The Gates Are Open

gates

The idea that God kills people nauseates me. This question—whether it’s death outside the gates of the New Jerusalem in the end, or just death in this life—has always troubled me. It is actually a fearful question that has gnawed the minds of men since the fall. There are a certainly a lot of places in the Bible where it seems like He does. Of course, exploring this issue is part of what this website is about.

Emergency Measures?

Graham Maxwell and Tim Jennings believe that God uses “emergency measures,” putting people to sleep in this life for His redemptive purposes. These two men, more than any others, have helped me to understand our non-violent God. Yet I still believe that God’s respect for man’s freedom and sovereignty, the intrinsic effects of sin, and God willingness to go the second mile with men can account for all of the places where it seems like He kills men.

In the End, It Doesn’t Matter

Regardless of which position we may take on God’s emergency measures, the truth is that none of God’s creatures have died permanently yet. God is going to bring everyone who has died back to life again to show all intelligent creatures that He is fair and righteous in His judgments. Specifically, all who come up in the second resurrection are given every opportunity to change their minds. This is certainly in character with His gracious and patient dealings with men and angels.

“Wait!” you say. “What do you mean, a chance for the wicked to change their minds? Haven’t they all made irrevocable decisions?” Yes, but God wants this to be so clear to all that no one can ever again accuse Him of foul play. So when the New Jerusalem comes to earth and the wicked are all raised, the gates are left open as a gracious invitation to any outside who might want to change their minds and come into the city (Revelation 21:25). Yet no one comes in…

“Satan succeeds in deceiving them [the wicked], and all immediately begin to prepare themselves for battle. There are many skillful men in that vast army, and they construct all kinds of implements of war. Then with Satan at their head, the multitude…march over the broken surface of the earth to the Holy City. Jesus closes the gates of the city, and this vast army surround it, and place themselves in battle array, expecting a fierce conflict.” – Ellen White, Early Writings 293 (emphasis mine)

Why No One Enters the Gates

Tim Jennings explains the tragic course of events:

“The wicked think those within the city are delusional. All stay out of the gates because they are so settled into the lies about God that they don’t want to go in. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that God’s actions in putting people in sleep mode throughout history in no way determined their destiny. Everyone who is lost kept themselves out by their own choices. Those outside the New Jerusalem are so settled into the lie that no amount of truth and evidence can penetrate. Even the evidence of the New Jerusalem won’t convince them.”

An Accurate Diagnosis

In this great controversy about His character, God has and always will deal with the universe freely and openly. All will see that there is no slight of hand, but that God is just and righteous in His decisions throughout the history of the struggle. They will see in this last conflict that God’s final judgment is nothing more than the accurate diagnosis of every man’s true condition, a condition they forged by their consistent freewill choices.

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