Menu

Will Sinners Burn in Hell for Eternity?

Ezekiel and his Visions by Larry Wilson available on DVD
WUAS Internet Bible Studies

Publisher Info:

Publish Date: December, 2007
Last Updated: December 1, 2017
Offline Copy: Save or Print PDF Version
Social Tagging: > > >
Navigation:

" Dear Larry Wilson:
I came across your website a few weeks ago and I have enjoyed many of your Bible studies. You have cleared up some questions that I have had for a long time, but some of your teachings frustrate me because they are in obvious error. I don't understand how a Bible teacher like you can know so much about the Bible and overlook the plain truth.

For example, the Bible clearly teaches that sinners will burn in Hell for eternity. This issue is so simple that it can be summed up in one sentence: Everybody has an eternal destiny eternal life in Heaven with Jesus or burning in eternal Hell with the devil. Haven't you read Mark 9:43 and other verses that say the fires of Hell will never quit burning? If you are going to teach the Bible, why don't you teach what it says?
– Alicia"


Dear Alicia:
Thank you for your e-mail. Yes, the Bible teaches that everyone has an eternal reward coming, but what are the rewards? The Bible informs us that the saints will be rewarded with eternal life (John 3:16; John 6:40), and the Bible also states that the penalty for sin is death. (Rom 6:23, Rev 20:14) I know why millions of Christians believe in an eternally burning Hell because many Bible texts seem to indicate that Hell will burn forever. However, I would like an opportunity to show you another point of view.

When you investigate all the Bible teaches about God's justice, the Second Death, and Hell, eternal death is not the same thing as living for eternity in Hell! Please consider this: The Bible indicates that God has three purposes for Hell. In a nutshell, the first purpose is justice, the second purpose is to execute the wicked, and the third purpose is to purify the Earth. Since my view on Hell is quite different than yours, I hope you will consider my response and be sure to look up each verse as we go along.

Since I do not know anything about your background, and because I want to be as clear as possible in this response, I would like to say two things about Bible study that are important to me before I present my conclusions on Hell:

1. First, I believe the Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, each verse in the Bible has to have the same authority. The "same authority" rule creates a big problem for every Bible student. We are not honest in our search for "The Truth" if we "cherry pick" those verses that suit our personal bias and ignore those verses that we do not like or do not understand. Serious Bible students are forced by the rule of "same authority" to gather up every statement said in the Bible about a particular topic so that they can harmoniously align all that has been written.

To my knowledge, this is the only way the Bible can reveal issues to us that we would rather not believe. During the past 37 years, I have experienced many occasions when one verse unraveled my entire conceptual framework about a particular topic! I have found that God is neither simple nor simplistic. Therefore, I try to remain cautious about my conclusions. Many topics are presented in the Bible, so my first concern is to be sure that I have not left something out that should be put "on the table." When I study God's Word, my prayer is "Lord, I don't care what The Truth is, or where it leads I just want to know everything about You that I can possibly know!"

I am discussing the rule of "same authority" because there is a phenomenon in God's Word that some people believe is called "apparent conflict." In short, one verse will appear to contradict another verse. These collisions interest me because (a) both verses have the same authority, and (b) I believe that God's Word is in perfect harmony with itself; otherwise, the truth about any topic could not be determined.

I have dealt with "apparent conflicts" long enough to know that they can be resolved with the help of the Holy Spirit and plenty of mental "elbow grease."God is infinite, deliberate and thoughtful, and I believe that God has allowed "apparent conflicts" in Scripture to energize our search for truth. Nothing churns the human mind like a worthwhile mystery.

I have highlighted the phenomenon of "apparent conflicts" because many of them are embedded in the topic of Hell. The truth about Hell is only attained when everything written about the topic is resolved into perfect harmony. A person cannot do a simple word search through the Bible by looking up the word "Hell" and expect to resolve the topic. This is because other Bible topics – like justice, restitution and death are directly involved with the topic of Hell! So, digging "The Truth" out of the Bible is not as easy or as simple as some people would have you believe.

2. The Bible declares that God is love. (1 John 4:16) Love is the perfect balance of mercy and justice. This means that God loves mercy, as well as justice. (Ps 89:14; Mat 23:23) The Bible states that God's eyes constantly sweep over the Earth. (1 Chron 16:9; Ps 139:8) God sees every act of kindness done in secret and He rewards accordingly. (Mat 6:4-6) God also sees every act of violence, watches every theft, observes every adultery, and hears every lie. (2 Chron 16:9; Ps 139:8)

The reason that God's omniscient oversight is important in this study on Hell is restitution. Contrary to what many people think, God requires that every sin be made right before He will forgive us of that sin.* (Ex 21; Mat 5:23,24, 1 John 1:9) For example, God will not forgive a thief until the thief has provided restitution to his victim!

Think about this. Can a man steal his neighbor's hubcaps and expect God to forgive him while the hubcaps remain in his possession? Of course, not. God will not forgive our sins unless we truly repent, and the evidence of true repentance is restitution. (Mat 5:23,24) We can carry God's justice one step further. If the victim who lost his hubcaps refuses to forgive the thief when he attempts to make restitution, God will not forgive the victim of his sins, either! (Mat 6:15) I hope you can see that in God's economy, atonement for sin requires restitution and forgiveness.

* Note: Sometimes, the issue of restitution is not simple to resolve. Restitution in kind is not always possible. For example, stolen hubcaps can be replaced, but how does one make restitution for adultery or abuse? I have found three guiding principles when it comes to the subject of restitution.

First, when there is heartfelt sorrow for a sin, there is a compelling desire and effort to change behavior. This is the fruit of repentance. Second, a determined effort to restore the victim through some form of compensation is appropriate. In those cases where tangible restitution is not possible, the debt owed to the victim can be discussed and redirected toward others in the form of service or assistance.

Last, because sin often harms innocent people (like children) who may or may not know about the event, discretion is important. The essential point is that the victim knows about the heartfelt sorrow and the endeavor to make restitution. I hope the reader can see that God's demand for restitution and forgiveness are important building blocks in character development. (Luke 3:10-14)

Yes, it takes a lot of courage and humility to confess our sins and make restitution to those we have done wrong, but it has to be done. (Luke 19:8,9) On the other hand, a wicked heart will not make restitution because there is no genuine sorrow or deep regret for doing wrong.

Courage and humility are displaced with rebellion and pseudo-justification in the carnal heart. But, like it or not, believe it or not, God will be sure that every wrong will be made right – we can either do so voluntarily or God will extract restitution from us involuntarily.

This explains, in part, why God resurrects the wicked dead at the end of the 1,000 years. He resurrects the wicked to extract the restitution they refused to pay. After justice has been served, they will be executed eternal death there will be no resurrection from this death. As I wrote earlier, justice is the first purpose for the fires of Hell. Remember, the second purpose is to execute the wicked and the final purpose is to purify of Earth.

Big Picture of Hell for Eternity

Now that these two issues have been considered, let us see how God's justice and restitution fit into the big picture of apocalyptic prophecy:

Prior to the Second Coming, Jesus judges mankind. (Dan 7:10, John 5:22, Acts 17:31) Jesus Himself decides who will receive eternal life and who will not. (2 Cor 5:10) When He completes His judgment process, Jesus will return to Earth. (Rev 22:12) Notice how He administers His judgment: At the Second Coming, dead people previously judged to be saints will be awakened from their sleep to meet the Lord in the air. Also, those who are alive at the Second Coming and are judged as saints during the Great Tribulation will also be caught up in the air to meet Jesus because Jesus will not touch Earth at the Second Coming. (1 Thess. 4:15-18, Luke 14:13,14)

After the saints from all ages have been gathered up to Jesus, He will proceed to kill all of the wicked, who are alive at the Second Coming, with the sword (a verbal command) that comes out of His mouth. (Rev 19:20,21; Rev 6:15-17) Then, Jesus and the saints will return to His Father's house in Heaven, the place where Jesus has prepared for them. (John 14:1-3)

During the ensuing 1,000 years, there will be no life on Earth except for the devil and his angels. They cannot leave Earth in its desolate condition because they will be bound in the abyss (the spirit realm). (Rev 20:1-3) During the 1,000 years, the saints will reign with Jesus in Heaven during the sentencing phase of judgment.

This means the saints will review the case of each wicked person and the saints, along with Jesus, will determine the amount of restitution that will be extracted from the wicked at the end of the 1,000 years. Restitution will be extracted through suffering in Hell. (Exo. 21, Rev 18:6, 2 Tim 4:14, Heb 10:30,31; Rev 20:15)

Reigning with Christ

Remember, the saints will reign with Jesus for 1,000 years. Jesus will give the saints authority to determine the amount of punishment wicked people and wicked angels must suffer. (Rev 3:21; 20:6; 1 Cor 6:2,3) The saints will not determine who is righteous or who is wicked because Jesus determined the eternal destiny of each person before the Second Coming.

Those people who injured and harmed others will be tortured in Hell according to the amount of suffering they caused. (Rom 12:19, Mat 10:28) Here is the interesting part: Many of the saints will have been victims of the people they judge! Who would be better judges to determine the amount of suffering that must be extracted from a wicked assailant than those who were their victims? God’s system of justice is perfect!

