Previous chapter: Predestination
Never-ending torment in “hell” (as well as Annihilationism, among those Christians who have enough of a conscience to reject the idea torture without end but still can’t see the full truth) and human “free will” are two of the various “orthodox” traditions that Satan made sure were taught in the Christian religion to keep one from eonian life under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision. If someone believes that anybody at all is still “dead” — be it actually dead or only figuratively dead — at the consummation of the eons, they don’t truly believe Christ actually died for our sins (which is referring to the sins of everyone, not just the sins of Christians, completely taking care of all of our sins Himself some 2,000 years ago), but rather believe that we still have to do something about our sins ourselves today. And if we have to do something about our own sins, even something as supposedly simple as making the right decision, it was we who finally dealt with our sins at the end of it all rather than Christ taking care of it all through His death, entombment, and resurrection. He only performed the first step; we had to complete the final step ourselves by making the right choice, making us our own saviours, or at least partial saviours. These weren’t the only traditions he made sure were taught, however. He also tried his best to convince those in Churchianity of the immortality of the soul. But if the soul is immortal, that means Jesus didn’t truly die, nor was He truly entombed, which would mean we are still in our sins and have no hope, because the Gospel of the Uncircumcision which tells us that Christ died for our sins, and that He was entombed, is a claim that would not actually be true if the immortality of the soul were correct.
That might sound like a strange statement to make, I know, because pretty much all Christians believe that they believe Christ died and that He was entombed, but if the immortality of the soul is as unscriptural as I’ve just demonstrated it to be, being a human, this would have to apply to Jesus’ soul as well — He also would have had to have ceased to exist as a conscious being when He died, the same way we do when we die — which is something that few Christians have considered, and even fewer will agree with, but this just means that they likely haven’t been saved yet, at least not under Paul’s Gospel (please bear with me here as I explain this further). You see, Paul’s Gospel tells us that not only did Christ die for our sins, it also tells us that He was entombed, and that He was roused again on the third day. Now, every Christian out there will claim to agree that these words are true, but few of them actually understand what they mean, and can you really believe something you don’t understand? Yes, we all agree that the words that “Christ died for our sins” and that “He was entombed” are true, but how many of us actually agree that “He was entombed”? Most believe that His body was entombed, but they also believe that He Himself went somewhere else altogether (most believe He went to another dimension called hell for those three days, even if it was in a part known as “Abraham’s bosom,” as a conscious being, although others believe He just went to a place called “paradise,” presumably referring to an afterlife dimension called “heaven,” rather than to “hell”). The problem is, Paul didn’t say that only Christ’s body died, he said, “Christ died”; and he didn’t say that only Christ’s body was entombed while He Himself went somewhere else, he said, “He was entombed,” which means that He Himself was placed in the tomb, not that He Himself went somewhere else while His body was placed in the tomb.
Why is this so important? Because if someone isn’t truly believing Paul’s Gospel, it means they haven’t joined the body of Christ. So if someone believes that Jesus went to another dimension when He died, it means they don’t believe that A) He actually died after all, but that only His body did, and B) that He wasn’t entombed as Paul said He was, but only His body was while He Himself was somewhere else altogether, and that means they haven’t believed the Gospel of Paul.
The fact of the matter is, Christ’s entombment wasn’t just a superfluous aside that Paul happened to randomly throw in while explaining what his Gospel is for no reason. All Scripture is inspired by God, and every word God inspired to be written down is meant to be there, which means every word is there for a reason, rather than just being arbitrarily thrown in there by the human writer as would be the case if those who believe in the immortality of the soul were correct. And so, if Christ’s entombment wasn’t an important element of his Gospel, Paul wouldn’t have included it in his explanation of what the good news was, specifically, that his readers had believed when they were saved. It’s important to note that he didn’t include Christ’s death “for our sins” as something that also has to be believed in when he explained that belief in His resurrection was a crucial element of the truth which Israelites have to believe in order to be saved under the kingdom Gospel (Romans 9 to 11 is primarily about Israelites, and Paul’s point about confessing and believing in that passage was connected to what Israelites have to believe in order to be saved under their Gospel), since His resurrection was only an important part of their Gospel inasmuch as it proves He is still able to be their Messiah because He’s no longer dead (the “for our sins” part isn’t something they had to be concerned with, at least not as far as faith in their Gospel goes, the way it is for those in the body of Christ, which is why Paul didn’t include it in that passage). Likewise, if Christ’s entombment wasn’t an important aspect of his Gospel, Paul wouldn’t have bothered to include it in the passage where he explains what his Gospel is.
