Everyone experiences two deaths. Only a few are privileged to die to the flesh first and then to die in the flesh. All the others die in the flesh first and then must enter a "lake of fire which [does not cause] the second death," probably a metaphor for repentance and conversion.
The book of Revelation is a book of symbolic language (Revelation 1:1), and most of it can't be taken as literal. A spirit (Satan), death and the grave, or hades, are cast into this fire.
None of these three "things" can be hurt by fire, so why do people still think that the fire is literal?
Every person will be put in fire (Mark 9:49). All our works and flaws will be refined in fire (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
I find it amazing how many "Christians" delight in the idea of not granting mercy to those who ask for it in the afterlife.
Could it be that most who think they are converted really aren't?
I know many people who can put the God of our tradition to shame when it comes to mercy and compassion. Maybe it's time to rethink our ideas.
Just wanted to comment on your editorial concerning Dan Cafourek ["Disfellowshippers Should Take a Break," The Journal, April 30].
It is high time the Churches of God began to act like churches of God and not some other worldly church!
I believe, and have written articles, stating that I believe the whole world, including members of the Church of God, is deceived--just as it says in Revelation 12:9.
God's church is in the world. We are not immune to the influence of Satan and need to be very close to God if we want to be undeceived.
We all have chinks in our spiritual armor where Satan can get to us! We all have weaknesses that he can exploit, and one of those (the major one, I think) is vanity.
Those in charge sometimes put themselves on a pedestal and demand to be worshiped. Oh, they don't realize this, but, when a minister tells someone that by disobeying the minister the person is disobeying God, he has set himself between that person and God! That, my friend, is idolatry!
Editor, The SevenTimes Journal
More than Genesis kind
I much appreciated Eric Snow's article "Can Christians Actually Become God?" (The Journal, July 31), pointing out the true human potential, which is indeed nothing less than to become what God is, (a) God (being).
I have no doubt that Mr. Snow fully understands that we are not, in fact cannot, become what or who someone else already is. God the Father is God the Father, the firstborn Son is the firstborn Son, and you and I can become (only) additional children in the one God family.
Those who deny that God is and/or has a family have no right to call God their Father, have no right to call Jesus their elder brother, have no right to call themselves sons (children) of God.
Words such as marriage, father, mother, wife, husband, son, daughter, brother, sister and children find their true meaning only in the context of true family.
Using these words and at the same time denouncing that God is truly a family is not only illogical and unbiblical, it is a contradiction in terms.
I do, however, disagree with Mr. Snow's statement that, "after all, we [meaning Christians] today are of the same species, the same category, that Adam was of."
To be sure, we are all of the human kind, but, if the Spirit of God dwells in us, we are begotten children of God and we are already of the God kind, with a claim to deity.
For God the Father already sees us in the righteousness of Christ, already sees us as sinless as was His firstborn Son, when Jesus was on this earth as a born human being and a begotten God being.
Jesus is truly our example in all things.
Tragic indeed it is to see Steven Collins in "Just What Kind of Captivity . . ." [The Journal, April 30] reduce the end-time global cataclysm soon to come upon the entire earth to an "economic captivity."
He states: "Christians need to stop obsessing about a Nazi-like beast power emerging in Europe . . . Instead they need to open their eyes to the economic captivity to Babylon the Great . . ."
But what about Matthew 24:21: "For then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be"?
And verse 22: "Except those days be shortened there should no flesh be saved"?
See also Daniel 12:1 and Jeremiah 30:7.
Are these referring to a mere "economic captivity"? Strange how this economic captivity is so selective.
Scripture is clear. This coming time is punishment on the whole house of Israel, above all else. What we are seeing in preparation for this great end-time event is a subtle, creeping world fascism (the collusion of big government and big business) that is impacting the lives of everyone far more than in just an economic sense.
It is a system that creates an illusion that so-called democratic freedoms remain while all the while the will of the people is disregarded in our sold-out political systems. Those who attempt to defend traditional core values (God's laws) are labeled Nazi, extremist.
In the final analysis, this whole system, which is even now coming upon us, is religious in nature, far beyond mere economic.
Yes, severe chastening is coming. Isaiah 10:5-6: "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger . . . I will send him against an hypocritical nation [Israel] and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge to take the spoil and to take the prey and to tread them down like the wine of the streets."
Palmerston, New Zealand
Are we there yet?
Are you a righteous person? Are you certain of your understandings? Has God Almighty personally told you you are perfect?
Please do not run away from this question! If you do, you will miss an important point.
Are you one of those who have loved ones? Good! I knew you were. But are you among those who have been told to avoid, reject, mark, etc., those who are your loved ones: mothers, fathers, sons and daughters?
Please, reader, where did you ever read such a doctrine that has ever said "Hate your loved ones"?
Are you living the "love" part of your lives while "hating" your brothers and neighbors? Peter asked Jesus how often should he forgive his brothers. Seven times seven? Jesus said 70 times seven! How on earth can the COGs claim to be Christian if they cannot even forgive parents, children, former friends?
I realize you will condemn me for the following statement, but: I would rather not be in God's Kingdom than be there with the likes of you, you who have been taught "works" but not "faith"!
The "calendar issue" still continues. Why? Evidently there remain some unanswered questions. One confusing point is oral law.
Recently we heard an excellent tape explaining oral law. My husband and I have been in the church since the early 1970s, but this was the most clearly explained information on oral law we have ever heard. No matter what your position is on the calendar issue, this tape is helpful.
The tape is "Jesus and the Oral Law," recorded by Ronald Dart of Christian Educational Ministries on June 15. It is available on tape or CD from CEM, P.O. Box 560, Whitehouse, Texas 75791, U.S.A. Phone (903) 509-2999.
Some discoveries in the Scripture:
Hosea said, in 8:4, that "they [Israel] have kings but not by me." Does this support our belief that we should not vote?
Hosea wrote that, because Israel increased her number of altars to commit sin, her altars would lead to more occasions to commit sin (8:11). Does this reflect the COGs today?
"When one sows to the wind [idle words and deeds], it will reap a hurricane" (8:7). Does this remind you of what happened to New Orleans last year?
If our members and ministers still do not know how to interpret Leviticus 23:5, which says that the old Passover sacrifice is on the "fourteenth day of the month at even," how then do they interpret the correct time for the Day of Atonement, which begins on the "ninth day of the month at even" (verse 32), when the author uses a similar syntax?
For those who despise the law of the OT, why does Hebrews 9:15 say that the Lord "died for the redemption of the transgressions that were against the first testament," if we think that disobeying the laws of that first testament is not a sin? If He died for those old transgressions, how can we expect Him to forgive us if we keep transgressing them?
Stoney Creek, Ont., Canada