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Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, on 5/29/05.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24).

When I told Lenny that this week's topic is "Judgment Day," he joked, "You are living dangerously, aren't you." There are few topics in Christianity which bring up more fear than this one. Countless numbers have gone forward at the altar call, spurred on by these scorching words: "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers'" (Matt. 7:21-23). Fire breathing preachers used this text to frighten us, and it worked! I can remember shuddering in horror at that verse, thinking, "Oh no, Lord, please don't ever say that to me," and then wondering what in the world I could do to avoid such a fate. This passage in Matthew falls into the category of "scary scriptures," which well meaning (I hope) preachers have been using, probably for centuries, to motivate reluctant sinners to repent. While this tactic may enjoy short term success, sadly, many who came forward under those circumstances later fall away because they were drawn not by the love of God, but rather by the fear mongering of man.

Fear is a powerful motivator, as parents and pastors know well, but fear based repentance falls under the category of "fire insurance." When Jesus called first the 12 disciples and later the multitudes who followed Him, He did not scare them into signing on. They willingly came to Him because they saw, heard, experienced, and sensed that He manifested something very different from what the religious leaders of the day offered. The difference was/is LOVE, the most powerful force in the Universe. This writing is the forth in a series of end-time topics, and gives me yet another opportunity to share the really, truly Good News of Jesus Christ. The scripture in John 5:24, indicates that believers do not come into judgment because we have passed from death to life. I had NEVER heard anyone preach on this, but one day as I was reading John, this verse leapt off the page and into my heart. Can it be true? And if it is true, what of the many verses which seem to indicate that Judgment Day will be as bad as we've always been warned it will be?

We've been talking for a month now about the pitfalls of interpreting scripture literally, rather than symbolically (Links to all at end). According to the dispensationalists, there will come a literal 24 hour DAY, when God will judge the "quick and the dead" (II Tim. 4:1). I well remember joyfully reading Preston Eby's study on this topic about 18 or 19 years ago now. His series about the end times freed me from the fear of standing before the Throne of God, awaiting my eternal fate. His point was that when you do the math, what we've been told doesn't add up. Even if God could speed up the process and recount the deeds done in the body of each person in only one minute, that would equate to only 60 people an hour, 1,440 a day, and 525,600 a year. I'm not sure anyone knows exactly how many people have lived on the earth since Adam and Eve, but right now, approximately six billion souls live on the planet. If God only judged those living today, at one minute a person, it would take 11,415.53 years to judge just these souls alive today, never mind the ones who have already died in millenniums past.

I offer this mathematical calculation, thanks to my trusty Texas Instruments calculator, to show that the term "Judgment Day," whatever it is, is not a literal 24 hour period. Even if you fall back on the verse in II Peter 3:8, which says "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day," you'd still have 11.4 days, not ONE 24 hour period. I find this to be excellent proof that "Judgment Day" is a metaphor, a symbolic way to describe a spiritual concept in physical terms. Likewise, some describe Armageddon as a literal battle, and Gehenna as eternal hell, when it actually is a physical location southwest of Jerusalem where they burned up the bodies of criminals, animals, and refuse.

Before we get into examples of Judgment Days which have already happened, please consider Isaiah's observation: "For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals perversely and does not see the majesty of the LORD" (Isa. 26:9-10). There are two points which leaped out at me from these verses. 1) God's judgments are upon the earth, while we are alive, not, as the church proclaims, heaped upon the wicked after they die. 2) When God's judgments come upon the earth, "the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness." How could learning righteousness in hell do you any good since they say you will never get out? The writers of the Bible wrote about the wickedness of their day, during their lives, not after their death. They didn't fear nuclear missiles, but rather the wrath and cruelty of the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser, who mounted a ferocious attack against Israel, carrying the northern tribes away in chains. Likewise, they feared Babylon's Nebuchadnezzar, who took the best of Judah captive, stole all the gold and silver vessels and objects of worship in the temple, and then destroyed both Solomon's beautiful temple and the city of Jerusalem in his fury.

