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Annihilationism, Universalism, Hell and Judgment

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Question #1:

Hello Dr Luginbill,

I don't know if you remember me but you corresponded with me back in 2007-2008. Since then, a lot has happened, including some new understandings of Christianity. Some of these you may not agree with but I think on most of them I am on the right track. About that time I moved to England for family reasons. I still love America, always have and always will. So here I am now, retired living in the UK, trying to stay as positive as I can but still in pain of missing America and the people and hobbies I loved there will continue until I find a substitute source of fulfillment here. I am in the process of forsaking my idols and making Jesus my first love as never before, trying to spend at least an hour a day in reading the Word, Web commentaries, and prayer every morning. This helps to make up for a good deal of pain in missing my job and also family troubles [details omitted].

Which leads me to an area where by Gods grace I have achieved a substantial victory. For many years I was tormented by a harassing spirit of antichrist that would attack me through lower back pain with the repeated suggestion that Christianity was a myth, that testimonies were false, that I couldn't trust pastors because they were exaggerating the truth of what God was supposedly doing in their lives. Of course this made it very difficult to develop trusting relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ! The spirit of Antichrist attacked me especially vehemently over the past years because of my family troubles. I fought back with everything that was in me, repeatedly making a decision to believe, and doing a lot of reading of apologetics. Bottom line: First John 4:3 says it all. Any spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. I have been casting down every lofty spirit that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and learning to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. The attacks have weakened and Jesus is gradually becoming more and more real to me. I need the manifest presence of God at all times, to know that He'll never leave me, that only a willful and determined apostasy can break (Eph 4:30) the Seal unto Redemption.

Another area I have given a lot of thought to are the 3 main views of punishment after death:

1) Universalism, which I would love to believe but cant find enough Scriptural support for it with so many Scripture talking about fiery judgement. The good side of Universalism however it that it helps us to see that God really does want ALL to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

2) Then there is the predominant view of Eternal Torment that has been taught for about 1700 years. It has to do largely with the Greek words AION , AIONIOS and whether it , or its Hebrew counterpart OLAM, always have to mean never ending, in usage and context. Mt 25:41 is one of the main passages, as well as Luke 16, that the church has held onto to say that if AIONIOS means eternal life, it also has to mean eternal death when applied to the punishment.

3) Annihilationism, which I have come more and more to believe is the correct view, as have some evangelicals like John Stott, Clark Pinnock, Edward Fudge, and others. HOWEVER I wouldn't dare tell a new convert that Gods wrath was not eternal, because I cannot prove it and wouldn't want to lead someone into a false sense of security) but many of the judgement Scriptures in the Bible seem to refer to destruction rather than eternal torment. AION and AIONIOS are frequently used in Scripture to define an age, a definite period of time with beginning and end. AGE-LASTING would be a more correct rendering of AIONIOS, leaving God to be God and determine the just reward of every transgression (Heb:2:2). A Jew in Jesus time would see Gehenna as the garbage dump for the bodies of criminals. I was kept burning with unquenchable fire, a fire that would never go out until it had done its work of consuming the refuse. Isaiah 66:23 talks about undying worms and unquenchable fire consuming dead bodies, and this would be consistent with a Jewish understanding of Gehenna in Jesus' day. Still not a place I want anyone to go to, and its still better to lose an eye , hand, etc, than go there!

In Jude 7, it talked about Sodom and Gomorrah suffering the vengeance of eternal AIONIOS fire. Again, without a predisposition towards the doctrine of Eternal Torment in 100 AD, it would be seen by Christians and Jews of that era that the AIONIOS fire was unquenchable while it burned, destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, no man able to put it out-but its is certainty not burning today.

Just some thoughts! I don't expect you to agree with me, but do I have any real integrity in my beliefs if I am ashamed to share them with another brother? Thanks for listening,

Response #1:

Good to hear from you. You have had quite an Odyssey since last we corresponded! I am sorry to hear that your life has been so rough. It is frequently the case, however, for those of us who really do put the Lord Jesus first in our lives that those lives will not necessarily be "nice and peaceful" in the world's terms, but we can always have His "peace" even in the midst of the storm. That perspective is, as your witness shows, one we often have to fight manfully to maintain. But there is great reward in enduring with courage the assaults of the evil one – and nothing but disaster if we turn back instead:

35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, "In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay." 38 And, "But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back." 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Hebrews 10:35-39 NIV

The question of the fate of the unsaved dead is one I often get and have written quite a bit about it. I think those scholars who have convinced themselves that the unrighteous are annihilated have, in addition to rationalizing the scriptures, failed to take into account principles of theology which bear heavily on this question. In the first place, when it comes to animate creatures, what God creates is created forever. No spirit once created is ever destroyed. At least that is the logic of His creation from my reading of scripture. None of us are ever "thrown away" – especially not those created in the image of God – which brings me to the second point. The fundamental issue of human life (not to mention angelic life) is the question of our attitude toward God. He offers us blissful eternity, but it will be an eternity with Him. The question is whether or not we are willing to enjoy eternity with Him on His gracious terms or would rather be gods to ourselves regardless of the consequences. Unbelievers (and fallen angels) actually receive exactly what they want in this respect: an eternity separated from God – just as believers (and elect angels) receive just what we want: an eternity with God. Granted, the lake of fire is a terrible place just as the New Jerusalem is a wonderful place. But God is in the New Jerusalem and He is not in the lake of fire. That is why unbelievers are in the lake of fire: they desired a world/universe/existence without God. And that is why believers are in the New Jerusalem: we want to be with Him forever. The consequences of choosing self to the exclusion of God are an eternity without Him, and that necessitates a horrible existence (for He is not there – all blessing comes from Him and only cursing exists apart from Him). The consequences of choosing God to the exclusion of self are an eternity with Him, and that results in an existence beyond blessed (for He is there). In fact, for believers, the best thing about eternity will be His presence. And for unbelievers eternity will at least provide what they wanted: the absence of Him.

If it were a question of annihilation, why in the world would a resurrection of the unsaved be necessary? Why would they be in torments now (as opposed to having merely passed out of existence at death)? The whole point of the last judgment is punishment for the arrogant rejection of God's grace and mercy in Jesus Christ, choosing one's own will over God's will in a blasphemous and ungrateful way. Faced with the prospect of jumping into the lake of fire or running into God's arms, unbelievers prefer the lake of fire – because they are unwilling to yield their will to His WILL, even when the price is so horrific.

As to specific biblical evidence, in my view it is all one-way (see the links below), and even in this word-study you provide it seems to me pretty clear prima facie that eternal means eternal (that is what the Greek and Hebrew words mean on their face without recourse to creative spin). I am happy to discuss this further and take on specific passages if you wish (you'll find many of them treated at the links), but I do think that once the essence of the unbeliever and his/her choice is understood, namely, that he/she has used the precious image to become a god to him/herself and will not bow that personal "godhead" to the Creator and the Savior, then the disposition God has designed for all such appears not only just but necessary and appropriate in every way – and is in fact what all those who have rejected Jesus Christ have chosen (and would choose again in a thousand lifetimes). Here are those links:

Literal Hell

The Eternal Nature of the Last Judgment

The Problem of Unbelievers (in BB 4B)

The Last Judgment (in CT 6)

Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.

Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.

Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.

"Their worm" in Isaiah 66:24 (see Q/A #3)

Hoping and praying that all works out for you and yours, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Bob, Thanks for taking the time to write to me and your letter really lifted my spirits! My family goes to a Church of Christ over here. I go to worship, but I don't buy into their water baptism doctrine. On Eternal Torment, you and I are not quite as far apart as my first letter might have led you to believe. It makes sense that someone who, knowing the horrors of the Lake of fire, still chooses that Lake of Fire over being with God, being hard hearted to the point that they would never repent even in the intense torment of hell, could be justly be sent there for eternity. What I cannot see is God creating billions of humans knowing that they would fry forever in hell without having had a fair chance to choose for Him. That would make God more cruel than Hitler's WW2 concentration camps in Auschwitz, or Saddam Hussein. But if someone determines in their heart to never repent no matter what, and they choose hell ... God would be just to give them their choice. Revelation 16:8 talks about men who were scorched with great heat and still repented not. God is not a cruel Tyrant who laughs at the horrible screams of torment of people who would leave hell if they could! The only people who might be there forever are those who, in every possible circumstance, have deliberately chosen to reject God. This is the Eternal sin for which there in no forgiveness. No forgiveness, because it is an ongoing, perpetual, sin! (Mk 3:29)

I haven't given up completely on the idea that the wicked will ultimately be destroyed, but you and I at least strongly agree that Mercy triumphs over Judgement whenever possible. God looks at what our choices would have been under all possible circumstances, (Mt 11:20-24) and judges accordingly. Those who have, or would have had under different circumstances, even a smoldering wick's worth of faith will be saved, yet as through fire. Gods fire consumes whatever is evil. If a person is a believer who has works of wood, hay, stubble (1Co 3: 13-14) he will be saved, but his works will burn up. If there is no faith, then the person along with his works will be burned up (Mal 4:1).

Somehow, God will correct (Mal 3:2-3) whoever is correctable, but Scripture clearly shows some resist correction no matter how long the fire is applied (Jer:6:27-30)

Iron sharpens iron, and my blade may be a bit rusty, but I have to look at all the evidence and hear all sides of an argument, not just the ones I like. Even the best case scenario offered by Universalists, where hell is a place of purification in which everyone eventually repents, is so bad I don't want anyone to go there! Hell fire is so bad that even if it is not eternal and the wicked eventually burn up, I would not want a fellow human to endure it even for 5 minutes!

Thanks for writing and sharing!

Response #2:

You are very welcome.

I am also heartened by your witness of resilient faith which refuses to be quenched even in the crucible of testing. The evil one is always involved in these matters, but it is well to consider that as believers we possess eternal life, and in the blink of an eye we will be enjoying it forevermore with the One we love the most, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! These two truths form a perfect "handshake", salvation positionally resulting inevitably in salvation experientially, and, rightly considered, they reduce the sliver of "world-time" to virtually nothing – except that it constitutes an opportunity to respond to Him whom we love so much and to be rewarded forever for so doing.

For those of us who have our hearts truly set on eternity and the New Jerusalem, death really is gain (Phil.1:21). All the arrows of the evil one cannot separate us from Christ's love, even if the devil is allowed to take away our lives (Rom.8:31-39). We can be made to suffer in our bodies and in our emotions, but only for a very short while – and only with the result that we are rewarded for sharing Christ's sufferings, provided we hold onto our good attitude in so doing (Rom.8:17; 2Cor.1:5; Phil.3:10; Col.1:24; 1Pet.4:12-13; cf. Mk.10:38-39; Acts 5:41; 2Cor.4:10-11; Gal.6:17; 1Thes.1:6; 2Thes.1:4-5; 2Tim.3:12).

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.
Philippians 1:29 NIV

The creation of those "destined" to be cast into the lake of fire was a necessity if we who are willing to be obedient were to be created. God only creates what is perfect. Therefore this creation and process of history, angelic and human, is perfect. This must mean that God had to create the entire spectrum of human and angelic kind if He were to create any of us and give us genuine free will in the image of God. It had to be done this way, otherwise God might have done it a different way. And of this I am absolutely sure: all unbelievers go to hell of their own free will, and even if any life circumstance could be changed – short of actually taking away their choice – and even if they had many chances to do so, they would always make the same bad choice: self will over the WILL of God.

There is much about all of these issues at the link: BB 4B: Soteriology, a study which discusses all of these matters from a systematic point of view.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Thanks again Bob! You are encouraging me at a point that I really need it! To fully believe in Christ, we must come to the end of ourselves, really knowing that there is no hope in the things of this world. My hope is not in my family troubles disappearing, but in the One who has forgiven all my sins past. present and future. True Christian fellowship is God speaking His Truth from the heart of one brother to another, as we become real, transparent, and totally honest with Him and each other! I am determined to become vulnerable and more trusting with my brethren. The works of God they testify of, that I have not yet experienced ... I will accept at face value. I will not doubt their testimonies without good reason!

In John 9, Jesus heals a man born blind. the Pharisees were looking for every reason to discount the miracle, questioning the mans parents as well as the man himself. It upset their apple-cart, so to speak, and they would have had to acknowledge that Jesus Christ was of God. They refused to accept reasonable evidence of a miracle. In overcoming my tendency to a doubting Thomas mentality, I am seeking a more childlike faith. But I will continue to improve my understanding through my study of good unbiased apologetics. There are lots of good sources online. In Christ,

Response #3:

You're very welcome.

I certainly hope things work out for you "over there". Do feel free to write any time.

On "child-like faith", in my view our Lord's point is that we should accept God's truth without reservations and in complete trust – just like a child would believe us. I don't think it means failing to do detailed work to find out what the truth is (if I did, I wouldn't be doing this ministry). In my own experience, nothing is more powerful than the truth – accepted and believed. And it does bring us closer to Jesus in a very wonderful and dynamic way. No amount of emotion or good intentions can do this. Only the truth can do this.

