Crisis in the Heavenly Council


"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light" (John3:16-19 KJV)

God does NOT (need to judge &) condemn - People have already condemned themselves.

The sanctuary service illustrated (acknowledged) the devastation of sin - reaching all the way into Heaven itself.

Jesus’ death is the ultimate revelation of the curse of sin - Sins reign (desires to &) would destroy even God if it were possible.

(Phil van der Klift) #22

Precisely. The wages of sin is death. And sin is the transgression/rebellion against the laws of reality that alone support life (in conjunction with God as the exclusive source of life). So sin is its own self-destructive package! It is sin that steals, kills and destroys (Jn 10:10) - not God.

Like you said, all this means that God will not and does not need to judge, condemn or destroy us. We do that to ourselves via sin.

God is ONLY trying to save us from our own destruction/perishing (Jn 3:16; 2 Pet 3:9).

Now that truly is Good News.

(Patrick Travis) #23

T, there is more to sin than just “what one does to ones self.” Sin harms others also. Rom.12:19 says the “Lord will repay.” How is that done without judging?

(James Peterson) #24
  1. Cosmic, but the revelation is ensconced in a Roman framework.
  2. Awareness of present reality, well-known in heaven and earth.
  3. Neither. They both know and understand that only ONE person can solve it in the fullness of time.
  4. Revelation.
  5. It assumes a high view.
  6. By what the Lamb is shown to be. Only He can break the seals.
  7. Focused on The Cross and the hope thereby engendered.


(Phil van der Klift) #25

To anyone who is interested…

Yes, sin does infact harm others. And that is not fair and it is not right - classic indicators of the presence of sin.

In our world, our dominant tendency to respond to things that are not fair and right is a desire to avenge/revenge via imposing some sort of ‘punishment’. This has even crept into and embedded itself squarely within Christianity. And so we tend to view verses such as Rom 12:19 through that mindset.

But if we look at the context of Rom 12:19, we see Paul’s summary conclusion only a couple of verses later: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. Thus, God is not saying to leave vengeance to Him to let Him avenge/revenge others in the same manner that we would want to. God is not some cosmic “Terminator”. Rather, God is saying to release our desire to avenge/revenge to Him and He will restore justice and righteousness - but that He will do so in a very different way to how we would do it. God only does two things: restore back to what “ought to be” (ie justice and righteousness) or release to natural consequences. God does not punish nor does He destroy.

[Note: God does discipline (ie disciple) - but that is very conceptually different to punishment].

Christianity typically fails to consider the central role that reality plays. This is not to suggest that reality is bigger than God. But the existence of reality is a vital consideration that is typically overlooked. The way I would describe it is that God, in His Omniscience and Omnipotence, ‘inhabits’ reality and works in, with and through reality - as opposed to being apart from reality. And reality consists of laws (as opposed to rules) - principles of consistency, principles of cause and effect. Thus, God does not need to judge in the way we typically understand and portray. Reality already takes care of that need. If I violate the laws of health, I will get sick (cause and effect). If I violate the laws of gravity, I will perish (cause and effect). If I violate any of the laws of abundant life - which is what sin is as the transgression of the law - I will perish (as per Rom 6:23). Again, cause and effect.

God is the Source and Sustainer of all life (Acts 17:28). Reality is not the source of life. But rather than God having to micromanage every aspect of life, He employs reality (and its laws/principles as constants of cause and effect) to manage reality.

Have a close look at Paul again in Gal 6:7-9. God is not being “mocked” by the suggestion that reality is involved and that it is employed by Him in His perfect ‘management’ of everything. Consequenlty, it is precisely this cause and effect nature of reality that is the mechanism by which “destruction” will come about: “For the one who sows to the flesh (ie sins/transgresses the laws necessary for abundant life) will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction”. This is why Jesus was able to say so black and white in Jn 10:10 that God is the exclusive source of abundant life and that the thief is the exclusive source of death and destruction.

So, God does not need to ‘judge’ in the way He is typically portrayed because that process is already inbuilt into reality. This is because those who sin and harm others, if they do not repent and become healed and restored, will experience the inherent and inevitable consequences of cause and effect reality - they will perish (Rom 6:23, Gal 6:8). Rather, God’s ‘judgment’ is merely the revealing/unveiling of all the details/evidence so that any onlooker can see clearly the cause and effect reality that has taken place (see 1 Cor 4:5 as a description of God’s judgment process).

