Save us from the fire

Heaven can’t wait; more on purgatory

 

Save us from the fireThis is the seventh in a series of articles on biblical terms that describe the afterlife and the unseen world.

In the last column we defined the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory and argued that this long-held teaching finds no support in Scripture.

Perhaps the strongest argument against the doctrine of purgatory is that it undermines the sufficiency of Christ. Just before His death on the cross, Jesus declares triumphantly, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Among other things, this means the work of redemption is complete and that no more sacrifice for sins is required.

The wrath of God has been satisfied as the One who knew no sin became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

The writer of Hebrews echoes this truth: “After making purification for sins, He [Jesus] sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:3b). Further, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified” (10:14).
Continue reading

Anyone not found in the book of life – Revelation 20:15

Previously: The second death – Revelation 20:14

The scripture

Rev. 20:15 – And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (HCSB)

Anyone not found

John concludes this section with the words, “And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (v. 15).

As the wicked pass through the gates of hell in Dante’s epic poem Inferno, they are greeted with these words: “Abandon hope, all you who enter here.” These words remind the damned that once inside, there is no escape from the fiery torments they have brought upon themselves.

As Charles Swindoll writes, “Though the details of Dante’s fictional picture of heaven, hell, and purgatory range from the fantastic to the heretical, he was right about this: the final destination of the wicked features a one-way entrance. All hope vanishes beyond; there will be no escape from the lake of fire…. The facts of eternal punishment are set forth without a hint of hope … because no hope exists apart from God” (Insights on Revelation, pp. 266-67).

Books are opened at the great white throne, and the wicked find their names there, along with details of their lives – perhaps even a full accounting of their deeds. Some may wish to be excluded from God’s record of their thoughts, words, and actions, for their lives are laden with every sort of evil. They stand before their Creator – who has revealed Himself in creation, conscience, Christ and Canon – with no excuse (Rom. 1:20). They have turned up their noses at God’s revealed love and turned their backs on His grace. And now they are reminded of every idle word, every selfish deed, every squandered opportunity as the evidence written in the books piles so high and wide it becomes like prison walls that cannot be scaled.
Continue reading

Save us from the fire

Does the Bible teach purgatory?

Save us from the fireThis is the sixth in a series of articles on biblical terms that describe the afterlife and the unseen world.

Do some Christians undergo purification from the stain of sin between death and entrance into heaven? Many who answer yes to that question embrace the doctrine of purgatory, which became official Roman Catholic dogma in A.D. 1438.

Simply stated, purgatory is a place or state of suffering where the dead bound for heaven achieve the holiness necessary to enter into the presence of God.

It should be noted, according to Catholic teaching, that some saints go directly to heaven upon death, needing no purification, while those who die in the state of unrepented mortal sin find themselves at once, and eternally, in hell. All those in purgatory ultimately make it to heaven.
Continue reading

Save us from the fire

The second death – Revelation 20:14

Save us from the firePreviously: Death and Hades gave up their dead – Revelation 20:13

The scripture

Rev. 20:14 – Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (HCSB)

The second death

Revelation uses the term “lake of fire” or “lake of burning sulfur” to describe the destiny of God’s enemies, who are:

  • The beast and the false prophet (Rev. 19:20)
  • The Devil (Rev. 20:10)
  • Death and Hades (Rev. 20:14)
  • Anyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life (Rev. 20:15)
  • Cowards, unbelievers, the vile, murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars (Rev. 21:8)

Jesus refers to this place as gehenna – a term derived from the Valley of Hinnom, traditionally considered by the Jews the place of the final punishment of the ungodly. Located just south of Jerusalem, this valley is the scene of human sacrifices to the god Molech and is declared “the valley of slaughter” by Jeremiah.“ Whatever its historical and geographic meaning, its usage in the New Testament is clearly a reference to the everlasting state of the wicked, and this seems to be the thought in every instance,” writes John Walvoord in Four Views on Hell (p. 20).
Continue reading

ness

Death and Hades gave up their dead – Revelation 20:13

nessPreviously: The book of life – Revelation 20:12b

The scripture

Rev. 20:13 – Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. (HCSB)

Death and Hades gave up their dead

We should recall that the resurrected Jesus declares in Rev. 1:18, “I was dead, but look – I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Even before the cross, Jesus tells Peter that the forces of Hades will not overpower His Church” (Matt. 16:18).

Death is a reality that all people experience as a consequence of sin (Gen. 2:17). Hades is the abode of the dead. Therefore, Death and Hades are tied inextricably to sin. But Jesus, who added to His deity sinless humanity (John 1:14), tasted death for everyone (Heb. 2:9). Through His finished work on the cross, He paid our sin debt and conquered the grave so that Death and Hades have no lasting grip on those who place their faith in Him.

The bottom line of John’s vision of Death and Hades giving up their dead is that ultimately every person will be physically resurrected and spend eternity either in the new heavens and earth or in the lake of fire. A time is coming when there is no longer physical death or an intermediate existence where people wait to put on resurrected bodies and stand in final judgment. Just as Jesus is Judge of all (John 5:22), He is Lord over sin, death, and the realm of the dead.
Continue reading