The Lake of Fire - Part X

THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN

 

SATAN’S ROLE IN SALVATION

Satan does play a role in the salvation of the human race. Satan is just one more "evil" that God uses in bringing many sons into glory. The very reason that the above heading might turn some heads is not because it isn’t true or completely Scriptural, but rather because the world has been deceived about most of these spiritual things. God "created evil" (Isa. 45:7.) God does not create things that do not serve a good purpose. By the way, the word translated into "evil" in Isa. 45:7 is the Hebrew word ra, and it is the very same word translated hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times as "evil" throughout the Old Testament.

Now the word ra does not have a conscience and therefore has no moral bias. Evil is not ‘SIN.’ God created evil; God Himself is not evil. And strictly speaking, God did not create sin, nor has God Himself ever sinned. What God has done is created humanity in a spiritually weakened state that is totally incapable of even understanding spiritual laws and principle, let alone being capable of obeying them. And this was not a sin or mistake on God’s part; this was weakness by design. Therefore, God is responsible (certainly not accountable,) but responsible for all sin. And God has already taken responsibility for all sin by sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ:

"Behold the Lamb of God, which TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD (John 1:29);

"And He [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD" (I John 2:2.)

Some have tried to show that Isa. 45:7 is speaking of "calamity" and not "evil." Of the nineteen times that the word "calamity" appears in the Scriptures, it is never translated from the Hebrew Word ra, but usually is translated from the Hebrew word, ade.

Adam and Eve did not sin because they wanted to sin. No, they sinned because they were too spiritually weak to resist sin. True, they did volunteer to sin, but again, that was because they were too weak to resist the temptation to sin.

It is an incredible thing how many people fault our first parents for sinning. They believe that all the problems of this world and all of the problems that we individually suffer would have never come about if our first parents, Adam and Eve, had not been so stupid and had not sinned. How utterly foolish and unscriptural is such a thought. God never intended for our first parents to live perfectly in such a weakened spiritual state.

THE REQUIREMENT FOR PERFECTION

I can’t remember how many times I have read or heard that God created Adam and Eve as perfect spiritual specimens of the human race. They were PERFECT in spiritual character, we are told, until Satan deceived Eve and she and Adam then both sinned.

And just where do you suppose they discovered such profound wisdom and knowledge regarding our first parents? Not from the Bible, I can assure you of that. It is but more stupid wisdom from the carnal-minded leaders of the Church. How pray tell, were Adam and Eve perfect specimens of God’s spiritual character? They were NO SUCH THING!

Here’s the proof: Were our first parents a thousands times more holy, perfect, and righteous in character than our own Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Read all the accolades that the Father lavishes upon His Son Jesus in the first chapter of Hebrews. Jesus is very GOD! And yet … and YET, we read this:

"For it became [was fitting for…] Him [Jesus], for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation PERFECT through suffering" (Heb. 2:10.)

And this:

"Though He [Jesus] were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He SUFFERED. And being MADE perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5:8-9.)

Jesus was, MADE perfect through suffering, LEARNED obedience through suffering, and was MADE perfect, but theologians would have us believe that Adam and Eve were ALREADY PERFECT FROM THEIR CREATION AND DIDN’T NEED TO SUFFER ANYTHING!! 

Humans cannot be spiritually perfected instantaneously, or by magic. Even the Son of God was required to be perfected [made spiritually mature] through "suffering."  This requires time and circumstances--God, therefore, creates time and circumstances.

God did not overlook the fact that humans require clothing. God created Adam and Eve naked and then left them naked in the Garden. Why didn’t God just leave them naked after they sinned? Because nakedness is a parable of our SPIRITUAL CONDITION. Adam and Eve thought that they were okay by their own powers. They were NOT. They were in the very same spiritual condition as the Church of Laodicea (which is a picture of the whole Church today, except for a precious few):

"Because you say that I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing [Did not Adam and Eve feel that they were rich and in need of nothing?]; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and NAKED" (Rev. 3:17.)

Are we to believe that our first parents, God’s VERY FIRST attempt at creating Sons and Daughters in His very own Image, FAILED? Do we think that Adam and Eve’s creation was FINISHED before they even drew breath? That they started out, PERFECT, IN GOD’S OWN IMAGE, WITH GOD’S SPIRIT, TOTALLY MATURE, AND THEN MALFUNCTIONED AND FAILED? And God did not see it coming? Was God shocked at this unforeseen bungled attempt at creating obedient children? Did He figure out what went wrong? Did He have a plan to "fix" the malfunctioning humans? Or would He just try over and over and over again billions of times until He got it right? Are these the kind of blasphemous insults we should level against your own CREATOR?

NOTHING HAS EVER MALFUNCTIONED ACCORDING TO GOD’S PLAN!

If anything in the universe has ever malfunctioned contrary to the intention of the Creator and Designer God, then the flaw is in the Inventor, not the invention! GOD IS THE POTTER: WE ARE THE CLAY!

"Has not the Potter [God] power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto DISHONOUR?" (Rom. 9:21.)

Only theologians believe that vessels of "dishonor" malfunction, when in reality they were designed by their Creator for the very PURPOSE of malfunctioning. A malfunctioning, carnal-minded, God-hating, immoral, human slob is of great value to God. Paul was just such a person before God called him out of Babylon the Great. And now, PAUL IS GREAT! Marvel of marvels, the things that God can do with dung.

