HELL! Would A Loving God Send Anyone There?

Posted: February 3, 2013 in Bible Doctrine, Hell

hellAfter scores of emails criticizing the doctrine of hell, I chose to address it today. The most common attempt to logically exclude the doctrine of hell by its critics is “would a loving God send someone to hell?”. The problem with that is they are asking the wrong question. The Bible says that those who have not placed their trust in Christ are condemned already. Condemned to what? We’ll answer that later, but the question should be, would a God of justice and holiness permit someone to reject His son who suffered and died and offered salvation freely not exact some type of punishment?

However, at the end of this article, I am going to show you that hell is not the sinners final destination. So even if hell were to be the “common grave” or a burning sector for trash (and those terms were used to describe as close as man could understand what hell is like, not the other way around) that would not affect the sinners final judgment, which is NOT HELL. It’s worse!

THERE IS A PENALTY FOR REJECTING CHRIST

Jesus said in Luke 13:3-5 “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”, and “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” John 3:17. Jesus also states that He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” John 3:36.

Man is appointed to die in life at least once, and after that is judgment. Heb 9:27.

Those who believe that because God is love ignore that He is also a “consuming fire”. Heb 12:29. If one were to read the Old Testament starting from Isaiah through Malachi, every prophetic book was about judgment. In the New Testament Jesus preached about hell thirteen times. (Matthew 5:22-30, Matthew 10:28,  Matthew 16:18, Matthew 11:23, Matthew 18:9, Mark 9:47, Matthew 23:15-33, Luke 16:23[and Jesus states also that He has the keys of hell and death in Rev 1:18]). In fact, Luke 16 is one of the most descriptive stories regarding hell in all the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that this is a parable, but the story is not called a parable; any time Jesus was using hyperbole to make a point, He always identified the story as a parable, and the characters were  given specific names like “a certain woman”. The story in Luke is an actual event, it describes Abraham, Lazarus and the Rich Man, as well as other real places.

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. Luke 16:19-25.

…the bush is not burnt. Exodus 3:3

Like the burning bush that was not consumed when it was on fire where God spoke to Moses in Exodus 3:1-15, likewise the rich man was consumed by the fire, and only wanted a drop of water because he was tormented by the flame. Not only was he tormented by the flame, but he had his full memory of his opportunity while he was yet alive to choose Christ.

Those who see Jesus as a loving God who would never torment someone for rejecting Him are denying the multitude of Biblical evidence to the contrary. God can not look upon sin (Hab 1:13) and because He is a holy and righteous God, He can not allow sin to go unpunished, that is His nature. He is much a God of judgment as He is a God of love.

PAUL PREACHED HELL

Many have argued that while Jesus preached hell, Paul did not. I disagree:

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power”. 2 Thess 1:8-9.

Not only does Paul state that a flaming fire is how those who reject the gospel will be punished, but with “everlasting destruction”. At this point, cults like the Watchtower attempt to explain this as annihilation, that you are destroyed forever into oblivion. But that’s not everlasting destruction. God made man in His image, and with that means an eternal soul, and as we seen with the rich man, the soul that rejects Christ lives in constant eternal torment.

Paul also warns about the coming wrath of God numerous times (Rom 2:5,8, Rom 9:22, I Thess 1:10 [a good verse that proves the church will not go through the tribulation], 1 Thess 2:16 Rom 1:18 , and as we will see later, the wrath of God is not only carried out by judgments during the tribulation but is consummated by a sentence of eternal fire for those who reject Christ. Not only does God give men a chance in this time, but He even gives them an opportunity during the tribulation albeit under much worse conditions and not for those who heard the gospel in this time and rejected it, and yet men still refused to repent. Rev 9:20-21, Rev 16:9-11.

But praise God the believer is not appointed unto wrath! 1 Thess 5:9, Romans 5:9.

Jude also referred to eternal fire in Jude 9, and coming judgment on unbelievers. Jude 14-15.

THE LAKE OF FIRE IS THE ETERNAL DESTINY FOR THOSE WHO REJECT CHRIST

John writes in Revelation 20:15 “And death AND HELL were cast into the LAKE OF FIRE“. This one verse dispels all the non-sense that hell is merely the grave, because even hell itself is cast into the lake of fire.

Now we will focus on how long this punishment lasts as described from the book of Revelation.

“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, and they have NO REST, DAY NOR NIGHT who worship the beast and his image and whosever receiveth the mark of his name” Rev 14:11. If you had a chance to receive Christ and rejected Him before the chaos starts in the tribulation, you will worship the beast. 2 Thess 2:12, Rev 13:8, Rev 17:8.

The judgment of the whore. This is the judgement against an entire empire that ends up with its final empire as Rome (at a later time, I will give conclusive proof that the United States of America is an extension of the Roman Empire). This empire began with Nimrod in Genesis 11, and is described in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 2 and then by John in Rev 13:2, and is called “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” in Rev 17:5. It is an empire made up on individuals so it is not just a judgment on a bunch of buildings and land. Her sins come before God in Rev 16:19, and Rev 18:5, and we see her judgment described as eternal in Rev 19:3: ” And her smoke rose up for ever and ever”. Now for there to be smoke there has to be fire, and for there to be a smoke and fire that rises up forever and ever, there has to be something to burn. Those individuals that were part of the whore of Babylon suffer an eternal torment in fire.

Now pay attention here because this is one of the strongest verses in the Bible that demonstrate how long God’s judgment lasts.

