SALVATION THROUGH JUDGMENT AND SUFFERING

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Words of Righteousness)

SALVATION THROUGH JUDGMENT AND SUFFERING Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Christian salvation includes forgiveness and the moral transformation of our personality. Suffering is one of the means God uses to save us, to transform us. The suffering is a judgment on the three great idols that bind humanity: looking to the world instead of to the Lord for a satisfactory life; the lusts and passions of our flesh; and self-will, personal ambition, and stubbornness. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit He employs suffering, along with all other forms of the grace of God, to deliver us from our idols.

SALVATION THROUGH JUDGMENT AND SUFFERING

 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:)

The fourth chapter of I Peter is about judgment on the Christian because of his or her sinful personality. The judgment results in suffering. The suffering is a chastening designed to discipline us.

We notice that Christ suffered for us in the flesh. Christ did not need to suffer as we do, He suffered on our behalf. Yet Christ did learn obedience by the things He suffered.

We are to arm ourselves likewise with the same mind. We are to arm ourselves with a mind to suffer. If we do not we will never be able to stand up under the dealings of God.

Why do we have to be judged, to suffer, when Christ has suffered for us and paid the price for our sin? The reason is, our salvation has two major parts. The first part is the forgiveness of the guilt of our sin. The second, and more important part perhaps, is the moral transformation of our personality. The New Testament has far more to say about the moral transformation of our personality than it does about our forgiveness!

The guilt of our sins was taken care of when Christ made an atonement for our sins on the cross. The moral transformation of our personality requires judgment and suffering, among other aspects of grace, for its accomplishment. This is why the righteous are saved with difficulty. We hate to let go of our worldliness, lust, and self-will.

For example, part of our salvation depends on our forgiving those who have offended us. Sometimes it is many years before we are willing to come to Christ for the grace and strength to let go of our bitterness and unforgiveness.

In our day the second part of our salvation is scarcely mentioned. When it is it often is couched in psychological terms or otherwise presented as though it is something that is taking place so we will have a joyful, fulfilled life. This is all right for beginners, I suppose, but the main point of our moral transformation is that we may fulfill our destiny in the Kingdom of God. Our destiny in the Kingdom of God depends on the crucifixion, not the fulfillment, of our adamic nature.

Getting rid of bitterness, for example, will increase the freedom and lightness of our heart and may result in physical healing. This is true. But getting rid of bitterness also is part of our being prepared to do the will of God. God will not forgive us when we carry a spirit of revenge in our heart. In fact, all murderers will have their final end in the Lake of Fire. So getting rid of bitterness and hatred has much more significance than the procuring of our immediate happiness. It is an act of eternal judgment in the Kingdom of God.

Are you a parent? Do you only forgive your children or do you correct them? Which is easier for you to do, to forgive your child or to train him so he will not repeat the same offense?

 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Which takes more love, to forgive your child or to forgive your child and then take however much time and strength is required to train him or her so the offense is not repeated?

Your child will be very happy to receive your forgiveness. He or she may not be as willing to be disciplined in order to correct his behavior.

The Gospel is often presented as forgiveness alone. We humans want to be forgiven so we can escape punishment. But if forgiveness were all there is to salvation there would be no Kingdom of God, no new Jerusalem, no Paradise of righteousness, love, joy, and peace. How could there be?

Suppose your child on several occasions has stolen money at school. Suppose every time he did so you forgave him and did nothing else. What would you be doing? You would be making him a thief.

If God kept on forgiving our sins and did nothing more about it He would be contributing to our sinful, rebellious nature.

You have to tear yourself away from your business and pleasure, sit down with the child, and find out why he is stealing money.

There may be a logical reason, something that needs to be corrected. In any case the child must be convinced he is being treated fairly, it is unacceptable to steal, and if he does there will be serious consequences. This is called training up a child in the way he should go.

If you do not correct this behavior at an early age the police will deal with him or her later on.

So it is with God. God forgives us and then sets about to correct the problem, understanding that if He does not the Lake of Fire is in the wings. Maybe the Christian churches of our day do not understand the seriousness of sin in God's children and the possibility of deadly consequences, but God does. Remember the consequences of the sin of Achan?

