Everlasting Life as the Gift of God—
WHICH IS IT?
An unassailable tenet of Christianity is humanity’s possession of an immortal soul. But unassailable tenets tend to become sacred cows, especially tenets of great antiquity. They are barren heifers and castrated bulls fattened for slaughter. And the concept of humanity’s inherent possession of an immortal soul is a stalled ox now fit for the Japanese meat market. It is truly prime beef, tender, juicy, its flabby muscles ribboned and marbled. So, if you are squeamish about seeing a beast butchered--vegetarians beware--close your eyes and cover your ears for you are about to witness considerable blood-letting.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, born as the man Jesus of Nazareth, enjoyed the smell of fat burned on the altar. That sizzling fat has become the prayers of the saints. My prayer is that spiritual Israelites everywhere believe the Apostle Paul that everlasting life is a gift from the Father, and is received no other way. The wage for sin is death, not eternal life in a rotisserie, not eternal life separated from God, not eternal life in any form, but rather, being tossed into the lake of fire which will utterly destroy a person’s body [soma], physical life [psuche], and spiritual life [pneuma]. A person who has been born again has received the Holy Spirit [Pneuma "Agion] and will, if the person remains in covenant, receive a glorified body that is not subject to death when the person reaches his or her spiritual majority. This person spends his or her spiritual childhood in a physical body that is the image of the spiritual. As disciples of Christ, we are as Jesus was after He received the Breath [Pneuma] of the Father and before He was crucified. The now glorified Jesus became the firstborn of many heirs when the Breath of the Father descended upon Him like a dove, not when He received an incorruptible body. We have the word of the Father as assurance that the man Jesus was, with the receipt of the Breath of the Father, born anew as the beloved Son (Matt 3:17). The passages in the Gospel of John that suggest Jesus was the Son of God prior to His human birth (John 3:16-17) are not well translated. Theos as the Logos was with Theon in the beginning (John 1:1-2). Both Theos and Theon were/are God [Elohim, the plural of Eloah, which is God (El) plus His Holy Breath (ah)]. All things physical were created by Theos (John 1:3), not Theon. It was Theos who was born as the man Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:14). And when John 3:16 is read in Greek, Theos comes as His only Son; Theos clones Himself as a physical human being. He can only do this once. So He is born of Mary not as the Son of the Father, but as His own Son. The man Jesus of Nazareth is part of the physical creation--to say otherwise is to make oneself into an antichrist. And all of the physical creation, including the physical man Jesus of Nazareth, is the construction of Theos as the Logos.
Jesus’ life forms the pattern for future disciples: we live as Adam lived, breathing creatures composed of breath [psuche] and flesh [soma] until we receive the Breath [Pneuma] of the Father when He draws us from the world (John 6:44, 65). We then become tripart, with actual life in the heavenly realm. We have received a second life, and we have become subject to the second death. Disciples are not free to live however they please. They have been drawn or drafted by the Father; they have been placed in the eternal covenant. When drawn, their sins were covered by Christ’s shed blood, and their sins since that time are borne by Christ and given to Satan if they remain in covenant. The only way a disciple will not be glorified is if the disciple leaves the covenant, thereby grieving the Holy Spirit and the disciple’s life in the heavenly realm.
Humanity has entered the time of the end, defined by the visions of Daniel finally being understood, and by the good news that all who endure to the end will be saved (Mat 24:13) being proclaimed to the world as a witness. There isn’t time to play verbal patty-cake with Christians who have been born-from-above but who are out of covenant with the Father and His Christ. This is the time for theological confrontation so that spiritual Israelites who will listen to Christ’s voice hear His words, even if the Word angers them. Those spiritual Israelites who won’t listen won’t heed a "make-nice" tone, either. They are the seven of ten servants of the nobleman who refused to be ruled by him (Luke 19:27). They will experience the second death.
A logic fault occurs when a multifaceted issue is presented in terms of linguistic absolutes. But some states or conditions are inclusive, or exclusive. A woman is either pregnant, or she isn’t. A person either possesses life, or the person doesn’t. There is no arguable position for being almost pregnant, or almost alive; or nearly pregnant, nearly alive; or even barely pregnant, barely alive. A person is either alive, or the person isn’t. A person has either been born of water (embryonic fluids), or the person hasn’t been. Likewise, a person has either been born of spirit (the Breath/Pneuma of God), or the person hasn’t been. There is no transitional state or condition. It is, literally, all or nothing. Thus, a person either possesses everlasting life (i.e., life in the heavenly realm), or the person doesn’t--and here we encounter our first difficulty: "everlasting" or "eternal" are modern English translators’ preferred signifiers (or linguistic icons) for the Greek signifier aionios, which might better be rendered "age-lasting." Greek thought was of age to age, thereby making the arrival of the Lord’s Day the conclusion of our present age and the beginning of a new age.
One age began with Adam and ended with Noah. One age begins with Christ’s Millennium reign and ends with the arrival of the new heavens and the new earth. So the lake of fire which comes with Christ concludes when the earth is renewed with fire in preparation for the arrival of the Father. The lake of fire is, therefore, age-lasting fire which is translated into English as everlasting fire. And everlasting life is life in the spiritual realm, where time doesn’t exist; it is everlasting, but it can be lost.
Again, for English speakers, the signifiers everlasting and eternal do not have that assignment of an outer limit; i.e., the end of the age. Therefore, everlasting fire and everlasting life produce a differing linguistic signified in the minds of English speakers than the Greek expressions do when they are translated literally into English.
Further, time can be written as a function of gravity, making time part of the creation. Time doesn’t exist as humanity knows it outside of the creation. Therefore, the concept of "eternal" in the supra-dimensional realm usually identified as heaven equates most directly to our concept of a continuous linguistic present tense. I AM means, simply, that "I exist"--I exist today, tomorrow, yesterday, next week, whenever you can imagine. By implication, I AM precludes being human, or of the creation. I AM can only be of the spiritual realm or of that dimension. I AM cannot solely exist in the physical creature--once Theos entered His creation as the man Jesus of Nazareth, He could only leave through death. Likewise, when Satan is cast from heaven and to the earth (Rev 12:9), he cannot return to heaven. He can only leave the earth through death (Ezek 28:18-19). He will be destroyed; he will have fire come from his belly, and he will be consumed completely. He won’t be in charge of the lake of fire; he won’t be tormenting the souls of mankind forever. His judgment has been pronounced. It is sure. He will die for the sins of glorified saints, sins that Christ returned to Satan when Yom Kipporim becomes a reality, sins that Christ bore as our high priest.
If the heirs of God are to be like Christ when they are glorified, then they also will exist outside of time, unaffected by gravity or the laws of physics as we understand them. Heirs will similarly be able to say that they exist in an age that has no outer limit, for it has no connection to time. However, as long as they are within the creation in life and in body, they are subject to a linguistic limitation: the end of the age. Eternal and forever means until the age ends. The problem is, neither signifier does. Neither English signifier effectively encapsulates the concepts of the Greek signifier.
How can "forever" not mean forever? How can my stepson look at a 1965 Ford Mustang, also drool in desire to possess one, then say, "That’s BAD!" He can because we assign meaning to words. My stepson’s use of bad is 180 degrees off from my use of the same signifier. But a similar reassignment of signifieds to signifiers was seen in Cockney English at the close of the 19th-Century. Communication is more than precise word usage. It is, as Baktin reminds us, the entire context in which a signifier is encountered.
Augustine wrote, "This faith [Christianity] maintains, and it must be believed: neither the soul nor the human body may suffer complete annihilation, but the impious shall rise again into everlasting punishment, and the just into life everlasting" (On Christian Doctrine, Book One, paragraph XXI, D.W. Robertson’s trans.). And ever since, Christianity has maintained the theological posture that every human being receives an immortal soul upon conception. Fornication, therefore, produces immortal souls by Augustine’s must believe position. The wage for sin is not death (Rom 6:23), but everlasting life in punishment, regardless of whether the person knew God. By Augustine’s must believe polemic, neither a person’s soul or body will die, but both will experience "punishment," or will experience "life," making punishment rather than death the opposing condition to the linguistic absolute life.
However, Solomon writes, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die" (Eccl 3:1-2). For Solomon, life is enclosed within the quantity of space-time between its beginning and its end. Life doesn’t exist before its beginning, and it doesn’t exist past its end. Thus, "life" is not the converse of "punishment." Nor does "death" equate with punishment. The absence of life (i.e., death) is the converse of life; so Augustine’s must believe polemic creates a linguistic impossibility, since punishment cannot be synonymous with death as an absolute. Punishment requires life for its administration. When punishment continues past the cessation of life, it ceases to be punishment and becomes mutilation of a corpse. Again, punishment requires a body to possess life--and life must exist in a body in order for the flesh to be punished, as Augustine is aware. The disembodied essence of life (or breath of life) cannot receive punishment, for there is nothing upon which to inflict the punishment, which is why Augustine wants the human body not to suffer complete annihilation. However, when a person dies, it is the person’s breath of life [psuche] that returns to God, not the person’s body, which returns to dust. The person’s body is completely annihilated: dust to dust, ashes to ashes.
Paul, the Gospel writers, and the so-called Catholic writers used two Greek signifiers to convey the concepts of physical and spiritual life. Both signifiers refer to "breath": psuche, which suggests shallow breath; and pneuma, which suggests deeper breath. And this terraced duality of breathing signifiers is in agreement with the concept of a physical creation being followed by a spiritual creation. There is a first Adam, a man of flesh, and then there is the second Adam, a spirit being. There is a first Eve, that gives life to humanity, and there is a second Eve (i.e., the Church) that gives life to the heirs of God. There is a physical nation of Israel that was holy to God (Exod 19:5-6) followed by a spiritual nation of Israel that is now holy to God (1 Peter 2:9). Circumcision of foreskins (physical circumcision) is followed by circumcision of hearts and minds (spiritual circumcision). And the list goes on, such is the typology of Scripture, which can only be understood through typological exegesis. Precept-upon-precept exegesis causes a person to stumble, become ensnared and be taken (it is the reading strategy of drunks in Isaiah’s day); and historical exegesis is the teaching of the doctrines of men. So the two Greek signifiers for how deeply a person breathes corresponds nicely to the concept of a physical creation followed by a spiritual creation. Elohim [singular] breathed the breath of life into the nostrils of the first Adam (Gen 2:7), and Adam became a nephesh; that is, a breathing creature. God the Father’s Breath/Pneuma descended like a dove on the second Adam, imparting to Jesus spiritual life, just as Elohim’s breath imparted physical life to the first Adam. And the glorified Jesus breathed on His disciples, and said, ‘"Receive the Holy Spirit [Pneuma]’" (John 20:22), and the second Eve was created at approximately the same time that the first Eve was created after a deep sleep fell over the first Adam. By receiving Jesus’ directly transferred Breath/Pneuma, the Church was created with ten disciples gathered together the evening of Christ’s ascension. Without the Breath of God, Jesus’ disciples could not have understood the spiritual teachings He would give them for the next forty days (Rom 8:7; 1 Cor 2:11). With the Breath of God, the disciples were spiritual creations, born-from-above. They now had real life in the spiritual realm, not merely a promise of life…the first Adam would have appeared like a wax museum’s exhibit until he received the directly transferred breath of life. In the terraced nature of physical/spiritual creations, the second Adam would have appeared like a spiritual wax museum’s exhibit until the Breath of the Father descended upon Jesus like a dove. The second Adam had life in the physical realm prior to receiving the Breath of the Father, but He had no life in the spiritual realm. To say otherwise is, again, to make oneself into an antichrist, according to John. And it is only after receiving spiritual life that Jesus confronts Satan, and defeats him. The battle between Jesus and Satan was for the control of the mental topography of humanity, the logic for the particular set of temptations and rebukes. The battle was fought in the spiritual realm even though the participants were here on earth. The battle was an antitype of the lad David slaying Goliath. There will be another slaying of Philistines when Christ returns, but Christ returns as an antitype of the mature king who slew his ten thousands.
