What is "life"?.
The eternal existence of every human being.
The first and the second death
The prince of the power of the air.
The devil’s Waterloo.
The point of life.
Christian believers ‒ the true and the
The Book of Life.
The certainty of faith.
Did the Last Days already start 500 years ago?
Are all governments of the world ordained by God? /
Discourse 1042 - Part 2
There are a good many Christian preachers who pay more attention to the sound of
their own words, and the effect of their words on an audience, than to the actual content of those
words and the question whether they conform with what we are told in the Bible. In some
evangelization campaigns the preachers challenge their audiences by saying, "You must come to have
faith in God in order to receive eternal life and to avoid being lost." Although correctly
believing Christians will not have any problems with this, for those to whom this evangelization
effort is addressed ‒ those in the audience, that is, who are not believers ‒ it is
almost completely incomprehensible. They will ask, "Who is God? What is faith? And why should I be
lost? ‒ Ridiculous!" ‒ and turn away in disgust.
(See also Discourse 96: "Why believe?")
So it would be advisable not to confront such people either with threats like "Otherwise
you have missed your chance of eternal life" or to lull them to sleep with platitudes referring to
the "infinite love of God" and the like. Both of these statements, incidentally, are incorrect.
For on the one hand God has created all human beings, the good and the bad alike, for an eternal
life, an eternal existence. The only question is where the individual will spend the time of his or
her eternal existence ‒ in the light and love of God, or in the darkness of damnation with
weeping and gnashing of teeth. Moreover, the love of God is by no means infinite, as we will see
But people who have never in the past heard of the Bible ‒ or have come across it only rarely ‒ have difficulties with statements like these. Whereas a believing Christian knows that "eternal life" refers to life with God, as opposed to eternal damnation in the lake of fire, the unbeliever tends to think here of physical immortality, and is then disappointed on learning that even as a believing Christian he cannot avoid physical mortality. So you need to explain to him plainly that the fact that we all die physically in no way means the end of our existence. The spirit of the human being lives on, and will be reborn at the End of the World, in the "regeneration" (Mt 19:28) of the Resurrection, when it will come to life with a new body.
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 (Gen 2:7; 6:3),
whether or not they will give this God, the creator of all life, their
complete trust and entire love.
God will give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Rom 8,11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised
Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead
will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in
you.. Rom 8,11;
In the Resurrection (Rom 6:4-5),
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).
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;
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
(See also Chapter 12: "The Resurrection.")
And when this unbeliever is then told that God’s love is "infinite", but he
then learns that God’s Son had to die for the sins of all human beings on the cross, he naturally
asks why this should have been necessary, and why God in his "infinite" love could not just have
forgiven our sins, so that Jesus Christ would not have had to die for our sins on the cross.
So we conclude that God’s love is not infinite, but lasts only until such time as his grace and mercy in the life of every single individual has been exhausted. When love, grace and mercy have been refused and rejected, all that is left is the absolute and inexorable justice of God ‒ and this is what this person will finally be faced with.
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.
(See also discourse 30: "Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?")
A detailed explanation of death, resurrection and judgment, incidentally, may be found in the
documents of this website (over 150 in the German language) ‒ see the TABLE
OF CONTENTS as well as the response to questions and associated discussion in the DISCOURSES-OUTLINE.
Here, however, I would just like to make yet another attempt to answer the question of the point of
life ‒ always a matter of intense controversy ‒ from a biblical standpoint.
The critical unbeliever referred to above by way of example might well, after all, take the view that if God had made people right from the start in such a way that they would obey his commandments, then the entire razzmatazz of sin, forgiveness of sin, sacrificial death of the Son of God etc. would have been quite superfluous, and human beings ‒ not to mention God ‒ would have been saved a lot of time, trouble and frustration.
And here, very probably, many readers will be astonished to learn that according to the Bible this was God’s exact intention. God created Adam and Even with a character that was such that they were willing to be obedient to God’s commandments. But because the absolute justice of God, on the other hand, is incompatible with any kind of compulsion, God also created human beings with free will. And this implies that human beings would not obey God’s commands out of fear. They should trust in God, recognize the danger of ignoring his commandments and so comply out of their own free will.
The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Gen 2,8 The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden;
and there He placed the man whom He had formed. 2,9 Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow
every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of
the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Gen 2, 8- 9;
But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.
Gen 2,15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of
Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 2,16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree
of the garden you may eat freely;
2,17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." Gen 2,15-17;
As we see from the above passage, human beings were not yet able to distinguish
between good and evil. So God told them what was right and what was wrong, and also informed them of
the consequences of their actions. But he made it a matter for their own free decision whether they
would obey his commandments or not. - It is a similar picture with the Ten Commandments. There too
we are repeatedly told, "Thou shalt", not "Thou must". Human beings have complete freedom
either to conform to God’s commandments or to decline to do so. - God clearly wanted there to be a
relationship between himself and human beings that would be exclusively based on trust.
And just because God wanted human beings to relate to him on a basis of trust rather than compulsion, a test was essential ‒ to see whether human beings would act out of trust in God, or on their own initiative and against God’s commandments. If humanity had justified the trust offered them by God, then we would have reached the very situation referred to above ‒ where there would have been no sin in the world, and so no forgiveness of sins or sacrifice for sin would have been required either. Then God and human beings could have lived in complete mutual trust, and the world and humanity could have saved themselves a whole lot of problems.
But as is well known, things actually turned out quite differently. Satan, the old serpent, a liar from the beginning (that is how Jesus Christ describes him in Jn 8:44), lied to Eve and led her astray, persuading her to go against God’s commandment by eating from the tree of knowledge, and to give Adam some of the fruit as well.
The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! You will be like God, knowing good and evil..
Gen 3,1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field
which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall
not eat from any tree of the garden’?" 3,2 The woman said to the serpent, "From the
fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3,3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the
middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’"
3,4 The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! 3,5 "For God knows
that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and
evil." Gen 3, 1- 5;
As is very evident from this, Satan’s lies are particularly dangerous because they
do always contain some portion of truth ‒ and also because they are always addressed to those
who are still innocent, who for one reason or another fail to perceive the background to the
situation and so fall into his snare.
Here, with Adam and Eve, it was their ignorance of the deeper meaning of death. God said to them, "in the day that you eat from it you will surely die". To which Satan said, "You surely will not die!" And when they had eaten of the fruit, they saw that in fact they did not die. So they were well prepared now to believe in Satan. But what Satan had not revealed to them was that God was speaking of the "second death", which awaits all people who disobey God’s commandments ‒ whereas he, Satan, had convinced the pair that the first death, physical death, was what was meant.
This statement by God that Adam and Eve would have to die, if they were to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, must be seen in the light of the following facts. By contrast with our imperfect human understanding, the words "death" and "die", when seen from a biblical point of view, never signify the end of the existence of a human being. "Death" and "dying" never mean anything other than the transition from one form of existence to another. According to Scripture there are two such transitions: the first transition is the end of our earthly, material body ‒ the first "death" ‒ and the transfer of the human spirit, now separated from the body, to the waiting zone of the "kingdom of the dead", as it is called.
(See also Discourse 56: "Are Christians who have
died already in heaven?")
The "second death" is the condemnation of human beings at the Last Judgment on account of their unbelief in the time while they were alive. The Lord actually gave a graphic demonstration of this to his disciples, when he spoke of those who were already potentially dead ‒ in that they would some time suffer the second death ‒ and who were burying their dead (who thus far were just physically dead).
Allow the dead to bury their own dead.
Mt 8,21 Another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, permit me
first to go and bury my father."
