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Monday, September 9, 2019

"Why I no longer believe the second death is figurative."

God tells us through the apostle Peter, "Yet be growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18 - Concordant Literal New Testament - CLNT). And those are my goals—growing and knowing.

Growing is sometimes painful, especially when I'm growing out of error and into truth. This entails admitting that I was wrong about something. Who likes to admit that?

I was wrong about the second death. This was due, in part, to errors I picked up while trudging through orthodox Christianity for 17 years. I liken these errors to ticks that affixed to my body in hidden places, slyly sucking precious life from me. But God, Who sees and knows all my affixed ticks by name, has plucked these parasites from me and set me free from many errors.

Having believed the error, and then been set free from it, makes me appreciate the truth that much more. The experiencing of both error and truth helps me relate better to people who are still in error. And freedom is more precious to a former slave than to someone who's never been shackled.

"What happens to those who are cast into the lake of fire?"


Revelation 20:14 tells us, "This is the second death-the lake of fire" (CLNT). When I was in orthodox Christianity I believed billions of people will be tormented alive forever in the lake of fire/second death. (Reading that last sentence makes me feel foolish for what I actually believed.)

The great white throne judgment and the second death are coming. They are on God's timetable and will arrive as scheduled. They are part of His grand plan, but not the end of His plan.

Revelation 20:15 says, "And if anyone was not found written in the scroll of life, he was cast into the lake of fire." So, if those cast into the lake of fire aren't tormented forever, what will happen to them? They will die. Period. End of chapter (but not the end of their book). You can go home now. There's no more to see here. Move along people, move along.

Not convinced?


I know, I know. The simple truths from God, like "This is the second death–the lake of fire," need unsimple explanations. This is because we are constantly having to untwist the Adversary's knotting of the Scriptures before we can see the simple truths. Every time God has moved me from error to truth, it has been delivery from a complex lie to the simple truth.

According to Hebrews 6:1–2, the teachings about resurrection and judgment are basic, and we should move past them to more mature subjects. But the Satanic and religious muddying of these basic truths takes time to clean up. And there are constantly waves of new people arriving on shore who need to be delivered from traditional lies to the truth.
KnotsBagTable
Here's my conversion story concerning the lake of fire/second death. Maybe it will help you see the truth of this part of God's plan.

Tied up in naughty knots


I believed for many years that the second death will be figurative. This means I believed people would be physically alive, but also in a form of death (or oblivion) mentally and spiritually. I believed this for several years, even after realizing that Jesus did indeed save all people on the cross. Even after realizing eternal torment and annihilation are demonic lies.

A few years ago, I was set free from this lie by God, His Scriptures, A.E. Knoch, and Martin Zender. I'm deeply thankful for this.

One passage I used to support my belief in a figurative second death was the parable of the prodigal son. In Luke 15:24, the loving father says of his returned wayward son, "for this my son was dead and revives; he was lost and was found." The son was not literally dead, but figuratively dead. He was oblivious to how good his life truly was with his father. Then he came to his senses and figuratively revived from his figurative state of death. I took this obvious figurative usage of death and illegally used it to support my belief in a figurative second death. I used it to reinforce the idea that dead people in the lake of fire will be alive while dead. I saw the lake of fire/second death as a sort of reform school of ultra hard knocks that will bring people to their senses, like the prodigal son. I made the mistake of mixing the literal with the figurative. We must not mix what God has kept separate. And remember this rule for understanding the Scriptures: literal if possible.

Resurrection and vivification


My error was also largely based on a misunderstanding of the resurrections taught in the Scriptures.

There are two types of resurrections in the Scriptures. But most bible versions don't make a clear distinction between them. The Concordant Literal New Testament does.

Resurrection, in its lowest form, is a raising from the dead, but not to immortality. Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was raised from the dead, but not made immortal (John 11:1–46). Even in its lowest form, resurrection is awesome. Imagine your dearest departed loved one in your arms again. See what I mean? Holding them again is worth having to eventually pay for their second funeral. But the highest form of resurrection is to immortality. Vivifiy is the word used by the CLNT to describe God's powerful work to give immortality to all.

We see the vivification of all in 1 Corinthians 15:22, "For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified." The CLNT maintains the clear distinction between resurrection (Greek: anastasin) and vivified (Greek: zōopoiēthēsontai).

Christ was not the first person to be resurrected. He raised several people from the dead prior to His own resurrection. But He is called "the Firstfruit" of resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:20–23. If He wasn't the first to be resurrected, how can He be the Firstfruit? Here's how: He is the first One raised from the dead to experience vivification. And He is the only One, so far, Who has been vivified. 1 Timothy 6:16 clarifies for us what vivification is when it says of Christ "Who alone has immortality." He alone currently has immortality through vivification. Two classes of people will follow Him in like manner—"in Christ, shall all be vivified."

