Conditioned immortality resurrected?

There have been various topics related to “hell/eternal torment” in the past and “conditional immortality” has been often offered as a possible alternative. But from what i have seen so far, there are some factors in the area which have not been explored.

So i would like to “resurrect” the latter possibility as a topic and ask for feedback when i clearly go against Scripture in my statements. If what i have been shown, spiritually i hope, is valid, or could be, then i believe i have seen a way to tie many Bible statements – about the lost – together in a way that is surprisingly fair and merciful and still true to the Word.

We start with the fact that only Jesus Christ has immortality at the present time. (1 Tim 6:16) No person besides Him has an immortal nature, and believers will have to “put on immortality” at the Resurrection (1 Cor 15:53-54). Christ will give unending Life only to those who love God and obey Him (Romans 2:6-8).

Any problems so far? [If so, let’s discuss them first, otherwise i will go on to verify this with the story of the Garden of Eden, where human mortality began.] I appreciate any feedback as i proceed to build a plausible case for an amazing yet possible “final ending” to the history of humanity.

Any corrections, in grammer/spelling, references cited, concept clarity, or interpretion honesty, will be highly valued. Maybe my “vision” is “too good to be true”…

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I am interested in the topic but I have to ask, What about Enoch and Elijah?



Would we consider them to be immortal by virtue of being with God and as I understand it in his presents?

This is an edit after thought. Could you define immortality? By that I mean as compared to the self existent God of the Bible.

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Very good question, Jimmy. Since the Scripture is clear that only Jesus Christ has immortality now, and that was written after Pentecost (when the Holy Spirit was given), we have to define the word and concept.

Here is my best shot at it for now: immortality as i am currently understanding it is this:

The state of possessing an unending conscious life force in an indestructible body. Christ is the Source of the never-ending life, and also of the body that will never die. It is the eternal condition of those who are raised up by the perfect transforming life of the Savior living in their new bodies.

Jesus said (in John 11:25): “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” And this unending life He describes “puts on” an immortal body at the Resurrection (see references above).

Elijah and Elisha were not said to have Christ living in them, they lived before the Resurrection of Jesus (and giving of the Holy Spirit), and so they may well be with God as disembodied spirits waiting for incorporation in a transformed body, as the other OT saints are. Thus, the Scripture would be true that only Christ has immortality at this time.

Thanks for the opportunity to clarify this. I was planning to define the word next, in discussing the Fall, but that won’t be necessary.

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Now that we have a working definition of immortality, let’s take a look at what happened in the Garden of Eden.

Adam and Eve were created “in the Image of God” (Gen 1:26-27). And Scripture defines “the Image of God” to be Christ, several times (2 Cor 4:4, Col 1:15). So we can say that Adam and Eve were created “in Christ”.

And because they were connected to Christ (who is the Source of Life), as long as they obeyed God they would never have died. But the condition was given that they could not eat of the forbidden fruit, or else they would lose their life, and die.

Thus, they were no longer (conditionally) immortal after the Fall, and God removed them from the Garden so they would not eat of “the Tree of Life” and become immortal as sinners.

Gen 3:22-24
“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

So Adam and Eve were prevented from becoming immortal as sinners, and they thus had a need for a Savior to give them His eternal Life. Their bodies were no longer free from death, and their ability to live connected to unending Life was broken by their rebellion.

So now we can see why, in receiving Christ, we are reconnected to His unending Life, and will never really die once we are His because we are guaranteed an immortal soul in Him at the “rebirth” and an immortal body at the Resurrection.

He didn’t just come to pay for, and forgive us, our sins by His death, and resurrection, but to cleanse us spiritually and prepare us for total immortality when He raises us up, even as He came forth from the grave in His indestructible, incorruptible body, as “the Firstfruit” of the immortal Family.

Are we OK so far? Or do we need to clarify any of these points?

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So we can say with the Pharisees that what we are longing for is not “life after death” but “life after life after death”? And for Paul this was realized in the bodily resurrected Messiah as the answer to the promise of the age to come, the great rescue by God.
By the way this definition is from NT Wright.

I’m not clear what those sayings actually mean. Maybe you could clarify them?

What i am trying to convey is what i think Jesus actually was meaning: Anyone who believes in/trusts in Him will not ever truly die, even if their body dies, since they are guaranteed a never-ending life, with the Holy Spirit as a “down payment”, and a promise of an indestructible, incorruptible body at the Resurrection.

