Discourse 106 - The false teachings in the Christian congregations.




Does Jesus give revelations of hell? / Commentary Klaus Hildebert 00, 2008-12-30

Worship of Idols and cult of the dead.

Are Christians who have died already in heaven?

Is the Christian congregation the Bride of Christ?

Are the 144000 sealed the congregation?

Does the Rapture of the congregation take place at the First Resurrection?

The General Resurrection at the end of the world: only for the ungodly?

The fate of the cursed: eternal torment or dissolution?

Will the congregation be raptured still before the Great Tribulation?

Are there "born again" Christians?

A "born again" Christian cannot ever be lost?

The infinite love of God.

Is the Holy Spirit an abiding presence in the believer? / Commentary, B. Bollmeyer 00, 2005-07-12

The doctrine of Universal Reconciliation: an exit route, or a blind alley?   -   Discourse 11



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Does Jesus give revelations of hell? / Commentary KH 00, 2008-12-30)

I was very interested to read your arguments at Immanuel.at. I congratulate you on your uniquely detailed and well grounded view of the content of the biblical texts. You have really gone to a lot of effort, and this kind of hard work and fidelity to the Bible are not often in evidence.

The reason I am writing to you is as follows. I lately came across a website on which Christians report spiritual experiences which they claim to have had. The English texts on the website can be found under www.spiritlessons.com/

I was particularly interested to read reports where these Christians state that God has given them a vision of hell.


To take a few examples:
Here seven young people describe how Jesus went with them through the depths of hell, and showed them the damned and their torment:
www.spiritlessons.com/ - "7 Columbian Youths in Hell"

A similar account comes from this woman, who likewise, so she says, was shown hell on several occasions, so that she could tell people about it
www.spiritlessons.com/ - "A Divine Revelation of Hell by Mary K. Baxter"

The following man, on his own report, was not just a visitor but actually a victim in hell:
www.spiritlessons.com/ - "Bill Wiese: 23 Minutes in Hell"



I ask you now, as someone who is evidently well acquainted with such matters ‒ what view should we take of such reports? Are they delusory fantasies, lies or genuine revelations? How can we tell whether these reports are real or not? And if they are not real, but just lies ‒ how can Christians do such a thing, when they must know very well that God hates lies and falsification of his teachings?

Proverbs 6
16 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to him:
17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.

Revelation 22
18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.

Klaus Hildebert



Many thanks for your visit to Immanuel.at, and for your friendly remarks. Your comments point to a phenomenon which is indeed one of the big problems for the Christian congregations of our time, especially in the USA and the countries of South America ‒ the problem, that is, that we so frequently hear reports of revelations which the Lord Jesus is supposed to have given to people, who are then moreover instructed to publish their visions to the world at large.

Since many of the people who tell these stories have a thorough knowledge of the Bible, it is quite difficult for their contemporaries, particularly for those whose biblical knowledge is limited, to scrutinize an argument that appears to agree with the scriptures and to determine whether it really is a well founded exegesis, or whether it is not rather a case of the "quarrying" approach to biblical commentary ‒ whereby isolated verses and passages are torn out of context and cobbled together to make a new "history".

And because it would be a fairly long and laborious task to check and evaluate such statements in detail, some commentators make short work of it and simply state that it is all untrue, but without bringing forward any concrete scriptural proof of their assertion. But this puts them in the same category as these "story tellers", and lays them open to the objection, on the part of the latter, that they haven’t actually produced any kind of refutation.

So let us proceed on the correct, though more laborious path, and try to check out these people at those points where they are most likely to be refuted. That is to say, first of all their quotations from the Bible, where they offer any; and secondly, the places where they assert that the Lord Jesus himself has spoken to them. This is something we find very frequently in reports of this nature, and almost always amounts to an indication of their not being genuine. We know the Lord’s style ‒ the characteristic way of speaking that he had ‒ from the Bible, so we are well able to recognize if someone who is not well versed in this diction is trying to put words into his mouth.  


"Revelations of heaven and hell" given to seven young people

On the first web page you refer to, we find seven young people from Colombia (similar to the three children of Fatima) who have apparently been given a revelation of hell and other matters by Jesus Christ. Fairly early on we read the following account:

In the midst of the light we saw a multitude of angels dressed in white. These angels were wonderful, tall and very good looking. In their midst we saw something astonishing ‒ the form of a human being. This person looked special ‒ a person wearing a very white mantle and equally white robes. (…) He spoke to us in simple, but very powerful words: "My dear children, do not be afraid, I am Jesus of Nazareth; and I have come to you for the purpose of showing you secrets, which you must then communicate to nations, cities, communities and all over the world. Where I tell you to go, you shall go ‒ and where I tell you not to go, you shall not go." (…) But we could see that He wore a golden sash on his breast, on which was written in golden letters, King of kings and lord of all lords.


First of all we might remark that most believing Christians, on being faced with a vision of this kind, would have been so impressed and perplexed that they would hardly have noticed how "good looking" these angels were. The mere fact that these people paid such a lot of attention to the appearance of the angels enables us to detect that their attitude is not so much based on faith and the spirit, but rather on worldly and optical considerations. And then there is the form of the human being in their midst. If this person was really wearing a mantle, it would have been quite difficult to make out the color of his robes ‒ which he must surely have been wearing underneath it. And finally it is pretty evident that a certain amount of "borrowing" from Revelation has been going on here, if we look at the following passage:

In the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet.

Rev 1,12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; 1,13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 1,14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.. Rev 1,12-14;


But it is also rather strange that the Lord should introduce himself here with the words "I am Jesus of Nazareth". He never referred to himself as "Jesus of Nazareth" but rather as "the Son of Man". And in eternity ‒ where this conversation is supposed to be going on ‒ it is after all completely irrelevant that he came from Nazareth. Since his Resurrection he is the Son of God, and recognized as such by all believing Christians.

And then it goes on:

Holy Scripture, the Word of God, says in Joel 2:28: "It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions." These are the signs which God has prepared for everyone.


And clearly this verse, torn out of its scriptural context, is designed to demonstrate that these people have had the Holy Spirit poured out on them and so are now able to prophesy. But in fact this only demonstrates their abuse of this biblical passage for their own ends, and what is more, it shows that they have no idea of the meaning of the scriptural text they refer to. Anyone who reads this passage in context can see that these statements by the prophet Joel apply not to these seven Colombian young people, but rather to the people of Israel ‒ pointing to events which will only occur at the time of the Millennial Kingdom on earth.

Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the LORD your God, And there is no other.

Joel 2,23 So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be glad in the LORD your God; For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and latter rain as before. 2,24 The threshing floors will be full of grain, And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil. 2,25 "Then I will make up to you for the years That the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. 2,26 "You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame. 2,27 "Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the LORD your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame. Joel 2,23-27;


And only then does Joel give utterance to the promises quoted above:

Joel 2,28 "It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Joel 3,1;


Further on, these young people then give an account of a man in hell who begs Jesus for mercy:

The man reached out his withered hand to the Lord and began to weep, saying, "Lord, have mercy on me! Please have mercy on me! It hurts so much! I am burning! Please have mercy on me and take me out of here!" The Lord gazed on him, full of compassion ‒ and suddenly I felt something hot on my hand. I looked and saw blood, the blood of Jesus! The blood came from His hand, while he was looking at the suffering man who was enveloped in flames.


And that, now, is a pretty clear proof that here we are faced here with quite shameless lies. Our Lord Jesus Christ has been with the Father in heaven for the last 2000 years. That was when he rose from the dead, and he now has a resurrected body (spirit body), which is of spirit and not of flesh and blood (Jn 6:6; 1Cor 15:50).

Christ. having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

1Pet 3,18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 3,19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison. 1Pet 3,18-19;

Therefore blood cannot flow from his hand either, because Jesus is no longer flesh and blood but spirit. Moreover, this supposed man in hell begs Jesus for mercy, but in the entire text there is no mention of contrition, penitence or conversion. What do you expect - these people just want to become famous with their lies and impostures. They don’t want to convert anyone - either themselves or others.

