The Case For Eternal Punishment
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
“And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (Isaiah 66:24)
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matt. 25:41,46)
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:14-15)
For most of mankind’s existence the belief that punishment for unbelievers is eternal was taken for granted. The above verses are the basis for this point of view. It’s become known as the traditional view of hell.
Recently an alternative, called the conditional view, has come on the scene. This view is based primarily on Rev. 20:12 which says the unsaved dead will be judged according to their works. Proponents of the conditional view interpret this verse to mean that while no unbeliever can go to heaven, their punishment in hell will be based on the quality of their lives while on Earth.
They contend that those who’ve led meritorious lives on Earth but aren’t believers will receive less severe punishment for a shorter period of time than say a Hitler or Stalin before being destroyed altogether. They claim that this view makes more sense because it shows God to be fair, making the punishment fit the crime so to speak, before mercifully ending their existence altogether.
On the surface it seems to make sense and some people are more comfortable with this view than the traditional one that appears excessively harsh to them and serves no purpose other than making people suffer. But is the conditional view the result of greater enlightenment in our understanding of Scripture or just another in a long line of attempts to re-cast God’s word into a kinder gentler document as it pertains to those who’ve rejected Him?
MY WAYS ARE NOT YOUR WAYS
A closer look reveals that the idea of a conditional hell is decidedly biased toward the world view of unbelievers. Conditional hell proponents say, “All they did is not believe that Jesus died for them. Other than that many unbelievers tried to live a good life and helped a fair amount of people along the way. What did they do to deserve eternal punishment?” (Notice the emphasis on good works here?)
What these folks don’t seem to realise is that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). No amount of good works and kindness toward others will make up for the deficiency of unbelief. The truth is they will have failed to do the only thing God required of them.
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)
If God is going to judge unbelievers by how they’ve done the work He requires of them, it’ll all be over pretty quickly because without belief in Jesus even the good they might have accomplished is considered evil in God’s sight. How do I know that? Read the Lord’s own words;
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt. 7:22-23)
They will claim to have performed miracles in His name, but the Lord will deny ever knowing them, calling them evil doers. So much for the value of a meritorious life apart from faith in Him!
And in John 15:5 He said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Unbelievers don’t think rejecting the Lord is a big deal because they don’t realize that their rejection of His sacrifice for their sins has eternal consequences. Because of their unbelief they’re only thinking in terms of a 70-80 year lifespan, not an eternal existence. So let’s take a look at this from the eternal perspective and try to understand how different it is.
First let’s understand that the man who is executed or given life in prison for taking someone’s life is not being taught that murder is wrong. He’s suffering the consequence of his crime by forfeiting the balance of his physical life . It’s an adaptation of the Biblical injunction, a life for a life (Lev. 24:17). On Earth we’re in a physical environment so it’s a physical life for a physical life.
But a person who rejects the pardon God provided for him has in effect murdered his own soul and spirit. Both are eternal, so there has to be an eternal consequence to fit the crime. Our physical bodies are only intended to serve a temporary purpose, and that’s to house the eternal part of us for a little while. Compared to our eternal existence, putting our physical existence to death is a minor infraction. Refusing to accept the Lord’s completed work on the cross as payment in full for our sins is a crime against our eternal life and therefore the only just punishment is eternal punishment.
IS EVERYONE DESTINED FOR HELL?
Recently someone challenged me to prove from the Bible that all mankind is destined for hell. He said by that he meant an actual place where one will spend eternity. This person, like many others, doesn’t realize that hell is not an eternal destination, but only a temporary place of torment while one awaits his or her final judgment. So first let’s see if there’s a place that says everyone is destined for hell.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
A surface reading of that verse alone might lead one to conclude that Paul was just talking about the death of the body here. After all it was sin entering the world that caused man’s physical life to change from immortal to mortal.
But if we read on and take the entire passage in context we see Paul wasn’t just talking about physical death. For example, in Romans 5:18 He wrote, “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.”
Here we can see he had to be talking about eternal life because the Lord’s one act of righteousness did not prevent the physical bodies of believers from dying.
Therefore, since we’re all sinners we are all condemned. But by accepting the Lord’s death as payment in full for our sins we can escape condemnation and death and receive justification and eternal life instead.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
The account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) gives us the Bible’s clearest picture of what happens after we die. In comparing what happened to these men, the differences in their experience become obvious.
When Lazarus died he was carried to a place the Jews called Abraham’s side because Abraham, the father of the faithful, was there to comfort them. But when the rich man died he went to hell (Greek, hades). Abraham and the rich man could see each other and communicate back and forth so we know Abraham’s side and Hades were in the same general location.
