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Annihilationism, Universalism, Hell and Judgment II

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Question #1:

Hello again, Dr. Luginbill,

I was doing some study on the internet when I came across a bible teacher who believes and teaches the doctrine of Annihilationism. He wrote a book around 400 pages teaching this. I believe the book is called "The fire that consumes." He stated that the idea of annihilation is just as terrifying as eternal conscious torment. This didn't make sense to me because the people who go out of existence actually have nothing to worry about since they don't exist, and one has to exist to suffer. Most suicidal people kill themselves because they don't want to exist, so I don't see how annihilationism is just as terrifying as eternal torment. I also thought about what Jesus said, that their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. And I thought to myself, if there is no body and the person is out of existence, then what are "their" maggots feeding on? And what is the fire that never is quenched continually burning for? What does the bible clearly teach about this?

God Bless,

Response #1:

Good for you, my friend! These are excellent passages to adduce in contravention of this false doctrine, and you employ excellent logic here too in a godly and theological way. And you are exactly right about annihilation being, historically speaking, less terrifying than the threat of eternal suffering. This false doctrine was the center-piece of Epicurean philosophy which had as its claim to fame the renunciation of the pagan notion of an underworld of despair and punishment. Many people took comfort in the alternative lie that there was nothing at all after death. This is, of course, a personal thing, but the notion that annihilation is more terrifying than eternal suffering is hardly an "automatic" response, and it seems to me that it is the more unusual response. Furthermore, God's purpose is not to terrify anyone; God has already provided for the salvation of everyone – everyone who does not refuse His offer of grace in Jesus Christ. For those who do, there can be no eternal blessing because all blessing comes from God, so that those who are not going to be with God by their own choice inherit an eternity of cursing. And it is also well put by you my friend about the bodies of the unsaved. They are resurrected after death to a "resurrection of judgment" (Jn.5:29), but they are resurrected "to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan.12:2), and it can't be everlasting if it's not everlasting (obviously). Also, there is not a single passage in the Bible which even suggests annihilation – so that this false doctrine is only a matter of speculation and "logical deduction" where the logic is not logical let alone theological. Here are some links where this is all discussed in more detail:

Annihilationism, Universalism, Hell and Judgment

Eternal Realities: Real Heaven and Real 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)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Dear Robert Luginbill: How are you doing? Long time — no see (email).

I checked your website to see how you would refute these verses. But I couldn't find anything. So, can you show me how you would refute theses verses? Looks like total annihilation of the ungodly to me.

Blessings,

2 Peter 2:6
He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them -- an example -- to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;

Luke 17:28-30
Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Response #2:

Doing fine – hope you are as well.

Both of these passages indicate the physical destruction of the body which results of course in physical death. If a true born-again Christian were on military service in the Middle East and blown to smithereens by an IED, there might not be a smidgen of his body left even to identify – but nothing can harm his spirit (which would be immediately taken into the presence of God in the third heaven where he would be given an interim body: 2Cor.5:3 Greek, not most English versions).

On the other hand . . .

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

I've yet to hear an effective refutation of this passage by anyone believing in annihilation. If the beast and false prophet can be described as being "in" the Lake of Fire", then how can they have been annihilated?

Also, how can they be "tormented day and night for ever and ever" if they have been annihilated?

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Dear Robert: Thank you for your response.

2 Corinthians chapter 5 is only talking about the bodies of the saved. I don't see how that refutes these scriptures which are talking about the complete destruction of the unsaved. According to these scriptures, the ungodly will be reduced to ASHES.

And that would make perfect sense. Really, 100% perfect sense.

They will be thrown into a lake of fire and burning sulfur, when Jesus Christ returns.

(By the way, I have a very good Biblical response for Revelation 20:10)

Blessings,

Response #3:

I'm sorry to say that you missed the point of the 2nd Corinthians 5:3 reference. The point is that the destruction of a body (as in your two examples) does not destroy the spirit. All people have a spirit, believers and unbelievers both. So just as a believer's spirit is not destroyed in such cases, so also an unbeliever's spirit is never destroyed. Where those spirits end up is a different matter, but there is no dissolution of the spirit even if the body is annihilated (which is the common factor in all three examples).

p.s., on Rev.20:10, there's no way to avoid its conclusions without chucking out the book of Revelation and/or the objective interpretation of scripture (which, if done, makes a mockery of everything).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

I'm sorry to say that you missed the point of the 2nd Corinthians 5:3 reference. The point is that the destruction of a body (as in your two examples) does not destroy the spirit.

But you forgot about Matthew 10:28.

Matthew 10:28
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.

And I checked this very, very carefully. When the Bible uses the word destroy, when it comes to man or animals — it means their DEATH.

Response #4:

It's not exactly a helpful method of getting to the truth to continually attempt to shift the ground to another argument or passage without dealing with the clear refutation with which one has been presented of the present argument or passage.

If you have an argument against 2nd Corinthians 5:3, please present it.

If you have an argument against Revelation 20:10, please present it.

On Matthew 10:28, the soul is not the spirit. You seem to have forgotten that I have explained this passage to you many times in the past. I have explained that in biblical usage the "soul" is not a "thing" but rather is the physical life of the person in question. For that reason, any passage speaking of "destroying the soul" is speaking of "destroying the physical life" of the person in question – which means separating spirit from body (but the spirit cannot be damaged).

And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
Acts 27:37 KJV

That physical life in this first body can obviously be destroyed (that is what "death" is, for believers and unbelievers alike). But the spirit is eternal.

I do pray for you daily in hopes that the Lord may lead you to the truth in all things.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Dear Bob:

So how can you explain away Matthew 10:28?

28 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.

And as I said, destroy when used in the Bible in regards to humans or animals, it means their death. It does not mean to ruin, like your (literal eternal hell believers) famous wine skin explanation. — apollumi.

I copied this from the Biblehub-com web site-!

622 /apσllymi ("violently/completely perish") implies permanent(absolute) destruction, i.e. to cancel out (remove); "to die, with the implication of ruin and destruction" (L & N, 1, 23.106); cause to be lost (utterly perish) by experiencing a miserable end.

Response #5:

Soul is not spirit. Spirit is not soul. If they were the same, you would have a point. As it is, you are greatly mistaken. Matthew 10:28 is speaking of the destruction of the unbeliever's physical body (loss of physical life) which results in his/her eternal end wherein the unbeliever is deposited, "[resurrected] body and spirit" into hell / the lake of fire – and that is a death, the "second death", but it is not annihilation. That is where the mistake is often made. Just as "death" for the believer or unbeliever today does not mean annihilation (believers are taken to heaven, unbelievers to torments with neither even being unconscious let alone ceasing to exist), so "the second death" does not mean annihilation or the cessation of existence – but it is such a horrible end as to be given the worst title human beings can imagine, "death".

Matthew 10:28 is literally fulfilled in the following way: 1) God the Father has the power to do anything, to destroy physical bodies and even annihilate spirits – though He does not do so; 2) in fact this passage does not even mentions spirits – it talks about "the life" of the person in question (his psyche) which means the present physical life we are living; 3) "in hell" – unbelievers do end up in hell; 4) their first physical bodies are literally destroyed (deprived of life – that is what physical life is); 5) so their "life" is destroyed – they are now not living in this world nor are they ever going to receive eternal life. But this passage, treated literally or any other way, does not actually say that the Father will destroy the unbeliever's spirit (it's not even mentioned). So there is no annihilation here, if care is paid to the actual words of the verse. And the point of the verse is that while human beings can touch your body but not your actual "life" – God can touch all, to preserve the godly in resurrection or destroy unbelievers "in hell" – meaning to cast them there for all eternity.

See the link for further explanation: "Interpretation of Matthew"

Question #6:

Dear Bob: Okay. I received an answer about soul and spirit that makes sense. Here is the answer that I received.

Yes, I have heard that before, and it is just a misunderstanding of "soul" and "spirit". And we can easily see from Genesis 2:7.

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [spirit]; and man became a living soul [soul]."

So the breath of life that God breathes in us is the "spirit", and our very living being (mind, thoughts etc.) is the "soul". God does not destroy the "spirit", because the spirit, or breath simply goes back to God from where it came. It is the "soul" that is destroyed, which is our very living being - our mind, emotions, thoughts, etc... that's what is destroyed. Ecclesiastes 12:7 explains about the "spirit" [breath] returning to God ... "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." So dust plus spirit equals "soul" or "living soul". But when the spirit [breath] is removed and returns to God, then the "soul" dies, and we become dust again. Hope this helps. Blessings

Response #6:

Your friend is not completely off base – at least in understanding the spirit as something which is not destroyed. However, if the spirit were merely an animating principle which goes back to God in some collective theosophical way after death, the following verse (e.g.) would make no sense:

The spirit of Man is the Lord's lamp, searching out the inner chambers of his heart.
Proverbs 20:27

See the link: "The Human Spirit"

The "spirit" is who we are; when it combines with the body we have the ability to think, feel, etc. The inner "us" where this takes place is called the heart or "the soul" by the Bible. So the spirit can only be destroyed in the sense of us losing our present physical life – which is what our Lord referred to in Matthew 10:28.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

You just agreed with the explanation that I sent to you.

Response #7:

. . . with the part that agreed with what I have been telling you: the spirit is who we are;  the spirit is never destroyed.

