taco, Thanks for the insight and reference. I put it on my wishlist. I also added "Four Views of Hell" on my wishlist. I know 2 of the authors names- Clark H. Pinnock and John F. Walvoord.
Hi Todd,I just ran across this and it might be of some help?--THE ETERNITY OF HELLThe most terrifying aspect of all about hell is its length or duration. Hell is eternal. Hell will last forever. Can you comprehend eternity? No mathimatical equation or formula can explain it. Your mind cannot conceive of eternity, but it is none the less real. This aspect of hell alone should cause men to cry out in repentance. It is not surprising that skeptics of all ages have attacked the eternal nature of hell, substituting doctrines like the annihilation of the wicked in its place. Let us look at the Scriptures to verify the eternal nature of hell and to try and understand eternity better. Then we will explore why hell must be eternal."And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). This verse clearly gives us the duration of hell. Hell is forever and ever. How could a stronger, more certain expression be used? If the Spirit of God wanted to communicate the eternal nature of hell to men what could communicate it better than the expression "forever and ever?" The Scripture has no higher expression which is used to denote eternity than "forever and ever" for it is the very phrase used to tell us of the eternal existence of God Himself, as in Revelation 4:9: "to him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever." Does anyone doubt that God will live to all eternity? How then can you doubt that hell will not last to all eternity when the same expression is used for both?"We can conceive but little of the matter; but to help your conception, imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven, or a great furnace, where your pain would be as much greater than that occasioned by accidentally touching a coal of fire, as the heat is greater. Imagine also that your body were to lie there for a quarter of an hour, full of fire, and all the while full of quick sense; what horror would you feel at the entrance of such a furnace! and how long would that quarter of an hour seem to you! And after you had endured it for one minute, how overbearing would it be to you to think that you had to endure the other fourteen! But what would be the effect on your soul, if you knew you must lie there enduring that torment to the full for twenty-four hours...for a whole year...for a thousand years! Oh, then, how would your hearts sink, if you knew, that you must bear it forever and ever! that there would be no end! that after millions of millions of ages, your torment would be no nearer to an end, and that you never, never should be delivered! But your torment in hell will be immensely greater than this illustration represents."7Christ, describing the great day of judgment, tells of the separation of the wicked and the righteous using these words: "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:46). Is there anyone who would deny that heaven exists eternally? Will the lives of the blessed in heaven be brought to an end one day? Of course not. But the same Greek word is used here in this verse to speak of the eternal life of the righteous and the everlasting punishment of the wicked. Hell will last as long as heaven does.In hell there will be different degrees of torment appointed to men as indicated by a number of Scriptures. Luke 12:47-48 says: "And that slave who knew his master's will and die not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few." Christ says in Matthew 11:24: "Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you." The verses in Matthew indicate that the people in Capernaum will receive a greater punishment on judgment day than those who had lived in Sodom. The verses in Luke speak of a differentiation in judgment based on the amount of light received: some will receive many stripes and others will receive few.Those who commit greater sins than others or more sins than others will receive greater punishment in hell (John 19:11). Religious hypocrites, those who profess Christianity but are not real Christians, will be punished more severely than others (Matthew 23:14-15). The Lord said of Judas Iscariot, "It would have been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matthew 26:24). How could any of these things be said to be true if annihilation were what awaited men after death? The presence of different degrees of punishment only makes sense in light of the ability to sensibly feel the torment. Could it be said that it would have been better for Judas if he had never been born if annihilation was all that awaited him? Annihilation is like no punishment at all.Each time the unbeliever sins he is adding to his torment in hell. The person who sins twice as much as another with similar light will receive twice as much punishment. Every day that sinners continue to live and breathe here on earth without repenting, they are adding to their torments in hell. Romans 2:5 tells us: "But because of your stubborness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." The Lord Jesus encouraged the righteous to lay up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. The wicked are increasing their