Why the Church has to Start Talking about Hell

A slightly edited version of this article is my latest column on the Christian Today website – you can read it Here

The reaction has already been interesting – the fact that it is one of their most popular articles indicates the need that many people feel for teaching about the neglected subject of hell.  And the reactions have of course been varied.  One woman tweeted “I was hoping for a different article. We should start talking about Hell if it means we can drop it.”   Never mind what Jesus says.  I don’t like it and therefore I demand that you change the teaching to suit my hopes!    This kind of summarises what Paul warned Timothy about – 1 Timothy 4:3

3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Anyway you can read the full article below and judge for yourselves whether or not it is faithful to scripture.

 

‘Has Hell gone?

‘Burn In Hell’ screamed the tabloid headline – as it vented the frustration and wrath of ‘the people’ against a particularly evil individual. Strange isn’t it, that despite the lack of teaching about hell in the Church, the idea of hell continues in popular culture. I’m not sure when I last heard any teaching about hell in the church, never mind a good old fashioned hell-fire sermon. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? Isn’t the rejection of hell a sign that the church has grown up, matured and finally come into the 21st Century? Isn’t this a much nicer picture of God? Indeed it is – at least from a 21st Century Western perspective. There is only one slight problem. Its not what Jesus taught. Which is a big problem for those who profess to be Christians – followers of Christ.

I spoke at Spring Harvest once and was given the subject of Hell. I guess they thought that a Scottish Presbyterian Calvinist would have that has one of his favourite subjects! I turned up in Skegness and was shown to a large hall, which was heated by two flame throwers set either side of me. I pointed out that under no circumstances was I going to teach about hell with flame throwers as props! But what astounded me that over 100 people turned up for the seminar – Christians who were concerned that they did not have any real teaching about hell. (Mind you I was never invited back so perhaps they weren’t that keen on it after all?!)

What did Jesus teach?

Everyone from the Jehovah’s witnesses to Christopher Hitchens wants to tell us that either Jesus did not teach about Hell, or if he did it has been terribly misunderstood. It may surprise you to know that Jesus taught more about Hell than anyone else in the Bible – by a long way. Why would a loving Jesus, gentle Jesus meek and mild, give such horrific teaching? The only reason I can think of is that it is true.

“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:41-43).

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats . . . And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46)?

Jesus taught that Hell is a place of torment and fire as these Scriptures reveal: Matthew 13:42, “And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 25:41″Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire . . .”

In Mark 9:46, Jesus speaks about Hell: “Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”

The bottom line is that Jesus believed that there is an afterlife. He believed that what we do, say and choose in this life determines where we will spend that afterlife. He believes that there is a judgement and that after that judgement some will spend their eternity in what we call Hell. It is a place of exclusion, darkness and pain. And it is eternal. That much we know. I am not sure it is wise to speculate beyond that. Images of Dante’s Inferno, magnificent poem though it is, do not really help. It is important not to confuse the speculations of later times with the simple and stark words of Christ.

It is also important to remember that Hell is about justice. I met a man from Manchester who had grown up in a nominally Christian home but had converted to Islam. Why? Because all he ever heard about in his church was a God of love, and he wanted a God of justice, who was not going to leave sin unpunished and who would right every wrong. Ironically his church, who doubtless thought they were presenting a more attractive version of God, had turned him away from Jesus because they presented Jesus as a somewhat wet blanket who let evil go unpunished. They did not teach the Jesus of the Bible – the one whose love is beyond any human comprehension and yet who spoke so passionately of Hell.

In one classic episode of Inspector Morse, the one set in Australia, Lewis asks Morse about whether he believes in Hell. Morse, thinking about the evil and injustice he has seen, muses. ‘I hope so Lewis, I hope so’.

In Downfall the amazing German film about Hitler’s last days, Hitler is shown, just before he commits suicide talking about how his death means he will be at peace. That is what the world believes and its what ‘liberal’ Christianity teaches. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, there is peace at the end. There is no justice, no judgement day. In fact without hell, there might as well be no God. To reject hell is to reject the teaching of Christ, to demean his atoning work on the cross and to attack the character of God. If you believe that as Rousseau argued “God will forgive me, because that’s his job’, then you end up with a God who is weak, cruel and unjust.

So spake the Son, and into terrour changed

His countenance too severe to be beheld,

And full of wrath bent on his enemies

John Milton – Paradise Lost Book VI.

We struggle with the idea of the wrath of God, finding Milton’s description as somehow unpleasant and inhumane. We judge God for being Judge. And yet we ourselves feel perfectly justified in being angry at the injustice we receive and indeed the injustice in the world. Do you really think it is wrong to be angry about a truck being driven through a crowd of people in Nice, killing men, women and children? Would there not be something wrong with you if you did not feel anger at the abuse and rape of young children? If it is right for us, as weak and fallible humans to feel anger, will not the Judge of all the earth do right?

There are Christians who believe that ultimately no one goes to Hell, others believe that whilst Hell is real and lasts forever that people within Hell will eventually die after suffering the punishment for their sins. The traditional view has been that Hell is eternal conscious torment because those in Hell keep on sinning and never repent, and so get caught in a never ending cycle of sin and punishment. I cannot think of Hell without shuddering. I believe what Jesus says and the bottom line is that I believe that God is just. I also believe that Jesus came to save us from Hell and that no one needs to go there. Indeed the only people in Hell are those who have chosen not to go to heaven.

For me CS Lewis has been a great help in trying to understand something of heaven and Hell. The Great Divorce is a fascinating book with lots of wonderful insights (and some things I am not too sure about). I think the following two quotes express much better than I can, what I was trying to say earlier about people ultimately choosing Hell – “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened. ” “The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” I emphasise it again. The reason that Jesus came, and suffered such a horrendous death, was to save us from the eternal death that is hell. He is the Saviour who not only came to save us from hell; he also came to save us for heaven.