8,22 But Jesus *said to him, "Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead." Mt 8,21-22;
(See also Excursus 08: "The first and the second
After the resurrection from the kingdom of the dead, the rebirth at the End of the
World, the spirit of human beings will be reborn (the second birth), will receive a new body and
will come before the judgment of God. At this judgment all their activities in their earthly lives
will be examined and a judgment pronounced on them. If this judgment is negative, there follows the
second transition, the "second death" of the person, as it is called. Their spirits are now
separated from their resurrection body, and thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity. This is
also referred to in the Bible as "eternal damnation". If the judgment of the court is positive,
people can pass on with their resurrection body to the new creation of God ‒ God’s second
creation ‒ and there continue to exist in the light of God for all eternity. In the Bible this
is also called "eternal life".
(See also Chapter 13: "The Last Judgment.")
This sequence of events is known to us today from the Bible. But Adam and Eve, of
course, had no idea about these processes. They did not know that in giving them the warning, "You
will surely die", God was speaking the absolute truth ‒ because they would then be condemned
to the second and final death, and were threatened with eternal existence in damnation. But Satan
took advantage of the ignorance of the pair, referring to the first death ‒ the earthly,
material death ‒ when he said "You surely will not die". As we can see, Satan did not lie
to them directly, he just turned things around. He is the great "thrower of things into confusion",
after all ‒ the diabolos.
The argument is frequently advanced at this point that Adam and Eve must have been innocent, because they were ignorant of all these spiritual laws. But this overlooks the fact that it is not knowledge, here, that is at stake. Both then and now, it is not a matter of knowledge but of trust. Of course they didn’t know all this. But God didn’t expect them to know anything, he only expected them to trust him. They were to trust him and to believe that what he told them was the truth. Then they would have been able to recognize Satan’s statements as lies and reject his overtures. Human beings, then, have broken their relationship of trust with God, and in consequence God has withdrawn his protection and his care from human beings. From now on, they must look after themselves and their kind.
All these circumstances reveal to us, as well, that Satan’s temptation of humanity was not an accident. God let it come about that Satan tested human beings in garden of Eden. God actually needs Satan in the first place, to test human beings on earth ‒ as well as the angels in heaven ‒ to see whether they are deserving of trust. In heaven Satan was able to lead astray a third part of the angels of God and win them to his party. As the Bible tells us, at the very time when Jesus was alive a battle took place in heaven, in which Satan fought, with the angels who had gone over to him, against archangel Michael and the remaining two thirds of the angels loyal to God. Satan lost this battle, and was thrown down out of heaven to the earth.
And Satan, the great dragon was thrown down, to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Rev 12,7 And there was battle in heaven, Michael and his angels waging
war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 12,8 and they were not strong enough, and
there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 12,9 And the great dragon was thrown down,
the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown
down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev 12, 7- 9;
And the tail of the dragon swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
Rev 12,3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great
red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. 12,4 And
his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon
stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her
child. Rev 12, 3- 4;
Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
Jn 12,28 "Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came out
of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." 12,29 So the crowd of
people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, "An
angel has spoken to Him." 12,30 Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My
sake, but for your sakes. 12,31 "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this
world will be cast out. Jn 12,28-31;
I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming.
Jn 14,28 "You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will
come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father
is greater than I. 14,29 "Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you
may believe. 14,30 "I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is
coming, and he has nothing in Me; 14,31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I
do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here. Jn 14.28-31;
And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.
Lk 10,17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the
demons are subject to us in Your name." 17,18 And He said to them, "I was watching
Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Lk 10,17-18;
Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath.
Rev 12,12 "For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell
in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great
wrath, knowing that he has only a short time." Rev 12,12;
How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning.
Isa 14,12 "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the
morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the
nations! Isa 14,12;
The prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience
Eph 2,1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2,2 in which you
formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of
the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Eph 2, 1- 2;
(See also Discourse 1042: "Are all governments of the world ordained by God?")
As we see, from this point in time Satan rules the world as the "prince of the
powers of the air", together with his angels, who govern as demons in the air. And once they had
been thrown out of heaven to the earth, these demons have tried to make a home in the spirit of
human beings. As we know from the Bible, in some cases the Lord drove them out (Mt 8:28-34; 9:32-34;
12:28). And that is how it has been with world history right up to the present day ‒ with
Satan as the prince of this world, and his angels as demons in the spirit of human beings who are
open to receive them. The best evidence of this is the course of world history itself, with its
interminable wars, dictatorships, crimes, mass murders and perversities.
(See also Excursus 06: "From the face of God into
the lake of fire - the four stages of Satan")
As we read in Lk 4,6 below, God at that time gave Satan power over all the kingdoms of the world, so that he might test human beings likewise to see whether they would remain loyal to God, or ‒ like a part of the angels ‒ allow themselves be led astray. And right at the beginning of his earthly dominion, Satan even tried to seduce the Son of God by offering him all the kingdoms of the world, if he would fall down and worship him. But the Lord answered him just in the way that Adam and Eve should have answered him, when Satan led them into temptation: "You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only". Had they answered like this, right at the beginning of the creation of humanity, they could have saved millennia of chaos on earth.
I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
Lk 4,5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the
world in a moment of time. 4,6 And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this
domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 4,7
"Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." 4,8 Jesus answered him,
"It is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your GOD and serve Him only.’" Lk 4, 5- 8;
But this first disappointment prepared by human beings in garden of Eden for their
creator was not an isolated case, nor was it untypical of the human race. Quite on the contrary
‒ 1656 years later, in the biblical time scale, the human race had fallen away from God so far
that God decided to annihilate the whole of humanity. So Satan had done his work thoroughly.
In view of the fact that in antediluvian days human beings lived to the age of several hundred years, there must already have been some few hundred million people living on earth at this time. But there was one man among them who was the only one ‒ he and his family ‒ to remain faithful to God. This was Noah, with his wife and his three sons, along with their wives. God commanded Noah to build an Ark so as to save himself, his family and the most important animals on earth from the Flood (Gen 6:11-17). After the Flood, God would make a fresh start with them ‒ a fresh start with humanity on earth.
Less than a hundred years after the Flood, however, Satan again succeeded in fanning the arrogance of human beings against God ‒ to such an extent that in their presumption they wanted to build a tower that would reach the heavens. This happened in the first city of the world, the Babel of antiquity. So to prevent anything worse happening, and because he had promised that he would not destroy humanity again (Gen 9:12-17), God confused the language of human beings, which had been a single language for all of them up till that time. As a result, suddenly they were no longer able to understand one another ‒ and the magnificent project had to be abandoned for want of mutual comprehension (Gen 11:1-9).
(See also Table 01: "Chronological table
from Adam to Jacob.")
A little more than 300 years later, God chose a god-fearing man like Noah from among the descendants
of Shem, Noah’s eldest son, and made an eternal covenant with him, promising that his descendants
would live in the land of Canaan (today’s Israel). This was Abraham, the founding father of the
Jews. Although humanity’s godlessness, with the powerful support of Satan, was far advanced at the
time, Abraham and his family and all the members of his household took care to keep their distance
from godless people.
In the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, however, the godlessness and perversion of the time had developed to such an extent that they could well have been described as capitals of the gay community. In the words of the Bible, men "knew" one another in these cities (where "to know" is a biblical periphrasis for sexual intercourse ‒ in this case sexual intercourse between gay men). And as the Bible tells us, no one was exempt ‒ from young boys to graybeards. ‒ In Germany today we actually have a gay Foreign Minister, who takes his male sexual partner on political trips abroad, and whose hand politicians ‒ especially those in Islamic countries ‒ are unwilling to shake, on moral grounds. ‒ Shame on the "Christian" west!! (cf. Rom 1:24-32).
Lot, Abraham’s nephew, was also living in Sodom. He had separated from his uncle a short while before, and moved to Sodom with his wife and two daughters (Gen 13:1-13). God had now determined to put an end to these unappetizing goings on in Sodom and Gomorrah, and to destroy both cities (Gen 18:16-33). He sent two angels to do this, who however were ordered to get Lot and his family out of Sodom before the destruction, so that they should be spared the death of the innocent. When these two angels came to Lot’s house, the gays of Sodom took their perversity and godlessness to the ultimate limit, by demanding that Lot hand over the two men so that they could rape them.