Life and death as absolutes acquire an advocate in Jesus of Nazareth, who lived, died, and lives again in the supra-dimension of heaven. Christ links death with the grave [hades] (Rev 1:18) through possessing their keys: Yes, He died, yet lives. His use of death doesn’t convey any sense of punishment, but rather, conveys the sense that life had ceased to exist. Both death and the grave [hades] will be thrown into the lake of fire at the end of Christ’s Millennium reign (Rev 20:14). Their termination in the lake of fire is the second death (same verse). So Christ’s use of Death and Hades addresses first physical life--the death that Jesus experienced at Calvary--but it also addresses spiritual life: "And if anyone’s name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (v. 15).
An assumption needs here to be addressed: this assumption is that the lake of fire doesn’t effect spirit beings. It is based upon an understanding of fire being an oxidizing agent, and since spirit beings are not composed of the elements of the earth, they cannot be oxidized through any known process. This assumption that fire must necessarily be an oxidizing agent is false. Moses, upon seeing the bush burning but not being consumed, said, ‘"I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned’" (Exod 3:3). Moses isn’t in vision. He is really tending the flocks of his father-in-law. He is on a real mountain. And the fire coming from the bush was not an oxidizing agent, yet the fire appears real. So the assumption that fire originating in the spiritual realm must be an oxidizing agent needs to be jettisoned. Pitched out with this assumption should go teachings that spirit beings are not affected by fire. Ezekiel prophesies in an after-the-fact sense when he describes the judgment of Satan as the spiritual king of Tyre. He said, quoting the Lord, "By the multitude of your iniquities, / in the unrighteousness of your trade / you profaned your sanctuaries; / so I brought fire out from your midst; / it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth / in sight of all who saw you. / All who know you among the peoples / are appalled at you; / you have come to a dreadful end / and shall be no more forever" (28:18-19). God brings fire out from the belly of this king of Tyre to consume him. If this king of Tyre were human, Christ has revealed His judgment against a man before His return (1 Cor 4:5), which the Apostle Paul says He won’t do. But no human being has been "an anointed guardian cherub" (v. 14). This prophecy is widely recognized as being about Satan. And it isn’t interrupted to shift from Satan to a man just before its conclusion as taught by one of the more controversial religious teachers of the past century, Herbert Armstrong, who, with his son Garner Ted Armstrong, wrote in Did God Create A Devil? that Satan cannot be destroyed by fire (pp.18, 21, 24 -- 1973 edition). But the Lord says otherwise: Satan will be completely destroyed here on earth, where he was cast (Rev 12:9) halfway through seven years of tribulation. His destruction will come at the conclusion of Christ’s Millennium long reign as King of kings. Satan and his angels will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10) that has been prepared for them (Matt 25:41). There, in the lake of fire, Satan will be tormented unto the aionas [age] of the aionon [age], or until the end of the ages, when the new heaven and the new earth appear, thereby concluding the plan of God as revealed in the abstract for Scripture (Gen 1:1-2:3). His torment will end at the conclusion of the ages with fire coming out from his belly and reducing him to ashes under the feet of saints. He will not be around to enter New Jerusalem (Rev 21:27), nor will be "the cowards, the faithless, the detestable…murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars" (v. 8). All whose names are not written in the book of life will experience the second death. Their fate will be akin to Satan’s (Rev 20:15).
Satan, at least, has a body upon which fire can inflict torment while in the process of being consumed. Disembodied breaths of life do not, the logic for a resurrection to condemnation (John 5:29). Until a once living person is resurrected and returned to life, either in the resurrection to life or in the resurrection to condemnation or in the great White Throne Judgment, the person has no substance that can be physically or spiritual destroyed. Jesus said, concerning spirit, that it is like wind, coming and going where it will (John 3:8). It is, therefore, foolish to think that a disciple’s physical breath of life [psuche], or that a disciple’s spiritual breath of life [pneuma] can be punished without being in a body. It would be easier for a person to enchain the wind, thereby stopping it from blowing where it will.
Jesus, like Paul in his epistle to converts at Rome, established a relationship of opposing absolutes: ‘"Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his [the Son of God’s] voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrect of judgment"’ (John 5:28-29). The opposing absolutes are: (1) those who have done good, versus (2) those who have done evil – "good" and "evil" equate to "life" and "judgment." Earlier in this same discourse, Jesus said, ‘"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life’" (v. 24). So for Jesus, death is the converse of life. Judgment now has to do with death, not punishment. Judgment leads to death in the lake of fire.
The assumption that fire must be an oxidizing agent causes scholars to do linguistic gymnastics to keep Satan from being destroyed as prophesied by Ezekiel--and not only Satan, but the beast and the false prophet (Dan 7:11-12; Rev 19:20 & 20:10). And if Satan has fire come out from his belly, who is in charge of an everburning gehenna fire? And more linguistic calisthenics become necessary to keep the concept of an immortal soul from deflating and sailing wildly around the room as an escaping balloon.
The good/evil converse relationship that Jesus establishes concerning resurrection exists in the Lord’s day (Rev 1:10), that period beginning when the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Most High and His Messiah (Rev 11:15): "And he [the angel] said to me [John], ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy’" (Rev 22:10-11). An implied caesura between the second "filthy" and "the righteous" divides this four-part list into contrary actions and states. What has been translated as "evildoer" can be translated as "the unrighteous," so the two qualities of action are unrighteousness and righteousness. The two states are filthy or unclean as the opposite of holy, as seen in clean and unclean animals (Acts 10:12-15, 28). So the person who isn’t holy or a part of spiritual Israel (1 Pet 2:9) does those things that are evil or unrighteous. The person who is holy does those things that are right or good. This person is clean (John 15:3) as in pruned to bear much fruit.
Since the law that divided humanity into circumcised and uncircumcised was abolished (Eph 2:15) as Peter was told three times in his vision concerning unclean animals; and since humanity is liberated from bondage to sin (Rev 11:15) when Satan is cast from heaven 1260 days before Christ returns as the Messiah (Rev 12:9); and since all of humanity is called by God (Rev 18:4) and receives the Holy Spirit/Pneuma when called (Joel 2:28) and liberated from bondage to sin; and since the good news that all who endure to the end will be saved has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, the only reason for a person still to be unclean or filthy in the Lord’s day is the person’s refusal to be ruled by Christ, as seen in the parable of the pounds:
A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas [pounds], and said to them, "Engage in business until I come." But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, "We do not want this man to reign over us." When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business…[only three come forward; as for the other seven, the nobleman says] But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me. (Luke 19:12-15, 27)
Slaughter might be construed as punishment, but slaughter doesn’t imply the continuation of life. Rather, slaughter sounds more like being cast into the lake of fire when the person’s judgment is revealed at Christ’s return.
All of humanity has been made clean or holy by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice, but not all of humanity has now been drawn by the Father (John 6:44, 65; Acts 2:39), the reality of predestination and of some vessels having been created for special use. However, that changes halfway through seven years of tribulation when the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Most High and His Messiah (Rev 11:15). All of humanity is then called (Rev 18:4). All have the Breath of God poured out upon them (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17). All know the Father by virtue of receiving His Breath/Pneuma. And the person who has received the Breath of God and then chooses not to be ruled by Christ will be slaughtered upon Christ’s orders, which will happen at the revealing of the person’s judgment (1 Cor 4:5) upon Christ’s return. And this agrees with what Jesus said, ‘"Do not fear those who kill the body [soma] but cannot kill the soul [psuche]. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna] (Matt 10:28).
When Jesus sent his disciples out as recorded in the tenth chapter of Matthew, his disciples had not yet received the Holy Spirit/Pneuma even though demons were subject to them, and they had the power to heal. They wouldn’t receive the Breath of God until the glorified Christ breathed on them the evening following His ascension to the Father. However, they were sent out to create the shadow or antetype of endtime disciples who have the Breath of God going to the cities of the lost sheep of spiritual Israel. Therefore, Jesus assigns to the life-giving breath of His disciples [their psuche] the qualities that the Apostle Paul assigns to born again disciples’ psuche and pneuma (1 Thess 5:23). Jesus said not to fear those who can kill the body [soma], so the body can be killed. It can cease to live. Jesus said, rather, to fear the One who can kill both the body [soma] and the life [psuche] in the lake of fire.
Before proceeding, there is a textual inconsistency in the use of psuche and pneuma about which scholars know: the Apostle Paul, in his first epistle to the saints at Corinth, writes, "For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit [pneuma] of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit [Pneuma] of God" (1 Cor 2:11). The Pneuma of God is the Breath of God, a figurative expression for the creative power of God, for God does not live through the inhalation of oxygen molecules. Humanity lives through the oxidation of sugars at the cellular level. Fire for us is the oxidation of a combustible medium. A similar relationship exists between the Breath of God and fire in the spiritual realm as exists between the breath of humanity and fire in the physical realm. (This relationship is mirrored in the spiritual creation of the heirs of God and the physical creation of the children of Adam and Eve.) This is why Satan can have fire come out from his belly, thereby reducing him to ashes, creating a situation analogous to the combustion of a human body.
The Apostle Paul’s use of a person’s pneuma as the knowing of that person’s thoughts creates linguistic parallelism with the things or thoughts of God being only knowable through receiving the Holy Spirit/Pneuma. It also addresses a truism: I know my thoughts. No other physical being does. I know my thoughts through having physical life. The dead know nothing (Eccl 9:10); i.e., when dead, I will not know my thoughts. So Paul’s use of pneuma here better matches the physical breath of life [psuche] than how he will use pneuma elsewhere…of course, reversing how Paul intended psuche and pneuma to be used does not affect the substance of this argument in the least. Before being called by the Father, a person has his or her physical breath, and physical body. Then after being born-from-above, the person is made a disciple through receiving a puff of the Breath of God. Disciples now have literal life in the spiritual realm. They are not begotten; they are born anew. They become physical life and spiritual life in a physical body: psuche, pneuma, and soma. And this is the mystery of God that has caused so many disciples to stumble for so long.
Fellowships of the splintered Churches of God use the above quoted passage from Paul’s epistle to the saints at Corinth to prove that humans have a different spirit or breath than have animals, that this differing spirit causes humans to be able to reason. To make the passage work as they desire, they insert a "by" between "except" and "the spirit [pneuma] of that person"; thus, a person knows the things of a person by having the spirit of man, thereby making the spirit of man a differing spirit than the spirit beasts have received. Then in the same context, these fellowships will cite Ecclesiastes 3:19, showing that man and beasts have the same breath, or spirit. Their arguments are logically inconsistent, and are rejected by the majority of the Christian Church for cause although the point they attempt to make concerning humanity not having an immortal soul is valid.