We are to arm ourselves with a mind to suffer because suffering drives from us our worldliness, our lusts, and our self-will and stubbornness. We cannot bring these into the Kingdom of God. We cannot bring these into the new Jerusalem. We cannot bring these into the Paradise of God nor will we be given to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

One aspect of the problem of judgment, suffering, and sin in the Christian life is our belief that dying physically will automatically make us eligible for the new Jerusalem, or when the Lord comes we will be transformed magically. These fond beliefs of ours have no scriptural basis whatever.

Sin began in the Paradise of God and is spiritual in nature. We are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against unclean, rebellious spirits.

When we die we will not be changed. What we are, we are. Rather, after death comes judgment.

We are not changed by dying. We will not be changed in personality when the Lord appears, except that those who have been totally diligent in overcoming the obstacles set before them will proceed to great glory. They have been faithful in the lesser and they will be assigned the greater.

 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:7,8)

We are going to reap what we are sowing, whether for good or evil.

Let us say we follow the Lord Jesus and do His will with all our might. When we die we still will follow the Lord Jesus and do His will with all our might. Death or the coming of the Lord, or even the making visible of the invisible world, will not change this. When we die there may be more distractions than there are now. At least Satan found it so!

If we are spiritually lazy, careless in the things of God, more interested in our physical relationships and circumstances than we are in Jesus Christ, when we die we will continue to be spiritually lazy, careless in the things of God, and more interested in our surroundings than we are in Jesus Christ. And so in the Day of the Lord.

The Day of the Lord will not transform our basic personality, it will reveal our basic personality. The change that then will take place will be according to our revealed personality.

Take, for example, the individual who wasted his talent. When the Lord came He did not make the person industrious. Rather He took the talent from him and gave it to the believer who had been industrious. The lazy believer was scathingly rebuked for his laziness and sent into the outer darkness.

"But he wasn't saved in the first place!" Oh? The Bible says the lazy individual was one of the Lord's servants and entrusted with one of the Lord's talents. Maybe grace doesn't work according to the way it is being preached today. Maybe we better go back to the Bible and see what it says.

 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. (Matthew 25:14).

 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: (Matthew 25:26)

The man who was dismissed to the outer darkness was one of the Lord's "own servants."

But what about grace? We are forgiven by grace and then if we are wise we will be diligent with our talents, also given to us by grace. But if we are careless with what God has given us we are facing the outer darkness.

I do not know how God's "answer men" will get around the passages of Scripture that tell of the anger waiting for the careless Christian but I have no doubt they will find a way. But don't you follow them. They are the blind leading the blind. Beware of their leaven. It will blind you also. I have seen it happen.

 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. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: (I Peter 4:2-4)

There has been so much preaching about grace today the churches have been ruined. If Divine grace actually were what is being presented the above verse would be superfluous.

Today the passage would read, "It doesn't really matter how you live, if you believe in Christ, because God sees you as perfect in Him. You have been accepted in the Beloved." (Hezekiah 3:16)

Dear Lord!

After we suffer under the hand of God we are not to keep on obeying the lusts of our flesh. We are to live for God's will only.

The twelfth chapter of the Book of Hebrews reminds us of the great cloud of witnesses who are watching our struggle against sin. The witnesses are the suffering heroes of faith of the eleventh chapter.

It is instructive to observe the experiences of those who were true to God."

 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: (Hebrews 11:35-39)

Today we are taught that faith will prevent our suffering and make us rich. I guess the great cloud of witnesses will be dismayed when they discover that if they had only had faith they could have escaped all their problems.

The goal of the heroes of faith of Hebrews Eleven obviously was not Heaven but the new Jerusalem, and their own perfecting as being part of that city. Their goal is a better resurrection. They are righteous people living in the heavenly Zion who are being made perfect. But they cannot be made perfect apart from us and so they are studying us carefully.

 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. (Proverbs 4:18)

It is important to recognize that all revelation, all forward movement toward perfection originates in the earth and then is witnessed by the heavens. The Word of God must be tested in furnaces of earth.