It is not too strong to say that the typical portrayal of God as judge and executioner (ie the one who will destroy sinners in the end) is actually a doctrine of deception. Look at the first words of Gal 6:6. Paul is precisely cautioning against viewing God this way. Clearly this deception has been around for a long time.

(Patrick Travis) #26

Phil, no amount of conversation will remove your view or mine. It simply is not plausable hermeneutics to deny God destroys/judges ultimately in His “strange act” the Devil, the present order and those who repent not…but double down and even try to storm the city. Rev.20:8-10
I would suggest “the overly kind, non vindictive angry God” even against unrighteousness is a philosophical approach shared by the Greeks at the time of Philo. Paul, John and others with this history in mind, were “in their face” concerning God’s righteous judgment to come. it isn’t a thought to relish but it is a point continually made in scripture. God judges and destroys evil by means other than “natural consequences.”

And…as you previously stated, on this we agree to disagree. A multitude of exegetes concur with the view I have accepted.

PS. All of God’s attributes the scripture reveals are important. We can’t pick & choose. In fact one of your favorite writers EGW in GC.pp.554,558 speaks of “love” being the only attribute of God referring to an aspect of spiritualism…not the spooky kind. :slight_smile:

(Phil van der Klift) #27

I agree 100% with this statement.

The problem is that many of the attributes of God have been misperceived, misinterpreted and therefore mistranslated from the original languages. Exodus 34:7b is but one prime example in terms of the mistranslation as God “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children…”

I looked up GC pgs 554 and 558. From p 558: “Love is dwelt upon as the chief attribute of God but it is degraded to a weak sentimentalism, making little distinction between good and evil.” Nowhere am I referring to or portraying God’s love as a “weak sentimentalism” (ie the most common [mis]conception of love that is portrayed in movies, popular songs, etc). Rather, I am referring to self-renouncing, Agape love whereby Jesus, the Creator of the world, demonstrated that He would rather lay down His life (Jn 15:13) and ask God to forgive those who placed Him on the cross than call down destruction upon them. That is self-renouncing love in its ultimate manifestation.

You don’t know me, but I do not care one bit about being right. I have no desire to prove a point. The dominant view of God within Christianity is that He is love, but that at the same time He will also destroy all who refuse to follow His ways. Is this who God really is, or is this how Satan has successfully misportrayed Him as? All I want to do is stand up and say that God is not like this - and that such is actually supported by the Bible for those who are interested.

What really are we afraid of if we were to let go of viewing God as the source of destruction?

(Patrick Travis) #28

I suggest to you it is simply a fact of the mystery of iniquity. It is the invader that attacks the innocent and must be killed.

(James Peterson) #29

We can test this by asking, “Is there any time when the natural course of life was interrupted by God?” Not surprisingly, there are many such instances, starting from the beginning of beginnings:

  • When Adam sinned, “therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So [God] drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden” Gen. 3:23-24.

Adam did not naturally find himself cut off from the Garden as a consequence of his sin, did he? Rather, the active judgment of God was, and resulted in, Adam’s expulsion.


(Phil van der Klift) #30

Thank you for your response James.

I raise the following points for consideration.

Regarding “…the natural course of life interrupted by God…”, what is the natural course of life under sin/the fall? God had already informed Adam and Eve of what this would be back in Gen 2:17: “in the day you eat thereof you will certainly die.” The Hebrew word for die (tamut) can mean to be put to death (by an external means) or it can mean to perish/die prematurely (due to internal means without external input). Which translation is accurate? That is why there is a need to go back to the original languages because translation is interpretation and therefore not a neutral/objective exercise. Where a word has multiple meanings (which is very common), translators choose the meaning that accords with their world view. The only way we can say that God is the source of destruction is for the words to preclude any other interpretation - and the thing is they don’t.

