Arimathea?
The occult philosophy of Gnosticism was prevalent in the first century. Certain aspects of the Bible seemed to be similar to Gnostic teaching and so Christian doctrine became polluted with this kind of thinking. Scholars maintain that the Book of First John was written to combat Gnosticism. It is my personal opinion that the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians also was a reaction to Gnostic thinking. One can see in this chapter that Paul is fighting against those who say there is no resurrection from the dead.
What is the central idea of Gnosticism, and the resulting antinomianism (we are saved by faith and grace apart from obedience to moral law)?
The central idea of Gnosticism is that the flesh of man is to be disregarded in favor of the salvation of his spirit. Through specialized knowledge the spirit can be redeemed and go to Heaven.
The Gnostics denied that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, maintaining that His bodily appearance was an illusion. Some of the Gnostics lived very sensual lives because of their belief that the physical body would never be redeemed. They would not agree to keep God's commandments, seeing no reason for doing so. This accounts for the Apostle John's insistence that unless we keep God's commandments we do not know Him.
When Jesus claimed to have flesh and bones He was showing that Divine truth is the very opposite of Gnosticism. The two understandings of redemption could not be more opposed. One is the determined enemy of the other.
Christian teaching concerning the blood atonement, the bodily resurrection and second coming of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit is of God. But the six traditions we have mentioned, the Lord is coming to take His Church to Heaven, Heaven is the eternal home of the saint, every believer when he or she dies will live in a mansion and walk on a street of gold, we shall receive our reward when we go to Heaven, our physical body will not be raised from the dead, we can never be lost once we have been saved, are much more Gnostic than they are Christian.
Also, the unscriptural doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture of the believers reflects Gnostic tradition in two ways: first by ignoring the resurrection and emphasizing a flight to Heaven; second by teaching that God saves His people from trouble by removing them to another place. In many instances the Bible reveals that God saves His people by protecting them in the lions' den, not by removing them. The ninety-first Psalm is an example of this. Ancient Gnostic traditions give an account of God protecting His favored by removing them from the site of trouble. But we Christians go through the fire and the water without being destroyed! This is the way God usually works.
There is no passage of the Scriptures that teaches the Lord is coming to take His Church to Heaven. Imagine! One of our basic statements is not found in the Scriptures. Actually, the purpose of the Lord's return is to install His Kingdom on the earth; to establish justice among the saved nations. This is taught clearly by numerous passages.
Heaven is not our eternal home. We shall be with the Lord on the earth when He governs from Jerusalem ("so shall we ever be with the Lord"). We shall be with the Lord forever on the new earth. We all agree with this. Why then do we speak of making the spirit Heaven our eternal home? This is Gnosticism!
There are a few verses (not many!) in the New Testament that portray the deceased saints in the spirit realm. None of them describes the paradise reported to us by those who have had near-death experiences. We do not discredit these near-death experiences but take hope from them. However the tremendous evil forces of our day require that we hold steadfastly to the written Word, for it is the Word that is our only reliable anchor and judge of the spirits.
The commonly held notion that we shall receive our reward when we go to Heaven also is a product of Gnostic thinking. The Bible does not teach that we shall receive our reward when we go to Heaven but when the Lord returns. This fact can be demonstrated readily from the Scriptures.
Some may not agree with the author's contention that we Christians do not believe the physical body will be raised from the dead. But it is a fact. Our traditions describe our dropping our sinful body and rising to find our eternal rest in Heaven. This is pure Gnosticism. Paul did not groan for escape to the spirit realm but for the redemption of his body, the very opposite of Gnosticism.
Paul desired to be with the Lord (who wouldn't in his circumstances?). But the only groaning Paul did was for the redemption of his physical body. Think of it!
The hope of the resurrection of our body from the dead and the clothing of it with incorruptible life is a central aspect of the Divine redemption. The resurrection of the physical body is vastly more significant and important than "going to Heaven."
The Gnostic influence has relegated the doctrine of the resurrection to a place of minimal or no importance while the thought of the "catching up" of the saints to Heaven has become the blessed hope of the Church. My Brother and Sister in the Lord, the catching up of the saints to Heaven never has been and never shall be the blessed hope of the Church. We are drifting away from our scriptural moorings. Our traditions are leading us ever further from scriptural truth.
Can you imagine such a departure from the Scriptures? Can't you just see Jesus Christ and His Apostles emphasizing the "catching up" in their statements? Imagine Paul stating he was seeking to attain the "catching up." We are way off base in this, thanks to the occult philosophy of Gnosticism.
It is time to return to the Scriptures for the Day of the Lord is at hand; not a day of a flight to the spirit Heaven but of the redemption of the bodies of the victorious saints and then through them of the created universe. This is what the Bible teaches and this is what shall take place in the not too distant future.
The concept that we can never be lost once we have been saved is related to the idea that salvation is a spiritual phenomenon and how we behave in the flesh is not relevant. Once we have the specialized knowledge, say the appropriate words, how we behave in the body, whether or not we keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, is not critically related to our redemption. The Bible does not teach this, although Paul, as he fought against the Judaizers, made some statements that, if we ignore the remainder of his writings, imply we are saved apart from our behavior in the flesh.
