What evidence do you have for the claim that eternal fire represents a spiritual condition?
Jesse & Sean,
Very interesting topic, and your volley of discourse is exemplary of RZIM’s mission of sharing, edifying, and learning together in Christian respect. I almost feel reticent to participate, but I believe there is an important and urgent dimension not yet addressed in your conversations. The neglected component is how eternal torture informs on God’s moral character.
The majority of orthodox scholarship I’ve read aligns with Jesse’s proposition that a perfectly holy God will and must judge sin with eternal punishment on a variety of grounds (eg, any sin against an infinitely holy God is tantamount to infinite corruption; and because even sinners bear God’s image, God cannot destroy or annihilate sinners because He cannot destroy His image). I find these justifications wanting.
Lewis in The Great Divorce posited that those who are consigned to hell consign themselves. He taught that damnation was the self-inflicted process of becoming “unhuman.” He states, “In the end, there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who say to God ‘Thy will be done,’ and those who in the end God says to them, ‘Thy will be done.” I don’t contend Lewis is correct, but I most sincerely hope he is. My point being, the concept of God eternally punishing someone, even Hitler, Stalin or Nero, is abhorrent and greatly distressing. Think of it, after some sinner has suffered for a thousand-billion centuries (for a sin or sins committed during their lifetime of < 100 years) they haven’t even begun to suffer yet. Clearly, the concept of infinite suffering for finite sin reflects poorly on the love of God as God’s justice is not proportional to the offense in this scenario.
Further, these same scholars labor to construct salvation, based in God’s mercy, for infants (born and unborn) that die. Typically, this salvation for infants is predicated on God’s love, justice, and mercy. But this is not because they produce scriptural evidence, but because they cannot admit God would cause an innocent infant to suffer damnation. So, orthodox scholarship is somewhat disingenuous by drawing unsupported boundaries, admitting God’s just eternal punishment of sinners (even those that never heard the Gospel) but providing mercy for infants. This seems more informed by our Western value system than substantiated by theology.
Scripture is clear on a couple of matters concerning this topic: God hates sin, will not tolerate it forever, and will judge sin. This aligns well w/both your propositions in that sin is wrong and will meet with punishment. Based on direct scriptural evidence, it seems difficult at best to distinguish whether this punishment is finite or infinite. And Sean’s contentions that scriptural punishments seem to substantially be finite seems reasonable. But a more harsh read of Scripture (eg, eternal punishment) is also within normal limits.
I have read of a pastor that preached to people that in hell “their blood would boil in their bodies.” That god is a monster. Our God is not a monster, He is good, loving, kind, generous, and long-suffering. If the fire of the parable you cite is real and the body of the rich man is real, then God is violating His own law by causing the man to burn eternally w/o being consumed. How is the fire supported if it’s not consuming fuel? If it’s not consuming fuel, how is it hot, where does the thermal energy come from? If the fire is real and the body is spiritual then how would that work? Why would a real fire affect a spiritual body? And what fuel is the real fire consuming? It would have to be an infinite source of fuel. If the body is real and the fire is spiritual (metaphorical or allegorical) then perhaps this could make some sense. The very concept of eternal punishment in a non-consuming fire is in violation of multiple of God’s laws; why would God violate His laws in order to eternally punish a sinner for breaking His laws? Where’s the reason, goodness, love, justice, mercy?
@klineeric I think you would appreciate John Stott’s essay on the topic of Hell (Link to PDF below). His attitude of humility in approaching the Scriptures and engaging with those who disagree with him and his clear sorrow for the lost move me. I read it while in seminary and still find it to be a helpful summary of the discussion and a moving call to reason.
I agree with you that the idea of the same Christ who died for His enemies turning around and tormenting them for eternity creates extreme cognitive dissonance. It doesn’t add up. And that should be enough to cause us to dig deeper into the Scriptures to make sure we are understanding them correctly.
Thanks for jumping in
I want to repudiate with all the vehemence of which I am capable the glibness, what almost
appears to be the glee, the Schadenfreunde, with which some Evangelicals speak about hell. It is a
horrible sickness of mind or spirit. Instead, since on the day of judgement, when some will be
condemned, there is going to be ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Mt 8:12; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30;
Lk 13:28), should we not already begin to weep at the very prospect? I thank God for Jeremiah.
