After reading many volumes in the “Left Behind” series, I finally read “Glorious Appearing.” I have major problems with it. What glory is there if God destroys and punishes with eternal damnation persons totally dependent upon God? Persons who would not exist if God did not create them, persons who could not continue to exist if God did not deliberately keep them in existence.
There might be human glory in such actions, the kind of human glory that always triumphs seeing the wicked utterly destroyed, pushed out of the way, and annihilated so that they never cause trouble again. I have a feeling, however, that even for human beings, there is no real glory in this. God is so much more than a human being that any glory that seems plausible for human beings would fall far short of the glory that belongs to God.
Consider for a moment that God created all these persons. They made no prior agreement, no acceptance, showed no willingness to exist. Before these persons were created, such agreements are impossible. God, through God’s own intentions, created every person, no exception. Once created, these persons, by God’s design, were given free will, the freedom to obey God or refuse obedience. A tremendous gift, when one considers it, because, being free persons puts us almost on a level with God. We are not compelled to obey. We are free. Freedom gives us individuality. Freedom makes us a conscious reality. We are real, and we know it, and we make our own choices of what we want to do.
But, obviously, we must all obey God. Any disobedience on our part will disrupt what God has given other persons. Our disobedience deprives other persons of what God wants them to have. Since God knows everything, God knows what conduct will bring, the greatest happiness, but perfect happiness, perfect happiness and perfect fulfillment for everyone.
What a dilemma we all face. We did not ask to be created; yet here we are. We did not agree to any prior conditions, yet we must obey. If we were not persons, we would have no choice. We would automatically obey without any conscious thought. We wouldn’t be human. Because we have a choice, we are human. We can obey or refuse to obey.
What dignity if we freely choose to obey. Nobody forced us. We chose on our own to obey. We can say, we should say, we chose to obey because we recognize who God is. We know God is right. There is no other way for all created persons to have happiness and fulfillment unless we all obey. What dignity to freely choose obedience. We do so because we know God. We trust God. We love God. Loving God and, in return, being loved by God, as free persons, is the greatest gift imaginable. We would be like gods ourselves, not the one-and-only Most High God, but children of God, acting freely and wholeheartedly as God would act, loving God and every person that God created as God loves them, caring for them and providing for them as God would. We would all be gods with a small “g.”
But what if any of us refuse obedience? The damage our disobedience would do is incalculable, not only for our victims, but to us also. The powers God gave us to serve God, the special way we were predestined to accomplish what God wanted us to accomplish, are now thrown away. In throwing them away, we have inflicted unimaginable harm upon other persons. Look at the injustice, persecution, and selfishness in the world today and realize what disobedience can do.
Once someone realizes the blunders made by disobedience, one can long for annihilation, to no longer exist, to be gone, disappear, or take it upon oneself to commit suicide, as if, by our own choice, we can no longer exist. But God will not permit annihilation, nor will God annihilate any person. God revealed through Scripture that, once created, we would always exist.
We must take responsibility for our actions. We have to make recompense to God for our disobedience, which, of course, is impossible because the consequences of our disobedience are too enormous. We cannot make recompense for our disobedience. Only God can. But we can repent. We can recognize that we have chosen wrong and ask God’s forgiveness. Most important of all, we can accept God’s retribution for our disobedience and God’s reconstruction of who we now are despite our disobedience. God said many times in Scripture that (some of) the first will be last and (some of) the last will be first. Jesus also said, that if your eye offends you, tear it out. It’s better to enter the kingdom of heaven minus an eye than to enter hell with ones whole body. So there probably is some retribution God expects from us if we disobey, some loss of the power and ability given us if we misuse that power and ability. If we were created to illumine the thinking of others, but refuse, or, worse than that, deliberately spread falsehood, then we might no longer be fit to illumine others. Someone else will do it. That does not mean that God will not forgive us if we repent, but it does mean that we might lost the original position God gave us.
We all passed through a trial when we were first created, a trial that established how we would use our freedom. If we used our freedom incorrectly, and many of us did, then God might give us different positions, different ministries, dependant on how we acted. We all can be forgiven, if we seek forgiveness, and we all will fit into a new heaven and a new earth consistent on how we acted during our trial. Remember that all persons who did choose to obey, especially those victimized by persons who refused obedience, would now have a different and better relationship with God.
Salvation is what God always wanted, what God always said throughout Scripture, the repentance of a sinner and the sinner’s restoration to spiritual wholeness. This is why Jesus died: to earn forgiveness for sinners. His most terrible agony in the Garden of Gethsemane was the realization that, in spite of everything Jesus did to make remedy for disobedience, some persons will not take advantage of it and will never choose to obey.
It makes sense that these persons will have to be forever excluded from the kingdom of heaven because, in the end, God will not tolerate any disobedience in the kingdom of heaven. Their exclusion will be eternal because no person will ever be annihilated.
If God wanted Jesus to suffer so much to save sinners, what glory could God possibly find in killing millions of persons during the rapture and with the locusts and the horsemen and the battle of Armageddon? As I opined earlier, even an ordinary human being would not find glory in that.
What would really be glorious would be the repentance of sinners; those who were once spiritually dead, but now are spiritually alive. I think the prophecies in Revelation were not meant to be taken as literally as LaHaye and Jenkins take them. It leaves a person spiritually cold to read about so many persons slaughtered and confined to eternal punishment by a God that acts more like a human being than a divine, loving creator. What if the predictions were meant to be warnings for those who decide never to repent, but when God starts to show sternness, many do repent and find salvation? Wouldn’t that make more sense? The greatest glory for God would be if every disobedient person repented. Even I don’t think that will happen. I think, when the Glorious Appearing occurs, those who do repent, receive forgiveness, and find a place in the kingdom of heaven--they will be the ones who manifest God’s glory.
Those who do not repent will always be a source of sorrow for those closest to Jesus, those who recognize God's divinity and God’s glory. This makes more sense to me.
Maurice A. Williams, author of “Apocalypse: Four Horsemen Three Woes,” a free download on www.lulu.com/maurice-williams
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