Question #8:

But when you take away the spirit from the body — you have death. Man is spirit and body. Separate the two and you always get death. That is what happened even to Jesus, who took our death penalty upon Himself. Put them together, and then you get Matthew 10:28!

Response #8:

Separating spirit from body results in the death of the first, physical body, the loss of "life" – which is what psyche (Gr.) and nephesh (Heb.) really means (see the link: "soul vs. spirit"). But our Lord was resurrected, spirit placed in a new eternal body. And so shall all we believers be. And that is true of unbelievers as well (e.g., Dan.12:2; Matt.25:41-46; Jn.5:29; Rev.20:11-15). No one resurrected is resurrected to be annihilated but to receive the body necessary for the next phase, eternity, whether that be eternal life or the second death in the lake of fire.

Question #9:

Yes, unbelievers will be resurrected; but they will be resurrected with bodies that will still be destructible. (perishable)

In 1 Corinthians 15 it shows that only believers will get a new kind of immortal, imperishable, spiritual body. But the soul / spirit of the unsaved will be destroyed along with their body in hell. Matt. 10:28

And the soul and spirit are not like two separate spirits. Even this literal eternal hell website recognizes this fact!

www.gotquestions.org

The soul and the spirit are connected, but separable. The soul is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are. The spirit is the aspect of humanity that connects with God.

As this literal eternal website says, the spirit is interconnected with the human body which makes a soul, or a living being.  Their comment again:

The soul and the spirit are connected, but separable.

And that would explain these verses.

Luke 1:46-49
And Mary said "My soul glorifies the Lord. 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.

The spirit w/o the body is dead.

Response #9:

It would be helpful if you would read at Ichthys about the word "soul".  In the Bible, it is not a "tertium quid", that is, something with an independent existence.  It is merely a word which focuses on the inner "us", our "person". As I have often pointed out, this is a very unfortunate term for English translators of the Bible to have used over the years, because in English outside of the Bible the word "soul" does refer to something like a spirit – but that is not what the words in the Bible, psyche (Gr.) and nephesh (Heb.), mean at all (see the link). So the "soul" – in the Bible – is better translated "life" or "heart", and you will see that if you care to look into it that substituting one or the other as appropriate wherever the English word "soul" occurs in your translation will solve all these problems.

Two further questions for you:

1) Where in the Bible do you find the phraseology "with bodies that will still be destructible"? Not at Matthew 10:28 – there is no notion here of your scenario of "a resurrection following death followed by another death that results in annihilation of body and spirit".

2) If the "resurrected by (in your hypothesis) but still destructible" body is destroyed, what happens to the spirit? The spirit is never destroyed.

Question #10:

Dear Robert Luginbill: I asked a very good question. Can you please tell me your explanation of these 7 parts of scripture?

You wrote, "If you have an answer for Revelation 20:10 and/or Luke 16:23-24, I'd be happy to hear it."

Okay here you go – 7 parts if scripture that show an answer for Luke 16:23-24.

To me, these verses show that the dead are asleep or unconscious and are awaiting Judgement Day. They are not currently in heaven or hell. As such, Luke 16:19-31 is a parable and not a literal account. If you completely disagree, then tell me your explanation for these verses because I cannot but see these verses as saying anything else but that.

1) John 5:28,29
"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

2) Second Peter 2:9
9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment ---- on the day of judgment.

3) John chapter 11: 11-14
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." 12 His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.14 So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."

4) 1 Corinthians 15:51-54
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."

5)1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

6) Ecclesiastes 9:5
For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even their name is forgotten.

7) Ecclesiastes 12:7
and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Response #10:

This is not an answer; this is a return to your deductive arguments. I will give you a very brief reply to your seven passages (brief because I have already answered every one of them many times now over the years) – in the love of God and out of the love of God – but please understand that this is a last attempt to help you see the truth.

The two passages I gave you, Revelation 20:10 and Luke 16:23-24 stand on their own and are not in any way contradicted – or even addressed – by the passages you have listed here; the two each demonstrate categorically that there is no annihilation of the dead, not even a temporary sleep. Finally by way of introduction, Luke 16:23-24 is not a parable; it is a literal account because it gives names to the participants (see the link). If it were a parable, then Abraham would be a made-up person, not an actual patriarch (e.g.) for whom it would be most untoward to pretend he ever did/said something he actually never did/said. There is nothing in the passage that says it is a parable; there is nothing in the passage that suggest it is a parable. It is only called a parable by those who don't want to accept what it says. But even if it were a parable, you could not in good conscience ignore what it teaches, namely, that the dead are conscious and that the unsaved have eternal regrets because of eternal punishment: if that is not the message of this passage, what is?

1) Jn.5:28-29 teaches that the physical body comes forth in resurrection; before that, the spirit (in interim body) was in the presence of the Lord in heaven (for believers); or in torments (for unbelievers); Eccl.12:7.

2) 2Pet.2:9 teaches that the unrighteous have not been obliterated but are 'being held' . . . in torments awaiting the judgment.

3) Jn.11:11-14 teaches, as pointed out many times, that the bodies of the physically dead resemble those who are sleeping – from our earthly perspective (we can't see the departed in heaven or hell); and it is a good analogy too because just as those asleep do not sleep forever but wake up, so also those who are physically dead will have their first bodies rise in resurrection; those who put their faith in Christ to life eternal; those who refused to condemnation in the lake of fire, an eternity of pain without respite.

4) 1Cor.15:51-54 teaches that for some the resurrection will come while yet physically alive: those believers who survive to the end of Tribulation and are still alive when Christ returns at the second advent will be resurrected while alive without ever experiencing physical death.

5) 1Thess.4:13-18 teaches the same thing. The dead are 'asleep' from our human perspective; but "all live to Him" (Matt.22:32) – conscious in His presence (if believers):

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."
Jn.8:56 NKJV

6) Eccl.9:5: Ecclesiastes expresses many things from the point of view of secular life; everything it says is true from the secular human perspective: there is no hope – without God. From our human-viewpoint vantage point the dead are gone and have nothing to do with the world anymore. But "Who knows if the human spirit rises upward? (Eccl.3:21)" Solomon did know (as is obvious from this book and all of his writings in scripture), but puts things this way to show the vanity of life, which is after all the theme of the book (cf. Eccl.1:2): all things are not vanity – spiritually; all things are vanity – without God.

7) Eccl.12:7: "the spirit returns to God" – my point exactly. As believers, our spirits are in His presence forever after the end of this life, indestructible from the point He created them when we were born. That last point is true of unbelievers too, so the only important question is the eternal future we (the real "we", our spirits) will have: a resurrection unto eternal life or unto the second death (torment in the lake of fire forever).

Revelation 2o:10 and Luke 16:23-24, along with all of the other evidence I have shared with you, are incompatible with your false view. The only way you can hold this view is to disrespect what the Bible actually says (n.b., Matt.10:28 does not say that the spirit will be destroyed or that there will be no resurrection after the first body "is destroyed" along with this earthly "life" / psych / ["soul"]). There will be eternal life for all who believe (and for all who have not rejected Christ and had no chance to believe); there will be eternal condemnation for all who reject Christ or refuse to accept Him. These are basic, biblical facts, obvious to anyone who reads scripture with any sort of intellectual honesty. Ignoring them can only be done at great spiritual peril.

I hope for better things for you. This is not about you or me or winning an argument. This is a matter of eternal life.

In Jesus Christ who died that we might live forever through faith in Him,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Dear Bob: Thanks for your email response.

I presented several examples...with bodies that will still be destructible":

2 Peter chapter 3:7-13
7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and the destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat.13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

So if all things will be destroyed in this way (v.11); and that also includes the ungodly (verse 7), then how could any person survive that and be alive and conscious? This passage has been translated using words such as: pass away, disappear, vanish, destroyed, burned up, or dissolved, but never continually burning for all eternity. And even Dr. Grant Richison, a traditionalist, recognizes these verses as the final judgment. Here is what he wrote about 2 Peter 3:7.

"Reserved means kept. God keeps heaven and earth for a future judgment. He has made a reservation for the unjust unto the Day of Judgment. The final termination of the world will be an awful devastation. No one will escape. It is a universal judgment except for those who come to Christ as their savior. To see the world as we know it destroyed, is not pleasant. No single person will escape; there will be no place to flee. This will be most awful judgment yet."

And then there is Matthew 13:36-43. Many Christians think this passage means eternal conscious torment because of this verse. 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. But they are taking this verse out of context, and they are interpreting it in the wrong way. Read the entire passage and you can easily see the intended meaning.

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field. 37 He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who ears, let him hear.

Now of course weeds do not keep burning and burning. They are consumed and go up in smoke. And that is exactly how the destruction of the wicked is described in Psalm 37:20. These verses do not say exactly when, but when else could this be except on Judgment Day?

20 But the wicked will perish: Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.

And then there is Psalm 68:2

2 May you blow them away like smoke — as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before God.

This verse reminds me of that scene near the end of the movie in "Raiders of the Lost Ark". And here is one more very strong and clear verse.

2 Peter 2:6
6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

Sodom and Gomorrah are the example, and I don’t see unending suffering in this Biblical example. I see reduced to ashes. That is unequivocal complete annihilation. And the Bible says that the exact same thing is going to happen again when Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming.

Luke 17:28-30
28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Now it is very clear what destroyed means here. They were all killed.

