Does Disbelief in Hell = Lack of Salvation?

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(Tabitha Gallman) #21

@SeanO I just wanted you to know that I am "in the process of reading “What’s the Truth About Heaven and Hell” by Douglas Jacoby that you recommended to me back a few posts ago, but I haven’t read enough to summarize any significant amount. The book does spend some valuable time on the subject of interpretation and in chapter three (p23) I highlighted this sentence:

“Three concepts fraught with presupposition are eternity, infinity, and immortality, and unpacking them is essential if we are to thoughtfully consider the passages usually regarded as informing us about heaven, hell, and the afterlife.”

This book is very thorough, detailed and thought provoking. I am in chapter 8, but admittedly, I will definitely have to go back and re-read much of what I have read because this is a book that contains a lot of references (some I am familiar with and others I am not). It’s a lot of information in just 239 pages (including Appendix and notes).
Also, btw, I always thought of gnashing of teeth as referring to pain.


(SeanO) #22

@tabby68 Great! We’d love to hear your thoughts as you process the book. Yes, it blew my mind the first time I realized that ‘gnashing of teeth’ had nothing to do with pain - but it was actually related to anger. I had no idea.

Please do share as you process the book - if you find any particularly helpful things feel free to even start new threads to discuss.

Acts 7:54-58 - When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.


(C Rhodes) #23

@WarnerMiller. I have additional questions. After reading all the different conclusions written it seems there is a consensus that Hell is not the reality many believe it is. My question to you is whether your original question purposes doctrinal considerations? Considerations that seem to hold no import to the question of salvation at all? But rather a unification through doctrinal ideas. Similiar to the debate that rages about New Earth Creation and Old Earth Creation. How do you think the question of Hell factors into Salvation?


(Tabitha Gallman) #24

@cer7 I love reading your thoughts. I am learning to talk with my daughter in a way that interests her, and we are in the car now and I thought I’d ask her thoughts on this topic and her answer to me was “if your running to Jesus, you must be running from something.” I read your post to her to encourage her.


(Warner Joseph Miller) #25

Amen! I enjoy reading your thoughts, @cer7, as well as the thoughts of everyone in this thread!! Truly.

Thanks for the follow-up question, man. To the question of

whether your original question purposes doctrinal considerations

…in short, YES. Ideally, yes, a biblical foundation and “doctrinal consideration” would be the preferred approach. But I also don’t assume that in a forum this big - with varying theological traditions, interpretations and levels of understanding – that everyone will believe uniformly. However, that can be one of the beautiful things about the Body of Christ: one brings their understanding and another, theirs and so on and so on. With Scripture as our base and the Holy Spirit as our guide, we humbly and graciously correct each other, sharpen, affirm, etc. Ideally.:wink:

But if I understand your other question, correctly, regarding the existence of hell and whether or not it is necessary to acknowledge its existence (actual or figurative) my answer would be ‘NO’. I don’t reckon belief in hell - actual or figurative - as essential for salvation. Per my understanding of Scripture, I don’t see anything in Scripture that would lend itself to either the belief in hell or even a correct understanding of hell to be a prerequisite for salvation. For if "by grace you have been saved through faith […] as the gift of God" (Eph.2:8,9) then I have to conclude that that gift; that grace leaves room for reconciling our incorrect or incomplete understandings about hell.

While I DO understand final judgement and the eternal separation from God to be a very real place in time and reality, I couldn’t give anyone a confident, doctrinally airtight, full description of what that looks like or consists of. I could speculate…but that’s only if I were being pressed to. As is the case with heaven, I may not know or be able to confidently describe every aspect of it…but I know enough about heaven to know “I want that!” (in the words of my baby nephew). Similarly, with regard to hell or eternal separation from God, I know enough about it to confidently assert that “I don’t want that!” :grinning:

Now, I do believe that there are theological and doctrinal consequences (AND consequences of orthopraxy - Christian practice) that come with either believing that hell exists or doesn’t exist. I think there are inconsistencies that must be reconciled. As was stated “if you’re running to Jesus, you must be running from something”. While someone in response to that reasoning could say that they are running from “annihilation” and not hell, I just don’t personally understand that to be true.

I hope I answered what you were asking, man. Please let me know if I haven’t. Again, thanks for the follow up question and the marvelous way everyone’s been giving such thoughtful responses. God’s peace and blessings!


