Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why outer darkness is for eternity and not for a thousand years.

Bible scholars seem to disagree if outer darkness is a suburb sitting outside of the kingdom of God, or if it's another description of the lake of fire, or just a suburb of that also. It's probably because there's only four references to it in the New Testament. Regarding this I'm not sure myself.

However most scholars contend that the judgment in outer darkness is for eternity. No where in scripture does it suggest that those cast into the outer darkness are offered another chance to enter into the kingdom of God. It seems like entrance into the eternal kingdom of God after a temporary period of punishment would be so important that at least one of the New Testament writers would mention it, but none of them have. Instead Jesus seems to warn us to make every means to avoid it in his parables. 

The scriptures never even hint that the kingdom of God when it's referred to is limited to the millennial kingdom. Verses like Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:3-5, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 all refer to the kingdom of God plainly when it warns that those who are mastered by the lusts of their flesh and thereby practice sin will "not inherit the kingdom of God" or "have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God". 
Ephesians 5:3-5
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Rather than hinting that the term "the kingdom of God" is referring to a temporary thousand year reign, scripture instead gravitates towards the "kingdom of God" referring to an "eternal" kingdom.
2 Peter 1:11
For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:32-33
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

2 Samuel 7:16
And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.
Jesus words in Matthew 7:21-23 to those who claim him as Lord communicate that he wants nothing to do with those who profess him as Lord with their mouth but not their heart or their actions thereby living in lawlessness. No where is there an indication that Jesus will accept them back after a thousand years, instead it seems like he wants them to leave his presence forever in disgust that they and others would think that he could be associated with their works.
Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
In the few references to outer darkness in the gospels, it's usually described as a place of "weeping and gnashing of teeth":
Luke 13:28
In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.
If there were still hope of eternity with Jesus, then there would be at least some glory to look forward to. But one can probably infer that because there is no hope, all one can do is weep and gnash their teeth.

According to wikipedia:

The phrase "(there shall be) weeping and gnashing of teeth" (in the original Greek ὁ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων) appears seven times in the New Testament as a description of the torments of the damned in Hell. It is thought to derive from a logion in the hypothetical Q source, which yielded Matthew 8:12 and Luke 13:28. The other five occurrences are all within the context of parables and are widely held to be redactional additions by Matthew.
In fact in Matthew 13:41–42, the phrase "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is used in the context of the "fiery furnace", presumably the lake of fire!
Matthew 13:41-42
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Lending credence to the idea that outer darkness is synonymous with the lake of fire or part of it. It's a place that's dark because there is no light, yet it is burning. This is because God is light and his presence is not there. Without God there is no light and only darkness.

Kingdom exclusion teachers such as Watchman Nee contend that when scriptures refer to "the kingdom of God", it's pointing to the millennial kingdom. Hence they limit the warnings by Jesus concerning outer darkness to one thousand years after which they will be granted entrance into the eternal kingdom of God.

So let's assume that this is true and see if it can stand up against God's word.

The bible teaches there are two kinds of resurrections in Daniel 12:2:
1. Resurrection of the righteous unto eternal life (1 Thess 4:16)
2. Resurrection of the wicked unto the second death (which is the eternal death) and the Great White Throne judgment (Rev 20:12-13)
So according to Revelation 20:12-12, the resurrection of the wicked happens after the millennial kingdom concludes in the preceding verse 6. The saints going to outer darkness do not participate in this second resurrection because they are still going to inherit everlasting life after a thousands years. Hence, the only resurrection they can take a part of is the first one which is the rapture if one is alive when Jesus comes back, or the resurrection from the dead to eternal life also at the time of the Lord's second coming.

So the only scenario I can see fit here where unfaithful believers can be thrown into outer darkness during the millennial kingdom is
1. first they get raptured or resurrected from the dead (1 Thess 4:16) where the saints will meet the Lord in the air.

2. Then Jesus will somehow divide the faithful and unfaithful saints who will inherit eternal life.

3. He'll then cast the unfaithful saints into outer darkness for a thousand years.
The conversation would be as such:
"Congratulations! You've been raptured/resurrected!"
"Ah wait... you've been a bad Christian... Sorry. Have fun in solitary confinement for 1000 years!"
"You look nervous. Relax, you'll have plenty of time to recover from 1000 years of isolation induced mental insanity in the eternal New Jerusalem!"
Not only is kingdom exclusion unable to fit within the timeline of Revelation 20, but teaching that you are saved after spending a thousand years suffering in outer darkness is adding works to salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 states that we are saved by grace through faith alone in Christ Jesus. After God washes our sins away through repentance, he remembers them no more! Psalms 103:12 says our sins will be removed away from us as far as the east is from the west.

However if you say you're a Christian but you live like everyone else in the world and are in bondage to sin and your flesh, you're likely to spend eternity in hell or outer darkness. But don't worry, repent of your sins, make Jesus Christ Lord in your heart by fully surrendering to him, and ask to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Praying a sinner's prayer is not enough to be saved, we also have to repent (Acts 2:38). 

For more on why repentance is necessary for salvation see here:

Rather than referring to a temporary kingdom, the kingdom of God is often juxtaposed against going to hell in many places in scripture.
Examples are Mark 9:47
And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell
Matthew 18:9
And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
Notice how "enter life" and kingdom of God are used interchangeably in the same verses of two different gospels.

Also in 1 Cor 15:50-58, Paul talks about the the righteous being resurrected to eternal life in the context of entering the kingdom of God.

So in conclusion, there's no one thousand year outer darkness, rather it's likely for eternity just like the kingdom of God is. Jesus makes it clear there's no middle ground. It's all or nothing, either you are for him or against him.
2 Peter 1:11
For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  
John 15:6
If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 
Luke 3:17
His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. 
Luke 14:34-35
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 
Children of God have no reason to fear God because they are born of him. Fear of God has to do with punishment. If there was possibility of punishment awaiting children of God at the end of our Christian race, then the Apostle John is lying in this verse bleow by saying that we should not fear.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Suffering in outer darkness for 1000 years as God's children just doesn't jive with God's character because it's sadistic. I know my God and it's not like him to do this to his children. Nor does millennial exclusion fit anywhere in the bible. Instead it seems like a dangerous doctrine which can be used to keep members of church in line under an abusive ministry or leader, while at the same time preventing people from pressing into repentance so their hearts can become the good earth and they can become born again. Jesus said wisdom is justified by her fruit, and from the looks of it, this doctrine has produced nothing but bad fruit.

The lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. This includes children of the devil, which also includes men who claim to be Christians, but show that they are children of the devil by their works.
1 John 3:8
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
Life is a gift and all of us have a chance to repent before the book of our life closes. There's no reason anyone of us has to go to outer darkness or hell for eternity. Judgment comes at the end of our Christian race. God is able to keep us from falling if we're willing to repent and hold his hand and follow him.
Psalm 37:23-24
The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Here's a testimony of a nominal believer who ended up in outer darkness after he had a heart attack in a casino. God told him it was for eternity and not a thousand years. After his experience he gave his life to Jesus and became a pastor.

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