Does Jesus give revelations of
hell? / Commentary Klaus Hildebert 00, 2008-12-30
Worship of Idols and cult of the
Are Christians who have died
already in heaven?
Is the Christian congregation the
Bride of Christ?
Are the 144000 sealed
Does the Rapture of
the congregation take place at the First Resurrection?
The General Resurrection at
the end of the world: only for the ungodly?
The fate of the cursed: eternal
torment or dissolution?
The eternal existence of every
Will the congregation
be raptured still before the Great Tribulation?
Are there "born again"
A "born again" Christian
cannot ever be lost?
The infinite love of God.
Is the Holy Spirit an abiding
presence in the believer? / Commentary, B. Bollmeyer 00, 2005-07-12
The biblical Trinity and
some other specifics of the biblical Christian faith.
The doctrine of Universal
Reconciliation: an exit route, or a blind alley?
- Discourse 11
I was very interested to read your arguments at Immanuel.at.
I congratulate you on your uniquely detailed and well grounded view of the
content of the biblical texts. You have really gone to a lot of effort, and
this kind of hard work and fidelity to the Bible are not often in evidence.
The reason I am writing to you is as follows. I lately came across a website on which Christians report spiritual experiences which they claim to have had. The English texts on the website can be found under www.spiritlessons.com/
I was particularly interested to read reports where these Christians state that God has given them a vision of hell.
To take a few examples:
Here seven young people describe how Jesus went with them through the depths of hell, and showed them the damned and their torment:
www.spiritlessons.com/ - "7 Columbian Youths in Hell"
A similar account comes from this woman, who likewise, so she says, was shown hell on several occasions, so that she could tell people about it
www.spiritlessons.com/ - "A Divine Revelation of Hell by Mary K. Baxter"
The following man, on his own report, was not just a visitor but actually a victim in hell:
www.spiritlessons.com/ - "Bill Wiese: 23 Minutes in Hell"
I ask you now, as someone who is evidently well acquainted with such matters ‒ what view should we take of such reports? Are they delusory fantasies, lies or genuine revelations? How can we tell whether these reports are real or not? And if they are not real, but just lies ‒ how can Christians do such a thing, when they must know very well that God hates lies and falsification of his teachings?
16 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to him:
17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.
18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.
Many thanks for your visit to Immanuel.at, and for your friendly
remarks. Your comments point to a phenomenon which is indeed one of the big
problems for the Christian congregations of our time, especially in the USA and
the countries of South America ‒ the problem, that is, that we so
frequently hear reports of revelations which the Lord Jesus is supposed to have
given to people, who are then moreover instructed to publish their visions to
the world at large.
Since many of the people who tell these stories have a thorough knowledge of the Bible, it is quite difficult for their contemporaries, particularly for those whose biblical knowledge is limited, to scrutinize an argument that appears to agree with the scriptures and to determine whether it really is a well founded exegesis, or whether it is not rather a case of the "quarrying" approach to biblical commentary ‒ whereby isolated verses and passages are torn out of context and cobbled together to make a new "history".
And because it would be a fairly long and laborious task to check and evaluate such statements in detail, some commentators make short work of it and simply state that it is all untrue, but without bringing forward any concrete scriptural proof of their assertion. But this puts them in the same category as these "story tellers", and lays them open to the objection, on the part of the latter, that they haven’t actually produced any kind of refutation.
So let us proceed on the correct, though more laborious path, and try to check out these people at those points where they are most likely to be refuted. That is to say, first of all their quotations from the Bible, where they offer any; and secondly, the places where they assert that the Lord Jesus himself has spoken to them. This is something we find very frequently in reports of this nature, and almost always amounts to an indication of their not being genuine. We know the Lord’s style ‒ the characteristic way of speaking that he had ‒ from the Bible, so we are well able to recognize if someone who is not well versed in this diction is trying to put words into his mouth.
On the first web page you refer to, we find seven young people from Colombia (similar to the three children of Fatima) who have apparently been given a revelation of hell and other matters by Jesus Christ. Fairly early on we read the following account:
In the midst of the light we saw a multitude of
angels dressed in white. These angels were wonderful, tall and very good
looking. In their midst we saw something astonishing ‒ the form of a human
being. This person looked special ‒ a person wearing a very white mantle
and equally white robes. (…) He spoke to us in simple, but very powerful
words: "My dear children, do not be afraid, I am Jesus of Nazareth; and I
have come to you for the purpose of showing you secrets, which you must then
communicate to nations, cities, communities and all over the world. Where I tell
you to go, you shall go ‒ and where I tell you not to go, you shall not
go." (…) But we could see that He wore a golden sash on his breast, on
which was written in golden letters, King of kings and lord of all lords.
First of all we might remark that most believing Christians, on being faced with a vision of this kind, would have been so impressed and perplexed that they would hardly have noticed how "good looking" these angels were. The mere fact that these people paid such a lot of attention to the appearance of the angels enables us to detect that their attitude is not so much based on faith and the spirit, but rather on worldly and optical considerations. And then there is the form of the human being in their midst. If this person was really wearing a mantle, it would have been quite difficult to make out the color of his robes ‒ which he must surely have been wearing underneath it. And finally it is pretty evident that a certain amount of "borrowing" from Revelation has been going on here, if we look at the following passage:
In the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet.
Rev 1,12 Then I turned to see the voice that was
speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; 1,13 and in
the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe
reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 1,14
His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were
like a flame of fire.. Rev 1,12-14;
But it is also rather strange that the Lord should introduce
himself here with the words "I am Jesus of Nazareth". He never
referred to himself as "Jesus of Nazareth" but rather as "the Son
of Man". And in eternity ‒ where this conversation is supposed to be
going on ‒ it is after all completely irrelevant that he came from
Nazareth. Since his Resurrection he is the Son of God, and recognized as such by
all believing Christians.
And then it goes on:
Holy Scripture, the Word of God, says in Joel 2:28:
"It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all
mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream
dreams, Your young men will see visions." These are the signs which God has
prepared for everyone.
And clearly this verse, torn out of its scriptural context, is designed to demonstrate that these people have had the Holy Spirit poured out on them and so are now able to prophesy. But in fact this only demonstrates their abuse of this biblical passage for their own ends, and what is more, it shows that they have no idea of the meaning of the scriptural text they refer to. Anyone who reads this passage in context can see that these statements by the prophet Joel apply not to these seven Colombian young people, but rather to the people of Israel ‒ pointing to events which will only occur at the time of the Millennial Kingdom on earth.
Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the LORD your God, And there is no other.
Joel 2,23 So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be
glad in the LORD your God; For He has given you the early rain for your
vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and latter rain
as before. 2,24 The threshing floors will be full of grain, And the vats will
overflow with the new wine and oil. 2,25 "Then I will make up to you for
the years That the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping
locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. 2,26
"You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied And praise the name of the
LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be
put to shame. 2,27 "Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
And that I am the LORD your God, And there is no other; And My people will never
be put to shame. Joel 2,23-27;
And only then does Joel give utterance to the promises quoted above:
Joel 2,28 "It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will
prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Joel
Further on, these young people then give an account of a man in hell who begs Jesus for mercy:
The man reached out his withered hand to the Lord
and began to weep, saying, "Lord, have mercy on me! Please have mercy on
me! It hurts so much! I am burning! Please have mercy on me and take me out of
here!" The Lord gazed on him, full of compassion ‒ and suddenly I
felt something hot on my hand. I looked and saw blood, the blood of Jesus! The
blood came from His hand, while he was looking at the suffering man who was
enveloped in flames.
And that, now, is a pretty clear proof that here we are faced here with quite shameless lies. Our Lord Jesus Christ has been with the Father in heaven for the last 2000 years. That was when he rose from the dead, and he now has a resurrected body (spirit body), which is of spirit and not of flesh and blood (Jn 6:6; 1Cor 15:50).
