10 Comments

The heretic and the not-so-good apologist.

What do you get when a heretic and a not-so-good apologist duke it out on the topic of Hell’s existence? You get a debate that leaves you feeling a little empty . . . like a fantastic opportunity was lost.

The one defending the truth of the doctrine of Hell tries with all his might, but I think he was a poor choice to represent the case for Hell. What do you think?

Debate Part One

Debate Part Two

10 comments on “The heretic and the not-so-good apologist.

  1. Oh boy. This whole “debate” is so theologically flawed. Let’s look at it:

    Video 1:

    * (0:46) First, I knew this thing was headed south faster than cousins in love when the guy from Asbury talked about “happiness.” Since when does knowing Jesus mean we will always be “happy?” We can count it all joy when we go through trials (James 1;2), if we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is joy (Galatians 5:22). But are we always going to be “happy?” Absolutely not. Hell is more than just “unhappiness.” It is a place of eternal torment, fire, worms, death.

    * (1:30) No, no, no. NOT ALL PEOPLE WILL GO TO HEAVEN!!! A little background on the two verses this guy uses (John 12:32; 1st Timothy 2:4) to “prove” that Jesus will save every single person who has ever lived.

    John 12:32–”And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This does not mean that He will save every person. In fact, the word “peoples” or “men” isn’t even in the Greek. Jesus is not talking about saving all individuals, He is talking about drawing those of every tribe, nation, tongue and kindred (Revelation 5:9).

    1st Timothy 2:3-4–”For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who ,b>desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Notice: God “desires” all men to be saved. Does that mean all men will be saved? No. God wants all to come to the knowledge of the truth? You can go to Lakeland, FL and see that ain’t true.

    * (2:00) “…a philosophy that’s much nicer than the ancient church which taught a very nasty, angry God.” Ah, yes, those “Enlightened” ones who used Sharpies® as highlighters, who scratched out all those verses like Psalm 7:11-13–”God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready. He also prepares for Himself instruments of death; He makes His arrows into fiery shafts/i>.”

    Oh, by the way, just a few quotes from those Ante-Nicene Fathers who had something to say about eternal punishment:

    –Justin Martyr 150 AD “We have been taught that only they may aim at immortality who have lived a holy and virtuous life near to God. We believe that they who live wickedly and do not repent will be punished in everlasting fire” (First Apology, 21).

    –Second Clement 150 AD “If we do the will of Christ, we shall obtain rest; but if not, if we neglect his commandments, nothing will rescue us from eternal punishment” (Second Clement 5:5).

    –Athenagoras 177 AD “[W]e [Christians] are persuaded that when we are removed from this present life we shall live another life, better than the present one … Then we shall abide near God and with God, changeless and free from suffering in the soul … or if we fall with the rest [of mankind], a worse one and in fire; for God has not made us as sheep or beasts of burden, a mere incidental work, that we should perish and be annihilated” (Plea for the Christians 31).

    –Hippolytus 212 AD “Standing before [Christ's] judgment, all of them, men, angels, and demons, crying out in one voice, shall say: ‘Just if your judgment!’ And the righteousness of that cry will be apparent in the recompense made to each. To those who have done well, everlasting enjoyment shall be given; while to the lovers of evil shall be given eternal punishment. The unquenchable and unending fire awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which does not die and which does not waste the body but continually bursts forth from the body with unceasing pain. No sleep will give them rest; no night will soothe them; no death will deliver them from punishment; no appeal of interceding friends will profit them” (Against the Greeks 3).

    You can find more here.

    * (3:18) Here it comes. The standard “The word ‘Hell’ isn’t even in some translations” gibberish. True, there are some Bibles that don’t use the word “Hell.” They use the original words, like “Sheol,” or “Hades” or “Gehenna.” Words which give a more accurate picture of what is being spoken of. Sheol–the grave. Hades–the temporary abode of the wicked (Luke 16). Gehenna–Lake of Fire, mentioned by Jesus 12 times in the gospels.

    * (3:55) The NASB is a revision of the KJV?? Has this guy gone around the bend? Hello, New American Standard Version It is as the name implies, a revision of the American Standard Version. besides, the NASB an the KJV don’t even use the same texts. The KJV uses the Textus Receptus for Hebrew and Greek, while the NASB uses the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia for the Hebrew, and the Nestle-Aland 23rd edition for the Greek. Sheesh, get your facts straight!

