In this post, I want to give you some food for thought and show some incredible things I’ve seen recently in the Bible about what happens as the rule/reign/kingdom of God is manifested on earth. Remember, the central and most universal message of Jesus and the first apostles was about the arrival and the ways of the “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven” (both are used in the Biblical accounts and mean the same thing. As I wrote last time, the word “heaven” literally means “the air/sky,” and is used to symbolize the ways of God which are “higher” than those of the earth. The word Kingdom means “reign, rule.” So, Jesus and the apostles were essentially declaring, describing, and demonstrating how those in and under the higher ways of God’s Kingdom are to operate – the central emphasis being unconditional love and humble service toward others. There is nothing more heroic, restorative, or beautiful than such things.
In keeping with this central message, the Bible declares that as the kingdom/rule/reign of God comes, the wicked will be destroyed. I’ve written before that it is much more accurate to say that it is wickedNESS, rather than wicked individuals, which will ultimately be destroyed by the manifestation of the light, love and Spirit of God Himself (which are often symbolized by fire) through His sons and daughters. In fact, both Jesus and Paul taught that it is this destruction by fire which ACCOMPLISHES the reconciliation of all men with God. It’s a startling truth – the thing that much of Christianity claims will torture unbelievers forever is actually the thing that will result in their reconciliation and salvation!
Here is something I only recently noticed, which I think is pretty awesome: not only did Jesus and Paul clearly teach that wickedness in ALL people will be destroyed by fire, but also, just as clearly, taught that what spiritual will “remain” after the fire has burned! Here are a few scriptures that show this:
1 Corinthians 3:13-15 WEB ®: “…each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is. If any man’s work remains (Greek “meno,” meaning to remain, to stay) which he built on it, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire.”
John 15:16 WEB ®: “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain (Greek “meno,” meaning to remain, to stay); that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
Matthew 6:19-20 ESV: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (all treasures on earth will eventually be lost), but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (things in/of heaven cannot be lost).
Hebrews 12:27-29 ESV: “This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken–that is, things that have been made–in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain (Greek “meno,” meaning to remain, to stay, to abide). Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
All that being said, let me explain why I made the bold claim that, like Hitler, you and I will not “go to heaven”: no one has or will “go to heaven” except Christ.
I realize that “going to heaven” is a deep-seated, central idea within much of Christianity. Understandably, such ideas often require a significant shift in understanding to let go of. But there is one truth, taught all through the New Testament, that can help clarify things: EVERYTHING other than what is born of Christ/heaven will ultimately be destroyed. Now, when I say “Christ,” I’m speaking of the Spirit of God, NOT the man named Jesus whom the Bible says was anointed by it. (see footnote 5). The word “Christ” itself actually means “anointed/indwelt by the Spirit of God.” The scriptures above are all saying this same thing in different ways: ultimately only what is in line with the Spirit of God will remain. The manifestation of God’s ways is the point, NOT the destruction of wickedness! For the sake of space I won’t try to quote all the scriptures that support this idea, but three others worth mentioning are Paul writing that God will ultimately be “All in all,” (see footnote 1), that IN CHRIST all people will be made alive (see footnote 2), and that the universe is heading toward the “restoration of all things” (see footnote 3).
Consider this: all things not born of Christ/heaven being destroyed means that at least part of what we think of as our “self” will be destroyed. Without any doubt, the human personality known as “Hitler” was composed of things that were not born of Christ or in line with the Kingdom of God/Heaven. Therefore, the personality known as “Hitler” does not and will not exist in the Kingdom. But the thing is, the same is true of you and I! Everything not born of/founded on the Spirit of God, including our ego, our opinions, our insecurities, fears, prejudices, idols, selfish and harmful ways of all sorts, even things we are not aware of, will not “remain” but are destined for destruction in the fire of God’s presence. This is how the salvation and sanctification of all men is accomplished.
Many of us have been taught to think of people as “saved” or “unsaved,” and maybe there’s a bit of truth in that, but it’s not that simple. Paul wrote of believers BEING saved, and salvation as something that is “worked out,” (see footnote 4) indicating salvation is process which can increase over time. He said such things because salvation is not merely going to heaven instead of hell when you die. Again, what we often think of as our SELF – as the personhood referred to as “Ryan” or “Sarah” or “Ahmed” or “Camille” is not going to survive the fire of God’s unimaginable light and love. (Revelation 2:17 even says the “overcomers” will get a “new name.”) This is part of salvation: we will be CHANGED, as Paul wrote, and changed radically. If you are striving for wholeness, love and goodness, then this is something to pursue and “work out,” not hide from.
In my next post, I hope to examine more closely the idea of “going to heaven,” which I believe has morphed out of eons of man’s ignorance and fear, becoming out of line with the Father’s heart and with the message of Jesus and the first apostles.
Until then, love those around you and be humble : ) Thanks for reading.
- 1 Corinthians 15:28, Ephesians 1:23
- 1 Corinthians 15:22 WEB (R): “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
- Acts 3:21
- 1 Corinthians 1:18, Philippians 2:12
- Matthew 16:20; Acts 4:10,27; 10:38