3 groups exist in Mt c.25:32-46: sheep,goats,my brethren

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Alfred Persson., Jan 17, 2012.

  1. Alfred Persson.

    Alfred Persson.
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    Some believe Matthew 25:32f proves there are only two groups of mankind, the sheep (righteous) and the goats (unrighteous) But it is beyond reasonable doubt three classes of men can be found in that context.

    For example, the Church which is saved by grace, not works, through faith BUT these "sheep" are saved by works done in ignorance of Jesus, hence its impossible they symbolize faith in Him. Moreover, at the time of this judgment the church is already with Christ reigning as Kings and Priests (Revelation 20:4-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Mat 24:29-31; Rev 14:14-16) "and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." (Joh 5:24 NKJ)

    32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
    33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

    40 "And the King will answer and say to them,`Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' (Mat 25:32-40 NKJ)

    "My brethren" cannot be "the sheep" for that's redundant absurdity. "My brethren" cannot be "elect Israel" versus "non-elect Israel" because this is a judgment of all nations (25:32), not Israel only. "My brethren" cannot be the Israel nation versus the Gentiles nations because Christ's immediate audience is Israelis being exhorted to consider their latter end.

    That leaves the identification of "My brethren" as the church "conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Ro 8:29 NKJ)

    So the three classes are: "My brethren" = the righteous, "the goats" = the unrighteous and "the sheep" the intermediate or "middling people.".

    Three groups also appear in John 5:24 "he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."Therefore the church is not in John 5:28-29 when those in Hades hear Christ's voice and those who did good experience a resurrection into life:

    28 "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
    29 "and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (Jo 5:24-29 NKJ)

    These three groups again appear in Revelation chapter 20. In verses 4-6 the martyrs join the rapture/resurrection of the church (1 Th 4:14-18; 1 Co 15:51-58; Mt 24:29-31; Re 14:14-16) leaving "the rest of the dead" (20:5) to rise up a thousand years. Their juxtaposition with the martyrs implies they are the "intermediate group" and not the wicked who also rise up in Rev 20:11-15.

    In Re 20:12 the book of life is opened confirming some of these rise into life (Jo 5:28-29). These are judged according to their works and if love of light is manifest (cf Mat 25:35-40; cp John 3:19-21) then they are saved by grace their names are written in the book of life. That names can be written into (Mal 3:16) or blotted out of the book of life (Rev 3:5) proves it contains more than the names of the elect unconditionally chosen before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).
    A parallel to this can be found in the Jewish Talmud:

    "Three books are opened [in heaven] on New Year, one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for the intermediate. The thoroughly righteous are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of life; the thoroughly wicked are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of death; the doom of the intermediate is suspended from New Year till the Day of Atonement; if they deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of life; if they do not deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of death….It has been taught: Beth Shammai say, There will be three groups at the Day of Judgment - one of thoroughly righteous, one of thoroughly wicked, and one of intermediate.-Talmud, Mas. Rosh HaShanna 16b, -Judaic Classics Library by David Kantrowitz, 2001, Institute for Computers in Jewish Life, Judaica Press, Inc.

    Paul's instructor (Ac 22:3) Gamaliel presided over the school or "Beth" Shammai around 30 A.D. and some elements of this teaching were carried forward into the New Testament:

    52 Then He said to them, "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old." (Mat 13:52 NKJ)

    Verses suggesting salvation hasn't yet been achieved imply the existence of "the intermediate" (2 Pet 2:1; Gal 5:4; Heb 10:26; 1 Cor 5:5), their names might yet be blotted out of the book (Ps 69:28; Rev 3:5) and this permits apostolic humility the hypothetical: "lest… I myself should be a castaway" (1Co 9:27 KJV).

