Discourse 27 - God’s plan.




Contribution by visiting commentator by M. H. 00 2001-04-01

So who is Satan? Where does he come from?

God’s creation

Satan’s struggle

The coming of the Redeemer

Jesus’ life on this earth

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross - the act of Redemption

The congregation of Jesus, the Christians

The Christian life

The Last Days

The Second Coming of Jesus

The last act

Conclusion


The following in its entirety is a contribution from a visiting commentator, Qualified Engineer Martin Hufnagel. He examines various biblical topics from a new and interesting angle, without however deviating from conformity with the Scriptures - which is one of the fundamental principles of this home page.



(God's plan / Contribution by visiting commentator MH00, 2001-04-01)

How are God’s actions to be understood, from Adam to the last human being? Why should there be a thousand year kingdom? Why did Christ die on the cross? These are just a few of the thematic areas where this article seeks to supply an answer.

(M. H.  www.bibel-info.net)


Introduction

Sometimes strange questions come into one’s head; often, too, one is directly confronted with them in conversation. Why does God permit evil? Where did Cain get his wife from? Did Elijah travel to heaven in a UFO? Has the Vatican falsified the Bible?

Recently it came into my mind to ask why God lets the devil roam around freely at all. This question sounds rather abstract, so I will bring it down to the level of our world: what would it be like, if you knew that a sexual offender was roaming around freely, raping, killing and kidnapping – he has been properly condemned, even his prison cell is already waiting for him, and all the same he roams around at large. Nor is this all – he incites others to do the same as he is doing, and scorns all those who continue to believe in justice and order, and try to stand up for it. You yourself, your children and your family are threatened by this individual, and the police still do not come and intervene.

Father of Lies. He seduces human beings into evil, and he kills them. He seduced Adam and Eve, and so brought death upon the whole of humanity. We know too that he has already been condemned by God. His prison, hell, is already waiting for him. It was originally created just for Satan and his angels. Nonetheless he has complete freedom of action. He was even able to tempt Jesus.

Why – why is this the case? How can God, who is after all a God of love and a caring God, permit this to happen? How can we speak of justice, of God’s justice, in the face of this patent injustice?

When we read the Bible, we find that it speaks of the justice of God   on countless occasions. In Revelation in particular, in connection with the judgments, we are repeatedly told how just God is. Must we then believe in justice in the same way as we believe in the virgin birth, even when all visible circumstances speak against it? Should we accept a belief, if to do so we have to switch off or inhibit our critical faculty?

This thought has led many to doubt. Some even go so far as to doubt whether the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same, and whether Satan or the devil is not an invention designed to frighten people, to squeeze more money out of them and promote the power of churches and religious groups.

I would like to take you on a journey with me – a journey through the entire history of humanity – which will give us an inkling, it may be hoped, of the love of God, of his greatness, his actions and above all of his justice.

Let us start off with the question about the beginning.

In the beginning was God. Actually there is no beginning as such, since God has always existed and always will. With God there is neither beginning nor end. So let us start, as the Bible does, from the beginning of our world. In Genesis we are told of the creation of the world, of animals and human beings, but shortly after this a character appears on the scene of whom we have not been told anything previously: Satan, who seduces humanity.


So who is Satan? Where does he come from?

In Ezk. 28, 11-19 and Isa. 14, 12-17 we are told about him. Satan was one of the God’s loftiest and most beautiful creations, an exceptional angel, who lived in the immediate proximity of God. His task consisted in the worship and glorification of God. He was a being of lofty wisdom, beauty and power. But instead of giving the glory to God alone, he laid claim to reverence himself and wanted even to place himself above God’s throne. Through this presumption he lost his position and was damned. God created hell especially for the fallen angels (Mt. 25,41), but strangely, Satan was not cast into hell, and the judgment on him was not carried out. Why this did not happen the Bible does not explain, so we can only speculate. We only know that Satan, after his fall, was still able to act as a free agent, and had access to God (see Rev. 12 and Job). Only in the last days will he be finally cast out of heaven.

We see too that even the angels have free will, and can choose to serve God or to go against him.