In Jesus Christ who is the truth, the very Word of God,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Bob,

Its Sunday evening, and God is revealing to me His great love and mercy, triumphing over every lofty spirit that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. It so heartens me that you believe that everyone will be given a fair chance to really accept Jesus Christ for who He is. If every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, then everyone, somehow, must have that opportunity to know Jesus is the Savior! There are a few scriptures that shed some light on this. Col 1:23 says that the gospel has been preached (past tense) to very creature under heaven. How is this possible? For a human standpoint, it could not mean that every person had orally been preached to. It isn't true now- even with our satellite technology- and it certainly wasn't true then! However, Revelation 14:6 and 7:9 give a clue: Rev 14:6 says that John saw an angel flying in mid air, having the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-every nation, tribe, language and people. Rev 7:9 gives another clue: John saw a multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, proclaiming the salvation belongs to our God. It seems that there are more people in this multitude than the Gospel could ever reach effectively! Because God is no respecter of persons, he will reveal the true gospel to all the Cornelius types out there-those who would decide for Christ if only they could know the Truth. While these Scriptures in no way cancel out our Great Commission to preach the Gospel to every creature, they do give tremendous hope that no one will go to hell because they lived at the wrong time and the wrong place. God is too careful and loving to leave the salvation of billions to chance-depending on lackadaisical Christians to spread the gospel to every creature. I am guilty here like everyone else. As a dad, if I wanted to protect my child from serious injury I would tell him myself how to avoid injury, not wait for his brother to tell him. It also gives hope that those brainwashed with false doctrine will have a chance to know the real Truth about Jesus and make a fair decision for or against Him. Comments?

Response #4:

I'm encouraged to hear that you are doing well. The Word of truth is the fuel we need to get through this life, set afire by the Holy Spirit. God knows not only what we need but what we want / are willing to take. It is along those lines that I see the specifics of the Gospel. After all, natural revelation is given to the entire world. As it says in Psalm 19:3-4: "There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." (NIV). You can find more about this at the link: Natural Revelation. The bottom line is that God made us to need Him, put in our hearts the intuitive knowledge that He made us, and invites us with the whole creation and with the entire set of natural imperatives to seek Him (i.e., not only does everyone know He exists, but we all know we are going to die, we know we are imperfect, and we know that absent His help we will not be able to stand up to His perfect judgment).

He is the One who gives us all life and breath and everything else. (26) From one man he created all the nations of mankind – that they should come to inhabit the whole face of the earth. He fixed and determined the specific times and extent of their habitations, (27) to the end that they should seek out this God, that they might go in search of Him and so might find Him – for His is not far off from any one of us.
Acts 17:25b-27

In other words, the motivational part of the gospel is universal. The only reason that many do not receive the gospel message itself is that they are not interested in getting it. And indeed, many who do get it (no doubt the vast majority) do not want it either. That doesn't mean we should not keep giving it to them, but it does mean that we can relax about any worries that any single person in human history went to hell for lack of information. People have the image of God and only go to hell because they would rather keep that free will to themselves rather than give it back to God under any circumstances. Here is how I translate the Colossians passage:

(22) Yet God has now accomplished reconciliation [for you] through the death of Christ in His physical body so that you may stand before Him as holy, without blemish and free from accusation – [this you will do] (23) if you remain solidly grounded and firmly fixed in the faith, and un-moved from your hope in the gospel which you have heard proclaimed in all creation under heaven, of which [gospel] I, Paul, have become a minister.
Colossians 1:23

The key phrase "in all creation" is singular in Greek and refers to "the world" generally rather than to each individual person particularly. In Revelation we are told, it is true, that there will be occasions when the gospel is supernaturally given worldwide – but the stubbornness of those who receive it will be similarly resolute. We can only thank God for our supple hearts – and strive to keep them responsive to the Lord Jesus in every way, seeking to please Him by doing what He really wants rather than we want or what we "want Him to want" or even what we "convince ourselves He wants" us to do in this life.

In the One who is our everything, dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Bob, thank you for the links and good words. I am sort of confused as to what difference it makes when a Christian is debating a Christian as to annihilationism, as opposed to a Christian speaking with an unbeliever. I've been lurking at my old site and have watched, in amazement, as this person defends it with such swiftness and authority, meaning they have scriptures at the drop of a hat to post up. I can see the subtle twisting of meanings and the dropping of 'Greek' interpretations, but it still sounds very convincing for the younger Christian who may be reading. I guess my question is, should we care if other Christians believe this; as I would find it sort of normal for the unbeliever.

And thank you for your continued prayers for me and my family. I sure need them now, as I've been feeling a sort of foreboding of something big and not so pleasant surrounding me.

In Christ,

Response #5:

You're most welcome. As to your latest question, of course every biblical principle is important, those that are expressly explained by scripture being even more important to "get right", with those which are ubiquitous in the Bible being the most dangerous to "get wrong". The last judgment of unbelievers falls into all three categories. Since the final result for those who reject Jesus Christ is laid out in scripture in crystal clear terms, and since it is only by willfully dismissing and arrogantly twisting countless verses that a person could even make an argument for the truth not being true, any and all who advocate such teachings are most likely not even saved. It is a very common feature among those who have fallen away or who resent God for whatever reason to wish to justify their false beliefs, which are really nothing more than personal wishes they know (or at least once knew) in their heart of hearts to be wrong. Moreover, it is a typical human "thing" to feel subconsciously that if others can be convinced of some falsehood that the falsehood will then become true. Ridiculous as that sounds when laid out so starkly, history is filled with examples, the most pertinent one for believers being the devil's convincing of his followers that rebelling against the Lord would be safe – and apparently becoming convinced of this lie himself through the encouragement of others believing it.

So, yes, we should care if other believer buy into such a monstrous lie. Lies are like gangrene (2Tim.2:17). They eat away at the fabric of the truth in our hearts as they breed the rejection of truth and the acceptance of more lies. That is how apostasy happens, and precisely the formula antichrist will use to detach one third of the true Church from the faith in the coming Tribulation.

Keep fighting the good fight! Your courage in Jesus Christ is an inspiration to me and all who observe you, men and angels both. Whatever may come, He will shepherd us through, even if we have to walk the valley of the death-shadow for a time, until we all reach Zion and receive the rewards that accrue to those who follow Him faithfully.

In our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #6:

To Robert Luginbill:

For the last 4-5 weeks I have been trying to see if I could possibly get a definitive answer to this perplexing mystery — What is hell? I have found that everything on both sides of this issue is refutable to one degree or another. Everything except for one thing. Man is mortal. Therefore, he cannot be immortal in hell. However, I do see one possibility for you to refute this evidence.

Show me where "mortal" — ONLY REFERS TO THE BODY. Do that, and you will win the argument. Fail to do that, and you will lose the argument. You may say, "Oh, that is a gross oversimplification." But I have no other choice because as I said — everything else is refutable to one degree or another. So everything else is useless. Anyways, it all comes down to this, as far as I'm concerned. And I don't know. You may actually find such evidence. Just don't use 1Corinthians 15:52-53 because verse 50 refutes that. Oh — no intellectual mumbo-jumbo! Show me the verse or verses, and keep your explanation very short and simple!

Yours in Christ,

Response #6:

Dear Friend,

With all due respect, this is a Bible teaching ministry, one of whose key service is to answer questions about the scriptures and the truths it contains. It is not a debating society, and I only engage in disputation where there is some purpose, such as a false teaching which needs to be put right. The answer to this and your previous questions are all available at Ichthys – and I am certainly happy to direct you to the appropriate links and also to clarify legitimate concerns. But you do not really seem to have a question. Indeed, you do not even provide a scripture about which you wish clarification (or even a particular statement or teaching of this ministry with which you disagree). Lobbing up English words and vague philosophical concepts is not proof of anything nor does it invite any sort of profitable discussion. If you really would like to know what the Bible says about hell and the last judgment and condemnation and the like, here are some links that spell these things out in great detail:

The Last Judgment

Literal Hell

Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.

Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.

Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

I was suspecting that you wouldn't be able to find any evidence to the contrary. Anyways, ceasing to exist is the only answer that makes any sense. I mean, how could you possibly believe that all those young children who died just a few weeks, or a few months after reaching the age of accountability would have to spend – AN ETERNITY in hell? That is not justice by any stretch of the imagination. You remind of the Pharisees and Sadducees, who looked like men of God, and who acted like men of God, but who had no truth in them at all. And by the way, I WASN'T LOOKING FOR A DEBATE. I WAS LOOKING FOR THE TRUTH. – AND NOW I HAVE IT.

Response #7:

Again, you are failing to read carefully the emails and links I send you.

Everyone in hell has chosen against God. He knows the hearts of all – we do not.

He is just.

All that has been explained directly and in links many times now.

In my humble opinion, you need to decide whether or not you are a student or a teacher, and arrange your approach accordingly.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #8:

To Robert Luginbill: Well, I have finally come to a conclusion. You can take a look at my reasoning. If you find anything wrong then you can tell me. But it all looks very reasonable and Biblical to me. I know that you wrote to me and said this is not a debating society. But please bear with me. This email is very short and clear. Please just take a look.

Fallen mankind is mortal, short, sweet and simple. Even a child can understand what that means.

And it is not just the body that is mortal. It is the ENTIRE PERSON THAT IS MORTAL.

Romans 6:12
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

Obviously, people sinning is a spiritual thing. It is not just the physical body.

Ezekiel 18 20
The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

So nobody can say that the body is mortal, but the soul is eternal.

NEVER does the Bible say that the soul, or anything about man is inherently immortal — NEVER.

And God does not want man to live forever in his sinful state as Genesis 3:22-24 clearly shows.

Genesis 3:22-24
22 And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Only those who have been saved by Jesus Christ will live forever.

John 6:58
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever."

Those who are still in their sins when they die are mortal; and therefore they will cease to exist. THEY ARE MORTAL. Nobody can refute this. It is a simple Biblical truth that absolutely no one can change or redefine — no how, no way.

AND SO, YOU CAN'T EXIST FOREVER IN HELL IF YOU ARE MORTAL.

And so again, I apologize for bothering you these past days. But this is really important to me. It is such a heavy, heavy topic.

Blessings to you and your family,

Response #8:

Dear Friend,

The problem with your reasoning is that it is not logical. You state that the "body is mortal". That is certainly true. You then go on immediately to conclude that "the entire person is mortal" – but you do so without any evidence for this proposition. The Bible, of course, is theological, rather than logical, and since God is the Creator and Sustainer and Director and Judge and Sovereign of the universe, He is free to do things in any what He pleases, even if human beings deem these things "illogical". For that reason, even if you were to provide some logical "proof" for the mortality of the human spirit – which as I say you omit attempting to do here – you would not for that reason be any closer to the truth. The only way to find out the truth of these matters is to consult scripture and see what God has said about them.

Because sin involves the will and the will comes from the spirit, that does not at all mean (logically) that the spirit is mortal; even if it did, given that we have plenty of biblical evidence for the eternal existence of the righteous (in the new heavens and the new earth) and the unrighteous too (in the lake of fire), you would still have to provide some biblical evidence for the destruction of spirits – yet scripture never gives us any such indication (all of the evidence points the other way).

"The Soul". I despair at this point of having confidence that repeating this conversation again will make any difference, but in the interest of pedantry I will say one final time: "human beings are dichotomous possessing a spirit and a body" and "the soul is a word best left out of biblical discussions because what that word 'means' when found in English translations of the Bible is not at all the same as how it is used in contemporary English". You use "soul" to mean, essentially, "spirit". Is that a problem? It is when and if you go the Bible and find the word "soul" in an English version and assume that it means the same as "spirit" or "the immaterial part of the human being" – which it never does. "Soul" in the Bible is nephesh (Heb.) / psyche (Gr.), and refers to the whole person (frequently with an emphasis on the inner person) who is, in every case, a spirit-in-a-body. The placing by God of the spirit in the body is what results in the "person" coming to life (Gen.2:7). Again, it might not be necessary to harp upon the distinction were it not for the fact that people who don't understand the difference go to English versions of the Bible which use the word "soul" in a misleading way (i.e., some may suppose it means "immaterial part" as opposed to the "material part" or body, which it never does), and then draw horribly wrong conclusions as a result of their misunderstanding of a translation.

As to the last part of your email, I find myself mightily confused. I will certainly affirm that only those who are believers are saved and will live forever with Jesus Christ. However, even though I am a believer, I am still "mortal" in the sense that I still exist in a sinful body – as we all do here on earth. So according to your logic, everyone is going to hell (or going to cease to exist – although as stated and proved many times now no one created will ever cease to exist); however I am very much counting on being in heaven and not in hell – because of my faith in Jesus Christ (not any personal lack of mortality of sinless perfection), and the righteousness I have through that faith (rather than through any works of my own doing).

The last part really is the answer to your question and the key to removing your heavy burden. Jesus Christ, after all, has already died for the sins of all mankind. They have all been paid for, all been atoned for. The grace necessary for forgiveness, therefore, is ready and waiting for all. When we accept the gift of Christ through faith, God considers us righteous, not because of our own acts or conduct – for how could mere mortals who continue to sin and continue to inhabit bodies of sin throughout their earthly lives have any hope of salvation if that were the standard? No, God considers us righteous because of what Christ did in dying for all of our sins. That is the basis for forgiveness and salvation, and it is accessed through faith.

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith;
Romans 9:30 NIV

The righteous live forever; the unrighteous are condemned to hell, "the second death", as it is called, because of the horrible nature of eternal lake of fire.

"Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."
John 5:29-29 NKJV

The only "operative" question in the discussion we have been having, therefore, is to which of these two categories above the mentally incapacitated and those who die before reaching accountability belong. Since God is just, and since it would be unjust to condemn to the lake of fire someone who did not have any sort of fair chance to express his/her free will as to where he/she desired to spend eternity, we can safely conclude that these individuals will be with those of us who believe in heaven after death, and in the New Jerusalem for all eternity. This, by the way, is one of the reasons why these verses in Revelation are literally true:

And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Revelation 5:9 NIV

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
Revelation 7:9 NIV

Because even in imponderable distant times and places, some have died very young (or been mentally deficient), and in each and every case God's purpose was for them to be saved, not having had any chance to reject Him and His Son.

God is just to do so, because Christ died for all.

I hope you are still reading, because this is the most important part of the email. Many people completely misunderstand the grace and love and mercy and goodness of God. That is amazing, because what more could He do for us than condemn His own dear Son to pay the penalty for each and every one of our sins? That sacrifice is mind-boggling, defying human comprehension – but it is the foundation of the universe and the plan of God, not to mention our salvation. Having done this for all, why does God condemn anyone? That is really the question to ask. Every human being, every spirit He has created, was written into the Book of Life before creation was initiated (see the link). The implications of this blessed truth are profound. What it means is that God intended since before He created the world for all to be saved. How, then, is anyone's name blotted out of the book so as to be lost? The answer is, "by their own free will". To be saved, all a person has to do is to "not say 'no!' to God".

So you see, your essential predisposition towards the idea of salvation is backwards. Not only does God not intend any to be lost, and not only has He paid for all to be saved, but it is also only by personal unwillingness, through rejection of Christ or willful refusal to have anything to do with God, that anyone is lost (see the link: "God's plan to save you")! What this means for the question at hand is that far from condemning people who don't have a "chance to believe in Christ", all individuals who do not have the opportunity to reject God are automatically saved – because the "default" position of the plan of God is salvation (not condemnation). Recognizing this blessed truth is the key to understanding God's grace and mercy - - and also His absolute justice in respecting the free will of those who willfully resist spending eternity with Him and our dear Lord Jesus.

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
John 3:17-21 NKJV

God made us to bless us, not to curse us, and has made it possible for us to be blessed in spite of our sins. We only inherit cursing instead of blessing when we reject His Gift, Jesus Christ the only Savior. God is not trying to condemn us – He has done all that needs to be done to save us (if only we are willing to be saved).

In hopes that this is help to you and your growth in the Lord Jesus and His truth,

Bob L.

Question #9:

I just had a study with my daughter when she came home from school and we went over your teaching called "The problem of Science and the Bible" (from part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series.) We were very pleased with her because she purposely failed a test in biology that dealt with the topic of evolution and instead she stood up for the belief in creationism. One of the questions on the test was a "true/false" question in which the question was: "Evolution is only a theory" and Laura answered "True" to that, but the teacher marked it as wrong. It's a real shame how teachers are trying to brainwash students about these matters and even forcing them to fail tests if they won't believe in their teachings concerning evolution.

I have a former friend who only a year ago believed in much the same way that you and I do. Now he has made a full change in his thinking. He teaches along these lines now and these are some of his quotes:

"Being a child of hell has nothing to do with a literal never ending punishment by a wrathful God for billions upon billions of years. What foolishnes that we could be so deceived to think that God would ever act in such a way. Such belief violates every attribute of God's character and His righteousness and just judgments. Such a punishment is not just by any measure of reasoning. Do you really think that God sending 99% of people to an eternal torment in a literal hell brings glory to God? Believing in the lie of eternal torment in hell is not good news any way you rationalize it. Holding to this lie will keep you in fear and trusting in your own strength and intelligence to find God."

Is there any wise way to try and rationalize with people that think this way? Some of us have tried, but he now refers to us as 'dogs', 'carnal', 'not of the faith', 'unbelievers', 'not yet saved' etc. He tells us we should not be speaking with him, but instead that we should be out warning everyone in the world about hell if we truly believe in it . Have you ever tried to reason with people who think this way, and what is the best way to go about it? Or is it simply unwise to even attempt to say anything to them? He was once such a humble person who seemed to understand the main areas of truth and many cared for him, but we don't really know how to help him anymore.

What is amazing is that he knows the bible so so well and can quote scriptures to support his views much faster than Christians who do believe differently than him and believe that the bible teaches about an eternal hell. You might be able to keep up with him, but most who believe differently than he does cannot keep up with him.)

I have one more question. I was looking at an article which supported the 7 millennial days of human history and the article mentioned that several early Christians supported the concept of the 7 millennial days of human history such as Barnabus, Martyr, Irenaeus, Lactantius, Methodius etc. The article is here...

http://www.facebook.com/l/dAQEjYNAbA
QFlnHHXYPhSUzY_mP58nsJpilwDOM2W1lNWSg/
www.ldolphin.org/angels297.html

I was wondering if you learned of this teaching through some of these early Christian writings. The thought had crossed my mind before about history being divided into 7 (1000 year) days, but I had never heard anyone actually teach about it till I found your site. I am loving learning about it in great detail as you are sharing on your site and it truly does make a great deal of sense! I am wondering how God will change the world during the millennial period since I sort of doubt that it will still be filled with highways, Walmarts and McDonalds during that time. I will continue to read your writings and see how that is to work out.

God's wondrous grace and peace be with you!

Response #9:

Good to hear from you as always.

I have a vague memory of bumping into a (rudimentary) version of the seven millennial days in a Bible survey book very many years ago (seminary?). I thought it was Halley's Bible Handbook, but I managed to find that on my shelf and it doesn't seem to do any more than mention the passages which state that a "day is like a thousand years" to the Lord in the context of the six/seven days and without any such comment.

When it comes to the true doctrines of the Word of God, they are true and available for all who are really interested in learning them, taught by the Spirit and perspicuous in the scriptures. That is true whatever name we give them and wherever we heard of them first or even if we "figured it out" independently of anyone else. I am very pleased that I was taught the Trinity (can't remember where I first heard about it), and, honestly, would be pleased as punch to find every truth of scripture systematically analyzed in an absolute correct way in some treasure-trove somewhere. Looking for just that was the impetus for and genesis of this ministry. I am always encouraged when I do find someone who has come to the same truth as I have on any point of doctrine. To me that is proof positive that the Spirit is at work and is teaching all who really want to draw closer to Jesus Christ through the Word of God.

As to your friend, I have written rather a lot on this particular topic. The most important links are as follows:

Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.

Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.

Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.

Literal Hell

Eschatology Issues II: Angelic bodies, heaven and hell, Satan and the Nephilim, etc.

To "cut to the chase" on this issue, the theological problem with the point of view adopted by your friend is that takes free will out of the equation. And if there is no need for free will and a time and place for us to exercise it, then why are we going through this experience called life in the first place? Why does God allow suffering, in that case? Why does He then allow death? Why didn't He just make us all perfect and eternal immediately and without the possibility of sin and without the necessity for suffering?

The truth is, nothing about creation and life makes any sense whatsoever without accepting the fact that we are all here for a purpose, and that the purpose is to choose, for God or for ourselves. People who dispute this in any way are in actuality only putting a coat of armor over their hearts so as not to have to face that uncomfortable truth. They have made their decision and would rather not have to contemplate the eternal consequences of what they have chosen. Indeed, if human beings did not have the ability to blind themselves with their own arrogance, it is hard to see how the choice we all face here on earth would be a fair one: if everyone really did have to live every day every step of the way with a sure, certain, and pellucid understanding of their own mortality, their sinfulness, and the coming judgment and the reality of condemnation for eternity, well, that would be too much for most to take, and many would choose for God without really wanting Him. As it is, the fact that so many, like your friend, not only have rejected Him but also feel free to spin all manner of falsehoods about Him, His character and His truth, only goes to show that the hardness of heart God makes possible for those who want nothing to do with the truth really is an absolutely effective system: it allows all who want to do so to self-select for an eternity where they won't have to have anything to do with God, and to do so without the otherwise unavoidable reality that shouts from every corner of His creation getting in the way of their true heart-decision.

I always go back to the cross. The cross is the bedrock of everything. It would be difficult to underestimate it, and it is impossible to properly appreciate it. God could create an infinite number of universes infinitely larger than ours and do so in the blink of an eye. He could populate them with abundantly more and abundantly more gifted creatures than us. But in fact He only created this one, the one perfect one. We know it is the perfect one because it is to this one universe, this one world, that Jesus Christ came. For God who is independent of time and space to become a true human being is a sacrifice that boggles the mind. For Him to endure what Jesus endured and suffer what Jesus suffered in His life of trouble and in running the gauntlet to the cross takes away one's power of speech. But for our Lord to do what He did on the cross, what He had to do if we were going to be rescued from the grave and from the lake of fire, namely, dying in the darkness for all of ours sins, paying the entire price, the entire penalty, taking the entire punishment for all the sins of everyone, even those who reject Him, is beyond sublime, beyond understanding, and ineffably beyond comprehension. It is the only thing in history worth mentioning – it is the good news.

If there were no hell, why did Jesus have to die spiritually as He did to save us from it?

And once this day of life is done, there is no more sacrifice for sin for a person to grasp onto. The Passover lamb had to be eaten that night – it could not be left until morning (Ex.34:25). Likewise, this night of tears called life will pass by as well. We who have eaten His body and drunk His blood – putting our faith in Christ – will awake to the glorious dawn of life eternal; all others will find it too late to partake. And if they had really wanted to do so in their heart of hearts, they would have done so – they all had the chance.

Here are some of the more pertinent links to discussions which approach the "problem" for this point of view:

Choosing Hell: Questions about Salvation and the Love of God.

Free-Will Faith and the Will of God

Free-Will Faith in the Plan of God.

Free-Will Faith in Salvation

Unbelievers, Free Will, and the Plan of God

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

How do you reconcile these two verses?

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.' (Matthew 10:28)

And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name' (Revelation 14:11)

Sincerely,

Response #10:

In Luke's version, only the word "body" is used (Lk.12:4-5). In any case, the key here is the word "soul" which means "the life", and, particularly in this context, the present physical life which the person in question is presently enjoying (i.e., the "soul" is not a tertium quid [see the link]; rather it is a synonym for the "heart" or the physical life of the person here on earth). All who despise God's solution will have their lives and present bodies destroyed, but they will not be annihilated: every spirit the Lord creates is created forever. Rather, since they have chosen to live eternally without Him, they will get what they wish. However, all blessing flows from God alone, so that an eternity without Him is an eternity without any blessing whatsoever (in fact, just the opposite). For more, please see the link: Biblical Anthropology II: 'Soul sleep', & dichotomy vs. trichotomy (this will lead you to other appropriate links). And more on this topic:

Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.

Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.

Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Thank you Brother

Have another question. I was asked by a family member about hell. She was once a Jehovah witness . But now a baptist but doesn't fully follow the teaching. She mention to me God does not send people to be burned continually and said the word hell was never in the bible or hades but gehenna is mentioned in the bible and it refers to a place out side the city. She got high verbally again about the fact God will not send people to be punish in fire for ever that the fire brings things to and end. It burns up every thing there nothing left. That the fire completely destroys every thing that is in it. What I did I shared these scriptures without the word hell or hades and gehenna.

She said that the story of Lazarus and the rich man didn't actually mean he was in a place of torment but was an analogy about rich people and the poor. Basically she does not see eternal punishment. I shared these scripture that does not have hell in it or hades and she claims when Jesus mention hell that is a pagan word and that Jesus and God would not ever allow eternal punishment and that was not what He meant. So in what way could all this be explained if possible in a way without hell or hades. I was wondering what it is actual saying in Aramaic/Hebrew.

Response #11:

In terms of God's character, people chose hell for themselves. The Father has done absolutely everything for everyone so that they may avoid hell by cleansing away their sins in the blood of His own dear Son. The only people who go to hell are those who refuse to accept God's grace. Sadly, in the history of the human race, this includes the vast majority of people who have ever lived. That just goes to show the hardness of the human heart, and what giving us the image of God means: we are free to subordinate that free will to God and accept His solution to our common problems of mortality, sin and judgment – or to pretend we don't need God, are like God, and can exist without God (Satan's system of lies; see the link).

In terms of what the Bible says, it seems nearly ridiculous to have to prove to people that there is a hell in the Bible. Any unbeliever reading the Bible honestly would admit that this is what the Bible teaches – even if said unbeliever doesn't believe it. This denial of hell is a dangerous false doctrine which has been around for a long time, but one which is being much ballyhooed of late for some reason. Your defense of the truth included here seems to me quite good. I have indeed written a good deal on this subject and will give you the links below. A couple of brief comments first. Scripture uses a number of words for hell – as it (and we) have synonyms for all sorts of things. The fact that the English word "hell" does not occur in the Bible doesn't have any more significance than the fact that English word "God" does not occur in the Bible. The Bible is written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The only time there is a correspondence between English words and the words of the original scriptures is when we transliterate or directly borrow a word (like "baptize") instead of translating into a corresponding English Word. "Hades", for example, is a borrowed word, a transliteration ("hell" would be a possible translation), and Hades most certainly does occur in the Bible as a term for the entire underworld (e.g., Matt.11:23; 16:18; Lk.10:15; 10:23; Rev.1:8; 6:8; 20:13-14; Acts 2:27; 2:31). As to the story of Lazarus, Jesus doesn't say it's a parable; He says these things happened. If we could use this argument, namely, that "it's only an analogy", we could essentially throw anything out of the Bible that didn't agree with what we preferred. A lot of people do that to the entire book of Revelation, for example. They have only themselves to blame for the damage done thereby to their spirituality by denying the truth of the Word of God and encouraging others to do the same (Rev.22:18-19).