Lot, who knew that he had the angels of God under his roof, then offered the gays his two virgin daughters, if they would only leave the two men in peace. But in their perversity they threatened to rape Lot himself, and tried to break down the door. Then the two angels intervened, and struck the gays outside Lot’s house with blindness, so that they couldn’t any longer find the door. After this Lot was conducted by the angels out of the city and brought to a place of safety (though his wife failed to reach it). Sulfur and brimstone then rained down on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and annihilated them down to the ground (Gen 19:1-29).
In what followed, God concentrated on the descendants of Abraham, the people of Israel ‒ and left the godless and perverse of this world to their fate. Even in Israel, though, Satan was not idle. But when Israel had sinned against its God, it did not have God’s support in its wars. When they were without sin, God helped them to win the war. Their opponents soon got wise to this, and so waited until Israel had sinned against its God before making war on them.
When God now saw that even the chosen people of Israel were getting deeper and
deeper into sin against their God, he sent them his Son, as the Messiah who had been prophesied in
the Scriptures and long awaited by the Jews. But Satan had already taken precautions. Under the
Roman occupation of the time, the religious leaders ‒ the Sanhedrin, with the scribes and the
high priest Caiaphas ‒ were the highest in the land and so were also the political leaders of
Israel. And seeing that our Lord Jesus Christ unmasked these men as a brood of vipers (Mt 23:33) and
as sons of the devil (Jn 8:44), he was hardly in the best position to bring Israel back to its God.
Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin then condemned the Son of God to death, and handed him over to the Romans
to be crucified.
But with the death of his Son, God had outsmarted Satan. He gave his Son as a vicarious sacrifice for all the sins of this world. If human beings had broken the commandments of God and so sinned, they had lost their righteousness before God. In atonement they would have had to die themselves, in order to stand before God once more as righteous persons. If they had not sacrificed their lives, they would have been adjudged guilty at the Last Judgment, and so, after the Resurrection, would have had to die the second death and go into eternal damnation. So Satan, who had the power to lead people into sin, also automatically had power over this subsequent second death of the human being.
But then the Son of God came, and went to the cross as a vicarious sacrifice for the sins of all people. This means that sinners no longer need to die themselves ‒ all they have to do is to avail themselves personally of the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ for themselves and for their sins. If they do this, they do not have to die themselves and will still be pronounced righteous in the Judgment (Mk 3:28-30). When Satan thought that the crucifixion of the Son of God meant he had won the game, and that he would again be able to pull down the whole of humanity into the abyss (Rev 20:10), in fact this very event meant that he had lost for all eternity. He had deprived himself of his most powerful trump against human beings ‒ his power over sin and the second death.
Jesus Christ through His death had rendered powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Hebr 2,14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He
Himself (Jesus Christ) likewise also partook of the same, (the flesh) that through death He might
render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 2,15 and might free those
who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebr 2,14-15;
But although since then Satan has been on the way out ‒ or perhaps for that
very reason ‒ he has been doing all he can to conceal this very fact of his defeat from human
beings. And therefore he tries to obscure this vicarious sacrifice of the Son of God for the sins of
humanity by using all possible tricks, in order to drag as many people as he possibly can into
damnation. And we can see that he has been very successful over the last two thousand years. At that
time he was granted by God power to dispose of the whole world, and since then ‒ by contrast
with the time of Abraham ‒ it has no longer been possible for human beings to live on earth as
righteous persons. There are no longer any righteous persons in this world, there is no one who is
without sin (Rom 3:9-12.23; 5:12; 11:32; Gal 3:22). Temptation is massive and omnipresent, and
unbelieving persons have little force to withstand it. And so Satan has an easy game with the
overwhelming majority of humanity.
The aim of Satan and his demons is to lead human beings into sin and prevent them from believing in God, so that they will not even get to know about the only possible salvation for them ‒ through the acceptance of the redeeming sacrifice of the Son of God. Consequently Satan gets people so preoccupied with other things in their lives that they have neither time nor inclination to devote to God, the Bible and faith in God. When we contemplate world history, we can see that the greater part of humanity has always been busy about other things ‒ whether it is a matter of politics and wars, business, science or the daily working world. Most people endeavor to improve and strengthen their own position ‒ wherever it may be ‒ and so neglect everything which is not going to contribute to this target or which is liable to hamper them, even leaving out of account their own health, their families and their own potential future in eternal life after the Resurrection.
But just a few have realized the solution for avoiding this trap of the devil’s. They have accepted faith in Jesus Christ and his vicarious sacrifice for their sins. Of course they also try for themselves to keep God’s commandments and not to sin. But where their strength is insufficient and temptation triumphs ‒ in cases where earlier Satan would have gathered his fruit ‒ they can now avail themselves of the redeeming sacrifice of the Lord, who also died for these sins of theirs. And then the devil is left out in the cold. Human beings, admittedly, are sinners and cannot stand up on the basis of their own righteousness. But as a result of the vicarious sacrifice of the Son of God, they are pronounced righteous through grace and can stand as righteous persons in the sight of God and emerge successfully from the trial.
And with that we now come to the question of the point of life ‒ a question
that has been and continues to be answered in the greatest variety of ways, by many philosophers,
theologians, wise men and life counselors. People are happy to hold forth on this subject, with
their high sounding explanations and words of advice. But if we take a closer look at their
judgments, we can see that actually they have all of them missed the point. And that for the simple
reason that they have only recognized a tiny sub-sector of life ‒ earthly, material life, that
is ‒ and this is all they discuss; whereas actual life ‒ eternal, unending life after
the Resurrection ‒ is something they leave entirely out of account. It is rather as if I were
to ask someone the way to the station, and he should proceed to tell me in great detail what shoes I
would be advised to use for walking.
You can only judge the point of a given path when you know the goal, and when you know whether this goal is worth the input and the effort. Now the goal of human life is not physical death at the end of earthly life, but eternal, unending, timeless existence in the presence of God and with God. This is the second and definitive creation of God, on a new earth under a new sky and in a new universe (Rev 21:1-5). Life on earth is nothing but a kind of "entrance examination". And if we now consider the point of life in the light of these criteria, we realize that no godless philosophers or life counselors are in a position to give us an answer to this question ‒ our only recourse is the Bible, the Word of God.
And according to the Bible the point of life is to keep one’s eye fixed on this final objective, and not to let oneself be distracted by any short-term prospects of success. Of course it remains a struggle, against both outer and inner obstacles. But as truly believing Christians we can trust here in our Lord and God and in his help, grace and mercifulness. The Satanic influences that are at large in the world cannot snatch us out of the hand of God (Jn 10:27-30). But if someone who is a believing Christian voluntarily opens himself up to such influences, whether in esoteric groups, Far Eastern religions, African or South American spirit cults or for that matter manifestations of the spirit in charismatic circles, then they are themselves responsible for it and must likewise bear the consequences themselves.
(See also Message: "Report on the
There are no other gods in this world other than the one and only triune God. And then there are Satan and his demons, who manifest as spirits and "gods" in order to cause people to fall away from the one and only God ‒ whether it is a matter of the spirits of the woods and fields of primitive peoples, the "gods" of other religions or even the idols ("Mary" and the "saints") who are worshiped in the Catholic church. All these are nothing but manifestations of Satan and his angels.
Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods.
Ps 97,6 The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the
peoples have seen His glory.
97,7 Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods. Ps 97, 6- 7;
So just as was the case for Adam and Eve in the past, we too today must make our own decision in person at the start of our life of faith, and cannot rely on anyone else. Nobody can "bring" a person to the faith, because faith cannot be compelled. And God too ‒ God above all, in his absolute righteousness ‒ will not "bring" anyone to believe in him, because this would be to the detriment of the individual in question, if it could be said at the Judgment that he had had an unfair advantage compared with other people.
For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached.
2Cor 11,3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his
craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to
Christ. 11,4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you
receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have
not accepted, you bear this beautifully. 2Cor 11, 3- 4;
As a rightly believing Christian, all you can do for unbelievers is put "stumbling blocks" on
their false path (sermons, expositions of Scripture, talks, discussions etc.) and pray to God that
he may, with the help of these instruments, gradually increase their correct understanding
and strengthen them in the correct faith. And God is not going to do any more than this. The
step to faith must be a freely willed decision on the part of every individual human being. As
Christian believers, however, we must try to meet people as they are and at the point that they are
coming from. If they have then really decided for belief, God will not leave them as they are but
will purify and change them.
So ever since the time of Adam and Eve it has always been a case of the same question: "Do you believe (or trust) God?" And God created Satan for the purpose of confronting people with this question and bringing about a decision – either for God or against God. This was how it was for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and so it has been right through to our own times. Only in the Millennium, the Thousand Years Kingdom of Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, will this kind of temptation no longer exist – as Satan will then be bound in the abyss.
The fact that during these thousand years Satan will only be "bound" (Rev 20:2-3), and will not be thrown into the lake of fire at the same time as the Antichrist and the false prophet (right after the Battle of Armageddon and immediately before the Millennium), is the best proof of the correctness of this interpretation. After the thousand years Satan will again be set free, because God will then make use of him for a last time in order to test humanity. And as we can read in Revelation (Rev 20:7-10), even then – after the thousand years of peace on earth under the absolutely just rule of the Son of God – Satan will still find people "like the sand of the seashore" who are prepared to follow him. In the last battle which then takes place they will all be killed by God with the fire that falls from heaven. And only then will the devil be thrown into the lake of fire.
(See also Chapter 11: "The end of
the world - The Last Fight")
But how can we know whether a person who claims to be a Christian actually is a
correctly believing one? This is one of the most difficult questions, and probably the most
frequently discussed since the first beginnings of Christianity and the original Christian
congregations. Over the last two thousand years there have been plenty of people who have claimed to
be believers and to have the blessing of the Holy Spirit ‒ like some Catholic Popes, for
example. But in the course of history it has then emerged that they were frauds, fornicators,
murderers and tyrants.
Although it shouldn’t be all that difficult to unmask people like that, above all, as liars even while they are still alive, all the same there have been at all times, and still are, impostors whose actions cannot so easily be judged. People who present a pious mask to the outside world are particularly difficult to assess because in many cases they themselves think that they are believers and so are deceiving themselves.
For example, in the USA there are so-called "Christians" who try to convince their much more naive countrymen that they carry on conversations with God or with Jesus Christ. From the point of view of a neutral observer, however, we find a proliferation of stories where such persons relate that they have been, supposedly, with Jesus in hell. On one occasion Jesus invites a woman to visit hell, in order, as she writes, "to let the world know that there is a hell". And then again a man is led by the hand by Jesus through hell, "Because people don’t believe that this place really exists. Even some Christians don’t believe in it."
And then there are a few small details which permit us to recognize that these people are not telling the truth. Thus they always call the Lord "Jesus" and not "Lord", and claim, for instance, that the Lord introduced himself as "Jesus of Nazareth". But the Bible tells us,
No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
1Cor 12,3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the
Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord,"
except by the Holy Spirit. 1Cor 12, 3;
So a person who cannot call the Son of God his Lord is not a genuine Christian. And
then too, any believing Christian knows that our Lord never described himself as "Jesus of
Nazareth". When he spoke of himself, he called himself the "Son of Man".
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. 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.
(See also Discourse 106: "Does
Jesus give revelations of hell?")
But the simplest thing is if a Christian is anxious to examine himself or herself to
find out whether he or she is a correct believer. For this, of course, you need to have complete
inner openness and objectivity, as well as the willingness to set aside any prejudices you may have
and to accept the results of such an examination and make them, if necessary, the starting point for
a change in your life of faith. This examination may occur as a result of the individual’s reading
the Bible, or else with the help of a sermon by a brother who is firm in the faith ‒ as is the
case with Fritz Wolf in Discourse 58, for example.
(See also Discourse 58: "How can you know if you
But when it comes to this issue, unfortunately, it’s often much the same as it is
with the sin against the Holy Spirit: those brethren who are themselves most worried that they may
have committed this sin are generally far removed from doing such a thing, and those people who are
absolutely certain of being far from sinning in this way may actually need to search their
conscience and study the Bible.
(See also Discourse 64: "What is the sin against
the Holy Spirit?")
And so in the last two thousand years false preachers, false prophets and false
leaders have repeatedly gained entry to the congregations and have led many brethren astray and
caused them to fall away from the correct faith. Just think of the Catholic church, which ‒
with the worship of its demonic idol "Mary" (Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje) and its cult of the
dead in the form of worship of dead persons who are declared "blessed" and "saints" ‒
has made itself guilty of this very sin against the Holy Spirit. And then too, there are the
preachers of the "Israel movement" in some of today’s evangelical congregations.
(See also Discourse 1013: "Report from the camp
of the "Israel movement"")
But as with all important questions, here too the Lord has left us an answer, which may ‒ like all the Lord’s parables ‒ call for some reflection and imagination on our part, but which can help us to recognize the origin of this problem and to identify those who are Christians only in seeming.
You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
Mt 7,15 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s
clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 7,16 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes
are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 7,17 "So every good
tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 7,18 "A good tree cannot produce bad
fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 7,19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is
cut down and thrown into the fire. 7,20 "So then, you will know them by their fruits. 7,21
"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who
does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
7,22 "Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 7,23 "And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Mt 7,15-23;
Many people, regrettably, are led astray by the interpretation of this parable,
thinking that it is all perfectly clear ‒ if you do good, give a lot of money to charity, help
the poor, feed the hungry and cure the sick, you are bearing plenty of good fruit and so are a "good
tree" ‒ in other words, a correctly believing Christian. But as we will see presently, this
is by no means the case.
When the Lord says in Mt 7,16 above, "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?", of course he is not talking about thorns and grapes or about thistles and figs, but about the acts of a person. And when he goes on to say, "So every good tree bears good fruit," the question suggests itself what these "good fruit" can actually be, with a view to concluding, on that basis, what a "good tree" is.
And here perhaps we can find a very good example in the internationally famous theologian, cultural philosopher and doctor ‒ known as the "doctor of the jungle" ‒ Albert Schweitzer. This man performed quite incredible feats in Africa. He saved thousands of lives. And in order to finance his hospital, he went to Europe and gave organ recitals. Down to the last penny, the money he earned in this way went to his life’s work. This man really bore a massive heap of good fruit. So can we say of him that he was a "good tree", a correctly believing Christian?
Let’s just take a look at what the Bible says on this point ‒ the passage where Paul reveals to us, in 1Cor 3,11-13, how these works will be judged on the day of the Last Judgment.
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1Cor 3,11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which
is laid, which is Jesus Christ.3,12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver,
precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 3,13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will
show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of
each man’s work. 3,14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a
reward. 3,15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be
saved, yet so as through fire 1Cor 3,11-15;
(See also Chapter 13: "The Last Judgment")
Paul is speaking here of the works of every human being, which will be revealed on the day of the Last Judgment. And here, in the verse 1Cor 3,12, he says that all a person’s works, however good and numerous they may be, will be judged in accordance with the "foundation" on which they have been built. And as he has just told us, in verse 11, this foundation is Jesus Christ, to whom the Father has handed over every office of judgment and who thus will be the judge at the Last Judgment itself.
For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.
Jn 5,22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has
given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He
who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 "Truly, truly, I
say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does
not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Jn 5,22-24;
But this means that in the last resort ‒ at this Judgment and before this
judge ‒ the principal thing that counts is not the number or extent of the good works, but
rather the inner motivation of the person which has led to their being produced. If this person has
built on the right "foundation" ‒ on faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and his
vicarious sacrifice for our sins ‒ then his works will survive, they can be seen as "good
fruit". And then we can assume, as a natural consequence, that we have to do here with a "good
tree", a rightly believing Christian.
We find confirmation of this very connection in what John tells us in Revelation. In his vision of the Last Judgment, he sees all the risen dead standing before the judge. And here first of all they are judged according to their deeds.
And the dead were judged every one of them according to their deeds.
Rev 20,11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it,
from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 20,12 And I saw the
dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another
book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were
written in the books, according to their deeds. 20,13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in
it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them
according to their deeds. Rev 20,11-13;
In our example of Albert Schweitzer, we can say now, based on this assessment, that he will undoubtedly have a massive heap of deeds to offer. But in what follows, John reveals to us that this is not yet the end of the judgment. In Rev 20,12 above we are told, admittedly, of the books of deeds, but then it goes on, "and another book was opened, which is the book of life". And in the two following verses we learn that after the assessment based on deeds, there follows another examination to see whether the person’s name is written in the Book of Life.
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Rev 20,14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This
is the second death, the lake of fire. 20,15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the
book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rev 20,14-15;
So those whose names are not found to be written in the Book of Life ‒ or the
"Book of the Lamb", as it is also called in Rev 21:27 ‒ will not be helped by all the
works they have to show, but will be thrown into the lake of fire and so go to eternal damnation.
Of course the question now suggests itself who is entered in this Book of Life and why. And there are two other biblical passages that throw light on this. First of all, we have the promise of the Lord that he will confess those persons before the Father who have confessed him before men while they were still alive.
Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father
Mt 10,32 "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I
will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 "But whoever denies Me before
men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Mt 10,32-33;
And then John too confirms in Revelation that this confessing of the Lord before men is the very reason why the Son will also confess the names of these people before the Father, and that this is the reason why the names of such people remain written in the Book of Life.
And I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father.
Rev 3,5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and
I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and
before His angels. Rev 3, 5;
Here we understand what is behind this Book of Life. Every person who confesses the
Son of God before men will also be confessed by the Lord before the Father. The name of such persons
will be written in the Book of Life, and so they are saved, quite independently of their works. If
they do have good works to show, these will be judged and assessed in addition. If they have no good
works, they will be saved all the same, but "so as through fire", as Paul writes in the passage
quoted above (1Cor 3,15). But if a person denies the Son of God before men, the Lord will deny him
likewise before the Father and his name will not be written in the Book of Life. Such persons will
be condemned ‒ again quite independently of their deeds ‒ and will go to damnation.
And when we now know that Albert Schweitzer admitted in an interview that he could not accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God, we have to conclude that all his fantastic work just completely missed the point of life. He had built on the wrong foundation - on welfare aid instead of Jesus Christ -, and so is not written in the Book of Life. It follows from this that he was not a correctly believing Christian, although his works were so incredibly impressive from a human point of view. We find the exact opposite in terms of faith in the evangelist Wilhelm Busch, for instance, for whom nothing could be greater than to preach of Jesus Christ.
(See also Discourse 55: "Why does God permit
But now we are told in Rev 3,5 that the Lord will not erase the name of the
person who confesses him from the Book of Life. This statement includes two important points. First
of all, the name of this person must have been written in the Book of Life already; and on the other
hand it follows that there are also people who have had their names written in the book but who have
been erased again by the Lord.
In the above analysis we have been able to demonstrate beyond any doubt, on the
basis of Scripture, that only the names of those believers appear in the Book of Life who have
confessed Jesus Christ before men. But the assertion of the Lord that he will not erase those who
confess him from the Book of Life has an implied contrary ‒ that there are people, that is to
say, whose names are written in the Book of Life, because they have decided for God at one point in
their lives, but who were not prepared to confess Jesus Christ before men as the Son of God and
their Savior ‒ which also includes the Jews. Such people will be erased by the Lord from the
Book of Life.
And precisely this conclusion is a key point in refutation of the theological teaching that claims that a believing Christian ‒ often incorrectly described as a "reborn" Christian ‒ could not possibly be lost, or in other words, could not backslide and apostasize from the faith again (the certainty of faith).
(See also Discourse 85: "True and false rebirth.")
This view is advocated by some well-known preachers of the past and of the present
day, and it pains me that I am obliged to state that this error seems to have found a foothold even
with the internationally famous English awakening preacher C. H. Spurgeon, whom I highly admire in
other respects. In his otherwise quite admirable book "Gehe in den Weinberg" ["Go to the
Vineyard"], he writes in his sermon on Jn 10,27-30, in the chapter entitled "The Certainty of
the Faithful" (p. 84 ff):
(...) The doctrine of election by grace seems to get a lot of people steamed up
and kindles the wrath of many. It isn’t as if they would like to have been chosen by God
themselves, but like the dog in the manger they want to deprive others of the privilege. Not
even to prevent their wrath from breaking forth did the Lord keep quiet about the doctrine of
eternal election. Here, in his address to the Jews, he did not hesitate to speak of this
glorious doctrine even to an audience of simple listeners.
He says here, "But you do not believe, for you are not of my sheep, as I have told you". He doesn’t let the banner of this doctrine fall, he asserts its place and carries the battle into the camp of the enemy. The view that certain truths need to be reserved for special assemblies of the faithful is in my view a pernicious error. Christ did not command us to reserve a part of Christian teachings for the priesthood exclusively and deny them to ordinary people. He wants the public proclamation of the entire truth.
From the book "Gehe in den Weinberg" ["Go to the Vineyard"], p. 84ff, by C. H. Spurgeon, published by CLV Christliche Literatur Verbreitung e.V.
Now that is exactly what we too want hear ‒ the public proclamation of the
entire truth ‒ without any respect of persons, and exclusively based on the statements of the
Bible and the conclusions to be drawn from them. For as Spurgeon quite rightly says, Christ did not
command us to keep part of Christian teachings from the people. But neither did he say that we
should invent new teachings and separate a part of the people, as an elite "chosen by grace",
from the other part made up of the "non-elect".
The fact is that Spurgeon is speaking here of "election by grace", and in the further course of this sermon it becomes apparent that he is advocating Calvin’s teaching on the subject of predestination. A little further on we find him saying (p. 86):
"There may be lots of sheep, but the Savior says ‘My sheep’ to
those whom he has chosen previously and who have been given to him by the Father."
And this even though the Bible tells us that God absolutely does not choose any
human beings ahead of time, and that all human beings have the same chances, so that anyone who
believes in the Son will be saved.
(See also Rom 9:33; 1Tim 2:3-6; Ps 25:3; Isa 28:16;)
Whoever will call on the name of the LORD will be saved
Rom 10,10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in
righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 10,11 For the Scripture
says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed." 10,12 For there is
no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all
who call on Him; 10,13 for "Whoever will call on the name of the LORD will be saved."
Interestingly, however, Spurgeon and Calvin do not just adopt the same view in
relation to the preordained election of the faithful. When we read their texts attentively, we can
also recognize a very similar "tone" in their sermons. While Spurgeon compares the unbelieving
critics of election by grace with dogs and pigs, Calvin abuses his opponents as "uneducated asses"
(Institutio IV,5,13) and even goes so far as to assert that to question his doctrines would be
tantamount to blasphemy (Institutio III,21,4, last sentence).
(See also Discourse 100: "Johannes Calvin - True
and False Predestination.")
But as the doctrine of predestination advocated by both these preachers has in any case been discussed already in Discourse 100, where it was refuted on the basis of Scripture, let us just focus here on one aspect of Spurgeon’s statement above: that in which he takes the view that a believing Christian can no longer fall away from faith ‒ the "doctrine of eternal election", as he calls it (p. 91):
"Christ has given His followers the inestimable gift of eternal
certainty in Him. No sheep of Christ will ever be lost; none that He has bought with His blood and
made His property will ever go astray in such a way as to be lost for ever."