    The resurrection in Revelation 20:11-15 (cf Joh 5:28-29) is "of the dead" (vs. 12) therefore the church alive with Christ is not in this context (John 5:24); their judgment (Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10;1 Pet 4:17) concerns rewards, not salvation (1 Cor 3:15; 2 Pet 1:10-11). Therefore the opened book of life implies the existence of the intermediate group.

    Therefore the existence of three classes of mankind, not only two, is beyond reasonable doubt. This impacts many areas of soteriology, for example the supposed logical corollary between unconditional election to life of some leaving the rest in positive or negative reprobation, becomes a false dilemma as some of them can be saved according to their works.
     
  2. Thinkingstuff

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    It's it possible for Jesus to Identify himself with humanity through the incarnation thus "my bretheren" are all human beings and the sheep and the Goats are still just the two classes he's speaking about? Just a thought.
     
  3. Alfred Persson.

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    That makes the sheep the church.

    It's impossible the church be depicted as ignorant of Christ and being judged for their works:

    37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying,`Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
    38 `When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
    39 `Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' (Mat 25:37-39 NKJ)

    This happens when He arrives, after the church has been reading the gospels for centuries. So how is it Christians wouldn't know its Jesus being fed when they feed the hungry...etc.

    32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. (Mat 25:32 NKJ)

    The sheep cannot be the church, it doesn't fit.

    BUT it fits the church being "my brethren" :

    40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
    41 "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
    42 "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward." (Mat 10:40-1 NKJ)

    41 "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (Mar 9:41 NKJ)
     
    #3 Alfred Persson., Jan 17, 2012
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  4. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    This portion of scripture is the conclusion of the parabolic section beginning in Matthew 24:32 where a contrast begins between two types of SERVANTS of God. Neither claims to be lost or wicked but both claim to be God's servants.

    The preceding parables all anticipate the judgement now expanded in Matthew 25:31-46.

    Hence, this section of Scripture is not dealing with the professed lost or the ungodly unbelievers in this world but with the PROFESSED KINGDOM OF GOD or those described in Matthew 13 and the parable of the tares and the final judgement described there.

    The time is at His return and those still LIVING in the final days or that period described in Matthew 24:15-29.

    There are THREE classes of professed saved people found in that time period. There are baptized believes in Christ or the congregations of Christ (Mt. 24:1-2) ; there are the Jewish believers saved in that day (Mt. 24:15-29)Rom. 11:25-28; Rev. 7:1-8) and there are the lost professors.

    This is the judgement of the professing kingdom of God consisting of those still living when Christ returns.

    The "wicked" or "goats" (tares) are lost professing servants of God previously described in the parables that lead up to this passage, as they asked credulously when was it they did not minister to Christ, which is a question that the ungodly would not even consider asking.

    The good works performed and approved by Christ does not save them but manifests who they are. They are called "sheep" in distinction from "goats" even before the judgment begins. They are called the "righteous" because they are already righteous by position (justification) and by nature (regeneration) and by fruits (sanctification).

    Note the question of the sheep "when did we...minister" versus the question by the wicked "when did....and not minister"

    Note the response by Christ "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" and "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."

    There are three conclusions here.

    1. Good works are defined by proper motive - "unto me"

    2. The true state of salvation is manifested by love "unto one of the least of these my brethren" or "Behold how they love one another"

    3. The love for God is manifested in love for God's people.



    Mt 12:48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?

    Mt 12:49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

    Mt 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
     
  5. Thinkingstuff

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    Yes it does.

    According to your soteriology. Therefore I must conclude that you have a well developed Soteriology and based upon that Soteriology have re-read this passage under your developed idea rather than letting the passage simply speak to you. In other words you have taken an uncomfortable verse to your soteriology and re-worked it to make it less uncomfortable.

    Think it through. If you are right then that means every one who treats a Christian well will be saved even though they don't have faith in Jesus Christ.
    Look at verse 34
    And in the context of the over all chapter look at the parables which are being re-enforced for comprehension
    Again we see a dichotomy not a trichotomy. Two groups. One foolish and one wise. The wise having done something. Ie Trimed their lamps and ensured they were filled with oil. Again look at the tallents
    Here we have a Trichotomy but really in two groups. Two of them used their tallents and one did not. What happened to the one who believed but did nothing?
    All The parables are saying in essense the same thing.
     