Belief in Hell is counter cultural. It is not easy. And there are lots of questions that we will have. But we need to be aware that in denying hell, we are denying the triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If we don’t take Hell as seriously as Jesus did, then I suspect that we will not really take Christianity seriously. We then fall into a cycle of trivialising everything and because we do so we end up not taking Hell seriously. And our evangelism doesn’t really work because the Good News is reduced to denying what Jesus taught and instead telling people that everything is nice and going to be ok. The Holy Spirit comes to convict us of sin, righteousness and the judgement to come (John 16:8). When a Christian says they don’t believe in the judgement to come, they are in effect denying the work of the Holy Spirit. Maybe its time for the Church in the West to recover the teaching of Jesus about Hell?

David Robertson @theweeflea

18th July 2016

45 thoughts on “Why the Church has to Start Talking about Hell

  1. Good thought provoking stuff.

    “I don’t like it and therefore I demand that you change the teaching to suit my hopes!” Yes – isn’t this the natural reaction? We all are adverse to suffering and in any cases this is needed for our very survival. And in the difficulties of life sometimes it takes making demands to have basic needs met.

    “I guess they thought that a Scottish Presbyterian Calvinist would have that has one of his favourite subjects!” That line made me laugh :).

    My thought goes to Russell Crowe in the film Gladiator with his character giving a pep talk to his men about to go into battle “what we do in life echoes in eternity.” so where did this sense of eternity come from? Could it be from “He has also set eternity in the human heart” Ecclesiates 3:11?

    I wonder in preaching about the “wrath of God” is there something that can be considered? God pouring out his wrath on his son who didn’t deserve it as punishment for the sins of humanity who did deserve it. Therefore God mistreating his son and letting the guilty go free. so what, we are supposed to worship this psychopath that abuses his son and be considered his children and not only fear him but love him as well? Are you insane? Yes no wonder some folks demand and hope for something else.

    Jesus said “Depart from me” as quoted. What if God’s wrath is as you say as a result of humanity making choices and yes there being an anger just as wee might be angry at injustice towards us and leaving humanity to go it’s own way, demonstrating where it leads to with the violence of the cross? And his “wrath” being caught up with his heart breaking just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem longing to gather everyone with tenderness – city that killed the prophets.

    What if hell is God saying OK you can go your own way and him withdrawing to let you get on with it? Looking at newspapers and what we see on the daily news isn’t that hell or at least elements of it? Now, don’t get me started on soap operas.

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  2. BBC Radio4 commedy has been going steadily down hill for the last decade (with the wonderful exception of Cabin Pressure). But the real all time low, in my view, has been Andy Hamilton’s “Old Harry’s Game”, a spoof on Satan and hell. But, as you point out, if you take te words of The Lord Jesus seriously the hell is no laughing matter!

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  3. Some random thoughts: this should be part of your apologetics series.

    1 Hell is one side of the Good news coin, similar to CS Lewis saying pain and love are the opposite sides of the same coin.

    2. Without hell where is the love of God, His holy- love that incorporates justice? Where is the Christian love for neighbours, wanting to warn, not wanting them to go to hell? Wanting their ultimate good. Where is the urgency or need evangelise with the Good News of Jesus.

    3 Someone has said something to the effect that everyone is responsible for hell being their destination, but not responsible for heaven being their destination. If we don’t want God we have no right to complain when he gives us what we want- an eternity without Him, which is hell. My fear of God is not His presence, which is wonderful awe, but His absence.

    4 And I think it was John Piper who said God saves us from God. I’d add that this is only in and through the triune God of Christianity.

    5 On the news every day there are demands for justice, crying out, sobbing for justice, not wanting anyone to escape, walk away, to be met with detachment, the icicles of indifference, explaining away with a shrug of the shoulder “c’est la vie”, from bombing to burglary, the former BHS employee, after its collapse wanting Sir Philip Greene to get his cumuppence, We want justice, judgement, We want people to pay for their sins.

    6 But we don’t want to pay for our sins. We don’t want the wages of sin – death we don’t want to be judged. Just who does God think he is? And if we want a god at all, we certainly don’t want a god who would dare to contradict us. We want a god over whom we can assert a moral superiority: a morally inferior being

    7 At the point of my mother’s death she was trying to escape from a hospital bed with attached tubes and wires trailing. She died with a mask of terror on her face. If anyone had said to me that there wasn’t a hell I would have said “don’t insult my intelligence.” It took three years to manifest but it resulted in full blown depression, where I was monosyllabic, could barely grunt, couldn’t get out of bed. And three years after that came the death of my dad where God miraculously intervened, which I’ve mentioned in another of David’s blogs and if anyone had said that God didn’t exist or that heaven wasn’t real I’d have said (and still do) “don’t insult my intelligence.”

    8 And I can’t recall sitting under a sermon on the “Rich man and Lazarus”, let alone being affronted by Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.”

    9 But finally, with a great indulgence from David, here are some wonderful gospel from Getty and Townend song “In Christ alone”
    In Christ alone, who took on flesh
    Fullness of God in helpless babe
    This gift of love and righteousness
    Scorned by the ones He came to save
    ‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
    The wrath of God was satisfied
    For every sin on Him was laid
    Here in the death of Christ I live

    There in the ground His body lay
    Light of the world by darkness slain
    Then bursting forth in glorious Day
    Up from the grave He rose again
    And as He stands in victory
    Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
    For I am His and He is mine
    Bought with the precious blood of Christ

    No guilt in life, no fear in death
    This is the power of Christ in me
    From life’s first cry to final breath
    Jesus commands my destiny
    No power of hell, no scheme of man
    Can ever pluck me from His hand
    Till He returns or calls me home
    Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

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  4. First, it needs to be pointed out that we cannot know what ”Jesus said” as all we have is uncorroborated text written by unknown authors who based their writing on oral tradition and possibly the Q source.

    The character, Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. The Christian version of ”Hell” does not feature in Judaism and Jesus did not teach it.
    Jesus taught the Law. Mosaic Law.

    The times Jesus refers to ”hell” is considered to be references to Gehenna, which I am sure you are fully aware of yet make no mention of in this article.
    You have a degree in history yet do not seem to have considered this in your writing?
    My I ask why not?

