Friends,
It is certainly tragic that there are teachers who claim that God’s Word does not warn us of a literal Hell. Indeed, how anyone could teach and believe such a thing reveals a deliberate denial of plain statements made by Jesus and the writers of Scripture.

In Mt. 23:33, Jesus addressed the Pharisees and teachers of the law, saying, “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to Hell?” Was Jesus bluffing? Was He threatening them, because of their wicked behavior and doctrine, of the danger of Hell, knowing that Hell did not actually exist? Of course not–!!!

What is the condemnation Jesus refers to when, in speaking of His just judgement (John 5:30), He says in v. 29, “…and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned”? What is the condemnation He refers to when, in warning of the Day of Judgement (Mt. 12:36), He says in verse 37, “…and by your words you will be condemned”? In both passages Jesus contrasts being condemned with being acquitted and given Life.

The apostle Paul speaks about condemnation as well. In 1 Cor. 11:27-34 he teaches that the Lord may decree earthly judgements, including sickness and death (v. 30), for believers so that they “will not be condemned with the world.” (v. 32) And we know from Jesus’ words in John 3:18,36 that the condemnation that the world is under is that of God’s wrath.

John the Baptist warned of this wrath as well when he “said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.'” (Luke 3:7,8) John was warning pretenders that by their wickedness they were keeping themselves positioned to receive God’s wrath.

“Okay,” many say who claim to be Christian. “This wrath is reserved for unbelievers, but not for anyone who has trusted in Jesus as Savior.” But they should read the above verses again. For it is sin which brings God’s wrath and decreed condemnation, and all will be condemned who have refused to love the Truth (2 Thes. 2:10) –the Truth which commands full repentance and full obedience to Christ, who is not only Savior, but King, Lord, and Boss over all. (Mt. 19:17 // Luke 9:23-25 & 14:33 // John 15:10 // 1 John 2:3-6) This is in line with what Heb. 10:26-31 warns of when it addresses those who have covenanted with Christ (v. 26,29), for it says that “If we deliberately keep on sinning…” (v. 26), we should expect the judgement of raging fire (v. 27) that is due the enemies of God. (Same verse) Verses 30 and 31 inform us that it is a horrifying thing to fall into the hands of God who repays His people for their rebellion.

“Okay, so the condemnation is annihilation,” many then argue. “Unbelievers and rebels are burned up. Their punishment is not eternal.” But again, the plain words of Scripture are being denied, for God’s Word states that Hell is most definitely a place where one’s torment is eternal.

2 Thes. 1:6-10 tells us that God, being just, will, on the Day He comes to be glorified (v. 10), pay back those who do not know God (v. 8 ) and those who do not obey the Gospel (same verse), including those who oppress others. (v. 6) Verse 9 tells us that “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord.” The only way to understand this rightly is to understand that being shut out from the presence of the Lord is a rejection from the Lord –as opposed to salvation– and that this punishment of eternal devastation is assigned to the enemies of God. This includes Christ’s servants if they turn rebellious, for as Jesus warns in Mt. 24:48-51, He will come and cut such rebels to pieces, assigning them a place of anguish along with those who are hypocrites.

Truly, Jesus has warned repeatedly about Hell, revealing that it is a “fiery furnace” (Mt. 13:42) of outer darkness (25:30) and physical torment (Luke 16:23-28) that causes terror and weeping. (Mt. 13:42,50 & 22:13 & 24:51 & 25:30 & etc.) It is a place, Jesus informs us, of “eternal punishment” (25:46) for all “who are cursed” (v. 41) –a place in “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Same verse)

Still, there are those who insist that this “eternal punishment” Jesus speaks of is annihilation. Really? Then why would Jesus tell us in Mt. 18:6 that if anyone causes one of God’s trusting ones to sin, “it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (See also Mark 9:42) How could such a drowning be better than to cause another to sin if the punishment for doing so would, after physical death, be annihilation by fire, not an eternity in Hell? And if levels of sinfulness increases one’s degree of punishment (Luke 12:47,48 // Rom. 2:5-11), how does annihilation consist of such degrees? It cannot. But the real Hell does have levels of punishment, and this is why it would truly be better to be drowned before one adds to his pile of crimes. This is also why Jesus has warned that it is better to maim oneself –to gouge out or cut off any part of our body that causes us to sin– than to be thrown into Hell (Mark 9:43-49) “where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'” (v. 48) Undeniably, Jesus is warning us that Hell deals out a far worse suffering than any which having a physical handicap on earth could cause.

If anyone still doubts the clear message Jesus is trying to get across, then His words in Luke 12:4,5 should be persuasive: “I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.” There can be a lot of pain when a person is being killed. Yet being sent to Hell, Jesus says, is far worse. Why –if Hell is really annihilation? The point is, Hell is not annihilation, but eternal agony.

Anguish, punishment, judgement, and an eternity outside of God’s love is what sin reaps, for sin is rebellion, lawlessness, treason, and rejection of God. (John 15:10,14 // Ja. 2:10 // 1 John 3:4) God has provided a Way to be pardoned and to walk in His own divine power so that we can stay freed from sin (Rom. 6:18 // 2 Peter 1:3,4), but if people do not accept this, or if they trample Christ and insult His Spirit of grace by dishonoring their sanctification (Heb. 10:29), they mock God to their own destruction. (Gal. 6:7,8) Let’s not forget that those who continue to spurn God after sharing in the Holy Spirit will at one point be unable to come back to repentance (1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Heb. 6:4-6), for as Jesus has warned us, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29)

