The Punishment of the Wicked, In Light of the Cross

I am writing today from the dark and stormy Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the dark and stormy Tampa Bay area.

To me, the biggest lie out of the dark ages is not that Sabbath was changed to Sunday, or that when you die you go straight to heaven. To me, no lie totally distorts the character of my loving heavenly father like the lie that sinners will be tormented throughout the endless ages of eternity. Fact is:

It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God that excludes the wicked from heaven; they are shut out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The glory of God would be to them a consuming fire. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them.  –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, page 17

Did you ever notice, in the New Testament, Jesus never told the demons He could not be around them? The demons told Jesus they could not around Him! For example see Matthew 8:29. So, the unconverted heart sees the glory of God as hell, while the converted heart sees God’s glory as paradise! When the fire inRevelation 20:9 comes down out of heaven and consumes the wicked, that fire is the actual presence of God. God’s presence will be hell to those who hate Him, while it will be paradise to those who love Him. By the way this is why the Bible refers to an eternal fire. God is the eternal fire. But God’s love is not going to torture them throughout eternity. God’s love will burn for eternity, but it will put sinners out of his misery instead of torturing them for eternity.

A skewed understanding of hell skews our understanding of God’s love and character, which is exactly what Satan wants. To properly understand the punishment of the wicked, like all other Bible teachings, we must look at it in the light of the cross. Please allow me to share a lesson from my series of In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides, called the Punishment of the Wicked in Light of The Cross.

The Punishment of the Wicked

 

Brief overview: The wicked will be destroyed by fire. The punishment will be everlasting but the punishing will not. The wicked will die instead of being tormented for all eternity. See John 3:16Romans 6:23Obadiah 1:16Matthew 10:28Ezekiel 18:420.

 

Why it is important to know the truth about the punishment of the wicked:

 

I have a friend who is involved in a prison ministry that visits a juvenile detention center. My friend was telling me that they had recently shared the truth about hell with the young men there. My friend said the Chaplin at the jail got very upset with him for letting the young men know that the punishment of the wicked is not an eternity spent in hell but rather death just like the Bible says in John 3:16 and Romans 6:23. The reason the Chaplin did not want them to know the truth about the punishment of the wicked was because he wanted the fear of being tormented for all eternity to motivate them to behave.

 

The teaching of people being tortured throughout all eternity is the most satanic false doctrine of all! It totally misrepresents the love and character of God making it impossible to love and know Him the way He loves and knows us.

 

Why it is important to understand the punishment of the wicked in the light of the cross:

 

Many churches use hell and fear as a motivation for doing good because they do not properly understand the love motivation. They do not understand the depths of Christ’s sacrifice in dying the second death. They make the Cross out to be a mere pain endurance marathon instead of seeing a Savior who was actually willing to say goodbye to life forever in order to save the world. When the early church saw the depths of Jesus’ love and sacrifice it turned the whole world upside down! Meaning it changed everything! It was God’s love that constrained, empowered and motivated them. This love is the only motivation that will actually succeed. Galatians 6 talks of a faith that works by love, not a fear of punishment. In John 14 Jesus says, “If you love Me keep My commandments”, not if you don’t want to go to hell you better keep my commandments. We must uplift the cross and the truth about the cross like never before. Young men in juvenile centers and people everywhere else need to know that there is a God who did way more than suffer for six hours on a cross. He faced the second death for them. He loved them more than He loved his own life. He loved them so much that when tempted to come down from the cross and go back to heaven He chose to die instead. Simply put, Jesus stayed on that cross for the young men in the juvenile detention center because the thought of heaven without them was hell to Jesus! When the love motivation receives its due power it will accomplish so much more than the fear motivation invented by men. Some people quote John 3:16 all the time while preaching of an eternal torment of sinners while that verse clearly says those who do not believe will “perish” instead of being tortured throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.

 

Further study on the punishment of the wicked:

 

What is the opposite of eternal life?

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT

Note: Those who don’t believe perish. They are not tortured for all eternity. Why does the unbeliever perish?  God did not kick Eve out of paradise just because she took a piece of fruit she was told not to. The Serpent told lies about God’s love and interest in Eve’s welfare which Eve and all mankind bought into. When Eve stopped believing in God’s love she stopped believing in her only source of life. At the cross Jesus dies for our sin of unbelief, and when we believe again in His love, we gain back the life we lost when stopped believing in His love. This is the message of john 3:16.

