…and then there’s the Lake of Fire

Image by matthewvenn via Flickr

As a follow up to my post from earlier this week about Osama bin Laden and Hell, I thought I would make sure it’s clear that there is, indeed, judgment ahead.

The more polished (thanks, again, Editorial!) online commentary “Welcome to Hell, bin Laden” published on the the Tomorrow’s World (and on the Living Church of God website, here) does include that element, though I didn’t bring it out in my blog post. Here’s what was said there:

Yes, in God’s time, all will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, having had a genuine opportunity to learn His truth and to repent of their evil ways (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Osama bin Laden will face God’s future judgment. “‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Hebrews 10:30). Some evil people will perish forever in a lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). But God is not some cruel tyrant who will condemn spiritually blinded people to Hell simply because of a blindness He did not remove (2 Corinthians 4:4)!

Against that beautifully concise paragraph (Again, did I say thanks, Editorial? I appreciate you! 🙂 ), let me add some less-than-concise additional thoughts.

Those in the world who truly believe in an ever-burning, torturous, spiritual concentration camp that endures throughout eternity pervert God’s justice in monstrous ways.  And as much as they try to remove God from the picture (“they are in that state only because they chose it for themselves,” etc.), I’ve never seen an argument that doesn’t fall flat.  The doctrine of a fiery annihilation of the wicked (eternal punishment instead of eternal punishing) is too sound scripturally to be so easily assaulted and overcome, and — as a bonus! — it just plain makes sense.

Yet, just as some pervert God’s justice to justify their belief in that doctrine, others pervert God’s mercy in the other direction, essentially saying that there is no fiery judgment to come, at all.

Yes, those who are called now are being judged now in a way that the rest of the world is not (though it is not to say that the rest of the world is not being judged in any way at all, but it is different, à la Luke 12:47-48).  Peter makes it clear: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).  For those whose minds have been open and who have had the privilege of receiving the Holy Spirit that the Father and Christ might dwell with us — that Jesus Christ might live His life over in us (Gal. 2:20) — this is our opportunity.  And, yes, that opportunity can be discarded in these days: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:4-6).

Again, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:26-29).

The people of God are being judged now, not later.  As the next verse in Hebrews stresses: “For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people’” (Heb. 10:30).

There very well may be those who, in this life, with willful purpose and clear knowledge of what they were doing will have “counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the spirit of grace.”  Having done so, forgiveness will no longer be available to them, since, having a seared conscience (cf. 1 Tim 4:2), repentance is no longer an option for them (re: Hebrews 6:4-6).  With no less an authority than Jesus Christ to back us up, we can say that this sin is not only not forgiven in this age, but it will also not be forgiven in the age to come next (Matt. 12:32).  To say that it is impossible to commit such a sin in this age is to make Jesus’ warnings nothing but “silly talk.”

(At the same time, to say of every infraction and disagreement that one has committed the unpardonable sin is to trivialize His words in the other direction–to fall into the other ditch.  Those who have used the threat of the Lake of Fire to keep people imprisoned within their cult of personality, instead of simply using the fact of it to encourage those people to seek their God more fully will have a difficult day coming, to say the least.)

But has Osama bin Laden committed this sin?  Thankfully I am not the ultimate judge of such things, nor do I wish to be in this life with my horribly imperfect knowledge, but I can say that there is no evidence that bin Laden had any more knowledge of the true God than an iguana might have.  In fact, an iguana might have more, given that at least the iguana follows the design of its Creator through instinct, whereas man seems to be able to lose even the little knowledge that seems to be given to Him naturally (e.g., Rom. 1:26, 2:14; 1 Cor. 11:14).

And if he has a date coming in the general resurrection, then I can scarcely imagine what it will be like to be him when his eyes begin to be open to the truth about the atrocities he has committed.  What shape would a path to repentance take for such a person?  Speculation, only, reigns here, but could it involve being aided by a teacher (cf. Isa. 30:20-21) in such a way that you get a real, visceral sense for the suffering you caused, one life at a time?  Would it involve meeting the people — resurrected, as well, themselves — and completely comprehending what it was like when their bodies were torn apart at your command?  And then to be face-to-face with the living proof — the eternally living proof, all around you — that all of your multiple thousands of acts of horror and destruction enacted upon man, woman, and child were done in the name of a meaningless ideology, and a religious deception crafted by Satan the devil that you had swallowed whole?  I don’t know, but that might be one difficult path to walk.