  6. Thinkingstuff

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    Are you following me about?
     
  7. Alfred Persson.

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    According to your soteriology. Therefore I must conclude that you have a well developed Soteriology and based upon that Soteriology have re-read this passage under your developed idea rather than letting the passage simply speak to you. In other words you have taken an uncomfortable verse to your soteriology and re-worked it to make it less uncomfortable.

    Sir, if we judge who is comfortable by who denies details in the text, the discomfort isn't mine.

    Its beyond reasonable doubt Christ has three separate groups in Mat c. 25, the sheep, the goats and "my brethren."

    "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. (Mat 25:33 NKJ)
    "inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' (Mat 25:40 NKJ)

    AND this fits my soteriology perfectly, there is a judgment of works for the intermediate, while salvation by grace alone is reserved for those who believe in this life.

    Think it through. If you are right then that means every one who treats a Christian well will be saved even though they don't have faith in Jesus Christ.

    Precisely why I said this affects classic eschatology, clearly there can be many more saved if some are judged according to works.

    If charity to a Christian occurs because its indicative of their loving light and hating darkness (John 3:21) they are eligible to be saved by grace, not works. If the deed was an exception, and they are wicked haters of the light, then Judgment Day would become more tolerable for them (Mat 10:15), but they won't be saved (Mar 9:41).

    Compare "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me…. 42 "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward." (Mat 10:40, 42 NKJ); 41 "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (Mar 9:41 NKJ)

    By works no man will be saved.

    11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.
    12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
    (Rev 20:11-12 NKJ)

    At the time of this event the church is with Christ, reigning as kings and priests, having already passed over from death into life. So we have three groups, the church with Christ, the intermediate judged by their works and the wicked not written in the book of life. If the intermediate have repented of their evil in Hades and "lived according to God in the spirit" (1 Pet 4:6) then their "spirit is saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor 5:5) having "done good (come forth) to the resurrection of life" (John 5:29)

    So if their works indicate love of light, and they have not sinned eternally; their failure to believe in Christ in this life is forgiven:
    31 "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
    32 "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. (Mat 12:31-32 NKJ)

    And God saves them by grace, not works; writing their name in the open book of life, thus extending to them the same Mercies He extended to the Elect, so God is not partial at all, He treats all the same. Those who fail to repent, who love darkness rather than light (cp John 3:17), don't have their names entered into the book of life, and are cast into Gehenna of fire, the Lake of fire, the death from which there is no resurrection.

    Your appeal to Matthew 25:1 is flawed by ignorance of the culture, that parable has three groups:

    Normally the bridegroom with some close friends left his home to go to the bride’s home, where there were various ceremonies, followed by a procession through the streets—after nightfall—to his home. The ten virgins may be bridesmaids who have been assisting the bride."- Carson, D. A. (1984). Matthew. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (513). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

    The church is the wife of the bridegroom, the virgins the sheep and the goats = 3 groups.

    I will admit Matthew 25:14 has two groups, not three…but so what. Nothing positions this parable as the "interpretive key" by which we interpret them all. THAT is your premise, and you failed to prove it with any scripture.Nothing in the text indicates this parable affects the others.

    So you found ONLY one parable that didn't follow the three groups, and failed to prove your argument it is the ARCH-PARABLE which determines the form of all Christ's parables.
     
    #7 Alfred Persson., Jan 17, 2012
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  8. billwald

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    OK! I challenge the post originator to provide us with a list of the rules which apply to Christians so that I may obey them.
     
