This article has been written with the understanding that our Father has been giving to me. It is not intended to be the final word, nor does it cover every aspect. Receive what is good to you and leave the rest, for unless we receive “light from heaven,” it can become yet another doctrine without life.
It is often asked, what God will do with those who die without ever coming to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Will they burn in hell, as the pagan doctrine teaches? Will they be annihilated, and cease to exist as some believe? Will they go straight into the presence of God in the condition they are in? Will there be a process of correction?
It must be stated clearly that the ONLY salvation for mankind is through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, whereby God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. And, there is only ONE name whereby mankind is saved - JESUS. We may seem to be far from Father God, even as the prodigal son was from his father. Yet, we must remember that his father was always expecting his return and was looking for him. The desire to return home was planted with in the prodigal son, even as it is planted within all of God’s wandering children. It was our Father who has reconciled us, or brought us back into family relationship. The following verse expressed this thought.
See the beautiful site, of His sons coming home, Together they come, no longer alone, Back to the Father, back to His throne, His sons are His glory, now filling His home.
Now let us look at the simple declaration found in Ecclesiastes 12:7, where we read, “then will the dust [our bodies] return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” It must be remembered that our spirits came from God, and the first example of this is found in Genesis 2:7. “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” We have God who is SPIRIT breathing what? Being SPIRIT, He can only breathe HIMSELF.
Consider also, Job 34:14-15 "If He should determine to do so, if He should gather to himself His spirit and His breath, All flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” In Number 16:22 we read - - “God of the spirits of all flesh.” It would seem that our spirit is of God’s Spirit, and that he has chosen to dwell in flesh. To quote John Gavazzoni, “The ‘spirits,’ plural, I think you would agree, speaks of the individualizing of the one Spirit of God.” See also: Numbers 27:16 “God of the spirits of all flesh” and Hebrews 12:9 “Father of spirits.”
Romans 11:36 is a favorite verse of mine. In The New English Bible it simply reads, “Source, Guide, and Goal of all that is.” The truth is that we are from Him - literally out of Him, through Him, and will continue into Him.
First Corinthians 15:22 tells us that ALL died in Adam. All of Christianity agrees with this, but, has a problem with the rest of the verse, “so also IN CHRIST ALL will be made alive.” This of course brings us back to the question of those who died never experiencing God’s grace during their earthly life. How could they possibly be saved?
Honest questions are raised about wicked persons, and how much someone such as Adolf Hitler deserves to be punished, along with rapists, murders, child molesters, etc, and let’s not leave out you and me. Our legalistic thinking demands that it be done! We think that somehow we are on God’s side by demanding punishment, the death penalty, etc for the criminal element. Jesus, while dying on the cross prayed, Father forgive them.” It has been said, “The judgements of God are remedial,” however our self-righteous legalism says, “No way, let them burn.”
The truth of course is that when Jesus Christ died ALL mankind died within, and through Him, past, present and future. In other words, He has already taken the punishment for ALL, yes, even Hitler, Stalin, rapists, murderers, you and me.
Do we really believe that the Father sent the Son because He loved the world, and that the Son seemed to accomplish His mission when He cried out, “It is finished,” but really failed the Father because after all was said and done, only a few would ever be saved? What a limited view we have of the plans and purposes of God!
But - But - But - What about “free will?” Do we not have the right to choose? Is not man supposed to be “a free moral agent.” What freedom is there outside of Christ? Does the drug addict, the alcoholic, the gambling addict, the sex addict have freedom of choice? No! We have been freed from bondage to sin in order to freely choose Him. Just a few days ago I was talking to a woman who made a statement that I have never forgotten. Over forty years ago she said, “I believe God has so blessed us with everything in North America so that we might choose HIM above everything.”
Several years ago John Gavazzoni and I were discussing this matter of “free will.” One thing he said was, “True freedom of will is the ability to choose to do something and then go and do it with out anything or anybody being able to stop you, plus having done it, the end result is that you are fulfilled in your being and have not been drawn into a process which ends in you becoming the slave of the thing you chose to do ---- that's free-will.”
What about predestination? Does God use two big cookie cutters? One cutter He uses to cut a few cookies for salvation, and the other cutter He uses to cut out the rest of the dough/humanity for damnation. Does he take delight in their burning non-stop, like the Roman Emperor Nero who used burning Christians for night light in his gardens? This is the common teaching, but is this a God of love?
Two favorite verses of we who believe in the ultimate salvation of all mankind are found in Philippians 2:10-11. “So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Before discussing this verse, I want to relate to you briefly some of what happened to my wife Dale following the life saving surgery she needed because of a car accident in December 1974. I will only quote a tiny bit of what she experienced while having a special die test done to determine the amount of brain damage she had.
Dale said, “Suddenly a nurse or technician was saying, "My God she's dead! “I left my body and in an instant I was whisked away and found myself in the presence of the Lord.
