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Vol.  10  No. 10 October 2008  Page 20
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Since You Asked By Louis Rushmore

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Where Are Martyred Souls Now?

Louis Rushmore

Rev. 6:9 Are the martyred souls for Christ with Him now?
~ Peggy Dobbins, Corinth, MS

Frankly, I do not know if the martyred souls for Christ are with Him now. James Burton Coffman comments, “…to be sure, there is no actual altar in heaven; the thing being symbolized is that of the saints being, in some sense, in the presence of God, despite their having been slain on earth. Here is a powerful intimation of life after death.” Of this much we can be certain, based on what the Scriptures reveal.

B.W. Johnson made the following observation respecting the symbolic meaning of Revelation 6:9, but not necessarily answering the question as to where are martyred souls now: “The brazen altar stood at the door of the tabernacle, and at the bottom of it all the blood of the offerings was poured (Lev 4:7). Their position probably points out that their own blood was poured out for Christ.”

I suspect from Luke 16:19-31, that all departed spirits are in the Hadean (Luke 16:23) realm, generally speaking, and that within the Hadean realm, the righteous souls and the unrighteous souls are separated from each other. Each are receiving a foretaste of eternal heaven or eternal hell, and at the Final Judgment, each will be assigned to his eternal disposition in heaven or hell (Matthew 25:46). Not every Bible student, though, believes that departed souls remain in Hades awaiting Final Judgment, even if that were the case for a time, say preceding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The answer to this question is relatively inconsequential respecting the Christian living, Christian service and Christian worship today. Therefore, if we are unable to ascertain from Scripture to everyone’s satisfaction where departed souls are presently, or where martyred souls are presently, if we are still interested in the answer to that question upon arriving in heaven, though it will not matter then, we can certainly ask Someone who knows for sure.

Works Cited

Coffman, James Burton.

Johnson, B.W. People’s New Testament. Austin: WordSearch, 2004.

Which Is It, Salvation or Final Judgment?

Thank you for the column. My name is Tichapera Dondo a young man from Zimbabwe belonging to the churches of Christ in Zimbabwe…My question is that since we believe that Jesus Christ has died on the cross to take away our sins, does this not nullify the relevance of Judgement Day because the sacrifice for my sins has been made in advance. Or if Judgement Day holds valid then what exactly is the significance or benefit from Christ’s death. Please help me. I believe but I just need to understand.

The purpose of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and the application of the benefit of His death on the cross are not exactly the same thing. In other words, though Jesus Christ died to make it possible for the sins of each person to be forgiven, not every person takes advantage of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to have his or her sins removed. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ provides universal opportunity (1 John 4:9-10) for the forgiveness of sins, but divine instruction requiring obedience results in conditional application of the benefit of Christ’s sacrifice (Hebrews 5:9).

John 3:16 shows both that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ provides opportunity for the salvation of all souls, and that salvation is conditional on faith: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Mark 16:16 shows that faith and baptism (immersion) are required to receive salvation: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” Acts 2:38 shows that repentance and baptism are required for salvation; Romans 10:10 teaches that professing one’s belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is required to have one’s sins removed. Summarized, for one’s past sins to be removed (thus taking advantage of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross), a person must believe, repent, profess Jesus Christ and be baptized into Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Anyone who fails to obey divine instruction in this regard fails to apply the sacrifice of Jesus Christ so that his or her sins may be forgiven, despite the fact that Jesus Christ’s death could take away the sins of everyone in the world.

After one becomes a Christian, he or she can commit sins, for which one must repent and pray (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). The blood of Christ is applied afresh to Christians when they repent and otherwise continue in Christianity (1 John 1:7). Ongoing forgiveness of sins for the child of God, then, is conditional, too.

One’s eternal destination is essentially determined once he dies, entering the realm of Hades (place of departed spirits), either in the chamber Jesus called “paradise” (Luke 23:43) and Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22) or in the chamber tataros (the lowest part of Hades), translated “hell” (2 Peter 2:4). “Paradise” is a foretaste of eternal heaven, and “tartaros” is a foretaste of eternal hell. At the Final Judgment, each soul will be sentenced to eternity either in heaven or in hell (John 5:28-29; Hebrews 9:27). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Keeping the Seventh (Sabbath) Day Today?

Dear Louis: I have read many and I mean many reason to not keep the seventh-day Sabbath, but yours has been the most interesting to date. If I could even begin to understand what you are saying and I read it three times I still do not know where and how you come to your conclusion. …It is a remnant that will keep the commandments of God. This is the New Testament message. Liane

The Bible is filled with commandments of God, but understanding the appropriate application of the commandments of God depends on properly ascertaining to whom various commandments of God applied or apply. It is not rocket science to conclude (correctly) that not all commandments of God apply to all people for all time. Noah was commanded by God to build an ark or giant barge-like boat, but no one today believes that he or she must perform that commandment of God today. Why is that? God’s commandment to Noah to build the ark was just one of the commands God gave to various people under a general period of time (Patriarchy) preceding the institution of Judaism. However, once God instituted Judaism, beginning with the giving of the Ten Commandments, the Israelites were no longer bound by Patriarchy.

Likewise, the commandments of God given to the Israelites (overall called Judaism), inclusive of the Ten Commandments, were superseded when Christianity was instituted. The commandments of God under Judaism were replaced with the commandments of God under Christianity (recorded in the New Testament), though some commandments of God under either Patriarchy or Judaism have been re-implemented under Christianity. Regarding the replacement of the commandments of God under Judaism, consider these New Testament passages.

For He Himself [Jesus Christ] is our peace, who has made both [Gentiles and Jews] one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation [Judaism], having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances [Judaism], so as to create in Himself one new man [Christians] from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both [Gentiles and Jews] to God in one body [the church] through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off [Gentiles] and to those who were near [Jews]. For through Him we both [Gentiles and Jews] have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:14-18 NKJV).

But now we are delivered from the law [Judaism], that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit [Christianity], and not in the oldness of the letter [Judaism]. What shall we say then? Is the law [Judaism, of which the Ten Commandments were a part] sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet [one of the Ten Commandments]. (Romans 7:6-7 KJV).

The New Testament is no less the commandments of God than the commandments of God under Patriarchy and Judaism. “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [the apostle Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37; compare 1 Thessalonians 4:2). The commandments of God about which the inspired New Testament writers wrote and spoke pertained to the New Testament writings or Gospel of Christ, having to do with Christianity rather than Judaism (including the Ten Commandments) or Patriarchy. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).

Essentially, nine of the Ten Commandments have been re-implemented in the New Testament. The one of the Ten Commandments that has not been re-implemented in the New Testament for Christianity is to revere the seventh or Sabbath day as a day of worship. Instead, the first day of the week (the same day of the week on which Jesus Christ rose from the grave and the same day of the week our Lord’s church began in Acts 2) is revered in the New Testament as the weekly, special day of worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

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