The Experience of Unity in the Christian Church

(Melissa Kristine Walden) #41

Something we are in desperate need of

(Patrick Travis) #42

Hi Phil. I noticed you earlier quoted from EGW so I will let her answer your question. Hope that suffices. I think your belief is God is always in a passive position and God merely watches a “naturalistic if you would” death of the wicked. This is a bit like discussing death. Few of us choose to dwell on it but yet it remains a reality.
PS. I don’t regard her as the final authority however.

"The whole wicked world stand arraigned at the bar of God on the charge of high treason against the government of heaven. They have none to plead their cause; they are without excuse; and the sentence of eternal death is pronounced against them. . .
“Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.” Psalm 11:6. Fire comes down from God out of heaven. The earth is broken up. The weapons concealed in its depths are drawn forth. Devouring flames burst from every yawning chasm. The very rocks are on fire. The day has come that shall burn as an oven. The elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein are burned up. (See Malachi 4:1; 2 Peter 3:10.) The earth’s surface seems one molten mass—a vast, seething lake of fire. It is the time of the judgment and perdition of ungodly men—“the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.” Isaiah 34:8, KJV.

The wicked receive their recompense in the earth. Proverbs 11:31. They “ ‘will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ Says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:1. . . . All are punished “according to their deeds.” Jeremiah 25:14. . . . In the cleansing flames the wicked are at last destroyed, root and branch—Satan the root, his followers the branches. The full penalty of the law has been visited; the demands of justice have been met; and heaven and earth, beholding, declare the righteousness of Jehovah. . . .

Now God’s creatures are forever delivered from his presence and temptations. “The whole earth is at rest and quiet: they [the righteous] break forth into singing.” Isaiah 14:7. And a shout of praise and triumph ascends from the whole loyal universe. “The voice of a great multitude,” “as the sound of many waters, and as the sound of mighty thunderings,” is heard, saying: “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” Revelation 19:6."
GC. 662—onward.

PS. As relates to Jn. 3:18, "The wicked are Satan’s captives. In rejecting Christ they have accepted the rule of the rebel leader. They are ready to receive his suggestions and to do his bidding. GC. p.663.
Jn. 3:18 is saying that those who reject Christ are krino/judged/condemned because they are choosing darkness rather than light. Biblically there is not a 3rd path.

(Phil van der Klift) #43

Thank you for your response Patrick. I am not trying to talk you out of your position. I am only trying to present a viewpoint that I believe in so that other readers can consider this matter for what it is worth to them or not.

With respect to the view of God as being ‘passive’ if He doesn’t actively punish, I read about that quite a bit but I am not entirely sure what people are implying by that as they don’t explain in detail what they mean by passive.

Like yourself, I also do not hold Ellen White as the final authority. I quoted her because I believe she well articulates a robust point in illustrating that claims against God being unjust if He does not punish are based upon Satan’s concept of ‘justice’ which, not surprisingly, is also reflected in this world’s typical concept of ‘justice being served’. The dominant position within Christianity makes the same claim as Satan - that God cannot be just and holy if he does not punish.

With regard to the quotes from Great Controversy, there are some interesting aspects contained in those quotes. But it depends upon which view of God a person is operating from as to how those aspects will be understood. I believe there are also some background contextual factors that were still shaping Ellen White’s views at that point in time - something that was well portrayed in the SDA-produced docu-film, “Tell the World”.

With respect to Jn 3:18, krino at its most core conceptualisation (and also its oldest usage according to HELPS Word Studies), means separate or distinguish between. If we take the associated concept of ‘condemned’, there are 2 possibilities. One possibility is that something is condemned because God is the one who has condemned it. This would mean that it wasn’t condemned previously, but it now is because God has condemned it.

The other possibility is that it was inherently in a state of condemnation already and that God is distinguishing (but more along the lines of revealing) the truth of its state.

I will try to illustrate what I mean by use of the metaphor of a derelict house. That house is assessed by a competent authority who has the ability to distinguish/discern between whether the necessary foundational elements of the house are in a safe or unsafe condition. If the assessment process reveals that these elements are no longer in a safe condition, the house is identified as being in a ‘condemned’ state. The assessor did not make the house condemned - they merely made everyone aware that of the actual state of the elements that have resulted in the house no longer being able to fulfill its purpose as a safe dwelling place.

I believe, and would assert, that God’s judgement is a very misrepresented concept that typically incorporates a mix of world-based judicial processes: investigation, sentencing and execution of the sentence. 1 Cor 4:5 is an interesting verse with respect to God’s judgement. These verses describe a process of revelation whereby God reveals or brings to light the reality of what is actually going on in a person’s heart - which is biblically considered the region of a person’s most core desires.

This concept of judgement as revelation is consistent with what is being presented in Jn 3:18ff. For example, v 19 states what the ‘judgement’ is: the revelation of the fact that “the Light has come into the world and people loved (a heart phenomenon) the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil”. Verses 20 and 21 go on to further reveal the reality that is in operation and which constitutes the phenomenon that is being unpacked.

And that is God’s judgement process spelled out in detail - it is revelation to enable all to see what, how and why something ended up where it did. A modern equivalent to this would be the concept of diagnosis and prognosis within the health field. Neither diagnosis or prognosis causes the outcome - it merely reveals what the outcome is/will be and how and why it was the outcome rather than another outcome.

Recall that God is under precisely the same ‘judgement process’ that we are under (Rom 3:4). Revelation 14:7 is therefore plausibly referring to a dual judgement going on. God is being assessed in regard to how He is assessing the inhabitants of this earth (and by extension Satan and his angels). Therefore, God is revealing to all creation how those in eternity ended up there and how those who are absent from eternity ended up there via revealing the ‘natural’ path from A to B in both instances. He is revealing the reality the principles that underpin the Kingdom of God and how reality within that Kingdom operates - and the principles that underpin the Kingdom of Darkness and how reality within that Kingdom operates. He is revealing that one kingdom is able to produce “abundant life”, and how the other kingdom is only able to “steal, kill and destroy” (Jn 10:10). Notice which kingdom incorporates “destroy”.

What I have said above depends on a person’s view of the nature of sin (like you said, one concept it tied to many others). Is sin something that is inherently terminal in its nature, or is it it not inherently terminal and therefore needs external management? I would propose it is inherently terminal in nature.

(Phil van der Klift) #44

Thank you for your kind encouragement.