Charity: Henry… listen, do you have a minute to talk?
Henry: Sure. What’s going on?
Charity: I was thinking about what you said and I did some research. You talked about the character of Jesus’ life and death, but I was wondering about the time in between his death and resurrection. I came across an account written by Nicodemus. It’s an old story with old language. — It says that a great light shone down on Hades and lightened up all mankind. And the prophet Isaiah said that it was the same light he spoke of when he had said in his book, the people that dwell in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. And John the Baptist came in among them and they wondered who he was. He said he was the last of the prophets sent to make straight the way of the Lord. He spoke of Jesus to them and advised them that those who believe on him will be saved, but those who don’t will be condemned. Then the first man Adam sent his son Seth in among them to reveal a secret he kept till now, a story of his last dying wish he whispered to his son. Adam had sent Seth to the gates of Eden which the angel was guarding to offer a prayer that he might be allowed to get some oil from the fruit of the tree of life to heal his father. But, the angel said it couldn’t happen at this time. And the angel said the Son of God would come to earth as a man and be anointed with this same oil. This Son of God would rise again and cure Adam and all his descendants of all sickness. But, for now, it cannot happen. Then after the inhabitants of Hades heard the story, they were filled such great joy and hope. Then Satan came and conversed with Hades itself. He said he just had the Jews crucify one of their own race, one calling himself the Son of God. But, now that he is dead we can safely put him in chains down here. For Satan remembered this Jesus said his soul was very sorrowful, even unto death. Satan took that to mean he was afraid to die. This gave him joy not least because this Jesus had worked so many miracles even to the point of raising some from the dead just by so much as a word. But Hades fired back saying that if he was able to do that, why would you bring him here? If he has that kind of power then he must have been mocking you when he said he feared death. Having the power to reverse death by only a word, who here will be able to resist him? There will be no one left here when he is done. And then Hades, Satan, and all inhabitants of hell heard a voice saying, Lift up your gates, o you rulers, and be lifted up, eternal gates, and the King of Glory will come in. And when Hades heard, he told Satan to try and hold him if he could. So Satan went. Then he told all his demons to stand firm and secure his bars and gates. It was then that King David remembered what he wrote in the Psalms and said aloud, I predicted this voice — lift up your gates, o you rulers. I saw all this through the Holy Spirit. He further quoted, the dead will rise and those in the graves will be raised up, and all those in the earth will be glad. Where is thy sting, O Death? Where is thy victory, O Hades? Then the voice came again, lift up your gates. And Hades answered, Who is this King of Glory? Then the angels said, the Lord strong and mighty in battle! And all of a sudden, the brass gates were broken and the iron bars were crushed. And everyone that was imprisoned was freed and began to walk out. The King of Glory entered as a man and all the dark places in Hades were filled with light. And Hades cried out loud, we are conquered! But, WHO are you that has so great power and authority over the dead and the living? And WHAT are you that you come here without sin? And while Hades began to blame Satan for killing him and bringing him here, Jesus took the first man Adam by the hand, and lifted him up. Afterwards he turned to the rest and said, come with me all you who have died through the tree that he touched. Look! I have raised you all up again through the tree of the cross. Then he sent them all out. Adam thanked him and all the saints and prophets gave thanks because he had brought back their lives from destruction.
Henry: I… wha… that was amazing. And you found that in your research?
Henry: I don’t know if it’s true but, if anything happened when Jesus died, that was probably it. – There are a couple things I find real interesting about that account. No one was left in hell, and they all had to walk to get out. John the Baptist said they could choose not to believe, but who in their right mind would want to stay? In the end, no one stayed. I find it interesting also that they had a choice after they had died. Many Christian people have said mankind would be judged right after death, and that there was no opportunity to follow Christ afterwards. They are at least wrong concerning the ones in Hades.
Charity: Something you said there caught my attention. What man in his right mind would stay there? It gets me thinking that if all ignorance of God was taken away and God was seen as he truly is, would anyone in his right mind choose to be without him? God is supposed to be the fulfillment of mankind – man’s highest good, his greatest desire. What man would say no to the greatest goodness and joy he could ever experience?
Henry: We were created to be with God. It is at least part of the nature of humanity to want him. Maybe it’s like bondage and imprisonment to be without him.
Charity: Yes. Maybe all these people who say no to God in this life because of ignorance or misunderstanding, when the light shines in their dark places, they too will praise him for rescuing their lives from destruction. – Hold on, let me go back to something we talked about the other day. I’m connecting some dots here. What if the ‘gift’ of salvation is by faith and works and everyone will gladly put forth the work of walking out of their own prison? What if all mankind will be saved, and the separation of mankind into groups “the saved and the lost” will be wiped away? What if all that remains is the saved?
Henry: Now, hold on. This is all just conjecture. I’ve been avoiding argument with you so far, but that’s not what the Bible says will happen. Your research should include the Bible, not just old books. God is going to tell the wicked to leave his presence and they will burn in everlasting fire, Matthew 25:41. He will separate mankind into two groups. The shepherd will divide his sheep from the goats, so to speak, Matthew 25:32. I would like to join you and say that everybody makes it to heaven, but that’s just not so.
Charity: But, I thought God loves everyone the same. Why would he ever give up on one of his sheep and let them be a goat forever? Does God stop loving them?
Henry: Of course not! He loves even the goats, but he lets them go their own way and will not force them to follow him.
Charity: You agreed that the highest good man could obtain is God.
Charity: Then why would God stop seeking after them knowing that he is the highest and best thing for them? Wouldn’t he still call out to them after the judgment? Wouldn’t he cry out to them in hell and brake the bars of their prison too?
Henry: No. That’s why they call it the judgment. It’s the final state of mankind.
Charity: I don’t get it. Why would God finalize something so awful? Few find the straight and narrow path, Mathew 7:14. The Gospel is supposed to be the good news. How can it be that when ninety percent of mankind will be grouped in with the goats? Only a few sheep will remain and the rest go to the “slaughter house.” That’s bad news, not good news. The God I remember from my youth left the ninety-nine sheep to go seek the one who was lost. He was not willing that one of his sheep should die, Luke 15. We are all that lost sheep. Apparently God came after you. Why would he not come for me? Why would he not come for everybody?
To Be Continued…