(Winston Jones) #26

Certainly an interesting conversation.
May I contribute the following:
Regarding the necessity of hell as a motivation to repent, N T Wright in his book “Simply Jesus” says of what Jesus is building now, “…its motivating power is love.” p194.
Chuck Colson said in “How Now Shall We Live”, “Fear does not stop people. If it did, no one would smoke.” p29
God warned Adam that he would die if he disobeyed, yet he did anyway. (By the way, the warning was of death, not eternal life in hell, but that’s another question). From Moses to Malachi, Israel was warned of dire consequences of disobedience, but to no avail.
Jesus, in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, said that even if one rose from the dead, he wouldn’t be listened to by those who can’t hear Moses and the Prophets. Also note in this parable that Jesus does not say that the Rich Man is going to spend eternity in hell.
From my own experience, hell-fire preaching did more to turn me away from and obscure God’s love and grace than it did to turn me toward Jesus.
Those are my thoughts for now. Shalom.


(Barbara Schumann) #27

My thoughts on this topic are that a person could definitely be saved without believing in hell. But as the person grows in their faith; reading, studying, and praying over the Bible, could they really take up a position on hell in direct opposition to what Jesus Himself said? That’s where I have trouble. God’s word is to change us. We are not to change God’s word according to our liking. Many people come to Christ b/c of their fear of hell. I was one. Wouldn’t it be just like the enemy to plant doubts about hell’s existence in order to keep more people from considering turning to Christ?


(C Rhodes) #28

Hi @WarnerMiller. I was just released from the hospital today and could not respond to your post. As usual, you are elegant and bone funny. I’m with you. Whatever Hell is, I don’t want any part. Be blessed.


(C Rhodes) #29

Hi @tabby68. When the email of your post came through I was setting in an emergency room. My heart was settled and blessed by your daughter’s poignant reasoning. I realized how accessible the heart of JESUS is, even in an emergency room. I knew I would be okay. I was released today. As usual, the Lord answered many prayers in the experience. Please thank your daughter for me. I am honored to have the fellowship of the daughters of Zion. Be blessed, be well.


(SeanO) #30

@cer7 Jesus grant you a swift and speedy recovery and strengthen you heart, body and soul :slight_smile:


(C Rhodes) #31

Hi! @SeanO. Thank you so much. I believe with you and receive all GOD is willing to bestow. Glad to be back in touch with RZIM!


(Tabitha Gallman) #32

@cer7 Oh bless your heart - ER’s are awful for any length of time. I too, hope you are 100% soon. You are a blessing, and I will definitely tell my daughter. She amazes me with her wisdom (albeit questionable sometimes from my “older” point of view, lol). I am adding you to my prayer list. :hugs:


(Warner Joseph Miller) #33

Oh my goodness!!! I had no idea that you were in the hospital! Please forgive my delay in responding. I must’ve mistakenly overlooked the notification. I’m so glad that you seem to be on the mend. I truly am! God’s every comfort and blessing to you.


(Cameron Kufner) #34

Warner, I actually just watched that movie. Thank you for bringing up this question because it’s one I wrestled with often: “How could a loving God send people to a place like Hell.” I believe in Hell, the same Hell that Jesus taught about more than he taught about Heaven (I’m almost positive he taught more about Hell, but I could be wrong). I was beyond puzzled by his strong stance on universal reconciliation and it bothers me because if there is no Hell, then why did Jesus die on the cross? To forgive all our sins, yes, but to keep us out of Hell! Think about all those who want to go to Heaven, but don’t want to accept that sacrifice and live for God. That’s like saying “I want to invest, but not put any money down.” Or “I want to make money, but not work.” It doesn’t make any sense. I stopped watching when he started preaching about universal reconciliation, it just got me wound up with righteous anger because it’s a complete teaching contrary to what God actually said. I don’t know if it’s a Heaven or Hell issue, but both are real places and sin is real. What did you think of the scriptures he used to explain why he believed his new view was right in the movie?


(Kelvin Bottle) #35

Hi all so much to take in here. I have been looking at the topic of hell recently in terms of the decline of evangeslism and lack of concern for hell.

At the moment in my reading I would say that Hell is a literal place of eternal tournament. However until judgment Day we will be in Hades. Those who profess Christ as Lord on the one side and those who don’t on the other side held in bondage. I may very well be wrong on this assertion. I see this as a journey of discovery.