Religious Jews still mourn and fast on the 9th day of Av (the 5th month in the Jewish calendar), a day of great retribution for sin, when Solomon's Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. On this same date in 70 A.D., the Roman General Titus destroyed Herod's Temple. "Tisha B'Av" is a day which has come to be regarded as a symbol of all the tragedies of the Jewish people." (From The Feasts of the Lord, by Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal).

In a real sense, "Tisha B'Av" was "Judgment Day" for the disobedient Jews who refused to follow the Law of Moses, and instead, went whoring after the gods of the nations round about them. In A.D. 70, God's wrath poured out on those Jews, who "by wicked hands" crucified the Son of Glory (Acts 2:23).

By the Spirit, the Apostle Peter described the horrific judgment executed in A.D. 70, in typical apocalyptic and highly symbolic language familiar to Bible scholars: "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up" (II Pet. 3:10). Scholars believe that II Peter was written between A.D. 65-68, just a few years before God's judgment fell upon Jerusalem, when their heavens (spiritual center) did pass away and their earth burned up (the temple was destroyed by fire). This event confirms what Amos declared, "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets" (Am. 3:7).

Until I understood what happened in A.D. 70, passages like the one quoted in II Peter and many others frightened me. Because it contradicted the love of God I had come to know, I continued to press the Holy Spirit for Light. Having left one form of religion which denied the power of God (II Tim. 3:5), I wanted to know the "big picture," including everything the Spirit has revealed in the Bible, not just a few pet verses.

Here's the purpose of prophecy: "And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (II Pet. 1:19). Peter goes on to explain that "no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (Vs. 20-21). I wonder what he and the other apostles would think about the private interpretation of scripture today, using it to prove whatever point the writer has in mind.

Lest I be guilty of this very thing, let me urge you NOT to listen to my words, but instead, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the truth about whatever it is you want to know. He puts on my heart what to write, but I wondered why I should write about Judgment Day, since many others have already done so, until I saw the truth expressed in Rev. 12:11. Speaking of the devil, John said, "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." Each of us was delivered from harm by the blood of the Lamb, but we still overcome evil and fear, and the wiles of the false prophets by the word of OUR testimony.

The mission statement of Lenny's and my writings is summed up in two words: Fear not! It is appalling and very sad to both of us that so many who name the name of Christ walk in fear and trembling, guilt and shame. The so called "gospel preachers" of my youth used God's judgment against King Belshazzar of Babylon, as proof of what would happen to us. He profaned the sacred vessels stolen from Solomon's temple by drinking wine from them at one of his orgies. As he and his cronies were feasting and drinking, the fingers of a hand appeared and wrote on the wall of his palace the words, "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN" (Dan. 5:24). Here's the interpretation: "{Mene} : God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. {Tekel} : You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. {Peres}: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians" (Dan. 5:26-28). The hell fire and damnation preachers pounded the pulpit and told us that if we didn't repent and be baptized, we would be weighed and found wanting on Judgment Day.

From the e-mail we've gotten over the years, I can tell you that many Christians today still fear that they will be weighed on the scales and found wanting. It's a terrible place to visit, let alone live.

The Apostle John made a powerful statement about that: "In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world" (I John 4:17). As He is (not was, but is, present tense), so are we in this world. Granted, God needs to turn on the switch so that more people see the truth about this prophecy, but from God's standpoint, WE ARE as He is in this world. If that be true, why then are so many people afraid of dying, terrified that God will "throw the book" at them on the Day of Judgment? John tells us the reason: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us" (I John 4:18-19). We personally know way too many very fearful Christians who seemingly don't know either the power of the blood or the unconditional love of their Father. I pray that God will reveal Himself to them that they may know and taste and feel His love, which alone can drive out their fear.

