Book: The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven

Author’s Note

(Audio book only:  Hello.  My name is Mike Gantt and I’ll be narrating this book that I have written, which is titled The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.  If you want to know more about me, go to www.mikegantt.com and click on the About section.  The print version of this book is available online without cost.  If you have questions or comments about anything you hear in this audio version, you can go online and leave those questions and comments at the end of the appropriate chapter of the book.  This first audio segment will consist of the preliminary material of the book: that is, the Author’s Note, Preface, and Table of Contents.  From this point on, I’ll simply be reading the book as it appears online.)

My purpose in posting this book online is to further serve those who have read Everyone Is Going to Heaven, a blog post of only about 900 words.  That post is, in effect, a summary of this book.  Another way of saying it is that this book is the biblical case for what that blog post says.  That is, this book an elaboration on what ancient Israel’s prophets and apostles - and therefore, of course, the Lord Himself – have taught us about our ultimate destiny.

In order to achieve its purpose, this book incorporates quotations of – not merely references to - Bible verses.  Specifically, I am quoting from the New American Standard Bible.  It is one of the more literal English Bible translations (others would include the King James Version and the English Standard Version).  Less literal English translations (and there are many of them) will often paraphrase afterlife locations, not using the original terms, which make it hard to understand what the original authors were saying.  Words like “Sheol” and “Hades” were as important and familiar to people in the biblical age as “heaven” and “hell” are to us.  If we are to understand what the Bible is saying, we need to stick as closely as possible to the words that the Bible uses.    

While I claim no copyright for anything I write in my blogs (and this book is no exception), all English Bibles are copyrighted (even the King James Version) – hence the notice I am required to give below, and the similar notations I give throughout the text whenever I have reproduced the text of this translation .  Any other word-for-word English translation (such as the King James Version or the English Standard Version) will serve the purpose of this study, especially if there exists for it an exhaustive concordance (either online or in print) identifying the underlying Hebrew and Greek words.

Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Preface

Before you begin reading this book, allow me a confession.  I make it shamelessly.  Here it is:  I believe the Bible.

You may wonder if I always take the Bible literally.  No, but I’ve learned to always take it seriously.  All human speech involves both literal and figurative elements.  Television reporters often declare, “The White House said today that…”  No rational adult viewer concludes that the President’s home can talk.  Neither does he think that the reporter has been hallucinating.  Likewise, when John the Baptist describes Jesus as “the Lamb of God” we do not think Jesus was woolly and crawling on all fours to the Jordan River.  The Bible is the word of God but it comes in human speech.  Since we are constantly interpreting the mixture of figurative and literal expressions that come our way in human speech by means of context and common sense, it would seem strange to do something different when we come to the Bible.  And since I take seriously what television reporters say, it does not seem strange to me to take seriously what the Bible says.

The simplest reason I can give you for my believing the Bible is that Jesus believed it.  If He thought it was the word of God and worthy to be trusted as such – and He did – then that’s good enough for me.  If you want a brief elaboration on my rationale, see my post Why the Bible Can Be Trusted.

I have no written proof that everyone is going to heaven other than what is in the Bible.  If the Bible is sufficient authority for you, then you can believe it and be happy.  If you do not consider the Bible authoritative, I cannot be of much help to you because I have no other source I consider authoritative on this subject.  In any case, I’m just passing along what I have read.

Table of Contents

Chapter  1 – The Problem of Death

Chapter  2 – A Place Called Sheol

Chapter  3 – Where Is This Place Called Sheol?

Chapter  4 – The Heavens and the Earth and the Sea

Chapter  5 – The Greeks Called It Hades

Chapter  6 – Coloring Death With Hope

Chapter  7 – The First Resurrection

Chapter  8 – The Resurrection of the Rest of the Dead

Chapter  9 – The New Heavens and the New Earth

Chapter 10 – But What About Hell?

Chapter 11 – But What About Bad People?

Chapter 12 – O Death, Where Is Your Sting?

Appendix I - Four Key Words

Appendix II - Summary of the Book

Appendix III – Individual Bible Verses

 Next:  Chapter  1 – The Problem of Death 

If you find a typo, broken link, or similar error, please highlight it and press Shift + Enter or click here to let me know. You will be helping other readers.

92 Responses to Book: The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven

  1. Pingback: Responding To Universalism: Introduction « The Warfare Is Mental

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is really a pamphlet, not a book. It isn’t long enough nor in depth enough to deserve an honorific title like “book”.

    • Mike says:

      The low end of the range for an average nonfiction book is 20,000 words (Ed. Note: Originally, I had a link here to a URL that gave such industry standards, but that page is no longer supported.). The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven is over 50,000 words. Therefore, I call it a book, not to honor it, but to give readers a sense of its length – because I like to know how long something is before I begin reading it.

      As for depth, it covers all the major (and many, if not most, of the minor) scripture passages related to the afterlife. Moreover, it address the false notion of a heaven-or-hell scenario as well as the concept of judgment in this life which is often obscured by that false notion. That’s why it’s as long as it is. In other words, the depth is why it’s a book and not a pamphlet.

    • Joel says:

      Wow, I copied and pasted all the chapters into a word document.

      It is 111 pages. That’s 8.5×11 pages and most books are 5.5×8.5 or 6×9 so it’d be probably over 200 pages at that size – yes, it’s a book.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh THANK you. Oh THANK HIM.

    I PRAISE His NAME that you wrote this very good BOOK for the NATIONS.

    PSALMS regularly tells us TO call to HIM. And to PRAISE Those WHO DO GOOD IN HIS NAME.

    YOU have GIVEN me a good apologetic to use WHEN I EVANGELIZE. For THIS I THANK YOU.

    Why do non-believers TRY and SMEAR HIS EVIDENT GRACE.

    NATURAL theology GIVES US ANSWERS.

  4. David Weiner says:

    Mike,
    So many questions come to mind. 1st as regards truth in advertising, I do not hold to universalism as you apparently do. Let me just ask this: Did both criminals on the crosses beside Jesus end up in the same place? And, if so, a) how do we know this and b) what is the explanation for Jesus only telling one of them that he was going to Paradise that very day?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      At the time Jesus died on the cross, everyone was still going to Sheol (Hades) when they died. One thief when to the bosom of Abraham with Jesus; we have not been told anything about the other.

      Are you aware that the Old Testament teaches that everyone goes to Sheol (Hades) at death? This is common knowledge to anyone who is familiar with the Old Testament but since it’s not commonly taught, I explain it in the book. One of the big problems with the heaven-or-hell scenario is that it is not biblical. No one has a biblical explanation for how the dead are being re-routed from Sheol (Hades) to heaven or hell.

      The Bible does explain how Sheol (Hades) ceased being the place that the dead went when the kingdom of God came (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again). But if the kingdom of God has not yet come, then everyone is still going below to Sheol (Hades). The good news is that the kingdom indeed has come and everyone is going to heaven.

      Beside the relief this news should bring us regarding our loved ones, it should also send us to our knees in gratitude for God’s goodness and in repentance for our sins. For even though everyone is going to heaven, judgment is upon us and we need to so live that God will turn His wrath away from us.

      • David Weiner says:

        Mike,

        You said: “One thief went to the bosom of Abraham with Jesus; we have not been told anything about the other.”

        Can you tell me where the Bible equates ‘bosom of Abraham’ with ‘Paradise?’

        You said: “The Bible does explain how Sheol (Hades) ceased being the place that the dead went when the kingdom of God came.”

        I would be interested in references to where this is explained.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          Can you tell me where the Bible equates ‘bosom of Abraham’ with ‘Paradise?’

          The bosom of Abraham and Paradise are 1st Century Jewish conceptions of afterlife for the righteous. As such, it would be the upper, or better, part of Sheol (Hades). These concepts are not fully developed in the Bible; there are only a few cryptic references such as these (see Bosom of Abraham for extrabiblical background from the intertestamental period leading up to Jesus’ time). What the Bible does clearly teach is that all the dead – righteous and unrighteous alike – went to Sheol (Hades) when they died. This is why Jesus’ contemporaries were stunned when He informed them that resurrection led to heaven. They were expecting resurrection, but to earth – not heaven. (This helps you see yet another reason Jesus’ disciples called it “good” news.)

          You said: “The Bible does explain how Sheol (Hades) ceased being the place that the dead went when the kingdom of God came.” I would be interested in references to where this is explained.

          That’s what this book explains. Just follow it chapter by chapter and you will see the Scripture’s explanation unfold. If you’re impatient, read this short summary of the book. I appeal to you, however, please read the book. Your questions are legitimate and I understand your struggle to believe what I am saying. But if you will read the book (and it won’t take that long) you will see what I mean. And then, you, like me, will wonder why this has not been taught to us before.

          The Lord is true, though every one of us may be found a liar. Blessed be His holy name: Jesus!

          • David Weiner says:

            Mike,

            First, I do agree with you that Sheol/Hades is where all those who died before the cross went. And, that there were two parts; the ‘good’ part being identified as ‘Abraham’s bosom.’ And, that the imagery of ‘up’ and ‘down’ are maintained in Scripture.

            I just found your book today and must admit that I have only read the first 3 chapters and the summary at the end. So, I apologize for starting to ask questions before finishing the book.

            Re: bosom of Abraham and Paradise. I find only 3 uses of the word Paradise in the Scriptures. From these references I conclude that Paradise refers to heaven. It is up; not down. Even the “better part of Sheol” is down. It contains the ‘tree of life’ which seems out of place for the destination of the dead, Sheol. So, I am left confused as to how you equate Paradise and Abraham’s bosom from Scripture.

            Again, I sheepishly admit to not having read most of your book. However, it can’t be that hard to give a few references for where the Bible explains how Sheol stopped being the destination for the dead. At any rate, I’ll keep reading. In all seriousness, your writing style and breadth of knowledge are quite a breath of fresh air.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              Re: bosom of Abraham and Paradise. I find only 3 uses of the word Paradise in the Scriptures. From these references I conclude that Paradise refers to heaven. It is up; not down. Even the “better part of Sheol” is down. It contains the ‘tree of life’ which seems out of place for the destination of the dead, Sheol. So, I am left confused as to how you equate Paradise and Abraham’s bosom from Scripture.