The Golden Rule demands a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a bruise for a bruise and a burn for a burn. (Exodus 21, Luke 12:58,59; Mat 18:23-35) Some wicked people will perish quickly. These will be "salted with fire," while others, who caused great suffering, will suffer for a long time. (Mark 9:47-49, Mat 13:41,42)

The fires of Hell will extract restitution and will not burn out until justice has been served and restitution has been "paid in full." (Mark 9:43) The fires of Hell will not burn eternally. After the wicked people's torture is over, the wicked will perish. " Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the Lord Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. . . Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things, says the Lord Almighty." (Malachi 4:1,2)

God has promised that at the end of the world, every wrong will be atoned for and He will even resurrect dead people to achieve justice. (Heb 10:30, 31; Mat 25:46) Since the fires of Hell will also extract restitution from the devil and his angels, I suppose Hell could last for several days perhaps 40 days and 40 nights? Regardless of how long it takes, everyone in Hell will eventually die and when the wicked no longer exist, Jesus will create a new Heaven and a new Earth. John wrote, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea [of fire]." (Revelation 21:1, insertion mine)

I hope you can see from this sequence of apocalyptic events how God uses Hell to accomplish justice, death and the purification of Earth. Now, I would like to address the question of an eternally burning Hell from several different perspectives altogether. Please consider the following eight points:

1. Eternal Life: The reward that will be bestowed upon the saints at the last day is eternal life. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day [and give him eternal life]." (John 6:40, insertion mine)

Here is the problem: A person cannot writhe in Hell throughout eternity without first receiving eternal life. In other words, a wicked person has to receive eternal life so that he can be tortured for eternity. The Bible teaches the wicked will not receive eternal life. In fact, the Bible teaches that the wicked will perish cease to exist. (See John 3:16 above.)

2. The Penalty for Sin: Most Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. (2 Cor 5:21) This problem is a simple one: If the penalty for sin is burning in Hell throughout eternity, then Jesus did not pay the price for sin. Period. Even if you say that Jesus was tortured in Hell for three days and three nights, three days in Hell is not the penalty for sin! Even after billions and billions of years, eternity has just begun!

To pay for our sins, the penalty for sin had to be imposed upon Jesus and it was. The penalty for sin is "death by execution without hope of resurrection." Consider the first recorded command given to Adam: "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day [whether it be a Tuesday or a Friday] that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die [be executed]." (KJV, Gen 2:16,17, insertions mine) Adam and Eve were to be put to death on the very day they sinned, but Jesus, seeing that they did not sin defiantly, chose to become man's intercessor instead of man's executioner.

3. Two Resurrections: Let us assume for a moment that a wicked person does go to Hell at the time of death. Then, try to explain why the wicked are then resurrected at the end of the 1,000 years? What is the point of resurrecting Cain (the first murderer) if he has been burning in Hell for the past 6,000 years?

Even more, what would be the point of resurrecting Abel if he has been sitting at Jesus' side for the past 6,000 years? The doctrine of two resurrections is in direct conflict with the doctrine of an eternally burning hell. – The Bible teaches the first resurrection occurs at the Second Coming for the righteous dead (1 Thess 4:15-18, Rev 20:6) and the second resurrection occurs at the end of the 1,000 years. (Rev 20:5) The second resurrection is for the wicked of all ages.

"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (KJV, John 5:28,29)

4. Immediate Judgment at Death: The Bible states that everyone will stand before "the Judgment Bar of Christ." (2 Cor 5:10) If a person goes to Heaven or Hell at the time of death, this presumes that "the Judgment Bar of Christ" has been in session ever since Abel was killed. The problem is that "the Judgment Bar of Christ" has a beginning point in time and an ending point in time. The apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation tell us the Judgment Bar of Christ began in 1844 and closes during the Great Tribulation, at the end of the 1,260 days allotted to the Two Witnesses, just before the seventh trumpet sounds.

No one can be judged by Christ until His Judgment Bar is "set up." For reasons beyond the scope of this response, Jesus was found worthy to ascend Heaven's throne in 1798 and Jesus began reviewing the books of record in 1844. (Ecc 12:13,14, Dan 7:10) So, Bible prophecy indicates that immediate judgment at death is not possible. (Note: God the Father has made a few "executive" exceptions to the Judgment Bar of Christ. Enoch, Elijah and the 24 elders were taken to Heaven prior to 1844. These exceptions are justified on the basis that the Father foreknew this was the best way of resolving issues that are not part of this discussion.)

5. First Heaven and Earth Passed Away: The Bible teaches that God will create a New Heaven and New Earth after the old Heaven and Earth are destroyed. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. . . ." (Rev 21:1) This verse means that Hell itself has to pass away. Hell is the means through which Earth will be purified of sin! Sin and sinners will have no place on Earth, in Earth or under the Earth when everything is made new. God's universe will be clean of sin and sinners.

6. Reigning with Christ: If there is an eternally burning Hell, what judgment is left for the saints to conduct during the 1,000 years? "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world . . .? Do you not know that we will judge angels . . .?" (1 Cor 6:2,3) Think about this: If all of the wicked receive the same sentence burning in Hell for eternity, then there is nothing left for the saints to judge during the 1,000 years!

7. Walking on the Ashes of the Wicked: The Bible declares the wicked will be devoured – destroyed – annihilated – turned into ashes. " Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things, says the Lord Almighty." (Mal 4:3)

Christians mess the doctrine of Hell up today largely because people do not understand the doctrines of restitution, God's vengeance, soul sleep, the Second Death or the Judgment Bar of Christ. I understand how people conclude that the wicked will burn in Hell forever. Language in the Bible seems to support the idea of eternal suffering in Hell until you put everything the Bible has to say about Hell on the table. Then, and only then, can we understand the truth on this topic. The Bible is like a giant crossword puzzle. When all of its doctrines are properly defined and understood, all of the pieces will harmoniously form one beautiful mosaic.

8. Golden Rule: The final reason why Hell cannot burn for eternity is that God's own law, the Golden Rule, does not permit God to punish wicked people beyond the point of achieving restitution. Period. God abides by His own laws. He has proven His submission to His own laws by the death of Jesus!

The Father would not have allowed Jesus to die if there had been any other way to redeem man. No sinner, not even the devil, merits endless torture in Hell throughout eternity! Restitution is a finite matter and once justice is served, the wicked will die a death from which there is no resurrection.

If God tortured demons and "slightly wicked" people throughout the endless ages of eternity with the same punishment, He would be a tyrant. Justice demands that punishment be commensurate with the crime. Tyrants do not punish fairly. With tyrants, justice is arbitrary and self-serving.

They abuse their victims to suit their selfish or mean-spirited objectives. The Golden Rule can be stated: "As you do unto others, the same will be done unto you." This is perfect justice. According to this rule, there are limits to torture in Hell.

Summary

1. After considering the "same authority" rule. . .

2. After considering God's demand for restitution. . .

3. After considering the apocalyptic sequence that includes the Judgment Bar of Christ, the two resurrections and the purpose of the saints reigning with Christ during the 1,000 years. . .

4. After considering the eight theological points listed above. . .

I conclude that Hell will burn for a period of time. I conclude that wicked people will be tormented with fire according to the injury and harm they inflicted on others. I conclude that Lucifer and his demons will burn the longest because they have caused the greatest injuries.

I also conclude that after restitution has been extracted and justice has been served, the wicked will be put to death. They will never exist again. At that time, God will purify this orb with fire so that the foundations of a New Heaven and a New Earth will be free of the blight caused by sin.

Because the topic of Hell is so important, it seems to me that God has deliberately made the matter of an eternally burning Hell a topic of controversy to keep the subject alive! By keeping this subject in a state of controversy, it forces those who seek the whole truth to resolve this highly important and complex topic. For me, the conclusions stated above align with everything else that I have learned about the marvelous ways of God. There is no doubt about it. God is righteous, fair and just.

He is truly a God of love. There is no selfishness, meanness nor arrogance in God. If you have lost a loved one through a violent crime or if you been hurt in a grievous way by a thug, I hope you can appreciate the idea that God will fully repay. Millions of soldiers who raped and killed innocent people will pay for their deeds, too. You can be sure that justice will be served before death eliminates the devil and every wicked person. "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb 10:31)

I hope this helps!

Larry Wilson

Watch this video and see what the Bible says about burning in hell for eternity

Share or print it!
  • 204
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    204
    Shares
Larry W. Wilson

Larry Wilson, founder of WUAS, became a “born again” Christian in 1972. His interest in the gospel has led him on a 40+ year quest to learn more about what God has revealed to Earth’s final generation. The results of his research have been shared all over the world in books, television & radio broadcasts, media interviews, and seminars that are publicly available on all different types of media (see our Christian Bookstore).

What is Wake Up America Seminars (WUAS)?
Wake Up America Seminars, Inc. is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization with a focus on the study of End-Time Prophecy. WUAS is not a church, nor does it endorse any denomination. Our focus is singular: We are dedicated to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and His imminent return. We are delighted that people of all faiths are diligently using the Bible study materials produced by WUAS. All study materials are based solely on the Bible alone.

Larry W. Wilson

Latest posts by Larry W. Wilson (see all)

45 comments

  • Amy November 15, 2017 at 1:09 PM

    Thank you for sharing this. What about Revelation 20:10? It explicitly states that the devil, beast, and false prophet "will be tormented day and night forever and ever."

    • Larry W. Wilson
      Larry W. Wilson November 15, 2017 at 3:16 PM

      Hi Amy:

      Thank you for your question. If the eight reasons stated in the article above are valid, there should be a simple solution for Revelation 20:10 — and there is! Please consider the following:

      Rev 21:1 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea."

      The word "sea" mentioned in 21:1 refers to the "lake of fire" mentioned in the previous verse, 20:15. The Greek words for lake and sea are used interchangeably in the Bible. Please look at this example:

      Mark 1:16 "As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen."

      Because there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth, there will be "no more sea" or lake of fire. Therefore, eternal torment will not be possible because death itself is the last enemy to be destroyed. (1 Cor 15:26) The old order includes death, the new order does not.