The concept that we can never be lost once we have been saved is founded on the idea that salvation is eternal residence in the spirit Heaven. When we change our view of the goal of salvation to that of our resurrection from the dead and renewed life on earth, the doctrine of eternal security loses it strength and validity.
It loses its strength because by "can never be lost" is meant we will go to Heaven rather than Hell when we die; when in actuality the resurrection unto eternal life, not residence in Heaven, is our goal. And our behavior directly affects the kind of resurrection we shall have. (This last thought needs the careful attention of all Christians!)
When we hold the true definition of salvation the eternal-security position loses its validity because the very meaning of being saved is that of transformation into the image of Christ and untroubled rest in the Father's will. To say we can sin and still be "saved" is to maintain we can be healed and still be sick.
We would invite the reader to find three clear passages of Scripture solidly in context that support any of the six traditions. If three clear passages in context, not assumptions, deductions, implications, analogies, or reasonings, cannot be found, then we would suggest a careful consideration of what we have to say further regarding the six traditions we are discussing.
Can you find even one passage that tells us the Lord Jesus is coming to take His Church to Heaven? Most likely not.
Let us then examine some passages that reveal what the Scriptures actually say about the return of the Lord. You will see at once they are all directed toward the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth and the bringing of justice to the saved nations.
This tradition is so firmly entrenched in our preaching and hymnology that it may require another generation or two for our emphasis to turn toward the return of the Lord and the resurrection from the dead.
"The Lord is coming to catch His waiting Bride away." What a venerable aspect of our religion. But it is not found in the Scriptures.
The Old Testament in numerous passages views the purpose of the return of Christ, of Messiah, to be the deliverance of Israel and the establishing of justice among the nations of the earth.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6,7—NIV)
"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1—NIV)
The Lord Jesus Christ (and we with Him) is coming to sit on the Throne of David in Jerusalem and from that throne bring justice to the saved nations of the earth.
How did we lose this vision? How did we turn the Bible vision into a flight of the saints to Heaven? Was it Gnosticism? Was it Dispensationalism? What model of scriptural interpretation removed our hope? Was it the notion that the Gentiles will be in Heaven while the Jews are on the earth? Was it this anti-Pauline position that has wrought such havoc in our understanding of the Scriptures?
But doesn't the New Testament reveal clearly that the Lord is coming to take His Church to Heaven?
I have heard teaching that the Lord will come as a thief and catch away His Church. However Paul stated in First Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord will not catch the saints by surprise. Yet we persist in this totally unscriptural concept.
The Lord indeed is coming as a thief, not to steal anything but to take the wicked by surprise.
But didn't Paul teach clearly that the Lord is going to remove His Church to Heaven?
Never! Never! Never one time!
Paul taught that Jesus will return in the power of His Kingdom and destroy the Antichrist, never anything else. Check the Scriptures!
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you And give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:6-10—NIV)
According to the above passage the saints will not be delivered from tribulation by being removed to Heaven but by the return of the Lord to destroy Antichrist.
How could anything be plainer?
But didn't the Lord in First Thessalonians speak of catching up His saints?
Yes, He did. But if you will notice they first are raised from the dead. This makes them invulnerable to Antichrist and tribulation even before Christ destroys those who had persecuted them.
Second, they are never caught up to Heaven. We are not raised from the dead so we can go to Heaven but so we can live once again on the earth. Think about this.
They are not caught up to Heaven but into the air. They go to meet the Lord as He is returning. They do not rise to return with the Lord to Heaven. Most of those who will be raised in that day have just come from Heaven with the Lord. Why should they return? We are transformed and caught up into the air to meet the Lord at His return so we can descend with Him and destroy the wicked.
So the teaching that the weak believers are caught up to Heaven so they cannot be harmed by Antichrist or the great tribulation is totally unscriptural and totally illogical.
Furthermore the doctrine of the catching up to Heaven is turning the minds and hearts of the believers away from the all-important pressing toward the first resurrection from the dead, which is the real issue of the Day of the Lord, giving them the unscriptural hope in their carnality they will leave their bodies and ascend to Paradise where they will have no more trouble. This hope springs from the adamic nature and is nothing more than a desire to escape from pain and dread. It is not a desire for increased righteousness or the knowledge of the Lord.
When Paul spoke of his hope of being delivered from the body of sin and death it was so he would be free from sin and able to keep the moral laws of God. Check out the context!
The millions of Christians who have been tortured, maimed, and murdered throughout the centuries were not delivered by removal from the earth. Are we so much more favored that God cannot stand to see us suffer?
The preaching that goes on in Christian churches, appealing as it does to the pleasure-loving American people, is absolutely sickening. It is an abdication of our responsibility to be a watchman on the wall. We are betraying Him who died for us when we curry favor with the lukewarm believers of our day, refusing to present to them the demands of discipleship, telling them that any moment now they will be removed from all trouble.
Why are we, who profess to care about the nations who do not know Christ, so ready to flee to the spirit realm? Are we that anxious to leave the peoples of the earth to the tender mercies of Satan?
The truth is, the greatest revival of all time will occur at the time of the coming of the Lord?
"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." (Isaiah 60:1,2—NIV)
The most powerful revival of all is just ahead of us. Or do we suppose, having been blinded by Dispensational theory, that the nations of the earth are going to come to the physical land and people of Israel and not to the Church of Jesus Christ?