God’s Word certainly does teach that there is a Hell. It warns of it repeatedly, and informs us that Hell is a place where the unrepentant will abide, without the King they rejected, forever.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
“But I have obeyed the Lord.” This is what many people say to themselves when confronted with, “Why are you not obeying the Lord?” We can read about this same exchange in 1 Sam. 15:19,20 when Saul insisted to Samuel that, in spite of not obeying God completely, he actually had been obedient to the Lord. “I did carry out the mission God sent me on,” so many say, just as Saul claimed in verse 20. “And in that small part where I didn’t follow God’s directions exactly, I did it so as to help (love, pity, acquit, and/or encourage) others, and so that they could better serve God.” Is this not the reasonings of many –so similar to Saul’s in verse 21–?! But Samuel rebuked Saul, informing him that his negligence to follow God’s orders precisely was both disobedience and evil in the eyes of the Lord. (v. 18,19)

So is partial obedience to God okay for anyone? Does God ever reason, “Well, this servant of Mine carried out most of My orders, so I will be happy with him for that.” –?

Let’s look at what the partial disobedience cost Saul: “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king.” (1 Sam. 15:23) It cost Saul his position of authority. And though Saul remained king for a duration, another (David) was anointed soon afterward to take his place. Moreover, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul (16:14) and an injuring spirit was sent by the Lord to torment him. Talk about a heavy judgement for neglecting to obey God fully!

“But I do a lot for the Lord and the furtherance of His Gospel,” people say when rationalizing their negligence in obeying God perfectly. But what does God’s Word say about this? “Does the LORD appreciate sacrifices, offerings, and worship as much as in obeying His voice?” (See 1 Sam. 15:22) He does not! (Same verse) For such conduct God considers to be rebellion and arrogance, sins equal to those of divination and idolatry. (v. 23)

What lesson are we to hear from these pages in God’s Word? We are to hear what the whole of God’s Word is warning: Obey the Lord, obey Him fully, obey Him carefully, obey His precise orders. When we do this, we will walk in the will of the Lord –which is a must for inheriting eternal life. (Mt. 7:21 & 12:50 // Heb. 10:36 // 1 John 2:17 // see also 2 Cor. 5:15 and 1 Peter 4:2)

Jesus, too, confirms the necessity of obeying God so that we walk in His will and are allowed entrance into Heaven. For He warns in Mt. 7:21-23 that to call Him “Lord”, to prophesy (preach or teach or proclaim) in His name, to cast out demons, and to perform many mighty works means nothing to God if that worker is not in the will of the Father. In fact, Jesus teaches, that worker will be considered instead to be a worker of iniquity / evil / lawlessness / rebellion.

So is sacrificing for God enough? Does it make God favorable toward that sacrificial one? No. Not if that person neglects to follow the precise orders he has heard God give him, especially given him again and again. And not only will God NOT be favorable toward that individual, but God may send an injuring spirit to torment him. As both Ja. 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 warn, “God opposes the proud.” For as we have learned from 1 Sam. 15:23, pride is as the sin of idolatry. Furthermore, because all sin is hostility toward God (Rom. 8:7 // Ja. 4:4), no one who continues in it can please Him, (Rom. 8:8), escape His vengeance / opposition / punishment / judgement / anger / wrath (Rom. 11:22 // 1 Cor. 11:32 // Heb. 10:26-31), or belong to Him (1 John 3:6-10) as a son who has a permanent place in the family. (John 8:34-36 & 15:2,6 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Rev. 3:5) Indeed, a continuation in sin (a lack of repentance) reaps death and damnation. (Rom. 6:23 // Heb. 10:26-31)

Let no one rest in the illusions of the false refuge which ignorant teachers have conjured up and propagated. Disobedience to the Lord, especially deliberate, careless continued disobedience, does not put one walking in the will of the Lord. Be assured that such arrogant rebels will heap to themselves conflict and punishment from the Lord, and if they do not turn from their sin even in their desperation, the Lord will abandon them to the fate of unbelievers. (Mt. 7:21-23 & 24:45-51 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Heb. 6:4-6 & 10:35-39 // 2 Peter 2:20-22 & 3:17)

Care for your soul, and the souls of those you teach, and meticulously study God’s Word itself (not men’s doctrines) so as to see that these things are so.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
After a nice Mother’s Day afternoon today with our entire family (our lunch being my husband’s yummy specialty roast he’d made in the crockpot), my mom and I went tonight to a prayer meeting at a couple’s home. Following a paper copy guideline, everyone there took turns praying aloud and thanking God for different things suggested. We prayed for the world, the church, and individuals. Since several people prayed for persecuted Christians worldwide, particularly in the Mideast, I prayed for Saeed. I encourage everyone to keep praying for him. Please read his beautiful prayer and message he wrote in honor of America’s National Day of Prayer last Thursday, here:

http://aclj.org/persecuted-church/pastor-saeeds-birthday-wish-pray-for-america?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=newsletter

Last Thursday I kept thinking about the types of prayers people seem to focus on every National Day of Prayer –prayers that our nation will repent of sin and turn to God. This is good, but I often believe “Christians” put too much of the blame on others (on the group), when it is us as individuals, who make up the whole, where the attention should be given. Because if each one of us have things we need to repent of, and we neglect to do so, how is it that the nation as a whole can be seen as repentant in God’s eyes?

I believe church leaders, and everyone else who claims to belong to Christ, should resist lamenting about all the nation’s godless citizens, and instead weep about all those who call themselves “Christians” yet who continue spitting in God’s face through their continuous sinning. Isn’t this the nation’s (and the world’s) biggest problem? Wouldn’t the forces of darkness crumble before the advancing tide of true Spirit-filled warriors? Absolutely. Yet there is no Spirit-filled tide. Oh, there are trickles here and there, and there may be a tide of those who work in their own strength, but a tide of true fully-filled Spirit-controlled warriors? Not really. But this is what America, and the world, needs. There needs to be more who are extra sensitive to anything that grieves the Spirit, who will renounce and turn from all known sin forever, who will make every effort –daily– to be filled with the Spirit, and who will intercede concerning those who are the biggest hindrances to the advancement of truth, justice, and righteousness –namely, those who say they follow Jesus even while they continue to abide in falsehoods and sin.