      Revelation 20:10 means that the devil, beast and false prophet will be tormented in the fire, day and night, until the requirements of justice are satisfied.

      The idea for "forever" as used in the Bible does not mean for all eternity to come. (1 Samuel 27:12) It means "until the end comes."

      • icananswer1 July 1, 2018 at 4:25 AM

        When you talk about the hub-caps you act like we have to try to right the wrong on earth before Jesus will forgive us, since that is our true act of repentance, which isn't true. We must ask Gods forgiveness, not ask the persons forgiveness unless we want to. Wow. I can't even believe you said that, that God will not forgive us unless we go to every person we have offended and make it right with them. Now that is said people should do that in AA, but I have never heard it from a man of the cloth. Salvation is a free gift. It cannot be earned.

        • Larry W. Wilson
          Larry W. Wilson July 2, 2018 at 11:21 AM

          Hello Icananswer1:

          You wrote, "We must ask Gods forgiveness, not ask the persons forgiveness unless we want to. Wow. I can't even believe you said that, that God will not forgive us unless we go to every person we have offended and make it right with them. "

          Your assertion does not line up with the teachings of of Jesus! Jesus said,

          Matthew 5:23,24 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

          When we sin against our neighbor, we have to (return his hubcaps and) be reconciled (or make a genuine attempt) before God will consider forgiving us. The principle behind this is simple:

          When you love your neighbor as yourself, you will want to make restitution for violating or hurting them. When God sees by our ACTIONS that we are truly sorry for having done someone wrong, He will forgive us, but not until. If we refuse to make reconciliation, God can see that we don't love the person we hurt. So a confession to Him who witnessed the event , is meaningless.

          Showing God our sorrow by restoring our neighbor proves our love for him/her. Love produces action. This is behavior that God requires.

          James 1:22-24 "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does."

          Best regards

        • Larry W. Wilson
          Larry W. Wilson July 3, 2018 at 7:12 PM

          Icananswer1

          Please consider the following: Many Christians are shocked and resistant to the idea that God requires restitution in order to forgive us our sins.

          In brief, God grants forgiveness to sinners in the following way:

          When we sin against our neighbor (in the example given above, the neighbor's hubcaps were stolen), we actually commit two sins at the same time. First, we sin against God. God has said, "Thou shalt not steal" and "Thou shalt not covet." Second, we also sin again our neighbor by robbing him of his possessions.

          If we steal, covet or lust after something to the point that we take by deceit, theft or force, we demonstrate to God that we love something more than we love our neighbor because love does no harm. Romans 13:10

          God requires restitution for wrong doing because it is the act of restoring our neighbor that shows Him that (a) we have genuine remorse for wrong doing and (b) we love our neighbor enough to restore what rightfully belongs to him. When God sees these two things are present, He will forgive us of our sin.

          This is why Jesus remarked that if we need to make something right, leave your offering at the altar and go see your neighbor. After you are reconciled, then approach God at the altar.

          Some Christians have devised a legal arrangement for the forgiveness of sin. They have to do nothing but say a few words and somehow, God is expected to forgive. God rejects this approach and He does not extend forgiveness to sinners on the basis of a legalistic act.

          When God sees that we are willing to live in harmony with the second greatest commandment (Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself), when He sees remorse in our hearts and our efforts to make restitution are genuine, He is happy to also forgive us. This is why Jesus was so happy to meet up with the tax collector Zacchaeus in Luke 19. The one thing that brings glory and happiness to God is when our conduct is like His. God is love and more than anything, God wants us to live in harmony with the two greatest commandments!

          Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets [the Scriptures] hang on these two commandments."

          Finally, when justice is served, who rejoices with the victims if not those who love them? No predator rejoices when he is convicted of his sin. Predators deny, diminish or deflect their guilt because predators love themselves more than anything else.

          However, God rejoices when predators become remorseful, confess their sin and provide restitution because God sees love in action. God's forgiveness is not granted on a legal basis, it is granted on the basis of demonstrated love. When He sees that we love the person we harmed enough to fully restore them, He is moved by love to forgive us.

          I hope this helps!

    • icananswer1 July 1, 2018 at 4:07 AM

      Good point. I am not sure I agree with him about hell not being forever.

  • Fred December 1, 2017 at 7:15 AM

    dear larry, good read, but not right. there is enough scripture to prove jesus will save all his creation. the lake of fire is taught in two book primarily i cor 3 and rev 20. you forgot to mention the lake of fire is symbolical and not literal.
    your argument is like all others i studied for 40 years. apparently no one has ever lived sin less enough to make it even in christ. jesus either paid the price or it is not paid. i do believe the lake of fire teaching is the key but it has to be in gods wisdom and not man. you have a good interpretation but you need a new revelation. here it is as in adam all die (even jesus) even so all in christ (how many) all will be made alive. to compare physical torture with spiritual learning won't jive. if its not mercy i don't get to go for sure

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson December 1, 2017 at 2:57 PM

    Hello Fred:

    Thank you for your comment. Your comment suggests to me that you do not properly understand the gift of Christ's righteousness which is offered to every humble and repentant sinner. The idea of universal salvation is fiction because it has to include the devil, his angels and all defiant human beings.

    Jesus said, ". . . Anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:32) There is an unpardonable sin and every one destroyed in the lake of fire will be guilty of this sin! Jesus said, "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." (Revelation 22:14,15) He also adds, "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:15) This fire will be really hot! Peter said, " . . That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat." (2 Peter 3:12)

    If you wish to further examine the terms and conditions for salvation, please check out this article:

    https://www.wake-up.org/jesus-alpha-omega-book/chapter-4-salvation-through-justification.html

    Best regards

    • Broken December 12, 2017 at 11:08 PM

      Fred,

      So, I'm doomed! i am a sinner. i stole, lied, committed adultery and although i believe in Jesus and regret my sins, i cannot fully pay restitution for everything i did. i pray daily and sometimes still sin, minor things as i get older, but it doesnt seem to matter. i will burn and then be put to death, right? i never felt worse…

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson December 13, 2017 at 2:06 PM

    Broken: Let's consider a few things:

    First, we are all doomed: Rom 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"

    But God has provided a way for sinners to be saved:

    Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Let's be clear: 1 John 5:17 "All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death."

    If a person accidentally sins, he is not condemned. This sin does not lead to death.

    If a person knowingly and willfully sins, he is condemned, but there is a way to escape this condemnation:

    1 John 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

    1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

    But contrary to what many people think, being free of guilt or sin is not a ticket to salvation.

    God has made salvation possible for all sinners who put their faith in Him. Faith that leads to salvation means doing what is right in God's sight no matter what and leaving the consequences with Him. Abel did the difficult thing, he offered a lamb. Noah did the difficult thing, he built an ark. Abraham did the difficult thing, he left home not knowing where he was going. Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego did the difficult thing, they defied Nebuchadnezzar and were thrown into the fiery furnace. Faith that results in salvation means doing what is right in God's sight no matter the price and leaving the consequences with Him!

    No one will be destroyed at the end of the 1,000 years for being an accidental sinner. If you are struggling with a particular sin, trust God to give you victory over it because you can't give yourself victory over it. Confess your sin, Jesus will hear you and He will cleanse you of it if you are willing to let it go.

    Best regards

    • Broken May 20, 2018 at 5:17 PM

      Hello Larry, this is Broken. I noted that I accidentally called you Fred in my initial post. Sorry! I appreciate your response and I am familiar with much of what you wrote in reply. I guess my struggle is this:

      Most all of my sins, I assure you, was no accident. I seem to have no trouble acknowledging that I am quite broken and filled with sin… I have a terrible habit of stealing and lying and I'm in my 50's! And, what's really bad it that it's stupid stuff like taking home extra towels from the gym or lying about the price of an item at the register. I have this bizarre need to feel like I'm getting a deal. I'm saving money but clearly not my soul.

      You read that I pray daily. I specifically ask God every day to let the holy spirit live inside of me and guide me away from the desire to sin. That's verbatim. I thank God for every day I wake up. I love life so much and feel I have been so fortunate, but I'm, frankly, pissing it all away and I think about that too…. every day. I've been told Jesus is in me at work because of how I feel. But, I suppose I'm down because I don't feel anything change, really. I see some followers around me who have that glow about them and they do great things. I want to change, but is it my reality that if I don't turn the switch, I don't really want to change after all?

      Yo advised that in order to be spared burning in hell, I must take the first step by "doing what's right, no matter what." But how can anyone do that if we are all, in fact, broken? Wasn't Jesus the only one who could always do what is right, no matter what? If I could do what's right, no matter what (i.e. always), I would not be a sinner except for the fact that I was born into sin.

      I'm not asking the following to be a jerk. I could not be more sincere of heart. But Larry, do you always do what's right, no matter what? If we are all indeed broken, I would expect you to say "no" and that would actually encourage me.

      I feel like I'm the remedial follower who just has trouble doing the math.

      I simply lack confidence and I am hard on myself. I have the "no hope" mentality. Yet, I get goose bumps and chills sometimes thinking about grace and the power of God and the many blessings I have received despite my foolishness. I don't understand how I could be fortunate and so many better followers than me suffer, die young, etc. I know God will take care of them. I just don't have the same confidence in myself, which is why your passage on restitution scared and angered me.

      So, there's a hand full! I'm stuck at "do the right thing" with emphasis on the "no matter what" part.

      Pray for me, Larry.

      • Larry W. Wilson
        Larry W. Wilson May 21, 2018 at 9:45 AM

        Broken:

        Please consider the following:

        The gospel of Jesus comes with transforming power, but only if we are willing to submit to the teachings of Jesus. For example, if you want victory over stealing, start by making restitution to those from whom you have stolen! Then you will receive power over stealing.

