My respect for the bible has reached astronomical heights in recent times. And this basically has to do with the sort of truth and deep revelation that has come my way in my studies. Above all, I have been totally blown away by the prophetic essence of the bible – the fact that there are so many things that have happened or still happening that were prophesied in the bible. Also the fact that I have been made to understand that no man is the repository of biblical knowledge or revelation. There are a lot of things I have heard recently which did not sound biblical to me, yet I shut my mouth in total agreement when tangible evidence is cited to support such claims. Yet there is one concept that I have heard so many times but have not come across any concrete evidence in the bible in support of it. It is the called the concept of Outer Darkness.
According to those who believe in this, they claim it is a suburb of heaven, where those believers who only believe but are not faithful ‘enough’, go to after judgment. Well it sounds like a pretty cool idea, but I just cannot come to terms with the fact that there is a part of heaven that the awesome light emanating from the Lord cannot reach. I just cannot fathom how there is a part of heaven where there will be ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’. One inference I have made from the assertion made by all who believe in this ideology, is that, they also believe once a Christian is saved he is saved forever hence outer darkness is a place meant for all who do not really meet the mark, but were believers on earth. Well, I beg to differ. Ideally, Christians are not supposed to fall away but from the bible, there are verses that suggest the fact that some believers will fall away – and that is the unpardonable sin. So where from the ‘once saved forever saved doctrine’? In Hebrews 6 (verse 4) it is stated emphatically :
‘for it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and shared in the Holy Spirit …… if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son Of God’
One literary device that is often used to portray emphasis is repetition. In the sense that in a particular text, if an idea is repeated, it means the author is only stressing that point. I say this in the light of the fact that the major thematic concern of the verse above is repeated in Hebrews 10:26 :
‘for if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice of sins.
These two verses in the bible only tell us how important it is to work out our salvation even though the righteousness of Christ has been imputed into us. Hence in James 2:19, the bible tells us it is not enough to believe because even demons believe and they tremble. Meaning if your Christianity is SOLELY based on belief, then you are not too different from a demon. Therefore, I say Christians can lose their righteousness and hence we need to work out our own salvation with God’s help.
A parable is a short story used to depict a certain reality in simpler and realistic terms for the audience to understand better. Many times, if the reality is something the audience can’t relate to, the parable confuses them even the more. Jesus spoke in parables often and I would like to focus on the parables he spoke that are relevant to the topic under discussion. In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus used three different parables to depict the reality of judgment and ‘Heaven and Hell’. These are, ‘the parable of the ten virgins’, ‘the parable of the talents’ and “the parable of the ‘sheep and goats’”. Now the idea of outer darkness depicts a sense of a middle ground between heaven and hell. Nevertheless, we do not in any way see the portrayal of a middle ground in these parables. We see Jesus projecting two destinations after judgment in all three parables (remember what I said about repetition?). In the first parable, the five wise virgins made it to the ‘marriage feast’ the foolish ones were left outside. In the second parable, the two faithful servants were allowed into the joy of their master while the ‘wicked and slothful servant’ was thrown into outer darkness. Then in the last parable, it says on the day of Judgment, Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Well, clearly there is no middle ground here. Clearly, there are only two destinations available in eternity be you a Christian, a sinner or an unfaithful servant. What the ideology of outer darkness does is, it either eliminates the reality of the existence of hell or simply paints a bad picture of heaven.
In Luke 13:27, the bible tells us about how Jesus will judge those who claim to have a relationship with the Lord yet lived in sin. Those servants of his who will demand the gates of heaven to be opened unto them, though they were unfaithful. The bible says the Lord shall tell them, ‘Depart from me, all you workers of evil!. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth…’. Meaning the place designated for the workers of evil is characterized by ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’. Then in Matthew 22, the bible records Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Feast. Where the invited guests did not turn up for the event hence the King ordered for an invitation to be sent out to common people on the streets (both bad and good). Yet when the King came he realized there was one man who did not have a wedding garment (righteousness). This is the king’s decree: ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ *sighs* Is it possible that there will be two different places in eternity where there will be ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’? I find it quite difficult to believe there will be a part of heaven that possesses the same features as hell.
Honestly, there is more to this issue than I have shared here, hence a sequel to this blog is inevitable. There will definitely be a part 2. The bible says in 1John 1:5 that, ‘God is light, and in Him is no darkness AT ALL’. If there is no darkness in him, how is it that some claim there is darkness where he is? I know this is quite a controversial issue, it is even an ongoing debate in theology. I am not discrediting the call upon the life of any man of God who believes that outer darkness is a suburb of heaven. I just decided to express my thoughts about an issue that has bothered me for some time now.