As I was pondering these things last Thursday, Ps. 86:11 kept coming to my mind. I kept thinking that it would be a great prayer to start any prayer meeting with. It says, “Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your truth.” Isn’t this what we all need? We need the Lord to teach us His way, His laws, His Truth, His doctrine. Then we can walk there. But, we should ask. We should pray that He teaches us. Are we requesting this of God? Is the church petitioning Him about this? Are the dads leading their families in this prayer? Are the moms? Are the pastors?

Ps. 86:11 finishes, “Give me an undivided heart [O Lord], that I may fear Your name.” By having a divided heart, we will grow more and more calloused in understanding the importance of fearing God. Indeed, a divided heart is going to get us nowhere with God –nowhere in getting to know Him and receiving help from Him. Instead we need undivided hearts, and this so that we may fear the Lord, listen to His instructions, learn His way, and walk in His Truth. If we do these, we will be walking in the Spirit, we will be advancing together as a mighty army, we will be demolishing strongholds, we will be praying by the Spirit in line with God’s will, and we will be seeing the Lord answer multitudes of prayers all across the globe.

Mighty praying is what is needed. Humble, trust-filled, mighty prayers from holy, not sinful (daily rebellious), Christ-followers.

It begins with, “Teach us Your way, O Lord” –the heartfelt request, and with, “I will walk in Your truth” –the sincere pledge. If this would become the case throughout the church body, God may turn from His anger, relent from His decrees of punishments, and bring to us His favor and blessing.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
This morning in meditating on God’s Word, Ps. 148:13 struck me, so I memorized it. It says, “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” What a beautiful and worshipful verse to quote reverently before the Lord!

Who is the “them” being encouraged to praise the Lord’s name? Verses 7-12 tell us, and those that are mentioned are many within God’s creation, both animate and inanimate. Great sea creatures are mentioned, as well as all ocean depths. Lightning, hail, snow, and clouds are included, and so are “stormy winds that do His bidding” (v. 8 ), letting us know that stormy winds, even those which cause destruction, that would have to mean, happen because of God’s direct command and/or permissive will, and this so that His plans are accomplished. (Regrettably, there are Bible teachers who, in their desire to believe that since the cross God stopped executing all judgements on the earth, reject Scripture’s doctrine on this in spite of multitudes of verses concerning it.)

In verses 9-12, mountains, all hills, fruit trees, all cedars, wild animals, all cattle, small creatures, flying birds, kings of the earth, all nations, princes, all rulers of the earth, young men, maidens, old men, and children –all these are called upon to praise the Lord. The word “all”, used six times here, should not be left unnoticed so that we will recognize that the entire creation is being commanded to praise the Lord.

In the preceding verses of Ps. ch. 148 we see there were others who were also specifically called upon to praise the Lord and His name. Mentioned in verses 2-4 they are: All the Lord’s angels, all His heavenly hosts, the sun, the moon, all the shining stars, the highest heavens, and the waters above the skies. These are addressed directly and commanded to praise the Lord and His name. And again the word “all” is repeated.

So are we –each one of us– obeying? Are we joining in with the praise? Are our mouths, and our whole lives, extending praise to the name of the Lord and exalting Him alone? –The One whose splendor is above the earth and the heavens? –The One whose splendor is continually being displayed throughout, and in, and through the earth and the heavens, this fact being understand by what is revealed in both the Word of God and creation?

In verses 1 and 7 there is the command to praise the Lord from locations. These are: From the heavens, in the heights above, and from the earth. Verses 5,6,13,14 tell us why we should praise the Lord and His name: It is because He created through His command, because He set the creation of the heavens in place through a decree that will never pass away, because no other name is worthy of exaltation, and because He has raised up a king (Jesus) who is the joy of those who belong to Him.

Ps. ch. 148 is rich with both theology and words by which to praise the Lord. Verse 13 was especially precious to me this morning, but because of the rest of the verses (all of which I was not memorizing), I felt it appropriate to substitute “them” for “all creation” as I said it before the Lord. In this way much of the chapter’s meaning is summed up in this one worshipful verse, and so I memorized it like this: “Let all creation praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”

Amen! May all creation praise the Lord!

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friend,
In looking at the context of Rom. 1:16-19, which you quoted, certainly verse 20 should have been included, as this continues the thought / the point –which is, what may be known about God (v. 19) has always been made plain (to mankind) by God. (v. 20 // see also 10:18 and Ps. 19:1-6) Thus Scripture informs us that revelation about God comes through creation (by seeing, experiencing, and knowing things about it and the order of things –moral, physical, etc.), as well as through that “instinctive” knowledge of God which He has placed (created) into every person (same verses // Rom. 1:21,28, & 2:14,15,26,27), but which many suppress because they love sin. (1:18 // John 3:19-21)

You ask how the wrath of God is revealed from heaven and then quote Rom. 16:25,26. These verses are not focusing on God’s wrath (God’s wrath which many in the ancient world were already aware of, though many considered it the wrath of plural gods), but are focusing on Jesus and the salvation that comes through Him –a mystery “now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings”, or “…through the Scriptures of the prophets.” (v. 26) In other words, through the Old Testament; and though these were the Scriptures Jesus regarded as the words and revelations of God Himself, it seems you consider them as inferior to the New.

