Thursday, November 17, 2011

God's Plan of the Ages - Mythology and the Bible

Joseph Herrin (11-17-2011)

In the preceding chapters of this book I have labored to show forth through the Scriptures Yahweh’s plan to reconcile all things in the creation to Himself through Christ. The rule of Christ must continue UNTIL He has accomplished a full and perfect reconciliation of the creation.

Ephesians 1:22-23
And He (God the Father) put all things in subjection under His (Christ the Son’s) feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

I Corinthians 15:27-28
But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

Seeing that these things are declared in plain speech in the Scriptures, how is it that the majority of the body of Christ have not understood or accepted the reconciliation of all things to the Father? Where did the abominable doctrines of eternal torment arise from which leave a majority of mankind and one third of the angels forever separated from God?

The apostle Paul prophesied that in the latter days men (in the Church) would not endure sound doctrine. He declared that they would turn aside to myths and fables. The doctrine of eternal torment is a myth. Those familiar with Greek and Roman mythology will recognize the origins from which the church’s doctrines arose. Centuries before Christ’s birth the Greeks believed in a place of the dead called Hades. Far below Hades was Tarturus, a place of unending torment and suffering.

One of the Greek myths related to a king named Tantalus. King Tantalus transgressed greatly against the gods. As punishment he was imprisoned eternally in Tartarus. Tantalus' punishment for his actions was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Tantalus was gripped with hunger. The desire for the fruit so close at hand was maddening. Whenever Tantalus reached for the fruit, the branches would rise, keeping the fruit just beyond his grasp. Likewise, Tantalus was tortured with thirst. Whenever he bent low to drink from the pool of water in which he was standing, the waters would recede out of his reach.

Another Greek myth told of King Sisyphus. Sisyphus boasted that he was more clever than Zeus, the chief of the Greek gods. Zeus punished Sisyphus by imprisoning him in Tartarus. King Sisyphus was given the task of rolling a large boulder up a hill that came to a sharp peak. As soon as the boulder reached the top, it would roll back down the other side. The process had to be repeated continually. Thus Sisyphus was doomed to an eternity of frustration.

A third Greek myth tells of King Ixion, who was another to transgress against the gods. King Ixion lusted after Zeus’ wife Hera. Ixion sought to ravish Hera even in the presence of her husband. As punishment, King Ixion was bound to a flaming wheel representing his unbridled flaming lusts. He was forever tortured upon this wheel in Tartarus.

In each of these myths we see that the Greeks adopted a belief that the worst transgressors would be cast into a place of eternal torment that was befitting their wicked deeds. This punishment was viewed as an act of vengeance by the gods that consigned men to Tartarus. The wrath of the Greek gods was never to be assuaged. The punishments would have no end.

The Greeks also taught that Hades, the god of the underworld, guarded the place of the dead and would never permit any who went there to depart. Hades was commonly pictured with a staff in his hand. He had a three headed dog named Cerberus who guarded the gates of Hell. These Greek beliefs were carried over into the Roman Empire that followed. The church of Rome was corrupted as tares were sown among the wheat. Men like Emperor Constantine took unto themselves the highest position in the church, while granting the church freedom from persecution. Many Christians rejoiced that the centuries of persecution were ended, but they did not reckon on the destruction wrought upon the church by the introduction of false beliefs and doctrines by men who were devoid of the Holy Spirit.

The Roman Catholic Church adopted the practice of syncretism, the merging of the pagan beliefs of Rome’s citizens with the doctrines of Christ and His apostles. Soon truth was abandoned and the original teachings of Christ and the apostles were no longer tolerated. Truth had been replaced with myths and fables. The apostle Paul accurately predicted the state of the church regarding these things.

II Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

It is from this embracing of myths and fables that the church came to believe in a place of eternal torment. Additionally, the Biblical view of Satan was replaced by a caricature that closely resembled Hades, the god of the underworld. Common depictions of Satan show him with a trident, a three headed pitchfork in his hands, guarding the gates of hell. Satan is commonly viewed by many Christians today as ruling over those who are cast into hell. Such a belief is foreign to the Scriptures.

The Bible never suggests that Satan will have any rule or authority in hell. Whether Satan is being temporarily bound and cast into the abyss, or whether he is being cast into Hades (Hell), he will have no more authority than any other creature experiencing the wrath of God.

Revelation 20:1-3
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

Revelation 20:7-10
When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison... And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night to the ages of the ages.

