Temporal Sin and Everlasting Punishment
(154) Some have supposed that we teach that God would not punish temporal sin with everlasting punishment. There may be some who make this argument. Our understanding is that all sin is punishable by everlasting punishment. The condemnation of Adam was everlasting. He, of himself, had no way to get out of it. The punishment, death, would have continued forever. But God made a provision for his ransom. It took someone equal to him to undergo his everlasting punishment for him in order to buy back what he lost. (Jesus gave up his humanity forever -- thus his flesh is under the eternal punishment that was placed upon Adam.) Likewise, those who are returned to death in the second death will suffer everlasting punishment. For the second death, however, there will be no ransom. They will remain there in death forever, thus undergoing everlasting punishment.
(155) Some have tried to maintain the idea that the wicked are suffering somewhere for all eternity by arguing: "What matters is that God remain God! Else all is lost for everybody. God cannot remain God unless his attributes -- including his justice -- be maintained." By some unknown reasoning, this argument assumes that God's justice demands eternal torture -- an eternity of indescribable conscious suffering -- for all who die in a lost condition. In reality, the scriptures show that death is what God's justice demands (Romans 6:23), the kind of death that Jesus died for. (Jesus did not die a so-called spiritual death for our sins, he fully died completely and physically for our sins. -- Romans 5:6,8,12-19) God's justice does not demand the eternal suffering of the wicked! God's justice demanded that God condemn Adam to death, since that is what he told him would be his punishment, and "death" was what required in payment for sin. (Genesis 2:17 -- Jesus is not now suffering for an eternity for sin -- Hebrews 9:26,28; 1 Peter 3:18) God did not change his mind and then sentence Adam to an eternity of torture. Nor did he require an eternity of torture for his ransom. Adam died, as provided by God's justice. (Genesis 5:5) All of Adam's children inherited this death sentence, and it from this death sentence that Jesus died as the redeemer of mankind. -- Romans 5:12,19.
Are All Those Who Die in Infancy Saved?
(156) The answer to this question depends on what one means by "saved." The Bible tells us that God wills "all to be saved and to come to accurate knowledge of the truth." To this end Jesus gave himself "a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." "As in Adam all are dying, so in Christ all will be made alive." Thus all, including the little children are saved from the condemnation that we have inherited from Adam and will be made alive in the resurrection. (1 Timothy 2:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:18) However, this does not mean that they go to heaven. They come back to life right here on earth for judgment the same as all the rest of the world.
2 Peter 2:4,9; Jude 1:13
(157) Doesn't 2 Peter 2:4,9 tell us that the eternal destiny of the wicked is determined at death? 2 Peter 2:4 does not refer to the wicked humans at all, but rather to the angels who sinned, that they have been imprisoned and in chains of darkness, reserved to judgment. 2 Peter 2:9 simply says exactly we have been saying, that the unjust will be punished in the day of judgment. This does not say that the unjust's eternal destiny is determined at death. Jude 1:13 refers to those who had been disciples of Jesus but have known the way of truth and, having turned aside therefrom, have proved themselves incorrigible. In Adam God regarded them as dead (Romans 5:15), which is their first death. By Christ they have been justified out of that death into life (John 5:24,25; 3:36). The ones spoken of in Jude 1:13, however, willfully sin away the grace of God and exhaust their share in the merit of Christ. Jesus does not die again for them. (Romans 6:9) Therefore, there is no more sacrifice for sins left for them. (Hebrews 10:26) As a result, they come under a second death sentence and become "twice dead." (Jude 1:12) Jude 1:13 does not refer to the general population of wicked ones at all.
(158) What about Matthew 25:1-13,46? Do these scriptures show that our eternal destiny is fixed at death? Some argue: "When once the bridegroom arrives, those who are ready' enter (Matthew 25:10-13). This exclusion lasts forever (Matthew 25:46)." The parable of the ten virgins has nothing to do with the world in general but only to the Lord's disciples, evidently, at the end of the age when Jesus returns. Nor does it have anything to do with what happens to a person when he dies. Additionally, please note that Matthew 25:46 has nothing to do with the parable of the ten virgins. This is a gross misuse of scripture. Matthew 25:46 refers to those who at the end of the thousand years prove themselves incorrigible sinners, worthy of eternal destruction. It has nothing to do with the death of the wicked in the world at this time.