In the Old Testament these two destinations were known by the single name of Sheol, the “abode of the dead.” Upon dying, everyone went there. It’s where Jonah’s spirit went while his body languished in the belly of the whale (Jonah 2:2,6).
From the New Testament we learn that Sheol contained two compartments, separated by a wide chasm, impossible to cross (Luke 16:26). One side was a place of comfort where believers went to await Heaven’s opening after the cross. That’s where Lazarus was. In Greek it was called Paradise, a name that evoked memories of the Garden of Eden.
The other side was a place of torment reserved for unbelievers, and that’s where the rich man was.
After His resurrection, Jesus took the spirits of the believing dead from Paradise with Him to Heaven (Ephes. 4:8). Those who are in hell will remain there in torment until their final judgment at the end of the Millennium, which is still over 1,000 years in the future to us. At that time, Rev. 20:14 tells us, death and Hades will give up the dead who are in them and each person will be judged according to what has been recorded in the books kept in Heaven. Everyone whose name cannot be found in the book of life will be thrown into the Lake of fire, which is the Second death. The Lake of Fire is the final destiny of all unbelievers. Now, let’s see how long they’ll remain there.
At the time of the 2nd coming, the Lord will conduct a judgement of all humans still alive on earth (Matt. 25:31-46). People from all over the world will be brought to the Lord for His determination of their spiritual condition. Those He judges to be believers will be welcomed into the Millennial Kingdom (Matt. 25:34) where they will help repopulate the earth. Those who are not will be taken away to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41). Rev. 19:20 and Rev. 20:10 tell us this is a fiery lake of burning sulphur, while Rev. 20:14 simply calls it the lake of fire. They all refer to the same place, the final destiny of all unbelievers.
It’s a mistake to just read Rev. 20:10 and conclude that only the devil, the anti-Christ and the false prophet will be tormented forever. It’s a mistake to just read Matt. 25:46 and conclude that only unbelieving tribulation survivors will be punished forever. And it’s a mistake to just read Daniel 12:2 and conclude that only unbelievers from Old Testament times will suffer shame and everlasting contempt (abhorrence). All unbelievers from all ages will go to the same place, the place of eternal punishment, and all will suffer eternally.
And That’s Not All
But there’s an even more powerful legal argument for eternal punishment that for centuries was modeled in human existence as well. Until the mid 19th Century it was common practice in many parts of the world to incarcerate a person for failure to pay his or her debts. Jail time was not an alternative method of repayment, it was the consequence they suffered for their inability to pay their debts.
No matter how long they were locked up they still owed as much of their debt as they did on their first day behind bars. They could only be freed by repaying the money they owed. Jesus referred to this practice in His parable of the unmerciful servant (Matt. 18:23-35).
It’s the same with our sins. Punishment is not an alternative method unbelievers can use to pay the penalty for their sins, it’s the consequence they’ll suffer for their inability to pay the penalty. No matter how long people suffer in eternity, they will still owe the same penalty as they did on day one. The only acceptable payment for sin is the blood of an innocent person, and nothing else will suffice. Hebrews 9:22 explains that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Therefore no one can “work off” his or her penalty through suffering.
This is the fatal flaw in the Catholic concept of purgatory. It calls for a person who dies with certain un-confessed sins to “work off” the penalty for those sins through their suffering and the intercessory prayers of living relatives in order to qualify for entry into heaven. But there’s only one way for humans to qualify for entry into heaven and that’s by accepting the blood of Jesus as payment for our sins (John 3:3). Once we do that all of our sins are covered (Colossians 2:13-14). But we have to do it before we die (Hebr. 9:27) or else it’s too late.
It’s also the flaw in the conditional view of hell. If the blood of Jesus is the only way to be released from the penalty for our sins, then there’s no release for those who reject it. No matter how numerous or noteworthy, the “good works” unbelievers perform during their lifetime can’t be applied to reduce their sentence and neither can the “time served” after they die, so they’ll always owe the same penalty as they did on day one of their incarceration.
The bottom line is the only acceptable payment for our sins is the blood of a sinless man, and the only sinless man is Jesus. He died for all the sins of mankind (John 1:29) but only those who choose to accept His death as payment for their sins can be forgiven (John 3:16). Refusing to accept it leaves everyone else unable to pay and requires that they be incarcerated. Since they’re eternal beings and have committed crimes against eternity, and since they’ll never be able to pay, they’ll have to remain incarcerated forever.
It is my fervent prayer that if you’re reading this and you have not accepted the Lord’s death as payment in full for your sins, you will not let another day go by without doing so. None of us is privileged to know the number of our days. Each new one could be our last. Please don’t tarry. Selah 05-30-15.
BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebr. 4:12-13)
Some people view the soul and body interchangeably, while others think the soul and spirit are the same. But it’s more accurate to think of them as separate components. Our soul is the conscious part of us, composed of mind (intellect), will, and emotions. It makes choices and controls our behavior by giving orders to the body. Our spirit is the subconscious part, an internal adviser to the conscious soul. It’s our conscience.
Both our soul and our spirit are intangible and eternal and are housed in our body which is tangible and temporal. Our body is designed for use in this life, and when we die we leave it behind. Paul described our body as our earthly dwelling and spoke of how we long to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. Believers don’t desire so much to be rid of our earthly bodies, he said, as to receive our heavenly ones. He said receiving our heavenly body is the very purpose for which we were created, and that’s why God gave us the Holy Spirit at the first moment of our belief. He’s a deposit guaranteeing what is to come, which is the exchange of our earthly dwelling for our heavenly one. (2 Cor. 5:1-5)
It Wasn’t Always Like That
I believe Adam and Eve were created with a heavenly alignment of body, soul, and spirit. Their body was submissive to their soul which was submissive to their spirit which was one with the Spirit of God. But at the fall this alignment was perverted and through Satan’s influence the soul began to assert itself over the spirit. Both were contaminated by sin and the direct link to God was broken. In the time after the fall the soul became more assertive as man entered the period between Adam and Noah that some call the Dispensation of Conscience.
Man was left to decide for himself what was right but because of the misalignment that came with the fall, things got progressively worse until God had to wipe the slate clean and start over. This experience has been repeated again and again . Even the time of Israel’s dominance in the world, when the communication link with God was formally re-opened, ended in failure. During that period Prophets were appointed to speak to the people for God and Priests to speak to God for the people. But it wasn’t enough.
The problem was that the spirit of unsaved man is confused and uncertain because of the effects of sin and often gives bad advice to his soul, which is also contaminated by sin, making it impossible for him to please God.
The cross changed all that. Now, when we are born again our spirit becomes one with the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 6:17) and the confusion and uncertainty clears up. Our spirit again knows right and wrong as absolutes, and as our conscience it begins to serve as a reliable guide to our soul, which is still sin infested.
The difference that being born again makes in us is so profound that we can only understand God’s word after we become believers. The natural man cannot comprehend it. (1 Cor 2:14) This explains why the Lord’s disciples were often confused about His teaching, and failed to understand much of it. They didn’t receive the Holy Spirit until the night of His resurrection. (John 20:22)
This is also why Jesus told us that our righteousness has to surpass that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Not being born again, their efforts at keeping the law were acts of will and were often in conflict with what their spirits were advising them to do. In other words, it was still a matter of their soul asserting itself over their spirit. They just knew the law well enough to know when their spirits were giving them bad advice. In Isaiah 29:13 the Lord had said, “These people come near to me with their lips (governed by the soul), but their hearts (spirits) are far from me.” Jesus accused them of looking like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but inside full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean (Matt. 23:27) Their obedience to the law was only intellectual assent backed up by will power. Their spirit was still infested with sin.
Back To Hebrews 4
But the Lord pays special attention to the motives of our heart and judges us on our intentions, not our actions. This is what the writer to the Hebrews meant when he said that the word of God can divide soul (behavior) and spirit (motive). He’s not fooled by man’s attempts at good behavior. He knows the thoughts and attitudes of our heart. Nothing is hidden from His sight. Commenting on ceremonial cleanliness He said that it’s not what goes into us that makes us unclean, but what comes out of us.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matt. 15:17-19)
Jeremiah wrote that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. (Jere. 17:9) After sinning with Bathsheba, David prayed that God would create in him a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within him. (Psalm 51:10) This is what happens when we’re born again and the Holy Spirit unites with our spirit. It renews a steadfast spirit with in us. It’s what David longed for, but it couldn’t happen before the cross. (John 7:39)
In effect, the Holy Spirit works through our spirit to repossess our soul from its bondage to sin. But since it’s not the conscious part of us, our spirit can only work to influence our decisions. Our soul must choose to heed the advice of our spirit, in whose “ear” the Holy Spirit is whispering. This is what Paul meant when he told us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (soul) (Romans 12:2). This transformation consists of consciously choosing to allow the Holy Spirit to become the primary influence in determining our actions. This is the heavenly alignment again. God’s Spirit to our spirit, to our soul, and to our body. This is why the Pharisees were criticised. God’s Spirit was not within them, and so their obedience was a product of their intellect, their soul. Their spirit remained unregenerate. It looked good on the outside, but inside it was all out of order. It was form without substance, and it produced self righteousness, not humility.
