Did God Choose Some unto Damnation?

2016.08.06 - Flame

If God decreed all things, did He actively decree that some would sin, be unbelievers, and thus be punished forever? If we were to ask Jesus for an answer to this question, He might point us to His words in Matthew 25, a prophecy of the judgment of believers and unbelievers to come at His return.1

In this setting, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt 25:34).  Those on the right were blessed by Father to inherit a kingdom that He planned to give them even before the time He created the world. The Father knew who these kingdom citizens would be and planned to bless them in this way. To state it in terms of this article’s title, He decreed in eternity past that there would be a kingdom and that these blessed would be its citizens.

As for unbelievers, however, Jesus does not state that a place of damnation was prepared by the Father in like manner for them. He states to those on His left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). There is no mention of the Father, and the place of punishment was not even prepared for them but the devil and his angels. The implication is that the unbeliever is not guilty of not being one for whom the Father prepared the kingdom. Rather, the unbeliever, like the devil and his angels, rejected God and was cursed and would be held responsible for his unbelief by being punished forever.

In short, the Father prepared a kingdom for those would believe. The Father is not said, however, to have prepared eternal fire for unbelievers. In all of this, we see one of the texts in the Bible that holds the mystery of the sovereignty of God side-by-side with the responsibility of man. God did not prepare a kingdom for some, but these outcasts chose to shun His kingdom, for which they find themselves cursed and forsaken to eternal fire.

Seeing that men shall answer to God for how they have loved and lived for Him, may we implore the lost all the more to repent and turn to Him!


  1. Says Spurgeon from his Rom 9:15 sermon “Jacob and Esau,” commenting on Matt 25:41, “At the last great day, when all the world shall come before Jesus to be judged, have you noticed, when the righteous go on the right side, Jesus says, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father,’—(‘of my Father,’ mark,)—‘inherit the kingdom prepared’—(mark the next word)—‘for you, from before the foundation of the world.’ What does he say to those on the left? ‘Depart, ye cursed.’ He does not say, ‘ye cursed of my father, but, ye cursed.’ And what else does he say? ‘into everlasting fire, prepared’—(not for you, but)—‘for the devil and his angels.’ Do you see how it is guarded, here is the salvation side of the question. It is all of God. ‘Come, ye blessed of my father.’ It is a kingdom prepared for them. There you have election, free grace in all its length and breadth. But, on the other hand, you have nothing said about the father—nothing about that at all. ‘Depart, ye cursed.’ Even the flames are said not to be prepared for sinners, but for the devil and his angels. There is no language that I can possibly conceive that could more forcibly express this idea, supposing it to be the mind of the Holy Spirit, that the glory should be to God, and that the blame should be laid at man’s door.” To see this sermon in whole, go to http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0239.php. 

0 Comments

What Is Propitiation?

2016.08.04 - crossWhat is propitiation? John states that Jesus “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2) and, similarly, that the Father “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). The Greek term for propitiation in these instances is hilasmos, and we can understand it better by examining related words in the NT.

Romans 3:25 uses the noun hilastērion―Christ is He “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Hebrews 9:5 uses this noun in identifying the mercy-seat in the Holy Place of Israel’s tabernacle: “Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat.”

The verb hilaskomai is instructive as well. Luke 18:13 records the tax collector’s plea, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” Speaking of Christ, Hebrews 2:17 states “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Some conclusions from above: (1) propitiation was possible in the OT through the mercy seat (Heb 9:5) but not completely as it would be in Christ (Rom 3:25); (2) Christ Himself is the propitiation (1 John 2:2; 4:10); (3) propitiation is for our sins (1 John 2:2; 4:10), the sins of the people (Heb 2:17), and the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2); (4) Propitiation was made possible by the blood of Jesus (Rom 3:25); (5) propitiation was made possible by Jesus because He was human (Heb 2:17); (6) propitiation is something Jesus has done in His service to God as our High Priest (Heb 2:17); and (7) propitiation is for those who humbly acknowledge their sin before God (cf. Luke 18:13).

From these conclusions, we can describe propitiation more fully. Being the infinitely holy God that He is, God justly responds to our sins with infinite wrath. Sadly, many experience (and others will come to know) this infinite wrath in hell, a punishment that lasts forever. Others, however, humbly acknowledge their sin before God and place their faith in Jesus who paid the infinite penalty for their sins on their behalf, made possible because Jesus is both God and man. The wrath of God was temporarily satisfied through animal sacrifice in the OT which anticipated the sacrifice of Christ (Heb 9:5; cf. Lev 16), and His wrath is now completely satisfied through Christ’s shed blood (i.e., His death on the cross).