Israelite patriot though he was, he was charged with the heartbreaking mission of prophesying the
destruction of his nation. Its ruin would only be temporary; it would not be eternal. Nevertheless,
he could not restrain his tears. ‘Oh that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of
tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people’ (Jer 9:1; cf. 13:17; 14:17).
Well, emotionally, I find the concept (of eternal torment) intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain. But our emotions are a fluctuating, unreliable guide to truth and must not be exalted to the place of supreme authority in
determining it. As a committed Evangelical, my question must be—and it—not what does my
heart tell me, but what does God’s word say? And in order to answer this question, we need to
survey the biblical material afresh and to open our minds (not just our hearts) to the possibility
that Scripture points in the direction of annihilation, and that ‘eternal conscious torment’ is a
tradition which has to yield to the supreme authority of Scripture. There are four argument; they
relate to language, imagery, justice and universalism.
Thanks for the response and the link. I’ve downloaded the content and will read it. Blessings sir…
I have found that the words “weeping and gnashing of teeth” have more then just one meaning or application. Some verses are speaking of anguish so severe that we in the flesh can’t begin to comprehend how bad that kind of anguish can be. Outer Darkness is a place that is completely void of the presents of God. I like to ask folks “How many times did God create light?” and most folks will answer with “once” because they are thinking about the light of the Sun. But God actually created light twice. The very first Light God created was His light.
Gen 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Gen 1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
Gen 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
God didn’t create the Sun and the light it gives us until the 4th day.
Gen 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
Gen 1:17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.
The words “Weeping and Gnashing” of teeth also speak of great pain and torment.
Mat 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
Mat 13:42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Gen 1:18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
Gen 1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
God gave me a revelation once about His light. The only reason we can see the light of the Sun or the Moon or the green grass and trees and whatever else we can see under the light og the Sun or the Moon is because of the light of God and without the Light Of God earth and everything in and upon it would be nothing more then Outer Darkness. It would be an extremely dense and think darkness so dark that there are no words we can use to properly describe that darkness.
According to the Hebrew beliefs there are 3 sections of what we now call hell and it was King James who changed almost all of the words that are speaking of the more unattractive lower parts of the earth. The three sections of Hell are called Gahenna which written once in the Bible and is speaking of a place of torment, Hades which is written means “The place of Departed Souls” and the name doesn’t speak of good or bad souls, but speaks of only Departed souls and the third section is named Tartarus which is not written in the Bible is speaking of a prison spoken of in “2Pe 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;” King James changed the many words written in the Bible to describe the three sections of “Hell” to the word “Hell” which is why the word Tartarus is not written in the Bible. But if you research the word “Hell” in 2 Peter 2:4 you will find that the word Hell is actually translated from the word Tartarus in the Greek. Thereby confounding our ability to better understand the lower reaches of the earth.
The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is a good example of being tormented after death.
Luk 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
Luk 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Luk 16:22 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;
Luk 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Luk 16:24 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.
I always like to ask folks this question, “If when we die our body goes back to the dust where it came from, what is the rich man doing roasting in hell and in great torment with eye balls and a tongue??”
Lazarus was carried away by angels and he was resting/sleeping in the bosom of Abraham which is a place of great comfort and he was not aware of the conversation between the rich man and Abraham. I do believe that the souls that are saved will live for ever but the souls that are judged to be evil go straight to torment and anguish and will be eventually will be thrown into the lake of fire.
I thought this link would be useful for this conversation.
Thanks to @SeanO I have been forced to give a fair amount of study to this subject. Before connect hell was eternal and a place of separation from God forever. I am still of that opinion today for many reasons, but this is perhaps the main one.
The idea of annihilation to me is no different than the position that anthesis or a naturalist would live by, the belief that “this is a one and done world, eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”. It lacks fear, not Halloween scary fear but the same fear or doubt that we all face daily about everything that we do as humans that involve choice. What is the upside and downside of what I am about to do? A type of buyer’s remorse if you will. I would go a step further and suggest that this doubt (a type of buyer’s remorse) is what fuels the need for apologetics both Christian and secular. My favor quote on this from David de Silva:
“The purpose of apologetics is often assumed to be to convince outsiders of the value of the beliefs and practices of a religion or way of life. This may be an occasional side effect, but it cannot be the primary function. Rather, works of apologetics are really written for insiders. The arguments in such books may find their way into discussions between adherents and outsiders, but the primary audience is the believing audience . Apologetic writings sustain the insider’s commitment in the face of critique, ridicule or contradiction from outside (and from questions and doubts inside).”
deSilva, D. A. (2004). An introduction to the New Testament: contexts, methods and ministry formation (p. 103). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
I cannot see why this same fear/doubt would not come into play when considering life after death. I don’t see how we can maintain the heaven and hell dualism with an eternal heaven and a temporary hell? Seems to me to be another one of those tension things.