(See also excursus 07: The resurrection body


The statement "And suddenly I felt something hot on my hand. I looked and saw blood, the blood of Jesus! The blood came from His hand" is just as untrue as all those pictures of the crucifixion where Jesus is shown with the marks of the nails in the palms of his hands. As archeological findings have proved, crucifixion as practiced by the Romans involved piercing the wrists, not the palms. And the same imposture can be attributed to all those Catholic "saints" who claim to have the stigmata as an effect of the Holy Spirit, who has "blessed" them by duplicating the wounds of Jesus in the palms of their hands. In actual fact what they do ‒ like Padre Pio of Pietrelcina in Italy ‒ is to dab acid on the palms of their hands so as to give the impression that they have received bleeding stigmata.

Italy's Padre Pio 'faked his stigmata with acid'.

Padre Pio, Italy's most-loved saint, faked his stigmata by pouring carbolic acid on his hands, according to a new book.

The Other Christ: Padre Pio and 19th Century Italy, by the historian Sergio Luzzatto, draws on a document found in the Vatican's archive. The document reveals the testimony of a pharmacist who said that the young Padre Pio bought four grams of carbolic acid in 1919.

"I was an admirer of Padre Pio and I met him for the first time on 31 July 1919," wrote Maria De Vito. She claimed to have spent a month with the priest in the southern town of San Giovanni Rotondo, seeing him often. "Padre Pio called me to him in complete secrecy and telling me not to tell his fellow brothers, he gave me personally an empty bottle, and asked if I would act as a chauffeur to transport it back from Foggia to San Giovanni Rotondo with four grams of pure carbolic acid.

"He explained that the acid was for disinfecting syringes for injections. He also asked for other things, such as Valda pastilles." The testimony was originally presented to the Vatican by the Archbishop of Manfredonia, Pasquale Gagliardi, as proof that Padre Pio caused his own stigmata with acid. It was examined by the Holy See during the beatification process of Padre Pio and apparently dismissed.

Padre Pio, whose real name was Francesco Forgione, died in 1968. He was made a saint in 2002. A recent survey in Italy showed that more people prayed to him than to Jesus or the Virgin Mary. He exhibited stigmata throughout his life, starting in 1911. The new allegations were greeted with an instant dismissal from his supporters. The Catholic Anti-Defamation League said Mr Luzzatto was a liar and was "spreading anti-Catholic libels". 

Pietro Siffi, the president of the League, said: "We would like to remind Mr Luzzatto that according to Catholic doctrine, canonisation carries with it papal infallibility. "We would like to suggest to Mr Luzzatto that he dedicates his energies to studying religion properly."

Padre Pio
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(Sourse: : The Telegraph)




A "divine revelation of hell"

On the second of the three web pages you mention, the author starts right away by describing her calling by Jesus in the most personal terms:

To Kathryn of Jesus

For this task you have been born ‒ to write down and pass on to others what I will show and tell you. Because these things are true. It is your vocation to let the world know that there is a hell, and that I, Jesus Christ, was sent by God to save people from this horror.


Here again we can recognize from the way in which the Lord supposedly introduces himself ‒ "I, Jesus Christ" ‒ that this statement cannot come from the Lord. In his lifetime he never referred to himself in this style, and now that he is sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven, he is even less likely to do so. From this point on, he is the Son of God ‒ on heaven and on earth. Here a revelation of the Lord is presented as if it were a coffee table conversation. But God ‒ and God’s Son as well ‒ is spirit, and every human being to whom he addresses himself knows immediately in the spirit who he is, and does not need to have it pointed out who is speaking. It is also doubtful whether the Lord would include the term "horror" in a genuine revelation ‒ does that not rather come from the vocabulary of an "illusionist" fixated on verbal images of this kind?

In her book "A Divine Revelation of Hell" ‒ in which, incidentally, she manages to get by without a single biblical reference ‒ she then goes on to write that the Lord took her to hell for 30 nights in order to show her "the reality of hell". And then she tells us about an experience that may seem familiar, for we have actually come across similar accounts in occult circles.

In March 1976, when I was praying at home, the LORD Jesus Christ visited me. For days I had been praying in the spirit, when I suddenly felt the presence of God. His power and his glory filled the house. A shining light lit up the room in which I was praying and a sweet and wonderful feeling came over me. Waves of love rolled and overlapped one another and rolled over and out of each other. It was a spectacular performance! (...) The praise of God began to flow out of me.


These statements from an American woman are very reminiscent of the experience of another woman, a German, who took part in a charismatic baptism in the spirit in Jerusalem. Let us look at an extract from her report of the experience:

In Lüdenscheid Elisabeth meets a woman who tells her enthusiastically of the wonders of a spiritual baptism at the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles organized by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. This, she says, is where you encounter the "umbilical cord of heaven and the complete fullness of blessing". Elisabeth travels to Israel and actually experiences the charismatic baptism in the spirit at a healing service with the Indian Mahesh Chavda: "Chavda called out ‒ Who hasn’t had the spiritual baptism yet? Someone gave me a push from behind. Now or never! So with many others, I went up to the front."

Everyone received a personal laying on of hands, and if he didn’t fall over, he was breathed on. What I then experienced as I lay on the floor exceeded anything I had ever known before: feelings of love without end. I didn’t want to get up again, and couldn’t. I was a different person. Now I knew Jesus as a lover as well. From now on I could also speak in tongues (glossolalia ‒ ecstatic discourse), lay my hands on others or breathe on them, and they fell on their backs. Healing was nothing out of the ordinary either. Now I was "somebody", I had risen on the hierarchic ladder.

(See also Immanuel.at - Information for visitors: "Report on the Charismatic Camp.")


Finally the motivation of our American author in writing this book also becomes clear:

"See, my child," said Jesus, "I am going to take you to hell with My Spirit. After that you will be able to write down the reality of hell in a book, so as to make it unmistakably clear to the whole world that there really is such a place as hell. As a result lost souls will be brought out of the darkness into the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ."


If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’

Lk 16,27 "And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house - 16,28 for I have five brothers - in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 16,29 "But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 16,30 "But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 16,31 "But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’"


So as a result of her visit to hell, "lost souls are to be brought out of the darkness into the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ." It is such an absurd idea that our Lord ‒ who saved us from our sins, and from this same hell, through his own death ‒ would then send one of us to hell to experience the "reality" of it that it can hardly spring from a human brain, however screwed up, but must plainly be the production of an unclean spirit.

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him.

Mt 24,23 "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24,24 "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 24,25 "Behold, I have told you in advance. Mt 24,23-25;


23 minutes in hell.

The author of the last of the three reports you refer to is a realtor by profession (as is his wife), and so has a certain talent for convincing other people of his point of view. To be fair, however, we must say that his report is the most consistently structured of these stories and boasts the most biblical references. Even if the biblical quotations do not always match his text, we can still recognize that he has a quite profound knowledge of the Bible.

He claims that he left his body and spent time with Jesus in hell. His wife reports that she found her husband one night screaming on the floor of the sitting room, and prayed for him for 10 to 20 minutes, until he calmed down. So as to forestall any kind of doubts from the word go, this realtor now advances, as proof of the correctness of his claims, that passage of Paul’s from 2Cor 12,2, where Paul reports that he was once out of the body. Paul’s modesty here, in not speaking of himself but of "a man in Christ", would have been more fitting for this realtor ‒ but of course that would have put excessive demands on the understanding faculty of many Americans, who might well have misunderstood the story.

Not satisfied with this unsuitable equation of himself with Paul, the man then goes on to cite Jonah as a witness of his "trip to hell":

Jonah 2:2 "I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depths of Sheol; You heard my voice." And in Jonah 2,6 it is written, "I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever. But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God." This means that there was someone who actually visited hell ‒ Jonah.


Now the text of the previous verse - Jonah 2,1- and of this verse as well relates that Jonah prays to the Lord from the stomach of the fish, and then it tells of his experiences and his terror in the darkness of the fish’s stomach, which he compares with Sheol (the kingdom of the dead). This however seems to have escaped the notice of our realtor, or perhaps he left the passage out deliberately, as otherwise his interpretation of the fish’s stomach as "hell" would no longer have appeared plausible.