According to our understanding the Glory of the Lord will come upon the Church at the time Jesus appears in the clouds, just as in the days of Noah the fountains of the deep were broken up before the rain started falling. I think this is what the Lord meant when He said His return would be as the lightning coming from the east and flashing to the west. As soon as we are one in Christ in the Father the world will believe it is God who has sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. This is what the Scripture teaches and Isaiah tells us how it will take place.
There will be no secret coming of the Lord except to the personalities of the victorious saints in spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles (John, Chapter Fourteen).
The idea that Heaven is our eternal home is not found in the Scriptures. It is a teaching of Gnosticism, the doctrine that matter is evil and spirit is good. Really, the opposite is true. There is nothing wrong with our flesh except for the spiritual evil that drives it.
God made the physical world "very good."
Let us point out that Paul stated, concerning those who are raised when the Lord returns, "we shall be with the Lord forever."
I don't know about you, but I want to be with Jesus. Where Jesus is, is all the Heaven I need or want.
Now, if we want to know where our eternal home is, it is where Jesus is. Is that sensible?
When the Lord returns He is going to establish His Kingdom on the earth. His headquarters will be in Jerusalem. In fact He will sit in the Throne of David on the Temple Mount. From there He will govern the creation of God. All the blood-washed believe this, as far as I know.
I do not want to be in Heaven when Jesus is in Jerusalem. I want to be with the Lord, just as Paul said.
When the new sky and new earth come into view, the new Jerusalem will descend through the sky and come to rest on a high mountain of the new earth. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the new Jerusalem.
Jesus will be forever on the new earth ruling from the glorified city of Jerusalem. I think the blood-washed believe this also.
Can you then explain to me how Heaven is our eternal home when we will be on the earth with the Lord Jesus throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age and then forever in the new Jerusalem on the new earth? How then is Heaven our eternal home?
Man was created on the earth and this is where God wants him. God wants a man with a physical body living on a physical earth. Of course the physical body and the physical earth will be covered with Divine Glory, just as the wooden Ark of the Covenant was covered outside and inside with refined gold.
It is the evil teaching of Gnosticism that desires to forfeit man's right to be in a physical body on a physical earth. This is Satan trying to keep Christ and those who belong to Christ in the spirit realm so he and his demons can inherit the earth.
However the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world and those who dwell therein. The inheritance of Jesus Christ and His coheirs comprises the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.
You can sit up in Heaven if you want to with the four-faced creatures and the angels. You can recline at your ease on a sea of glass mixed with fire.
But as for me and my house, we are destined to return to the earth. This is where God will be, His Throne having been established forever in the hearts of His saints.
Our condition between the time we die and the time we are raised from the dead is not dealt with at length in either Testament. The Bible focus is on the Day of the Lord, the Day of Judgment, the appearing of Christ, the coming of the Kingdom to the earth, the time of the resurrection from the dead. We have a rather extensive tradition concerning the present state of the dead but our understanding will probably be modified in the days to come.
Our hope of a mansion comes from an unfortunate translation of the Greek term for abode, in John 14:2. The golden street is found in the new Jerusalem, and may be symbolic of the way of faith. It seems unlikely that there would be only one street in such a huge city. Anyway, I myself would rather walk on a dirt path than on a street of gold. This proves it is easier to get the boy out of the country than the country out of the boy.
I guess I own most of the books that deal with the visions of Heaven the saints have had. I love to go over them from time to time. It refreshes my spirit to think about Paradise. I like to set my affections on things above. Do you?
However, when I was saved during World War Two I was taught by the Navigators to learn the Word and live by the Word. Then I would be prosperous and then I would have good success.
I have tried to do this over the past fifty-three years.
As much as I would like to think I will go to such a paradise when I die, I have to set my hopes on what the Scripture actually states. How do you feel about this?
As far as I know, the only time the Scripture comes anywhere near describing the kind of paradise for which we hope occurs in the Old Testament. The passages do not have to do with the spirit Paradise but with the Glory of God filling the earth, especially in the location of Jerusalem. Actually Jerusalem is destined to be the Throne of God, the "Heaven" of the eternal age.
The references to the deceased saints in the New Testament never reveal the type of environment we expect to find when we die.
We notice Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration discussing with Jesus His death.
Paul sometimes mentioned his desire to go home to be with the Lord. This is completely understandable given Paul's circumstances. But Paul never groaned with a longing to die and go to Heaven. When Paul groaned it was for the redemption of his body, that is, for his resurrection into incorruptible life. This was so he would be released from sin, because Paul was a righteous rabbi.
The Book of Hebrews tells us we are surrounded with a cloud of witnesses. The dead are seeking to know what God is doing, because the revelation of God comes from the imperfect people of earth, not from angels in Heaven.
Revelation 6:9 informs us there are souls kept under the Altar of God in Heaven, probably the Altar of Incense. There are not at rest but are beseeching God to avenge them on those by whom they were martyred. They were given white robes.
Revelation, Chapter Seven tells of a special group—those who come out of the great tribulation. They are standing before the Throne of God and in front of the Lamb. The Lord comforts them.
And then there are those described in Revelation 5:9,10 who are looking forward to reigning on the earth.