 

What is the wages of sin?

 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 NLT

Note: The wages of sin is death, and not eternal torment in hell.

 

What becomes of the soul or person that sins?

 

For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die. Ezekiel 18:4 NLT

Note: KJV says soul, NLT says person.  Both the KJV and NLT make it clear, the entire soul or person dies in hell and will not be tormented throughout eternity.

 

How long does the devil have?

 

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!

And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!

But terror will come on the earth and the sea,

for the devil has come down to you in great anger,

knowing that he has little time.” Revelation 12:12 NLT

Note: The devil does not have eternity in hell or anywhere else. He has but a little time left to exist.

 

What will happen to him?

 

You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade.

So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All who knew you are appalled at your fate.You have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more.” Ezekiel 28:18-19 NLT

Note: Satan, like all sinners will exist no more.

 

What happens to both body and soul in hell?

 

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 NLT

Note: Neither soul nor body are tortured throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Both are destroyed.

 

What do the wicked become?

 

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all. “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Malachi 4:1-3 NLT

 

What is the lake of fire called?

 

Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. Revelation 20:14 NLT

 

What is God’s promise?

 

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”Revelation 21:3- 4 NLT

Note: Sinners cannot be eternally tormented if there will be no more pain.

 

Can we trust that promise?

 

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:5 NLT

You can study this week’s SS lesson here.

Revelation 18; The Light Of The Cross Wins!

I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. I am sharing this picture I took of the sunrise at Key Largo last December.

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. Revelation 18:1

This is my favorite verse in all of Revelation! For centuries Satan tries to keep the world in spiritual darkness but he can’t keep away the light of God’s love! After the dark ages, the light of God’s love lights up the whole world! Last Tuesday evening, I walked into our group Bible study that we have each week at Panera Bread. Not only was my study group there, but each week there is another group of people meeting at the same time and place for a Bible study. I got up to get a refill and saw a man at a table studying the Bible too! I thought to myself, what would Martin Luther think, after having to skip meals to  study the only Bible he had access to, chained to a wall in a lonely monastery basement, if he could walk into this restaurant tonight and see two different Bible study groups and a man alone, eating and studying the Bible in a public place! What would Martin Luther think, if today he could see that the Bible that was chained to the lonely basement wall is now printed around the world and is also on our computers, laptops, notebooks and cell phones! What a wonderful time to be living! Truly the world is becoming lightened with the glory of God’s love, forgiveness and mercy! Seize the moment my friends! Take out your Bibles that men, during the dark ages, shed their blood to preserve! With great painstaking effort they have made it possible for you to have the Word of God readily available so you can read and see what Satan has worked so hard to keep you from understanding. God is love! And He loves you! If you find it hard to understand, just ask for the same Holy Spirit to help you which also helped them.

Last December I went to the Florida Keys and took this picture of the sun rising on Key Largo. I thought how wonderful that after several hours of darkness, that God lets the sun simply pierce the darkness with the morning star and slight glow before letting the sun suddenly rise with all its glory. Such light all at once would be blinding and not welcomed! God in His infinite wisdom,  has allowed each reformer during the dark ages, bring us a piece of God’s light and love one by one so as not to blind us all at once. Still, God in His own perfect timing, after the dark ages, lights up the whole world with His glory and love! As I stood that dawn, watching the light pierce the Atlantic Ocean, I could not help but remember Isaiah 11:9, “for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Yes we are living in an exciting time, and when I walk into Panera Bread and see people studying their Bibles, I think to myself, this can only be good!  

If you would like to join a Bible study group in the Tampa Bay area please let me know! You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net or 813-933-7505. New study groups are starting all the time! I even have a second study group now meeting at Panera on late Friday afternoons as well as the one I have on Tuesdays. If you are not in the Tampa Bay area call me anyway and I will find a Bible study in your area!

In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides

You can download a printable copy of the complete set of In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides for free here. You can purchase a copy for your Kindle here

Newly Revised In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides

Prepared by William Earnhardt, 2005, Revised 2009

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption–the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.–Gospel Workers, p. 315. 

