I know that the soul who sins is the one who will die. (Ezekiel18). Was
that from the beginning of the creation? Or it has begun in Ezekiel 18 ,
because I can see that Abraham was a righteous man and was blessed, so
Isaac & Sarah were also blessed because of Abraham . On the other hand
Achan (Joshua 7) sinned against God, and God’s anger was burned not only
against him but against Israel. Besides, they stoned him, his Sons, his
daughters…All that he had, then they burned them…. So what’s the
difference between what is written in Ezekiel 18 and God’s punishement or
his blessings to a man’s children?

Good question!

It was true from the beginning that the soul that sins is the one who will
die. One need only look at Adam and Eve to be sure of that. So what about
Abraham? Abraham became lost when he sinned, just like the rest.
Nevertheless, he had his sins forgiven by God?s sovereign choice because
of his faith. Romans 4 (whole chapter) makes it clear that Abraham was
considered righteous (i.e. forgiven of his sin) because of his faith which
was shown by his righteous deeds. So yes, all who sin are destined to
perish?that is unless they are saved from their sins through the
forgiveness from God. Achan sinned and was judged both physically, and
presumably spiritually for his sin. Clearly, he did not have the faith of
Abraham. One difficult point is that people who lived before Jesus, such
as Abraham and Elijah will clearly be with God in heaven, yet they were
not saved in the New Testament sense. Apparently the blood of Jesus
?”slain since the foundation of the world” is able to save even those who
put their faith in God before Jesus died on the cross. They were not saved
in the same sense as we, as they did not have the gift of the Holy Spirit
living in them, but they will be forgiven by God nevertheless.

Back to Achan. He and his family were judged physically, but according to
Ezekiel, only Achan would be punished spiritually for his sins. Our sins
in this life can cause suffering and physical judgement on our neighbors,
but before God on judgement, we will be saved or lost based on our actions
alone. The difficulty here is to distinguish between some sort of physical
punishment in this life, which can affect the “innocent” versus and
eternal salvation which is completely a matter of one?s own life.

John Oakes, PhD

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