And if you happen to agree that Christ was in His tomb for a brief period of time, but think that He then went elsewhere for the next three days as a ghost (which is something someone once tried to convince me is all that the line about Christ’s entombment in Paul’s Gospel meant), this would mean Jesus left His body on the cross, then followed the people who entombed Him all the way to the tomb, and then went elsewhere for three days. If this is the case, I have to ask A) why Jesus would even bother following the funeral procession to His tomb in the first place, and B) how the ”He was entombed” element of Paul’s Gospel is actually good news rather than just an unnecessary piece of information about Jesus following His dead body being carried for a brief period of time with no bearing on our salvation at all if that were the case, unless you believe that Him following His corpse to the tomb somehow actually did contribute to our salvation. (Of course, “He was entombed” is a passive statement as far as Christ’s person goes; so even if you believe that Christ Himself actually ended up in the tomb temporarily as a ghost, the wording of that passage can’t be interpreted to mean He followed His body to the tomb from the cross as a ghost, then went somewhere else from there after His body was entombed, because the way it’s worded tells us He had no involvement in being entombed at all, other than passively having it happen to Him, so unless his pallbearers also had some sort of mystical object they used to drag Him into the tomb as a ghost after He died — which wouldn’t fit with what John 19:30 says, since it says He “gave up the ghost,” not that He became a ghost — it can’t legitimately be said that “He was entombed” unless He was His body and nothing more at that point, as I’m claiming.) Even if you don’t believe that the line about His entombment meant He was briefly in the tomb as a ghost, though, you still have to explain how His entombment is good news and how it assisted in our salvation if it wasn’t referring to the fact that He was actually dead and no longer existed as a conscious being (and, again, it makes no sense for Paul to include that line in what he called the Gospel he preached if that part of it wasn’t also actually good news).
And before someone tries to protest, saying that Jesus had the power to resurrect Himself, which means He must have been conscious, pointing out Jesus’ claim in John 10:18 that He had power to take His life again, as certain less literal translations of Scripture put it, the Greek word translated as “power” here (exousia/ἐξουσία) just refers to the sort of authority or right that someone “in power” has to have an action they wish to be completed actually be performed, not about having the strength or ability to perform that specific action themselves. Just because a king is said to have the power to tax the citizens of his country doesn’t mean he personally goes to every single citizen of the country and forces them to give him the money directly; it just means that he has the legal authority to demand they pay their taxes. But this is more easily understood by pointing to the way more literal translations render it, such as the way the CLV does when it says, ”No one is taking it away from Me, but I am laying it down of Myself. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to get it again. This precept I got from My Father.” Likewise, when Jesus said in John 2:19 that He would raise His body three days after His death, it’s important to remember the fact that “He was entombed,” and that any passage we read about His resurrection has to be interpreted in such a way that it doesn’t contradict this crucial part of Paul’s Gospel, which means that Jesus could only be referring to raising His body in the sense of getting up off the slab in the tomb after His God and Father resurrected Him from the dead. The context of this passage wasn’t about His ability to resurrect Himself anyway; anyone who reads the whole passage can see it was simply about the fact that He wouldn’t remain dead if those people He was speaking to killed Him.
Of course, some will now ask, “But didn’t Jesus preach to spirits in jail while He was dead, as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:19-20?” Well, no, He didn’t. First of all, He didn’t preach to them until after He was vivified (which didn’t happen until after He was resurrected from the dead), as we can see from the verse before that one. Secondly, He was preaching to spirits, not souls of dead humans. And since the spirits of dead humans return to God in heaven rather than go to some prison, the spirits He was preaching to must have been angels, which is exactly what Peter tells us they were: they were the spirits who sinned in Noah’s time by breeding with human women and creating the giants (sometimes referred to as the Nephilim), and who were then locked up in the ”hell” known as Tartarus because of their sin. And thirdly, all passages have to be interpreted in light of Christ’s entombment anyway, so it goes without saying that any attempts to argue that Jesus was actually conscious while He was dead are nonstarters because of that fact alone, and that any passages we think might imply He was actually still alive have to be interpreted accordingly.
As for those of us in the body of Christ, we understand that His entombment was a crucial element of our salvation (which is why Paul included it in the message he called his Gospel), since it tells us what it actually means when Paul wrote that Christ died, which also tells us what the faith of Christ that saves us really is. To quote Martin Zender:
So who cares whether Christ really died or He didn’t? You do! Only when you realize that Christ truly died can you appreciate His faith in going to the cross. He knew that, unless His Father roused Him, He would have stayed dead forever. It is this faith that saves us:
“Yet now, apart from law, a righteousness of God is manifest, yet a righteousness of God through Jesus Christ’s faith, for all, and on all who are believing” (Rom. 3:21-23).