(159) In Matthew 7:22,23 we read: "Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? And did we not cast out demons in your name? And did we not do many wonderful works in your name?'And then I will declare to them: Depart from me, you that have worked illegally.'" Does this teach that one's eternal destiny is fixed at death? Some have so argued. It is true that when God's kingdom is ruling and those who become part of the seed of Abraham will be given various positions in the Kingdom. But many others at that time, (during the thousand years of Christ's reign after having been restored to life) will wonder why they were left out of positions in the kingdom, when they had labored in religious works in the name of Jesus their past life. But Jesus said nothing about what the final eventually becomes of these. No doubt many of them will "believe in that day" and attain to life everlasting. (2 Thessalonians 1:10) We certainly find nothing in Matthew 7:22,23 that shows that they were judged for eternity during the present life.
(160) The words spoken in Matthew 10:32,33 do not say that one who denies Jesus before men will be eternally damned, as some have assumed. If so, Peter would have been eternally damned, for he denied Jesus three times. Likewise Saul could not have been converted to become the apostle Paul, for he denied Jesus many times before his conversion. Likewise, the opportunity to be converted continues, indeed, is increased greatly after the resurrection of the unjust.
(161) Galatians 6:7,8 states: "Do not be deceived! God is not be mocked. For whatever a man sows, that is what he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the spirit will from the spirit reap continuing life." Yes, this is true. Had Adam continued to sow to the spirit, he would not have sinned. But he began to look at the flesh, wanting to please his wife more than Yahweh. Thus he reaped corruption. Nevertheless, the scripture in Galatians 6:7,8 is directed toward those who have received the holy spirit to a new birth. Those of the world are already walking according to the flesh and reaping corruption therefrom. However, if the disciple of Jesus should fail to walk according to the spirit, he likewise will reap corruption from the flesh. If at any point, however, he should change so as to walk after the spirit, he will reap continuing life in the resurrection. Only if the new creation should sin willfully would the new creation receive a new judgment, a new condemnation. (Hebrews 10:26,27,28,29) But the apostle Paul does not say that the opportunity for the world to walk after the spirit ends at death.
(162) In Hebrews 9:27, Paul uses the same Greek word for judgment that John used in recording Jesus' words at John 5:28,29. Many insist that the resurrection is unto life or unto damnation, not probation. They prefer to translate the Greek word krisis as "damnation" in John 5:28,29. If we use this same reasoning with Hebrews 9:27, we would have all men suffering death, followed by damnation. Of course, such is absurd. Actually Hebrews 9:27 must be taken with the context. By reading the 27th verse in connection with vss. 26 and 28, it will be seen that the "men" referred to were the various high priests of Israel. Paul is trying to show us that these "men" in sacrifices which they offered "offered year by year continually," were but types of Jesus. Though they offered and went into the holy place every year, Jesus as the antitype needed only to go in once. Jesus' sacrifice was that of his own life, while that these typical men was the blood of others. The priests in the type did not lay down their own lives and take on a new life in the spirit as Jesus did. They were told to kill "a bullock" which was for, or instead of their own, natural lives. Thus in the figure the priest died, every time he slew the bullock. After killing the bullock it remained for the high priest to take the blood into the holy place and see whether it would be accepted. This was the judgment -- trial. If the work had been all properly done, it was accepted by God and was the basis of atonement for the people and the after blessing. Now notice that, "As it was appointed for [those] men once to die [as represented by the bullock], and after that the judgment [to see if their sacrifice was acceptable], so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."
(163) Jesus, after presenting himself for the Church, presented the evidences of his death and merit of his blood, typified by the bullock and its blood. (Hebrews 9:12,24) Then the trial took place: Was it a perfect sacrifice? If so it would be accepted. It was perfect and was accepted by God. (Hebrews 9:14) The outpouring of the holy spirit at Pentecost was an evidence that the blood of the new covenant had been accepted. (Acts 2:32,33,36) By looking at the context we see that this Hebrews 9:27 is not referring to life after death at all. But even if were, the judgment spoken of here would be first, the judgment upon the church after being reckoned dead in Jesus. (Romans 6:11) Having been reckoned dead to sin but alive toward God, they now enter their judgment period. (1 Corinthians 11:31,32; Hebrews 12:4-15; 1 Peter 1:17; 4:16,17) Likewise, those of the world must die and enter their judgment period during the 1,000 years of Jesus' rule. -- Revelation 20:4,6; 1 Corinthians 6:2.