Same thing for Gen 3:23. The Hebrew words can be interpreted as you have suggested - but they equally paint a picture of Adam being ‘released’ to the inherent consequences of his choice/action which was disconnection from abundant living and relocation away from ‘paradise’. This was not ‘punishment’ being delivered by God, it was the inherent reality that Adam had unleashed. So yes, actually Adam did find himself cut off from the Garden as a consequence of his sin. The original Hebrew does not preclude this interpretation.

And you are correct when you say that God did in fact interrupt the natural course of life. But not in the way you are proposing. The natural course of Adam’s ‘fall’ from operating upon the foundation principle of self-renouncing love to instead operating upon the foundational principle of self-interest should have been instantaneous death due to having disconnected himself from the Source and Foundation of life. But God intervened to temporarily suspend that natural course and instead provide opportunity for a second chance via the plan of Redemption (as per 2 Pet 3:9).

Because God has in fact intervened to temporarily suspend the inherent consequences of sin (recall Rom 6:23), we mistakenly have come to think that living is the default even under a sin-infected environment. It is not. The default under sin should be instant (self)annihilation of beings and nature itself via disconnection from the only Source of life and departure from order (the reason for the natural ‘laws’ upon which life alone can exist) to total chaos. The flood was a small-scale example of this.

Keep in mind when we get to Revelation 7 in the lesson study that there are 4 angels stationed at the four corners (north, south, east and west) of the earth holding back the 4 winds of the earth. This is the description of God having held back the full natural and inherent consequences of sin on earth since Genesis 3. But there will come a time when these are no longer held back, where God no longer intervenes in the natural course of life and ‘all hell breaks loose’ - that is, total chaos and self-destruction. Consistent with Romans 1:24,26,28 destruction will come as a result of God letting go to natural consequences, not from God being the cause of the consequences.

So, the original Bible languages support two opposing views of God. Which one do we choose? Which view is truth? If Jesus came to earth to reveal God’s character (Jn 17:4-6) to a world who, despite previous revelations throughout the OT had still grossly misunderstood God’s nature and character, which view did He reveal? Which view did He display during his final hours on the cross?

I would ask again, what are we afraid of if we were to let go of the view that God must punish and destroy? Do we fear that it wouldn’t be fair, that people would get off too lightly? Or is it perhaps that we actually want a God who will pour out ‘revenge’ because that is what we are seeking? (I don’t mean this sarcastically).

(James Peterson) #31

I was not talking about “death.”

I was talking about God actively judging and executing such judgment. Therefore, I said:

  • When Adam sinned, “ therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So [God] drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden ” Gen. 3:23-24.

Adam did not naturally find himself cut off from the Garden as a consequence of his sin, did he? Rather, the active judgment of God was, and resulted in, Adam’s expulsion.


(Phil van der Klift) #32

Thanks for your feedback again James. The reason I mentioned death is because that is the natural state that God interrupts. I was building the case for the view that the default state that God is interrupting is the state of death, not the state of life. This has direct bearing on the point you were raising.

And, yes, you were talking about judging and executing judgment. But what constitutes judgment and how it is executed depends upon which of the above two premises is being embraced.

If life is the default state, then judgment and it’s execution involves imposing punishment as you propose and as is most typically held in Christianity and supported by English Bible translations and most Bible Commentaries.

But if death is the default state already, the need for punishment is redundant (unless a person also wants revenge) and ‘judgment’ becomes instead a process of revelation or diagnosis that essentially shows the cause and effect relationship of an outcome.

This doesn’t just apply to life or death situations. This principle of default state is the foundation to all God’s interactions with humanity including the one you referred to about the process of Adam exiting the Garden of Eden. Yes, the English translation has God actively executing judgment that is consistent with an assumption of life as the default state in this world. However, the original Hebrew supports an alternative view of ‘judgment’ that I have proposed that accords with an assumption of death as the default state in a sin-infected planet (see Rm 1:18, 24,26,28 as a NT example that has actually been translated from the Greek correctly).

(James Peterson) #33

AGAIN, I was not talking about “death.”

I was talking about God actively judging (the man MUST leave) and executing such judgment (driving the man OUT). Therefore, I said:

  • When Adam sinned, “therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So [God] drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden” Gen. 3:23-24.

