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Monday, October 30, 2017

Who told you that you were immortal? Considering Hell.

Once upon a time a man was very sure of himself and thought he had all the answers.  Then he started to read the scriptures and just let them speak for themselves and it turns out there are a lot of things that can be shaken!
My 12-year-old daughter posed the question, How could we be happy in heaven, knowing people we love are burning in hell?
 (I understand that God is just and no consequences or punishment that He hands down could ever be unjust, what I am questioning here is, does the Bible support the idea that humans are immortal? and does the scripture which says eternal life is found only in the Son, support eternal conscious torment for humans who rejected the Son?)
 I had already been wrestling with scripture and seeing the amazing-ness of salvation more and more with our friend Julie.  Then the question was posed on Facebook, What do you believe about hell?  My heart was prepared to really look at scripture and consider what God has revealed.  My approach was simply, What has God said?
Humility is the key, we must stay humble and teachable.  I took the time to listen to those whose thoughts concerning scriptures related to hell were quite different from what I thought I knew.  We cannot afford to cut ourselves off from brothers and sisters with differing views.  The community of the Messiah (the body of Christ) has much to give us, God will not drop all of His wisdom on one group, we need each other.
What was clear was that there were a few go to scriptures for those who believe in an eternal conscious torment (ECT).  I never questioned that, it was the prevailing view, so I accepted the arguments for it, and even taught at least once that it was an example of progressive revelation.  Progressive revelation (the idea that God is over time giving a greater, deeper or fuller picture of a truth) is a principle that works for some things in scripture, but it is beyond cruel to use it in this case.There is no basis for eternal torment prior to Matthew, but that is because God was unfolding it over time no that is not a good argument.. 
   It is like being told you are being sentenced to 90 days in jail and then on the way into the courtroom, your lawyer gets a text message and says, "Oh sorry it isn't 90 days, it is eternity!"

John 3:16 was one of my turning points, "perish" means perish, not be eternally tormented, and then  the example of how the noun can completely change the scope of the adjective was another turning point.  So "unto the age" when it is talking about God should be translated eternal, but "unto the age" when it is talking about men who are being punished by God, cannot be eternal because at no time does scripture say our soul is immortal.  I know, that was a shock to me too, because it is an idea that has become ingrained in our thinking, but it is not something we learned from the Bible. Augustine, who was influenced by Plato, and who influenced Dante brought the concept of an immortal soul into Christianity, not the actual scriptures.   Eternal Life is a gift from God, His punishment or our consequences are to perish, and there will be some form of punishment in hell, but it will be just and fair and it will have an end.  1 Timothy 6:16 "He alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable light. No one has ever seen Him, nor can anyone see Him. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen"  He alone is immortal. 
For, “All flesh is like grass, And all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, And the flower falls off, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.  1 Peter 1:24-25 
Over and over the scripture teaches, perish, destroy, destruction when it comes to mortal man, over and over comparisons are made to vapor, dust, worms, but there is never an intimation that man is immortal. 
1 John 5:6-12  6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

I think the only proper way to come to a scriptural understanding in any area is to take the scriptures that people say prove you are wrong and look closely at them.  So here goes.

Isaiah 66:22-24
For as the new heavens and the new earth
that I make
shall remain before me, says the LORD,
so shall your offspring and your name remain.
From new moon to new moon,
and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
declares the LORD.
And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.

This is the portion of Isaiah Jesus quotes, but notice the bodies are dead.  The bodies are being burned and the worms are eating them but  they are dead.  The wages of sin is death.

Daniel 12:1-2
At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Everlasting contempt is not the same as everlasting conscious torture.  My father died in the 1973 I had contempt for him well into the 1980's when God changed my heart, having contempt is simply not the same as being tortured in flames.  The meaning seems to me to be, there is no turning back, the judgment has been spoken by a God who does not change His mind, and so it will never be withdrawn.

Matthew 18:6-9
Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And 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 crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

The logic is simple, it is better to lose one limb than to lose your life.  Again the fire is "to the age" of the punishment for the mortal being.  This is our first time seeing the Greek word (Strong's G166) which is often translated eternal, but I have to go with Young's literal translation and say it is more properly "age-during".  This is a key point and it applies to the next verses also, so I will address it there.

