Christian-Forum.net: Annihilationism - Conditional Immortality - Endtime Heresy? - Christian-Forum.net

Jump to content

  • (8 Pages)
  • +
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • Last »
  • You cannot start a new topic
  • You cannot reply to this topic

Annihilationism - Conditional Immortality - Endtime Heresy? Is Annihilationism Biblical? Rate Topic: ****- 3 Votes

#1 User is offline   Word of God 

  • .
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 7121
  • Joined: 04-October 05

Posted 19 August 2008 - 07:38 PM





Is Annihilationism Biblical?





Annihilationism (sometimes called Conditional Immortality) is the belief that unbelievers will not experience an eternity of suffering in hell, but will rather be "extinguished" after death. A belief in annihilationism is a result in a misunderstanding of one or more of the following doctrines: (1) the consequences of sin, (2) the justice of God, (3) the nature of Hell.

In relation to the nature of Hell, annihilationists misunderstand the meaning of the lake of fire. Obviously if a human being were cast into a lake of burning lava, they would be instantly consumed. However, the lake of fire is both a physical and spiritual realm. It is not simply a human body being cast into the lake of fire, it is a human's body, soul, and spirit. A spiritual nature cannot be consumed by physical fire. It seems that the unsaved are resurrected with a body prepared for eternity just as the saved are (Revelation 20:13; Acts 24:15). These bodies are prepared for an eternal fate.

Eternity is another aspect annihilationism fails to adequately comprehend. Annihilationists are correct that the Greek word "aionion," which is usually translated eternal, does not by definition mean eternal. It specifically refers to an "age" or "eon," a specific period of time. However, it is clear that in New Testament usage "aionion" is sometimes used to refer to an eternal amount of time. Revelation 20:10 speaks of Satan, the beast, and the false prophet being cast into the lake of fire and being tormented "day and night forever and ever." It is clear that these three are not "extinguished" by being cast into the lake of fire. Why would the fate of the unsaved be any different (Revelation 20:14-15)? The most convincing evidence for the eternality of Hell is Matthew 25:46, "Then they (the wicked) will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." In this verse, the exact same Greek word is used to refer to the destiny of the wicked and the righteous. If the wicked are only tormented for an "age," then the righteous will only experience life in Heaven for an age. If believers will be in Heaven forever, unbelievers will be in Hell forever.

Another frequent objection to the eternality of Hell by annihilationists is that it would be unjust for God to punish unbelievers in Hell for eternity for a finite amount of sin. How could it be fair for God to punish a person who lived a sinful life, for say 70 years, for all of eternity? The answer is this – our sin bears an eternal consequence because it is ultimately against an eternal God. When King David committed the sins of adultery and murder he stated, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…" (Psalm 51:4). David had sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, how could David claim to have only sinned against God? David understood that all sin is ultimately against God. God is an eternal and infinite Being. As a result, all sin is worthy of an eternal punishment. An earthly example of this would be comparing attacking your neighbor and attacking the President of the United States. Yes, both are crimes, but attacking the President would result in far greater consequences. How much more does sin against a holy and infinite God warrant a terrible consequence?

A more personal aspect of annihilationism is the idea that we could not possibly be happy in Heaven if we knew that some of our loved ones we suffering an eternity of torment in Hell. When we arrive in Heaven, we will not have anything to complain about or be saddened by. Revelation 21:4 tells us, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." If some of our loved ones are not in Heaven, we will be in 100% complete agreement that they do not belong there – that they are condemned by their own refusal to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior (John 3:16; John 14:6). It is hard to understand this, but we will not be saddened by the lack of their presence. Our focus should not be on how we can enjoy Heaven without all of our loved ones there, but rather on how we can point our loved ones to faith in Christ – so that they will be there.

Hell is perhaps the primary reason why God sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sins. Being "extinguished" after death is no fate to dread, but an eternity in Hell most definitely is. Jesus' death was an infinite death, paying our infinite sin debt – so that we would not have to pay it in Hell for eternity (2 Corinthians 5:21). All we must do is place our faith in Him and we are saved, forgiven, cleansed, and promised an eternal home in heaven. God loved us so much to provide for our salvation. If we reject His gift of eternal life, we will face the eternal consequences of that decision.



http://www.gotquesti...ilationism.html





Posted Image

Is Annihilationism Biblical?


The doctrine of annihilationism teaches that man was created immortal. But those who continue in sin and reject Christ are by a positive act of God deprived of the gift of immortality and are ultimately destroyed. Another view, called "conditional immortality," argues that immortality is not a natural endowment of man, but is rather a gift of God in Christ only to those who believe. The person that does not accept Christ is ultimately annihilated and loses all consciousness. Some of the advocates of these doctrines teach a limited duration of conscious suffering for the wicked after death, after which time they are annihilated.

