The Spirit World: Conclusion
- The Spirit World (book): Free to ReturningKing.com readers!
- The Spirit World: Introduction
- The Spirit World: Chapter One (Sheol)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Two (Hades)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Three (Abaddon)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Four (The Pit)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Five (Abraham’s Bosom)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Six (Paradise)
- The Spirit World: Ch. 7 (The Migration of Paradise)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Eight (Hell)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Nine (Lake of Fire)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Ten (Gehenna)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Eleven (The Abyss)
- The Spirit World: Ch. 12 (The Great River Euphrates)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Thirteen (Tartarus)
- The Spirit World: Ch. 14 (The Confinement of Jude 6)
- The Spirit World: Chapter Fifteen (Heaven)
- The Spirit World: Ch. 16 (The New Jerusalem)
- The Spirit World: Ch. 17 (The Glorified Body)
- The Spirit World: Ch. 18 (Resurrection of Believers)
- The Spirit World: Ch. 19 (The Judgment of Believers)
- The Spirit World: Ch. 20 (The Great White Throne)
- The Spirit World: Conclusion
(This is a continuation of The Spirit World book series. This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts in the series.)
The ultimate question asked of student and teacher alike upon completion of a body of study in scripture should always be, “what shall my response be?” For this particular work there are multiple possible answers which should be contemplated, each depending upon the reader’s position in Christ. Those who do not ascribe Christ as the uncontested Lord of their lives have one necessary response to consider, while those who know Christ have several thoughts to ponder.
This chapter entails notes of encouragement from the author and will be written in the first person as his private appeal to each group.
To those who are believers in the Lord Christ, and have given your lives to his service, I wish to appeal to you in light of this study to re-evaluate the stewardship of your service to the King. To those of us in this category, my singular appeal to you in light of this work is very simple: please take scripture seriously. It reveals the substance of your future judgment.
We live in a day when scripture has gone the way of fine poetry; it is considered something to be interpreted on an individual basis by many. A common assertion concerning a biblical text is, “well, it doesn’t mean that to me.” Some church groups actually champion themselves as people who are open minded to “interesting ideas” concerning scripture. Modern thinking seems to be comfortable with an utter lack of absolute truth in one’s theological diet. But, scripture does not belong to us. It is God’s Word, not ours, our denomination’s or our focus group’s. I do pray that you are challenged to consider the wealth of biblical knowledge as something which has been once and for all entrusted to the saints.
Religious relativism is greatly involved in this demise of biblical truth as something which is absolute. People are quite content these days to think that everyone has their own “religious book,” and that each has something of value to offer this great buffet of spirituality which is permeating our culture. And, when we teach scripture with faulty hermeneutical processes, that mindset is encouraged.
Yet, when scripture is taught plainly and honestly it comes to life for those who hear it. It is our joy and responsibility to present scripture to people in such a way that they hear it not as “some food for thought,” but rather the very Word of God which has been entrusted to our care. To that end, I pray that the principles detailed in this work will assist you as we contend once and for all for that trust.
There are several false doctrines being touted today which are easily refuted by the simple understanding of the spirit world in scripture. Our responsibility to God and his Word are to expose such teachings and to prepare our own discipleship circle biblically, that they will not be susceptible to such false doctrines.
One incredulous teaching I’m referring to is the “Jesus in Hell” doctrine. This doctrine is daily being introduced into the mainstream by the likes of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Joyce Meyer and other T.V. “star” billionaires who are pandering to the biblical ignorance of this generation. Paul noted,
2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV)
3 … the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
This false doctrine states that Jesus went to Hell upon his death and paid the sentence for man’s sin in Hell (meaning the lake of fire) rather than on the cross. To put it accurately in their terms, Jesus gave up his righteousness, took on the nature of Satan and went to Hell in our place. This is an essential part of the Word of Faith soteriology (doctrine of salvation) which is propagated by TBN and other “Christian” television networks. Joyce Meyer said, ” “There is no hope of anyone going to heaven unless they believe this truth I am presenting. You cannot go to heaven unless you believe with all your heart that Jesus took your place in hell.” (“The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make”, 1991 pg. 3)
The basis of this doctrine is noted to be Psalm 16:10, rendered from the KJV.
Psalm 16:10 (KJV)
10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
As we well know, the underlying term for “hell” in this text is “Sheol.” Jesus did not go to the lake of fire, but to Sheol- where dead people went. Yet, this older translation coupled with a biblically ignorant population has given rise to a horrendous misrepresentation of Jesus’ atoning work which millions of listeners are now subscribing to.
Another popular movement in our culture is the emergent movement. While not all emergent congregations are created equally, many within that mindset are now subscribing to a strictly narrative interpretation of scripture. Some of the strongest leaders in this group, notably Rob Bell and Brian McLaren, are now teaching that the lake of fire is figurative in scripture. As such, Hell does not exist as it has been taught historically via systematic theology. There is no literal burning lake of sulfur nor is there an eternal punishment for the body and soul of mankind who reject Christ.
If you have not thrown this book in the trash by now, then you have a proper mindset for the literal application of scripture. It is to be understood as written. There is no “secret,” hidden message in the Bible which can only be understood by an emergent. It is God’s straight-forward message for his people to learn and apply. So – go and apply it. Teach your students about the spiritual abodes. Teach them how to properly interpret scripture. Teach them concerning the very real judgments which wait for us all. Never stop learning and teaching that your master will not return to find you sleeping.