Although of course this question too ‒ the question whether a believing
Christian can fall away again from faith ‒ has already been discussed comprehensively here at
Immanuel.at, the connection with the biblical statements about the Book of Life which we have been
analyzing here does suggest an additional basis for argument, which may make it easier for us to
understand this complex of problems.
(See also Discourse 69: "Predestination
and the chosen - Can "born-again" Christians ever be lost?")
In the quotation above from Spurgeon’s book, we can see with a clarity that often
escapes us that these two issues ‒ that of pre-election, and that of the possible falling away
of a believer from Christian faith ‒ are very closely linked. And this is of course completely
logical, for if God ‒ as the doctrine of Calvin teaches ‒ had chosen human beings before
the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3-6), without any action on their part and by his own absolutely
arbitrary will (the Calvinists like to talk about God’s "sovereignty" in this connection, to
make it look less arbitrary), the one group being chosen for eternal life and the other for eternal
damnation, it would be a "mistake" on God’s part if a person whom he had pre-elected for
eternal life could suddenly fall away from the faith and go to damnation. But as we will see
shortly, the conclusion to be drawn is not that God makes "mistakes", but rather that Spurgeon
is at fault. There is no absolute certainty of faith ‒ no "doctrine of certainty", so to
But this now means that this "doctrine of certainty" already has its origin in the incorrect view that a person does not come to believe through his or her own free decision for or against God, but because he or she has been assigned by God, inescapably as it were, to the one or other category ‒ eternal life or eternal damnation. Even if we may consider it as having been proved by the arguments in Discourse 100 that the starting point of this "doctrine of eternal election" is false, there are still further biblical indications which refute the view that a believing Christian would not be capable of falling away from faith.
The gospel by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
1Cor 15,1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I
preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 15,2 by which also you are
saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
1Cor 15, 1- 2;
Paul confirms here that we will be saved by the gospel, if we hold fast. If not, we
would have come to believe in vain. So there are brethren who had come to believe, who are "born
again", in other words, whom Paul here exhorts to hold fast, as otherwise they will fall away from
faith. So there is no trace here of the "eternal certainty" of Christian believers.
The apostle Peter and the author of the Letter to the Hebrews also point out that we must constantly hold fast to our initial assurance of faith until the end ‒ in other words, keep ourselves from the deception of sin and the defilements of the world ‒ if we want to remain partakers of Christ.
For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.
Hebr 3,4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all
things is God. 3,5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those
things which were to be spoken later; 3,6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house‒whose
house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
3,7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you hear His voice, 3,8 do not harden
your hearts as when they provoked me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, 3,9 where your
fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw My works for forty years. 3,10 "Therefore I was angry
with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know my
ways’; 3,11 As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’"
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. Hebr 3, 4-14;
For if they are again overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
2Pet 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. 2,21 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;
Those who have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.
Hebr 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. Hebr 6, 4- 6;
Finally the above statement in Hebr 6,4 ("...who have once been enlightened and
have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit") should make it
clear once and for all to any serious biblical commentator that we have to do here with believers
‒ and quite clearly too with "born again" believers, with "sheep of Christ" as
Spurgeon refers to them above. Here no hypocritical argumentative efforts can make the least
difference ‒ someone who has tasted of the heavenly gift and has been made a partaker of the
Holy Spirit cannot be either an unbeliever or a Christian only in name, but must beyond any doubt be
a "born again" Christian.
And of such persons we are now told Hebr 6,6 that they have fallen away from faith and are lost. Their names, then, have been written in the Book of Life and have then, through their own fault, been erased again. So all these scriptural passages warn us ‒ as "born again" believers ‒ against behaving too casually and against the deception of sin, and tell us that we must constantly hold fast in faith and not fall away. From this we can now draw three conclusions:
1. The assertion by advocates of this doctrine of eternal election that a "born
again" Christian cannot fall away from faith again and be lost is not in conformity with Scripture
and is therefore false ‒ and it is also very dangerous!!
2. If "born again" believers do fall away from faith, they cannot be moved to
repentance and conversion any longer. They are lost for ever.
3. But this also proves that the reason for this apostasy cannot be just any
forgivable sin, but either it is a case of the sin against the Holy Spirit having been deliberately
committed, or else these people have completely rejected any opportunity of contrition and
repentance. In either case they would have been far away from confessing the name of the Lord before
And these are those very "born again" believers whom the Lord erases from the Book of Life, by contrast with those brethren who hold fast in faith to the end and remain constantly vigilant.
I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Rev 3,5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and
I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and
before His angels. Rev 3, 5;
So the basis for the salvation of a human being is not "eternal election" or
predestination, but rather faith in Jesus Christ and his vicarious sacrifice for the sins of
humanity and confession of this faith before men. The names of these people are written in the Book
of Life, and that is why they are saved ‒ and not as a result of any kind of sinister "pre-election"
which would transform the righteousness of God into unrighteousness.
So the text in Jn 10:27-30 about the "sheep", to which Spurgeon refers in his interpretation, does not relate to a group of special "chosen sheep" as he suggests. These are rather just all those people who have decided for faith in Jesus Christ and who also confess the Lord before men. They are the Lord’s sheep, and their names are written in the Book of Life. They have been recognized by the Father in his omniscience before the foundation of the world ‒ the Father has seen that they would convert in their lifetime, and has given them to the Son. All other human beings do not belong to his sheep.
The promise made by the Lord in the verses Jn 10,28 and 29, that no one can snatch these sheep out of his and the Father’s hand, is of course ‒ thank the Lord ‒ correct. But what unfortunately is frequently overlooked here is the fact that those believers whom the Lord erases from the Book of Life have not been snatched out of the hand of God, but have themselves voluntarily ‒ just as they before decided voluntarily for Christ ‒ now decided against Christ and so have themselves let go of the hand of God again.
So what it comes down to is that Christian faith is not a kind of comprehensive insurance! God protects us against external dangers, but when it is a matter of internal dangers ‒ the hardening of the heart, and the possibility of falling away from the living God ‒ we as correctly believing Christians (to avoid the incorrect and above all misleading term "born again") can only preserve ourselves by continuing to hold fast. Otherwise our confession would not be voluntary, and we would just be marionettes and not suited for eternity. So there is no absolute certainty until after the Resurrection and the Judgment, when we will be with the Lord in heaven. So long as we are still on earth, we must follow the counsel of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews here below from day to day, so as to be able to hold fast firmly to our partaking in Christ until the end.
Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.
Hebr 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. Hebr 3,12-14;
In order to determine how serious a preacher is, it is advisable first and foremost
to check his statements against his personal character. Does his behavior actually correspond with
what he urges on the brethren in his sermons? Does he represent, in word and deed, everything that
he puts forward in his preaching and his books as being right and important?
When Spurgeon speaks in the above passage of the sheep of Christ, and asserts that "No sheep of Christ will ever be lost", we would be justified in assuming that he correctly counts himself as a preacher among these sheep of Christ. And now, on page 86 of his book, he describes the special characteristics of these sheep.
"The sheep are characterized by a special way of being. They are
dependent, shy, tremulous, obedient, and we have been made such sheep by his Spirit. They have been
given a nature which is very different from the dog-like nature of the world, as it is also
different from the pig-like nature of the great majority and that of the wolf-like persecutor. So
the being of persons in whom the Spirit of God dwells is pure, gentle and full of love."
We must of course agree with this last statement of Spurgeon’s: the being of
persons in whom the Spirit of God dwells is indeed pure, gentle and full of love. But would the Holy
Spirit describe people as "dogs" and "pigs"? Is that really "pure, gentle and full of love"?
