THE PENALTY and the PURPOSE
BY: LLOYD ELLEFSON
Greetings! God’s program and plans for man have never changed nor have they ever been frustrated! His plan of redemption is wonderful! He works everything we see, hear and experience according to the counsel of His own will. Each generation is engulfed in its own void, chaos, and darkness. We all have to be brought out of that and be translated into a new man. God gives us a new understanding and a new image of Himself. This opens the door for us to realize our Father-son relationship and oneness with God. There is oneness with the Father who is the Creator, and with the Spirit – but not with creation.
In spite of what God has done and is doing, only a few people really want to understand spiritually; most of them only want to understand according to the concepts of their carnal mind. It has never conceived the things of God. Recognizing that natural concepts are not spiritual concepts is the key to an understanding of God. The satisfaction of understanding in the natural is not the same as that of understanding in the spirit. Those who have not experienced spiritual understanding, do not believe it exists; so if it does not exist, no one can have it. People who believe that, may use the same vocabulary, but they lack spiritual understanding.
The opposition Christ experienced came from people whose ideas of God had their source in the carnal mind. Man’s awareness was embedded in carnal, earthy thoughts of darkness. The prophetic messages, though inspired by the Holy Spirit, were only understood in the natural, because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. Although it had been prophesied that light would come, people did not believe they needed it. However, they were living in darkness, so they needed the light of Jesus Christ.
The coming of Jesus Christ in the form of man, yet with the anointing of the Spirit, brought light or illumination to man. The light of this new day of salvation is eternal; it is an eternal day which has no beginning nor end. Christ’s relationship with the Father was not based on attainment, but on submission, so He did not strive to attain anything for Himself, or to make Himself acceptable to the Father. Everything was of the Father! He said, “I can do nothing of Myself…the works are of My Father…the Father is greater than I…the Father sent Me.” To be like Christ is to have His understanding. Therefore we have to repent of our carnal thinking and listen to the Spirit.
We will make the same mistakes Israel made, if we entertain the same natural ideas they did. We will reject and crucify our Savior. They were God’s chosen people, and were kept informed about God’s plans and program by their prophets, yet they continued in their rebellious ways. They were the chosen ones among the nations of the earth, but they did not realize what God was really doing, or who they really were. They had their own ideas. So Jesus began to expound truth concerning the invisible kingdom of God! This was rejected by the Jews because they were only listening with their carnal minds. This clearly illustrated that the natural man does not receive the things of the Holy Spirit.
In spite of all the patience and grace Jesus exhibited, and all the external things He did to prove who He was, mankind was not changed! People did not even want to change! They felt secure in having their God-given law and traditions, and in using them as their motivation by instilling guilt. They did not understand the purpose of the law, so they were not prepared to receive Christ. They thought Moses was all they needed! Jesus said, “…the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” That was quite an indictment! They did not believe Moses because he was teaching a law which would administer death to the natural man. That was not what they wanted, so they rejected it just as they and many others do today.
The law is spiritual and prepares people for the coming of the great teacher, the Holy Spirit – who also taught Jesus. Jesus said, “Whatever I see the Father doing, I do…the Father does the works.” Jesus was the vehicle, the priesthood of life into, and in the spiritual realm. This new priesthood requires a new law, which is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (Heb. 7:12; Rom. 8:2)
The conflict in religious circles today, is the result of believing everything with their natural mind. Although they say Jesus is the Redeemer who forgives their sins, they also say they are sinners because they still sin. They try to serve God. They go to church and pay their tithes, they try to obey their pastor and submit to the church. These have become mediators between them and God. This thinking results in a focus on penalty – or punishment; that is, if they don’t obey, God will not bless them. These dear people are missing the mark entirely.
From the Old Testament we get the idea of God being a God of wrath. He caused the death of many people, yet He said, “Thou shalt not kill.” This bothered me until I realized that God’s life is the only life there is. God was putting away an incorrect manifestation of life, so that the correct manifestation of life could come forth.