Paul mentions the mystery also in 1 Cor. 2:6-10, calling it “God’s secret wisdom” (v. 7) –“a wisdom that has been hidden” (same verse), for had the rulers understood it they would not have crucified the Lord. (v. 8 ) Yet God has revealed this mystery, and all that goes with it, to us by His Spirit, even giving us the mind of Christ. (v. 9-16) He has done so for the children (the humble), yet hides spiritual truths from the wise and learned. (Luke 10:21) Therefore, of those who teach by the Spirit, Jesus says, “He who listens to you listens to Me; he who rejects you [namely, your message] rejects Me.” (v. 16) You and I are saying (teaching) very opposite things, and so we must understand that we could not both be teaching by the Spirit of God. Let us remember that Satan himself quotes Scripture –sometimes stupidly, sometimes cunningly, when trying to get his lies across. (Example: Mt. 4:6) And of course false teachers do the same (1 Tim. 4:1) as they distort the Scriptures to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)

You say, “The main way a revelation is made manifest to all nations is through the scriptures which come from heaven.” However, though the revelation of Christ’s work is known through the Scriptures, not every revelation about God and His requirements is given solely that way. Scripture informs us that such insight comes through the “voice” of creation (Ps. 19:1-6 // Rom. 1:19,20 & 10:18), through conscience (Rom. 2:14,15), and through the Lord’s judgements upon various inhabitants of the earth. (Ps. 58:9-11 // Isa. 26:9 // 1 Cor. 10:1-12 & 11:27-34) So although I continually uphold God’s Word as of vital importance, I realize that there is one other priority a follower of Christ needs. It is the Spirit. We must have the Spirit of God and Christ, whom we possess by being “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8) and led and controlled by the Spirit (Rom. 8:,9,14 // Gal. 5:18,25) –He who leads us into all Truth. (John 16:13) To heed the Spirit and the Word is what it means in John 10:27 to follow the Lord’s voice. For the Scriptures studied, quoted, and used apart from the Spirit do not bring Life. (5:39,40)

You continue to speak about God’s Future Final Judgement and how God’s Word repeatedly warns us about it. Of course this Judgement is to be our main concern, for it is the Last Judgement, the final and irrevocable one. Earthly judgements are part of God’s goodness (His goodness which entails His justice, as well as His patience, kindness, etc.), for it is due to His goodness that He warns us, disciplines us, and punishes us, and this so that we will repent. If we do not repent of deliberate sin, strive hard after holy conduct, and abide faithfully, we will be disqualified (John 15:1-10 // 1 Cor. 9:24-27) and condemned to Hell along with the godless. (Mt. 5:29,30 & 24:45-51 // 1 Cor. 11:32 // Heb. 10:26-31) God’s goodness (and God is always good) comes from His love, His justice, His righteous anger, and His instructions, comforts, warnings, and rebukes. Thus God punishes those who keep sinning (Heb. 12:6b), as well as gives training and discipline and times of testing to mature us and to see if we are faithful / to see if our faith is genuine. (Luke 8:13,15 // Acts 14:22 // Heb. ch. 12 // Ja. 1:2-4 // 1 Peter 1:6,7)

Again, as I said, God does not change. (Mal. 3:6 // Heb. 13:8 // Ja. 1:17) This means that His attributes (such as His justice, love, holiness, power, etc.) do not change. Regarding the way of the New Covenant: It applies only for those who have come into it by way of being born of the Spirit. Otherwise, one’s master is the law (which lacks power, and because of sin, brings death –Rom. 7:9-12). Therefore if someone does not “serve in the new way of the Spirit” (v. 6), then he actually remains captive to sin, which means to be under its slavery and its curse (ch. 6) and thus under God’s wrath. (John 3:36 // 2 Peter 2:9) For “God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient” (Eph. 5:6) no matter what they claim. (Titus 1:16)

Consequently, the wonderful promises of verses such as John 1:29 (which says that Jesus takes away the sin of the world) have not been applied to those who refuse the Promise (the Truth / the Power) of the Spirit by which to walk in a state of continual purification. (Gal. 5:18 // 1 Peter 1:22 // 2 Peter 1:3,4 // 1 John 1:7) Why? –Because they have rejected the Savior. “Everyone who sins breaks the law of God” (1 John 3:4), and God, therefore, retains the right to judge, whenever and however He wants, the “lawless person” (see same verse) because that person remains a participant of the devil (v. 8 ) and demons (1 Cor. 10:20-22) –that dark kingdom (Col. 1:13) and realm of death that is under God’s wrath. (John 3:36 // Rom. 6:16,23 // Eph. 2:1-3 // 1 John 3:10-15)

I am grieved that you cannot see the error of what you keep saying about how the Lord’s accomplishment on the cross necessitates the negation of the fact that “the LORD [still] exercises justice on the earth”. (See Jer. 9:24) Also, your insinuation that my teaching is diminishing the power of the blood of Christ reminds me of how Calvinists also insist that Jesus had to have died only for the elect because otherwise it would have to be said that His payment wasn’t strong enough to save everyone, since everyone isn’t saved. Furthermore, you suggest that not always knowing whether a disaster is straight from God or from natural causes or consequences is to operate in “confusion (of which God is not the author).” This “confusion” verse you quote is 1 Cor. 14:33, but if we go to it, we see that its context is about there needing to be order among speakers during church meetings. Thus the versions that use “disorder” or “dissension” instead of “confusion” are the better translations. Regardless, Scripture reminds us that God, His ways, and His dealings are too immense for our limited (partial / finite) understanding (Job 36:26 // Ps. 145:3 & 147:5 // 1 Cor. 13:9,12), and that we have available to us all we need in order to trust Him, follow Him, and know Him.