In Christian theology, Gehenna has becomes a location of punishment rather than a place of fire. Most scholarly articles concerning gehenna will identify the place as Jerusalem’s garbage dump. Located geographically just south of Jerusalem’s southwestern hill, the valley of Hinnom or the valley of Hinnom’s sons saw the debris of the city set fire there, the fire ever-burning in the sense that as long as the city brought garbage to the valley, the fire burned. This valley, then, becomes the metaphor for the spiritual location where the trash of spiritual Israel is burned when the judgment of the people of God is revealed. The Apostle James says of this location that though the tongue is a world of iniquity or lawlessness, it is, in turn, set on fire by gehenna (3:6), thereby making hell not the repository of punishment, but the causal factor leading to lawlessness or sin. In this famous passage, James personifies gehenna, ascribing to the location the ability to influence the wheel of life. Thus, hell is not a location in the netherworld, but the overhead broadcast tower of Satan as the prince of the power of the air, who deceives the whole world by reigning, for a season, over humanity’s mental topography.
In another equally cited passage concerning gehenna, Jesus said, ‘"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother is liable to judgment; whoever insults [says Raca to] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, "You fool!" will be liable to the hell [gehenna] of fire’" (Matt 5:22). In this passage, the council is a physical or civil authority [the Sanhedrin]. The person who insults a brother is civilly liable, as would be a person who slanders or libels another person in our court system. But the person who pushes past slander and kills with his or her mouth has become subject to the gehenna of fire, or the broadcast of the Accuser of humanity. The passage can be read equally well having the person influenced by Satan as having the person subject to fire--and if the person is subject to fire, why does anyone think that this person is not slain by fire?
Greater Christianity today holds the concept of a resurrection at Christ’s return in tension with possession of an immortal soul. But there is no logic for escaping to heaven at death, then returning to earth to receive an incorruptible body at Christ’s return. This makes "souls" disembodied life in the spirit realm, or as one major denomination teaches, preexisting life in the spirit realm returning to heaven. Either way, greater Christianity accepts the existence of life in the spiritual realm that doesn't possess bodily form or substance. Of course, Origen accepted Plato’s doctrine of nous falling from God to become psyche, but that is what happens when one looks earthward instead of upward--the person lacks or loses spiritual understanding.
When the Pharisee Nicodemus came to Jesus wanting to be taught, Jesus said, ‘"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God"’ (John 3:3), "see" used in the context of knowing the kingdom of God. This, then, agrees with what Paul writes, "To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot" (Rom 8:6-7). So, in very spare language, Jesus tells Nicodemus that without the indwelling of the Spirit (v. 9), a person cannot know the things of the kingdom of God. (This is the Apostle Paul’s point [1 Cor 2:11].) The person lacks spiritual understanding or discernment--and the teacher of spiritual Israel who teaches that a disciple born of spirit is merely begotten makes the same mistake that Nicodemus made about entering the womb a second time.
When Nicodemus asked about entering a mother’s womb a second time, he misunderstood what Jesus meant about being born again, or born-from-above, as evidenced by Jesus’ rebuke: ‘"Are you a teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?…If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?’" (John 3:10, 12). The answer is that no one can without being spiritually minded. Nicodemus couldn’t, nor could Jesus’ disciples until after they received the Breath of God (John 20:22). Only then could the glorified Christ teach His disciples the spiritual implications of what they had witnessed (Acts 1:4). Only then could Nicodemus understand what it meant to be born of spirit. And too many teachers of spiritual Israel have been as carnally minded as Nicodemus was when he asked about entering the womb a second time.
A digression is here in order: intertextuality leads to typological exegesis, in that the entirety of canonical Scripture, when accepted literally, becomes a secession of shadows that ultimately reveals the endtime conversion of spiritual Israel followed closely by the harvest of humanity, for which God’s will is that none perish. The text reveals the text, with the Acts of the Apostles forming the shadow of the endtime conversion of the Church, composed today of spiritual juvenile delinquents that have fled from Eden, climbing over the walls that are the laws of God written on hearts and minds. Once the Church has been liberated at a second Passover from its bondage to sin, it will be the harvesters of humanity. Until then, only a remnant of the Church has returned to Eden. Even fewer have rebuilt the walls of its capital, spiritual Jerusalem, which has theological rather than geographical coordinates.
"The text reveals the text" forms an interesting concept that ultimately argues not for the infallibility of Scripture, but for the inadequacy of Scripture to reveal the thoughts of God. An additional text must be created through hearing the voice of Christ by spiritually minded disciples.
Intertextuality synthesizes Old and New Testaments, overlapping the new over the old to form a yet unwritten text, its shadow being the events of the New Testament, its reality to occur in the spiritual realm which humanity cannot bodily enter. The reason why Christ opens the door for the Church at Philadelphia during the Lord’s day (Rev 3:7-8) is that we of the Philadelphia Church cannot see where that door is, for it is in the spiritual realm. That is correct, like the inhabitants of Plato’s Cave, seeing only shadows, we of the Philadelphia Church will wrestle with spiritual entities we cannot see except by their shadows until Satan and his demons are cast to the earth (Rev 12:9). Then the terrain is leveled. Satan will have become another Goliath, a large uncircumcised dog, ripe for being slain by the Son of David, who will sit on David’s throne to reign as King of kings.
Because intertextuality connects the Old and the New Testaments in a terraced relationship, what is said concerning the "soul" or nephesh in the Law & the Prophets must be understood to pertain to humanity prior to receiving the Breath of God. Being born-from-above, or being born of spirit cannot be understood as a reentering of a womb, but as the inclusion or indwelling of the Spirit or Breath [Pneuma] of the Father in a person who was 'until then no different than a dog (Eccl 3:18-21). Eternal, or spiritual life is the gift of God (Rom 6:23), given when the Father draws a person from the world (John 6:44, 65; Acts 2:39). A person’s natural mind is hostile to God (Rom 8:7), and is unable to understand spiritual things until the Father draws the person. He or she would never leave the world if the Father didn’t insert His Breath into the person.
I was baprized by ministers of a fellowship that used precept-upon-precept exegesis to produce logical arguments skewed toward being 20th-Century Pharisees. Even a year ago when I wrote about eternal life I was still unlearning doctrines that were wrong although the doctrines had been logically presented. I had moved past my teachers, but I was still confining my thinking to a horizontal plane. I didn’t then understand types as functions; I preceived types as earlier and later, both physical. It took Christ months to stretch my thinking so that I would look up rather than out--and not look up with preconceived ideas about what I would see. Therefore, a person can track my spiritual development through my works in print.
I wrote in Holiness, Righteousn & the New Covenant that if a teacher of Israel cannot admit that he or she is wrong, then the person has too much ego to be glorified. I knew that I would not be an exception when I wrote the passage; I am not an exception…I have told my Composition students that I’m probably the only one in the classroom who has had a spelling error cast in bronze. I didn’t see that Solomon’s wisdom was of this world, and still is good advice pertaining to this world. It doesn’t apply directly, though, to the spiritual realm. And precept-upon-precept exegesis will never produce spiritual understanding of Scripture. By the nature of its application, it causes heavenly passages to be read from an earthly perspective.
Humanity’c claim to physical primacy (i.e., dominion of the creation) is based upon humanity being created to look like Elohim (Gen 1:27) -- yes, God has form, appearance (Rev 1:13-15; Dan 7:9; Ezek 1:26-28; Exod 33:20, 23 & 24:9-11), and is composed of a substance about which we know nothing since that substance is not a property of this universe. Angels have form and appearance. So to will glorified humanity have form and appearance. The Apostle Paul writes, concerning glorified saints, "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.…Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven" (1 Cor 15:44, 49).
Adam as the first man was formed of clay, and was man-like in appearance, but was lifeless until Elohim [singlar] breathed the breath of life into him (Gen 2:7). Adam then became a nephesh, or breathing creature. There is no textual suggestion that Adam had the Holy Spirit, for he was placed in a geographical Eden, and he was expelled from this Eden before he could eat of the tree of life and live forever (3:22-23). So the first Adam exists in two states: flesh without the breath of life, and flesh with the breath of life. When he was flesh without the breath of life, he looked like a man just as a wax Elvis Presley in a museum’s exhibit looks like Elvis Presley. Only when Adam received the breath of life did Adam come alive as we know life. Receipt of physical breath changed the non-living physical Adam into the living man Adam. The lifeless Adam was not born through human conception, but he was born through divine construction. And it is his birth that serves as the physical model or shadow for spiritual birth, or being born anew, or born-from-above, or born again, all English expressions for when a spiritually lifeless human being constructed in the image of Elohim (Gen 1:27) receives the Breath of the Father, or Pneuma "Agion. When this spiritually lifeless but physically alive human receives the Holy Spirit (i.e., Pneuma "Agion), this person becomes a spiritual creation. The person doesn’t yet have a glorified body--he or she doesn’t need one to be a child of God. All the person needs is receipt of the Breath of the Father. At this point, the person has real life in the heavenly realm. There are no spiritual mothers per se that ovulate. Spiritual beings are all one-of creations by God the Father.
Christ as the second Adam existed in three states, as would be appropriate for the reality of a shadow that existed in two states (i.e., physically non-living and physically living). First, the man Jesus of Nazareth was like Adam in that He consists of flesh [soma] and the breath of life [psuche] prior to His baptism. When born of Mary, He had no spiritual life inherit within Him. He couldn’t have been tempted as we are if He had. But when He rose out of the water, the Breath/Pneuma of the Father descended upon Him like a dove (Matt 3:16), and Jesus was born-from-above. The Breath of the Father added spiritual life [pneuma] to His physical life [psuche] and to His body [soma]. He became tripart in construction, the state of disciples that Apostle Paul addresses (1 Thess 5:23). And following His resurrection, He receives a spiritual or incorruptible body to go with His spiritual life, which, again, He received when He received the Breath of the Father. So Jesus was first psuche and soma; then psuche, pneuma, and soma; then Pneuma and an unnamed substance which will form an actual body. Our flesh, or soma forms the shadow of whatever this substance is. Christ is not, today, disembodied life. Joseph Smith perhaps said it as well as anyone, life without a body is nothing. Life requires a body to be alive. Otherwise, life is a vapor that cannot be contained, and so dissipates until it is no more. It is, literally, breath, physical or spiritual.
Just as the first Adam received physical breath to become a breathing creature, a nephesh, the second Adam received spiritual Breath to become a spiritual creation embodied in a corruptible tabernacle. Jesus wasn’t born with a little angel inside Him. Nor did He have eternal life before He received it as a gift of the Father--the person who denies that Christ came in the flesh as soma and psuche is an antichrist. These little antichrists come from two perspectives: (1) they either assign spiritual life to the first Adam, or (2) they deny born-from-above disciples have actual spiritual life. Either position reflects carnal understanding of Scripture.