              If you’re willing, let’s set this issue aside until you finish the book.

              However, it can’t be that hard to give a few references for where the Bible explains how Sheol stopped being the destination for the dead.

              I could give you several verses, but I think they’d be inadequate because you’d want more explanation with them. Tell you what – when you get finished with the book, see if you can give me the few references that would have satisfied you. That is, see if you can say to me, “Well, Mike if you’d only quoted to me verse 1, verse 2, and verse 3, I would have understood everything without having to read the book.” And, if you can do that, I’ll put them in the summary. I’m not interested in making anyone read more than is necessary to get the understanding.

              • David Weiner says:

                Mike,

                You said: “If you’re willing, let’s set this issue aside until you finish the book.”

                Of course I am willing. As you must know by now I have a different view than you on this matter of ‘all going to heaven.’ Are you open to my comments as I come upon major points in your book for which I have an alternative understanding? For I sense that you feel that one who finishes the book can not but come to the same conclusion that you have.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  Are you open to my comments as I come upon major points in your book for which I have an alternative understanding?

                  Sure. There is a place for comments or questions on every chapter.

                  • David Weiner says:

                    Mike,

                    OK, I admit it, I am a ‘little’ impatient. I have only finished 7 chapters and I think I see where our views begin to separate. All through your discussion of the pre-cross situation, I felt uneasy as you seemed to put everybody into what appears to be the same predicament. That is, there is no separation in your discussion, that I can find, of the righteous and the unrighteous. All of humanity is sort of in the same boat, they live, they die, they go to Sheol, and there needs to be a solution to this problem.

                    In truth, you did mention an ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ part of Sheol; but, I can’t tell from what you say what import this has to you. Although from what you do say, it seems that regardless of which part of Sheol one went to, they still have a final destiny in heaven.

                    I don’t say you are wrong in this; rather, you seem to be avoiding a major actor in life, i.e., sin. What I see in your exposition is a blurring of humanity that then has an impact as you proceed to the solution. The statement that you made that just jumped out at me was:

                    Heaven, Our New Home — When Jesus ascended into heaven, He was fulfilling His promise that He spoke on the evening before His death: “I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2 NASB

                    Prior to this, as you have seen, there had been no place for humanity in heaven…

                    What hit me is that you seem to be taking the word ‘you’ in this verse to be ‘any (in fact, every) human.’ Only if the verse is taken out of context can this be concluded. Jesus is only talking to his 11 disciples at this point. And, nowhere in Scripture are they said to represent all of humanity.

                    Yet you follow the discussion of this verse with

                    We share their excitement when we believe what they did: that God raised Jesus from the dead in order to make heaven above a permanent home for all those who have died.

                    Again, no distinction between those who have died in sin and those who have died having been declared righteous.

                    How can you make the connection between Jesus talking to His 11 Apostles to be (for Judas had already left the room) and “all who have died?”

                    But, then you open chapter 8 with this statement:

                    We have demonstrated through the testimony of the Bible, including Jesus Christ Himself, that everyone is going to heaven.

                    I can see where you have asserted this; but, I can not see, at least in the first seven chapters of your book, where you have demonstrated this? PLEASE HELP???

                    • Mike Gantt says:

                      All through your discussion of the pre-cross situation, I felt uneasy as you seemed to put everybody into what appears to be the same predicament. That is, there is no separation in your discussion, that I can find, of the righteous and the unrighteous. All of humanity is sort of in the same boat, they live, they die, they go to Sheol, and there needs to be a solution to this problem.

                      Actually, David, you surely see that it is not I who have “put everybody into what appears to be the same predicament” – it is the Bible that has done this. I am merely reporting what it says. And that all the dead go to Sheol according to the Old Testament is not something that only I report, for everyone who has studied the Old Testament on the subject of afterlife knows that this is so.

                      In truth, you did mention an ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ part of Sheol; but, I can’t tell from what you say what import this has to you. Although from what you do say, it seems that regardless of which part of Sheol one went to, they still have a final destiny in heaven.

                      Yes, whether one lands in the lower or upper part of Sheol, the destination is the same: Sheol.

                      I don’t say you are wrong in this; rather, you seem to be avoiding a major actor in life, i.e., sin. What I see in your exposition is a blurring of humanity that then has an impact as you proceed to the solution.

                      I don’t avoid the subject of sin at all. Sin is the reason we die. The reason that all go to Sheol (Hades) is that all sin (“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23)

                      Again, no distinction between those who have died in sin and those who have died having been declared righteous.

                      I don’t make a big distinction in this regard because the Bible doesn’t. Will there be “upper and lower” parts of heaven as there were “upper and lower” parts of Sheol? I wouldn’t be surprised for the Lord Himself said that many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first. I expect the Lord to judge us all and reward us with responsibility there in accord with how well we have handled it here. But no matter how high any of us may land in heaven, let us never forget that we are all sinners who have been saved by His grace. The only person who deserves to go to heaven is the one who made the way for all of us: Jesus Christ our Lord.

                      I can see where you have asserted this; but, I can not see, at least in the first seven chapters of your book, where you have demonstrated this? PLEASE HELP???

                      David, I have demonstrated throughout the first seven chapters of the book that the Bible teaches that prior to Christ, everyone went to Sheol (Hades) when they died. This was not my invention. In all the Scriptures we saw, there was ample opportunity for God to say there was more than one direction for people to go when they died, but He never did. Then, in chapter seven, we listened to Jesus’ discussion with the Sadducees. They thought they had Him nailed on the resurrection issue (which they themselves did not believe). Their contrived story of the woman who’d been repeatedly widowed would make Him look foolish to believe in resurrection (as their rivals the Pharisees believed). But their view was based entirely on the assumption that when the dead were raised, they would be coming back to earth. No one at that time dreamt that resurrecxtion would lead to heaven. If there were some other destination for the resurrected to go besides heaven, wouldn’t Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees have been misleading? No, Jesus was not misleading. Just as the Bible reports only one destination for dead (Sheol), it reports only one destination for the resurrected (heaven).

                      Therefore, when Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them, they understood what He meant: There was no place in heaven for mankind but Jesus was going back to heaven in order to change that. Sure, He may be preparing a special place for the apostles who laid down their lives for Him. And who of us would begrudge them that given their loving service for Him and for us? Indeed, the Lord had said that they would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. But these disciples never thought they were going to heaven because they were disciples, but rather because that’s where God had determined that resurrected mankind was going to live – just as He had previously determined that deceased mankind would live in Sheol. Sheol was temporary until God’s love worked a better ultimate and eternal solution!

                      I suggest you nail this point down in your own mind before reading on. Go back over all the scriptures we have covered in the first seven chapters. Forget my book and just look at the scriptures themselves. Or get a concordance and look up every one of the 65 verses where the word Sheol occurs. Let the clarity of God’s word take root in your soul. Resist the doctrines of man that you have heard for a lifetime and make up your mind to be guided only by God’s word.

                      You can forget my book and forget me if you want, but cling forever to the word of God. He is trustworthy, and you will bless His heart if you listen to His word and believe it.

  5. David Weiner says:

    Mike,

    First, I continue to be impressed (not the best word; but, you get the point) with your grasp of Scripture and your intellect. However, you, like me, are only able to interpret the Scriptures through our own presuppositions. You say “I am merely reporting what it says.” Not, so. That is only the case if you quote it. As soon as you (or I) start to explain or interpret it’s meaning, we are not ‘merely reporting.’ Thus, it is entirely possible for two completely sincere believers to have different understandings of Scripture. For their understandings are not ‘what Scripture says’ but rather what ‘they believe Scripture is saying.’ Huge difference. Are we together on this?

    Second, I am completely with you in regard to Sheol. Sheol is not our point of difference. Let me just say it directly: Before the cross everybody went to Sheol when they died. BUT, there were two parts and there was a big difference between those two parts and the souls in the two parts. Nobody went to Heaven at that time. The reason is that Jesus had not yet paid for sin. That is what changed at the cross. Is this view consistent with your view?

    Third, you said “Resist the doctrines of man that you have heard for a lifetime and make up your mind to be guided only by God’s word.” With all due respect, there is no way for you to know what ‘doctines of men’ may be guiding me. Why don’t we both just agree to base what we say on Scripture and not men’s opinions. Of course, this must include our opinions too. OK?

    No, Jesus was not misleading. Just as the Bible reports only one destination for dead (Sheol), it reports only one destination for the resurrected (heaven).

    Please believe me that I don’t want to get into the mode of proof texting. That said, how does what you just said align itself with what God says in Revelation 20 — particularly verse 15 “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Surely, you don’t believe that ‘lake of fire’ is a synonym for ‘heaven?’

    You mention the discussion between Jesus and the Sadducees. I don’t see Jesus saying that everybody is resurrected to heaven as you seem to? What I do see is that He says that those who are resurrected don’t have a sex life. How do you get the idea that everybody goes to heaven from this exchange? Further, you seem to argue from silence (Jesus would/should have said . . .) and you must know how dangerous that can be.

    I know this is getting long; but, I just have to comment on your statement that the Bible doesn’t make a big distinction between those who die in sin and those who die having been declared righteous. As I read the Bible I find that nobody is righteous; all have sinned. I think we are together on that?

    Further, you call Jesus your Lord; I do likewise. Well, are we righteous, you and I? Are there some who do not call Jesus their Lord? I know a bunch; don’t you too? Are they righteous? I say of course not. How did you become righteous? I did by faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Romans 5:1 says that when I placed my faith in Him for eternal life, I was justified and therefore had peace with God. So, now I can be with Him for all eternity. But, why do you think that the ones who do not have Him as their Lord, and who don’t have peace with God can also spend eternity with Him?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      [Y]ou, like me, are only able to interpret the Scriptures through our own presuppositions. You say “I am merely reporting what it says.” Not, so. That is only the case if you quote it. As soon as you (or I) start to explain or interpret it’s meaning, we are not ‘merely reporting.’ Thus, it is entirely possible for two completely sincere believers to have different understandings of Scripture. For their understandings are not ‘what Scripture says’ but rather what ‘they believe Scripture is saying.’ Huge difference. Are we together on this?

