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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : "Fairness"

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RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Beloved,

Just to clear the air I must say that I am not trying to wage a doctrinal war either. I really prefer to talk about revival and repentance. I do have a concern and to be honest feel the need to weigh in when certain extreme doctrines surface. I appear to have been incorrect in my assertion of Anti-paradox making a case for Universalism. I have been known to jump the gun and pigeon hole people into doctrinal categories wrongly and I apologize openly and publicly. I have apologized to Bro. Ron Bailey for some exchanges we had earlier in the year, that apology still holds good.

As we continue in this thread understand that I am not angry; I feel a sense of desperation when it comes to defending what I consider essential biblical issues and may come off as such. I ask for mercy in those times. It is almost impossible to know how a person is really feeling when they write. We can only go on what we read.

The issue that I feel is pivotal to understanding the Gospel is that of Eternal Punishment. We are saved, but saved from what? Christ died, but He died for what? We preach, but we preach for what? So on and so forth. Annihilationism is, in my opinion, a sorely dangerous doctrine to hold for several reasons. To name just two:

1) It undermines the fact that God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. It 'de-tooths' the biblical doctrine of the terror of the Lord by which we pursuade men, etc. and offers little but a humanistic reason for following Christ.

2) It leaves utterly no real and meaningful punishment for sin, which is in total contrast to the revealed word of God. "Let us eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die," is the finality of such a belief.

***************

I have debated these issues with senior Jehovah's Witnesses but never really expected to find the belief in Evangelical circles. It has come to my attention that a fairly new doctrine known as "Conditional Immortality" is finding sympathy among traditional Evangelicals. I hope to be able to discuss this topic in a way that we can know for certain whether the Bible teaches Eternal Conscious Torment or not.

God Bless,

-Robert






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Robert Wurtz II

 2004/12/16 21:43Profile
dohzman
Member



Joined: 2004/10/13
Posts: 2132


 Re:

Well said Brother. I'll try to look at this topic with a different set of eyes(heart)and apply the attributes of brotherly love.


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D.Miller

 2004/12/16 21:48Profile
KeithLaMothe
Member



Joined: 2004/3/28
Posts: 354


 Re:

A note on classical annihilationism: it doesn't deny the existence of Hell, that souls are sent there, or that they are tormented there (for possibly quite a long time). It does maintain, however, that those souls are eventually "annihilated" and that the concious torment thus eventually ends.

I suppose I can understand why someone might find such a doctrine to be appealing. Personally, I believe in unconditional election and eternal concious torment of the reprobate, and don't lose a wink of sleep over it. Even if I did find the combination disturbing, I don't know that it would be different if I believed conditional election, or salvation-by-works, or "negative" universalism (i.e. no one's saved), or any other variation that comes to mind. Well, if I thought I wasn't saved I'd probably be pretty anxious about the punishment, because I wouldn't have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me, but apart from that personal-limitation caveat it doesn't strike at the core of my confidence: God.

 2004/12/16 22:05Profile
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

I think the question really starts way back with questions about God’s love. Faced with the prospect of souls spending an eternity of torment with no respite is terrifying. If the Christian’s expectation is ‘when I’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the son, I’ve no less days to sing His praise than when I first begun’ what are we to say about the opposite? Ten thousand years of torment, and no less days to suffer than when they first began. If after a million ages a little of the suffering had passed we might possibly see some light at the end of the tunnel, but a million ages will pass and eternity is no shorter as a result. This is torment which is eternal. It is no wonder that Christians recoil from this prospect.

There are two bolt-holes possible; universalism or annihilationism. The first says God loves too much to let it happen, the second says God loves too much to let it last. I recall being asked the question by a liberal lecturer; ‘which will have the last word? God’s justice or His love?’ This question betrays the questioner. The questioner thinks that God’s justice and His love are in conflict with each other. He has not understood that God’s justice is holy justice and not just vengeance, and he has not understood that God’s love is holy love and not sentimentality.

This is where our difficulties begin. God’s love is not like man’s love multiplied by a big number; it is quite different. Similarly we may be sure that God’s justice is not man’s justice multiplies by a big number. In terms of His essential attributes God is immutable; He experiences no change. He doesn’t have good days or bad days. All His attributes are in perfect accord and harmony; there is no tension in God. Consequently, all that He does and will do must always be consistent with all that He is. He cannot suspend an attribute and leave the field to another attribute. There is never any either/or in the way that God works. All of God must always be in all that He does.

Most reasoning people who believe in a life beyond the grave would accept that life here is often unfair and that the evil-doer often escapes his due punishment. Judgement to come and corresponding punishment has a ring of ‘fairness’ about it. But punishment is usually measured and if the punishment is regarded as excessive the idea quickly loses its sense of ‘fairness’. Some superficial readers of the Bible reject the ‘harsh’ parts of the Bible; they are quite sure that Moses and Paul have got it wrong and that their own prejudices have surfaced in their writings. They would prefer to get back to the ‘simple message of God’s love’ as taught by Jesus. This is where we hit one of the first surprises; the teaching of eternal torment doesn’t come from either Moses or Paul, it comes from the lips of Jesus.

In Matthew 25 the Lord refers to a coming time; [b] When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (Mat 25:31 KJV)[/b] The enthroned king then enters into the process of judgement and ultimate destinations. [b]He Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Mat 25:34 KJV)[/b] That’s the ultimate picture of blessing. Addressing the second group the account says; [b]Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Mat 25:41 KJV).[/b] The disturbing point to note here is that it is the ‘Son of Man’ who does the assessment and pronounces the judgement. This truth was retold to non-Jews in Athens during Paul’s visit; [b]Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Act 17:31 KJV)[/b] The testimony of the scripture is consistent; Christ will make these decisions, and none other.