And so, if you or I or any other human who has ever lived or ever will live (save Jesus) would have the same opportunity as Adam and Eve had in the garden, we too, every one of us, would have also sinned just as they did. Any person who would argue otherwise is either deceived or a liar. Adam and Eve were not weaker than most people who have ever lived. If anything, they were stronger, but not strong enough to resist the temptation of sin. This garden scene is not a drama over whether or not free will, will, or will not make the right choice.

The theory of "free will" is not only totally unscriptural; it is a physiological impossibility. With the same set of circumstances as Adam and Eve faced, every single person who has ever lived would have done the very same thing and sinned. Now then, if free will were a reality, surely at least ONE person would have resisted and willed NOT TO SIN. Do we have proof of what I am saying?

If any man or woman who has ever lived possessed this thing called "free moral agency" (the ability to make uncaused choices,) then surely somewhere at some time at some place on this big broad earth, there would have had to be at least ONE out of the billions and billions of people who have ever lived who would have used his or her "free will" to choose and will to not sin. There has never been such a person save one, Jesus Christ.

"For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23.)

What is even more startling is the fact that every person who fights for the right of his "uncaused choices" must still admit that after knowing the truth, having then chosen to stop sinning, nevertheless, continues to sin, day after day after day. Does no one think seriously about the total impossibility of these stupid, stupid, God-defying theories that we call "wisdom?"

"If we say that we have NO sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8.)

We can come to the place where sin no longer controls us, motivates us, or makes us its slave, but we are still not totally free from all and every sin.

THE PHANTOM OF ‘FREE’ WILL REVISITED

Is there anyone who doesn’t understand that last verse? Is there anyone who doesn’t believe it? Then how is it possible that man has "free will?" If humankind has just as much of a "free will" to choose GOOD as they have a "free will" to choose BAD, then why oh why has not one of the fifty billion, in the history of the world, used his free will to choose good and to not sin? What earthly or heavenly good is it to claim that mankind has free moral agency if not one in fifty billion people has ever been able to successfully use his free will in choosing not to sin? Therefore, God is obligated to have a better solution to the "all have sinned" reality than to burn most of them in a lake of fire for all eternity. Am I going too fast for anyone? Am I making sense to anyone? Is there someone who wishes to counter these facts by continuing to cling to this idol of the heart and still insist that we really do have free will, but it’s just that it malfunctions in 100% of the people who possess it?

I can see the emails already: "Well Ray, (you Scriptural idiot,) we need God’s spirit in order to use our "free will" in a godly way. Therefore, you must repent, and be baptized, and have hands laid on you, etc., etc., and then God will freely give you His holy spirit so that you can "freely" choose to do right!" Oh really? And just how, pray tell, does one "freely" choose to repent and receive God’s Spirit, when it admittedly first requires God’s Spirit to repent and then receive His Spirit in the first place?

There are no arguments that favor the phantom illusion of "free will." None. And the Scriptures totally disprove any such folly. We have a "will" but it is anything but "free" to make UNcaused choices.

And when the human "will" does choose what is right and good, there is a God-given cause behind it:

"For it is GOD which works in you both TO WILL and TO DO of HIS good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13.)

Let me assure you that there is no Scripture in the Bible that states or endorses the message that is parroted millions and millions of times around the world throughout all generations of Christendom, that:

"For it is YOUR OWN FREE WILL (FREE MORAL AGENCY) which works in you both TO WILL and TO DO of HIS good pleasure." (Sorry, but no scriptural reference can be found for this anti-scriptural statement.)

Now then, the above statement regarding "free will" is taught by the Christian community throughout the world; but it is not, I repeat, not, found anywhere in the Bible. However, the statement above it, which says that it is "GOD which works in you both TO WILL and TO DO of His good pleasure" IS found in all Bibles in (Phil. 2:13!) Everyone reading this paper can now choose [freely?] which statement they will continue to believe. The statement that is taught to the world by the church, but, is not found in the Bible, or the statement that is not taught to the world by the church, but is found in the Bible?

I do believe that I have just presented my readers with a theological dilemma of colossal proportions! If you don’t see it, let me spell it out for you:

Phil. 2:13 contradicts the statement that man has his own "free" will that enables him to both "will" and "do" God’s "good pleasure."

The teaching of the Church states that man, by his own "free" will, independent of God, can both "will" and "do" God’s "good pleasure."

But Phil. 2:13 contradicts this heresy of the Church by stating that it is

"GOD [and not man’s ‘free’ will] which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."

It was reported that Billy Graham once told his audience not to pray for those making a decision to turn their lives over to Christ and come forward to the stage. It was stated that every individual has to make that decision on his own. Pray for them before the meeting and after the meeting, but at that moment now, the decision must be theirs alone. What unscriptural foolishness. No, we sure wouldn’t want God to help us make the most important decision of our lifetime. No, we should want to trust in ourselves for such an important decision! Do not even these words grate on your spirit when I state them this clearly? Man must be MADE to come to Christ and to seek God and live righteously and godly. It is the function of God’s grace that teaches us and chastens us to live godly, not our own supposed "free" wills.

"As it is written There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understands. There is none that seeks after God… There is none that does good, no, NOT ONE" (Rom. 3:10, 11, 12b.)

"…there is NONE GOOD BUT ONE, THAT IS GOD" (Matt. 19:17.)

Well, okay, maybe we do lack the power of "free" will to actually do good and be righteous, but surely we possess enough "free" will, of our own, independent of God’s causal forces, to at least "come to Christ" and "choose Christ" so that He can then help our "free" will to do a little better job? Not!

"No man CAN [by his own phantom ‘free’ will] come to Me, except the FATHER which has sent Me draw him [Greek: ‘drag him’]: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44 & 65.)