Christ. having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
1Pet 3,18 For Christ also died for sins once for
all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been
put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 3,19 in which also
He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison. 1Pet 3,18-19;
Therefore blood cannot flow from his hand either, because Jesus
is no longer flesh and blood but spirit. Moreover, this supposed man in hell
begs Jesus for mercy, but in the entire text there is no mention of contrition,
penitence or conversion. What do you expect - these people just want to become
famous with their lies and impostures. They don’t want to convert anyone -
either themselves or others.
(See also excursus 07: The
The statement "And suddenly I felt something hot on my
hand. I looked and saw blood, the blood of Jesus! The blood came from His
hand" is just as untrue as all those pictures of the crucifixion where
Jesus is shown with the marks of the nails in the palms of his hands. As
archeological findings have proved, crucifixion as practiced by the Romans
involved piercing the wrists, not the palms. And the same imposture can be
attributed to all those Catholic "saints" who claim to have the
stigmata as an effect of the Holy Spirit, who has "blessed" them by
duplicating the wounds of Jesus in the palms of their hands. In actual fact what
they do ‒ like Padre Pio of Pietrelcina in Italy ‒ is to dab acid on
the palms of their hands so as to give the impression that they have received
Italy's Padre Pio 'faked his stigmata with acid'.
Padre Pio, Italy's most-loved saint, faked his
stigmata by pouring carbolic acid on his hands, according to a new
(Sourse: : The Telegraph)
On the second of the three web pages you mention, the author starts right away by describing her calling by Jesus in the most personal terms:
To Kathryn of Jesus
For this task you have been born ‒ to write
down and pass on to others what I will show and tell you. Because these things
are true. It is your vocation to let the world know that there is a hell, and
that I, Jesus Christ, was sent by God to save people from this horror.
Here again we can recognize from the way in which the Lord
supposedly introduces himself ‒ "I, Jesus Christ" ‒ that
this statement cannot come from the Lord. In his lifetime he never referred to
himself in this style, and now that he is sitting at the right hand of the
Father in heaven, he is even less likely to do so. From this point on, he is the
Son of God ‒ on heaven and on earth. Here a revelation of the Lord is
presented as if it were a coffee table conversation. But God ‒ and God’s
Son as well ‒ is spirit, and every human being to whom he addresses
himself knows immediately in the spirit who he is, and does not need to have it
pointed out who is speaking. It is also doubtful whether the Lord would include
the term "horror" in a genuine revelation ‒ does that not rather
come from the vocabulary of an "illusionist" fixated on verbal images
of this kind?
In her book "A Divine Revelation of Hell" ‒ in which, incidentally, she manages to get by without a single biblical reference ‒ she then goes on to write that the Lord took her to hell for 30 nights in order to show her "the reality of hell". And then she tells us about an experience that may seem familiar, for we have actually come across similar accounts in occult circles.
In March 1976, when I was praying at home, the LORD
Jesus Christ visited me. For days I had been praying in the spirit, when I
suddenly felt the presence of God. His power and his glory filled the house. A
shining light lit up the room in which I was praying and a sweet and wonderful
feeling came over me. Waves of love rolled and overlapped one another and rolled
over and out of each other. It was a spectacular performance! (...) The praise
of God began to flow out of me.
These statements from an American woman are very reminiscent of the experience of another woman, a German, who took part in a charismatic baptism in the spirit in Jerusalem. Let us look at an extract from her report of the experience:
In Lüdenscheid Elisabeth meets a woman who tells
her enthusiastically of the wonders of a spiritual baptism at the Jewish Feast
of Tabernacles organized by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.
This, she says, is where you encounter the "umbilical cord of heaven and
the complete fullness of blessing". Elisabeth travels to Israel and
actually experiences the charismatic baptism in the spirit at a healing service
with the Indian Mahesh Chavda: "Chavda called out ‒ Who hasn’t had
the spiritual baptism yet? Someone gave me a push from behind. Now or never! So
with many others, I went up to the front."
Everyone received a personal laying on of hands, and if he didn’t fall over, he was breathed on. What I then experienced as I lay on the floor exceeded anything I had ever known before: feelings of love without end. I didn’t want to get up again, and couldn’t. I was a different person. Now I knew Jesus as a lover as well. From now on I could also speak in tongues (glossolalia ‒ ecstatic discourse), lay my hands on others or breathe on them, and they fell on their backs. Healing was nothing out of the ordinary either. Now I was "somebody", I had risen on the hierarchic ladder.
(See also Immanuel.at - Information for visitors: "Report
on the Charismatic Camp.")
Finally the motivation of our American author in writing this book also becomes clear:
"See, my child," said Jesus, "I am
going to take you to hell with My Spirit. After that you will be able to write
down the reality of hell in a book, so as to make it unmistakably clear to the
whole world that there really is such a place as hell. As a result lost souls
will be brought out of the darkness into the light of the gospel of Jesus
If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’
Lk 16,27 "And he said, ‘Then I beg you,
father, that you send him to my father’s house - 16,28 for I have five
brothers - in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come
to this place of torment.’ 16,29 "But Abraham *said, ‘They have
Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 16,30 "But he said, ‘No,
father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’
16,31 "But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the
Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’"
So as a result of her visit to hell, "lost souls are to be brought out of the darkness into the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ." It is such an absurd idea that our Lord ‒ who saved us from our sins, and from this same hell, through his own death ‒ would then send one of us to hell to experience the "reality" of it that it can hardly spring from a human brain, however screwed up, but must plainly be the production of an unclean spirit.
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him.
Mt 24,23 "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold,
here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24,24
"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great
signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 24,25
"Behold, I have told you in advance. Mt 24,23-25;
The author of the last of the three reports you refer to is a
realtor by profession (as is his wife), and so has a certain talent for
convincing other people of his point of view. To be fair, however, we must say
that his report is the most consistently structured of these stories and boasts
the most biblical references. Even if the biblical quotations do not always
match his text, we can still recognize that he has a quite profound knowledge of
He claims that he left his body and spent time with Jesus in hell. His wife reports that she found her husband one night screaming on the floor of the sitting room, and prayed for him for 10 to 20 minutes, until he calmed down. So as to forestall any kind of doubts from the word go, this realtor now advances, as proof of the correctness of his claims, that passage of Paul’s from 2Cor 12,2, where Paul reports that he was once out of the body. Paul’s modesty here, in not speaking of himself but of "a man in Christ", would have been more fitting for this realtor ‒ but of course that would have put excessive demands on the understanding faculty of many Americans, who might well have misunderstood the story.
Not satisfied with this unsuitable equation of himself with Paul, the man then goes on to cite Jonah as a witness of his "trip to hell":
Jonah 2:2 "I called out of my distress to the
LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depths of Sheol; You heard
my voice." And in Jonah 2,6 it is written, "I descended to the roots
of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever. But You have
brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God." This means that there was
someone who actually visited hell ‒ Jonah.
Now the text of the previous verse - Jonah 2,1- and of this verse as well relates that Jonah prays to the Lord from the stomach of the fish, and then it tells of his experiences and his terror in the darkness of the fish’s stomach, which he compares with Sheol (the kingdom of the dead). This however seems to have escaped the notice of our realtor, or perhaps he left the passage out deliberately, as otherwise his interpretation of the fish’s stomach as "hell" would no longer have appeared plausible.
Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish.
Jona 1,17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to
swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three
nights. 2,1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the
fish, 2,2 and he said, "I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He
answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. 2,3
"For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the
current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. Jona 2, 1- 3;
Here we can perceive very plainly with what violence biblical
texts are being willfully torn out of their context, truncated and reinterpreted
for the commentator’s own purposes. If our author has no worries about dealing
with even so well known a story as that of "Jonah and the fish", that
only points either to his own stupidity, or to the degree of stupidity which he
imputes to his readers.
In what follows, with a view to proving something about hell, a number of Old Testament passages that speak of the kingdom of the dead are referred to. But the author fails to realize that the kingdom of the dead in the Old Testament (Sheol = the grave of humanity, i.e. the whole of humanity, and the place of abode of the good [Ps 30:4] and the wicked [Num 16:33]), and hell in the New Testament (Gehenna = the place of abode of the wicked [Mt 23:33]) are two completely different concepts.
