Is Hell eternal?

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  • #777238
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    Eternal judgement is one of the foundation doctrines of our faith and most of these doctrines have changed as the Church has added thousands of years worth of tradition to them. For me what is important is that the truth shines out beyond the dark ignorance of our own minds and traditions. I believe that traditional Christianity is more wrong on such matters than many would believe.

    Let’s face it, if God doesn’t burn people for eternity, then it could only be an attack on his character to say he does and no good thing comes from a lie. Even a conversion based on fear is not the same as one based on love. However, if he does burn people without end, then we just have to get use to that reality as we have no choice in the matter. But I have yet to see a conclusive scripture that teaches that man is eternal or exists forever even if they are sinners. On the contrary there are a number of witness verses that say the humans are not eternal (only the elect), and the wicked do not have eternal life/existence. So I have to go with those scriptures in order to keep a good conscience before God.

    Jeremiah 7:30-33
    30. “For the sons of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight,” declares the LORD, “they have set their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it.
    31. “They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind.
    32. “Therefore, behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of the Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place.
    33. “The dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the sky and for the beasts of the earth; and no one will frighten them away.

    #777239
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    A new page has been added to this teaching. It lists scriptures that contradict the idea that Hell is an eternal abode of wicked living souls who suffer for all eternity in fire.

    See it here:

    http://heavennet.net/writings/is-hell-eternal-part-2/

    #777240
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    This is an excerpt from John Bunyan’s book Visions of Heaven and Hell, an account of the author’s visit to both heaven and hell after contemplating suicide… Here, in hell, he sees many souls whom he is allowed to converse with.
    This first hand account of hell touches on the subject at hand – whether hell lasts forever or not..

    “We had not gone much farther before we saw a wretched soul lying on a bed of burning steel, almost choked with brimstone. He cried out with such dreadful anguish and desperation, that I asked my conductor to wait. I heard him speak as follows:
    ‘Ah, miserable wretch! Undone forever, forever! Oh, this killing word,’forever!’ Will not a million years be long enough to bear that pain, which if I could avoid it, I would not endure for even one moment for the sake of being offered one million worlds? No, no my misery never will have an end; after millions of years it will still be for ever. Oh, what a helpless and hopeless condition I am in! It is this ‘forever’ that is the hell of hell! O cursed wretch! Cursed to all eternity! How wilfully have I undone myself! Oh, what stupendous folly am I guilty of, to choose sin’s short and momentary pleasure at the dear price of everlasting pain! How often I was told it would be so! How often I was encouraged to leave those paths of sin that brought me to the chambers of eternal death! But I, like a dumb animal, would not listen to those pleadings. Now it is too late to change it, for my eternal state is fixed for ever. Why was I made a person, that I would choose this fate? Why was I made with an immortal soul, and yet should take so little care of it? Oh how my own neglect stings me to death, and yet I know I cannot die! I live a dying life, worse than ten thousand deaths; and yet I once could have changed all this, but did not! Oh, that is the gnawing worm that never dies! I might once have been happy, salvation was offered to me and I refused it. Had salvation been offered to me only once, it would have been an unforgivable folly to refuse it. But salvation was offered me a thousand times, and yet (wretch that I was) I still as often refused it. O cursed sin, that with deluding pleasures leads mankind to eternal ruin! God often called, but I as often refused; He stretched His hand out, but I would not mind it. How often have I ignored His counsel! How often have I refused His reproof! But now the scene is changed, the case is altered. Now He laughs at my calamity, and mocks at the destruction which is come upon me. He would have helped me once, but I would not accept His help. Therefore those eternal
    miseries I am condemned to undergo are but the just reward of my own doing.’
    I could not hear this sorrowful lamentation without thinking about the wonderful grace that God had shown to me, eternal praises to His holy name! For my heart told me that I had deserved eternal judgement as much as that sad wretch, but that God’s grace alone had made us different. O how unsearchable are His counsels! Who can fathom His divine decree?
    After these thoughts I spoke to the sorrowful complainer, and told him I had heard his woeful complaints. I saw that his misery was great, and his loss irreparable, and told him I would willingly hear more about it if this might possibly help lessen his sufferings.’
    ‘No, not at all; my pains cannot be relieved even for one small moment. But by your question I understand that you are a stranger here; and may you ever be a stranger! Ah, had I but the least hope still remaining, how I would kneel and cry and pray for ever to be redeemed from this hell! But it is all in vain, I am lost forever. But so that you will be warned about
    ending up here, I will tell you what the damned suffer.’