More than once you’ve mentioned 1 John 2:2. However, using this to teach that God no longer exercises His dealings of justice (wrath, punishments, and rewards) is an incorrect usage of the verse. This verse instead is about the payment Jesus made, informing us that it was adequate to pay for the sins of the whole world. It is saying that He did, in fact, pay the ransom for the whole world. However, as we know from other Scripture verses, the whole world does not come under God’s favor automatically. Nowhere does the Word teach that they do, except that they have all graciously been given physical life, the gift of free choice, an orderly, functioning, and beautiful earth to live in, and the offer of salvation –that union with Christ through which the special (present and eternal) favor comes. However, each individual must accept Christ’s payment as applicable to oneself, applying it through one’s belief, repentance, and submission to Christ as Savior –and as Lord.

1 John 2:2 is saying just what verses such as 1 Tim. 2:6 is saying: That Jesus “gave Himself as a ransom for all men.” Jesus paid the ransom for the world of men –in full. Everybody’s sin was paid for. The debt was cancelled. (Mt. 18:27) However, for those who refuse the Truth, cling to sin, reject the pardon, and/or commit injustice against their fellowman, the debt is reinstated toward that individual. (Mt. 18:32-35 // John 3:36 // Heb. 10:26-31) The Light is available for all, but many refuse to come into it. (John 3:19-21) It seems that you are saying that God’s wrath against everyone has been appeased. This just is not so. Because only through repentance from sin, submission to the King, and belief in the fully-paid-pardon can the appeasement be applied individually. And of course everyone must remain faithful –must remain in the Light, the Truth, the Love, the Pardon, the Spirit’s control. (John 15:1-10 // Rom. 8:9 // 1 John 1:5-7)

True belief, true repentance, and true submission (which adds up to true faith) all has to do with obedience. Obedience is what brings about holiness (being righteous before God) and what incurs eternal life. (Rom. 1:5 & 3:21,22 & 6:16,22 & 8:3,4 // Heb. 5:9 & 12:14) Jesus’ ransom enables us to walk in freedom from sin (Rom. ch. 6-8 // Gal. 5:24), and we are certainly expected to walk this way. (Rom. 6:1,2 & 8:9,14 // Gal. 5:25) If we rebel and keep rebelling, we backslide out from Christ’s love (John 10:6,10) and are no longer abiding in Christ –thus not covered by God’s favor. (John 15:1-10 // Rom. 8:12,13 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Heb. 10:26-31 & 12:14-17 // 2 Peter 2:20-22 & 3:17)

You say, “Through the blood of Christ the world is in a state of peace or favor (as announced by the angels on the day of Jesus’ birth) until a specified “day of wrath” to come.” However, I again insist that God’s Word teaches that this peace (favor / pardon / treaty / fellowship / unity) –which is between God and man (Rom. 5:1,2 // Eph. 2:12-18) as well as between others who are in right fellowship with the Lord (1 John 1:7)– is a reality only for those who have come into union with Christ and remain there through obedience to Him. The peace does not blanket the world’s inhabitants who remain in the kingdom of darkness. Instead such people are at enmity with God, His law, His saints, and His Gospel. (Rom. 8:7,8 // Phil. 3:18) There is no peace for them. (Isa. 57:20,21 // Rom. 3:17) The wrath of God remains (present tense) on everyone unless, or until, they unify with Christ. (John 3:36 // Rom. 1:18-32 & 2:8,9 // Eph. 2:3-5 // 1 Thes. 2:16 // Rev. 2:20-23) –which comes only through continued, faithful obedience. (Heb. 10:26,27 // 1 John 3:24) Being one in spirit with Christ (1 Cor. 6:17) is what it means to be “in Christ” (Rom. 8:1) and controlled by His Spirit. (v. 9) Only then is a person not under condemnation from God. (v. 1)

The world as a whole is most assuredly not in a state of favor with God, nor in a state of peace, nor have their sins been taken away. We know that “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8), but at present, until Jesus comes again bodily and sets up His rule from Jerusalem, the devil’s work (and thus God’s wrath) is still going on in the earth, only wiped away for those who are unified with Christ through “the obedience which comes through faith”. (Rom. 1:5 & 16:26) Jesus says He came not to bring peace, but a sword. (Mt. 10:34) Not “peace on earth… but division.” (Luke 12:51) This is because most in the world, by their own choice, cling to the devil’s kingdom, thus causing the battle between good and evil to go on in this present age. God is the Victor, but the majority of people, because they are not in union with Him, are still abiding in chaos, not peace.

No, 2 Peter ch. 2 does not speak only about the Final Judgement, but uses past earthly judgements as warnings to us of potential earthly (and eternal) judgement. Verse one makes this clear as it refers to those (after the cross) who will teach heresies and thus bring swift destruction on themselves. 1 Cor. 10:1-14 tells us that past (earthly) judgements are “warnings for us” (v. 11), cautioning us to be careful and not fall. (v. 12) Fall to what? To temptation (v. 13) and sins of idolatry (v. 7,14), grumbling (v. 10), testing God (v. 9), sexual immorality (v. 8 ), and sins of the heart (v. 6) –because we, like they, could fall under God’s earthly judgements (v. 8-10) of displeasure. (v. 5) This is why James 5:9 warns “brothers”, meaning believers in Christ, that if we grumble against each other, we will be judged by The Judge.