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish.

Jona 1,17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. 2,1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, 2,2 and he said, "I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. 2,3 "For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. Jona 2, 1- 3;


Here we can perceive very plainly with what violence biblical texts are being willfully torn out of their context, truncated and reinterpreted for the commentator’s own purposes. If our author has no worries about dealing with even so well known a story as that of "Jonah and the fish", that only points either to his own stupidity, or to the degree of stupidity which he imputes to his readers.

In what follows, with a view to proving something about hell, a number of Old Testament passages that speak of the kingdom of the dead are referred to. But the author fails to realize that the kingdom of the dead in the Old Testament (Sheol = the grave of humanity, i.e. the whole of humanity, and the place of abode of the good [Ps 30:4] and the wicked [Num 16:33]), and hell in the New Testament (Gehenna = the place of abode of the wicked [Mt 23:33]) are two completely different concepts.

At the end of his narrative, the author poses the very question which must have been on the tip of the tongue of any critical reader all this while:

When I really came to myself and was once again more or less capable of speaking, I asked him in my thoughts, "Why did you bring me here?" Jesus read my thoughts, and said, "Because people don’t believe that this place really exists. Even some Christians don’t believe it."


Now the answer which the Lord is supposed to have given here is in complete contrast with Jesus’ statements in the Bible. The Lord told the following story for the benefit of the Jews, who were known for their hardness of heart. We will quote it here in full, in the interest of arriving at a better understanding of the situation:

If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.

Lk 16,19 "Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 "And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 16,21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 16,22 "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 16,23 "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 16,24 "And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’

16,25 "But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 16,26 ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’

16,27 "And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house ‒ 16,28 for I have five brothers‒in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 16,29 "But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 

16,30 "But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 16,31 "But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’" Lk 16,19-31;


So according to these words of the Lord’s, it is perfectly pointless for people who claim to have been in hell to come back from there in order to tell others about it. This would not convince people to convert. In the light of the scriptural statement above, the one and only thing capable of bringing people to God is the study of the Scriptures ‒ the Old Testament (Moses and the prophets), that is, and as Christians today we also have the New Testament to rely on. This is what our Lord tells us (Jn 5:46-47), and that is what most readers of the Bible are aware of. But the three authors you quote seem never to have read this story, or else they have simply failed to understand it. 

But the clearest disproof of these fairy tales about a visit to hell is the fact that according to the Bible, hell ‒ the “lake of fire” ‒ doesn’t actually exist yet! As shown above, God created human beings for eternal existence. After the verdict at the Last Judgment, both the righteous and the damned will live for ever ‒ the first with God in the heavenly Jerusalem, and the others in the damnation of hell’s lake of fire. But this eternal life will not happen on our earth of today, under our sky of today or in today’s universe, but on a new earth, under a new sky and in an eternal and so necessarily timeless dimension (Rev 21:1-5).

(See also Chapter 14: “The New Creation.”)


But that means that until such time as God has created this new and eternal world ‒ and this will only be after the Last Judgment ‒ there isn’t either any eternal heavenly Jerusalem or any eternal lake of fire (compare Rev 21:8 and 22:15). Until then, the damned are in the waiting zone of the realm of the dead. And for this very reason there cannot be a hell as yet, because our present universe is dominated by time and so nothing and no one here can exist eternally. But of course these background facts are things of which such tellers of tales are totally ignorant. And what is more, when we look at their effusions it turns out that some of them haven’t even read the Bible properly. 

In summing up, then, we can state at the very least that all stories of this kind, where people are "transported" to hell, heaven or somewhere else, are not in conformity with the Bible and so must be invented, and right after reading the title, you would be well advised to refrain from reading the rest. It would be a pity to waste your time.  

As for your final question:

How can Christians do such a thing, when they must know very well that God hates lies and falsification of his teachings?


- you actually touch here on a phenomenon which is widespread in the Christian world, one that can be observed in all denominations. 


Worship of idols and cult of the dead.

Why, in the Catholic church, do people pray to the idol "Mary" and to the dead "saints", when Scripture actually states that God hates the worship of idols and the cult of the dead is an abomination to him?

Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot walk!

Jer 10,2 Thus says the LORD, "Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; 10,3 For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. 10,4 "They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. 10,5 "Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good." 10,6 There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might. Jer 10 2- 6;

Should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Isa 8,19 When they say to you, "Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter," should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? Isa 8,19;



Are Christians who have died already in heaven?

But this false doctrine ‒ particularly the practice of praying to dead Christians as so-called "saints" ‒ results from another incorrect interpretation. Not just in the Catholic church alone, but in many Christian congregations as well it is a widely held opinion that dead Christians are already in heaven. But on the other hand the congregation of Christ also firmly believes, following Paul’s assurances in 1Cor 15,51-53 and 1The 4,15-17, that the Rapture of the dead and living faithful will take place on the Second Coming of the Lord.

The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

1Cor 15,51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,15,52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 15,53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1Cor 15,50-53;

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise first.

1The 4,15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 4,16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 4,17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.1The 4,15-17; 1The 4,15-17;


If Paul writes in the above passage (1Cor 15,52) that "the dead will be raised imperishable," then it follows that the dead were not imperishable before this point. But if they were in heaven, then they would have to have a resurrection body, and so would be imperishable automatically. And the Lord too tells us in a prophecy that when he comes for the second time to claim his own at the rapture, he will call into the realm of the dead and those who are dead in Christ, who will be the only ones among the dead who will hear the call at this "hour", will be raised and will come to life.

An hour is coming, in which the dead who are in the tombs will hear the voice of the Son of God.

Jn 5,25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. Jn 5,25;


So if the dead faithful were already in heaven at this time, the Lord would search in vain among the dead for those who are to be raptured. It follows that the dead Christian faithful must be in the realm of the dead ‒ at any rate up to the time of the Rapture.

We frequently find the counter-argument advanced at this point that the Lord also promises to the penitent thief on the cross, "Today you shall be with Me in Paradise" (Lk 23,39-43).

I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.

Lk 23,39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" 23,40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 23,41 "And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." 23,42 And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" 23,43 And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." Lk 23,39-43;


Here people are quick to draw the conclusion that after dying on the cross, the thief likewise ascended with the Lord to heaven. But is this really what the Bible tells us? If we try to learn from Scripture where the Lord went to immediately after his death, we find a quite different picture. In Mt 12,40 we are told that after his death the Lord was "in the heart of the earth".

The Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Mt 12,40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Mt 12,40;


Now in the heart of the earth, of course, cannot be the heaven. And Peter tells us, in his first letter, not only where the Lord went after his death, but also what he did there.

For the gospel has been preached even to those who are dead.

1Pet 4,6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. 1Pet 4, 6;

Christ died, but had been made alive in the spirit, in which He went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison.

1Pet 3,18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 3,19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison. 1Pet 3,18-19;


After his death Christ came ‒ like every other human being ‒ into the realm of the dead, and there preached the gospel to the dead for three days and three nights, so that those who were willing to believe it would be saved.

(See also Chapter 12: "Christ in the realm of the dead.")


So if the penitent thief went with Christ, he must have been in this same place likewise ‒ the realm of the dead. If the Lord referred to this as "Paradise", this has to do with the fact that Paradise forms a part of the realm of the dead.

(See also Excursus 09: "The Paradise")


Whereas the Lord rose from the dead after three days and three nights and ascended into heaven, the penitent thief ‒ like all the rest of the dead ‒ fell asleep in the realm of the dead. Those among the dead who were converted as a result of the Lord’s preaching of the gospel are waiting, together with those Christian faithful who have died since, in the Paradise of the realm of the dead for the raising of the dead on the Second Coming of the Lord for the Rapture. But the others ‒ those who did not come to believe in Christ at that time ‒ are waiting, together with all people who have died since who did not accept Christ as their Savior, in a different part of the realm of the dead for the General Resurrection and the Last Judgment, where they will receive their sentence.