I struggle greatly with universalist ideas that all will ultimately be saved. Unless I consider this me join with others on a similar journey I will not grow in my faith.


(SeanO) #36

@Kelvin77 Thank you for those thoughts. Personally I think the Bible teaches annihilation or eternal torment - I also do not find in Scripture any strong indication for universalism. The image of Hades from the story of the rich man and Lazarus may not have been a description of an actual person / place but rather a story used for instructive purposes. Christ be with you.


(Kelvin Bottle) #37

Hades is also referred to in Ephesians 4:8-10 and 1 Peter 3:18-20.

“In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word used to describe the realm of the dead is sheol. It simply means the “place of the dead” or the “place of departed souls/spirits.” The New Testament Greek equivalent of sheol is hades which also refers to “the place of the dead.” Other Scriptures in the New Testament indicate that sheol/hades is a temporary place, where souls are kept as they await the final resurrection and judgment. Revelation 20:11–15 gives a clear distinction between the two. Hell (the lake of fire) is the permanent and final place of judgment for the lost. Hades is a temporary place.” (Got Questions, Bible questions answered)

Likewise when we look at what Peter says in 2 Peter 2:4-10 and Jude 6 allude to either Hades or to Hell which suggests that it is real.

Apologies for the next rather long extract but I did find this rather interesting:

“It is thought by some that the idea of Hell is outmoded. This is one of many “reductionist” views, which seek to reduce the significance of Hell to a limited concept of annihilation, and this has been extended further by those who reduce it to a phenomenon in this life only. Jean Paul Sartre (the French existentialist) for instance said, “Hell is other people”. Another Frenchman, George Bernanos (priest and mystic) defined Hell as “not to love anymore”. Philo of Alexandria wrote “Hell is the life of the wicked”. Swedenborg (Swedish philosopher) taught Heaven or Hell are states of consciousness not “places”.
Unfortunately such theories are the end result of rejecting the Bible as God’s revelation. Truth is being decided on human reasoning alone—or access in Swedenborg’s case to claimed “special revelations”. These views do not square with Jesus’ teaching on the worthless servant thrown into darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Bible-believing Christians cannot just rip out pages of the Bible that are unpalatable or unfashionable to the modern mind (see Matthew 25: 31–46). God’s standard is perfection, and as a just God, he must deal with sin. God’s wrath is not just a threat to mankind. It signifies a hatred of evil. Would God be just if he let Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot be snuffed out, never to be punished for the evil they committed?
That we are not to take justice into our own hands as individuals is justified by the Apostle Paul on the grounds of God’s ultimate justice: Romans 12:19b states, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord.” The state, in contrast, is said by the apostle to have the “power of the sword.” The word used for the latter object is not dagger, but gladius or sword. The Roman power is symbolised in the Apocalyse with the great sword. It is a symbol of the magistrates power to punish. Romans 13: 3–4 says, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practises evil.”
To gloss over the Bible’s teaching on justice, is also to deny Jesus’ clear message—no other prophet spoke as much on Hell. It was Jesus who referred to: Dives opening his eyes in Hell, the place of outer darkness, and who spoke of the place of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. The Hebrew word “Gehenna” (“hell”) means shame, disgrace, sin, guilt, judgement and punishment. Gehenna was the name of the rubbish tip outside Jerusalem where the bodies of executed criminals were burnt, which Jesus used as an analogy of hell. The word is by far the most vivid in teaching the reality of eternal punishment.
John Blanchard points out regarding “Gehenna … [it] may surprise many people, … that eleven out of the twelve times that it occurs it is Jesus who uses it. Nor does he mince his words. He speaks about a person’s whole body being ‘thrown into hell’ (Matthew 5:29), of those who will be ‘thrown into the fire of hell’ (Matthew 18:9), and of hypocrites being ‘condemned to hell’ (Matthew 23:33). When sending out his twelve apostles on their first mission Jesus warned them of the persecution they would face and added, ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell’ ” (Matthew 10:28). Whatever ‘hell’ means, Jesus taught that going there is a worse fate than being murdered. Elsewhere he spoke of it as being a place ‘where the fire never goes out’ (Mark 9:43) and where ‘their worm does not die’ ” (Mark 9:48) that is, their conscience does not die.” (On Giants’ Shoulders)