On the other hand, anyone who rejects this offer from God by denying Christ, will die both physically and spiritually, since they have no immortality – it is never mentioned for the lost, immortality is only promised to Believers.

John 8:23-24 Jesus speaking (NKJV):
"And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

In other words, Jesus is saying that those who reject Him are rejecting unending Life which only He can give, and they will die in their sins, since they choose death rather than life with Him forever.

There is nowhere in Scripture where the finally “lost” are given any immortality, either spiritually or physically, as the Saved are. Often theologians in the past, and some even today, say that all of humankind have eternal souls, but that is not stated in the Word, it is usually inferred, but never is it actually specified.

The history of the concept of an immortal soul for every person can be traced back to greek philosophy, but not to the Older Testament. Instead, the Hebrew Scriptures do not have a teaching of unending life of any kind for those that completely reject God. Can you think of any i may have missed?

If we take a look at the Law of God, there is no consequence of breaking a Law that involves long-term punishing, rather the ultimate penalty which is death. Both David and Paul said the Law was holy, and good, while Jesus came to “fill the Law full” (fulfill). And when the people of Noah’s day were told to get on board the Ark if they wanted to live, there was no warning that they would “be tormented forever” if they didn’t – they would simply die.

In the NT we see that “the wages of sin is death”, not an unending life of misery and pain. If man(/woman) is fully mortal apart from Christ (the only Source of Life that is in any way eternal), then what is called the Second Death would be exactly that: the first death is like a “sleep” in that there will be a Resurrection to Judgment, resulting in either unending Life or a final end to life, and the Second Death would be a permanent, absolute separation from Life.

I recall a Scripture that expands this idea:

Acts 17:26-28
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being…”

So when someone is completely separated from Him, after the Judgement, by their own desire, they will ultimately no longer live or move or have any being. And if this is clear, i will move on to the “heart of God” regarding His fairness/justice, and yet compassion, toward the eternally “lost” who want nothing to do with His Gift of Himself forever.

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Hello @DeanW I am also interested in this topic. If the idea of the soul being immortal can be traced back to Greek Philosophy, which the Stoics believed. I would like to suggest that the idea of the soul not being immortal could also come from Greek philosophy. The Epicureans believed the soul did not exist after death. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epicurus

Maybe I would disagree a little bit on the Acts 17:26-28 interpretation. Acts 17:25 says that God has given all men life and breath and everything. That is a gift that I don’t think He takes away from us. That Greek word for life there is Zoe, which I am not a Greek scholar, but from my understanding there is an eternal dimension to that word life. It is the same word that is used when talking about the life that God gives to the believer.

The believer and the unbeliever live and move and have our being through that life that has been given to us through Christ. And our hearts will be restless until we come back to the Source of life and find our rest in Him. That will be a part of the horrors of hell in my opinion, loneliness in outer darkness never finding that rest.

Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

It would seem logical to me that if the righteous are going to be in a place of eternal conscious life, the word for eternal punishment would be a place of eternal conscious punishment of some kind.

If as an unbeliever, I was told that I will cease to exist, what keeps me from saying let’s eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow I die (cease to exist). Maybe there is some kind of judgment perhaps, but in my human reasoning I can suffer a lot if I know that there is hope that it will end. As far as I am aware that hope is never given to the unbeliever in the Bible. It is only given to the believer.

Just some thoughts from a different perspective:smiley:, but please continue with your arguments.

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Hi there, Kevin. Thanks for participating in the dialogue (which sometimes seems like a monologue here). I have also had some of the objections you raise, so i will share the answers i found to them, which seem to satisfy me for now, at least.

Regarding the history of the concept of the immortality of the soul: can you find a reference to an immortal soul in the Hebrew Scriptures? I looked for one but they seem to fall apart on closer examination.

If the idea is not clearly in the OT, and if there is no clear statement of a long-term torture/torment in the OT, also, then it seems possible the idea came into the early Church by way of the converts coming in from other religions, and from the many people who had been exposed to Greek culture and philosophy which was still dominant in the Roman empire. (I believe the earliest writings of the Church didn’t have a concept of unending torture/torment.).

In Acts 17 we see that Paul does bring up the life of all mankind, but also brings up a new kind of Life, Resurrection Life, which only comes from Christ. And He showed us what our new immortal bodies will be like, if we receive Him. If you look back in this topic you will see references which state that trusting/believing in Him will give eternal Life to people, but others will die in their sins without Him.