The above cannot be stressed too greatly, for it becomes a central precept in understanding all of Holy writ. John writes, "This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us--eternal life" (1 John 2:22-25). So a doctrine originating in the 3rd -Century that denies the uniqueness of the Father and of the Son is an antichrist doctrine, as is a doctrine that assigns eternal life to someone who denies the Father and the Son--and as is a doctrine that denies that whomever has the Father and the Son has eternal life. Thus, the concept of a triune godhead as taught by greater Christianity is an antichrist doctrine, for this concept denies the Father and the Son, substituting for the Father and the Son a closed triune godhead that includes the personification and deification of the Breath of the Father and of the Breath of the Son. Likewise, the concept of humanity inheriting eternal life through having received an immortal soul at conception is an antichrist doctrine, for the doctrine assigns eternal life to individuals who deny the Father and the Son. In addition, the concept that a disciple doesn’t receive eternal life until after judgment and resurrection to life (the position of Herbert Armstrong) is also an antichrist doctrine, for this doctrine denies that the person who abides in the Son and in the Father has eternal life. This doctrine holds that the person will, in the future, receive eternal life, that eternal life is glorification, that the saints will be glorified as baby gods [elohim], not as Christ is not. This doctrine denies that born-from-above disciples are, in this age, the actual children of God. This doctrine denies that disciples are actual sons [and daughters] of the Father, with whom the Father would not be well pleased if Christ were not bearing their sins. But because Christ does bear the sins of born-from-above disciples, we, as children of the Father while we are still in the flesh [soma and psuche], appear today before the Father without sin. Therefore, the liberty we have as born-from-above disciples to do anything without any sin being imputed to us today must not be abused, but must be used to develop the habit for always doing that which is right. The death penalty for our sins hasn’t disappeared. If we leave the eternal covenant that has us living within the laws of God, and if we do not return to this covenant prior to death, we, as disciples, will have our sins reassigned to us. We will be resurrected to condemnation. We will lose eternal life, which was given to us when we were drawn by the Father.
Christian liberty is a tremendous gift. Without it, we are no match for Satan, who deceived angels and the whole world today (Rev 12:9). With it, we can choose to do that which is right, fail for any number of reasons, choose again to do what is right, again fail, then choose again to do what is right, until our habit becomes always choosing to do what is right which then sets our character to choose righteousness. The death penalty attached to each of our failures is borne by Christ and given to Satan when the reality of Yom Kipporim occurs. Our failures to live with our choices to do what is right slay Satan. But we are not free to reject the laws of God, for in doing so, we reject the spiritual life that we have received as born-from-above disciples--we have, when rejecting the laws of God, sinned against the Holy Spirit. We are then out of covenant, and we will die eternally for our sins. We will experience the second death, for we had a second birth and a second life even while a physical human being.
Intertextuality, a descriptive term for the concept of texts relating to other texts even to the creation of an unwritten derivative text, now allows us to look at what YHWH tells Ezekiel: ‘"Behold, all souls [nephesh] are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.…The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him’" (18:4. 20). If we use "breathing creature" for nephesh or soul as is appropriate, we see the typology. The first Adam is a physically breathing [psuche] creature, while the second Adam is a physically and spiritually breathing [psuche & pneuma] creature. The righteousness required is now in the physical and spiritual realms--and we have the Apostle Paul desiring that the saints at Thessalonika be found blameless in the psuche, pneuma, and soma (or body). Thus, Ezekiel’s the soul that sins shall die is applicable as a shadow of Jesus saying not to be surprised when some saints who have done right are resurrected to life while some saints who have done evil are resurrected to condemnation. Same mind, same voice, but one is the two dimensional shadow of a three dimensional reality.
The physically breathing creature cannot sin or commit iniquity in the heavenly realm. He or she can only sin in the physical realm, for which he or she will pay the death penalty of that sin or those sins. This penalty is the first death. No second life or second birth has occurred. The person is spiritually as Adam was physically prior to receiving the breath of life. This person has been physically created in the image of Elohim, thus looks like Christ and the Father, but this person lacks the spiritual breath of life.
When a person is drawn by the Father (John 6:44, 65), the person receives, right then, the Breath of the Father. The person wouldn’t separate him- or herself from the world if the person hadn’t received the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:7). The person doesn’t need hands laid on him or her to receive the Holy Spirit. Since first circumcised Israelites, then uncircumcised Israelites (i.e., Gentiles drawn by the Father) were baptized by fire (Acts 2:2-4 & 10:44-47), the direct transfer of the Holy Spirit is not required. Receipt of the Holy Spirit precedes baptism in the name of Christ Jesus. Baptism brings judgment upon disciples. And what appears as an exception is the example of the twelve disciples in Ephesus who had not heard of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7)--this example is to be understood typologically as the shadow of the conversion of physical Israelites (i.e., circumcised Israelites descended from the twelve tribes and today identifying themselves as Jews) during the Tribulation (Rev 7:4-8).
Thus, when a person is drawn by the Father, the person is born a second time just as Adam was born a first time through receiving the breath of Elohim [singular]. A person doesn’t enter a womb a second time, the mistake of Nicodemus (John 3:4) and the mistake continued by the many fellowships of the splintered churches of God descended from the former Radio Church of God. And since a born-again disciple has actual life in the heavenly realm, this born-again disciple can sin in the heavenly realm, the penalty for which is the second death (i.e., the lake of fire). The man Jesus of Nazareth’s death at Calvary paid the penalty for all of the sins of all disciples in the physical realm. Grace is the glorified Christ bearing the sins of disciples in the spiritual realm. But Christ will not be crucified a second time. He will not pay the spiritual death penalty for sins committed in the heavenly realm. Rather, He will either give those sins to Satan if the disciple remains in covenant with the Father, or He will return those sins to the disciple if the disciple leaves the eternal covenant into which the disciple was placed when drawn. If He returns those sins to the disciple, the disciple will experience the second death; i.e., resurrection to condemnation (John 5:29). The disciple will pay in the heavenly realm for his or her own sins in that realm. Satan is already under the sentence of death (Ezek 28:18-19). So the penalty for every sin committed in the heavenly realm will be satisfied by the death of either the out-of-covenant disciple, or of Satan.
Since one of two fates awaits born-from-above disciples--the resurrection to life or the resurrection to condemnation--then what about the remainder of humanity; i.e., all of those individuals who never knew Jesus or the Father? What is their fate? Most of Christendom has assigned them to everlasting life in a rotisserie, ever grilling, but never quite becoming done enough to be served to an angry God. Of course, Dante had the lowest level of hell cold as a Siberian winter, with two popes stuck in the ice. And extreme cold does burn as I experienced when antifreeze at forty below flowed over my forearm one winter in Fairbanks.
Christendom borrowed more from Plato than from Christ when it constructed its concepts of an afterlife. It acknowledged the Hebraic concept of a future resurrection at the end of the age (Dan 12:2 & John 5:28-29), but then sent the immortal souls of saints to heaven to await resurrection, or to hell from which there would be no escape. The Apostle Paul said that the judgment of disciples would not be revealed prior to when Christ returned (1 Corth 4:5); so for Platonic Christianity to be correct, Paul must be wrong about when a disciple’s judgment is revealed. But Paul isn’t wrong! Each disciple’s judgment will be revealed when Christ returns--and no saint has gone to heaven only to be sent to hell when his or her judgment is revealed. Likewise, no saint has been condemned to gehenna fire only to be glorified when his or her judgment is revealed. So the premise by which Platonists assign the souls of disciples upwards or downwards at death is contrary to Scripture, contrary to revelation, and contrary to both the Father and the Son. A disciple’s judgment is not revealed prior to Christ’s return. And to teach that a person receives eternal life in the form of an immortal through fornication in the backseat of a Chevy is mocking the Father. Do you really want to mock the only one who can give you eternal life? Are you that confident that Plato was correct about you having an immortal soul? Christ certainly didn’t teach that you had one. Rather, He taught that disciples await judgment in the tomb (John 5:28).
If you were to play chess with Christ, you would quickly learn that you were checkmated before you moved your first piece. All of the moves necessary to place your king in check will have been made before you sit down to play, such is the quality of Christ’s mind. We are not in His league, and while it might sound sacrilegious to even suggest playing chess with Christ, we are in effect playing chess with Him when we wonder why Christ allowed a heresy such as humanity having an immortal soul to creep into the doctrines of His Bride. He certainly could have prevented the heresy’s entrance into the theological canon. Why didn’t He? The heresy isn’t true. But the heresy really did little harm when His return was centuries in the future. The person who believes this lie dies thinking that he or she will go immediately to heaven; the person knows nothing in the grave. Then the person is resurrected either to glory or to shame. If to glory, then the person will feel rather foolish for having believed such nonsense, but the splendor and work before the glorified saint will expunge even the feeling of foolishness. And the person resurrected to condemnation has much more to worry about than not having gone to heaven.
However, during the Tribulation, when spiritual Israel has been liberated from mental bondage to the king of Babylon, believing in an immortal soul will cause a separation between saints who are genuine, and saints (yes, born-again disciples) who will not be ruled by Christ. Then in the middle of the Tribulation, when Satan is cast down to the earth and must recapture his former mental slaves through physical means (the logic for requiring all to have the mark of the beast to buy and sell), belief in an immortal soul will become a test of who stands with Satan as the ultimate antiChrist, and who stands with the saints living in spiritual Jerusalem. All of the moves necessary to defeat Satan have been made. All that is left is enacting those moves through the writing of a new text that is the terraced repetition of existing texts. In other words, Christ has already revealed the moves to be made. He knows the end from the beginning, and through typology, He has revealed the end and the moves that will be made to arrive at that end to His friends. Therefore, the heresy of humanity having an immortal soul didn’t enter Christendom through spiritual neglect. The heresy didn’t catch Christ by surprise. It actually seems that He set up its introduction as a 1st-Century test that becomes crucial for saints to pass in the 21st-Century.
As a born-from-above disciple, whom will you believe? Christ as the Word of God? Or teachers of spiritual Israel promulgating a human tradition that stretches back to the 2nd and 3rd Centuries CE? You have a choice. And Satan as the true antiChrist will remind you of what Augustine wrote--and Origen. He will come ‘"and shall think to change the times and the law"’ (Dan 7:25). Sabbath-keeping Christians have traditionally taught this clause means that the antiChrist will change the Sabbath to Sunday by law. For that to be true, the greater Christian Church will have returned to keeping the Sabbath, indicated by manna being received immediately after the date for the second Passover (Exod 16:1, 22-30). Spiritual Israel (i.e., the Christian Church) will be liberated from mental bondage to the spiritual king of Babylon (i.e., Satan) in the first half of seven years of Tribulation; its liberation occurs on the second Passover, when firstborns not covered by the blood of the Lamb of God are slain. Immediately afterwards, spiritual Israel is fed spiritual food, part of which is knowledge of the Sabbath. Thus, through typology we see the Sabbath inserted into the practices of spiritual Israel when that holy nation is liberated from its bondage to lawlessness. And since all of humanity will have received the Spirit of God when Satan is cast to the earth and ceases being able to control the mental topography of humanity, Satan cannot count on changing the times and seasons to lure spiritually alive humanity back into mental bondage to sin although through the past practice of greater Christianity worshiping on Sunday, he will lure many into accepting his slave mark. So what doctrine will be available to him as the true antiChrist to cause born-from-above disciples to turn away from God and toward him? Humanity having an immortal soul would be such a doctrine.