And then there is Jude 1:7

7 Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them in like manner, having indulged in sexual immorality and having gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, undergoing the penalty of eternal fire.

Well, that 'eternal fire' went out a long time ago. And that is backed up by 2 Peter 3:7.

7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and the destruction of the ungodly.

And we can see a similar description of what the destruction of evildoers will be like in Malachi 4:1.

Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire," says the Lord Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them.

Response #11:

We've talked about all the passages you include here before. What all the passages you list have in common is that they are not talking about resurrection bodies being destroyed but about earthly, physical bodies such as we both possess. Of course these present physical bodies are capable of destruction (obviously as anyone can see). But I know of no passage which shows the same happening to a resurrected body – and your thesis depends on that, remember? After the resurrection of unbelievers and their being cast into the lake of fire you (wrongly) theorize that these resurrected bodies will be annihilated.

Also, point 2), what happens to their spirits, at that point?

*Finally, here is what our Lord says about Judas:

"The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."
Mark 14:21 NIV

Question: if Judas will annihilated in the lake of fire so that his resurrected body and his spirit cease to exist forevermore, how could it be that "it would be better for him if he had not been born", because in that case the end result is precisely the same as if "he had never been born" – for him at least.

I think a major motivation behind Christians wanting to believe this false doctrine of annihilation is if they have lost loved ones they know were not saved. It seems to be solace to believe there is merely non-existence on the other side for those who refuse God's grace. But this life is all about making that most serious choice, and the consequences are very real and eternal, for good or for ill.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Robert,

The examples that I gave all speak of the future judgment, and of course, the future resurrected bodies.

Contrary to what you wrote, what the passages all have in common is the future resurrected bodies. For example: 2 Peter 3:7

7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and the destruction of ungodly men.

Obviously, people's bodies will have to be resurrected, so that they can face their judgment and then destruction. How could this be talking about the present un-resurrected body? That doesn't make any sense -- at all.

And the same thing is true for this passage.

Matthew 13:36-43.
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field. 37 He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who ears, let him hear.

Again, super common sense reasoning should tell you that people will have to have resurrected bodies that will be thrown into the fiery furnace where they will end up just like weeds that are thrown into the fire.

Response #12:

I can't find where you addressed our Lord's comment to Judas here (or point #2); and I'm still waiting for an answer to Luke and Revelation.

When you say "and of course, the future resurrected bodies", there is no "of course" about it. These are all general passages (all of which I have exegeted for you previously) which do not represent any resurrected person having their newly resurrected bodies obliterated. That is the sort of thing you'd have to find to have an argument. We've already established that "destroyed" refers to loss of physical life – not what happens after resurrection and judgment.

In Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #13:

So would you please explain this passage? ( Or exegete it.) I really prefer straightforward English. Just try to explain this ONE passage!

The Parable of the Weeds Explained
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." 37 He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.

Response #13:

Certainly. This is a parable. Believers are not going to end up "in a barn" for all eternity (Matt.13:30). Nor will believers remain in the same state as when gathered (no evidence from this parable that the resurrection transforms our bodies either – but we certainly know from elsewhere that it does: e.g., 1Cor.15:35-58 and 1Jn.3:2). The fire in this parable represents the judgment. Unbelievers will be thrown into the lake of fire. The weeds are burned up, but then weeds do not have spirits, nor do they think or feel. This parable makes it clear that it's better to be wheat (which also doesn't think or feel) than a weed, but it doesn't teach anything about the disposition of the resurrected bodies of unbelievers – that detail is not present here for either category, believer or unbeliever. That is merely an extrapolation on your part to what you want to believe.

But where is your explanation of point #2 (what happens to the spirit)?

And how about our Lord's words' to Judas?

And I'm still waiting for your explanation of the rich man in Hades in Luke, and for one of Revelation 20:10b:

And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Revelation 20:10b

This is of course too straightforward to be explained away; on the other side of the ledger we have merely misapplied parables.

You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. And the facts are clear.

I think we've spent enough time on this, absent reasonable response to the points above.

In Jesus Christ who is the truth,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Believers are not going to end up "in a barn" for all eternity (Matt.13:30).

Well...no kidding.

Nor will a believer remain in the same state as when gathered (no evidence from this parable that the resurrection transforms our bodies either).

We learn about that part in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. That chapter makes it very clear that believers bodies will be transformed into an indestructible, immortal state. Not so...for the unsaved.

The fire represents the judgment. Exactly right.

The weeds are burned up, but then weeds do not have spirits, nor do they think or feel.

It's a parable that clearly shows what will happen to the unsaved. They will be burned up and exterminated, just like the weeds.

This parable makes it clear that it's better to be wheat than a weed, but it doesn't teach anything about the disposition of the resurrected bodies of unbelievers -- that detail is not present here for either category, believer or unbeliever.

Yes, I know that. The future condition for the believers bodies is revealed in First Corinthians 15 as I stated before. And while the Bible doesn't say the word 'bodies' in regards to the unsaved, it doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to figure what will happen to the BODIES of the unsaved.

2 Peter 2:6
6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

Sodom and Gomorrah are the example, and I don’t see unending suffering in this Biblical example. I see reduced to ashes.

That is what will happen to their BODIES.- Very, very, very clear.

Luke 17:28-30
28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Now it is quite clear what destroyed means here. They were all killed. And that is how the unsaved will be killed in the future. They will be DESTROYED with fire and burning sulfur. And again, it doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out what fire and red hot burning sulfur does to bodies. It reduces them to ashes, as Scripture clearly states in 2 Peter 2:6.

Response #14:

As to "We learn about that part in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 . . ." – the absence of any discussion about unbelievers does not mean that they are not resurrected. We have that from Daniel and Revelation.

Again all the "destruction" passages you cite here are talking about the final judgment on the universe which is destroyed by fire and followed up by the new heavens and new earth. To that point, the fact that the universe is destroyed by fire doesn't mean, as we see from other passages, that believers are destroyed (nor that it will not be reconstituted as the New Heavens and the New Earth – which indeed it shall be). And so it certainly doesn't mean that unbelievers' resurrected bodies are annihilated. None of the passages you provide suggest this, let alone teach it. Sherlock Holmes made logical deductions – in a fictional account. In real life, evidence trumps any assumed necessary conclusion, especially if it is only what a person wants to believe and is contradicted by irrefutable proof as is the case here.

Speaking of which, Revelation 20:11 does prove definitively that your position is wrong. The fact that the spirit is indestructible also demonstrates that your position is wrong. The indestructibility of the believers' resurrection bodies argues for all resurrection bodies to be indestructible. And, finally, the words of our Lord to Judas about it being worse that he was born make no sense if he will be annihilated.

So all you are doing here is beating a dead horse – the very same dead horse -- over and over and over again. You may find your own arguments convincing to yourself. That is your prerogative. However, I would strongly counsel you against sharing this false view with others. Teaching anything false is always dangerous (especially for anyone who has been lavishly provided with information that ought to make him/her think twice). But this particular false teaching has the potential to eat away some people's faith like gangrene. That is because there has always been a type of person who takes comfort in the thought of annihilation. The entire Epicurean philosophical school was based on that very principle. So to the extent that you convince others that all this (life and the decisions we make here) really don't matter – because in the end unbelievers won't care, they just won't "be" – to that extent you take away the fear of death and judgment which is a major point in leading many to Christ. That is a very dangerous thing to do. So even if you are secure in your own faith in Christ, His perfect person, human and divine, and His perfect work for us on the cross in dying for the sins of all, undermining the faith of some and the motivation of others to come to Christ is a terrible mistake.

I know you are concerned with the word "destroy" in Matthew 10:28, but that passage is, as I hope I have shown, explainable easily enough without having to assume the annihilation of the unbeliever after judgment (the "destruction" in 2Pet.3:7 is likewise speaking of physical death, not annihilation; here is another link: "Interpretation of Matthew").

*But why would there even be a hell described in the Bible if there were in fact no hell – which is the essential effect of annihilation?

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi thanks for the response! I'm sorry to bother you again but I've got a few questions and need to change the topic. As I've told you before I've dealt with a lot of guilt and self condemnation. I'm a little shell shocked as I deeply study biblical doctrines because I was genuinely born again in a fundamental baptist church that really pounded some things like unconditional eternal security/the pre trib rapture/ kjv only etc. through online study and my own personal biblical interpretation have seriously challenged these topics and even have forced me to check out some new churches that God has guided me to. At first I was quite freaked out and troubled because I wasn't sure who or what to believe all the while being attacked by satan.

Could you let me know if I'm pretty close to the mark here when it comes to basic soteriology.

Because there are extreme Arminian groups and extreme Calvinistic groups opinions are all over the place. I just want to rest safely in the Lords salvation.

1. Man is born a fallen being totally separated from God

2. God sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross as a perfect sacrifice for the sin of all mankind.

3. The only requirement for eternal life is personal trust and faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, died for my sin, was buried, and rose again.

4. I am only saved by the grace of God and not by any personal effort or works.

(This is where I'm getting tripped up because of all the years of unconditional eternal security hammered into me) do I maintain my own salvation through the same faith that saved me? Continuing to rest in the finished work of Christ?

5. Sin does not cause a loss of Salvation in and of itself but it is not a static force. Sin hardens the heart until a believer "falls away" (literally stops believing in Jesus Christ altogether.)