There are many passages that refute annihilationism. For illustration purposes, we will select only one primary passage - Matthew 25:46: "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

By no stretch of the imagination can the punishment spoken of in Matthew 25:46 be defined as a nonsuffering extinction of consciousness. Indeed, if actual suffering is lacking, then so is punishment. Let us be clear on this: punishment entails suffering. And suffering necessarily entails consciousness.

Bible scholar John Gerstner tells us that "one can exist and not be punished; but no one can be punished and not exist. Annihilation means the obliteration of existence and anything that pertains to existence, such as punishment. Annihilation avoids punishment, rather than encountering it."

How do we know that the punishment referred to in Matthew 25:46 does not entail an extinction of consciousness and annihilation? There are many evidences. For example, consider the fact that there are no degrees of annihilation. One is either annihilated or one is not. The Scriptures, by contrast, teach that there will be degrees of punishment on the day of judgment (Matthew 10:15; 11:21-24; 16:27; Luke 12:47-48; John 15:22; Hebrews 10:29; Revelation 20:11-15; 22:12).

The very fact that people will suffer varying degrees of punishment in hell shows that annihilation or the extinction of consciousness is not taught in Matthew 25:46 or anywhere else in Scripture. These are incompatible concepts.

Moreover, one cannot deny that for one who is suffering excruciating pain, the extinction of his or her consciousness would actually be a blessing - not a punishment (cf. Luke 23:30-31; Revelation 9:6). Any honest seeker after truth must admit that one cannot define "eternal punishment" as an extinction of consciousness.

We must emphasize that torment cannot, by definition, be anything but conscious torment. One cannot torment a tree, a rock, or a house. By its very nature, being tormented requires consciousness. Bible scholar Alan Gomes correctly points out that "a punishment [such as torment] that is not felt is not a punishment. It is an odd use of language to speak of an insensate (i.e., unfeeling), inanimate object receiving punishment. To say, 'I punished my car for not starting by slowly plucking out its sparkplug wires, one by one,' would evoke laughter, not serious consideration." We repeat, then, that punishment entails consciousness!

A critical point to make in regard to Matthew 25:46 is that this punishment is said to be eternal. There is no way that annihilationism or an extinction of consciousness can be forced into this passage. Indeed, the adjective aionion in this verse literally means "everlasting, without end." As noted earlier, this same adjective is predicated of God (the "eternal" God) in 1 Timothy 1:7, Romans 16:26, Hebrews 9:14, 13:8, and Revelation 4:9. The punishment of the wicked is just as eternal as our eternal God.

http://home.earthlin...ilationism.html


Related Topics:

[b]Is hell real? Is hell eternal?

How is eternity in hell a fair punishment for sin?

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?

Is universalism / universal salvation Biblical?

What is the gospel of inclusion?

This post has been edited by Voice: 19 August 2008 - 07:45 PM

0

#2 User is offline   Word of God 

  • .
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 7121
  • Joined: 04-October 05

Posted 19 August 2008 - 07:47 PM

Flaws in the Arguments for Annihilationism by Stephen E. Alexander
11 July 2004


Beginning in the 4th century, some Christian theologians argued that when non-believers die, their souls disappear into nothingness. Several prominent evangelicals today subscribe to this doctrine of annihilationism, and their numbers are growing. Why is this doctrine so flawed, and why should we be concerned about its prevalence?


The origins of the doctrine known as “annihilationism” go all the way back to the 4th-century when a man named Arnobius first propagated a doctrine that unbelievers passed into “nonexistence” either at death or at the time of resurrection. “As to man, Arnobius . . . denies his immortality. The soul outlives the body but depends solely on God for the gift of eternal duration. The wicked go to the fire of Gehenna, and will ultimately be consumed or annihilated” (Schaff 859). It was condemned as heresy at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. The doctrine did not reappear again in church history until at least the 12th century. Throughout church history, leading church fathers have taken a strong stand against annihilationism (or conditionalism) in favor of the traditional (orthodox) view of hell as eternal punishment (everlasting) for those who choose to reject Jesus Christ and His gracious offer of eternal life. A few of the more famous figures of Christ’s church who have given whole-hearted support to the traditional doctrine include: Tertullian, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and Dwight L. Moody. The Westminster Confession of Faith was very clear in its affirming of hell as eternal punishment: “but the wicked who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (Grudem 1196).

This past generation has experienced the movement of men believed to be stalwart evangelicals reaching to defend annihilationism. The well-known ones include John Stott, Clark Pinnock, John Wenham, Philip E. Hughes, Steven Travis, and their numbers (those advocating “annihilationism”) appear to be growing. Why should this be so, and what is the Biblical “weight” to be given their arguments? Can it be possible that evangelicalism is being attacked from within by a low view of God and His inspired, infallible, and inerrant word?

ANNIHILATIONISM ARGUMENT #1

Our immortality is not a natural attribute of being human (is not inherent in the make-up of man as a corporal-spiritual creature) at present; so, eternal life can only be given to believers at the resurrection as God’s gift. Unbelievers will pass into destruction (annihilation) of body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). Only God has immortality in Himself (I Tim. 6:15-16).