Regarding the 3 words for “life” in Greek, i would ask you to take a look at this site:

https://blog.biblesforamerica.org/greek-words-for-life/

I also am not a Greek language scholar, just a beginner, but i am fairly sure that Jesus gives us a new kind of Life, not just biological or mortal consciousness life like everyone has. He said the Life He gives will never end.

Regarding “eternal punishment”: the same construction in Greek is used for “eternal Judgement” which is a one-time Judgement with eternal consequence/effect, “eternal Redemption” which is a one-time Redemption with eternal consequence/effect, etc. So a one-time punishment with eternal consequence/effect would not be on-going, unending punishing, would it…

A lot of my thinking hinges on the fact that only Christ has immortality now, as Scripture makes plain in several places, since that eliminates the idea of an immortal soul, as i see it. Still, we need to examine the concept of the Second Death and see what view of final punishment/Second Death would show forth the fairness and justice of God, as well as His mercy and compassion, for all of His creatures/offspring.

Which i will do soon, after we try to resolve these issues you have raised, if we can. Thanks much for sharing, Kevin.

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Dean:
First let me apologize for the late reply.
I am seeing two trains of thought from your reply.

  1. There is eternal life after death for those that believe (everyone that believes goes to heaven).
  2. For those that don’t believe there is only death. (no eternal hell or punishment or consciousness just annihilation of the soul)
    If I am correct and this sums up what you are saying then I will add a few thoughts for your consideration.

The first think that I would like to suggest is that you are on thin ice if you take the position that the idea of an immortal soul is a Greek idea and that it was the early Greek converts that somehow tainted the doctrinal pool of thought, to do so is to ignore the fact that Paul’s pharisaical theology was built on his belief in Yahweh the one true God, in Torah both the written and the Oral and his standing in the elect of God (not in the Calvinist sense)but as a son of Abraham. As a Pharisee he had the full expectation that because he lived Torah he would participate in the eschaton the world to come, the great rescue of creation the making all things right. This was his eschatology and the eschatology that is taught and believed in the church today, that great day. You might find the thread helpful as we continue the discussion.

Also as you think on this consider the theodicy question that was kicked around in the days of the prophets and Psalmist, how could God allow the just to suffer and die and the unjust to prosper and die without the ability to balance the books unless there was a power able to defeat death?

I have to go now. I hear that voice that must be obeyed :grinning: and she is sitting right next to me as I type.
Let me know if this is at least in the ballpark of your thought.

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Hi Jimmy, i know what you mean about “a higher power”, so to speak, sitting beside you. Mine is named Rosa.

I feel a need to clarify one thing, about punishment. The idea that a lost person doesn’t automatically have an immortal nature does not mean there would be no punishment after death. God, in order to be “fair”, or “just”, would clearly have to “even the score” for those people who rejected His forgiveness and mercy, thereby asking for His Justice.

So “the finally lost” are choosing against unending Life with the God-Family, and would rather die than live with Father/Son/Holy Spirit/Believers forever, even though He would rather take on human form and die rather than live without them forever.

So there will be a Judgement Day for them, and they will be raised in a temporary form – not an eternal one, since they are mortals, and they prefer death to eternal Life (and Heaven would be like a hell to them).

What would be fair punishment for them? Well, if we subtract the mercy and grace which God would most want to give them, the Law requires “an eye for an eye” and a “tooth for a tooth”. So one possiblity (i don’t claim any perfect knowledge on this) is that the lost could be allowed to experience (including feeling the pain) the memories of all those they had harmed. This could be very rapid in a world beyond time, and would exactly match what they had done. Isn’t that extraodinarily fair?

I’m not saying that is the only possibility, just a good one. Somehow total Justice will be done. Yet God is merciful and compassionate, even toward His enemies. He commands us to love our enemies, so that is His nature, as well.

He has given us proof of His compassion and care for those who reject Him. Like giving all sinners the opportunity to repent and telling them to please do so. Remember what Paul said:

2 Cor 5:18-29
“…God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Therefore, once the proper amount of suffering has been experienced at the Judgement, the “final wage of sin”, which is ultimate death, is administered. And the lost will be completely separated from the only Source of unending Life completely. This punishment will be eternal, never ending; never will they be resurrected to Life.