(I struggle here a bit because I want to have enough faith. All I need is faith the size of a mustard seed because it's all about the object of my faith. And now that I believe falling away is possible I'm kind of scared. I'm thankful also because my guard is up to protect me and my family from sin and I can sense my faith growing as well. My period of backsliding was horrific and thank God im even here to write you now)

6.Through abiding in Christ the believer will achieve long lasting victory over sin and produce fruit. Which will be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ.

7. All unbelievers whose names are not written in the book of life will be judged according to their works and will be found guilty before God and punished for all eternity for their sin in the lake of fire. The sin of unbelief is the only sin that can keep us out of heaven.

So am I pretty close? I've been wrestling with tons of different doctrine and biblical interpretation and a lot of folks claim to have a monopoly on the truth. I'm sure you can understand why this is so important to me since my soul and the souls of my loved ones are at stake.

One last question. This one kind of has to do with my guilt and self condemnation. Does a person ever get to the point where God will not forgive them even if they honestly repent? I'm leaning towards no. God will always forgive the repentant sinner since he's not willing any should perish. I'm starting to believe that we humans wield tremendous power in obtaining forgiveness and salvation. Not through works but through trust and belief in the goodness and mercy of God. I know Satan is my enemy and wants me to sin but his ultimate goal isn't to get me to sin his ultimate goal is to destroy my faith.

A great bible verse the Lord has given me on more than one occasion recently

Isaiah 43:18-19English Standard Version (ESV)
18 "Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

Sorry for the massive email. God bless.

Response #15:

You're very welcome. I do understand where you are coming from. When I began this same process of really wanting to learn what the Bible actually taught, I was in for some rude awakenings myself. It's always easier to go with "group-think"; it's always harder to put the actual truth ahead of what one wishes were true. I know enough about the Tribulation, for example, to be inclined to wish that the pre-Trib rapture were true. It's not, of course, and digesting that truth was something I had to cope with in my own journey to putting what the Bible actually teaches above what family, friends, and beloved groups and individuals prefer to think. But what is the alternative? Only ignoring what God has provided for us to know and believe. In other words, there is no true alternative, at least for anyone who has dedicated himself to putting Jesus Christ above all else.

"I will bring him near and he will come close to me— for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?" declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 30:21b NIV

As to your questions:

1) We are spiritually dead at birth, estranged from God, "without hope and without God in the world" (Eph.2:12 NIV). See the link: BB 3B section I "I. The Fall and Human Sinfulness".

2) Jesus Christ died for all, otherwise none could be saved; He died for all, otherwise the offer of the gospel to all would not be legitimate. See the link: in BB 4A "Unlimited Atonement"

3) Indeed, faith in Jesus Christ is the only requirement for eternal life. I add here that He is "God" and "man" – simply because some groups which talk a good game and which may appear "Christian" to Christians actually do not accept the truth of His divinity. But without being divine, He could not have endured the cross; and without being human, He could not have born our sins in His body. This, by the way, is not a check-list of things to have in mind when being saved. God knows the hearts of all and He surely knows who is genuinely running to Him for help in the Name of Jesus Christ. I dare say that everyone who is saved knows much more now about all these things than on the day they were saved (or certainly should!).

4) We are saved "by grace through faith" and that is "not of [our own] works" (Eph.2:8-9), otherwise we might have some boast; but we have none in fact (Rom.4:2); so we boast in this, that we know Him (Jer.9:24), and are known by Him as His. Believers are saved; unbelievers are not saved. Salvation is in three phases, initial (coming to Christ), eventual (when we are resurrected – our final "deliverance"), and temporal (we are moving forward in this world, "working out our salvation" in the sense of having God demonstrate through our endurance of this life with faith intact that our faith is real); this is not works; this is perseverance in faith. Those who fall away and abandon their faith so as no longer to be believers in Christ are not saved.

5) Yes, sin is a problem. Jesus died for all sin, so sin is not the issue in salvation; faith in Christ is the issue. However, sin can, if embraced, lead to diminishing our fear of God and diluting our faith. If that process goes on long enough or dramatically enough, it can lead to us "choosing" to want to have nothing more with God "because our deeds are evil" (Jn.3:20; cf. 1Jn.3:12), that is, the hardening of our hearts through chronic sin can lead to the death of our faith. There is also a category of person who will never give up faith but who also wants to embrace sin to a terminal degree. These types are taken out of the world by the Lord on account of their bad witness – the sin unto death (1Cor.5:1ff.). See the link: in BB 3B: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

6) True, as we grow in Christ we will get better at sanctification and all such spiritual advance is worthy of reward. However, it's not as if it is not a struggle. Spiritual growth (which is what I assume you mean by "abiding in Christ") is a process which is opposed at all point by the world, the flesh and the devil. It requires sanctification (growing resistance to sin) and even more importantly growth through the truth in the truth, its knowledge, belief, and application. This leads in turn to ever greater success in passing the tests that come the mature believer's way as we march up the high road to Zion, at some point (ideally) coming into the ministry Jesus has for us. There are plenty of ups and downs in this journey, this "military campaign", but if we persevere in doing what is right, not just on defense (resistance to sin), but even more particularly on offense (growth) we will succeed. Both are necessary (just as in any military campaign there will be times and places for both and disaster if either is lacking).

7) Exactly. Everyone's name was "in the book" originally, but unbelievers' names are blotted out when they decisively reject Christ or when they die without having accepted Him. The checking of the book is a "fail-safe" for our benefit to assure us now that no one is going to hell by accident. See the link: "The Book of Life".

8) Even the prodigal son was received back by his father – with great joy! And even though his brother was of the opinion that he should not be forgiven.

"I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."
Luke 15:7 NASB

Seems pretty clear to me. Only guilt and the legalistic self-righteousness of those who have redefined sin to mean only what they would "never do" would have a problem with this, either theologically or in terms of reading scriptures such as this one.

Our God is a God of the greatest mercy – He sent His one and only beloved Son to die in our place that we might be saved, after all.

Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
Micah 7:18 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L. 

Question #16:

Another interesting argument is presented by Thiessen in his criticism of annihilationism:

But, in answer to this view (that unbelievers are destroyed), we say that God does not annihilate what he has created. Life is the opposite of death; if death is merely cessation of being, then life just prolonged existence. But eternal life is a quality of life, not merely quantity. Further, death and destruction is punishment; it is hard to see how annihilation could be termed punishment.

I haven't come across this distinction between the quantity and quality of life, but it does seem a reasonable conclusion which provides a good refutation of this unbiblical stance. What do you think?

Response #16:

It's not the way I would put it, but I am reluctant to find fault with it. It is clear that "death", like "life" is something that has to be expanded upon in terms of definitions when we are talking about the fate of human beings theologically. That is because all the world sees is physical life and physical death. It cannot see alienation from God or spiritual rebirth. Nor does it anticipate the resurrection wherein both categories will rise, but one to "life" and one to "death". Just as the "life" eternal is different from physical life in that it does not end (and many other wonderful, positive differences), so also the "second death" is different from physical death in that it also does not end. That much is clear. I'm not sure, however, that describing these oppositions as being "qualitative" or "quantitative" is helpful; it seems to me that this might introduce a false set of categories which one is then tempted to fill out logically even though scripture says only what it says.

Question #17:

Do you agree with the conclusion that there will be different degrees of punishment in the lake of fire:

But having said all this, we repeat that there will be degrees of punishment (Luke 12:47f.; Rom. 2:5f.; Rev. 20:12f.), according to God's justice.

Response #17:

Luke 12:47 is speaking of believers (they have a "Master"). Romans 2:5 does not speak of degrees. And Revelation 20:12ff. merely demonstrates that all will receive an individual judgment. There is nothing in the Bible which suggests that the lake of fire will be better for some and worse for others. It will be terrible for all, and equally so. Thiessen is perhaps getting this from Dante (and R.C. medieval, superstitious teachings).

Question #18:

Hello Dr Luginbill,

I admire the thoroughness of your exegeses in biblical matters. On line, I found some quotes that sound similar to yours on free will from an article written over a century ago by CL Parker titled "Original Sin and Eternal Punishment" Here are some quotes:

"God has put it into the power of man to will in opposition to His own will and so bring His whole creation to ruin and misery, as we see it before our eyes. Yet, though God will be unable throughout eternity to change the wills of the finally unrepentant, He is able at any moment to prevent them putting that will into effect, and Hell will be the abode of those who, desiring to do evil, find no way of putting their desires into action, but are held "silent in darkness", malignant but powerless.

"In this battle of the will there must come a moment when the final choice either for good or evil is taken. After that the soul either plunges down into the foul depths of selfishness and cruelty, or else soars upwards into the delights of love and fellowship. The cruel man seeks and finds ever new ways of grinding others under his heel: the loving man finds his heart increasingly occupied with the happiness of others, who are also concerned with his happiness, and procure it more successfully than he could ever hope to do unaided

"It follows therefore that in our consideration of the Doctrines under discussion we shall rule out at once any solution which suggests that God is not perfect in Love, or that man can be the final victim of forces beyond his control. Any answers to be acceptable must posit the complete unselfishness and unlimited benevolence of God, and the equal ability of man to be the master of his own fate for weel or woe, and to accept or reject the Love of God. When God gave man a free will, He made him free even to hate Himself~

Does that sound like you? It sure does!