RESPONSE

The eternity of God and eternal life for believers is not in doubt amongst evangelical Christians. What is at issue is whether eternity means the same in regards to “eternal punishment.” Clark Pinnock argues that if souls will exist forever, then those who reject the Gospel must be put somewhere: “I am convinced that the Hellenistic belief in the immortality of the soul has done more than anything else (specifically more than the Bible) to give credibility to the doctrine of the everlasting conscious punishment of the wicked” (252).

Louis Berkhof argues that: “God is indeed the only one that has inherent immortality. Man’s immortality is derived, but this is not equivalent to saying that he does not posses it in virtue of his creation . . . . Eternal life is indeed the gift of God in Jesus Christ, a gift which the wicked do not receive, but this does not mean that they will not continue to exist (691).

Edward Fudge, in summarizing his annihilation argument for Matthew 25:41, 46 says that unbelievers:

are banished into eschatological fire prepared for the satanic angels. There they will eventually be destroyed forever, both body and soul, as the divine penalty for sin . . . . The ‘eternal punishment’ itself is the capital execution, the everlasting loss of existence, the everlasting loss of the eternal life of joy and blessing in the company with God and the redeemed (125).

Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us perhaps as clearly as anywhere else in the Bible that the unsaved “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). Significant here would seem to be the parallelism. Millard Erickson holds that it (the parallelism) is of great significance:

“If the one (life) is of unending duration, then the other (punishment) must be also. Nothing in the contest gives us warrant to interpret the word (eternal) differently in the two clauses . . . . Humans were designed to live eternally with God; if they pervert this their destiny, they will experience eternally the consequences of that act . . . . It is a human’s choice to experience the agony of hell. His or her own sin sends the person there, and his or her rejection of the benefits of Christ’s death prevents escape” (1246-1247).

Finally, John tells us in Revelation 20:10-15 that first the devil is thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, to “be tormented day and night forever and ever” and a few verses later he describes unbelievers as being thrown into the same lake of fire. Robert A Peterson closes out this discussion aptly:

“This is in keeping with Jesus’ words to unsaved people, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil’ (Matt. 25:41). I conclude that Fudge’s appeal to word order in the expression, ‘The lake of fire is the second death’ to make it fit annihilationism is an evasion of the teaching of Revelation 20 (168). [Fudge argues] . . . that Revelation 20:14-15 never says that human beings are tormented for ever and ever. Technically, this is correct, but it is a case of straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel . . . . If (unbelieving humans are meant for annihilation) . . . why hasn’t John informed his readers of the change in meaning? Because there is not change in meaning; the lake of fire means everlasting torment for them, too (Fudge and Peterson 168).

The eternality of hell and its eternal punishment of the wicked could not be clearer than Christ’s own description in Mark 9:48: “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” in conjunction with Jude 7’s scenario : “[the wicked] are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” This writer must conclude, as does John Walvoord, that: “eternal punishment is everlasting, regardless of the terminology, [for] . . . it is never regarded as being terminated . . . . Doubting the matter of eternal punishment requires either doubting the Word of God or denying its literal, normal interpretation (26-27).

This writer concludes that the arguments here for annihilationism by Pinnock and Fudge are shallow and are not supported by Scripture.

ANNIHILATIONISM ARGUMENT #2

The Biblical words and imagery such as “fire,” “death,” and “destruction” indicate extinction and annihilation. John Stott suggests that the imagery of hell as “eternal fire” points toward destruction rather than torment. He argues that: “The main function of fire is not to cause pain, but to secure destruction, as all the world’s incinerators bear witness” (316).

RESPONSE

A reading of Daniel 12:2 and Matthew 25:41 and 46 together seems to clearly reveal that Jesus Christ and Daniel intended that hell be understood not as a place of extinction or annihilation, but rather of conscious eternal punishment. David F. Wells discusses the wide range of meanings of the above three Biblical words:

Sinners are ‘cut off’ (Ps. 37:9, 22, 28, 34, 38), but so is the Messiah (Dan. 9:26); sinners are ‘destroyed’ (Ps. 143:12), but so was Israel (Hos. 13:9; cf. Isa. 9:14) and so were the sheep and coins that were then found (Luke 15:4, 8); unbelievers are said to ‘die,’ but then all of us have always been ‘dead’ (Rom. 6:13; 7:4; Eph. 2:1, 5; cf. Rom. 7:10, 13; 8:2, 6; I Tim. 5:6; Col. 2:13; Rev. 3:1), and that surely does not mean we have been without existence and consciousness. (42).

Just as was argued by Millard Erickson for Argument # 1, it seems most appropriate here to renew it again: “the main contrast between eternal life and its opposite is two very different types of life, not existence verses (sic) non existence” (Habermas and Moreland 172).

