This will be an uncomfortable conversation for some. It will question several of your core beliefs. We tend to have a kneejerk reaction when our beliefs are challenged. It’s only natural for our backs stiffen against anything that opposes our established paradigms. After all, our beliefs are foundations. They are our anchors and guideposts through life. Much of what we believe comes from what we have been taught by parents, teachers, and mentors. Our religious beliefs are formed from our church affiliations, pastors, priests, etc. They, in turn were taught by their denomination’s doctrines, colleges and seminaries. In the United States alone there are approximately 2000 mainline denominations, 9000 Protestant and 31000 independent churches – each with its own particular twist on scripture. What chance do we have to know what is truth? Jesus answered that question in John 17:17 in His prayer to the Father – “thy word is truth.” This is why it is imperative for each of us to READ THE BOOK!
“Through your precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:104, 105
We should each be like the Bereans, “ . . . they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were [true].” Acts 17:11
Ready for a couple knee jerks?
Does the Bible teach that God will torment sinners in never ending fire forever – and ever – and ever – and on into eternity?
Hell is an unfortunate translation in the King James New Testament. Ten times it is used for Hades, which is a holding place for those who are awaiting the “Great White Throne judgment” and their trip to the “Lake of Fire.” (Ac 2:27,31; Re 6:8; 20:13-14; Mt 16:18; Re 1:18 Mt 11:23; Lu 10:15; 16:23).
Additionally, it is used twelve times for Gehenna, which is the all consuming fire. Those who go to Gehenna are consumed, destroyed, gone forever – Lets continue to examine this.
- Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna fire].”
In this verse, both “kill” and “destroy” are synonyms, despite what our teachers tell us. Strong’s defines destroyed – to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines destroy – to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively. Hopefully, we all know what “to kill” means, and “dead is dead” (you can look “dead” up in any dictionary you like. You will find that dead means dead – without life. In another word, Dead! With this understood, Matthew 10:28 should be very clear. The critics claim that nowhere in Scripture is death or hell or fire a reference to annellation. That is their theology based on the assumption we were created with immortal souls – but is that true? Does Scripture support it?
Each of us is subject to physical death. The Bible teaches that there is another death. A spiritual death: Are you familiar with the saying, “Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once.”
- Revelation 21:8 “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” AND Revelation 20:14 “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
Thankfully, it also teaches that there is an escape from the second death, an immunity:
- Revelation 20:6 (KJV) “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” AND Revelation 2:11 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
Jesus, himself, in Matthew 10:28 contradicts what we are taught in most churches, that we were created with immortal souls (we will touch on this more deeply, shortly), and that destroyed only means physical death. No matter how hard you try you cannot substantiate that by either Scripture, logic, or common sense. Just like the chaff in Matthew 3:12, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Let’s examine, unpack, the following three verses from the book of Revelation.
- Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
- Revelation 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out undiluted into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
- Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark of his name.
If you will make an opportunity to read the entirety of this short chapter (only 20 verses) you’ll find it takes place during the time of the “Great Tribulation.” The CONTEXT concerns those living on earth during this extremely trying time. At the end of the tribulation, the first reaper (verse 16), reaps the ripe, or good, harvest – into His Kingdom. The second reaper (verse 19) reaps the rotten fruit – and cast it into the winepress of God’s wrath. This parallels Matthew 25:31-46 the separating of the sheep and goats, “And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left” Matthew 25:33.
Our question is, do these three verses teach eternal torment?
The answer is NO! It is the punishment that lasts forever, not the torment. Just like being in school and you are disciplined; it goes on your permanent record – it lasts forever. The punishment never goes away. In context, the torment is temporal. It occurs during the “tribulation.” The punishment, however, is what lasts forever. During the tribulation the wicked will receive torment, as God’s wrath upon wicked mankind is poured out in the trumpet and bowl judgments, “in the presence of all the holy angels and of the Lamb” (verse 10). The wicked will have no rest. Why? Because they took the mark of the beast power and worshiped him, not God. Turning against God, they made themselves subject to His wrath, which is poured out upon them in the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments (This would be a good place to read Romans chapter one beginning at verse fifteen which explains why).
- The Trumpet Judgments are Revelation 8 through 11. The Bowl Judgments are chapter 16.
Revelation 14:11 is generally misunderstood:
- “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
Yes, they have “no rest day or night.” That cannot be in hell. There is no day or night in hell. The word “worship” is in the present tense. There will be no worshiping of the beast after the tribulation. Their torment is right here on earth, in the presence of the angels and our Lord, during the tribulation, during their earthly punishment for their total disregard of God and their fellow man (as in Romans 1). “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.” It is the “smoke” that rises forever, not the torment. Confusing as this next statement is, it is still true: “for ever and ever” is NOT for eternity. First, this is a metaphorical expression to make the point about the seriousness of the crime. Second, “for ever and ever” is an expression of time, not eternity where there is no time and no “for ever and ever.” The intent is that there will never be any redemption for them. They are lost forever and will never have the privilege of enjoying eternity!
What is the fate of those who are not granted eternal life? Do they spend eternity burning in hell fire?
Both Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3: 16 are quite clear. The fire is unquenchable, the chaff (unrepentant sinners) will be burned (consumed) by the fire – if they are not consumed, then logically, neither are they burned, Matthew 3:12 “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
- Revelation 19:20 (KJV) And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
- Revelation 20:10 “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
- Revelation 20:14 “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
- Revelation 20:15 “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
These verses beg the questions: What happens when we die? Are we immortal?
Exploring Scripture~because it matters-it really does!
There was a preacher, head of a small denomination who has since gone to be with the Lord, who offered $1,000,000.00 to anyone who could show him a Biblical scripture showing that we were created with immortal souls. No one ever collected.
But, were we created with an immortal soul? Will we live eternally either in heaven or hell? Read the following verses on immortality and eternal life and make up your own mind. This is why we go Exploring Scripture~because it matters-it really does! READ THE BOOK!
I moved 1 Timothy 6:13-16 to the top of the list, “I give you charge in the sight of God, who brings all things to life, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That you keep this commandment without spot, irreproachable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”
- Romans 2:7 (KJV) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
- 1 Corinthians 15:53 (KJV) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
- 1 Corinthians 15:54 (KJV) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
- 1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV) Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
- 2 Timothy 1:10 (KJV) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
- Matthew 19:16 (KJV) And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
- Mark 10:17 (KJV) And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
- Mark 10:30 (KJV) But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
- Luke 10:25 (KJV) And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
- Luke 18:18 (KJV) And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
- John 3:15 (KJV) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
- John 5:39 (KJV) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
- John 6:54 (KJV) Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
- John 6:68 (KJV) Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
- John 10:28 (KJV) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
- John 17:2 (KJV) As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
- Acts 13:48 (KJV) And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
- Romans 2:7 (KJV) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
- Romans 5:21 (KJV) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Romans 6:23 (KJV) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- 1 Timothy 6:12 (KJV) Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
- 1 Timothy 6:19 (KJV) Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
- Titus 1:2 (KJV) In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
- Titus 3:7 (KJV) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
- 1 John 1:2 (KJV) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
- 1 John 2:25 (KJV) And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
- 1 John 3:15 (KJV) Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
- 1 John 5:11 (KJV) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
- 1 John 5:13 (KJV) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
- 1 John 5:20 (KJV) And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
- Jude 21 (KJV) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.