"You have not [by your own phantom ‘free’ will] chosen me, but I have CHOSEN YOU…" (John 15:16.)

So now how many reading this paper who have a hostility toward God’s Word will at last see the simple Scriptural Truth that I have just presented, and will forsake their old heretical teachings regarding "free" will? None. Only "the few" whom God is calling to be "overcomers" of such rebellion will at last see the Truth with new spiritual eyes.

So let’s drop the grudges we might have inadvertently harbored against our first parents thinking that they ruined our lives by their sins. As for me, I can’t wait to meet Adam and Eve, up close and personal—they are kin, you know? And don’t think for one second that they won’t be in the Family of God—I guarantee you the Scriptures say that they will, albeit by way of the purifying spiritual pond of spiritual fire, which is the second spiritual death.

Adam and Eve will have a position of high honor throughout all eternity. Without the First Man Adam, there would never have been the Second and Last Man Adam, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of ALL. "For as in Adam, ALL; so in Christ, ALL."

A FEW OF THE EVILS THAT GOD USES IN SAVING THE WORLD

The Scriptures assure us that God did not create things that had no purpose for existence in the first place. All that God created was "very good." God "created evil," how can evil be good? That sounds like something God Himself said that we should not say: "Woe unto them that call evil good…" (Isa. 5:20.)

First let me clarify that it is God Who says to US not to do this. In Gen. 1:31 it is God Who says:

"And God saw every thing that He had made [‘I make peace, and create evil’ Isa. 45:7] , and, behold, it was very good…"

Is this a contradiction? No, but it takes a bit of wisdom beyond childhood to properly understand it. God makes things that are "good," even "very good," that are not inherently good. That is, they are not good in and by themselves, but they are very good, in fact, PERFECT, for the purpose for which they were created.

Here are a few that existed before our parents sinned:

  • The spiritual weakness of Adam and Eve

  • Satan the serpent devil

  • No protection from the serpent devil

  • The Tree of the knowledge of good and EVIL

  • Nighttime and darkness

  • Human emotions of greed, lust, and vanity

God created all of these things, and yet not one of them is "good" in and by its self. Yet they are all perfectly good for the purpose for which they were created. But since they are not inherently good, they will all be changed or discarded after they have fulfilled their purpose. In the kingdom of God there will be no weakness, no insecurity, no devils, no night, no emotions of lust and vanity, and nothing ugly. All of the things that I listed are TEMPORARY tools that will be discarded when the human race is perfected.

Next, let’s see a few of the evils that God Himself has used after Adam sinned:

"I create EVIL" (Isa. 45:7)

Out of God’s mouth "proceeds…EVIL" (Lam. 3:38.)

"…an experience of EVIL has God given to the sons of man…" (Ecc. 1:13, Concordant Liter Old Testament.)

"…I [God] will raise up EVIL against thee…" (II Sam. 12:11.)

"…has not the Potter [God] the right… to make… one [vessel] for DISHONOR?" (Rom. 9:19-25.)

"I [God] created the waster to DESTROY" (Isa. 54:16.)

"The Lord has made…the WICKED for the day of EVIL" (Prov. 16:4.)

"…I [God] will bring EVIL from the north, and a great DESTRUCTION (Jer. 4:6.)

"…Hear, O earth: behold, I [God] will bring EVIL upon this people…" (Jer. 6:19.)

God told a "lying spirit" to "…go forth, and do so [lie]" (I Kings 22:22.)

"He [God] turned their heart to HATE His people…" (Psalm 105:25.)

"Behold I [God] frame EVIL against you…" (Jer. 18:11.)

"For God locks up all together in STUBBORNNESS [that’s an evil]…" (Rom. 11:32.)

"O Lord, why have You MADE us TO ERR from your ways…" (Isa. 63:17.)

"…so shall the Lord bring upon you ALL EVIL THINGS…" (Josh. 23:15.)

"…shall there be EVIL in a city, and the Lord has not done it?" (Amos 3:6.)

"Yet He [God] is SCOURGING [severely beating] every son to whom He is receiving" (Heb. 12:5.)

"What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive EVIL" (Job 2:10.)

"Thus saith the Lord of hosts… go and SMITE Amalek… DESTROY… SLAY both man and woman, infant and suckling…" (I Sam. 15:2-3.)

"…God shall send them strong DELUSION, that they should believe A LIE" (II Thes. 2:11.)

I do not take delight in presenting these Scriptures to you. They are hard sayings, for sure, but they are the truth; they are Scriptural; and they are all done by God; and they are "very good" in accomplishing the desired end result that God has planned from the beginning. God is justified in all that He does. All is out of love and for the advancement of turning every human creature into the very "Image of God."

Christian theology will not allow or tolerate the Scriptural teaching that God Himself created evil and uses evil continuously down through history and out into the prophetic future to accomplish His will.

BILLY GRAHAM DEFENDS GOD AGAINST EVIL

I don’t mean to continually pick on Billy Graham, as he is, after all, a fine and respected man. Nonetheless, he does personify fundamental religion, and he does teach heresy. I heard Billy Graham deliver a message televised to the entire world, from the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. shortly after September 11th, wherein he stated that, God is not the Creator of evil. I also have an old newspaper clipping from a Billy Graham question and answer column in which he again denied that God is the Creator of evil. He quoted Habakkuk 1:13 as proof of his statement. I think is will be helpful to check this Scripture to see if it indeed backs up Billy Graham’s assertion:

"Thou [God] art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?" (KJV—I left in all the archaic English and italics to show added words not found in the manuscripts.)