I hope this scenario serves as an example of how many of the verses in Scripture which are often taken as proof-texts for unending torment/torture, could instead be evidence for a punishment which ends permanently, and since there will be no more resurrections, the ending is eternal in scope.

The key remains the fact that the Word says only Jesus Christ has immortality at present, and He will give it only to Believers when He resurrects us. But the finally lost are never said to be given immortality, so they remain mortal until the Second Death, when they will no longer “live and move and have their being” in the only Source of Life that is eternal.

I thought that should be clarified so you wouldn’t think i was saying there was no Judgement or Punishment that have eternal effects. I’m just saying those two actions are together and one-time, rather than on-going states.

I’ll take a closer look at the determinsm writing you refer to, but this had to be specified first, i think.

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Unless I am missing something you are taking the position known as the annihilation of the soul.

Here is a simple definition I took from Got questions.

Annihilationism is the belief that unbelievers will not experience an eternity of suffering in hell, but will instead be “extinguished” after death.

I have to confess that annihilationism is not my current position on the judgement. I have said this before that if I were a skeptic I wouldn’t see much difference between being an atheists and believing in a god that would ultimately annihilate the bad apples. The atheist position in one and done. You get one life live it to its fullest.

To be clear I am not advocating that fear is the only motivator to serving God but if we ask people to consider the Gospel message of Love, and I believe that love is a good description of the Gospel there has to be a downside. What if I reject this love and the answer that I get is that in the end I will cease to exist after some form of appropriate punishment, this just doesn’t appeal to my sense of urgency.
The Gospel in some ways is an appeal to our sense of delayed gratification. Give something up today for a greater reward in the future. I think a Jim Elliot quote is needed here.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose .”

The fact that I believe that God’s punishment is eternal does not mean that all those in hell are immortal, in the sense of being indestructible and somehow able to re-emerge as a threat to the “Most High God”. What ever hell is like it is eternal and a place to be avoided.

Having said that I am still happy to carry on the conversation.

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I appreciate your willingness to continue the conversation, even though we don’t agree (yet?). I tend to avoid the word annihilationism – partly because it is too long (duh), and partly because it is an easy “write that off, it’s not in the Bible” kind of thought-stopper.

But first, let me tell you one of my reactions as a young atheist. It sounded to me like Christians were saying something like:

“God loves you, He sent His son to die for your sins, and if you don’t believe that, He is going to torture you for trillions and trillions of years, in a firey hell!”

Which is clearly not a portrayal of a perfectly loving God. On the other hand, if a Supreme Being exists, such that should i reject it/Him in the End, will cause me to experience all the negative effects of everything i have done to others, at one consecutive time period, and then separate me from the only Source of unending Life, well that sounds more like a love i can understand – it’s extremely fair.

Will the Judgemjent-Punishment-action for the lost be a “walk in the park”? No, not at all, it will cause much “wailing and gnashing of teeth”, for we do much more damage to others than we care to remember or accept responsibility for. But the ultimately-lost have no immortal existence, so the weeping and wailing cannot continue indefinitely, but will be in eternity, just a “drop in the bucket” of timelessness.

In order for anyone to be immortal, God would have to decide to give them non-stop existence, that is some life-form, or else they would not be eternal. But if they have an eternal form, then God would be approving of them, and their continued sinning (by rejecting God) for all eternity.

So without realizing it, most Believers are accusing God of maintaining sin and sinners into the Kingdom, when He has promised He will erradicate all sin and sinners. And there is great injustice in an infinite punishment for a finite amount of sin.

On the other hand, suppose God grants a temporary existence to the lost, for the Judgement/Punishment, so that they may feel and know all the consequences of their every thought/word/deed, in a relatively short period of “time”, and then in mercy, grants them absolute rest by withdrawing their temporary, mortal, life force.

Then our Heavenly Dad will show forth both His fairness (which is what justice is all about, isn’t it?) and His compassion. And this concept of God is consistent with His Law, and His compassion for even the most lost. Recall that His Law, which David, Paul and Jesus called perfect, never specified any long-term punishing, but the worst punishment was always death – cessation of life.

So before Christians just write off conditioned (or conditiional) immortality, with an End to the wicked, it would be wise to look closely at His Law, His death for all mankind, His compassion and mercy for His enemies (examples available), His desire and plan to eliminate all sin from the universe (not keep it alive and well in hell), and the exact words used by Jesus/Scripture to describe the fate of the finally lost. (I may look more closely at the latter soon.)