    * (5:45) “Fire and darkness are incompatible…” Now, hold the phone there. Have you ever watched IndyCar™ racing? Ever see them have a fuel spill? If you have, then you have noticed something. There is a fire–but no flame. Take some high-grade racing fuel, like they use at Indy™, put a match to it. Will it not burn? Of course it will. But you will not see flames. I have a theory (Not one I’ll take a bullet for) that these will be the kinds of flames that will exist in Hell.

    * (6:20) What you will find at Tentmakers.org is a bunch of namby-pamby fluffernuttery disguised as scholarly research. A whole lot of opinion, a whole lot of wishful thinking—but no substance to back it up. He takes a lot of quotes from Early Church Fathers and says that just because they don’t mention Hell that they didn’t believe in it. Well, I don’t always mention the kingship of Solomon every time I talk about Scripture; does that mean I don’t believe he ever existed?

    Just a few of the places where this dialog could use some help.

  2. Video 2:

    * (0:33)

    Strobel: “Is Hitler in Heaven?”
    Amirault: “Absolutely.”

    Revelation 21:8—“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

    * (0:35) Amirault: “If you and I lived like Hitler…abused by the Catholic priests the way he was…you and I would have behaved similarly…”

    OK, first of all, there is no excuse for sin. Even those who never hear the Law or the gospel are not excused (see Romans 2:12-16). We have a choice—we can sin, or we can not sin. No one is responsible for anybody else’s sins. Granted, if we lead somebody astray, we will receive a sorer punishment, but that person is still accountable before God.

    Second, it is only by the restraining hand of God that we aren’t all a bunch of little Hitlers. Because if God were to remove His hand, Hitler would not have even been a footnote. We would be just like him. So let’s not make excuses for the atrocities he committed. Oh, wait. That’s what someone has to do to make the case for Hitler being in Heaven. Go on…

    Third, is this guy saying that just because someone is abused by Catholic priests they will turn and commit genocide? Is he serious??!! If that’s the case, then there are thousands of little Hitlers running around, because the Roman Catholic system covered up thousands of abuse cases until they couldn’t hide them anymore. What about all those?

    * (0:48) Strobel: “Are you telling me we would turn to genocide if we were abused as youngsters?” Exactly. The best response anybody has given so far.

    * (0:56) Amirault: “We become what our parents and society forms us” No, we are formed by how we respond to what our parents and society model for us. But just because a person lives in a completely pagan environment, that does not mean they are going to turn out to be pagan themselves. Consider Lydia in Acts 16. She lived in a pagan city (Thyatira), belonged to a trade that held pagan “gods” in high esteem (as a seller of purple)—yet she worshipped YHVH (Acts 16:14).

    * (1:08) Amirault: “The kind of God we got in Germany was an angry, wrathful God.” John 3:36—“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” So here we see a fuller explanation of John 3:16. Yes, God sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes will not perish. But here Jesus says that not everyone will believe, and those that don’t will have the wrath of God upon them—and the implication is that this wrath will abide on them forever.

    * (1:15) Strobel: “It sounds like you’re making excuses for Hitler.” Yep. You got it. Period. Paragraph.

    * (1:21) Amirault: “Love never fails and it overcomes its enemies.” True indeed. But what about those whom god does not love? What about those whom God hates? Psalm 5:4-5—“For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.” That word “hate” means—guess what?—it means “hate.” Romans 9:13—“As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’” So, the love of God leads Him to forget our transgressions, but the hatred of God is forever directed at those who spend their entire lives rejecting Him.

    * (2:00)

    Wells: “Jesus…was the epitome of love, perfectly shown…some people…would not reciprocate that love.”
    Amirault: “And He forgave them.”

    Obviously talking about when Jesus asked the Father, “Father forgive them, they know no what they do.” Was He praying for the father to forgive every single person who has ever lived? (I know you’re not really wondering that. It’s a rhetorical question.) John 17:9—“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” No, Jesus did not pray for the whole world, only for those whom the father gave Him. So what was the purpose of Jesus’ plea from the cross? He was asking the father to not hold the execution of the Son against those who actually carried it out, seeing as how they were actually fulfilling the will of God.