Robert Reynold makes a most appropriate inquiry to those espousing the doctrine of annihilationism: “Why (does) John (the Baptist) characterize the fire as ‘unquenchable’ (Matt. 3:12) if every impenitent sinner at the final judgment is instantly consumed by it?” (50)

This writer concludes that the argument that the imagery of “fire,” “death,” and “destruction” indicates extinction and/or annihilation is a weak one, unsupported by the Scriptures as a whole.

ANNIHILATIONISM ARGUMENT #3

Annihilationists argue that the goodness of God makes the traditional view of eternal punishment incongruent with God’s perfect justice: doesn’t hell contradict God’s love? The famous British writer and philosopher, John Stuart Mill, of the 19th century, went so far as to proclaim that a good God could not punish unbelievers forever and therefore refused to believe in hell.

RESPONSE

Clark Pinnock announces his position on this issue in the most scathing language:

I consider the concept of hell as endless torment in body and mind as outrageous doctrine, a theological and moral enormity (that goes) far beyond an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. There would be a serious disproportion between sins committed in time and the suffering experience forever. The fact that sin has been committed against an infinite God does not make the sin infinite. The chief point is that eternal torment serves no purpose and exhibits a vindictiveness out of keeping with the love of God revealed in the gospel (247).

Edward Fudge is in substantial agreement with Pinnock, for he pleads with his readers:

to carefully and prayerfully consider the evidence for conditionalism (annihilationism) and then to jettison the ancient tradition of everlasting conscious torment. It is a horrible doctrine, unworthy of God, foreign to the Bible, spawned by pagan philosophy and preserved by human tradition. It deserves to be rejected once and for all (208).

Gary R. Habermas and J. P. Moreland, believing that this argument of the annihilationist theologians is their strongest, give this response:

If we compare extinction with life in hell, it is clearly more immoral to extinguish humans with intrinsic value than to allow them to continue living in a state with a low quality of life. In fact, we do not believe the second alternative is immoral at all, but the first alternative (extinction) is immoral . . . the endlessness of existence in hell at least dignifies the people there by continuing to respect their autonomy and their intrinsic value as persons. Extinction does not . . . . Hell saddens all of us, God included, but we believe that the traditional notion of hell is both biblically and morally sound (Habermas and Moreland 173-174).

Wayne Grudem makes a most significant response to the argument that eternal punishment cannot be reconciled with God’s goodness and love:

The argument that eternal punishment is unfair (because there is a disproportion between temporary sin and eternal punishment) wrongly assumes that we know the extent of the evil done when sinners rebel against God. David Kingdon observes that “sin against the Creator is heinous to a degree utterly beyond our sin-warped imaginations’ (ability) to conceive of . . . . Who would have the temerity to suggest to God what the punishment . . . should be?” He also responds to this objection by suggesting that unbelievers in hell may go on sinning and receiving punishment for their sin, but never repenting, and notes that Revelation 22:11 points in this direction : “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy” (1151).

The love of God and the goodness of God are attributes that give us great gratitude in this life, and yet for now we only see them (and appreciate them) “through a glass darkly.” The same can be said of God’s corresponding attributes of His holiness and His righteousness. He instructs us to “Be ye holy, for I am holy” and He never compromises His holy being to moral evil. Harold T. Bryson brings these last two attributes together when he declares:
God’s righteousness helps us to understand the reasons for hell. God uses diverse means to reveal his moral requirements - conscience of men, law and prophets, teachings of Christ, and the character of Jesus. When men lack righteousness, God must condemn to be true to his character. He must punish transgressors. Scholars call this facet of God’s action “punitive righteousness.” To overlook or to neglect sin would be to act contrary to his nature. Hell does not mean that God does not love people - it means that he hates sin. [For] those who persisted in unbelief, Jesus condemned . . . . God condemns only those who will not repent. Hell or the consequences of sin cannot be blamed on God . . . . If we believe that God is holy and righteous, then we must believe that hell is part of his will . . . [H]ell does not contradict God’s character or cast a shadow on his goodness (88-89). (underscoring supplied)
This writer finds that this argument is a clear victory for the traditional doctrine of hell. The factor of eternal punishment is evidence of God’s goodness, His righteousness, His holiness, and His benevolence. William Shedd expressed clearly over one hundred years ago that rationale for endless punishment as a necessity because sin is an infinite evil:

The incarnation and vicario

http://www.intellect...rticle3610.html

0

#3 User is offline   Stephen 

  • Advanced Member 8
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 8310
  • Joined: 17-October 07

Posted 19 August 2008 - 07:52 PM

Voice,

Good informtion on both posts.

My view considering all aspects of the subject would be the following:

1. The true believer's immortality will be permanent and eternal. No doubt.

2. The unbeliever will be eliminated as a life form with no recourse. Eternal punishment in this case is "final". This resulting judgment will be permanent and everlasting.

Related scriptures can be very reasonably interpreted to reflect these truths.

This post has been edited by Stephen: 19 August 2008 - 07:55 PM

0

#4 User is offline   Word of God 

  • .
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 7121
  • Joined: 04-October 05

Posted 19 August 2008 - 08:41 PM

View PostStephen, on Aug 20 2008, 09:52 AM, said:

Voice,

Good informtion on both posts.