This is an after thought but even if we argue that the OT does not support an afterlife, life choices where still tested against upside/downside choices. In other words Torah observes would lead to a long and prosperous life. Failure to do so would bring about the opposite.
@Jimmy_Sellers As always, great thoughts In brief, an initial response to those thoughts would be:
- the difference between annihilation and the naturalist’s view is that the annihilationist still believes that we will face God’s judgment and be held accountable for our actions. While that judgment will not last forever, that does not mean that it is not to be feared. A naturalist would say that we cease to exist, that there is no immaterial soul, and that God does not exist—very different from the annihilationist’s position.
- the idea that Hell lasts forever actually creates more tension than the idea of annihilation. How can God have total victory over evil if the wicked simply live on in agony forever? Would God’s victory not be more total if only that which is good, true, honorable, and just remained and all that is evil passed away along with this corrupt / broken creation? Why would a holy God want allow evil to remain unless He planned to redeem it somehow?
- I actually believe the OT does support an afterlife and that even the patriarchs had some notion that we lived on beyond the grave. I do not think this idea was fully developed into a clear hope of the resurrection of the dead necessarily, but I think it is reasonable to expect they believed, like many ancient cultures, in life after death. I’m not sure the OT gives us all the details on those beliefs, but in Daniel and Isaiah we clearly see belief in resurrection and a New Creation.
You say the materialists don’t believe in an immortal soul. You have said yourself you don’t believe in an immortal soul. How do you navigate not putting yourself in the materialists camp?
@Jesse_Means_God_Exists In this particular case, I said naturalists do not believe in an immaterial soul. Immaterial and immortal are not the same thing. As a Christian, I believe God is spirit and that we have a soul/spirit. Naturalists do not believe that spirit exists, but that all things are part of the natural realm.
Thank you for the comments. You posit a novel approach wrt God’s light, thanks.
Wrt your position re- torment in hell, I would first observe that some believers hold that there is a material difference between torture (the external infliction of pain) and torment (internal or self-infliction of emotional/spiritual pain). The Scripture speaks of torment (in English) rather than torture, so it may be that those souls in “hell” may be burdened by their rejection of God and this burden is self-torment. I personally cannot hold God morally justified, holy, good, pure, loving, kind, or gracious if He is torturing or tormenting people forever (or even over a short time span). If we as human beings know this is wrong, then certainly God knows it’s wrong and He won’t command it, participate in it, or condone it. I posit we’re not fully understanding Scripture in this area (and many others).
Wrt your proposition that God’s seminal creation of light is His own light, that’s novel as far as I know (nice thinking sir). However, if God created His light at some point in space-time (Day 1), then does that mean prior to that time His light didn’t exist? Since God is eternal, His light must also be eternal and therefore not created at some finite space-time instant (Day 1 or otherwise). Thus, your proposition, although novel, does not appear to reflect reality, unless God was w/o His light in eternity past.
The Day 4 problem (God creating the sun and moon on Day 4) is serious (as you indicate). But I would argue that the answer is because no part of the Bible is a scientific text and we must not apply scientific criticism to a narrative revelation. Narratives, such as the Scripture, exist in multiple genres and are meant for a plurality of audiences, for myriad of purposes, from and to numerous cultural contexts. Thus, I tend to read Scripture as literal-historical where possible and allegorical otherwise (and my boundary for the literal hermeneutic is not as conservative and rigid as most evangelical scholarship). Further, science has incontrovertible evidence the age of the Earth and the universe is old; creation did not occur over six literal 24 days, and as long as we Christians refuse to face up to this, Christianity will continue to be marginalized and counted worthless by a world that needs it as much as it needs to breath. I posit America and the world needs a scientifically informed neo-orthodoxy.