Well, i just got on a “rant” i suppose, but i’m glad we can discuss this controversial subject without a lot of heat and name-calling, which doesn’t do any good at all. Besides, we both agree that our Lord and Savior is perfectly fair, compassionate, just, merciful, loving and kind. So His treatment of His permanently rebellious offspring will reflect His character, perfectly. Right?


As an afterthought, i like the saying you quoted:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose .”

My take on that:
He is no fool who gives up intense misery followed by full elimination to gain a joyful existence that cannot end.

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For those interested in this topic, here are some Scripture verses and related statements that indicate how God will deal with the finally lost.

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A. On Divine Judgment/Punishment

  1. The soul that sins must die. Eze 18:20
  2. The wages of sin is death, not eternal torture. Rom 6:2
  3. The highest penalty of the perfect Law of God was simple death, with no provision for long-term torture. (please search Scriptures to verify)
  4. Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins, He wasn’t tortured forever for them. 1 Cor 15:3
  5. Eternal punishment is not “unending on-going punishing” but rather a one-time punishment with unending consequences and effects (similar to Eternal Judgment, Eternal Redemption, etc – one-time events with eternal consequences/effects).
  6. The finally lost are given the Second Death, not the first eternal torture. Rev 2:11, 20:14
  7. Only dead bodies, corpses, will be seen in the Lake of Fire which burns forever. Isa 66:24

B. On the final destruction of the wicked/lost.

  1. The persistently lost are called “vessels of destruction” by Paul. Rom 9:22
  2. Their final end is destruction. Phil 3:19
  3. For, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it”. Matt 7:13
  4. Gehenna, the Lake of Fire, “destroys both body and soul” according to Jesus. Matt 10:28
  5. The last enemy of God to be destroyed is Death; the lost are destroyed first in the Second Death before Death is eliminated. 1 Cor 15:26, Rev 20:14, 21:8
  6. Sodom and Gomorrah are the example God gives, twice, of what will happen to the wicked - destruction by eternal Fire. 2 Peter 2:6, Jude 1:7. (This was a complete burning up into ashes, with no long-term torture involved.)
  7. God will destroy those who destroy the earth, and they will be ashes under our feet. Rev 11:18, Mal 4:3

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These are by no means comprehensive – there are many more for each category. I plan to expand the categories and respond to sections of Scripture that seem to indicate unending torment/torture, but don’t, actually, in my understanding.

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Continuing Scripture statements related to the topic

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C. On God as Fire:

  1. Both the OT and NT say “Our God is a consuming fire”. Deu 4:24, Heb 12:29
  2. The unrighteous are consumed by the breath of God’s anger. Job 4:8-9
  3. Sinners and transgressors will be destroyed, consumed. Isa 1:28
  4. Their end will be like fire devouring stubble, flames consuming chaff. Isa 5:21-24
  5. David prayed that sinners would be consumed from the earth and that the “wicked be no more”. Ps 59:13, 104:35
  6. Anyone who does not abide in Christ will be burned up like a dead branch. John 15:6
  7. The Lake of Fire will burn up the finally lost as the Second Death. Rev 20:14-15, 21:8

D. On being lost as “separation from God”.

  1. God is everywhere present (or “omnipresent”), so to be totally separated from Him would be to exist nowhere at all. Jer 23:24, Psa 139
  2. Jesus said the lost will “die in their sins”, but the saved will have unending Life. John 8:24, 1 John 5:13
  3. He alone is the Source of Life, and without Him we can do nothing. John 14:6, 15:5
  4. In Him we move and live and have our being – apart from Him we have no motion, no life, no being. Acts 17:28
  5. He is Light and there will be no darkness in the new Heaven and Earth – outer darkness will be non-existence. 1 John 1:5, Rev 21:25, 22:5
  6. The opposite of unending, eternal Life is not unending, eternal conscious suffering, but rather a final end to life. (Simple logic.)
  7. The saved will see only dead bodies (corpses), and ashes of the lost, in the eternal Lake of Fire, not separated people being tortured. Isa 66:24, Mal 4:3

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Perhaps next we may want to look more closely at what Jesus actually said about “Gehenna”, and what that term really means.

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Thanks Dean for this reflection and thanks Kevin and Jimmy for sharing these scriptures about eternal life and eternal punishment.
Just adding to the thoughts shared by Kevin and Jimmy
I would also want ask Dean what his thoughts are on the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31?

