Thursday, January 12, 2012

On Hell, Part 5

This is the last post from my recent study on hell.  Maybe.  Who knows?  I might disover something else as I continue to dig into what scripture says about these things.

One scripture that is often used for the eternal torture doctrine is found in Revelation 14:10-11.  Let’s take a look at it:  He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”  If you look at the context here, it is not hell at all.  This is in context of God’s wrath being poured out on earth at His return.  Notice that they are being tormented in the presence of the angels and the Lamb!  There is no rest for them (those who took the mark of the beast) day or night as this is happening.  The final judgment has not taken place yet.  You might question the use of the smoke of torment rising forever and ever.  It is important to study the Greek word aionin, translated here forever and ever. The word literally means ages, as in the life that hastes away in the breathing of our breath of life, life as transitory, the course of life and time of life – this definition can be found in the Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament by E. W. Bullinger, printed in 1999 and originally published in 1908.

In Revelation 15:1 we then see that God’s wrath is completed on earth – the wrath that was just taking place in chapter 14.  But if the idea of eternal torment is true, then God’s wrath is never satisfied.  Is the idea of eternal torment in hell truly a picture of God’s justice?Deuteronomy 32:4 says, He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is HeWhat would be His point, to torment someone forever and ever?  Is this perfect justice for 70 years of sin on earth? 

Another aspect to consider is the question of how much God loves us.  Consider the following story.  A handsome prince in a faraway kingdom fell in love with a fair maiden and set out to woo her.  Eventually, he lovingly asked her hand in marriage.   She considered his offer and asked him what would happen if she decided against the marriage.  The prince told her that if she said no, she would have her eyes gouged out and be chained in the cold, dark dungeon for the rest of her life.  Number one, did he really love her, and number two, what kind of choice did she really have?

Think about it: A sentence of eternal torture would be far worse than anything Adolf Hitler or Yasser Arafat or Idi Amin or Joseph Stalin ever dished out. 

And think about this:  God is all-knowing.  He knows who will be saved and who will not.  Do you believe that He really creates people, knowing full well that they are destined for an eternity of torture?  

Romans 9:21-24 says, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?   What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 

Our God is truly a merciful, loving, perfectly just God, who mercifully gives to all who ask.  For those who reject Him, He gives them their wish and allows them to be destroyed.  Granted, the process will not be pleasant – there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth when they realized what they gave up! 

In closing, it has become obvious to me that the idea of eternal torment in hell crept into the church via pagan concepts, and was then used by the church to control the people using fear as a motivator. The ancient and medieval church kept the scriptures from the common people.  Today, we have no excuse!  We have God’s Holy Scriptures available to us, and we must systematically study them!  The publishing market is currently flooded with books about hell.  Some are even on the New York Times bestsellers list.  I’d like to gently remind you that these books are not God’s Holy Scriptures.  Test all things in light of scripture.   I plead with you not to take my word for any of these things, but to do the research yourself so you can know exactly what you believe.  Be a Berean!

If you'd still like more, click HERE for my in-depth musings on the "eternal soul."

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