Other angels as well are implicated in Satan’s fall. In view of a passage in Rev. 12,4 we can speculate that a third of all the angels (stars) fell away from God. It is in any case clear that as a result of Satan’s fall, other angels too fell away, and Satan is the prince of this host. These fallen angels appear to us as demons, spirits and powers in the Bible.

When this revolt took place is not stated anywhere in Scripture; but at any rate Satan appears as a seducer and liar in his very first act.


God’s creation

So God at some time created the angels, made the earth and then last of all the human beings. In Heb 1,14 we learn that the angels were created for the sake of the elect race, for the sake of humanity. The earth was made to be a dwelling place for human beings. We see, then, that we human beings are the apple of God’s eye and the focus of his creative activity, the goal of his actions. Neither an angel nor an animal, man alone, as the image of God, is the center of God’s creative acts. By contrast with all other creatures, humans are created as a special kind of being: the angels are pure spirit, the animals have bodies but lack consciousness. Man, on the other hand, is formed from the earth, receives the breath of God and so becomes a living soul (Gen. 2,7). This act of creation already represents man as a being consisting of three parts: spirit – soul – body. The spirit of the human being is from God and so is imperishable, the soul is the result of the connection between the body and the spirit.

This unique creation is now placed by God in the garden of Eden and confronted with a test: Man may eat of all that is in the garden; only the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge he may not eat. If he offends against this commandment, he will die. In the same way as with the angels, the choice is given to man, the freedom to decide for or against God. What happened after that is a familiar story. Satan seduced the human beings, who let themselves be deceived by his lies and so lost their connection with God. They died in the spirit and after a short temporal delay suffered bodily death as well.

Have you ever asked yourself the question why Satan actually seduced humanity? What advantage over God would it give him?

In the first place, it is plain to see that Satan acquired power by means of this seduction. God gave man dominion over creation. Through the Fall, man lost his relationship with God and became the slave of sin, of Satan. By seducing humanity, Satan acquired dominion over human beings and the entire creation. Yet there was no injustice in this, for human beings put themselves in Satan’s power of their own free will, by believing him rather than God. This fact becomes perfectly clear in the temptation of Jesus in Mt. 4, 8-9, when Satan offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth. As a result of the Fall, Satan became the prince of this world, and we human beings became his bondsmen. So for us human beings it is not a question whether we want to belong to God or to Satan, for through the mere fact of our being born we find ourselves in this servitude, under Satan’s dominion. It does not help us just to be good persons, for this does not have any effect on the actual problem, the rule of Satan. Through the Fall Satan acquired might and authority over the earth and over us human beings.

Another aspect is the execution of the judgment. Why did God not banish Satan forthwith to hell? On the other hand, would he not then also have had to cast us human beings into hell straightway? As God is just, he had to mete out the same measure to Satan and to man, and was not able to make the least difference in His judgments: lenience to humanity, then, would have implied the rehabilitation of Satan. So if God were to forgive man this sin out of hand, he would, in his justice, have also been compelled to reinstate Satan in his original position. Conversely, if God had cast Satan forthwith into hell, would he not then also have been compelled to punish the human beings with the same final and eternal judgment? We can see, then, that in a sense the seduction of humanity might have been a profitable business for Satan.

A third aspect is forgiveness. It is clear that, through the Fall, God’s whole work of creation was destroyed. The crown of creation, the human being, became God’s enemy. Doubtless Adam and Eve underwent the deepest penance after their deed, properly repenting what they had done. Could God not have forgiven them, out of His love and also having regard to the effort He had put into creation – perhaps he might just have turned a blind eye? After all, it was Satan who seduced the human beings. But in that case God, in His justice, would have had to forgive not just humanity but Satan as well. More than that, he would have had to reinstate Satan in his former position.

But God managed things otherwise. Human beings died in spirit, lost their direct relationship with God, were driven from Paradise and were forced from then on to live in sin, in the power of Satan. But God promised future succor. A seed of the woman was to come as a Redeemer, who would break the power of Satan and liberate humanity.


Satan’s struggle

On the basis of this promise by God Satan acquired a new enemy, a new target for his attacks: the seed of the woman, her offspring (Gen. 3,15).