It won’t be an impossible path to walk — with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26), and there will be a lot of “impossible” repentances in that day, I believe.  I suspect that the grief caused by various acts of history will be nothing like the grief then felt by those who caused those acts.  But I also believe that it will be a godly grief, a godly sorrow in the manner of 2 Cor. 7:10, and one that fertilizes the soil in which a heart seeking salvation can grow.

Though for some, it will not be.  We have every reason to believe that there will be those who will choose annihilation over obedience.  Perhaps, instead of repenting, Osama bin Laden will be one of those, though I hope not.  Perhaps he will be too fundamentally proud to bear the thought of submitting to this “Jewish” God.  Again, I don’t know. But if so, then he will be around when those who threw away their opportunity in this life are resurrected at the end to stand next to him and to be tossed into the Lake of Fire with him, and his fate will be the same as theirs.  There will be no pride in those final moments, but a fearful understanding that God really is God, and that to Him every knee must bow, whether at the beginning of our glorious eternity or at the end of our willful life, before our ignominious destruction — our past life a literal nothing, not even a shadow, against the span of infinity.

Again, I don’t know.  But I do have hope.  And, like all of you, I will simply have to wait and see.

17 thoughts on “…and then there’s the Lake of Fire

  1. It’s certainly clear that Mr. bin Laden was acting within the framework of the Islamic belief system, or part of it. There is a double-mindedness in the Quran as to how to deal with “infidels” (some advising respect for “the People of the Book”, some advising anything but that), and that accounts for much of the difference between so-called “moderate” Muslims (those who believe Islam will triumph in the next world) and so-called “radical” Muslims (those who believe Islam will triumph in this world).

    Mr. bin Laden needs to have the veil taken from his eyes, just like everyone else in this present evil world does, before he can be judged finally. And that, of course, is what we understand the Day of Judgment is for. Only those who know God’s will and refuse to do it will suffer the ultimate penalty of the Lake of Fire. If Mr. bin Laden repents, I’ll welcome him into God’s Family no less fully than I would anyone else.

  2. Norbert

    It’s not as if there isn’t a comparable example within scripture. Saul went to an earthly high priest to receive letters so that he could inact a first century type of jihad against the Church of God.

    It wasn’t until after he was struck down by the heavenly High Priest Jesus Christ that his eyes were opened and then the Spirit of Christ in Paul produced the inspired letters. Those are the letters that have been taken and handed down to the churches of God throughout the age and to us today.

    Bin Laden was a man very much like Saul and this comparison does raise questions surrounding the fate of all individuals.

    Another question concerning the fate and judgement of an individual. When it concerns the final judgement of those within a church of God, what is to be made of 1Cor 5:4-5, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

  3. Greetings, Norbert! I think 1 Cor. 5 is pretty straightforward. Sometimes to help a person see the gravity of his lack of repentance, he needs to be removed from the fellowship of believers. As 2 Cor. indicates in this particular case, this was effective. In other cases, it is not. Regardless, it is the fact that the Church of God is being judged now, in this day, that contributes to making such matters as serious as they are.

    Thanks for writing in, and have a great Sabbath!

  4. On the comment about ‘punishment’ versus ‘punishing’, I read somewhere that when God speaks of correction and judgment, He is connoting parental discipline (with the root word of ‘disciple’ or teachable student) meant to bring about a change in behavior. This makes sense from the aspect that God is a loving Parent. If the ‘child’ is no longer willing to learn or change under any circumstances, then the Law prescribes the death penalty (Deut. 21:18-21) for such stubborn and rebellious behavior. While this scripture is a stumbling block for many people, within that context, it seems to make more sense to me. Please correct me if I’m off base with that analogy (or translation, Mr. Wheeler). 🙂

  5. Yes, Mike – it is interesting that the verbal descriptors involved are almost all present participles (denoting a track record of ongoing action, and therefore often treated as nouns).

    The classical commentators manage to put aside their Protestant aversion to law consistently in this passage, and the JF&B Commentary has this to say about verse 18 as an example:

    Deu 21:18-21
    If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son
    A severe law was enacted in this case. But the consent of both parents was required as a prevention of any abuse of it; for it was reasonable to suppose that they would not both agree to a criminal information against their son except from absolute necessity, arising from his inveterate and hopeless wickedness; and, in that view, the law was wise and salutary, as such a person would be a pest and nuisance to society. The punishment was that to which blasphemers were doomed [Lev_24:23]; for parents are considered God’s representatives and invested with a portion of his authority over their children.