The following two verses hint at a distinction between resurrection and vivification,
John 11:25,

Jesus said to her, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who is believing in Me, even if he should be dying, shall be living."
John 5:21,

For even as the Father is rousing the dead and vivifying, thus the Son also is vivifying whom He will.
And Jesus' mind-blowing words in John 5:28–29,
Marvel not at this, for coming is the hour in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29 and those who do good shall go out into a resurrection of life, yet those who commit bad things, into a resurrection of judging. 
The phrase resurrection of life also hints at something more than resurrection (Greek: anastasin). The word resurrection means restoration to life from death–to stand up. But why add of life to resurrection? Because God is pointing us to something more than a return to mortal life from the death state. He is pointing us toward true life—immortality. And this is what occurs in the resurrection of life. Thus, the resurrection of judging, even though it also gives life to the dead, lacks the level of life included in the resurrection of life.

I took Jesus' words literally when He spoke of these two distinct resurrections in John 5:28–29. But, when I was in error concerning the second death, I mentally added a non-existent limitation to what He said. I assumed there would be only these two resurrections in the future. I was ignorant of another resurrection—the final vivification. I thought Jesus was going to fire all of His bullets at death in these two resurrections. He will destroy the first death at the time of the great white throne judgment, "And death and the unseen were cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14). But the second death would still exist. In my ignorance, I had to find a way for Him to overcome the second death with these two spectacular resurrections. So I had to somehow work immortality into the resurrection of judging.

The resurrection of life and the resurrection of judging


The resurrection of life is spoken of in the following passages,
Revelation 20:4–6,

And I perceived thrones, and they are seated on them, and judgment was granted to them. And the souls of those executed because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who do not worship the wild beast or its image, and did not get the emblem on their forehead and on their hand - they also live and reign with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead do not live until the thousand years should be finished.) This is the former resurrection. 6 Happy and holy is he who is having part in the former resurrection! Over these the second death has no jurisdiction, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will be reigning with Him the thousand years.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18,

Now we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are reposing, lest you may sorrow according as the rest, also, who have no expectation. 14 For, if we are believing that Jesus died and rose, thus also, those who are put to repose, will God, through Jesus, lead forth together with Him. 15 For this we are saying to you by the word of the Lord, that we, the living, who are surviving to the presence of the Lord, should by no means outstrip those who are put to repose, 16 for the Lord Himself will be descending from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the Chief Messenger, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall be rising first.17 Thereupon we, the living who are surviving, shall at the same time be snatched away together with them in clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And thus shall we always be together with the Lord. 18 So that, console one another with these words. 
Luke 20:35–36,

Yet those deemed worthy to happen upon that eon and the resurrection from among the dead are neither marrying nor taking out in marriage. 36 For neither can they still be dying, for they are equal to messengers, and are the sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
The resurrection of judging is found in Revelation 20:11–15,
11 And I perceived a great white throne, and Him Who is sitting upon it, from Whose face earth and heaven fled, and no place was found for them. 12 And I perceived the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. And scrolls were opened. And another scroll was opened which is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged by that which is written in the scrolls in accord with their acts. 13 And the sea gives up the dead in it, and death and the unseen give up the dead in them. And they were condemned, each in accord with their acts. 14 And death and the unseen were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death–the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was not found written in the scroll of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. 
I had a dilemma.

I believed Jesus is the Savior of the world—1 Timothy 2:4-6 & 4:10. By this I mean He already saved all people on the cross. "But," I wondered, "how can those cast into the lake of fire be saved if they are killed, and God has used up all of His resurrections?" Remember, in my error, I thought God only had two resurrections left. So I reasoned that those raised at the great white throne have to be made immortal if all will be saved.

Image result for lake blobSo I pieced together a way, using (or rather, abusing) the Scriptures, to grant immortality to all who will be raised at the great white throne. It was a lot of work putting Scriptural puzzle pieces together that didn't really fit. But I was so proud of the result! I had to do this. God had no more resurrections left. He needed my help.

In my misunderstanding, those raised at the great white throne will be made immortal prior to being launched into the lake. Their immortality will enable them to survive the second death. They will live through this figurative death, just like the prodigal son lived through his "death." When they come to their senses in the lake of fire, they will be delivered from it. Eventually, everyone will come to their senses, be freed from the second death, and death would have no more purpose. It will be rendered inoperative because all will be immortal (1 Corinthians 15:26).

The truth is, I later learned, those raised at the great white throne are not included in the three classes of 1 Corinthians 15 who are vivified. Many raised at the great white throne will be subject to the second death (meaning they literally die), thus they will not be immortal. Those raised at the great white throne who do not go into the second death are mortal and will enter onto the new earth. They will not be cast into the lake of fire because their names will be found in the scroll of life (Revelation 20:15), and they will have access to the new Jerusalem to be physically sustained by the fruit and leaves from the log of life (Revelation 21:22–22:2).