He now had to do all he could to annihilate this seed, for otherwise his power over humanity would be wrested from him, and he himself would be annihilated by this seed.

If we read on in the Scriptures, we find that in actual fact Satan makes it his constant aim to destroy this line of descent. First he prompts Cain to murder Abel, then he seduces humanity to such an extent that God is forced to kill the whole human race apart from Noah and his family. After the Flood he induces them to blaspheme against God by building the Tower of Babel.

Finally, the whole history of Israel is a struggle by Satan to cut off the line of descent that God has blessed, from Eve to the Redeemer. Satan’s goal is the total destruction of the blessed line from Eve to the Redeemer and all those who stand in it. And this destruction is to be seen in both spiritual and material terms.

But how did Satan carry on his struggle?

We are never told that Satan took a hand in the action himself. Repeatedly we read of how he prompts human beings, rulers and peoples to action. He leads nations to make war against Israel, he seduces the priests and kings of the chosen people. From this fact we can draw the following conclusion:

Satan uses human beings as pawns in his struggle. Satan exercises his power through human beings. If human beings take service under him, then he can operate; if they decline to cooperate with him and turn to God, these human beings withdraw from working with Satan – though it remains the case that we human beings, as a result of the existential space in which we find ourselves, separated from God and in the power of Satan, are never able to follow God completely. On the other hand, God acted in the past almost exclusively through human beings. Only in a few cases does he act directly through his angels, or intervene in His own person (Sodom and Gomorrah, the battle against the host of Sennacherib). So we can see that Satan’s or God’s exercise of power in this world is linked with the fact that human beings declare their willingness to cooperate – either with Satan or with God. Without this consent, the following occurs: humanity finds itself, from the moment of birth, under the influence and dominion of Satan. Human beings, in consequence, are implicated in Satan’s party from the start, through the very fact of their birth. The extent of their cooperation with Satan, however, or the limitation of this cooperation – so far as it is humanly possible – through the individual’s turning to God, depends on our free will. This will be an essential criterion for judging the lives of those human beings who have not heard either of God or of Christ, and so have died without the possibility of being born again. As is to be seen from Rev. 20, these human beings will be condemned according to their works. But as a judgment cannot only condemn, some human beings too will enter into eternity in virtue of their works. This exception, however, applies if at all only to those human beings who were never able to learn about Christ and the God of the Bible, or who through abuse or violence have been separated from them (how can one, for instance, as a German Christian, preach Jesus to the Jews who were tormented by Christians in the Third Reich?).

(See also Discourse 104: “What is the point of life?”)

The coming of the Redeemer

When God saw the time accomplished when he should send the one who was to redeem the sins of humanity, Jesus came into the world as the Christ. This event now lies almost 2000 years behind us. In itself it is a completely unimaginable act, an event that shatters our ability to conceive of what happened here: God, the creator of the world, becomes a part of his own creation. This is just approximately comparable with what would happen if a computer programmer reduced himself to a level where he himself could enter the computer in the form of a program. Paul writes in the Epistle to the Philippians that he emptied Himself of his divinity.

That this blending of God with humanity was possible results from the nature of the human being. The body of the human being is taken from the earth, the spirit comes from God. Through the bringing together of these two components the soul results, which is what distinguishes humans from angels, animals and all other created beings. God in Jesus Christ, then, was indwelling in the human being as part of the spiritual component.

The other point about God’s becoming man, a point of violent controversy and the occasion of much doubt, is the virgin birth. A virgin becomes pregnant – impossible to our way of thinking. And yet Jesus, as the Redeemer, had to choose this way of entering the world. Why?

In Genesis we are told that Eve first ate of the fruit, and then gave it to Adam. This would have to mean that sin entered the world through the woman. In the Epistle to the Romans, however, and in other passages, we read only of Adam. It can be assumed from this that the sin was transmitted to subsequent generations through the man, seeing that he as the head, and – in Adam’s case – as the lord of creation, also carried the full responsibility for it. Consequently Jesus could not be begotten by a man who himself was subject to sin. It is likewise the case that the sin is transmitted to all human beings through their descent from Adam. If Jesus had been a descendant of Adam, He would have been the bondsman of sin in just the same way. Through the virgin birth, as a birth with no human father, this line was interrupted.