        Jesus said:

        "Matthew 5:23,24 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

        Notice what Jesus said of Zacchaeus:

        Luke 19:5-9 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'" But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too [even a tax collector], is a son of Abraham."

        Many people abuse 1 John 1:9 to escape the humiliation that comes to the sinful nature when making restitution. They read the verse as though confession is only to God:

        1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

        But God cannot forgive us our sins if we refuse to restore those we have wronged! When we sin against someone, we have to confess our sin to them first. When Jesus sees that we loath the sin that besets us, He will release transforming power. The Bible states that we have to confess our sins to those we sinned against.

        James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

        If you do not want your prayers hindered, live a transparent life before God and those around you!

        1 Peter 3:7 "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."

        We all know that most New Year's resolutions are made of ropes of sand. The same can be said of living a Christian life if we do not receive transforming power each day.

        Broken, if you want to become Victorious, here's the key: Become a slave to righteousness.

        Romans 6:14-18 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness."

        Salvation did not come to Zacchaeus because he made restitution to those from whom he had extorted taxes. Salvation came to Zacchaeus because of his faith. He surrendered his pride and obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Jesus will eagerly lunch with any one who does likewise!

        Best regards

        • Broken August 23, 2018 at 8:25 PM

          Larry, thanks for your reply.

          If I confessed my stealing directly to those affected, I could end up prosecuted before I get half way down my list! Are you saying this is the only way!?

          And I noticed you didn't answer one key question which I ask sincerely without malice. Do you always do what's right, "no matter what?"

          • Larry W. Wilson
            Larry W. Wilson August 24, 2018 at 11:00 AM

            Hello Broken:

            You wrote, "I could end up prosecuted before I get half way down my list! Are you saying this is the only way!?"

            Yes, this is what I'm saying. When a person is truly sorry for his sins, he takes full responsibility for them. By faith he goes forward to do right, trusting in the Lord to provide a great outcome. Dealing with the consequences of sin whatever they may be requires faith. The sinful nature does not want to own its own consequences, so it does whatever necessary to avoid them. When God sees such faith and determination, He gives more grace than you can imagine. God may give your victim(s) a forgiving spirit, He may be able to touch and save a victim after the victim sees your own faith and genuine conversion! When it comes to the heart of Christianity, this is the real deal. God calls us to love Him above everything and our neighbors as ourselves, anything less than genuine love is meaningless to God.

            You wrote, "I ask sincerely without malice. Do you always do what's right, "no matter what?" Doing right no matter what is my highest priority. Sometimes, carelessness creeps in and I fail. Soon after, the Holy Spirit comes knocking and I realize that I must admit my failure and make things right. I'm not anywhere near perfect, I still have a sinful nature which has to be crucified each day. I have observed that after making restitution for many failures early on in life, that I often think twice when tempted, before allowing my sinful nature to get the upper hand in the situation. It is far easier to do right the first time than to come back, make restitution and deal with whatever the consequences may be. Of course, this way of life requires a level of spiritual sobriety which many people don't understand. Peter wrote:

            1 Peter 4:7,8 "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

            PS: When I became a Christian and began making restitution for many past wrongs, my wife lamented one day, "Why didn't you do this before we got married?" She made this comment because my drive to mak restitution had put us in a financial bind. However, my faith in Jesus was simple: I believed He would bless me for doing right and once all this was behind me, I would have a clear conscience and the financial problems would be temporary. My faith was rewarded because within two years, I had a clear conscience and our financial problems (caused by restitution) were gone! I remember responding to my wife with words to the effect, "Honey, you didn't know it, but you married a thief who has recently undergone a change of heart. You will be happier with me in days to come." This was about 47 years ago and she's a lot happier today. Grin…

            I hope this helps!

  • Cody February 5, 2018 at 1:02 AM

    Alicia –

    I don't mean any offense, but, why don't you READ what it says?
    "the fires of Hell will never quit burning" does not say "people will burn forever in hell."
    those two sentences have difference subjects – people, and the fires in Hell.
    It does not teach that people burn forever in hell. It just doesn't.
    What about when you pay for your sins?

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson February 6, 2018 at 5:13 PM

    Hello Alicia:

    Did you see my comments to Amy above? If not, please review them.

    The Bible reads: Rev 21:1 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea (lake of fire)."

    "Passed away" means nonexistent.

    Best regards,

  • Keith March 4, 2018 at 3:59 PM

    I would like to say I’ve read your book on Revelation and truely enjoyed it. What has happened to your beliefs since you wrote it? Where has your belief that hell is not eternal spurned from?
    One thing u may have not took into consideration is that there is one sin that all the fore mentioned ( adulterers murders etc.)has in common if they haven’t repented of their sin and you even mention it in one of your comments above. Jesus said, ". . . Anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:32) They all share this sin. The unforgivable sin. They all didn’t accept the Holy Spirit in their hearts. This is unforgivable to God. Therefore the reason hell will burn for eternity. To speak of restitution for your sins in unbiblical. To the people that accept Jesus as their savior through free will their sins have already been paid for through his blood. For the ones that doesn’t accept Him as Lord so the Holy Spirit comes into their hearts then they are doomed to eternal damnation in the lake of fire. Our Lord is a God of love. But he is also a God of jealousy. To not accept him as Lord is unforgivable in his eyes. And the Scipture proves that in Matthew 12:32

    • Wake Up America Seminars
      Wake Up America Seminars March 21, 2018 at 8:39 AM

      Hello Keith:

      Please read my comment to Fred.

      Best regards!

  • Laurie March 30, 2018 at 1:36 AM

    Hello, I may have been confused (or it could be that I read this at 11:50 P.M. at night), but what I understood from you is that we will not go to Heaven until the day of ressurection. I suppose that makes sense based on the word's definition, but my question is what about Luke 23:43 "And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise". Am I mistaken or is there something I'm not understanding?

    Also what does it mean to speak against the Holy Spirit? I read an article that said that means not listening to the Holy Spirit, but don't all non-believers do that until they believe (and even then we all can fall short!).

    I would like to delve in deeper in the Bible and study Hell more. I trust in God, but it does bother me. I know who He is, and I know He is good, but if my loved ones are in hell I will be extremely distressed.

    In your article you discussed how people will be ashes and will perish, does that mean everyone in hell will die, or is there a possibility (from your research in the Bible) that some after paying their restitution will go to Heaven?

    I have many Muslim friends and I'm praying for them and trying to share Jesus with them, but it is hard because they do not want to hear. I know it's not me, but God through me who makes the difference. But in the end they still have the freewill to deny Jesus.

    Also, Jesus came to save the whole world and die for everyone's sins, but only for those who accept them. Is this somewhat problematic? I only think this because I'm trying to not be a hypocrite in my own faith and I often point out that in the Qur'an Allah is "a God of mercy" yet he only gives mercy to those who love him. This seems to me to contradict from Jesus saying "what good are you if you only love those who love you?". I suppose we could say then that Jesus loving us is different from him giving justice. After all, we love our children and so we discipline them… but what bothers me about hell is the torture for eternity (which I don't believe after researching more about the word eternity and putting things together) or for torture and then death. If you have a child who doesn't do what you want or follow you, would you discard them? I hope not, because hopefully when you have children you take your responsibility of raising them, and you don't love them only because they love you. I can understand hell as refinement and as resitution, perhaps even some dying. But everyone who denies Christ dying??? That is a lot of people!!! And what if the saints dont want them to recieve pain? My Jesus taught me to turn the other cheek… and even if he says I can take an eye for an eye I do not want that.

    We are all sinners and evil, but for sure I know some amazing people who don't believe in God. I can see Jesus in them when they do somethings, but it feels blocked.

    Will they go to hell and burn for 1,000 years and then die? If your kids run away from you and do bad, is your first response when you find them to make them pay and then kill them? Isn't God better and more loving than us? So then I know if it hurts my heart then I can't even imagine how it hurts His heart.

    Also we are supposed to forgive those who persecute us, shouldn't God also do this? Why are we called to forgive people when they don't say sorry, but God doesn't (only in repentence?). Last thing I've thought of, when the Jews were casting lots for Jesus' clothes and put him on the cross He said "Lord, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing".

    Does this not show God's nature? He asked for them to be forgiven even though they couldn't have cared less about Jesus, nor did they believe in Him.

    Sorry for writing so much, if anyone could answer my questions and tell me if I'm wrong/confused. May God open our eyes and may His Holy Spirit give us wisdom/understanding.

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson March 31, 2018 at 12:57 PM

    Hello Laurie:

    You are a good thinker! You have asked a number of excellent questions on a variety of topics and this presents a bit of a problem. There is a reason that Algebra I occurs before Algebra II in high school because certain things have to be properly understood in Algebra I before other things will make sense in Algebra II. God's ways are similar. If we are going to understand advanced things about God and His ways, we have to lay a proper foundation with basic things.

    I hope you will do a little reading. I have prepared a book that covers many of the basics and some advanced topics that may be helpful to you. I address most of your questions in these articles. Please download this book (it's free) and start with the first chapter.

    https://www.wake-up.org/Alpha/JesusA_O.pdf

    I am sure the Holy Spirit will continue to guide you into all truth!
    Best wishes always

  • LucianCastle April 4, 2018 at 7:16 AM

    Mr. Wilson,

    I see that you have replied to someone just 4-days before my posting of this message, which is uplifting since you may very well see my comment and provide me with your opinion on my eternal dilemma. I use the term "eternal" in the context that once something takes place, that action shall remain so perpetually, and cannot be undone. You may remedy these actions, such as unscrewing a bolt only to screw it right back in; but you still removed the bolt, and that will be fact for all eternity, despite having replaced it with the same or another. You see, I do not believe I have a soul; not in the spiritual context, at least. I believe we're all "worm dirt" and will remain so until our flesh and bone decay beyond rejuvenation, where we will persist as nothing more than matter in the universe. All of our thoughts, feelings, and memories however, simply cease to exist. I would love no less than anyone else on the face of this planet to trust in and believe otherwise, but sadly it is not so.