    Chapter 8: A Lost Soul Speaks
    ‘Our miseries in this infernal dungeon are of two kinds: what we have lost, and what we suffer. I will first speak about what we have lost.
    1. In this sad dark place of misery and sorrow, we have lost the presence of the ever blessed God. This is what makes this dungeon hell. Though we had lost a thousand worlds, it would not be as important as this one greatest loss. Could we but see the least glimpse of His favour here, we might be happy; but have lost it to our everlasting woe.
    2. Here we have also lost the company of saints and angels, and instead have nothing but tormenting devils.
    3. Here we have lost heaven, too, the center of blessedness. There is a deep gulf between us and heaven, so that we are shut out from it forever. Those everlasting gates that let the redeemed into heaven are now for ever shut against us.
    4. To make our wretchedness far worse, we have lost the hope of ever obtaining a better condition. This makes us truly hopeless. Well may our hearts now break, since we are both without hope and help. This is what we have lost; and if we think of these things, it is enough to tear and gnaw upon our miserable souls forever. Yet, oh, that this were all that our
    torments were! But we are also tormented by suffering and pain, as I will try to explain to you now.
    1. First, we undergo a variety of torments. We are tormented here a thousand, no, ten thousand different ways. Those that suffer upon the earth seldom have more than one affliction at a time. But if they had ulcers, gallstones, headaches, and fever all at the same time, would they not think they were very miserable? Yet all those together are but like the biting of a flea compared to those intolerable, sharp pains that we endure.
    Here we have all the sufferings of hell. Here is an unquenchable fire which burns us; a lake of burning brimstone that ever chokes us; and eternal chains that bind us. Here there is utter darkness to frighten us, and a worm of conscience that gnaws upon us everlastingly. Any one of these is worse to bear than all the torments that mankind ever felt on earth!
    2. But our torments here are not only various, but are also complete. They afflict every part of the body, and torment all the powers of the soul. This makes what we suffer the worst of tortures. In those sicknesses which men have on earth, though some members of their bodies will suffer, yet other parts will have no pain. Here it is different; every member of the soul and body suffers at the same time. ‘Our eyes are tormented here with the sight of devils who appear in all the horrible shapes and black appearances that sin can give them. Our ears are continually tormented with the loud continual yelling of the damned. Our nostrils are smothered with sulfurous flames; our tongues with burning blisters; and the whole body is rolled in flames of liquid fire. All the powers and faculties of our souls are also tormented here. The imagination suffers with the thoughts of our present pain and the memory of the heaven we have lost. Our minds are tormented as we remember
    how foolishly we spent our precious time on earth. Our understanding is tormented with the thoughts of our past pleasures, present pains, and future sorrows, which are to last forever. And our consciences are tormented with a continual gnawing worm.
    3. Another thing that makes our misery so awful is the sharpness of our torments. The fire that burns us is so violent that all the water in the sea can never quench it. The pains we suffer here are so extreme that it is impossible for anyone to know them except the damned.
    4. Another part of our misery is the ceaselessness of our torments. As various, as complete, and as extremely violent as they are, they are also continual. We have no rest from them. If there were any relaxation, it might be some relief. But there is no easing of our torments, and what we suffer now we must suffer forever.
    5. The society or company we have here is another part of our misery. Tormenting devils and tormented souls are all our company. Dreadful shrieks, howlings, and fearful cursing are our continual conversation because of the fierceness of our pain.
    6. The place we are in also increases our sufferings. It is the completion of all misery, a prison, a dungeon, a bottomless pit, a lake of brimstone, a furnace of fire that burns to eternity, the blackness of darkness for ever; and lastly, hell itself. Such a wretched place as this can only increase our wretchedness.
    7. The cruelty of our tormentors is another thing that adds to our sufferings. Our tormentors are devils in whom there is no pity. While they are tormented themselves, they still take pleasure in tormenting us.
    8. All those sufferings that I have recounted are very grievous. But that which makes them the most grievous is that they shall always be forever. All of our intolerable sufferings shall last to all eternity! ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,’ is what continually sounds in my ears. Oh, that I could reverse that fatal sentence! Oh, if there was but a bare possibility of salvation! This is the miserable situation we are in, and shall be in forever.’