      We are certainly together in principle, though we’d have to deal with applications of this principle on a case by case basis. Otherwise, we’d be back where I was when I was an agnostic and said, “Don’t bother talking to me about the Bible because it’s subject to interpretation and therefore there’s no way we can agree on what it says.”

      BUT, there were two parts and there was a big difference between those two parts and the souls in the two parts. Nobody went to Heaven at that time. The reason is that Jesus had not yet paid for sin. That is what changed at the cross. Is this view consistent with your view?

      There’s far less scriptural support for the distinctions in Sheol experience you describe than there is for Sheol itself. Therefore, I don’t want to go too far in trying to describe that difference or build an understanding on it. I try to build my understandings on things that the Scriptures speak about abundantly. As for the idea that no one went to heaven until after Jesus paved the way, we are absolutely together.

      With all due respect, there is no way for you to know what ‘doctines of men’ may be guiding me. Why don’t we both just agree to base what we say on Scripture and not men’s opinions. Of course, this must include our opinions too. OK?

      I meant no disrespect to you. I only meant in that statement to acknowledge to you and others that I am indeed bringing forth a report that is not commonly accepted, I accept the burden of proof, and I appeal that you will not reject my message just because it has not been traditionally taught. I talk about the word of God because there is no reason anyone should take my word for any of this. I think we’re on the same page here – it just must have sounded to you like I was being condescending or patronizing. God forbid. I have no right or reason to talk down to anyone.

      [H]ow does what you just said align itself with what God says in Revelation 20 — particularly verse 15 “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Surely, you don’t believe that ‘lake of fire’ is a synonym for ‘heaven?’

      I don’t think that passage speaks of going to heaven. I think it speaks of the kingdom of God and judgment. Think of judgment the way the Old Testament prophets spoke about it. It still happens today. (See also Judgment Is Upon Us.)

      I’ll answer the rest of your questions here as I have more time. I just wanted to begin to get some answers to you while I had the chance.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      You mention the discussion between Jesus and the Sadducees. I don’t see Jesus saying that everybody is resurrected to heaven as you seem to? What I do see is that He says that those who are resurrected don’t have a sex life. How do you get the idea that everybody goes to heaven from this exchange? Further, you seem to argue from silence (Jesus would/should have said . . .) and you must know how dangerous that can be.

      Your admonition not to argue from silence is a good one, and that’s not what I intend. Rather, my point is that the passage is about resurrection: “How does it work?” was the Sadducees question. Jesus gave an answer they were not expecting, but it did directly answer their question. Had they asked Him, “Where do people go when they die?” He would have said Sheol. Since they were asking something that had to do with where the dead were raised, He answer them heaven (even though they didn’t know there was a where dimension to their question, because they had made a false assumption that resurrection was to earth – and that’s why they couldn’t comprehend how the multiple marriage partners would get sorted out). To impose on the text the idea that Jesus was only speaking about some of the dead seems to me as unwarranted as imposing the idea that He wasn’t affirming that everyone who died went below and therefore needed to be raised if their condition was to change. I’m just trying to be faithful to what the passage says. If you think Jesus was affirming that everyone who died went below but not affirming that everyone raised went to heaven, I’m open to hearing your reasons for holding that view.

      I know this is getting long; but, I just have to comment on your statement that the Bible doesn’t make a big distinction between those who die in sin and those who die having been declared righteous. As I read the Bible I find that nobody is righteous; all have sinned. I think we are together on that?

      All our righteousness is as filthy rags. There is only One righteous and He is the Branch of David, the Holy One of Israel, the Firstborn from the dead!

  6. Mike Gantt says:

    But, why do you think that the ones who do not have Him as their Lord, and who don’t have peace with God can also spend eternity with Him?

    There are millions of people today who call Jesus Lord but who don’t live for Him. Churches are full of people whose morals are no different than society at large. Your question implies that what God wants most from us is a profession of faith. If that is the case, then He’s happy with the Christians and unhappy with everyone else. The Bible tells a different story. God is pleased by faith – not professions of faith. God wants us to seek His kingdom and His righteousness.

    If God is going to forgive those people who profess His name but live just like they used to, how is it that different to forgive those who just keep living like they used to without saying “I am a Christian?”

    • David Weiner says:

      Mike,

      You said: “it just must have sounded to you like I was being condescending or patronizing.” Not at all. I took no offense and hope that I have not said anything here that has seemed offensive either.

      I asked the question: “But, why do you think that the ones who do not have Him as their Lord, and who don’t have peace with God can also spend eternity with Him?”

      You responded: “Your question implies that what God wants most from us is a profession of faith.”

      Sorry to have given that impression. I assume you agree that God knows each person’s ‘heart.’ So, while we (humans) may be fooled by a ‘profession of faith’ surely you agree that God is not? Thus, when I talk about a Christian, I mean somebody who actually has been given the gift of faith/salvation according to Galatians 2:8-9, for one passage. When this person professes saving faith, they are indeed speaking truth.

      But, now you go to the question of how a person lives. And, our (humans) seeing an apparent conflict between ‘profession’ and ‘walk.’ This moves us from the area of faith to that of works. By works I mean anything that a person does.

      You said: “God wants us to seek His kingdom and His righteousness.” Do you consider this ‘seeking’ faith or works? I consider it works. So, while God has made it clear (IMHO) that he desires us to live a certain way, He never makes our ‘works’ or ‘behavior’ or ‘seeking’ a condition for our receiving His gift of salvation. Obviously, if we had to live rightly to get this gift, it would not be a gift. Is this contrary to your understanding?

      • Mike Gantt says:

        I took no offense and hope that I have not said anything here that has seemed offensive either.

        Good. That means there are no negative issues at all between us.

        I asked the question: “But, why do you think that the ones who do not have Him as their Lord, and who don’t have peace with God can also spend eternity with Him?” You responded: “Your question implies that what God wants most from us is a profession of faith.” Sorry to have given that impression.

        I only got that impression because you brought up being a Christian as an issue. Whether one is a Christian or not has nothing to do with going to heaven. In fact, it’s a mere human label to which God does not pay attention. As you said, He’s looking at our hearts.

        You said: “God wants us to seek His kingdom and His righteousness.” Do you consider this ‘seeking’ faith or works? I consider it works. So, while God has made it clear (IMHO) that he desires us to live a certain way, He never makes our ‘works’ or ‘behavior’ or ‘seeking’ a condition for our receiving His gift of salvation. Obviously, if we had to live rightly to get this gift, it would not be a gift. Is this contrary to your understanding?

        The semantics of this issue can be confusing. Even James and Paul are sometimes thought to be arguing about faith versus works, even though they weren’t. My message is one of grace – for salvation (whether on the earth or in heaven) is all of God. Therefore, what matters is not receiving the label “Christian” from our fellow man but rather receiving the grace of God and continuing in it, as Paul instructed both the Galatians and Colossians in specific terms.

        • David Weiner says:

          Mike,

          Whether one is a Christian or not has nothing to do with going to heaven.

          Now that is a clear statement! I am assuming from my last comment to you that we both agree that the labels we put on ourselves or those that ‘men’ put on us is not at all relevant. One is or is not a Christain and God is not fooled. Right?

          So, can you point to even one Scripture that makes your above point so clearly? If not, then I assume there is a need to ‘interpret’ some passages to come to this conclusion. Then, possibly it is an overstatement???

          1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 appears to me to explain that those who are Christians, in truth and not just in profession, will spend eternity with Christ. I assume you believe He is in Heaven. So, how can you say that being a Christian has nothing to do with going to heaven. What is Paul talking about that should give these people comfort if it is so clear that all go to heaven anyway? And, what do you think it means here when Paul talks about those who have fallen asleep in Jesus? Doesn’t this require that, for Paul at least, there is also a group who have NOT fallen asleep in Jesus? Why make the distinction if members of both groups are treated the same as regards Heaven?

          • Mike Gantt says:

            Now that is a clear statement! I am assuming from my last comment to you that we both agree that the labels we put on ourselves or those that ‘men’ put on us is not at all relevant. One is or is not a Christian and God is not fooled. Right?

            When God looks at the human race, He doesn’t see Christians and Non-Christians. All people are His children. He does notice the difference in our faithfulness to Him, though we are each judged according to the light we have. God is not fooled, and the more we know of Him the more He expects of us.

            So, can you point to even one Scripture that makes your above point so clearly? If not, then I assume there is a need to ‘interpret’ some passages to come to this conclusion. Then, possibly it is an overstatement???

            Wouldn’t it be the responsibility of those who think only they are going to heaven to come up with the verses that justify that only they are going to heaven? I’ve already quoted Jesus in Matthew as saying the dead are raised to heaven. He didn’t qualify “the dead,” nor have I. I think those who want to qualify His words have the burden of proof. (There are other passages which support this idea, but I don’t want us to gloss over what Jesus has said in this passage. Plus, I think you’ll find most of the specific passages you seek in the remaining chapters of the book.)

            1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 appears to me to…

            You must have stopped reading after the seven chapters you told me about. I cover this passage in chapter eight.

    • Dawn says:

      Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus sends away as evil doers those that claimed to know him but obviously did not. “not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven…”

      Also-
      1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God…(with specific examples)”

      Matthew 8:12 (in speaking of Jew who thought that they, by birthright would enter the kingdom of God)
      “will be thrown outside into the darkness, where therer will weeping and gnashing of teeth”
      - doesn’t sound like heaven to me.

      2 Peter 3:9 “He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”
      John 3:16 “… that whoever believes in Him (Jesus) shall not perish but have everlasting life”
      -there is perishing that happens

      • Mike Gantt says:

        Dawn, you seem to think that these scriptures speak to the afterlife. On the contrary, they speak to the kingdom of God in this life. The kingdom of God (i.e. eternal life, everlasting life) is something God wants us to experience now. However, we must cleanse ourselves of all defilement of flesh and spirit in order to gain entrance.