Here are those links:

Literal Hell

Choosing Hell: Questions about Salvation and the Love of God.

The Last Judgment

The Lake of Fire

Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.

Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.

Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.

Please feel free to write back about any of the above.

In Jesus our dear Lord who has saved us from death and hell through His blood.

Bob L.

Question #12:

I was also giving this by my family member. Would you mind researching it/ I don't know who the writer is but I like your help very much on the matter. God Bless and thank you

What Does the Bible Teach About Hell?

Does the Bible teach the idea commonly held concerning hell? Does the hell of the Bible denote a place of burning torment, a condition of suffering without end, which begins at death? What is the hell of the Bible? The only way to arrive at the correct answer is to trace the words translated ‘hell’ from the beginning to the end of the Bible, and by their connections ascertain exactly what the divine Word teaches on this important subject. Before we look into the definitions of hell, think about this fact. The word "heaven" appears in the Bible over 550 times. If "hell" is the fate of those who do not accept Jesus as their Lord, how often do you think God should put it in the Bible Scriptures warning all the people of the world the consequences of failing to accept Jesus as their Savior? Thousands of times? At least as many times as the word "heaven"? At least once in each book in the Bible? The facts may shock you. * The KJV and the NKJV are the only two translations in the list above to use "hell" in the Old Testament. Even the NKJV, which was only supposed to modernize the English words of the traditional "Authorized Version," took many "hell" references out. The use of the word "hell" is decreasing. The NKJV, RSV, ASV, NRSV, and NASB are all technically revisions of the original KJV. From 54 times to 32 and then to 12 or 13 times--who knows--maybe the next revision will bring it in line with the many Bibles which have eliminated the pagan word Hell all together. ** A note about the Parallel Interlinears. I am referring to the word-for-word translations beneath the Greek in these works, NOT the English versions which are also in these reference works. Obviously the versions in these books (NIV, NASB, and KJV) contain the word Hell as many times as they normally would. Definitions of Hell In the King James Bible, the term "hell" is used 54 times; 31 times in the Old Testament, and 23 times in the New Testament. What is the meaning of the word "hell" in the bible? In the Old Testament, it is translated from one word, Sheol. In the New Testament, "hell" is translated from three words, tartaroo, Hades, and Gehenna. Let us look at their meanings. 1) Tartaroo [Greek New Testament]: "Hell" is translated only one time from tartaroo, which is from the root Tartaros, which means "the deepest abyss of Hades" (2 Peter 2:4). Apparently, Peter was not writing about a place of flames and torment because "the angels that sinned" are there "to be reserved unto judgment." It would not make sense that angels would be burning in hell before judgment is pronounced on them. If angels are being reserved for judgment, it means they haven’t been judged yet. After all, an accused murderer wouldn't serve 25 years and then be judged to see if he belongs there or not. If the wicked were to live in a burning hell, they’d have eternal life, just as the righteous, differing only in its quality. The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23), not eternal life. 2) Sheol (Hebrew Old Testament) / Hades (Greek New Testament): What is the meaning of the word "hell" in the Old Testament? "Hell" is always translated from the Hebrew word Sheol (which is used 65 times in the Old Testament) and means simply "the world of the dead". There is no hint of a place of fire (Jonah 2:1-2). Sheol is translated as "grave" 31 times, "hell" 31 times, and "pit" 3 times. "Sheol" is translated as "grave" in Psa.89:48, Job 17:13, where both Job (a godly man) and the wicked go to Sheol (hell). Sheol is described in terms of overwhelming floods, water, or waves (Jonah 2:2-6). Sometimes, Sheol is pictured as a hunter setting snares for its victim, binding them with cords, snatching them from the land of the living (2 Sam. 22:6; Job 24:19; Ps. 116:3). Sheol is a prison with bars, a place of no return (Job 7:9; 10:21; 16:22; 21:13; Ps.49:14; Isa.38:10). People could go to Sheol alive (Num.16:30,33; Ps.55:15; Prov.1:12). It does not teach a place of the conscious souls. The Greek Septuagint, which our Lord used when he read or quoted from the Old Testament, gives Hades as the exact equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol, and when the Savior, or his apostles, used the word, they meant the same as is meant in the Old Testament. Thus, the New Testament usage agrees exactly with the Old Testament. Literally, Hades means "death" or the "grave"; and figuratively, it means "destruction". Hades is used 11 times in the New Testament. It is translated 10 times as "hell", and 1 time as "grave." Hades means "the place (state) of departed souls, grave, hell." In Acts 2:27,31, apparently, both the righteous and the wicked go to Hades, the same as they both go to Sheol in the Old Testament, for Christ went to hell when He died. In quoting the Old Testament prophecy regarding Christ, the New Testament writer uses Hades. Compare Acts 2:27 with Psalm 16:10. It seems more logical to think of Christ in the grave instead of in a burning hell. 1 Corinthians 15:55 illustrates that "grave" is a proper reading for Hades. This verse is quoted from Hosea 13:14 in the Old Testament where we find the equivalent word Sheol (grave). Hades is also used in Matthew 11:23; 16:18, Luke 10:23, and Revelation 1:18; 6:8. In Revelation 20:13-14, if one thinks of "hell" as death represented by the grave, it makes sense for hell to be cast into the lake of fire. After all, if "hell" itself is really a lake of fire, how can it be thrown into itself? This does not make any sense. Notice in 1 Corinthians 15:26 that death will be destroyed. What is represented by death? The grave! 3) Hinnom (Hebrew Old Testament) / Gehenna (Greek New Testament): "Hell is translated twelve times from Gehenna (or, as it is sometimes transliterated, Geenna). This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Hinnom, which is the name of a valley outside Jerusalem where garbage and the carcasses of animals were cast into and consumed by fire constantly kept burning. Thus, Gehenna is the only one of those words translated as "hell" in the Bible, that has any idea of fire or torment resident in it. Look at Matthew 5:22,29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33 and Mark 9:43,45,47. It is apparent from these texts that the whole physical body is cast into Hell, and not just the soul. Gehenna is also used in Luke 12:5 and James 3:6. "Gehenna was a well-known valley, near Jerusalem, in which the Jews in their idolatrous days had sacrificed their children to the idol Moloch, in consequence of which it was condemned to receive the offal and refuse and sewage of the city, and into which the bodies of malefactors were cast and where to destroy the odor and pestilential influences, continual fires were kept burning. Here fire, smoke, worms bred by the corruption, and other repulsive features, rendered the place a horrible one, in the eyes of the Jews. It was a locality with which they were as well acquainted. But in process of time Gehenna came to be an emblem of the consequences of sin, and to be employed figuratively by the Jews, to denote those consequences. But always in this world. The Jews never used it to mean torment after death, until long after Christ. The word had not the meaning of post-mortem torment when our Savior used it." (J.W. Hanson's, Bible Threatenings Explained). Also note, not one single time in the entire Old Testament was this word "Ge-Hinnom" translated as "hell." See Leviticus 18:21; 20:2; Joshua 15:8; 18:16; 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Nehemiah 11:30; Jeremiah 7:30-33; 19:2, 6; 32:35. Every Bible reference using the word "hell" is addressed to this world. It was also employed in the time of Christ as a symbol of moral corruption and wickedness; but more especially as a figure of the terrible judgment of God on the rebellious and sinful nation of the Jews. It was a place fit only for waste. Should a Jew, God's chosen people, ever be given a burial in "Gehenna," it would be the most humiliating thing that could ever happen to him. It would be like saying to a Pharisee, that his life, his religious works, his devotion to God were completely worthless, fit only for the dump. Read the prophecy concerning the apostate Israel in Jeremiah 7:30-34: Jeremiah 7:30 For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. Jeremiah 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom (Greek = Gehenna), to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart. Jeremiah 7:32 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom (Greek = Gehenna), but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place. Jeremiah 7:33 And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away. (See Matthew 24:28). Jeremiah 7:34 Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate. (See Revelation 18:23). This passage undoubtedly refers to the literal destruction that would befall the Jewish nation in 70 A.D., when many Jews experienced literally the condemnation of Gehenna, by perishing miserably by fire and sword. Every Bible reference about hell is to this world. Only Jesus and James ever used the term Gehenna. Neither Paul, John, Peter nor Jude ever employed it. Would they not have warned sinners concerning it, if there were a Gehenna of torment after death? Neither Christ nor His apostles ever used the term Gehenna to Gentiles, but only to Jews, which proves it is a locality known only to Jews, whereas, if it were a place of punishment after death for sinners, it would have been preached to the Gentiles as well as to Jews. The Book of Acts contains the record of the apostolic preaching, and the history of the first planting of the church among the Jews and Gentiles, and embraces a period of thirty years from the ascension of Christ. In all this history, in all this preaching of the disciples and apostles of Jesus, there is no mention of Gehenna. In thirty years of missionary effort, these men of God, addressing people of all characters and nations, never, under any circumstances, threaten them with the torments of Gehenna, or allude to it in the most distant manner! In the face of such a fact as this, can any man believe that Gehenna signifies endless punishment; and that this is a part of divine revelation, a part of the gospel message to the world? Now, if endless punishment awaits millions of the human race, and if it is denoted by this word, is it possible that only David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Malachi use the word to define punishment, in all less than a dozen times, while Job, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Solomon, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Hahum, Habbakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai and Zachariah NEVER employed it thus? Such silence is criminal, on the popular hypothesis. These holy men should and would have made every sentence bristle with the word, and thus have borne the awful message to the soul with an emphasis that could neither be resisted or disputed. The fact that the word is so seldom, and by so few, applied to punishment, and never in the Old Testament to punishment beyond death, demonstrates that it cannot mean endless. The Apocrypha, B.C.150-500, Philo Judaeus, A.D.40, and Josephus, A.D.70-100, all refer to future punishment, but none of them use Gehenna to describe it, which they would have done, being Jews, had the word been then in use with that meaning. Were it the name of a place of future torment then, can anyone doubt that it would be found repeatedly in their writings? And does not the fact that it is never found in their writings demonstrate that it had no such use then, and if so, does it not follow that Christ used it in no such sense? The first Christian writer who calls Hell Gehenna is Justin Martyr A.D., 140-166.. Tertullian, A.D. 200-220, was originally a Pagan; by birth, an African, and a lawyer by profession. He seems to have believed in the strictly endless punishment of the wicked, and to have argued against the doctrine of their annihilation, or, to use his own words, against the doctrine that "the wicked would be consumed, and not punished," that is, endlessly. He is the first, as far as can be ascertained, who expressly affirmed, and argued the question, that the torments of the damned would be equal in duration to the happiness of the blessed. What I find very interesting is that Jesus and James only mentioned it. Doesn't it seem absurd that Jesus and James speaking of "hell" to the believers in Matthew 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 9:42-47; 12:5 and James 3:6? Do they mean it literally? Seems to me when they speak of "hell", it is just figurative. It means a greater judgment while on earth, both the elect and the non-elect. Where will the wicked be punished?  Proverbs 11:31, "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner." The Scripture shows that both the righteous and the wicked are to be recompensed in the same place. Isaiah 24:21, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth." Here is a plain statement that punishment is to be administered "upon the earth" at some time. Where is hell located? Since "hell" means "the grave," scripture should describe hell as it would the grave. And in fact, this is what we find! Hell is described as being in the earth, and in the foundation of the mountains - the foundations being under the earth (Deuteronomy 32:22). Hell is deep - underground (Job 11:8). The direction of hell is down (Psalms 55:15, Ezekiel 32:21,27). Hell is low (Psalms 86:13). Hell is beneath us (Proverbs 15:24, Isaiah 14:9). Hell is a pit (Isaiah 14:15, Ezekiel 31:16). We must dig into hell (Amos 9:2). Hell (the grave) follows death (Revelation 6:8). Men and Women cannot Live in Fire, it will Burn Them Up Psalms 92:7, "When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever:" Philippians 3:18-19, "...they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction..." Psalms 37:20, "But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away." When referring to Psalms 37:20, Adam Clarke's Commentary says: "If we follow the Hebreto, it intimates that they shall consume as the fat of lambs. That is, as the fat is wholly consumed in sacrifices by the fire on the altar, so shall they consume away in the fire of God’s wrath." Psalms 104:35, "Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more." Malachi 4:1, "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." Matthew 13:40, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world." John 15:6, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." Isaiah 66:24, "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." In Isaiah 66:24, observe that the objects to suffer the effects of the unquenchable fire and the work of the undying worms are "the carcasses of men." All must know that the "carcasses of men" are dead men . Living men are not called "carcasses." When speaking of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in Jeremiah 17:27, "...then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched ." In A.D. 70, the time came when this fearful prophecy was fulfilled. Titus intended to save the Temple, but a soldier thrust a firebrand into it, set it on fire, and it was burnt with an unquenchable fire . Is Jerusalem still burning now? Certainly not. But the fire was unquenchable . Suppose a building takes fire, and the fire is declared to be unquenchable , would any one understand that the fire would burn eternally? An unquenchable fire must necessarily burn up whatever comes within its reach, or else not produce any effect upon the object. But the wicked are compared with " tares, " " thorns ," " stubble ," etc. and never with anything that would resist fire. Other terms to describe Hell Brimstone and fire: these verses always speak of brimstone and fire coming from heaven, not hell; and this brimstone and fire is always on the earth, and never in "hell". Genesis 19:24; Deuteronomy 29:23; 2 Kings 1:12,14, Job 1:16; 18:15; Psalm 11:6; 18:13, Isaiah 30:33; 34:9; Ezekiel 38:22; Luke 17:29; Revelation 14:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8 Weeping and gnashing of teeth: This is always speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem when their kingdom was cast out, not in "hell". Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28. Unquenchable: is used in Leviticus 6:12-13; 2 King 22:17; 2 Chronicles 34:25; Isaiah 34:10; 42:3; 43:3; 66:24; Jeremiah 4:4; 7:20; 17:27; 21:12; Ezekiel 20:47; Matthew 12:20; Mark 9:43-48 The apparent meaning of "shall not be quenched" is: when the Lord pronounces a judgment of fire on something, that fire cannot be put out by man until it has burned everything up, leaving only ashes. Obviously, the fire at Jerusalem did go out (Jer.17:27; 52:12-13, 2 Chron.36:19-21) and Jerusalem was rebuilt seventy years later. What sinners will be unable to deliver themselves from (Isa.47:14) is the unquenchable, eternal, everlasting fire. The fire will continue to consume everything that is wicked until it is completely destroyed and turned to ashes. Jude 1:7 clearly states an example of "eternal" fire. This is the same Greek word that is used for "everlasting" fire and "everlasting" punishment as used in Matthew 18:8 and Matthew 25:41,46 (Notice hell is "everlasting punishment", and not "everlasting punishing". The punishment is eternal in its results, not in its duration. Also, in Matthew 25:41, the "everlasting fire" is prepared for the devil and his angles, and not prepared by the devil and his angels). The fire and brimstone destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and turned them into ashes (Gen.19:24). Sodom and Gomorrah was an example of what would happen to the wicked (Luke 17:29-30, 2 Peter 2:6, Jude 1:7). We know that God did not remove Sodom and Gomorrah to burn them somewhere else because Abraham could see the smoke going up "as the smoke of a furnace" (Genesis 19:28). The cities are not burning today because when everything was burned and turned into ashes, the fire, having no fuel left, went out. Another example of "everlasting destruction" (2 Thes.1:9) is; once a match is burned, it is destroyed forever, but is not being forever destroyed. The phrase "eternal torment" does not appear in the Bible. Hanson wrote, "Many suppose that the words "unquenchable fire" mean a fire of endless duration, whereas, it is a fire that cannot be quenched until its purpose is accomplished. The meaning is, not that the fire was endless, but that it was not quenched,--it continued to burn--until all the material was destroyed. So the judgments of God on the Jews were effectually done -- the nation was completely devastated and destroyed. They were like chaff of the summer threshing floor in the consuming fire of God's judgment." Josephus says, [Jewish War, B. ii, ch. xvii:6.] speaking of a fire that used to burn in the temple--though at the time he wrote [A.D.80] it had gone out, and the temple was destroyed--"Every one was accustomed to bring wood for the altar, that fuel might never be needed for the fire, for it continued always unquenchable." Strabo, (A.D. 70) described the "unquenchable lamp" that used to burn in the Parthenon, though it has long since ceased to burn. [Lib. ix: p. 606.] Plutarch, (A.D. 110) in Numa, [p. 262] speaks of places in Delphi and Athens, "where there is a fire unquenchable," (asbeston) though in the same breath he describes it as having ceased to burn. Eusebius, [A.D 325, Eccl. Hist. Lib. vi, chap. 41] in his account of the martyrdom of Cronon and Julian, at Alexandria, says they were "consumed in unquenchable fire, asbesto puri," though it burned only long enough to destroy their bodies. Isaiah 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. Where do they look for the unquenchable fire in the above verses? On earth or in "hell"? Very clearly it is on earth, and it occurred in 70 AD. Furnace (of fire or smoke): is used in Genesis 19:28; Exodus 19:18; Psalm 21:9; Malachi 4:1; Matthew 13:42, 50; Revelation 9:2 How about this passage in Malachi? Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven (See Matthew 13:42); and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (See Jude 12-13). Malachi 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. Malachi 4:3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Malachi 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet (John the Baptist) before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD (parousia of Christ): Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth (land - destruction of Jerusalem) with a curse. Clearly, this occurred in the first century when Jerusalem was destroyed. It is no where said that God has a furnace in eternity, in which to burn souls. For ever and everlasting: Does "forever" always mean never ending? No. In the Bible, "for ever" is used where it has the meaning of lasting only as long as the duration of the event or as long as the man lives. Jonah calls "three days and three nights", "forever" (Jonah 1:17; 2:6). Hannah clearly explains what she means by the term "forever" when she says in verse 28, "as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord" (1 Sam. 1:22,28). Here "forever" is "ten generations" (Deut. 23:3). "Forever" obviously is as long as David lived (1 Chron. 28:4). Leprosy lasted for Gehazi as long as he lived (2 Kings 5:27). It’s apparent that the meaning of the word is determined by the context in which it is used (Exo. 21:5-6, Deut. 15:16-17, Philem. 1:10,11,15). Revelation 20:10 can agree with Ezekiel 28:18 by interpreting "for ever" as meaning "as long as they last in the fire or until the fire has burned them up completely." This is a good example of letting scripture interpret itself. More Studies on Forever and Everlasting Aion (Greek New Testament) / Oham = Hebrew (Hebrew Old Testament) [most Bibles put "forever" or "everlasting"]: First we need to check the background of these words: Before the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek (200-300 B.C., according to Prideaux, or during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, 285-247 B. C., say other authorities) this word aionion was in common use by the Greeks. Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Pindar, Sophocles, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Empedocles, Euripedes, Philoctetes, and Plato, all use the word, but never once does one of them give it the sense of eternity. Aristotle: "The entire heaven is one and eternal (aidios) having neither beginning nor end of an entire aion." And still more to the purpose is this quotation concerning God's existence: "Life and 'an aion continuous and eternal, zoe kai aion sunekes kai aidios.'" Here the word aidios, (eternal) is employed to qualify aion and impart to it what it had not of itself, the sense of eternal. Aristotle could be guilty of no such language as "an eternal eternity." Had the word aion contained the idea of eternity in his time, or in his mind, he would not have added aidios. Josephus and Philo, Jewish Greeks, who wrote between the Old and New Testaments, use the word aionion with the meaning of temporal duration, always. Alluding to the Pharisees, Josephus says: "They believe that the wicked are detained in an everlasting prison (eirgmon aidion) subject to eternal punishment" (aidios timoria) and the Essenes (another, Jewish sect) "Allotted to bad souls a dark, tempestuous place, full of never-ceasing punishment (timoria adialeipton) where they suffer a deathless punishment, (athanaton timorian)." Philo, who was contemporary with Christ, generally used aidion to denote endless, and always used aionion to describe temporary duration. Dr. Mangey, in his edition of Philo, says he never used aionion for interminable duration. He uses the exact phraseology of Matthew 25:46, precisely as Christ used it. "It is better not to promise than not to give prompt assistance, for no blame follows in the former case, but in the latter there is dissatisfaction from the weaker class, and a deep hatred and everlasting punishment (kolasis aionios) from such as are more powerful." Here we have the exact terms employed by our word, to show that aionion did not mean endless but did mean limited duration in the time of Christ. You may point to Jude 6. "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." Hanson wrote, "The word here rendered "everlasting" is not aionios, temporary duration, but aidios, whose intrinsic meaning is endless. It is found in one other place in the New Testament, Romans 1:20, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead." Now it must be admitted that this word among the Greeks had the sense of eternal, and should be understood as having that meaning wherever found, unless by express limitation it is shorn of its proper meaning. It is further admitted that had aidios occurred where aionios does, there would be no escape from the conclusion that the New Testament teaches Endless Punishment. It is further admitted that the word is here used in the exact sense of aionios, as is seen in the succeeding verse: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of aionian fire." That is to say, the "aidios chains" in verse 6 are "even as" durable as the "aionion fire" in verse 7. Which word modifies the other? 1) The construction of the language shows that the latter word limits the former. The aidios chains are even as the aionion fire. As if one should say "I have been infinitely troubled, I have been vexed for an hour," or "He is an endless talker, he can talk five yours on a stretch." Now while "infinitely" and "endless" usually convey the sense of unlimited, they are here limited by what follows, as aidios, eternal, is limited by aionios, indefinitely long. 2) That this is the correct exegesis is evident from still another limitation of the word. "The angels...he hath reserved in everlasting chains unto the judgment of the great day." Had Jude said that the angels are held in aidios chains, and stopped there, not limiting the word, it might be claimed that he taught their eternal imprisonment. But when he limits the duration by aionios and them expressly states that it is only unto a certain date, it follows that the imprisonment will terminate, even though we find applied to it a word that intrinsically signifies eternal duration, and that was used by the Greeks to convey the idea of eternity, and was attached to punishment by the Greek Jews of our Savior's times, to describe endless punishment, in which they were believers. But observe, while this word aidios was in universal use among the Greek Jews of our Savior's day, to convey the idea of eternal duration, and was used by them to teach endless punishment, Jesus never allowed himself to use it in connection with punishment, nor did any of his disciples but one, and he but once, and then carefully and expressly limited its meaning. Can demonstration go further than this to show that Jesus carefully avoided the phraseology by which his contemporaries described the doctrine of endless punishment?" And as for the attributes of God it is quite simple. God is before the ages, he created the ages, he himself wasn't created, he's the King of the Ages, he spoke the ages into being, he has no beginning, he has no end, he is the self-existent one, etc. Therefore "olam" and "aionion" when applied to God (and His kingdom) denote "infinity" or "eternality" because of the object in view. There are too many scriptures to mention them all using the term "forever" or "everlasting." Here are just a few as examples: "We see the word "everlasting" applied to God's covenant with the Jews; to the priesthood of Aaron; to the statutes of Moses; to the time the Jews were to possess the land of Canaan; to the mountains and hills; and to the doors of the Jewish temple. We see the word forever applied to the duration of a man's earthly existence; to the time a child was to abide in the temple; to the continuance of Gehazi's leprosy; to the duration of the life of David; to the duration of a king's life; to the duration of the earth; to the time the Jews were to possess the land of Canaan; to the time they were to dwell in Jerusalem; to the time a servant was to abide with his master; to the time Jerusalem was to remain a city; to the duration of the Jewish temple; to the laws and ordinances of Moses; to the time David was to be king over Israel; to the throne of Solomon; to the stones that were set up at Jordan; to the time the righteous were to inhabit the earth; and to the time Jonah was in the fish's belly. "We find the phrase forever and ever applied to the hosts of heaven, or the sun, moon, and stars; to a writing contained in a book; to the smoke that went up from the burning land of Idumea; and to the time the Jews were to dwell in Judea. We find the word never applied to the time the fire was to burn on the Jewish altar; to the time the sword was to remain in the house of David; to God's covenant with the Jews; to the time the Jews should not experience shame; to the time the house of David was to reign over Israel; to the time the Jews were not to open their mouths because of their shame; to the time those who fell by death should remain in their fallen state; and to the time judgment was not executed. "But the law covenant is abolished; the priesthood of Aaron and his sons has ceased; the ordinances, and laws, and statutes of Moses are abrogated; the Jews have long since been dispossessed of the land of Canaan, have been driven from Judea, and God has brought upon them a reproach and a shame; the man to the duration of whose life the word forever was applied is dead; David is dead, and has ceased to reign over Israel; the throne of Solomon no longer exists; the Jewish temple is demolished, and Jerusalem has been overthrown, so that there is not left "one stone upon another;" the servants of the Jews have been freed from their masters; Gehazi is dead, and no one believes he carried his leprosy with him into the future world; the stones that were set up at Jordan have been removed, and the smoke that went up from the burning land of Idumea has ceased to ascend; the righteous do not inherit the earth endlessly, and no one believes that the mountains and hills, as such, are indestructible; the fire that burnt on the Jewish altar has long since ceased to burn; judgment has been executed; and no Christian believes that those who fall by death will never be awakened from their slumbers. "Now, as these words are used in this limited sense in the Scriptures, why should it be supposed that they express endless duration when applied to punishment?" (Thomas B. Thayer - The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment). See Everlasting. - Gen. 17:7, 8, 13; 48:4; 49:26; Exod. 40:15; LeV 16:34; Numb. 25:13; Ps. 24:7; Hab. 3:6. Forever. - Deut. 15:17; 1 Sam. 1:22; 27:12; Lev 25:46; 2 Kings 5:27; Job 41:4; 1 Kings 1:31; Neh. 2:3; Dan. 2:4; Exod. 14:13; Eccl 1:4; Ps. 104:5; 78:69; Ezek. 37:25; Gen. 13:15; Exod. 32:13; Josh. 14:9; 1 Chron. 23:25; Jer. 17:25; Ps. 48:8; Jer. 31:40; 1 Kings 8:13; Numb. 10:8;18:23; 1 Chron. 28:4; 1 Kings 9:5; Josh. 4:7; Jonah 2:6; Ps. 37:29. Forever and ever. - Ps. 148:5, 6; Isa. 30:8; 34:10; Jer. 7:7; 25:5. Never. - LeV 6:13; 2 Sam. 12:10; Judges 2:1; Joel 2:26, 27; Jer. 33:17; Ezek. 16:63; Amos 8:14; Hab. 1:4. Hanson wrote, "All these and numerous other eternal, everlasting things -- things that were to last forever, and to which the various aionion words are applied--have now ended, and if these hundreds of instances must denote limited duration why should the few times in which punishments are spoken of have any other meaning? Even if endless duration were the intrinsic meaning of the word, all intelligent readers of the Bible would perceive that the word must be employed to denote limited duration in the passages above cited. And surely in the very few times in which it is connected with punishment it must have a similar meaning." These following words and passages are applied to the kind of life we have: Heb. 7:15-16, "And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless (akatalutos, imperishable) life." 1 Pet. 1:3-4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, (aphtharton) and undefiled, and that fadeth not (amaranton) away." 1 Pet. 5:4, "and when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not (amarantinos) away." 1 Tim. 1:17, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal (aphtharto), invisible, the only wise God be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen." Rom. 1:23, "And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man." Rom. 2:7, "To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality (aptharsain) eternal life." 1 Cor. 9:25, "Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible." 1 Cor. 15:42, "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption (aphtharsian)." See also verse 50. 1 Cor. 15:51-54, "Behold I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, (aphthartoi) and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, (aphtharsian) and this mortal must put on immortality (athanasian) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, (aphtharsian) and this mortal shall have put on immortality, (athanasian) then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." 2 Tim. 1:10, "Hath brought life and immortality (aphtharisan) to light, through the gospel." 1 Tim. 6:16, "Who only hath immortality (athanasian)." Now these words are applied to God and the soul's happiness. They are words that in the Bible are never applied to punishment or anything perishable. They would have been affixed to punishment had the Bible intended to teach endless punishment. And certainly they show the error of those who declare that the indefinite word aionion is all the word, or the strongest one in the Bible, declarative of the endlessness of life beyond the grave. Aren't those who do not hear or accept the Gospel doomed by God? In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), when the younger son demanded his inheritance and left home to indulge in riotous living, he was not stopped by his father. His father did not chase him away yelling, "You good-for-nothing impudent, rebellious ass of a boy! You'll burn in hell!" Not at all. Not even remotely. The father did not threaten the boy with hell-fire and damnation -- why should he? He knew that the boy was going to create this for himself all on his own. Instead, he let the boy go in peace with the freedom to think, feel, and act as he pleased, without recrimination. What do you imagine the boy would have thought some time later, when he had lost everything -- money, friends, and self-respect -- if, when in the depths of desperation, he called to mind his father, and heard echoing through his head, "You no-good-for-nothing impudent, rebellious ass of a boy! You'll burn in hell!" Think about it for a moment. And then ask yourself the question: What was it that made the boy want to return home in the story that Jesus told? Was it the picture of a father breathing hell and damnation or of a sorrowful man who loved him enough to give him his freedom to do as he pleased? We are not in the position of passing ultimate judgment on any man. We do not know how God will judge a man or woman in the eternities because we lack those omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving keys of love. To be sure we are called to make some local judgments of individuals that affect the welfare of the Body (Church), our families, and our countries, but we have never been given the mandate to pass judgment on any individual in his relationship to eternity. Never! And I challenge anyone to show me in the scripture where we have been given that mandate. That Prodigal Son would never have come home had the last picture of his father been of a vengeful, condemning ogre. Once he had realized his stupidity, his egotism, his selfishness, his rudeness -- yes, his rebelliousness and his being an "ass-head" for himself -- he had only one picture to fall on that would entice him home into loving care -- the picture of a sorrowful but loving father. It is a serious mistake to conclude that a man is lost just because he rejects our preaching. Have we suddenly become gods whose message cannot be refused on pain of everlasting destruction? We do not know the background of anyone fully. We do not, in truth, know the path any single soul has walked within himself. Only God knows that. There are times and seasons when a soul is receptive to the Word, times and seasons which God alone knows. Anyone who calls him- or herself a Christian must be sensitive to these things to be any use to either man or God. There are ways to warn people of the consequences of sin that will endear them to God and cause them to repent, and there are ways that will turn them off Him altogether and encourage them to rebel all the more -- because they simply can't see the love in the inadequate human visions of eternity. God's chief purpose is to reveal His love to us -- to "draw" us to Him, not to "compel" us to Him. The god of the whip has another name. It is not for us to judge men whether they are fit for heaven or hell. That is none of our business, and I would even venture to suggest that those who act as God in this way run the risk of finding themselves in that place they are so busily condemning others to. It is our duty to warn them not to do it and to protect innocent people from them. God will convict people of sin in His own way that will lead to genuine and not plastic repentance. Our job is to point people to the Saviour and His Law and invite them to receive, of their own free will and desire, the Gospel of Salvation themselves. It should be comforting to us, knowing that nobody will have a consciousness after death. The thought of my loved ones looking down on me, and seeing the things I do wrong while they are totally helpless to do anything or even give advice, is comforting. To have a loving mother be conscious of her loving son, while her son she loved so much is burning in hell forever, is not a comforting thought. To me, that would be a living hell for her. In conclusion, there is no conclusive or explicit proof in scripture that says people will have a consciousness after death. In addition, Only God Himself will determine what happens to us after we die. Opinions about what may or may not happen to us, or to others, after death, is just that...opinions. For nobody really knows what will happen except God Himself

