Friday, July 18, 2008

Salvation and Holiness by the Lake of Fire?

I'm going to start this off with something I was inspired with this past June 15, 2008. I've discussed it with a few Christians of various degrees of study that I know; all received it relatively well. The most educated of them did raise some concerns about my interpretation of Hell and say that he considered it 'theology and not exegy*' (*I'm not real certain about the spelling, but I'm certain exegy is related to exegesis, deriving meaning solely from the text).

A question came to me, after having recently read through the book of Revelation. The question: 'can Revelation, or at least some part of it, be applied in an individual capacity?'

The first place I was inspired to look to: the Lake of Fire. Why?

Why look at the Lake of Fire? It certainly isn't the most pleasant place, so why focus on it? In my beliefs, our Heavenly Father created us for His companionship. That is, He wanted friends, and I don't use the term 'friend' lightly. Whatever caused separation between us and Him, He wants us all to come to Him and be with Him. However, He gave us our choice. If we choose not to, He will not force us; but if we choose not to, we have done so by choosing not to be safe to be around. To protect all those who have chosen to be with Him (those who DO find truly loving their brethren preferable, who have been written in the Book of Life), those who don't find truly loving their brethren preferable will be cast into the 'Lake of Fire' (Rev. 20:15).

If it is important to our Heavenly Father for us to be with Him then He will show us how. Indeed, it must be important to Him, as He HAS done this time and time again, and in many different ways. In the Lake of Fire sequence, however, I see a road-map; a step-by-step path to re-find holiness and our salvation. In each item that is cast into the Fire, I see a symbolic meaning. Revelation 1:1 tells us that the message is being shown by signs / symbols (KJV/NKJV/ASV translations all use the word 'signified', which does appear to be in agreement with the Greek), so I don't see approaching the text in this way presumptuous.

Each item casted into the Fire appears to be built upon and reliant on the following one. From an individual perspective, each one has to be dealt with, at least in choice, before those following it can be even approached.

To summarize, what I have seen is that each of these must be 'cast into the Lake of Fire'. In this, the Revelation has shown us the path to salvation and holiness:
1) choose to turn from our rebellion (against God);
2) turn from the twisting, deceit, adultery;
3) release and starve the envy and enmity/hatred;
4) accept the life and fullness of our Heavenly Father, that we be empty no longer;
5) be willing to see and remember the goodness that is in our Heavenly Father and in His gift;
6) be approving of others and accept our Father's gift.

For those who feel the need to be pedantic, I am NOT saying that 'accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior' is not the way to salvation. Rather, I find this to be the path as to *how* to 'accept Jesus Christ'.

I will now show the list of the six items cast into the Fire in Revelation, the reference verse where each occurs, what I believe they symbolize, and what I base that interpretation on.

1) the beast, of Rev. 19:20. I believe that 'the beast' symbolizes 'active rebellion'. The Greek equates to 'wild beast' or 'dangerous animal'; the idea of the beast recalls us to the beasts of the prophecies of Daniel, which some tend to believe represent various major pagan nations including and following that point in history. Pagan nations representing 'active rebellion' against our Heavenly Father seems to be straightforward enough. Such 'rebellion' generally results in the sort of destruction one could expect out of 'dangerous animals'.

2) the false prophet, also of Rev. 19:20. I believe that 'the false prophet' symbolizes 'adultery', i.e. apostasy, the twisting and perversion of ideas, of doctrines, of agreements (not limited to the carnal sense of the term which is, technically, a perversion of the marriage agreement). The Greek equates to 'false / deceitful prophet', where prophet is one who 'interprets hidden things', 'solemnly declares what he has received by inspiration' (especially divine), 'one who speaks forth', related to 'light' and 'shining'. I tend to think that the 'light' represents truth and faith / faithfulness. When you corrupt that with fraud and deceit, you get adultery.

