The Revelation: Chapter 21:8 (the second death)

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaFor those who aren’t sons of God,

(Rev. 21:8 ESV) 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

A couple of observations to set the table.

First, the “second death” refers to death after death. As taught by Edward Fudge in The Fire That Consumes, when a lost person dies, he will be resurrected at the Second Coming to suffer whatever punishment God considers just and then to die eternally, that is, to die without hope of a second resurrection. He remains dead forever. I’ve covered this doctrine, known as Conditionalism, many times. Continue reading

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A Question about Divorce and Remarriage

divorce5I received the following comment over at, at the post “Proposition One: Doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation, by Phil Sanders.” For some reason, I’m not getting current notices of comments there, and so this response is a little belated (and I’ve had to delete several months of spam).

For new readers, GraceConversation was a 2009 dialogue among me, Gregory Alan Tidwell (who later became editor of the Gospel Advocate), Phil Sanders (who later became the featured speaker for SearchTV), and Todd Deaver (author of Facing Our Failure). Tidwell had to drop out for unrelated reasons, and Mac Deaver stepped in for him. The discussion centered on what is a “salvation issue”? That is, which errors damn and which do not.

A reader, kgag63, asked,

I was married previously. Got divorced after 4.5 yrs after a terrible marriage. As far as I know there was no sexual adultery involved by my ex. He was a terrible provider, we had a child together, and we lived off several family members. My daughter and I were placed in a roach infested basement with little heat while he slept upstairs in a warm room near his parents.

I remarried. Wonderful husband. 27 years married, members of the church of Christ. Studied hard last two years.

The way we understand the Bible, I shouldn’t have remarried. Now we’re both adulterers in God’s eyes. We divorced to get our lives right with God this last August. Absolutely heartbreaking because we love each other so but know no other way to live right in God’s eyes.

Several elders and our preacher have issues with our decision. No one can give me scripture to make my heart feel all right to stay married. I’m asking your opinion on what Bible teaches in NT for our situation. We were both baptized for 1st time after we were married but I don’t feel it matters. What do you feel the Bible says?

Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 21:7 (Reflecting on a Conversation about Check-Cashing Services)


(Rev. 21:7 ESV)  7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 

Now, I’m no expert on the check cashing business or its impact on the poor. I just know that if we had as many pizza parlors as check cashing businesses, we’d be a very unhealthy city. No one needs that much pizza. And so something is very wrong when we need a check cashing business every 50 feet.

In Alabama, many churches have made an effort to lobby against this industry, but the results have been weak. Evidently, the check cashing business hires better lobbyists — and many churches are not interested in being involved in lobbying for or against anything other than a lottery.  Continue reading

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From the Comments: More Holy Spirit Questions (Does the Spirit take our free will?)

HolySpirit7A reader wrote,

To blame the Spirit for what every Christian thinks and writes hardly seems sensible. Yet I think that’s what I’m hearing Jay teach.

1. I might credit the Spirit with some things, but I blame it for nothing. The Spirit, as a part of God, can do nothing but good.

2. I’ve never remotely suggested that Christians lose their free will to the Spirit or otherwise. I’m not a Calvinist.

3. The world is not binary. It’s not either “the Spirit has complete control of me and I have no free will” OR “the Spirit has no control of me and I have unfettered free will”. Why must we assume it’s either one extreme or the other? Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 21:7 (A Conversation about Check-Cashing Services)

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaThe preacher acted as chairman. After a brief prayer, he began with a statement he’d rehearsed all day.

Preacher: I appreciate everyone’s willingness to serve on this committee. The city-wide pastor association wants to do something about all the check-cashing locations that have opened in town. They feel that the poor are being taken advantage of. Something is very seriously wrong when we have a check-cashing business on nearly every city block throughout town. There is one shopping center with three of these things right next door to each other!

But all my university degrees are in Bible and homiletics. I don’t know anything about business or how we might take some action to help the poor in this city. Continue reading

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From the Comments: More Holy Spirit Questions (the Spirit’s “indwelling”)


The Spirit “dwells” in the Christian. This is language borrowed by Paul from Exodus. I’ve already mentioned it in posts from earlier evenings.

God dwelled with Israel in the desert as a column of smoke and fire — which rested in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle. It led them through the desert and to the Promised Land.

(Exod. 25:8 ESV) 8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

(Exod. 29:43-46 ESV)  43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory.  44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests.  45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.  46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

When Paul says the “Spirit” dwells in us, he’s referencing the Exodus, with the Spirit living in us and leading us as the column of smoke and fire/God’s Very Presence did in the Exodus. Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 21:7 (Simply Jesus)

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaN. T. Wright’s book Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters is essential reading. Very readable and one of his most profound works. It concludes with an extensive reflection on what it means for Jesus to be Lord of the Universe right now.

The crucial factor in Jesus’s kingdom project picks up the crucial factor in God’s creation project. God intended to rule the world through human beings. Jesus picks up this principle, rescues it, and transforms it. …

Jesus’s rescue project, climaxing in his crucifixion, and the renewal of the human project. Jesus rescues human beings  in order that through them he may rule his world in the new way he always intended. Thus the heavenly chorus sings the new song: Continue reading

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From the Comments: More Holy Spirit Questions (“Temple of the Holy Spirit”)


“Temple of the Holy Spirit” is from several passages,

(1 Cor. 3:16-17 ESV) 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

(1 Cor. 6:19-7:1 ESV) 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

(Eph. 2:19-22 ESV) 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

1 Cor 6 speaks of the Christian’s body as a temple of the Spirit. The other two speak of the Christian congregation. Obviously, Paul sees the Spirit present in both. Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 21:5-7 (“I will be his God and he will be my son”)

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaAgain, a voice is heard, but this time we’re told God himself is speaking —

(Rev. 21:5 ESV) 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

We covered the first sentence in the first post on Rev 21:1.

God next emphasizes the certainty of his promises. He declares his words “trustworthy and true.” That is, despite the suffering and persecution the church will have to endure, it’s all going to be worth it. The new heavens and new earth will take us beyond death and fear forever.

(Rev. 21:6 ESV)  6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

“It is done” can’t help but recall Jesus’ words on the cross: “It is finished.” The exact same announcement was made back in Rev 16:17, helping to demonstrate that the Revelation is made up of parallel accounts. In fact, several elements of chapter 21 and 22 recapitulate the ends of the parallel visions. Continue reading

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From the Comments: More Holy Spirit Questions (the “Seal” of the Holy Spirit)

HolySpirit7The “seal” of the Holy Spirit is from —

(Eph. 1:13-14 ESV) 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

(Eph. 4:30 ESV) 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

In the First Century, ownership of a document or jug of wine was shown by impressing a wax seal on that item. It was a visible, prominent, real marker showing that this object belongs to this person. Continue reading

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