future wrath and torment in hell every day by their continued sinning. They add to their punishment daily. In hell men will wish that they had never been born.Charles Haddon Spurgeon said: "In hell there is no hope. They have not even the hope of dying--the hope of being annihilated. They are forever--forever--forever lost! On every chain in hell, there is written "forever". In the fires there, blaze out the words, "forever". Above their heads, they read, "forever". Their eyes are galled and their hearts are pained with the thought that it is "forever". Oh, if I could tell you tonight that hell would one day be burned out, and that those who were lost might be saved, there would be a jubilee in hell at the very thought of it. But it cannot be--it is "forever" they are cast into the outer darkness."8Christopher Love uses an illustration to try and help us understand what eternity means: "Suppose all the mountains of the earth were mountains of sand, and many more mountains still added thereto, till they reached up to heaven, and a little bird should once in every thousand years take one (grain of) sand of this mountain, there would be an innumerable company of years pass over before that mass of sand would be consumed and taken away, and yet this time would have an end; and it would be happy for man, if hell were no longer than this time; but this is man's misery in hell, he shall be in no more hope of coming out after he hath been there millions of years, then he was when he was first cast in there; for his torments shall be to eternity, without end, because the God that damns him is eternal."9Earlier we looked at the necessity of hell or why there must be a place like hell. Now we will look at why hell must not only exist, but why it must exist eternally. Why is it necessary that hell be eternal? There are several answers to this which we shall explore briefly.The first reason we will look at is the one mentioned by Christopher Love in the passage just quoted. The God who damns men is an eternal God. "Ultimately the eternality of hell is based upon the nature of God."10 Is God's Word eternal? Is God's nature eternal? The Scripture tells us: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). "His righteousness endures forever" (Psalm 111:3). "The Word of the Lord abides forever" (I Peter 1:24). If God's Word is eternal, if God's righteousness is eternal, if God Himself is eternal, then why shouldn't His wrath be eternal as well? As eternally existent, all of God's attributes are eternal and immutable; therefore, hell, as an expression of God's wrath, must be eternal.Hell must be eternal because God's justice could never be satisfied by the punishment of sinners no matter how long it lasts. Christ makes this clear when He speaks about settling with your accuser before you get to court, otherwise you shall be cast into prison and "I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite" (Luke 12:59). Man can do nothing to pay for his sins. No amount of punishment in hell, no matter how long, can ever atone for sins. It is impossible; therefore, hell must be eternal.Thirdly, hell must be eternal because the Scriptures tell us that the worm which gnaws the conscience of men in hell never dies. "For their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched" (Isaiah 66:24). If the worm never dies, then those being tormented by the worm shall never die.Lastly, hell will be eternal because men continue to sin in hell. They increase and compound their guilt there. Hell is a place where tormented men curse God, curse themselves, and scream and wail with blasphemous language at their fellow men around them. Wicked men will increase each other's torments as they accuse, blame, and condemn one another. Men will not repent in hell because the character of sinners does not change. They remain sinners. Men will sin to eternity, therefore, God will punish them eternally.http://members.aol.com/wnichint/hell.html
_________________SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
Greg, The article is helpful as far as seeing another perspective on the issue. But it seems full of weaknesses and flaws. Who is the author? Perhaps we could use this article as a reference for further discussion, but there is likely a better one somewhere. The author seems to be mainly arguing against the idea of annihilation which is not what I'm mostly thinking about. I don't want to try and pick the entire article apart in one post, but I will begin where the author did.Rev. 20:10"And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented forever and ever."The author comments:"This verse clearly gives us the duration of hell. Hell is forever and ever. How could a stronger, more certain expression be used? If the Spirit of God wanted to communicate the eternal nature of hell to men what could communicate it better than the expression 'forever and ever?'"First of all, this verse describes 3 specific beings who will be tormented in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone "forever and ever"- the devil, the beast, and the false prophet. It does not speak of mankind here. But even if it did, and since the Greek word used here (Aion) is key in this discussion, I will attempt to share what I have learned about it. Secondly, the