    * (2:35) Amirault: “How can I love God unless he first reveals Himself to me?” The first sensible thing to come out of this man’s mouth the whole time. The whole crux of the issue. Unless God draws a man to Himself, that person cannot know God (John 6:44). I’m not going to get into election here, but it is obvious that God loves some people enough to draw them to the Son. And there are many that are never drawn. It is those whom He hates. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

    * (2:50) Wells: “I don’t believe anybody’s going to Hell because they’ve never heard of Jesus. I believe everybody will have a fair chance to hear of Jesus.” Two questions, two different answers. Yes. No. People don’t go to Hell because they never heard of Christ. They go because they are sinners who have never sought forgiveness from the only one who can give it to them. However, there are many who will never hear the name. These have a sense of right and wrong, the law written upon their hearts, but they never acknowledge the one who wrote it there (again, see Romans 2:12-16).

    * (3:00)

    Amirault: “When, Jerry? On the other side?”
    Wells: “Perhaps”

    OK, so now Wells has slipped into Mormonism. Everybody gets a chance. Is this what they’re teaching at Asbury? I believe the man for whom this institution is named would be rolling in his grave if he heard this. Those who never heard can see heaven, they can see Hell, and God will ask them, “Smoking or non-smoking?” Is that fair? Since we’re talking about “fairness?”

    * (3:50) Amirault: “Jerry, there are Bible translations that you should look up that do not have the concept of Hell.” Blah blah blah. Big deal. Who did the “translating?” Some liberal “translators” who didn’t like all that icky stuff about sin and God’s judgment? The Message? The “Kitty-speak” Bible? The “Gay and Lesbian Study Bible?” The ““Health wealth and prosperity” Bible?

    * (5:00) Strobel: “God is love, but God is also just.” And in order for His justice to remain perfect, He must deal with all of our debts. They can either be paid for by Jesus on the Cross, or we can pay for them ourselves for all eternity.

  3. We use extremes like Hitler to talk about the “just” punishment of hell. But most folks being tormented for all time in this incomprehensible nightmare (whether literal flame or simply horrible psychic pain) will not be mass murderers. They will be regular old sinners like the rest of us: people who lust after people that are not their spouse; people who lie, cheat, get drunk, and eat too much; people who want what doesn’t belong to them and sometimes go ahead and steal it.

    Your neighbor Bill who voluntarily mows the lawn for an elderly couple down the street and, yes, your Aunt Milly who baked you apple pies every Sunday afternoon–they will be hanging out with the burning and the worms and the little angry demons into the infinite future because they never chose to believe that Jesus of Nazareth died for their sins.

    This is what we’re really talking about. The idea that a God of All Knowledge and perfect love was sitting around in eternity past trying to think of the most just and glorious plan of love and redemption for all humankind…and the one that he came up with leaves the great majority of his beloved creation in a state of eternal torture.

    Worse than this–God knew the end from the beginning. It was no surprise to him that Man fell. In fact, well, it was his plan wasn’t it? And he even CHOSE beforehand (if you want to throw election into the mix) whom he himself would love and hate. God GAVE Adam his flawed nature, KNOWING he’s mess up…and all the human misery that would follow–yet THIS is the master plan of love.

    This is all incredibly puzzling and is a slap in the face to all notions of reason and justice and mercy and love.

    Could this be the way God runs the universe? Yes, it could. If you are God you can run it however you like. And since you are your own measure of all that is right and true you can declare it so and it must be–and your followers must believe it too. They mustn’t question it or stop believing ‘cause they sure don’t want to burn in hell. Who would?

    This is justice? This is “God’s wonderful plan?”

    How do you love a God whose best idea results in a cosmic catastrophe of inconceivable suffering? This end is worse than any murder and worse than any torture committed by any man in all of human history. Because it NEVER ends. Does this punishment fit Aunt Milly’s and neighbor Bill’s crimes of non-belief? Or the “wrong” beliefs of the Buddhists or any other belief that is not according to ONE very precise orthodoxy? Should the unbelieving person you sit next to at work go to hell? Should your brother or parent or friend?

    It’s madness to call this just.

    If I were going to invent an after-life accountability system it might still include hell, but not a hell of eternal torment.