Christ as the man Jesus of Nazareth inserted into the end-of-the-age Tribulation the doctrinal gambit pawn that will separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares. He did it knowingly through telling a Cynic after-death-fortune-reversal narrative: the Lazarus and rich man parable (Luke 16:19-31). He used the mocking Pharisees’ education against them (v. 14); He used their education to call them Greeks. And He gave the textual opening necessary for Platonists to insert the Greek concept of an immortal soul into Hebraic Scripture.
The Platonists pounced on the gambit pawn Jesus played, and they have been spiritually checkmated ever since. They introduced Satan’s lie of humanity not dying into Christianity, which, as when the first Eve believed the serpent’s lie that she would not die, caused the second Eve (i.e., the greater Church) to be driven out of spiritual Eden and sent by God into Babylonian captivity. In order to live in Eden, a disciple must believe God. When a person begins determining for him- or herself what is good and true, the person rejects being ruled by Christ. The person becomes one of the seven servants of the nobleman who received a pound but sent a messenger after the nobleman saying that they would not be ruled by him (Luke 19:14, 27).
Spiritual life is the gift of God, and the wages of sin are death--you will either believe this, or you will believe a lie. And once you accept the antiChrist’s position that "you will not surely die" (Gen 3:4), then you have mentally returned to bondage to him. You will have accepted the mark of the beast in your forehead. You might as well stick out your hand and get the tattoo of the Cross and complete your captivity…again, Satan took the second Eve captive with the same lie that she would not surely die that the serpent used to cause the first Eve to fall. Satan will recycle this same lie to recapture liberated humanity in the Tribulation. From typology and intertextuality, disciples in The Philadelphia Church recognize three tiers of creation: the first occurred when the physical Adam received physical breath Gen 2:7). The second occurred when the second Adam received spiritual breath (Matt 3:16). The third will occur when all of humanity receives spiritual breath (Joel 2:28). Satan has used the lie of human immortality to deceive both the first and the second Eve. He will again use this lie of human immortality against all of humanity when he is cast to earth and claims to be the messiah. Thus, today, August 2003, the editor of Water & Fire warns all of spiritual Israel as well as the remainder of humanity about this gambit pawn that Christ played and Satan insists is true.
Saints are in a dynamically scored chess game, played with living players, and played against an Adversary determined to devour as many saints as possible. Unfortunately, too few saints will heed the above warning. Most will believe tradition rather than Christ, a reason why many are called but few are chosen.
When Satan is cast from heaven and loses the army he borrows from the king of the North, he then goes after the rest of the saints "who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Rev 12:17). These saints are assured that he will come after them leading with a lie…his favorite lie is, again, that you shall not surely die if you determine for yourself what is right and what is wrong. What is right for you might not be right for someone else! If you believe his lie, you just committed spiritual suicide.
So, with Satan knowing his fate but apparently believing that a stalemate is still possible, let us answer the question of whether you are condemned if you haven’t been drawn by the Father. If life in the heavenly realm comes with receiving the Breath of God, than not having received the Breath of God precludes the person from having eternal life, correct? But the writer of Hebrews says, "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him" (9:27-28). If Christ doesn’t come a second time to deal with sin (all of humanity will have received the Holy Spirit three and a half years prior to His coming), what about the sins of those who weren’t drawn after He came the first time and who died before receiving the Holy Spirit at the end of the age? What about judgment following death? Are those individuals who never knew God slated for being thrown into the lake of fire, as a particular Texas televangelist teaches from San Antonio? Or is that televangelist doctrinally all hat and no boots?
The plan of God is even more poorly taught in the churches of spiritual Israel than is American Civics taught in the high schools of the nation. The plan begins in the spring of the years with the Passover, Wave Sheaf Offering and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Christ is the true Lamb of God, slain from the beginning so that humanity can be reconciled to the Father, who will abide no sin. Christ is the sin offering required of every person before the person can come to the Father. And the Wave Sheaf Offering is the acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice by the Father.
The Days of Unleavened Bread follow the Passover, and portray Israelites living sinfree for one week, leaven/yeast representing sin or lawlessness. The first High Sabbath at the beginning of Unleavened Bread is the memorial to when God intervened to bring Israel out of bondage--physical bondage in Egypt, and mental or spiritual bondage to the king of Babylon--by slaying the firstborns of men and beasts in Egypt at the first Passover, and by slaying the spiritual and physical firstborns of humanity in spiritual Babylon at the second Passover.
The second High Sabbath at the end of Unleavened Bread is the memorial to when Israel escapes to a place of safety--through the Red Sea physically, and through the split Mount of Olives for the 144,000 disciples from the twelve tribes of Israel. The sea swallowed the Egyptians pursuing the Israelites the first time. The earth swallows the armies pursing spiritual Israelites the second time. (The physical and spiritual creations merge when the demonic king of the North possesses the physical man of perdition, who declares himself God 1290 days before Christ returns as the Messiah. The 144,000 physical Israelites who have become spiritual Israelites and go into a physical place of safety on day 1260 represent this merging of the physical and spiritual creations.)
After Israelites physically escape Egypt and spiritually escape Babylon, the holy nation[s] enters covenant with God on Pentecost. Physical Israel was immersed or baptized in the spoken words of the law of God, uttered from atop Mt. Sinai on this third annual High Day. And spiritual Israel was baptized with the Breath of God, which empowered the disciples and caused three thousand to be added to the Body of Christ that day. Prior to baptism by the Holy Spirit, those individuals who were to receive the Holy Spirit required its direct transfer (John 20:22). But after baptism, the Holy Spirit doesn’t require direct, person to person contact as when Christ breathed on His disciples, and when Peter and John laid hands on the Samaritans (Acts 8:17), or when Paul laid hands on the converts of Apollo in Ephesus (Acts 19:6). These three occasions where direct transfer was required, similar to when Abram’s name is changed to Abraham when he received the Breath of YHWH (i.e., the "ah" aspiration of breath), or when Samuel anointed David, are superceded by the Holy Spirit being received without contact once the "group" has been baptized by fire. Note that even immediately after the circumcised disciples of Christ, who received the Holy Spirit directly from Christ (John 20:22), are baptized by the Holy Spirit, the three thousand similarly circumcised Israelites need only, according to Peter, ‘"Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’" (Acts 2:38). These physical Israelites now didn’t need hands laid on them to receive the Holy Spirit, but Gentiles still did until the conversion of Cornelius and his household who were similarly baptized with fire as were the Apostles on Pentecost (Acts 10:44-46). Likewise, when Paul encountered disciples Apollo made in Ephesus, who looked forward to the Messiah’s coming but knew only the baptism of repentance, Paul laid hands on them to directly transfer the Holy Spirit, which then manifested itself as if these disciples had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. These twelve disciples are, in typology, representative of the conversion of 144,000 circumcised Israelites (12,000 from 12 tribes) by the greater Church during the last days. They receive the baptism of fire and the work of the Holy Spirit out of season because of their spiritual ignorance.
Following Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit without direct transfer comes the summer of wandering in the wilderness, learning the ways of God prior to Christ’s return, memorialized by the High Sabbath of Trumpets.
Ten days later comes Yom Kipporim, commemorating the binding of Satan, and Christ giving to Satan the sins of spiritual Israel that he has been bearing during the time Israel wandered in the wilderness.
Then the full moon of the seventh month, the harvest moon, begins the feast of Tabernacles, its first day the High Sabbath that memorializes the beginning of Christ’s millennial long reign as King of kings.
Finally, there is one High Day left, for which little is written. The Feast of Tabernacles is seven days long. This last High Day is the following day, or the eighth day of Tabernacles even though it is a separate feast…following Christ’s Millennium reign as King of kings and Satan’s release for a season, one concluding event remains before the arrival of the new heavens and the new earth: the great White Throne Judgment.
That particular Texas televangelist who teaches a no love theology incorporates the great White Throne Judgment into a five-judgment scenario, focused on Christian escapism. He is correct in that the Church is under judgment today (1 Pet 4:17); but he is wrong about the world being judged. Judgment pertains to a determination being made in the spiritual realm about the fate of an individual, or of an angel. Therefore, a person must possess life in that realm before a determination can be made. Dogs are not subject to judgment. Life in the spiritual realm has never been offered to dogs, or cats, or livestock, or even chimpanzees, that share 99.4 percent of the same genes humans have. Plus, the person who believes God unto obedience passes from death to life (John 5:24) without experiencing judgment. Christ bears this disciple’s sins today, and will give those sins to Satan when Yom Kipporim becomes a reality. This disciple has no sin even imputed to him or her. There is no reason for this person to experience judgment, but only because this person entrusted his or her psuche "to a faithful Creator while doing good" (1 Pet 4:19 – emphasis added). Again, this person believed God unto obedience. It is those disciples "who have done good" (John 5:29 – emphasis added) that will experience the resurrection to life. The righteous shall still do right (Rev 22:11) until Christ’s return. Doing good is required from all disciples; so real works are required, not the busy works of fiddling with beads or collecting relics or mumbling repetitious prayers. Doing good and doing what is right is more than giving to the poor, or casting out demons, or healing the sick in the name of Jesus. It is making the decision to do what is right in every situation the person faces until choosing to do what is right is a habit that has determined the person’s character. At this point, there is no reason for this person to come under judgment. He or she can be entrusted with a glorified body and all the power that goes with being an heir of the Father, and a younger sibling of Christ.
Since those individuals who were never offered the Spirit/Pneuma of God in their physical lives have never had life in the spiritual realm, there is nothing over which to judge them when Christ returns to become King of kings. Therefore, although these individuals have experienced death, their judgments must wait--they know nothing and have no awareness of time having passed (Eccl 9:10)--until they are physically resurrected in the great White Throne Judgment, where their works will be judged by Scripture. They have, with their deaths, paid the physical penalty for their sins. Additionally, Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary will have covered those sins. But no sacrifice remains for them. If they choose to sin while under judgment, they will go directly into the lake of fire. How long is this period of judgment? Scripture is mostly silent although at one time it was taught within the churches of God that the period was a hundred years in length. However long it is, any sin by a person under judgment in this period is permanently fatal.
Little Scripture addresses the great White Throne Judgment, for disciples today are the living antetype of what will occur during this period of judgment. For disciples, baptism is the antetype of real physical death. Being raised from the baptismal pool is the shadow of physical resurrection to life. Again, judgment is upon disciples today just as judgment will be on all who are resurrected to life during the great White Throne Judgment. One difference now exists: disciples today are subjected to Satan’s control of the mental topography of humanity. Therefore, Christ bears the sins of disciples who are in covenant with Him and the Father, and He will return those sins to Satan just prior to when He begins His Millennium reign. During the great White Throne Judgment, Satan will have been destroyed. No one will be subject to his spiritual broadcast of rebellion. No one will have a reason to sin, which is the transgression of the laws of God (1 John 3:4). So anyone who does will go into the lake of fire since Christ won’t be sacrificed a second time. The resurrected individual will have received the Breath of God, so the individual will have life in the spiritual realm just as born again disciples today have. The resurrected individual in the great White Throne Judgment will be exactly as a born-from-above disciple is today, but without grace, which is needed today because Satan is still in heaven. God is not a respecter of persons. Every individual will have the same single chance to receive salvation, but not at the same time, the meaning of predestination. No one receives a second chance. The great White Throne Judgment will not be a second opportunity at salvation.