Of course, coming to understand that Jesus actually fully died brings one to the realization that, in addition to misunderstanding the character of God, Christians have also misunderstood “the nature of God” (for lack of a better term), thinking that Scripture teaches God to be three people rather than one. Within Christianity it’s incredibly common to assume that one can’t be a true Christian without believing in the “orthodox” tradition known as the Trinity, which is ironic because not only is the Trinity a tradition that is completely contradicted by Scripture, but because belief in the Trinity actually keeps one from eonian life (since it means one hasn’t fully understood or believed Paul’s Gospel). The Bible teaches that, while there are many gods out there in the universe — it would be difficult for the Father to be the God of gods if there were no other gods out there to be the God of — there is only one Almighty God (who created all the other gods), who has no equals or co-equals. Can Almighty God have a God above Him? Everyone I’ve asked this question to has immediately and rightfully answered “no,” but Scripture tells us in many places that Jesus has a God — His Father — which means that, while as God’s icon He can use any title His Father has when representing God to us or when speaking on His Father’s behalf, He can’t actually be the Almighty God like His Father is since the Father is above Him, and nobody is above — or even beside, meaning equal to — Almighty God. And while it now (post-resurrection/vivification of Christ) might be technically accurate for certain people to call Jesus God (at least from a relative perspective, when He’s acting as God’s icon), or even for the rest of us to call Him a god, as far as those in the body of Christ are concerned we have only one God, the Father (in the passage where he tells us this, Paul is careful to differentiate Jesus Christ from God by saying Jesus is Lord for us instead, and by telling us that only the Father is to be understood as God, at least by those of us in the body of Christ), but not in all men is there this knowledge — in fact, practically not in all of Christendom is there this knowledge.
But even beyond the fact that the Trinity is simply illogical and unscriptural, as I mentioned already, the bigger problem is that one can’t even join the body of Christ while truly believing in this doctrine (because, again, it means they don’t believe Christ actually fully died for our sins, and was entombed, but that only His body did and was; God can’t die, so if one believes that Jesus is God, they can’t believe that Jesus truly died, nor can they believe that Jesus Himself was entombed), so I would posit that the reason it’s become one of the most important ideas in the Christian religion is because Satan wanted to make sure as few people as possible could become a part of the body of Christ and take his reign from him during the future eons.
In addition, it’s possible that belief in the Trinity might keep those under the Gospel of the Circumcision from eonian life as well, since belief that Jesus is the Son of God is required for salvation under that Gospel, and the Trinity teaches that Jesus is “God the Son” (really nothing more than a title for a certain part of God; and yes, logically, that is what it has to mean, despite any protestations to the contrary by Trinitarians who might be familiar with the creeds) rather than the actual Son of God (Jesus can’t be both God and the Son of God at the same time, because that would make Him the son of Himself). Scripture speaks of the Son of God and the Spirit of God, but never “God the Son” or “God the Spirit.” Sadly, the true deity of God, and what this actually means, is a doctrine that has been lost to pretty much all of Christendom. It’s important to remember that Scripture puts a lot of emphasis on the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, and on how one must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (particularly those saved under the Gospel of the Circumcision), so much so that claiming He has an identity not found in Scripture — “God the Son” — is teaching another Jesus.
Of course, the fact that the Bible actually seems to teach that Jesus didn’t even exist as a conscious being prior to His birth as a human also makes the idea of the Trinity pretty much impossible to be true as well. (I don’t have the time to get into the details of this assertion here, but click the links in this paragraph for a good breakdown of why this is what Scripture seems to teach.)
Now, some like to claim that the Trinity is “a mystery” that isn’t meant for us to understand, but nowhere in Scripture do we find this assertion made, so they have no foundation on which to lay this claim. Besides, if the Trinity is a “mystery” that can’t be understood, what basis do we have for believing it in the first place? Was the idea that God is a Trinity prophetically told to be true to the trinitarians at Nicea (yet with how the concept is supposed to work, exactly, never actually being explained, as is made clear by the fact that nobody seems to be able to do so without resorting to teaching Modalism or other ideas that are considered heretical to “orthodox” Christians)? I don’t recall that claim ever being made by any Christians. In fact, the reason the doctrine of the Trinity came to be accepted by the Christian religion as truth is because the position won in a vote, not because any prophets at the Council of Nicea revealed the doctrine to be true, which means that trying to defend the doctrine by calling it a “mystery” doesn’t help the position at all. (Although, before moving on, I should quickly say that Trinitarians are right about one thing, which is that the Oneness doctrine, also known as Modalism, is incorrect; although not for the reasons they claim, but rather for the most important reason listed above that Trinitarianism is wrong: because it also denies Christ’s actual death and entombment.)