  7. David Weiner says:

    Mike,

    I’ve already quoted Jesus in Matthew as saying the dead are raised to heaven.

    I think you are referring to Matthew 22:30 “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” I have tried very hard and I am unable to see what you say this verse is teaching. Please believe me that I am entirely sincere in asking you for some help. This should be simple since we only have to look at this one verse to find the solution. What phrase or expression here means that ‘the dead are raised to heaven?’

    Wouldn’t it be the responsibility of those who think only they are going to heaven to come up with the verses that justify that only they are going to heaven?

    For me, this isn’t about whether you or I are going to heaven. What I think has zero impact on whether somebody else is or is not going to heaven. For me, this is about finding the truth; given two knowledgeable and intelligent people see the truth differently. If this were some sort of contest, then possibly your point holds. But, for me, I see it as our joint responsibility to find the truth. If you don’t see it that way, then I will be happy to stop pestering you.

    OK, you did indeed address the 1 Thessalonian passage. I stopped at chapter 7 because I saw where we are diverging and there was no need to go on without resolving that issue. So, now I have read what you said about this passage. However, your exposition does not seem to address any of the questions from my last comment. For example after quoting verse 16 you say:

    When the Lord comes, Paul says, the dead will rise. This is the same thing we read earlier.

    It is simply a matter of fact that this is NOT what Paul says here. You are leaving out the phrase, ‘in Christ.’ Paul says that only those who have died in Christ will rise at this time. (Aside: He is coming from Heaven and not Sheol, right? And, so the ones who have died ‘in Christ’ are not coming with Him from Sheol but from heaven.)

    At any rate, Paul seems to understand that there are people who have died ‘in Christ’ and thus there must be those who have not died ‘in Christ.’ Otherwise, Paul is just inserting a useless expression, right?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      I think you are referring to Matthew 22:30 “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” …What phrase or expression here means that ‘the dead are raised to heaven?’

      “in the resurrection” = “the dead are raised”
      “like angels in heaven” = “to heaven”

      If you don’t see it that way, then I will be happy to stop pestering you.

      I’m happy to answer all the questions you have.

      1 Thessalonians 4

      Paul is describing here what would happen at the Second Coming of Christ. (See Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.) Paul was telling them that no one would be going to heaven until the Second Coming (which is the same as the coming of the kingdom of God/Heaven, the new heavens and new earth, etc.). Until then, only Jesus was in heaven (specifically, at the right hand of God). At that time, “captivity would be led captive” out of Sheol to heaven, the “sea” of Sheol would be dried up and no more, and thereafter everyone who died would be ascending to heaven instead of descending to Sheol. In the remaining chapters of the book, there is a more elaborate explanation of all this than I can fit into this comment structure.

      As a practical matter, maybe you could put your questions about specific passages in the chapters where those passages are covered. I think this could help us keep our thoughts sorted, and it could certainly help readers who will benefit from your questions by seeing them appear where the passages would give rise to them. (For example, all our exchanges here about 1 Thessalonians 4 would be better placed at the end of that chapter instead of here at the table of contents; but this is just a request – I don’t want to be burdensome to you.)

      The “dead in Christ,” by the way, refers to the dead in the reign of Christ (that is, Christ’s kingdom that was coming). In the original order, the dead descended to Sheol, but in Christ’s order (“the day of Christ” as Paul called it in Philippians 1, or “the day of the Lord” as the OT prophets had called it) the dead would be raised. In other words, Paul was reminding them that something different happens to the dead in Christ, and it’s all tied to His coming. Without the Second Coming, people would continue to go to Sheol when they died.

      As for “the rest who have no hope” of whom Paul spoke, he did not say there was no hope for them – only that they had no hope. And the reason they had no hope was that they didn’t believe the gospel. It’s not as though God withholds hope from those who don’t believe as a punishment. Rather, they withhold hope from themselves by not believing. The moment they believe, hope is active in them. As it was then, so it is today – those who believe the good news that everyone is going to heaven have the hope of seeing their loved ones again (which was the concern in Thessalonica which led to Paul writing this passage), while those who don’t believe must grieve for their loved ones without benefit of that hope. Only today, the grief is infinitely worse because then believers thought their loved ones (whether believing or unbelieving) would be confined to the sleep of death indefinitely while today they fear for the unbelieving ones an eternity of unending psychological and physical torture. This is all the more reason that the human race needs to hear the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  8. Pingback: A Place Called Sheol: Responding To Universalism, II « The Warfare Is Mental

  9. Mike, I was wondering if you had a .pdf format of this book. I’m curious to read it, but don’t do much reading from my computer. If you have a .pdf file that you could e-mail me and I could load it on my Kindle that would be great. Thanks.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Mike, unfortunately I do not have a pdf version of the material. I am sorry for the inconvenience.

      • Ethan Beyer says:

        If you have a Mac, you can paste a whole chapter into a TextEdit document or Word or whatever, and when you go to print that document, there is a button on the bottom left of the dialog box that gives you the option to save what you are printing as a PDF.

        Hope this helps.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          That is a helpful suggestion, Ethan. However, I don’t have a Mac.

          On the other hand, I do not copyright anything I write on my blogs so if you, Mike, or others have the ability to produce a pdf, or any other medium, from what you see in your browser, can’t you produce such documents on your end?

  10. RP says:

    I have found the claims on this site rather surprising, Mr Gantt. The discussion with David Weiner is a helpful one to show the method you employ in order to reach some of your conclusions. But, with respect, you appear to dodge some of the big issues. I would be grateful for your view on the following, for example:

    1. In Ephesians 2, Paul calls on his readers (the “saints” who are in Ephesus) to “remember that at one time you were separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world”. That they were “dead in their trespasses, children of wrath like the rest of mankind”. BUT NOW, you who were once FAR OFF have been brought near.

    Surely this is talking about a hugely significant change that has come about. How? “You have been SAVED through FAITH”. That is what distinguishes this group of “saints” from the “rest of mankind”.

    How can this be read as consistent with your view that being a Christian or having faith makes no difference, and that all are in the same boat.

    2. What about friends of mine who openly mock Jesus and the gospel? Who, when offered forgiveness, tell me where to go and where to take that offer?

    3. If judgement is ONLY in this life, how come Christians have such a hard life now (“whoever seeks to live a godly life WILL BE PERSECUTED?”), while so many people who live purely for money and pleasure and self actually end up with so much in this life?

    Thanks.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      1. You are right that Ephesians 2 speaks of a significant change for those who first believed in Christ. Recall also though that just before that, in Ephesians 1, Paul spoke of the then current age but also of the age to come. In fact, all throughout the NT reference is made to the new age that was about to dawn (“the day of Christ,” “the day of the Lord,” “the coming of the kingdom of God,” “the Second Coming of Christ”). This great event occurred in the latter half of the 1st Century (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again). As a result, the whole world is now in Christ, all of humanity is His body, everyone is a child of God. This is because He has come in His kingdom. He reigns over all! Nonetheless, faith is still very, very important. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Real, working faith is the foundational lesson we all must learn before we can grow spiritually.

      2. Such people bring judgment on themselves. That’s why we should pray for them. Plus, they might see Christ more clearly if we were to be more faithful to Him. In any case, we should never stop loving them…because He never stops loving them.

      3. Judgment is not only in this life. There is also the final judgment that comes at the end of our living when we go to heaven. The totality of God’s judgments – in this life and the next – are promised to addressed every thought, word, and deed. We should stand in holy fear of God because He is not mocked: whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For this reason, repentance is not a one-time prayer; it is the way we should live every day. And the more we know of His will, the more we know of the Scripture, the more He requires of us. Thus, God is expecting more of Christians than He is of those who don’t even profess to know Him. Morality (or righteousness as the Bible often calls it) is the very purpose of our lives. Those who practice it shall enjoy its blessings in the earth, and will be honored greatly in heaven. Those who don’t pursue are only bringing trouble on themselves in this life, and disappointment in the next when they look back in regret at how they lived here.

      • RP says:

        (Having read over this response I’m sorry if it sounds a little harsh in places. The fact is this is very important!)

        1. I don’t see how this answers my question. Unless you are saying that the description of Christians (or “saints”) in Ephesians and throughout the NT applies only for the short period before the event you are alleging in the first century. Is that really what you’re saying? In which case we can’t read any of the NT letters to find truths directly applicable to Christians today, because everything has changed?

        With respect (and it is respect and concern that makes me say this), you are wrong about the second coming of Christ:

        (a) Because you seem to equate it with the coming of the Holy Spirit; yet Jesus says in John that he is going to the Father, but that the Father will send ANOTHER Helper, the promised Holy Spirit…”But when the Helper comes, whom I WILL SEND to you FROM THE FATHER, HE will bear witness about ME.” Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both God, and yet they are distinct persons.

        (b) because the return of Jesus will be unmissable and universally acknowledged: “the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”(2 Thess.); “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar and the heavenly bodies well be burned up and dissovled and the earth and the works that are done on her will be exposed” (2 Peter). And others! Are you really suggesting that these things have happened? In which case, when does the new creation come, when does this world pass away in fire, etc?

        (c) To suggest the day of the Lord has come is to say that the day of the Lord has FAILED, because evil still abounds. Because Christ’s reign is not universally acknowledged as it will be at the last day.

        (d) this is one of the specific lines of teaching that the NT warns AGAINST: “Now concerning the coming of the Lord and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word or a letter seeming to be from us to the EFFECT THAT THE DAY OF THE LORD HAS COME. Let no one deceive you in this way.” (2 Thess); “Among them are Hymanaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.” (2 Tim.). etc

        2. Of course we should keep loving them, and this I endeavour to do. My point is that they are openly hostile to God; that they hate righteousness, and will say that. And yet you say that they will be in heaven, THE PLACE of righteousness, in the presence of the God they hate and mock. Don’t be deceived – just as God punished the world at the flood except for those who got in his ark, so it will be for those who ignore his rescue in Jesus.

        The only righteousness that enables me to look forward to the NEW CREATION that is TO COME, is the righteousness of Jesus with which I can be clothed.