First of all, one is immediately struck by the fact that Habakkuk unwittingly charges God with a contradiction of character—if we are to accept this Scripture as translated by the KJV and many others. I paraphrase Habakkuk: Since your eyes, O Lord, are too pure to behold evil and you can’t look at iniquity, why do you then do it?

Interestingly, of the nearly three hundred times the word "iniquity" is found in the Bible, Habakkuk 1:13 is the only time it is the translation of the word amal which means "wearisome toil" and not "iniquity" at all.

Let’s notice a more literal translation of this verse:

"Thou art of cleaner eyes than to see evil, And to look at toil Thou art not able" (Concordant Literal Old Testament.)

Even this translation does not help a great deal in our understanding of the verse. Is the meaning of this verse that God absolutely cannot (is unable) with His clean eyes, to "see evil or look at toil?" Sometimes it is necessary to translate the meaning rather than just the words.

I apologize for the fact that the translation nearest to the implied meaning of this verse that I could find is The Living Bible, which is not necessarily among the most precise or accurate translations in many areas. However, sometimes they really do nail the obvious intention of the verse. And yes, I realize that is a value judgment on my part. But anyway, take a look at their rendition of this verse:

"We are wicked, but they far more! Will you [God], Who cannot allow sin in any form, stand idly by while they swallow us up? Should You be silent while the wicked destroy those who are better than they?" (Habakkuk 1:13, The Living Bible.)

Now we can make sense of Habakkuk’s cry for a more just judgment from God. Notice verse two in this same chapter with our new understanding: "O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear! Even cry out unto Thee of violence, and you will not save!" And so, this verse says nothing with regards to God being or not being the Creator of evil. But the verses prior to verse 13 clearly show what evils are to come upon the people by means of the Chaldeans:

"They are TERRIBLE and DREADFUL… more FIERCE than the evening WOLVES… They shall come all for VIOLENCE… they shall deride [laugh at] every strong hold… Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, IMPUTING THIS HIS POWER UNTO HIS [the Chaldean] god" (Habakkuk 1:7-11.)

GOD NEEDS NO DEFENSE FROM EVIL

Notice very carefully that the Chaldeans are "imputing" this fierce and evil power that they possessed, to their god. And I guess that Billy Graham would say, Amen to that. However, what saith the Scriptures? Who is, admittedly, the source and Creator of this evil Chaldean slaughtering-machine? Habakkuk 1:5-6 answers:

"Behold you among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously; for I [GOD] will work a work in your days, which you will not believe, though it be told you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldean, that bitter and hasty [Heb: ‘fierce and impetuous’] which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not their’s."

And there is the plain truth of this Scripture. It was God Himself Who was responsible for "raising up the fierce and impetuous Chaldean." And they were a great evil against those whom they slaughtered! And so the very verse that Mr. Graham used to prove his doctrine turns out to prove just the opposite.

The Scriptures are quite clear on this subject. And the twenty some verses I quoted above should be sufficient proof to even the most stubborn reader, that God is both the Creator and User of many forms of evil, and yet is without sin and not evil Himself. God uses evil for good. And this is a prerogative that only God uses righteously 100% of the time.

Why do I spend so much time on this subject of evil’s authorship? Because it is one of the most important truths in the whole world! It is the answer to maybe the most colossal enigma in all creation—Why is there, and must there be, evil in the world? Let me state with all humility that no theologian who believes that Satan is the author of evil, can ever explain why God put evil in the "tree of the knowledge of GOOD…"!! They might attempt a feeble explanation if God had put evil in its own tree, but not when God put it in the same tree with good! God is responsible for not only all the evil in the world, but God is responsible for EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE, and God is the most responsible Being in the universe. Just Who’s responsible for this mess? God is! And just Who’s going to clean up this mess? God is!

NOTHING HAS EVER GONE AGAINST GOD’S PLAN OR INTENTION

No thing, and no body, in the entirety of the universe has ever gone against God’s "intention" or His preordained "plan," even when God Himself has caused many to go against His stated "will." God’s will is going to be completely realized at the consummation of all His intentions and plan (will and intention are not one and the same.) It is God’s intention that men go against His will. So what may appear to be a failure in God’s dealing with mankind is nothing of the kind. All that happens was intended to happen, and all that does not happen was not intended to happen. Here is wisdom.

We have seen that not even Satan can go against God’s intentions. Satan needs permission from God to do his dirty work. Since God is responsible (but not accountable—seeing that nothing He does is without a great and beneficial purpose,) God takes responsibility for His whole creation, and that is why everything will turn out perfectly for every one of God’s creatures.

SATAN WAS CAST OUT INTO THE EARTH

Satan is a carnal-minded spirit. That may sound like a contradiction of terms, but I assure you that it is not. Carnal means fleshly, material, temporal. Satan deals with the flesh, material things, and temporal gratification. Satan is a spirit who thinks like a carnal-minded man. Although spirit by nature, Satan eats "dust."

Why do you suppose we read this in Matt. 16:23:

"But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, SATAN!"?

Because Satan was looking for lunch. And Peter was going to be Satan’s lunch! Satan dines on the "dust" of man’s carnality (which is enmity against God.) In Luke 22:31 we read this:

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you [laid claim on you], that he may sift you as wheat."

Satan was sifting Simon out of the chaff as a morsel of fine food to make a meal of him! Only Jesus could have seen it coming and prevented it. How often has Satan made a fine dinner of your carnal mind?

Satan’s domain is the carnal mind, the flesh, the "dust" of this earth:

"Now the serpent [Satan, that old serpent, Rev. 5:9] was more subtle than any beast of the field…" (Gen. 3:1.)