In Revelation 19, after Christ’s second coming to earth, the beast and the false prophet are cast alive into the lake of fire. Rev 19:20. Now in Revelation 20:1, Satan is bound for 1,000 years during the millennial reign of Christ. After the thousand years are finished, he is let loose for a season, but is then finally judged and notice this:

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Rev 20:10

Notice that is says when the devil is cast into the lake of fire, that he is cast where the beast and the false prophet ARE. Remember they had been cast there prior to the 1,000 year reign, so they were alive and conscious 1,000 years before the devil was finally cast there, and how long does this last? “and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever

CONCLUSION

I have often used the illustration that if I had a cure for AIDS or cancer, I would be cruel not to share it with others to heal them. How much more then should a believer not preach hell?  Fundamentalists are accused of manipulating people with fear by preaching hell, but this is not manipulation, this is an honest warning that there is an eternal consequence for rejecting Christ, and I think that it is cruel for those who tell others NOT to preach it. Do the churches including the independent Baptists have their issues? Yes they sure do, but what could possibly be worse than spending an eternity in a burning lake of fire? We fundamentalists don’t preach it because we are trying to gain numbers, we preach it because we have a heart for the lost. Even when I go soul winning, I always tell a potential convert that even if they do not join a church, MAKE SURE YOU ARE SAVED. I can’t count the number of times I have wept every time I have reviewed my memory verses going over Revelation 14:11. As much as I vehemently disagree with my critics, I don’t want to see ANY of them burning in eternal torment.

Jesus paid a great price to obtain our salvation, and those who crucify the Son of God afresh by despising His cross, the blood that He shed and expect God to let them into heaven on THEIR TERMS are in for a rude awakening because the devil and misguided apostates have told them “God would never send anyone to hell” and that is a bald-faced lie. If you end up in the lake of fire forever, it is not because God wanted you to go there. You have a chance to avoid it, and a choice to receive Christs gift of eternal life by coming to God knowing and acknowledging you do not deserve it, for you were born with sin (Psalm 58:3, Romans 5:12) and can not save yourself. “But God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”. God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that all come to repentance. I Peter 3:9. God said in Ezekiel 18:32, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”

Salvation is a free gift, it is not of your own effort or works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast” Eph 2:8-9. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done” Titus 3:5. Since salvation is a free gift, why would anyone choose to reject Christ and attempt to explain away the consequences? “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Rom 10:13. Do not let anyone corrupt your mind from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 11:3).

Will you call upon Him now? Will you come to God as the sinner you are and ask for His mercy and receive Him as your Saviour? I hope so, because not only does God love you, and sent Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16, Rom 9:5) to reconcile His creation back to Himself, but does not want this to be your fate:

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” Rev 20:15

J/A

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Comments
  1. Peter says:

    Hi Dr. Ach.

    Really enjoy what you have to say about Calvinism on your site. In regard to hell, though, I have a different take. I “converted” from being a proponent of eternal conscious torment nearly 5 years ago. At that time, I was debating online with a universalist. He was frustrating me in that he wouldn’t answer my points and kept sending me cut-and-pasted verses in answers to my questions. In any case, after I had given up with him, I pondered in my mind the question, “why does universalism seem to be gaining so much ground in the church in recent years?” (this was even before Love WIns). I then found myself providing a possible answer – “I wonder if its because of the offensive nature of ECT that most of us believe in (even if reluctantly so)?” After all, I had believed in that for over 30 years only because that was how I was told to read the verses about hell, and if it is in the Bible, I had no choice but to embrace it.

    At that point, I challenged myself to see how many verses I could find that unequivocally, irrefutably and undeniably prove that the wicked will suffer eternal conscious torment after they die. I did a quick cursory reading of all the places in the Bible that talk about the fate of the wicked. Other than Revelation 14:11 (which, granted, provides a challenge for my new view – but also one which is not unsolvable) the best I could come up with were a few obscure verses talking about worms not dying and rising smoke. At that point, I asked myself if that small amount of support was enough to build an entire doctrine around. Basic Hermeneutics 101 would tell us that we should form our doctrinal belief systems by looking at the evidence for either side, consider which has the most supporting evidence and then wrestle with the “obscure” passages to see how they fit with the large body of plain evidence. I have never counted them, but apparently, there are over 200 verses that say that the wicked will be destroyed, cut off or perish etc. The most famous verse in the BIble says that the unbeliever will be destroyed. Letting the word “perish” mean what it wants to say, will never (using honest exegesis) allow us to say that it means “remaining alive in a place of unending conscious torment or suffering”. Simple face-value language lets us read things like, “the lake of fire is the second death” and “the wages of sin is death” and accept that as the understanding that God wants us to have.

    Needless to say, armed with new revelation, I changed my position on hell. It is not a popular one because church folk are adverse to looking at new ideas – especially when what they hold dear is supported by so many years of church history. In the five years since then, I have become more informed about what I have come to know as conditional immortality (which is not the same as the JW belief in so many ways). I have realized that many, many Christians are unable to quote any scriptures when they argue against conditionalism and just retort that “that is what the church has always believed.” I truly feel that the issue of hell is an exegetical problem that requires an exegetical solution – as one person put it.

    I could go on forever, but I wanted to rebut your take on 2 Thess 1:8-9. This was the verse that was the final tipping point for me before I changed my position.( BTW the cool thing for me is that I came to a place of changing my position on ECT independently – in that I didn’t read a book. Reading what others have to say on the matter has only solidified my position). As I pondered conditionalism, this versed was the final hurdle for me, but then as I looked at the words on the page, it occurred to me that it doesn’t say “eternal destructing” (similarly, it doesn’t talk about eternal punishing in Matt 25). I questioned why Paul would use the word destruction – if in fact the object that was being destroyed would never be destroyed. I didn’t think that Paul (being as brilliant as he was) would make that kind of a grammatical error.