Introduction

Why “In Light of the Cross” Bible study guides? Our salvation is found in the love of God alone (Ephesians 2:1-9). Since Satan realizes this fact, he only has one purpose in spreading lies and false doctrine-to make us misunderstand God’s love so that we do not appreciate or accept God’s love that brings salvation. Every false doctrine is more than just an attack on truth. It is an attack on the very character of God. False doctrines skew and misrepresent the character of God. Jesus tells us in John Chapter 8 that He more than just has the truth, He is the truth. If truth equals Jesus and Jesus equals God and God equals love then truth must equal love. The purpose of these study guides is to help us find God’s love in His truth. Doctrine is only helpful as it aids us in understanding the love of God which saves us. We are not saved by doctrine. We are saved by God’s love. Hence, the In Light of The Cross Study Guides which are prayerfully designed to help us understand and appreciate the love of God which saves us.

How to use the In Light of the Cross Study Guides

These study guides are designed as supplements with references following for deeper study. You may use the supplied references for your study or just use the supplements with your own favorite study guides. Power Point presentations are also available.

Table of Contents 

Salvation  

Scriptures

Death  

Punishment of the Wicked 

Health and Temperance 

The Sabbath 

Stewardship 

The Sanctuary

The Gift of Prophecy 

The Second Coming 

Christian Living 

Baptism 

Click here to find simple solutions for hard to understand Bible texts.

Click here to find more studies and devotionals on my website “In Light of The Cross”.

Death in Light of the Cross

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You can download a printable copy of the complete set of In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides for free here. You can purchase a copy for your Kindle here.

Death

Brief overview:

Death is a state of unconscious sleep. The dead do not know anything at this time and are not awakened until the last trump at Christ’s second coming. See Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Job 14:12, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Why is it important to know the truth about Death:

The teaching that you don’t really die is a lie Satan started in the Garden of Eden when he told Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” By telling this lie Satan hoped to get Eve and all mankind to believe that there is really no consequence for disobeying God. He also wants us to believe that we are all immortal regardless if we have a relationship with God or not. This opens the door for spiritualism where people may actually be communicating with the devil and his angels, thinking they are speaking with their loved ones. Our salvation does not come from knowing what happens when we die. Our salvation is found alone in God’s love. However, no lie is ever harmless, and when Satan told the lie, “Ye shall not surely die”, not only was he lying but he was also calling God a liar. Not a safe path for us to follow.

Why understanding death in the light of the cross is important:

First of all if you don’t really die then Jesus did not really die for us and we still need a Savior. The lie that we don’t really die destroys the cross and everything Jesus endured and accomplished on it. If Jesus was not really tasting death like Hebrews 2:9 says He did, then we have just minimized the cross to a six hour pain endurance marathon.

I remember sitting in a funeral a while back for a little girl who was hit and killed by a car. Her mother sat on the front pew sobbing uncontrollably. Meanwhile the pastor talked about how happy the little girl and Jesus were right now up in heaven. Do you know how cruel that made Jesus look to the poor mother? Would Jesus tear a mother’s heart apart just to go have fun with her daughter? I think not! The little girl is resting in her grave and will be united with Jesus in heaven when the mother is reunited with her at the second coming.

For Further study on Death:

What did Adam become?

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. Genesis 2:7

Whose spirit returns to God?

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

What is the Spirit?

All the while my breath [is] in me, and the spirit of God [is] in my nostrils; Job 27:3

What does God take that turns the body to dust?

Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Psalm 104:29

What age old question did Job ask?

But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where [is] he? Job 14:10

What is the Bible answer?

So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens [be] no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. Job 14:12

Do the dead know what happens to the living?

His sons come to honour, and he knoweth [it] not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth [it] not of them. Job 14:21

How much do the dead know?

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6

What did Jesus call death?

These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. John 11:11-14

How long had Lazarus been dead?

Then when Jesus came, he found that he had [lain] in the grave four days already. John 11:17

Did Martha believe Lazarus was in heaven?

Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. John 11:24

What did Mary say?

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. John 11:32

Was Lazarus called from heaven, hell or the grave?

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11: 43, 44

When are the dead raised?