There also is a group standing on the sea of glass mixed with fire who are singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, thus revealing the continuity of the covenants.
We see therefore that the Heaven of our traditions is not found in the entire Scriptures.
It appears likely, and the testimony of saints who have been brought back from death agrees with this, that when we die we will be placed in an area where there are people like ourselves. We will be "gathered to our people," so to speak.
The spirit realm is an area of rest for the righteous and of torment for the wicked until the Day of the Lord arrives. It is then our destiny is decided. It is then we are rewarded or punished, not after we die.
If we would be scriptural, let us from this point forward set our eyes on the resurrection from the dead. This was Paul's goal, his mark, his heavenly calling. It is not residence in the spirit Heaven that is our objective, the goal of our redemption, it is the resurrection from the dead and the resumption of life upon the earth.
This is where Jesus will be. This is where I desire to be with my family. What is your hope?
How did we ever get so far off the Bible track?
We do not get our reward when we go to Heaven. We get our reward in the Day of the Lord. Everything in the Scriptures points toward the Day of the Lord. If we would be scriptural let's start looking forward to the Day of the Lord and the resurrection from the dead.
We are determining what kind of resurrection we will experience by the way we are behaving today.
At a recent convention we were told that the reward of some believers will have to be brought in on a forklift. The angels will bring the reward of other believers with a pair of tweezers. To some will be given a great mountain of glory; to others, a diaper.
Our reward will consist largely of the body from Heaven that will clothe our resurrected physical body. The heavenly body that will clothe our physical body is growing before the Throne of God in Heaven as we are sowing our present body to the death and resurrection of Christ.
In the Day of the Lord our body from heaven will clothe our resurrected physical body.
We are not going to a mansion in Heaven. Our mansion in Heaven is a living house that will clothe us in the Day of the Lord.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 4:4—NIV)
The Apostle Paul was looking forward to the Day of the Lord, not to receiving the crown of life when he died but when Jesus returned.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (II Timothy 4:8—NIV)
The Lord Jesus will bring our reward with Him when He returns. We are laying up treasures in Heaven today that will be given to us when the Lord appears.
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (Revelation 22:12—NIV)
There was an incestuous believer in Corinth. Paul was not trying to get him into Heaven but endeavoring that his spirit would be saved in the Day of the Lord.
Hand this man over to Satan, so the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. (I Corinthians 5:5—NIV)
We have eternal life now in our inward nature. But when the Bible says that God so loved the world He gave His Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life, it is referring to being raised to life in our body in the Day of Christ, and not being thrown in our body into the Lake of Fire.
Notice the following very carefully and it may change your theology:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:22,23—NIV)
Those who belong to Christ will be made alive when He returns. We have eternal life now in our inward nature. The eternal life we have now is a firstfruits of the life that will make alive (redeem) our mortal body in the Day of the Lord.
When Paul said the wages of sin is death, of if we walk in the flesh we will die, he was speaking to believers (check the context). Paul meant that if we who are Christians keep on living after the flesh we will reap corruption. We will reap corruption in that our inward eternal life will be choked out, as in the parable of the sower, and in the Day of the Lord there will be no inward resurrection life to make alive our mortal body.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:11-13—NIV)
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8—NIV)
Please keep in mind that the two passages above are addressed to Christians, not to the unsaved. We who are believers always must keep our eyes on attaining the resurrection unto eternal life. We attain eternal life by turning away from every distraction and pressing forward to the mark set before us. That mark is the out-resurrection, the first resurrection, the resurrection that will take place when the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven with His holy angels.
And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11—NIV)
The term "resurrection" as employed above has a prefix meaning out from. The idea is a first resurrection out from among the dead. It is the resurrection to the crown of life worn by the holy priesthood. The first resurrection must be attained by laying aside all else that we may learn to live by the power of Christ's own resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
From all of this we can readily see why it is so important that our goal be attaining the first resurrection, while our brief stay in Heaven is a time of rest until true human life (although on a transcendent plane) resumes in love, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit.
"As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance." (Daniel 12:13—NIV)
If someone were to ask a fundamentalist Christian if he believed we will be raised from the dead, the response would be, "Of course!"
Yet we believers of today are very vague concerning the doctrine of the resurrection. Our tradition is leading us in a direction that rejects the literal, physical resurrection of the dead. However the resurrection of the body of the saint is the primary hope of the Christian salvation.
The entire fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians is devoted to a defense of the bodily resurrection of the saints, probably because of Gnostic teaching.
Perhaps one reason for the confusion about the resurrection of the body is Paul's teaching in the fifth chapter of II Corinthians about the body from Heaven. We do have a body in Heaven that is being formed from our conduct on earth. But this is not the resurrected body. The resurrected body is our physical body that has died and been interred, and then raised by the voice of Christ.
Another point of confusion is Paul's statement in First Corinthians:
When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. (I Corinthians 15:37—NIV)
The above verse could be interpreted to mean our present body is not the body that will be, therefore our present body is not the body of the resurrection.
If such were the case it would be contradicting the argument presented in the entire chapter.
What Paul is saying is that after the resurrection our body will be different, not that we will have a different body. He is pointing out that when a farmer sows wheat he is sowing only seed, not the stalk and head it will have after it germinates and grows.