Wrt your position re- hell, you’re correct that there are multiple words for “hell” in the Bible (not including the Lake of Fire). The NT cites geenna (gehenna) and hades, the OT cites sheol. According to Strong, all three words appear to be synonyms for hell, hell-fire, and the grave. Tartarus, as you correctly say, is not in the Scripture but is a term derived from Greek mythology (and probably does not merit a place in a Christian discussion of hell). It is not clear to me that Scripture supports your conclusions about three separate sections/regions of hell, or multiple functions of a plurality of regions, although this might be the case. For me, Scripture is too vague on this matter to try to construct some coherent framework.
Wrt your question/proposition on the state of the deceased using the rich man example, the rich man was buried and his body was in the process of decaying, his eyes were in their sockets and his tongue was in his mouth (in the grave). Therefore, it’s reasonable to suggest that it was the immaterial soul of the rich man that was experiencing sight, thirst, pain, longing (his body was in the grave decomposing). If this is accurate, it does inform on the suffering of torment, it is possible that it may not be physical.
If physical suffering is in store for the lost, it raises many questions, such as:
• Are the lost raised with perfect or imperfect bodies?
• Will they continue to bear whatever disease or injury they had in life?
• Are their bodies susceptible to new disease, injury, handicaps?
• If their diseases and/or injuries were mortal how can they be sustained after the resurrection?
The above questions indicate that in order for God to resurrect the lost and keep them alive, it requires every bit as much of a miracle as God raising the saved (in perfect, incorruptible, and glorified bodies). The implication being, if God initiates such an enormous miracle to raise and sustain the lost, why not invest that same energy into Rehabilitation? Redemption? Reclamation? Why do we think it’s OK for God to miraculously raise and sustain the lost for the purpose of eternal punishment? Why do we think that’s moral, good, justified?
Okay, thanks for explaining that.
Sean, you do understand that my point was looking at annihilation from the POV of an atheist. If I were an unbeliever and was interested in a conversation about the Gospel somewhere in the conversation there would be a discussion about what would happen if I accepted Jesus and what would happen if I reject Jesus. If the answer to the negative was that God would judge me then annihilate me I would not see a difference in that view and what I already believed death is final. Forgive if I belabor the point but what’s to fear?
Yes Torment can be either physical or mental pain and I think the word “Anguish” best describes the mental torment that I am sure many would suffer in Gahenna. However in Luke 16:28 for example the word “Torment” according to the Strongs the word “Torment and and Torture” mean the same and speak of physical pain. (G931) In the Thayer’s Greek Lexicon the word Torment in Luke 16:28 is described as Torture, Torment, and Acute Pain. The first reference given is the same kind of mental and physical pain of those who are physically diseased. The second reference given is Matthew 4:24 and I quote “of the torments of the wicked after death. In my mind, to say that there is no such a thing as physical torment in hell is to say that both the Strongs and the Thayer’s are misinterpreting the word torment in Luke 16:28 or the words “furnace flame” in Matthew 13:42 and the words ’ tormented in this flame” in Luke 16:24 and I am not nearly qualified enough to make that claim and to make that claim would shed doubt on the complete contents of both of those books.
“Luk 16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
The rich man when he was talking to Abraham he specifically that he was being tormented In the Flames.
“Luk 16:24 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.”
So there is no question about how the Rich man was not only suffering from mental anguish but was also suffering from great physical pain from the flames of Hell.
Even Christ said that the wicked or those that do Iniquity “IE Lawlessness of God’s law” into a Furnace Of Fire.
Mat 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
Mat 13:42 And shall cast them into a Furnace of Fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Historically speaking when Christ was here on earth, outside of Jerusalem in the Kidron Valley there was a perpetual pile of burning trash because the population of Jerusalem would take there trash to the burn trash and throw their trash in among the fire to be burned. When the Romans had a prisoner who was no longer functionable and of no use to them, They would carry that prisoner out to the burning trash and throw him/her into the fire alive. This is what Christ was referencing when He spoke Mat 13:42. He was speaking to the people in terms He knew they would understand.
Please don’ misunderstand me because I am not in any way trying to diminish in any way the loving nature of God. I am not saying at all that it is God who sends folks to suffer great mental and physical pain in Hell because He does not. People send themselves to be tormented of their own free will.
The choice to choose/free will is one of the greatest gifts God has given us and other than the promise of Agape Love every single promise God has given us in His word always has conditions attached to the promise. If you keep My statutes, If you obey My commandments and if you accept My Son and My Salvation I will bless you in this life and in the life after death.