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  5. So glad to see you addressing this, David. I’ve had objections from Christians in the past when daring to mention hell. I even have a “Christian” friend who thinks hell is a “ridiculous notion”. It’s frankly beyond me how people miss the message – what else is Christ saving us from?

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    1. alitheartist, in answer to your question, I would like to share with you an article that I wrote approximately 3years ago.

      ………. What is the “GOOD NEWS” of the Gospel of Christ? ……….
      (Re-examining the widely held belief of “eternal torment” in “Hellfire”)

      I have been somewhat hesitant in writing this article. However, one evening this week, I sat down at my computer and opened up Word Document and keyed in the title of this article. At that point, I stopped. I was unsure if I really wanted to write this article. Within the hour, something took place that confirmed to me that the Lord was letting me know that I was to continue writing this article. The Lord confirmed this to me in such a way that the odds would have been astronomical that it was by chance.

      It has been a few weeks since I wrote this article. I have decided to share what took place on the evening of 05/14/2014.

      As I explained in the above paragraph, on 05/14/2014, I sat down at my computer and opened up Word Document and keyed in the title “What is the “GOOD NEWS” of the Gospel of Christ?” At that point, I stopped. I was unsure if I really wanted to write this article. I then went into the bedroom and began watching TV. Sometime within that hour, as I was clicking onto different channels, I clicked onto one of the Christian TV stations. At that “exact second,” the words “what is the Good News?” came forth from a Pastor’s mouth. Those were the very 1st words spoken at the “exact second” that I tuned in to that TV station. Those are the exact 1st five words in the title of my article. At that point, I thought to myself, “WOW, WOW, WOW, okay Lord, I will write the article.”

      I have timed a number of times of how many seconds it takes to say “what is the Good News?” It takes 2 seconds. If I had just been 2 seconds later in clicking onto that TV station, I would have missed hearing those words. If I had been even 2 seconds earlier in clicking onto that TV station, I probably would have heard a couple of words spoken by that Pastor before he spoke the words “what is the Good News?”

      I tuned in at the “exact second” that the words “what is the Good News?” came forth from this Pastor’s mouth.

      The odds are astronomical that it would be by chance for the order of events to take place in the way in which they did that evening. That evening, the Lord was confirming to me to write this article. The Lord did this in such a way, that I was in total amazement at what transpired that evening. 6 weeks later, I am still amazed!

      I was a Christian for 38 years before the Lord opened up my Spiritual understanding to see more clearly some Biblical truths that I had not properly understood in regards to the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

      It is very likely that most Christians, including myself, have at some point and time in their innermost being have thought to themselves, “Is God, who created the human race for the purpose of having eternal fellowship with “Him,” really going to sentence the majority of the human race to suffer “eternal torment” in “Hellfire?” Well, I guess so, because that is what the Bible says!” Well, let us examine the “Scriptures” in the Bible very carefully and see if we are really being told that there really is going to be “eternal torment” in “Hellfire.”

      In the 2nd chapter of Luke we are told that there were some shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night, when suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and said to them:“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you “Good News” of great joy, which is for (ALL) people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

      There is a widespread belief in the Church today that the smaller portion of the human race will be saved and inherit eternal life with Christ, while the larger portion of the human race will be “condemned” to “eternal torment” & “eternal separation” from God.

      If that is indeed the case, it is beyond all comprehension to me as to why the proclamation was made that the birth of Christ the Saviour is “Good News” of great joy for (ALL) people, if still even after the birth of Christ the Saviour and “His” sacrificial death on the Cross for the human race, that the larger portion of the human race is still going to be “condemned” to “eternal torment” & “eternal separation” from God.” Does that sound like“Good News” for (ALL) people?

      We need to examine much more carefully what the Written Word of God “declares” concerning the “Good News” of the Gospel of Christ, and the finished work of Christ on the Cross. After all, there is “NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT” than“our eternal destination!”

      The Church today claims to be proclaiming the ”Good News” of the Gospel of Christ, and yet, the most important part of the message of the “Good News” of the Gospel of Christ “is not being proclaimed today” by the Church, because today’s Church has not understood how PROFOUND the finished work of Christ on the Cross really is.

      It seems that God had fellowship with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden quite frequently, maybe even on a daily basis before they sinned.“EACH” & “EVERY” human being has been created for the purpose of having fellowship with God for all eternity. This “has always” been the plan of God from even before the creation of all things. “His” plan “cannot be changed,” because God “PRE-DETERMINED” our fellowship with “Him” for all eternity from before the creation of all things. God “Himself” tells us that it “cannot be changed,” because “HE” tells us in Malachi 3:6 – “I am the Lord, I change not;”

      It is IMPOSSIBLE for God’s “PRE-DETERMINED” plan for the entire human race to fail. “To attribute failure to God” is of the “highest insult” to our Creator!

      We are told in 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord is not willing that any should perish. In the Greek translation, the word “willing” means “intend.” (i.e. – The Lord “does not intend” for any to perish.) What a HUGE difference this makes in giving us a proper understanding of the actual meaning of this Passage of “Scripture.”

      Lamentations 3:31 – “For the Lord will not cast off forever.” (i.e. reject, forsake, abandon) This verse is very clear in communicating to us God’s promise that NO ONE will be separated from “Him” for all eternity.

      The Bible reveals to us the Father’s heart. The Cross reveals to us the Father’s “indescribable love” for us, “His” creation.

      God did not create the human race, to then only wind up rejecting and abandoning the majority of the human race to total abandonment from “Him” for all eternity.

      Philippians 2:10-11 is one of the most “PROFOUND” Passages of “Scripture” in the Bible. “That at the name of JESUS every knee will bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth: And that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

      There is absolutely nowhere in this Passage of “Scripture” that states or even suggests that every knee will be “FORCED” to bow the knee to the name of JESUS. In all religions, bowing the knee is a“voluntary” form of worship. As explained in the next several paragraphs, we will come to understand more clearly that Philippians 2:10-11 is revealing to us that bowing the knee and confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, is not going to be forced upon (ALL), but that (ALL) will do so willingly. Throughout the Bible, we find that the “Scriptures” clearly state that GOD “only accepts a willing heart.”