Our present body is a seed. We are sowing it to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the Day of the Lord it will be raised and then marvelously glorified.
But, as Paul warns us so many times, if we do not sow our present body to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, if we do not present our body a living sacrifice, if we continue to walk in the appetites and lusts of the flesh, we will slay our own resurrection. In the Day of the Lord our present body will be raised but in a state of corruption.
It is for the very reason set forth in the preceding paragraph that our current Gnostic-Christian teaching is so destructive. If we are following the Gnostic point of view that salvation is the flight of our inward spiritual nature to the spirit Paradise, then much of what Paul wrote about reaping corruption makes no sense. Our spirit goes to Paradise by grace so who cares about whether we sow to our flesh or not. We will continue in our "eternal security."
But if the Gnostic point of view is a satanic lie, which indeed it is, and we continue to live in the flesh, eating, sleeping, playing, working, reproducing, giving little thought to pressing forward in Christ each day, then in the Day of Christ we are not going to be given a glorified house from Heaven. We will enter the Kingdom of God (if we are permitted to enter!) as a naked spirit having no inheritance.
Or, the possibility exists that we will be cast into the Lake of Fire in our body, where the worm does not die and the fire is never quenched.
The warnings in the Scriptures are to be taken seriously!
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2—NIV)
When we think of our destiny we think of either Heaven or Hell. While there assuredly is an actual Heaven and an actual Hell, the main teaching of the New Testament is not based on this simple division. In fact, the Apostle Paul does not use the term "Hell" in any of his epistles, which would not be the case if deliverance from Hell were the central topic of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The principal teaching of Christ and His Apostles is eternal life, that is the attainment to the resurrection of life. It is life that is stressed in the Gospels and the Epistles, not residence in Heaven.
This is not to imply that Hell and the Lake of Fire are not places to be feared. The Scripture teaches that those whose names are not found in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Those who are thrown into the Lake of Fire will be whole personalities—resurrected flesh and bones, soul, and spirit. These personalities will perish in that they no longer will be able to move about in the creation of God, but they never will cease to exist. They will be in endless torment.
They will be viewed with contempt by the members of the saved nations.
"From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:23,24—NIV)
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29—NIV)
There are several possible destinations of the righteous, in that Jesus spoke of greatest and least in the Kingdom, and Paul spoke of being saved as by fire.
The Heaven-Hell concept is more Gnostic than Christian. The idea of the Christian salvation is not to get the inward, spiritual nature of man into a spirit paradise. The Christian salvation is the cultivation of Christ in the inward nature so at the coming of the Lord the outward man can be raised from the dead and filled with Christ. The Christian salvation is one of victory, of overcoming sin and death through the Life of Jesus Christ, and then the restoration of Paradise on the earth, not just that of escaping torment. The Glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (as the waters of eternal life cover the dead sea of mankind). This is salvation. This is redemption. This is the Kingdom of God that is at hand.
The Christian salvation is infinitely superior to the Gnostic philosophy. Let's kick out every trace of Gnostic thinking we can find. Let's get it out of here just as the Jews sweep out leaven from their homes during the Passover. Let's get the very smell of it out of our assemblings and start preparing people for the Day of the Lord and the resurrection of the dead.
The ascension to meet the Lord in the air is not redemption, it is only an act of Kingdom power. Once you attain the first resurrection from the dead your destiny is set. You could remain on the earth in righteousness, peace, and joy. But you will be caught up to meet the Lord at His coming so you may descend with Him and pour out the wrath of God on the wicked.
You do not have to worry about being here when the wrath of God falls on the earth. It will be you who are administering the wrath, if you are living as a victorious saint!
May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, To inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, To carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 149:6-9—NIV)
Paul never groaned that he might die and go to Heaven. He did say that he would like to die and be at home with the Lord. And who wouldn't, given Paul's circumstances? But Paul's groaning was for the redemption, the salvation of His mortal body, for the resurrection from the dead, for the change into righteous, incorruptible, resurrection life.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11—NIV)
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23—NIV)
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15:54—NIV)
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4—NIV)
And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11—NIV)
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20,21—NIV)
Can you see in the preceding passage that Paul was not waiting to die and go to Heaven but for Christ to come from Heaven and change Paul's body?
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2—NIV)
Is it clear to you that the Apostles were looking for their salvation to come with the return of the Lord from Heaven? When He appears we shall be like Him. Everything in the spirit realm is looking forward to the appearing of Christ. Let's join the group.
The result of many years of grace-Heaven teaching is the deep conviction in many if not most Christians that once a person has been saved he can never be lost.
There are several verses in the New Testament that flatly contradict this position but Christian scholars and teachers use deductive reasoning, analogies, and sometimes the Greek language, to prove once a person truly is saved he or she can never be lost.
One problem that arises is that an unscriptural definition of saved and lost is employed and so we have error built on error.
Because of the Gnostic influence, being saved means the inner spiritual aspect of the personality enters the spirit Paradise at death, there to reside forever. Because of the unfortunate translation of rooms, or dwelling places, in John 14:2, as "mansions," we have the strong tradition to that be saved means we will go to a mansion in the spirit realm to live forever, apparently doing nothing of significance.
Wouldn't Satan love this—the whole Church in mansions in Heaven while Satan inherits the earth!