At the end of his narrative, the author poses the very question which must have been on the tip of the tongue of any critical reader all this while:
When I really came to myself and was once again more
or less capable of speaking, I asked him in my thoughts, "Why did you bring
me here?" Jesus read my thoughts, and said, "Because people don’t
believe that this place really exists. Even some Christians don’t believe
Now the answer which the Lord is supposed to have given here is in complete contrast with Jesus’ statements in the Bible. The Lord told the following story for the benefit of the Jews, who were known for their hardness of heart. We will quote it here in full, in the interest of arriving at a better understanding of the situation:
If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.
Lk 16,19 "Now there was a rich man, and he
habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every
day. 20 "And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with
sores, 16,21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the
rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
16,22 "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s
bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 16,23 "In Hades he lifted
up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his
bosom. 16,24 "And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on
me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool
off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’
16,25 "But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 16,26 ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’
16,27 "And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house ‒ 16,28 for I have five brothers‒in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 16,29 "But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’
16,30 "But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 16,31 "But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’" Lk 16,19-31;
So according to these words of the Lord’s, it is perfectly
pointless for people who claim to have been in hell to come back from there in
order to tell others about it. This would not convince people to convert. In the
light of the scriptural statement above, the one and only thing capable of
bringing people to God is the study of the Scriptures ‒ the Old Testament
(Moses and the prophets), that is, and as Christians today we also have the New
Testament to rely on. This is what our Lord tells us (Jn 5:46-47), and that is
what most readers of the Bible are aware of. But the three authors you quote
seem never to have read this story, or else they have simply failed to
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
But that means that until such time as God has created this new
and eternal world ‒ and this will only be after the Last Judgment ‒
there isn’t either any eternal heavenly Jerusalem or any eternal lake of
fire (compare Rev 21:8 and 22:15).
Until then, the damned are in the waiting zone of the realm of the dead. And for
this very reason there cannot be a hell as yet, because our present universe is
dominated by time and so nothing and no one here can exist eternally. But of
course these background facts are things of which such tellers of tales are
totally ignorant. And what is more, when we look at their effusions it turns out
that some of them haven’t even read the Bible properly.
In summing up, then, we can state at the very least that all stories of this kind, where people are "transported" to hell, heaven or somewhere else, are not in conformity with the Bible and so must be invented, and right after reading the title, you would be well advised to refrain from reading the rest. It would be a pity to waste your time.
As for your final question:
How can Christians do such a thing, when they must
know very well that God hates lies and falsification of his teachings?
- you actually touch here on a phenomenon which is widespread in
the Christian world, one that can be observed in all denominations.
Why, in the Catholic church, do people pray to the idol "Mary" and to the dead "saints", when Scripture actually states that God hates the worship of idols and the cult of the dead is an abomination to him?
Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot walk!
Jer 10,2 Thus says the LORD, "Do not learn the
way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although
the nations are terrified by them; 10,3 For the customs of the peoples are
delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a
craftsman with a cutting tool. 10,4 "They decorate it with silver and
with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not
totter. 10,5 "Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they
cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear
them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good." 10,6 There is
none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might. Jer 10 2-
Should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?
Isa 8,19 When they say to you, "Consult the
mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter," should not a
people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? Isa
But this false doctrine ‒ particularly the practice of praying to dead Christians as so-called "saints" ‒ results from another incorrect interpretation. Not just in the Catholic church alone, but in many Christian congregations as well it is a widely held opinion that dead Christians are already in heaven. But on the other hand the congregation of Christ also firmly believes, following Paul’s assurances in 1Cor 15,51-53 and 1The 4,15-17, that the Rapture of the dead and living faithful will take place on the Second Coming of the Lord.
The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1Cor 15,51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will
not all sleep, but we will all be changed,15,52 in a moment, in the twinkling of
an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be
raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 15,53 For this perishable must
put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1Cor
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise first.
1The 4,15 For this we say to you by the word of the
Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not
precede those who have fallen asleep. 4,16 For the Lord Himself will
descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with
the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 4,17 Then
we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.1The
4,15-17; 1The 4,15-17;
If Paul writes in the above passage (1Cor 15,52) that "the dead will be raised imperishable," then it follows that the dead were not imperishable before this point. But if they were in heaven, then they would have to have a resurrection body, and so would be imperishable automatically. And the Lord too tells us in a prophecy that when he comes for the second time to claim his own at the rapture, he will call into the realm of the dead and those who are dead in Christ, who will be the only ones among the dead who will hear the call at this "hour", will be raised and will come to life.
An hour is coming, in which the dead who are in the tombs will hear the voice of the Son of God.
Jn 5,25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, an
hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and
those who hear will live. Jn 5,25;
So if the dead faithful were already in heaven at this time, the
Lord would search in vain among the dead for those who are to be raptured. It
follows that the dead Christian faithful must be in the realm of the dead
‒ at any rate up to the time of the Rapture.
We frequently find the counter-argument advanced at this point that the Lord also promises to the penitent thief on the cross, "Today you shall be with Me in Paradise" (Lk 23,39-43).
I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.
Lk 23,39 One of the criminals who were hanged
there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save
Yourself and us!" 23,40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said,
"Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of
condemnation? 23,41 "And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are
receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing
wrong." 23,42 And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in
Your kingdom!" 23,43 And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today
you shall be with Me in Paradise." Lk 23,39-43;
Here people are quick to draw the conclusion that after dying on the cross, the thief likewise ascended with the Lord to heaven. But is this really what the Bible tells us? If we try to learn from Scripture where the Lord went to immediately after his death, we find a quite different picture. In Mt 12,40 we are told that after his death the Lord was "in the heart of the earth".
The Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Mt 12,40 For just as Jonah was three days and three
nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days
and three nights in the heart of the earth. Mt 12,40;
Now in the heart of the earth, of course, cannot be the heaven. And Peter tells us, in his first letter, not only where the Lord went after his death, but also what he did there.
For the gospel has been preached even to those who are dead.
1Pet 4,6 For the gospel has for this purpose
been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the
flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. 1Pet 4,
Christ died, but had been made alive in the spirit, in which He went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison.
1Pet 3,18 For Christ also died for sins once for
all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been
put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 3,19 in which
also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison. 1Pet
After his death Christ came ‒ like every other human being
‒ into the realm of the dead, and there preached the gospel to the dead
for three days and three nights, so that those who were willing to believe it
would be saved.
(See also Chapter 12: "Christ
in the realm of the dead.")
So if the penitent thief went with Christ, he must have been in
this same place likewise ‒ the realm of the dead. If the Lord referred to
this as "Paradise", this has to do with the fact that Paradise forms a
part of the realm of the dead.
(See also Excursus 09: "The
Whereas the Lord rose from the dead after three days and three
nights and ascended into heaven, the penitent thief ‒ like all the rest of
the dead ‒ fell asleep in the realm of the dead. Those among the dead who
were converted as a result of the Lord’s preaching of the gospel are waiting,
together with those Christian faithful who have died since, in the Paradise of
the realm of the dead for the raising of the dead on the Second Coming of the
Lord for the Rapture. But the others ‒ those who did not come to believe
in Christ at that time ‒ are waiting, together with all people who have
died since who did not accept Christ as their Savior, in a different part of the
realm of the dead for the General Resurrection and the Last Judgment, where they
will receive their sentence.
(See also Chapter 13: "The
So if Catholics want to pray to their dead "saints",
they are being a bit premature. Catholic "saints" are still sleeping
in the realm of the dead with all the rest of the dead, and will only come back
to life at the General Resurrection, with the rebirth from the Spirit. And the
false prayers which have been addressed to them are unlikely to help them in the
Judgment, but will more probably count against them.
(See also Chapter 12: "The
No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.
Jn 3,12 "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 3,13 "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 3,14 "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 3,15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. Jn 3,12-15;
Why do people preach in the congregations that the congregation is the Bride of Christ, although God himself, speaking through the mouth of the prophet Hosea, makes the following promise to Israel:
I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in faithfulness.