        3. You try to get around this by claiming that there will be judgement in heaven. First, what you describe as “judgment when we go to heaven” is not justice – if all that awaits Hitler (for example) is a tinge of regret as he looks back, then there is no justice at the heart of God’s universe. Second, if what you say were true, we would be better off NOT being Christians (so that less will be expected of us), better off NOT telling others about Jesus to spare them from that same high standard.

        And again, you haven’t addressed the fact of the promise of PERSECUTION for Christians in this life (which doesn’t fit with your theology); and the “judgment” that you say people bring on themselves in this life is very unclear – as I said, many of the most godless people in our generation are the ones who end up with the most prosperity now.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          Unless you are saying that the description of Christians (or “saints”) in Ephesians and throughout the NT applies only for the short period before the event you are alleging in the first century.

          Yes, that is what I’m saying. They “tasted the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5). See also Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again and its underlying biblical case Whatever Became of Jesus Christ?

          In which case we can’t read any of the NT letters to find truths directly applicable to Christians today, because everything has changed?

          On the contrary, we read all the NT letters because what applied to them then now applies to everyone. In other words, in NT times only Christians were “in Christ.” Today everyone is “in Christ” because He has inherited all of creation. It’s all His now.

          a) The coming of the Holy Spirit is described in Acts 2. The coming of the kingdom of God followed the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and is not described in the NT documents – yet they prophesied emphatically and repeatedly that it was imminent in that generation. I’m just saying they were right.

          b) That the coming of the kingdom of God would be missed by some was repeatedly predicted in the NT. That’s why it was called a day of light for some and a day of darkness for others. That’s why it was called “a thief in the night.”

          c) This is the same sort of thing Gideon said, “If God is for us, why do we have all these problems?” (Judges 6:13) The answer to his question is “our sins.”

          d) Yes, it upset faith to say that the day of the Lord had come when it hadn’t, just as it upsets faith now to say that the day of the Lord hasn’t come when it has.

          My point is that they are openly hostile to God; that they hate righteousness, and will say that.

          Then you are living around some very unusual people. Most people at least hate the unrighteousness that is done to them. That is, they don’t like to be lied to, stolen from, or violated in any way. Most people who are openly rejecting God are usually rejecting a story about God they have heard from someone else. And people who are Christians often don’t behave any better than them. We all need to stop living in rebellion to the presence of God and submit every thought to the lordship of Christ. Every thought!

          …if all that awaits Hitler (for example) is a tinge of regret as he looks back, then there is no justice at the heart of God’s universe.

          Your conception of God’s wisdom is way too limited. That might be all you could think to do to Hitler if he were to be in heaven with you but God’s imagination is not so constrained. Besides, I am far more concerned about what he’s going to do to me for my sins than I am about what he’s going to do to other people for their sins. That’s why I’m determined to be living a repentant lifestyle. How God will make sure we all reap what we have sown, I don’t exactly know. But heaven is a big, big place and God is smart enough and time is long enough that I know His punishments will fit the crimes and not be out of proportion to them.

          Second, if what you say were true, we would be better off NOT being Christians (so that less will be expected of us), better off NOT telling others about Jesus to spare them from that same high standard.

          You speak as one who is committed to remain rebellious even as he learns more about God. Do you really think that’s what you’ll do? Knowing more about God is only a problem if you don’t obey what you learn. The solution? Obey! There are great blessings on those who obey, both on earth in this life and in heaven afterward. Why would you want to forego those by remaining ignorant of God? Besides, if you love Him you want to know more about Him and won’t be satisfied with anything less.

          And again, you haven’t addressed the fact of the promise of PERSECUTION for Christians in this life (which doesn’t fit with your theology);

          I’m happy to address persecution (well, as happy as one could be addressing that subject). Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted. (I don’t know what makes you think it doesn’t fit my theology; it fits all too well.) The only reason more Christians aren’t persecuted is that they aren’t truly trying to live godly in Christ Jesus. Rather, they’re going to church and trying to fit in with all their Christian friends and family.

          …and the “judgment” that you say people bring on themselves in this life is very unclear – as I said, many of the most godless people in our generation are the ones who end up with the most prosperity now.

          Indeed it sometimes appears that some people are “getting away with murder” in this life – either figuratively or literally. Psalm 73 describes this puzzle – and also its solution. Remember that Jesus said that many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first. When Jesus was filling the thrones of heaven, He placed humble Galileans in them; He did not choose the Caesars or Pilates or high priests. Expect the order of heaven to look very different from the order of the world.

          • CGC says:

            Mike, I have read your book in its entirety, and I find it a very appealing notion. I also find your first six books especially convincing in terms of your description of Sheol and the like. However, I must admit, I find your reliance on the idea that the second coming has already happened to be mistaken. For that reason i think your conclusion is flawed

            I find that most of my argument would follow RP’s. especially his point on 2 Thessalonians 2:2
            however i have two follow up questions which I would like to hear how you address.

            If as you say, the second coming has occurred, death has been destroyed, having been cast in to the lake of fire. Then what, ultimately, is the final Judgement of Satan? because it seems to me your argument implies that Satan will eternally Harass those on earth in order to oppose the kingdon of New Heaven about which you speak without ever truly recieving his own punishnment.

            Secondly, unless I am mistaken, the key proposition of your argument relies on the following axioms.

            premise 1) Jesus Resurrection conquered death (no problem so far)

            premise 2) Jesus’ conquering of death means we will all be resurrected. (a fair enough statement to make)

            premise 3) Being resurrected, we will all go to Heaven.

            this is where the problem lies
            in order for that statement to prove true ipso facto, you also have to demonstrate Scripturally that Hell, were it to exist, would be a place where the Resurrected could not go.
            I do not see any reason Biblically for this to be the case. I see no reason why the idea that we will all triumph over death means we all go to Heaven. If Hell exists, it makes sense that it will be an eternal living punishment, as Heaven is an eternal living reward.

            one thing you said struck me though. And I thank you for it. You said not many Christians act as though making sure in your words “we all have parachutes” is truly their greatest concern. When, if Hell exists, it should be. I think no truer words could be spoken about why evangelism is necessary. in that respect, I think you are dead on.

            Thanks for the article. Id love to hear your thoughts

            • Mike Gantt says:

              …however i have two follow up questions which I would like to hear how you address.

              If as you say, the second coming has occurred, death has been destroyed, having been cast in to the lake of fire. Then what, ultimately, is the final Judgement of Satan? because it seems to me your argument implies that Satan will eternally harass those on earth in order to oppose the kingdom of New Heaven about which you speak without ever truly receiving his own punishment.

              Satan has lost his place in heaven. He has been consigned to the earth and must bear with the ever-increasing kingdom of God (for, as Isaiah says in 9:6-7, that government shall never stop increasing). Though the kingdom of God began as the smallest of seeds, it will become the greatest of kingdoms (Matthew 13:31-32). Like Pharaoh, Satan is forever shamed that those he enslaved are now free. Even worse than Pharaoh, Satan is under the feet of the slaves.

              Secondly, unless I am mistaken, the key proposition of your argument relies on the following axioms.

              premise 1) Jesus Resurrection conquered death (no problem so far)

              premise 2) Jesus’ conquering of death means we will all be resurrected. (a fair enough statement to make)

              premise 3) Being resurrected, we will all go to Heaven.

              this is where the problem lies
              in order for that statement to prove true ipso facto, you also have to demonstrate Scripturally that Hell, were it to exist, would be a place where the Resurrected could not go.
              I do not see any reason Biblically for this to be the case. I see no reason why the idea that we will all triumph over death means we all go to Heaven. If Hell exists, it makes sense that it will be an eternal living punishment, as Heaven is an eternal living reward.

              Why do I have to prove anything about hell? Biblical cosmology before the Second Coming was heaven above, earth here, Sheol (Hades) below. Biblical cosmology after the Second Coming is heaven above and earth below – that’s it. Hell (Gehenna, Valley of Hinnom or Ben-Hinnom) was the trash dump outside Jerusalem. It represents the judgment of God on earth just as Jerusalem represents the peace of God on earth. Hell has nothing to do with the afterlife; it has to do with this life. Thus I don’t say hell doesn’t exist. Rather, I say it exists on this side of death rather than on the other side.

              Since the dead were below in Sheol (Hades), given biblical cosmology, there’s only two places resurrection could lead (resurrection meaning to be “raised): earth or heaven. Chapter Seven describes how Jesus taught that it was heaven. Hell was never a possibility because it’s a “this life” phenomenon. Plus, it’s on earth and Jesus made clear to the Sadducees that resurrection didn’t lead to earth.

              If I’ve misunderstood your questions, please let me know.

          • RP says:

            Where to start… Perhaps with the root of your misunderstanding which seems to force the rest. You have ignored the universal and dramatic nature of the Lord’s return completely. Peter refers to the flood and says next time it’ll be like the flood but with fire, and the heavens and elements will be burned. No one missed the flood! Light and darkness doesn’t mean “noticeable” and “unnoticeable” it means glory and distress.

            Thief in the night does not mean that it’s MISSABLE, it means that it’s unexpected so you need to be READY. You don’t miss the fact that you’ve been burgled, you regret the fact that you weren’t found ready.

            This is some extraordinary hermaneutical gymnastics you’re doing that should make you think twice. Did you even READ Hebrews 6 before trying to bend it to fit your arguments? It is saying nothing like what you try to make it say. With respect, you need to sit under God’s word and serve IT, rather than above it trying to make it serve you.

            I admire your zeal. And I can only hope for your sake this is nothing more than clumsy misunderstanding. But I would urge you to bring yourself under sound teaching for your sake and others’.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              I readily admit to you that if the only passage of Scripture in the New Testament that dealt with the Second Coming was 2 Peter 3 I might have a different view. However, it is only one of many, many Scriptures about the Second Coming in the New Testament. I lay out the biblical case for the completed Second Coming in Whatever Became of Jesus Christ? There you will see that I cover the many scriptures that deal with timing and show that it had to occur in the 1st Century or else it’s false prophecy. I then deal with the many scriptures that cover the nature of the Second Coming and show that it had to be of a heavenly and not an earthly nature.