    I am 24-years old as I write this. A man born and raised in Georgia with an all-Baptist family. I was and remain to be the only atheist I share blood with on my mother's or my father's side. I was as devout a Christian as a child could be until around my 12th or 13th year of life. This miraculous thing happened then, where I became mature enough and enlightened enough to make my own decisions and process "deeper" information without the assistance of my elders. I didn't need their spoon-fed guidance any longer, just as I do not need yours but would absolutely appreciate it, nonetheless. I spent several years as an atheist, studying the Bible more thoroughly during these years than I ever had before. Exploring contradictions, falsehoods, and blatant fantasies while simultaneously enjoying the suffocating amount of hypocrisy that lives in the hearts of the religious. About 6-years ago now, give or take a bit, I chose to go to church with my grandparents after they had been pleading for me to for several months. They are, after all, who I went with all throughout my childhood and I knew it would make them happy. That's all I wanted. My grandfather, deceased now, took full advantage of this and had the preacher of the church, who we knew personally (from all the time he spent visiting my grandfather at home and in the hospital due to his heart condition), more-or-less single me out with 1/3 of his eye contact being directed at me, and preaching the entire sermon on misguided unbelievers and the stark contrasts between Heaven and Hell on an eternal scale. They played sappy music as he called for anyone who wanted to be saved to come down to the altar and merely accept Jesus Christ into their hearts in addition to all the other necessary jargon. My grandmother (who sat on my right, grandfather on my left) put her arm on my back, already crying, and virtually begged me to go down. Well, I went. She and my grandfather followed me, along with a few other attending family members and churchgoers. All with a hand on my back, really guiding me through this and wanting it for me as badly as I did. Yes, I wanted it, and I felt then would have been as good of a time as any to seek my salvation. I wasn't an atheist because I wanted to be. No, it was mandated by fact and an undying loyalty to reality. Of course I wanted eternal bliss and to be loved by the one who loves you more than any other ever could. I wanted to be good, and pure. So at the top of my lungs (in my head, of course) I screamed out to the Lord to hear me and accept me as his follower. I was willing to give him everything I had to offer. My entire existence. I begged, and screamed, and begged, and screamed, until finally I felt there was nothing more I could say and I did all that I could do. I figured that was it… it had to be. I stood there in a stupor, now being the only person apart from the preacher to be in front of the entire congregation. Every last set of eyes on me. He asked me how I felt, and wanted me to tell everyone. I told them "I couldn't describe it." They took this as an implication of some euphoric, inexplicable bliss that had simply overwhelmed me beyond interpretation or explanation, laughing and smiling in their responses. Perhaps even a few "Yes, Lord" and "Hallelujah" utterances. He then wanted me to explain my situation to them, and how my life had changed in that moment. I stated that "I have been an avid atheist for several years up until this night, but no longer." I believed this when I said it, even though I felt nothing in my mind or heart. "Nothing" almost doesn't even seem accurate. I felt empty beyond words. Despite this, though, the entire congregation, one-by-one, walked down to shake my hand and/or hug me accompanied by either silence (since they're just following the crowd and couldn't care less) or their congratulations, perhaps some even genuine. The emptiness followed me home that night, but I wasn't going to let that serve as a hindrance to my newly-found faith. I asked my mother and stepfather to come over (to my father's house) at probably 10 o'clock at night so I could reveal this to them, despite the 30-minute drive in one direction, providing heavy implications of the importance over the phone. I hugged my stepfather first and told him I loved him and appreciated him more than I had shown (due to the disputes him and my father had had in years past). Once inside, I told them both of my experience and they were moved to tears. I remember my father's girlfriend stating "this is the first time I've ever seen him speechless; he literally always knows what to say!" I believe this was in reference to my mother asking me how I felt, and me just shrugging my shoulders and likely looking a bit puzzled (because of the sheer void that still lingered within). They also, as at the church, interpreted this as some type of divine enlightenment I hadn't yet grasped. Over the next several weeks, I wrote down the names and reached out to every last individual I could remember having ever had a negative dispute with. I apologized profusely, openly admitted to my "finding" of the Lord, and requested mutual harmony through their forgiveness. I bought and wore a two-piece necklace of a cross and shield around my neck that had scripture written within. I can't even remember what it said at this point. I did everything I knew how to do, followed all of the advice I had been given, and yet nothing ever came. I couldn't feel ANYTHING. After this whole experience, you know what I got? Not peace, not comfort, not happiness. No, I got the flu that swiftly became accompanied by pneumonia. This was a special benefit to having shaken probably 100+ tear and snot-ridden hands. It was the most sick I've ever been in my life. My mother literally slept at the foot of my bed she was so worried, and I have never been one to "oversell" a sickness in the slightest. Physically drained, unable to eat, and in constant pain. That was my gift for having been "saved" that night.

    Obviously, I slipped further and further away from what happened that night and have returned to being an atheist. This is my stance, and it has proven unwavering. Not because I want it, as stated before, but because I refuse to live a delusional life. Why would I neglect myself material things, sex, and the convenience of lies for something that isn't even waiting for me on the other side? Ironically, had I been born in a predominantly Islamic, Hindu, or Buddhist country, we'd be having a completely different conversation. Well, not you and I specifically, but you get the point. I was Christian for the same reason I believed in Santa Claus; because my parents told me to. They introduced it to me as fact and I accepted without the slightest reluctance. Now I spend my days directly, however sarcastically, cursing God or "Yahweh" as I like to use as I feel it is more personal (if "personal" is even the appropriate word for an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent celestial being), after something petty or otherwise annoying happens in my day-to-day life.

    I can see that I've gone on far too long, because you, just like I, live a limited life. I don't want to take up too much more of your valuable time (assuming you've made it this far into my collection of seemingly endless babble). I'll get straight to where your insight comes in:

    1) Is there a secret handshake or ritualistic chant I should have partook in to successfully become "saved?"

    2) Is what you wrote out above as much of an explanation for a non-eternal Hell as can be given?

    3) Given my direct and frequent cursing of almighty God, am I doomed beyond relief in his eyes?

    4) Why do you say "free will" to believe exists if Hell is the alternative to devout faith?
    (e.g. If a man puts a gun to the back of a woman's head on a dark, desolate street and demands she lift her dress and lower her underwear so that he may rape her, and proceeds afterward to demand she give him all of her valuable belongings, how is her "consenting" to this without putting up a fight in order to preserve her life and go home to her prepubescent children a matter of "free will" when death is the only other option? It isn't, and no court would see it that way if the rapist/thief stated in his defense to the judge and jury that she (WILL)INGLY removed her clothing and handed over her belongings. It wasn't a choice, and everyone knows it. Yet somehow when God threatens eternal, unimaginable agony for all of existence if you do not believe in and follow him, that's merely granting "free will" and you're allowed to make your own choice. Personally, I would rather be raped and stolen from every single day of my mortal life than spend a single day in Hell… much less an endless eternity).

    Thank you for replying and hopefully not ignoring or outright deleting my comment. I honestly do appreciate it, whether it may seem that way or not.

    Cordially,
    Lucian Castle

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson April 5, 2018 at 11:02 PM

    Hello Lucian:

    Thank you for your email and questions. I hope my response to your questions will be helpful in some way.

    1) Is there a secret handshake or ritualistic chant I should have partook in to successfully become "saved?"

    No handshake or chant is necessary or required for salvation. When a person gets married, his/her marriage oath is by simply stated by saying, "I do." When a person allows Jesus to become Lord and Master of his life, a simple statement, a prayer confessing our sinful state, our faith in Him as our Savior, and a commitment to follow His teachings and exalt Him in everything we do is all that is needed.

    Many people like to think they were "saved" at a specific point in time. They like/need/want a defining moment when they surrendered their lives to the Lord. There is nothing wrong with this, but you should be aware that the salvation experience is much more than a momentary event, Marriage is much more than a momentary ceremony. Going forward with Jesus, obeying His commands and maintaining faith in Him will present many challenges! A life of faith is not easy. Read Hebrews 11.

    Our response to the Holy Spirit each day determines our standing before God. If we consistently obey the voice of the Holy Spirit, we will have the sanctifying privilege of walking with God — as did Enoch and Noah! If we are spiritually off and on again, we grieve the Holy Spirit because when we are separated from Jesus, we will surely fail because when separated from Him, we have no power. He is the source of power, the vine and we are the branches. There is no power to overcome sin or temptation when separated from Jesus! The Holy Spirit is always at work, convicting us to live a holy life, to do something that pleases God. This can be more difficult at times than at other times, but if we faithfully carry out His promptings, salvific steps in faith ares taken. When Jesus sees this discipleship occurring, He is very pleased.

    2) Is what you wrote out above as much of an explanation for a non-eternal Hell as can be given?

    The subject of God's judicial system is intricate and wonderful (because there are many variables) and a bit complicated. Several topics are involved and getting all of them to harmonize so that Scripture is not put in a state of internal conflict takes a bit of studious effort.

    If you wish to read more about this topic, please review these two articles, you may find them helpful:

    https://www.wake-up.org/jesus-alpha-omega-book/chapter-13-what-happens-at-death.html

    https://www.wake-up.org/jesus-alpha-omega-book/chapter-15-the-seventh-millennium.html

    3) Given my direct and frequent cursing of almighty God, am I doomed beyond relief in his eyes?