Adam did not naturally find himself cut off from the Garden as a consequence of his sin, did he? Rather, the active judgment of God was, and resulted in, Adam’s expulsion. Similarly, at the end of time, God WILL Himself actively destroy those who destroy. “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Rev. 20:14


(Phil van der Klift) #34

Hypothetically, if we got to the end of this earth’s history and we were to discover that God does not actively destroy, what would bother you about that?


I applaud your efforts to try to take God off the hook for what is generally perceived in Christianity as the coming fate of sinners, the wicked, those who have not believed that Christ is their Saviour. To most of Christianity that means unending torment. To Adventists it means annihilation (i.e., being cremated in a lake of fire). I understand your predicament. God is love and it’s tough to reconcile that with a coming judgment and punishment.

You said, ‘The idea that God makes a deterministic judgement and is “judging us” is absolutely untrue.’ and,
‘It is not too strong to say that the typical portrayal of God as judge and executioner (ie the one who will destroy sinners in the end) is actually a doctrine of deception.’ and,
‘God does not punish nor does He destroy.’

But, the Bible is clear that we will be judged and rewarded or punished for our works. This is stated in many verses (Matt 16:27; Rom 2:5-6; 14:10-12; 1Cor 3:8; 2Cor 5:10; 11:15; Jude 15; Rev 20:12-13; 22:12). The Bible is also clear that there will be varying punishments depending on each person’s works and what s/he had the opportunity to know. Jesus Himself said that punishment will be more tolerable for places like Sodom & Gomorrah, Tyre & Sidon and Nineveh than for the people of the cities (like Capernaum) who had the opportunity to know Christ during His incarnation (Matt 10:15; 11:21-24; 12:41; Luke 10:13-15; 12:47).

One of my problems with the Adventist view is if unbelievers are reincarnated, judged, and then cremated what is the purpose of varying punishments?
Are we to somehow be satisfied that the really bad people suffer more before annihilation? Is their cremation to be more painful?
Or is this to satisfy God somehow? Was the self-emptying love Christ demonstrated in His life and by His crucifixion (and His plea to the Father to forgive those who were responsible) not really His true colours?

I think your comment on the challenge of getting a clear understanding of the original languages in which the Bible was written is spot on as a key to our comprehension.

Jude 7 tells us Sodom will suffer ‘eternal’ fire’ yet will be better off in the judgment than some other places. Please do a study on the Greek word translated as ‘eternal’. Strong’s g166 from g165 related to g5550.

You also said, ‘The dominant view of God within Christianity is that He is love, but that at the same time He will also destroy all who refuse to follow His ways. Is this who God really is, or is this how Satan has successfully misportrayed Him as? All I want to do is stand up and say that God is not like this - and that such is actually supported by the Bible for those who are interested.’
I believe you are right. God is not like that.
You said, ‘What really are we afraid of if we were to let go of viewing God as the source of destruction?’

But God does destroy. You can see it as a step on the way to salvation if
you understand the possible meanings of the word ‘destruction’ to the ancients. Notice the places it is used in the NT and check out Strong’s g622 and its related word g3639.

Here is an explanation of ‘olethros’ (g3639) I have found useful:

I believe one can accept the Biblical teaching of our coming judgment if one sees the purposes for it it are in accordance with the love of God and His plan for us.

(Phil van der Klift) #36

Thanks for your input Dave.

I have looked a lot into those 2 related Greek words. I find that these words support a conceptualisation of complete ‘destruction’ BUT that this destruction results from internal rather than external sources/causes. That is to say, I would come to total destruction as a direct consequence of me having separated myself from that which enables and sustains life - not because God has taken life away from me. This is what ‘sin’ is and does. I find this meaning to ALSO be consistent with the nature and character of God and the nature and character of life (Zoe) and the nature and character of sin.

HELPS Word-Studies says this about [3639] ólethros:

“(“ruination”) however does not imply " extinction " (annihilation). Rather it emphasizes the consequent loss that goes with the complete “undoing"”.

Thus, I find that my findings accord with HELPS Word-Studies explanation.

On the basis of all of the above (including the nature and character of all the domains I mentioned) and more, I find that the case for destruction being essentially a natural cause and effect phenomenon (rather than God being the source/cause of destruction) is a Biblically-valid view in terms of the original languages.