      A word study of “confess” (ἐξομολογήσεται) in the Greek language (in light of the way that this same verb is used in other New Testament “Scriptures”) reveals that this verb in the context of this Passage of “Scripture” is rendered “to thank.” That meaning growing out of the sense of open, joyful acknowledgement. The sense here is that of frank, open confession.

      An individual cannot praise and joyously proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, “if one is being forced to do so,” Especially, if that individual knows that “eternal damnation” & “eternal separation” from God awaits them. It is just that simple!

      The traditional teaching on this Passage of “Scripture” has been that even the enemies of the Cross will be forced to bow their knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This train of thought is in complete “contradiction” to the Written Word of God, because the Bible from Genesis to Revelation “clearly teaches” that the Lord “only accepts” praise and worship “from a willing heart.” “Forced praise and worship” DOES NOT bring Glory to God.

      In Philippians 2:10-11, God “IS NOT” proclaiming that all those who have not known Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, “are going to be forced” to bow their knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

      “ON THE CONTRARY,” God is proclaiming to us an “astonishing” & “profound” revelation, that because of the finished work of Christ on the Cross, that (ALL) will come to know Jesus Christ in such a way that (ALL) “will willingly” (not be forced) acknowledge openly with praise, and proclaim joyously that Jesus Christ is Lord.

      The “true meaning” of Philippians 2:10-11 has been “greatly overlooked” by the Church today!

      There can be little doubt that after the Millennial Kingdom reign of Christ and “His” Saints on earth, that Christ is going to give all enemies of the Cross, and “each” and “every person” who did not have the Gospel of Christ presented to them, a PROFOUND revelation of what “HE” did for them on the Cross which was done out of “His” indescribable love for them.

      When the Bible speaks of “Hellfire,” it is just simply a “metaphorical expression.” “Hellfire” is not going to “produce physical suffering to the lost” (lost – those without Christ). Rather, the lost are going to experience “Spiritual grief,” because of the refining FIRE of God’s Spirit. Malachi 3:2 – “The Lord is like a refiner’s fire.”

      The “completion” of this mighty work of God is going to produce a PROFOUND revelation of what Christ did for them on the Cross. The results of this revelation to them will probably burn in them to such a degree, that it will probably produce an agony of great joy in them beyond comprehension, which will cause them to fall down to their knees, and with great joy and praise from the innermost part of their being,“proclaim openly” that Jesus Christ is Lord.

      We are given another “PROFOUND” Passage of “Scripture” in Luke 3:6, which states: “AND ALL FLESH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.” The King James translation has every word in this Passage of “Scripture” in capital letters. This apparently is for the purpose of wanting the readers to take special notice of this Passage of “Scripture,” because it is proclaiming something that is quite PROFOUND.

      A word study of “see” in the Greek language reveals that one of the definitions of “see” can mean “to experience; to become a partaker of.” Because of the way that this Passage of “Scripture” is constructed, it is very reasonable to believe that this is the true meaning of “see” in this Passage of “Scripture.”

      A better rendering of this Passage of “Scripture” would read: “AND ALL FLESH SHALL EXPERIENCE AND BECOME PARTAKERS OF GOD’S SALVATION.”

      NOTE: At some point and time in the future, the above Passage of “Scripture” will be fulfilled. This will all be worked out in God’s ETERNAL plan for man.

      The “GOOD NEWS” of the Gospel of Christ is the “RECONCILIATION” of (ALL) things back to God through the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

      Colossians 1:20 – And God was pleased for Christ to make peace by sacrificing “His” blood on the Cross, so that all beings in heaven and on earth would be brought back to God.

      Colossians 1:26 – This is the “mystery” which has been hidden from ages past and from generations, but now has been revealed to “His” Saints.

      I Corinthians 15:22 tells us “For as in Adam (ALL) die, even so in Christ shall (ALL) be made alive.” Once again, take special note that (ALL) shall be made alive in Christ. What is important to understand is that God has a purpose and plan for (ALL). At the 2nd coming of Christ, the Millennial Kingdom reign of Christ will begin in which “He” and the Saints who have overcome (overcoming Saints – 2nd & 3rd Chapters of Revelation) will rule and reign here on earth.

      At some point and time after the 1000 year rule and reign of Christ and the Saints here on earth, “everyone else” through the “refining fire” of God’s Spirit, will be reconciled back to God because of the finished work of Christ on the Cross. This was the plan of God from the very beginning of creation. This is what the”GOOD NEWS” of the gospel of Christ is all about.

      I Corinthians 15:26 tells us “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (i.e.- the last enemy to be destroyed is separation from God.) (ALL) will be “reconciled” back to God. Yes, even the fallen angels. God did not create multitude upon multitude of angels and then think to “Himself,” “When I created the Angels, I did know that a large number of them would rebel against ME.”

      Also, God did not create man in “His” own image and then think to “Himself,” “When I created the human race, I did not know that the majority of the human race would rebel against me to the point that the majority of the human race will have to endure “everlasting torment” & “everlasting separation” from ME.”
      God already knew before “HE” created the human race, that multitudes of people would die without being presented with the Gospel of Christ, therefore, missing out on the opportunity to make Christ their Lord and Saviour. Also, God already knew that the majority of the human race would become enemies of the Cross. Are we to believe that God would still have made the decision to create the human race, if “HE” already knew that the majority of the human race would be “condemned” to suffer “everlasting torment” & “everlasting separation” from “Him?” I THINK NOT !!!

      Are we to believe that God who created us to bring Glory to “Him,” is such a failure that “HE” is left with no choice but to “condemn” the majority of the human race to “everlasting torment” & “everlasting separation” from “Him,” which will not only bring NO Glory to “Him,” but to the contrary, will only highlight “His” failure in “His” original purpose for creating us? I THINK NOT !!!

      Also, I would like to address the issue of “annihilation.” There are those who do not agree with the common belief of unsaved people eventually burning in “Hellfire” for all eternity, or experiencing some other type of “eternal torment,” but their belief is that unsaved people will eventually be “annihilated” and exist no more.

      This belief cannot be correct, because we are told in Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He” has made everything beautiful in it’s time. “He” also has planted “eternity” in men’s hearts and minds.” (a divinely planted sense of a purpose working through the ages). God created us as “eternal beings.” Our eternal Spirit “CANNOT be destroyed.” Remember, God made us after “His” own image!

      THE PROFOUND FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS HAS NOT BEEN PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD BY TODAY’S CHURCH!

      God from the very beginning had a plan and purpose for all creation. “HE” already knew how things would turn out. “HE” made no mistakes. In past ages, God’s plan and purposes were unfolding and being worked out. In this present age, God’s plan and purposes are unfolding and being worked out. In future ages, God’s plan and purposes will continue to unfold and be worked out.

      There are multitude upon multitude of families who have prayed for the salvation of their loved ones, only to see them die without knowing Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

      Even though they will not take part in the 1st Resurrection and rule and reign with Christ and the Saints (Saints who have overcome) during the Millennial Kingdom Age, we can take great comfort in knowing that “at some point and time” after the Millennial Kingdom reign of Christ and the Saints who have overcome, that “EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM” will live for all eternity under the perfect conditions of the New Heavens and New Earth.

      This is what the “GOOD NEWS” of the Gospel of Christ is all about, the “RECONCILIATION” of (ALL) back to God, through the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

      The finished work of Christ on the Cross “made provision” for the “REDEMPTION” of (ALL), “WITHOUT EXCEPTION.”

      The very last words of JESUS on the Cross before “His” last breath were, “IT IS FINISHED!” Those 3 words will “ECHO” into ALL ETERNITY. Those 3 words PROCLAIMED the final destination of (ALL) being “RECONCILED” back to God. From even before the creation of all things, the “RECONCILIATION” of (ALL) back to God through the “SHED BLOOD” of Christ on the Cross “has always” been our Creator’s plan.

      In John 12:32, JESUS “declares to us” that “HE” will draw (ALL) people unto “Himself” (Note: “each in their own time”)

      We are told in Colossians 1:16 that all things created in heaven, and on earth, visible and invisible, were created for God’s Glory. This is why that it is “IMPOSSIBLE” for any part of God’s creation “to remain” in “an inglorious condition” for “ALL OF ETERNITY.” In due time, in the Ages to come, (ALL) of God’s creation will bring Glory to God as was pre-ordained by God before the creation of all things.

      The Bible “message” SCREAMS OUT God’s plan of “ETERNAL SALVATION” FOR (ALL). (Note: “each in their own time”)

      JESUS “declares to us” in John 6:44, that nobody can come to “Him” except the Father “draws them” to “Him!” It is “IMPOSSIBLE” for anyone to come to JESUS and surrender their lives to JESUS, without the “working drawing power” of the Holy Spirit.

      You see, there is no individual that is “more special than another individual” as to cause the Lord to draw that individual through the“working drawing power” of “His” Holy Spirit to surrender their lives to JESUS, thereby, saving that individual from “eternal torment” & “eternal separation” from “Him,” but then sentences another individual to “eternal torment” & “eternal separation” from “Him,” who never had the“working drawing power” of the Holy Spirit drawing them to surrender their lives to JESUS.

      As I have stated before in this article, Luke 3:6 “declares to us” that (ALL) will come to know the Lord, “each” in their own time according to God’s eternal plan for the Ages. Luke 3:6 – “ALL FLESH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.”

      I shared earlier in this article that a word study of “see” in the Greek language reveals that one of the definitions of “see” can mean “to experience; to become a partaker of.” Because of the way that this Passage of “Scripture” is constructed, it is very reasonable to believe that this is the true meaning of “see” in this Passage of “Scripture.”

      A better rendering of this Passage of “Scripture” would read: “ALL FLESH SHALL EXPERIENCE AND BECOME PARTAKERS OF GOD’S SALVATION.”

      JESUS told the religious leaders (it was the religious leaders who were responsible for “His” crucifixion) that the publicans and harlots would enter the kingdom of God before them. JESUS did not say that these wicked religious leaders would not enter into the kingdom of God. JESUS was telling these wicked religious leaders that the publicans and harlots would “precede them,” go “ahead of them” in their entrance into the kingdom of God.

      Most Christians are very familiar with the Passage of “Scripture” that “declares to us” that there is coming a time when God “shall wipe away (ALL) tears,” and there shall be “no more sorrow,” and there shall be “no more pain.” This is “declared to us” by the Lord in Revelation 21:4. Revelation 21:1 gives us greater insight into what Revelation 21:4 is really “declaring to us.” Revelation 21:1 – “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.”

      It is important for us to take “SPECIAL NOTICE” that it is after the Lord’s handiwork of a new heaven & new earth “declared to us” in verse 1, that then verse 4 “declares to us” that there will be “no more tears,” and “no more sorrow,” and “no more pain.”

      Well, since the Bible already tells us that 1000 years before a new heaven & new earth takes place, Christ is going to set up “His” Millennial Kingdom here on earth, in which “HE” and the Saints who have overcome, will rule and reign.

      The Saints will already be in their “new Glorified bodies” when they come with Christ to rule and reign with “Him.” Therefore, all their tears, and all their sorrows, and all their pain “will have already been removed from them” for (ALL) eternity. Therefore, Revelation 21:4 “is not referring” to the Saints who are already in their “new Glorified bodies,” and have been ruling and reigning with Christ throughout the “previous Millennium” which takes place “prior” to the Lord’s handiwork of a new heaven & new earth.

      That then raises the question, who is the Lord referring to in Revelation 21:4?

      Since Revelation 21:4 is “declaring to us” that (ALL) tears shall be wiped away, it becomes clear that the Lord is “declaring to us” that (ALL) in this Passage of “Scripture” is referring to the rest of humanity, beginning with Adam & Eve.

      So Revelation 21:4, along with other Passages of “Scripture” that have been shared in this article, is “declaring to us” that “not one single person” will suffer “eternal torment” & “eternal separation” from God.

      NOTE: The Book of Revelation in the Bible explains to us that after the Millennial Kingdom reign of Christ and the Saints on earth, then comes the “Great White Throne Judgment,” and then at some point and time after the “Great White Throne Judgment,” the Lord’s handiwork of a new heaven & new earth will take place.

      The “Great White Throne Judgment” will put into motion the final step in the Lord’s plan of reconciling (ALL) unto “Himself” through the finished work of Christ on the Cross. This will be accomplished through the “mighty burning working power of God’s Spirit” working through each individual who comes before this “Great White Throne Judgment.”

      The“Scriptures” do not reveal to us the length of time that this process will take. It is after that this process has been completed by the “mighty burning working power of God’s Spirit” in each individual who has come before the “Great White Throne Judgment,” that the Lord will do “His” handiwork of a new heaven & new earth. There will be “no more tears,” and “no more sorrow,” and “no more pain” for anyone, for (ALL) eternity.

      JESUS clearly tells us in John 12:32, that after “His” death and Resurrection, that “He” will draw (ALL) people unto “Himself” (Note: each in their own time). The “Kingdom of Darkness” has been very successful in blinding the present-day Church from seeing this “GREAT TRUTH” that JESUS so clearly tells us in this verse.

      Today’s Church is greatly lacking in it’s understanding about of what our purpose of being here on earth is all about. IT IS NOT ABOUT who is going to be saved, because (ALL) will be saved (each in their own time). THIS IS ALL ABOUT the Lord proving “His” servants, because it will be only the “Servants of the Lord” who have been faithful, who will rule and reign with Christ.

      There will be many “Servants of the Lord” who will be found not to have been faithful, and therefore, they will not rule and reign with Christ. In fact, JESUS addresses this issue in some of “His” rather difficult to understand parables. I discuss this further in my article “Not “ALL” Christians / Saints will rule and reign with Christ,” which I have posted on this website.

      NOTE: The New Testament was written in the ordinary language of the common people of its day which included “idioms” that were used in their everyday language. (“idiom” – a figure of speech) In fact, every language has its own “idioms” which really makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE when trying to come to a correct understanding of a particular Passage of “Scripture” in the Bible which contains an “idiom.” It is important for us to know that JESUS used “idioms” in “His” teachings, which were understood by the people during that period of time.

      When I first wrote this article in May of 2014, I did not have the information that is printed below. Two years later, in September of 2016, I came across the information that is below, which is published by the Pittsburg Bible Institute.

      Published by the Pittsburg Bible Institute:“The Lake of Fire and Brimstone signifies a fire burning with brimstone; the word ‘brimstone’ or sulphur defines the character of the fire. The Greek word THEION translated ‘brimstone’ is exactly the same word THEION which means ‘divine.’ (emphasis mine) Sulphur was sacred to the deity among the ancient Greeks; and was used to fumigate, to purify, and to cleanse and consecrate to the deity; for this purpose they burned it in their incense.

      In Homer’s Iliad (16:228), one is spoken of as purifying a goblet with fire and brimstone. The verb derived from THEION is THEIOO, which means to hallow, to make divine, or to dedicate to a god (See Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon, 1897 Edition). To any Greek, or any trained in the Greek language, a ‘lake of fire and brimstone’ would mean a ‘lake of divine purification.’ The idea of judgment need not be excluded. Divine purification and divine consecration are the plain meaning in ancient Greek. In the ordinary explanation, this fundamental meaning of the word is entirely left out, and nothing but eternal torment is associated with it.”

      Charles Pridgeon; Is Hell Eternal, or Will God’s Plan Fail; pgs 116 & 117.

      Here, Brother Pridgeon makes a vital point: brimstone is for purification, not punishment. This thought went unquestioned until the Dark Ages. His purpose was understood to purify and consecrate, not separate and punish. This Lake of Divine Fire will purify, refine, restore and consecrate til there is nothing left that is contrary to Him.

      NOTE: I do not understand how that a Christian can read this article in it’s entirety without serious questions being raised in their mind and Spirit about the traditional teaching on “Hell,” the “Lake of Fire,” and “eternal torment” that is being taught today in the Church, and is widely accepted as “truth” by most Christians today.

      NOTE: I have saved a copy of this article in Word Document Format, which makes for much better reading. If anyone would like a copy of this article, I will be more than happy to e-mail you a copy of this article.

      (candy33alan@aol.com)

      Like

  6. This is really helpful and thought provoking – thank you.

    However, this is not an easy area of theology to grapple with – at least for me.
    It is one thing to speak of this issue in terms of abstract truth – assuming we have a fundamental belief in the truth and authority of scripture and in the centrality of Jesus’ teachings, it is relatively easy to do so. As you have helpfully done above.

    But once this point of theology is applied to everyday existence, it becomes quite another thing – the ramifications are extremely unpalatable and oftentimes end up pushing the ordinary christian into a place of convenient avoidance. Or at the very least relegating the topic to a neat point of theology.
    The implications are honestly too horrific – family members, close friends, work colleagues, the vast sea of nameless people we pass by on a daily basis – will mostly be blindly heading for ‘eternal, conscious torment’.
    If we truly believed what we say, how could we not spend every waking moment doing all we can to warn people and hold out the hope of the gospel.
    Does the fact that we are largely indifferent to the horrendous destiny of countless millions of fellow human beings not make us particularly callous and hard-hearted? Perhaps deep down I choose to not believe it? I’m not sure.

    I ask these questions of myself. I want to have integrity here. Where is the motivating love in my heart for all those who are lost? I am not for a moment suggesting that we water down the truth because it’s difficult. But seriously, we have to face the inference and significance of what we are saying here.

    Helpful and thought-provoking but extremely uncomfortable. Lord have mercy on me for my lack of love and fill me with your own.

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    1. Rob, thanks for your very helpful comments. Of course this is not easy – and it cannot be reduced to a simple formula. We are to wrestle with these things, and to follow Jesus in what he taught and what he tells us to do. Lord, rescue the perishing!

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  7. Thank you for this reminder. Although I completely agree and accept the place of hell as real, I am guilty of pushing the horribleness of it to the back of my mind. It is much easier to think of blessing, peace and Presence. If I thought about the place of eternal torment more perhaps I would do a better job of helping folks avoid it.

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  8. It’s a touchy subject amongst evangelicals who want to portray themselves and God as loving. My own charismatic, evangelical pastor even admitted that he didn’t know if Hell was eternal (so what does he believe?). What exactly does “saved” mean if there is no Hell? I also confess to just pushing the subject to the back of my mind by default. It seems to be a subject that a church in minority shelves but in majority shouts from the rooftops.

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  9. Rowland,

    Not sure about “shouting from the rooftops” but whereas many pastors have “pet topics and scriptures”, many have “pet avoidances.”

    I don’t know if David wants to open a debate as he has mentioned the traditional view, but in evangelical circles there has been a debate between “annihilationism” and “eternal punishment.”
    I’m no exegete but if David permits here is a link to to a blog by Sam Storms which seems to look at the scriptures on both sides. Storms describes himself as a charismatic Calvanist, credo-baptist, so not of David’s denominational persuasion, but perhaps Storms is more akin to your pastor.

    http://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/post/hell-and-annihilationism

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  10. Thanks Dave,

    We do indeed need to proclaim Jesus’ ‘or else.’ Justice will come. All people need to know.

    We do indeed need to pay close attention to what Jesus said, as recorded for us.

    One aspect of what Jesus said, which you no doubt know but did not mention, is that he used two very different words, Hades (Sheol) and Gehenna, which have mostly been both translated by the one word ‘hell.’ A crucial question is ‘Are people right in assuming that Jesus used two unconfusingly different names for the same place?’ What reason do we have in Scripture and in logic to make this assumption? I trust that you think Scripture and Scripture-based logic a surer guide to truth than the number of people who have made any assumption.

    Much hinges on this. If Jesus talked of one place for the wicked after death, using two different names, we come to the ‘or else’ you set out. If Jesus talked of two places for the wicked after death, usually understood as an intermediate place and a final place, we come to a significantly different ‘or else.’

    The view that Hades and Gehenna are not the same place is expounded in my book ‘The Lie of Hell’ and, to some extent on my blog. I see this as an ‘or else’ that we can proclaim with confidence. Comments welcome.

    I’ll be in Edinburgh Aug 15-20. We could have a stimulating discussion over a drink?

    Roger

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    1. I will explain this once more. This is my personal blog. I receive many more comments then I can put on without making the blog just an opportunity for people to rant and rave. I have given you the courtesy of allowing many of your posts, I’m not sure which particular ones you are referring to. But please don’t play silly games. There is nothing to fear in any of your posts. The smugness, arrogance and ignorance are nothing to be afraid of. My advice would be that you should stick to one topic, write about something that you actually know something about, and if you really wish to engage in dialogue, then listen to those who dare to contradict your obviously superior intellect1

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      1. Fair enough, then how about we put aside any enmity and rather focus on uncovering evidence that will open the door to a greater sense of truth?

        As you may have gathered my main focus of interest is the biblical tale of the Exodus.
        This came about during the writing of a fantasy novel which included a caricature of Moses. Please bear in mind, at that stage I never doubted the historicity even if I had no interest/belief in the supernatural aspects. To this end I felt it prudent to do some background checks and to my genuine surprise I discovered that, other than speculation and hypothesis there was nothing to be found that could verify Moses existence or any of the exodus tale outside of the bible. This is where I became fascinated.

        You , as an evangelical Christian believe ( I presume) in the innerancy of the bible story of the Exodus and, like Kitchen and Hoffmeir, consider there is evidence to show the veracity of the tale.

        I will be honest up front, I have only read what I have found for Kitchen and Hoffmeir on the Internet. Although, to be fair, what I have read written in their hand (by them) ( as well as book reviews etc) has proved less than convincing when compared to other archaeologists I have read.

        So my initial (two part) question for you is this:

        a) As you cite Kitchen, and I am going to assume you have read him and obviously agree with his perspective, and you have a far broader historical base than I do, I would like to know what in particular, about Kitchen’s perspective (evidence) convinced you?

        b) Although quite highly regarded in many quarters as an Egyptologist, from what I have gleaned there are few,if any, mainstream secular archaeologists in the field of Exodus archaeology and Jewish origins who hold him in any sort of regard. Of course, I have have not read that many professionals in this area, but Kitchen’s adherence to a more literalist interpretation seems to find few allies in the secular field of archaeology, even from someone like Dever, who was once a devout Christian, as I am sure you know.
        While acknowledging there are disparate views in archaeological circles as there are in every other scientific field, what is the reason, in your view, why the large majority of archaeologists and Egyptologists cannot seem to find common ground with Kitchen in the area of Exodus archaeology, and how could all these other professionals have interpreted the evidence incorrectly?

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      2. I think it’s very difficult for you to put enmity aside – because your enmity is clearly against God.

        it does not surprise me that the only material you have about Kitchen is what you have read on the Internet. And yet on that basis using quite happy to condemn him and to critique him. I think that is clear evidence of your pre-judgements. the only reason I cited him was because you asked if I could give you one Biblical archaeologist who supported the teaching about the exodus. I did so, and you automatically dismissed him, and then went onto the Internet to seek articles which would give you confirmation bias. is why this conversation is in my view largely a waste of time. I don’t think you have any interest in ‘the truth’, but only in those ‘truths’ which confirm your bias. Your reliance upon ‘experts’ who just confirm what you already think indicates a lack of openness and questioning. I think if you are truly interested in this question and were truly open-minded, you would read Kitchen. but I don’t really think that was your intention in coming on here. You thought that you would show up these ignorant redneck fundamentalists with your superior knowledge, gleaned from the Internet, and confirmed by all the experts. You have failed miserably.

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      3. I did mention that I had read articles concerning the Exodus, from Kitchen’s own hand, or did you miss that in your rush to yet again besmirch my comment?

        And even though you disagree with my take on Kitchen you failed miserably to even address the questions I asked.
        So, now you had the opportunity to give me a hard time, once more, can you please re read mu comment and address the questions I asked. Thanks.

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      4. Oh, and I will remind you, again,I do not hate your god, or anyone else’s god either. That would be like hating fairies, or unicorns or anything that is supernatural and I do not believe in.

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  11. I can’t see how anyone could consider eternal punishment as justice. Rather it would be closer to cruel and unusual punishment. The only sort of Hell that I could see as being just would be of limited duration followed by annihilation.

    Ultimately if after death people are given new bodies that allow them to suffer for all eternity then that makes God out to be a sadist.

    Also a one size fits all punishment seems very blunt and unjust.

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    1. Hi Peter,

      Jesus talked of Hades and Gehenna. Hades as the place of the tables turned on the wicked (Rich Man and Lazarus), Gehenna as the place of destruction for body and soul. (Matthew 10:28). Hades is before Final Judgment, Gehenna after. Hades is not eternal. At Final Judgment, it is thrown into the lake of fire, i,e, into Gehenna. (Revelation 20:14) The wicked, who do not repent and seek Jesus’ forgiveness, are not tormented for ever. If they still do not repent at Final Judgement, they are destroyed, body and soul. How does this seem?

      Also note that Jesus now has, holds, the keys of Hades! (Revelation 1:17,18) This is to make us not fear. What does that mean?

      Roger

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      1. @Roger

        Hades is of Greek origin so please explain how a primarily Aramaic speaking Jew would have utilized this in his teachings?

        You actually accept Revelation? A book that was, by all accounts, originally viewed with a jaundiced eye and did not even make the cut until the 5th century.

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      2. And once again you excel yourself! ‘By all accounts’? really? You have read all accounts? Your knowledge of NT canoncity is such that you can make this authoritative declaration?

        It did not make the cut until the 5th Century?! Amazing….its hard to know where to being with such basic ignorance which would be excusable if it were not asserted with such breathtaking audacity. I am left with a real problem….do I accept the views of early Christian leaders such as Polycarp and Justin Martyr who clearly accepted the Book of Revelation as scripture or an amateur anti-Christian in the 21st Century whose knowledge comes from Wiki and Google?! Tough choice….

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      1. So, once again, you are not prepared to face the truth regarding the issue of the character, Jesus of Nazareth and Gehenna/Hell.
        Why are evangelical Christians such as you so afraid of dealing with these topics but rather fall back on presuppositional dogma?
        And coming from someone who has claimed from the off his credentials in history such an attitude is beginning to come across as outright cognitive dissonance.
        Is this how do you usually deal with such issues,by simply ignoring them?

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      2. No – you are done. I just don’t have time to deal with eccentric atheists who think that Jesus of Nazareth didn’t exist, who act as though they have a degree in ancient languages (when they only have access to google) and who have no real interest in finding out any truth. Your posts are a series of accusations and assertions with very little actual information or facts. Your prejudice and bias is clear for all to see – except of course yourself because you seem to think of yourself as some kind of expert in all manner of subjects. You dismiss any one who does not agree with your pre-conceived notions.

        I don’t ignore issues, but sometimes you have to ignore people – Especially conspiracy theorists! Feel free to postulate your own views and theories on your own blog, and then those who wish to see them can do so. I’m afraid I will be let you use mine to spout the kind of nonsense that you specialise in. if you can actually make any constructive, and intelligent comments, then I will post them, but for now- you’re done.

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      1. Let’s stick with my question please. And your first question to me assumes my integrity is deficient in that I wouldn’t consider what evidence you provide. I don’t think it’s fair or polite to assume what someone may or may not accept and then ask them what they would accept before just giving a straight forward answer to a straight forward question.
        So please, I don’t want to dance, please just answer, what evidence do you have outside of the bible that such a place as hell actually exists

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      2. No my question to you is simple….why are you asking that question? Are you seeking information or are you making an accusation? Your ‘question’ is a kind of ‘when did you stop beating your wife’ question….

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      3. Why I am asking has nothing to do with your ability or willingness to answer the question I have asked. Please stop trying to turn it around on me and just please answer. Thx

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  12. Kia – why you are asking has everything to do with the question….once you tell me I will answer…otherwise I will just assume you are playing games. Are you asking a question or just making an accusation?

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  13. Jesus talked of a real place, Gehenna, not “hell”. This is why many versions of the bible don’t use the word, Hell. And if you check out the history of Gehenna, within the context of Jesus’ words, it paints a different picture of what many perceive. I agree that the fate of the lost should be taught, and from a scriptural perspective, not “the traditions of men”.

    The invention of the printing press, and the exposure of scripture to the masses, gave us the reformation. The internet is doing it on steroids. Many false, but “traditional” teachings about the bible are being skewered. It is the Protestants feeling the heat this time.

    Jewishnotgreek.com

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    1. That’s an interesting description of Jesus! He spoke more of hell than anyone else – so you regard him as a savage degenerate who has no knowledge of what ethics are?!

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  14. My name is Alan Finch. I became a Christian 42 years ago.

    It is important to understand that the Lake of Fire is not a physical Lake of Fire. The Biblical phrase “Lake of Fire” is symbolic for a Spiritual Lake of Fire which is representative of the FIRE of God’s Spirit that is going to do a transforming work of “Divine Purification” in each individual that comes before the Great White Throne Judgment. This transforming work from God’s Spirit will give these individuals a full understanding of God’s Boundless Love for them and the entire human race. (Note: The Scriptures do not reveal how long that this process will take)

    I have written a 26 page article that Biblically deals with this subject extensively. If anyone would like a copy, feel free to e-mail me and ask for a copy, and I will e-mail you a copy.

    Candy33alan@aol.com

    Like

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