My view considering all aspects of the subject would be the following:

1. The true believer's immortality will be permanent and eternal. No doubt.

2. The unbeliever will be eliminated as a life form with no recourse. Eternal punishment in this case is "final". This resulting judgment will be permanent and everlasting.

Related scriptures can be very reasonably interpreted to reflect these truths.


Hi Steve, many thanks. It is edifying to watch
'how' the Holy Spirit has breathed into and arranged the Word.
It truly builds one's faith.
Hoping all is well ... Maranatha
http://www.christian...mp;#entry224838

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
0

#5 User is offline   Word of God 

  • .
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 7121
  • Joined: 04-October 05

Posted 04 September 2008 - 11:36 AM

View PostStephen, on Aug 20 2008, 08:52 AM, said:

Voice,

Good informtion on both posts.

My view considering all aspects of the subject would be the following:

1. The true believer's immortality will be permanent and eternal. No doubt.

2. The unbeliever will be eliminated as a life form with no recourse. Eternal punishment in this case is "final". This resulting judgment will be permanent and everlasting.

Related scriptures can be very reasonably interpreted to reflect these truths.



Will Sinners Burn in Hell Forever?


Christian Evangelism, Healing, and Teaching Resources




Will Sinners Burn in Hell Forever?


Question:

"Will sinners burn in hell forever or will they be totally annihilated in the lake of fire?"

Answer:

After studying the various views concerning this issue, it seems to me that the greatest weight of evidence supports the view that sinners will spend eternity in conscious torment in the Lake of Fire. I might wish that this were not the case, but God's ways are higher than my ways! Prayerfully read and reflect on what Scripture says in the following passages and see if it leads you to the same conclusion.

In this article I am using the word "hell" as being equivalent to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20, 20:10, 14-15, 21:8). For a more complete discussion of the Lake of Fire and the meaning of the word "hell," please see my article called




First I will present five arguments that are sometimes used to show that sinners will not burn in hell forever, and I'll explain why I personally don't find them very convincing.


Five Arguments for Total Annihilation in Hell

Total Annihilation Argument #1:

Many people believe that sinners will be annihilated in hell because they can't imagine how a merciful, loving God could torment the vast majority of humanity for all eternity. After all, is that really justice?

My Response:
I struggle with these issues a little bit as well, but Scripture tells us very clearly that God's ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). God is perfect and His decisions are perfect. I don't like the thought of people being tormented eternally in the Lake of Fire, but I believe that God is righteous, merciful, and just, and I am willing to let Him execute justice in any way He sees fit. I can understand and empathize with the question of "Is this really justice?," but this argument does not prove that sinners will be totally annihilated in hell. God's view of justice is not necessarily the same as our human view of justice!


Total Annihilation Argument #2:
Sometimes people will point out that eternal conscious torment seems to contradict the phrase, "the second death," which is used four times in Scripture to refer to the Lake of Fire (hell):
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death." (Revelation 2:11)

"Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6)

"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death." (Revelation 20:14)

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)
The argument here is that death is the end of life. Physical death is the end of physical life, so the phrase "the second death" probably refers to the end of spiritual life.

My Response:
The problem I see with this argument is that the phrase, "the second death," does not automatically imply that a person's body, soul, and spirit are annihilated forever. This is just an assumption that some people have made, and the problem with this assumption is that death does not equal annihilation. For example, at physical death our bodies die and eventually decay, but they are not annihilated forever. The molecules that made up our bodies continue to exist, and in fact our bodies will be re-formed when we are resurrected at the Rapture (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

It is true that physical death is the end of physical life (at least until Christians receive their resurrected, glorified bodies), and in a sense it is also true that the second death will be the end of spiritual life for sinners. This is because it is only in Jesus that we have life (see John 1:4 and 14:6, for example). Sinners will be shut out from the glorious presence of the Lord forever (2 Thessalonians 1:9), and in this sense they will have no life since they do not have Jesus. However, this does not mean that they will be annihilated.

The "first" death (physical death) does not include annihilation, so we have no evidence to support the assumption that the "second" death refers to annihilation.


Total Annihilation Argument #3:
Another argument that people use is that hell is described as a place of destruction, which seems to imply total annihilation rather than eternal conscious torment:
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction [apoleia], and many enter through it." (Matthew 7:13)

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy [apollumi] both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish [apollumi] but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

"They will be punished with everlasting destruction [olethros] and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power" (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
Since hell is described as a place of destruction, doesn't this imply that sinners will be totally annihilated?

My Response:We should be careful not to make hasty assumptions about English words such as "destruction" until we examine how the Greek words are used elsewhere in Scripture, so let's take a close look at apoleia, apollumi, and olethros in the New Testament.