    In my imagined hell, Hitler gets to experience all the pain he’s caused others (and that’s one helluva lotta pain, brother) in the afterlife. This will take some time for Adolph–a very, very long time. But–and this is an important but–there is an endpoint. The second he has felt the anguish of the very last person in that very long list–the punishment stops. Adolph’s soul is returned to a state of embryonic innocence and he is ushered into Paradise where he can sit beside Mother Theresa, Gene Simmons and Ghengis Khan for a spot of tea.

    For most ordinary sinners, such a hell will be relatively brief. They will feel the hurt of every insult, every unkindness, and every abuse they were responsible for during their lives. After that, they are clean and can groove with God forever in a state of eternal innocence, grace and love.

    My hell is proportional but sin doesn’t go unpunished. If you were only a little bad in your lifetime, there’s only a little punishment. If you were a total sh*t, it’s a rougher ride. And so on.

    In my version of Christianity, Jesus’ death on the cross covers the sins of believers–no hell for them. My proportional hell takes care of the unbelievers. It seems just and fair. To me.

    I understand all the problems with this Biblically and theologically. Trust me–I understand. I am making this hell up because it is a hell I can live with.

    I believe that if most of us examined our hearts and told the truth we’d have trouble believing that the God we worship, pray to, and sing songs to would invent a system that ends in the unending misery and utter abandonment of multitudes of the children he claims to love. It’s a far worse punishment than any of us would prescribe for our worst enemies.

    Truly–is it harder to believe that Hitler might one day be purified and be in heaven OR that all the millions of Jews he executed so cruelly are roasting still today in a hell created by Christianity’s God?

    You tell me.

    With respect,

    Jim

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    OK–I tried a bunch of times to submit my full comment but it was either too long or I’ve encountered some glitch and annoyed this blog’s owner by submitting it 8 times.

    Forgive me if I come across as angry or arrogant or disrespectful. I don’t think I am any of those things. It’s just that this has been a hard, painful issue for me for decades. And I do think and feel passionately about it. I realize that all the passion in a trillion galaxies doesn’t move the hand of God if a hell of eternal torture is, in fact, his will.

    But that doesn’t stop me from grappling with this stuff as a finite mortal. :-)

    With Respect,

    Jim

  4. Jim,

    My attitude toward hell might resemble yours a bit, It lacks credibility.

    I cannot worship a God who would torment his created ones eternally.

    I am convinced he doesn’t.

    Consider the following.

    “THIS IS THE WILL OF HIM WHO SENT ME”—JESUS

    John 3:35 “The Father loves the Son
    and has given ALL things into his hand.”

    What has the Father given to the Son? ALL things!!!

    Now, look at what the will of the Father is:

    John 6:39 “And this is the will of him who sent me,
    that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

    So, WHAT is the WILL of the FATHER concerning Jesus???
    LOSE NOTHING of what HE had given him, which was ALL!!!

    So, Jesus’ commission is to lose nothing
    of all that the Father has given him, and the Father gave him ALL, therefore NONE will be lost!!! That means
    (drum roll please!!!)~~~~~~(that was a drum roll—really!)
    (if you can’t get excited about this with me, your pulse is zero)

    ALL WILL BE SAVED!!!

    This means no eternal torment and no eternal death!!! Remember, the Word says death will be eliminated, and guess what that means; it means that after that, there will only be LIFE!!!

    This means salvation of ALL!!! (yeah, I know it’s repetitious, but that is what you want to do with really good news)

    Some of you may be thinking, well what about
    THIS verse, or THAT verse, or this OTHER verse???

    What I have shared with you is undeniable, straight-forward, easy-to-understand TRUTH, so, THIS, THAT, or the OTHER verses need to be understood in terms of this TRUTH.

    Since what God through his Holy Spirit through his servant John has said is obviously true, then the Holy Spirit must not have yet revealed to you the true meaning of all those hell, fire, and damnation verses. Hell, fire, and damnation are actually all part of God’s plan to reconcile all created beings back to Him.

  5. Don,

    One thing you need to remember is, what did Jesus mean by “all THINGS?” And let’s look at more of that passage.

    John 3:35-36–”35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

    Not only does the one who does not believe in the Son have the wrath of God abiding on him, but Jesus even says that person “shall not see life.” This fact negates your argument about John 6:39 which, by the way, does not say that every single person will be saved.

    You say that

    What I have shared with you is undeniable, straight-forward, easy-to-understand TRUTH, so, THIS, THAT, or the OTHER verses need to be understood in terms of this TRUTH.