    Since the time of experiencing that “aha” moment, I now believe that when Paul says that destruction is of an eternal nature, he is talking about the result or outcome – and not the duration. Looking at it that way, we could surmise that destruction is eternal in the sense that it is a final act that can never be reversed – much in the same way we would say that eternal salvation doesn’t mean that the process of saving will go on and on…

    If I have piqued your interest, rethinking hell.com is a good place to check out. They have a facebook group if you like as well…

    Peter McKenzie

    • drjamesa says:

      I think that primary error that you are making in your assessment is in your usage of the word “destruction”. At least for this particular response of yours, that’s what it boils down to.

      First of all, your view is consistent with the Jehovah’s Witness interpretation of destruction which they deem as annihilation. I hate using Greek for anything, but since this comes down to semantics and definition it helps here. The word used for “destruction” in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is ὄλεθρος (“olethros”). If Paul wanted to say annihilation and complete vanishing he would have used ἀφανισμός (“aphanismos”). Destruction doesn’t mean annihilation. There are verse where destruction and destroyed are used that mean ruin, and death (1 Thess 5:3). In John 2:19, Jesus said “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”. Jesus was talking about His resurrection (v 21) so obviously, since Jesus rose from the dead, to destroy did not mean that Jesus ceased to exist.

      Secondly, Paul didn’t just say destruction and leave it at that. For if destruction simply meant annihilation, then he could have just said they would be punished with destruction, and that would be the end of it. However, Paul added EVERLASTING destruction. For destruction as such to be considered everlasting which in this case modifies destruction, that destruction is a process that occurs without end. If annihilation were intended, then it would have an ending point and would not be everlasting destruction. The syntax of the context demands this view, whereas if annihilation were intended, the syntax would have read “who shall be destroyed forever”, with the usage of the proper word for annihilation.

      And you are right, Revelation 14 would present a problem with your view because it is crystal clear that they are tormented day and night. By the time Satan is cast into the lake of fire, the beast and false prophet have already been there for a thousand years. Notice in Revelation 20:10, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet ARE and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”. Notice the bold “ARE”. They weren’t annihilated but were present still 1000 years later when Satan arrives. This same place where the Devil and his angels go is the exact same promised to unbelievers. Matthew 25:41.

      How could there be an everlasting fire with nothing in it to burn? That would seem to be a pretty odd concept for God to maintain an eternal fire with nothing in it.

      Now if you allegorize Scripture instead of reading it as explained in terms that God expected common men to understand, you can make the Bible say whatever you want (as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, 7th Day Adventists and Christadelphians do on these verses). But the cold hard truth is that man made in the image of God has an eternal soul which can not be annihilated. Also, death means separation not annihilation. When Scriptures speak of the death of the soul, it means that the soul is separated from the presence of God for eternity. If death meant annihilation, then there would be nobody to be judged at the Great White throne judgment in Revelation 20:11-15. And note that these people awaiting judgment, have awaited this judgment as dead people for a thousand years.

      ” But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” Rev 20:5

      And finally, part of “Hermenuetics 101” is understanding contrast. If you look at the description of end times in Daniel 12:2 you can see a contrast here,

      “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

      Now the contrast is between those who wake up to inherit everlasting life, and the others everlasting death. The syntax here must mean the same for both clauses. If those who awake to everlasting death are simply annihilated, than there is an unequal contrast to those who have eternal life. For the context and syntax of this verse to remain consistent, both groups live eternally.

      There’s nothing “obscure” about 2 Thess 1:9, or Revelation 14, or Revelation 20:14-15, and certainly not Luke 16 (Rich man and Lazarus).

      • hughofeden says:

        Hi Dr. James,

        A few things:

        “First of all, your view is consistent with the Jehovah’s Witness interpretation of destruction which they deem as annihilation”

        This is not entirely true. Evangelical Conditionalists, unlike the JW, still believe that there will be a general resurrection for everyone and a judgement.

        “he word used for “destruction” in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is ὄλεθρος (“olethros”). If Paul wanted to say annihilation and complete vanishing he would have used ἀφανισμός (“aphanismos”). Destruction doesn’t mean annihilation.”

        The problem is that olethros is the noun form of ollumi, “to destroy” (i.e, a noun of action) being modified by aionion (“eternal”). We have other examples of action-nouns being modified in this way, where it is clear that aionion is not modifying the *length* of the process but the *effect* of the process. “Eternal redemption” in Hebrews 9:12, redemption translated from “lutrōsin” which is from the verb “utroó” which is to-deliver, or to-redeem; and “Eternal sin” in Mark 3:29, sin translated from “amartēmatos”, from the verb “hamartanó” which is to-sin. You should see now where I’m going with this. If eternal destruction is taken to mean ongoing destroying, then to be consistent, eternal redemption should mean ongoing redeeming and eternal sin should mean ongoing sinning. Both the latter cases make little sense. It is obvious that eternal redemption means a permanent redemption, the effects of which last for ever, and sin means a permanent sin, the effects of which lasts forever. It should follow then that eternal destruction means permanent destruction, the effect of which lasts forever.

        “And you are right, Revelation 14 would present a problem with your view because it is crystal clear that they are tormented day and night. By the time Satan is cast into the lake of fire, the beast and false prophet have already been there for a thousand years. Notice in Revelation 20:10, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet ARE and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”. Notice the bold “ARE”. They weren’t annihilated but were present still 1000 years later when Satan arrives. This same place where the Devil and his angels go is the exact same promised to unbelievers. Matthew 25:41.”

