• ‘Some Churches Have More Than 500,000
Persons, It Means They Will Not Go To Heaven’
‘144,000 Are The Chosen Class Of Christians’
(Brother Godwin Ifeacho, Chairman, Executive Board, God’s Kingdom Society, GKS, Warri, Delta State)
GOD’S kingdom is the universal empire or government of righteousness and peace, covering both heaven and earth, to be inhabited by spirit persons and human beings under the control of Jehovah, the Almighty God. It is called the Kingdom of heaven because the power and authority comes from heaven, the dwelling place of God. The Kingdom is to be fully established, not only in heaven, but also on this earth. While majority of the human race that will receive the grace of life shall be made to inhabit the earth in God’s Kingdom, only a few Christians of a distinguished class (the apostles) will be in heaven. Many people do not know that the Kingdom of God will also come to this earth. The Lord’s Prayer says: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” And Jesus said: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) He did not say the meek shall inherit heaven but the earth, in confirmation of the psalm of David which reads: “…But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37: 9-11. See also Proverbs. 11:31)
Neither Enoch nor Elijah, nor any of the holy men and women of old, before Christ, would be going to heaven. They would be princes and governors on this earth. (Job 19: 25-27; Isaiah 32:1; Matthew 11:11) St. Peter even says David is still in the grave. (Acts 2:29-34) Hence, Jesus Christ said: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13) These men would be resurrected after the devil and his hosts are killed and the Kingdom of God is fully established on earth.
Moreover,God has promised to make new, not only the heavens, but also the earth, according to Isaiah 65: 17; Revelation 21:1.2; 2 Peter 3: 13, etc. Both the New Heavens and the New Earth- THE WORLD WITHOUT END – will be filled with inhabitants who will be practising righteousness according to God’s purpose and arrangement. The Bible says, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” (Psalms 115:16). The statement of our Lord Jesus Christ to wit, “And I say unto you that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11) needs to be juxtaposed with the rendition in Luke 13:28,29, which says, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” The patriarchs and other holy men of God would be on earth as rulers. That is why the unjust would be able to see them.
Who are the 144,000?These are the chosen few; the class of Christians known as apostles, saints, the church of the first born,” and so on. The 12 apostles whom Christ chose were the foundation members of this class of Christians whom he also referred to as the “Little Flock” in Luke 12:32. The apostles should be distinguished from the rest of Christians whom Christ called the “other sheep” in John 10:16. The saints are chosen and anointed with the Holy Spirit from different parts of the world to be teachers and leaders through whom those of the “other sheep” are gathered to Christ. They are not taught by men. (John 15: I5,16; 17:18-21; 1 John 2: 27; Hebrews 12: 22-24) As soon as they receive the ordination through the Holy Spirit, they give up all secular work and devote their lives fully and wholly to the preaching of the gospel. And one of the marks by which they can be identified is the preaching of the truth as contained in the Bible without adulteration. (Romans 8: 29, 30; 10: 13-15; 1 Corinthians 7: 20-24; Galatians 1: 11-17; 1 John 2: 27). The anointed Christians are predestinated and called by God Himself to be Christ’s servants. (Romans 8:29,30) No one can make himself or another person an apostle or saint. (Hebrews 5: 4; James. 1: 18; Matthew 20: 20-23) They are all men; there is no woman among them. (1 John 2:27; Ecclesiastes 7:27, 28) It is only those of the class of the ‘Little Flock’ that Jesus promised to take to heaven to reign with him as kings and priests in Mount Zion, the capital of his kingdom. (John 14:1-3; Luke 22:28-30)
The number of the anointed Christians who constitute the cabinet of Jesus Christ was revealed to St. John as the 144,000, and they are said to be chosen from among the people of God on earth, symbolised by the 12 tribes of Israel. (Revelation 7:1-4) St. John further said: “And I looked…a Lamb (that is, Christ, John 1: 29) stood on the mount Sion (the capital of God’s Kingdom in heaven), and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads (that is they had the accurate knowledge of God). These are they, which were not defiled with women (meaning false religious organisations), for they are virgins (being pure spiritually). These are they, which follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” (Revelation 14: 1-5)
Jesus Christ promised that it is in this age, called the last days, that he would take the apostles to heaven. (John 14:1-3; Matthew 24:7,8; Luke 22:28-30) This promise has fulfilled on many of them since the signs of the times, especially the First World War of 1914-1918, shows that Christ has come again in spirit.He is enthroned as King in heaven from where he is carrying on the work of restoration, according to the divine promises of God. Before the saints are taken to heaven, they must be changed to spirits, to be like Christ who was resurrected a Spirit. (1 Peter 3: 18, 22; Philippians 3: 20, 21; 1 Corinthians 15: 48-53; 2 Corinthians 5: 1-5) The remaining ones of the saints or apostles, called the remnant, would be chosen in this age, to preach the truth to peoples of the world, thereby setting up God’s Kingdom organisations in various parts of the world. (Matthew 24:14, 31) But unlike those chosen before Christ’s second presence, the apostles chosen in this age would not remain in the grave. For, as soon as they die, they are changed into spirits and taken to heaven. However, some, who remain until the final end, when the devil will be destroyed would not die, but would pass from life to life. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
‘Teaching Is Heresy’
(Rev. Francis Ejiroghene Waive, General Overseer, Fresh Anointing Missionary Ministries Inc/Senior Pastor, Church Of The Anointing)
THE over emphasised teaching on the 144,000 by a particular sect and their allies is heresy. Heresy is when falsehood is propagated with the colouring of truth. Even when truth is over emphasised, it becomes heresy. There is a need for balance in everything, interpreting scripture with scripture: ‘for at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.’ A fundamental principle of Biblical interpretation is not to take one scripture and formulate a doctrine out of it. Otherwise many weird things will be taught using a single Bible verse. Other than Revelation Chapters Seven and 14, nowhere else in the Bible mentions this infamous 144,000. One wonders why they didn’t pick the three witnesses or the 24 elders also mentioned in the book of Revelation and declare same as the only number to inherit God’s Kingdom. Moreover, the book of Revelation is clear and precise on who these 144,000 are and the period of their access to heaven. First, these are Jews (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes) who eventually accept Jesus of Nazareth as the true Messiah and Christ. And this happens in the middle of the Great Tribulation, which the Bible teaches will occur at the end of the present age. It is well known that most Jews reject Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. Their acceptance of Jesus as the Christ is the first thing that marks the 144,000 out. Secondly, the Bible gives specific characteristics of these Jews; they have not defiled themselves with women and their tongue is pure from evil speaking or lies.
In the middle of the discussion on the 144,000, the scriptures talk about the 24 elders in heaven who are not part of the 144,000. Then immediately after the verses that discuss the 144,000, verse nine of Revelation Chapter Seven says, “after these thing, I looked and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues standing before the throne and before the lamb clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying with a loud voice saying, salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb”. With this and many other Bible passages, one wonders why people do not read the scriptures in context.
Children of God who precede the soon Second Coming of Christ in death are in a place of rest otherwise called Abraham’s bosom.This is just as the wicked dead are reserved in a place of torment until that great and dreadful Day of Judgment when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed. ‘But we which are alive shall not prevent them, which are asleep. For the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we, which are alive shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with him’ (1 Thess 4:15-17)
‘Doctrine Is Misreading
Of The Bible’
(Rev. Fr. Ojaje Idoko, Director of Pastoral Affairs Department, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja)
THERE are definitely misconceptions about the use of specific figures and numbers in the Holy Bible. The numbers seven and 12 are many times misused and misunderstood. These misconceptions come from the fact of misreading of the Bible and lack of understanding of the will of God the Father and His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ for the world. Let us get the word of Christ, which says, “It is not the will of my Father that anyone should perish.” (Matt. 18:14) The misreading of Revelation Chapter Seven is the cause of this misconception.
Revelation 7:4 says, “I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, 144,000 from every tribe of Israel.” Verses 5-8 relate that they were sealed, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, giving the total number of 144,000 persons. However, from Revelation 7:9ff, John the visioner saw another great multitude, IMPOSSIBLE TO COUNT, from every nation, race, people and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb’. The Bible does not say in any part that it is only the 144,000 that will go to heaven. The revelation to John supports Matthew 8:11, which says that many will come from every corner of the earth to sit with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The number 144,000 that were sealed or chosen are not pre-chosen. The number 12 itself is symbolic. Remember the use of the number in the Bible as it relates to Israel. They are 12 children of Jacob, 12 tribes of Israel, there are 12 foundation stones in the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus Christ chose 12 Apostles and we shall seat on the thrones to judge the 12 tribes of Israel. The new city of Jerusalem also has 12 gates. It is not surprising that the same number of 12 tribes of Israel is multiplied by the 12,000 persons from each tribe to get the figure 144,000.
What Jesus would want us to do is the answer he gave when someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He replied, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate. For many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be able to.” (Luke 13:23-24) If the 144,000 and some persons have been chosen, how then is He encouraging us all to strive to enter through the narrow gate? Salvation has always been open to all living human beings and it remains so. God has not changed and He will not change His plan, which is to save all. Those who have slept in faith are at peace waiting for the final judgment when we shall see “a new heaven and new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away and the sea was no more.” (Rev. 21:1) Revelation 20:12-13 says, “I saw the dead, the great and lowly, standing before the throne, and the scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds… Those who slept in death rose and the sea gave up its dead; and then Death and Hades gave up their dead.” The saints who have slept in peace are enjoying the presence of God our Father and will not experience the second death. They are at peace with God.
‘No Man Can Determine
Who Goes To Heaven Or Hell’
(Arc. Taofeek Olawunmi Agbaje, President Jama-at-ul Islamiyya of Nigeria And Overseas)
WE don’t have such in the Quran; what we have specifically mentioned is that everybody will be judged on the Day of Judgment. At the end of this exercise, there are just only two places where people will spend eternity: it’s either you find yourself in hell or in heaven, which is paradise. And on the Judgment Day, after the pronouncement, everybody will know where he/she belongs. Everything about the earth will totally collapse: the moon, the sun, and the mountains will be like a pack of wood. So, nobody is ruling anything, once it is destroyed. We believe that when the last day comes, everything about the earth is finished. There will be no living soul on the earth. Rather, we would have those going to hell or those heading for paradise. That is why we always preach that one needs to do good because both hell and heaven are everlasting. If there is any other choice, like the way you are putting it, about any other world, some people would say, ‘may be I will be back to the world again. I might be the one they will retain in the world’. There is nothing like that.
We don’t have a specific number of people Almighty God has purposed to spend eternity with Him. We cannot imagine how paradise will look like or even think about the population it will accommodate. Nobody knows. Do we even know the population that Almighty God has created that will go to heaven? At the moment, no human being knows the extent of what God Almighty has created. Just recently, they discovered a new planet. That means we cannot comprehend the knowledge and power of Almighty God. His creation is so wide. He just gave us the little of what He wants us to know. That goes to confirm what both the Quran and the Bible say about false prophets; that when they come they will tell you so many things. How did they know? Are they going to be with the Almighty God, judging the people? Human beings cannot judge who goes to heaven or who goes to hell. The people we esteem so highly today, who are at the top, who we say are holy, might go to hell. So, it’s only the Almighty God who knows who is going to heaven or hell.
Talking about the saints and where they are, now, the Almighty Allah did not show or tell us where the saints who have died are. What He just mentioned in the Quran and in the Bible is that on that last day, He will wake everybody up to face the judgment. The concept of Islam is that the day one dies, his or her judgment starts. Muslims believe that the moment one dies, right there in the grave, his/her judgment starts. If you are a good person, you will know where you are going. If you are a terrible person, you will get a sign of where you are going. All the saints that have died and are still dying, where are their souls? Almighty Allah knows where He put them till the last day.