(See also Chapter 13: "The Last Judgment")


So if Catholics want to pray to their dead "saints", they are being a bit premature. Catholic "saints" are still sleeping in the realm of the dead with all the rest of the dead, and will only come back to life at the General Resurrection, with the rebirth from the Spirit. And the false prayers which have been addressed to them are unlikely to help them in the Judgment, but will more probably count against them.

(See also Chapter 12: "The Resurrection")

No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.

Jn 3,12 "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 3,13 "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 3,14 "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 3,15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. Jn 3,12-15;



Is the Christian congregation the Bride of Christ?

Why do people preach in the congregations that the congregation is the Bride of Christ, although God himself, speaking through the mouth of the prophet Hosea, makes the following promise to Israel:

I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in faithfulness.

Hos 2,19 "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, 2,20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. Hos 2,19-20;


As an argument for this, preachers in the congregation are fond of referring to Eph 5,31-33 and 2Cor 11,2:

This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Eph 5,31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 5,32 This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 5,33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Eph 5,31-33;


In Eph 5,31-33 they overlook Paul’s statement that he is writing "I am saying" that it refers to Christ and the church. So this is not a revelation, but a provisional interpretation ‒ which however is refuted by the explicit decision of God in Hos 2,21-22. Paul himself tells us, after all, four chapters earlier in Eph 1,22-23 (and cf. Rom 12:5; 1Cor 12:12), that the congregation is the body of Christ of which Christ is the head. So we cannot be bridegroom and bride at the same time.

He is the head and the church is the body.

Eph 1,22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 1,23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Eph 1,22-23;


And in 2Cor 11,2 Paul lists the characteristics which really belong to a bride of Christ, which the congregation ‒ realistically and in sad contradiction of Paul’s hopes ‒ can only dream of.

For I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

2Cor 11,2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 2Cor 11,2;


And there is still more on this theme, when we find the true and immaculate Bride of Christ of the people of God of the Last Days, with all the appropriate bridal properties, presented as coming from Israel:

These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.

Rev 14,1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. 14,2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. 14,3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. 14,4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. 14,5 And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless. Rev 14, 1- 5;


So there cannot be two brides. God is not a bigamist, and anyone who thinks it is possible to see here a distinction between God’s Bride and the Bride of Christ, must expect to be asked a question about his understanding of the Trinity. So then, Christ is the head. The congregation of all time is the body, and the representatives of the people of Israel in the Last Days are the bride.

(See also Discourse 15: "Is the congregation the Bride of Christ?")


Are the 144000 sealed the congregation?

Why, in many Christian congregations, the hundred and forty-four thousand who have been sealed (Rev 7,4-8) are seen as the congregation of the Last Days, when we find it specifically stated in the Bible that these are Israelites, coming from each of the 12 tribes which are here mentioned by name? (If we are not to suppose that the intention is to buttress the above interpretation of the congregation as the Bride of Christ with completely inadequate arguments!)

One hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.

Rev 7,4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 7,5 From the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, 7,6 from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, 7,7 from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, 7,8 from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed.

7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; Rev 7, 4- 9;


And there is more on this theme as well, when the actual congregation of the Last Days is shortly seen before the throne of God in the above passage (Rev 7,4-9). As we can see, at this point ‒ the time when the 144,000 Israelites on earth are sealed (Rev 7,4-8) ‒ the congregation has already been raptured on the Second Coming of the Lord (Rev 7:13-17) following the Tribulation (Rev 5,1-11) and so is already in heaven before the throne of God (Rev 7:9-10).

(See also Table 14: "The Revelation - classified by events.")

(See also Discourse 06: "The 144,000 who were sealed: Israelites, or the Christian congregation of the Last Days?")


Does the Rapture of the congregation take place at the First Resurrection?

The First Resurrection as well (Rev 20,4-6) is still seen by many Christian preachers as the Rapture on Second Coming of the Lord, and so as the resurrection of the entire congregation to rule as priests and kings with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom. Like David Pawson for instance, quoted in Discourse 88: "God’s people, so long suppressed by the governments of the world, will then themselves be the world government!", or Heinz Weber of the Brake Bible School (Discourse 71): "For we will actually reign on earth as his congregation ‒ reign with him for a thousand years."

Ther souls of the martyrs came to life. This is the first resurrection.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20, 4- 6;


Such commentators however overlook the fact that here, in Rev 20,4, the text is exclusively concerned with those who have been beheaded ‒ the martyrs, in other words. The view that Rev 20,6 is to be understood as referring to the entire congregation ‒ including all those brothers and sisters in the Lord who have died a natural death, without having been persecuted for their faith, who will then reign as kings and priests with the Lord ‒ yet again attributes to the congregation a right of priority which based on Scripture it does not possess. It is not the congregation who will reign with the Lord in the Millennium, but those martyrs of the Old and New Covenant whom we can also recognize here, in Rev 6,9-11, in the ones "underneath the altar", as those who have been slain (as Rev 20,4 above also states) because of the word of God and because of their testimony.

Those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.

Rev 6,9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 6,10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 6,11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. Rev 6, 9-11;

(See also Discourse 07: “The Rapture and the First Resurrection: a single event?



The General Resurrection at the end of the world: only for the ungodly?

But this incorrect interpretation of the First Resurrection has consequences, in that it necessarily leads to a further incorrect interpretation. Seeing that on this view all the faithful of all times are “resurrected” at the First Resurrection - to rule as priests and kings - advocates of this version have no just persons remaining for the second and General Resurrection, so they have to assert that at this final Resurrection, at the end of the world, only the ungodly will rise from the dead.

If we were to take this view of things seriously, to begin with all the faithful of all times and of all the world would rise from the dead at the First Resurrection, to rule with Chris “as priests and kings”. And although in every generation it is always just a small percentage of the world’s population who live as correctly believing Christians, nonetheless things are going to add up in the course of thousands of years and hundreds of generations - so that in the Millennium, where these people are after all supposed to be ruling, there might well turn out to be more “kings” than subjects.

And on the other hand, this doctrinal slant on the General Resurrection at the end of the world leaves crucial biblical passages out of account. People have sadly failed to register that our Lord himself gives us a report of the General Resurrection and indicates who will take part in it - first of all in the parable of the wheat and the tares:

While you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.

Mt 13,24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 13,25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 13,26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 13,27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’13,28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’

13,29 But he said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.

13,30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’”; Mt 13,24-30;

(See also Chapter 11: “The end of the world - the Last Judgment”.)


In this parable, the Lord at the same time reveals the principle of the judgment at the end of the world: God lets everything continue to “grow together”. Whether good or bad, they are allowed to act in whatever way they like, until the last moment. They all have complete freedom. Only at the end of the world, at the resurrection of all human beings, will the “harvest” take place, when the reapers gather up the tares and burn them.

The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are angels.

Mt 13,36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 13,37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,

13,38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 13,39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are angels. 13,40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of this world.

13,41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 13,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13,43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” Mt 13,36-43;


A few verses later the Lord expresses himself somewhat more concretely - though here too, in the parable of the net, it looks to be a demonstration of the principle of the joint judgment of the good and the bad alike. The net collects every kind of fish, both good and bad, and only after the net has been brought to shore does the selection take place, with the separation of the good from the wicked.

At the end of the world the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just.

Mt 13,47 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, 13,48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

13,49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, 13,50 and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” 13,51 Jesus said unto them, “Have ye understood all these things?” They said unto Him, “Yea, Lord.” 13,52 Then said He unto them, “Therefore every scribe who is instructed unto the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Mt 13,47-52;

(See also Chapter 13: "The Last Judgment")


And then the Lord explains quite openly and directly what things are going to be like in the judgment at the end of the world: “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just.” But if the angels are separating the wicked from the just, this implies that both classes, the wicked and the just, are present simultaneously. And in order to be present, these people - all of the dead, in other words - must first have risen.

An hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth.

Jn 5,28 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 5,29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. Jn 5,28-29;

These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Mt 25,45 “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 25,46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Mt 25,45-46;

(See also Discourse 99: “Who is "one of the least of these my brothers"?”.)