        There are a few issues here, and they are centered on your interpretation of Revelation 14. If you take verse 11 as meaning literal eternal torment when you also need to take it as being literally in the presence of Jesus and the Holy angels, which seems to directly contradict 2 Thessalonians 1:9, which says the destruction will take place *away from* God’s presence. Revelation is a deeply symbolic book, so we must interpret it as such, to avoid these kinds of problems. This leads me to the second point, which is that in Revelation 20:14, the lake of fire is the home of Death and Hades, which is to say that whatever the fate of humans who worship the beast, must be also the fate of non-conscious, abstract objects. It is nonsensical to say that death and the grave are *tormented* forever in burning lakes. Extinction works here, torment does not.

        “How could there be an everlasting fire with nothing in it to burn? That would seem to be a pretty odd concept for God to maintain an eternal fire with nothing in it.”

        The problem here is your interpretation of what is meant by “eternal fire”. Jude reminds people of Sodom and Gomorrah as being an example of suffering eternal fire. If he is talking about them suffering in ongoing conscious torment, it is hard to see how he is “reminding” them, as the story they are familiar with is the city being completely destroyed by fire.

        “Now if you allegorize Scripture instead of reading it as explained in terms that God expected common men to understand, you can make the Bible say whatever you want”

        The irony here is that this is EXACTLY what you are doing when you interpret “death”, “perish”, and “destruction” to mean “separation of the soul from God for eternity”.

        “But the cold hard truth is that man made in the image of God has an eternal soul which can not be annihilated.”

        There is not a single piece of scripture which states the soul is eternal and cannot be annihilated, in fact there is scripture that says the exact opposite Matthew 10:28. One may appeal to the fact that it only says God “can” do this but won’t necessarily do it, but this would raise the question of why that was listed as a threat, and not, for example, fear the one who can turn you into a watermelon, or a camel.

        ” If death meant annihilation, then there would be nobody to be judged at the Great White throne judgment in Revelation 20:11-15.”

        This is why there is a conceptual distinction between eternal destruction and the second death, and normal death in the new testament. The former two mean it is permanent.

        “Now the contrast is between those who wake up to inherit everlasting life, and the others everlasting death. The syntax here must mean the same for both clauses. If those who awake to everlasting death are simply annihilated, than there is an unequal contrast to those who have eternal life. For the context and syntax of this verse to remain consistent, both groups live eternally.”

        It is precisely the contrast which proves the annihilationist position! Every other place the word “contempt” is used in scripture is when someone is the subject of contempt. The lost who are resurrected will be the subjects of eternal contempt, by someone else (probably God, but perhaps the saints also). This in itself says nothing about their state. What does, is the contrast with “life”. If both sides are living then it makes no sense to contrast the two.

        “There’s nothing “obscure” about 2 Thess 1:9, or Revelation 14, or Revelation 20:14-15, and certainly not Luke 16 (Rich man and Lazarus).”

        I have dealt with the first three, and the last is easy. Luke 16, even if we are to take it as a literal story (which I would dispute, as it would follow that when we die we can communicate with people in Heaven, which is just in fact Abraham’s bosom, where Abraham is the arbiter), then all that follows is that this is what happens when we are in Hades, not Gehenna (the final state).

      • drjamesa says:

        “This is not entirely true. Evangelical Conditionalists, unlike the JW, still believe that there will be a general resurrection for everyone and a judgement.”

        I was not questioning whether you have beliefs different from JW’s, but that the Conditionalist view of hell is the same as the Watchtower. Although there are several other beliefs that Conditionalists have in common, the most egregious being the assault on the nature of Christ.

        “The problem is that olethros is the noun form of ollumi, “to destroy” (i.e, a noun of action) being modified by aionion (“eternal”). We have other examples of action-nouns being modified in this way, where it is clear that aionion is not modifying the *length* of the process but the *effect* of the process. “Eternal redemption” in Hebrews 9:12, redemption translated from “lutrōsin” which is from the verb “utroó” which is to-deliver, or to-redeem; and “Eternal sin” in Mark 3:29, sin translated from “amartēmatos”, from the verb “hamartanó” which is to-sin. You should see now where I’m going with this. If eternal destruction is taken to mean ongoing destroying, then to be consistent, eternal redemption should mean ongoing redeeming and eternal sin should mean ongoing sinning. Both the latter cases make little sense. It is obvious that eternal redemption means a permanent redemption, the effects of which last for ever, and sin means a permanent sin, the effects of which lasts forever. It should follow then that eternal destruction means permanent destruction, the effect of which lasts forever.”

        This is a root word fallacy. Etymology of words revolves around usage, not derivatives. There are many words that have various derivatives that do not mean the same thing in the word’s usage as the derivative of that word. That fact that the writers of the new testament chose not to use a derivative as well as the fact that they did not use the common word for annihilation shows that the word must be interpreted by its context and usage.

        Olethros is used in the following verses that show it does not mean annihilation:

        “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction (olethros) of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1 Cor 5:5. This verse would show that destruction does not mean annihilation because the spirit of the person is still saved.

        “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction (olethros) cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” 1 Thess 5:3. Here Paul is addressing what occurs during the tribulation. The “destruction” that is describes lasts for three and a half years after they cry for peace and safety leading to a treaty agreed upon by the man of sin, and then the destruction lasts for 3.5 years after the league is broken (in addition to what is suffered under the hands of the 2 witnesses in Revelation 11:3-6).