Hos 2,19 "I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness
and in compassion, 2,20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the LORD. Hos 2,19-20;
As an argument for this, preachers in the congregation are fond of referring to Eph 5,31-33 and 2Cor 11,2:
This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Eph 5,31 For this reason a man shall leave his
father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one
flesh. 5,32 This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to
Christ and the church. 5,33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is
to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she
respects her husband. Eph 5,31-33;
In Eph 5,31-33 they overlook Paul’s statement that he is writing "I am saying" that it refers to Christ and the church. So this is not a revelation, but a provisional interpretation ‒ which however is refuted by the explicit decision of God in Hos 2,21-22. Paul himself tells us, after all, four chapters earlier in Eph 1,22-23 (and cf. Rom 12:5; 1Cor 12:12), that the congregation is the body of Christ of which Christ is the head. So we cannot be bridegroom and bride at the same time.
He is the head and the church is the body.
Eph 1,22 And He put all things in subjection under
His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 1,23 which
is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Eph 1,22-23;
And in 2Cor 11,2 Paul lists the characteristics which really belong to a bride of Christ, which the congregation ‒ realistically and in sad contradiction of Paul’s hopes ‒ can only dream of.
For I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
2Cor 11,2 For I am jealous for you with a godly
jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might
present you as a pure virgin. 2Cor 11,2;
And there is still more on this theme, when we find the true and immaculate Bride of Christ of the people of God of the Last Days, with all the appropriate bridal properties, presented as coming from Israel:
These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
Rev 14,1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was
standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having
His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.
14,2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the
sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of
harpists playing on their harps. 14,3 And they sang a new song before the throne
and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn
the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been
purchased from the earth. 14,4 These are the ones who have not
been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These
are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been
purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. 14,5
And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.
Rev 14, 1- 5;
So there cannot be two brides. God is not a bigamist, and anyone
who thinks it is possible to see here a distinction between God’s Bride and
the Bride of Christ, must expect to be asked a question about his understanding
of the Trinity. So then, Christ is the head. The congregation of all time
is the body, and the representatives of the people of Israel in the Last
Days are the bride.
(See also Discourse 15: "Is
the congregation the Bride of Christ?")
Why, in many Christian congregations, the hundred and forty-four thousand who have been sealed (Rev 7,4-8) are seen as the congregation of the Last Days, when we find it specifically stated in the Bible that these are Israelites, coming from each of the 12 tribes which are here mentioned by name? (If we are not to suppose that the intention is to buttress the above interpretation of the congregation as the Bride of Christ with completely inadequate arguments!)
One hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.
Rev 7,4 And I heard the number of those who were
sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the
sons of Israel: 7,5 From the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were
sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad
twelve thousand, 7,6 from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the
tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh
twelve thousand, 7,7 from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the
tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve
thousand, 7,8 from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe
of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve
thousand were sealed.
7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; Rev 7, 4- 9;
And there is more on this theme as well, when the actual
congregation of the Last Days is shortly seen before the throne of God in the
above passage (Rev 7,4-9). As we can see, at this point ‒ the time when
the 144,000 Israelites on earth are sealed (Rev 7,4-8) ‒ the congregation
has already been raptured on the Second Coming of the Lord (Rev 7:13-17)
at the sixth seal, before the day of the wrath of God (Rev 5,1-11) and so is already in heaven before the throne of God (Rev 7:9-10).
(See also Table 14: "The
Great Tribulation - classified by events.")
(See also Discourse 06: "The
144,000 who were sealed: Israelites, or the Christian congregation of the Last
The First Resurrection as well (Rev 20,4-6) is still seen by many Christian preachers as the Rapture on Second Coming of the Lord, and so as the resurrection of the entire congregation to rule as priests and kings with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom. Like David Pawson for instance, quoted in Discourse 88: "God’s people, so long suppressed by the governments of the world, will then themselves be the world government!", or Heinz Weber of the Brake Bible School (Discourse 71): "For we will actually reign on earth as his congregation ‒ reign with him for a thousand years."
Ther souls of the martyrs came to life. This is the first resurrection.
Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them,
and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been
beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God,
and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the
mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned
with Christ for a thousand years. 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to
life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.
20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over
these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of
Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20, 4- 6;
Such commentators however overlook the fact that here, in Rev 20,4, the text is exclusively concerned with those who have been beheaded ‒ the martyrs, in other words. The view that Rev 20,6 is to be understood as referring to the entire congregation ‒ including all those brothers and sisters in the Lord who have died a natural death, without having been persecuted for their faith, who will then reign as kings and priests with the Lord ‒ yet again attributes to the congregation a right of priority which based on Scripture it does not possess. It is not the congregation who will reign with the Lord in the Millennium, but those martyrs of the Old and New Covenant whom we can also recognize here, in Rev 6,9-11, in the ones "underneath the altar", as those who have been slain (as Rev 20,4 above also states) because of the word of God and because of their testimony.
Those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.
Rev 6,9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw
underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the
word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;
6,10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy
and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who
dwell on the earth?" 6,11 And there was given to each of them a white robe;
and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the
number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as
they had been, would be completed also. Rev 6, 9-11;
(See also Discourse 07: "The
Rapture and the First Resurrection: a single event?"
But this incorrect interpretation of the First Resurrection has
consequences, in that it necessarily leads to a further incorrect
interpretation. Seeing that on this view all the faithful of all times are "resurrected"
at the First Resurrection - to rule as priests and kings - advocates of this
version have no just persons remaining for the second and General Resurrection,
so they have to assert that at this final Resurrection, at the end of the world,
only the ungodly will rise from the dead.
If we were to take this view of things seriously, to begin with all the faithful of all times and of all the world would rise from the dead at the First Resurrection, to rule with Chris "as priests and kings". And although in every generation it is always just a small percentage of the world’s population who live as correctly believing Christians, nonetheless things are going to add up in the course of thousands of years and hundreds of generations - so that in the Millennium, where these people are after all supposed to be ruling, there might well turn out to be more "kings" than subjects.
And on the other hand, this doctrinal slant on the General Resurrection at the end of the world leaves crucial biblical passages out of account. People have sadly failed to register that our Lord himself gives us a report of the General Resurrection and indicates who will take part in it - first of all in the parable of the wheat and the tares:
While you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.
Mt 13,24 Jesus presented another parable to them,
saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in
his field. 13,25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares
among the wheat, and went away. 13,26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore
grain, then the tares became evident also. 13,27 The slaves of the landowner
came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then
does it have tares?’13,28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’
The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’
13,29 But he said, "No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.
13,30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’"; Mt 13,24-30;
(See also Chapter 11: "The
end of the world - the Last Judgment".)
In this parable, the Lord at the same time reveals the principle of the judgment at the end of the world: God lets everything continue to "grow together". Whether good or bad, they are allowed to act in whatever way they like, until the last moment. They all have complete freedom. Only at the end of the world, at the resurrection of all human beings, will the "harvest" take place, when the reapers gather up the tares and burn them.
The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are angels.
Mt 13,36 Then He left the crowds and went into the
house. And His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of
the tares of the field." 13,37 And He said, "The one who sows the good seed
is the Son of Man,
13,38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 13,39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are angels. 13,40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of this world.
13,41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 13,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13,43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." Mt 13,36-43;
A few verses later the Lord expresses himself somewhat more concretely - though here too, in the parable of the net, it looks to be a demonstration of the principle of the joint judgment of the good and the bad alike. The net collects every kind of fish, both good and bad, and only after the net has been brought to shore does the selection take place, with the separation of the good from the wicked.
At the end of the world the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just.
Mt 13,47 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like
unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, 13,48 which,
when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down and gathered the good into
vessels, but cast the bad away.
13,49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, 13,50 and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." 13,51 Jesus said unto them, "Have ye understood all these things?" They said unto Him, "Yea, Lord." 13,52 Then said He unto them, "Therefore every scribe who is instructed unto the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." Mt 13,47-52;
(See also Chapter 13: "The
And then the Lord explains quite openly and directly what things are going to be like in the judgment at the end of the world: "So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just." But if the angels are separating the wicked from the just, this implies that both classes, the wicked and the just, are present simultaneously. And in order to be present, these people - all of the dead, in other words - must first have risen.
An hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth.
Jn 5,28 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour
is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,
5,29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection
of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of
judgment. Jn 5,28-29;
These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
Mt 25,45 "Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I
say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these,
you did not do it to Me.’ 25,46 These will go away into eternal punishment,
but the righteous into eternal life." Mt 25,45-46;
(See also Discourse 99: "Who
is "one of the least of these my brothers"?".)
So if at the end of the world the good and the wicked are to be
judged together, then they must also be present at the same time. And if they
are present at the same time, they must have risen from the dead together
previously. This logical conclusion, however, has yet another consequence. As a
result of the resurrection they have both come to exist once more, both the good
and the wicked. They exist again, otherwise they could not be judged and the
angels would not be able to separate them from one another.
(See also Discourse 10: "The
General Resurrection at the end of the world: only for the ungodly?".)
And here we now come to the next false doctrine. In some
Christian congregations we find the teaching that the punishment of the ungodly
is not eternal torment, but "dissolution". That is to say, after having been
condemned they will quite simply cease to exist.
Now from the point of view of the ungodly this account certainly has its attractions, seeing that it will all just be over at a stroke, and experience shows that the overwhelming majority of the world’s population do indeed think this is what happens (without Resurrection an Last Judgment). But in a Christian congregation you really should consult the Bible first, before you allow yourself to be led astray on such an important issue.
And that is just what we want to do now - check out what the Bible says on this topic. In the following biblical passages we find references to unquenchable fire, to fire which does not go out, to the punishment of eternal fire, to the furnace of fire and to the damned weeping and gnashing their teeth.
Mt 3,11 "As for me, I baptize you with water for
repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit
to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 3,12
His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing
floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the
chaff with unquenchable fire." Mt 3,11-12;
Mk 9,47 If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 9,48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Mk 9,47-48;
Mt 8,11 ."I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 8,12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Mt 8,11-12;
Mt 13,41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 13,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13,43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Mt 13,41-43;
Mt 13,49 So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 13,50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 13,49-50;
Jud 1,6 And angels who did not keep their own
domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under
darkness for the judgment of the great day, 1,7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and
the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross
immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in
undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1, 6- 7;
And that, surely, gives us the conclusive answer to this
question. But in spite of all these evident proofs, we still find people arguing
sometimes that "eternal" cannot really mean eternal, because "if the
damnation of the damned were to last for ever, it would cast doubts on the mercy
and even on the love of God". And they conclude from this, with razor-sharp
logic, that the eternal fire will not last for ever, but just for an extremely
long period of time - a period that comes to an end when all the combustible
material (in the lake of fire) has been consumed.
If you then put to them the question whether, if the "eternal" of the eternal fire does not really mean eternal, but just a very long period which will come to an end, it follows that the "eternal" of Ps 48,15: "God (is) forever and ever" and the "eternal" in 1Jn 5,13: "so that you may know that you have eternal life" also does not really mean eternal, but just a very long period which will come to an end, they are generally hard put to it to come up with an answer.
(See also discourse 03: "The
fate of the cursed: eternal torment or dissolution?".)
The eternal existence of every human being.
Every individual human being who leaves the amniotic sac
of his or her mother alive in being physically born – who is "born of
water" (amniotic fluid), that is to say (Jn 3:5) – receives a human
spirit (1Cor 2:11) from God (Jn 4:24) with eternal existence (Mt 25:46).
In the first, temporal and earthly part of their existence – in their
life, human beings have the possibility of deciding, in complete freedom,
without any compulsion and with the help of the spirit given them by God (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
The principle of the eternal existence of human spirit.
The spirit of the human being given by God can – similarly
to energy – take different forms of existence but it is not possible to
create or to annihilate it.
(See also discourse 22: "Is
there such a thing as the immortality of the soul?")
But this "reigning" in the Millennium is not the only
way in which the entire congregation ‒ as opposed to the martyrs of all
time ‒ is given a spurious importance by some preachers. They are also
assigned preferential treatment in being spared the Great Tribulation / Time of
Affliction. If we are supposed to be kings in the Millennium already, it is
evidently thought most fitting that we should actually have been taken up into
heaven in a stylish way.
In the opinion of these preachers, it would not befit the dignity of kings if they too had been killed in the Great Tribulation which will come upon this world and costs billions of people their lives. So they prefer to transpose the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the entire congregation to a time before the Great Tribulation, so as to get the congregation quickly raptured into heaven and out of the way. We may well ask, as biblically believing Christians, why the Lord in that case should have said, in each of the letters to the churches in Revelation, that only those who overcome will inherit the kingdom of heaven, not those who make themselves scarce before the Tribulation starts.
And all this even though we have unambiguous indications in Scripture of the time of the Second Coming and the Rapture, for example in Paul’s explanation in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians:
The day of the return of the Lord will not come unless the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.
2The 2,1 Now we request you, brethren, with
regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,
2,2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by
a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of
the Lord has come. 2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not
come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed,
the son of destruction, 2,4 who opposes and exalts himself above every
so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of
God, displaying himself as being God. 2,5 Do you not remember that while I was
still with you, I was telling you these things? 2The 2, 1- 5;
The day of the coming of the Lord (his Second Coming) and our
gathering together to him - 1The 4:17 (our Rapture) will not take place unless
the apostasy and the man of lawlessness have come first. The Second Coming and the Rapture, then, will
occur at the sixth seal, before the day of the wrath of God. You can hardly put it any more
clearly than that ‒ though the syntax here may have been found confusing
by some readers.
But then again we have a similar and quite concrete statement by our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew:
A great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
Mt 24,21 "For then there will be a great
tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until
now, nor ever will. 24,22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no
life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be
cut short. 24,23 "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the
Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. Mt 24,21-23;
So this is the Tribulation / Affliction, and if it is supposed to have been shortened for the sake of the elect (the Christian faithful), then the Christian faithful must still be on earth. Likewise the warning to beware of false Christs would make little sense if addressed to the godless and unbelievers ‒ supposing all the faithful to have been already raptured before the Tribulation. And a few verses further on, the Lord then refers to this same tribulation, when he says:
After this tribulation the Son of man will come and gather the elect.
Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the
tribulation of those days the sin will be darkened, and the moon will
not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the
heavens will be shaken. 24,30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will
appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and
they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and
great glory. 24,31 "And He will send forth His angels with a great
trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from
one end of the sky to the other. Mt 24,29-31;
And here again we have to say that it is completely astonishing, in view of the extreme clarity of the Lord’s statements, that some preachers repeatedly succeed in convincing the more credulous brethren in the congregations of a Second Coming and Rapture that occur before the Great Tribulation, this on the basis of their fanciful reinterpretation of Scripture, and in spite of what the Lord actually tells us here:
o ... immediately after the tribulation of these days
o ... they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of the sky
o ... He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet
o ... they will gather together His elect
from the four winds
The final and irrefutable proof that the congregation of the Last Days must go through the "tribulation of these days", and it is only after that ‒ on the Second Coming of the Lord and the raising of the dead in Christ ‒ that they will be raptured into heaven, is to be found in Revelation. In Rev 7,9-14 John sees a great multitude which no one could count, from all peoples, standing in heaven before the throne of God. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, which clearly shows they are to be identified with the congregation of all time and drawn from all the nations. And it is of these that the elder tells John that they "come out of the Great Tribulation".
A great multitude which no one could count, from every nation, these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.
Rev 7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a
great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes
and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,
clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 7,10 and they
cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the
throne, and to the Lamb." 7,11 And all the angels were standing around the
throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on
their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 7,12 saying, "Amen,
blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be
to our God forever and ever. Amen." 7,13 Then one of the elders answered,
saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and
where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you
know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of
the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white
in the blood of the Lamb. Rev 7, 9-14;
As we see, it is hardly possible that one should fail to
recognize and understand all these scriptural proofs which speak of the Second
Coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the congregation as happening only after
the Tribulation. We can only come to the conclusion, then, that the
transposition of the Rapture to a time before the Great Tribulation is intended
as confirmation of a certain erroneous doctrine.