So if at the end of the world the good and the wicked are to be judged together, then they must also be present at the same time. And if they are present at the same time, they must have risen from the dead together previously. This logical conclusion, however, has yet another consequence. As a result of the resurrection they have both come to exist once more, both the good and the wicked. They exist again, otherwise they could not be judged and the angels would not be able to separate them from one another.

(See also Discourse 10: “The General Resurrection at the end of the world: only for the ungodly?”.)



The fate of the cursed: eternal torment or dissolution?

And here we now come to the next false doctrine. In some Christian congregations we find the teaching that the punishment of the ungodly is not eternal torment, but “dissolution”. That is to say, after having been condemned they will quite simply cease to exist.

Now from the point of view of the ungodly this account certainly has its attractions, seeing that it will all just be over at a stroke, and experience shows that the overwhelming majority of the world’s population do indeed think this is what happens (without Resurrection an Last Judgment). But in a Christian congregation you really should consult the Bible first, before you allow yourself to be led astray on such an important issue.

And that is just what we want to do now - check out what the Bible says on this topic. In the following biblical passages we find references to unquenchable fire, to fire which does not go out, to the punishment of eternal fire, to the furnace of fire and to the damned weeping and gnashing their teeth.

Mt 3,11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 3,12 His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Mt 3,11-12;

Mk 9,47 If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 9,48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Mk 9,47-48;

Mt 8,11 .“I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 8,12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mt 8,11-12;

Mt 13,41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 13,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13,43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Mt 13,41-43;

Mt 13,49 So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 13,50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 13,49-50;

Jud 1,6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 1,7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1, 6- 7;


And that, surely, gives us the conclusive answer to this question. But in spite of all these evident proofs, we still find people arguing sometimes that “eternal” cannot really mean eternal, because “if the damnation of the damned were to last for ever, it would cast doubts on the mercy and even on the love of God”. And they conclude from this, with razor-sharp logic, that the eternal fire will not last for ever, but just for an extremely long period of time - a period that comes to an end when all the combustible material (in the lake of fire) has been consumed.

If you then put to them the question whether, if the “eternal” of the eternal fire does not really mean eternal, but just a very long period which will come to an end, it follows that the “eternal” of Ps 48,15: "God (is) forever and ever" and the “eternal” in 1Jn 5,13: "so that you may know that you have eternal life" also does not really mean eternal, but just a very long period which will come to an end, they are generally hard put to it to come up with an answer.

(See also discourse 03: “The fate of the cursed: eternal torment or dissolution?”.)


The eternal existence of every human being.

Every individual human being who leaves the amniotic sac of his or her mother alive in being physically born – who is "born of water" (amniotic fluid), that is to say (Jn 3:5) – receives a human spirit (1Cor 2:11) from God (Jn 4:24) with eternal existence (Mt 25:46). In the first, temporal and earthly part of their existence – in their life, human beings have the possibility of deciding, in complete freedom, without any compulsion and with the help of the spirit given them by God, whether or not they will give this God, the creator of all life, their complete trust and entire love.

After death, the human body returns to the dust from which it was made (Gen 2:7), but their spirit goes to the Kingdom of the Dead (Dan 12:2; 1Pet 3:18-19; 1Cor 15:23-24), where they pass the time until their resurrection in a state resembling sleep (1Thess 4:15-16).

In the Resurrection (Rom 6:4-5), the "rebirth from the spirit" (Mt 19:28; 1Pet 3:18; Jn 3:7), human beings are again given a body (Mt 22:30; Jn 3:8; Rom 8:10-11), similar to that of the Son of God after his resurrection (Jn 20:26-27).

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

1Cor 15,42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 15,43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 15,44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 15,45 So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, became a living soul." (Gen 2,7) The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 15,47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 15,48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 15,49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. 1Cor 15,42-49;

With this body the human being will then stand at the Last Judgment before the Son of God, who has been given the task by God (Jn 5:22, 26-27) of judging every human being on the basis of their earthly deeds and their decision for or against God while still alive (Rom 2:16).

Anyone who has decided for God and faith in his Son Jesus Christ in the course of his or her life (Jn 17:3) has the possibility of invoking before this court the expiatory death of the Son of God as a vicarious sacrifice for the sins of all humanity, and so atoning for his or her own sins and derelictions against the law of God (Jn 3:16), and so will meet with the mercy of God (Jn 5:24). Those people who have not accepted this faith cannot have their sins forgiven them, and so they will be condemned (Jn 3:36).

After the Last Judgment these condemned persons will spend their eternal existence in the darkness (Mt 22:13) of the damnation of the eternal fire (Mt 18:8), with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 13:49-50) over the fact that they refused to come to faith while they were alive and have now come to realize that they can never again make up for it, and so cannot ever expect any further change in their condition.

Those who have been forgiven, on the other hand, will spend their eternal life (Mt 25:46) in the New Creation in the light of God on a new earth (Rev 20:11) and under a new sky created by God (Rev 21:1-3,5).

The Son of God said:

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." Jn 14,15-17;

Jesus said: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." Jn 11,25-26;


In the light of this, the well known evangelist and preacher Wilhelm Busch said to his hearers, "You don’t need to accept the message I am giving you. You can choose not to convert to Jesus. But just be aware that this means you are choosing hell! You have complete freedom – it’s your choice!" (People who are unable to believe)

(See also Discourse 22: “Is there such a thing as the immortality of the soul?”)



For all those who would like to have it short and modern:
The spirit of man is the "software" – the operating system – which works the "hardware" – the body. At runtime end of the hardware, the software is stored in the cloud. At the end of the world, the software will receive a new hardware with unlimited running time.



 

The principle of the eternal existence of human spirit.

The spirit of the human being given by God can – similarly to energy – take different forms of existence but it is not possible to create or to annihilate it.

(See also discourse 22: “Is there such a thing as the immortality of the soul?”)




Will the congregation be raptured still before the Great Tribulation?

But this "reigning" in the Millennium is not the only way in which the entire congregation ‒ as opposed to the martyrs of all time ‒ is given a spurious importance by some preachers. They are also assigned preferential treatment in being spared the Great Tribulation / Time of Affliction. If we are supposed to be kings in the Millennium already, it is evidently thought most fitting that we should actually have been taken up into heaven in a stylish way.

In the opinion of these preachers, it would not befit the dignity of kings if they too had been killed in the Great Tribulation which will come upon this world and costs billions of people their lives. So they prefer to transpose the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the entire congregation to a time before the Great Tribulation, so as to get the congregation quickly raptured into heaven and out of the way. We may well ask, as biblically believing Christians, why the Lord in that case should have said, in each of the letters to the churches in Revelation, that only those who overcome will inherit the kingdom of heaven, not those who make themselves scarce before the Tribulation starts.

And all this even though we have unambiguous indications in Scripture of the time of the Second Coming and the Rapture, for example in Paul’s explanation in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians:

The day of the return of the Lord will not come unless the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.

2The 2,1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2,2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2,4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2,5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 2The 2, 1- 5;


The day of the coming of the Lord (his Second Coming) and our gathering together to him - 1The 4:17 (our Rapture) will not take place unless the apostasy (the Great Tribulation) and the man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) have come first. The Second Coming and the Rapture, then, will occur after the Great Tribulation. You can hardly put it any more clearly than that ‒ though the syntax here may have been found confusing by some readers.

But then again we have a similar and quite concrete statement by our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew:

A great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

Mt 24,21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 24,22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 24,23 "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. Mt 24,21-23;


So this is the Great Tribulation / Affliction, and if it is supposed to have been shortened for the sake of the elect (the Christian faithful), then the Christian faithful must still be on earth. Likewise the warning to beware of false Christs would make little sense if addressed to the godless and unbelievers ‒ supposing all the faithful to have been already raptured before the Tribulation. And a few verses further on, the Lord then refers to this same tribulation, when he says:

After this tribulation the Son of man will come and gather the elect.

Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sin will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 24,30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 24,31 "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Mt 24,29-31;


And here again we have to say that it is completely astonishing, in view of the extreme clarity of the Lord’s statements, that some preachers repeatedly succeed in convincing the more credulous brethren in the congregations of a Second Coming and Rapture that occur before the Great Tribulation, this on the basis of their fanciful reinterpretation of Scripture, and in spite of what the Lord actually tells us here:

o  ... immediately after the tribulation of these days

o  ... they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of the sky

o  ... He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet

o  ... they will gather together His elect from the four winds


The final and irrefutable proof that the congregation of the Last Days must go through the Great Tribulation, and it is only after that ‒ on the Second Coming of the Lord and the raising of the dead in Christ ‒ that they will be raptured into heaven, is to be found in Revelation. In Rev 7,9-14 John sees a great multitude which no one could count, from all peoples, standing in heaven before the throne of God. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, which clearly shows they are to be identified with the congregation of all time and drawn from all the nations. And it is of these that the elder tells John that they "come out of the Great Tribulation".

A great multitude which no one could count, from every nation, these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.

Rev 7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 7,10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 7,11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 7,12 saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev 7, 9-14;


As we see, it is hardly possible that one should fail to recognize and understand all these scriptural proofs which speak of the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the congregation as happening only after the Great Tribulation. We can only come to the conclusion, then, that the transposition of the Rapture to a time before the Great Tribulation is intended as confirmation of a certain erroneous doctrine.

And so it is not the case, either, that we can look forward to "the next major event of world history for the faithful, the Rapture" or expect the Second Coming of the Lord "today, now, tomorrow", as Heinz Weber of the Brake Bible School teaches. On the contrary ‒ the next major event of world history for all humanity will be the biggest catastrophe of all time: a Great Tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will (Mt 24:21).

And only after that, when these days have been shortened for the sake of the elect (Mt 24:22), will the sun and moon be darkened and they will see the Lord coming in the same way as they saw him go up into heaven (Acts 1:11) ‒ on the clouds of heaven (Mt 26:64). And then he will send out his angels and they will gather all the elect. That, then, is the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the dead and the living in Christ.

(See also Discourse 71 "Is the next major event of world history for the faithful the Rapture?"

(See also Discourse 16 "Will the Rapture take place before the Great Tribulation?"



Are there "born again" Christians?

Another remarkable phenomenon is the assertion, to be found in practically all congregations, that converted persons are "born again". And this even though the Lord tells us in Jn 3,7-8 that anyone who is born again (born of the Spirit, that is) can pass through closed doors and go out again without being seen, like the Lord himself after his death and resurrection (Jn 20:19,26) ‒ talents which these "born again" still living Christians have never yet been able to demonstrate.

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going.

Jn 3,7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 3,8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Jn 3, 7- 8;


The Greek word which stands for "again" both in the above passage (Jn 3,7) and also in Jn 3,3, anothen, is actually an adverb meaning "from above, from on high", a reading confirmed by Dietzfelbinger’s Nestle-Aland interlinear translation. In Jn 3,31 and 19,11 the same term is indeed rendered as "from above" in all translations. But because the translators failed to understand the real meaning of this sentence, in Jn 3,3 and 3,7 they chose the temporal variant, "again, anew", in preference to the spatial reading, so obscuring the correct interpretation of this statement of the Lord’s for generations.

It’s a similar situation with the translation of the Greek verbs used by Peter in 1Pet 1:3,23 and John in Jn 1,13; 1Jn 2,29; 3,9; 4,7; 5,1.4.18, where the Greek participle anagegennemenoi is rendered as "born again" and the infinitive gegennetai as "born". Both verbs can be translated either as "begot" ("re-begot") or as "born" ("reborn"). And as the translators did not understand the deeper background to the Lord’s above statement in Jn 3,7-8, they replaced "begot" and "re-begot" with the more common "born" and "reborn" (see Nestle-Aland, and the notes in the Elberfeld bible), thus giving this text a completely different meaning.

So as we can also see from the scriptural passages below, the Lord is not speaking here of living persons being "born again" but is rather referring to the situation after the death and resurrection of the dead, and before the judgment on the resurrected nations. And so it is completely plain that those people who claim to be born again while still alive cannot demonstrate any abilities of this nature ‒ such that one does not know where they come from or where they are going to. According to Scripture, they are not reborn at all. They have only been spiritually re-begotten ‒ through the Word of God. And anything that can happen to a human child that has been biologically begotten in the time while it is in the womb can also, metaphorically speaking, be experienced by a spiritually re-begotten person ‒ up to and including an "abortion".

In the regeneration (rebirth) when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne.

Mt 19,28 And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Mt 19,28;

The Son of Man comes in His glory, and will judge the gathered nations.

Mt 25,31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 25,32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 25,33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Mt 25,31-33;


Biblical rebirth.

Jn 3,7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 3,8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit. " Jn 3,7-8;

The Greek word which is translated in most Bibles as "reborn" is anagegennemenoi (1Pet 1:3,23) or gegennetai (Jn 1:13, 1Jn 2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:1,4,18) for "born of God". But seeing that Ancient Greek makes no distinction between "born" and "begotten", the translation "rebegotten" or "begotten by God" is equally correct.

Consequently some Bibles do in fact translate it as "rebegotten" or "begotten by God" ("begotten" is found in the King James and Darby Bibles), or at least point to this reading in the notes (Elberfelder). And here we can already see that some translators were actually acquainted with the correct implications and the correct translation of the passage.

And indeed, we have concrete statements by the Lord to clarify the situation. In Mt 19:28 the Lord speaks of rebirth/regeneration, and indicates when this will occur – namely when he is seated on his glorious throne. And in Mt 25:31-32 he again refers to this event, and states specifically that this will be at the time of the judgment of all the nations.

So this judgment is the Last Judgment at the end of the world, and these nations are the human beings of all ages who have been raised from the dead. Thus it is this Resurrection, at the end of the world for the Last Judgment, which the Lord means when he refers to "rebirth/regeneration" in Mt 19,28.

The way in which this rebirth will take place in the resurrection is explained by the Lord to Nicodemus in Jn 3:3-6. In verse 5 he indicates that the human being goes through two births (and so also two deaths!): the first (fleshly) birth from water (the amniotic fluid), the second birth, from the Spirit, in the resurrection (1Pet 3:18-19).

It follows that rebirth – just like fleshly birth – is a system-immanent event in the eternal existence of the human being – every human being. As the Lord then says in verse 6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

So a "rebirth" in the lifetime of a human being (in the flesh), as taught by some preachers, is absolutely out of the question! We are inseminated by the Word (the Bible, or preaching) and as a result are spiritually rebegotten and so come to believe. But spiritual rebirth happens only in connection with the resurrection. This is further confirmed by our Lord’s description of what a reborn person is like in the following verses Jn 3:7-8.

And just as problems are unfortunately still capable of occurring between the biological conception and the birth of the child, so too a whole lot can happen between the spiritual begetting and the birth from the Spirit – even including the possibility of an "abortion " (Hebr 6:4-6).

(See also discourse 85: "True and false rebirth.")


(See also Chapter 12: "The Ressrrection.".)



A "born again" Christian cannot ever be lost?

This self-glorification then culminates in the claim that "a born again Christian cannot ever be lost". Quite apart from the fact that no human being has ever yet in actual fact been born again, but will only be born of the Spirit in the resurrection, we do find some indications in Scripture that faithful Christians and people who have been blessed by the Holy Spirit can still fall away into apostasy.

For those who have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.

Hbr 6,4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 6,5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6,6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. Heb 6, 4- 6;

For if they are again entangled and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

2Ptr 2,20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 2Pet 2,20-21;

For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.

Hbr 3,12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 3,13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 3,14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, Heb 3,12-14;


By way of a counter-argument to these scriptural passages, people generally refer to Jn 10:27-29 ‒ where the Lord says that no one can snatch us out of his and the Father’s hand. But they overlook, in this connection, that even if no one can snatch us out of the hand of God, we are still capable ‒ as the above scriptural texts prove ‒ of loosing the connection with the hand of God ourselves. God does not compel anyone! Just as our decision for Jesus Christ and our acquisition of faith was completely voluntary, so God leaves us perfectly free to choose whether we will actually persist in it or not.

