Is Hell eternal?

This topic contains 416 replies, has 23 voices, and was last updated by  t8 2 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #777254
     dL 
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    Sorry bro – but I have to say that this book (which you say is one of your all time favourites) was written by a man who believed that the torment and suffering sinners face after death never ends..
    and the reason I agree with him is not because of Christian tradition or that I somehow like the idea (far from it – but rather the thought does breed in me a holy fear and deep reverence and respect of God..!!)
    The reason I believe the suffering never ends is because it’s a revelation that comes straight from the pages of scripture itself – a terrible truth but a truth nonetheless that the Holy Spirit bears witness to in my heart..
    Much Blessings..!!

    #777255
     Admin 
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    I can understand that, but I believe scripture where it says that this forever (age) comes to and end and will be no more and will not even come into remembrance.

    Part of the great hope I have is that there will be a new heaven and earth, no more sin, no more sinners, no more crying, no more pain, for God has done away with the former things. That is the hope that I have.

    Would love you to engage in the forum because there are other people there and we can then cover all points together to reconcile scriptures that have these promises with the ones that appear to contradict them.

    #777256
     Claryssa
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    I notice you didn’t reference Matthew 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 fire,” or 25:46 “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”; Jude 7 or Jude 12-13 regarding the eternity of hell/destruction. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 also mentions eternal destruction. Any comments?

    #777257
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    Not referenced yet along with other scriptures. The third part of this writing will contain the scriptures that are used to support the idea of eternal suffering.

    #777258
     Kena
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    I have been reading this discussion, and I can see that hell is not eternal based on what revelation says, however, t8 said that God will destroy both body and soul after second death of those who were in hell. Well, if you knew that you were going to have to destroy some of the very creation you made after they have suffered, would you do it? I try to picture myself in God’s postion having to both destroy body and soul after they have suffered. That would be depriving them of life and existence…It seems much more upsetting to think about…Any thoughts..

    #777259
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    Matthew 10:28
    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.

    My thinking is this. If God is love, light, truth, and wisdom, then the wicked who reject God reject these as well. Thus living eternally without God would be to suffer for all eternity. If I was found among the wicked, my guess is I would beg for it to end.

    But of course, I want to be with God for all eternity.

    #777260
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    What is the punishment of the wicked. It is to perish, to die, to be destroyed. 

    Thus eternal punishment is simply that they will eternally perish, die, be destroyed. 

    In other words, they will never have life. Because eternal life is only for the righteous.

    If you believe that the wicked will be alive in Hell, then that is eternal life also, only in a different place. But they do not have eternal life. 

    And if you think that the wicked should be give eternal life in God’s presence, then you deny the choice that they have made to rebel against God and to hate him.

    #777261
     Leo S
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    Thank you both T8 and David L for your strong defense of your points of view.
    The issue is most likely the one that I struggle with the most in my Christian faith. All of my heart wants to agree with T8 for the reason that I would have a hard time with eternal joy, while knowing there is an eternal hell with people in it, whether I know them or not. All of my mind wants to agree with T8, since destruction seems a logical reaction of a potter whose creation was not acceptable. Eternally damaging anything that is not passing quality control seems counter to a “creator” mind-set of any kind, since it is the creativity that provides its own reward. Eternal destruction gives no reward at all. Jesus wept “ Oh Jerusalem, why …”. I can only imagine that God weeps in the same way when He sees us do our thing on earth: wickedness, war, torture. I know God punishes, the bible is full of that, but is always has a lesson for others. When all the “old” passes away, punishment has lost its educational purpose.

    I do however read many sections with fear and trembling interpreting the scripture like David L. I fear an eternal hell, because I am not sure of the truth or falseness of the concept. I have to admit that this fear is a strong motivator and lack of preaching of hell may lead to an attitude of “I’m here for a good time, not a long time. It can be seen all around us By the way, I don’t know Greek and cannot keep up with the academics here. Perhaps if anyone reads this it would be good to know how I got to my current faith:

    When I myself had my doubts about God’s existence (partially through my own skeptical mind and partly through modern materialism creeping in through “higher education”), I read and read in frantic response to a fading faith (in anything spiritual). It left me terribly lost and confused. I despaired to the point where the issue haunted my all day. I went up in my dad’s pasture one night and prayed on a hill in desperation, partly fearing there being no God (so I’d be there waiting forever), partly fearing there would be a God (not pleased with my unbelief, resulting in His anger with me). It took a long time but at one point I had a powerful experience that left me with peace, and faith. That experience was non-verbal, non-visionary. It was warmth (on a pretty chilly night), heavy (I had to lay down on the ground) and all super powerful (unlike anything emotional I have ever experienced). As I said, I am a skeptic and question all experiences, but this one has left me with decades of steady peace and several miracles.
    I was so grateful that I did not meet an angry God, so surprised that He gave me faith although the bible seems to state that no signs are given without faith, so overwhelmed that I had been given this experience, so ashamed that I had nothing to bring to the table in return that I gave what I could: I gave God permission to do as He pleased in my life, and asked Him to correct me as needed, and bring me back if I drifted, and pull me back by the hair of my head if need be, so that I would never again face the terrible agony of the feeling of being without God.
    God has done this for the past 30 years. I have had great times and times of pain health issues and worries. It has chiseled me down to a much less selfish person. My desires in life are more modest. Loving my neighbour has changed from a “good that I must do” to a thing I naturally want to do. I have become more patient, see God’s will work over the years and decades and have become less fearful of the passing of time.