    No, Matthew 12:32 says there is hope for you! The only sin that cannot be forgiven is blaspheming (insulting, rejecting) the Holy Spirit. People who have rejected the Holy Spirit are people who have no spiritual beacon within. They are spiritually empty because the Holy Spirit has departed from them. God gives the Holy Spirit to everyone at birth and if we follow His righteous prompting, we are following a divine beacon. If we reject His prompting, over and over, the Holy Spirit will get the message, respect our choice and leave us alone.

    People in this condition have empty souls. They are alive, but dead inside. There is no joy, no hope, no love, no happiness, no nothing. People in this condition often become angry and predatory. They are hurting and they often want others to hurt as they hurt. It is very sad.

    4) Why do you say "free will" to believe exists if Hell is the alternative to devout faith?

    The issue of "free will" is larger and more wonderful than you think. To avoid a lengthy discussion here, please read these two articles. I hope they will give you a new appreciation for the amazing gift of free will that God gives to every human being!

    https://www.wake-up.org/book-of-life-who-is-jesus/a-short-overview-of-the-book-of-life.html

    https://www.wake-up.org/book-of-life-who-is-jesus/the-origin-of-sin.html

    I hope this helps! Best regards.

  • Pianoamor April 21, 2018 at 4:00 PM

    I argue annihilationism from Revelation 9:6

    “In those days people will seek death but will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them”

    This is a period of 5 months where torment will be so unbearable on the unrepentant that people will attempt suicide without success. They will want death. They will want unconsciousness

    There is no mention of people wanting to cease to exist while burning in hell, why?

    Because the fires of hell are clearly designed to extinguish them forever as the Bible clearly teaches they will be ashes under the feet of the saved

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson April 23, 2018 at 12:42 PM

    Hello Pianoamor:

    Some people would argue that "the rich man" who went to hell begged for help. "So he [the rich man] called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' " (Luke 16:24)

    The story of the rich man and Lazarus was created by Jesus to deliver an offensive blow to the Jews. (The parable was divinely designed so that the offense would take some time to be discovered. Meanwhile, Jesus could continue His ministry.) For for information on this parable, please go here:

    https://www.wake-up.org/bible-characters/rich-man-lazarus.html

    I agree with your point though, the wicked will be annihilated after justice has been served. Did you see this paragraph in the article?

    "The fires of Hell will extract restitution and will not burn out until justice has been served and restitution has been "paid in full." (Mark 9:43) The fires of Hell will not burn eternally. After the wicked people's torture is over, the wicked will perish. 'Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the Lord Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. . . Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things, says the Lord Almighty.' " (Malachi 4:1,2)

    Best regards

  • siyanda May 6, 2018 at 7:54 PM

    Hello sir

    I have read your teaching on this. Honestly, I have enjoyed it a lot. I thank you for sharing your knowledge about God with people and I.

    I would like to ask you the questions but please forgive me kindly, because the questions am about to ask is not related to the above topic you taught. However, still it is related to the Word of God. Here are my following questions :

    1. First, a lot of people usually argue over the Sabbath day, especially some people would claim that the Sabbath day is Saturday, whilst others claim that it is Sunday. This has been bothering me since some long times ago. It has also been causing alot of confusions about which day it is. Which day is it? If you have studied it already, please help me find out about it.

    2. A lot of people call themselves the christians and I aso use to call myself a christian. But until this time, I have realised that A christian life is not as easy as i thought it would be. Does being a christian require the 10 commandment to follow and live? It is not the first time I've asked. I ask because not many pastors are faithful, since they do only for money or evil desires or whatever they do and many false pasters are living. I want to go to Heaven, which is why I am willingly and seriously seeking God's faithful thruth so I could rest in Jesus Christ. Do I have to keep all the 10 commandment?

    3. Homosexuality. A lot of people claim that gay & lesbian people would go to hell. What is your opinion on this? Can a christian still be gay & lesbian?

    4. My biggest problem is prayer. Let me introduce myself a bit : Am Deaf and I cannot speak also. It is one of the reasons i dont understand whom to pray to. When i pray, I would go with Jehovah Father in the beiginning of the prayer and i would go with "In the name of Jesus Christ" in the end of prayer. Do I pray right? Jehovah and Jesus are confusing me largely. Who are they exactly? Are they the one God in every way? I know all about how Jesus came to the world and died for our sins but what bothers me is that i dont understand the relationship of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ God or Son of God. Please help me as well.

    5. Is attending the church necessary? Am Deaf and i cannot attend the church where people sing, preach, shout with joy that i cant hear at all. All i do is to sit and look. So I decided not to attend any church since some years ago but I did not stop seeking God's Word.So i am wondering if attending the church is a must?

    6. The last question: I noticed that taking people into air meeting Jesus is one of your teachings. But what confuses me is, When Jesus Christ appears at his second coming, Is he not suppose to touch his foot on the earth? I have read a lot of rapute websites. Some claim that people will be taken up before/after the great tribulation but now you say they will be taken up during the great tribulation. The Antichrist appears during the great tribulation right?

    Please forgive me if my english confuses you. Hopefully you will answer all my above questions. May God bless you, Amen.
    Thanks
    Kind Regard

  • Appolo May 20, 2018 at 7:13 PM

    You had me interested until you said that God will not forgive a thief until he provides restitution to his victims. That is not only completely without Biblical backing, but logistically absurd. I stole from many people as a younger guy and there is no way for me to even remember to whom I owe that money, much less find them all and pay them back. I feel bad that I did it, but the Bible says plainly, "if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive our sins and CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness" If people had to pay for their own sins, NOBODY could be saved. You are teaching false doctrine, and need to repent.

    • Wake Up America Seminars
      Wake Up America Seminars May 21, 2018 at 8:41 AM

      Hi Appolo:
      You gave up too soon! Finish reading the article. I addressed your concern of How do we make restitution when we don't know how?
      Best regards

      • Larry W. Wilson
        Larry W. Wilson May 21, 2018 at 9:54 AM

        Hi Appolo:
        You gave up too soon! Finish reading the article. I addressed your concern of How do we make restitution when we don't know how?

        Many people abuse 1 John 1:9 to escape the humiliation that comes to the sinful nature when making restitution. They read the verse as though confession is made only to God and "poof," that's the end of the matter:

        1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

        But God cannot forgive us our sins if we refuse to restore those we have wronged! When we sin against someone, we have to confess our sin to them before Jesus will forgive us. When Jesus sees that we loath the sin that besets us, He will release transforming power. This is the way discipleship works. The Bible states that we have to confess our sins to those we sinned against.

        James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

        If you do not want your prayers hindered, live a transparent life before God and those around you!

        1 Peter 3:7 "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."

        The gospel of Jesus comes with transforming power, but only if we are willing to submit to the teachings of Jesus. Jesus teaches that must be reconciled with our brother by making wrongs right before we approach God for forgiveness:

        "Matthew 5:23,24 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

        We have to leave it with Him to determine which of us needs to repent.

        Best regards

  • Daniel June 1, 2018 at 2:20 AM

    Hello, great read, just wondering do you really believe our earth is 6000 years old and why?

  • Thedecadentone June 2, 2018 at 4:30 AM

    The thief on the cross next to Jesus couldn't possibly have made restitution, but as long as he was sincere in his heart, it was enough. Remember, Abraham was blessed for being willing to sacrifice t he thing he loved most which was his son Isaac, and his faithfulness was counted as righteousness.

    As for being with Jesus in paradise, they were both in the peace of eternal sleep together, aka Abrahams bosom, aka sheol, aka the grave. Remember, as in the days of Jonah in the belly of the whale 3 days so will the son be in the earth 3 days. One can also explain it by the fact ancient Hebrew didn't have punctuation like commas, those were added by King James. It can also be stated as "I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise." A euphemism Jesus has said before is "I tell you now". As for to be absent with the body is to be present with the lord, the dead know nothing until the moment of resurrection when they will immediately be with Christ. David said that even in hell, aka the grave, aka sheol, that God will be with him and there is no escape from gods presence.

    The beast and false prophet are thrown into the lake just before Jesus millennial kingdom, where they will be destroyed. A thousand years later satan and his angels, beings created immortal (maybe) will be thrown into the fire and suffer, possibly forever. A matter of contention though is that "forever and ever" is translated from "eis tous aionas ton aionon", and literally means “unto the eons of the eons.” An eon is an age. There are two main ages according to Jesus, which are this age and the age to come. An idiomatic expression is what translating it to English as 'forever and ever' is, which is like saying it's "raining cats and dogs" or "wow man, that's heavy" or "that was sick, dude!" to someone just starting to learn Americam English; it wouldn't make sense. The original Greek writing authors would look at most of todays translations and pull their hair out.

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson June 5, 2018 at 11:10 AM

    Hello Thedecadentone:

    You are right, the thief on the cross did not and could not make restitution. However, we can be sure that he would have if he was set free from the cross. And of course, Abraham did not kill Isaac, but that was his full intent and had God not stopped him, Abraham would have killed Isaac.

    Jesus leaves no wiggle room. Restitution (or an honest attempt) is required before God can forgive us our sins against our neighbors.

    Matthew 5:23,24 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

    Can you imagine a thief sitting at the feet of Jesus and around him are people from which he stole and they know he stole from them. But the thief says, I confessed my sin to Jesus. I didn't confess to you because I am not sorry for what I did to you. I owe you nothing. You have to live with the consequences of my evil deeds.

    Best regards

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson June 5, 2018 at 9:12 PM

    Thedecadentone:

    PS: I would like to add a comment to my previous post.

