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Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 3/7/04

"But the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him" (I John 2:27, RSV.

The following essay is in response to a brother's question about a writing I sent to him entitled, "The Lake of Fire and Brimstone," by John Gavazzoni, available upon request.

He wrote, "Jan, I truly want to believe this doctrine of Ultimate Reconciliation. And I was ready to agree with the Lake of Fire deal. But how do you explain Rev 20:11-15; Rev 21: 8; Rev 21:27; and Rev 22:14-15? I understand your insights into biblical fire and I agree with them. But why didn't John the Revelator make it perfectly clear in the above passages. It seems to end in "Limbo" and not in this great "Ultimate" conclusion.

Love ya, Jake" (Not his real name). End Quote.

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Dear Jake,

Here are the scriptures you ask about. I am asking the Lord to give me clarity as He reveals their meaning for us today.

1) Rev 20:11-15: "Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades (unseen) gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (RSV).

This passage has been used to scare people up to the altar for centuries, no doubt, but when you see it with your spiritual eyes open, it's actually very comforting. Hades is one of the words translated "hell" in the King James Version. Jonathan Mitchell translates it simply as "unseen." Here's verse 13 in the KJV: "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." Notice that death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them, proving that whatever hell is, it is NOT everlasting, forever and ever, for the dead in there got out. Remember that Jesus went to the souls in prison (Hades/Sheol), in Noah's day and preached the gospel to them (I Peter 3:18-20). They got a second chance after death, and if they did, how can we say that no one else will? And also, if Jesus preached to them, do you think they refused Him?

Rev. 20:15, in the King James version, tells us that death and hell were cast into the lake of fire, again proving that hell does not last forever. It ends in the lake of fire, which scripture tells us is God Himself! Our God IS a REFINING FIRE (Heb. 12:29). It is where the dross is burned off, the hay, wood and stubble burned up, the works of our hands not built on the foundation of Christ will be consumed by this fire, but Paul assures us, "If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (I Cor. 3:15, RSV). Do you see the good news here? It's bad for those who plan to build up a credit in the first bank of heaven against which they can slide past a few sins, for those of us who depend on grace alone to get us there, it's wonderful news.

2) Rev 21: 8: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (RSV). Here again, we have good news about the fire and sulfur (cleansing agent) used to burn off the dross, which these sins represent, and both Lenny and John Gavazzoni have pointed out that a man who does these things has never met Christ and therefore does not know who He is. He is acting out of unbelief and ignorance, but when he sees Christ, he will be changed. My personal conviction is that when he is immersed into the lake of Fire, which is God Himself, he will see Him as He is and then he will be like Him. We are all children of God, but some do not know this yet because God has not revealed Himself to them.

As I was meditating on this verse, the Lord showed me that the second death is in fact, the death of death. It is the end of the flesh. My grandfather is quoted as saying that we begin to die the moment we are born. When He came in the flesh, Christ entered the death realm with us, but He took it to the cross with Him. Paul said of His death, "The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God" (Rom. 6:10, RSV). Christ delivered us from the sting of death and the power of law to kill, once and for ALL. In an e-mail dialogue with Jonathan Mitchell about this, he wrote a much appreciated summation of this misunderstood topic of the second death: "The lake of fire eliminates death, and the realm of death (Hades/Sheol), as well as the adversarial spirit (the devil/Satan), false speaking (false prophet) and the beast nature (Rev. 20:10), and our works of wood, hay and stubble." Only God could take something as frightening to the human mind as fire and brimstone, and turn it into such incredibly good news!

3) Rev 21:27: "But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life" (RSV). Here again, anyone who is immersed into the lake of Fire will have the dross burned off, and there will be nothing unclean left in him. We mud creatures are like a diamond, which is really a lump of coal. When it is subjected to millions of years of heat and pressure, it becomes a sparkling, valuable, beautiful jewel. Malachi spoke of this in powerful symbolic terms: "But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? "For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years" (Mal. 3:2-4, RSV).

Notice that God is referred to as a refiner's fire (there it is again) and fullers' soap (a bleaching or cleansing agent), used to purify the sons of Levi (the priestly tribe, which we are in Christ, Rev. 1:6), and refine them like gold and silver. I'm sure you know that unrefined gold and silver ore is heated to the boiling point, and when the dross comes to the top of the boiling metal, it is skimmed off leaving a pure product behind. The end of the process of purification is that Judah and Jerusalem (a type of the elect) will be pleasing to the Lord again. In fact, Ezekiel said that even wicked Sodom, which was totally destroyed by fire and brimstone falling from heaven (Gen. 19:24; Deut. 29:23), would be restored and returned to her former estate (Eze. 16:53, 55). Hallelujah for the cleansing fire!