Matthew 25:31-46
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” . . . Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. . . .  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 Ai┼Źnios is the infamous Greek word in question it is being used as an adjective and it literally means "age-during", well if you are talking about God, His "age-during" is indeed eternal, but if you are talking about mortal man our "age-during" is mortal, we have an end, hence the use over and over again of perish, destroy, destruction when it comes to telling us what is the punishment for sin.  The fact that it is the same adjective does not mean it will play out the same way with different nouns.  If I take a small car to a small baseball stadium, the adjectives are the same, but the amount of people each can hold is determined by the noun, not the adjective.  So our loving eternal God can give us eternal life in the Son and that is His "age-during", but the punishment for a mortal man outside of the son is a mortal "age-during".  (I hope that makes sense.)  Also it should be noted this is speaking of punishment, not punishing, which is more what one would think would have been used if the action was to be eternal and on-going.

Mark 9:42-48
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”

Unquenchable is a statement that no one can stop the consequence/punishment that God imposes from being carried out to its full end, but it does not have to imply that it never goes out, just that nothing can put it out.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Again the concept of "age-during" destruction fits a lot better than eternal destruction.  How could something be eternally destroyed.  Destruction and destroy and perish all strongly tell us there is an end.

Jude 7
Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Already covered this.
Jude 13
[These people are] wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

Again God's judgment is determined and will not be turned back.  The result is indeed permanent but that does not mean that the action has to be continuous.

Revelation 14:9-11
If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever 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.

This verse doubles the ages of ages, so it leaves room for a longer punishment to be given to those who knowingly rejected the Lamb and took the mark of the beast.  The concept of varying degrees of punishment and condemnation is handled a lot easier in the thinking that the punishment has an end, longer or shorter depending on God's righteous judgment, than it does if everyone goes to eternal torture.

Revelation 20:10, 14-15
And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. . . . Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

If the devil is an immortal being then his punishment may never end, but we are never spoken of as immortal, the access to the tree of life was prevented when man was in a fallen state...thank God!

Hell is real, consequences for those not covered by His blood are real, eternal consequences are not  because we are not immortal, until we are united with the immortal life of the Son.  So my view at this time is called Annihilationism or Conditionalism.  


The question of varying degrees of punishment.....
Luke 12:46-48
46the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
47And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

How do you give more stripes if everyone is there for eternity?

The second death is called the second death and so is like the first death.  It is not called the resurrection for eternal torture.  If fear of an eternal hell is what drives you to be saved there is a lot of room for mixture there.  The kind of thinking that I need to be spared from such pain, can lead to lies like the pre-trib rapture position. Eternal hell and torture also go against this section of Romans 2:6-12  " who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.
12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;"  ---  God will judge fairly according to their deeds and then they will perish.

Because all of the Bible teaches that the wicked will one day cease to exist and they will be as though they had never been; We know that the wicked will not suffer forever and ever. But rather, they will suffer until they die in the flames. So they will be tormented and they will have no rest day nor night until they die. The smoke of their torment will ascend up until their bodies are consumed. This is the death of judgement, the second death from which there is no return, when they are cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.
Since the meaning of the word "age" can either be "forever" or it can be "for just a lifetime", Revelation 14:11 and 20:10 can now agree with the rest of the Bible in our understanding. The fire will not be put out nor will it be quenched until the wicked will be totally consumed.
Since the compound phrases: "unto ages of ages" and "unto the ages of the ages" were used in the description of the punishment, because of the multiplied ages definition; It probably means that the time will be metered out, for longer periods of time, so that the wicked will get their just reward as dictated by the judgement. Some might burn longer, while others might burn a shorter period of time.
So, once they are consumed by the flames like an oven, they will be stubble because they were burned up. And they will be ashes under the soles of your feet. This will be the end of the wicked! After they are burned up, there will not be a fire to sit before, nor even a coal to warm yourself. This is the complete end of the wicked.