    When a person is born-again, the Holy Spirit changes his selfish heart to a selfless heart. He is filled with love for God AND his neighbor. When we love God with all our heart, mind and soul, we become eager to serve and please Him as Lord as Master. When we love our neighbors as ourselves, we become deeply concerned about our neighbor's welfare and eager to help and elevate them in whatever way possible. When a person is filled with love for his neighbor, he becomes eager to restore any damage that he might have caused or imposed on his neighbor. This was the experience of Zacchaeus and Jesus confirmed the transformation that took place within Zacchaeus by calling him "a son of Abraham" (meaning: he had become an heir of the promises given to Abraham). (Luke 19)

    Jesus said:

    "John 13:34,35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

    It is true that circumstances can unfold (like the thief on the cross or a death bed conversion) where a person is helpless and cannot make restitution. The Father has made provision for such people! Please review this article: Why was Jesus beaten and scourged? I hope it will answer some questions!

    https://www.wake-up.org/suffering/jesus-beaten-and-scourged.html

    Best regards

  • Ali June 21, 2018 at 7:30 PM

    Dear Larry,
    Thank you very much for your insight and answers to the comments to all the people’s questions above- many of my own confusions around Bible and faith have been resolved but I still have few dillemas and hope you can help me to get clarity:
    1. Buddhists – they are rightful and their values are almost identical to those of Christians, but they believe there’s no soul and there’s only mind, and the re-birth cycle continues eternally due to people’s unsatisfying nature + karmic debt and the only escape from which is realising Nibbana- which is, according to Buddha, even better than heaven (because heaven is impermanent (!?!) and eventually people rund put of the „good karma account” and go onto different realms (including human realm) to collect more „credits” so they cam enjoy better states of egistence (heavens). I bought into this idea. At first it sounded ridiculous, but i am beginning to see how this can be totally a real possibility. I can see how Buddha’s pretty much scientific and hard-to-deny statements about our raality unfold in my every day life. I can relate and see how the things Buddha said are very true. I am now split between two ‚truths’ but i understand the truth can only be one and i got to choose!
    Another thing, my ex husband is a buddhist and since he begun to seriously follow this path, I can see how he changes toward being completely self-content, not relying on other people for happiness (which is kond of admirable but somehow sad (to others, not to him!), to me he seems more and more coldhearted towards himself and others yet more and more ‘righteous’ and happy, also very dutiful and balanced (neither selfish or selfless). I do see the truth in the things which Buddha taught about our human life though- that every desire is accompanied leads to /accompanied by suffering, everything is never entirely to our liking, everything causes suffering (the things/people we attach to the most have the greatest potential to cause us pain and suffering), everything is bound to decay, and all our endeavours, anything and everything we do is actually useless and barren. Yes- we can never be completely content in this world and therefore we are looking forward to either Heaven or achieving escape from re-birth cycle if heaven is only a temporary ‚resting place” and then we’re back to square 1!
    Question then arises: although being the path of the ‚rightful’, is Buddhism inspired by evil? Becoming buddhist monk is the road to hell?
    Buddhism also teaches that there are gods (not One Almighty God), spirits realm, many types of hells and heavens, teaches how to prevent going to hells and be a good person, ways to get to to heaven, or better Nirvana… and people who honestly follow Buddha’s teachings are extremely nice, righful people. Since they are not Christians and don’t believe in Jesus Christ and reject / don’t accept/ don’t believe the fact that He is the only Saviour, would they go to Hell?
    2. Will I go to hell because I did an abortion?

    Thank you for any advice you can give.

    God bless,

    A

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson June 22, 2018 at 12:03 PM

    Hello Ali:

    Thank you for the difficult questions. Smile…. I hope the following response will be helpful.

    1. There are many different views and beliefs about God on this planet and it sounds arrogant and narrow minded when any one person claims that all of them are false, except his own.

    According to Genesis 11, God is responsible for the diversity of languages, cultures and religious thought on Earth. Shortly after Noah's flood, He separated the people of Earth into language groups and dispersed them throughout the world. He foreknew that each group would eventually create their own views and beliefs about Him and He is not perplexed by man's religious darkness or diversity. In fact, He intends to use our diversity to prove a profound point during the Great Tribulation. During the Great Tribulation, a series of four testing truths will be presented to everyone on Earth. There are people in every nation, within every culture and religious system that are honest in heart, who faithfully live up to all they know to be right and true and when these people are presented with these divine truths at the last hour, they will embrace them because they already know and obey the Spirit of God!

    Regardless of the religious system into which we were born or to which we may belong, our response to the Holy Spirit determines our eternal destiny. God loves Buddhists in the same way that He loves Jews, Catholics and Muslims. The Bible says,

    John 3:16,17 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

    The world today has 7.6 billion people and He loves all of us equally!

    When it comes to the truth about God, there are many issues. Jesus was sent to Earth by the Father to reveal the truth about the Father, but the Jews did not receive Him as sent from God. Buddhism does not teach what Jesus taught. Islam does not teach what Jesus taught. Judaism does not teach what Jesus taught. Catholicism and Protestantism does not teach what Jesus taught. As I understand it, the truth about the Father is different than what the seven religious systems of the world teach about God. (For further study on this matter, please read this series of short articles: https://www.wake-up.org/Alpha/Trinity.pdf )

    I know this will sound strange at first, but a person does not need to know the absolute truth about God to be saved. I say this because no one knows the absolute truth about God! God is infinite and through out eternity to come, the saints will continue to learn new things about God. On the other hand, the kind of person that God seeks are those who are humble in heart and are seekers of truth. Jesus said,

    John 4:23,24 "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is [humble in] spirit, and his worshipers must worship in [the same] spirit and in truth."

    Where do we find the truth about God? I believe there is one truth and the truth comes only through the words and teachings of Jesus. For a short study on who is Jesus, please take a look at these articles:

    https://www.wake-up.org/jesus-alpha-omega-book/who-is-jesus.html
    https://www.wake-up.org/jesus-alpha-omega-book/chapter-2-the-angel-of-the-lord.html
    https://www.wake-up.org/jesus-alpha-omega-book/chapter-3-the-author-and-finisher-of-salvation.html

    The Bible also teaches that salvation comes only through Jesus:

    Acts 4:12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

    Many Christians read this verse and think that everyone has to know Jesus in order to be saved. This is not the meaning of the verse. Jesus has made salvation possible for everyone on Earth who obeys the voice of the Holy Spirit. Think of the billions of people who lived on Earth before Jesus came to Earth. Think of the billions of people who have lived on Earth since Jesus lived here and never heard of Him! Knowing Jesus is not necessary to benefit from His salvation. If we obey the voice of the Holy Spirit, we please God. This obedience is called "living by faith" and many people live by faith who have never heard the name of Jesus! This takes us back to the second paragraph. Our response to the Holy Spirit determines our eternal destiny.

    Romans 1:17 "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

    On last point, there have been and there remains, many false gods. People who follow the Holy Spirit and love the true God are easy to detect — for they love others as the true God loves us!

    1 John 3:16-20 "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ [came from Heaven and] laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything."

    I hope you will consider these matters and look further into the soon return of Jesus (which will be devastating to all of the religions of the world):

    https://www.wake-up.org/Alpha/SecondComing.pdf

    2. Regarding your abortion.

    According to Jesus, there is no sin which cannot be forgiven except one and it is not abortion. The sin that can't be forgiven is insulting the Holy Spirit.

    Matthew 12:31,32 "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."

    For further study on the unpardonable sin, please see this article:

    https://www.wake-up.org/newsletter-archive/response-holy-spirit-destiny.html

    I realize these topics are complex, I hope this is helpful!

  • Ali June 22, 2018 at 6:25 PM

    Thank you Larry. Your responce is very helpful on many levels. God bless you.

  • Kiwiaussie June 24, 2018 at 3:52 AM

    "No one can be judged by Christ until His Judgment Bar is "set up." For reasons beyond the scope of this response, Jesus was found worthy to ascend Heaven's throne in 1798 and Jesus began reviewing the books of record in 1844. (Ecc 12:13,14, Dan 7:10) So, Bible prophecy indicates that immediate judgment at death is not possible. (Note: God the Father has made a few "executive" exceptions to the Judgment Bar of Christ. Enoch, Elijah and the 24 elders were taken to Heaven prior to 1844. These exceptions are justified on the basis that the Father foreknew this was the best way of resolving issues that are not part of this discussion.)"

    Where do you get these dates from?

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson June 29, 2018 at 12:16 PM

    Hello Kiwiaussie:

    Dates in apocalyptic prophecy are based on four valid rules on interpretation, historical events and time periods connected to them. For a discussion on the importance 1798 and 1844, please review these articles:

    https://www.wake-up.org/book-of-life-who-is-jesus/when-was-jesus-worthy-to-open-the-book.html

    https://www.wake-up.org/book-of-life-who-is-jesus/the-first-seal-in-revelation.html

    https://www.wake-up.org/book-of-life-who-is-jesus/the-third-seal-in-revelation.html

    For more details on how God measures spans of time, please see this article:

    https://www.wake-up.org/Daniel/Timing.pdf

    If you are just beginning to study apocalyptic prophecy, please watch this seminar:

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCjTA_z__OcqzrmZe4OSuqBFo9I0erHss

    I hope this helps!

    Best regards,

  • Vanessa July 17, 2018 at 5:17 PM

    Larry Wilson, if God requires restitution to forgive one's sins, how do you explain the thief on the cross? He obviously didn't have enough time to make restitutions, and yet Christ says "today you will be with me in Paradise" when the thief says "remember me when you come into your kingdom." Luke 23:42-43.

    Moreover, how do you explain Mark 3:28-30?