If salvation is defined correctly as removal from the person and behavior of Satan and placement in the Person and behavior of Christ, then we see the argument that a person once having known Christ can never be lost loses much of its validity. If to be saved is to be created in Christ's image and brought into untroubled rest in the Father through Christ, and to be lost is to be rejected from the program of transformation and union with God, then we have a solid base on which to proceed with our argument.
The Lord Jesus stated in the Gospel accounts that when He returns He will evaluate our service. If we have managed our Kingdom talents wisely and diligently we will be entrusted with rulership. However, if we have not managed our Kingdom talents wisely and diligently we will be led away into outer darkness.
We know this is true because the Son of God said so. The question is, can we be led away into outer darkness and still be saved? How would you like to be led away into outer darkness? Would you consider that you had been saved?
There seems to be three possible reasons why devout, intelligent Christian people would use every means at their disposal to prove the several passages that state those who do not serve Christ will nevertheless not be lost to the purposes of God:
They wish to keep on sinning in some area of their life and still not have to worry about going to Hell.
They are afraid with all their efforts they still may not meet God's standards and will go to Hell.
They think God is so loving He would never send them to Hell.
In answer may we say:
We cannot sin willfully and expect to receive anything but the wrath of God. We simply cannot disobey our heavenly Father willfully and knowingly and yet be admitted to the Paradise of God. There is no religious formula that guarantees salvation to the believer who is keeping some part of his or her personality from the will of Christ.
As for the fearful, there are several Scriptures that assure us Christ will save us if we serve Him diligently and faithfully. No power in Heaven above, on the earth beneath, or in the dark regions under the earth can possibly remove us from the protection of God. Christ will finish what He has started in us, but only if we keep serving Him to the best of our ability.
If we do not serve Christ diligently and faithfully, Christ's remarks in the Gospel about how He will deal with His unfaithful servants then apply to us. How could it be otherwise? Have the writings of the Apostles outdated the Word of Jesus Christ in the Gospels as some have imagined? Do you believe this? I certainly do not!
To those who insist Christ will continue to bless them even if they do not serve Him to the best of their ability, we reply that you are mistaken and your future indeed is bleak. You are trifling with the King!
As for God's love, it took Jesus Christ to the cross. No person can fathom the depth of God's love. It also is true that no person can fathom the depth of God's wrath. No punishment or torture ever inflicted on a human being by other human beings can approach in horror endless existence in a lake that burns with fire and brimstone. We can escape pain by fainting or death. There is no escape in the spirit realm!
The next time someone says to you that no matter what a believer does he can never be lost, ask him about the parable of the talents; ask him about the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. Ask him or her why Jude reminds us that the Lord having saved the people out of Egypt afterward destroyed those who did not believe. If this incident of history is not applicable to the Christian salvation, why did Jude as well as the writer of Hebrews use Israel's history to point out the danger of not pressing forward with God?
There is a snake, an evil spirit, working in Christian theology. It tells us no matter what we do we shall not surely die. It prevents devout, intelligent believers from perceiving what is plainly stated in the unchanging Scriptures.
We have lost the fear of God in America and therefore we are not wise. God in His goodness is speaking to us today to repent, to turn away from our worldliness, bodily passions, and self-will and personal ambitions. If we turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and begin to serve Him as we should we will save ourselves and our nation. But if we continue to disobey Christ's commandments, stubbornly maintaining that no matter what we do we cannot be lost to the program of redemption, we will place ourselves in very great spiritual jeopardy and our nation will experience a holocaust worse than that of Israel.
Please don't wait to see if I am correct.
The Lord Jesus stated unequivocally that if a branch in Him does not bear fruit it is cut from the Vine, that is, from Himself. There can be no argument about this. This is what the Son of God said.
The fruit to be borne on a branch in Christ is the image of Christ in the believer and in those whom the believer influences. I think most Christians would agree with this.
Now if we do not bear the fruit of Christ-likeness in our personality and in the personality of those whom we influence, we will be cut off from Christ. No one can deny this. However the question remains, what does it mean to be cut off from Christ?
The Christian will say, perhaps we will be cut off from Christ if we do not bear fruit but we will still be saved. This answer reveals the individual is blindly clutching a Gnostic concept of salvation, that is, eternal residence in the spirit Paradise.
"I don't care if I am cut off from Christ just as long as I go to my mansion in Heaven."
This is the kind of thinking that goes on today.
The truth is, if you are cut off from Christ you are cut off from God. You are lost!
One major argument employed by fundamentalists is that if we sin and lose the Presence of God we were never saved in the first place. This is how contemporary scholars get around the opening verses of the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
What they are stating is that if you are a sinning Christian you are not truly saved. Thus they are reinforcing our position—that the only proof of salvation is a righteous life.
Every time we stumbled (and who among us does not stumble from time to time?) we would believe we never had been truly saved. Thus their argument flounders when put to the test.
God has given us an opportunity to confess our sins and turn away from them. Then the blood of Christ forgives our sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
But that believer who is not presenting his body a living sacrifice, is not denying himself, taking up his cross and following Jesus, who is living in the flesh, not praying each day, not meditating in the Scriptures, not seeking first the Kingdom of God—I tell you in Jesus' name that individual is close to the fire.