And so it is not the case, either, that we can look forward to "the next major event of world history for the faithful, the Rapture" or expect the Second Coming of the Lord "today, now, tomorrow", as Heinz Weber of the Brake Bible School teaches. On the contrary ‒ the next major event of world history for all humanity will be the biggest catastrophe of all time: a Great Tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will (Mt 24:21).
And only after that, when these days have been shortened for the sake of the elect (Mt 24:22), will the sun and moon be darkened and they will see the Lord coming in the same way as they saw him go up into heaven (Acts 1:11) ‒ on the clouds of heaven (Mt 26:64). And then he will send out his angels and they will gather all the elect. That, then, is the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture of the dead and the living in Christ.
(See also Discourse 71 "Is
the next major event of world history for the faithful the Rapture?")
(See also Discourse 16 "Will the Rapture take place before the Great Tribulation?")
Another remarkable phenomenon is the assertion, to be found in practically all congregations, that converted persons are "born again". And this even though the Lord tells us in Jn 3,7-8 that anyone who is born again (born of the Spirit, that is) can pass through closed doors and go out again without being seen, like the Lord himself after his death and resurrection (Jn 20:19,26) ‒ talents which these "born again" still living Christians have never yet been able to demonstrate.
The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going.
Jn 3,7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you,
‘You must be born again.’ 3,8 "The wind blows where it
wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and
where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Jn 3, 7- 8;
The Greek word which stands for "again" both in the
above passage (Jn 3,7) and also in Jn 3,3, anothen, is actually an adverb
meaning "from above, from on high", a reading confirmed by
Dietzfelbinger’s Nestle-Aland interlinear translation. In Jn 3,31 and 19,11
the same term is indeed rendered as "from above" in all translations.
But because the translators failed to understand the real meaning of this
sentence, in Jn 3,3 and 3,7 they chose the temporal variant, "again,
anew", in preference to the spatial reading, so obscuring the correct
interpretation of this statement of the Lord’s for generations.
It’s a similar situation with the translation of the Greek verbs used by Peter in 1Pet 1:3,23 and John in Jn 1,13; 1Jn 2,29; 3,9; 4,7; 5,1.4.18, where the Greek participle anagegennemenoi is rendered as "born again" and the infinitive gegennetai as "born". Both verbs can be translated either as "begot" ("re-begot") or as "born" ("reborn"). And as the translators did not understand the deeper background to the Lord’s above statement in Jn 3,7-8, they replaced "begot" and "re-begot" with the more common "born" and "reborn" (see Nestle-Aland, and the notes in the Elberfeld bible), thus giving this text a completely different meaning.
So as we can also see from the scriptural passages below, the Lord is not speaking here of living persons being "born again" but is rather referring to the situation after the death and resurrection of the dead, and before the judgment on the resurrected nations. And so it is completely plain that those people who claim to be born again while still alive cannot demonstrate any abilities of this nature ‒ such that one does not know where they come from or where they are going to. According to Scripture, they are not reborn at all. They have only been spiritually re-begotten ‒ through the Word of God. And anything that can happen to a human child that has been biologically begotten in the time while it is in the womb can also, metaphorically speaking, be experienced by a spiritually re-begotten person ‒ up to and including an "abortion".
In the regeneration (rebirth) when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne.
Mt 19,28 And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say
to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of
Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Mt 19,28;
The Son of Man comes in His glory, and will judge the gathered nations.
Mt 25,31 "But when the Son of Man comes in
His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
25,32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate
them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
25,33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Mt
Jn 3,7 "Do not be amazed that I said to
you, ‘You must be born again.’ 3,8 "The wind blows
where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes
from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.
" Jn 3,7-8;
The Greek word which is translated in most Bibles as
"reborn" is anagegennemenoi (1Pet 1:3,23) or gegennetai
(Jn 1:13, 1Jn 2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:1,4,18) for "born of God". But
seeing that Ancient Greek makes no distinction between "born"
and "begotten", the translation "rebegotten" or
"begotten by God" is equally correct.
For in the case of those who have once been been
enlightened and 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;
(See also discourse 85: "True and false rebirth.")
(See also Chapter 12: "The
From child of man to child of God
The development of a child of God is in every way comparable to
that of a human child. Just as the egg in the female body is the beginning of
existence for a human child, so the spirit in the human brain is the starting
point for the child of God (Jn 6:63).
"The wind blows where it wishes
and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going;
And that, now, is also the form of existence – namely as
spiritual beings – of which the Lord promises us in Jh 3:3 that this is the way
we can enter the kingdom of God (heaven).
The Greek word is anagegennēmenoi = rebegotten, as also in 1Ptr 1,23 (not
"reborn"!!) – after fertilization, spiritually begotten again through the word
(See also Discourse 85: True and false rebirth.)
This self-glorification then culminates in the claim that "a born again Christian cannot ever be lost". Quite apart from the fact that no human being has ever yet in actual fact been born again, but will only be born of the Spirit in the resurrection, we do find some indications in Scripture that faithful Christians and people who have been blessed by the Holy Spirit can still fall away into apostasy.
For those who have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.
Hbr 6,4 For in the case of those who have once
been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made
partakers of the Holy Spirit, 6,5 and have tasted the good word of God and
the powers of the age to come, 6,6 and then have fallen away, it is
impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to
themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. Heb 6, 4- 6;
For if they are again entangled and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
2Ptr 2,20 For if, after they have escaped the
defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they
are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse
for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have
known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the
holy commandment handed on to them. 2Pet 2,20-21;
For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.
Hbr 3,12 Take care, brethren, that there not be
in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.
3,13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called
"Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness
of sin. 3,14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the
beginning of our assurance firm until the end, Heb 3,12-14;
By way of a counter-argument to these scriptural passages,
people generally refer to Jn 10:27-29 ‒ where the Lord says that no one
can snatch us out of his and the Father’s hand. But they overlook, in this
connection, that even if no one can snatch us out of the hand of God, we are
still capable ‒ as the above scriptural texts prove ‒ of loosing the
connection with the hand of God ourselves. God does not compel anyone! Just as
our decision for Jesus Christ and our acquisition of faith was completely
voluntary, so God leaves us perfectly free to choose whether we will actually
persist in it or not.
As the Letter to the Hebrews says above, we must maintain our initial assurance firm until the end. And the Lord says likewise in Revelation (2,26): "He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations", indicating that the righteous will judge the world at the Last Judgment (cf. 1Cor 6,2). So to presume the existence of a kind of automatic process ‒ "Anyone who has been converted cannot any longer be lost" ‒ is not just absolutely incorrect, it actually adds up to one of the biggest temptations of all those to which the congregation is exposed.
Unfortunately this incorrect view finds confirmation and support
from many preachers and evangelists who tell people about the
"infinite" and "unconditional" love of God. The Bible does
tell us that God loves us ‒ otherwise he would not have allowed his Son to
be crucified for our sins on the cross. But it doesn’t speak of God’s love
being "infinite", or "unconditional" either. Anyone who has
even a partial understanding of the semantics of his language will recognize at
once that a love of this kind would be subject to no temporal limits, and
qualified by no moral conditions ‒ just because it is infinite and
But if God’s love were like this, it would entail that God would have to allow all criminals, mass murderers, atheists, tyrants and any other kind of scumbags ‒ right from the beginning of the world until its end (infinite time!!) and without any contrition or conversion on their part (no conditions!!) ‒ to enter into eternal life. This of course is nonsense, but as many preachers promulgate this doctrine on every possible occasion, people finally come to believe it ‒ failing to realize that with this kind of infinite and unconditional love, God would have to forgive all human beings their sins without any kind of counter-performance on their part, and so no sacrifice would be required any longer, and Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross.