In short, Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, meaning that He is the one who set aside the wrath of God by taking our due penalty for sins upon Himself on the cross. What an amazing Father we have to send His Son to die for us, and what an amazing Son He is to be the propitiation for our sins!

0 Comments

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 3:7–13)

Passage Summary

Jesus speaks to the church in Laodicea as the One who speaks truth and was present at the creation (3:14). Neither hot like water from a spring nor cold like water from a mountain stream, the Laodiceans were said to be distastefully lukewarm (3:15–16). Citizens of a wealthy city known for wool and eye medicine, they claimed physical prosperity but were yet described as “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (3:17). They needed faith and to be clothed with true righteousness that comes from spiritual sight (3:18). Jesus’ love and reproof were meant for their zeal to repent (3:19). Were they to respond to his rebuke knocking at their door, He would come to dine with him, perhaps a reference to His coming and the great feast thereafter (cf. 2:25; 3:3; 19:9). Jesus promised the overcomer to join Him on His throne as He has done with the Father (3:21). Those with ears were to hear the Spirit’s words (3:22).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
3:14 Gen 49:3;
Deut 21:17
The Beginning of creation is Him who caused it to begin, making Him preeminent therein, as a firstborn is preeminent among his siblings.
3:14 Isa 65:16 A Hebrew form of amen is used of the God of truth, maybe an allusion and applied to Jesus.
3:18 Prov 17:3;   Zech 13:9 Something purified and given by Christ, this gold may be faith purified through trials.
3:19 Prov 3:12 Christ promised reproof to the Laodiceans because of His love for them as His children.

 A Parting Thought

Faith, righteousness, and illumination―all of these come from Christ who then promises us to reign with Him for having such as these and the works that come from them. What a gracious Savior we have!

0 Comments

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 3:7–13)

Passage Summary

Jesus speaks to the church in Philadelphia as the holy and true One who has the key of David and thus the power to allow entrance into His kingdom or not (3:7). His door to this kingdom is open to them, and He commends them for keeping His Word and not denying His name (3:8). Despite their little power, their opponents would bow before their feet and know Christ loved them (3:9). Christ would also preserve them from the hour that would try all unbelievers on earth (3:10). This protection would be soon, which was motivation for endurance and being ready for His arrival to receive their crowns (3:11). Jesus promised the overcomer to be a pillar in God’s temple, symbolic of his permanent future in His kingdom, and to be inscribed with the names of God, the New Jerusalem, and Himself, all indicating his standing in God and Christ and residence in the New Jerusalem to come (3:12). Those with ears were to hear the Spirit’s words (3:13).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
3:7 Isa 22:22 The authority of kingdom entrance or denial is given to Him who holds the key (cf. Isa 45:1).
3:9 Isa 49:23; 60:14; Ps 86:9 The enemies of God’s people will bow before God’s people because He loves them (cf. Isa 43:4)
3:12 Isa 56:3–5; 62:2; 65:15;   Eze 48:35 The name of God, a new name, and the name of the city are for those who reside with Him forever.

A Parting Thought

A promise to the churches is that we will be spared from the hour to come that ravages those who dwell on earth, those who will bow before the ones they previously persecuted. Instead, we will be blessed to reside in Jesus’ eternal kingdom!

0 Comments

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 3:1–6)

Passage Summary 

Jesus speaks to the church in Sardis as the One who has the seven spirits of God and seven stars (3:1). Once vibrant with works, the church was now dead, a fitting analogy for a city surrounded by burial mounds (3:2). Yet, something good remained, which was the basis for Christ to exhort them to strengthen themselves and do their works again (3:2). Christ commanded them to keep what they knew they had received and heard and to repent, complete with the threat of coming to judge them (3:3). Some had not sinned, figuratively described as not having soiled their garments (an offense that could remove one from the city’s list of citizens), and their worthy character was rewarded with the promise to walk with Jesus in white, a fitting analogy for a city that specialized in wool trade (3:4). Jesus commanded the hearers to hear and promised the overcomer to be clothed in white, have his name as a permanent entry in the book of life, and have his name confessed before the Father and the angels (3:5–6).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
3:1 Zech 4:2, 10 The Spirit sees all on earth in perfection (cf. Ps 139:7; Rev 1:4; 4:5; 5:6).
3:4 Ecc 9:8 Wearing white was an expression of joy and happiness that comes from the blessings of life.
3:5 Exod 32:32–33; Ps 69:27–28; Ezek 13:9 Those whose names remain in the book mentioned in the OT, and those whose names are in the NT book of life are those with eternal life (cf. Rev cf. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27).