The end of the Bible is NOT the end of the story


Obviously we can't in reality limit God. Jesus is going to accomplish all of His Father's will (Acts 13:22–23; Hebrews 10:7–9; 1 Corinthians 15:20–28). But we can artificially limit God in our mind and in the minds of those we talk to. This artificial limiting does in reality affect us negatively. Our false ideas about God will never limit Him, but they will limit us.

Jesus' powerful revelation of the two resurrections in John 5:28–29 is true. But it is not the end of God's revelation on the subject of resurrection and vivification.

God, through the apostle Paul, cracks open wider the door to the future for us to see His plan for all humanity. This plan includes the vivification (immortality) of all humanity. I knew this was His goal. But I didn't see for a long time how He was going to get there.

Only by coming to understand the vivifications in 1 Corinthians 15 was I set free from the need to illegally immortalize all those raised at the great white throne. God has one more card to play. And it's a doozy.

Like most people bound by orthodox Christianity's false teachings, I thought the book of Revelation was the end of God's dealings with man in the Scriptures. I logically thought this because Revelation is the last book in our Bibles.

But God, in His wisdom and creativity, tucked the end of the story into the middle of the new testament. Has any author ever done something like that? Not that I know of. But God is the Author of authors. And He does what He does without needing anyone's permission. And that's awesome.

1 Corinthians 15 reveals to us the vivification of all (v.22), the end of death (v.26), the complete victory of Christ (vs.24–27), and God's ultimate goal for all people (v.28).
20 Yet now Christ has been roused from among the dead, the Firstfruit of those who are reposing. 21 For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a Man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead. 22 For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified. 23 Yet each in his own class: the Firstfruit, Christ; thereupon those who are Christ's in His presence; 24 thereafter the consummation, whenever He may be giving up the kingdom to His God and Father, whenever He should be nullifying all sovereignty and all authority and power. 25 For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy is being abolished: death. 27 For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him. 28 Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.
There it is, the vivification of all in verse 22 (also 1 Timothy 6:13, "... God, Who is vivifying all ... "). I see it so clearly now. But when you're tied up in an erroneous knot, clear things are often muddied or completely unseen. And we can only see truth when God opens our eyes (Luke 24:13–35; Acts 16:14; Philippians 1:29).

All of us, whether we are a believer or an unbeliever, will die the first death because of our relationship to Adam. Some will die in the second death as a result of their absence from the scroll of life (Revelation 20:12–15). But Death (the first and the second) will be abolished and have absolutely no victory. 1 Corinthians 15:54–55,
Swallowed up was Death by Victory. 55 Where, O Death, is your victory?
Death will have zero response to Paul's taunting question. Death will have no victory in the end when all are vivified and put beyond its reach. Death will be totally inoperative. That is an almost unimaginable scenario for us, given the fact that death currently reigns over all humanity. Have faith in Christ. He will gain total victory over Death!

The 3 vivified classes


Paul tells us there are 3 classes vivified in 1 Corinthians 15. The first is Christ, the Firtsfruit. The second and third classes will follow Him in vivification. What's true of Him will be true of us. The second class is "those who are Christ's in His presence." This is the resurrection of life for those who are granted belief in this life. The third class will be at the consummation (not the great white throne). This is the consummation of the eons when Christ successfully accomplishes all of God's will. The spectacular events at the consummation are detailed for us in 1 Corinthians 15:24–28 (read above). The Israelite jubilee was a time when all were set free (see Leviticus 25). The jubilee is a type of the consummation of the eons. There will be freedom for all through Christ.


Eternal tormentists and annihilationists proclaim everlasting death


Orthodox Christianity teaches the world that death is unending (whether it be eternal torment or annihilation). They obviously contradict God's version of the final, glorious events of the consummation of the eons. They ignorantly diminish Jesus' work and blaspheme Him while giving death and Satan great victory over a mass of humanity. They say Jesus didn't save the world on the cross. They say that Adam's sin has a greater scope of impact than Christ's work. And an unwitting world believes their lies and sees a grotesque distortion of God and His Son. And the world is depressed thinking everlasting death (whether literal or figurative) is the fate of most of humanity. Don't believe their lies. I did for a long time. The truth of Jesus set me free. Despite what orthodox Christianity teaches, Jesus is the Successful Savior (1 Timothy 2:4-6, 4:10; 1 John 2:2, 4:14; John 1:29).

Believe Him.

______________________
Images
Tree Image by 12272790 from Pixabay
Knots: Christian Mercat [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Second Childhood by anoldent (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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