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Hello Dean, thanks again for sharing these scriptures.
I checked a few studies and am yet to delve into more but a few thoughts come to mind:

I would like to hear your thoughts about the use of the word death. Eg when God said the day man sinned he would die…then the wages of sin is death. In Revelation we hear about hell and death giving up their dead…so what context of death did you consider in your line of argument?

Also, what do we do with the scriptures that talk of everlasting punishment eg Revelation 20:10-15; Revelation 21:8, Rev.22:14-15 where it is clear that devil and false prophet are cast into the lake of fire to be tormented forever and verse 15 says those not found in book of life are also thrown into this lake of fire?

  • On another note, you shared an interesting experience of what you thought of as a young atheist… As I reflected on that I do know that while our focus is preaching the love of God in Christ Jesus( at times unfortunately, we don’t get this right) so it seems like we present people with a Heaven is Hell scenario, where people chose God out of fear or have wrong conceptions about God…eapecially in the sense that Hell and everlasting punishment is a choice man makes by either accepting to be free in Christ or pay a price by theselve ( John 5:24)

    What God calls us to is a first and foremost a relationship with Him. In Rev 21 and 22 we see that the saved do not live with the Lord in heaven forever per se ( at least literally as I do not raise this to get into an eschatological argument). From the time God called Israel to leave Egypt till now God calls us to a relationship first and foremost before a place.

However, I think that when the issue of Hell and Heaven comes up we should not shy away from it because we are wary about passing on a wrong image of God…The Bible indicates that the everlasting fire was never meant for mankind in the first place (Mathew 25:41)…if Jesus spoke about eternal punishment then in proper context we should be able to communicate God’s love and justice as the need arises. I remember Ravi answering a question that was quite sensitive and he ‘Ravi’ responded that he would not want to meet God on the person’s terms. That spoke volumes to me because he was implying there were consequences in the afterlife for making a certain choice.

Thanks again for sharing and looking forward to your thoughts…

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Welcome, Nancy, i’m glad you decided to join in the conversation. In this and your next reply you bring up some great points, which i have been dealing with for some time, myself. I don’t claim to have the final answers, but i do see a way that the Scriptures can fit together to give us a new way of seeing the goodness and yet fairness of our God.

In this reply, i will share a summary of my research so far on your first question, then respond to your second reply point by point. I hope we can both see some new things in the Word that helps us both appreciate the love of our Lord for those people who will be “lost” to an eternity with Him.

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E. On the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:

  1. The passage is a parable, a story, in fact it is the last in a string of parables Jesus is telling. It is not wise to try to prove a major doctrine using a parable.

  2. Jesus gives us the point of the parable. He is not teaching primarily about eternal hell, but rather about faith in Him because of the Resurrection (of Lazarus and Himself). He gives us the meaning (verse 31) as: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”

  3. Most people ignore that the parable is not about life after the Judgment, but rather before it, so it says nothing about eternal existence following the Judgment. (The rich man has brothers still alive on earth whom he wants to warn.)

  4. There was no concept of eternal torture in the OT, so Jesus’/Yeshua’s hearers would have understood the context was not after the Judgment, but rather before.

  5. Jesus did not have to explain that finally lost sinners will be consumed, destroyed in the Lake of Fire, after Judgment, since that was commonly understood.

  6. Christ referred several times to “Gehenna”, which was a burning garbage dump outside Jerusalem where refuse was continually burning, including trash and the dead bodies of criminals (or others who couldn’t afford a normal burial). No living person was ever thrown into that “Lake of Fire”, where the fires never went out and the worms never died. But Gehenna was the example He pointed to as the final fate of the lost (frequently mistranslated as “hell”).

  7. Jesus next says to His disciples (Luke 17), “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." So He is talking about death, not unlimited torture.

+++++++

Also, i would point out that, as covered in detail above in this topic, only Christ has immortality at present, Believers in Him have to put on immortality at the Resurrection, the persistently lost are never given immortality as far as Scripture reveals.

Perhaps we should add, to the 7 points above, that Jesus said that Gehenna (often mistranslated as “hell”) “destroys both body and soul” Matt 10:28 [Point B. 4. above]. And Gehenna, as point E. 6. above states, was a valley containing a burning garbage dump, just outside Jerusalem, where only dead bodies (primarily of criminals who didn’t deserve a proper burial) were thrown, along with the garbage which was kept burning non-stop, and worms could breed on the fresh “food” thrown in to the burning fires. also. And the Lord often pointed down the hill to that “lake of fire” to show what would happen to unrepentant sinners.