 A Parting Thought

Even seemingly dead Christians can strengthen what remains and complete good works for Christ. For those who persevere, think of what it will be to hear Christ’s approval of you before the heavenly court in time to come!

0 Comments

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:18–29)

Passage Summary

Jesus speaks to the church in Thyatira as the One whose eyes are like a flame and whose feet are like burnished bronze, something noteworthy to people known for their bronze works (2:18). He commended them for their love, faith, service, patient endurance, and increased service (2:19) but rebuked those in the church who tolerated Jezebel who encouraged idolatry and immorality (2:20). Jezebel was unrepentant, would be judged with sickness and the loss of her children, and her lovers would experience tribulation, all of which would show Christ to know the hearts and minds of men (2:21–23). Others forsook her Satanic teaching and were given an exhortation to endure (2:24–45). Jesus commanded the hearers to hear and promised the overcomer authority and rule with Him, the morning star, when He returned (2:26–29; cf. 22:16).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
2:18 Dan 10:16 Legs of burnished bronze are seen in both texts.
2:20 1 Kgs 16:31; 21:25–26; 2 Kgs 8:18; 9:22 Jezebel was idolatrous and immoral and incited Ahab just as the NT Jezebel incited sin as well.
2:23a Prov 24:12; Jer 11:20; 17:10 God knows the minds and hearts of men (cf. Ps 7:9; 26:2; 28:4) and repays man according to his works (cf. Ps 62:12).
2:27 Ps 2:7–9; Isa 30:14; Jer 19:11 Christ will rule with a rod of iron, crushing opposition as one smashes pottery with a rod of iron.
2:28 Num 24:17 Christ is the star from Jacob who came from Israel to reign, a rule shared by overcomers.

A Parting Thought

Tribulation and death come from Christ to those bring idolatry and immorality into the church. Let us prevail in purity so that we will rule with Him in time to come!

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:12–17)

Passage Summary

Jesus speaks to the church in Pergamum as the One who has the sharp two-edged sword, which will come from His mouth to slay the nations (2:12; cf. 19:15). Jesus acknowledged that Satan’s dwelling-place and throne were in Pergamum, implying his role in persecution in light of how the believers did not deny the faith in the days of the now-martyred Antipas (2:13). However, Jesus spoke against those who held to teaching that allowed for idolatry and immorality (2:14–15) and commanded them to repent, lest He war against them with the sword of His mouth (2:16). Jesus commanded the hearers to hear and promised the overcomer hidden manna, perhaps a reference to Himself (2:17; cf. John 6:35, 48) or manna stored in the heavens above (cf. Ex 16:4). He also promised a white stone with a new name thereon, perhaps the name of God (cf. 3:12), inviting the recipient to the marriage feast of the Lamb (cf. 19:9), similar to how pagans at that time might invite one another to a feast for one of their gods. The primary idea in 2:17 seems to be eating in a setting that confirms to the overcomer that he has come to enjoy eternal life in full.

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
2:12 Isa 49:2 The sword is one of judgment, warring against its hearers when it is bared (cf. Isa 11:4).
2:14 Num 22:5-25:3; 31:8, 16 Idolatry and immorality came by Balaam’s teaching, sins in Pergamum as well.
2:17 Exod 16:4, 31–36 Manna is God’s provision for life from heaven, physical in the OT, spiritual in NT.
2:17 Isa 62:2; 65:15 God’s people are called by a new name that He will give, showing them to be His people.

 A Parting Thought

Heresy in the church brings the wrath of Christ. Let us be those who persevere not just in the face of persecution but also in teaching the truth so that we might enjoy hidden manna at the feast to which we are invited in the life to come!

0 Comments

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:8–11)

Passage Summary 

Jesus speaks to the church in Smyrna as the First and Last, the One who died and came to life (2:8). He acknowledged the suffering of the believers at the hands of Satanically-driven Jews (2:9). He then prophesied that some of them would be imprisoned for ten days and admonished them to be faithful unto death, implying that some or all of the imprisoned would be executed for their faith (2:10). Such death would yield a crown of life, an accessory perhaps literal and certainly symbolic of eternal life (2:10). Jesus commanded the hearers to hear and promised no harm from the second death (the lake of fire; cf. 20:14), a special comfort for those whose physical death was near (2:11).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
2:10 Dan 1:12–15 Testing would be for ten days, perhaps for refusing to worship the king or emperor.

 A Parting Thought

 Satan will do all he can to crush our faith. Whether imprisonment or pressure from the government or someone else in some other way, let us be faithful to endure and know that we shall not experience the second death but receive a crown of life!