As far as the “Light of God” is concerned, I can tell you that I have seen it!!! God revealed it to me one day in a church service. He called my to go to the front and lay hands on a person and pray for them. After I got up from my seat and was walking down toward the front and suddenly there was this bright white light just hanging about 20 feet in the air!!! It was so bright I almost couldn’t look at it and it had these bright beams of light coming out from it like a star and all of the people were nothing more than black silhouette’s and though the lights were on in the building they were barely visible compared to the Light of God. I couldn’t see the color of the cloths or skin of any of the people who were in that chruch service that day. They were the deepest darkest black silouette’s so dark there aren’t any word in our vocabulary to describe how black those folks were. It was the second time that God had revealed to me how intricately dependent on God whether we are saved or not because without the light of God we would not be able to see that light of the Sun. God is who He is who ever said that He did or did not create His own light before the first day of creation or on the first day of creation and frankly I think it is a mote point. Scripture says that He said “Let there be light” on the first day and that the Sun and the Moon were created on the 4th day. What is so hard to believe about what the Word of God says?? I take what the Bible says literally according to my research and if the Bible says that the light was created on the first and forth day then light was created on the first and fouth day. If Christ said that folks will be cast into a furnace of fire and furnace means furnace and fire means fire then folks will be cast into a furnace of fire, it is very simple and I don’t see any conflict here at all.
Most of that other stuff your telling me adds to much complication and technicality to what should be simple and I think that is part of the problem with Christianity today. We have made way to complicated for the average person to try and comprehend. Just like the conference today. Every single subject spoken of today is covered in my book and for the most part I understood what the experts were saying. But the average Muslim wouldn’t understand most of what was spoken about today. I could be wrong about the grade level here but we have taken what was set up for basically an 8th grade level and added so much technological stuff to understanding the Word of God that we have made it harder for the lost to grasp to the Gospel at a level they can understand easily.
Here are some answers to your questions.
1 Are the lost raised with perfect or imperfect bodies? First of all the rich man’s body was rotting in the grave but it was the soul of the rich man that was suffering both the anguish of the mind and the physical pain. As for the lost being raised from the grave, there is no scripture that tells us that they are raised from the grave at all and there is no scripture that tells us what condition the there souls will be in at the point that they will be thrown into the lake of fire. And frankly speaking, Who cares?? Christ will do with those who refused His Gospel as He will see fit.
2 There is no scripture at all that tells us anything about the lost suffering any kind of diseases or the same suffering they suffered in life when they die. So if it is not written in the Word of God it is not!! The answer is NO because the Bible doesn’t speak of it.
3 The answer for question # 3 is the same answer as question #2. If it is not written in the Word of God it is not.
4 And the same goes for question #4. If it is not written in the Word of God, It Is Not.
The 4 questions above have absolutely no relevance here because non of these subjects are mentioned or even eluded to in the Word of God and again, Who cares??? They made their choice and they will or are suffering the consequences of their choices just like we will. We chose the way of Christ and we will suffer our just rewards and they will suffer their just rewards.
The scriptures below are as close as you are going to come to your question about what will happen to the dead who are wicked. There is no mention of what their bodies will look like if they even have bodies glorified or not and the scriptures are really quite simple. The dead who are wicked are all cast into the lake of fire which is the second death and the second death is the death of the soul. Which tells me that when the souls dies there isn’t anything left to torment. Because Salvation is all about where is your soul going to spend eternity
Rev 20:12 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.
Rev 20:13 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.
Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
If it is not written in the Word of God it is not.
@Jimmy_Sellers I would argue that from an atheist’s viewpoint the idea of eternal torment is exactly the thing that makes God seem most unreasonable and abhorrent. I once encountered a young atheist man in Chicago with whom I attempted to share the Gospel and his main objection was the idea that Christians would bother children with the horror of everlasting suffering in order to force them into obedience. It is hard for an atheist to understand how God can be love and yet torment those who choose to reject Him for all eternity. I think it is only someone who grew up in a religious environment who does not find this idea perplexing.
I also think you are misrepresenting the human fear of death. From ancient times, men like Epicurus recognized that one of the biggest barriers to happiness was a fear of death. And the book of Hebrews says that Jesus sets us humans free from a fear of death. Death is our enemy. It is terrible. It was never meant to be—and it is something that causes fear. Many people are not ready to die, as is evidenced by the reaction of basically anyone to a terrible diagnosis.