One point needs reinforced, since at least one major denomination with a highly educated ministry doesn’t believe in Christ coming as the Messiah. This denomination believes when Christ returns, the end of the age has come and there is no more physical earth; the new heaven and the new earth will come with Christ. They emphatically reject anything that even contains a whiff of humanity receiving a second chance for salvation, as they should. They are just wrong, though, about no Millennium reign of Christ as King of kings.
Because the majority of Christianity believes that the Holy Spirit was poured out on all humanity that day of Pentecost when Christ’s disciples were baptized with the Breath of God, thereby misreading what Peter said and ignoring the time qualifiers of Joel’s prophecy, Christendom has taught a doctrine of open salvation for the past two millennia. It has conveniently ignored the words of Jesus: ‘"No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him"’ (John 6:44, also v. 65). Likewise, they ignore what Peter said on that day of Pentecost: ‘"[Y]ou will receive the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself’" (Acts 2:38-39 – emphasis added). Even though Peter cites Joel’s prophecy, Peter understands that God has to call the person before the person can become a disciple.
As an aside, Peter delivers his sermon citing Joel’s prophecy so that the event becomes the shadow of the endtime conversion of spiritual Israel, the story of which can be read through the application of intertextuality. Peter apparently thought Joel’s prophecy pertained to that day of Pentecost because the women present were also speaking in tongues, a point developed in the companion article, "Should Women Speak," in this issue of Water & Fire.
The story of conversion in the spiritual realm is the reality of the creation of humankind, male and female, the afternoon of the sixth day in the creation narrative that forms the abstract for the plan of God. This needs repeating: the vast majority of spiritual Israelites alive today are in bondage to sin. They have misapplied the passage that disciples are not under the law but under grace to mean that they are free to transgress the law, that they are free to commit iniquity. Thus, these spiritual Israelites have fled spiritual Eden, and are as sheep without shepherds, sheep wandering in dry arroyos, stalked by coyotes, prey for cougars. These Christians unknowingly drift towards the lake of fire…a man and his son came into my studio this past weekend. Both wore T-shirts reading "So Many Right Wing Christians: So Few Lions." What this father and son didn’t realize was that lions aren’t needed to slay these Christians. Their pastors are slaying them by teaching them to ignore the fine print written on the hearts and minds of these disciples--the Father didn’t write His laws on the hearts and minds of disciples when He draw them from the world for these disciples to live outside of His laws.
If the Father chooses not to call a person prior to the person's physical death, this person never had his or her chance to receive salvation. If a farmer chooses to send some calves to market, and to keep some for breeding, we don’t challenge the farmer’s right to manage his or her own property as the farmer sees fit. But we want to challenge God when He chooses to call some disciples out of season, hiring these individuals to do a particular job for Him, and offering to these individuals salvation if they believe Him unto obedience. We deny that God has a sovereign claim to all life that opens a womb; yet He reserved to Himself all firstborns to do with them whatever He pleases. If that whatever is slaying them, He has that right, regardless of whether we agree or even submit to Him. If the sins of firstborns are not covered by the Blood of the Lamb of God on a second Passover night, these firstborns will be slain. Humanity can protest, can declare God a murderer, can do whatever it wishes, even to fighting against Christ. But when the Father determines that the time has come for both physical and spiritual firstborns not covered by the Passover sacrifice to die, they will die. A third of humanity will be slain, and Christians will be hated for the sake of Christ’s name. There is nothing humanity can do to protect itself except to get into covenant with God. End of story. The world will drive Christians into a societal wilderness just as Pharaoh drove the physical Israelites out of Egypt and into the physical wilderness of Sin following the slaughter of Egyptian firstborns.
Humanity, with its self-awareness, values itself more than calves value themselves. We truly don’t object to a rancher culling his or her herd, but we want to create God in our image, defining by our standards what is or isn’t fair when it comes to His interaction with humanity. Collectively, we see ourselves as about equal with God. We cannot imagine that in abilities we are as far away from God as stuffed dolls are from us.
Since the person who was never drawn by the Father never had a chance to receive salvation, regardless of whether the person lived next to the first Assembly of Holy Rollers and heard preaching every Sundays spill across the church’s parking lot and rattle window panes, this person’s chance for salvation awaits him or her in the future. This person will be resurrected during the great White Throne Judgment to receive the person’s first chance for salvation. Same goes for the Chinese peasant who died without ever hearing the name of Christ proclaimed. God has made provision in His plan for every single person who has ever drawn the breath of life to accept Christ as his or her Lord and Master (and older brother).
However, the person who started down the road to salvation, then decided to quit because the Way was too tough, or quit for any number of other reasons has probably had his or her chance for salvation. Christ will be the person’s judge. But there are no second chances to receive salvation. If a person was drawn, then washes out for whatever reason (many are called, but few are chosen), the person has had his or her chance. If the person still lives, the person needs to return to Christ post haste.
Throughout the centuries between when Christ came physically and the end of the age will come, the number of people drawn by the Father as a percentage of the world’s population has increased slowly but steadily. Just prior to the second Passover when spiritual Israel is liberated from bondage to sin, the holy nation will be about half of the world's population. But the great endtime harvest is the liberation of the other half of the population. When the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Most High and His Messiah (Rev 11:15), everyone will be liberated from mental bondage to Satan. Everyone will receive the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28). And everyone will be called (Rev 18:4). None of this generation will be resurrected in the great White Throne Judgment. All will have had their chance for salvation; for everyone who endures to the end shall be saved (Matt 24:13 & 10:22). This is the good news that must be proclaimed to the world before the end of the age will come.
If you are interested enough to read this far into what I have written, you have probably been drawn--and this is your chance to receive salvation. You will not receive another, so you had better take advantage of this one. The great White Throne Judgment pertains to those individuals who have died and who will die without knowing God. It does not include anyone who has been drawn and called.
Again, so there is no mistake in San Antonio: the fate of all who have not been drawn by the Father is to be resurrected physically in the great White Throne Judgment. These individuals are not now under judgment; they are not now in an everburning hell, living life as meat on a rotisserie…if God is Love, why would He expend the energy necessary to stock and support the torment of souls in an everburning hell? That isn’t love in either this realm or in the heavenly realm. That is demonic, a hateful doctrine. And if you hold this doctrine, repent of the hardness of your heart. Scripture doesn’t support such a doctrine, regardless of what a Texas televangelist claims. And if you want to see someone tormented in flames, beware. With God, that someone will be you.
The great White Throne Judgment can be seen in context with the other memorials to Christ’s interventions in the plan to bring many heirs of God to glory. The last High Day of the seven annual Sabbaths: "[A]nd on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest" (Lev 23:39 – the last clause in the verse).
The Feast of Tabernacles is seven days long, beginning on the 15th of the seventh month (Lev 23:39, 41-42). After Tabernacles concludes, there is a single High Sabbath day, for which no explanation is offered in the Law. It has been traditionally taught that on this High Day, Jesus stood up to speak, ‘"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink…’" (John 7:37-38). However, there is now some debate about whether Jesus spoke on the High Day, or on the last (i.e., the seventh) day of Tabernacles. Regardless, this last High Day of the annual Sabbaths represents the offer of universal salvation to all who never knew God prior to their physical death. It is ironic that most of Christendom worships on the eighth day, the day representing the salvation of those who never received the Holy Spirit.
So, that unrepentant loved one who died without ever knowing Christ Jesus will have his or her chance for salvation in the future. That person isn’t now in hell, roasting away. That person awaits his or her resurrection in the grave, knowing nothing, unaware of the passing of time. And that is true godly Love.
What about passages that indicate a person goes to heaven to be with God? Don’t they prove that humans have immortal souls?
Perhaps the most widely known of these passages is in the fourteenth chapter of John:
Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms [monai]. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place [topon] for you? And if I go and prepare a place [topon] for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3 – emphasis added)
Where will Christ be when He comes again? Here on earth, correct? And He will then take you to Himself. So where will you then be? Here on earth, correct?
Is there any suggestion in the above passage from Jesus’ last Passover discourse that His disciples will be going to heaven? There absolutely isn’t. The Greek signifier monia should be understood as a relationship, as a legal staying of a relationship, that relationship being adoption as heirs of the Father. And the Greek signifier topon can best be understood as a spot, a small geographical location, or a position such as a job on the construction crew. The case gender suggests that the signifier should be understood as a job working for the Father. So this passage could be validly translated as, In My Father’s house are many adoptions. If it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a position for you. And if I go and prepare this position (this adoption) for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you will always be.
Only a poor reader of text will have a person going to heaven to be with Christ who is here on the earth. But didn’t Paul say that he was going to go be with Christ? Or did Paul? Let’s see: "My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith" (Phil 1:23-24). Paul is tired. He has fought a good fight, and he knows that a crown awaits him. If he were to quit the fight through being martyred, he would rest in the grave until his judgment was revealed:
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Cor 4:3-5 – emphasis added)
Paul’s judgment, as he knew, will be revealed when Christ comes as the Messiah. And this is what he tells Timothy: "Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing" (2 Tim 4:8).
No disciple’s judgment will be revealed until Christ comes as the Messiah although we know that the judgment of a few men of God will have these individuals glorified, King David being the prime example. The Apostle Paul is certain of his judgment--a crown of righteousness is laid up for him--but he tells us that this crown will not be awarded to him prior to Christ’s return. Therefore, unless Paul is badly mistaken (and Paul tells us that "[a]ll Scripture is breathed out by God" [2 Tim 3:16]), judgment will not be revealed or crowns awarded until Christ’s return. Saints await Christ’s return in the grave, knowing nothing, not aware of the passage of time, not aware of the prayers of those who would pray them into heaven if that were possible.
Now, let us look at the Lazarus-Dives parable. First, concerning how Jesus spoke to those who followed Him, Matthew writes, "All these things [the parable of the sower, of the weeds, of the mustard seed and of leaven] Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth in parables; / I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world’" (Matt 13:34-35).
Jesus revealed the mysteries of God in parables so that the crowds wouldn’t understand what He said: "Then the disciples came and said to him [Jesus], ‘Why do you speak to them [the crowds that followed Jesus] in parables?’ And he answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given’" (Matt 13:10-11). To His friends, Jesus has revealed the secrets of the kingdom that even angels desired to know. But the vast majority of humanity isn’t to know these things at this time, for knowing the secrets will skew the desired results. Humanity’s self-conscious nature would cause individuals to become actors and actresses. Their mental character would not then be revealed through their physical actions. Eventually, though, their mental character would manifest itself. Christ and the Father are not in the business of creating additional Satans. Therefore, if any doubt exists about an individual, the individual will not be glorified. Both know the contents of an individual’s mind. They do not want to send an individual into the lake of fire whose physical actions don’t warrant such a verdict because the individual successfully hid his or her mental character. By not revealing the mysteries of God to such an individual, the person’s true mental character will manifest itself in the individual’s actions: the evildoer will continue doing that which is evil (Rev 22:11). There is no reason for this person to do otherwise. There is no reason for this person to put on an act.