  9. billwald

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    OR is the OP trying to say the three groups are:

    1. The elect and/or those who think they are elect

    2. The reprobate and/or those who think they are reprobate.

    3. Those in other religions and/or those who are not interested in these matters and may or may not be elect.

    IF SO, that is also my conclusion.
     
  10. Thinkingstuff

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    You've provided your Eisegesis. I'm Questioning it. I think the simple reading is "My Bretheren" are not Christians but Jesus' affiliation with humanity. Or your third group.

    So some are saved by faith alone and others are saved by a work based on the intention and life of the person? Curious.

    Clearly not the reformed view.

    Context: Jesus sents out his disciples to preach to the Jews

    Context: person already had a reward. Not a reward gained later than the action.

    So a person is saved by intention though ignorent of Christ?

    And how does this not apply to Christians?

    same question.


    IE intentions. No need to evangelize then. No need to Baptize. No need for sharing the gospel unless its to people with a lot of bad deeds. Good deeds people's intentions are enough for them? Curious.
     
  11. Amy.G

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    "My brethren" refers to the Jews. Jesus' brethren were Jews, not Christians. The Church did not exist at the time He spoke this.
     
  12. Thinkingstuff

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    So vs 34 means I'm saved because I was kind to Jews? Cool, I'm on my way!!!
     
  13. Amy.G

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    Matt 25 is dealing with the time that Christ returns in glory and will judge the nations (sheep and goats). They will be judged according to how they treated Jesus' brethren (the Jews).
     
    #13 Amy.G, Jan 17, 2012
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  14. Thinkingstuff

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    So if I treat Jews nicely then at the consumation of all things I'll be saved?
     
  15. Alfred Persson.

    Alfred Persson.
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    31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (Joh 20:31 NKJ)
     
  16. Alfred Persson.

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    Although you stated your beliefs well, you failed to disprove scripturally anything I said, leaving no argument for me to respond to.

    I agree you are entitled to your beliefs. Have a nice day.
     
    #16 Alfred Persson., Jan 17, 2012
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  17. Amy.G

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    No. The church (of which you are part of) will be raptured before the physical return of Christ to judge the nations.
     
  18. Alfred Persson.

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    Its correct the church was yet future, but so was this day of judgment.

    Also, it would be natural His Jewish listeners would consider themselves "the sheep" just like everyone does who hears this the first time, therefore they wouldn't think of themselves as "my brethren" also.

    If Christ meant the Jews were "my brethren," then who was He talking to about doing charitable works. Where was His audience?
     
  19. Amy.G

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    Jesus was teaching about the tribulation where Jews would be persecuted and killed for their faith in Him. The trib is a time for the Jews in which they will finally believe Jesus is their Messiah and they will once again preach the coming of the Kingdom, which will be the millennial reign of Christ. God will judge those who persecuted and killed the Jews (His brethren) instead of showing kindness to them.
    God's promise still stands. He does not change.
    Genesis 12:3
    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    3 And I will bless those who bless you,
    And the one who curses you I will curse.
     
  20. Alfred Persson.

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    I cannot agree, Christ is teaching the Jews listening to Him, and they would interpret themselves as being "the sheep", not "My brethren."

    That's how everyone interprets this upon hearing or reading it.

    BUT its clear Christ's words reflect something more, for He has three classes of people there, not just two.

    So I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree agreeably.



    Some have wondered what all this leads up to.

    Its elegantly simple. There are three groups of human kind, the righteous, the wicked and the intermediate.


    Therefore when God predestined the righteous (elect) be saved by irresistible grace (not works) before the foundation of the world (Rom 8:28ff; Eph 1:4ff; 2:8ff), He did not thereby condemn the rest, there was no corollary known as reprobation, either negative or positive. That conclusion is a false dilemma because in Christ there is another way to God's mercy and grace, a judgment according to works that anyone can pass if they love light rather than darkness.

    All one has to do is repent and then Sovereign God ordains the sinner be saved by grace, not works, because the propitiation of Christ covers their sins.