Hebrews 2:14-15 - Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Additionally, annihilationism does not deny that God does judge the wicked at death and that judgment may be terrible for those who have lived an evil life. So annihilation is not an escape from judgment.
And finally, Jesus did not use fear to motivate nonreligious people—He used love and compassion. It was the religious people who He laid into with images of destruction and terror—the hypocrites. Those who ought to have known better. So I am not at all convinced fear is the right way to reach out to the lost. We love because He first loved us—not because He first made us wet our pants in abject terror.
To me, repentance has more to do with recognizing two things simultaneously: our unworthiness and His love for us in spite of that unworthiness. While it does require recognizing that we fall short and are deserving of judgment, I do not think that fear is the chief emotion. I believe that an inexpressible gratitude that God will be near someone so unclean and with so little to offer is more the right emotion.
Thank you for the in-depth response. I won’t counter point-by-point, rather I’ll just share Proverbs 27:17, “…iron sharpens iron…” When respectful discussions are appropriately prosecuted, both sides enjoy edifying benefits. Your strong faith is a wonderful example to me, and faith is more important to God than knowledge or technical correctness. May our good Lord continue to bless and keep you and yours. Shalom.
I agree and thank you very much for stimulating discussion. I am very much enjoy these kinds of discussions focused around what folks call “deep” subjects. There are some things we will never know unless God gives us revelation or after we die we may be informed of all thing. A question that has always had is "If at the end when we will no longer need the sun for light, there well no longer be any tears, God will dwell among us with the river of life and the tree of life. Why will we still need the leaves of the tree of life for the healing of the nations??? I have always scratched my head about that. LOL
Just a guess, but I always picture New Jerusalem as a great city for believers, BUT everything outside that city is Babylon. This may be figurative and it may be literal, IDK. What I DO know is that this picture has stayed with me since the last day of a Bible study that my pastor lead of the first 4 chapters of Genesis. The point was that God was going to make all things new again like in the garden of Eden. It’s a prophetic picture of that great city of New Jerusalem coming down in the clouds for the few believers to take refuge in. Then the others in the world are in total darkness because Babylon has no light.
I’m glad to see us wrestling with this topic again. I spent much time, since becoming a Believer in Christ dealing with this, and related, subjects. And a lot of my findings are summarized in the topic, here, of:
Conditioned Immortality Resurrected
Briefly, the key concepts that persuade me toward final termination (with compassion) of the “lost” are these:
Adam and Eve were directly connected to Christ (created in the Image of God, which Christ is). When the fell, they became mortal, capable of death. And then they needed a Savior to reconnect them with unending Life.
The Word says Believers will be given an immortal body at the Resurrection. But unbeivers are never given an immortal body in Scripture, they remain mortal, capable of death (the Second Death).
The phrase “eternal Punishment” is usually perceived as meaning a punishing that never ends. But “eternal Judgement” means a one-time Judgement which has unending consequences and effects. “Eternal Redemption” is a one-time Redemption with unending consequences and effects. So “eternal Punishment” is a one-time Punishment with unending effects and consequences – a final one-time action.
If this is true, then the Second Resurrection is a raising of the “lost” to receive Judgement and then Punishment, which punishment includes both recompense for the evil done in this life, and the ending of that Punishment which is the Second Death in the Lake of Fire. The Fire burns forever, but the “lost” are mortal and will die in that fire.
And, since God’s perfect Law never included any form of long-term torture (the highest penalty for violation was death), His Justice will be satisfied (they will be punished for all their sins before being terminated). And His mercy and compassion will be on display with his justice / fairness at the same time, as they were on the Cross.
We recall that Jersus wept over the Jerusalem He would soon have to destroy, and He revealed the heart of the Father. So i believe that it will be with tears of compassion that He will end the existence of the lost ones. And His perfect Love will be clearly seen for both the people who want to be with Him forever, and for those who choose final punishment and termination rather than to be with Him forever.
Complete separation from God, the only Source of Life, and Who is everywhere present, is to be cast physically into the Lake of Fire and spiritually to be cast into “outer darkness” as His Light fills the entire universe. In Him we live, and move, and have our being – completely separated and apart from Him we have no existence, we have no motion, we have no being.
There is more, of course, but i hope this provokes some further re-examination of the topic. Thanks.