  6. Thinker

    It’s kind of hard too understand how,once a person knows God’s Truth, that he can delibertly go against it. It’s like red flags go up in our minds when we get close to willfully sinning.
    Could it be that once a mind becomes deceived and then a person doesn’t know that he is sinning be the main reason people commit a willful sin? Could it actually be out of ignorance that we go against God eventually(although by our own doing,lack of prayer and study)
    What actually causes one to fall away?
    Is it that for some reason red flags do not come up anymore?
    And what about the angels?

  7. @Thinker: These are my thoughts in return and are not to be construed necessarily as Mr. Smith’s or the official stand of the LCG. 😀

    The whole point of the “unpardonable sin” seems to be that one knows what God would have one do and still refuses to do it. That said, once one makes that deliberate choice God seems more than willing to blind one afterward. Here is the classic extreme example:

    (2 Thessalonians 2:9 RSV) The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders,
    (2 Thessalonians 2:10 RSV) and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
    (2 Thessalonians 2:11 RSV) Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false,
    (2 Thessalonians 2:12 RSV) so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    Here’s another piece of the puzzle:

    (Hebrews 3:12 RSV) Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
    (Hebrews 3:13 RSV) But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
    (Hebrews 3:14 RSV) For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end,
    (Hebrews 3:15 RSV) while it is said, “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

    Lack of attention to one’s calling (Hebrews 2:1-3), the Parable of the Sower in the Gospels and its analogy of briars and thorns (cf. Hebrews 6:1-8) – these are factors too that can lead to the unpardonable sin.

    And the angels? We could follow Herbert W. Armstrong’s thinking profitably here and see where it leads. In a sense, the angels were an experiment – and there is no such thing as a failed experiment; it can always serve as a bad example. 🙂 The proof had to be made whether immortal beings, created by fiat to be like God (and thus “sons of God”, as in Job), save by actually partaking of the Divine Nature, could be counted on not to sin. Those who did sin could serve as a necessary and permanent counter-example to the others. Nothing else I can think of could justify God doing things the way He did. But we can view this from the other end too. If their penalty is more severe than ours, it can only be because their sin in some way is more severe than ours. What could be more severe than trying to stop God from reproducing Himself – that is, by assaulting His very throne?

    It’s often said that our fate as willful sinners is more merciful than that of the demons, but I’m not sure that mercy enters into the equation one way or another. I’m inclined to believe it’s a matter of justice – as James said, justice is without mercy to those who show no mercy, yet mercy triumphs over justice. But surely in context mercy means the removal of the penalty, not the alleged lessening of it. The rebellious angels’ sin was greater; in justice, their punishment fits the greater crime. And this certainly implies that they walked into their fate with their eyes wide open, knowing what would happen if they failed.

  8. Thinker

    As for the scriptures talking of people sinning, I think we have to be careful whether those people are actually being called or just going in blindness. “If they were of us they would have stayed” comes to mind.
    The verse in Hebrews does say “brethren”. Like it has been said,If God calls you, “you know that you know” Even in the falling away scriptures some of those may not have been called.
    I have a question for Mr. Smith.
    Are the righteous angels capable of sinning or are their minds set not to?

  9. Howdy, Thinker, and I’m glad that determining beyond a shadow of doubt who is called, converted, etc. is not ultimately our responsibility.

    As for your question about the angels and Rakkav’s previous comments, I tend to say that there are way too many unknowns for us to speak with much certainty in these things. The Bible tells us much about how the human heart and mind works, about our potential, and about the details of the plan of salvation. But concerning the workings of the angelic mind — the full extent of its abilities and limitations; the permanency, plasticity, and transitional states of angelic character; and similar topics — I am happy to claim an honest ignorance and to stay comfortably within the boundaries of Scripture. (I do have my speculations, but you won’t see them published here. 🙂 )

    I do definitely disagree with the idea that man was “Plan B” for God and that the angels were a failed “Plan A.” After all, if God’s plans can fail (and they cannot), then what’s to say that this current one will succeed?