The biggest problem we have is that our soul is still struggling with its bondage to sin, and therefore must constantly choose to submit to our renewed spirit. Remember the soul is where our behavioral decisions are made. Our spirit is one with the Spirit of God, but can only advise. Paul described our dilemma poignantly in Romans 7:14-25, saying that he had the desire to do good but could not carry it out. His spirit was one with God, but his soul sometimes rebelled. Inwardly he could delight in God’s Law, but outwardly he would sometimes conform to the law of sin and death.
It’s actually the opposite of the Pharisees’ problem. They looked good on the outside but were full of evil thoughts and intentions. While the Lord condemned them, he directs no condemnation toward us (Romans 8:1) because although our soul often betrays us, our spirit is one with God. He goes so far as to separate the behavior from the believer saying that it’s not we who sin, but the sin nature that dwells within us. (Romans 7:20)
Will This Ever End?
When we die or are raptured, our transformation will be complete, and the Holy Spirit’s work of repossessing our soul will be finished. The heavenly alignment will be permanently restored, our regenerated soul in perpetual submission to our spirit which is one with God. Only then will we be ready for our resurrection bodies. It will no longer occur to us to behave in a manner contrary to God’s will, and we’ll finally be fit to dwell with Him forever.
The new body we receive will compare to the old one only in physical characteristics. The old one is corrupt and doomed to perish. The new one will be incorruptible and will never perish. (1 Cor. 15:53) We’ll recognize each other and will know God as we are known by Him. (1 Cor.13:12) No longer will things be hidden from our understanding or beyond our comprehension because our soul, where understanding and comprehension take place, will finally be freed from the bondage of sin.
The immeasurable creative capacity with which the human mind was created will finally be unleashed for our eternal use and enjoyment. The tiny nuggets of talent and ability in the arts and sciences that we can only faintly glimpse now will become rich veins to be mined for all eternity.
And best of all, we’ll finally achieve our heart’s true desire, to be one with our Creator, body, soul, and spirit. Selah 02-18-12
OUR HEAVENLY BODY
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).
Recently I had someone object to my belief that Jesus was referring to our eternal home in the New Jerusalem when He said this. This person’s opinion is that Jesus was talking about our post-resurrection body and he cited 2 Cor. 5:1-2 in support of it.
When I looked up the Greek text of John 14:2, I found that the word rooms (mansions in the KJV) is a translation of a Greek word that means a dwelling, or abode.
To be fair, the word dwelling also appears in some English translations of 2 Cor. 5:2 but it’s translated from a different Greek word. It’s also clear that Paul was speaking metaphorically in 2 Cor. 5 because he referred to our earthly body as a tent (temporary) but our heavenly body as a house (permanent).
For me, the clincher is that in John 14:2 Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us. The Greek word translated place can mean anything from a marked off space to an inhabited city but is never used to refer to a body. This means Jesus was going to prepare a physical location for us to live in.
I don’t think the person who posted the objection was persuaded to my point of view, and I know I wasn’t persuaded to his, but that’s not the point of this study. What I want to do is explore 2 Cor. 5:1-10 in a little more depth because reading it again reminded me of some really interesting information about what’s in store for us. Let’s take it a verse or two at a time.
An Earthly Tent And A Heavenly House
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands (2 Cor. 5:1).
Right away we can see that Paul was using terms for dwelling places to represent our bodies. Most of us don’t live in tents, and even if we do our earthly home does not have to be destroyed before we can go to our heavenly one. But our earthly body, which is the temporary home of our spirit, has to give way to our heavenly body in order for our spirit to receive its permanent home. For most, the earthly body will die and return to dust, and the heavenly body will replace it at the resurrection. But for one group, the earthly body will simply be transformed into the heavenly one at the rapture of the Church (1 Cor. 15:51-53).
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (2 Cor. 5:2-3)
When believers die their spirits go directly to be with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6-8, Phil 1:22-24), while their earthly bodies are buried in the ground and quickly return to dust. At the time of their resurrection, they will be given new heavenly bodies while we who are still living will be changed from mortal to immortal and together we’ll all go with the Lord to His Father’s house (1 Thes. 4:16-17).
In the meantime, these spirits feel like a part of them is missing, as if they are naked (Greek: without a body). They long for the time when they’ll be clothed in their heavenly bodies. I believe this is because we can only experience the full extent of the blessings of our eternal life as physical beings.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life (2 Cor. 5:4).
In this verse, Paul added clothing as another metaphor. As physical beings, we don’t look forward to dying because that will be like being naked. What we look forward to is being ruptured, because that will be like having our old set of worn out clothing instantly changed into a new and much better set that will never wear out. Richer fabric, perfect fit, extremely comfortable; clothes we have always been meant to wear.