While change does take place after we die, it is also taking place on earth in those who are enduring the present warfare. The whole Body of Christ is moving toward perfection together.

 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:40)

What we are experiencing on earth our fellow members in the spirit realm are experiencing at the same time. If this were not so, how could it be true that the ministries of the Body labor until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity as measured by the full stature of Christ?

How could the entire Wife of the Lamb get rid of her spots and wrinkles unless the work of moral transformation proceeds independently of whether or not we are alive in the flesh?

How about the patriarchs of old? How could they be born again if it did not take place in the spirit realm? How could they receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit if it did not take place in the spirit realm? How could they receive the baptism with fire if it did not take place in the spirit realm? How could they press on to the fullness of God if it does not take place in the spirit realm?

They cannot be made perfect apart from us. This fact suggest that the Body is built up by that which every part supplies independently of whether the members are alive on the earth or living before God in the world of spirits.

Our tradition implies that punishment, learning, and spiritual growth cannot take place in the spirit realm. If this were the case, the great majority of the members of the Bride of the Lamb are condemned to remain at their level of spiritual growth until the day of resurrection or perhaps throughout eternity.

It may be true, with the coming of the Lord at hand and many members of the Body positioned before the veil, bowing in death to self at the Altar of Incense so to speak, we will become more aware of what is taking place among our brothers and sisters in Heaven. And why not? It certainly is true that when the Lord comes there will be a convergence of the physical and the spirit realms.

No doubt our Lord Jesus lived in both realms. There are inferences in the lives of the Hebrew Prophets that suggest they walked under more of an open Heaven than we do. Moses and the elders sat at table with the God of Israel. May God hasten the day.

"As the tree falls so shall it lie," the Bible says. This is a fact. What we are, we are, and after death comes the judgment. But since the result of our being judged on the earth is chastening and not destruction, it may be true that after we die the judgment may be a chastening and not destruction.

Please note we are not teaching there is a purgatory or that we have a second chance after we die. We are in no manner implying either of these concepts. These ideas proceed from the viewpoint that our goal is eternal residence in Heaven. Since our position is that our goal is not residence in Heaven but perfection of redemption, that is, transformation into the image of Christ and untroubled rest in the Father through Christ, the concept of purgatory or second chance is not at all appropriate.

What we are saying is that it is possible to proceed toward perfection when we are in the spirit realm. We certainly do not want our growth in Christ to cease after we die! If there is to be no coming to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of Christ after death, an unnumbered multitude of believers are condemned to spiritual immaturity for eternity. The perfect Body of Christ and Wife of the Lamb will have mighty few members!

We think growth in Christ in the spirit realm is suggested by the following:

 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23)

"The spirits of righteous men made perfect."

The purpose of making the spirits of righteous men perfect is that they may return with Jesus Christ and take the place of the wicked governing spirits that have created such chaos in the earth. The spirits of righteous men are not made perfect on earth so they can go to Heaven to live forever. If anything the spirits of righteous men are made perfect in Heaven so they can return to earth and live forever. Quite the opposite of the customary viewpoint but much more scriptural, both Old Testament and New Testament.

The perfecting through judgment and suffering, the moral transformation of the sons of God, is described in both the twelfth chapter of Hebrews and the fourth chapter of First Peter.

 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:5,6)

If you are a child of God you will be chastened by the Lord. You are not to regard lightly His rebuke nor draw back in dismay when He rebukes you. As many as Jesus loves He rebukes and chastens. He punishes all of His sons.

Why does God punish us?

 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:11)

God disciplines us so we will have a peaceful, righteous personality.

We can see from I Peter 4:1 and Hebrews 12:11 that we suffer at the hands of God because we do not have a holy, righteous personality. If we had a holy, righteous personality we would not have to be chastened. God judges the evil in us, not condemning us but driving the evil from us so we are not condemned with the world.