Jesus teaches us in Luke 13:7 that if He sees someone not producing that for which He planted them, He will give the command to have it cut down. This is a judgement, though He will be patient for a time to see if there is repentance. (v. 8 ) If not, the Father “cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit.” (John 15:2) Such branches are thrown away, they thus wither, and they are therefore thrown to the fire. (v. 6) The earthly judgement happens first, then the Final. The one/s for this present age, and the one for eternity. (2 Peter 2:9 // Jude 1:5-7)

Some more references teaching God’s earthly judgements of wrath: Jesus taught that everyone who is greedy can incur from God a judgement of an early death. (Luke 12:20,21) Jesus showed wrath when He made a whip of cords, overturned the money changers tables, and drove them out of the temple area with scathing rebukes. (John 2:13-17) Jesus predicted God’s judgment (via armies) against that present generation of Jerusalem because they had refused their Peace / their Messiah. (Luke 11:50,51 & 19:41-44) Jesus called that specific coming judgement “the time of punishment” (21:22) and a time of “great distress in the land and wrath against this people.” (v. 23) The reference was to God’s wrath against the Jews in fulfillment of the prophets’ continuous warnings over the centuries (v. 22), having warned them of their nation’s destruction and dispersion to other nations (v. 24) –“until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (same verse) The Jews received this punishment in full after the cross.

I wish you would have addressed more of the references I mentioned, including Pr. 3:33-35 where it says, “The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked…”, as well as Ja. 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 which both say, “God opposes the proud”, and explained how these could not mean God’s punishing judgements (pronouncements / declarations / renderings) on earth. Also verses such as 1 Peter 4:17, 1 Thes. 2:16, 2 Thes. 2:11, and Rev. 2:5,16,21-23 lacked your explanation as to how it is at all possible that these are not speaking of God’s earthly punishments / judgements. The New Testament (not to mention the Old) refers often to God’s earthly judgements (punishments / rewards / applications of justice), either directly or indirectly, another one of those references being 1 Peter 3:7 which commands husbands to treat their wives with considerateness and respect “so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” It could be nothing other than God’s decreed punishment toward a man (–a praying man) that would cause the man’s prayers to be hindered (obstructed and possibly fully rejected) by God.

1 Cor. 11:32 can refer to nothing other than God’s earthly judgement against a person who claims Christ when it says, “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.” You want to split hairs about words, yet the words about the Lord’s “judgement” and “discipline” and “punishment” are often used interchangeably, as shown here, as well as in Heb. 12:6. Heb. 10:38,39 warns us that if a righteous person shrinks back (with a lack of faith, which also includes a lack of obedience –Rom. 1:5 & 16:26), he will be destroyed. 1 Cor. 3:16,17 warns us about God’s pronouncement of destruction against a temple of the Spirit who would defile himself, and verse 19 quotes Job 5:13 when it says, “As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.'” This is just another one of those numerous places where the New Testament derives its doctrine from the Old Testament in order to teach us the Truth / God’s doctrine.

Another example of this is 1 Peter 3:10-12 which quotes Ps. 34:12-16, these passages informing us that those who do evil will not see good days because God opposes (confronts / thwarts / is hostile toward) them. This is about God’s judgements of punishment on earth. An example also is found in 1 Cor. ch. 5 when we are told that “God will judge those outside [the church]” (v. 13) while we are to judge (though only by His Spirit –John 7:24 and Ja. 4:12)) those inside the church who commit wickedness. We do so by expelling them from our midst (1 Cor. 5:13 quotes Deuteronomy) and handing them over to Satan who God often uses, as He does with governing authorities, as His agent of wrath. (v. 4,5 // Rom. 13:4 // 1 Tim. 1:19,20) Clearly these judgements are to be executed on earth.

Well, you and I have both stated our views at length and now I no longer wish to continue this discussion, for the Lord has prodded me to confront you in order to warn you, not so that I could join with you in a pursuit to win an argument. I find it very disturbing that because of the cross you do not hold the Old Testament up as profitable for doctrine, though 2 Tim. 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine. I have tried to convince you, as gently but strongly as I’ve known how, that you are in great error about God and His Word concerning this subject, and that your public accusation directed against those who believe differently than you on this issue –that they are blasphemers– is not a small sin before God. Our words of doctrine are to be “the very words of God” (1 Peter 4:11) and they are to be said by His Spirit. However, if we do the opposite, then we are slanderers against God, His Word, and His followers, and slanderers are listed right in there with the rest of the wicked and deceived who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9,10)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

A Beautiful Wedding

April 26, 2015

Friends,
One of the most beautiful things in the world for anyone to witness is that love between a bride and groom as they say their vows, especially when they say it with deep emotion and with words obviously not from rote, but from their own hearts.

So, a few days ago when a friend sent me the video of her son’s and her daughter-in-law’s wedding (which I’d very much been looking forward to viewing), I was greatly blessed and actually had tears streaming down my face through the whole thing. What a beautiful bride, what sweetness between them, and what precious words of commitment they expressed to one another. And what an extra-special occasion too in that both families were able to travel back to their country of origin (the Philippines) to celebrate it.

Here is the uniquely beautiful wedding video:

https://vimeo.com/123591432

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Pr. 11:31 says, “If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!” The message, the declaration, the truth of what this verse is saying is obvious. So the question is, is this a verse that at present, in our day and time, pertains to humankind –those who are righteous (meaning those who do what is right –1 John 3:7), those who are ungodly (meaning those who are corrupt / irreligious / profane / godless), and those who are sinners (meaning those who keep sinning) receiving their due on earth? Or should we consider that that which is taught in the book of Proverbs is to be inconsequential to everyone that has lived, is living, or will live since that moment at the cross when Jesus paid mankind’s debt of sin?