As the Letter to the Hebrews says above, we must maintain our initial assurance firm until the end. And the Lord says likewise in Revelation (2,26): "He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations", indicating that the righteous will judge the world at the Last Judgment (cf. 1Cor 6,2). So to presume the existence of a kind of automatic process ‒ "Anyone who has been converted cannot any longer be lost" ‒ is not just absolutely incorrect, it actually adds up to one of the biggest temptations of all those to which the congregation is exposed.



The infinite love of God.

Unfortunately this incorrect view finds confirmation and support from many preachers and evangelists who tell people about the "infinite" and "unconditional" love of God. The Bible does tell us that God loves us ‒ otherwise he would not have allowed his Son to be crucified for our sins on the cross. But it doesn’t speak of God’s love being "infinite", or "unconditional" either. Anyone who has even a partial understanding of the semantics of his language will recognize at once that a love of this kind would be subject to no temporal limits, and qualified by no moral conditions ‒ just because it is infinite and unconditional.

But if God’s love were like this, it would entail that God would have to allow all criminals, mass murderers, atheists, tyrants and any other kind of scumbags ‒ right from the beginning of the world until its end (infinite time!!) and without any contrition or conversion on their part (no conditions!!) ‒ to enter into eternal life. This of course is nonsense, but as many preachers promulgate this doctrine on every possible occasion, people finally come to believe it ‒ failing to realize that with this kind of infinite and unconditional love, God would have to forgive all human beings their sins without any kind of counter-performance on their part, and so no sacrifice would be required any longer, and Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross.

If this sacrifice of Jesus Christ actually was necessary, this is proof that God, first and foremost, is a God of righteousness and that his righteousness called for a sacrifice to atone for all our sins. This sacrifice could actually have been required of each and every one of us, but God, in his love toward humanity, sent his Son ‒ the only person who could pay for all our sins through his death on the cross. Anyone who fails to accept this redeeming sacrifice for his sins in faith cannot appeal to any kind of infinite or unconditional love on God’s part, but will be condemned by God’s righteousness and will not see the kingdom of God.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? 

1Cor 6,9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 6,10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1Cor 6, 9-10;


So we can trust with absolute certainty in the grace and mercifulness of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, but at the same time we have every reason to be doubtful of our own ability to stand firm in the faith (Mt 26,34-35.75). The relevant motto, then, must be ‒ "Stay with it ‒ never mind what it costs."

(See also Discourse 69: "Predestination and the chosen - Can believing ("born again") Christians ever be lost?")


The false doctrine that people can be born again while they are still alive, along with the postulate that it is impossible for such a "born again" Christian to fall away from the faith, lulls the brethren into a false sense of security and so is highly dangerous. As can be seen, we in the Christian world are often concerned to interpret Scripture in such a way that the congregation and its members may be presented in the most glorious and blameless light. We want to be the first and the best, even to the extent of ruling in the Millennium. And this is remarkable, above all because the Lord prophesies to us that just this kind of behavior is counterproductive and robs us of the fruits of our faith:

And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.

Lk 13,30 "And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last." Lk 13,30;


And this also gives us an answer to the question you asked in your e-mail:

How can Christians do such a thing, when they must know very well that God hates lies and falsification of his teachings?


First of all we have those preachers and evangelists who want to sell their books and command fees for their lectures and seminars ‒ they have an evident interest in making the most positive impression possible on their readers and listeners. The prophets of the Old Testament ‒ and still more so, our Lord Jesus Christ ‒ made themselves unpopular with many people because they told them the unvarnished truth. And on the other side, of course, we find certain sections of the public who would much prefer to hear and believe such things as promise them a glorious future, without any suffering or affliction and with heaps of honor and power. They will then choose their teachers accordingly, and so determine for themselves what they are willing to hear or read and what not.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;

2Tim 4,3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4,4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 2Tim 4, 3- 4;


The infinite and unconditional love of God.

If the love of God were to be infinite and unconditional, this God would have to forgive all human beings of all ages (infinite time!!) all their sins, without any conversion or repentance on their part (unconditionally!!). There would then no longer be any need of a redeeming sacrifice – and Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross.

Then all criminals, mass murderers, atheists, tyrants and all other kinds of scum, from the begin to the end of the world (infinite time!!) would enter into eternal life without any conversion or repentance on their part (unconditionally!!), along with all rightly believing Christians.

So anyone who speaks of the "infinite" and "unconditional" love of God gives clear evidence of the fact that they have no idea why God permitted his Son to die on the cross. Such people have not even begun to grasp the foundation stone of the Christian faith, and so are completely unqualified to make any kind of statement about any aspect of God’s nature.

(See also discourse 30: “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?”)




(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Is the Holy Spirit an abiding presence in the believer? / Commentary, B. Bollmeyer 00, 2005-07-12)

To consider the biblical passages. Eph.1,13-14: "In Him you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory." Eph. 4,30: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

I understand these passages to mean that on the day of our conversion God gives us a "brand" (I know, it is not a very suitable expression, but nothing better occurs to me) - marks us as his property, as it were, by giving us the Holy Spirit. Now I do know of course that the Holy Spirit also has other tasks, but this is a relevant task as well, that of being a pledge and a seal. In verse 30 we are urged not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Luther translates 1The 5,19 as "do not quench the spirit". We are quite evidently in a position - and bear an associated responsibility - where we can have an effect on the Holy Spirit’s effective sphere of activity in us. But I do not know of any passage that tells us that the Holy Spirit can leave us again. If there is any such statement in Scripture, especially in the New Testament, please would you let me know, as I would then have to revise my view.

Now the logical conclusion that I draw from this: if the Holy Spirit is an abiding presence in us, he would have to accompany us into hell if we were to lose our chance of salvation, and that would be quite absurd!

Brunhilde Bollmeyer brunhilde.bollmeyer@gmx.de



I like your interpretation of Eph 1,13-14 very much, and your concluding logic is appealing. It is this same logic that causes me to come to the very opposite conclusion - if the Holy Spirit is in us, given the wickedness of human beings (seeing that we are all wicked after all, Rom 3:12), he cannot possibly condone all our deeds.

So for instance we are frequently told in Scripture that king David spoke in the Holy Spirit, so he must have known the indwelling presence of the Spirit. But when he put Uriah in the front line of battle (2Sam 11), so that he got killed and David was able to take his wife Bathsheba, with whom he had already committed adultery, the Holy Spirit cannot possibly have been in him. So the Spirit must have abandoned him at this point. Later on we are told that David again had the Holy Spirit, and in the Millennium God will raise David once more so that he can again be king of Israel. This also shows that according to Scripture the Holy Spirit is not an abiding presence in human beings, but reacts to their choices and actions as appropriate.

As for your final question:

"But I do not know of any passage that tells us that the Holy Spirit can leave us again. If there is any such statement in Scripture, especially in the New Testament, please would you let me know, as I would then have to revise my view."


- may I just draw your attention to the New Testament passage Heb 6,4-6.

Those who have once been made partakers of the Holy Spirit and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.

Hbr 6,4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 6,5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6,6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. Heb 6, 4- 6;


So the Christian believers referred to here had the Holy Spirit, and then fell away again into apostasy. If the Holy Spirit, then, were an abiding presence in them, it would have to be - as you quite correctly state above - with them in hell. And here, of course, we are completely agreed that this would be an absurd conclusion.

And so the only remaining alternative is that the Holy Spirit has abandoned them.

(See also Discourse 51: "The reception of the Holy Spirit - how does it happen?")



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(The spirit of truth will be with you for eternity. / Reply, B. Bollmeyer 01, 2005-07-25)

Thank you for pointing out Hbr. 6,4ff. What is stated in this passage causes me some difficulties with my line of argument. Many questions come to mind - how, for instance, am I to understand Jn 14,15-17: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because he abides with you, and will be in you." - ?

Brunhilde Bollmeyer brunhilde.bollmeyer@gmx.de



The statements made here by the Lord are certainly very interesting in connection with the reception of the Holy Spirit, and it is worth analyzing them in greater detail. One of the problems of scriptural interpretation is the abbreviated reproduction of scriptural texts - as a result of which promises are often referred to, but without any mention of the conditions. So we would like to take the context of this passage fully into account in our present analysis of its meaning.

