Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Those familiar with the Bible will recognize these words as the words of Jesus, as recorded in the last verse of Chapter 25 of the book of Matthew as He speaks about judgment and the separation of the sheep from the goats. This is probably one of the more oft-quoted verses of the bible when it comes to those who wish to refute the doctrine of universal salvation in support of the doctrine of eternal torment. The claim made by those who believe in eternal torment is that you cannot “limit” the punishment of the wicked to a finite period of time unless you also “limit” the life given to those who believe, as the two are presented as opposites and, therefore, equal in this passage of scripture. This, they say, means that if the “eternal life” given to the righteous does not come to an end then neither does the “everlasting punishment” inflicted on the wicked come to an end.
One of the problems with this argument is that most see this separation of the sheep and the goats as God’s final act of judgment which takes place post-mortem, either in eternity or just before our entering into our “eternal” resting place – either in heaven or in hell. The problem with that is that it is not true. This passage has nothing to do with a postmortem judgment, as “now is the judgment of this world”.
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
Those are the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who also said: “I am come to send fire on the earth”, that He came not to bring peace but “division”:
Luke 12:49-53 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Even the author of the book of Hebrews said that Christ came (THEN – “now, in the end of the world”) “once to die” (as it is appointed unto men) “but after this the judgment”.
Heb 9:24-28 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
So many quote verse 27 to prove that men are judged after they die when that is not, at all, what this passage is about. It is about the death of one man, Jesus Christ. And it is by His death that we are “judged” and through His death (by “the resurrection of the dead”) that we are also “saved”. Noting that our salvation comes not by his death but by His resurrection, by His appearing “the second time”, not as a sin offering but as OUR SALVATION, as OUR LIFE!! And He appears the second time “unto them that look for Him”. This is why we are told to “watch” for His appearing, as He comes “as a thief in the night”. Because He comes suddenly upon those who sleep! And to what end? Destruction!!
1Th 5:1-11 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Peter speaks of the same things, even making reference to that which they had already heard from Paul:
2Pe 3:1-18 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Paul and Peter both speak of “we” and “they” or “you” and “them”, saying that we should not sleep as they do. We should put ourselves in remembrance of those things that they willingly are ignorant of lest we also be led away with the error of the wicked.
It is very easy to say that Peter and Paul are talking about believers vs unbelievers, but is not the difference between a believer and an unbelievers found in their walk? In whether one walks according the spirit or according to the flesh? And did not even Paul struggle, knowing full well that the flesh wars against the spirit and that while the desire is there in our minds to serve the law of God, there is another law at work in our members, that is in our flesh? So did not Paul “divide”, even in himself, that which is born of the spirit and that which is born of the flesh?
We know that “that which is born of the flesh is flesh” and “that which is born of the spirit is spirit” and that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God”, right? And Paul said: “that which I do, I allow not” and “it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me”:
Rom 7:14-25 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Can we not see, brothers and sisters, that there are two men in one bed? Two women grinding together? Two men in one field? One to be taken and the other to be left? Can we not see that the wheat and the tares are growing together in the same field, until the time of harvest when the tares (the natural man, the first man, the earthy man, the man who walks “in the flesh”) shall be gathered first (in bundles to be burned) while the wheat (the spiritual man, the second man, the heavenly man, the man who walks “in the spirit”) is gathered to the barn? Is this not also the separation of the sheep and the goats? Those who enter into eternal life versus those who are cast into everlasting punishment?
The harvest of the world, the separation of the sheep and goat, the wheat and the tares, the living from the dead, the spirit from the flesh, happens when?
Mat 13:49-50 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
And what did Jesus say about the harvest 2000 years ago?
Joh 4:34-38 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
We know that “the reapers are the angels”:
Mat 13:37-43 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Even Paul was received ‘as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus” (Gal 4:14) And we know that Jesus told the Sadducees that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (already espoused TO CHRIST). (ref: Mat 22 / Mar 12)
Can we hear what THE SPIRIT is saying UNTO THE CHURCHES?
Brothers and sisters, we are that world, that field that needs to be harvested, in whom IS HID a pearl of great price!!
It is the flesh that needs to be destroyed, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord!
1Co 5:3-5 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Even Jesus speaks of Simon (Peter) being sifted as wheat:
Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Brothers and sisters, Satan lives and walks “in the earth”:
Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
That is “in the flesh”:
Jas 1:13-15 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
It was the serpent, satan, the devil who tempted Eve in the garden and who tempted Christ in the wilderness. To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace! Therefore, let us not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God!! Let us, brothers and sisters, put on the mind of Christ!!
Knowing that that which “is seen” (which are temporal) is meant to reveal to us those things that “are not seen” (which are eternal). (Ref: 2 Cor 4:18)
Rom 1:16-20 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
This is why God uses things like wheat and tares, seasons and harvests, trees, branches and vines, fruit, etc…. things that can be “seen” (therefore understood) to teach us about spiritual truths that cannot be seen, that which pertains to the kingdom of God that is WITHIN!
This includes the Word (that incorruptible seed by which we are “born again”) being “made flesh” and descending “into the earth”, to those who were His but who knew Him not and , therefore, crucified Him “in a place called a skull” resulting in His being “buried in the earth” until “the third day”.
TODAY is THE DAY OF THE LORD, my friends!! If we will but HEAR HIS VOICE and HARDEN NOT OUR HEARTS!! And enter into HIS REST!!
The revelation of Jesus Christ takes place IN THE EARTH, as it is IN THE EARTH where the righteous and much more the wicked and sinner “are recompensed”:
Pro 11:31 Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.
Not just “in the earth” but “into their bosom”:
Isa 65:6 Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom,
Dear brothers and sisters, we are that “earth”.
Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Gen 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
It is not until God sends forth His spirit (seen in a figure in Genesis with Adam) that men are “created” in His image and after His likeness.
Psa 104:24-35 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke. I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.
It is also then that “judgment” takes place:
Joh 16:7-11 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Dear brothers and sisters, when Jesus (the Word made flesh) came into the earth to be revealed unto men 2000 years ago, he said: NOW is the judgment of this world, NOW is the prince of this world cast out!
It is AT HIS COMING that that wicked one is revealed and it is AT HIS COMING that wicked one is consumed!! Let us then watch for His appearing and not sleep as others do.
Eph 5:14-17 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Let us not forget that the way of LIFE IS ABOVE to the wise, that he may DEPART FROM HELL BENEATH!
Pro 15:24 The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
Surely more could be added with regard to that which is above (heaven, life, that which is “not of this world”) versus that which is beneath (hell, death, that which is “of this world”), or about the second death and the first resurrection, or about the heavens being His throne and the earth His footstool, about Christ needing to be formed in us and our need to be delivered of the child. But I have written on those topics, at some length, already – even as much of this is simply a repeat of many of the things that I have already written about before. So I will just end with a few passages of the last chapter of the book of Revelation:
Rev 22:10-21And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus!!
All Blessings in Christ,