"And Satan stood up against [physical] Israel in the land of Israel"… (I Chron. 21:1.)

"And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth…" (Job 1:7.)

And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth your hand now, and touch his bone and HIS FLESH, and he will curse you to your face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in your hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown" (Job 2:4-7.)

"Then entered Satan into Judas [flesh, earth]…" (Luke 22:3.)

"But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie…" (Acts 5:3.)

"And behold there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years… And ought not this woman… whom Satan has bound…" (Luke 13:11 & 16.)

"And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet…" (Rom. 16:20.)

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour [Gk: swallow down]" (I Pet. 5:8.)

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of of Satan to buffet me…" (II Cor. 12:7.)

"Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews and are not" (Rev. 3:99.)

"…who was slain among you, where Satan dwells" (Rev. 2:13b.)

"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth" (Rev. 20:7-8.)

"Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom [their flesh] I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme" (I Tim. 1:20.)

"To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh…" (I Cor. 5:5.)

That should be enough to make it abundantly clear as to where Satan’s domain is—in the flesh of man, on the earth.

SATAN—DESTROYER OF FLESH

Notice particularly the last two references. Paul used Satan to teach Hymenaeus and Alexander "not to blaspheme," and the man in the Corinthian congregation who was fornicating with his father’s wife, "for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

Paul used Satan for the "destruction of the flesh" of the fornicator in Corinth, just as God Himself used Satan for the "destruction of the flesh" in the book of Job.

Were these not beneficial purposes for which Paul used Satan? Is not Satan still alive and well on planet Earth? Do you doubt that God’s True Servants can yet turn blasphemers over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh?

SATAN DECEIVES THE WHOLE WORLD

"And the GREAT DRAGON was cast out, that OLD SERPENT, called THE DEVIL, and SATAN [Heb: Adversary], which DECEIVES THE WHOLE WORLD and he was cast out into THE EARTH, and his angels were cast out with him" (Rev. 12:9.)

Hardly a person alive would admit to being deceived by Satan the devil, and yet God tells us that Satan, "deceives the WHOLE WORLD." The "whole world." Isn’t that just about everybody? Well, who pray tell, are NOT deceived? Answer: "The very elect" (Matt. 24:24.) And how many is that? Answer: "Few" (Matt. 20:16.) Who are the "Few?" Answer: "He that overcomes" (Rev. 3:21.) Overcomes what? Answer: The same thing that Jesus overcame—"the world" (John 16:33.) "The World?" Could you be a little more specific? Answer:

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is NOT in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is NOT of the Father, but is of the world" (I John 2:15:16.)

And so it is that Satan always shows up when it’s dinnertime. But Satan is like a voracious lion who seem to never get enough to eat.

When Satan is not walking to and fro up and down in the earth, does he have a home, a throne of power, a seat, a workshop, a business address, a dwelling place? As a matter of fact, he does.

Satan’s sphere of influence is not that different than say the president of a great nation such as the United States. Our president’s ‘throne,’ if you will, is located in Washington D.C., although he is at home anywhere in America. But his influence doesn’t stop with Americans—he uses the power of our nation anywhere it is needed, as he has recognition, power, and influence all over the world. The same is true of Satan. Satan’s throne is at a specific location. From there he resides in a much larger arena of control and domain. And from that grant system of power, he influences the powers of the whole world.

THE FOLLOWING FOR MATURE READERS ONLY

I stated that Satan has his part in the spiritual salvation of mankind. When God created our first parents in the Garden of Eden—Satan was there. When God called out the nation of Israel—Satan was there. When God wanted to test Job, one of the most perfect and righteous men who has ever lived—Satan was there. Whenever God chose to show mercy rather than condemnation on His people—Satan was there. When our Lord was being tested in the wilderness in preparation for His ministry—Satan was there. When Jesus chose Peter to possess the keys to the kingdom of God—Satan was there. Wherever God’s true gospel has been preached in the world—Satan was there. Whenever God first shines the light of His Truth in man’s heaven—Satan was there. When God wanted to Sacrifice His Son for the sins of the world—Satan was there. When Ananias and Sapphira lied to God’s Holy Spirit—Satan was there. When Paul needed assistance in correcting a fornicator and a blasphemer—Satan was there. Whenever saints have been tempted to disobey—Satan was there. When Paul himself was in danger of being lifted up because of transcendent spiritual revelations—Satan was there. Whenever, even the saints are fooled by great power and lying signs and wonders—Satan is there. When we look for the source of all the lying deception of the whole world—again, Satan is there.

BUT WHERE IS SATAN NOW?

In previous lessons I spent a great deal of time proving that although the Seven Churches of Asia had specific characteristics, nonetheless, all of these characteristics are representative of ALL the churches down through the centuries. It is stated that Ephesus "left her first love." Did not Sardis also "leave her first love." How could the Sardis church be "dead" except that they too, left their first love? And so, they all left their first love, and they ALL committed ALL of the sins that all the rest of the seven churches committed. Likewise, Ephesus was promised the "tree of life" for those who repented and "overcame." ALL OF THE CHURCHES ARE PROMISED THE "TREE OF LIFE" if they repent and overcome. What applies to one church applies TO ALL!

THE THRONE AND SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN LOCATED

I have a nice laminated chart of the Seven Churches of Revelation that I bought at a Bible Book Store. On this chart each Church is identified and followed by four categories:

(1) Strengths, (2) Faults, (3) Instruction, and (4) Promises. There are two boxes that have the word "NONE" written in them. They are: Faults of the Church of Smyrna—"NONE" and Faults of the Church of Philadelphia—"NONE." This chart is wrong.