The record of Matthew adds another vital ingredient. Those who are commanded to depart will share the fate of [b]‘the devil and his angels’[/b]. The everlasting fire, says the Lord, was prepared for them. This group will share the judgement of the devil and his angels. This is a suggestive coupling; it speaks of the rebel and his fellow-travellers. The devil’s angels are they which joined the devil’s rebellion and will share the devil’s destiny. Human beings too who join his rebellion must ultimately share his destiny.

These are the basics of Christ’s teaching. The question is how fiery is the fire, and how everlasting is everlasting?


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Ron Bailey

 2004/12/17 14:55Profile
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Hi Bro. Ron,

Quote:
These are the basics of Christ’s teaching. The question is how fiery is the fire, and how everlasting is everlasting?



In the most emphatic language imaginable, we are told that the conscious torment of Hell is eternal. Time, which is a creation of God, will someday 'be no more.' It seems to me that whilst it is called today that men should repent.

When we discuss 'time' the Greek word aionos as I understand, can in some contexts, qualify nouns of limited length of time. If the word is used in John 3:16 to mean 'eternal' we dare not shorten aionos to mean something less than endless eternity for those being punished without reducing the “eternal life” of those who will be in Heaven. Yet, in Revelation 14:11 and 20:10, we find the emphatic forms eis aionas aionon and eis tous aionas ton aionon (through the ages of ages). And the smoke of their torment goes up to ages of ages, and they have no respite day and night who do homage to the beast and to its image, and if any one receive the mark of its name. (Revelation 14:11 Darby) We read the same thing basically in revelation 20;10  And the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where [are] both the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for the ages of ages. (Darby)

This is the type of understanding of the eternal that causes me to want to spend and be spent for Christ and His glory. It is the ho topos tou basanou, "The topos (place) of torment" that sits in the back of my mind. The plurality of torment is horrendous. John MaCarthur described it some time ago in a piece I once qouted that is quite rivoting; "There is no way to describe hell. Nothing on earth can compare with it. No living person has any real idea of it. No madman in wildest flights of insanity ever beheld its horror. No man in delirium ever pictured a place so utterly terrible as this. No nightmare racing across a fevered mind ever produces a terror to match that of the mildest hell. No murder scene with splashed blood and oozing wound ever suggested a revulsion that could touch the border lands of hell. Let the most gifted writer exhaust his skill in describing this roaring cavern of unending flame, and he would not even brush in fancy the nearest edge of hell."

Knowing therefor the terror of the Lord we pursuade men. Oh, may we preach the Gospel to every creature! To what lengths would be to far to attempt to pursuade a person to repent knowing these things await the impenitent. One of the most sobering writings I have ever read is [url=https://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=3370]THE END OF THE WICKED CONTIMPLATED BY THE RIGHTEOUS[/url] by Jonathon Edwards. I don't necessarily agree to everything he says, but it was quite a piece.

God Bless,

-Robert


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Robert Wurtz II

 2004/12/17 15:30Profile
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
I think the question really starts way back with questions about God’s love.



Finney can sometimes come across as hard and strict; but I wanted to share this quote from "Christ Our Advocate":

He may urge as a reason for our pardon the great pleasure it will afford to God, to set aside the execution of the law. "Mercy rejoiceth against judgment." Judgment is His strange work; but He delighteth in mercy.

It is said of Victoria that when her prime minister presented a pardon, and asked her if she would sign a pardon in the case of some individual who was sentenced to death, she seized the pen, and said, "Yes! with all my heart!" Could such an appeal be made to a woman's heart, think you, without its leaping for joy to be placed in a position in which it could save the life of a fellow-being?

It is said that "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth;" and think you not that it affords God the sincerest joy to be able to forgive the wretched sinner, and save him from the doom of hell? He has no pleasure in our death.

It is a grief to Him to be obliged to execute His law on sinners; and no doubt it affords Him infinitely higher pleasure to forgive us, than it does us to be forgiven. He knows full well what are the unutterable horrors of hell and damnation. He knows the sinner can not bear it. He says, "Can thine heart endure, and can thine hands be strong in the day that I shall deal with thee? And what wilt thou do when I shall punish thee?" Our Advocate knows that to punish the sinner is that in which God has no delight -- that He will forgive and sign the pardon with all His heart.

And think you such an appeal to the heart of God, to His merciful disposition, will have no avail? It is said of Christ, our Advocate, that "for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, and despised the shame." So great was the love of our Advocate for us that He regarded it a pleasure and a joy so great to save us from hell, that He counted the shame and agony of the cross as a mere trifle. He despised them.

This, then, is a disclosure of the heart of our Advocate. And how surely may He assume that it will afford God the sincerest joy, eternal joy, to be able honorably to seal to us a pardon. (C.G.F)


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Robert Wurtz II

 2004/12/17 16:05Profile
dohzman
Member



Joined: 2004/10/13
Posts: 2132


 Re: Dr. Tozer

I believe it was AW Tozer who made the observation that it will be seen that the Love of God places the unrepentant or ungodly in hell as much as the justice of God does. This is found in his works on the attributes of God.


_________________
D.Miller

 2004/12/18 17:43Profile





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