Will he or she finally be cut off from the salvation of God? Only Christ will decide that in the Day of Judgment.
But please understand just because we have made a profession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior does not mean we never can be removed from the program of redemption. This position contradicts many clear passages of Scripture.
Do you remember Satan's lie in the beginning? "You shall not surely die."
This is the message preached from many fundamental pulpits today. Even though Paul said you will die if you walk in the flesh, you will not surely die.
If you say to someone no matter how you run you will win the race, the runner will not push himself to the last searing thrust.
If you say to a boxer no matter what you do you will win the fight, he is not going to drag himself up off the canvas and throw a few more punches.
If you say to a person "whether you work or not all your bills will be paid," the individual may lay in bed and not make an effort to earn a living.
This is what Satan has done to remove zeal from the Christians. "It is true Revelation says you will get the crown only if you overcome, but don't worry—you will inherit the Kingdom by grace." This is the current assumption.
The lie of eternal security may be the most damaging of all the unscriptural traditions.
Let me tell you that a person can accept Christ, be born again, speak in tongues, work in the ministry, and then turn away from God, not pressing forward into the rest of God. What will be his portion at the return of the Lord? Outer darkness!
The Kingdom principle is given in the Book of Ezekiel. If the wicked turn from his wickedness and begin to practice righteousness, his wickedness will not be mentioned to him. If the righteous turn from his righteousness and begin to practice wickedness, his righteousness will not be mentioned to him.
Salvation, the program of forming us in the image of Christ and bringing us into untroubled rest in the Father through Christ, has a specific beginning, a specific program, and a specific conclusion. You cannot say you are finally "saved" until you finish the program. Is this what the Son of God said? "He who endures to the end shall be saved."
The footnotes of my edition of the Scriptures says it is not true that we must endure to the end to be saved. The Son of God said we must endure to the end to be saved. The Christian tradition has much error in it, error that God wishes to correct in our day.
We can truthfully say, "I was saved at the time I received Christ; I am working out my salvation now; and I hope for the salvation that is to come with the appearing of the Lord." We are saved by hope, the Bible tells us.
Salvation is transformation. Salvation is rest in God's perfect will. To say we are saved when we are not being transformed, when we are not doing God's perfect will (there is no such thing as a permissive will of God—another lie from the Pit), is to reveal a Gnostic view of salvation, not a Christian understanding.
For my part, I believe the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. If our traditions are not in line with the Scriptures, then out go the traditions. Only the Bible will keep us steady in the days to come as God challenges the angel of the Christian churches and fights against us with the sword of His mouth.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22—NIV)
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2—NIV)
If there were no other passage in the Bible that put the lie to "once saved always saved," John 15:2 (above) would do the job. How today's preachers get around this verse I have no idea. Maybe they say it applies to the Jews and not to us.
Can't you just imagine the Lord saying, "Every branch in me that bears no fruit will be cut off unless it is saved by grace"!
No, I beat my body and make it my slave so after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (I Corinthians 9:27—NIV)
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Romans 8:13-21—NIV)
How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. (Hebrews 2:3—NIV)
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Hebrews 3:14—NIV)
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, Who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, If they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Hebrews 6:4-8
For if we sin wilfully 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
See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. (Hebrews 12:15-17—NIV)
"He was rejected"!
The above was not written to the unsaved but to the Hebrews Christians. Why would the Holy Spirit write to Christian people concerning Esau if his unchangeable rejection had no application to the Christian salvation? I think we had better go back to the drawing board.
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." (II Peter 2:20-22
He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:5—NIV)
Does the verse above imply that some believers in Sardis were in danger of having their name blotted from the Book of Life? None of the above passages is addressed to the unsaved, only to Christian people.
Does it seem to you that a person having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God?
I know of no clear passage in the Scriptures that states once we accept Christ we can never be lost. Do you? Scholars support this position with deductive reasoning, analogies, assumptions, appeals to God's loving Nature, and sometimes with the intricacies of the Greek language.
On occasion they quote the passages assuring the believer what Christ has started He will finish. They neglect, however, to point out that while Christ will never break the contract of salvation, we can. Christ has the power and the willingness to keep us in victory to the end of our discipleship. But if we do not pray each day and get help from God to enable us to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, we disqualify ourselves from the program of redemption.
Those who teach once we have been saved we never can be lost have no clear passage kept in context to verify their conclusion. But we have just presented several clear passages kept in their immediate contexts, the contexts of the books in which they were written, and the context of the entire Scriptures, Old Testament and New.
The parable of the sower alone tells us that the Word of life can germinate in our personality and then be choked out so it bears no lasting fruit.
We maintain therefore, believing we have solid scriptural support, which the upholders of the six traditions do not appear to have, that we are in dire need of a reformation of Christian thinking.
From our point of view:
In no way can the tradition that the Lord is coming to take His Church to Heaven be supported with clear passages of Scripture kept in context.
In no way can the tradition that Heaven is the eternal home of the saint be supported with clear passages of Scripture kept in context.
In no way can the tradition that every believer when he or she dies will live in a mansion and walk on a golden street be supported with clear passages of Scripture kept in context.
In no way can the tradition that we shall receive our reward when we go to Heaven be supported with clear passages of Scripture kept in context.