I certainly would hope that all who claim to be Christians do acknowledge that the book of Proverbs, just like the book of Psalms, Isaiah, and Deuteronomy, and just like all of Scripture, is to be regarded as completely significant for understanding correct theology –that is, how we are to understand who God is, how He relates to humans, and what He expects of all of us. If Jesus (and the New Testament writers) quoted the Old Testament extensively as that by which we are to order our lives, we are greatly mistaken if we think that we, as well, are not to quote it and live by it. (Mt. 4:4)

So, this being the case, let us reread the Proverbs verse above and accept that, either by allowing everyone their due (through consequences) or by pronouncing upon them their due (through punishments or rewards) God has and always will operate in this manner toward mankind. Let us recognize that this aspect of The Truth (about God’s never-failing just judgements) should be acknowledged as a given, considered soberly, and responded to accordingly by all men, and especially by those who claim to uphold God’s Word.

Does the Word of God support what I have just written? It does, and throughout. Here are just some of the many passages that show it:

Rom. 13:1-5 informs us that he who rebels against governing authorities is rebelling against God who has set all authorities in place. It says that the authority figure “is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrong-doer.” (v. 4) Regardless of whether or not the agent is also angry, this verse is saying that it is God’s wrath that is brought down, through His agent, as punishment upon the wrong-doer. For God’s moral law was made for curbing wicked men’s actions (1 Tim. 1:8-11), but, if there is no one who is functioning in particular situations as God’s servants to execute His wrath on the wicked, God will do it Himself. (1 Cor. 5:12,13 // 1 Tim. 1:19,20 & 3:6 // Rev. 2:5,16,21-23)

Does a governing authority ever rebel against God and operate unjustly or immorally? Absolutely, and injustice is not God’s wrath, but men’s cruelty. In those cases, which are indeed many, God’s “agent of wrath” brings himself under God’s wrath. For truly, anyone and everyone who conducts himself sinfully (disobediently / in falsehoods) remains under God’s wrath. (John 3:36 // Gal. 1:6-9 // 2 Thes. 1:6-10 // 1 Tim. 4:16 // Heb. 10:26-31) He lives outside of the love and mercy of God –held under punishment until the Final Judgement (2 Peter 2:9)– unless he repents before his physical death (Heb. 9:27) and obeys God’s commands. (Mt. 19:17 // John 15:10)

Let’s remember that wrong-doers, in God’s eyes, can be individuals as well as groups of individuals. (Ezek. 21:1-5 // Luke 12:20,21 & 19:41-44) And let us also remember that although God can, and sometimes does, fully deliver the righteous who are (often unwittingly or unintentionally) aligned with the wicked (Gen. ch. 19), He does not always do so (Ex. 1:8-11 // Luke 21:12-24), even though He will grant them His strength, comfort, and provision as they call out to Him in the midst of the war, famine, plague, flood, persecution, or other. (2 Cor. 1:3-11)

Something else we should keep in mind when we’re focusing on God’s judgements: Not all hardships or tragedies we encounter are a result of our negligence or sin. Instead, the cause may be the laws of nature God set in place at creation’s dawn, or the effects coming from a fallen world, or Satan and his agents, or God’s loving training. (2 Cor. 12:7-10 // Heb. 12:5-11) If it is the latter, God can use any of the other causes to apply the training, doing so not to punish, but to teach us stamina and wisdom, to teach us to recognize His voice at a moment’s notice, to teach us to better empathize with others, and to become mature, complete, and conformed to Christ-likeness (Rom. 8:29 // Ja. 1:2-4) so that we can receive the crown of Life. (Ja. 1:12)

So, even though it is often difficult to decipher the reason behind catastrophes, this should not cause us to disbelieve the fact that God is continually exercising justice throughout the earth. (Jer. 9:24) For God’s Word reveals to us that He is.

Pr. 15:10 says, “Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the [righteous] path.” The whole counsel of Scripture informs us that this discipline comes from God, either through consequences, through an agent of God’s wrath, or directly from God Himself. As 3:33-35 says, “The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked… He mocks proud mockers… [and] fools He holds up to shame.” These verses show that God Himself executes these judgements and the wording infers that He does so upon such people during their earthly lives. This includes the age we are in since the cross, for both Ja. 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 paraphrase Pr. 3:34 when they say, using the present-tense, “God opposes the proud.” To be opposed by God is to reap woes / judgement / punishment. “And those who walk in pride He [God] is able to humble.” (Dan. 4:37)

Pr. 5:22 says, “The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him” while verse 23 says that he will die due to his lack of discipline. Chapter 11, verse 27 states that those who seek mischief will receive evil themselves. We are told that disaster overtakes sinners (13:21) –their ruin contrasted with those whom the Lord protects (3:25,26)– and that the arrogant, as well as the perverse, will reap a fall. (16:18 & 28:18) Moreover, “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed –without remedy.” (29:1)

In Jer. 4:18 we are told that sinful conduct and actions bring bitter punishment, and the context shows that God is the One punishing. As God says in verse 12, “Now I pronounce My judgments against them” while in verses 27 and 28 He says, “The whole land will be ruined, though I will not destroy it completely. Therefore the earth will mourn… because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back.” This is referring to a judgement of God on earth.

Jer. 5:3,9,10 also points out God’s punishment on earth when it says, “Oh LORD… You struck them, but they felt no pain; You crushed them, but they refused correction… Should I not punish them for this? declares the LORD. Should I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? Go through her vineyards and ravage them, but do not destroy them completely… Your wrongdoings have kept these [seasonal rains] away; your sins have deprived you of good.”