    Some of you may be thinking, well what about THIS verse, or THAT verse, or this OTHER verse???

    What I have shared with you is undeniable, straight-forward, easy-to-understand TRUTH, so, THIS, THAT, or the OTHER verses need to be understood in terms of this TRUTH.

    However, you have left out the TRUTH that there is a lake of fire (Revelation 20:15), there is everlasting punishment (2nd Thessalonians 1:9) and that they will be tormented forever and ever (Revelation 14:11). The burden is upon you to show why God’s word doesn’t mean what it means.

    You seem to be able to explain away certain passages of Scripture where it makes it clear there is everlasting destruction for those who never know Him. Would you care to take a crack at those verses?

  6. Don,

    You said, “I cannot worship a God who would torment his created ones eternally.”

    I agree that your god wouldn’t torment anyone eternally, because your god doesn’t exist. You’ve fashioned an idol in your own mind, and you’re willing to twist the words of the Bible to fit him in.

    When you stand before the true God on Judgment Day, you’re going to have to account for every idle word you’ve ever spoken. You’ve violated the 2nd commandment of God’s perfect law, so you’re a lawbreaker. You’ve sinned against an infinitely holy God, therefore you punishment is infinite.

    No true Christian likes the thought of anyone spending eternity in hell, but it is what our Lord taught. He doesn’t conform to us; we conform to Him.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  7. fourpointer,

    Thank you for your challenge to me to defend my statements, as you are doing me a favor. I am ultimately interested in truth and truth alone.

    I believed in eternal torment up until about age 62 as that was the belief of my denomination, which I divorced and ridded myself of all remnants of organized, orthodox religion in favor of seeking the truth of God’s Word without the input of traditionally held beliefs, and then for a brief time believed in annihilation, and now for about the last 4 years have been convinced of universal salvation. As you know each camp has their set of verses and we could each defend any one of the three. But the one I believe to be the truth is universal salvation, for I believe the other two are no longer credible after reading thousands of pages of material and spending about 2000 hours of research, which is ongoing (I actually grabbed my calculator and just did and estimate). So much for my journey in search of truth.

    Concerning John 3:35, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.”, let’s look at some of the context of John 3.

    The fuller context we find ourselves in here is a response to a concern that came out of a discussion between some of John’s disciples and a Jew while John was baptizing at Aenon. His response begins in v. 27 and some believe it continues through v. 36, although some believe it ends at v. 30. The reason I believe that the “all” in v. 35 references all of humanity is the language in this fuller context and that v. 36 implies that it is all humanity. Let me explain.

    John 3:27 says “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven.”

    Now here I believe the Johns (the baptizer and the author) are preparing us to understand what will eventually be stated in v. 35 concerning Jesus being given all.

    John 3:31 says “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all.”

    Looking at “He who comes from above is above all” in the Greek, we see “Ho erchomenos anothen estin epano panton”. That second “above”, “epano”, is better translated “over” when it occurs with the genitive as is the case with “panton”, “all”. Some versions such as the ISV and the CLT do choose to use “over”. I believe that this is telling us that Jesus is over all humanity, or has been given charge, if you will, of all humanity, of course along with the rest of creation, because the Father has given him the authority to be over all humanity, reminding me of Matthew 28:18.

    Focusing in on vs. 35 and 36, I see v. 36 as defining the “all” of 35. Note that in this context where the words “has given all things into His hand” occur, John clearly identifies the “all” as believers and non-believers, i.e. all people. Verse 36 indicates that both believers and non-believers make up the “all”, since John immediately flows into v. 36 explaning who the “all” are; identifying the two subsets of “all” as being on the one hand believers who have eternal life, and the non-obedient ones (i.e. non-believers) not currently seeing life because in their current state of unbelief they have God’s wrath abiding on them. While one is in unbelief, they cannot see life which is in the kingdom; they are blind to life as Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:3, “…unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. The phrase “will (or shall) not see life” does not mean that they will “never” see life and if one will check the usage of “abides” (“remains” in some versions), there is no inherent sense of “eternal” in this “abiding”, but the wrath abides UNTIL one comes to belief, which the Word indicates will occur for all people in this life or after this life (I have another article addressing this), whichever time the Father chooses.