              I don’t feel like I’m doing hermeneutical gymnastics at all. On the contrary, I feel that anyone who says that Jesus and the apostles were unclear or wrong about the timing are the ones doing the acrobatics.

              • RP says:

                So you ignore 2 Peter 3 and other passages that speak similarly of universal, dramatic, earth-shattering events? You haven’t addressed the most basic objections made above.

                Be careful, please. Your article on the 2nd coming fails on so many levels, as you layer error upon error. At the heart is a misunderstanding of Mark 13 and the parallel passages. Jesus is answering their question AND BEYOND. Throughout the Bible we see multiple, layered fulfilment (that the Messiah would come twice at all would have been a surprise to readers of OT scripture, for example).

                What you need is the humility to sit under good teaching. But you appear, sadly, to be too self-dependent to listen to others (and your anti-church tirades show that all too clearly). And the more people debate with you here, the more entrenched you are becoming. I would urge you, Do not harden your heart. Shut this down, for your own good and the good of all.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  I don’t ignore 2 Peter 3 at all. It is part of the large set of verses about the coming of the kingdom that are in the New Testament – and I listen to them all.

                  You seem to think that “universal, dramatic, earth-shattering” is a set of terms that can only apply to a physical event. Do you not know that the physical profits nothing, and that it is the spirit that gives life? Heavenly things are more important, more eternal, and determining than earthly events.

                  I am surprised that you mention Mark 13 but don’t seem to recognize that in that very passage Jesus promises that He would come in His glory in that very generation.

                  I sit before the Teacher of all humanity – Jesus Christ. He is the Teacher of righteousness. I pray that every single one of us will every day be His disciples, doing His word with all of our hearts. “He has shown you, O man, what is good, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Jesus is our God with whom we have the privilege to walk “If we abide in His word we are truly disciples of His, and we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free” (John 8:31-32).

              • RP says:

                Not sure why my last comment got vetoed…

                You say: “anyone who says that Jesus and the apostles were unclear or wrong about the timing are the ones doing the acrobatics”.

                Jesus says (in the passage on which you seem to base your theory): “But concerning that day or that hour, NO ONE KNOWS, not even the angels in heaven, NOR THE SON, but ONLY THE FATHER”.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  Not sure why my last comment got vetoed…

                  The only comments I keep out are spam and profanity. It sometimes takes me a while to get to all the comments, but everything you write will be published (See my comment policy in the About section.)

                  Jesus says (in the passage on which you seem to base your theory): “But concerning that day or that hour, NO ONE KNOWS, not even the angels in heaven, NOR THE SON, but ONLY THE FATHER”.

                  Yes, that’s true But recall that in the Mark 13 passage which you referenced earlier, He described how His disciples could know the season in which He would come. Thus He was telling them the general time frame (that generation), and could even be more specific (including some preliminary signs like the destruction of the temple), but would not be more specific than that (i.e He would not give them a day and time of day like so many false prophets do).

                  • RP says:

                    Their question in Mark 13 is about the temple destruction that Jesus has just prophesied. You oversimplify Jesus’ response: for they do indeed see the destruction of the temple in their generation, and it is well accounted that christians were preserved because they got out of Jerusalem thanks to this warning. But there are parts of what Jesus said that don’t fit with AD 70: for example, the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
                    But then Jesus clearly talks about the era AFTER that distress – the “last days”. And in that period MEN WILL SEE the Son of Man coming in glory. His main message to them, and to us now, is to be ready.

                    You said “Do you not know that the physical profits nothing, and that it is the spirit that gives life?” – that again is an atrocious misuse (and subtle changing) of scripture: that is talking about SALVATION. In what form was Jesus raised? Spiritual? YES. Physical? ALSO YES – he ate fish, he had Thomas put his hand on his wounds. There is discontinuity and difference, but there is some continuity. You are making the same mistakes as the Corinthians. And why would Peter use a parallel with the flood, even saying that the next judgement would be WORSE, would be with fire? Your version says that this event has happened, and was nowhere near as bad as the flood, in fact it was IMPERCEPTIBLE to many!!?? And you say it doesn’t matter anyway, for all will bathe in the glory of heaven ANYWAY? So Peter was lying/scaremongering…?

                    Not to mention Revelation, which was most likely written in the 90s anyway…

  11. Mike Gantt says:

    RP, you said

    “Their question in Mark 13 is about the temple destruction that Jesus has just prophesied. You oversimplify Jesus’ response:”

    I don’t think I over-simply Mark 13 at all. Rather, I take the chapter at face value, whereas you seem to artificially chop it into two difference sections (that is, you say that only part applies to that generation while the rest applies to some future generation).

    “But there are parts of what Jesus said that don’t fit with AD 70: for example, the gospel must first be preached to all nations.”

    Indeed the gospel was being preached in the whole world during that generation as Paul testified in Romans 1:8 and Colossians 1:6.

    “But then Jesus clearly talks about the era AFTER that distress – the ‘last days’.”

    That era of which Jesus spoke was still in that generation. If you say it applied to some subsequent generation, your doctrine is doing violence to the exchange between Jesus and His disciples who had asked Him when all these things would take place.

    “And in that period MEN WILL SEE the Son of Man coming in glory.”

    Indeed, all men did see Him…but all men did not recognize Him. Even so, today all men are able to see Him but do not recognize Him. “Having eyes, they see not…”

    “His main message to them, and to us now, is to be ready.”

    His main message to them was to be ready (which would have been a strange message if He wasn’t planning on coming until many generations after that). By contrast, His message to us today is to acknowledge Him. That is, to recognize Him who has come, Him who has been faithful to keep His word.

    “You said “Do you not know that the physical profits nothing, and that it is the spirit that gives life?” – that again is an atrocious misuse (and subtle changing) of scripture: that is talking about SALVATION.”

    I did not misuse this reference. I substituted “physical” for “flesh” to make it more easily understood for indeed “physical” is a synonym for “flesh” in thie context. The distinction between flesh and spirit is a constant theme of the Bible, especially in the New Testament. That is, it is the distinction between that dimension of creation which we can see with our physical eyes and the other dimension which we can only see with the eyes of our hearts (that is, by faith). “God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” People who are fleshly minded look for a fleshly coming of Jesus. Rather, we should be spiritual minded and rejoice in a spiritual (or you could say “heavenly”) coming of Jesus.

    “In what form was Jesus raised? Spiritual? YES. Physical? ALSO YES – he ate fish, he had Thomas put his hand on his wounds. There is discontinuity and difference, but there is some continuity.”

    Yes, I agree that was the form in which Jesus was raised. And when we die, we shall receive bodies of the same kind. Amazing!

    “You are making the same mistakes as the Corinthians.”

    Actually, I think you are the one doing that. As I mentioned above, your insistence on a fleshly coming of Jesus reminds me of Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians in chapters 1-3 (especially the beginning of 3) which would have them think more spiritually.

    “And why would Peter use a parallel with the flood, even saying that the next judgment would be WORSE, would be with fire? Your version says that this event has happened, and was nowhere near as bad as the flood, in fact it was IMPERCEPTIBLE to many!!??”

    The parallel with the flood means the judgment will be worldwide – that is, there would be no region of the world to which you could permanently escape God’s wrath in the day of the Lord. All the curses of Deuteronomy 28 would be poured out on the sinfulness of the earth. Because it would be eternal, it is still going on today. Look around you: the wrath of God is poured out on our sinfulness. There was nothing imperceptible about it then and there is nothing imperceptible about it now. That’s why we must repent. We must repent!

    “And you say it doesn’t matter anyway, for all will bathe in the glory of heaven ANYWAY?”

    It matters a great deal. If we repent, things will go better for us on earth in this life, and our honor in heaven will be greater in the life to come. God is not mocked: whatsoever a person sows, that shall he also reap. We reap some things in this life, but accounting will occur when we go to heaven.

    “So Peter was lying/scaremongering…?”

    Peter, and all the apostles, have told us the truth and emphasized it by pouring out their lives to death for us in the process. Blessed be their memory. And blessed be the Lord who set the example.

    • seth says:

      “I don’t think I over-simply Mark 13 at all. Rather, I take the chapter at face value, whereas you seem to artificially chop it into two difference sections (that is, you say that only part applies to that generation while the rest applies to some future generation).”

      your take on RP’s handling of Mark 13 in terms of chopping it into two sections, is no stranger than your version, trying to make the whole thing fit into one box, including things that have clearly not happened yet. i.e. verse 26–”then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” verse 27–”…and will gather together His elect from the four winds…”
      i also don’t think it’s strange to tell someone to be ready and prepared with more than enough time for them to do so.
      when i ask my 4 year old to pick up his cars and get his coat on, he knows what i want him to do, but he is too preoccupied with his game to obey immediately.
      but what would be great is for him to be ready at the door or in the car so when it was time he would not be left, eventually wondering where his family had gone.
      you know as well as i do that if you tell someone EXACTLY when you are needing something, they will put it off until they THINK they have enough time to do it.
      and so Jesus says in v. 33-37.
      the servants know their tasks and they know to be ready so they can please their master at his return.
      will he be pleased to come and find them sleeping?
      apparently not. he would like to find them prepared and ready to help him unload the car and get some tea on.
      in the parable he gives them no exact return time so that they may wait in anticipation for him to say to them “well done good and faithful servant!”
      tragically, many people today respond like the Israelites while they waited for Moses, creating something to worship in the meantime, being too bored or uncommitted to “watch and pray.”

      i want to say, i really appreciate your tone of graciousness throughout this discussion.
      i also must say, some of the beliefs described here are…unbiblical.
      “if we repent, things will go better for us on earth in this life…”
      which life is that? our best life now?
      i’d like to have you discuss and defend that with a Chinese pastor whose son is beaten bloody on the way home from school because his dad is a pastor.
      or another one whose 85 year old mother is harassed, pushed down and put in jail for her connection with a church and with people following Jesus.
      or with a man in Iran who was brutally beaten and placed on death row for distributing Bibles and Christian literature.
      or with thousands of refugees, many of them children, in Thailand who have been chased out of their homes in Burma while watching their parents shot and/or raped.
      this is the reality of a large percentage of people following Jesus in our world.