Please feel free to challenge what I have said.


Thanks, Phil, for your response to my comment.
I agree that apollumi and olethros should be seen as supporting ‘ruination’, implying loss or ruin or undoing, not annihilation. I don’t agree that these words support the idea of complete destruction as we normally use the term. In Luke 15 apollumi is used to describe the sheep, coin and prodigal son when they were in a ‘lost’ state. They were not destroyed as we use the term, but needed to be recovered to restore ‘home-eostasis’, so to speak. Paul said to to the Corinthian church regarding someone guilty of gross immorality, ‘I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction (olethros) of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.’ (1Cor 5:5). I believe olethros is used in the same sense in 1Tim 6:9, 1Thess 5:3 and is similarly explained in 2Thess1:9 in the article I linked to in my first comment. One commentator has said that we must be ‘destroyed’ before we can be saved.

I don’t see things as as much of natural cause/effect as you do. I see the stages in our restoration to wholeness with God as resulting from His actions and judgments.

I think that Adam (and we in Adam) was created immortal but after Adam’s sin God rendered a judgment and took our immortality away. But like all of God’s interventions, that was really in our best interest and to protect us because sin must not and will not be forever. God told Adam, ‘Dying, you shall die.’ Hidden in God’s statement was His solution to the sin problem. ‘Dying’ referred to the decay ending in death for each of us that starts when each of us is born. That weakness inevitably results in our own sin. That is why Paul could say, ‘The sting of death is sin.’(1Cor 15:56). Death causes sin. If you study Romans 5:12-14 carefully, you will see this. People died between Adam and Moses even though they didn’t rebel as Adam did and they didn’t break the law (sin) on their own because the law had not yet been given. Adam bequeathed death to all of us.

‘’You shall die’ I see as a promise of God to us. Paul explained the gospel by saying he was crucified with Christ and the old, Adamic, sinful, dying man that he was is now legally dead. He has been replaced by the seed of Christ, begotten in us by the Holy Spirit. This divine seed is growing within and will come forward as our mature, new creation life (our very nature) upon glorification. The last residue of the result of what Adam did will finally be removed. It is all the outworking of God’s promise, of His plan to rectify Adam’s sin. We will be true brothers and sisters of Christ. We will be in a better place than Adam before sin because we have gained knowledge of good and evil. We now experientially know the awful consequences of sin and will therefore not retrace Adam’s path.

Judgment by God of all of us at the end of this age is a step in this process.
The Bible speaks of our current, evil age (Gal 1:4) and ages to come (Eph 2:7). It is all part of the unfolding of God’s plan of salvation for humanity. Judgment is a part of this plan. It shows us where we are and I believe will also determine our roles going forward as the kingdom manifests physically on the earth. The Bible speaks of several of these roles or positions of authority. These are some of the results of this coming judgment which is part of God’s process which has the ultimate goal not to annihilate or torment but to correct and restore.

This is partially explained in 2Thessalonians chapter 1 which speaks of ‘aionian olethros’ or the undoing or loss of things of the flesh to be accomplished at a time associated with a specific age (I believe the next one).
Hence, I agree with the understanding of this term given in the article I linked in my first comment.

(Scott M Esh) #38

The mere mention of the fact by the author that heaven is a lot like earth and that God basically does not know what to do goes against everything that the Bible stands for. If the author believes this theological garbage, then I see no credibility in anything that he says.

This high a level of doubt about the Bible and how God is relating to the great controversy makes me understand more fully Ellen White’s commentary in the book Great Controversy that the final message to be given to the world will NOT come from the institutions. If the higher institutions believe this garbage theology, it is obvious that they are the blind leading the blind.

It is time that God’s people return to listening to God and stop with all of this false theological nonsense.

God has been, and always will be in control, and yes, he does know what to do.

Heaven help us if we even for a second believe that this needs to be a point to be argued.

(Phil van der Klift) #39

Thanks Dave for taking the time to explain your perspective and viewpoint further.

Yes, you are correct - this is probably the main point where you and I fundamentally diverge.

Thanks for the dialogue - its been good and has given me cause to do further study.


Thank you, Phil.
We all have much to learn.
May God bless your studies.