The doctrine of Eternal Torment is extremely abhorrent to me. At heart I want to be a Universalist (though I agree that many will suffer Eternal Death and not be saved). God did not create billions of human beings to torment them forever. The problem is reconciling the doctrine of Gods Mercy enduring forever and Mans Free Will. It would seem that if a person suffers in hell for all eternity, it is, as C L Parker notes, only because their wills are finally unrepentant, and have chosen to reject Jesus forever. even in the face of great suffering (the scorching of the earth with great heat in Revelation). God is not sitting smugly on His throne being entertained by the shrieks of the lost in hell!

Hebrews 9:27 says "it is given to men once to die...then after that the judgement." How long an interval is "after that?" It would seem that if a person is able to receive correction (not having ultimately hardened their heart) that they would be shown mercy in the interval between death and Judgement. Somehow it would be more merciful for God to place a eternally defiant sinner in hell than for that sinner to be in the presence of God fro all eternity.  

I remember, Bob, you writing somewhere that a hardened sinner would never repent even given a thousand lifetimes. And that every human being will somehow be able to make an informed choice for or against Christ. No one will be able to blame lack of information or even not having heard the Gospel.

No one will go to hell because of being born in the wrong place or the wrong time, or because he yielded to temptation in a moment of weakness, Only because they want nothing to do with God no matter What! Because of free will, it anyone stays in hell forever, it is because they have chosen to do so!

Thoughts?

Response #18:

Yes, it's all about free will. There are only two possibilities: an eternity with God or one without Him. Since He is the source of all blessing, an eternity without Him must perforce be one of cursing – that is the choice.

Thanks for the quotes. Don't know that I recognized myself here, but we are all blind to our own tics, after all.

Hope you are doing well, my friend!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hi Bob,

People think of Hell as a place where God tortures the wicked with unbearable pain. This is not true. The truth is actually far more unpleasant.

Hell is a place where the wicked experience unbearable shame. The Last Judgement will be horrific because of the shame that the wicked will experience, and shame is one of the only emotions that do not "wear out" with the passing of time. Those who are ashamed are ashamed forever.

This is part of the atonement: Christ took the shame for us on the cross. God himself needed to take our shame and lowered himself "to a worm, not a man."

Let me make this perfectly clear to you: I am probably among the worst of sinners on planet Earth. My heart is extremely wicked, impure, and foolish. I am deserving of hatred, contempt, and shame. But I am what I am today because of God and nobody else.

Sincerely,

Response #19:

I have to disagree that unbelievers feel shame before God or ever will (of course that is a part of the motivation to turn to God in repentance). I note that you don't quote scripture here. Here are some verses which are applicable:

"Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them," says the LORD.
Jeremiah 6:15 NIV (cf. Jer.8:12)

The LORD within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame.
Zephaniah 3:5 NIV

The wicked (i.e., everyone who rejects God by rejecting His authority and His Son whom He has appointed heir of all things as the only way of salvation) have no shame before God and never will. Shame before God implies recognizing that we have done wrong in His eyes, that it is, it is the beginning of the fear of God which in turn is the beginning of wisdom (Ps.110:10; Prov.4:7; 9:10): we recognize that He is the Master, and as a result we repent of our ways and turn to His ways. Adam and Eve felt no shame (Gen.2:25) until they violated God's commandment and feared the consequences (Gen.3:10). Godly fear, godly shame, godly sorrow leads to repentance (2Cor.7:10). Unbelievers are only "sorry" that they can't live forever without subordinating themselves to God. Will they be ashamed in the lake of fire? Not before God. They have no shame or fear of Him at all. That is why they refuse to believe.

Yours in the One who died for all that all might be saved, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #20:

Daniel said that unbelievers will explicitly be condemned to shame.

"Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2)

Also weeping and gnashing of teeth (that is, cringing) are both expressions of extreme shame. Jesus uses this hendiadys to express the same essential emotion: extreme shame.

Response #20:

People weep out of sorrow – unbelievers will be sorry . . . for themselves (cf. 2Cor.7:10 KJV: "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death"). People gnash their teeth out of pain, anger and frustration, not because they feel ashamed; people blush when they feel shame (cf. Jer.6:15; 8:12: "they do not even know how to blush").

As to your parallel in Daniel, it is not applicable. Believers and unbelievers both receive something in Daniel 12:2. Believers awake to (receive) eternal life (cf. Rom.2:7); unbelievers [awake] to "contempt and everlasting disgrace" (cf. Rom.2:8-9 contrasted with Rom.2:10); this is something they receive, the disapproval and disdain that comes from God and from all who belong to Him from the outside. So this verse describes their just deserts, not "how they feel" on the inside. That is obvious from the context since the two elements are visited upon them as opposed to flowing from them – a reaction which they should have but don't in the passages I adduced (Jer.6:15; 8:12; Zeph.3:5).

It's even more clear in the Hebrew, however. The word for feeling shame personally (as opposed to, e.g., being held in contempt by someone else) is bush/bosh (בּוּש); that is what we have in the three passages I gave you, and it is clear enough in context from any English version that these three are speaking of an internal emotion which ought to be felt. In Daniel, however, we are not talking about how these unbelievers will feel; rather, the two words he uses characterize their disgrace: cherpah (חֶרְפָּה) and dera'on (דְּרָאוֹן). These are synonyms meaning scorn and contempt (both objective, never subjective, meaning that they describe reproaches coming from without; cf. and 1Sam.17:6 for the former, and Is.66:24 for the latter).

The only way shame comes into the picture or one could think of using that word for either of the Hebrew words here is if it is understood that their conduct has been seen by others who count as "shameful". However, there is a difference between actually feeling ashamed and acting shamefully. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself!" – we would only react with shame and blushing if we valued the opinion and the authority of the person saying this to us, and, if guilty, would repent (or know that we should), but if innocent, we seek to defend ourselves. But, in the case of someone we despise with whose opinion we disagree, we would react not with blushing but with laughter or perhaps with anger . . . or perhaps with frustration and gnashing of teeth if we are going to suffer for it and can't do anything about it. But nothing anyone we despise can do to us can make us feel shame if we are not ashamed. Will these unbelievers be ashamed of themselves in the lake of fire? No. They have no respect for God the Father or Christ's sacrifice – that is why they will be there. Do they have any shame? No, they have no shame at all. They do not even know how to blush.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Dr.

I have a quick question. I am reading CT 6 section 5 where you discussed the location of the lake of fire as being in subterranean realm of the present earth. How can this be if the present heavens and earth will be destroyed as it states in Rev. 21:1.

Thank you like always In Christ our Lord.

Response #21:

In terms of heavenly geography, there are three realms of existence: 1) the world/universe/kosmos; 2) the third heaven, and 3) the nether regions. The last two are not visible to human perception and are separated off from "this world" wherein at present we are in the middle of this conflict between the forces of the Lord and those of the devil – a conflict which of course is already won and whose purpose is really to decide the fate of all made with the image of God who have the right to choose their eternal future. At present, the third heaven is separated off for holiness' sake as the temporary abode of God (the "castle-keep", so to speak), while the nether regions still have unbelievers in Torments and fallen angels (some of them) in the Abyss. Once history and the judgments with which history is concluded are finished, there will be no further use for the nether regions (and probably also none for the third heaven) . . . except for the lake of fire which is also there below.

For our purposes of understanding from our human point of view, these nether regions – whether currently empty (as with paradise) presently occupied (as with Tartarus/Abyss and Torments), or awaiting the arrival of the condemned (the as yet unoccupied lake of fire) – are all described as being "below" the earth . . . just as the third heaven is described as being "above" it. With our scientific progress, we understand that this "above" and "below" are not spatial in the sense of our knowledge of the material universe. The universe is the world but we know for example that the third heaven is "not a part of this creation" (Heb.9:11), and the same is true of the nether regions. I.e., drilling a hole to the center of the earth is not going to discover these venues anymore than sending a probe to the furthest reaches of the universe would be able to discover the third heaven. So the destruction of the present "heavens and earth" is not going to affect the third heaven nor the nether regions.

Here is a link to a chart which represents the relative relationships of these areas the way the Bible describes them – understanding that this "geography" is given to us for purposes of a general understanding of the theological rather than strict spatial relationships, because "spatial" is in any case a "this creation/world only" concept: "Biblical Geography".

Feel free to write back about any of the above, my friend. I'm keeping you and your family in my prayers.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Thank you for the lucid response. I know understand. The current terrain of hell is not in this heaven and earth similarly to the 3rd heaven where God is residing. The pictures you provided helped very much.

I guess i was confused with the wording "subterranean". To me this word means below the natural earth's surface.

Thanks again for your continued prayers sir. In Christ our Lord

Response #22:

You're most welcome. It is somewhat confusing – to modern people who have grown up with a scientific template. The Bible, however, was written entirely to people who did not have that "world view", and the Bible has to be interpreted in light of the time and culture in which it was written – which sometimes makes parts of it difficult to explain to modern people. I appreciate your persistent desire to understand the truth, all of the truth. That is what it takes to "get there" personally and to be able to help others do so later on.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Oddly, before I became a Christian, out of the fear of death and listening to my mother's advice to start looking for God I became somewhat of a "unitarian universalist" Christian. It didn't last long, though, and it took a few more years before I became a genuine believer, and will continue to do so, if God wills!