The Old Has Gone, The New Has Come
Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor. 5:5).
Fashioning something is the process of making it into something else, usually for a specific purpose. “He took a piece of wood and fashioned it into a leg for the table he was building.” It’s no longer just an ordinary piece of wood. It has been changed into something better, something that serves a specific purpose.
God began with us as we were and through the cross fashioned us into someone else.
“When you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive in Christ” (Ephes 2:13).
His very purpose in doing this is so we can be clothed in our heavenly body.
The craftsman will never again think of the table leg as a random piece of wood. He now thinks of it as something he made. In the same way, God will never again think of you as you used to be. He now thinks of you as a new creation in Christ. To Him, the old you has gone and the new you has come (2 Cor. 5:17). Then He put His Spirit in you as a deposit guaranteeing that this will happen.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6-8).
The confidence Paul spoke of comes from knowing that even though we are still in our earthly body, our destiny is to be with the Lord in our heavenly body. Therefore we live by what we believe to be true, not by what we see. No earthly event can shake us because by faith we know what is coming. No matter who is in office, no matter what laws get passed, no matter how much of its value our money has lost, no matter what this dark and dying world thinks of us, we know what the outcome will be because the one who fashioned us for this very purpose is God.
Here Comes The Judge
So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5:9-10).
Whether we are dead and gone or alive and well our goal is to please God. The judgment seat of Christ is also called the bema seat judgment. (The Greek word “bema” simply means “judgment seat”.)
This judgment will take place after the rapture/resurrection so it doesn’t have anything to do with our salvation. Everyone there will be saved and in the presence of the Lord forever.
It will concern what we did for the Lord during our Christian life here on earth. In 1 Cor. 3:10-15 Paul said the Lord will divide the things we did into two groups. One group will be compared to gold, silver and precious gems; things that have value. In 2 Cor. 5:10 these things are called “good”. The other group will be compared to wood, hay, and stubble, things only suitable for burning in the judgement fire. These are called “bad” in 2 Cor. 5:10.
In his summary statement of this judgement, Paul said, “If it (what we’ve done) is burned up he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Cor. 3:15).
Taken together, these two passages confirm that the judgement seat of Christ is not for the purpose of reviewing every good or bad thing we’ve ever done, it’s for the purpose of identifying which of the things we’ve done qualify for special recognition.
In John 15:5-6 Jesus said if we remain in Him and He in us we will bear much fruit; apart from Him we can do nothing. He said those who don’t remain in Him are like branches that are thrown away and wither. Such branches are thrown into the fire and burned up.
Some see this as a passage that denies OSAS, thinking that if we don’t remain in Jesus He will throw us into the fires of judgment. They don’t understand that Jesus wasn’t talking about salvation here because salvation is not a fruit bearing event. It’s what we do after being saved that determines whether we bear fruit or not. He was talking about what we do with our life as a believer.
In order to bear fruit as a believer, we have to remain in Him. That means we have to see Him as our Lord, not just our Savior, and submit to His direction for our life. By remaining in us Jesus was referring to the supernatural power He makes available to believers. Many of us have experienced this power when by yielding our will to his and placing the outcome of an action in His hands, we’ve enjoyed a result that surpassed our human capacity to produce. Adopting this as a lifestyle will make our Christian life fruitful beyond anything we could have done on our own.
In contrast, going off on our own can produce nothing of value to the Kingdom. No matter how great the results of our actions look in human terms, the Lord sees the things we do apart from His guidance and His strength as nothing more than withered branches, suitable only for the fire.
When I compare John 15:5-6 to 1 Cor. 3:10-15 and 2 Cor. 5:10 I conclude that when we’re before the judgment seat of Christ it won’t be the results we produce as believers that will matter. It’s the motives behind them that will be judged. Things done at the Lord’s direction and in His strength will be like gold, silver and precious gems in his eyes. Those done out of our own volition and in our own strength will have no value.
This explains Paul’s admonition in 1 Cor. 4:5.
“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
It also explains why discovering God’s will for our lives requires that we first offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, and that we stop conforming to the pattern of this world, allowing ourselves instead to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). Only by doing that can we remain in Him and He in us.
In summary, there’s a heavenly body awaiting us. It’s the permanent home for our spirit, to replace this temporary earthly one. God has fashioned us into a new creation for the express purpose of inhabiting it and sent his Son to die for our sins to make it possible. Or as someone said, “The man from Heaven became outfitted for Earth so men from Earth could be outfitted for heaven.” Selah 03-01-14.
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