The great mystery of God is that the Father is reproducing Himself. Humanity was created in the likeness of Elohim just as Adam was created as a man prior to receiving the breath of life. Adam came from no womb. His birth was through receiving the breath of life from Elohim [singular]. Being born again, or born anew, or born-from-above isn’t by entering a womb a second time, but by receiving the Breath of the Father. And if a born again individual doesn’t consciously choose to become godlike in character, eschewing evil and choosing to do that which is right and good by the inscribed standard of the Decalogue, going beyond the letter of the law and living by the spirit manifest in the letter, the person’s future is in doubt. Because no one other than the man Jesus of Nazareth has been able to live by his or her decisions to do what is right and good, the person needs grace, needs Christ to bear the person’s failings. But to not choose to do what is right and good separates the person from God, from the covenant into which the person was placed when drawn by the Father, and from grace. The person who chooses not to do what is right and good after receiving spiritual life will be washed out, will be culled, and will go into the lake of fire.
Jesus had a number of Pharisees in the crowd following Him. When He told the parable of the dishonest manager, concluding with, ‘"You cannot serve God and money’" (Luke 16:13), these Pharisees present, who were lovers of money (v. 14), mocked Jesus, ridiculing Him. And in reading Scripture, one character trait of the Logos before and after His birth as the man Jesus of Nazareth is that He hates to be mocked. The day of His crucifixion was a real test of His character, for He was mocked all day long. Satan came after Him in the only area where He even might be vulnerable. And on that day of testing, He did not respond to being mocked.
However, when the money-loving Pharisees mocked Jesus, He did respond. First, He told them, ‘"You are those who justify yourselves before men…[but] what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God"’ (Luke 16:15). The Jesus said that they were trying to force their way into the kingdom of God, but that they would be unsuccessful. He cites the reason why: they were married to the law, not dead to it (Rom 7:1-4). Their attempt to force their way into the kingdom preached since the waning of John the Baptist’s ministry was spiritual adultery.
Then after calling these mocking Pharisees abominations in the sight of God and spiritual adulterers, Jesus hammered them: He told them a Cynic after-death-fortune-reversal story, which the uneducated portion of the crowd would not recognize for what it was. But the Pharisees, by their education, would have recognized both the structure of the narrative and the implication behind Jesus having told these "Jews" a Greek story that first said Abraham wasn’t their father. Second, the Cynic narrative told these Pharisees that they wouldn’t believe Jesus even when He was resurrected and glorified. Third, by telling these Pharisees a parable in a classic Greek structure, Jesus called these Pharisees Gentiles without ever using the word. Jesus literally turned the mocking back on these Pharisees in such a subtle manner that these Pharisees couldn’t even accuse Jesus of stooping to their level. Apparently, Jesus’ disciples, except for Luke, the educated physician, didn’t even comprehend what Jesus did to these Pharisees.
Again, if a person were playing chess with Jesus, the Lazarus-Dives narrative would appear as a gambit pawn. A classic Cynic narrative told to a Hebrew audience ought to have aroused suspicions centuries ago, but greater Christianity swallowed the gambit. It believed Satan’s lie about humanity having an immortal soul, so the Lazarus-Dives narrative was accepted as factual rather than recognized for what it is, Greek fiction. Christianity pounced on the gambit pawn, thereby exposing itself to capture by the spiritual king of Babylon. And whether the greater Church was captured by Satan or sent into captivity by the Father is really a moot point: Christianity has been in mental bondage to sin for a very long time. Physical Israel was in physical slavery for only a portion of the years it resided in Egypt. Spiritual Israel has been in spiritual bondage for most of the years it has resided in Babylon. The work of the endtime remnant of spiritual Israel that reached spiritual Jerusalem and rebuilt the walls is to now command spiritual Israel to send a tithe of itself to live within those walls of living stones.
Peter said the writings of Paul were hard to understand. I have been told that my writing is at least equally hard to understand.
I don’t have a solution to the problem of textual difficulty. The writer of Hebrews tells the disciples to whom the letter was addressed that they ought to be ready for spiritual meat, but they are still in need of milk (5:12). The implication is that if these disciples would have been given meat, they have choked on it.
The human maturation process applies spiritually. When disciples are drawn by God the Father, they are spiritual infants; they are new-borns. Thus, baptism corresponds to circumcision on the eighth day of life. And all human parents understand just how helpless an eight-day-old infant is. The babe would literally choke to death on a piece of meat, regardless of how thinly sliced the meat is. The same pertains to spiritual infants. They need milk. They will grow on milk. But most of them will not sleep all night until they start receiving a little cereal with their milk. And too many teachers of spiritual Israel have mistaken spiritual baby cereal for the meat of the Word.
I see no reason why a Cynic narrative was not recognized centuries ago? The premise of immortality behind the narrative was so alien to Hebraic thought that understanding what Jesus was doing and how He was using the narrative seems incredulously simple. Why would anyone think that the deity made flesh who sent the angel to Daniel to tell Daniel "what is inscribed in the book of truth" (Dan 10:21) would teach something contrary to: ‘"At that time [when the king of the North is destroyed] shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt"’ (Dan 12:1-2). They shall awake when Paul expected judgment to be revealed, the day of Christ’s return as the Messiah. Some shall awake in the resurrection to life, and some in the resurrection to condemnation, as Jesus said (John 5:28-29). And those who are not a part of the "many" shall awake in the great White Throne Judgment. None are now awake; none are in either heaven or hell. Jesus said, ‘"No one has ascended into heaven except him who descended from heaven, the Son of Man’" (John 3:13). Peter said, concerning David who will be resurrected to be the prince over Israel (Ezek 37:24), ‘"I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.…For David did not ascend into the heavens’" (Acts 229, 34).
If David hasn’t ascended into heaven, and if only Christ, who came down from heaven, has ascended, why would anyone think that he or she will be heavenbound at death? Jesus told His disciples that He would go to prepare a spot [topos] for them so that when He came again, they would be with Him. Even a milk-drinker should understand that when Jesus comes as the glorified Messiah, He will be here on earth. He will bring with Him the judgment of each spiritual Israelite. And we, as spiritual Israelites, aren’t to be surprised when some disciples receive life and some go into the lake of fire.
What returns to God at death is "breath": the physical breath [psuche] of everyone and the spiritual breath [pneuma] of born-from-above disciples. Physical breath was given to the physical Adam. Spiritual breath was given to the second, or spiritual Adam. We see both events recorded in Scripture (Gen 2:7 & Matt 3:16-17).
The body [soma] at death begins the process of returning to dust. It was created for the first Adam prior to the receipt of physical breath. Likewise, it was created for the second Adam prior to the receipt of spiritual breath. Initially corruptible, it put on incorruptibility through glorification. And this is the pattern for all disciples: their physical bodies with physical breath becomes the corruptible spiritual body that will put on incorruptibility when the judgment of the disciples is revealed to be resurrection to life.. Disciples spend their spiritual childhood in corruptible tabernacles so that they might be chastened as children are chastened, so that they might be trained and schooled as children are taught. No one wants baby gods throwing temper tantrums, hurling lightening bolts around as they might hurl wood blocks.
Herbert Armstrong rejected the Platonic doctrine of human beings having immortal souls; yet he never understood what it meant to be born anew. He taught a false doctrine of saints not receiving everlasting life until glorified, which makes sense on a carnal level. As long as a person is subject to death, the person doesn’t have physically everlasting life. But because he failed to realize that when a disciple is drawn by the Father, the disciple receives a puff of the Breath of the Father. This puff of "Agion Pneuma constitutes spiritual birth; it gives the disciple life in the spiritual realm. The disciple is as an infant in the womb until the disciple asks to be baptized, at which time the disciple comes under judgment. The disciple has been spiritually born as a child of the Father even though the disciple still has a physical body.
Baptism is the ceremony that replaced physical circumcision. With baptism, a disciple becomes part of spiritual Israel, becomes part of God’s holy nation and royal priesthood. But at baptism, the disciple is, again, spiritually an eight-day-old infant in comparison to the maturing process of human beings. The disciple must experience his or her spiritual toddler stage, then pre-adolescent stage, then adolescent and teenage years. Finally, the disciple will reach his or her spiritual majority, which amounts to glorification.
Just as a baby or a toddler cannot eat meat by him- or herself, the newly baptized disciple isn’t ready to handle the meat of the Word. But many of these toddlers decide they should become teachers of spiritual Israel. They vomit partly digested milk on their pupils, belch sour burps, and attempt to teach either what they don’t understand, or what they poorly understand. They have made Christianity a byword for ignorance the greater Church isn’t known for its love for one another, but for its schisms.
Disciples’ names are written in the Book of Life when judgment comes upon them. The disciple’s opportunity for spiritual growth begins with baptism regardless of when the disciple was drawn by the Father. If the disciple dallied thirty years before being baptized, the disciple’s spiritual growth can be quite rapid. But the disciple will experience every stage of childhood…the disciple was created as a spiritual Israelite when he or she received spiritual breath, but the disciple doesn’t "officially" become a part of spiritual Israel until baptism. The typology of a Hebrew male’s conception, physical birth, then inclusion as an Israelite tribe member with circumcision on the eighth day reveals the essentials of the born-again experience. A spiritual Israelite is conceived when spiritual breath is received. This spiritual Israel had been a "common" or "ordinary" human being until spiritual breath was received (as in some individuals are created for common or ordinary use and some for special use). But with the receipt of spiritual breath, spiritual conception occurs, with spiritual birth to follow. This individual was foreknown to the Father, and has been "predestined to conform to the image of [the Father’s] Son" (Rom 8:29). When this individual develops sufficiently to feel the need to be baptized, this spiritual Israelite asks for judgment to come upon him or her. The person becomes a part of the holy nation of Israel; the person has reached his or her eighth day of spiritual life. The person is not a mature Christian. The person is a fragile babe in whom Christ as the person’s older brother takes special interest. And anyone who hinders this child of God from coming to Christ is accursed. The fellowship that denies this individual is a child of God also hinders this spiritual Israelite from coming to Christ through devaluing the person’s experience of receiving the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the splinters of the former Radio Church of God do to newly born Israelites with their denial of the born-again experience nearly as much damage as do those fellowships that teach this infant that he or she can ignore the laws of God that have been written on his or her heart and mind.
To the saints at Corinth, the Apostle Paul writes, "But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh" (1 Corth 3:1-3). Again, the writer of Hebrews says, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child" (Heb 5:12-13). And what Christians will find is that the epistles of Paul are milk for spiritual babes, those Israelites who are unskilled in the word of righteousness and who haven’t had their "powers of discernment trained by constant practice" of distinguishing "good from evil" (v. 13). Oh, these Israelites, like the saints at Corinth and the Hebrews to whom that epistle is addressed, will believe that they are mature Christians…my middle daughter when three and four years old went around saying that she was, "Kristel Sue Kizer, big girl." She, indeed, thought that she was a "big girl," for she had grown enough for her to realize how much bigger she was than her infant sister. She could not conceive how much additional growth was necessary before she reached maturity. Nor can a twelve-year-old conceive how much more mentally mature he or she will be when fourteen and sixteen and eighteen. An eighteen-year-old reflecting back to when he or she was sixteen appreciates the difference in mental maturity. And no sixteen-year-old will believe that a twelve-year-old is mature. Yet an adolescent Christian will insist that he or she is mature in that faith. If this person is mature, let the person read what I write. This person will understand what I say and even teach me what I don’t yet know. This person will not experience textual difficulties, and will not need the redundancy of expression I am using in my attempt to convey a relatively simple concept to disciples who should be ready for spiritual meat.