      • Mike Gantt says:

        Seth,

        You say that I am trying to fit Mark 13 into one box, but I am simply reading it as Jesus spoke it – in one passage. If all those things have not happened yet then Jesus would be a false prophet for He said in that very passage “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (v. 30). The reason you think some of those things have not taken place yet is that you are not understanding the figures of speech Jesus was using which came from the Old Testament prophets. The “comining on the clouds” was a great heavenly event with earthly consequences.

        If you tell your 4-year-old to be ready to go and yet you don’t go, and don’t go, and don’t go, and don’t go, then eventually your 4-year-old is not going to take you seriously when you say, “Be ready to go.” Jesus said that no one would know the day or the hour, but as to the generation…it was that one, not some future one. The Lord kept His word!

        There are two kinds of suffering in this earth. One kind is the consequences of our sin. It is the wrath of God that comes as consequence to our evil doing. This is what I say we can avoid if we love God and stop sinning. The other kind of suffering is that which comes to all those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus. While it is hard, such sufferings as the cases you mention can be endured because God blesses the souls of those people. They can have peace and joy in their hearts while they bear up under suffering while suffering unjustly. Moreover, God has promised to honor them greatly in the life to come because of their faithfulness to Him. Like I heard one person say, “It’s not your best life now; it’s your best life later.” Blessed indeed are those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. May God grant that we can be counted in their number.

  12. RP says:

    Ok, I’m not going to address most of this, because we clearly disagree on some major issues and you’re just repeating stuff you’ve said before (although I must say your explanation for the flood parallel is particularly weak).

    But I would like to pick you up on the “flesh” idea. It is indeed a repeated theme in the NT. It is not, however, concerned with the form of Jesus’ return. Rather, it is to do with the difference between the fallen, dead in sin, aspect of a person and the regenerate inner being, the new birth brought about by the Spirit’s work. So Paul writes:

    “So then I myself serve the law of God with my mind/inner being, but in my FLESH I serve the law of sin.”

    “By sending his own Son in the likeness of SINFUL FLESH and for sin, he condemned sin IN THE FLESH”

    “Those who are IN THE FLESH cannot please God.”

    That is why “the flesh is of no avail” – it is thoroughly corrupt, and therefore cannot save itself, since “that which is born of flesh is flesh”. We need the saving work of the Spirit, we need the Spirit of God living in us, transforming us (“that born of the Spirit is spirit”). Those who are “fleshly minded” do not look for ANY sort of coming of Jesus, for their thoughts are all rebellion against him and denial of his lordship.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      You do not understand what the New Testament is teaching in its spirit-versus-flesh language. It is much simpler than you think. Flesh refers to that dimension of creation than can be seen while spirit refers to that dimension which cannot be seen. Thus we endure as seeing Him who is unseen. We look not at things which are seen, but those which are unseen. We set our affections on things that are above, not on earth. We are not as those who set their minds on earthly things. The things which are seen are temporal, but those which are unseen are eternal.

      I don’t suggest that such passages are directed explicitly at the Second Coming. Rather, they are general statement that apply to all of life and creation, and therefore have obvious application to the Second Coming.

  13. RP says:

    So you’re just going to ignore the uses of flesh shown above?

    The seen unseen language is common too, but they again don’t make your point. The things that are seen are indeed temporal, because “THEY ARE STORED UP FOR FIRE”. And so we do well to set our minds on things above, to store up imperishable treasure in heaven.

    The life of faith (see Romans 4, Hebrews 11) is about setting your sights on that unseen city. It doesn’t mean that you never attain it or that it remains unseen forever, unless you want to twist those passages too…

  14. Mike Gantt says:

    You have a point of view on flesh and spirit that I find hard to discern. My view is simple and I have explained it above.

    You seem to agree that we ought to focus on spiritual (i.e. heavenly) things, but then seem to recoil at the idea of the Second Coming being a heavenly event with earthly consequences.

  15. RP says:

    I would warn you against holding on to “your view” just because you admire its simplicity, even though it is at odds with Scripture.

    Again, I can only urge you to humble your heart and sit under the teaching of someone with the gift of teaching the Word. They are Jesus’ gifts to his people to help us to discern these things.

      • RP says:

        I don’t know. I don’t know where you live, for starters, but you are blessed to live in a country with a lot of gospel-proclaiming, Bible-believing churches. Don’t throw that blessing out by ignoring them all. Ask Christian friends for recommendations, maybe. Try a few, if you want.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          RP, I trust that you mean well. However, your advice reveals that you put more trust in the church than you do in Jesus. Apparently, you don’t agree with Acts 26:18 which says that it’s faith in Jesus that sanctifies; instead, you seem to think that participation in church sanctifies.

          It’s also strange that you assume I have enough discernment to tell a “gospel-proclaiming, Bible-believing church” from the rest, but don’t have enough discernment to read what the apostles wrote and understand it.

          (By the way, and not that it matters, but I have received a master of divinity and doctor of ministry from two respected evangelical seminaries, and I pastored in “gospel-proclaiming, Bible-believing churches” for fifteen years – so I have by no means ignored such sources.)

          • David Weiner says:

            Hi Mike,

            I haven’t given up on you just yet and have been lurking while you and RP have been talking. I just have to jump in regarding your reference to Acts 26:18 which I apparently see differently from you. Anyway, here are the thoughts I have and these are not meant to imply anything about what you may believe:

            1) Simple participation in church does not sanctify. The fellowship in eternal life with others who also possess eternal life is what should sanctify. But, of course, even this fellowship can be marred by sin.

            2) This verse is talking about the initial act of sanctification (setting apart for God) and not the ongoing process of being made holy (also referred to as sanctification). The verb translated ‘sanctified’ is a perfect passive. The people of whom Jesus is talking have already been sanctified or set apart by the Holy Spirit through faith in Him. Nothing in this context is referring to ‘attending church’ or the ongoing process of sanctification.

            3) Scripture nowhere guarantees that ‘being alone with Jesus’ or having a high IQ will lead to a believer seeing the truth in Scripture.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              David, you seem to be taking issue with my last response to RP, but your logic is hard to follow.

              In 1) your second sentence seems to contradict your first. And your third sentence seems to interfere with your second.

              In 2) you seem to suggest that sanctification will continue even if faith does not. Just because Acts 26:18 may only speak explicitly of “the initial act of sanctification” it does not follow that sanctification will continue even if faith does not.

              In 3) you’ve lost me completely because I don’t know what you mean by “being alone with Jesus” – and no one is even talking about high IQ’s (though perhaps you evoke it when you rest your arguments on Greek verb tenses which only a small minority of the population would be able to corroborate on their own).

              My fundamental point to RP stands: faith in Jesus sanctifies while faith in Christians doesn’t. And, by the way, RP’s position is by no means unique to him. It is the standard position of all Christians, especially evangelicals. That is, they generally believe – and often passionately believe – that sanctification (and perhaps even salvation) is not possible apart from active involvement in a church (however large or small). This has become the substitute for faith in our time and it amounts to faith in Christians instead of faith in Christ. Thus the need to distinguish Spiritual Christianity Versus Social Christianity.

              • RP says:

                Mike,
                You are drawing all manner of false logical leaps from what I said.

                Nowhere have I said that faith in Christians is what saves. That’s an absurd idea. Look at the thief on the cross – “Today you will be with me in paradise”, and no of course he never went to a church.

                Nonetheless, we must listen to what Jesus says about his people. That we are saved to be part of his family, saved for sincere brotherly love, saved to be part of his body.

                Furthermore, there is a clear idea of Christian growth in maturity in the NT. Colossians and Ephesians some of the clearest examples. How does this collective growth of Christ’s body happen in Ephesians? The resurrected Christ gives gifts to the church (pastors, teachers, evangelists…) “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” – speaking the truth in love to one another.

                What is the church? The “pillar and buttress of the truth”. We need one another. That’s NOT to say that there CAN’T be ANY christians who haven’t been members of the church. But that they are exceptions, who’ve had to endure in particularly hard circumstances without the support of Christian family.

                I couldn’t care two hoots about your qualifications. Knowledge puffs up. They haven’t stopped you from distorting the gospel. Humility is what you desperately need now.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  RP, you took my reference to seminary degrees out of context. I only mentioned them in response to your admonition: “Don’t throw that blessing out by ignoring [gospel proclaiming, Bible-believing churches].” My point was that I haven’t ignored them; I’ve listened to them more than most. I don’t give two hoots about seminary degrees as qualifications either. They’re meaningless to God. What matters is doing the word of God.

                  I think the only reason you give the thief on the cross a pass from church is because he died that day. Otherwise, I’d see you admonishing him as you do me…and everyone else who professes Christ but is not involved in a church.

                  The references you make to Colossians and Ephesians were applicable to the New Testament church, but since then the kingdom of God has come and we are to love the whole human race as His body. Jesus Christ has inherited all things. He is not just Lord of the church, He is Lord of the whole human race.

                  You do not need to go to a church to find a brother. You do not need to go to church to find someone to love. You do not need to go to church to find someone to serve.

                  Going to church just makes you feel holier than the people who don’t. That’s why I said you seemed to think church going sanctifies.

                  It’s faith in Christ that makes the difference in life – and not faith as a one-time event (i.e. the sinner’s prayer), but faith as a lifestyle (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 11:3).

                  Churchgoing has become a substitute for true faith and this is the point I am pressing.

                  • RP says:

                    I worry about you, because you pile error upon error – it’s clear that your misunderstanding about the churh are quite clearly connected to what you think about the difference between NT times and now. So many crossed wires…you’ve clearly no intention of rethinking any of that so I won’t waste time going over the same ground.

                    But what now really concerns me is the impression I get of how you understand salvation. And so I would like to know why you think Jesus had to die? In particular, what do you think Jesus’ death achieved?

                    • Mike Gantt says:

                      RP, Jesus’ death is the propitiation for our sins, and not ours only, but those of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2). Without Jesus dying and being raised from the dead there would be no solution to problem of death (Hebrews 2:14-15; Romans 14:7-9).