    Chapter 9: Further Conversations
    This wretched soul had scarcely finished what he was saying when he was tormented again by a hellish demon, who told him to stop complaining. The demon said, ‘don’t you know you have deserved it all? How often were you told of this before, but would not believe it? You laughed at those who warned you about hell. You were even so presumptuous as to dare Almighty justice to destroy you! How often you called on God to damn you. Do you complain that you are answered according to your
    wishes? What an unreasonable thing! You know that you had salvation offered you, and you refused it. How can you now complain of being damned? I have more reason to complain, for you had a long time in which repentance was offered you; but I was cast into hell as soon as I had sinned. If I had been offered salvation, I would never have rejected it as you did. Who do you think should pity you now, with all that heaven had offered to you?’
    This made the wretch cry out, Oh, do not continue to torment me; I know that I chose destruction. Oh, that I could forget it! These thoughts are my greatest torture. I chose to be damned, and therefore justly am so.’
    Then turning to the demon that tortured him he said, ‘But I also came here through your temptations, you cursed devil. You were the one that had tempted me to do all of my sins; and now you would reproach me? You say you never had a Saviour offered to you; but you should also remember that you never had a tempter such as you have always been to me.’
    To this the devil scornfully replied, ‘It was my business to lead you here! You had often been warned of this by your preacher. You were plainly told that we sought your ruin, and go about continually like roaring lions, seeking whom we could devour. I was often afraid you that would believe them, as several other souls did, to our great disappointment. But you
    were willing to do what we wanted; and since you have done our work it is but reasonable that we should pay you wages.’ Then the fiend tormented him again and caused him to roar out so horribly that I could no longer stay to hear him, so I passed on.”
    http://www.freecdtracts.com/documents/visionsofheavenandhell.pdf
    Blessings..!!

    #777242
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    This man is in hell and scripture clearly says that hell is thrown into the lake of fire which is the second death. When exactly is hell thrown into the second death, after the Millennial reign. So this man is in Hell before the Second Death and will be there for some time to come.

    The word forever actually means for an age and forever and ever means for an age and an age. If a person is in Hell in this age and the next, then he is in Hell forever and ever.

    The Second Death is eternal and Hell is forever. There is a difference in meaning and even Greek writings that use forever outside of scripture did not refer to eternity.

    And now take a look at what the most revered book in scripture says will happen:

    Revelation 21:4
    God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away

    The doctrine of an eternal Hell denies that the former things will pass away and that there will be no more pain.

    And here is another promise from our merciful God.

    Colossians 1:19-20:
    For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    This scripture does after all open up the idea that God could even reconcile the wicked because it does say “all things”. And let’s face it, God destroys the same earth and heavens, and makes them anew. And that fire is the same fire and destruction that the wicked are cast into. I dare not say this meaning is the truth, but I dare not wipe it away either. The point is when God said, that the soul that sins will die, did not our merciful God come up with a plan to save us sinners? Did angels argue about our salvation before God announced the plan? Did some angels speculate that “the souls that sins will die” so there is not hope for man? Who is to say either way what God will ultimately do. We cannot know the mind of God except that which he has revealed and have you noticed that he is not only merciful, but he only reveals that what is relevant in its season.

    Obviously we live our lives according to what God is saying to us now. But we shouldn’t on the other hand predetermine what God can or cannot do in the future for that is God’s call alone. And he is saying that if we die separated from him, we will be thrown into Hell. Then after an age or two (forever and ever/present age and Millennium) they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire to be destroyed, where upon all things are made new.

    When they are thrown into that second death, who are we to say for sure that this fire will burn up all wickedness and destroy it, leaving only that which can be purged a sort of redemption of all things as Colossians seems to hint at, or that the fire permanently annihilates the wicked which explains all the former things including the old earth and heavens, and the wicked resulting in all three passing away, or the traditional view that the wicked are never actually destroyed, but remain intact with eternal life/existence so they can feel pain forever while alive even though God has created anew the heavens and earth and reconciles all things.

    If it were the latter, then how exactly does that mean that the former things have passed away? And there will be no more pain. Does not that view contradict that there will be no more pain? I would like to hear the answer to that as then you could potentially reconcile scripture with that view and make it one of the valid outcomes that scripture opens the possibility to.

    #777243
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    Also, it is possible that the wicked may think they are going to burn for all eternity because I doubt that they know much about scripture and they probably die with the traditional view of an eternal Hell. After all, it is the predominate view today, and was the view way back in Babylon too. I mean who among them know that Hell will be cast into the Second Death after this age and the next? Maybe some know that because they once actually studied scripture. Or do they go to Hell School where they graduate upon learning their eternal fate of suffering. I mean how do they actually know if they are alone, in the dark, and are being tortured by liars? Really what do the wicked know of the full plan of God?

    A tortured soul in hell might say this or that, but for me scripture is a higher authority on what God’s plan is for the wicked than the testimony of a wicked soul in Hell who have no authority on the truth of God’s plan.