The Greek word apoleia, which is translated as "destruction" in Matthew 7:13 above, is also used in Revelation 17:8 and 17:11:
"The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction [apoleia]." (Revelation 17:8)

"The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction [apoleia]." (Revelation 17:11)
Jesus says in Matthew 7:13 (above) that sinners will go to "destruction" (apoleia), and Revelation says that the "beast" (the Antichrist) will go to his "destruction" (apoleia) as well. In Revelation 20:10 the apostle John tells us exactly what the "destruction" of the beast actually means:
"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Revelation 20:10)
[Note: I'll say something about "for ever and ever" later. It means "eternally" in this context, even though some people argue otherwise.]

The "destruction" (apoleia) of the beast is specifically described as eternal conscious torment in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10, above). Therefore, it is likely that when sinners receive "destruction" (apoleia) it will also mean eternal conscious torment in the Lake of Fire.

The Greek word apollumi is translated as "destroy" in Matthew 10:28 (above) and as "perish" in John 3:16 (above), and this same Greek word is translated as "lost" in the following parables:
"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses [apollumi] one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost [apollumi] sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost [apollumi] sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:4-7)

"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses [apollumi] one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost [apollumi] coin.'" (Luke 15:8-9)

"[The Prodigal Son] For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost [apollumi] and is found.' So they began to celebrate. ... this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost [apollumi] and is found.'" (Luke 15:24,32)
Notice in the above passages that Jesus specifically says that sinners are apollumi ("lost"), which is the same Greek word translated as "destroy" in Matthew 10:28 and as "perish" in John 3:16. In the passages above, the lost sheep was apollumi yet it continued to exist, and Jesus used this as an analogy for sinners. The lost coin was apollumi yet it continued to exist, and Jesus used this as an analogy for sinners. The prodigal son was apollumi yet he continued to exist, and Jesus used this as an analogy for sinners. Many scholars therefore conclude that sinners will be apollumi ("destroyed" or "lost") in the Lake of Fire, yet they will continue to exist. For example, The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament (Spiros Zodhiates, p.246) says that the Greek words apoleia and apollumi "must never be construed as meaning extinction. One dies physically when his spirit and his body separate. Neither the body becomes extinct, nor the spirit." Therefore, the evidence indicates that the Lake of Fire is a place of "lostness," not total annihilation.

Finally, the Greek word olethros is translated as "destruction" in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 (below), and this same Greek word is translated as "destroyed" in 1 Corinthians 5:5:
"They will be punished with everlasting destruction [olethros] and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power" (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

"hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature [literally, "the flesh"] may be destroyed [olethros] and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." (1 Corinthians 5:5)
1 Corinthians 5:5 (above) shows us that a person's "flesh" (his sinful flesh nature) can be "destroyed" (olethros), while his spirit still has a conscious existence. Therefore, "destruction" (olethros) in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 does not automatically imply total annihilation. In fact, 2 Thessalonians 1:9 (above) specifically describes "everlasting destruction" as being eternally "shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power." This agrees with the view that sinners will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, banished from the glorious presence of the Lord.

As we gain a better understanding of these three Greek words for "destruction," the fact that hell is a place of "destruction" actually strengthens the view that sinners will be tormented in hell forever.


Total Annihilation Argument #4:
People who believe that sinners will not spend eternity in hell sometimes argue that eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46) does not necessarily mean eternal punishing, and that eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:2) does not necessarily mean eternal judging:
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25:46)

"instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:2)
In other words, the phrase "eternal judgment" might mean judgment that goes on eternally, but it can also mean a judgment with eternal consequences (annihilation). Those who hold the view that it means a judgment with eternal consequences (total annihilation) point out that Jesus secured eternal redemption for us, but it was a once and for all action, He does not continue the act of redemption eternally:
"He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption." (Hebrews 9:12)

My Response:I agree that the English phrase, "eternal punishment," is ambiguous because it might mean a punishment that goes on eternally (i.e. eternal torment in hell) or it might mean a punishment with eternal consequences (i.e. total annihilation). The same ambiguity applies to the phrase, "eternal judgment." So how are we to know which way to interpret these phrases?

In situations where passages of Scripture are unclear or ambiguous, the rule of interpretation that should be applied is to let Scripture interpret Scripture. In other words, God never contradicts Himself in the Bible, so the way to understand an unclear or ambiguous passage is to interpret it in light of other, clearer, passages. What it boils down to is that if the weight of evidence in the Bible leads to the conclusion that hell is a place of eternal torment, then that is how we should interpret "eternal punishment" and "eternal judgment." If the weight of evidence agrees with the view that sinners are totally annihilated in hell, then that is how we should interpret "eternal punishment" and "eternal judgment." Therefore, the passages above do not contribute any evidence to our study of the consequences of hell.