              • David Weiner says:

                Mike,

                You said: “your logic is hard to follow.”

                Well, I can think of at least two reasons for this. So, let me provide more verbage to possibly help.

                1) A person can attend church all their lives and still die a lost person. Just attending church or participating in church functions does not guarantee anything. That is all my first sentence was meant to convey.
                2) The second sentence tries to convey the idea that ongoing sanctification comes to a spirit filled person when they interact with individuals, in any setting (and of course this could include churches), who are also filled with the Spirit and striving to walk in the light. If there is a conflict in these two ideas, then it escapes me.
                3) My third sentence ought to be obvious; sin can damage anything we do. What could possibly be clearer? Again, how this ‘interfers’ with the second sentence also escapes me.
                4) As to your number 2), I can not see how it is possible for one to ‘lose’ their saving faith. There are oh so many passages to support this but I’ll just refer to one ‘proof text.’ In 1 Peter 1, the Apostle is talking to believers and he describes them in verse 5 as those “who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

                These people, saved individuals, do not maintain their position in Christ by maintaining their faith. It is God who alone guards them for ultimate salvation by means of their faith. He ensures that they do not lose their faith. So, the only way they can not continue to have faith is if God is not powerful enough to prevent this loss.

                5) As to losing you in 3) let me just say that whether or not a small minority may know Greek has nothing to do with the truth of what I stated. Either that verb is as I said or it isn’t. In any case, the correct understanding of that verse is at least partially dependent on grasping the meaning of that verb.

                As to the substance of my comment in 3), I was just trying to identify a couple of possible arguments one might use to defend why their interpretation of Scripture is the correct one. I was merely pointing out that Scripture never guarantees any individual, believer or not, that their understanding of a text is the correct one.

                As to your last point, of course, faith in other humans (or even in self) does not sanctify. On the other hand, faith in Jesus does not sanctify either. Initial sanctification is accomplished by the Holy Spirit when He saves a person who has been given the gift of saving faith. It is not the person’s faith in Jesus that saves them; it is the Holy Spirit that does that. Ongoing sanctification is accomplished as the person submits more and more to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  1) Agreed, except that everyone is going to heaven.
                  2) What is the scriptural basis for this concept?
                  3) Sin would interfere with sanctification.
                  4) There’s nothing in the verse you quote that says a person couldn’t lose their faith; Jesus’ disciples – Peter included – often lost it.
                  5) Faith in Jesus sanctfies. A person doesn’t need to know Greek to grasp that.

                  As to understanding Scripture, Jesus said, “If you abide in My word then you are truly disciples of mine and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32). He also said of the Holy Spirit, “He shall guide you into all the truth” and “He shall take of Mine and disclose it to you” (John 16:13-14). And, of course, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). In other words, there’s a guarantee that if we’ll approach the Scripture as God tells us that He show us the truth – especially as it’s revealed in our Lord Jesus. Does this prove that person A’s understanding is right and person B’s is wrong? Of course not. But it does mean we should all read the Scriptures in the hope of being helped by God.

                  As to your last paragraph, you lost me at “faith in Jesus doesn’t sanctify either.”

              • seth says:

                what he means by “being along with Jesus” is your reference on March 3, “I sit before the Teacher of all humanity – Jesus Christ.”

                clearly we do well to do this–through prayer and spending time daily in Scripture.
                but when Jesus ascended from this earth, He did TWO things: he sent the Holy Spirit and he left MEN, men that He had discipled and trained to be the foundation of the church.
                the church was Jesus’ idea.
                He built it.
                the apostle Paul also built much of his ministry around training other men to handle Scripture correctly (2 Timothy 2:1-7)
                clearly our adequacy is from God (2 Corinthians 3), yet Paul says, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)
                it is very biblical to have good teachers to sit with who have a passion for obedience to our Lord and to sharpen us and hold us accountable, to prevent us from drift in our lives and ministry.

                • Mike Gantt says:

                  Seth,

                  Yes, indeed, we should listen to those who have spoken to us in the name of the Lord. And I have done so. These people have taught me to love Jesus above all and to regard the Bible as the word of God. It is by clinging to these principles that I believe what I believe. If Jesus opens our eyes to things that our tutors did not see as clearly, should we reject what Jesus is showing us so that we can be more faithful to our tutors than to Him? God forbid. Our tutors who truly love God would want us to be more faithful to the One who died and rose for us all.

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  17. Paul says:

    David and RP,

    I admire your tenacity and deep love for Mike, but this is what you get when you get into the area with a Universalist. Endless debates, always learning but never knowing the Truth. Continue to hold Mike up in prayer.

    Must admit I did enjoy the read and the grace given by all parties.

    Paul

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Paul, I find the term “universalist” more pejorative than informative. I do know there are people who claim that label for themselves, but I do not find in their teaching much resemblance to what I read in the Scriptures.

      Important as it is, that everyone is going to heaven is neither the heart nor the summation of my message. My central declaration is that everyone should repent and follow our Lord Jesus Christ. To see how the message of heaven fits in that theme, see this Introduction-Overview.

  18. Micah says:

    I am responding to your quote “When people ask about hell, I am seldom sure how they mean it. And for that reason, quick answers usually add to the confusion. Does the Bible teach that there is a hell? Well, it depends on what you mean by hell. If by hell, you mean a place of torment by fire after this life where bad people are forever confined, then the plain answer is no. The Bible does not teach about such a place.”

    Luke 16:19-31
    These verses are spoken by Jesus and clearly talks about a rich man dying and going to hell “where he was in torment” (vs.23). Verse 24, the man in hell says, “…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.” Then in verse 27, the man in hell begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house (on earth) to warn his family “so they will not also come to this place of torment.”

    Hell is a real place people can go to when they die if they have not accepted that they are sinners and they need Jesus Christ to save them from their sins, the One who died and rose again. Romans 10:9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Also look at Acts 2:38, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9

    1 John 5:11-12
    “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

    If what you say about hell is true, why would Jesus have to die to save us? What would he be saving us from other than sin, satan, evil, and hell? Jesus clearly shows us in His Word that there is a heaven and a hell and He has come to give us eternal life in heaven if we believe in Him.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Actually, the Luke 16 passage you quote doesn’t refer to hell at all, but rather to Hades (the Hebrews called it Sheol). If you will read the book, all this is explained.

      Jesus died to redeem us from death but also to show us how to live this life. Based on the scriptures you have quoted, it sounds like you have postponed too much of their meaning until after you die. For one thing, eternal life is meant to begin here on earth – before we die.

      I hope you will read the book.

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  20. Anffany says:

    Hi Mike,

    I finished reading the book. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. Before deciding whether afterlife eternal punishment exists or not, I am trying to understand the Bible with this new view. May I ask you some questions on Revelation 20:14-15?
    - What does “second” mean?
    - Regarding the dead that were confined in Hades, either all of them had their names written in the book of life, or some people were thrown into the lake of fire. Which one is true?

    Thank you in advance for patiently answering my questions.

    God bless you!

  21. Mike: you write, “And then, you, like me, will wonder why this has not been taught to us before.”

    It has been taught before, and it is still false [that hell doesn't exist].

    The real question is why you are you, after so much seeking in the scriptures, unable to see what is plainly declared and taught by Christ?

    There is no wrath to come, no one will suffer, and everyone gets saved: that’s a false gospel that makes a mockery of the cross [sufferings] of Jesus Christ.

    There are different degrees of suffering in hell, according to Christ [reference His comments about Tyre and Sidon], and it is a worse transgression to teach a false gospel and actively participate in others’ destruction than it is to simply lack faith in the real Jesus [and gospel].

    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

    I pray you repent,

    Mark

  22. Mike Gantt says:

    Mark,

    Yes, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. If it weren’t for my fear of the Lord, I would not have come to know these things.

    And, yes, I am living a life of repentance before Him because it is “in repentance and rest” that we are saved” (Isaiah 30:15).

    I do not say that there is no hell nor wrath. On the contrary, they are both very real. I simply say that they occur in this life, not the next one. If you are at all familiar with the prophets, you know that they spoke this way. If wrath awaits us in the afterlife, then the prophets were wasting their time and ours by warning us about wrath in this life.

    Besides, how could it be good news to the apostles that Jesus was saving us from death if, in the process, it created a fate infinitely worse than death? If that was the case, humanity would have been better off left dead.

    Did Jesus teach us to love our enemies so that we could be content seeing them tormented forever?

    Jesus Christ does not bring a partial salvation – He saves to the uttermost!

    Yes, let us fear the Lord, for in Him dwell all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And in Him is a refuge from evil. Live for His righteousness in this life so that you may be among those who are raised to everlasting glory and not among those who are raised to disgrace and contempt (Daniel 12:2).

  23. David Weiner says:

    Quoting Isaiah 30:15 is a clear example of taking Scripture out of context. The context being Israel, an historical people group, trusting the nation of Egypt and not God. Where does Scripture say that the ‘you’ in that verse also applies to Mike Gantt or anybody else alive today? There are many verses that do apply; just not that one as far as I can see.

  24. Mike Gantt says:

    David,

    As a descendant of David and therefore Abraham as well, Jesus is heir to all the promises of God (2 Corinthians 1:20). Through Christ, we are joint heirs of those promises.

    • David Weiner says:

      Contrary to your statement above, all descendants of David and therefore Abraham are NOT heir to all the promises of God. Almost all of the Israelites of Isaiah 30 were lost. They had none of the ‘promises’ of 2 Corinthians 1:20. Only the ones ‘in Him’ have the promises of blessing aluded to there. And, the ones in Him already possess salvation. They do not need a promise that if they repent and trust they will receive salvation. By the way, are you including the promise of God in, for example, Jeremiah 29:11 as being included in “all the promises of God” that you say we are heir to?

  25. Mike Gantt says:

    Isaiah 30 beings with a woe to rebellious children. Unless there are no more rebellious children, Isaiah’s words still speak for God.

    As for Jeremiah 29:11, of course Jeremiah speaks ultimately of Christ, as do all the prophets.

    The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ

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