    2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1Jo 2:2 NKJ)

    In Christ billions of people dead and alive can be saved, if they aren't the Devil's children. If they love light, and not darkness, God will rescue them from Hades. That's why there is a judgment Day, to raise these from Hades and determine which are to be written in the book of life (Rev 20:11-15; John 5:28-29).

    It is written:

    5 Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."
    6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Gen 15:5-6 NKJ) Compare Gen 13:16; 22:17f; Rom 4:18-25; Heb 11:12


    9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
    10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Rev 7:9-10 NKJ)

    So I disagree with the idea "few are saved", scripture says otherwise. That is what this is about.

    I can prove by the scripture the Reformers didn't reform far enough, they retained some of the wrong premises of the Catholic church, specifically its two group view.

    There are not just two groups of mankind, which view results in the horrible idea almost everyone ends up eternally in hell.

    There are three groups, and that difference unveils what the Bible really teaches, that the saved can't be numbered.

    It is my contention, and I can prove it by Scripture, that God maximized the number of the saved, consistent with His being Infinitely Wise and Powerful...He could do no less than perfection.

    Only the Devil and his children, and those of the intermediate who sinned eternally, will be lost. For some reason, they simply cannot bring themselves to love the light therefore their sin is on their own head.

    God has been impeccably righteous and Just, impartial in all this, not one person is saved differently, all are saved by unmerited grace. All are saved in Christ, "for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Act 4:12 NKJ)

    All the foolish evasions of hell proposed, are unnecessary. No one is lost who didn't vigorously, in full knowledge, choose to be. Everyone who loved light, regardless how ignorant of Christ they were when they die, learn the truth in Hades and if they repent of their evil, can receive a resurrection to life:

    28 "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
    29 "and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life
    , and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
    (Joh 5:28-29 NKJ) Compare Rev 20:11-15.

    They can be saved on Judgment Day, not before. Even the sinning church goer gets a chance to repent so his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus:

    5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1Co 5:5 NKJ)

    It was for this cause the gospel was preached to the spiritually dead, mockers and evil persons, so that after being judged worthy of hell for sins done according to men in the flesh, they can repent in hell and live according to God in the spirit:

    4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.
    5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
    6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1Pe 4:4-6 NKJ)

    That is the teaching of Christ. Even the "rich man" in Hades wasn't eternally lost, he could still see the light of God, therefore he wasn't in the section of hell reserved for the eternally dammed, they wait for judgment Day in darkness: "cast into outer darkness" ; "cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment"; "He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day"; "for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever"; " I am counted with those who go down to the pit…the lowest pit, In darkness, in the depths." (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6, 13; Psalm 88:4-6). He is twice identified as a child of Abraham---by his crying out to "father Abraham" and Abraham's responding tenderly "child". (Luke 16:24-25) Moreover, in scripture the righteous do not rebel against God's decree and aid His enemies, but those with Abraham wanted to cross over into Hell itself to help Dives (Luke 16:26). Moreover Dives displays godly concern for others (Luke 16: 27-28), which is uncharacteristic of children of the Devil. Add to all this Hades is Temporary (Revelation 20:14) and we realize it is "the intermediate place" the dead await their day before the Judge, to learn what their final sentence will be.

    This is not new, it was taught by Christ and believed by the church for some time after the apostles went to the LORD. But over time, the church became confused...they began to think there were only two groups of mankind, not three and that led to the subverting of every text that shows the dead will be rescued from hell.

    A survey of early Christian literature supports this development:


    "This book examines how and why death came to be perceived as such a firm boundary of salvation chiefly by analyzing exceptions to this general principle from ancient Christianity. It finds that the principle itself was slow to develop and not universally accepted in the Christian movement's first four hundred years."-Rescue for the Dead, J A Trumbower, (Oxford University Press, 2001) p. 3


     
    #20 Alfred Persson., Jan 18, 2012
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