The truth is that Smyrna and Philadelphia each had the same giant spiritual weaknesses. And what is true for one and two is also true for all. They all had this spiritual sin in their congregations. Let’s notice what spiritual sin IS, and also WAS in the Church at the time John wrote this prophecy, and which therefore is yet TO COME in future generations of the Church.

SMYRNA: "…I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN" (Rev. 2:9.)

PHILADELPHIA: "Behold, I will make them of THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN, which say they are Jews and are not" (Rev. 3:9.)

I had a Klu Klux Klan member write me saying that this means there are people claiming to be of the Jewish race, but are not of the Jewish race. Ridiculous nonsense. The Book of Revelation is spiritual and symbolic. This is not speaking of literal people claiming to be literal Jews of the literal tribe of Judah. Besides, what "spiritual" lesson would there be in such a statement in the first place? No, these are people who claim that they are Jews, but what kind of "Jews?" Why, "spiritual Jews," of course! Who is a "spiritual Jew?" Let the Scriptures answer:

"But he is a Jew [who is born of the Tribe of Judah? Who practices the religion of Judaism?…], which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God" (Rom. 2:29.)

Well, if according to the Scriptures, a real Jew is one who is a Jew "inwardly," then who is a person who practices Judaism and is literally of the Tribe of Judah? Again, let’s have the Scriptures tell us:

"For he is NOT a Jew, which is one outwardly [one who is physically circumcised the eighth day, one who physically practices Judaism, and one who is physically from the tribe of Judah, and who may even physically live in Jerusalem, Israel], neither is that circumcision, which is outward [made by the cutting off of physical flesh with a physical knife] in the flesh" (Rom. 2:28.)

Remember in previous lessons how we learned that it is only by matching spiritual with spiritual that we can understand God’s Word? God’s "WORD"! Jesus Christ is "The Word" of God (John 1:1.) And Jesus Christ said that the WORDS that He spoke were "spirit." The book of Revelation is the "Testimony of Jesus Christ." The book of Revelation is, therefore, also spiritual. These people in the Church of Smyrna and Philadelphia claimed to be spiritual Jews, who are —spiritually converted. Anyone and everyone who is spiritually converted to Jesus Christ is a spiritual Jew. Paul tells the Gentile Galatians that they are the children of the promise made for the Jews through Abraham. Even Jesus tells us that the children of the kingdom (the literal line of physical Israel) will be cast out and the Gentiles from the east and the west will sit in their place in the kingdom of God (Matt. 8:10-11.)

These people in the Churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia lied. They claimed to be spiritually converted (for that is what God’s definition of "a Jew" really is.) And a natural man or woman from the natural physical tribe of Judah is not a real Jew at all. The derivation of the name "Jew" comes from yadah and it means, "to give thanks, laud, praise." But the natural [carnal] Jew CANNOT give thanks, laud, or praise to God because,

"Because the carnal mind [the natural physical mind of every Jew from birth, and certainly Gentiles as well] is enmity [hatred] against God: for it is not subject to the [spiritual] law of God, neither indeed can be [or is able]" (Rom. 8:7.)

When will we begin to understand that the teachings of the New Testament are not carnal, not physical of the flesh? We are to come out of carnality and be converted, and become spiritual Jews, a people who truly worship (give thanks, laud, and praise) God IN SPIRIT.

So if one has religion, but is not converted, what is he? The Scriptures plainly tell us that he is a member of "THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN."

HIM WHICH IS, AND WHICH WAS, AND WHICH IS TO COME

When God wants to emphasis something, He repeats it. When He really wants to emphasize something, He repeats it again. When He really, really, really wants to emphasize something, He repeats it multiple times. Let’s count the times God uses this phrase:

  1. "Him which IS, and which WAS, and which IS TO COME" Rev. 1:4.)

  2. "I AM alpha and Omega, the BEGINNING and the ENDING, which IS, and which WAS, and which IS TO COME" (Re. 1:8.)

  3. "I am Alpha and Omega, the FIRST and the LAST" (Rev. 1:11.)
     
  4. "I am the FIRST and the LAST" (Rev. 1:17.)
     
  5. "I am He that LIVES, and WAS DEAD; and, behold, I AM ALIVE" "Rev. 1:18.)
     
  6. "the FIRST and the LAST, which was DEAD, and is ALIVE" (Rev. 2:8.)
     
  7. "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which WAS, and IS, and IS TO COME" (Rev. 4:8.)
     
  8. "Oh Lord God Almighty, which ART, and WAS, and ARE TO COME" (Rev. 11:17.)
     
  9. "Thou art righteous, O Lord, which ARE, and WAS, and SHALL BE" (Rev. 16:5.)
     
  10. "I am Alpha and Omega, the BEGINNING and the END"

Jesus Christ is the BEGINNING and the END; He IS, WAS, and WILL BE. The book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus Christ; therefore, the book of Revelation tells us what "IS [or ARE], WAS, and WILL BE." Everything spoken to the churches is, was, and will be. But not everything that "is, and was," "will be" eternally.

Virtually everything in the Bible pertains to the ages [Greek: aions]. All of these ages will come to an end, as will some things that are only used during eonian times or the times contained in the ages.

One of the prime examples of something that is only used during the ages, is JUDGMENT. When judgment brings about righteousness among all mankind, judgment will become a thing of the past, never to be used in the Kingdom of God again. No, some thing's "will be" NO MORE. Not until later in the book of Revelation are we told of NEW things to come and OLD things that "will be" no more.