    And while I appreciate the thought that goes into such considerations, I cannot call the creation of the angels an “experiment” either, which, to me, implies a Creator too ignorant about His Creation for my sensibilities. The scientific method is for those of us whose ancestors ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, not Those who bring the laws of physics and metaphysics into being.

  10. Hi Mr. Smith,

    I think your disagreement is based on a straw man – or two perhaps. If there is no such thing as a failed experiment (which is a truism), then obviously God’s Plan A didn’t “fail”. It worked exactly as He intended – in one of two possible ways it could’ve worked out. The second possible way it could’ve worked out made Plan B absolutely necessary, even if Plan B was also planned from the beginning of the world. Ask yourself the question whether human beings could possibly have become like God in nature without the resistance that only angels who had turned away from God could’ve provided, and if the answer is yes, then why not start off with humans right away before any angel rebelled.

    And second, the existence and utility of the scientific method doesn’t depend on the presence or absence of God’s attributes or His role of Creator. It depends on the presence of absence of a variable condition that must be observed in action (there must be a better way of putting that, but you get the idea). And when you give created beings free moral agency without giving them the Divine nature (which is all you can do by Divine fiat), then you have such a variable condition and therefore, an experimental state of affairs. Your being God makes zero difference there.

    Let us not confuse the failure of the angels with the failure of God’s plan – Paul points out the same fallacy with regard to Israel’s failure vs. the failure of God’s plan in Romans 9-11. And even then, Israel was not really a failure experimentally speaking (there is no such thing, remember?) – it serves as a bad example, until the variable condition (free moral agency apart from the Divine nature) is removed.

  11. P.S.: Sorry, a clarification is in order… let us watch out, both of us, for equivocation on the meaning of “failure” as well. 😀 The angels failed to remain righteous (for example), but the “experiment” was not a failure; it foresaw that some could fail morally (a different thing) and therefore, serve as a bad example (still successful with regard to experimental results).

  12. Thanks, Rakkav/Mr. Wheeler, and what you have said is why I mentioned that “I appreciate the thought that goes into such consideration.” But the ease with which even accidental equivocation occurs with “experiment” is one of (but not the only) reason why I can’t bring myself to use it. For instance, “failed experiment” is not only a common expression but one that, in its normal usage, fits some theories connected to angelic creation very well. One can only claim that it is truism that there are no failed experiments if one is willing to so limit the definitions of the word “experiment” more narrowly than it is commonly used. When a venture is undertaken with unknown outcome (though all possible outcomes may be known) in which only some of the outcomes are truly desired, the final result often determines whether or not the venture is called a “failed experiment” or a “successful experiment.” I know (and knew) that this is not the manner in which you intended to use the word, but given that it is most commonly used in this very manner I just cannot bring myself to use it, hence my mention of what the word “implies.”

    And, your comments not withstanding, I do not see a God who needs to use the scientific method. I think the problem lies, chiefly, in the part before you said “there must be a better way of putting that,” and the challenge of putting it into words, I think, signifies something important. We work in a universe we did not create, a universe for which we did not write the laws. Of necessity, we can only form hypotheses about those unknown laws and then run experiments to see if our hypotheses are correct. God does not live in such a universe, and I see no reason to allow my imagination to construct such a scenario in which He does. Hence I see no need for God to use the scientific method. (When we create scenarios to observe variables governed by laws we understand, we aren’t experimenting or practicing the scientific method. We are running a demonstration.)

    Admittedly, I can define “experiment” more narrowly and “scientific method” more broadly and, thus, find some use, perhaps, for the terms in formulating my thoughts, but I find that problematic for a number of reasons – among them: too great a risk of miscommunicating to those listening to me/reading me and my desire to use them in a natural way. Again, I understand the definitions you are using, and that is why I can appreciate your rationale, while still disagreeing with it.

    I could go a bit further but, to be honest, it’s the very fact that this could become a very long discussion that caused me to hold off on beginning it. 🙂 I do have so many thoughts on the subject that could stand to be baked in the kiln (or, perhaps, smelted!), but I simply do not have the time to keep the bellows going long enough these days. So, let me try to summarize. I can see God taking actions in which multiple outcomes may result, all of which would suit His will and fit His plan, and freely allowing any of the options to take place. But I cannot consider this an “experiment.” That word implies a great lack of knowledge about the universe in which one is experimenting and a need to discover hidden laws one did not design, and I see absolutely nothing in Scripture that requires me to accept this about God; in fact I see more evidence supporting the opposite conclusion. It’s one thing to ask if God knew the precise identities of the individual angels who would rebel (though it’s not as simple a question as it seems, methinks). It is entirely another to have God wondering in ignorance if any of them would, and another question, still, to ask if He knew how many of them would, etc. “Experiment” too easily attributes an ignorance to God that I find unacceptable, and while it is not necessarily an absolutely essential quality of the word, it is the natural one.