‘Church Founders Alone
Are More Than 144,000’
(His Grace, The Most Rev. (Dr.) Solomon Gbadebo Abimbola Primate, The First African Church Mission)
WHEN you look at the majority of church founders, they are even more than that number they are talking about. Majority of those preaching this heresy are heads of churches. That means they have condemned themselves already, and they are not going to heaven. There is nothing like that in the Bible. I have not come across something like that in the Bible, which I believe every other person is reading as well. It’s like when they talk about 40 in the Bible and say that 40 does not really mean 40. That is why we always advise ourselves whenever we meet that the way some people are interpreting the Bible is causing problem for their members. That is why you see churches everywhere. Some people just wake one morning and the next thing they open a church, without any training. Nothing whatsoever! The little idea or experience they have is what they are using to teach their members. People don’t read the Bible and interpret it accordingly. That is the problem.
To them, 144,000 people are those that are called by grace. To them, these are the only people of grace that will go to heaven. And yet the Bible says: ‘turn away from your sins and you will be saved’. If the Bible is talking about how you are going to be saved, that means people are turning what the Bible is saying to mean something else.
I don’t believe what they are saying concerning 144,000. When you look at the number in Revelation, you cannot quantify it with the present number of Christians we have in the world today. So, their interpretation is not what the Bible is saying. The kingdom that Jesus is referring to is the kingdom of God; of course, those who will be with Him in eternity. If the world today turns away from their wicked ways and turn to God and are born again then everybody will go to heaven. The issue of 144,000 does not arise at all. To me, I don’t believe in heresy. Today, churches outnumber this figure. Some have more than 500,000 persons. It means they will not go to heaven, according to that teaching. If you are born again before death comes, and you have repented of your sins, you will go to heaven. Even if you have been doing evil before, that moment you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour you are going to heaven. Nothing will stop you. So, I don’t believe in that number. All the saints that have died are with Christ in heaven. He said, ‘So shall we be forever.’ So, those who have died in the Lord are in heaven. There is a portion in the Bible, which says, ‘We all are going to die. Even those that are dead will be the first to be raised and those of us who are still living are going to meet them over there…’ The teaching is a fallacy.
‘Number Merely Symbolic’
(Rev. Nelson Iluno, Anglican Diocese of Nnewi, Anambra State)
Matthew 8:11 contains Jesus’ amazing response to the faith of the centurion who requested the healing of his sick servant from Jesus. In praising the centurion, Jesus tweaked the ethnic attitudes of the Jews. For Jesus to approve a Gentile with greater faith than any of the Jews seems scandalous and very offensive to the Jews. Jesus said, “Many will come from the east and the west.” This centurion was a forerunner of those Gentiles who would later believe in Jesus and receive salvation. Salvation is the central theme of the Holy Scriptures. The Gentile Christians are numbered among the redeemed of God.
The book of Revelation (7:1-17) describes two redeemed communities. The first (vv.1-8) numbers 144,000 and is drawn from the 12 tribes of Israel by representation of 12 persons from each tribe. The second (vv. 9-17) is a huge unnumbered multitude drawn from all nations, language, and tribes or the great international community. At first sight, they seem to be two distinct groups (numbered and unnumbered: Israel and the Gentiles). But on closer inspection, it becomes clear that both are pictures of the same redeemed community of God: one true, holy and universal church, although viewed from different perspectives.
The first community are called “the servants of our God” (v. 3), who are sealed on their foreheads to indicate that they belong to him. The number 144, 000 has a special meaning in the Bible; it means completeness. The number “seven” has the same special meaning (Rev. 5:6). The 144,000 are symbolic; they are representatives of the 12 tribes of Israel. It does not mean that only 144,000 Israelites will be saved.
The second community is international and countless. They are described as “they…washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 14).