        One simple way to remember a Greek Grammar rule is when a word is in the accusative, what is it accusing? Olethros is in the accusative and is thus modifying ainios (eternal). If it were intended to emphasis the effect instead of length, it would have been given an additional verb to convey a perfective/aortist. The fact that the accusative points toward eternal proves that it is in fact a demonstration of the length of the punishment, not its effect.

        Your argument for consistent effect is groundless because redemption is not about the constant purifying of one from sin in eternity, but based upon a declaration of righteousness by God called justification. The fact that Hebrews says that Christ sat down ONCE (Hebrew 10:12) to obtain our redemption shows eternal redemption in THIS context can not be used against other usages of eternal in other passages where the context clearly demonstrates a different usage. You are taking passages out of context where an effect can be shown against contexts where it is not the same usage.

        Furthermore, when viewing other terms in the Bible for “destroy”, we can see that it does not mean annihilate. As I stated in my last response, Jesus mentioned destroying the temple in John 2:19, but was referring to His Resurrection. Jesus was obviously not annihilated as He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Heb 13:6-7, Mal 4:3. In Galations 1:13, Paul said that he persecuted the church of God and wasted (portheo-destroyed) it. The church is still here proving the gates of hell have not prevailed against it, so clearly Paul did not annihilate the church. Paul said it in Galatians 2:18 that he could build again that which he destroyed, so clearly destroyed did not mean the annihilation of his sinful propensities to return to the flesh since they could still be accessed even though he said he destroyed them.

        And lastly, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 shows that the Lord “destroys” Satan with the brightness of His coming. Yet we know from Revelation that Satan is tormented forever. This verse alone shows that destruction in the context of judgment is an eternal torment.

        *REVELATION 14*

        There are a few issues here, and they are centered on your interpretation of Revelation 14. If you take verse 11 as meaning literal eternal torment when you also need to take it as being literally in the presence of Jesus and the Holy angels, which seems to directly contradict 2 Thessalonians 1:9, which says the destruction will take place *away from* God’s presence. Revelation is a deeply symbolic book, so we must interpret it as such, to avoid these kinds of problems. This leads me to the second point, which is that in Revelation 20:14, the lake of fire is the home of Death and Hades, which is to say that whatever the fate of humans who worship the beast, must be also the fate of non-conscious, abstract objects. It is nonsensical to say that death and the grave are *tormented* forever in burning lakes. Extinction works here, torment does not.

        First of all, if it’s not a literal torment there’s only one alternative; a figurative torment. I don’t see a figurative torment making any sense, nor is it implied in the text.

        And you are misunderstanding the different contexts of 2 Thess 1:9 and Rev 14. First of all, “apo” does not always mean “away from”. It also means BY! (Matt 7:16,20, 11:12, 13:35, 14:13, 18:7, 27:9, Mark 3:22, Luke 1:70, Acts 26:18, etc. Acts 26:18 shows that we are sanctified BY (apo) faith in Christ. Since sanctification itself means to separate, this verse shows that apo has other means that “away from” unless you think that we are sanctified AWAY FROM CHRIST. In 2 Thess 2:8, Satan is destroy by the brightness of the Lord, and that matches with 2 Thess 1:9 that the sinners are destroyed by the presence of the Lord. The sinners in 2 Thess 1:9 are destroyed BY the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power.

        And even if it is “away from” it still does not conflict with Revelation 14. In Revelation 14, the context does not say they are tormented forever in the presence of God and the angels, it merely states that their torment BEGINS in the presence of the angels and the Lamb which would then be followed by their being cast away. Paul says that we shall judge angel (1 Cor 6, fallen angels who are still present during the millennium and judged at the end of it) so this shows that we will all be present at the judgment of sinners. The fact that it is called “their torment” and that such torment lasts forever can’t be any more clear.

        Just because Revelation has symbolism in it does not mean that every passage is to be interpreted symbolically or allegorically. In fact, there is just as much literalism in Revelation as there is symbolism (7 churches, 4 angels, 12 tribes, 144,000 sealed, 10 horns, 3.5 years, a thousand years, 7 seals, 7 vials, 200 million man army [Rev 9], Isle of Patmos, etc…). Symbolism is interpreted as such when the text clearly defines it. For example, Revelation 9 John describes horses having breastplates of iron, and the stings “as” that of a scorpion. When something is symbolic it is normally stated to be symbolic with words such as “as” “like”. There is no such symbolic language in describing the torment of those who take the mark of the beast or worship him in Revelation 14.

        And, where does the Bible say that death and hell are annihilated!!?? It says they are cast into the lake of fire, but never says they cease to exist. But since death is obviously not a literal character, this must be not be interpreted in the same manner as you would those who are literal characters, but again, the context here shows the difference in contrast. Even if it was a literal character (and it could be in light of Revelation 6:8) the text never says he is annihilated. The fate of conscious humans is compared to the fate of the devil and his angels far more often than what you consider the fate of “abstract” figures being judged. There is no contrast between the fate of death and the sinner, but there IS between the sinner and the Devil, and in rightly dividing the word, we must interpret Scripture in light of what it clearly states instead of trying to refute clear passages with what is not plainly stated.

        The problem here is your interpretation of what is meant by “eternal fire”. Jude reminds people of Sodom and Gomorrah as being an example of suffering eternal fire. If he is talking about them suffering in ongoing conscious torment, it is hard to see how he is “reminding” them, as the story they are familiar with is the city being completely destroyed by fire.