3) the devil, of Rev. 20:2, 10. I believe that 'the devil' symbolizes 'envy and enmity (hatred)'. The Greek and Hebrew (at least one name appears transliterated from Hebrew) for the various names equate with 'slanderer', 'lier in wait', 'adversary'. Enmity/hatred appear straightforward; it might be that I am taking liberties by seeing envy, as well, but I see envy as one of the primary motivating factors behind enmity/hatred.

4) death, of Rev. 20:13-14. I believe that 'death' symbolizes 'stasis, oblivion, emptiness'. The Greek means literal physical death as well as spiritual darkness (ignorance, etc.). As not much goes on in death (life is change; even the rotting of the dead is due to presence of microbial life), reading it as emptiness appears straightforward.

5) hell or hades, also of Rev. 20:13-14. I believe that 'hell' or 'hades' symbolize 'blindness, forgetfulness'. The Greek is based on the negative form of 'to see' or 'to know'; some believe that it is merely a translation of the Hebrew 'She'ol', the exact interpretation of which is a bit more argued over. At least one reference likens it to also be 'nothingness' (similar to death) and relates it to 'hollow'. It comes from a root 'to ask' said to be for that it demands all; this askance would seem based on a complete lack. Whatever the case, it appears that 'death' and 'hades' are intimately connected and difficult to entirely distinguish between.

6) whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life, of Rev. 20:15. I believe that this symbolizes 'refusal of the gift / denial of approval'. Our Heavenly Father requires only that we be willing, truly willing, to approve of Him and of each other (love thy brother/neighbor/stranger as thyself: Leviticus 19; Matthew 19, 22; Romans 13; Galatians 5; James 2; and 1 Corinthians 11 rebukes a church for not being sufficient in this) and, through this, accept the gift that has been given.

If we reverse the list, we see the path of the fall:
1) denying approval, refusing the gift of our Heavenly Father;
2) becoming blind and forgetful of that gift, purity, holiness;
3) becoming empty, and having the feelings of that emptiness;
4) becoming envious of those that are not empty in the ways we are, 'filling' that emptiness with enmity and hatred;
5) adulterating and twisting ideas put in front of us into rationales (not reasonings, as they lack the reason of truth) that are more agreeable with that hatred;
6) actively using these twisted rationales in our rebellion.
Each step builds upon those before, its greater weight and obscurement burying each prior stumble.

Returning to the original list, which I will recap in summary:
1) beast (active rebellion);
2) false prophet (adultery, NOT limited to carnal forms);
3) devil (envy, enmity/hatred);
4) death (emptiness);
5) hades (blindness, forgetfulness);
6) those not written in the Book of Life (denying approval and refusing the gift).

As always, intelligent and/or non-negative feedback is welcome, in agreement or otherwise.

Introduction / Extended description

This is a blog for a place for me to exhort and vent about various issues of religion and Christian faith. Some of it may be about things that I see as 'false doctrine' (again, in religion, also somewhat in society). I hope to get some feedback, mostly positive.

I've been sitting on some of these inspirations, revelations, enthusiasms (Greek - godly inspiration) since they came to me, some time ago.

Some speed-bumps have appeared in my life, trying to distract me from faith, and I have been convicted today to get this ball rolling.

The name of this blog is in reference to 1 Kings 18:30-39, where the prophet Elijah’s altar of stones and sacrifice, saturated with water, are consumed by fire of God, depict that the God to receive the sacrifice show his ability to take it up himself. The prophets of Baal call, dance, cut themselves, and prophesy from morning to evening and receive no answer. Elijah mocks them at noon, and at evening rebuilds the altar of God with a trench around it and has the people douse the sacrifice and wood with four pails of water three times, as well as filling the trench with water. After this he calls out to God, and fire comes down and consumes sacrifice, wood, stones, dust, and water from the trench. With this spectacle, the people turned from the abominations of Baal.

I welcome intelligent responses. If someone contacts me with information to correct me on some topic that I've been over and manages to convince me of some alternate view, I will do my best to change this blog to reflect that in a timely manner. That said, I am not particularly interested in or welcome to criticism without an intelligent backing to support it.