Some years ago I was invited to attend a drama being put on at a local church. The drama was performed by a sizeable ministry that sent out teams of actors throughout the nation to stage this play in a multitude of churches. The drama was called “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames.” It consisted of a series of short acts depicting various people dying. Whenever a person would die without giving their life to Christ, a macabre scene would unfold. The stage would darken. Ominous music would play, and demons would appear to drag the terrified and shrieking victim off to hell as Satan stood by watching, pitchfork in hand, while laughing in a maniacal fashion.

I was disturbed by the reaction (or lack thereof) of the Christians in the audience.  Not a single person I spoke with appeared to note that the play was a depiction of mythology, and the things portrayed found no support in Scriptures. The Bible nowhere pictures Satan and his demons dragging people into hell. Nor is Satan figured as the god of the underworld, or with horns on his head, or a pitchfork in his hand. All of these things derive from mythology. The belief that those cast into the lake of fire will remain there eternally is similarly derived from mythology. As has been testified previously, the lake of fire is synonymous with the second death. Death will not continue forever.

I Corinthians 15:25-27
For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet."

Isaiah 25:8
He will swallow up death for all time, and Yahweh God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For Yahweh has spoken.

Hosea 13:14
From the hand of Sheol I do ransom them, From death I redeem them...
[Young’s Literal Translation]

II Timothy 1:10
The appearing of our Savior Yahshua Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Revelation 21:4-5
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

In this book sound doctrine has been set forth, yet the majority of people in the church will not receive it. Paul testified that in the last days men would not “endure” sound doctrine. Since I began to teach these things in 2002 I have been blacklisted from prophecy sites. I have been refused communion by other saints, and denied opportunity to teach. Some have used their ministries to declare me a heretic and to caution their followers to have nothing to do with me. These very actions are what Paul was describing when he said men would not “endure” sound doctrine. They will not hear it. They will not permit sound doctrine to be taught. Having embraced myths and fables, their minds are closed to all else.

God’s plan of the ages has been transformed into something that is a gross aberration from the original. Yahweh is shown to be angry forever, and His wrath to be eternal. Those cast into hell and the lake of fire are believed to never escape. The reconciliation of “all things” through Christ is denied by the church. The church does not perceive the end of Christ’s reign to come when all things will be subjected to Him that God the Father might be “all in all.”

The church fell into error centuries ago. Over time myths and fables have come to be regarded as sacred truth due to their long antiquity. When in more recent centuries men in the church have applied themselves to translate the Scriptures into English, the influence of the mythology of Rome held sway over their minds. The Bible translations adopted by the masses of Christendom have become impregnated with the myths of pagan people. Words were translated to convey that false belief that had been adopted as orthodox theology. Nowhere do we see this more profoundly than in the confused and errant renderings of the Greek word aion and its variants.

Consider the following examples showing the varied and inaccurate manner in which translators have rendered this word. All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

Ephesians 2:7
That in the ages (aions) to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:26
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages (aions) and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints...

Ephesians 2:2
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course (aion) of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.

Hebrews 1:2
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds (aions);

Hebrews 11:3
Through faith we understand that the worlds (aions) were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Galatians 1:4
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world (aion), according to the will of God and our Father:

Ephesians 6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world (aion), against spiritual wickedness in high places.

II Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world (aion) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

I Corinthians 2:6
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world (aion), nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

Luke 16:8
And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world (aion) are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

Mark 4:19
And the cares of this world (aion), and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Mark 10:30
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world (aion) to come eternal (aionian) life.

Luke 20:35
But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (aion), and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:

Hebrews 6:5
And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world (aion) to come...

John 9:32
Since the world (aion) began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

These verses represent a fair sampling of the many ways in which the Greek word aion has been translated. In other places, the translators have rendered this same word as “eternity,” “for ever,” “for ever and ever,” and “everlasting.” Following are a few examples.

Ephesians 3:11
 According to the eternal (aionian) purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord...

Hebrews 6:2
Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal (aionian) judgment.

Revelation 19:2-3
For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever (aions) and ever (aions).

Revelation 20:10
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever (aions) and ever (aions).

Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting (aionian) fire, prepared for the devil and his angels...