We could write a book about God's judgments on the earth, but someone already did. It's called the Bible. I have asked this before and no one has come forth with anything, but I'll ask again if you can find any reference in the Old Testament, where God's horrific judgments, which were fierce, fiery, and always fatal, lasted beyond the grave. They were for this earth.

Translation problems abound, especially in the King James Version of the Bible. In addition to the Greek word "Gehenna" (a physical location near Jerusalem), being translated as hell, by which is meant eternal punishment, you have the word "everlasting" itself. "Aionian" is the Greek adjective used to describe many things in the Bible. It does not mean "eternal" or "forever," as it is translated, but rather "age-lasting." Time does not permit a complete discourse on the subject, but mistranslating this one word has caused untold horror among Christians. Judgment Day is that time when God's judgments come upon the earth, and the Good News is that when this happens, "the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9). A criminal standing before the judge has his judgment day, but as Lenny reminds us, the verdict can be "Not Guilty." Lenny also points out that since Jesus paid the price for the sins of the whole world, to judge anyone guilty after that is "double jeopardy." Once pardoned for a sin, a prisoner cannot be tried for that crime ever again, even if he committed it!

Let's get real here, and admit what the Bible says, "for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23), but please don't stop there as eternal torment preachers have done for centuries. Press on to the Good News in the next verse, "and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Vs. 24). You probably won't like me anymore when I tell you that I used to be an English teacher, but my education tells me that the "ALL," which is the subject of the verb "have sinned" in Vs. 23, is also the subject of the passive voice verb "are justified" in Vs. 24! IT'S THE SAME ALL! ALL have sinned and ALL "are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Paul reaches the exact same conclusion in I Cor. 15:22: "For as in Adam ALL die, so in Christ ALL will be made alive." The church world's hell fire and damnation preachers are quick to condemn everyone by Adam's sin, and tell you that because Adam sinned, you are damned to hell if you don't obey the gospel, but they have a fit when you draw the only conclusion possible from the context of the verse, that in Christ "ALL will be made alive."

I'm quite a lot better in logic than I am in math, and I know that if we all are condemned because of Adam's sin, when we were not even alive and had nothing to do with the trespass, how unfair would it have been if God had not provided a way of escape from this horror? Not to worry, Paul's treatise on the subject in Romans 5 is excellent. He states that "at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (Vs. 6). He concludes that "sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" (Vs. 12). He states that Adam "was a pattern of the one to come" (i.e., Christ, Vs. 14). He equates the "trespasses" with Adam and the "gift" with Christ, asking, "how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ" (Vs. 17). Next comes his magnificent summation: "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for ALL men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for ALL MEN. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous" (Vs. 18-19). What then have we to fear?

This brings me back to John's statement quoted in the beginning, this time from the NIV: "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24). If the Apostles John and Paul are telling us the truth, we have therefore, nothing to fear on the Day of Judgment, whatever it may turn out to be. I can no longer believe it is one literal future day. According to Strong's Concordance, the Greek word for judgment is "krisiv" or krisis (kree'-sis), from which we get our English word "crisis." Lenny and I have experienced many days of judgment (crisis) in our lives, and as Isaiah prophesied so long ago, we learned righteousness. How? May the Spirit show you that when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God is there. Seeing Him as He is, we learn righteousness and in Spirit, become like Him (I John 3:2).

Father, we thank You for Your judgment days in our lives, which reveal Your mercy, Your grace, and Your unconditional love for us and all creation. We ask you to make us bearers of Your Light in this world, the Light shining from the face of Jesus Christ, that the world may know You as You are. We praise You and thank You and offer You our very lives, our souls, our spirits to use in Your service however You see fit. Amen. Jan Antonsson

Jan and Lenny Antonsson

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

The Kingdoms of This World

The Last Days

Gog and Magog, Final Battle

Heaven, Fact or Fable?

The Day of the Lord

The Glory Road

We always enjoy hearing from you!

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This page was uploaded to the web on 05/25/05

by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,

and last edited on 10/13/08.