The same idea of being found worthy of the Kingdom through suffering may be noted as follows:

 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (II Thessalonians 1:4,5)

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (I Corinthians 11:27)

The Apostle Paul noted the bad attitude of the believers in Corinth, particularly during the Communion service. He warned them that to take the Communion without a proper attitude toward God and people would make them guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

Paul brought up to the saints in Corinth the subject of judgment, admonishing the believers to examine themselves. If they did not judge themselves, Paul warned, God would judge them and chasten them accordingly. This judgment would be a fiery discipline that on occasion could result in sickness or even premature death.

 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (I Corinthians 11:30)

God's purpose in chastening those who took the Communion with a wrong attitude was that their spirit might be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus, that they not be condemned with the world.

 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (I Corinthians 11:31,32)

And notice:

 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:4,5)

The above passage reveals clearly that the present teaching of grace is way out of line. If it were true that all believers are without condemnation in the sight of God, what would Paul be doing delivering a believer to Satan for the destruction of his flesh? Only fiery chastening can get the sin out of us so our spirit may be saved when the Lord returns.

Do you see what Peter meant when he stated that the righteous are saved with difficulty? Salvation is not a ticket to Heaven, it is the transformation of our moral nature. Although such transformation was paid for on the cross, the actual working out of it is a difficult, dangerous business—dangerous because we may be deceived into drawing back from the Lord.

To be lost means God has given up on us. We no longer are eligible to participate in the process of transformation, of redemption from the hand of the devil.

While speaking of this, let us mention a point over which there is confusion.

Wrath and tribulation are not the same thing. Wrath is non-redemptive. The sufferings the wicked experience do not lead them to redemption. The Lake of Fire is not redemptive. The wicked will still be wicked at the end of a million years.

God has not appointed His children to wrath.

Tribulation is a different matter altogether. Tribulation is redemptive. It is a chastening with a view to our perfecting. Tribulation works patience. We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation.

The great tribulation of the last days will serve to separate the true church from Babylon, from Laodicea, and from the False Prophet. The great tribulation will see a Bride come forth who is utterly dependent on the Lord for all aspects of personality and behavior. Some of the members of the Bride will be prepared spiritually for translation into glory while they yet are alive.

 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 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 3:11,12)

There is no profit for us when we experience God's wrath. His wrath is directed toward the lost, for the objects of Divine wrath who have been prepared for destruction.

But there is very great profit in tribulation. To experience tribulation means God is dealing with us as with children, judging and removing by fiery trials our worldliness, the lusts of our flesh, and our stubbornness and self-will.

Are you a candidate for this kind of purifying process?

Every person who hopes to be like Jesus when He appears purifies himself. This we do with the guidance of the Spirit, the Lord helping and taking a hand once in a while with areas of our personality we are unaware of.

But if we as a believer do not examine ourselves, putting away all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, we are in for a baptism of fire.

When we think about Paradise, about the Kingdom of God, about the new Jerusalem, we know somehow there will be no sin there. We know that people will not be untransformed adamic natures who are without sin by imputation, whom God sees only through Christ. We expect the inhabitants to be all righteous, and not by forgiveness alone. They will be new creatures because God has redeemed them from worldliness, from lust, and from self-will. I suppose all of us would agree with this if we thought enough about it.

Who would want to go to a new Jerusalem full of people like we see in the churches today, gossiping, slandering, envying, practicing immorality and so forth?

The question is, where, when, and how do we get from here to there? There is no scriptural support for the idea that physical death changes us. There is no scriptural support for the idea that the coming of Christ will change us. Rather the coming of Christ will result in our receiving the rewards of our behavior, not a transformation of our personality.

Where, when, and how the Christian Church will be made righteous, holy, and obedient to God in actual personality and behavior rather than by imputation needs to be looked at squarely and scriptural answers given.

Your present writer is maintaining, based on passages in First Peter, Hebrews, First Corinthians, and Second Thessalonians:

The transformation occurs partly on earth and partly in the spirit realm.

The transformation occurs whenever God comes to judge us as an individual (for it is obvious that God deals with each of us differently).

The transformation is accomplished by many Divine graces including the born-again experience, the forming of Christ in us, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit, by the experiences we have in life, by suffering, and by whatever processes take place in the spirit realm.

