Is Hell eternal?

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  • #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
     dL 
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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
     dL 
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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
     dL 
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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
     dL 
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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
     dL 
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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. 🙂

    #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
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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.

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