Response #23:

God certainly does so will! And I have no doubt that He has plans for you. For any Christian who is really willing to follow Christ and be used by the Lord, He will lead us to the right place and will knock all the rough edges off of us sooner or later . . . to the extent that we stay humble and willing to be changed by Him.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

There are no "Degrees of Punishment" in Hell

And yet a third angel followed them, saying in a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark upon his forehead or upon his hand, he himself will also drink from the wine of God's wrath which has been mixed undiluted in the cup of His anger. And [that person] will be tortured/tormented in fire and sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb.
Revelation 14:9

Response #24:

Indeed – this sounds equally bad for the "anyone" which means "everyone" who ends up denying Christ.

Question #25:

What's the difference between hell and the lake of fire?

Response #25:

Unbelievers who die at present go to "torments" (Lk.16:23) – this is bad, but not as bad as the Lake of Fire – that is where unbelievers are cast after the last judgment at the end of history (see the link).

"Hell" is an English word which, depending on the version of English translation you are using, can refer to a number of different places. "Hell" often translates the Hebrew word sheol and also Gehenna in the Old Testament, and can refer to torments, the lake of fire, the Abyss, and also to paradise below the earth (where deceased believers resided before Christ's ascension).

For more on all this, please see the links:

"The Geography of Heaven and Hell"

"What does the Bible say about Heaven and Hell?"

Do feel free to write back with questions or for clarifications.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:

What sections would you recommend to read regarding hell and the lake of fire?

Thank you,

Response #26:

Here are the best links for this:

Hades (in SR 1)

The Geography of Heaven, Hades and 'Hell'

The Lake of Fire

The Last Judgment of the Unbelieving Dead

Please do write me back if these links don't answer your specific questions.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Will Christians be present as an audience at the "Great White Throne" judgment?

Response #27:

Yes – we will observe it all:

(9) And yet a third angel followed them, saying in a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives [his] mark upon his forehead or upon his hand, (10) he himself will also drink from the wine of God's wrath which has been mixed undiluted in the cup of His anger. And [that person] will be tormented in fire and sulfur before angels, [and] saints,(note 58) and before the Lamb. (11) And the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever, and they have no rest day or night, those who worship the beast and his image and whoever takes the mark of his name." (12) [But] the saints have perseverance, [even] those who in this way (i.e., by refusing the mark and worship of the beast) keep God's commandments and [retain] their faith in Jesus. (13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on so that they may rest from their labors", says the Spirit. "For their deeds follow with them."
Revelation 14:9-13

(58) The absence of the definite article in the Greek text preceding the words "angels" and "holy [ones]" allows for the possibility that the adjective is being used here as a substantive, referring to resurrected believers. There is no reason for believers to be absent from this picture (cf. Rev.20:4), and the phrase "holy angels" is relatively rare in scripture, occurring only twice in the New Testament and in both instances in company with the definite article which is absent here (Mk.8:38; Lk.9:27; cf. Acts 10:22).

Please note that this passage is most often confused on this point in the versions (hence the need for the footnote). The "torment" refers to the depositing of each unbeliever into the lake of fire after judgment.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Greetings in Christ name,

Thank you for including my email address for the announcements of your additions to your Website. I look forward to your in depth analysis of difficult subjects in the Bible.

My question today is have you ever studied the Intermediate State? Recently in a sermon by Dr. David Jeremiah he said that before the Rapture believers in Jesus will not go to heaven but instead they will go to an intermediate state. I sometimes wonder if Roman Catholics conceived of purgatory because of this concept.

Can you give us your opinion on this subject?

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very blessed New Year!

Response #28:

You are more than welcome, my friend! Please keep Ichthys in mind if you change email addresses so I can update my list.

As to your question, from your description of the terminology, it's not precisely clear what this person means by "intermediate state". That is not a biblical term (i.e., it doesn't occur in scripture), nor is it a classical theological term, nor a standard evangelical term. That being the case, I need to put in a caveat about my comments here. I'm not familiar with this individual or this teaching, so I can only respond to what is apparent (and what little I was able to glean from the internet about him).

First, the truth is that after death all believers (since Christ's ascension) are taken to the third heaven, receiving what, for lack of a better term, I call an "interim body". The human spirit was created within the newly born human being at birth (Zech.12:1b; see the link), and is never ever "disembodied" from that time forward to the end of time and into eternity. That is true of unbelievers too, as is apparent from our Lord's relating of the story of Lazarus and the rich man – this passage is one of the clearest representations of the actual state of affairs. Important to note is that this is not a "parable" (please see the link), but a true rendition of an actual series of events. After death, both Lazarus and Abraham, believers in paradise (n.b., all these were transferred to heaven at our Lord's ascension; see the link), are recognizable as who they are and assume postures and do things and discuss doing things which only people with bodies can do. Granted, the interim body is not as terrific as the resurrection body will be, but there is apparently no pain or discomfort of any kind (for believers) – so for us it is something to be very much looked forward to rather than what one might think from the perspective of any false doctrine of disembodiment (cf. Phil.1:23). You can find a full description of this issue at the following links:

Biblical Anthropology III: Soul versus Spirit, "Soul Sleep", and the Interim Body

The Interim Body

Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State

What I find disturbing about the individual and teaching referenced is that these do seem to suggest – absolutely erroneously – that after death we are disembodied spirits and have to wait for the resurrection to be "clothed". But in fact 2nd Corinthians 5:1-3, rightly read in the Greek (there is a textual problem here; see the link), tells us that we will not be "naked" even if we die before the resurrection (treated in the links above). That is also clearly to be seen from the story of Lazarus as well as from the descriptions of the deceased martyrs in Revelation chapters six and seven who, to the point, are given clothing (Rev.6:11; cf. Rev.7:9). These are not disembodied spirits. In fact, such a thing is impossible, although in this world people do believe in ghosts and all manner of non-existent things. Some people believe in non-existence or annihilation after death too, but we believers know from scripture that once a life is created, that is, once a person is born and a spirit created within that body, said person will never go out of existence – they may end in the lake of fire by their own choice, but they will never cease to exist. Likewise, the spirit once placed into a body will never lack a "home" or "clothing" again: the spirit is meant to be clothed, not unclothed, and this is always the case.

The problems with assuming some other sort of "intermediate state" which is contrary to scripture are manifold. For one thing, this is not far removed from the dangerous and spiritually depressing false doctrine of "soul sleep" (because, if a spirit can be disembodied, why cannot it be put to sleep?; see the link). For another, this is a very spiritually depressing idea on its own and may lead to many other false impressions about what happens after death – it makes it all seem surreal and not particularly to be desired compared to the here and now while we actually have a body, and so may lead to a propensity to want to cling to this life and fail to understand that everything about what is in store for us is so much better (1Cor.2:9). Such false teachings make it difficult to look forward to being with the Lord (the very thing we should all be cultivating day by day). Also, this sort of false teaching gives credence to all other manner of false doctrines such as purgatory, as you noted (see the link), and the idea of ghosts wandering around here or there. Moreover, whenever any false doctrine is accepted, it always undermines the whole of the spiritual edifice every believers should be intent on building up in his/her heart and spirit as the primary service to the Lord without which nothing else effective can be done. Without spiritual growth through hearing and believing the truth, believers are very vulnerable to all manner of satanic attacks, and whatever production they may engage in will be at least drastically curtailed in its effectiveness . . . if not completely undermined.

So I commend you on your keen sense of sniffing out false doctrine. This sort of "spiritual I.Q." is also something that grows as we grow in the truth, and it has never been more important than it is today on the cusp of the Tribulation where even now before the fact we see the seeds of the "empowerment of evil" being sown.

Wishing a very merry Christmas and blessed 2017 to you and yours as well!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:

I will come back to what I meant. Maybe if I start with a verse from Matthew 10:37.

"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"

Your view is that while someone is alive if they truly repent they can still be forgiven, correct? So when Jesus says such a person is not worthy he can't be referring to the unworthiness of the believer, as we are all unworthy, the disciples were unworthy. He must be referring to a specific type of unworthiness. What other type is there left except unworthy of being his in the sense of having salvation?

I know Luke 14:26 states

"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be My disciple."

However verse 21 of Matt 10 Jesus says

21 "Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved

Jesus links put him first with salvation, it is an assumption to say there is no link

Scenario: Say a person refused to repent while their parents were alive because the cost would be too high and worried over the effect it might have on his/her parents, going to jail for example, something very serious like murder. And plans to wait until after their parents are dead to repent. Such a person is putting them before the Lord and so wouldn't be excepted if they repented afterwards

Is this not the kind of thing the Matthew 10:37 is saying?

Thanks,

Response #29:

Let me start by saying that there is a vast difference between logic and theology. Not that theology is illogical (it most certainly is not), but it is true that making logical arguments based upon assumptions which are not directly stated in the Bible is one of the quickest ways to run afoul of the truth. I.e., "A" means "X" and "B" means "Y" so we may conclude "Z" – doesn't work when neither X nor Y nor Z are actually in the Bible. This is akin to counting angels dancing on pinheads, and it is the basis of much wrong-headed medieval Roman Catholic "theology". This procedure is also usually unnecessary since if the question is truly an important one, there is almost always a specific scripture (usually, many scriptures) which teach about that question positively and directly – or at least parts of it. Good theology, that is to say, is much more "data dependent", than being hypothetical and based upon logical extrapolations from assumptions which may or may not be entirely true.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28 NASB

Hundreds of such scriptures like this one come to mind. And none of them contain qualifications about God's mercy such us "unless you've already blown your chance" or "unless . . . [anything at all]".