    BTW, concerning your question that began, “Ask yourself…,” I would say that there are many possible answers, though I couldn’t say which is correct, nor could I list them all. For instance, it is possible that God has a plan for His angels’ development, as well, and that the order of things best suits the greater picture in ways that are beyond our comprehension (Isa. 55:9). It is also possible that what the angels represent in terms of just how God manages the universe and serves mankind is much deeper than the limited vignettes given in Scripture reveal. In quantum mechanics the interaction of particles in which the original and final components seem so simple (for instance, a neutron may decay into a proton and an electron) can involve a veritable zoo of additional particles in the interim (in this instance, positrons, electrons, pions & antipions, W bosons, and neutrinos). Perhaps in some sort of analogous manner (give me a little here, I know I’m stretching) the existence of angelic beings is a necessity in the spiritual calculus of expanding the God family in ways we can’t yet imagine. And in a multilayered universe where there are easily more things than are dreamt of in either of our philosophies, Horatio, I see no reason to quickly embrace possibilities that feel, at this time, instinctively unnatural.

  13. Hi Mr. Smith,

    Are we having an ENTP-vs.-ENFP discussion here? I suspect so. 😀 We take in information in the same ways, but we decide on what to do with it in different ways that play out different “archetypical roles”, having different degrees and kinds of facility with the cognitive processes involved accordingly.

    Perhaps the possibilities “feel, at this time, instinctively unnatural” to you because logical judgment is being applied to a problem which is actually rooted in value judgment – and by a personality type for whom logical judgment is much more natural than value judgment. For me it is the reverse. For me the questions involved here are simple, easily grasped and easily parsed – because they involve value judgment, not logical judgment. And I suspect that Mr. Armstrong, from all the signs ESFP, likewise used value judgment heavily to inform his logical framework (as an ENFP does) on this issue, and not the other way around (as an ENTP does).

    One sign that a person is using the wrong cognitive process on a problem is the length of time it takes him to wrap his mind around it mentally and verbally. 😀 While I love all the rich detail you give and the questions you ask, I still think you’re making the problem appear much more complex than it needs to appear.

    Therefore I submit that “what is important to God?” is what should be asked first on this issue – not “what makes logical sense to God?” God seems to reveal or imply a lot more about the former than about the latter on this issue. (Or at least I spot the former much more quickly as an ENFP!) And when viewed from the primarily values-oriented position, questions of what constitute an “experiment” are secondary, even if I definitely appreciate the precision and detail with which you deal with it.

    “Test” might likely be a better word, but since God isn’t in the business of creating automotons or of predestinating individuals to succeed or fail, there was a variable condition involved that only action through time could bring out. Hence the need for a “test”. The simplest explanation seems to be that only if certain results appeared from the “test” would God be able to carry out a plan that He had going all along for us anyway. He certainly had the patience to wait. But that implies He foresaw that some angels would choose to turn away at some point – as a class, not necessarily as individuals. That was the one element that seems to have been missing from Mr. Armstrong’s thinking so far as he advanced it before his death. But such a turning away in due time is a matter of value judgment, not of logical judgment. It has to do with with what someone wants to do and what God wants to do about it.

    And with that, I will stop. Take care, Mr. Smith! 😀

  14. Thanks, Mr. Wheeler, for following up, but I still diagree and don’t think the problems are simply revealed or hidden based on the psychological types of the observers. Just as my psychological type may hide the full acceptibility from me of what you present, your type may just as easily prevent you from seeing those problems that exist with it, however small. It’s a nice way to allow two to disagree agreeably but does no good in solving the underlying disagreements (which, I will say later, are likely smaller than they appear).