The soul of man is relegated to the flesh, because the Adamic man was formed out of the existing creation – out of the earth. Then God breathed into man, and he became a living soul; he derived his entire sense of being from his physical body. The realization we have as natural human beings, begins with our body and ends when our body dies. If we do not have any realization beyond the natural, we only have a temporal one – not a spiritual one. However we need a spiritual one! Our main problem is the refusal to deny or disown ourselves; to repent of who we are – to turn away from our old sense of being. This is what it means to repent of our sins! We have to turn away from our sense of being in Adam, to the sense of being in Christ.
The penalty for sin is death, yet natural man has devised a lot of consequences. He says death is eternal punishment and torment by forever burning in the fire of hell. The penalty for sin is death, and in Adam all die. Our natural birth gives us an identity and union with Adam; it gives us a carnal mind. The law was given to stop every mouth from proclaiming its own innocence; it was to bring us to repentance as a preparation for the coming of a new sense of being, a new life, a regeneration of our spirit, our thinking of who we are, and who God is.
Jesus did not rate very highly with the Israelites, because He was not impressed with their religiosity. He told the Pharisees, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, `We see’; your sin remains.” (Jn. 9:41) Their refusal to admit their inadequacy indicted them. They thought they believed in Moses, but they didn’t! Jesus told them they did not know the Father. Had they been acquainted with the Father, they would know Him; if they knew Him, they would also know the Father. Since they did not know the Father, they did not know Jesus either. His purpose for saying these things was redemptive. They were to take a good look at themselves and see who they were. However, the vanity of mankind is great!
Their conception of God was totally wrong. Obviously then, they did not know Him; so they would also have a totally wrong idea of who they were. They were upset because Jesus Christ called God His Father. They had their own idea and concept of God, and this was anchored in their carnal mind. So they rejected Jesus – as He knew they would – for they had not as yet received the Holy Spirit. Had they believed the law, they would have repented and believed.
Now what springs out of this natural idea of God? It is the idea of eternal punishment. They think that after they die, they will be cast into hell and then into a lake of fire, where they will suffer torment forever together with the devil. If punishment were eternal, it would have no beginning or end; therefore it would have had to be present before the foundation of the world. It would have had to be in God. Eternal things are always present!
We have already mentioned that the penalty for sin is death. Those who believe, have passed from death into life. Death is the lack of perception of God, and that is the punishment Adam received. The consequences of this death are not always felt immediately. Adam did not die physically straightaway; he lived for 930 years. However, spiritually he was separated from God, and that is death. Living in this death causes evils, like wars, lack of understanding God, lack of peace, and the continual erosion and contamination of the earth. Man is acting like an animal; he is destroying everything. Why? The god of this world is ruling him and he comes only to destroy and to kill. So he is destroying the earth through man.
Is this the man who is in the image of God? No, this is the man who has conceived his own image of God, and lives in that image. The kingdom of God is different; it is not of this world – it is of the world which God so loved, that he gave His Son! The world of which the kingdom of God does not have a part, is not to be loved – for he that loves the world, makes himself an enemy of God. We are not to love the world, nor the things in the world! These things are the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. The rule in this world that we are living in, makes it evil. And Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Therefore there must be more worlds than only one. Peter talks about three worlds. One was destroyed by water, the present world is being destroyed by fire, and the third one is a world where righteousness dwells.
Every person must pass through the water and the fire. We have a water baptism, and a baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. The fire produces a purging of the spirit of man and his actions. This changes his understanding of God.
Our erroneous ideas come partly from mistranslations. For instance, 12 times in the King James version in which the word “Hades” is translated as “hell” or “hellfire”. Correctly speaking, the words, “hell” and “fire” are never used together in the scriptures proper. They have only been put together by men who mistranslated the scriptures.
