Article of the Month

March 2008

The Great Misconception

 

The great religions of the world frequently have formed their teachings and behaviors on some basic error.  There is ONE major error, one GREAT MISCONCEPTION, which most of these religions (much of Christianity included) share.  That misconception is that everyone is now, during this lifetime, sealing his eternal destiny.  Not only is this idea wrong, but it is behind most of the horrible things which religions do.  If we are convinced that the destinies of all are set during this life, we also can feel convinced that we can justify hurting them to help to “save them” or to save those they might “lead astray.”  What pain, misery, sorrow, torture, and fear this has brought, and still brings, to this earth!

 

The “DO-IT-MY-WAY” attitude of religious rulers and adherents all over the world is begotten of this great misconception.  Islam wants to rule the world so that, in converting everyone, all will have an eternity of paradise.  The Roman Catholic Church justified the fiendish Inquisition believing that it was better to torture someone now than to let him suffer an eternity in “hell fire.”  Regardless of the extremes to which religions go to “help” unbelievers, the fault lies in this gross error that all are now under judgment.

 

The truth is that all are NOT now under judgment.  Very few are now under judgment.  Judgment now is RESTRICTED to those who are fully-convicted, fully-dedicated followers of Christ.  The other billions who inhabit this earth are not under judgment now.  Their judgment period comes later.

 

What a relief, what a lifting of concern, what a liberty this truth provides to those who can receive it!  We need no longer worry about others; we need no longer threaten others; we need no longer trouble the world with an insane crusade to convert them to our way of thinking!  Of course, the religions of the world (nominal Christianity included) will not abandon this burdensome misconception because it has become to them in large part one of the reasons for their existence.  They have felt POWER in insisting on their own understandings.  Some actually seem to enjoy the hateful pursuit of their “holy wars.”  Worse yet, some would prefer the easier path of executing infidels than the troublesome details and work of convincing them.

 

THE BIBLICAL TEACHING

 

The words of Jesus (in John 23:46-48) are revealing.  In the 46th verse, Jesus states one of the blessings due to those who believe him now.  He states that they will no longer live in darkness.  The incredible understanding of truth, of God’s magnanimous plans, will take away the fears and poor judgments which the lack of understanding promotes.  The 47th verse suggests, however, that believing in the light will place a person into a responsibility—a judgment for how light changes him and his actions.  The powerful part of verse 47, however, is that it shows that those who DON’T BELIEVE are NOT BEING JUDGED!

 

TWO ADVENTS

 

Jesus makes it plain that his part in God’s plan requires two advents (John 12:47, 48), the FIRST to SAVE the world by giving the needed ransom to buy mankind out of condemnation (I Timothy 2:5, 6), the SECOND advent to judge and restore the race which he bought (Acts 17:31; Acts 3:20, 21).  His faithful followers, developed between these two advents, will reign with Jesus in this wonderful future judgment day for the whole world of mankind (Revelation 5:10).  This is WHY committed Christians ARE under judgment NOW—not later.  It is why they are the ONLY ONES under judgment now.

 

Jesus’ words in John confirm this.  In John 12:48 he shows that non-believers during this current age will be judged IN THE LAST DAY—the 1,000 years of Christ’s Kingdom (Revelation 20:1-4).  In John 12:48 Jesus shows that the truths he has promoted will be the standard of judgment:  “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him (the unbeliever) in the last day.”  Revelation 20:12 says the same thing in different words.  It says that UNDERSTANDING WILL HAPPEN—“The books were opened.”  The dead (having returned) will then have the opportunity of growth and judgment for life based upon their newly acquired understanding and their subsequent good “works.”

 

The Apostle Paul (I Timothy 4:10) shows the same lesson.  He clearly proclaims that God will save ALL MEN—and he means those who are CURRENTLY UNBELIEVERS because he says there is a SPECIAL SALVATION for those who CURRENTLY BELIEVE.

 

SUMMARY

 

God has set aside TWO AGES since Jesus died.  The FIRST of these, the Gospel Age or Christian Age, is dedicated to finding those who will participate eventually with Jesus in judging and restoring mankind. 

(I Corinthians 6:2)  God calls these disciples “New Creatures”  (II Corinthians 5:17) because He intends to “change” them from being humans into glorious spirit beings.  (I Corinthians 15:50-52 and I John 3:1-3)  As a group He calls them His CHURCH.  The Greek word for church is EKKLESIA.  It means OUTCALLING.  That is the point of the judgment of dedicated Christians in this age:  they are CALLED OUT of this world to be the judges in the next age.

 

The SECOND AGE is the MILLENNIAL AGE, the thousand years of restoring the earth and its inhabitants to perfection.  (See Isaiah 2:4 and 14:7 for inspiring words about that age.)

 

Nearly all have missed this ingenious division of judgment into two ages.  The GREAT MISCONCEPTION that all are now under judgment has resulted in fears and confusion and irrational conclusions.  We hope many of you reading this article will be able to abandon this tragic error and to substitute the optimism of the Biblical truths on the subject.