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins.Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 1 Corinthians 15:16-23

When do we receive immortality?

Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Our hope and comfort:

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. for this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Texts that are difficult to understand about death and other topics.

Salvation in Light of The Cross

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You can download a printable copy of the complete set of In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides for free here. You can purchase a copy for your Kindle here.

Salvation

 

Brief overview: Salvation from death and sin is a free gift from God. It is not earned. It is a free gift courtesy of God’s love and grace. See John 3:16, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:1-10, 2 Timothy 1:9.

Why it is important to know the truth about salvation?

In pagan religions man makes the sacrifices to obtain the pleasure and acceptance of his “god”. Some pagan tribes have offered up human sacrifices just to make sure the sun would rise the next day. They also brought gifts for their “gods” hoping to gain their love and blessing. In Christianity it is the exact opposite. Our God sacrifices Himself on the Cross to obtain not His but our pleasure and acceptance. While we were the guilty ones He did not wait for us to bring a gift or peace offering, but made Himself the peace offering.

Revelations 12 tells us of a war in heaven. Not with machine guns and tanks, but a war of the minds. Isaiah 14 tells us Satan wanted God’s seat to the point where he was willing to kill God Himself to get it. He convinced a third of the angels that it would be in the best interest of the Universe if he was in control rather than God. Satan came to this earth and in Genesis 3 convinced Eve and thus mankind that he was more interested in our welfare than God was. For years a great controversy has raged over who has our best interest in mind.

Why understanding salvation in light of the cross is important:

The Cross settles the controversy of who has our best interest in mind once and for all. At the Cross we see the true character of both God and Satan. While we see Satan manipulating men to kill God, we see a tyrant who is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way of being number one. In contrast we see a God who is willing to give His life to save the world. The Cross shows who is really interested in our welfare and who is just using us as pawns for his own selfish purposes.

While Satan pretended to be on our side and acting in our best interest we see what he is really up to. We can also see the God whom Satan claimed did not really care about us is actually at peace with us and on our side!

For Further Study on Salvation:

WHY DID JESUS COME TO THIS WORLD?
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.  Matthew 1:21
WHAT DOES SIN DO?
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.  Isaiah 59:2
WHAT IS THE RESULT OF SIN?
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Romans 6:23
WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO SIN?
Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.   Ezekiel 18:4
HOW MANY HAVE SINNED?
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;   Romans 3:23
HOW MANY ARE TO DIE BECAUSE OF SIN?
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:  Romans 5:12
CAN WE CHANGE OURSELVES FROM OUR SINFUL WAYS?
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.     Jeremiah 13:23
WHAT ARE GOD’S FEELINGS TOWARD US?
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.  2 Peter 3:9
WHAT PROVISION DID HE MAKE FOR ALL MANKIND?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16
WHEN DID GOD FIRST LOVE US?
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.   Romans 5:8
WHAT IS THE ONLY WAY A PERSON CAN BE SAVED?
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift
 of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.  Ephesians 2:8, 9
WHAT DOES THIS SAVING FAITH PRODUCE IN OUR LIVES?
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.    Luke 5:32
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   1 John 1:9
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.  Proverbs 28:13
WHEN SHOULD WE ACCEPT THIS GIFT OF GOD?
(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)  2 Corinthians 6:2
WHAT DO WE BECOME WHEN WE ACCEPT JESUS AS OUR SAVIOR?
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  John 1:12
JESUS AT THE DOOR
O Jesus! Thou art standing
Outside the fast closed door,
In lowly patience waiting
To pass the threshold o’er:
We bear the name of Christians,
Thy name and sign we bear:
Oh, shame, thrice shame upon us!
To keep Thee standing there.
O Jesus, Thou art knocking;
And low! that hand is scarred,
And thorns Thy brow encircle,
And tears Thy face have marred:
O love that passeth knowledge,
So patiently to wait!
O sin that hath no equal,
So fast to bar the gate!
O Jesus! Thou art pleading
In accents meek and low –
“I died for you, My children,
And will you treat me so?”

If you have never given your heart to Jesus, or are wanting to give your heart to Him again, I would love to hear from you at laypastor@tampaadventist.net.

For more studies on the plan of salvation and new birth click here.  For studies on Baptism and God’s Church click here.