Jer. 6:11-19 speaks of earthly punishment, as well, when it says, “This is what the LORD Almighty says… But I am full of the wrath of the LORD… Their houses will be turned over to others. …they will be brought down when I punish them… I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes…” Should anyone think that people own houses in Hell? No, this judgement from God is executed on earth. And should anyone think, “Well, this is referring to the Israelites before the cross”, let them understand that Scripture makes it clear that God’s past judgements, including those that fell upon the Israelites, were written down as warnings for us. (Rom. 11:22 // 1 Cor. 10:1-12 // Heb. 3:7-15 // 2 Peter ch. 2)

Jer. 15:6-9 says, “…You keep on backsliding. So I will lay hands on you and destroy you… I will bring bereavement and destruction on My people… suddenly I will bring down on them anguish and terror… declares the LORD.” Later God asks, “Why bring such great disaster on yourselves? Why provoke Me to anger..? You will destroy yourselves…” (44:7,8) Thus we see that sin, which reaps disaster for the sinning ones, is equivalent to reaping God’s wrath. This happens on the earth as is obvious when God makes such statements as, “Your cries will fill the earth.” (46:12)

Isa. 45:7 is a statement that blatantly tells us that it is the Lord who brings prosperity and creates disaster (on earth). In Amos 3:6 God says, “When disaster come to a city, has not the LORD caused it?” Lam. 3:38 has a similar question: “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” Verse 39 then goes on to ask, “Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins?” Let’s understand that when a “living man” is punished, this means it is a man receiving punishment on earth. Indeed sin reaps punishment –which is actually the Lord’s mercy to persuade the sinner to repent. For “sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (Ja. 1:15) The Lord does not want us to reap death (Rom. 6:23), but to walk in His love / His Life –which comes (only) by obeying His commands. (Dt. 30:15-20 // Mt. 19:17 // John 15:10)

In Isa. 54:16 God informs us that it is He who forges a weapon fit for its work and who creates the destroyer to work havoc. Is this not called “God’s judgement”? Chapter 59, verses 1 and 2 tell us that it is sin that separates people from God and causes Him to refuse to listen to their prayers. Again, is it not a judgement from God when He refuses to listen to a sinful person’s prayers?

Let’s consider this sobering verse: “‘I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them,’ declares the LORD, the LORD Almighty.” (Isa. 19:4) This verse cannot be viewed any other way than that it is referring to a nation receiving God’s punishment –on earth– regarding a cruel dictatorship. Isa. 26:9b cannot be viewed otherwise either, for it says, “When Your judgments [LORD –v.8] come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.” In verses 20 and 21 we read God’s admonition to His people to hide themselves from His wrath which He is bringing against the sinners of the earth.

Ps. 76:6-10 is undeniably about God’s angry judgements of justice in the earth: “At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before You when You are angry? From heaven You pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet– when You, O God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land. Surely Your wrath against men brings You praise, and the survivors of Your wrath are restrained.”

Ps. 64:7-9 is similar when it says, “But God will shoot them [those plotters of injustice –v. 6] with arrows; suddenly they will be struck down. He will… bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. All mankind will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what He has done.” This can only be describing God’s judgements on earth and the reactions of its inhabitants. And then there is Ps. 78:38 which mentions God’s partial judgements in the world, for it says, “Time after time He restrained His anger and did not stir up His full wrath.”

In Ezek. 23:49 God says, “You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry.” In 33:12 He teaches, “The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys…” In Ho. 5:10,14,15 God says that He will pour out His wrath on them… and tear them to pieces until they admit their guilt and seek Him in their great misery.

In Amos 8:11,12 God declares that the days are coming when He will send a famine through the land –a famine of hearing the words of the LORD so that people will stagger about searching for the word of the Lord, though they will not find it. Rom. 1:28 says that because people refuse to retain the knowledge of God, He gives them over to a depraved mind. 2 Thes. 2:11 speaks of God’s punishment against those who refuse to believe and love the Truth, for it says, “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” All these references are undeniably about God’s judgements in the earth. And for anyone who has eyes to see, “The wrath of God is [indeed] revealed from heaven [from God / God’s throne / God’s command / God’s agents of wrath] against all the godlessness and wickedness of men…” (Rom. 1:18)

I could go on and on with Scripture verses that speak about the judgements God deals out on the earth. And besides those that pertain to mankind in general, there are many specifics I could mention as well. Here are a few of those:

In 2 Sam. 12:9-14 we read that the Lord declared over David’s household the judgement of calamity and death due to David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba and of murdering her husband, Uriah. Even though God forgave David (v. 13), He did not revoke the decreed punishments; and chaos did pursue David’s family after that.

God punished King Nebuchadnezzar by giving him the judgement of insanity for his continued arrogance (Dan. 4:28-33), though he was restored after he eventually repented. (v. 34-37)

In Acts we read about several of God’s judgments, one being when Ananias and his wife Sapphira, members of the early church, were immediately struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit by way of lying to Peter. (5:1-11) Later, we see that Simon the sorcerer (who believed the Gospel), received, via Peter, a curse for a perverted view and request, though also a warning to repent, which Simon quickly did. (8:18-24) We read that Herod, after accepting sacrilegious praise from the crowd for his public speech, was struck down by the Lord, eaten by worms, and died. (12:21-23) And we read that Paul cursed Elymas, a false prophet who was opposing the Truth, will temporary blindness. (13:6-12)

Gal. 6:7,8 warns that everyone reaps what they sow, notifying us that this decree has been solidified by God who will not be mocked. To reap what we sow is a pronouncement still in place. Therefore, those who sow sinfulness must understand that they will reap punishment from God –here, in this life. And that if they do not repent, they will reap punishment eternally. God’s Word –the Old Testament which Jesus honored and quoted, as well as the New Testament– reveals this Truth obviously and abundantly. We, therefore, are to live by, including receiving our doctrine from, “every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Dt. 8:3 and Mt. 4:4)

Sincerely,

with love,
Rachel