Can one say of people who give vent to such blanket condemnations that they are "shy and tremulous"?
Surely not. So we can infer from this that the Holy Spirit presumably does not manifest permanently,
even in the sheep of Christ.
In these statements of Spurgeon’s, we can see that every possible biblical text has been mixed up and torn out of context. Accordingly, in Spurgeon’s estimation a correctly believing Christian should never become angry or feel rage. He would have to be "shy and tremulous" and should surely endeavor at all times to avoid provoking those around him in order to appear "pure, gentle and full of love". And when Spurgeon then says of these sheep (p. 90):
"They live out their open confession in practice; they follow Him in
their daily lives, and become like His example. They do not just say that He is their leader, they
follow Him as well. Christ’s sheep try to tread in the footsteps of their Shepherd."
- here we are tempted to hold up a mirror for him, so that he can see what Christ’s
sheep are really like. These are hyperinflated and unrealistic attributes which Spurgeon wishfully
ascribes to the sheep of Christ. The reality looks very different. And we can see this in Spurgeon
himself, above all. He, after all, in actual fact represents this "sheep of Christ". And so the
sheep of Christ are just as he is ‒ not as he would like to see them.
He should rather take his own advice to heart and "try to tread in the footsteps of his Shepherd". Our Lord Jesus Christ was certainly not at all times "shy and tremulous". As we know, he threw the money changers and dove sellers out of the Temple, and described them as robbers.
My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a robber's den.
Mt 21,12 ¶ And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who
were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats
of those who were selling doves.
21,13 And He *said to them, "It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robber's den." Mt 21,12-13;
And to the Jewish scribes - the Pharisees -, whose outward behavior was "pure, gentle and full of love" ‒ in accordance with Spurgeon’s ideal, presumably ‒ the Lord proclaimed:
You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?
Mt 23,27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you
are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are
full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 23,28 "So you, too, outwardly appear
righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 23,29 "Woe to
you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the
monuments of the righteous, 23,30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we
would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 23,31 "So you
testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 23,32 "Fill
up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 23,33 "You serpents, you brood of
vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Mt 23,27-33;
When the Jews were indignant in response to this, and said that they had God as their father, the Lord revealed to them that in truth they were the children of the devil and wanted to do the desires of their father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not stand in the truth because there was no truth in him, but only lies.
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.
Jn 8,41 "You are doing the deeds of your father." They said
to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God." 8,42 Jesus said
to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have
come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 8,43 "Why do you
not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 8,44 "You are of
your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the
beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a
lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 8,45 "But
because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 8,46 "Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If
I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 8,47 "He who is of God hears the words of God; for
this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God." Jn 8,41-47;
As we can see, here the Lord was by no means "gentle and full of love". At the
same time, Spurgeon is right: we should follow in the footsteps of our shepherd ‒ even these
steps here!! However we should take into account that we ‒ by contrast with our Lord, who was
without sin ‒ can only count on the Holy Spirit if we have no sin in us that has not been
forgiven. So we would do well to pray every day, and especially before every sermon we give. And
that does not only mean praying in public, in front of an audience with the aim of gaining credit
with them, but above all praying alone and in our own chamber for the forgiveness of our sins
and for the blessing of the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13).
We are not concerned here, however, with the personal character of Mr. Spurgeon, but
rather with the way in which he interprets the biblical data and with his assertion that there are
two kinds of "sheep" ‒ the elect, who cannot fall away from the faith, and the non-elect.
When we now compare his above description of the characteristics of these "elect" sheep with his
argument on the doctrine of "eternal election", we find the same error in both cases. Both
sermons may well have a powerful emotional appeal, but when we examine them more closely in the
light of the Bible, they do not conform to the biblical facts.
And so, finally, I would like to give a brief scrutiny of the "doctrine of pre-election". The doctrine of "eternal election" as preached by Spurgeon here is Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, which is defined as follows:
"Predestination is defined as ‘God’s eternal decree whereby all
creatures are predetermined to eternal life or death’, and what is known as ‘double
predestination’ is described as follows: ‘God determines or elects on the basis of his
eternal decrees the one group of human beings to eternal blessedness and condemns the other group to
eternal damnation.’" (Donald McKim)
Of course there is no indication given as to where in Scripture we can find and read up about these "eternal decrees". ‒ So if, as claimed by Calvin’s doctrine and Spurgeon’s sermon, human beings are chosen by God without any action on their part, quite arbitrarily (in God’s "sovereignty"), the one group to eternal damnation and the other group to eternal life, then neither the one group nor the other can do anything at all to change God’s supposed predetermination of their eternal destiny. This means that the non-elect could lead a holy life pleasing to God, and would still finally end up in damnation. The elect, on the other hand, could be the biggest sinners in the world, and because, supposedly, they cannot be lost, they would finally enter the eternal life of God nonetheless. Few assertions could express greater contempt for God’s absolute justice.
His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.
Deut 32,3 "For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe
greatness to our God! 32,4 "The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. Deut 32, 3- 4;
The LORD your God is the God of gods who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.
Deut 10,17 "For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the
Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor
take a bribe. 10,18 "He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love
for the alien by giving him food and clothing. Deut 10,17-18;
The trick whereby the Calvinists try to weasel their way out of an evident
contradiction is the argument that Christ made his sin offering on the cross specifically and
exclusively for the elect, whereas the non-elect would never come to believe in him. Because, as an
advocate of this doctrine once wrote to me, "Wheat remains wheat, and tares remain tares". So
this means that the elect may well sin and can then obtain forgiveness through the sacrifice of the
Son of God, but the non-elect cannot have their sins forgiven ‒ Jesus Christ, according to
Calvin, did not die on the cross for them ‒ and so they end up in damnation one way or the
And here it is very interesting to follow a golden thread which can clearly be traced through almost 500 years of Christian interpretation of the scriptures ‒ since the time of Calvin and by way of Spurgeon and others. In our own day, too, we find preachers who uphold the view that Christ did not die for all men, and actually communicate such views to their hearers. Take the well known preacher Dr. Wolfgang Nestvogel, who declared in one of his sermons (BEG-Hannover, 5.22.2005):
"God elected quite specific human beings as his children. (...)
God, in his sovereign freedom, has selected individual people for the purpose of belonging to
him. (...) God predetermined you before the foundation of the world."
So according to these assertions of Mr. Nestvogel’s we no longer need to be saved.
Neither the elect need saving, since they of course have already been pre-elected by God and so
cannot now be lost; nor do the others, the non-elect, the "tares" ‒ there is no salvation
for them according to this doctrine, they just get a free Calvinist one-way ticket to hell.
The following biblical passages, however, have a very different message and refute beyond all doubt the entire doctrine of predestination ‒ the doctrine, that is, that "God elects quite specific human beings" ‒ because these texts demonstrate that in fact no such pre-election has taken place: on the contrary, God wants all human beings ‒ and not just specific human beings ‒ to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth:
God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1Tim 2,3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
2,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2,5 For there
is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 2,6 who gave Himself as
a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 1Tim 2, 3- 6;
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Jn 3,17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge
the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 13,8 "He who
believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not
believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.. Jn 3,17-18;
I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved,
Jn 10,9 "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he
will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. Jn 10,9;
Through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
Rom 5,18 So then as through one transgression there resulted
condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification
of life to all men. Rom 5,18;
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
1Jn 2,1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that
you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the
righteous; 2,2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but
also for those of the whole world. 1Jn 2, 1- 2;
And when Dr. Nestvogel speaks of "quite specific human beings" in the sermon
quoted above, we must allow that he has a point ‒ in that it is clearly vanity and the need
for admiration on the part of quite specific human beings which induce them to define themselves as
having been "elected" by God for eternity, while consigning the rest of humanity, the "tares",
to damnation. This is to deny the expiatory sacrifice of Jesus for all human beings of the entire
And here this doctrine can be seen for what it really is. It is not concerned to point human beings in the direction of God, but rather, quite simply, in the strength of its own sufficiency in belonging to "the elect" to "reserve" eternal life to itself, while proclaiming to the rest of humanity that God has not provided any possibility whereby they might come to believe in him. But because there is nothing in the Bible to describe this kind of preferential treatment of "quite specific human beings", but in fact the Bible says the opposite ‒ that all human beings are sinners, and so the redeeming sacrifice of the Son of God was offered for all ‒ these people have hit upon the idea of asserting that God has made a gift of this grace of salvation on the basis of his "sovereignty" to them alone.