0 Comments

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:1–7)

Passage Summary 

Jesus speaks as the One who holds the seven stars in the midst of the seven lampstands (2:1). He commends the Ephesians for their stand against heresy and endurance (2:2–3), condemns them for losing their first love, perhaps their love for others and one another (2:4), and threatens to remove the church if this love remained unrepentantly absent (2:5). The church was again commended for hating evil works (2:6). Jesus commands the hearers to hear and promises eating from the tree of life to those who conquer (2:7).

 

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
2:4 Jer 2:2 Truly following God has a degree of zeal that sometimes fades away.
2:7a Isa 6:9–11 Those who believe have ears to hear the words of Christ. Cf. Matt 13:9; Luke 8:8; Mark 4:9.
2:7b Gen 2:9;
3:22–24
Those who eat of the tree of life live forever with Him in His paradise.

A Parting Thought

We all share the responsibility of maintaining a zealous love for God and one another in the church. We must show that we truly hear these words (by obeying them!), lest Christ see a lack of love as a whole among the church and remove the church altogether. Those whose love is as it ought to be can be assured by this love and their conquering that they will one day eat from the tree of life.

0 Comments

God Is Light, But What Does That Mean?

2016.07.14 - 1024px-Chicago_Union_Station_1943John proclaims that “God is light” in 1 John 1:5. Technically, the name “God” in this statement has the article “the” in the Greek, and “light” does not, indicating that God is metaphorically presented as light and not equated with it. Stated simply, God is light, but light is not God. We see, then, that John indicates that something about light is analogous to God, helping us to better understand His nature and character.

Physical light is a direct contrast to physical darkness (cf. Gen 1:3–5), and John uses this contrast to speak of spiritual light and spiritual darkness. The point of similarity between light and God seems to involve both who God is and what He does (light) in contrast to what He is not and does not do (darkness). To be more specific, the metaphor of light brings out the ideas of truth about God (who He is) and moral action (what He does) through a number of statements in 1 John 1:5–7.1

First, having identified God as light, John states that no darkness whatsoever is found in God (1 John 1:5). The primary idea of light and darkness in this instance is a truth about God. God is altogether holy, and no evil can be found in Him.

Second, John shows the impossibility of claiming fellowship with God while walking in darkness (1 John 1:6). The ideas here involve both truth and moral action. To walk in darkness is to not practice the truth (1 John 1:6), implying a disbelief in the truth (i.e., the message of salvation). If this saving truth about God had been believed and practiced, one would walk in the light and thus have fellowship with God (1 John 1:6). Being that God contains no darkness and therefore tolerates no actions associated with darkness, He has nothing in common with those who walk in darkness and reject the truth about Him.

Third, John speaks of walking in the light and having fellowship with one another, that is, believers with other believers (1:7). This fellowship of walking in the light together is made possible by the continual cleansing of one’s sin by the blood of Christ (1:7), something distinct from the once-for-all cleansing of our sin at the initial point of salvation (cf. 1 Cor 6:9). This cleansing assumes confessing ours sins to God (cf. 1:9) and has to do with whether or not we have defiled ourselves with sin as His children and not the absolute idea of whether we have fellowship with Him or not.

In short, God is light, which means He is holy and acts in accord with His holiness. Those who have fellowship with Him have believed the message of salvation that has placed them in His light, and they will reflect this holiness in how they live. May we walk in the light, as He is in the light!


  1. These two ideas are more or less identified by others as well. For instance, D. Edmond Hiebert claims the statement “God is light” to be “a metaphorical statement of His very nature,” something that “clearly involves the intellectual and moral—enlightenment and holiness.” See D. Edmond Hiebert, “Part 2: An Exposition of 1 John 1:5-2:6,” Bibliotheca Sacra 145 (July 1988): 331. Likewise, showing the background leading to John’s understanding of God as light, I. Howard Marshall explains that “two notions became associated with God as light….of revelation and salvation (Ps. 27:1; 36:9; Isa. 49:6)…. of holiness.” He then states, “the writer is thinking of light and darkness predominantly in ethical terms; it is his way of saying: ‘God is good, and evil can have no place beside him’.” See I. Howard. Marshall, The Epistles of John (NICNT: Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1978), 109. Finally, Stephen S. Smalley similarly states, “The declaration, ‘God is light’ (ὁ θεός φῶς ἐστιν), is a penetrating description of the being and nature of God: it means that he is absolute in his glory (the physical connotation of light), in his truth (the intellectual) and in his holiness (the moral).” See Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John (WBC 51; Dallas, TX: Word, 1989), 20. 

0 Comments