Secondly, I appeal to you to make it your daily goal to build your eternal reward. It should be crystal clear at this point that our existence on this earth will be judged in accordance with our works. Many have allowed the security of their salvation to somehow trump their very daily life of works. “I know I’m going to Heaven, so I’m not worried about how I live.” Such is not the message of scripture on any level. Indeed, those who have faith in Christ will endure to eternal life. Yet, it is one’s works which will determine one’s eternal reward. While no one is saved by works, all are judged by them. Do not be satisfied with entering life as one escaping through the flames. Understand your Master’s call; to work toward your reward. Be compelled each day to do that which will endure to eternity rather than to limit yourself to the pursuit of earthly satisfaction. How sad it will be for all of us when we stand before our Lord and have the sudden, sharp realization that we have wasted so much of our lives in the pursuit of things that have now burned up before our eyes. Our careers will not follow us into eternity, but our co-workers may if we introduce the gospel into their ears. Our hoarded wealth will melt in the kiln of judgment, but perhaps those we feed and provide for will follow us in the teachings of our Lord. Perhaps they will stand behind us in line as the substance of that which will endure into eternity. Indeed,
Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV)
20 … our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
I have a friend who some years ago noted to me this sentiment: “My personal goal is to do something every day which is eternal.” My hope is that the readers of this work will be compelled by God’s word to endorse and accept that same challenge. I am confident that we all will find life entirely too short and the fruits of judgment entirely too long-lasting to have had any other attitude.
If you find yourself completing this work, yet do not have- or are not sure if you have- a relationship with Christ, the King, then I pray that God’s Word will be a light to your path.
Fundamentally, the message of scripture should inspire one to whatever means necessary to avoid the certain judgment that awaits all who do not receive the forgiveness of God for their sin. The warnings of this work draw their weight and their light from the scriptures. Unconditionally, the Bible teaches that all of us are in a dire standing with God.
We have a profound problem. That problem is sin, and it is universal. Romans says,
Romans 3:23 (NIV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
I have met precious few people who have difficulty understanding that they have sinned. While some today do not believe in sin, most understand that they have failed at being 100% righteous, which is God’s requirement for entering eternal life. As Paul noted,
Romans 6:23 (NIV)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God has proclaimed a universal penalty for sin. That penalty is eternal death and destruction in the lake of fire. While this may seem harsh to some, it is what scripture teaches unapologetically. Sin is simply that significant of an issue to God. It is to trespass his very nature.
Yet, the focus of scripture does not merely reveal great warnings of impending doom to you and I for our sin. It rather focuses the heart and soul of its message on the great lengths which God has gone to redeem mankind from his sinful state.
In the Old Testament law of Moses, God prescribed that man could be forgiven of his sins by the shedding of blood. That blood would vicariously pay the death which man owed for his own trespass. This old legal application of grace was not the final answer to sin, however. It was instead a portrait of what was to come. In the New Testament God afforded a once-and-for-all sacrifice of his own Son, Jesus, to provide a permanent blood atonement for all who will receive him as their Lord and King. As Romans 3:23 (above) notes, “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
One does not have a gift simply because it has been offered. Indeed, one has to put forth initiative to take hold of it. The way one receives the gift of eternal life is noted to be “in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Lordship involves one literally giving of oneself to another. Christ gave his life for us, and we are expected to give our lives to him in order to receive his offer. To put it simply, one finds salvation from one’s sin by calling upon Christ, confessing his sins and yielding oneself to his service in repentance. That process involves our proclamation of faith that Jesus is God’s Son, that he died for our sins and that he rose from the dead as the firstfruits of the resurrection of all the dead. If you believe in the Jesus of scripture, then act upon that belief and proclaim him the Lord of your life today.
Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins was fully capable of removing all guilt from our lives; past, present and future. Yet his gift is only offered to those who will reach out and receive it. Those who do so are promised the resurrection of the righteous and the rewards which accompany it. Those who do not are promised the resurrection of the unrighteous and the judgments of the lake of fire.
Many are those who insist on speaking of the “unfairness” of the Bible’s clear depiction of raging fire judgment for man’s sin. Yet, those should understand how loving and gracious God is. He did what no father I know would do. He prescribed his Son to intervene on man’s behalf and become obedient to a cruel death on a Roman cross. Such action demands response. As gently as I can say it, if I had given my son for people who then rejected his offering, I doubt that I would be any more yielding in the application of the punishment which was due.
If you desire to conclude this study by making the commitment of faith to Christ, may I suggest the sincere communication of this prayer to the Lord:
Lord, Jesus, I do believe you are who the Bible says. You are God’s Son, and our only path to salvation from sin. I believe you died to be a substitute for man’s sin. I admit that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. Please forgive me for my sin and help me to live as you desire. I proclaim you as the Lord of my life and will serve you to the best of my abilities.
Upon your commitment to the Lordship of Christ, I strongly suggest that you find a good church to join and learn with. A good church is one which teachers the Bible, and the Bible alone as the source of God’s revelation to man. Beyond that, a good church is one which interprets the Bible literally, rather than symbolically. Men will fall and will fail. Their leadership is always to be tested biblically. But, God’s Word will remain intact, and is absolutely trustworthy to lead you in pursuit of the Lordship of Christ. A good biblical teacher will always begin with the Bible itself as the source of truth, and will teach what the Bible states, rather than attempting to teach another agenda while using the Bible as support material. Find a pastor who will preach the text of the Bible purely and you will surely find a good church to learn and grow in.
Until we stand before our King, may his grace lead you to readiness and great anticipation of his redemption.
The Spirit World series will continue weekly until the entire book is published online. If, however, you enjoy this series and do not wish to wait, you can purchase the paperback version of The Spirit World here.