Let’s look at what “hell” really means. It basically comes from the word “hades” which means “unseen, unperceptible” – something that is beyond the senses. That is all it means. What does the word “hell” mean to you? People have all kinds of connotations of hell: they think it is a place where people will burn forever, and suffer eternal torment; they think God will take pleasure in frying them. In their estimation they will still have visible, physical bodies which can feel pain. Physical bodies could only last a matter of seconds in a physical lake of fire. After that there would be no more pain or torment.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, it says the rich man died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes. While he was alive and enjoying the riches of this earth, he did not realize that his life lacked perception of God, and that he was therefore living in this hell. His perception of reality was missing – he did not know what was of God and what wasn’t. Only after he left his physical body did he realize that Lazarus was really nearer to God than he was. Being in this torment of not knowing and not having a true sense of reality, could have been prevented had he listened to the law and the prophets. So hell is the realization that you have missed something; you have missed the mark because the law has not done its work in you.
When our concept of life comes through our physical body, it will die when our body dies, because it depends upon the body. The Adamic man is an earthy man because he was made out of the earth; his conceptions are earthy. His soul and his whole sense of being, depend on the sensations that come through his physical body from the time of his birth. Even as he grows in knowledge, understanding and physical progress, everything that comes into his mind, comes through the senses of his body. Whatever he touches, feels, sees, fears and imagines is registered in his body.
However, Jesus came to give us a sense of life that does not originate in, nor does it depend upon this body. Since it does not begin with this body, it does not die with it either. We are talking about immortal things that do not have any beginning nor end. We sometimes have the idea that mortality will change into immortality. Yet immortality does not have a beginning nor an end, and mortality has both. It is all in the realm of death. That is what people are living in.
The word GEHENNA simply means HINNOM, a place outside Jerusalem where trash was thrown. Things that were of no use and would never be picked up again, were constantly burned there. Christ used that as an illustration for the judgment of certain things that would be put under a fire that would not cease until they were fully consumed. He said, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) This fire is a spiritual realization which brings spiritual judgment. In the scriptures, the word GEHENNA has often been translated wrongly. I am going to cite these verses according to the King James version. Matt.5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15; 23:33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6. The other ten references in the New Testament have been correctly translated. HADES is correctly translated as HELL. It is a state of unperception; people living there do not comprehend or grasp the things of God. They do not realize they are living in the darkness of their carnal mind.
The word GEHENNA was joined with the word FIRE, because it was a place of burning. For instance, in Matt. 10:28 it says, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (King James version) People really fear the destruction of their body. They think their life ceases with the death of their body. However, God said, “Don’t fear them (people), but fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Actually the word used here is not HELL, but GEHENNA. So it should read, “Fear Him who can destroy both the soul and body in Gehenna.” It does not say the spirit is destroyed in Gehenna.
In looking at the correct translation and usage of the word HADES, we recognize it is something that is beyond the senses and the seen realm; it is unseen, and cannot come to us unless it is revealed to us. There has to be light to show what is hidden in that darkness. A new realization has to come to our new mind, which is the mind of Christ.
It is our spirit which needs to be regenerated. Forgiveness of sin does not automatically give us an understanding of what it means to be born again. We are born of incorruptible seed which is the word of God. Those who are truly born again, are born of incorruptible seed and are incorruptible. Regardless of how sin comes to us, it cannot corrupt us. We have been indoctrinated to believe that we are still sinful beings who are being changed into GOOD people. This proves that we are trying to change corruption into incorruption. We want to change truth into a lie, darkness into light, etc. This is impossible! These things are entirely different – they are in a completely different realm of realization.
To be regenerated in the spirit, or born after an incorruptible seed, we have to BELIEVE that this is who we ARE. God has made us new creatures in Christ! We have to let the Spirit of God convince us that we ARE the sons of God. Anyone who tells us we are not speaks against the testimony of God. Like Paul said in Rom. 7:17, “So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me.” It’s not me – sin works in me once in a while – but it is not me. The real me is: I am dead, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.