    2Th 1:9, “They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,…”

    “Eternal destruction” in the Greek is “aionios olethros”. We see “olethros” also translated as “destruction” in 1Co 5:5, where we read “…you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Note the nature and purpose of this “destruction” is “of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” This reminds me of the “destruction” we must all go through as we “die to the flesh”. Now whether one holds to the view that “aionios” means “eternal” or pertaining to a limited time duration, I don’t think is relevant since even if we go with “eternal”, we certainly must be dead to our flesh to dwell with God in His eternity.

    Rev 14:9 “And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If any one worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,
    10 he also shall drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

    Looking at the word “tormented” in v. 10, we note that it is the translation of “basanizo” which is derived from “basanos”. Thayer’s first definition of “basinizo” says “to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the colour of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal”. From the WordStudy Dictionary we have “A touchstone, a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold, silver and other metals, hence any test or criterion by which the qualities of a thing are tried.”

    The word “sulphur” or “brimstone” in some versions is from the Greek “theion”. Thayer has the following:
    theion
    Thayer Definition:
    1) brimstone
    1a) divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease

    “Theion” is derived from “theios” meaning “godlike” according to Strong. “Theios” in turn is derived from “theos”, meaning “deity”.

    Note the phrase “in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” in v. 10. I find it interesting that this “tormenting” occurs in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. Hmm…, why are they there??????

    Ever given much thought to the phrase “for ever and ever” that occurs in many versions (but not all). It is an absurdity that I suppose many translators just let slide since the days of the KJV or maybe before. “For ever” means for eternity and what is this extra “ever” all about??? Does this mean for eternity and another eternity??? The Greek New Testament has “εἰς αἰῶνας αἰώνων” or “to ages of the ages”. I think maybe Robert Young in his “Young’s Literal Translation” left well enough alone when he translated it “and the smoke of their torment doth go up to ages of ages;”. Each of those forms of “aion” are plural, so I quess the translators thought “for ever and ever” was not quite as absurd sounding as “to eternities of eternities”, knowing that would be a more eye-catching absurdity. Well, so much for sloppy translations.

    What about the phrase “day or night” in v. 11? Day and night are time-related words. How could they relate to something “eternal”???

    Just a few things to think about.

    Maybe this “lake of fire” terminology is metaphorically describing the “destruction” of the flesh necessary for non-believers and maybe a few billion “believers” who need to have their thinking purified about God and His plan for dealing with His created beings???

    What about this: the lake of fire = God, the purifying all-consuming fire who burns out the dross within those not yet purified.

  8. It ought to be patently obvious that the concept of an eternal, fiery, unspeakably horrific punishment is absolutely antithetical to the mind of natural man. The natural man utterly loathes and reviles the idea of never-ending punishment; and worse still they despise the idea that because of their unrepentant sin they are personally responsible for such punishment and that the punishment is just because every man is personally and individually accountable to the One True and Living God, the infinite Creator and Judge of the universe.

    With this in mind it ought to be easy to see that the mind of natural man would NEVER have devised an innovation that’s so repulsive to his own conscience. On the other hand we can see that the idea of annihilation, or “soul sleep”, or better yet the concept of universal salvation is VERY appealing and attractive to the mind of the natural man. The natural man adores and embraces the idea of eternal peace and joy based on the all encompassing love and compassion of their all-forgiving god.

    Sadly such an unbiblical and misguided worldview necessarily and incorrectly subjugates some of the One True and Living God’s attributes to others. The idea that God’s compassion, love, and mercy somehow overpowers or overshadows His judgment, justice, and wrath is to make a fatal error and to deny His absolutely Holy character.

    The idea of afterlife purification that Don Hicks continues to put forward is completely unbiblical and is outright heresy of the rankest order. The Bible is very clear about adding to or taking away from the Word of God and the result is to become accursed. Jesus Christ spoke more of hell than He did of heaven – and there’s a good reason for this; He wanted to WARN MEN about the sure and certain judgment to come!