Jesus, in this view, represents a kind of new creation. It is unimportant here whether we assume that Jesus, as we might put it, was artificially inseminated, or whether Jesus was conceived by Mary as a complete embryo. What is certain is that with Jesus the line of descent from Adam was interrupted, a new race arose, which however still required to be born of a woman. Jesus in this view was 100% human, yet completely untrammeled by Satan and not tied in any way to his sphere of influence.


Jesus’ life on this earth

Jesus grew up as a normal human being on this earth. But he differed fundamentally from all other human beings, in that he was not subject to the compulsion to sin. Jesus also had, in consequence, a direct and unrestricted connection to God the Father himself. It is only surprising that Jesus did not enter on his mission as soon as he reached adulthood, as soon as he reached the age of a grown man. His mission only began with his baptism in the Jordan: that is actually the starting point for the Gospels. What happened before this was apparently not important enough to deserve a mention.

What now occurred at the Jordan, when Jesus was baptized? (Mt. ch. 3).

Jesus received the Holy Spirit. Only after He had received the Holy Spirit was Jesus equipped for his mission. This seems obscure.

Shortly after the event that took place at the Jordan, Jesus withdraws to fast. After he has ended his fast, Satan makes an appearance and tries to seduce Jesus. He approaches Him with three temptations:

o  If you are the Son of God, then transform these stones into bread, and eat.

o  If you are the Son of God, than throw yourself down from the pinnacle of the Temple, for God’s angels will protect you.

o  If you worship me, I will give you all the kingdoms of the world.


What is the goal of this temptation? It strikes us that Satan tempts Jesus as the Son of God, not as a human being. Satan wants to provoke Jesus into acting as God. Why? Because if Jesus had acted as God, he would not be a human being any longer. The reason why this is so significant is because Jesus was to be the perfect sacrificial lamb for the sins of humanity. If Jesus had not been 100% human, he would not have been able to redeem us.

So we can establish with certainty the following facts about Jesus’ life on this earth: Jesus was 100% human and also God, but he did not make use of the divine side of his nature. Instead he acted only as a human being under the direction of the Holy Spirit. So Jesus represents the prototype of redeemed humanity, the original Christian, seeing that, just as he did, we too should live from the Holy Spirit and not from ourselves. So too it was not an overstatement when Jesus declared that his disciples would perform greater works than he himself, seeing that they draw their power from the same Spirit.


Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross – the act of Redemption

Jesus lived on this earth as a human being, but without sin. We know that death is the result, the reward of sin. So Jesus could have lived eternally on this earth, for He, uniquely, was without sin. And yet He died on the cross. This can practically be called a suicide, a self-sacrifice, seeing that no one was able to take life from Him. Through this sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, our salvation, our redemption was accomplished.

This happening can be viewed in a number of different aspects.

Since Adam, we human beings have been sinners, no longer able to stand in the face of God’s justice. The wages of sin are that we all must die: spiritually we are dead already, physically we die by installments. But we die for our own sins. Consequently we have nothing left which could give us any claim to a new life. But as we human beings, being made in the image of God, have an indestructible spirit (because it has been given us by God Himself), we would now have been compelled to linger for all eternity in separation from God; we would have been eternally damned. On the other hand, God cannot simply forgive our sins either. He could now simply have sacrificed a sinless angel for us human beings. Such a sacrifice, however, would have been valid only for angels, since human beings can only be redeemed by a representative of their own kind, who must be human just as they are. Only someone who would not die for himself and who was 100% human, therefore, was able to die as our representative. This is what Jesus did. When he died on the cross, without sin, God was able to lay all the sin of the world upon Him. One single death, as a result, cancelled and did away with all the sins of humanity. Through this sacrifice, too, God’s justice was appeased: He forgave and cancelled the sins of humanity through a single act, in accordance with the fundamental principle, that sin must be paid for by death. As a result we have now obtained the chance of leading a new life, of entering afresh into communion with God. But more of this later.