This reveals to us the completely incorrect image of God that these predestination theorists are suffering from. The one and only true God is a God of absolute righteousness, perfect in all his works, and one who does not show partiality.
Ascribe greatness to our God! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just, righteous and upright is He.
Deut 32,3 "For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe
greatness to our God! 32,4 "The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. Deut 32, 3- 4;
The LORD your God is the God of gods who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.
Deut 10,17 "For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the
Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality
nor take a bribe. 10,18 "He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love
for the alien by giving him food and clothing. Deut 10,17-18;
So it is completely impossible that God could have chosen just any human beings on a
purely arbitrary basis ‒ in his "sovereignty", as the Calvinists suppose ‒ and given
them salvation. This false doctrine makes the absolutely just God guilty of unjustified partiality
and of damning people for no reason. When God gives, he gives, in his absolute righteousness, to all
human beings. So God gave his Son for all human beings and allowed him to die on the
cross for the sins of all human beings. This is the love of God to all. And any
human being who believes in this is saved. To deny this is to deny Christ.
But as we will see shortly, Dr. Nestvogel’s views are not a unique phenomenon today. In the Catholic church as well we find attempts to deny the expiatory sacrifice of the Lord and reinterpret it, clearly in order to seduce all Catholics who are not Christians into worship of the Catholic demon "Mary". So the Viennese Catholic parish priest J. Pucher opines in one of his lectures (Pfarre St. Nikolaus, Vienna - 2001):
"Jesus did not become man and die on the cross to reconcile us with
God. God did not need to be reconciled. He had never stopped loving us. Jesus became man in
order to bring us runaways back to God after we had strayed, to be for us a pointer to God."
(See also Discourse 30: "Why did Jesus have
to die on the cross?")
Here again any commentary would be superfluous, if we just take a look at what Scripture has to say in this respect:
God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.
2Cor 5,18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to
Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 5,19 namely, that God was
in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has
committed to us the word of reconciliation. 5,20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though
God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
5,21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the
righteousness of God in Him. 2Cor 5,18-21;
God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1Jn 4,9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent
His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 4,10 In this is love, not
that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1Jn 4, 9-10;
Jesus Christ reconciled Jews and Gentiles in one body to God through the cross.
Eph 2,11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the
flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is
performed in the flesh by human hands‒ 2,12 remember that you were at that time separate from
Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having
no hope and without God in the world. 2,13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off
have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 2,14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both
groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 2,15 by abolishing in His flesh the
enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make
the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 2,16 and might reconcile them both in one
body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. Eph 2,11-16;
The consequence of sin and salvation through grace
Sin is every act that goes against the commandments
of God (Ex 20:3-17; Mt 5:21-48). The consequence of every single one
of these acts is the death of the perpetrator – and not just the
first, physical death, but the second death (Rev 21:8), to which the
sinful person will be condemned at the Last
Judgment after Resurrection from
the dead with his or her new and eternally existing body. Just as
the first death is merely a transitional period up till the
resurrection, so too the second death is
not an extinction of the human person but rather an eternally
prolonged existence, distant from God in the darkness of damnation.
But in holding views of this kind, Fr. Pucher is not an isolated instance in the Catholic church. Fr. Anselm Grün, who is well known for his books, has for some time been issuing a "Simple Life Letter" in which he offers tips for a simple life based on Christian principles. In the 3/2008 issue he explains, in an article entitled "Erlösung erfahren" ["Experiencing Redemption"], the way in which he understands the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
"(...)The core of the biblical message is that God forgives us our
guilt because he is God, because he is merciful and gracious. And not because Jesus died on the
If that is the "core of the biblical message", we are compelled to ask what
Bible this Catholic priest has read, or indeed whether he has read the Bible at all. We can see that
such endeavors to restrict the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of all
men to certain "elect" human beings, or to deny it altogether, do have a certain kind of system.
If we try to fathom the background to this attitude, one question comes to the fore, as always in
proceedings of this kind ‒ namely, "Cui bono?" ‒ or who stands to benefit? In
answering this question, there are some biblical statements that may help us out.
As we have already explained earlier, of course Satan emerges here as the principal beneficiary. Satan has the greatest interest in preventing people from knowing that he has already been overcome and that there is salvation for all human beings. But even more, this camouflage tactic helps him in his efforts to establish his own "Christ", the Antichrist. This "instead of Christ" (the Greek anti can mean "instead of" as well as "against") will, as we know, claim to be the real Christ in the Last Days and will portray Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as a liar, impostor and blasphemer, above all however as having been an ordinary man ‒ just as the Jews, incidentally, argued 2000 years ago and continue to assert to this day, because Jesus Christ at that time told the high priest Caiaphas to his face that he, Jesus, was the Son of God (Mt 26:63-67).
And it is to the Jews that the Antichrist will come in the first instance. So the Antichrist will be, above all, an "Anti-Messiah", who will proclaim himself to the Jews as the promised anointed one of the Old Testament, the Savior of Israel, and will endeavor to prove his credentials through the power of Satan (Rev 13:2) and with signs and false wonders (2The 2:9). In this light we can also understand the meaning of 1Jn 2,22, where it is written:
This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son..
1Jn 2,22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the
Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 1Jn 2,22;
Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist,
1Jn 4,1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to
see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 4,2 By
this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh
is from God; 4,3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the
spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in
the world. 1Jn 4, 1- 3;
The Antichrist of course has every interest in denying that Jesus was already the Christ ‒ that is, the true Messiah. And he will met with a ready hearing among the Jews, for they of course have always known that the Nazarene could not possibly have been the Messiah. And this is just what Jesus Christ prophesied to the Jews in his lifetime, that he had come to them in the name of the Father, and they did not receive him ‒ but if another were to come in his own name, they would receive him.
I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.
Jn 5,39 "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them
you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 5,40 and you are unwilling to come to Me
so that you may have life. 5,41 "I do not receive glory from men; 5,42 but I know you, that you
do not have the love of God in yourselves. 5,43 "I have come in My Father’s name, and you
do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. Jn 5,39-43;
(See also Discourse 86: "The first and the second
(See also Discourse 101: "Does the
Bible say, that the Antichrist will be a Jew?")
If we now follow through the golden thread we picked up earlier to its end, we can
recognize that Satan had already started 500 years ago, in the time of Calvin, to prepare the way
for the false Christ of the Last Days. Although for all godless people and idol-worshipers the
vicarious sacrifice of the Son of God for the sins of all human beings would be the only path of
salvation, they are hardly even aware of this possibility. This means that Satan has already
deceived something like 95% of the human race.
With Satan penetrating even into Christian circles, these billions of people will have their numbers increased by still more whom Satan has led astray. So when the Antichrist comes, he will be acclaimed not just by the Jews but also by many nominal Christians, from various Christian denominations, who will believe him to be the returned Son of God. Of course Scripture gives a very different picture of the Second Coming of the Lord ‒ but with the assistance of false preachers, they will have made haste to forget that, just as quickly as they forget his redeeming sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the whole world.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.(1Cor 1,18;)
The point of human life
God created human beings with a body and a spirit with
completely free will, in order to give them a new universe and a new
planet earth – in the future, new creation of God in eternit ("The
(See also discourse 104: "What
is the point of life?")