        Jesus shows that Sodom and Gomorrah were never annihilated. ” Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” Matthew 10:15. Although the fate of Sodom will be more tolerable than the cities that rejected Christ, the text shows clearly that Sodom is present in the day of judgment which means that Jude was right on.

        The irony here is that this is EXACTLY what you are doing when you interpret “death”, “perish”, and “destruction” to mean “separation of the soul from God for eternity”.

        Death by its very definition means separation. Adam was considered dead in Genesis 3, yet he still communicated with God. In Ephesians 2 we were said to be dead in trespasses and sin, yet nobody was annihilated. Man is a tri-part being which I know Conditionalists disagee with, but Hebrews 4:12 makes it pretty obvious that we are (Dividing asunder of SOUL and SPIRIT and of the JOINTS AND MARROW [flesh]). Death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body, and in Ephesians 2, Paul describes death as being a separation and alienation from God. Paul said “I die daily” in 1 Cor 15:31, that meant that he separated his spiritual life from his flesh (Gal 5:16-17).

        Even if you believe that the soul is annihilated, wouldn’t that STILL imply that it is separated from God for eternity?? Your belief still affirms what you deny.

        There is not a single piece of scripture which states the soul is eternal and cannot be annihilated, in fact there is scripture that says the exact opposite Matthew 10:28. One may appeal to the fact that it only says God “can” do this but won’t necessarily do it, but this would raise the question of why that was listed as a threat, and not, for example, fear the one who can turn you into a watermelon, or a camel.

        This again would go back to your interpretation of destroy to claim that God “can” annihilate the soul. Since the contrast is between hell, the body and soul, it is clear that not only does death mean separation (body from the soul), but in contrast with the person entering into a permanent state of being maimed shows that the soul is in a permanent state of being tormented.

        This is why there is a conceptual distinction between eternal destruction and the second death, and normal death in the new testament. The former two mean it is permanent.

        You didn’t quite develop this argument so I won’t address it so as to avoid misrepresenting your view on this. But nevertheless, it fails to answer why the fire is said to be eternal even with smoke that ascends up forever. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and there’s no need for a fire without something to burn. Revelation is clear that Satan will be tormented forever, not annihilated. The very fact that there even is a SECOND death would defy your view that death in any sense means annihilation. If death means annihilation, then it must ALWAYS mean annihilation. It can’t be temporal and then a body recreated and then mean oblivion. If death means annihilation at the second death, then it must also mean annihilation for the first death. The fact that Revelation 20:13 says that the sea “gave up their DEAD” shows that those who were dead were not annihilated but brought before the Great White Throne for judgment.

        It is precisely the contrast which proves the annihilationist position! Every other place the word “contempt” is used in scripture is when someone is the subject of contempt. The lost who are resurrected will be the subjects of eternal contempt, by someone else (probably God, but perhaps the saints also). This in itself says nothing about their state. What does, is the contrast with “life”. If both sides are living then it makes no sense to contrast the two.

        When Jesus quotes this in John 5, it is clear that eternal damnation is intended, not merely contempt. The contempt accompanies it, but how can it be eternal contempt if they are annihilated? They can not experience eternal contempt and regret if they cease to exist.

        ” And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28

        I have dealt with the first three, and the last is easy. Luke 16, even if we are to take it as a literal story (which I would dispute, as it would follow that when we die we can communicate with people in Heaven, which is just in fact Abraham’s bosom, where Abraham is the arbiter), then all that follows is that this is what happens when we are in Hades, not Gehenna (the final state).

        This is not a parable. The reason you see Abraham communicating with the Rich Man here is because the Rich Man is attempting to appeal to his heritage as a Jew to question his judgment which was a common misconception held by Jews (Matt 3:9, John 8:40-58, Romans 9:1-8, John 1:13). There is nothing symbolic in this passage that teaches any lessons from any symbolism, all of the events are real events, real places and names of real people.

        The fact that you admit this man is conscious in Luke 16 shows that, again, not only does death mean separation (“there is a great gulf fixed”), but that death is not annihilation. Something else you need to consider is that since this shows that a FIRST DEATH is clearly not an annihilation, then that shows that all the references where destruction or destroy is used a reference to describe a first death must be used to interpret all subsequent verses about death in describing the second death.

  2. Peter says:

    I will try to respond in greater depth to your points later, but again I would say that, regarding the use of the word “destruction”, the way you are reading it would be best worded “punished with eternal destruction in a process whereby they will never actually be destroyed”. Again, I would say that it is the wrong word to use if the destruction is ongoing. My question to you would be, “is there a parallel case in our current world where words are used but mean the way you would like that word to mean?” As I said before, eternal describes the punishment – and again makes it final as to outcome and not to duration. Eternal judgment will be not be a process of ongoing judging throughout eternity – rather the judgement of eternity that will happen once, prior to the entrance of the new heavens and the new earth. It seems like basic grammar to me…

    • drjamesa says:

      Is there a parallel case in our current world where words are used to mean destruction is not annihilation? Absolutely.

      “You spilled red wine on my wedding dress. You destroyed my dress”

      “Team A played Team B in the championship soccer game. Team A utterly destroyed Team B”.

      “John Q has not been frugal in his finances and has destroyed his credit rating”.

      Even Conditionalists themselves teach that destruction is not eternal when arguing that Jesus Christ was annihilated after the cross and then re-created into His resurrected body in glory. Paul says “If I BUILD AGAIN that which I have destroyed, I make myself a transgressor” Galatians 2:18. So even in this verse, the concept of destruction is not seen as annihilation of that which is considered destroyed.