If this sacrifice of Jesus Christ actually was necessary, this is proof that God, first and foremost, is a God of righteousness and that his righteousness called for a sacrifice to atone for all our sins. This sacrifice could actually have been required of each and every one of us, but God, in his love toward humanity, sent his Son ‒ the only person who could pay for all our sins through his death on the cross. Anyone who fails to accept this redeeming sacrifice for his sins in faith cannot appeal to any kind of infinite or unconditional love on God’s part, but will be condemned by God’s righteousness and will not see the kingdom of God.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
1Cor 6,9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous
will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither
fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
6,10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers,
will inherit the kingdom of God. 1Cor 6, 9-10;
So we can trust with absolute certainty in the grace and
mercifulness of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, but at the same time we have
every reason to be doubtful of our own ability to stand firm in the faith (Mt
26,34-35.75). The relevant motto, then, must be ‒ "Stay with it
‒ never mind what it costs."
(See also Discourse 69: "Predestination
and the chosen - Can believing ("born again") Christians ever be lost?")
The false doctrine that people can be born again while they are still alive, along with the postulate that it is impossible for such a "born again" Christian to fall away from the faith, lulls the brethren into a false sense of security and so is highly dangerous. As can be seen, we in the Christian world are often concerned to interpret Scripture in such a way that the congregation and its members may be presented in the most glorious and blameless light. We want to be the first and the best, even to the extent of ruling in the Millennium. And this is remarkable, above all because the Lord prophesies to us that just this kind of behavior is counterproductive and robs us of the fruits of our faith:
And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.
Lk 13,30 "And behold, some are last who will
be first and some are first who will be last." Lk 13,30;
And this also gives us an answer to the question you asked in your e-mail:
How can Christians do such a thing, when they must
know very well that God hates lies and falsification of his teachings?
First of all we have those preachers and evangelists who want to sell their books and command fees for their lectures and seminars ‒ they have an evident interest in making the most positive impression possible on their readers and listeners. The prophets of the Old Testament ‒ and still more so, our Lord Jesus Christ ‒ made themselves unpopular with many people because they told them the unvarnished truth. And on the other side, of course, we find certain sections of the public who would much prefer to hear and believe such things as promise them a glorious future, without any suffering or affliction and with heaps of honor and power. They will then choose their teachers accordingly, and so determine for themselves what they are willing to hear or read and what not.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;
2Tim 4,3 For the time will come when they will
not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will
accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4,4 and
will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 2Tim
4, 3- 4;
The infinite and unconditional love of God.
If the love of God were to be infinite and unconditional,
this God would have to forgive all human beings of all ages (infinite
time!!) all their sins, without any conversion or repentance on their part
(unconditionally!!). There would then no longer be any need of a redeeming
sacrifice – and Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross.
(See also discourse 30: "Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?")
To consider the biblical passages. Eph.1,13-14: "In Him
you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your
salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy
Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view
to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His
glory." Eph. 4,30: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by
whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
I understand these passages to mean that on the day of our conversion God gives us a "brand" (I know, it is not a very suitable expression, but nothing better occurs to me) - marks us as his property, as it were, by giving us the Holy Spirit. Now I do know of course that the Holy Spirit also has other tasks, but this is a relevant task as well, that of being a pledge and a seal. In verse 30 we are urged not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Luther translates 1The 5,19 as "do not quench the spirit". We are quite evidently in a position - and bear an associated responsibility - where we can have an effect on the Holy Spirit’s effective sphere of activity in us. But I do not know of any passage that tells us that the Holy Spirit can leave us again. If there is any such statement in Scripture, especially in the New Testament, please would you let me know, as I would then have to revise my view.
Now the logical conclusion that I draw from this: if the Holy Spirit is an abiding presence in us, he would have to accompany us into hell if we were to lose our chance of salvation, and that would be quite absurd!
Brunhilde Bollmeyer firstname.lastname@example.org
I like your interpretation of Eph 1,13-14 very much, and your
concluding logic is appealing. It is this same logic that causes me to come to
the very opposite conclusion - if the Holy Spirit is in us, given the wickedness
of human beings (seeing that we are all wicked after all, Rom 3:12), he cannot
possibly condone all our deeds.
So for instance we are frequently told in Scripture that king David spoke in the Holy Spirit, so he must have known the indwelling presence of the Spirit. But when he put Uriah in the front line of battle (2Sam 11), so that he got killed and David was able to take his wife Bathsheba, with whom he had already committed adultery, the Holy Spirit cannot possibly have been in him. So the Spirit must have abandoned him at this point. Later on we are told that David again had the Holy Spirit, and in the Millennium God will raise David once more so that he can again be king of Israel. This also shows that according to Scripture the Holy Spirit is not an abiding presence in human beings, but reacts to their choices and actions as appropriate.
As for your final question:
"But I do not know of any passage that tells us
that the Holy Spirit can leave us again. If there is any such statement in
Scripture, especially in the New Testament, please would you let me know, as I
would then have to revise my view."
- may I just draw your attention to the New Testament passage Heb 6,4-6.
Those who have once been made partakers of the Holy Spirit and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.
Hbr 6,4 For in the case of those who have once
been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made
partakers of the Holy Spirit, 6,5 and have tasted the good word of God and
the powers of the age to come, 6,6 and then have fallen away, it is
impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to
themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. Heb 6, 4- 6;
So the Christian believers referred to here had the Holy Spirit,
and then fell away again into apostasy. If the Holy Spirit, then, were an
abiding presence in them, it would have to be - as you quite correctly state
above - with them in hell. And here, of course, we are completely agreed that
this would be an absurd conclusion.
And so the only remaining alternative is that the Holy Spirit has abandoned them.
(See also Discourse 51: "The
reception of the Holy Spirit - how does it happen?")
Thank you for pointing out Hbr. 6,4ff. What is stated in
this passage causes me some difficulties with my line of argument. Many
questions come to mind - how, for instance, am I to understand Jn 14,15-17:
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the
Father, and he will give you another Helper, that He may be with you
forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because
it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because he abides with
you, and will be in you." - ?
Brunhilde Bollmeyer email@example.com
The statements made here by the Lord are certainly very interesting in connection with the reception of the Holy Spirit, and it is worth analyzing them in greater detail. One of the problems of scriptural interpretation is the abbreviated reproduction of scriptural texts - as a result of which promises are often referred to, but without any mention of the conditions. So we would like to take the context of this passage fully into account in our present analysis of its meaning.
He who loves Me, My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
Jn 14,18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I
will come to you. 14,19 "After a little while the world will no longer see
Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 14,20 "In
that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
14,21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves
Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will
disclose Myself to him." 14,22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him,
"Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us
and not to the world?" 14,23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If
anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will
come to him and make Our abode with him. 14,24 "He who does not love
Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the
Father’s who sent Me. Jn 14,18-24;
In the continuation of the scriptural passage quoted by Ms
Bollmeyer above, we can now see in greater detail what is involved, and the
conditions under which this "spirit of truth" - that is to say, the
Holy Spirit - is given. In Jn 14,23-24 the Lord says: "If anyone loves Me,
he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and
make Our abode with him". The condition, then, is that we love the Lord
Jesus and keep his word, and the Father will love us too. And then we are
further told that these two - Father and Son - will come to us and make their
abode in us. And this "making an abode in us", now, is nothing other
than the indwelling in us of the Father and the Son, through the Holy Spirit -
that is to say, the presence of the Trinity in us. This applies, then, to all
believers who love the Lord and keep his commandments.
And then we are told as well that
He who does not love Me does not keep My
This is the negative corollary of the first part of the above
passage. And where this condition is absent, then of course the consequence -
namely, the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit - lapses likewise. This
means that Christian believers can only count on the Holy Spirit being manifest
in them on condition that, and so long as they love the Lord and keep his
A few verses before, now, we come to the passage which Ms Bollmeyer cites in her reply, and which at first glance and on the face of it could easily give the impression - as she indicates - that the Holy Spirit is an abiding presence in us ("forever").
The Father will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.
