Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Is Hell Eternal?

Is hell eternal? There are two answers to this question. The first answer, in regards to the duration of the hell fire, is yes; it will burn forever, according to several New Testament scriptures. And, it does need to burn forever to justly and eternally punish the devil and his evil angels, who, according to the Bible, are eternal beings. However, the second answer, in regards to how long sinners will suffer in the hell fire, is no. The overwhelming weight of biblical evidence contradicts the widely accepted teaching that God will torment lost sinners in the fires of hell throughout the trillions of years of eternity.
Throughout the Bible the final fate of the wicked is stated to be death, not a miserable, eternal life of pain and agony. The Bible declares that the soul who sins shall die, not that he will be tortured forever (Ezekiel 18:4; Ezekiel 18:20). It also states that the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment (Romans 6:23). The prophet Malachi declares that the day is coming when the wicked will be burned like stubble, and they will be reduced to ashes under our feet (Malachi 4:1-3). If they have become ashes that returned to the earth under the feet of the redeemed who will occupy the "new earth", how can they still be burning? The book of Psalms tells us that the wicked will be destroyed, perish and "have no future", and that they "will be no more" (Psalm 145:20; Psalm 37:37,38; Psalm 37:10; Psalm 37:20).
It is significant that the Bible clearly states that "only God" possesses immortality (1st Timothy 6:16). Man does not possess immortality apart from the "new birth" experience in Christ. Without that new birth experience, there is no immortality for man. Lost people, of course, have not become born again in Christ; consequently, they have no immortal soul to "live forever" in hell. These are not my words, but rather are precisely what the Bible teaches. As I previously stated, the Bible declares that "only God" has immortality (1st Timothy 6:16). Because man does not have it on his own, Romans 2:7 states that he must seek for it (in Christ, of course). The Apostle Paul plainly states that immortality for human beings is only "brought to light" (made available) through the gospel of Christ (2nd Timothy 1:10). In other words, only those who place their faith in Jesus Christ have access to immortality. This undeniable truth is demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt in 1st John 5:11-12, where it states that God has given us eternal life "in His Son"; furthermore, this passage goes on to state that he who has the Son has eternal life, but he who does "not" have the Son of God does "not have eternal life" (Case closed!). Therefore, according to the Bible, it is impossible for people without Christ to possess immortality and live forever in hell!
This fact, that "fallen mankind" does not possess immortality apart from Christ, becomes obvious immediately after man's fall, as recorded in Genesis chapter three. God found it necessary to ban Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, and also to station angels to keep them from accessing the "tree of life". The Bible clearly states that God did this so that they could not eat from the tree of life and live forever (Genesis 3:22-24). Therefore, the now sinful couple obviously had become "mortal beings" as a consequence of their sin, and God did not want sinful beings to become immortalized by eating from this supernatural tree of life. It is clear from this text, as well as many others that could be cited, that there was "no immortal nature" inherent within human beings after they had fallen into sin. And, according to the Bible, it is also apparent that the only means to receive immortality was by eating from the tree of life or by faith in Christ. Of course, the Bible records that God immediately cut off access to the supernatural tree, which left only "one means" to receive immortality, which is faith in Christ. The Bible plainly teaches that, without faith in Christ, there is nothing immortal within mankind. Eternal life is only for those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. However, according to the "eternal torment" doctrine taught by most preachers and theologians, the wicked also have eternal life. Their eternal life is a terrible and painful one, but it is still an eternal life. This is a blatant contradiction of Scripture!
Another important point to be considered is that the Bible teaches that we will be rewarded "according to our works", both for those whose deeds have been good, and for those who have done evil (Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12; 2nd Corinthians 5:10). In fact, the Bible specifically states that God will reveal His wrath towards the wicked on the day of judgment, by rendering to each one "according to his deeds" (Romans 2:5-6). If God is going to render to those who have done evil, according to their deeds, would He punish them for lives of seventy years of disobedience, with pain and torment for trillions of years without end? That would not be punishment based upon people's works, but would be billion-fold and trillion-fold punishment.
It is also obvious that, if we are rewarded or punished "according to our works", then the rewards and punishments must necessarily vary based upon those works. Sadistic, murderous tyrants like Hitler and Stalin, who were responsible for the torture and murder of millions of innocent people, cannot receive the same sentence of torment in hell throughout the trillions of years of eternity, as a sixteen year old boy or girl who died before placing their faith in Jesus, but who had never done anything to harm another human being.
In Luke 12:42-49, Jesus Himself illustrates this principle. He clearly states that unfaithful servants are punished differently according to their personal measure of guilt. Some will be beaten with "few stripes", whereas others will receive "many stripes". After stating this, Jesus immediately refers to the "fire" He will send on the earth. Is this a coincidence? Probably not, because it is in that fire where the wicked will receive their punishment, or "stripes", so to speak; some will receive a few and others will receive many. However, it is interesting to note that "none" of them will be "beaten forever". This agrees with what David says in Psalm 28:4, where he tells God to measure out punishment in "proportion to their wickedness".
There are literally dozens of other scriptures that I could share in this article that clearly refute the widespread teaching that God torments lost sinners in the hell fire throughout the endless ages of eternity. However, I will share just three more passages at this time. All of these texts use the Greek word, "apollumi", to refer to the final fate of the wicked. This is significant because Scripture always uses this Greek word to mean destruction, perish, kill, die or fully destroy. The only exception to this rule is in a few instances when apollumi is translated as lose or lost, describing things that are lost and can be found, such as sheep, coins and people. However, this word is "never" used to depict eternal torment or suffering.
In Luke 17:27-30 Jesus said that the wicked in the days of Noah and Lot were destroyed (apollumi). Of course, we know that in both instances the wicked were not inflicted with painful suffering forever, but were killed. It is also significant that Jesus said that it will be the same scenario when He returns. In other words, once again, the wicked will be destroyed or killed (apollumi); they will not be subjected to eternal torture, even as the wicked in Noah's flood did not continue to drown forever.
Likewise, in 2nd Peter 3:5-9, we're told once again that the floodwaters in the days of Noah caused the wicked to perish (apollumi). As previously stated, did the floodwaters torture the wicked forever? No! They killed the wicked by drowning them. Then Peter goes on to compare that destruction of the wicked with the destruction that will occur in the hell fire. He uses the same Greek word, "apollumi", in verse nine for those who will perish in the hell fire, as he did for those who perished in the flood in verse six. In other words, the wicked destroyed in the hell fire will experience the same fate as the wicked did in the flood, which was death, "not eternal torment".
Finally, Jesus eliminates all doubt in Matthew 10:28. After telling us not to fear men, who can only kill the body, He tells us instead to fear God, who will destroy (apollumi) "both soul and body" in hell! Remember, "apollumi" means to perish, be destroyed, kill or caused to die. It is "never" used to describe eternal torment! Therefore, Jesus is unequivocally stating that "both body and soul" will be destroyed, killed or caused to die in hell, not suffer throughout endless ages.

Article Source:

No comments: