VALIANT FOR THE TRUTH
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THE DOCTRINE OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT
THE ASSERTION THAT PUNISHMENT IN HELL IS ETERNAL
THE PROOF AGAINST THE SPURIOUS DOCTRINE OF ANNIHILATION
Presented in the form of a letter to an inquiring friend
The following is a letter written to a dear friend of mine who was considering the doctrine of annihilation. How could a loving God send anyone to Hell to be punished forever? As this is often a question raised today I present this letter for your edification hoping to encourage you as my own friend was in the truth of God's word regarding the unquenchable fires of hell. I have often been thankful to God that this friend brought such a question to me that I might be faced with my own frailty and be touched with the greatness of God's mercy and holiness.
January 5, 1992
Well I finally finished this little study on the endlessness of Hell or the Doctrine of Endless Punishment. I've tried to capsulate a lot of what I've learned over the last space of time since we talked on the phone. MY apologies that I have given you so little though I have received so much. God has filled my thoughts with eternity while working on this study. Still however I need to FEEL the ENDLESSNESS of HELL as well as the GREAT GIFT that has been given that I could be delivered from my deserved punishment. Perhaps I see a little better the exceeding sinfulness of sin as it carries such a grave penalty. And I see a little better what LOVE has saved me.
Friend, there is so much more to cover than I present to you below. First I did read the NAVES as you instructed me. I could even see some of your argument taken from vast amount of scriptures that speak of "destuction". In the following bible study I will try to address your conclusions. As I said there is so much more than I am giving you in regards to this discussion, I just hope I am presenting the BEST of the Evidence. Since we talked I have purchased and read a book titled THE DOCTRINE OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT. The author covers the topic more thoroughly than I have. He used 200 pages to present his case. This letter may be disjointed and I hope you can follow me. We really should get together on the phone and discuss it after you have had a chance to read and reflect over the contents. I did prepare the bible study you will find directly after this introductory letter before reading the above-mentioned book. He did follow some of my logic as he presented his own case.
Perhaps we could carry this study on in the future by breaking the whole thing down one point at a time. We could address each facet individually. In this way each question you raise or point you make (or MYSELF) can be explored thoroughly and to the satisfaction of us both.
Please accept my apologies for not getting this to you sooner. The bible study below has been completed for a long time now. My intention was to incorporate additional material, which I attempted to do tonight as I added the last things to this letter. You will find some quotes that I have typed out for you from BUNYAN, and HENRY and OTHERS.
Friend, please understand that I have not "written you off" as you expressed in our phone conversation. Please do not write me off either. It is my understanding that you will view all that I have presented to you in this letter by you as "INCORRECT". I hope that I am wrong in this but our last dialogue would not have me think otherwise. At times in this letter I wrote very strongly, please do not be offended by this. It is my way of expressing something I believe WHOLEHEARTEDLY. I do not mean it as a slam to you. My prayer is that all that is GOLD will remain with you and all that is simply me and dross will fall from your ears and do no damage. Please consider everything with the brotherly love that we share for one another.
Very Truly Yours, I am your brother in Jesus Christ, and indebted to you for the love you first showed me,
THE DOCTRINE OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT
WHAT IS THE DURATION OF HELL?
WHAT IS THE SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR PUNISHMENT EVERLASTING AND UNENDING?
First I will list those verses that I believe to teach me that Hell is everlasting and the punishment of sinners/lost/unregenerate is endless. The punishment, which would be, mine without Christ Jesus my God and my Lord and my SAVIOR.
The context for the following verse is When the CENTURION exhibited such faith as Jesus said, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." And the centurion's servant was healed in the selfsame hour, though Jesus did not go to his bedside. Matthew 8:11-12 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Note in the above verse that the children of the kingdom - those that were of Jewry and Had the Word, Had the promises, were God's "Chosen", these are they that should sit down with their "father", Abraham and instead they have rejected Jesus Christ their Messiah. Jesus says they will be cast into outer darkness," THERE" IN THAT OUTER DARKNESS WILL BE WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH. If this outer darkness were non-existence there would be no weeping, no wailing, no gnashing of teeth. NOTE: the gnashing and weeping occurs THERE in the outer darkness and NOT prior to ANNIHILATION or OBLIVION.
DESTROY BOTH SOUL AND BODY:
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.
Matthew 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell.
It is God that we should fear, and it is God, that Jesus here counsels men to fear. Don't fear him that can only kill the body but have no effect upon the soul, RATHER fear God who can destroy both soul and body in hell. For now let me just say that it is interesting that this verse says BOTH soul and body shall be destroyed in hell (mat 5:29 whole body). If the body be dead and buried how then can the body arrive in hell to be destroyed. We may soon discover that the Word of God promises a resurrection for both the just and the unjust. And Hell being an everlasting fire I say that this destruction of soul and body in hell is also an everlasting destruction, or an everlasting process of BEING destroyed. If annihilation were all there was, Why then would it be necessary for both SOUL and BODY to be destroyed in Hell? Friend, I think you suggested that dead in this life means a cessation of existence for eternity. But here the body has died physically and yet has been resurrected to be destroyed in hell for all eternity along with the soul. This would be an eternal damnation. Mark 3:29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:. Eternal damnation--forever being damned.
WHY DOES JESUS GIVE SUCH STRONG WARNING IF ANNIHILATION AND OBLIVION IS THE LOT FOR THE UNGODLY?
Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast [them] from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
Are there degrees of damnation? Are there degrees of punishment? Is the punishment more severe when you offend one of these little ones which believe in Jesus? What is this offending? Leading a child who believes astray with doubt, etc, OR bring harm to one of these little ones? If oblivion were awaiting all those without Christ, what then would be the need for the warning it would be better for you to have died a most horrid death in this life BEFORE you offended one of these little ones. The horror of the damnation will be greater for those who bring offense than those who do not offend one of these little ones. This is because damnation is an everlasting damnation in an everlasting, unquenchable fire! But there are degrees of damnation. There is everlasting punishment most horrid and everlasting punishment most horridly horrifying?
Luke 12:47-48 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not [himself], neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many [stripes]. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few [stripes]. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. Luke 10:12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power [at all] against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
Matthew 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
If the end is simply Annihilation or oblivion how could it be "more tolerable", what difference would there be in "greater sin", how could there be "greater damnation?" There cannot be GREATER ANNIHILATION, but there can be GREATER DAMNATION because damnation is ETERNAL, punishment can come in degrees, the HELL fire is EVERLASTING and UNQUENCHABLE and they who have their part in it, have their part in it forever. Not punishment ended and unreversable, but punishment everlasting and eternally suffered.
IF there were no eternal Hell, the world could be justified in saying: "Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die"
Isaiah 22:13 And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.
I Corinthians 15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.
THE DEAD DO RISE. BOTH THE JUST AND THE UNJUST. There is eternal life and there is eternal death. We rise to eternal life with Jesus Christ, the wicked rise to eternal death in hell forever under the wrath of God.
THE PUNISHMENT SHALL BE AN EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION:
II Thessalonians 1:7-10 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
This is not to say ONLY a destruction unreversable, it is an everlasting destruction. Ever being destroyed! Not ENDED DESTRUCTION, Everlasting Destruction. Annihilation is "ENDED PUNISHMENT", rather endless punishment. The Greek word for "everlasting", in the above verse is used as follows:
Mat 18.8 Everlasting fire
19.16 Eternal Life
19.29 Shall inherit everlasting life
25.41 ye cursed, into everlasting fire
25.46 Go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Mar 3.29 in danger of eternal damnation
10.17 that I may inherit eternal life?
10.30 in the world to come eternal life.
Luk 10.25 What shall I do to inherit eternal life?
16.9 , 18.18, 18.30
Joh 3.15 Not perish, but have eternal life.
3.16 Not perish, but have everlasting life.
3.36 believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.
Joh 4.14 springing up into everlasting life.
4.36 gathereth fruit unto life eternal;
5.24 that sent me, hath everlasting life
Heb 6.2 ...of resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Heb 9.14 who through the eternal spirit offered
1Pet 5.10 called us unto his eternal glory
Jud 7 suffering the vengeance of eternal fire
Friend, I didn't include EVERY example where everlasting, the greek word aionios (strong's number 166) was used but I believe there is enough to see that it is used in reference to GOD'S ETERNAL GLORY, and GOD'S ETERNAL SPIRIT, and the EVERLASTING LIFE WE SEEK, as well as the EVERLASTING JUDGMENT, PUNISHMENT, DAMNATION, and FIRE reserved for those outside of Jesus Christ. This is EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT, not PUNISHMENT ENDED, not simply and only punishment unreversable but PUNISHMENT ETERNAL, to be suffered forever and ever and ever for all eternity, infinite and unending. Everlasting means everlasting!
TORMENT WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE..NO REST DAY NOR NIGHT:
Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture 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: 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.
Friend, this verse I believe you referred to when you said that the fact of the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, does not mean they are tormented for ever and ever only that the smoke of their torment completed remains for ever and ever. I think your straining at the words here. A simple reading of the verse would lead me to believe that the smoke is from the torment of the damned as the torment is occurring not what is left from torment ended. However your understanding could also be correct - yet that would still not support annihilation or oblivion or cessation of existence as the word says, "they have no rest day or night". There is no rest as their torment never ceases.
THE DEVIL SHALL BE TORMENTED DAY AND NIGHT FOR EVER AND EVER.
Revelation 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 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. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Friend, I am so glad that you were able to say that the devil would be forever tormented as this is made so very plain in the above verse, tormented day and night forever and ever. I'm unable to distinguish the torment of the devil from the torment of the ungodly, except in degrees of damnation. The devil being the chief, "ye are of your father the devil". As the father is punished so are the children.
Another point in the above verse is the use of the words, DEAD and DEATH. That these words are not referring to CESSATION of existence should be obvious for: the DEAD, small and great stand before GOD. How can something that has ceased to exist STAND before GOD? The DEAD were judged, the sea gave up the dead, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them. There is a physical death, when our bodies in this world die, and there are those who are DEAD not because they cease to exist but because they are without CHRIST! .But this, DEAD, is not to cease to exist. AND those that are outside of Christ are here referred to as the DEAD, they are dead yet they still exist, they will suffer, they will be judged every man according to their works. Why bother to judge them according to their works if only Annihilation or oblivion awaits them? They are judged according to the degrees of damnation, there is greater sin, there is greater damnation. What is the second death? The second death is their final judgment - the lake of fire where the devil is to be tormented day and night and where they will suffer for all eternity. Second death does not mean cessation of existence any more than the ungodly being referred to as the, "DEAD, small and great" who stand before God is referring to those who have ceased to exist now standing before God.
Friend, I would like to interject something here that really excites me. A question that had been before me for some time has been answered by our gracious God in preparing for you this little study on the endlessness of Hell:
This began at a funeral we once attended. The minister was praying, thanking GOD that he was the GOD of the living and the DEAD. My wife and I were offended by this prayer because we remembered Jesus' Words saying: Mark 12:24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I [am] the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err. Jesus gave us these words teaching the resurrection of the dead. The minister was saying that God was the God of the dead, and the God of us, the living -hence the God of the living and the Dead. The minister was abusing the Word of God to minister some type of empty comfort. But Jesus was saying there is a resurrection therefore God is the God of the living not the dead - non-existent ones which the Sadduccees believed as they denied the resurrection altogether.
NOW let me get into the question that arose before me some time after this funeral:
There is a verse that states that God is the God of the living and the dead: Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. How can God not be the God of the dead BUT of the living in MARK 12 and yet here in ROMANS 14.9 be the LORD both of the dead and living? In the gospel, Jesus was teaching the resurrection. God is not the God of the DEAD - those that cease to exist and are no longer as the SADDUCCEES falsely thought. God is the God of the living not the dead. Living because there are none that are no more. NOW, in Romans 14.9, we learn that Jesus Christ is the LORD both of the dead - those that are outside Christ; and the living, those that are alive in Jesus Christ. .Dead in Romans 14.9 does not refer to those that have ceased to exist (God is not the God of the dead but of the living). Dead that are dead, without Christ - He is also the judge of the quick (living) and the dead. Dead in sin; the DEAD that shall stand before GOD and that GREAT WHITE THRONE OF JUDGEMENT. Through this little study God has shown me the proper understanding of MARK 12 and ROMANS 14.9. Praise the LORD. Dead is not cessation of existence. Dead is lost, dead is eternal death, dead is eternal death without Christ as opposed to eternal life with Christ.
THE UNJUST SHALL BE RESURRECTED:
Acts 24:14-15 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. The unjust shall also be resurrected - they will be given a body to join their soul that will then be destroyed in Hell. Destroy both soul and body and hell, Mat 10.28. Destroyed in Hell with an everlasting destruction. These will be resurrected, the unjust shall also be resurrected and judged worthy of the second death, when death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire - which is the second death.
NOW BACK TO OUR STUDY -- THERE ARE STILL SOME SMALL PASSAGES YET TO LOOK AT:
Jesus' gives account of the sheep and the goats: Matthew 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
The punishment is everlasting and the life is eternal. Depart from me, ye cursed, not into oblivion or cessation of existence but into everlasting fire. A fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels but has been enlarged for you. Isaiah 5:14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. The devil shall be there tormented day and night for ever and ever and so all his children who are of their father the devil. They are cast into an everlasting fire, for an everlasting destruction, and an everlasting punishment, which is their eternal damnation.
UNQUENCHABLE FIRE, THE WORM DIETH NOT:
Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
Isaiah 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
Friend, it was on this verse that you cautioned me not to give you an argument that was only five inches different as in the tower of Pisa and the gravity experiment. This passage, if it were the ONLY ONE, yet carries such weight,, that when weighing ENDLESS punishment verses CESSATION of existence it seems to me to be much more than five inches but rather as high as the heaven is above the earth. As in, as high as the heaven is above the earth so much greater are my thoughts than yours(the Lord's thoughts than ours) . Cast into hell, into a fire that never shall be quenched. If there was none left to be punished, why then would the fire need to be unquenchable and "never shall be quenched"? Why not a fire so hot that they are burned ending all form of existence? A fire so hot burning, to NON-EXISTENCE? Yet the verse says, FIRE Unquenchable, a fire that never shall be quenched. And also where THEIR worm dieth not. The worm belongs to them, to them who are in that fire unquenchable. What is this worm? Some say that this is their soul. Hence where their soul dieth not. Could be. Remember both body and soul are in HELL. I've also read that this worm is the conscience; The tormented conscience that remembers all the sin and is aware of the great guilt and the consequences of it. The fiery flames of conscience eating away like a painful worm. If this passage referred only to some maggot feeding on a decaying carcass, why then, would it be called THEIR worm. It would simply be where "worms don't die". Strange thought when worms are able to abide forever in a lake of unquenchable fire but not the ones for whom this fire was prepared.
THE ACCOUNT OF THE BEGGAR AND THE RICH MAN - A CONCLUSIVE PROOF OF TORMENTS AFTER DEATH AND NOT CESSATION OF EXISTENCE:
Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. Then said he unto the disciples
In this account of our Lord, the rich man is in Hell, fully conscious of the awful place he is in. He is in HELL - in torment. He cries out, "I am tormented in this flame". Abraham acknowledges the truth of what he says in answering, "thou art tormented". The place the rich man now lies is called "a place of torment". Here in this passage the dead are yet living, in that the rich man says ,"but if one went unto them from the dead".
DEATH, DESTRUCTION, CONSUMED, are speaking of the awfulness of an eternal Hell, the opposite of eternal life. Cessation of existence is not the opposite of Eternal Life, Eternal Damnation is.
God bless you, Friend!!! Much time has passed since I began this study. I don't remember when I put together the above but it wasn't long after we first talked. Since that time the topic of Eternal Hell has been constantly (almost) before me. I have since read a book entitled THE DOCTRINE OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT by W.T. Shedd. I had borrowed this book before from a friend and read it about 4-5 years ago but now I have my own copy. It's a good book containing a discussion of this subject divided into three topics: 1) Endless Punishment being the Historical position of the Church, 2) The biblical basis, 3) The Rational Basis. Also John Bunyan has blessed me with some of his wonderful words on this subject: Sighs from Hell or the Groans of a Damned Soul, The Resurrection of the Dead, and Serious Meditations upon the Four Last Things - Death, Judgement, Heaven and HELL. Haven't completely read all of these treatises by Bunyan but have been encouraged by what I did read.
Friend, the first thing I did was to read the section in my Naves as you recommended. From this I can see your point of view as you expressed in our phone conversation. Does destroyed mean exactly Cessation of Existence, Annihilation, or Oblivion? My belief is that it does not. Jesus Christ has given us a fuller revelation of the endlessness of HELL and Eternal Torment than had previously been shown in the Old Testament. Yet, I do believe that the OT teaches an eternal Hell. Isaiah 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. Daniel 7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment [was] white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne [was like] the fiery flame, [and] his wheels [as] burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt.
DIGRESSION...Friend I would like to quote for you from a book I have on loan called BIBLE QUESTIONS ANSWERED:
The second error, variously called the annihilation or conditional immortality theory, affirms (with many variations of detail) that only the regenerate have immortality, and that the unregenerate cease to exist. In some forms of this teaching the moment of physical death is held to be the moment of non-existence. Others hold that unconscious existence continues until the resurrection of the impenitent dead, (Rev. 20:12,13), when consciousness is restored and the body raised for the act of judgement, after which "the second death" ends both consciousness and existence. These views rest upon the alleged meaning of such words as "perish" (JOhn 3:15,16); "everlasting destruction", II Thes. 1:9), and "destroy" (II Thes 2:8). It is contended that these words imply cessation of being. The first form of this error has already been met. The physical death of the unregenerate is neither annihilationn nor unconsciousness. The rich man n Hades is intensly conscious. Lost souls in Sheol are fully aware of the advent of the fallen and doomed. (Friend -- I didn't include the first part of their discussion to which this above paragraph refers.) A very brief examination of the word alleged to imply extinction of being as the penalty of sin will suffice to show the baselessness of the contention. The Greek word apollumi, translated "perish" in John 3:15,16 is often used in the New Testament to describe a condition which renders impossible a normal or intended use, as the bottles in which new wine is put are said to "break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish"--are no longer fit for their intended use (Mt 9:17). In the parallel passage, in Mk 2:22, the same word is rendered "marred." In Mt 10:6;15:24, the same word is rendered "lost". "go rather to the lost sheep;" "I am not sent but to the lost sheep." In Mt. 18:11, "come to to save that which was lost." In the parables of the Lost Sheep and of the Prodigal Son in Lk 15 the same word (translated "lost") is used of each. Certainly neither the sheep nor the son was "lost" or "perished" in the sense of annihilation. The "destruction" of II Thes 2:8 is that of the "man of sin," the "lawless one," and "beast" at the appearing of the Lord in glory. That this is not annihilation, nor even death, is manifest from Rev 19:19,20, where it is said that the Beast was "cast alive" into a Lake of Fire. A thousand years afterward they are still there shown from the words of duration, "for ever and ever," which are used to denote the eternal duration of God's own existence (Heb 1.8; Gal 1:5; Rev 4:9,10; 10:6).
Friend -- It's me again.
When we were discussing this on the phone, I was trying to explain to you that there is DEATH and that there is DEATH. And that I didn't believe Death ever meant cessation of existence. Following is what I read in John Bunyan's treatise regarding the multiple meanings of the word death:
First. The dead in scripture go under a five-fold consideration; as,
Such as die a natural death, or as when a man ceaseth to be any more in this world, as David, whom Peter tells us: Acts 2:29 Men [and] brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
2. There is a people that are reckoned dead in trespasses and sins, as those are, who never yet were translated from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Such, I say, who yet never felt the power of the Word and Spirit of God, to raise them from that state, to walk with him in the regeneration; making a life out of Christ, and his present benefits. Ephesians 2:1 And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins;Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: John 5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
3. There is a death seizeth men often after some measure of light received from God, and some profession of the gospel of Christ. These, for the certainty of their damnation, are said to be dead--dead, twice dead, and plucked up by the roots. Jude 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds [they are] without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
4. There is in scripture mention made of a death to sin, and the lusts of the flesh; this death is the beginning of true life and happiness, and is a certain forerunner of a share in Christ, and with him in another world. Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: II Timothy 2:11 [It is] a faithful saying: For if we be dead with [him], we shall also live with [him]:
5. Lastly. There is also in the word, a relation of eternal death. This is the death that those are in, and swallowed up of, that go out of this world Godless, Christless, and graceless; dying in sin, and so under the curse of the dreadful God; who, I say, because they have missed of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour in this day of grace: are fallen into the gulf and jaws of eternal death and misery, in the fire that never shall be quenched. Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence.
Friend, It's me again...............
I extracted the following Puritan Confession of faith from my Online Bible and thought that it may be useful to you and me as well .
Chapter 30 - Of the State of Men after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead
1) The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.
Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
but their souls, (which neither die nor sleep,) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; # Heb 12:23 2Co 5:1,6,8 Php 1:23 Ac 3:21 Eph 4:10
and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day. # Lu 16:23,24 Ac 1:25 Jude 1:6,7 1Pe 3:19
Chapter 31 - Of the Last Judgment
1) God has appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, # Ac 17:31
to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father. # Joh 5:22,27
In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, # 1Co 6:3 Jude 1:6 2Pe 2:4
but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil. # 2Co 5:10 Ec 12:14 Ro 2:16 Ro 14:10,12 Mt 12:36,37
It is about time to conclude this study. I've shared very little of all that I've read and am certainly open to a discussion concerning all that is written herein. There is yet Matthew Henry to consult, There are other related doctrines to explore that also give assistance to the Doctrine of Endless Punishment. Doctrines such as the TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF MAN showing how worthy we are of an eternal Hell, and THE DEGREES OF DAMNATION showing the necessity for an endless punishment in which the degree of suffering will vary (for annihilation would be the same in scope to all who suffered it), THE LAW and how punishment must be administered to the one who broke the law for the sake of the LAW (annihilation though executed is not punishment in the true sense as no suffering is to be endured), and the HOLINESS and Justice of GOD.
Friend, I'll try to copy a few pages out of the Book of THE DOCTRINE OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT. There were several items in it that would be useful but I'm just not up to capsulizing them down to something I can type. There's also so much more available in the treatises from John Bunyan. Do we really need their words or arguments to support an eternal HELL? I don't believe so. The words of Jesus Christ and his solemn warnings are convincing enough to me. I appreciate Bunyan, Henry, and others as they do have a way of setting forth the solemnity of this Great truth before me. AND for this I thank God.
Friend, I just couldn't resist. The following are some very brief quotes taken from Matthew Henry on HELL:
The damnation of Hell (as our Saviour calls it) is the fire of God's anger fastening upon the guilty conscience of a sinner to its inexpressible and everlasting torment. DE 32
The sin is so heinous, and the ruin proportionably so great, that he had better undergo the sorest punishment inflicted on the worst of malefactors, which can only kill the body. NOTE, 1) hell is worse than the depth of the sea; for it is a bottomless pit, and it is a burning lake. The depth of the sea is only killing, but hell is tormenting. We meet with one that had comfort in the depth of the sea, it was Jonah (ch 2:2,4:9); but never had any the least grain or glimpse of comfort in hell, nor will have to eternity. 2) The irresistible irrevocable doom of the great judge will sink sooner and surer, and bind faster, than a millstone hanged about the neck. MAT 18
Though we cannot make a full satisfaction for it, it will be continually demanded, 'till the last mite be paid', which will not be to all eternity. Christ's sufferings were short, yet the value of them made them fully satisfactory. In the sufferings of damned sinners, what is wanting in value must be made up in an endless duration. LUKE 12
The fire of God's wrath will consume them (V9); they shall not only be cast into a furnace of fire (matt 13:42), but he shall make them themselves as a fiery oven or furnace; they shall be their own tormentors; the reflections and terrors of their own consciences will be their hell. Those that might have had Christ to rule and save them, but rejected him and fought against him, shall find that even the remembrance of that will be enough to make them, to eternity, a fiery oven to themselves: it is the worm that dies not. PSALM 21
THE END though I hope we will continue to explore this subject which is broader in scope than I first thought.
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