      The rest of your content will be addressed in my responses to your friends since many of them all contain the same arguments, that way I don’t repeat myself in several different comments.

      • Peter says:

        I guess your correct guess about my friends is not that difficult when the traffic suddenly increases above the norm 🙂

        Of course, words can have more than one meaning but that is not what I am referring to.

        To use your analogies, the dress is ruined (destroyed) once the wine hits it. But to adopt the traditionalist mindset, and to stay consistent with a traditionalist form of reasoning, I will insist by saying that the dress has been destroyed means that wine is being spilled on the dress everyday – and that until the end of time. If you argue that the dress will be thrown away or burnt, and at that point it is really destroyed, I will simply say that the atoms of the dress still exist because the dress is immortal and can’t be annihilated.

        It would seem that what you are implying is that the dress is ruined and that it is no longer fit for use, and of course, that is normal everyday English. But what word would you use to describe the actual destruction of the dress, therefore, at some point? Do we no longer have a word for something that is made extinct? Can words no longer be used in cases where their primary meaning works best? You have established a rule whereby you maintain that since the word “annihilate” is not in the Bible, the principle isn’t to be found there either.

        The point I was trying to make in my original comment, was not that we don’t have different uses for a word, but that it makes no sense to choose to use a word that has an implied/built in notion of finality and yet, at the same time, say the action continues. That would be like saying that the door is closed, but yet it is still closing – and in fact it will never actually close (but yet I will keep insisting that it is closed). Of course, you will argue that, since destroy means ruin (and not just destroy as a first meaning like I am taking it), we are not talking about the same thing here.

        You will not acknowledge that destruction can mean annihilation and you cited examples where it doesn’t mean that. I can easily cite as many (or more) where destroy means to wipe out. Contrary to what you said, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Jesus only said that it would be worse for them on the day of the judgement, in that, after they are resurrected the people of those cities would experience judgement. The cities were destroyed though – in that they no longer exist. Do you allow for any instances in the Bible where destruction means obliteration? Were the enemies of God in 2 Chronicles 20:23 (where it says in the KJV they were utterly slayed and destroyed) simply ruined?

        In fact, if you are using S&G as an example of ruination (and it seems you are), I think that example destroys/ruins your premise. If the 2 cities were simply ruined – thereby implying they still exist, let’s book a flight there and see for ourselves the extent of their destruction (ruination).

        The conditionalists base their exegesis on a policy of selecting the primary meaning of a word as a first choice and then if that is not the best application, to look at the secondary use of a word. I think that is a good and reasonable way to do exegesis. It seems your whole case for traditionalism is built on a foundation of maintaining that destroy/destruction has to mean “ruin”. It ends up looking an awful lot like a hermeneutic relying heavily on circular reasoning.

        Regarding smoke indicating fire, I would simply ask if Edom is still burning? The “smoke rising forever” imagery comes from Isaiah 34. John’s use of the term makes a point for the smoke serving as a reminder of what their fate will be.

        Re the Lazarus and the rich man, it is a parable. To say otherwise, would mean that the rich man was in hell before the resurrection – as his brothers were still living on earth. My understanding is that no one will be in hell until after the judgement. Therefore, the parable is not describing an actual event.

      • drjamesa says:

        First of all, you have created a straw man by what I mean in the destruction of the dress as well as your application of the analogy to the usage of destruction in the Bible. Just because the destruction of the dress lasts forever does not mean that the initial act of destruction must be repeated everyday. The dress can be in a permanent state of destruction without having to have additional glasses of wine spilled on it, just as the sinner can be in an eternal state of torment based on a single act of judgment.

        And yes, we do have words for extinct and annihilation. They’re called EXTINCT AND ANNIHILATION. There’s a reason that those words are not used when annihilation is not meant, and you are trying to reinvent the wheel here. If the Bible, as you admit, does not use the term annihilate WHEN THE TERM WAS AVAILABLE TO THEM TO USE, then we can’t assume that it could be there by inference. If we use that kind of reasoning we could apply that to any text in Scripture. Was the thief on the cross baptized? It doesn’t say he wasn’t so using your reasoning we could argue that so long as the Bible doesn’t specifically say he wasn’t baptized, some Roman soldier could have temporarily removed him from his cross, baptized him, and put him back up. There’s a reason why words are in the Bible, and there’s also a reason that words are NOT in the Bible.

        And since you’ve already argued for the continued existence of atoms, then I guess we can skip the Law of Thermodynamics.

        If Sodom and Gomorah were destroyed in the sense of annihilation, then how is that Jesus refers to Sodom and Gomorah having a more tolerable punishment than the cities that rejected Christ ON JUDGMENT DAY in Matthew 10? Did judgment day happen in the Old Testament? And again, if death and destruction mean annihilation, then how can they be “resurrected” for FINAL judgment? That makes absolutely no sense. Destruction can’t mean a temporary existence in one part of death, and then mean annihilation in a second judgment (an obvious argument you are attempting to make for soul sleep but haven’t mentioned yet).

        In 2 Chronicles 20 the term “utterly destroy” is used to show that ALL OF THEM in that battle were killed. The answer to that is in verse 24 “and NONE ESCAPED”. Considering that the children of Ammon and Moab are still in existence today, and prophesied about in Psalm 83, it’s pretty safe to say the children of Ammon and Moab were not annihilated. The same word for utterly destroyed in 2 Chronicles 20:23 ( חָרַם charam) is the same word used in Leviticus 21:18 to show a man whose nose was flat (destroyed). Since even you admit that when the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah are still judged at a later time, then how can you at the same time conclude that the BODILY DEATHS of the enemies in 2 Chronicles means annihilation when you admittedly do not apply that same standard those of Sodom?