But the main thing to notice about the parable in Luke 16 is that it is a parable, and Jesus gives the meaning Himself, which i have quoted in point E. 2. above. He is not teaching about an eternal-torture state, since the parable makes clear it takes place before the Day of Judgement.

Also He goes on, in Luke 17, to mention what happened to Sodom and Gemorrah. In section B above i have this observation:

  1. Sodom and Gomorrah are the example God gives, twice, of what will happen to the wicked - destruction by eternal Fire. 2 Peter 2:6, Jude 1:7. (This was a complete burning up into ashes, with no long-term torture involved.)

Any questions or comments at this point? Thanks, Nancy

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While i await your response, Nancy, i will continue with a point by point discussion – here’s the first.

Early on in this topic i call attention to the fact that Christ is said to be “the Image of God” twice in the Word. So Adam and Eve were created in Christ (the Image of God), and their lives were connected to His.

But, as God promised, when they rebelled by breaking their only rule/law, and ate of the forbidden fruit, they severed their connection with the One who is the Source of unending Life. Thus, they became mortal, or capable of dieing. And they needed a direct connection, again, with Him to be able to live forever, with Him.

So they passed onto their offspring a “broken spiritual linkage”, such that each descendant would have to have an intimate relationship with Christ to be able to live eternally in “the Forever Family” which the Heavenly Father/Dad is developing.

But Scripture tells us that in Jesus, with Jesus living in us, we have unending Life in Him, and will never really die, even though our bodies die. The lost, on the other hand do not have an eternal existence promised to them, and will not be given an immortal body which can never die.

The persistently lost are like “dead men walking” (or women…). They are only temporarily alive, first until physical death, then the full death after the Judgement. And after the Judgement/Punishment, they will die more finally in the Second Death, before Death itself is destroyed in the Lake of Fire. (Rev 20:14)

Eph 2:1-3
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

So we were all once “spiriturally dead”, apart from Christ, the Source of permanent Life, and were only promised unending Life when we accepted/received Him by God-given faith. And the spiriturally dead, who do not receive life that never ends will be destroyed, both body and soul in the Lake of Fire (Gehenna). [See references above]

So what then is death? As life leaves the physical body, we no longer see the living being, just an empty shell which decays and disintegrates. The “soul”, which Scripture never says is eternal, only tradition says that, is kept by God for being raised either to eternal Life in an immortal body for the saved, or to a permanent punishment for the lost, the Second Death.

There is a saying that Believers are born twice but only die once, while the finally lost are born once but die twice. I see that as being true – Jesus said we must be born again, of the Spirit, to have real Life. And He said,

John 3:15-16
“The Son of Man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Death is a separation from the world of the living, first from those living in the flesh, and then, if it is the Second Death, it is a final separation from the unending world of the Family of God in Christ. And then death will be no more, in its Ending destruction by the Lake of Fire.

Clear enough? Or are there questions raised here?

Next i will explore the Revelations’ sections you referred to, Nancy, but first let’s review a key point:

+++++++

F. On “eternal punishment” in Matthew 25:46.

  1. “Eternal punishment” is not an on-going, non-stop
    “punishing” but rather a single punishment with
    unending results/effects and consequences.

  2. “Eternal judgment” is a one-time judgment with
    unending effects and consequences.

  3. “Eternal redemption” is a one-time redemption with
    unending effects and consequences.

  4. “Eternal destruction” is a one-time destruction (the
    Second Death) with unending effects and
    consequences.

  5. “Eternal condemnation” is a one-time condemnation
    with unending effects and consequences.

  6. The same Greek construction is used for each of
    these phrases.

  7. The first death is more like a sleep, since everyone
    will be resurrected later (some for unending Life,
    some for Judgement/Punishment), but the Second
    Death is a final termination. There will be no later
    resurrection from the Lake of Fire, as far as we can
    tell from Scripture. It is permanent – the dead
    bodies, or corpses, of the lost will be all that is seen
    in the everlasting fire (Isa 66:24).