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 3:2 NASB

Note, not "if you still have that option". Scripture is replete with similar commands for wayward (believer or unbeliever) to change their thinking and turn to God. How would this be the case if it were impossible for people to respond to such commands? Why would God appeal to the free will of people who no longer have it (or never had it)?

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.
Revelation 9:20-21 NASB

These tribulational unbelievers "did not repent" in spite of all they had seen. If you think about it carefully, this would be a nonsensical thing to say if they it would have made no difference to God if they did repent. That is because their lack of repentance is what is being found fault with here even more than the dastardly deeds from which they refuse to repent.

In short, wherever one looks in scripture, there are innumerable instances where the free will of all mankind is appealed to in various ways. What is the purpose of that if there is no free will . . . at least functionally so in the case of certain people who have done certain things and are now somehow "beyond the pale"?

If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
Jeremiah 18:7-8 NIV

Here we have a case of evil sufficient to warrant complete national annihilation at the hand of God. But even so, repentance brings forgiveness.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:9 NIV

This seems straightforward to me; and so straightforward that no assumed conditions can be interpreted into this verse without standing it on its head – especially when no such thing occurs in scripture.

This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.
2nd Corinthians 2:6-8 NKJV

Paul's handing over of the incestuous man to Satan "for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1Cor.5:5 NKJV) is here reversed following requisite repentance on said individual's part. If that can be forgiven . . .

And [so the prodigal son] got up and returned to his father. But while he was still some distance away, his father caught site of him and was filled with compassion. And he ran toward him and fell upon his neck and kissed him. And his son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants." But his father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring a fine suit of clothes and put it on him, and put a signet ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. And bring the fatted calf. Butcher it so that we may eat and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and has [now] come back to life. He was lost, but he has been found." And they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:20-24

That is how our heavenly Father comports Himself to us who are His children in Jesus Christ. There are numerous cases of great believers sinning in spectacular ways (Moses, David, Elijah, Peter). But none of them ends up being ultimately forsaken by the Lord; rather, in every case where there is repentance there is forgiveness.

So in terms of what the Bible actually says, people do repent; and God does forgive . . . in every such case. I don't see that Matthew 10:37 says otherwise. Where there is life, there is hope – depending upon what the individual still alive decides.

Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
Ecclesiastes 9:4 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Good reply, thanks. So Matthew 10:37 - how do you interpret it?

Thanks,

Response #30:

You're very welcome.

What do I make of Matthew 10:37? What would anyone make of it? Our Lord was very direct with the truth, and direct in an (obviously) brilliant way. I think anyone hearing these words when He said them would have one of two reactions – just as we do today: Either 1) "I don't believe this and so I'm not going to worry about it" (variations on this theme, of course, but disregarding / rejecting the pointed remark is the idea); or 2) "Wow, I really fall short!". I suppose there are some people who might actually think, "I'm OK on this one, alright", but anyone with that degree of confidence that they're doing the right thing to the extent of actually loving the Lord more than anything or anyone else in the world, even his/her nearest and dearest, is probably not being totally honest with themselves. So as far as I am concerned this verse is designed both to draw the clearest possible distinction between those who are following Christ and those who are not, and to motivate those who are following Him but not doing so as well or as close as they could (that would be all of us, in my humble opinion), to shake off our lukewarmness and fire ourselves back up again (daily) to keep Him and His truth the absolute first priority in our lives.

The context here, starting with the conclusion of our Lord's directive in the comparison to the lilies of the field and the birds of the air that we are "not to worry" because God has everything under control and is certainly aware of and will certainly provide for all of our needs, is our Lord's version of what I have deemed the "Day of the Lord paradigm" (see the link). That is to say, these verses all look forward to times of testing and tribulation and in part to the Tribulation itself (specifically vv.35-36), wherein believers will suffer for their faith and will endure persecution even from those who are near and dear. Under such extreme pressure, the love of most will grow cold (Matt.24:12), and many will fall prey to the Great Apostasy during the Tribulation – and even before then such experience of persecution can result in apostasy when the plant sprouting on the rock with no deep roots withers in the heat of opposition (Matt.13:20-21; Mk.4:16-18; Lk.8:13).

All the remarks of our Lord in this context are thus words of loving concern from our Shepherd who wants us all to love Him for our own good – for our spiritual growth, progress, production and resultant reward – but also for our spiritual safety. Because if we do not love Him most of all and more than all, we are danger of falling out of love with Him entirely and losing our faith. And if we abandon our faith in Him, then we are no longer believers, and "then end is worse than the beginning" (2Pet.2:20).

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Revelation 3:15-16 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31:

Does that back up my original interpretation that the person in the scenario, a person who waited until their parents to accept Jesus because they didn't want to risk separation from them, as following him would mean going to prison, so waited until they were dead to repent, and would do the same thing again, wait until they were dead that is? Which would bring into question the sincerity of their repentance anyway. So doing what the verse Matthew 10:37 would put them into that situation, that is insincere repentance. So this is talking about salvation right? They who put others before him are not going to be worthy of him since they will end up losing their salvation.

Response #31:

That's a bit too convoluted of a hypothetical for me to weigh in on. What I can say is that all believers are saved; unbelievers are not. Unbelievers may go through the motions of being "Christian" and in some religions which pretend to be Christian may do all manner of works "of repentance". But salvation comes from accepting Christ as Savior – "by grace through faith" (Eph.2:8-9). The only way a person can lose salvation is by losing faith completely to the point where it has died out and the person has reverted to being an unbeliever, someone who no longer believes in or in any way cares for Jesus Christ. That is what apostasy is. There have been plenty of believers in history who have had weak faith and who have behaved in all manner of scurrilous ways. In extreme cases, the Lord removes such from the world via the very painful "sin unto death" (as in the case of the incestuous young man in 1st Corinthians 5:1ff. – although he did repent under that pressure). Sin is not an issue in salvation since Christ died for all sin. What sin can do, however, is to sour our relationship with the Lord, and result in discipline from Him (Heb.12:1ff.), and then harden our hearts against any godly fear for the Lord if we refuse to accept that discipline in the right way (Heb.3:7 - 4:11). For some Christians when they experience such pressure do not repent but turn away from the Lord instead. Should they do that to the extreme degree of losing their faith entirely (actually abandoning it), then they revert to being unbelievers in apostasy. This is all explained in detail at the link in BB 3B: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #32:

Hi Bob,

Annihilationism is popular not because unbelievers ask "isn't Hell mean," but to comfort lukewarm Christians by not reminding them that the consequences are severe.

Sincerely,

Response #32:

It's also "popular", both in the present day and historically, among unbelievers – as a way of anesthetizing them against the (otherwise very reasonable) fear of death, judgment and damnation. But these three things are meant as motivation to turn to God in repentance so as to be saved by accepting His solution: the Gift of Jesus Christ.

In Jesus our dear Lord through whose work on the cross we have life eternal.

Bob L.

Question #33:

Hello Dr Luginbill, I pray you are doing well.

I was wondering:

1) How are the Heavens different from Paradise?

2) Will all those in Hades be transferred over to hell after judgment and if so, why is there a delay between punishment to Judgement? Examples being the rich man in the Lazarus story and the fallen Angels kept in chains and darkness until Judgement.

3) Why did Jesus tell the thief on the cross that he would be in Paradise, I was under the impression that after the sacrifice, all believers would be transferred to Heaven?

Thanks as always

Response #33:

Hello Friend, 

Good to hear from you as always – and thanks for your prayers!

As to your questions:

1) There are three heavens (see the link): the atmosphere, the universe beyond, and the "third heaven", the present abode of the Father and the Son and all departed believers (since the ascension; see the link). "Paradise" is a Persian word meaning "pleasure garden", and is used biblically for the place where God communes with those who belong to Him. This "spot" has varied over time because of the angelic rebellion and the subsequent progress of the plan of God. Paradise originally was earth; then it was specifically Eden after the post-judgment reconstruction of earth to make it habitable for mankind; then it was "Abraham's bosom", a compartment of the underworld (as in Lazarus and the rich man); then, following our Lord's ascension, it has been the third heaven; ultimately, it will be the New Jerusalem (see the link: "The Seven Edens").

2) We are all born with sin natures and worthy of condemnation, but in His great mercy the Lord allows us to live on this earth for a span of time, even if we refuse to use that great opportunity to seek Him and accept the gospel so as to be saved. God has no desire that any should perish but that all should be saved (2Pet.3:9). Hades refers of course to the entire underworld (see the link: "The Geography of Heaven, Hades and 'Hell'"). But, yes, all unbelievers and all fallen angels (with the exception of antichrist and the false prophet and Satan who are all peremptorily deposited into the lake of fire) receive their "last judgment" at the same time, namely, at the end of history and just before the commencement of eternity, that is, following the resurrection and evaluation of the sheep of Matthew 25 (the "friends of the bride" believers of the Millennium), and preceding the creation of the New Heavens and New Earth, and the subsequent descent of New Jerusalem (see the link: "The Last Judgment"). So all who defied God will be judged, but not until this period called "history" (the time of the Plan of God) has run its course. So God graciously does not execute final judgment until the very last minute – and a necessary thing too for the final state of those who love Him to be in a new universe "where only righteousness dwells" (2Pet.3:13).