There are some strange things recorded in the scriptures. It says that death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. If the lake of fire is hell, how can hell be cast into the lake of fire? This will not work. Fire is judgment – it is a great accumulation of judgment – and it is the second death. It does not say that the lake of fire is hell; it says that it is the second death. To understand this, we have to be like little children and let God open us up to spiritual realization. Those who recognize their need the most will receive the most; those will be the greatest in the kingdom of God.
In Matt. 16:19 Jesus said He would give Peter the keys of the kingdom. Keys open and close doors. On the day of Pentecost, Peter opened the kingdom of God to the Jews. Jews from different parts of the world had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the waiting disciples. In response to the people’s questions, Peter got up and opened up the kingdom to them by preaching repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The keys are plural. Peter not only opened up the kingdom to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. In Acts 10 we read of the vision Peter received. An object like a great sheet filled with four-footed animals, crawling creatures, and various birds was lowered from heaven to the earth. And God said, “Arise, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” And again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” (vv.14-15) Peter immediately was called to go to the Gentiles, and he told them, “… God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (v. 28) Wow! Why? This is the way it is in God’s eyes. It is a finished work; God has taken care of sin! However, many do not believe what God has said in regard to what He has done. Therefore they are very concerned about punishment, and this causes them to live in a delusion and a lie.
Peter learned that in every nation the man who fears God and does what is right, is welcomed by God. This wonderful truth came to him by revelation and enabled him to open up the kingdom to the Romans, a Gentile nation. Peter used the keys to open the kingdom, to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles. He used the keys when he preached Jesus Christ as Lord and when he told them about the coming of the Holy Spirit. This has been fulfilled.
The heavens were opened to Jesus Christ when He received the baptism of repentance at the Jordan, came out of the law, and received the witness that He was the Son of God. The Holy Spirit came on Him to give Him the realization that He was no longer subject to the law, but to the Holy Spirit. This is when the man Jesus got the Anointing and He became the Christ – the Anointed One. He was no longer a servant – He was a Son! This identification revealed the Fatherhood of God! Everything Jesus Christ did was for us! He came to redeem you and me from being servants under the law! Servants do not not live in the house forever; God wants SONS who will abide with Him forever! Jesus could overcome all the temptations of the devil because He knew He was a Son.
We also have to move out of the law of sin and death and receive the new law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, if we are to be victorious over sin. Referring again to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, we see the importance of hearing the law and the prophets. The rich man went to Hades. There he asked Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers. Abraham replied that they have the law and the prophets. If they do not listen to them, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead. This is a reference to Christ; Christ rose from the dead, and people still do not believe on Him, unless they have heard the law and the prophets. They are the teachers that bring us this Christ. After we have heard Moses, we come to Christ.
Jesus Christ is the truth, and if you are not in Him, some day you will wake up to this fact. No matter how much error you have been in, one day, whether in the body or out of the body, you are going to wake up. At that time you will find out that truth is the bottom line. Whatever Christ said is truth, and whatever man conceived in his own mind is delusion. It will disappear for all your goods will be taken away by a thief in the night. And that is the coming of Christ! When the light of Christ’s day comes, all these thoughts of darkness disappear because they are lies, delusions, and without reality. Therefore it is important to live in truth, and not in the deception of the natural mind.
If you are in Adam you die; if you are in Christ you are alive. In Adam everybody dies, because in him there is only separation from God – and this is death. Adam fell from being in fellowship with God to being afraid of Him; he tried to cover himself with his own works and to hide from Him. God said, “Who told you that you were naked?” This information did not come from God!
In Rev. 1:18 we read of the revelation of Jesus Christ. He has the keys of death and of Hades. If you are in Christ you have the keys of death and Hades. This enables you to go in and out of Hades, because keys are used to open and lock doors. Jesus Christ has been into death and Hades; He has the keys to them. If you are in death or Hades, then Christ has the key for you to get out of there and be an overcomer.