Total Annihilation Argument #5:
Another argument is that the phrase, "the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever" in Revelation 14:9-11 does not necessarily mean that people are tormented in conscious agony forever:
"A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:9-11)
The argument here is that since this passage says that the "smoke" of their torment rises forever, perhaps it is the smoke that is eternal, not the torment. Those who hold this view point out that a similar phrase is used in Isaiah 34:8-10:
"For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion's cause. Edom's streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch! It will not be quenched night and day; its smoke will rise forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again." (Isaiah 34:8-10)
Those who believe that sinners will be annihilated in hell say that if we visit Edom (in Southern Jordan) we will not see literal smoke rising eternally from it. The destruction of Edom had eternal consequences, but it is not burning eternally. This indicates (to some people) that the smoke is meant to be symbolic, and therefore the phrase, "the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever" in Revelation 14:9-11 (above) is probably symbolic as well.


My Response:Personally, I don't buy the argument that the smoke in Isaiah 34:8-10 is merely symbolic just because we don't see "the smoke of Edom's destruction" rising up today. That passage is prophetic and has not happened yet, as we can easily see by reading chapter 34 of Isaiah in its entirety.

Now, why does Revelation 14:9-11 (above) say that "the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever"? What is the description of smoke meant tell us? Well, one way to look at it is to imagine throwing a log onto a fire. It burns and produces smoke. When the log has completely stopped burning then there is no longer any smoke. If the log could feel pain then we might say that the smoke of its torment rises while it is burning. The only way for the smoke of its torment to rise forever is for the log to actually burn forever. Likewise, the only way for the smoke of a sinner's torment to rise forever is if the sinner burns forever.

Therefore, when Revelation 14:9-11 says that "the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever," the most reasonable explanation is that the sinners themselves are burning forever. In fact, the rest of verse 11 specifically says that "There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." This echoes Revelation 20:10 which says that the devil, the beast, and the false prophet will be "tormented day and night for ever and ever." The implication is that throughout all eternity, sinners will have no rest from their torments.


Five Arguments in Favor of Eternal Conscious Torment in Hell

Eternal Torment Argument #1:

The Bible specifically describes people being tormented in the Lake of Fire for ever and ever:
"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Revelation 20:10)

"A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:9-11)
These two passages describe the "beast" (the Antichrist), the "false prophet," and all those who receive the "mark of the beast" being tormented day and night for ever and ever in the lake of burning sulfur. Therefore, the Bible specifically describes sinners being tormented for eternity in hell, which provides Scriptural precedent for the view that all sinners will suffer eternal conscious agony in the Lake of Fire.

For example, in Revelation 14:9-11 and Revelation 20:10 (above), the apostle John shows us that the Lake of Fire is the place where certain sinners will be tormented forever, and then just five verses later he tells us that all sinners will be cast into that same Lake of Fire:
"If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:15)
Since the Lake of Fire is the place where the beast, the false prophet, etc., will be tormented forever, and since all sinners will be thrown into the same lake of burning sulfur, the most natural and reasonable conclusion is that all sinners will suffer conscious agony in hell for all eternity.


Eternal Torment Argument #2:


Several Old Testament passages describe the eternal fire of hell in a way which clearly demonstrates the Jewish view that hell is a place of everlasting burning, not a place of annihilation:
"The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire." (Isaiah 1:31)

"The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?"" (Isaiah 33:14)

"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:24)
The first two passages above describe sinners burning in unquenchable fire. The imagery here is of eternal torment in fire, not total annihilation. The third passage says that a sinner's "worm" will not die, nor will his fire be quenched. This passage is quoted by Jesus in the New Testament:
"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. ... And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'" (Mark 9:43-48)
The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.147) explains this passage by saying that the Greek word geena ("Gehenna," often translated into English as "hell") refers to a site near Jerusalem that "became Jerusalem's refuse dump where fires burned continually to consume regular deposits of worm-infested garbage. In Jewish thought the imagery of fire and worms vividly portrayed the place of future eternal punishment for the wicked. ... The worm (internal torment) and the unquenchable fire (external torment) ... vividly portray the unending, conscious punishment that awaits all who refuse God's salvation. The essence of hell is unending torment and eternal exclusion from His presence." The reason the worm does not die and the fire does not go out is because sinners are never annihilated. They continue to exist forever, and therefore the worm has "food" to eat forever and the fire has fuel to consume forever.


Eternal Torment Argument #3:


Jesus described hell as a fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, but He also described it as a place of darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth:
"They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:42)

"This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:49-50)

"But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:12)

"Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" (Matthew 22:13)

"And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" (Matthew 25:30)
Jude tells us that this "blackest darkness" has been reserved for sinners forever:
"They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever." (Jude 1:13)
Since this blackest darkness has been "reserved forever," it emphasizes the eternal nature of the punishment which sinners will receive.


Eternal Torment Argument #4:

In the following passage, Jesus makes a direct comparison between the eternal nature of life (for Christians) and the eternal nature of punishment (for sinners):
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal (aionios) fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ... Then they will go away to eternal (aionios) punishment, but the righteous to eternal (aionios) life." (Matthew 25:41,46)
Notice that in each case, the word "eternal" is translated from the same Greek word aionios. The fire is "eternal" (aionios), the punishment is "eternal" (aionios), and the life is "eternal" (aionios). The implication is that a Christian's life will go on forever, the fires of hell will go on forever, and a sinner's punishment will go on forever.