In this connection it is also important to note that the Redemption through Jesus Christ on the cross related only to human beings. Not angels, and no other being were redeemed on the cross, but human beings alone.

Another aspect of this is the authority of dominion. Satan had obtained dominion over the creation and over us human beings in a perfectly legal manner, because Adam believed his lie. So he could destroy human beings without any fear of legal consequences, because he had authority over them as their lord and master. Over Jesus however he had no authority of dominion: Jesus was not descended from Adam, and was a kind of new creation on this earth. Satan tempted Jesus – without any success. So he went about to kill Jesus, and seduced the high priests of the house of Judah. Finally he had Jesus murdered: finally, he was the one who killed Jesus, and Jesus let him have his way and did not resist, but it was Satan who did the deed. When Jesus was dead and buried, he imagined that he was the victor. But God was able to raise Jesus again from the dead, because he was himself sinless, and to give him a new body and a new life. But more than this, the Resurrection of Jesus altered the balance of power. Through the murder of Jesus Satan had sinned, and so God was able, in Jesus, to wrest from him the power of dominion. Jesus now became the lord of heaven and earth, of death and the kingdom of the dead.

Through this sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection, the entire balance of power was turned around. Satan lost his entitlements, his position and his privileges of power – only in a legal sense, for the dominion of Jesus has not yet arrived.


The congregation of Jesus, the Christians

So Jesus had cancelled sin and deprived Satan of his power. He could now at once have proclaimed his divine kingdom. But who could have participated in this Redemption, who would have been able to decide to follow Jesus, who would have accepted His sacrifice, if no time were left for this? For this reason Jesus did not yet enter upon his dominion. Instead, he had His disciples announce this offer of Redemption to all humanity, so that as many as possible would be able to participate in this new life. This is the phase in which we are now living. God lets this message, this divine offer, be proclaimed to all humanity through His congregation. Satan continues to confront the congregation as its enemy. He knows that all entitlements to power have been taken from him and that he one day, at the Second Coming of Jesus, will lose all that he has. Consequently he is fighting a kind of last ditch struggle to prevent human beings from hearing about Jesus. Instead of allowing human beings their Redemption, accepting his defeat as a fair loser, Satan is trying with all his power to turn all humanity against God. As with the Israelites, he has chosen here two principal methods:

1. to destroy their confidence in God (God is supposed to have said)

2. to confuse the congregation and the doctrine with falsehoods, and so make the congregation subject to judgment and thereby ineffective.


Precisely in connection with the questions of infant baptism or adult baptism, with church membership and all these other matters, I had the following idea some time ago. Satan has lost all his entitlement to power. His supposed victory turned out to be his greatest defeat. More than that, since Pentecost he has been confronted with a new enemy in the form of the congregation. The Holy Spirit was now working through the disciples of Jesus in a direct and powerful way. In a short time the entire Roman empire was penetrated by Christian congregations, there were Christians everywhere. No persecution, be it ever so extreme, could overcome the congregation. This was where Satan began to implement a devilish plan: if he could not prevent humanity’s conversion to Christ, then he would make all human beings Christian. Under Constantine, in 300 AD, it was stipulated that all state officials must be Christians. Through the introduction of an official state church and infant baptism, the congregation was confused with politics, with non-Christians and with other religious practices and cults. This was the point at which the Catholic church actually began to exist. Through baptism every individual was certified as a Christian, whether he was a believer or not. As happened with the building of the Tower of Babel, where the work had to be given up because of the confusion of tongues, so as a result of this Christian confusion of tongues the building up of the congregation was fundamentally impeded.


The Christian life

Let us contemplate for a while longer the life of the individual Christian. Through our acceptance of Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for our sins and as Lord of our life, the following changes have come about:

o  our old sins have been cancelled

o  through constant repentance we can cancel out our new offences daily

o  through our purification in conversion, God gives us His Holy Spirit

o  this Holy Spirit should take over the direction of our lives, direct us and lead us into the truth and the reality of God.