Jn 14,15 "If you love Me, you will keep My
commandments. 14,16 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another
Helper, that He may be with you forever; 14,17 that is the Spirit of truth,
whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you
know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. Jn 14,15-17;
But all the more so if it is our intent to hold to the words of the Lord, we must read this passage carefully in order to come to a correct understanding of the significance of these same words. And here we find, both in Jn 14,16 and in 14,17, that the Lord says the Holy Spirit will be or remain with us. The Greek text similarly uses the word "para", meaning something like "alongside" or "in the vicinity of" a person. This suggests the explanation that the Lord is not saying that the Holy Spirit will be in us forever, as an abiding presence, but rather that he will be forever with us, at our side, in our vicinity. And John makes exactly this same connection in Revelation, when he sees the Spirit of God as the seven eyes of the Lamb.
The seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.
Rev 5,6 And I saw between the throne (with the four
living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven
horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all
the earth. Rev 5, 6;
We can see from this that the Holy Spirit of God is sent out
into the whole earth, and so is close to every human being. This does not mean,
however, that he makes his abode in every human being. This is stated only in
the concluding indication that we find in Jn 14,17 - "and will be in
you" - though here the Lord again refers to those preconditions for the
indwelling of the Holy Spirit which have been mentioned in Jn 14,23: "If
anyone loves me, he will keep my word."
From this we may again conclude that while the Holy Spirit is here with us on earth, his activity in us is dependent on the extent to which we love the Lord and keep his commandments. If we do this, then it will be our dearest desire that the Lord should be in us and we in him. And then the Father will send us his Spirit, and Father, Son and Holy Spirit will make their abode in us.
The Biblical Trinity and some other specifics of the biblical Christian faith
Some visitors to Immanuel.at have confronted me with the
reproach that by upholding the Trinity I am advocating a Christian
polytheism: "This is a long outdated view – would it not be
time to finally throw off this old ballast of Catholicism?"
Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
Mt 23,9 9 "Do not call anyone on earth your
father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Mt 23,9;
So, in biblical Christianity, we do not call anyone on earth
our Father – the one and only Almighty God in heaven is our Father. In fact
God created not only us but all human beings, with Adam and Eve, our archaic parents, and is
therefore the father of us all. But very few people want to know anything
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
Jn 4,23 "But an hour is coming, and now
is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;
for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 4,24 "God is
spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
And as Paul also confirms to us in his first letter to the
Corinthians, God’s Spirit dwells in us if we are God's children.
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1Cor 3,16 Do you not know that you
are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
3,17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the
temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. 1Cor 3,16-17;
So this is a very similar connection to the one the Son of God had with the Father during his mission on earth:
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?
Jn 14,10 Do you not believe that I am in the
Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to
you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding
in Me does His works. 14,11 Believe Me that I
am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of
the works themselves. Jn 14,10-11;
Finally, the Lord Jesus himself also tells us that the one
who loves him will be recognized by the fact that he will keep the word of
his Lord. And therefore the Father will love him, and both Father and Son
will come and make their abode with him.
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
Jn 14,22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him,
"Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to
us and not to the world?" 14,23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If
anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We
will come to him and make Our abode with him. 14,24 "He who does not
love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine,
but the Father’s who sent Me. 14,25 "These things I have spoken to you
while abiding with you. 14,26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the
Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to
your remembrance all that I said to you. Jn 14,22-26;
FSo, let us summarize: Paul tells us above, in 1Cor 3,16,
that the Holy Spirit dwells in us if we are children of God. The Lord Jesus
tells us above, in Jn 14,23, that the Father and the Son will come to us and
abide with us if we love the Son.
Thus we have united Father, Son and Holy
Spirit in our spirit!
And now Paul writes to us above, in 2Cor 3,16, not only that
the Holy Spirit dwells in the children of God, he also says that we are the
temple of God. And in the same way as God once dwelt with the Israelites, in
the Holy of Holies of the temple in Jerusalem until two thousand years ago,
now God dwells again in a temple.
However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands;
Acts 7,48 "However, the Most High does not
dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says (Isa 66,1-2):
7,49 ‘Heaven is my throne, and earth is the footstool of my feet; what
kind of house will you build for me?’ says the Lord; ‘ Or what place
is there for my repose? 7,50 ‘Was it not my hand which made all these
things?’ Acts 7,48-50;
When a child of God wants to talk to their Father in heaven,
they go into their chamber, lock the door and first ask for forgiveness of
their sins in the name of the redeeming sacrifice of their Lord Jesus
Christ. And then the way is free for all thankfulness and jubilation, for
asking and crying and whatever else a child of God has to communicate to
their heavenly Father.
But you, when you pray, go into your inner room and pray to your Father who is in secret.
Mt 6,5 "When you pray, you are not to be
like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and
on the street corners (or on the "Wailing Wall"! / FH) so that they
may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
6,6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door
and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees
what is done in secret will reward you. 6,7 "And when you are praying, do
not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that
they will be heard for their many words. 6,8 "So do not be like them;
for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Mt 6,5-8;
Anyone who does not love the Lord will not keep his word, and so the Spirit will not come into him. And this does not just apply to the godless and the unbelievers, it also applies to those who once had this love of the Lord and so were in possession of the Holy Spirit, and yet subsequently fell away into apostasy. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews indicates as much in the passage quoted earlier (Heb 6,4-6), and we find it confirmed by the Lord Jesus himself in the Revelation of John, in the letter to the congregation in Ephesus:
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Rev 2,1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus
write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks
among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 2,2 ‘I know your deeds and your
toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the
test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to
be false; 2,3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake,
and have not grown weary. 2,4 ‘But I have this against you, that you have
left your first love. 2,5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have
fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am
coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place-unless you
repent. Rev 2, 1- 5;
So we can see from this that the admittedly very enticing
formula "once in the Holy Spirit, always in the Holy Spirit" is just a
pipedream cherished by many of the brethren, and has no foundation in Scripture.
It is unfortunately the case that in the life of faith you cannot have any such
guarantees. We must take care, all our life long, that we do not lose our love
of the Lord - otherwise that threat which the Lord addresses to the congregation
in Ephesus could become a reality for us as well.
Conversion to faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the acceptance of his redeeming sacrifice for our sins, is a quite personal decision for every individual, which must be based on free will and not subject to any kind of compulsion. A compulsion exercised by God would go against the justice, dignity and majesty of the Almighty. Just take a look at this world as it is: do we see any sign here of a compulsion being exercised by God? The very opposite is the case. And just because God does not force anybody to choose a particular path, but leaves the individual free to decide, the world is approaching the edge of chaos. And because the Lord our God does not compel anyone to decide for him when a person is not willing, he will not compel anyone to remain with him against his will either.
But any kind of compelled conversion or compelled faith - such as so-called "missionaries" have been responsible for in the past, as in the conversion of the South American Indians to Catholicism by the Spanish and Portuguese Conquistadors - is null and void in the sight of God, and can only lead people from one darkness to a still deeper darkness. It may well be possible to give people information, warning and signposts, but a decision on this issue must be taken by each individual for himself or herself, on the basis of genuine personal conviction.
Since you have not warned the wicked, they shall die in their sin but their blood I will require at your hand.
Ezk 3,18 "When I say to the wicked, ‘You
will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from
his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but
his blood I will require at your hand. 3,19 "Yet if you have warned the
wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall
die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.
3,20 "Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 3,21 "However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself." Eze 3,18-21;
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Mk 16,15 And He said to them, "Go into all
the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16,16 "He who has
believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall
And this being so, nothing and no one can rob us of this
decision or snatch us out of the hand of our God (cf. Jn 10,28-29) apart from -
yet again - we ourselves. So any Christian believer can also go back on this
freely determined decision and fall from faith into apostasy. For the same
reason, we need not be scared of any Satanic hosts, or feel compelled to free
our cities from their power by praying in tongues or by "spiritual
war", as some denominations do - it is only our own will that we need to
focus on. And if we really love the Lord and keep his word, then the Triune God
will personally dwell in us and strengthen our love with his love, so that we
will be happy to remain in his hands, in full trust and on the basis of our own
If anyone loves Me, he will keep
My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode
(See also Discourse 114: "The
battle with invisible worlds for a Europe on Christian foundations?")
The doctrine of Universal
Reconciliation: an exit route, or a blind alley?
- Discourse 11