    Despite the fantasies and vain imaginings of sinful men the scriptures teach that is once appointed for men to die and then the judgment. The judgment of sin took place on the cross of Christ for all those who are found to be in Him by grace through faith alone. But for those who are outside of Him and His covenant of grace, these are found to be the enemies of God, dead in their sins and trespasses. These pitiful souls are in truth rank, God-rejecting idolaters who, according to God’s perfect judgment, are worthy of eternal destruction. God is an infinitely perfect, holy, and righteous Being and therefore any transgression against Him is worthy of infinite punishment. Jesus Christ bore the infinite indignant wrath of God the Father against sin on the cross and He couldn’t have suffered more or less infinitely or more or less perfectly than He did for the sins of the world yet at no point does the Bible EVER insinuate that EVERYONE who has ever lived or ever will live will be saved. Instead it teaches that those who are IN CHRIST will be saved and everyone else is by default damned.

    Faith in Jesus Christ is the narrow way that few find as opposed to the broad way that leads to destruction and by “destruction” the Word means hell.

    Jesus Christ is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE and NO MAN cometh unto the Father but by Him. There’s no universal salvation, this is a lie from the pit of hell and from the father of lies, that old serpent the devil.

    The Bible also clearly teaches that there are OTHER “christs”, OTHER “gospels” and DAMNABLE HERESIES that will be secretly brought in by deceivers which are in fact the DOCTRINES OF DEMONS. The Bible wouldn’t make such claims and warn against such false teaching if it was of no consequence. Let God be true and every man be a liar!

    The enemy Satan hasn’t changed his tactics one bit since the garden. He’s still leading the foolish astray with his hiss, ”Yea, hath God said?”. Satan always starts by questioning the veracity and trustworthiness of God’s Word, and you can be sure you’re dealing with one of his minions every single time you encounter a person like Don Hicks who sows his poisonous seeds of deception and questions the objective, plain, and forthright meaning of the Holy Bible.

    Hell is hot, dark, and forever and many, many people who don’t believe in hell will nonetheless lift their eyes up from thence with weeping and gnashing of teeth, fully conscious of their torments forever.

    9And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Rev 14:9-11)

    And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

    And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 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.

    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. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:10-15)

    In Him,
    CD

    Oh, and by the way, if anyone were to even bother considering Don Hicks’ satanic lies about being “purified” in the afterlife by his strange fire then I’d just say it’s going to be a very sad ETERNITY for all those poor souls who are being “purified” FOREVER in fire.

    That’s a real selling point for your faith – you won’t necessarily burn in fire in hell forever in Don Hicks’ warped theology, but you might just burn in fire in heaven forever…is WHERE YOU BURN supposed to make burning in fire forever more appealing?

  9. Scriptural teachings and references on Hell and punishment:

    For it is written . . .

    Psalm 11:5-6 Fire, Brimstone, Burning
    Daniel 12:2 Everlasting Abhorrence
    Matthew 5:22 Go Into Fiery Hell
    Matthew 5:29-30 Maimed/Heaven & Whole/ Hell
    Matthew 8:12 Darkness, Weeping, Teeth Gnashing
    Matthew 10:28 Fear Who Destroys Body/Soul in Hell
    Matthew 24:51 Weeping, Teeth Gnashing
    Matthew 25:30 Darkness, Weeping, Teeth Gnashing
    Matthew 25:41 Eternal Fire
    Matthew 25:46 Eternal Punishment / Eternal Life
    Mark 9:42-48 Better Millstone Thrown Into the Sea
    Mark 9:43-48 Unquenchable Fire Worm Doesn’t Die
    Luke 3:17 Unquenchable Fire
    Luke 16:19-28 Rich Man in Hell and Beggar
    2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 Eternal Destruction Away From God
    Jude 7 Punishment of Eternal Fire
    Jude 13 Darkness Reserved Forever
    Revelation 14:10-11 Torment & No Rest
    Revelation 19:20 Lake of Fire Burning With Brimstone
    Revelation 20:1-3 The Abyss
    Revelation 20:13-15 Lake of Fire

    Degrees of Punishment
    Matthew 10:15 More Tolerable for Sodom
    Matthew 11:22, 24 More Tolerable for Sodom
    Matthew 16:27 Repay According to Man’s Deeds
    Luke 12:47-48 Many Lashes vs Few Lashes
    Hebrews 10:29-31 Severer Punishment / Terrifying God
    Revelation 22:12 Repay According to What Man Did

    - The Pilgrim

  10. Don,

    First I need to clear up a typo I just noticed in my last comment. I said that Jesus was speaking in the passage at the end of John 3, when I meant to say John (the Baptizer).