“There was a very bright Being of Light that I knew was our Lord. I did not have to ask, I knew, without speaking. Then He said to me, "Dale you can come home if you want to."
I was shocked! I had always thought that at a snap of His fingers, you were alive, or, you were dead. You did not have a choice, if it was His will, that was all there was to it. But, He gave me a choice.
“In His presence you do not speak. You do not have to speak - you know everything. It is all clear, the total happiness. You do not question. There is no need to question. You do not argue, for you know, HE IS!. There was no choice in what I would do, for His will became my will.” End of quote.
There is something about being in the presence of God that brings about change. When Isaiah saw the Lord, he saw himself as God saw him, and then a burning coal from the altar touched his lips and he was cleansed. [Isaiah 6:1-7]
How many times have we sung the chorus, “He is Lord,” and rejoiced that “every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord?” We tended to believe it for the moment in a poetic manner, but not as truth. Just what do we think will happen when a person who has never known Christ in his earthly life, maybe denied His existence, or rebelled against Him, comes face to face with the glory of His presence, of His might, of His holiness, of His love embodied as consuming fire? Will he be free to reject God’s love? Will not God’s will become his will, as he bows in worship and adoration as Philippians 2:9-11 says? For a further study on this subject read my article, “Every Knee Will Bow in Worship”
There are several realities about God, that are touched upon from time to time. He is Holy. He is Just. He is Love. He is a Consuming Fire. The question is, How can a sinner stand in the presence of a Holy, Just, God of Love who is a Consuming Fire? He can’t! Does that mean that all hope is lost? Was not God in Christ reconciling that sinner to Himself? Did God who has all knowledge, wisdom and power fail? Many seem to think so, and by thinking such deify man.
Let us briefly consider fire, for our God is a Consuming Fire! When fire as we know it burns the heat causes a CHANGE IN FORM. Only the basic elements remain in ash form. The smoke from the fire contains particles of the wood, etc that ascend upward as smoke. When gold is heated by fire the impurities come to the surface. Iron that is heated becomes pliable and subject to moulding.
The next paragraph may be a bit technical, or hard to understand for some, but I would like you to receive what you can from it.
In Revelation 19:20, 21:8 & 20:14 -15 we read of "the Lake of Fire which burns with brimstone." The word brimstone comes from the Greek word "theion" #2303 and means, "FIRE from HEAVEN/GOD." Strong’s Concordance refers to #2304 "theios" which is from "theos" #2316 "theos" meaning God. E.W. Bullinger defined brimstone as, "fire from heaven, (places touched by lightening were called "theia," as lightening leaves a sulphurous smell, and sulphur was used in heathen purification, it got the name of "theion." Brimstone (from brienne or brin, i.e. burn and stone, from heathen uses in their religions, God made it an instrument of His vengeance on the heathen."
As I have written some time ago, I knew a man who had died, and went down to a place he believed to be what the preachers call “hell.” He saw many people on the shoreline of a lake burning with blue fire. This description fits with what was said above about the lake of Fire and Brimstone. Now, common teaching says that once anyone die without receiving Jesus as your Savior, that you are headed to hell and there is no hope ever for that person.
The man I knew said that he saw Jesus walking along the shore of the lake of fire, and that he knew that if Jesus would turn and look at him, then all would be well. Jesus did, and he came back to his body, which had a crushed skull, and had been under water for twenty minutes. He literally met Jesus at the place where religions says there is no hope.
The verses from Revelation make it clear that sinners, Death and Hell, were cast into the "lake of fire." Hell is from Greek "hades", or Hebrew "sheol." Both words mean the grave, or place of the dead. The Bible calls this the Second Death." This is the end of death and the end of what people call hell! 1 Corinthians 15:26 reads, "The last enemy that will be destroyed is death." The last means, the final enemy of man. The word destroyed is from the Greek, "katargeo" #2673, means; abolished, made of no effect, vanished, made void, to render entirely idle or inoperative.
Remember, fire changes things and, "Our God is a CONSUMING FIRE." Some years ago, the Lord told my friend David Johnson, “I Am The Lake of Fire.” That is exactly correct.
What happens to the sinner standing in the presence of Almighty God? First of all, he has already been saved in Christ because of this shed blood, death and resurrection. However, he has not entered into that salvation. There he is in the presence of God. The LOVE of GOD overwhelms him consuming all of the dross. His will is melted until the only desire he has is the will of our Father. He bows in worship and confesses that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God our Father. God as love receives all, for He has forgiven all through the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ.
While this study may not have answered every question, I pray that it will be a blessing to many. The following verse from years ago, I believe, should be the heart cry of all creation, and certainly of every child of God.
Our Father, our very own Father, Creator of every man, Bring forth Thy promised salvation, In the earth fulfill Thy plan.
Remember: “Our theology affects our view of God. Our view of God affects our theology”