Eternal torment, who crucified Christ the Jews, the Romans,

Dear Lots O' Questions
The absolute vs. the relative

Hi Martin,

I enjoyed ZenderTalk this morning; that was my husband you were answering. My dad started telling us about you over the past year. It is so hard as a "born again" person to let go of that hell fire! The big revelation came to me about a month ago when my dad gave me the Concordant translation and your book, Martin Zender Goes to Hell, for my birthday. I hit myself on the forehead after reading the book and said "Duh!" When I realized Jesus was talking to the Jews, everything started making sense.

I’ve only really been studying this hard now for about a month, so you may have already addressed this in some of your tapes, but from what I am understanding, you and I and other believers will be raptured out of here before the tribulation and the millennium and will go directly into the celestials. Does that mean we will stay in the heavens with God until the consummation?

I’ve talked to a few people about this and the first reaction seems to be "well, if nobody goes to hell, then we might as well go out and do what we feel like doing." Why shouldn’t we just get the party started?

So now that we know the truth, what is our purpose here on earth? Do you believe missionaries are wasting their time?

Also, I agree with us not having free will, but do we actually make any choices? Am I fat because God wants me to be or did I choose to eat too much ice cream? Is it my choice to stay faithful to my husband or if I have an affair, did God cause me to do that? We protect our children when they are young, but as they get older we let them start making their own choices. Do I choose to read the Bible and seek out the truth, or is God causing me to do this?

Another guy that I talked to said he believes a lot of what you say, but he’s not going to change how he approaches people because if he is wrong that’s okay because we’ll all end up in heaven anyway.

One of the comments I made to my dad a few months ago was that my husband and I are in sales and sometimes you have to use scare tactics to get people to buy, so maybe pastors have to use scare tactics to get people into church. I would venture to say that a very large majority of people that go to church never even pick up their Bibles to study and just believe what their pastor is telling them. Do you believe that the "born again" Christian will not be raptured even though they love Christ and believe He is their Savior? Is there a price to be paid if people hang on to that eternal torment idea?

God bless, and I know I asked a lot of questions there. 

Dear Lots O’ Questions,

Yes, you asked lots o’ questions, but I have lots o’ answers. I hope you will forgive me if I seemed a little hard on your husband on the show. Perhaps he is playing devil’s advocate, but I treat his concerns and questions as if they are his own.

It may be tough for you to hear Friday’s show, because I answer the famous objection (I’ve heard it many times before): "If I’m right but you’re wrong…" Your husband says, "My traditional way of thinking covers me," which is a terrible mistake. This touches on your last question: "Is there a price to be paid for hanging onto the eternal torment idea?" There certainly is. While I don’t go ballistic over this point on Friday, I do address it strongly. Again, I ask your forgiveness if I seem heavy-handed. It’s just that I’m a black and white type of teacher. The eternal torment and free will doctrines are so sinister that I make a strong stand. The idea that believing these satanic doctrines could possibly "cover" a person, gets me going.

The free will doctrine, I believe, actually keeps people from being true believers. Why? Because this doctrine makes belief in Jesus the thing that saves, rather than the sacrifice of Jesus. Free will assumes that a person’s sin still remains. Isn’t that the way the orthodox preachers begin their "message of salvation?" They say, "You are a sinner, dangling over the fires of hell!" Then they tell a person that he or she has to somehow work up the faith to believe. Unless that faith can be manufactured, the cross of Christ will not help. Is this faith in Jesus? Not at all. It is faith in self to believe in Jesus. Free will is rank humanism dressed in religious garb.

The guy you talked to who is not going to change his approach is making a serious mistake, and his conception of Calvary is flawed, perhaps fatally so.

Yes, I do believe missionaries are wasting their time. Worse, they are teaching people about the God of conditional love Who is poised to torment people for eternity. The heathen are much better off without Christians teaching them about this fictitious God. If missionaries would just go to foreign countries and build buildings and feed people, that would be fine. But no, they’ve got to infect the people with a false gospel.

Scare tactics are horrible. Nobody "converted" by a scare tactic stays converted. It is a faith in fear, not Christ.

I deal with the "let’s get the party started" mentality in either tomorrow or the next day’s show. Tune in.

The damning word in the phrase "free will" is not the word will, but the word free. We do have wills and we do make hundreds of decisions every day, but none of these decisions are made without outside influence, and God is the outside influence. In other words, none of these decisions are free. Since we don’t feel this divine coercion, we assume it’s not there.

A person does get fat when he or she eats ice cream. But yes, it is ultimately God Who is responsible for it. When I turn on a fan that blows out a candle, who or what blew out the candle? It all depends on whether you want to take a relative or absolute viewpoint. Relatively, the fan blew out the candle; relatively again, I did it. But absolutely, God did it because I can do nothing outside of God ("In Him we live, and move, and are"—Acts 17:28). All bucks stop at God’s desk.

Who crucified Christ? Was it the Jews? The Romans? Satan? God? Every answer is correct, but only one answer is absolutely correct: God. All these others are intermediaries God used to effect His will. Scripture clearly states: "All is of God" (2 Cor. 5:18).

The body of Christ is snatched away either before or during the coming tribulation. Kingdom saints remain on earth, for this is their realm of ministry. I don’t think the body of Christ needs to stay in heaven; the whole universe is their "playground." I believe the body of Christ does return to earth with Christ when He comes to set up His kingdom.

Thank you for what you said about my book, Martin Zender Goes to Hell, in your first paragraph. I’m happy God used me to bring home this important topic for you. Here, by the way, is another example of relative vs. absolute truth: Did I acquaint you with these facts? Yes, I did. But God did it absolutely, using me as a herald. You are more than welcome to thank me for writing the book; I accept all thanks people wish to give. But I also recognize that ultimate thanks goes to God, for He is the One animating me, causing me to will and work for the sake of His delight (Philippians 2:13).

Read Philippians 2:12-13 for a beautiful view of the relative and the absolute working together in one verse. The relative is true, but the absolute is truer. The mistake is to look at the relative and call it absolute. But that’s the mistake most people make.

Thanks for writing.