All the promises of God find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ; they have their Yes and Amen in Jesus Christ. There is no rejection in Him – only fulfillment. Some think that the promises of God are for natural Israel. That is not true. All the promises of God have their fulfillment in Christ. The promises are only promises, projections, and prophecies until Jesus Christ comes to fulfill them! Whether you are Jew or Gentile, the only way fulfillment can come to you, is in Jesus Christ who has the keys of death and Hades.
After the Holy Spirit had come upon those who had gathered in the upper room, Peter talked to the people who had gathered in amazement at what was happening. (Acts 2:17-21) He quoted Joel 2:28-31, “And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit upon all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”
This quotation from the prophet Joel is referred to by Peter as, “THIS is THAT which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” (Acts 2:16) This is the pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh, because God does not do things in a corner. This is the darkening of the sun. This is the fulfillment. The sun is darkened because we have a new light. The Spirit has been poured out on ALL flesh, but not all men receive it. In Acts 2:27 he talks about God and about Christ in the foreknowledge of God, and He said, “Because Thou wilt not abandon My soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.” Wow! Christ did not undergo decay, did He? He said, “You won’t leave My soul in Hades.” I believe Jesus Christ entered into Hades for us – He entered into the unseen, into that arena in which the carnal mind was being dominant over the spiritual mind. He partook of all these things because He had to identify with us in the lowest point of our dilemma, our lack of recognition of God, our mistaken identity, our ignorance of the things of the Spirit – He entered into that arena.
God did not leave Christ’s soul (His essence of being) there. He raised it up again. The sense of being which was in Christ could not be held in the unseen or unperceived, because He was the light of God. On the cross we have a good example of how He identified with us. Up to that time, He had been confessing God as His Father. On the cross He cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” This is the cry of natural man. This was His identification with us in our humanity, in our fall, in our vanity and lack of recognition of God.
Isaiah 53 also refers to this when he said that Jesus was forsaken of God. His soul is the redeeming factor for us, because His soul is the realization and consciousness of life, the sense of being that was in Christ. This redeems us. If He gives us HIS sense of being as OUR sense of being, we are taken out of what we were, and what we thought we were, and what we thought God was, and we are redeemed. That is redemption. Jesus Christ did not come to condemn us, because there is no condemnation in Him.
In order to minister according to the order of Melchizedek, the fulfillment of which is in Christ, we have to minister life. Condemnation is not our ministry. The only ministry we are to have is the one which comes out of the knowledge of sonship. Unless we know that, we will minister the law. We have a new law – the law of Spirit and life in Christ Jesus. To minister in this life, we have to know that we are born of an incorruptible seed that cannot be corrupted. We must realize that we have the endless life of which Melchizedek was a type; he had no beginning nor end, no father and no mother – an endless life.
Our faith needs to be enlarged. We are constantly drawn into the limitations imposed on us by the natural mind. Christ has taken them away. He is our Redeemer; He redeems us. The great delusion which has been passed onto us has been seeded and reseeded; it has borne fruit for many, many years, times, seasons and ages. It has become more sophisticated over the years. That is why we need to be freed from our natural thinking and be ascended into spiritual thinking. Our busyness should not crowd out our time to sit down with the scriptures (particularly the New Testament) and let the Spirit augment and bring another dimension of understanding to what we are reading.
Since many people do not relate to this higher insight, we soon find out this spells trouble for us. It brought persecution to Jesus Christ, and it will to us too. The sufferings of Christ are caused by the rejection of truth. Paul says we have to fill up the sufferings of Christ. If we have been rejected because we testified to the truth, we are filling up the sufferings of Christ. Rejection takes place because every person who is born into this world is in darkness and estranged from God. Until the law has taught man that he is in a death situation, he will persecute those who have a higher understanding. He must repent and receive the Lord if he wants to come into life.
I hope this has cleared something up for you – it has for me. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you the understanding. AMEN.
THE PENALTY and the PURPOSE [Lloyd Ellefson] 1