Thank and praise God that one day the most dreaded and painful things in the universe will be NO MORE:

"And God shall wipe away ALL TEARS from their eyes [no, there will be NO ONE in a fabled Christian hellhole of terror with tears running down their fire-scorched face for all eternity]; and there shall be NO MORE DEATH [not a first death, nor a second death, nor a spiritual death, nor any ‘death’ whatsoever, ‘the last enemy being ABOLISHED is DEATH,’ (I Cor. 15:26)], neither SORROW, nor CRYING, neither shall there be a ANY MORE PAIN: for the former things ARE PASSED AWAY" (Rev. 21:4)!

How many times must this verse be quoted before we actually believe it?

"And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘BEHOLD! I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW" (Verse 5)!

These are truly the most profound promises by God Almighty in the entirety of Scripture!

Let’s try reading a few verses together with this spiritual understanding of what is "spiritual," and what still, "is, was, and will be":

"The [spiritual] Revelation [that is, was, and will be] of [spiritual] Jesus Christ [who is, was, and will be], which God gave unto Him, to show unto His [spiritual] servants [which are were and will be] [spiritual] things [which are, were, and will be] which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and [spiritually] signified [what is, was, and will be] by His [spiritual] angel [which is, was, and will be] unto His [spiritual] servant [which is, was, and will be] John.

Who bare [spiritual] record of [what is, was, and will be] of the [spiritual] word [which is, was, and will be] of [spiritual] God [who is, was, and will be], and of the [spiritual] testimony [which is, was, and will be] of [spiritual] Jesus Christ [Who lives, was dead, and am alive; Who is, was, and will be; the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end; Who is, was, and is to come], and of all [spiritual] things [which are, were, and will be], that he [spiritually] saw [things that are, and were, and will be].

[Spiritually] Blessed is he [who is, was, and will be] that [spiritually] reads [what is, was, and will be], and they that [spiritually] hear [what is, was, and will be] the [spiritual] words of this [spiritual] prophecy [which is, was, and will be], and [spiritually] keep those things [which are, were, and will be] which are [spiritually] written therein: for the [spiritual] time [that is, was, and will be] is [spiritually] at hand" (Rev. 1:1-3.)

If anyone thinks this is funny, he is laughing at God, not at me. Once one thoroughly understands this spiritual truth of what is, was, and will be, it is not necessary to read the entire Book in the way I have stated it above. However, that is the truth of how this book must be understood.

But we read of no "Third Death." There is NO THIRD DEATH. Adam is called "the first man." Jesus is called "the second man." Therefore the "Second Death" is the culmination of ALL DEATH, seeing that

"The last enemy being abolished is DEATH," (I Cor. 15:26)

and,

"…there shall be NO MORE DEATH" (Rev. 21:5.)

More on this later.

When we come to our study on Gehenna, hell, hades, unextinguishable fire, the furnace of fire, lake of fire, death, second death, etc., we will go into great detail explaining these things from the Scriptures. No Scripture on any of these subjects will be a problem for your understanding ever again.

And thus we, today, members of the Church of God of the 21st Century, are to "…hear what the spirit says [not what the ‘spirit said,’ past tense only, as this is in the Greek aorist tense and is still ‘saying’ these same things to every generation] unto the churches."

If you can’t or won’t see this, then you probably need read no further. If you don’t understand what I have presented, then God has not opened your mind to the spiritual understanding of this Revelation prophecy, or all of Jesus’ parables, or all of the rest of the Bible.

THE BIBLE IS A GIANT PARABLE

Not only is the Bible a giant parable, but, all creation is a giant parable. Is it not real? Oh, it is real all right. But what we see, hear, and feel, in this physical universe, is not the lasting spiritual reality of God’s purpose for creation. In parables, the literalness of the words is but a symbol that stands for something spiritual and grand. The physical words of all parables will pass away; however, the spiritual fulfillment of those physical words will never pass away. This is another marvelous spiritual principle of understanding and wisdom. I have covered this before, but it certain warrants repeating. Paul presents us with this grand parable of creation, life, and the final destiny of the entire universe:

"There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in INCORRUPTION.

It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in GLORY: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in POWER.

It is sown a natural body; it is raised a SPIRITUAL BODY. There is a NATURAL BODY, and there is a SPIRITUAL BODY.

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [Christ] was made A QUICKENING [vivifying, living, immortal] SPIRIT

Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterwards that which is SPIRITUAL.

The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from HEAVEN [the realm of spirit].

As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are HEAVENLY.

And as we [all humanity born of physical Adam] have born the image of the earthy, we [all humanity born of spiritual Jesus, the Christ] shall also bear the image of the HEAVENLY [Christ]" (I Cor. 15:41-49.)

Can we even begin to comprehend what we have just read? But we are not there as yet. The physical part of this parable is still being played out on this physical stage of the universe. The final curtain of this heavenly play will not come down until all of the Acts have first been performed. And the drama is building as we near the climax.

A TRUTH NO LONGER TOLD IN SUNDAY SCHOOL OR CHURCH

John tells us that Satan has a "synagogue." Synagogue means "a gathering together, an assembly, a congregation." This should not sound strange to our ears, seeing that we have already learned from Paul’s writings:

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed as into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the minister of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their work."

And so Satan has "false apostles," and "ministers of righteousness." Where then would we expect these false apostles and ministers of righteousness that belong to Satan, to reside? Why in "The synagogue of Satan," of course! And what do Satan’s ministers do that enables them to "deceive the whole world?" Paul again tells us:

"Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders."