Eternal Torment Argument #5:

Hell (the Lake of Fire) is never described as being temporary. Instead, the eternal nature of hell is constantly stressed throughout Scripture:
"The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire." (Isaiah 1:31)

"The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?"" (Isaiah 33:14)

"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:24)

"His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:12)

"If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire." (Matthew 18:8)

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41)

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25:46)

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. ... And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where "'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'" (Mark 9:43-48)

"His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Luke 3:17)

"They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power" (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

"instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:2)

"In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 1:7)

"They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever." (Jude 1:13)

"He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:10-11)

"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Revelation 20:10)
The eternal nature of hell is constantly stressed throughout the Bible. Why is hell eternal? Why will the fires of hell burn forever? The purpose of hell is for the punishment of sinners, so if the fires of hell never go out then it must mean that the punishment of sinners will never end. If sinners were all annihilated in hell then at some point the fire would no longer have any "fuel" and would no longer be needed, so it would go out. However, hell is never described as being temporary. There is not a single passage of Scripture that specifically describes any sinners being totally annihilated, but there are passages which specifically describe sinners suffering agony forever, as we saw earlier.


Conclusion

For all of the above reasons I can only conclude that hell is a place of eternal, fiery, conscious agony where sinners will be shut out from the presence of God forever. I would much prefer to believe that sinners will receive a temporary punishment in hell (perhaps based on the extent and magnitude of their sins) before being put out of their misery by being annihilated. However, I can't find any justification at all in Scripture for that view, and therefore I must discard it. I believe that God is infinitely and perfectly fair, and therefore whatever punishment sinners receive will be perfectly fair and we will have no cause to accuse God of being unfair in any way.

There is, however, another view which is sometimes called "Ultimate Reconciliation" or "Universal Salvation" or simply "Universalism."
The basic idea is that sinners will not spend eternity in hell, nor will they be annihilated. Instead, every person who ever lived will ultimately receive salvation, even if they have to spend a period of time suffering in hell. Those who hold this view argue that the Greek words which are translated as "eternal" and "for ever and ever" do not actually mean eternal, and therefore no sinners will spend eternity in hell. Many of the flaws in this and other Universal Salvation arguments are well addressed at the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry website, so I won't repeat the arguments here. It would be nice if Universalism were true, but I believe that this doctrine is flawed. The greatest weight of evidence that I see in Scripture supports the view that sinners will be tormented in hell for ever and ever, because God looks at sin with a deeper revulsion and hatred than we can ever imagine.

Let the horror of the ultimate fate of sinners spur us on in our evangelism!


I hope this has been helpful, and may the Lord abundantly bless you as you study His Word! Modification History
  • 04/09/2005 - Changed the wording concerning 1 Corinthians 5:5. Originally I had said that a "person" is destroyed in 1 Corinthians 5:5, but it is more accurate to say that a person's "sinful flesh nature" is destroyed in that verse.
  • 02/17/2003 - Added a link to my article called "Did Jesus Go to Hell after He Died?"
  • 12/10/2002 - Added a link to a website which discusses the problems with the "Universal Salvation" view.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)

This material is not copyrighted. Please feel free to use it in any way which will glorify the Lord Jesus Christ!


http://www.layhands....BurnForever.htm

http://www.christian...s...st&p=210138

This post has been edited by Voice: 04 September 2008 - 11:38 AM

0

#6 User is offline   Stephen 

  • Advanced Member 8
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 8310
  • Joined: 17-October 07

Posted 04 September 2008 - 02:34 PM

Voice,

I would have to disagree on this one again. The terms eternal and everlasting can just as well mean "final" with no recourse or recovery. This can very well mean extinction rather than the continuation of a condition that is everlasting without end. I think this is the case. I see no purpose for the Lord to keep a place of torment and torture in His coming eternity for those who refused Him. He just does not do things like this and does not need the satisfaction. What He will clearly do is to refuse any further continuation of life for those who have not paid heed to His call for their salvation ..... in His way. They will know what they have missed for sure. He will show them and will then cut the cord. There will be no reconciliation offered .... no turning back ...... finished .... a final and everlasting sentence.

It is the human will that is in question in regard to the Lord's salvation and His eternal planning. If one is willing to serve Him without doubt and to recognize and rely upon His providence, direction, protection, and life source ...... He will save them for eternity which will require the same exact relationship. The human is the creature and cannot exist without the Creator. The human needs to start this process on their part now ..... not later at the end of the road. This is His way. Those who will not do this, He will not keep for eternty ..... this is truth.

This post has been edited by Stephen: 04 September 2008 - 02:36 PM

0

  • (8 Pages)
  • +
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • Last »
  • You cannot start a new topic
  • You cannot reply to this topic

1 User(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users