Ultimately, belief in any of these traditional “orthodox” doctrines seems to mean one hasn’t fully believed Paul’s Gospel and has not joined the body of Christ. Basically, if something is an important teaching or practice (or is considered to be an “orthodox” tradition) among the majority of the followers of the Christian religion, it’s generally safe to assume it’s a doctrine of demons and that the opposite is true instead (particularly if it’s a major tradition, doctrine, or practice taught by Rome — for whom eternal damnation, human “free will,” the Trinity, and the immortality of the soul are all extremely important doctrines). While Jesus’ statement that “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” is likely referring specifically to the Gospel that Jesus was teaching to the Israel of God, it is still true that very few people, including Christians, ever join the body of Christ, so it likely still counts as a trans-administrational truth, which means that there’s no way a religion with as many followers as the Christian religion has — about a third of the human population of the planet — can possibly be the “narrow way” that few find. Really, when it comes right down to it, there’s relatively little that the Institutional Church gets right about God or Scripture. Although some denominations do occasionally stumble upon parts of certain truths seemingly accidentally, it’s extremely rare, and no one denomination within Christianity ever seems to get more than a few things at most somewhat right — and even then, they rarely understand even a small portion of the full implications of the parts they sort of appear to grasp. It’s questionable whether one single member of the Institutional Church could ever give a satisfying, or even remotely biblical, explanation as to why God created humanity and allowed — or, really, arranged for — sin and evil to enter creation (when one studies the Scriptures concordantly, they discover that sin and evil didn’t derail God’s original intentions for the universe at all but are actually 100% necessary for the completion of His purposes, and that this is, in fact, exactly how God always operates). It seems (from a relative perspective, at least) that Satan works hard to keep people in these denominations from joining the body of Christ, and also to use these churches to keep the rest of the world from learning spiritual truth as well. Paul’s remonstration against Israel in his epistle to the Romans that, because of them, “the name of God is being blasphemed among the nations,” is today almost better applied to those in the Christian religion who give the world contradictory messages about God that keep people who think about these things from believing in such an apparently confused deity, telling people that God loves everyone unconditionally, as long as they meet the condition of loving Him back; that you are saved by grace alone and not by any actions of your own, as long as you act now and choose to become a Christian before you die; and that God is the Saviour of all humanity, yet will fail to save most of the humanity He’s supposedly the Saviour of, who will actually be tormented in hell forever (or will at least be burned up and cease to exist forever if the Annihilationists are correct) rather than be saved. Thanks to these false expressions, those who are able to recognize the hypocrisy hear these things and think, “The god of the Christian religion says one thing but apparently means something else altogether, so why would we want anything to do with this seemingly dishonest deity and contradictory religion?”
That’s not to say that all Christians who believe in “free will” or never-ending punishment will definitely miss out on eonian life, however (although a pretty large number of people who call themselves Christians very likely will). Some Christians will quite possibly still experience the next eon. It’s just that, due to their ignorance, those Christians are unknowingly under the Gospel of the Circumcision instead of the Uncircumcision. So, while Christians aren’t a part of the body of Christ and will miss out on celestial blessings in the next eon (and even in this eon), some of them might still get to enjoy the impending eon here on earth if they follow the requirements of their particular Gospel and don’t try to mix their Gospel with Paul’s Gospel, since it’s either one or the other. Just as the body of Christ is not Israel, those saved under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision aren’t the bride of Christ (and, in fact, the term “the bride of Christ” isn’t even a biblical one), and those under the Gospel of the Circumcision weren’t and aren’t a part of the body of Christ either. The justification of those in the body of Christ is quite different in nature from the justification of those the “circumcision letters” were written to is as well. As Cornelius demonstrated in the book of Acts, even Gentiles can be saved under the Gospel of the Circumcision (no, he wasn’t saved under Paul’s Gospel, contrary to the assumptions that many who still don’t truly understand how to rightly divide mistakenly hold to, although it’s sometimes easy to understand why some might be confused). However, they might not experience the full blessings that Israelites saved under it will, so if they are able to believe the Gospel given to us by Paul instead, they’ll be much better off (and can stop trying to base their theology and churches on the Circumcision teachings). But as far as those of you who have now learned how to rightly divide the word of truth go, and know what salvation actually is (both sorts of salvation), you’re ready to also dig deeper into the rest of Scripture with a framework that will make it that much more clear what else the leaders of the Institutional Church might not have taught you thanks to their pre-existing assumptions about what Scripture says.