And just where might we find such a "synagogue of Satan, with false apostles, and false ministers of righteousness, witnessing to the world with power, and signs and lying wonders?"

Certainly not in some macabre-looking, haunted-house structure with a giant marquee out front reading: "COME AND WORSHIP WITH SATAN AND HIS DEMONS"!

WHERE IS THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN?

The synagogue of Satan is located in the churches—in The Church!

"…you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars" (Rev. 2:2.)

Where did the Ephesians try those false, lying, apostles? In some pagan temple or church down the street, or across town, or in some foreign land? Or maybe in the pagan religion of the Roman occupation? No, in the Church. Jesus Christ says:

"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write… thou have tried them which say they are apostles [in the church of Ephesus], and are not" (Rev. 2:1a & 2b.)

Where did Jesus know these lying apostles? Why, in the Church, of course. Of what consequence would "lying apostles" of some pagan religion be to the churches of God in Asia?

And where did Jesus say the synagogue of Satan is located? Same place—in the Church:

"And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write… I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews [in the Smyrna church], and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan… And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write… I will make them of the synagogue of Satan [in the Philadelphia church], and are not but do lie…" (Rev. 2:8 & 9; 3:7 & 9.)

All seven of the churches were well aware of many pagan gods and pagan religions. These seven cities in Asia were filled with MANY PAGAN GODS.

The non-believing Ephesians worshipped Diana, who was associated with Artemis. Smyrna had temples to Apollo, Asclepia, Aphrodite, Cybele, Emperor Tiberius, and Zeus, and maybe most important of all, the Temple of Athena. Pergamum worshiped Zeus, Olympus, Athena, Dionysus, Asclepius ("The Saviour",) and also the God-Serpent and the God-Bull. Thyatira worshiped the Emperor, Thyatiran, Tyrimnos, and Pallas Athena. Sardis worshiped the goddess Artemis, and both goddesses Artemis and Cybele were commemorated on their local coinage. Philadelphia worshiped the sun god and serpent gods, although Dionysis was their major god. Laodicea worshiped Zeus Azeus and Men Karou.

Were these the false apostles and lying Jews of the synagogue of Satan. Was it the priests of these pagan gods and religions of the seven cities in Asia that God was warning the churches about?

Since when are the priests of paganism called APOSTLES? Since when are the followers of pagan religions and pagan gods called LYING JEWS? Since when are the temples of Zeus and Athena and Diana called SYNAGOGUES? No, these false apostles and lying Jews of the synagogue of Satan are in the churches of God.

And isn’t it ironic that in the two congregations that religious chart-makers tell us had NO spiritual flaws whatsoever, we find those residing who are specifically called lying Jews? No, Smyrna and Philadelphia, down through the centuries, have exactly the same spiritual flaws and heresies as did all of the other five churches of Asia.

THE THRONE OF SATAN THE DEVIL ALSO LOCATED

Now then, as the false apostles, and lying Jews, and synagogue of Satan are all located in the Church, where do you suppose we would find Satan’s throne, and Satan’s dwelling place to be located? Yes, that’s right: In the Church. Here is the Scriptural proof found in the messages to the church at Smyrna and Pergamos:

"Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison…" (Rev. 2:10.)

"I know your works and where you dwell, even where [the same place where] Satan’s seat [Greek: throne] is… were Satan [also] dwells" (Rev. 2:13.)

Satan cannot imprison members of the Church unless Satan is in the Church. His throne is in the Church. His dwelling place is in the Church. His synagogue is in the Church.

And think not that Satan merely makes an occasional visit to the Church. No, Satan is permanently in the Church until God removes him. The Greek word from which the translators give us "dwelleth" in the KJV is kataoideo, and its meaning is: "To house permanently" (Strong’s Greek Dictionary, page 136.) Satan not only has his false apostles in the Church, and his congregation of unconverted lying Jews in the Church, and his synagogue in the Church, and his very throne in the Church, but Satan himself dwells permanently in the Church.

WHERE IS PERGAMOS TODAY?

Why would God choose the church of Pergamos/Pergamum as a physical type of the spiritual city where Satan really dwells and has his throne? We read this historical account of Pergamum:

"Pergamum, founded no later than 399 BC, became the capital city of the Roman province in Asia giving the traveler the impression of a royal city, the home of authority. Located about 60 miles north of Smyrna and 15 miles from the Aegean Sea, Pergamum was a center of learning, medicine, and religious books. The library, rivaling the Alexandrian library, drew many princes, priests, and scholars. Noted for marble carving, it excelled the other six cities in architectural beauty."

A royal city of authority with maybe the greatest library in the world. A city of learning, medicine, and religion. More excellent than all of the other Six Church Cities. Clearly, this city had all of the physical attributes that would make it suitable for the throne and dwelling place of Satan.

But remember: Revelation is a signified book of symbols that stand for spiritual things. The physical city of Pergamus was only a symbolic representation of something higher, something more profound, something of grand proportions. Satan does not reside or dwell or have his throne and his synagogue in West Asia in a demolished old city name Pergamus. Pergamus mean fortified. It comes from the word purgos (Strong’s #4444, which means "burgh; a tower or castle" page 219.) Satan dwells (permanently resides) in the Church. But Satan dwells in a city that is, was, and will be. We will later identify this city described in Rev. 2:13.

This then brings us to Satan’s final and grandest achievement in The Church—the very "DEPTH of Satan." Something more evil and vile than anything ever conceived of by man or demon! But not to worry—for if you have been chosen to understand these things, then you will,

"Come OUT of her My people…" and "He that overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My SON" (Rev. 18:4, & 21:7.)

 

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