 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)

As we have stated, we are not implying a purgatory or a second chance after we die. When God comes to us at whatever level of redemption (and every aspect of redemption is an opportunity), we must respond in faith. If we do not, we are charged with neglecting our salvation and there is no second chance, to our knowledge, at least not a second chance to gain that level of growth and rank in the Kingdom of God.

We know little or nothing of what happens to us after we die. We have a venerable tradition of mansions in Heaven. But a careful study of the Scriptures will reveal we know little or nothing of what life is like in Heaven. We do read that God is going to shake the heavens and is in the process of moving His Throne from Heaven to the hearts of His saints. Great changes are taking place in the realm of spirits and there is no safety in Heaven, only in the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is our Rock and our Fortress, not the heavens.

The idea of judging the living and the dead starts back in Chapter Three.

 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened [made alive] by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. (I Peter 3:18-20)

I don't know that I have ever read a commentary that treated clearly and plainly the concept of Christ ministering in the spirit realm or deceased people being judged according to people still living in the flesh. Have you?

I guess this is because we seem to have a phobia about the spirit realm. We prefer our dry, doctrinal theological religion. The result is, people today are going to other religions and beliefs to satisfy their desire for the supernatural. This is a shame because Christianity has all the supernatural aspects and experiences one could wish.

We have made a business of Christianity. In place of the enchanting wonders of the spirit Paradise we have our building program. Instead of the rush of angels' wings we have the unfolding of blueprints. When visitors come to see the church we show them the new parking lot. Is this why the American people are lusting after occult experiences?

I even read where one Christian group said the witch of Endor didn't really bring up Samuel but a demon. If that were the case the Bible is not telling the truth. But it shows how determined we are to keep pressed into the dead religious works of the flesh. We don't ever get to hear the horns of elf land.

Well there is no such chain on me so I am going to take these references in First Peter full-bore.

 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:30,31)

Paul says that we should keep our affections locked on things above. I love to do this and so any breath I can get of the spirit realm I grab it. It inspires me to keep going when I realize that one day I will be young and happy in the meadows of the garden of God.

The Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit went down and preached to the spirits in prison, probably soon after He was crucified. These disobedient spirits had been in the prison under the surface of the earth from the days of Noah until Jesus was crucified. Now, what was special about this population of spirits? What was special was that the flood marked the end of their lineages. The race of Adam was destroyed except for the lineage of Noah, his sons, and their wives. Unless the people were related to Noah, or his wife, or the wives of their sons, their lineage had come to an end.

Then we find in the fourth chapter of First Peter that the Lord Jesus is ready to judge people who are alive on the earth and also people who are dead and in the spirit realm.

According to the sixth verse the Gospel has been preached to the dead. The dead then are judged as though they were alive in the world although they are not on earth but living before God in the spirit realm.

It reminds us that Jesus spoke of God being the God of the living, not of the dead, for all live before Him.

It reminds us also of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration discussing the death that Jesus was facing. This single incident reveals the interest that the spirits have in what God does on the earth. Are they not all members of the great cloud of witnesses who surround us?

So away with this fear that somehow we might venture into the world that runs parallel with ours. This is not to say we are to spend our time dabbling in that which is not profitable or merely novel. It is true rather that our keen awareness of the continuity from one life to the next has great practical value. It helps us keep our minds focused on the things above, to place our treasures in a world that is really at hand and not beyond the stars. It is a joy placed before us as we trudge wearily in an alien world, walking on an earth that one day will be our possession.

We have said that the judgment on the saint is painful at times and that it is designed to remove worldliness, lust, and self-will from him or her. If this is the case, and if the living and the dead are being judged since the first century, then we must assume that the situations that chasten us here have their counterpart in the spirit realm.

Our tradition announces strongly that once we die we will be totally healed and joyous. The blind will see. The lame will run and leap. The sorrowful will sing for joy all the day long. There will be no pain, no problems of any kind. I know the Bible speaks of Paradise but these passages refer to the new age of righteousness to come, not of life after death in the spirit realm.