In no way can the tradition that our physical body will not be raised from the dead be supported with clear passages of Scripture kept in context.
In no way can the tradition that we can never be lost once we have been saved be supported with clear passages of Scripture kept in context.
If this is so, and we are open to anyone who can show from the Scriptures we are incorrect, then pastors and teachers need to modify their preaching and teaching in these terms.
All of us know God desires righteousness and that the goal of the new covenant is to produce righteous people. No true Christian would disagree with this statement.
All of us know the new world will be, as Peter says, a world of righteousness. It will not be a world of imputed righteousness because the behavior of citizens whose only righteousness is that which is imputed would soon turn it into a hell. It will be a world of actual righteousness. Perhaps most Christians believe this in their heart if not in their mind.
All of us know Christ is righteous, His Apostles are righteous, and God expects righteousness from all of us. God is holy and without holiness no believer will see the Lord. And this means real holiness of personality, not imputed holiness.
All of us know the only testimony the world will believe is the testimony of righteous works on the part of the Christians. This is the true light of the world—the righteous Nature of Christ being revealed in His people.
Now, the six traditions we have mentioned work against these basic facts we all believe.
The idea that the Lord is coming to take His Church to Heaven turns our eyes away from the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, the establishing of justice among the nations. The Dispensational position that the Gentile believers will be in mansions in Heaven while the Kingdom of God on the earth consists of Jewish believers is so unscriptural, unrealistic, illogical, and impractical as to not be worthy of discussion.
The idea that Heaven is the eternal home of the saints makes most of the Bible incomprehensible. Many passages of the Bible, including both Testaments, speaks of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The tradition that when we die and enter Heaven we shall live in an ornate mansion and walk around on a golden street leaves us with the idea that even if we do not have Christ formed in us we will be in such a superior environment that who cares. We may have forgotten man at one time was in Paradise on the earth and could not maintain it because he himself had not been transformed. Would we want the same tragedy to occur again? We were not made in the spirit realm, as were the angels, and do not belong there. We were made on the earth and this is where we rightfully belong.
The tradition that we shall receive our reward when we go to Heaven removes the reality of the Day of Christ from our thinking. We are to be looking forward to the Day of Resurrection, the time when we receive the body, the robe formed from our sowing to the death and resurrection of Christ during the time of our discipleship on the earth.
The tradition that our physical body will not be raised from the dead takes away from the necessity for overcoming the works of the flesh. The assumption that we will never be faced with the consequences of what we have done in the flesh gives us a false impression of reality. Every person who has lived on the earth will be called forth from the grave and give an account of his behavior, even if he has been dead and living in the spirit realm for two thousand years. Adam and Eve will be summoned from the dead by Jesus Christ and give an account of their behavior.
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come outthose who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29NIV)
Whether we enjoy the thought or not, after we die there is coming an hour when our body will hear the voice of Jesus Christ. It will be compelled to get up on its feet and stand on the ground, just as did Lazarus. No doubt the clothes we were buried in will have rotted away by that time.
If we have died in Christ, died while we were in intense interaction with Him, then we will be wildly, extravagantly joyous because we have attained the first resurrection from the dead. We will be on the earth once again, ready to be with Jesus forever. God has accepted the Divine judgment on our conduct that took place during our discipleship and we have been sentenced to eternal life in the Presence of God.
But if our life has not been one of abiding in Christ, of fervent discipleship, then we will awaken to a trial. At the trial we will be rewarded according to our works whether or not we have at some point in our life made a profession of faith in Christ. We need to understand today that a profession of faith in Jesus Christ does not prevent our being judged, for all shall be judged. Neither does making a profession of faith cause God to overlook our behavior. This is what is taught today but it is not scriptural.
The teachers who are leaving people with the impression that making a profession of Christ is their ticket to Paradise will have to answer at the Judgment Seat of Christ for the moral havoc they have created in the churches, and consequently in the world that looks to the Christian churches for moral guidance.
One time on a trip by car across the country we stopped at a restaurant. We were tired, dirty, our clothes were wrinkled, hair uncombed. We wanted to eat and get on our way.
We were not presentable, but we said, "They'll never see us again so it doesn't matter how we look." Have you ever done that?
Well, when we teach that we will never see our body again, this kind of thinking takes place. If we realize we will be called forth in our body to give an answer for how we have behaved in the body, we might be more careful how we speak and act. There is no escaping the voice of Jesus Christ in that Day!
The worst lie of all is the tradition that we can never be lost once we have been saved. I wonder what would happen if all the Christian leaders announced to their churches that unless a believer lives according to the New Testament commandments, given by Christ and His Apostles, he or she will face an angry Christ in the Day of Resurrection.
I think there might be, at least in the United States, nationwide repentance.
But how would Americans react? In anger? In unbelief? Would they look for churches that told them even if they do not serve Christ fervently they still will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant"?
Would they still hop up and down next to their pews to prepare for an unscriptural rapture to deliver them from trouble? Probably not if they realized that were they caught up in their present lukewarm condition they would face the fire of God's wrath because of their worldliness, lust, and self-willed disobedience.
I am afraid if the Christian leaders do not warn the people, telling them we have been following incorrect traditions, the leaders as well as their congregations will not find life after death to be the paradise they are expecting.
Does all this make sense to you?