He who loves Me, My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

Jn 14,18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 14,19 "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 14,20 "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 14,21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." 14,22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?" 14,23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 14,24 "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. Jn 14,18-24;


 

In the continuation of the scriptural passage quoted by Ms Bollmeyer above, we can now see in greater detail what is involved, and the conditions under which this "spirit of truth" - that is to say, the Holy Spirit - is given. In Jn 14,23-24 the Lord says: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him". The condition, then, is that we love the Lord Jesus and keep his word, and the Father will love us too. And then we are further told that these two - Father and Son - will come to us and make their abode in us. And this "making an abode in us", now, is nothing other than the indwelling in us of the Father and the Son, through the Holy Spirit - that is to say, the presence of the Trinity in us. This applies, then, to all believers who love the Lord and keep his commandments.

And then we are told as well that

He who does not love Me does not keep My words.

This is the negative corollary of the first part of the above passage. And where this condition is absent, then of course the consequence - namely, the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit - lapses likewise. This means that Christian believers can only count on the Holy Spirit being manifest in them on condition that, and so long as they love the Lord and keep his commandments.

A few verses before, now, we come to the passage which Ms Bollmeyer cites in her reply, and which at first glance and on the face of it could easily give the impression - as she indicates - that the Holy Spirit is an abiding presence in us ("forever").

The Father will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.

Jn 14,15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 14,16 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 14,17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. Jn 14,15-17;


But all the more so if it is our intent to hold to the words of the Lord, we must read this passage carefully in order to come to a correct understanding of the significance of these same words. And here we find, both in Jn 14,16 and in 14,17, that the Lord says the Holy Spirit will be or remain with us. The Greek text similarly uses the word "para", meaning something like "alongside" or "in the vicinity of" a person. This suggests the explanation that the Lord is not saying that the Holy Spirit will be in us forever, as an abiding presence, but rather that he will be forever with us, at our side, in our vicinity. And John makes exactly this same connection in Revelation, when he sees the Spirit of God as the seven eyes of the Lamb.

The seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.

Rev 5,6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. Rev 5, 6;


We can see from this that the Holy Spirit of God is sent out into the whole earth, and so is close to every human being. This does not mean, however, that he makes his abode in every human being. This is stated only in the concluding indication that we find in Jn 14,17 - "and will be in you" - though here the Lord again refers to those preconditions for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which have been mentioned in Jn 14,23: "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word."

From this we may again conclude that while the Holy Spirit is here with us on earth, his activity in us is dependent on the extent to which we love the Lord and keep his commandments. If we do this, then it will be our dearest desire that the Lord should be in us and we in him. And then the Father will send us his Spirit, and Father, Son and Holy Spirit will make their abode in us.

The Biblical Trinity

There is just the one and only God in his three authorities: God the Father as the legislative authority, comparable with the legislature in human society; the Holy Spirit as the authority of execution, similar to the political executive arm; and the Son of God as the judicial authority, like the court of justice. God has given human beings the law and the commandments (Ex 24:12), the Holy Spirit registers the extent to which people observe them, but only intervenes when human actions might otherwise contravene God’s plan (2Thess 2:7), and the Son of God will judge every single human being (Jn 5:22) at the Last Judgment.

In this age of quantum entanglement – with its "spooky action at a distance", as Einstein termed it – the independent spiritual personality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and their simultaneous presence (Jn 14:10-11) in the spirit of the one God (Jn 4:24), can only be a problem for people living today if they are completely uninformed. In addition, the Bible gives us numerous examples of manifestations of spirit in the spirit of human beings (Mk 1:23-25; 5:6-8; Lk 3:24; but also Jn 14:23; 17:26!).

The attempt to explain relations of this nature on the basis of the ancient wisdom of the Fathers of the Church (Council of Nicea etc.) was already erroneous in view of their assertion that the earth is the center of the universe (The Creation.) and might be regarded today as comparable to the attempt to explain quantum mechanics by the laws of classical physics.

The actual reason why the Unitarians reject the Trinity (There is no salvation apart from the Trinity / C H. Spurgeon), is, first of all, the fact that they refuse to accept the divinity of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ as God (Ps 45:7-8; Jn 20:28; Phil 2:5-6; 2Pet 1:1; 1Jn 5:20) and even his pre-existence (Gen 1:26; 11:7) not to mention his post-existence with God (Jn 14:23; 17:26!), would call in question their entire false structure of faith with its "human Jesus" as a "faith fighter", "pal" or "model of suffering" and reduce it to absurdity.

But on the other hand the doctrine of the three in one – the Trinity – was interpreted for centuries by the Catholic church according to the whim and "feelings" of the old Church Fathers (Council of Nicea etc.) and not in accordance with the Bible’s statements. As a result it was easy for the representatives of "faith in the one God" – the Unitarians – to question this in the light of the Bible.

But unfortunately the opportunity was missed of studying the Bible in depth and determining what it actually says about the essence of God, his Son and the Holy Spirit – instead, people just made use of superficial arguments to rebut this equally incorrect Trinitarian dogma of the Catholic church.

(See also discourse 1072: “Is the Trinity only an activity of God in three persons?”)



Anyone who does not love the Lord will not keep his word, and so the Spirit will not come into him. And this does not just apply to the godless and the unbelievers, it also applies to those who once had this love of the Lord and so were in possession of the Holy Spirit, and yet subsequently fell away into apostasy. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews indicates as much in the passage quoted earlier (Heb 6,4-6), and we find it confirmed by the Lord Jesus himself in the Revelation of John, in the letter to the congregation in Ephesus:

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

Rev 2,1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 2,2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 2,3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 2,4 ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 2,5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place-unless you repent. Rev 2, 1- 5;


So we can see from this that the admittedly very enticing formula "once in the Holy Spirit, always in the Holy Spirit" is just a pipedream cherished by many of the brethren, and has no foundation in Scripture. It is unfortunately the case that in the life of faith you cannot have any such guarantees. We must take care, all our life long, that we do not lose our love of the Lord - otherwise that threat which the Lord addresses to the congregation in Ephesus could become a reality for us as well.

Conversion to faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the acceptance of his redeeming sacrifice for our sins, is a quite personal decision for every individual, which must be based on free will and not subject to any kind of compulsion. A compulsion exercised by God would go against the justice, dignity and majesty of the Almighty. Just take a look at this world as it is: do we see any sign here of a compulsion being exercised by God? The very opposite is the case. And just because God does not force anybody to choose a particular path, but leaves the individual free to decide, the world is approaching the edge of chaos. And because the Lord our God does not compel anyone to decide for him when a person is not willing, he will not compel anyone to remain with him against his will either.

But any kind of compelled conversion or compelled faith - such as so-called "missionaries" have been responsible for in the past, as in the conversion of the South American Indians to Catholicism by the Spanish and Portuguese Conquistadors - is null and void in the sight of God, and can only lead people from one darkness to a still deeper darkness. It may well be possible to give people information, warning and signposts, but a decision on this issue must be taken by each individual for himself or herself, on the basis of genuine personal conviction.

Since you have not warned the wicked, they shall die in their sin but their blood I will require at your hand.

Ezk 3,18 "When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 3,19 "Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.

3,20 "Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 3,21 "However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself." Eze 3,18-21;

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Mk 16,15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16,16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

And this being so, nothing and no one can rob us of this decision or snatch us out of the hand of our God (cf. Jn 10,28-29) apart from - yet again - we ourselves. So any Christian believer can also go back on this freely determined decision and fall from faith into apostasy. For the same reason, we need not be scared of any Satanic hosts, or feel compelled to free our cities from their power by praying in tongues or by "spiritual war", as some denominations do - it is only our own will that we need to focus on. And if we really love the Lord and keep his word, then the Triune God will personally dwell in us and strengthen our love with his love, so that we will be happy to remain in his hands, in full trust and on the basis of our own free decision.

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

(See also Discourse 114: "The battle with invisible worlds for a Europe on Christian foundations?")

The doctrine of Universal Reconciliation: an exit route, or a blind alley?   -   Discourse 11