But what about original sin, the compulsion to sin, in our frequently sick and ailing bodies? Has anything happened in this area as well? No – our children are subject to original sin just as we are, we all suffer from sickness and need. And we will all die, if Christ does not come first, most of us sick and ailing. Just as the dominion of Christ has admittedly been established and in purely legal terms could become a reality at any time, but for our sake has been further postponed, so too our redemption is not yet complete. Our redemption, our being made perfect, will only come about with the Resurrection: until then we are living like a kind of hybrid, an engrafted tree – the old life still flows from the roots, but on this old stump a new growth has been grafted which is to bear fruit for God, and must do so.


The Last Days

Let us now consider the final chapters of human history. In the Bible this time is described as the time of harvest. In this phase a great number of prophecies come to fulfillment. Here there are two things that stand out in the forefront of our view:

1. The evil in humanity reaches its final form

Satan’s revolt and humanity’s rebellion against God here find their apogee. Satan will be personified in a human being, and together with a third person will make up a kind of satanic Trinity. This will consist of Satan = "God the Father", the Beast; the Antichrist = "God-Christ"; and the false prophet = "the Holy Spirit" (Rev. 13).

The power invested in this satanic dominion will be so vast, that it will no longer be possible for dissentients, above all for Christians, to survive. Satan’s revolt culminates in the attempt of the false Christ to proclaim himself as God in Jerusalem, in the temple that is still to be built, where he will demand worship. With this event the last three and a half years of this age of the world will be initiated (see here the essays on my home page on the topics of the last days, the Antichrist and the Beast of Revelation, at present still under construction).

At this time the purification in heaven has already begun. Satan, the seducer and accuser of Christians, who till now still had access to heaven, will be cast out upon the earth, and with him all his fallen angels (Rev. 12).

2. The congregation strives to achieve its final form

The congregation of the last days is seen under two aspects. On the one hand there is the denatured and worldly congregation, shown in the image of the whore. The congregation, the churches, that still retain the name of their Lord but do not have anything more to do with him himself, will recover power and prestige in these last days, but then will be abruptly stripped of their power (Rev. 17 ff. on the whore of Babylon => see separate article on my home page).

The congregation of Jesus, described in the Scriptures as a woman, wife or as a bride, will likewise attain its ultimate purity at this time as a result of persecution and its being cut off from the world. It will be a small congregation and exposed to contempt, but yet will be closely connected to its Lord on the inward plane.


The Second Coming of Jesus

The last days will be ended at a stroke with the visible Second Coming of Jesus. This event comprehends the following things:

1. Resurrection of the Christians, transformation of Christians who are alive

2. The conversion of Israel, the remnant, to Christ as its visible Lord

3. The destruction of the kingdom of Antichrist, Beast and prophet cast into hell, Satan bound for a thousand years.


With the Second Coming of Jesus the Redemption of Christians will be finally accomplished. Jesus will enter upon his dominion, visibly and completely. So all resistance will be shattered, and the instigators of the revolt, the Beast and the false prophet, will be cast into hell.

Incidentally, these are the first individuals who will be cast into hell, which up to this point has been empty.

At this time Israel will be converted to its Lord. This conversion, however, will not lead to a life like that of the Christians, seeing that the converted Jews will remain on earth and will not rule with Christ in heaven. In my conception the Jews who have been converted at the Second Coming of Jesus will be the missionary nation of the Millennial Kingdom, since no Christians will remain on earth at this time, as they will be with Christ in heaven. It must also be noted here that, in spite of the conversion and confession of faith of the Jews as described in Zech. 12 ff., two thirds of the people of Israel will be killed in the subsequent purification of the country. Compare here Daniel 12,11 and 12,12, where those who survive into the extended time, that is, the time of the purification of the land of Israel and its people, are described as blessed. In any case these Israelites are not believers of the New Covenant, as they have been converted by seeing and not by faith, and so will have a separate station allotted them.

The Millennial Kingdom is a difficult problem for many believers. Why should not God make the world new at once, and judge all human beings at once?