Belief in a person having an immortal soul would be analogous to believing that a person enters the womb a second time to receive from his or her mother spiritual breath. The Church as the second Eve can give no one spiritual life. Everlasting life comes only as the gift of God the Father.
Not until shortly before Jesus was taken did His disciples understand that He would return to heaven, but they didn’t believe they would ascend into heaven at death. They understood that when Jesus returned, they would be with Him. Of course, they thought His return would be in their lifetime. They never imagined that two millennia would pass.
Jesus will come in the future, and His disciples will be with Him here on earth in the future, a long time beyond the end of their natural lives if time were linear. But the passage of time probably isn’t linear, but probably like the opening of a flower bud that blooms, fades, then goes to seed.
Until a year and a half ago, I hadn’t sufficiently matured spiritually to understand that born again disciples have real life in the spiritual realm. I hadn’t matured enough to understand why Nicodemus was wrong about entering the womb a second time. I didn’t connect Adam’s birth with spiritual birth until recently. Yet I wrote about the typology between the first and the second Adam months ago. So the problem with textual inaccessibility because of its difficulty ultimately comes down to a lack of spiritual maturity on the part of the reader. This isn’t to say that the reader lacks intelligence, or lacks familiarity with Scripture. Rather, the reader is as I was not very long ago.
When I was spiritually drafted to explicate Scripture, I had been an active disciple for thirty years. I was reasonably familiar with the text. Yet I knew only basics. I was taught a tremendous amount of error by instructors who will now label me a heretic. And I am appalled by how long it took me to grasp some of the rudimentary elements of typology. So why is anyone surprised by the spiritual difficulty my writing presents its audience?
How could disciples for centuries fail to recognize the Lazarus-Dives parable as a Cynic narrative, a Greek fictional feel-good story? I don’t know. I cannot explain why although I could hazard a guess.
All belief-systems are either tradition-based, or text-based. Tradition-based systems resolve textual difficulties by consulting how founding members or earlier pillars in the tradition read text. Thus, tradition-based systems necessarily develop from text-based systems. And these tradition-based systems resist change. They inevitably resort to citing Jude’s admonishment "to contend for the faith that was once delivered" (v. 3) when defending an otherwise indefensible theological position.
Text-based belief-systems deploy various means to initially resist becoming tradition-based. Brigham Young retained the office of prophet, which through various revelations should have prevented stagnation of belief. To some extent, the LDS Church has been successful is delaying becoming tradition-based, unlike the splintered Radio Church of God that have built their doctrines on the teachings of Herbert Armstrong. These splintered fellowships regard Herbert Armstrong as an endtime apostle, somewhat on the same level as the Apostle Paul. They teach that he had the gift of prophecy, meaning that they will continue to interpret biblical prophecy as he did even though Scripture precludes him from understanding the visions of Daniel. The long vision recorded in Daniel 11 was sealed and secret until the time of the end, which didn’t begin in 1927, or 1937, or 1947. In truly circular reasoning, the time of the end begins when the vision of Daniel can be understood. Therefore, every would-be prophecy expert thought the he or she could understand Daniel. But the test of both the expert and of whether humanity has entered the time of the end is if the expert’s prophetic understanding comes to pass. If it doesn’t, as in the case of Herbert Armstrong and Ellen G. White and a host of other experts who find the Roman Empire in Scripture, the expert taught a prophetic understanding based on his or her own authority.
No one test of whether my prophetic and scriptural understanding is of Christ is possible until after Satan comes as the antiChrist 1260 days prior to Christ’s return. But one test will certainly rule in or rule out my prophetic understanding: the occurrence or non-occurrence of a second Passover slaughter of firstborns not covered by the Blood of Christ. The test is as simple as that, and every disciple holds the stakes of his or her bet concerning whether I am right or wrong. If a disciple refuses to cover the disciple’s and his or her household’s sins by taking the Passover as Jesus left us an example and as Paul taught the saints as Corinth, the disciple bets, knowingly or unknowingly, that I am wrong, that God wouldn’t again slay firstborns, that a third of humanity won’t be slain on a specific hour, day, month and year sometime in the future.
It doesn’t really matter whether my understanding today is of Christ. What matters is whether a person will be ruled by Christ. The disciple who will not be has made reservations for the resurrection to condemnation.
Every disciple who lives within the laws of God as the disciple understands those laws lives within spiritual Eden. The Tree of Life only grows in Eden; it grows nowhere else. So all who live in Eden can eat the fruit of this Tree. By extension, disciples who leave Eden because they will not live within the laws of God (those who misapply no longer being under the Law, but under Grace) have voluntarily cut themselves off from eating the fruit of the Tree of Life. They will die for their sins in the spiritual realm, sins that Christ bore and would have given to Satan if these disciples had remained in Eden.
Jerusalem is the capital of Eden, the promised, mental or spiritual landscape of God. Through typology, we see that the majority of the remnant of Israel that returned from Babylon didn’t live within the walls of Jerusalem, but in surrounding cities and villages. However, "the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem" (Neh 11:1), and lots were cast to compel a tithe of the remnant of Israel that had returned from Babylon to live in Jerusalem (same verse). Likewise, the leaders of spiritual Israel in the 1st-Century lived in physical Jerusalem until prophecy came telling them to leave…at that time, physical Jerusalem was replaced by spiritual Jerusalem, a holy city with theological rather than geographical coordinates. The capital of spiritual Eden is the composite belief-paradigms held by the Church in Philadelphia. It is where more spiritual meat than milk is consumed, where sacred cows are grilled in the local steakhouses, where the prayers of the saints rise like the aroma of sizzling fat on the altar, where the down-sized temple of God has been rebuilt by a fellowship of little strength. "And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem" (v. 2). Christ says, in the day of the Lord, ‘"Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews and are not, but lie--behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you’" (Rev 3:9). So the capital of Eden will eventually receive acknowledgement. By then, however, the work will have been done. All that will remain to be done is hang on until the Messiah comes.
The work of declaring the gospel that all who endure to the end will be saved shall be done by a fellowship of little strength, but by a fellowship with the maturity to digest spiritual meat. Maturity comes from continual exercise in a disciple’s mental landscape, from making the decision over and over again to do that which is right, from living with decisions to do what is right, from repenting of failures to do what is right, from forgiving oneself, from returning to make that same decision to do what is right so many times that making that decision shapes the person’s character. At the end of the age, the righteous will continue to do what is right, and the holy (those set apart by God for His use) will continue to be holy (Rev 22:11). The person who will not do what is right will continue to do evil (same verse). Those individuals who will not be ruled by Christ will continue to worship the works of their hands, demons, and idols. They will not repent of their murders, or of their fornication, or of their thievery (Rev 9:20-21). Rather, they will accept the mark of the beast; they will curse God (Rev 14:9-11 & 16:21) even though they have received the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28) and have been called by God (Rev 18:4). They will believe that they worship Christ--and they will worship the antiChrist who assures them that they have immortal souls and will live forever in either heaven or hell.
Unless a drawn disciple plans to die between now and the beginning of the Tribulation, the disciple needs to repent of having believed Satan’s lie that he or she has an immortal soul, for belief in this lie will cause the person to accept the mark of the beast (Chi xi stigma, or the tattoo [stigma] of Christ’s cross [Xx] – Rev 13:18). This disciple will seek that which is familiar in a very uncertain world during the Tribulation. When this disciple hears Satan, who has been cast to the earth (Rev 12:9), declare himself the newly arrived messiah, this disciple will be unable to identify Satan for who he is…Satan will come as a spirit being. The man of perdition, the antetype antiChrist, was a human being possessed by the demonic king of the North. Satan, as a fallen archangel, will have the power of a spirit being, will look like a spirit being, will probably look like the face in the paintings of Jesus, will require that everyone converts to the Christianity of the Cross, the Christianity of the man of perdition who was destroyed by Christ on a day of battle (Zech 14:3 – note the use of the indefinite article as opposed to the day of battle when Christ returns as the Messiah). Michael fights against Satan on Day 1260, and casts Satan out of heaven; and Christ fights against the man of perdition on this same day, and deals the demonic king of the North a death blow (Dan 7:11-12 + Rev 13:3). After this day of battle, on which the kingdom of the world becomes the king of the Most High and of His Messiah (Dan 7:9-14 & Rev 11:15), the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all of humanity. Every person will be liberated from mental bondage to sin. But newly liberated humanity will either live by faith in God or will accept the mark of the beast to live by continuing to buy and sell and conduct commerce as before. Christ will have turned His hand against spiritual Israel, destroying two-thirds of His holy ones (Zech 13:7-9) prior to Day 1260. The remaining third of spiritual Israel, representing about a sixth of humanity, will become the harvesters of the remainder of humanity.
The person believing Satan’s lie of humans receiving an immortal soul either at conception or at birth is primed for the lake of fire. You are in a pawn in a chess game for your salvation. All of the moves have been made for you to win. You have to do nothing but believe God. That’s all! But believing God requires that you agree to be ruled by God. And if you are ruled by God, you will do what is right; you will live within the laws of God that have been written on your heart and mind.
Still simple? You bet. Easy? Yes and no, depending upon where you are in a trial at this moment. It is difficult to count it all joy when your faith is being tested--at least it is difficult for me to count it all joy. I want to complain, for as an infant and toddler, the Father bailed me out of many situations in which I found myself. He doesn’t necessarily do that now; He allows me to completely run out of resources before He intervenes, which is typical of a human parent as his or her child approaches the child’s teenage years. After all, disciples are heirs or children of the Father. They will be like Christ in every way. When glorified, they won’t have a higher power to help them out. All they will have is other family members. They will have to solve their own problems.
The difficulties first spiritual Israelites, then liberated humanity will face in the Tribulation are opportunities to exercise faith while resolving the immediate problems at hand. The easy way out will appear to be returning to slavery. After all, a slave isn’t responsible for providing for him- or herself. A slave’s concern is serving his or her master. And no person can please two masters. A person will either be ruled by Christ or by the antiChrist, Satan himself. If a person is ruled by Christ, the person will live by faith, not by the ways of this world. If the person is ruled by the antiChrist, the person will also believe that he or she is a Christian, but the person will not live by the laws of God. Rather, the person will live by the ways of this world: buying and selling, lying and believing lies.
So, whom will you believe? The serpent who told Eve that she would not die, or Elohim [plural] who said, ‘"Behold, the man has become like one of us, in knowing good and evil. Now lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever--’ therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken" (Gen 3:22-23). Either Adam ate of the tree of life, or he didn’t. If he didn’t, then he surely died, at which time he went neither to heaven, nor to hell. Nor will you when you die.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."