    That said, as far as God having given “all things” into the hands of the Son, what are these “all things” John is talking about? Is it the people themselves? Or is it more than just the people? When John Baptist says that “all things” have been given to the Son, he is talking about the judgment and authority over “all things.” That is what John is alluding to here. In John 3:36, John Baptist says, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life…” No quantifiers there. No mention of any time when these people will ever see life. The language is clear. Those who do not know the Son WILL NOT see life.

    This is a foreshadowing of the “sheep and goats” discourse Jesus gives in Matthew 25. And Jesus Himself says in John 5:28-29—“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” All will come forth—those who knew the Lord Jesus will stand before the Bema of Christ. Those who did not know Him will stand before the Great White Throne.

    As for the rendering of verse 36, we se two different tenses used for the believer and the unbeliever. First, we see that the believer HAS life—the phrase “echei zoen aionion” shows us the present and perpetual condition of the saved. They HAVE—present tense—life. However, the unbeliever “ouk opsetai zoen”—they “shall not see life.” This does refers to not only the present state of the unbelieving person, but their future condition as well. The word “opsetai” is the future tense of “optomai.” What John Baptist is saying is that the believer HAS life, while the unbeliever will not only not see life in the present, but they will not see life—ever. Therefore, because that person will never see life, God’s wrath abides (present tense) on that person. When the word “aionion” is used to modify “zoe” it always means “eternal, everlasting, without beginning or end.” The same is true when it is applied to the word “olethros.”

    The word “olethros,” which Paul uses in 1st Corinthians 5:5 means “ruin, death, punishment.” Basically, what he is saying is, “Let this person, if they do not wish to repent, let them go as far as they will, that they may see the end of their wicked ways and repent and return to the Lord.” Much the same thing happened to Simon Peter. Jesus warned him, “Satan has asked for you, to sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). Sometimes when a person is unrepentant, we need to let that person go as far as God will let them, that they may see the damage their sin causes, that they may be convicted to the point that they never return to that vomit, that they may be saved. This is the temporal “destruction of the flesh” Paul is talking about in 1st Corinthians 5:5.

    However, in 2nd Thessalonians 1:9, he adds the word “aionios” (everlasting) to “olethros.” This is the punishment for those who never repent, upon whom the wrath of God abides—a punishment that is “aionios”—“without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be; without beginning; without end, never to cease, everlasting” according to Thayer. “Perpetual, eternal, for ever, everlasting” according to Strong. In fact, out of the 71 times this word is found in the New Testament, 68 of those cases refer to eternality—having no end. (The other three refer to the time “before the world began.”) Jude tells us that the men of Sodom and Gomorrha “are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of aionion pur—eternal fire (Jude 7).

    Why are these people tormented “in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb?” This is obvious from Scripture. Psalm 139:8—“If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” Why are the holy angels there? To witness the fulfillment of God’s eternal justice.

    Why is the word “aionas” repeated in this Revelation 14:11? Why wouldn’t it be? John the apostle showed us many times that Jesus said “Amen Amen”—the KJV renders it “Verily, verily” the ESV “Truly truly.” Why the need to repeat Himself? Emphasis. Which carries more weight? “Truly”? Or “Truly truly”? Likewise, which gives a more complete picture of the duration of this torment? “Forever”? Or “Forever and forever”? Or to put it another way “An eternity of eternities,” which is the point John the apostle was making with the words spoken to him by the Holy Spirit. The punishment these people face will last an eternity of eternities.

    I know this is an unpleasant thought. As CD said, it goes against our thinking. That’s because we are human. We do not see our sins the same way God sees them. We see them as “small” and “big.” Some see them as “venial” and “mortal.” Some see a place where our sins can be “purged” after we die (Roman Catholic system). Some see a place where people get a “second chance” (Mormonism). Some see the wicked being completely wiped out, as if they never existed (Jehovah’s Witnesses). But these systems do not teach the truth of Scripture on this issue—the wicked, whether they were Adolf Hitler or, as Wormwould said, “regular old sinners” (as if that’s not such a bad thing). Against whom did King David say he sinned? “Against You and You alone have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). We don’t just sin against our neighbor. We rebel against the very sovereignty of God. Therefore, it’s not up to us to choose our punishment and how long it lasts. It is decreed by God and God alone.

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