    #777244
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    BTW, that book is one of my all time favourites and I have it online here:
    http://www.heaven.net.nz/writings/pilgrimsprogress.htm

    #777245
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    In keeping a good conscience before God, I cannot ignore the clear teaching in scripture that says that the earth, heavens and hell, and wicked suffer the second death and that God makes everything new where the old is passed away and there is no more pain, crying, suffering. This is after all taught in scripture and at the end of the day, we do not know the full plan of God and anyone who claims to know is not telling the truth. What we have are the scriptures and so I base my doctrine on them.

    Further, when scripture seems to teach different views that are contradictory, then it is time to study at a deeper level and look up the meaning of the words used, because if scripture says that the wicked will exist forever as sinners in pain, and other scripture contradicts that, then we need to look up the meaning of words like ‘forever’ which BTW means age.

    #777246
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    You said, “The word forever actually means for an age..”

    A look at the word ‘aionion’
    by Matt Slick

    Universalism is the teaching that God will ultimately bring all people, in all times, and all places to a state of reconciliation with Him. In other words, everyone who ever lived will be saved. Consequently, universalism cannot allow the possibility of an eternal hell as a realistic biblical teaching.

    To get around the problem of the English Bibles translating Greek words into “eternal,” “forever,” and “forevermore” when describing fire (Matt. 18:8) or torment (Rev. 20:10), the universalists go to the Greek. The Greek word that is translated into eternal is “aionion.” It comes from the Greek root “aion” meaning “age.” This fact combined with the various uses of Greek words derived from the root “aion,” are what the universalists use to attempt to show that “aionion” does not always mean “eternal” but can refer to a finite period of time.

    The truth is, they are right. It can be translated into a temporal sense as it is in Rom. 16:25: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages (aionios1) past.” But the reason it is translated that way is because of context, and that is extremely important. Context determines meaning, as you will see later.

    With the claim that “aionion” can be translated into something temporal and that its root means “age,” the universalist then says that any reference to “eternal fire,” “eternal torment,” or “eternal punishment” is not really eternal. Instead of “eternal torment,” it is “aionion torment.” Instead of “eternal punishment,” it is “aionion punishment.” That way, to the universalist, there is no eternal hell, no eternal punishment, and no eternal damnation. Everyone will be saved.

    This approach by the Universalists can be confusing to someone who doesn’t understand Greek, and that is part of the reason that Universalism has followers. It is true that the root “aion” means age. But just because a root means age does not mean that every word derived from that root means a limited duration of time. For example, consider this verse that is speaking about God:

    who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen, (1 Tim. 6:16)

    The context is obviously dealing with God’s eternal nature. The word in Greek for “immortality” is “athanatos.” The Greek word for death is “thanatos.” The “a” in front of the word is the negator — without, non, etc. It means that God is deathless; hence, immortal. This is an eternal quality of God. Likewise, the verse states that God has eternal dominion. The word for “eternal” is “aionios” which is derived from the Greek root “aion” which means age. But, God is not immortal for only an “age,” nor is His dominion temporal. The word “eternal” is absolutely the best way to translate the Greek “aionion” because God is immortal and eternal. Therefore, it would be wrong to translate the verse by stating that God has “aionion” dominion. Rather, He has eternal dominion.

    How is “aionion” used in the New Testament?

    The following two sections are verses that contain the word “aionion” which is translated as “eternal.” Notice how using the word “eternal” in the first group is no problem. But, it is the second group with which the Universalists object. Nevertheless, the same word is used in both. See for yourself.

    John 6:47, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal (aionion) life.
    John 10:28, “and I give eternal (aionion) life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”
    Acts 13:48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal (aionion) life believed.”
    Romans 2:7, ” to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal (aionion) life.”
    Romans 5:21, “that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal (aionion) life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
    Rom. 16:26, ” but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal (aionion) God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith.”
    Gal. 6:8, “For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal (aionion) life.”
    1 Tim. 6:16, “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal (aionion) dominion! Amen.”
    1 John 1:2, “and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal (aionion) life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us”
    1 John 5:11, “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal (aionion) life, and this life is in His Son.”
    The following set of scriptures divulge the nature of eternal damnation.

