Previously, I wrote of a couple of representatives of a ministry who have proved to teach falsely. After the challenge to read through their works, I decided to oblige. Below is the first of many rebukes through the Scripture, specifically referring to their message on the lake of fire and the second death (click here for the original)
It seems like an easy concept to follow: unless one would submit to Christ Jesus, they would suffer eternal condemnation, but, through Christ, man may be saved. John wrote of this, when he quoted the Lord, who proclaimed (Jn. 3:16-18),
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
This is a stark warning! Whoever does not believe stands condemned because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. Simple to understand, no? Well, despite the simplicity of the message and the seriousness of the warning itself, there are those who pervert the message through minds tainted by darkness. That is where Paul Cohen and Victor Hafichuk of www.thepathoftruth.com come in.
In a message which was essentially written as a response to another, they make a multitude of claims which clearly goes against the Scripture and, not surprisingly, misquote the Scripture itself. The latter of which will be discussed primarily in the following.
The contention of Mr. Cohen and Hafichuk is that the fire from God is a purifying fire, pertaining to this, they write:
“Is being thrown into the fire good or bad for the one being thrown into it? We just heard the Scripture saying that those persons whose works are rejected will be saved ‘though as by fire.’ How can the fire be an evil end, unto itself, if the one subjected to it is saved by it?”
The Scripture reveals that God’s fire is indeed a refining fire, but only for that which He will refine; yet, for those that face condemnation – again, those who have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son – God’s fire is an eternal punishment (Mt. 25:46). What of Paul’s word to the Corinthians? In defense of their message, they provide 1 Corinthians 13:15, which states that if any man’s work is burned up, they will be saved though as by fire. The New International Version (NIV) provides us with a translation that is quite adequate for this matter, wherein it is written, “even though only as one escaping through the flames,” which is another way of saying that they will be saved as if they had barely escaped condemnation. In the context, those whose works were not burned up are being contrasted with those whose works were indeed burned up, where the former is rewarded and the latter suffers loss, not that the former was saved initially and the latter by fire.
“How will all Israel be saved if this isn’t so (Romans 11:26)? Aren’t many of Israel dead now, whether alive in this world or having physically died?”
Who is Israel, that is to ask: who is truly of Israel or, rather, who are the children of Abraham? Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, wrote (Chapter 9, verses 6-29) that the actual descent from Abraham is not what was referred to, but the children of the promise and he quotes from Hosea 1:10 in support, wherein God speaks, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’” Even of Israel’s descendants, in the days of the Exodus, those who worshiped and danced before the calf were slain for their sins, condemned to death (Ex. 32). Scripturally, those who are condemned will be condemned eternally, yet many of Israel’s seed were slain by way of God’s wrath, because of their sin against Him. It is, then, essential to read the context of a particular verse in light of the entirety of the whole.
Of the lake of fire, they write, “The Scriptures call the destruction of death and hell ‘the second death,’” after which they include Revelation 20:14, which reads, depending on the version being consulted, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Or, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.” Afterwards, it is written that “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Again, the wrath is eternal and not a period of refinement.
What does one conclude? If one may enter heaven by way of purification in the lake of fire, because God’s fire is wholly refining, then we do away with the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion. This is a trampling of Jesus’ shed blood and the incredibly significant sacrifice on our behalf. Yes, God’s fire is a fire that may refine, but it refines what He will refine. To those who are being condemned, it is an eternal punishment, from which there is no escape after judgment.
Gloria in Excelsis Deo.