Let us consider the Millennial Kingdom itself first. At this time Satan will no longer have any influence on the world. Creation is freed from all its fetters, and will not bear any resemblance to the world we know. In Isaiah ch. 11 we are told of vegetarian beasts of prey, and of youths who are a hundred years old. All this leads us to conclude that almost paradisal conditions will prevail upon earth. Humanity will be under the direct rule of Jesus, and God will fulfill all His promises to Israel. This will be the time when Zion will instruct all the nations in the truth of God, and all nations shall come to Zion to give God the glory. On the face of it one might think that after this favored time, after all the blessings of God, Satan, who at the end of the Millennial Kingdom is to be set free, will hardly find any one to make common cause with him. Why should human beings turn to Satan, when they have received every good thing from God?

The Bible, however, relates that almost the whole of humanity (but not the Jews) will then choose Satan, and in the last war will be annihilated by fire from heaven (Rev. 20).

In my conception the profounder sense of the Millennial Kingdom is to show that human beings can admittedly lead good lives under the rule of God, but the majority are fundamentally set against God nonetheless. This is shown in the great quantity of individuals who in spite of the visible revelation of Christ will set themselves against God. Finally this takes the carpet from under the feet of those who assert that if it had not been for the devil, and if our lives had always gone well, we would never have sinned.


The last act

The last act of human history as we understand it, the end of temporality, will be heralded by the passing away of the earth and heaven we know. Heaven and earth will pass away, all the dead will come to Judgment and will be judged. It is to be noted that the Book of Life is mentioned in connection with this Judgment. He whose name is written in it will enter eternity. Judgment is passed here according to the works. The number of this multitude is unknown, but human beings too who have not heard anything of Jesus, but have so to speak led an upright life, will still have a chance (Rev. 20).

And we too may rejoice. The new Jerusalem, the Heavenly City, will be there to receive us. We will live on a new earth, in a new heaven. The extraordinary thing is that we will not just be anywhere, but will be dwelling with God Himself. God will dwell among men (Rev. 21,3).

If we now compare the beginnings of humanity with the end, with the end result, it is easy to see the direction God’s plan takes. In the beginning man is a creature among many others, specially selected and yet widely separated and cut off from God. The dualistic point of view, so to speak, holds good: humanity here, and God over there. In Revelation, however, humanity is elevated to such a level that God dwells immediately among men:

Rev 21,3 And I heard a great voice from the throne, that said: Behold, the tabernacle of
God shall be with men! and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people,
and He Himself, God with them, shall be their God;


That which Satan tried to achieve, what Adam and Eve too tried to achieve – to be as God – will finally be given to humanity by God of his own free will. There will be little difference between God and humanity (Heb 2). Human beings will be placed higher than the angels, like gods, and will live in the closest communion with God.


Conclusion

In view of God’s plan for us, it is impossible to understand why so many people are uninterested in learning about God. No better, no more well meant offer is available to us human beings. And yet most individuals, even many Christians, turn the offer down. Each endeavors to achieve salvation according to his own conception and in the terms of his own will. But all these self-chosen ways are useless. They rather lead to separation from God and so, in the last resort, to damnation. For God’s offer is tied to one condition which it is hard for us humans to accept: we must admit and accept our own unworthiness and our inability to be pleasing to God, and recognize that it is only through Christ that we can change this situation.

There are many who say to me, when I start to talk about faith, that they are, after all, decent and honorable people, they do not harm anybody. A great many say that they believe in God, they pray, they read the Bible from time to time. But if one talks of Jesus, of a personal decision for him – or of the fact that Jesus must make a personal intervention in our lives – then most of them turn their backs. Marriage is a good example of this inward relationship: symbolically, every Christian must be married to Jesus. It is not enough to be on friendly terms or to be betrothed to Him. It is not enough, either, to have got to know the father-in-law (God). Only if we enter upon this marriage, on this inward relationship, can we attain to heaven and to citizenship in the Kingdom of God – all the rest are for the most part excluded.

But as the wedding only takes place with the Second Coming of Christ, and only then becomes indissoluble, it is a pertinent point for us Christians who seriously intend to walk with Jesus that we   - through our own decisions, through our infidelity to this betrothal – may also fall from grace and so land ourselves in final damnation (Article: Can a Christian be lost? – on my home page).


Author: M. H.  www.bibel-info.net

(See also Discourse 69: “Predestination and the chosen: Can believing (‘born again’) Christians ever be lost?”)