This is our tradition. As Lewis pointed out in A Grief Observed, as he pondered the death of his wife who had suffered so severely, there really is no basis in the Bible for the assurance that she is not still suffering.

Sorry, but this is the truth. The Christian concept of Heaven is mostly mythological.

All we have to stand on is the written Word. All else will pass away. The eternal Word says the Gospel was preached to those who are dead so the dead might be judged as though they were still alive on the earth. This passage may or may not be referring back to the preceding chapter which told of Jesus Christ preaching to the prisoners in the spirit realm.

It doesn't matter. This is what the Word says and the Word cannot be changed.

This sure cuts the ground from under the Christian teaching that those who have lived on the earth but never heard the Gospel of Christ are doomed to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire!

It's about time that someone drove a stake through the heart of the totally abominable, inequitable doctrine that those who have never heard the Gospel of Christ are condemned for eternity to the Lake of Fire because they never "accepted Christ." Some hold that babies that are not baptized will be in the Lake of Fire because they "never accepted Christ." One minister recently was heard to say that aborted fetuses will be in the Lake of Fire because they "never accepted Christ."

 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. (John 15:22-24)

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 12:47,48)

I find it difficult to pray for those who would accuse our Father of such rank injustice. Surely this is the religious spirit that crucified the Lord Jesus. But pray for them I must. Right?

The Bible says the Gospel was preached in the spirit realm, to them that are dead. Does this mean there is a second chance? It certainly does not. Does this imply there is a Purgatory? It certainly does not.

What it does tell us is that the plan of salvation embraces all men. God, the great Potter, has created vessels of glory and vessels of destruction. He brings His grace and wisdom to each individual at the time and in the place best suited to his eternal destiny, the destiny planned from the foundation of the world.

 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)

All is moving like clockwork. Can we lose our appointed place by neglecting our calling? Most assuredly we can according to the Scriptures. We must be careful not to make our own "therefores." We must study the Scriptures inductively, not deductively, exclaiming "Amen" over each and every verse whether or not we can reconcile the seeming contradictions.

The Gospel was preached to those who are dead. Period. This is a fact. Whatever conclusions we draw from this must not conflict with any other verse or we have drawn the wrong conclusion.

Doesn't it state it is appointed to men once to die and after this the judgment? Yes, it does. It is appointed to every individual to die. After this he will be judged according to the light he has had. Those who have had great understanding of God's program will be greatly responsible to have responded in terms of their knowledge. Those who never heard of the Bible, Israel, or Jesus Christ, will be judged according to the light they did have.

Only God in Christ, and sometimes in the saints appointed to be judges, will determine whether an individual is to be brought into the program of redemption, including suffering to remove worldliness, lust, and self-will, or whether the person is lost, barred from the Kingdom of God, cut off from the redemptive working of Divine grace.

"Brother Thompson, how can we have worldliness or lust once we die and leave this world?"

Don't you realize worldliness and lust are spirits? They have become part of your personality. In the day of resurrection they will again inhabit your body unless Jesus Christ removes them as part of your salvation. A person can be in the spirit realm and still be bound with all sorts of things according to the visions of the saints? And why not?

Do you have a jealous spirit? Do you imagine this spirit will leave you because your body died? The spirit of jealousy did not originate in your flesh but in Satan. He is the author of all jealousy, all lying, all murder, all lust, all spite, all envy, all violence, and everything else that is destructive.

He who commits sin is of the devil according to the Apostle John.

We who love Jesus are pressing on the upward way. We suffer many afflictions but the good Lord delivers us from them all. Our afflictions are a judgment of God on the worldliness, lust, and self-will in our personality. We are purified by the baptism of fire.

Seeing this is true, let us rejoice in the Lord always and uproariously. He is worthy of extreme adoration.

The day will come soon enough when the cross is lifted from our back and we enter glory unimaginable in the present hour. Our greatest joy will be to look back and see that we trusted and obeyed God through the many dangers, toils, and snares of our pilgrimage.

Difficult, yes. But through the Lord Jesus entirely, joyously possible.