    This is what I want to emphasize: less fearful of the passing of time. I have seen that the slow refining fire of God is painful but immensely effective. It is the decreasing fear that makes me a more effective servant, knowing that the Creator has a timeline and a skill that I cannot try to highjack by doing something good, quickly, because I’m running out of time.
    I study God’s word. I can never know it all. I can never answer all my questions, especially all of the tough ones that Christian apologetics try to explain. I am a reasonably well educated person with a couple of degrees and I feel like an absolute simpleton in the face of the overwhelming words of the bible. I will keep studying, but I must believe like the child that I am. I must hold on to the belief that the God that met me on that mountain, Who surprised me with His love, is love and will always be love. Punishment must have a creative purpose. One verse really hit me a few months ago as I was contemplating the issue you discuss. It is the 17th printing (1972) of a Billy Graham Crusade Edition of the living Bible (paraphrased); I will let the bible scholars argue about the translation. I have not seen this verse translated in exactly this way anywhere else, but here it is: 1 John 4: 18,19….

    “We need to have no fear from someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us, and shows us that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us. . So you see, our love for him comes as a result of him loving us first.”

    I am not disrespecting either one of your views. Indeed I am afraid to change the opinion of either, for if yours be correct then I am guilty of leading you astray. Yet this logic is exactly what eternal hell and damnation creates in me: a fear of doing anything, even sharing my opinion. This cannot be what God wants from a servant. He wants us to invest the talents. Was it this fear that made the one investor in the parable not use his talents? (I knew you were a hard master!). I know the answer was “you wicked and lazy servant!”, but you get my point. I don’t think we should be paralyzed by fear.
    I am to the point in my life now that even I the absence of fear of eternal punishment, I want to follow God. And I carefully, fearfully “welcome” corrective punishment, for I never want to be separated from God.
    Thank you again for your heated debate, my two brothers in Christ. Many writers and webmasters carefully avoid debate; showing the weakness of their commitment. May God bless you both and may He see two servants hard at work.

    #777262
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    Hi Leo.

    Thanks for your thoughts above.

    I personally believe that the doctrine of eternal life in Hell fire turns more people off from God than toward him. And those that turn to God because they want to avoid eternal life in fire, are more afraid than sorry and more fearful than loving.

    But there is nothing greater than love and God gave man free will so that we would truly love him. Possessing free will is risky because you can choose against God, but if there was no free will, then our supposed love for God would not really be love, but the outworking of a program. Thus we would not be the pinnacle of God’s creation, but more akin to a robot.

    We are also taught that all these bad things will pass away and will not even come into remembrance. And yes God will burn the wicked (tares) but that same fire also burns the old creation and Hell too. That fire is called the Second Death. Think of it as the final death.

    Thus we should turn to God because we want his love for eternity. I can’t help but think if a man turns to God because he fears eternal existence in pain, he is not really a man that necessarily loves God, but is trying to save his own skin so to speak.

    For God is love and the sons of God are known by their love for one another. To me, being in Heaven and ignoring the eternal suffering of souls would be worse than being rich and turning a blind eye to the poor. Surely the most righteous would weep for such day and night forever, while those who didn’t care would ignore them and enjoy all that Heaven offers.

    Thankfully when I seriously looked into this, there were many scriptures that most ignore. And eternal destruction means destroyed forever, no one can argue against that. This would mean, no chance of a resurrection of re-creation. But most denominations take the view that it means eternal life in fire. So both the righteous and wicked have eternal life, but in different places. But scripture says that only the righteous will inherit eternal life, while the wicked will perish like animals. (Do animals burn in eternal fire?)

    But life is truly only for the righteous and that makes not only scriptural sense, but moral sense to me.

    #777263
     Drew
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    WOW Leo, this is brilliant and is exactly where my heart is also. Its nice to hear from someone with same convictions. I also have enjoyed this debate BUT I can only conclude for myself by that which proves right by the spirit and nature of the God I have come to know much more intimately over the years. I like how T8 and DavidL have discussed their views so well roundedly and respectfully. Thanks guys.