Here is a collection of scriptures that teach the fate of the unbeliever. Please tell me if any of them teach that the unbeliever suffers and is tortured night and day forever and ever in the burning Hell fires. Definition of Perish: to become destroyed or ruined: cease to exist. Definition of Destroy: to ruin the structure, organic existence, or condition of; to put out of existence. 1. For the wages of sin is DEATH. Romans 6:23 2. Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies; your right hand will seize your foes. At the time of your appearing you will make them like a fiery furnace. In his wrath, the Lord will swallow them up, and his FIRE WILL CONSUME THEM. You will DESTROY their descendants from the earth. Psalm 21:9,10 3. But the wicked will PERISH: the Lord’s enemies will be like the beauty of the fields, they will vanish-VANISH LIKE SMOKE. Psalm 37:20 4. But all sinners will be DESTROYED. Psalm 37:9 5. Those who are far from you will PERISH. You DESTROY all who are unfaithful to you. Psalm 73:27 6. May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they PERISH in disgrace. Psalm 83:17 7. The senseless man does not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, THEY WILL BE FOREVER DESTROYED. Psalm 92:6,7 8. He will repay them for their sins and DESTROY them for their wickedness; the Lord our God will destroy them. Psalm 94:23 9. A false witness will PERISH, and whoever listens to him will BE DESTROYED FOREVER. Proverbs 21:28 10. As wax melts before the fire, may the wicked PERISH before God. Psalm 68:2 11. Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. And His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into the barn and BURNING UP the chaff with unquenchable fire. Matthew 3:12 12. Broad is the road that leads to DESTRUCTION. Narrow is the road that leads to life. Matthew 7:13,14 13. Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body; rather be afraid of the one who can DESTROY BOTH BODY AND SOUL IN HELL. Matthew 10:28 14. Whoever believes in him shall not PERISH but have eternal life. John 3:16 15. Whoever rejects the son will NOT SEE LIFE. John 3:36 16. Whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24 17. What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known bore with great patience the objects of his wrath- prepared for DESTRUCTION? Romans 9:22 18. The one who sows to please the sinful nature, from that nature will reap DESTRUCTION Galatians 5:8 19. They will be punished with everlasting destruction. 2 Thes. 1:9 20. And in every sort of evil that deceives those who are PERISHING because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 2 Thes. 2:10 21. But we are not of those who shrink back and are DESTROYED, but of those who believe and are saved. Hebrews 10:39 22. but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging FIRE THAT WILL CONSUME the enemies of God. Hebrews 10:27 23. For you have been born again, not of PERISHABLE SEED, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 24. By the same word the present Heaven and Earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and DESTRUCTION of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:7 25. He who has the son has life; he who does not have the son of God does NOT HAVE LIFE. 1 John 1:12

Other stuff that I found...

From Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202 AD):
Wherefore also he drove him out of paradise and removed him far from the tree of life, not because He envied him the tree of life, as some dare assert, but because He pitied him and desired that he should not be immortal and the evil interminable and irremediable.
It shocks me to hear people argue that the doctrine of Hell has been the definitive belief of Christendom since the days of the New Testament. Such a claim demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of Church history and is a testament to how extensively St. Augustine’s doctrine influenced the orthodox church.
The idea of eternal torment comes primarily from Greek thought – a merging of mythology and the ramification of belief in an immortal soul.
For 5 centuries, Christian doctrine remained unaffected by Hell until St. Augustine forcibly inserted it into orthodoxy, using a combination of power and violence to ensure it’s survival. Since that time, we’ve seen the gradual evolution of Christian doctrine in and around this concept, until today, the average believer has no idea that the concept of eternal torment isn’t even Biblical.”

Aionios specifically
Dr. R.F. Weymouth, a translator who was adept in Greek, states in The New Testament in
Modern Speech (p. 657),  “Eternal, Greek aeonian, i.e., of the ages:  Etymologically this
adjective, like others similarly formed does not signify, “during” but “belonging to” the aeons or ages.”