    Matt. 18:8, “And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal (aionion) fire.
    Matt. 25:41, “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal (aionion) fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;”
    Matt. 25:46, “And these will go away into eternal (aionion) punishment, but the righteous into eternal (aionion) life.”
    Mark 3:29, “but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal (aionion) sin.”
    Mark 10:30, “but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal (aionion) life.
    Luke 18:30, “who shall not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal (aionion) life.”
    2 Thess. 1:9, “And these will pay the penalty of eternal (aionion) destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,”
    Jude 7, “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal (aionion) fire.”
    http://carm.org/look-word-aionion
    Blessings..!!

    #777247
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    MAN: God hath denied me repentance. His Word gives me no encouragement to believe; yea, himself hath shut me up in this iron cage; nor can all the men in the world let me out. O eternity, eternity! how shall I grapple with the misery that I must meet with in eternity!
    http://www.heaven.net.nz/writings/pilgrimsprogress.htm

    #777248
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    After reading A Divine Revelation Of Hell and Visions Beyond The Veil I became more interested in these testimonies, as I realised that I had come to the point myself where I was starting to question the reality of hell..you never hear much of the eternal preached today in church.. I found that there are many, many testimonies on line (including your own..!!) of those who have seen and experienced hell first hand..and of all these testimonies there is not one hint of hell ever portrayed as being of some limited stage that you eventually pass through and are finished, rather the horror of hell IS the eternal aspect..!!!

    #777249
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    #777250
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    Forever is the word age. And yes we inherit life where we can live throughout the ages. But the wicked are denied living throughout the ages. And God spared man from ever living forever as sinners according to Genesis. Know when to apply age as an eternal sense is context as you say.
    As for the wicked, the context is always that the righteous are the ones who live forever while the wicked are denied that gift.

    #777251
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    You once posted a message by CS Lewis that he thought the universe was cruel and then he thought how was it that he knew cruel anyway?

    Well think about it. Let’s imagine one-third of mankind is saved and the other two-thirds are destined to suffer in the flames of Hell for eternity, a sort of opposite stat from that of the angels, of whom one-third fell.

    How would it be worth it to create beings so that one-half share in God’s glory for eternity, while the other half suffer for eternity.

    Ask yourself, by what standard do we know that there is something very cruel about that? How do we know that is cruel? Is that not from God and if it is just from man’s own wisdom, then do we care more than God does?

    If I knew that for me to have a son, meant that another son of mine I would have to burn for his whole life, I would not have any sons. I wouldn’t have a thousands sons if it meant that one had to endure that.

    And who among us would be happy to live with the Lord for eternity, knowing that other souls are suffering the flames of hell for eternity. If I was saved, I would be scared of God and obey everything to avoid that fate. So why is it that God says that it is all about love?

    For me, it would be those that do not love their fellow man as they love themselves that are okay with this. Those that are comfortable with them being okay but not others.

    But sensitive Christians should be concerned about this. And this is why we need to explore the scriptures on this. I know that I have had concerns about other things before and when I searched the scriptures, those concerns were dispelled because scripture never taught such a thing.

    There are many doctrines that Christians believe today that are alien to Heaven. They are instead the traditions of men that nullify the power of God.

    #777252
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    It seems that you are ignoring very plain explanations that clearly show forever means forever..(not some limited amount of time) – it would never make sense if the Bible says forever, but really meant something completely different.. you could never trust anything that is written in Scripture..!!
    How can you interpret the same word two different ways – for the righteous it means forever, but for the wicked the very same word means ‘an age’..??????? Come on..!! it really seems that you are changing Scripture to fit your doctrine – you are trying to make it say what you think it should say..
    You are also ignoring the fact that Bible dictionaries clearly state that ‘destruction’ does not imply annihilation or extinction.. and you seem to confuse spiritual death with physical death..
    Overall I feel that you have not been able to reconcile the love of God with the justice of God, and so in your human understanding while trying to explain spiritual things you have formulated a doctrine that attempts to account for both (seemingly contradictory) aspects of God’s divine nature.. but really you still miss the mark because whether God torments souls for a thousand years or forever..He still (according to your belief) will appear cruel..!!
    The carnal mind cannot comprehend the things of God..

    #777253
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    But I do believe that the wicked are thrown into the Second Death for eternity. It is Hell that is not eternal, as we are clearly taught in Revelation that it is put into the Second Death. We are further told that it is the same fire that burns up the heavens and earth. So how come people ignore that. And we are not to add nor take away from the words in that book. I am merely teaching you those same words. Read it yourself. Pass away. Second Death. Hell. It is all explained clearly in that book. How can you say Hell is eternal when we are taught clearly it is thrown into the Second Death.
    Have you thought about discussing this in the forum. You can log in with the same log in credentials and there are more people discussing this subject. Alan is there too.
    This page is getting quite long. 🙂

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