3) Our Lord descended into the subterranean paradise after He gave up His spirit following His fulfillment of His atonement for the sins of the world by His spiritual death (see the link). And He did not rise from there until Sunday morning – so the statement is literally true in every way (the repentant thief having followed Him down shortly after He exhaled His spirit). Also, none of the believers in Abraham's bosom were taken to the third heaven until the ascension of Christ, and that did not happen until some forty days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3; see the link: "The Transfer of Believers from the Subterranean Paradise to the Third Heaven"). So the thief was "with Me" and he was there for some short space of time after our Lord rose.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #34:

Do you believe unbelievers will burn forever or their souls die in hell?

Response #34:

The Bible teaches that all human beings will be resurrected. Believers "unto life" to live in the presence of the Lord in New Jerusalem forever; unbelievers "unto death" to spend eternity in the lake of fire. Scripture is very clear on this point. Please see the link: "Annihilationism, Universalism, Hell and Judgment".

But if you believe in Jesus Christ, this will not happen to you! So keep believing, no matter what!

In Jesus Christ by whose blood (spiritual death on the cross) we are saved.

Bob L.

Question #35:

So their soul will be destroyed.

Response #35:

Not at all. Have a look at the link I sent you. Once the Lord creates a spirit, it is never destroyed. Physical bodies are destroyed, but all human beings who have departed this life are presently conscious (unbelievers in Torments; believers in the third heaven; both having their spirits housed in temporary "tents" or interim bodies), and all will be resurrected before eternity begins. Unbelievers will be cast, body and spirit, into the lake of fire, and that is where they will reside in torment for all eternity – as they wish. Of course they don't want the torment, but they also prove with their lives that they don't want any part of God. The problem with that is that on the one hand all blessing comes from God, and on the other hand no one can live with Him forever who has demonstrated that they are unwilling to do so if given a truly free choice (that is the whole point of this life and the gift to us of the image of God). So unbelievers will exist in separation from the presence of God forever in a place without blessing and only cursing because God will not be there, but believers will live in the presence of the Lord forever and know only blessing because "the first things [will] have passed away" on that wonderful day to come.

Importantly, the word "soul" is a confusing term. It is a Germanic word, and not a Bible word. In most version where the word is found it translates the Greek word psyche or the Hebrew word nephesh, and both of these words mean "life" or "person" – in other words, "soul" (biblically speaking – I'm not saying how people use it in conversation) is not referring to some "third thing" which has a separate existence apart from the spirit and the body. Also, God made us whole persons and so will we ever be; there is no such thing as a "disembodied spirit" . . . in the Bible. Here is a good link for that: "Soul".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #36:

Based on Matthew 10:28, I don't know . . .

Response #36:

We all fall short in many ways (Jas.3:2). There are many verses in scripture which, rightly considered, will make us realize just how true it is that we are sinners in desperate need of God's grace. But He is merciful . . . and Jesus has already died for all of our sins. That does not mean that we should continue to sin. God forbid (Rom.6:15)! It does mean that if we are indeed fighting the fight and walking the path to Zion following our Lord we are in fellowship with Him in the light, "and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin" (1Jn.1:7).

Matthew 10:28 has to do with our fundamental choice in this life. Do we choose the Lord, to follow Him and love Him more than the world? Or do we turn away from the Lord and unto the world? It is true that being born again and being ultimately saved requires us to do more than merely believe at one moment in time – it requires continuing our faith in Christ until the end. And if we are following Him, picking up our cross daily to walk how and where He would have us to walk, that faithfulness on our part is a demonstration of the faith we have deep inside and are determined to preserve.

Therefore if we are thinking about this world and our very temporary lives in it correctly, we will not be worrying about people who may have the power to kill us (as in the Tribulation; Matt.10:16-27 which precedes Matt.10:28), and we will not be worried about possessing the essentials necessary to preserve our lives in this world (Lk.12:22-31 which follows Lk.12:5), rather we will fear – with godly reverence rather due our Father rather than godless and ignorant terror – the One who is all-powerful in every way. Unbelievers would do well to take that lesson too. Because the life they so prize and strive to protect is going to come to an end by the will of God – He has the power to take it away no matter what they do and will do so in every case (no one lives in this corrupt world forever); and He has the power to cast them into hell, which very thing He will do if they continue in their hard-hearted rejection of His Gift, the Son He gave to die for them whom they refuse to accept. That is the meaning of Matthew 10:28, namely, not "annihilation" which some unbelievers in the history of the world have found comforting, but the promise of loss of this life and after death a "second death", an eternal existence in the lake of fire so horrible it is termed death instead of life.

But blessedly "we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way" (Heb.6:9).

But as it is written: "What the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard, and [what] has not entered the heart of man, [these are the very] things which God has prepared for those who love Him".
1st Corinthians 2:9

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #37:

Excuse me but one big thing which I don't agree with you its about hell. I believe in death souls in hell. (Second death) I read your articles about this but I have other view. It's sad that bible don't give us directly views about this things: second death (no eternal punishment), believers can fall away (and come back),

I'm sad that there are lots of ministries and organizations which have false doctrines. Of course I don't mean you.

Response #37:

You are free to believe whatever you wish. However, only the truth can be of any benefit to you, and only if you believe it. The Bible does give us the truth, directly enough. But it also often leaves enough leeway so that people who want to convince themselves that the truth is not the truth may be able to do so. We are here to choose, and part of that choice for believers is whether or not to accept God's Word for things – and whether or not to do things God's way (i.e., growing spiritually under the authority of a good teaching ministry) or to do things our own way instead. On this point, I think you need to consider these verses (it would be impossible to see, weep and gnash teeth if a person were non-existent):

But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Matthew 8:12 NIV

They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:42 NIV

This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:49-50 NIV

"Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
Matthew 22:13 NIV

He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 24:51 NIV

And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
Matthew 25:30 NIV

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Matthew 25:41-46 NIV

"There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.
Luke 13:28 NIV

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 21:8

All of these verses make it very clear that punishment is eternal (it says so verbatim in Matt.25:46) and that there is no oblivion or "soul death". Just as a person can die once and still be conscious (in Torments; Lk.16:22ff.); so all unbelievers will die a second time . . . but still be conscious (in the Lake of fire) – the death of anyone does not mean oblivion (it only seems that way to the unbelieving world). Do you know of a single Bible verse that even suggests that a spirit (n.b. not "soul" as I have explained before; see the link) once created is ever destroyed? There are none. So you are free to believe your theory or the truth.

As to falling away and coming back, I'm not sure what your question/objection is here (happy to discuss it). The main point to remember there is that all who believe are saved (regardless of what did or didn't happen) and all who do not believe are not saved (likewise regardless of what did or didn't happen) – so this is an academic argument for people to have perhaps, but it's easy enough for a person to confirm if they're saved or not. Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

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.
John 3:18 NKJV

Finally, on multiple ministries, that is not an excuse for you not to choose: the fact that God has given you many possible choices, some good, some bad, some in-between, is not a bad thing. God could have made you without free will. Giving you no choices would be the same thing essentially. You have more than enough information to make a good and an informed choice about whom to believe – and in your heart you know that. Time is wasting. The end of all things is at hand. I urge you to find a good teaching ministry and begin to grow (which will never happen as long as you continue to torture yourself with multiple ministries which have discordant messages). Listen to the Spirit; He will guide you to a good one . . . if that is what you really desire and if you are willing to listen (I also highly recommend "Bible Academy" [at the link]).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #38:

Annihilation. In this week email, I was wondering when you were going to mention Luke 16, the rich man and Lazarus. You did mention it towards the end of the discourse and he never had an answer for it. I believe those verses by our Lord states unequivocally about everlasting torment for one who wants to believe it. I would have start with that premise rather than soul vs spirit, etc but I get what you were trying to do. This is a teaching ministry and you really wanted to teach him about the difference between the two and the consistency in God's word. Sometimes, I feel that the arguments back and forth is mostly to be argumentative from their end and not true learning.

Anyone who believes in annihilation in my book is an unbeliever especially after numerous biblical proofs to the contrary. This is another way of saying "God get out of my life and don't tell me what to do with it. I don't need you." Basically, they feel there is no accountability to a righteous God.

I sometimes wish some of these arguments could be cut short. I try not to gloss over it and read all of it because there are some things you mention that are great points but some of these arguments to me are not edifying. How should someone in my position approach your readings when they are back and forth? Need your thoughts and guidance.

Response #39:

These types of discussions are not everyone's cup of tea. If they are not edifying for you, then you are certainly free to pass over them without any qualms of conscience. I think the fact it occurred to you how this all might have been better handled is an indication of your own growing fluency with the Word of God and also coming ever closer to entering into some sort of direct ministry yourself. Good for you! One side note. Persons of this persuasion often discount the Luke passage on the grounds that it is "a parable", and thus – for some odd reason I can never quite figure out – feel that they can dismiss everything it demonstrates with which they disagree. Rather than get into the weeds on that issue immediately, I opted for the tack I took in this discussion.

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