        Isaiah 34 doesn’t help your case because that is a FUTURE prophecy. Notice that the context from verse 8 shows that this event occurs at the “day of the LORD’s vengeance”.

        Your understanding is not the measuring rod of whether or not people are in hell immediately after they die. Paul describes being immediately in heaven upon death (Phil 1:19-23, 2 Cor 5) so there’s no reason for the same of unbelievers. Those who die are said to have a worm that never dies. If the worm never ceases to exist, and it is said to be THEIR worm, than how can it be THEIR worm if THEY are annihilated? Isaiah 66:24. That will be an awfully lonely worm.

        Now for arguments sake, let’s assume that the story of Lazarus is really a parable. If Luke wanted to convey it as a real story, how would he do it?? How then do you tell parables apart from actual events? If this isn’t a real story, then we can conclude that NONE of the Old Testament stories about Adam, Noah, Abraham and Isaac, the wars in Israel were literal. They could all be just some parable meant to teach us some Gnostic truth.

        Fortunately, when Jesus told a parable, HE CALLED IT A PARABLE.

        Mat 13:18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
        Mat 13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field
        Mat 13:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field
        Mat 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
        Mar 13:28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near
        Jhn 10:6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them

        ETC..ETC…

        Jesus did not call the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man a parable. Jesus also identified the name of Lazarus in this story which is something he didn’t do in parables.

        And if this was a parable, how would that change the moral of the story? Jesus still included statements of truth in His parables. If a man being in conscience torment was not possible, then why would Jesus create such a story? What kind of parable is symbolic in teaching that this man was in constant torment? There’s no lesson to be learned in that. The only logical conclusion is that it is an actual event and the moral of the story is that a person who dies in their sin experience conscious eternal torment.

        Furthermore, the Old Testament also testifies that dead people speak out from the grave like the Rich Man did: “Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction.” Job 30:24. Song of Solomon 8:6 says that jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Why would the grave be cruel? and if a person was not conscious, then how would they know it was cruel?

        You should rethink your rethinking on hell.

  3. Wayne Parsons says:

    ” Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin so death passed upon all men , for all have sinned.”…”For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”

    What did Adam do by his disobedience?
    ” In the day tho shalt eat thereof, thou shalt surely die”
    Sin came into the world by Adam’s disobedience and so to death.
    It is this “death” that is passed upon ALL men, not sin, we sin because of the presence of sin and because the outworking of this death, which is corruption.

    But what kind of death are we talking about here and why did God pronounce it as a result of disobedience?

    The answer goes back to when God made man in His own image and breathed into his nostrils the breath of Life. Until the Creation of man everything was good but then at the end of creating man , creation became Very good, or completely fitting for the purpose for which God created.
    by the breath of God man had become a partaker of the Life of God; which was completely fitting for the purposes of communion with God.

    Yet man did not know neither evil nor good morally. He was morally innocent.
    God had provided everything in Creation to sustain the body of man forever, and His presence for communion for man’s soul and spirit to sustain man spiritually also.

    There was but ONE prohibition, not to eat of the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil.
    Man knew not the great goodness of God which was there nor the awful badness of evil.
    God warned man NOT to eat of the fruit of the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil, for eating of the tree had RESULTS, the FRUIT of which would be separation from the Life of God, which is eternal, or ‘death’.

    It is this eternal separation from the life of God, which is eternal, that is passed down upon ALL men.
    The pronouncement was literally, ” dying ye shall die”, or perishing ye shall utterly perish”.
    Through one act of disobedience Adam brought in both physical separation of the spirit and the soul from the body as the end process of physical “perishing” and ultimate separation from God which is ultimate separation from God due to Adam’s sin and also the process of the corruption of sin when we like Adam disobey as well.

    The reality of all this is that God didn’t actually do the cutting off of man from His life, Man did that through his free choice to disobey God and to rather obey satan in the temptation.
    Man has condemned himself. Man has chosen death rather than life. Man has chosen the wrath of satan rather than the Love of God.

    Why charge God with something that He cannot be charged with?

    The greatest demonstration of God’s Love towards us is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!
    But that same love and grace was demonstrated throughout the Sacrificial system in that sins could be covered until Christ came to take away sin once for all time for all people.
    Christ is the ONE Man that was completely Obedient to the Father, even unto death so that by His Obedience LIFE can now reign.
    This is the Life of Christ which is eternal. A Life to be received by faith, by believing the Truth and rejecting the lie of satan.

    If there is NO eternal Life, then there is NO God. If there is no eternal life then there is no eternal separation from the Life of God.
    If there is no eternal death then man did not disobey God, or God did not breath into man’s nostrils the breath of His life.

    Thus man is separated from the life of God forever.

    If then the Lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his rebellious angels, why then do men go there if God is a God of love?

    Man has a choice now to either accept the payment for Adam’s sin, which is death, paid in full by Christ, or to reject it.
    Man has a choice to accept God’s Love in Christ or reject that Love in rebellion.

    That a man or a woman ends up in the Lake of fire has nothing to do with the lack of God’s love, but it has everything to do with man’s rebellious heart in refusing the Life of God and the payment of his sin.

    We see even in the book of Revelation that before the Great White Throne God opens every book possible for the very reason to show just how loving and gracious He has been and how just He is in having no other option than to give those who with rebellious hearts rejected Him the FRUIT of their own choice.

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