    And they certainly don’t justify using words in a manner that would convey inaccuate meaning too easily. (Not saying that you think so, mind you, but explaining my aversion to doing so.) One can’t say that point-of-view means that those things constituting an “experiment” are secondary anymore than one can claim that the questions of what constitutes a “dog” are secondary. The onus of a speaker or writer is to use that language that most successfully communicates his ideas to the largest percentage of his intended (and, if possible, unintended) audience. “Experiment” simply fails on too many levels. It is the wordsmith in me that recoils even more than the logician, I believe, though I certainly could be wrong.

    However, we really are getting into a bit of semantics, here. We both might feel comfortable calling ancient Israel an “experiment” — one that you would feel (as you expressed) is no failure in that God’s plan continues successfully, while I would have to qualify my comment by saying that it was truly no experiment at all as God knew what the outcome would be before He began (cf. Deut. 5:29), making it more of a “demonstration” (1 Cor. 10:11).

    Because they are inherent to the problem and their conflict with the nature of God, the issues here cannot be so easily dismissed as value-judgment vs logic-judgment. And I certainly do not miss the fact that God does not bind Himself to rules He creates to suit His own purposes to the point that what He values doesn’t take priority. Just noting the priority He places on the firstborn while also noting that in at least four consecutive generations of Abraham’s family it is not the “first born” who takes precedence helps to illustrate that.

    (BTW, I respectfully submit that what is important to God is also that which makes logical sense to God. They only seem to differ to us puny mortals for whom key postulates remain hidden at this time.)

    No, the problems with God’s “experimenting” — and, more solidly, using the “scientific method” — go much further than what can be resolved by a point-of-view shift, as I think, IMHO, I laid out rather clearly. However, I really do think that we agree more than we disagree. I have no issue with God allowing free will to take reality down His carefully managed decision tree to His predetermined end. I think it is simply how we each express this idea that makes our stances seem more different than they actually are.

    Thanks for writing, Mr. Wheeler! It helps me from time to time to have something to press me into expressing these thoughts more concretely, and this conversation has allowed me to develop some details that I had left untended for a good while. And take care, yourself!

  15. I was considering a similar point to this a while back, and it helped me to frame it in terms of how a parent might handle their child. When I tell my son, “You WILL go to bed,” he has several options of what he might do… Stand there defiantly, run the other direction, compliantly go to his room, and any other number of variations. I, however, as a parent, have a vested interest in putting him to bed and may allow certain actions for a time for whatever reasons I might have before directing him to become more compliant or perhaps physically carrying him there.

    This seems to satisfy the kind of set-up that Mr. Wheeler is talking about (a “test”, or “what will the child actually try to do here?”) while showing that the abilities and resources available to the parent are still greater than the child’s and they will achieve their end result regardless of the decision of the child (I can offer punishment for lack of compliance; I can run faster than my child; I can pick them up and carry them, etc.).

    I don’t know if that illustration helps or just simplifies it too much, but it’s how I have chosen to think of it to reconcile the pinpoint accuracy of God’s prophecies (or history in reverse) and free moral agency.

  16. Thinker

    What I would like to know is what did the angels have to resist against? Did God put wrong desires in their minds for them to resist? What are the people in the Millenium going to resist? It looks like we don’t need to have fallen angels to test us.
    What does the scripture “He puts no trust in his angels” mean? Can they still sin? Why did God preach to the demons in the days of the flood if their minds are damaged and won’t change? Can the demons stll repent?

  17. Howdy, Thinker, and thanks, again, for writing. I’d have to say that you’re asking a lot of questions for which this comment-based back-and-forth is not the best venue. If you attend the Living Church of God, I highly recommend sitting down with your pastor and asking those questions where you can have a pleasant (and more productive) back-and-forth.

    That said, let me give a quick response: It is not necessary for the angels to have had anything to resist, per se. Satan’s pride certainly wasn’t “injected” into Him, and God tempts no one (James 1:13), though He does allow choices. As we’ve frequently said, we must resist Satan, Self, and Society, and Satan is only one-third of that equation.

    “He puts no trust in His servants” is made clear by the context in Job 4, and it matches Christ’s comment of Matt. 19:17. But as for speculating about the details and drawing conclusoins about angelic psychology and the workings, capabilities, and limitations of the angelic mind, I don’t think I have much information to go on to discuss the topic sensibly, nor do I think anyone else has much more, either. It’s hard enough mastering my own mind and learning to repent, myself, without worrying about those things I cannot affect. 🙂

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