G. On the End of satan, the beast and false prophet.

  1. The everlasting Lake of Fire is primarily prepared for
    satan and his fallen angels, not humans.
    (Matt 25:41)

  2. Unclean spirits come out of the mouths of satan, the
    beast and false prophet. (Rev 16:13)

  3. Satan gives to the beast his power, throne and great
    authority. (Rev 13:2)

  4. Satan is able to appear as an “angel of light”,
    deceiving many. (2 Cor 11:14)

  5. Satan and his followers are directly or indirectly
    responsible for all sin. (See whole Scripture)

  6. Fallen angels have more permanent bodies than
    humans, since they have lived for over 6,000 years,
    at least.

  7. Satan, the beast and false prophet, the “false trinity”,
    will be tormented in the Fire for “ages of ages”, (see
    actual Greek wording of Rev 20:10), but they are not
    immortal and will die at some point, since they are
    mortal, after their longer-term punishment. Lost
    humans will die in the Lake of Fire more quickly,
    since they are also mortal. Only Jesus Christ is
    immortal at present (1 Tim 6:16) and neither satan,
    the beast and the false prophet, nor the rest of the
    lost, will be given immortal bodies, since that would
    require being directly connected to Christ.

+++++++

I’ll await your responses before continuing, Nancy.
Thank you for considering these ideas.

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@DeanW Just a few thoughts in reply here. I have been in a discussion on this subject before on Connect and it could probably go on until doomsday :smiley:

As far as the words immortal soul being found in the Bible, I agree you won’t find those words together. On the other hand we also don’t find the word Trinity in the Bible either. I would believe that both of these concepts are inferred in the Bible.
I would just refer to Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
To me this gives a side by side comparison in the OT of what is going to happen in the future judgment. If everlasting life means to be with God in everlasting conscious bliss and fellowship, then everlasting shame and contempt would have to be the opposite of that; everlasting conscious shame and contempt.

I would say many of the early church fathers did believe in the concept of undending torment and separation. I provided here one link you can read through. https://www.christianity.com/blogs/j-warner-wallace/what-did-early-christians-believe-about-hell.html

I appreciated your link to the 3 Greek words for life. I would just want to point out again though that the Greek word that Paul used in Acts 17:25 was Zoe, not Bios or Psuche. I do believe that Christ alone possesses immortality like you have pointed out, but that Christ gives that to all mankind when He creates us. He possesses it, but gifts it to us.

I think that the idea of justice, eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, is an interesting idea. I never thought of that before. I could see that as being a kind of justice to make the wrongs right between person to person. I.E. if i knocked someones tooth out, I would then be tortured/tormented by having my tooth knocked out, in someway to make up for that (not sure who is going to do that, maybe God). But if that is the way justice is given out for my sin against other people during my life, what about my sin against eternal God? How is that justice meted out?

I also appreciated your definition you gave in a later post on death. I am not sure we completely agree on it, but maybe to a degree. I would understand the Biblical definition of death to be separation. When Adam and Eve sinned there was a kind of death that happened. There was a separation between God and them. They were not annihilated but separated. God in His mercy cut off the way to the tree of life so that they would have a chance to be redeemed back into life or relationship with God again. They would not be stuck in that state here on earth forever. If separation is the definition for death instead of annihilation, I think the verses that refer to the soul that sin shall die would also make sense with an eternal conscious separation as a viewpoint.

When we accept Christ as our Saviour from death/separation, He beaks down that middle wall of partition (Ephesians 2) that keeps us from being with him forever.

I was just curious as well, and maybe you have some more thoughts on this. You said that the story of Lazarus and the rich man is just a parable, which I am assuming is meant that it is a made up story. Would you have your reasons why you believe that?
I would agree with you that it is not about life after the Judgment but before. That is a good point. I would believe that an unbeliever does have life after death though like the story points out. I would say though that the description that we see of what is happening here is also the description we see happening in Revelation when it talks about what happens in the second death of conscious torment of some kind.

I did just hear Ravi Zacharias talk on this very subject. https://www.rzim.org/listen/just-thinking/2018-apologetics-symposium-at-hillsong-church-part-3. Maybe you have a response to it.

I understand annihilation of the unbeliever could be a possibility, but I do not hold to it. Paul says knowing the terrors of our Lord we persuade men. 2 Corinthians 5:11. My personal feeling is that it gives a hope to people that cannot ultimately be proven until after death, but then it is too late if it wrong. I would rather be wrong about eternal separation/torment than annihilation. Just by personal opinions from my office chair at work :grinning:. Better get back to work before my boss annihilates my job :rofl:

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