Dr. Marvin Vincent, in his Word Studies of the New Testament (vol. IV, p. 59):  “The
adjective aionios in like manner carries the idea of time.  Neither the noun nor the adjective IN THEMSELVES carries the sense of “endless” or “everlasting.”  Aionios means enduring through or pertaining to a period of time.  Out of the 150 instances in the LXX (Septuagint), four-fifths imply limited duration.” (Editor’s note: the rest of the time aionios takes on a greater meaning from the noun to which it is connected, usually God Himself or heaven.)
The word "zoen" in Matthew 25:46 has given the word "aionian" a greater value, so to speak. It is exegetically false to assume the same value must be applied to the word punishment (kolasin) simply because the adjective “aionian” are used with both phrases.

So here we have the same adjective being used with a different noun which could very easily change the “amount” of whatever associated with the adjective. Example, “We traveled to the small baseball stadium Fenway Park, in a small Subaru.” Same word, small, but one holds thousands of people and one holds four. The noun determines the length of the adjective, so, to the age-abiding of God is indeed eternity, that is the eternal life we are promised, but to the age-abiding of a lost person, it is simply until they perish. There are varying degrees of condemnation spoken of in scripture and this makes more sense if God is determining a length of time until they perish, as opposed to if everyone is tortured for all eternity, how is there a varying degree of condemnation?

Another thing to note about adjectives is that they often take on some of their meaning from the noun they are describing. For example, one would NOT expect a "small" ring to be the same size as a "small" house even though the same adjective is used to describe the nouns “ring” and “house.” The adjective “small” gets some of its force from the noun to which it is connected. Why then should "aionian" punishment have to be of the same duration as "aionian" zoen (Divine life)? Aionian may take on a greater force because it is connected to "zoen" which is “God-life.” It is as incorrect to assume that “aionian punishment” must be as long as "aionian zoen" as it is to force a house to become the size as a ring simply because they are both described by the same adjective, “small.” The Bible plainly tells us that God's anger WILL come to an end. “Aionian” punishment is NOT eternal.
God's anger/wrath will come to an end.


Psalm 59:13Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah.

What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:


"Depart from Me I never knew you."  Spoken by God to man, in the very presence of God.  I don't think we can assess the weight of that. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Praying this morning.
Praying with the simplicity of a child.
Praying that those on my heart would know that the Sovereign, powerful, faithful God holds their face in His hands, looks into their eyes and says, "I love you, I forgive you, come home!"

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"The I, the me, and the the my have to go."

A simple statement of truth.

 Like all truth, it is true this morning, it was true yesterday and it will be true tomorrow.

John 5:30 "I am not able of myself to do anything; according as I hear I judge, and my judgment is righteous, because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me."

later on this leads to this statement, what was true for our Rabbi is true for us His talmidim

John 15:5  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

The point is if I shows up in a sentence on your lips like, "I can eat the watermelon and spit out the seeds better than anyone I know."
That same I is in your heart and it is the fruit on the root of pride that needs to be cut off, pulled out, destroyed or it will lead to a fall and great will be the fall.

So in a very delayed sense, I am grateful today for whatever instrument is used to expose such darkness to the Light, and I ask the Light to pluck up, cut off and destroy that root before it grows another millimeter.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Levitical Town

Confirmation doeth the heart good!
A visit from friends brought confirmation that God has a very good plan and purpose for our little town.
The Levitical towns of the Jewish people were strategically placed villages where "accidental man-slayers" could run to to get away from the avenger of blood.
Guess what, we are all accidental man-slayers. 
In a very real sense we don't know our left hand from our right hand, and we truly don't "know what we do."
So, "Father forgive them." is the all encompassing power filled prayer/cry that we hear vocalized from the cross from the Son of Man who has yet to have a prayer of His go unanswered.
The openness, the hunger and the love that God has planted here has to be poured out eventually.
Encouraging each other more and more as we the day approaching!

Sunday, October 8, 2017


When will the reality of His life in me, crush the head of flesh with its evil uprising in me?
Change happens as I behold the beauty of the Lord.
Draw me after You and let us run together.

This simple song, brought heaving, sobbing out of my very soul.
Deeply grateful for His faithfulness, love and power.

You Can Fill Me!!