Jude 6
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting (aionian) chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

It is evident that in each instance the translators interpreted this word to mean what they thought it should say according to the beliefs they had adopted. In the original KJV Bibles that were released in the 1600s, the translators included a list of restrictions that King James of England had placed upon them. One of these instructions was that the Bible could contain no translation that would upset the orthodoxy of the Church of England. The Anglican Church taught a doctrine of eternal damnation, therefore the scholars working on the King James Bible had to conform their translation to this belief.

It is apparent that the translators were very inconsistent in the interpretation of this word. If the word aion and its variants mean eternal, everlasting, or for ever, then the word should make sense when interpreted this way in the other Scriptures in which it is found. In this, it fails the test. Consider how nonsensical the following Scriptures would be.

Ephesians 2:7
That in the eternities (aions) to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:26
Even the mystery which hath been hid from eternities (aions) and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints...

Ephesians 2:2
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the eternity (aion) of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.

Hebrews 1:2
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the eternities (aions);

John 9:32
Since the eternity (aion) began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

It is quite obvious that the Greek word aion is not referring to eternity in these and many other verses. The Greek word aion refers to an age that has a beginning and an end. Its variants refer to ages, or as an adjective to that which is age-lasting, or age-abiding. J. Preston Eby in his writing The Savior of the World, shares the following:

And now in reviewing the Scriptures we have just quoted we note that this aion is something which has a king; it has princes; it is in darkness; it had a beginning; it has an ending; it is evil; it has wisdom; it has children who marry; it has cares. The aions we find were made by Christ, simply through His spoken Word, and we also find in Colossians 1:26 that the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory, has been hidden from these aions.

Now, if AION means ETERNAL, consider how ridiculous the Word of God would be! The Holy Spirit would be found saying, "the mystery which has been hid from eternities;" "the mystery of Christ which in other eternities was not made known;" "in the eternities to come;" "You walked according to the eternity of this world;" "by whom also He made the eternities;" "the rulers of the darkness of this eternity;" "now once in the end of the eternities has He appeared;" "the harvest is the end of the eternity;" "since eternity began;" "in the eternities to come," etc. etc... Suffice it to say here that there have been "aions" in the past, there is this present "aion," and there are "aions" to come. And these all combined make up TIME, encompassing the whole of the progressive plan and program of God for the development of His creation.
[End Quote]

Laying aside the myths of Rome, let us now translate these passages consistently, using the word “age,” or “ages” in these same Scriptures. At once, the confusion is resolved, and a consistent teaching regarding the ages of God comes into view.

Eph. 2:7  "in the ages (aions) to come."
Col. 1:26 "the mystery which has been hid from the ages (aions). "
Eph. 2:2  "you walked, according to the age (aion) of this world."
Heb. 1:2 "by whom also He made the ages (aions)."
Heb. 11:3 "the ages (aions) were formed by the Word of God."
Gal. 1:4 "deliver us from this present evil age (aion)."
Eph. 6:12 "the rulers of the darkness of this age (aion)."
II Cor. 4:4 "the god of this age (aion)."
I Cor. 2:6 "the wisdom of this age (aion)."
Lk. 16:8 "the children of this age (aion)."
Mk. 4:19 "the cares of this age (aion)."
Mk. 10:30 "the age (aion) to come."
Lk. 20:35 "but they that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that age (aion)"
Heb. 6:5 "and have tasted the powers of the age (aion) to come."
John. 9:32 "since the age (aion) began."
Eph. 3:11 “according to a plan of the ages (aions).”
Heb. 6:2 “and of age-abiding (aionian) judgment.”
Rev. 19:3 “and her smoke rose up to the ages (aions) of the ages (aions).
Rev. 20:10 “tormented day and night to the ages (aions) of the ages (aions).”
Mat. 25:41 “depart from me, ye cursed, into age-abiding (aionian) fire.”
Jude 6 “he hath reserved in age-abiding (aionian) chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”

In a forthcoming chapter I will discuss further the meaning of expressions such as “the ages of the ages,” and “the age of the ages.” Note in this last verse that the aionian chains are “unto the judgment of the great day.” The chains cannot be eternal if they serve a role that is limited in time.

The Bible has much to say about the ages God has allotted to creation. Before Yahweh ever began to create He had established a master plan for the ages. All would culminate in a great final age of the ages when all would be reconciled to the Father, when sin and death would be no more.

Myths borrowed from pagan societies are no substitute for truth. Though it be a remnant who are able to endure sound doctrine in this hour, let them hold fast the truth by proclaiming the fullness of the reconciling work of Christ, the Savior of the world.

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Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

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