Response #12:

Thanks for your emails and apologies for the delay. To be honest, I don't have the time to do a point by point refutation of multi-page, third party tracts like this. Moreover, the links previously provided to you do address all of these well-worn points in some detail, if not in the order presented here. Also, to be quite frank, I have learned the hard way by experience that even if one does this for someone who has blinded their eyes to the truth they probably won't even bother to read it. A better approach, in my view, is to confront such people with actual scriptures one by one, especially if you have a relationship with the person in question. It is also important to stick with one issue at a time. There are about six or so related issues swirling around in these documents and it is very common when in debates with such individuals that if you stump them on one they will just shift to another. When confronted with such hard-heartedness, our Lord picked very simple and solid ground to expose the true underlying facts.

I would start with the erroneous notion that God doesn't condemn anyone, and ask for an explanation of quite clear scriptures which teach just the opposite. For example:

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."
John 3:17-18

These are our Lord Jesus' own words. They show clearly that God the Father does not want to condemn anyone, that He has done absolutely the most for the world so as to make salvation available by sacrificing His own Son for the world's sins, BUT that those who refuse to believe "stand condemned already". In other words, these verses show the Love of God wishing to save, the Mercy of God in providing a way for sinners to be saved, but also the Justice of God in condemning all who choose to throw this love and mercy right back into the Father's face. Being "condemned" is pretty clear. After condemnation of unbelievers is accepted, one can move onto what that condemnation means:

(7) "The one who conquers (i.e., maintains the victory of faith to the end of life: 1Jn.5:4) will inherit these things (i.e., the blessings of the New Jerusalem), and I will be His God and he himself will be my son. (8) But as for the cowardly and unbelieving and foul and murderers and the sexually immoral and those involved in the occult and idolaters and all those who are liars (i.e., all who for a variety of reasons rejected Christ) – their portion (i.e., "inheritance") will be in the lake burning with fire and sulfur which is the Second Death."
Revelation 21:7-8

These are God the Father's words, and they lay out very graphically the difference between the eternal blessings of the believer and the eternal fate of the unbeliever. Their fate is the lake of fire. After it is established that condemnation for unbelief leads to the lake of fire, we can move onto what that means in terms of its duration:

"Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;' "
Matthew 25:41 NASB

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Matthew 25:46 NIV

These are also Jesus' words. The fire is described as "eternal", meaning that those cast in will be tormented there forever, not subjected to annihilation, and the punishment is also eternal, which can only means it lasts forever, just as in the case of the devil, the beast, and the false prophet:

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Revelation 20:10 NIV

This is the biblical definition of hell, as Jesus tells us, "where 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched'" (Mk.9:48 NKJV).

There are of course many more passages and many more arguments that might be marshaled in support, but "keeping it simple" is, I find, important in trying to get through to people who might on some level still be willing to see and accept the truth. Many of the "proofs" offered in the tracts provided have to do with quibbling over otherwise clear definitions and counting up the number of times words occur in the Bible. The Bible does not even need to tell us one time that we are going to die, that we are no good, and that we will have to stand before a righteous God with nothing to say in our own defense when we do – that is the common inheritance of all mankind in the conscience God gave us and in the truth about life He has written in the universe in broad, bold letters in all He has created (Rom.1:18-32; see the link: "Natural Revelation"). Yes, heaven and salvation are mentioned much more often than hell and damnation: that is the gospel, the good news that we are saved from the condition we can all see with our own two eyes . . . through faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. People who have turned this all upside down are usually trying to bury the truth they know and find disagreeable for whatever reason with substitute pseudo-truths such as the ones included in this document. The best we who believe the real truth can do is to confront them with parts of it which are irrefutable – and, blessedly, the Bible is chock full of these.

In the dear Lord Jesus who died for all our sins,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Dear Doctors,

Please consider the following treatise I have written:

DOES THE IMMORTAL SPIRIT, HUMAN BODY OR SOUL BURN FOR EVER IN HELL? IS THIS DOCTRINE AN IDOL, STUMBLING BLOCK OR IRRELEVANT?

Does the "interim body" or worse yet the resurrected body of the sinner burn in the lake of fire forever? The Jews didn’t believe that, did they? Modern Jews might believe in a Purgatory that lasts less than a year for all but the worst Jews. I prefer the Biblical interpretation of Dr. David R. Reagan. The wicked body, spirit & soul are destroyed & nonexistent forever.

"And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts." Malachi 4:1-3, NRSV.

"The Conditionalist view point can also be traced back to Bible times. For example, it can be found in the writing of Justin Martyr (114-165 AD). In his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Martyr states that the soul is mortal, that the souls of the unrighteous will suffer only as long as God wills, and that finally their souls will pass out of existence. The concept is also affirmed in the Didache, a Second Century Christian handbook. That book speaks of "two ways"—the way of life and the way of death. It says the unrighteous will perish." Dr. David R. Reagan in GOD’S PLAN FOR THE AGES-The Conditionalist View (page 166).

BROTHER BOB

"Since the resurrection of the Bride can only come after the return of the Bridegroom (at the 2nd Advent), were there no interim state, what would become of the then disembodied spirits of the faithful? Unbelievers would at least have a place—in torments (LK.16), but we would be left adrift in the universe….Why so many Christians of late are bent on trying to "prove" the death of all we are as believers after physical death (a ghastly and completely un-biblical proposition) leaves me scratching my head.", Robert Luginbill, Questions & Answers. Question "Our Heavenly, Pre-resurrection, Interim State" & Response #6; http://ichthys.com

BROTHER LEWIS & OTHERS

http://www.epm.org/resources/2011/Mar/15/hell-eternal-sovereign-justice/

So, in fairness, as in algebra, what is placed on one side of the equation must appear on the other.

C.S. Lewis said if the dead suffer punishment eternally in Hell then the righteous are blessed eternally in Heaven. The same Greek word aionios for eternal is used for both the eternal punishment of the dead & the righteous eternal life (Mat. 25:46 {NRSV}). So in fairness, as in algebra, what happens on one side of the equation must happen on the other side. So if, the righteous resurrected body is perfect, breathe, eat, feel pleasure & feels no "pain" (Insert equality formula) then the wicked must have a perfect resurrected body with their spirit & that is called a "soul" and it must be equal to the righteous soul,: it can breathe, can eat, can feel pleasure, but does not feel pain (?) (Body plus spirit equals Soul). You cannot feel pleasure without pain at least being possible so the righteous in Heaven or the new earth presumable could feel pain, but it probably wouldn’t last long. The sinners "intermediate" or resurrected bodies" can therefore feel pain especially if it is a punishment for their rejection of their Creator & Sustainer God. Imagine the God deniers, rejecters & pleasure seekers suffering exquisite mental, emotional & physical pains forever. This takes the theory of the punishment of wicked humans for all eternity to a more "ghastly" and completely un-biblical level…or does it?

As a child in the Roman Catholic Church (Early 60’s) I was taught that after the cross Jesus descended into Hell-fire & paid for the sins of the world then, after 40 days brought His blood to Heaven. Since He was God & eternal He only needed three days of exquisite suffering to encompass & exceed the total sufferings of everyone to be born & die. But, if we reject Jesus Traditional Christians say, our invisible & immaterial soul would have to burn forever to pay the forever & ever price? Why, because, we aren’t eternal? It turns out that some theologians say that not only our soul (Meaning eternal spirit) is eternal but, also the wicked resurrected body will be eternal!! Then, why don’t the wicked "souls" or bodies & spirits only suffer for three earthly days? If, a human spirit or soul is eternal then, it can take an eternities’ worth of punishment in three days time just as Jesus did or maybe in 3 seconds. If Jesus did suffer forever then, He still is somehow & somewhere in Hell. I’m boring you with the logic of a failed Catholic doctrine, but logic & reason can help us arrive at transmitted Biblical truth.