    And isn't restitution just another example of works? (Ephesians 2:8-9). By you arguing that restitution is REQUIRED to be saved, you are negating this verse entirely. You are negating what the Bible says about us being saved by grace alone.

    You talk about"cherry picking." Isn't that exactly what you are doing?

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson July 17, 2018 at 9:03 PM

    Hello Vanessa:

    Thank you for your questions and comments! You and the many other readers will have to decide if I am "cherry picking" Bible verses because "cherry picking" is very easy to detect. Cherry picking occurs when someone uses one verse to cancel out other verses and the end result is that the Bible is conflicted, confused and worthless. Cherry picking always puts the Bible in a state of internal conflict. Many people have a Bible that consists of five or six chosen texts, the rest of the Bible they ignore or reject because the other texts dethrone their theology.

    If you can, please bear with me for a moment. Often, the thief on the cross story/situation is poorly and/or inappropriately used to support a point that doesn't exist. So, consider the story for a moment: The leaders of Israel had rejected Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God and very few of the laymen considered Jesus to be the promised Messiah. The nation at large considered Jesus to be a fraud. They thought His words and teachings were blasphemous. At his trial, Jesus admitted that He was the Son of God and this caused an uproar:

    Matthew 26:65,66 "Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, 'He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?' 'He is worthy of death,' they answered."

    Jesus had very few dedicated followers attending Him on the day of His crucifixion. Peter had denied knowing the Lord, the other disciples had run off, but John was there with Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

    Matthew indicates that at first, BOTH robbers mocked and insulted Jesus:

    Matthew 27:42-44 [The priests of Israel called out,] " 'He saved others,' they said, 'but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if He wants Him, for He said, 'I am the Son of God.' ' In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on Him."

    It is important to understand the situation on Golgotha because several things come into play at the same time. First, for one Jewish thief to have a change of heart and recognize that Jesus, the man hanging next to him was the Son of God is profound. How could he see what everyone else could not see? How could he accept what the priests and teachers of the Law could not accept?

    A Jewish thief was able to abandon his religious paradigm that morning, he was able to go against the sway and attitude of the crowd, he was able to reject the authority of Israel's priests and teachers, how is this possible? There is only one way. The thief came to a place in his heart where he "believed" Jesus was the Son of God and to be a part of Christ's future kingdom (which he knew something about) he knew he had to repent of his sins. The thief declared his faith in Christ and his faith saved him.

    But how does one show repentance while nailed to a cross?

    Prior to the ministry of Jesus, God sent John the Baptist to prepare His way. John was a well known prophet and his message to Israel was very different than what the priests taught. John said, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham." (Luke 3:8)

    The priests believed and taught something at that time this is similar to what many people believe today. They think that salvation requires nothing. This is false theology. Salvation requires living by faith and living by faith involves works. These two verses are not in conflict:

    James 2:24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
    Rom 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

    At first glance, these verses seem contradictory. Paul's point is that no one will be saved through obeying the law. James' point is that a person is justified if he obeys the Holy Spirit and does whatever He commands.

    Many people use Ephesians 2 to say that salvation has nothing to do with works. But the same man who wrote Ephesians 2 wrote 1 Thessalonians 2:

    "He [God] will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power." (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9)

    Obeying the gospel of Jesus is part of living by faith! Peter wrote, "For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" (1 Peter 4:17,18)

    John the Baptist spoke as he did because the Jews saw no need for making restitution for wrong doing because they were the descendants of Abraham. As such, they had the righteousness of Abraham to cover any shortcomings. John understood their false theology and he said, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." This means: God will see by your actions if you are sorry for your sins!

    As they hung on their crosses, both thieves knew about John and Jesus. They had heard of John's testimony and the miracles of Jesus. Perhaps they had listened to some of Jesus' teachings. As the three men gazed at one another in their pain, one thief began to consider his situation with remorse, but the other thief had rejected the Holy Spirit and had no sorrow in his heart for his wrong doing:

    Luke 23:39-43 "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!' But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don't you fear God,' he said, 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.' Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise.' "

    The thief who asked Jesus to remember him recognized Jesus to be who He claimed to be. How did this understanding arrive? When he became sorry for his sins, the Holy Spirit revealed the truth to him. (Matthew 16:17) This is how spiritual enlightenment comes, through repentance!

    When Jesus heard the request, He saw His repentant heart. This is the same heart that Jesus saw earlier in Zacchaeus. Perhaps the thief knew that Zacchaeus (a well known tax collector thief) had been declared as a "Son of Abraham" by Jesus and he wanted the same blessing.

    Vanessa, Jesus indicates that God forgives a sinner AFTER God sees a person loves his neighbor and has made restitution. (Matthew 5:23,24) God wants to see the fruit of repentance first. When a person is born-again, the Holy Spirit changes his selfish heart to a selfless heart. A born again person is filled with love for God AND his neighbor. When we love God with all our heart, mind and soul, we become eager to serve and please Him as our Lord as Master. When we love our neighbors as ourselves, we become deeply concerned about their welfare and eager to help and elevate them in whatever way possible. When a person is filled with love for his neighbor, he becomes eager to restore any damage that he might have caused or imposed on his neighbor. This was the experience of Zacchaeus and Jesus confirmed a transformation had occurred within Zacchaeus by calling him "a son of Abraham" (meaning: Zacchaeus had become an heir of the promises given to Abraham). Luke 19

    Restitution is the fruit of love. John wrote:

    1 John 4:12-21 "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 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. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."

    It is true that circumstances can unfold (like the thief on the cross or during a death bed conversion) where a person is helpless and cannot make restitution. Good news! The Father has made provision for such people! Please review this article: Why was Jesus beaten and scourged? I hope it will answer some questions!

    https://www.wake-up.org/suffering/jesus-beaten-and-scourged.html

    Finally, one thief died in his sins and he will be resurrected at the end of the 1,000 years so that justice can served. He must repay in hell for the pain and suffering he inflicted on others. The other thief died a sinner, but his guilt was transferred to the innocent Son of God. Prior to His death, the Father sustained Jesus so that He could suffer in the extreme so that any restitution which a sinner could not pay, could be paid in full. (It hurts to make restitution, but it has to be done.)

    Have you considered the fact that the grace extended to one thief on the cross is the same grace extended to Zacchaeus and to you and me. If we put our faith in Jesus and if we surrender our hearts to Him, if we will abide in Him and follow His teachings, He will produce the miracle of rebirth within us. This is the only way we can love God and our neighbors as we should for all eternity. A person refusing to provide restitution to his victim neither loves God or his neighbor! John hit the nail on the head:

    "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
    (Luke 3:8,9)

    For me, this topic is straightforward and very clear and when all of the Bible verses regarding this topic are put on the table, there is no need for cherry picking!

    PS: This response is much too long. For a presentation on Mark 3:28-30 please see this article: Our response to the Holy Spirit determines our eternal destiny:

    https://www.wake-up.org/newsletter-archive/response-holy-spirit-destiny.html

    Best regards

  • Vanessa July 17, 2018 at 11:22 PM

    I understand what you are saying and I wholeheartedly agree, I was reading and picturing what you were saying as "works" instead of "heart." I reread your post and your response and I thank you so much for clarifying. I grew up in a very toxic Catholic church and I still have issues when I feel like I'm being told if I'm not "good enough" I'm not going to heaven.

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson July 18, 2018 at 12:03 PM

    Hello Vanessa:

    Whenever you get to feeling that you're not good enough for salvation, remember the thief on the cross. His story is included in the Bible because it is profoundly important, but not in the way it is often used.

    We know that all have sinned. (Romans 3:23) In one way or another, everyone is a thief. We have all stolen (but many were not or have not been caught). I know that I stole things when I before I became born-again. When I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I was deeply impressed to pay back whatever I had stolen and to confess in cases where payment in kind was not possible. I'm so glad that I did. Every person I approached was more than kind and generous when I confessed my sin. My love for them and their love for me was renewed and improved. These experiences also taught me that when tempted to do wrong, that I should love the owner of the item more than I do. Also, I would have to make restitution to have a clear conscience. Therefore, stealing and its aftermath is so difficult than it is better to resist the temptation.

    James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
    James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.

    There is a big difference in God's view between being unable to make restitution and being unwilling to make restitution.

    The Father has taken care of those who are/were unable (like the thief on the cross) to make restitution by putting the pain on Jesus. Jesus was overjoyed when Zacchaeus (a tax collecting thief) made restitution for all that he had stolen because this is the way of love.

    As you well know, a religious experience can be toxic or healthy. Many people live in a religious prison for no reason other than spiritual darkness. The good news is that God grants salvation to everyone who loves as He loves. He is a God of love and if we live by His two greatest commandments (love God and neighbor), He will surely save us!

    May God bless you with joy and happiness!

  • bdbelew August 19, 2018 at 5:25 PM

    I am curious as to what you think Matthew 25 is referring to when it says regarding the sheep and the goats, "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:46‬ ‭NASB‬‬

    Doesn't this indicate that the goat people will be punished forever? Thanks

  • Larry W. Wilson
    Larry W. Wilson August 20, 2018 at 10:43 AM

    Hello bdbelew:

    Thank you for your question. I have written a short commentary on Matthew 24-26 which includes the topic you have questions about. Many people do not realize that Jesus spoke Matthew 24-26 in one setting and the context of His words have to be considered. If/when you have a moment, please take a look:

    https://www.wake-up.org/Alpha/SecondComing.pdf

    You may also find this article helpful: What happens at death?

    https://www.wake-up.org/jesus-alpha-omega-book/chapter-13-what-happens-at-death.html

    God's judgment process is fascinating. Here is a chart that may also be helpful:

    https://www.wake-up.org/charts/page25.pdf

    I hope this helps!

Leave a Reply