4) Rev 22:14-15: "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood" (RSV). Here again, the ones outside the gates, the ones who do not have access to the tree of life, are those who have not yet been cleansed, but remember that all of us fell into this category until we were Baptized in the Holy Spirit. Then we had the eyes of our understanding opened to see the plan of the ages unfold in our lives. John the Baptist prophesied that the one coming after Him would baptize them with the Holy Spirit AND WITH FIRE! (Matt. 3:11; Lk. 3:16). This is a promise, not a threat. The faithful Jews were looking forward to it because they understood the significance of both

The answer to your question about why John the Revelator was not clearer in his message to modern readers, is that he was writing in symbols so the Roman authorities would not understand him. It was a capital offense in Rome to be a Christian and worship the true God, for Caesar was considered god, and anyone not worshipping him was condemned to death. John knew that the Christians who were filled with the Spirit and depending on God to save them would understand and be blessed by what he was saying. He was speaking to Christians under siege in that day, persecuted, thrown to the lions, burned as human torches to light Nero's garden party. If, as some claim today, (like Hal, Pat, Jerry, and the other Evangelical dispensationalists), John was writing this to future generations, the whole letter makes no sense at all. How would it comfort you to hear about what God was going to do millenniums in the future, when you were being tortured right now?

John in fact, said, "Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near" (Rev. 1:3, RSV). Jonathan Mitchell translates the verse this way: "Happy (Blessed; Prosperous) is the one constantly reading (retrieving knowledge from), and those constantly hearing, the words of the prophecy and habitually keeping watch over (guarding; observing) the things having been written within it, for the situation is close at hand (or: for the season or occasion is near)." You will find the books he has translated on his website (See link at end)..

The bottom line here is that the book of Revelation is revealing the Christ to us, in us and through us. It is something for the here and now, not afar off. If I tell you, "Jake, the time for me to come to your house for dinner is near at hand," you would not assume you had thousands of years or even a month to get your food purchased and prepared. You'd get right on it. Likewise, John's readers understood that the ancient symbols he used to convey his message of hope, grace, and triumph in God, was for them right then, in the fires of tribulation where they found themselves.

Similarly, in Matthew 24, when Jesus was talking about the cataclysmic events that were coming: wars and rumors of wars, tribulation, betrayal, false prophets, the abomination in the Holy place spoken of by Daniel (Vs. 6-15), and gross wickedness so evil and traumatic that unless God shortened the days for the elect's sake, no flesh would be saved (Vs. 22), he said it would shortly come upon them. Note Verse 34: "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place" (RSV). That would indicate that all these horrific things would come to pass within 40 years (the designated number of years in a generation), or else there are some EXTREMELY OLD JEWS hiding out on the planet someplace. In fact, within a generation of the time Jesus spoke this, His words were fulfilled on the 9th of Av (July on our calendar), when the Roman general Titus sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the magnificent temple Herod the Great had built, and burned all the records. When the soldiers put the image of Caesar (whom they considered a god in the flesh), on a spear and stood it in the Holy Place, the abomination of desolation had taken place on earth. That was AD 70. It's over, finished, done with! There's no need for a third temple to be built to carry this prophecy out, as dispensationalists insist. Herod's temple was the one in which it already happened. All the scary stuff, depicted in the "Left Behind" series by Tim Lahaye, that threaten people with tribulation and holocaust after the righteous are sucked off the planet, is a bald faced fabrication, drummed up out of the imagination and fear consciousness of the carnal mind. John's readers knew precisely what he was talking about.

Jesus' disciples knew exactly what he was talking about as well. Titus was so incensed at the fight the Jews put up, and about how long it took to bring them down, that He ordered all the Christians to be killed along with the Jews. But Jesus' words saved them, for He had warned them, "When you see the armies circling the city, run for your lives. Don't go back home for anything. If you are in the fields, flee, and if you are on the roof tops get out of there!" (Luke 21:20-24, Jan's version). They did as He said, and not a Christian could be found in the city of Jerusalem when it finally toppled. Also as Jesus had prophesied, there was not one stone left on another (Luke 21:6). In fact, the only thing left of the beautiful temple Herod the Great built, finished just a few years prior to AD 70, is the Western Wall, formerly called the Wailing Wall, where devout Jews pray today.

I know you have struggled with this for a long time, Jake, and my prayer is that God will remove the veil from your eyes that you might see the truth, hidden by the doctrines of men, and dogmas of religion and translation errors. All of that is good for church coffers, profitable to the organization in terms of money and service, but horrific on the souls of men and women longing to be set free from fear.

We love you and stand with you in your search for truth. I really like the Recovery New Testament translation of this verse: "But when He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality; for He will not speak from Himself, but what He hears He will speak; and He will declare to you the things that are coming" (John 16:13). The only reality in the entire Universe and beyond is Christ Himself. We can't look to our life, our politics, our education, or our church to show us reality, for only He is real. On the other side of the Lake of Fire is our Father, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things" (Rom. 11:36).

Love you, Jan and Lenny

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Father, reveal Yourself to all who still fear the fire and dread the coming punishment threatened by some who don't really know you as You are. We thank You and bless You that the Holy Spirit and fire are Your gifts to us, transforming us into Your image and likeness, causing us to be reflectors of Your glory to the waiting world. Amen. Jan Antonsson

Jan and Lenny Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)

Jonathan Mitchell's Translations

The Glory Road

We always enjoy hearing from you!

jantonsson@aol.com

This page was uploaded to the web on 3/2/04

by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,

and last edited on 10/18/08.