Jesus in Hell-fire would be as just as His dying on the cross was for us. Then why not pay for the eternal punishment of the wicked & let them be destroyed or ashes under the righteous’ feet in just three earthly days? Is Jesus still burning in Hell, but most of Him isn’t? That would be a reasonable conclusion part of God’s infinitely expanded Spirit being is in Hell, but most of it is not. The Catholic theologians were mixing up the good Sheol with the bad Sheol or Paradise with the Devil’s playground (Lot’s of errors here). We say that Jesus went to the good Hell, Hades or more properly called Paradise & nick-named Abraham’s Bosom to proclaim that in 40 days Paradise would be relocated to Heaven with all of them in tow (chains). If our soul is semi-Platonic, immortal, but without reincarnation, & impossible for God to destroy then why doesn’t three (3) days of eternal soul punishment of the wicked humans suffice God &

His justice?

MY CONCLUSIONS [Humble & probably worthless]

1. It doesn’t matter if the wicked sinners suffer mentally, spiritually or physically for eternity, because that’s their problem not the saints. The truth is the truth & we’ll all discover it after the resurrection. Not believing in or believing in eternal punishment probably won’t keep you out of Heaven & New Earth if you believe in Jesus.

2. Christians are more like goats then lambs when it comes to doctrines.

3. Doctrines that cause division, hatred & anger against the saints--from the saints--are evil fruits or merely create the evil fruits of dissension & absence of love.

4. The Bible is paradoxical or even contradictory about eternal Hell, eternal punishment, eternal soul, eternal destruction, perishing, eternal spirit or eternal bodies of humans.

5. You can’t have faith in a doctrine that seems contradictory, against all logic & against all scientific evidence to the contrary. For some doctrines you seem to need "blind" faith & that’s a different faith. We don’t believe that the sun will burn forever and the fire in Gehenna outside the city of Jerusalem went out long ago as did Sodom & Gomorrah & in the future Edom’s eternal fires will go out, so why not let the lake of fire go out (Isaiah 34:9-10)?

6. Some verses are clearly against eternal punishment that is forever torturing like: Genesis chapter 19, The Destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah combined with Matthew11:20-24, Luke 17:28-32, II Peter 2:4-10, Isaiah 34:8-17, Revelation 14:9-11. Unbelievably they also clearly do make the case for the opposite Traditional view of eternal suffering of the wicked.

7. Many doctrines have become "ideologies" or irrational, overly-emotional & completely resistant to truths from the Bible that may contradict it. That’s why Christian wars, church divisions, "the left-foot of fellowship" & the term heresy are so frightening, but frequent.

8. It is idolatrous to put our fractious doctrines above the love of Christ & our love for others--it is sin or something as bad…of pride, of sedition, power seeking, elitism & control. Normal doctrines are those we calmly & rationally believe. If we don’t fall apart when others reject them they are probable true doctrines, in some cases.

9. Its okay to apologize to other Christians when we have insulted them, insinuated that they are lacking in faith, truth or the Holy Spirit.

10. It is okay for a Christian who insinuates that everyone, but them is stupid, deceived or irrational to apologize to Christians.

11. I don’t know so much, even very little & that self-discovery increases my dependence, trust, faith, hope & love of Yeshua (Jesus).

12. We need love, more than criticism.

I apologize & I love you all whether you are Christian or not & whether I hurt, angered or depressed you deliberately, indirectly or accidentally to protect my frail ego or to arrogantly & foolishly defend the Bible, truth or Jesus. Ultimately, no one cares if God is really just or not & if there is An eternally burning Hell except those who are choosing Hell!

That sounds harsh, but it is true for those who believe or are agnostics (Ignorant) like me, about eternal punishing—we don’t or can’t afford to care!! The churches are full of people like us, the serious Bible students, the teachers & sometimes the bigots against the less Biblically literate. Many people with common sense will disagree with a theologian or Bible student without any Bible quotations, because they are not bound by theories or doctrines. They just use common sense & respond to questionable doctrines, "If God is loving, then, there cannot be any truth to this doctrine" or that. In the next life we may find out that they were right more often than not. God made the rules & whether or not they are just or unjust (Unjust, as the self-righteous atheists may claim) it doesn’t matter, because unless we believe & SAY that God is just & good & just & loving we will stop loving God & we will all go to Hell. Never ending fire, & eternally fevered bodies, spirits & souls screaming with intermediate & resurrected bodies…it sounds so unfair…. Is Jesus burning in Hell today? Why not? If He was to take away my sins, stripes & punishment which were to be eternal, He should now be eternally burning in Hell. And if He is, I don’t care, as long as I get saved. That sounds crazy & evil, but is it? It’s no more crazy or evil than saying that God the Father was pleased to crucify His Only Son (Colossians1:19-20), so sinners like us would go to Heaven. Most Christians think it’s fair, because we say, "The Bible says so!!" That makes it correct & appropriate to say that some of our friends, family, famous people & enemies will never stop burning & we don’t care! Why would we care about sinners or even that Jesus is eternally burning? Don’t we say that Jesus is in Heavenly bliss & yet feels the pains of almost seven billion humans or at least all the "saved" humans (Saved: Seven million to 700 million or even three Billion)? That wouldn’t affect us either, because we are sinners, saved by grace, faith & created for good works, but we still sin—sinners!

I believe that the Bible also teaches that the wicked are merely "destroyed" along with the (temporary or eternal) lake of fire punishment for the Devil, the Beast, the False Prophet, all the damned angels & human beings--souls. In the Conditionalist view of the second death, they had a chance for eternal life, but after the Millennium & Judgment their life was extinguished in the lake of fire & they are no more. It’s not like they didn’t receive at least 1,000 years of punishment in Hades, during the future Millennium. Jesus God could die on the cross & take back His life. The soul of a human can die, but we can’t take back our bodies. If God refuses to resurrect the righteous or wicked soul then that’s His business & not ours. God is merciful & sovereign & our doctrines don’t match the truth 100%.

I believe that Jesus is not in Hell or Hades & is not suffering eternal punishment, but He sits at the right hand of the Father. We don’t care about the demons suffering for eternity & shockingly we are SO unconcerned with the salvation of others that we sometimes don’t care about our family & friends enough to preach the truth in love. Maybe we should stop manipulating the Bible with "cool" theology to make it sound more modern, "scientific" & "post modern Christian".

The trouble with pearls of wisdom is today, everything is in the public eye & ear. If we teach in church, Sunday school, on the radio, television or Internet the pigs are there trampling our pearls. There is very little privacy & it’s hard to keep sacred beliefs from mockery & desecration. This de-sacralizing of Christian truth results in many Christians running away from the Way in shame & tears. They’ve forgotten that pigs are from Satan & he is a liar. They just need to please others in the pig pen of society & not be mocked or worse. They better get a thicker skin or wool & make friends with the lambs.

We can preach the Good News about Jesus Christ & not be so dogmatic about things that have caused divisions in the orthodox Bible churches. If we don’t present the Gospel with faith, hope & love then we bring doubt, hopelessness & apathy. Don’t we, the church people & "non denominational independent thinkers", use prophesy, dispensationalism, creationism, miracles, emotionalism, sports, sensuality in marriage & in Christian music, humorous sermons & difficult doctrines to entertain our minds & keep them away from the fact that we are sinners who must be with Jesus every moment of the day? That’s demeaning to our "self esteem" that we are sinners who can’t save ourselves. Maybe we will get depressed for a few days or live one year less than the sinners do, because of the terrible weight of the cross. Let’s stop living in the world, like the world & for the glory of the world.

We are beggars at the throne when we focus on our sins, but bold petitioners when we focus on the purity of Jesus’ earthly life that included total obedience to God the Beloved Daddy.

Finally, I think the Bible teaches eternal punishment which is the wicked seeing God & Heaven & then realizing that they won’t "live" to see it anymore or live it. It teaches a final extinguishment of the wicked & their punishments in the lake of fire. It teaches both human, angelic & Hades itself burns up in the lake of fire. I believe that doctrine is another of the many paradoxes of our faith. I don’t believe that God wants me to take either position & turn it into an ideology, icon or an illogical position. I’m not going to fight to the death over it. I get this attitude from the Bible…be at peace, the peace of Christ.

I also think that if, I follow any teachings of others under compulsion, peer pressure, and self doubt then it may be found that I doubt that Jesus or the Holy Spirit can lead me to truth. If that is true then; my life will be a misery, helpless & dependent on humans. Christianity, especially Protestant Christianity, must always bring the freedom to discover truth in the Bible that disagrees with our religious peers, the Sunday school class, the Pastor, the Doctrines of the Denomination & the latest doctrinal fad. Without liberty we have imprisonment, injustice & forced conversions to their false, partially true or mostly true doctrines. How can we claim to be free in Christ when we try to chain ourselves & others to doctrines that we have some doubts about? We have suppressed & sometimes repressed (Unconscious) doubts about much of our faith, that’s why we have little peace. Am I a disciple or Peter, Paul or Apollo or the ever living Yeshua ha’Mashiach?

Gentlemen theologians, teach us how to think for ourselves while communing with God in prayer, the Bible or in Christian fellowship. There is an art to dissecting the illogical, unfair & sloppy arguments of others. You must pass all of those tests yourself or you will be offering blemished sacrifices to God. If you don’t teach us how to detect guile, mistakes & fraud we can’t alert you to your mistakes. Please help us to be wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. The time is very short. You are high & mighty in the minds of humanity & at the same time little children loving, gullible & trusting wards of God. Any responses that the Holy Spirit offers you for us, the self absorbed sheep, on any point about the Bible, doctrine, the church, philosophy, clear thinking, etc. would be welcomed.

Sincerely,

Thank you for being thick skinned & armored by God & for sitting quietly through the night, long enough to hear the whispers of the Beloved. Blessings, forgiveness of sins & eternal life with the living God be yours and with yours.

I have no degrees, accolades or badges of my own, look to wounds of Jesus not to me to my pampered flesh. My words are written in pencil & not chiseled in stone.

http://JesusChristIstheTruth.YolaSite.com

http://MyReligiousQuestionsViews.YolaSite.com

Response #13:

Dear Friend,

Were it up to me, I think I too might just "prefer" a doctrine which at least alleviated of eternal suffering those who fail to submit to God's requirement for salvation. On the other hand, it's not what I "prefer" that matters but what is the actual truth. And the actual truth of scripture is that there is a literal hell. As with most other issues of scripture, straying from the truth has all sorts of negative side-effects and unintended consequences. It also makes the "bigger picture" that much harder to comprehend. Once God makes a spirit, that spirit is eternal; but the hypothesis you propose is opposed to that truth. God's plan is perfect, and that perfection entails that all He has done is done and cannot be undone, but the hypothesis you propose calls that perfection into question: He has to "uncreate" those He created. God's plan is founded on the principle of free-will; but the hypothesis you propose alleviates those who have chosen against God of suffering the consequences of their choice, and thus calls into question whether or not our will is really free after all – and whether or not we are "for real": if God can undo them, why cannot He also undo us at some future point? Blessedly, the consequences of creation meant the cross, and the incarnation and sacrifice of Christ have wed the deity to us who believe for all eternity. In the end, God's plan and its perfection are playing out just as He has ordained, and those who reject Him receive precisely what they bargained for and what they wanted: an eternity apart from God. Whereas we who love Him will receive precisely what it is we want the most: to be with Him and our dear Lord Jesus forever in eternal life.

If interested in pursuing this further, please see these links:

Literal Hell

The nature of hell and the last judgment

The Last Judgment

The Lake of Fire

The Problem of Unbelievers

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #14:

Dear Bob

Thank you for your prompt reply. I gather that the devil who weakened the nations does not refer to one person who could have caused the current economic recession. This is of great relief to hear. I became a born again Christian some years ago, then after I gave my life to the Lord, I had some issues [details omitted]. Your website is great, very informative. I read it regularly. Is there any truth in the saying "When the devil is found, it becomes the last days", have you ever heard that before? Also, I've been reading a lot about the three different perspectives, Universalism, Annihilation and Traditionalism. How do we know which one is true? I've been reading about the Traditionalist view where the unsaved are said to burn for all eternity. I've been reading others where annihilation seems plausible. I'm confused about the whole thing. What if one does not want to live forever, why can't one not just die. There are so many points of view. I personally don't believe the Lake of Fire will burn for all eternity with billions of unsaved burning while the saved bask in heaven and New Earth. When God says He'll make all things new, is hell still burning with all the unsaved burning when all the new things are made on the New Earth?

Response #14:

Good to hear from you again. As to your first question, I have never heard the statement "When the devil is found, it becomes the last days". I can assure you that it is not in the Bible. I do believe we are close to the end, however, and for a whole host of reasons. The two series I linked before, Satanic Rebellion and Coming Tribulation (and many of the email responses at Ichthys), will fill in the details as to why.

As to hell, many people are reluctant to accept these biblical truths, but I can assure you that hell is a literal and eternal place, all though not technically part of the heavens and the earth in strictly biblical terms (see the link for a diagram of the true "biblical geography" of these things), so that the lake of fire will not be affected by the destruction of the present creation and its replacement. I can also assure you that both annihilationism and universalism are incorrect. On the latter please see the following links:

Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.

Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.

Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.

As to the former, once God creates a spirit, that spirit is eternal. Only our present bodies are mortal. This life is all about where we want to spend eternity, and we are here to "self-select" for heaven or hell. Unbelievers want heaven – but only on their own terms: they are unwilling to subordinate their will to the WILL of God: they want a universe and an eternity without God, just like the devil does. They will get their wish, albeit in a place separated from God which must therefore by definition be a place of cursing and not of blessing. The only blessing that exists in this world is because of God and from God. Taking God out of the mix takes His blessings out too, and such a place could only be described as "hell". This issue is actually very well known to all unbelievers (although they often won't admit it), and the last judgment will make it absolute clear to us all that everyone who goes to hell chose that option deliberately because of an unwillingness to accept the sacrifice of Christ or to be obedient to God thereby (see the link).

After all, God did everything that could be done for every unbeliever: He gave up His own dear Son to die for their sins so that they could be saved merely by saying the word. If they are unwilling to accept this gracious offer, what more can God do? The only thing He is unwilling to do is to revoke the free-will choice we all have to make in this life and are here in this life to make. And if we refuse to stand on the work of Christ, we must stand on our own "works" – which can only lead to condemnation (as everyone knows in their heart of hearts).

Please do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Robert,

How have you been? I need some clarification on certain things. There are a lot of misconception of sound biblical doctrines because of context, particularly as it relates to God's mercy for the unbelievers and the 2nd death. I have a couple of questions I hope you can enlighten me. I did not find this on your site but maybe I have missed it.

1. Since God's character has always and never will change; how does His mercy extends to unbelievers when they die and does this have anything to do the with the Second death?

Basically, my question is the Lake of Fire (ghenna) actually eternal or will be only used to refine unbelievers to come to belief in Christ?

2. Since all man are born sinful, what happened to infants or mentally incapable people? Will God resurrect them in a spiritual body to give them an opportunity to accept Christ as their Savior? I guess I am trying to reconcile the mercy and grace of God to eternal wrath.

Thanks for your help

In Christ our Savior and Lord

Response #15:

Good to hear back from you.

As to your questions:

1) God's mercy knows no bounds – except the bounds that people put on it by refusing to accept it. This life and the entire plan of God pivot around the cross and our response to it. Every human being was written into the book of life before the universe was even created (see the link, which leads to many others), and a name is only blotted out when a person rejects Christ (or refuses to accept Him throughout his/her life). This life is sufficient in each and every case for a person to indicate their true decision. Those who reject God's unknowably immense sacrifice in having Jesus take on a human body and actually pay the price of each and every human sin do so out of uncoerced free will – and would do so again in a thousand life-times. They reject the Lord because they do not deign to subordinate their free will to the will of God, regardless of what He did for them through Jesus and in spite of the consequences – just exactly like the devil. As a result, unbelievers get not only what they justly deserve, but precisely what they bargained for and wanted: an eternity without God. Like the devil, of course they would prefer that eternity to be one of blessing and not cursing, but all blessing comes only from God, and being without Him is the definition of cursing. The lake of fire is the unavoidable consequence of the choice that those who will not share the universe with God must receive – otherwise God would not be just, and then the righteous would have to perish too. Please see the links:

Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.

Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.

Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.

Literal Hell

2) The mercy and justice of God is also seen in His automatic salvation of all children who die before becoming accountable and also for all the mentally incapacitated. There is no need for them to decide latter. Christ died for all their sins, whatever those may be, so they are saved because they did not refuse or reject Christ. There was no occasion in their life-times to blot their names out of the book of life. Here are some key links on this:

Infant Salvation

The Age of Accountability:  At what Age are we responsible for believing in Christ?

Severe Mental Handicaps Ensure Salvation

Why Doesn't God Prevent All Children from Dying?

What will our relationship be in heaven with children who died young?

The Cross Divides Every Human Life.

God's Plan to Save You (in BB 4B)

So there is no such thing as "purgatory" (see the link). This world is the only place and this life we live the only time we have to make a decision for Jesus Christ or refuse to do so – and God has worked it all out perfectly so that our true decision is made possible and honored.

Yours in the ineffable mercy and justice of our righteous and loving God, and His Son our Lord, Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Good evening Dr. Luginbill,

I have stumble upon your site while chasing Fallen Angels, Satan, Enoch, Jubilees and other such rabbit holes. As I read through several of your articles, it came to me to see what you have to say about the Subject verse in detail. I was not satisfied with what you have, which are response to e-mails.

Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment...{KJV}

According to the references in Strong's, it appears that the "men" herein is in fact derived from a form that would lead one to believe that a singular, man, is the subject; not all mankind as suggested in one of your responses to an e-mail. Each individual HUMAN BEING is subject to physical death and then a point thereafter that person{?} will be judged.

So here are my questions:

{Keeping in mind that we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are, therefore, body, soul and spirit; a trinity...of a lower nature.} If the body is dead, what is being judged? {Col 2:5; 1 Cor 5:3; 2 Cor 5:8} The question is not what ACTS are being judged, but what aspect of the trinity of man's existence is being judged?

When is this judgement going to take place?

Round one,

Response #16:

Good to make your acquaintance.

1) The Hebrews 9:27 passage is generic, that is, it refers to everyone (even in English, "man" or "a man" is often used generically – for everyone) – nothing else would make sense in context. In any case, the word anthropos is actually in the plural here. Strong's concordance is a helpful tool – for those who read Greek. It can be very misleading, however, to pick and choose possibilities from it as if they were all equally viable. It is very clear what this passage means – in Greek (which, as it happens, is reasonably rendered in all of the major versions – not always the case).

2) Man is dichotomous, not trichotomous (a common misconception; see the link); human beings are created to be body-spirit and always are, since the moment of their creation and then on into eternity (whether saved or lost). There is no such thing as a "disembodied spirit", even in the period between death and resurrection (see the link: "Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State"). We are a "whole" and judged as the individuals we are.

3) The Last Judgment of unbelievers takes place at the end of human history (following the destruction of the old heavens and earth and just prior to the creation of the new; see the link).

4) If you will have a look at this main link where all of these issues on the last judgment are covered in great detail, I think that all of your questions will be answered – or at the very least we will be able to save a good deal of time regarding any misapprehensions about the teachings of this ministry: "The Last Judgment".

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #17:

Good evening Dr. Luginbill,

Since it's late, let's tackle one thing tonight.

On Hebrews 9:27, I may be incorrect in landing on this as signifying each individual person as oppose to mankind in general. As I read the translations it appears to be a reference to the singular. I would somewhat bow to your expertise in the Classic languages in hopes that a predisposition does not color the translation. G444. anthropos, anth'-ro-pos; from G435... aner, an'-ayr; a primary word [comp. G444]; a man (prop. as an individual male):--fellow, man, I don't see the plurality in the definition.

John 21:21-22**, Matt 20:1-15 seem to be addressing the singularity of judgement; each person comes before the Lord for judgement as He sees fit, not relying on the actions or inactions of others for salvation or rewards. ** 21:23 implies that Christ was alluding to the survival of John, when he appears to be telling Peter not to concern himself with the destination of others, but to concentrate on where he (Peter) was going.

When is a helpful tool misleading? If a 90mm barrel is bent, is it still a good tool for the accurate delivery of the round?

If it was that clear, I would not have brought it up. I find it to mean singular man; you plural.

It is time to stand down,

Response #17:

A plural is a plural; a singular is a singular. Just as there is a difference in English between "goose" and "geese" – which no one who understands English would miss, so there is a difference between anthropos and anthropoi – which no one who reads Greek could miss (n.b., the form is actually anthropois since this plural is in the dative case).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Are you saying that the original {earliest} Greek text is "anthropois"? Your reference to "dative case", forces me into areas, which once looked into, I would prefer not to go !!!!

In addition to its main function as the Dativus, the dative case has other functions in Classical Greek [extensive list omitted]

Response #18:

That is correct. All the mss. have this reading.

As to the dative, your list is of course only partial. But let's be clear: 1) case usages such as the ones you include here are descriptive frameworks as analyzed by grammarians and scholars over time; Plato, for example, never heard of the "dative of purpose", even though we would use this system in some instances to describe Platonic usage; 2) when it comes to individual instances in texts, it is not always so clear what type of classification we should place on an actual dative/genitive/accusative usage; 3) in any event, the Greek always "means what it means", and systems such as the one pasted in here are merely helps to determine and explain what is going on in the text; it's not as if we have a "Smorgasbord" and are free to pick something we like and then jam the text and its meaning into our arbitrary interpretation based upon a later descriptive grammatical framework such as this. This is a long way of saying that learning Greek is really the only way to understand Greek. In this particular verse, the dative is a function of the verb, apotithemi (form: apokeitai); certain verbs in Greek "take the dative" (as here); the technical term for this is the "objective complement".

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Well, I guess it is what it is. Learning Greek is not on my horizon. Apparently the version of QuickVerse I have been using for the last 15 years is flawed.

I see that your latest {?} publications have been concerning wars. How do you work this and your Marine Corps association into the love one an other command of Christ?

Response #19:

No problem. Tools like this are helpful, but they can't substitute for a detailed knowledge of the language (necessary for translation and exegesis).

As to your question, I don't see the problem with writing and researching about Thucydides' History and being a Christian walking with Christ (you'll have to expand on that one for me). As to membership in the armed forces, loving one another does not mean we get rid of law and order, either domestic or international, and these require police and military forces respectively. There are plenty of biblical examples of godly believers who had military backgrounds. For more details on the perspective of this ministry, please see the links:

Christian Love: The Golden Rule, Christian Military Service and Self-Defense

Should Christians engage in military service?

Christian military service

What does the Bible say about War, History, and Politics?

Preemption, self-defense, and the Bible

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Robert,

Hope things are going well for you my friend or at least, have improved since last year, I know you were going through some difficult times, seems like we both have and I continue to keep you in my prayers. I've become better at not just praying at night but praying during the day for strength. I read this comment on YouTube and I'm wondering what you think of it, what are your thoughts, not my words, someone else's....

I think a lot of Gentiles, professing Christians included, are going to be shocked when they hear the frightful words of Matthew 25 "Depart from me into the everlasting fire, for as you did not do to the least of these MY BRETHREN, so you did not do unto me." Here, Jesus is referring to the judgement of the nations (Gentiles) for how they treated "my brethren" (Jews). According to Matthew 25, just as the Nazis separated the Jews upon their arrival to the death camps, with those told to turn to one side consigned to the gas chambers, while those turned to the other side were consigned to forced labor, so the nations will be divided on that day, with the nations that hate Israel being cast into the everlasting fire, while those that actually internalized Romans 11 and acted upon it will be joined to the Jewish flock, becoming one flock (John 10…"There are others not of this flock, I must add them also."). God is about to overthrow the dominion of the Jew hating Gentiles and restore the world order to its proper order. Which camp will you be in?

Response #20:

It's good to hear from you, my friend, and I hope things are going good for you. I have been praying for you daily, and I hope that things in your life have settled down, and that you are making progress with your plans.

As to the quotation, it's typical, I would say, of so many out there who "teach" as if it were the truth whatever odd idea pops into their heads. Worst of all is when the "odd things" have a grain or two of the truth, but fail to apply it properly – because nonsense is easier to reject than half-truth.

1) Matthew 25, the sheep and goats judgment, is not talking about gentiles and Jews, but believers and unbelievers; the "brethren" are believers. This judgment takes place at the end of history following the final phase of the resurrection, with the millennial believers (Jews and gentiles) being judged for reward first (the sheep), and the unbelievers, all unbelievers from throughout all history, being judged next in the final phase of judgment, the last judgment for condemnation (the goats). Please see in CT 6: "The Last Judgment".

2) In John 10, our Lord is talking about the Church. We, the Church, are resurrected at His second advent return, and thus have nothing to do with the "sheep and goats" judgment of Matthew 25. Our resurrection and our judgment for reward is, it is true, identical to that of the Millennial believers – but it comes a thousand years earlier (so that we may share in Christ's Millennial reign, et al.). We, the Church, are "one flock", gentiles and Jews in One Body, the Body of Christ. Israel is the foundation of the Church (this is the grain of truth), but this life is all about how we respond to the offer of life in Jesus Christ, not how we treated the Jewish people in this life. Antisemitism is a horrible sin (actually, an entire pattern of sinfulness, see the link), but condemnation for all unbelievers comes for rejecting Christ, whereas salvation comes for all believers through faith in Christ. Christ died for all sin, so that salvation is about our response to Him, not about sin (nor about works). Good works, actually done in the power of the Spirit, demonstrate a person's saved status, just as the opposite may indicate a lack of belief. But salvation is all about Jesus Christ, not what we have done, good or ill, in this life. Finally, all Israel is not Israel (Rom.9:6): those who are Jewish in the flesh only and not of the faith of Abraham are not going to be among the resurrected when Christ returns; and those who live after the second advent will find themselves among the goats if they refuse to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

Here are a few other links that may be helpful:

Israel: God's Perfect Standard

The Uniqueness of Israel

The Repentance of Israel

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ, the true Messiah and Savior of Jews and gentiles both,

Bob L.

 

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