    #777264
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    This comment is taken from the forum from one of the members.
    http://www.heavennet.net/cgi-bin/forum/ikonboard.cgi?s=6f06cd118919b0baac113e49bc93743a;act=ST;f=17;t=4473;st=60;r=1;&#entry428190

    ==================================
    I agree that this teaching goes against the character of God but you cannot overlook the justice of God. Below is what I arrived at after years of searching:

    Hell – Many teach that nearly all the people who have ever lived will suffer in eternal torment in hell. This has been based on a translation of the word aion which has translated as eternal, everlasting, forever this is offered as the proof within the scriptures that punishment goes on forever,
    However the translation for aion only means endless when it derives its meaning or endlessness from the nature of the subject to which it is connected. Best translated as “The entirety of time for the object being discussed”. Hence when applied to God it is certainly to be considered unending, when applied to smoke rising, until the consumption of the item being burned, and to the torment of the wicked, until all has been paid. God will not torture a non-believer for eternity
    For those being punished, the punishment will be proportional to their “sins” ending in annihilation. Eternal life is promised to believers and gifted to adherents, it is not something possessed by all of mankind. Eternal torment is not torment for eternity but torment to completion with eternal consequences. This concept is in keeping with the justice that God requires but with the Love that God is.

    Lake of Fire – I believe that when sin was first found in satan it was only apparent to God. The trouble was God knew that the sin in satan would spread and ruin all of Heaven itself. So He created the Lake of Fire to destroy the irredeemable (which I believe that those exposed to Gods glory and still allow sin a place cannot be redeemed). But if He were to throw satan in prior to his sins being apparent to the rest of Heavens inhabitants, they would not see the Love and Justice of God as obviously satan was popular and I do not believe that satan had done anything openly evil (something Heaven’s inhabitants probably didn’t understand anyway).

    I believe it was at this point God created man with the express purpose of exposing what sin would do if allowed to run unchecked and to show the length He would go and the price He would pay to redeem His creation if it was possible.

    We know that God has His faithful angels and we’re told satan has his but I believe that there are still those sitting on the fence. In Revelation where we are told that war breaks out in heaven and this is where I think the host of heaven has had their fill of satan’s ways and expel him and his from heaven.

    As Christ begins His reign, satan will be thrown into the abyss. After a thousand years he will be released from his prison to further demonstrate both the inclination of flesh to sin and why satan cannot be redeemed and has to be thrown into the lake of fire.

    Now God, who would have been reduced in stature had He have tried to explain His actions, is glorified for His; Grace, Wisdom, Holiness, Love and Forgiveness. He has also gained more sons proven through fire than He lost to satan.
    ==================================

    #777265
     Anastas
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    I cannot say which view is correct, God knows. But as for my spirit and the sense I have gotten by the holy scriptures I would have to admit my leanings are towards an everlasting hell… Inasmuch as we understand everlasting to be that is. There are instances in the bible that “forever” is used to imply “a really long time” but that isn’t the point I mean to pursue here. Our brother Matthew said that the wicked should have “eternal punishment”. This seems to be a straight forward quote but I know that scripture is not always as straight forward as one verse may suggest. Often there are other hints of it even though they can be explained away and are not “in your face” types of proof like “eternal destruction” or “eternal fire” etc. However, I do think that they imply the eternity of the suffering to come for unbelievers. The fact is, God is holy and just and this is His creation and we can not know how terrible a sin really is in His perfect judgment. If doing sin is deserving eternal punishment, how much more is God’s love for us shown when we are given the opportunity to be absolved in Christ? Yes this is just speculation you might say which is nice but proves nothing. True. But I also look at revelation 20:12-15 and it says that death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire and this is before the unbelievers were. It would appear that death was done away with so the wicked would pay the price of their lawlessness. It seems to me that death was destroyed but since death was destroyed/killed that those who entered into the lake of fire afterwards would only be in a state of constant and continuous death but not actually dying. It would be a lot more comforting to me to think if I fail in serving Christ in faith and deed, that I might just simple perish than suffer a terrible torture. It would be comforting… but does this make sinning or being useless easier to do? I would think that it does.

    #777266
     Admin 
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    Even if the destruction is aeon for an age or even ages, or whether it is eternal, one view is that the worst is eternal destruction, in other words, destroyed forever.

    But the everlasting destruction that is traditionally taught is really an eternal life, but in a place of torment. If that was the case, we all inherit eternal life, but in different places.

    #777267
     Admin 
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    As far as there being little or no deterant if an everlasing Hell were not true, I would like to say this.

    The Great Judgement takes place after the Millennial Reign. That is a long time to be in Hell. All this age and the next (forever and ever technically speaking because that term means an age and an age). But after the judgement, Hell is cast into the Lake of Fire, the Second Death. This is taught clearly. And this same fire is the one that burns up the old heavens and earth too.

    Being in Hell before that event is a long time, and that should be deterrent enough for anyone IMO. I mean I had a vision where I was put in Hell for a matter of seconds and it was horrible beyond description.
    http://www.heavennet.net/writings/vision-hell/

    When people say that God will basically torture souls forever, the gospel that they preach loses a lot of credibility, because that is picturing a God that essentially is hurting people more than Adolph Hitler did. That is how they picture it and they immediately know something is not right with that.

    Finally we are told in Genesis, that God sent Cherubim to protect the Tree of Life because if man had eaten that fruit after the fall, he would have lived forever as a sinner. Thus, God spared man that horrible fate. That shows his love right there.

    #777268
     anastas
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    It could be as you say but Could you explain your view on what our Lord meant in matt. 25:46?

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