Holy Spirit did not necessarily communicate the Lake of Fire with the expression "forever and ever." That expression is an English translation of the Greek. The Greek word here is "Aion" (#165) which is literally translated "age." It is doubled in this verse which I understand is for emphasis. So the literal translation would be something like, "tormented day and night for the ages ages." I did a brief word study with this word and what I found is quite fascinating. Here's one thing I found. The word is sometimes translated "eternal" as in Ephesians 3:11, 1 Timothy 1:17, and Hebrews 11:3.Ephesians 3:11"This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord"In my NASB Bible there's a reference note which clarifies that the phrase "eternal purpose" is literally "purpose of the ages." The other 2 verses I just referrenced are similar in that the literal speaks of "ages" but some translations say "eternal." So, getting back to Revelation 20:10, I suppose it could be translated "...they will be tormented day and night for the ages" or perhaps "... all the ages."[b]The thing about [i]ages[/i] is that there seems to be "time" before them, an end to them, and perhaps "time" after them.[/b]1 Corinthians 2:7"but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined [b]before the ages[/b] to our glory"Jude 25"...to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, [b]before all time[/b] and now and forever."It's the same Greek word, Aion, translated "time" and "forever" in the above verse. So a more literal translation might be "...before all the ages, and now, and to all the ages." (I'm not sure if the first usage in this verse is plural or not, perhaps someone could help here.)1 Corinthians 10:11"Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom [b]the ends of the ages[/b] have come."So "the ages" have ends? Some translations, such as the KJV I noticed, say "world" instead of "ages" like my NASB. But it's the same word, Aion. (I am also curious whether Aion is in the plural in 1 Cor. 10:11.)It seems that God has left us in the fog as far as what is before and after the ages. I see it kind of like this:?????????????????????? (Ages) ????????????????????????? The author states:"How could a stronger, more certain expression be used?... The Scripture has no higher expression which is used to denote eternity than 'forever and ever.'" I question these statements. I think there is a much clearer and unquestionable way to speak of eternity that could have been used to describe Hell.Luke 1:33"... and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom [b]will have no end[/b]."The Bible could say something like "Hell will have no end." If it did, there would be no ambiguity concerning the eternity of hell- no room to question. But as it is, it seems to me God has left plenty of ambiguity concerning things "beyond" the ages, and what has appeared obvious on the surface (due to human interpretation and especially translations) appears very misty upon closer examination. Perhaps these are things too great for us to understand "in this age." It's been said, "Most heresies are the result of men trying to carry to logical conclusions that which God has only revealed in part."
The article is helpful as far as seeing another perspective on the issue. But it seems full of weaknesses and flaws. Who is the author?
The author seems to be mainly arguing against the idea of annihilation which is not what I'm mostly thinking about.
First of all, this verse describes 3 specific beings who will be tormented in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone "forever and ever"- the devil, the beast, and the false prophet. It does not speak of mankind here. But even if it did, and since the Greek word used here (Aion) is key in this discussion, I will attempt to share what I have learned about it.
The Bible could say something like "Hell will have no end." If it did, there would be no ambiguity concerning the eternity of hell- no room to question. But as it is, it seems to me God has left plenty of ambiguity concerning things "beyond" the ages, and what has appeared obvious on the surface (due to human interpretation and especially translations) appears very misty upon closer examination. Perhaps these are things too great for us to understand "in this age."
Todd, I just ran across another verse that implies very clearly there is an "eternal" fire:"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of [b]eternal fire[/b]." (Jude 6-7).
I think that this was precisely Todd's point (Todd correct me if I am wrong). Sodom and Gommorrah suffered an "eternal" fire which obvioulsy still is not burning to this day.There are a number of ways of looking at this.1) Look at the greek word its usage and etymology and see that it does not need to mean "eternal" in the sense that we generaly understand it. it can mean "age lasting" (literaly this is what it means)2)Take it that Jude is using this word as "eternal" - what is he saying; that the fire is still burning? or that it was a fire that came from beyond this temporal realm ie a divine judgment from the Eternal one?3) that Jude is not talking about the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gommora, but rather he is saying that after these people died they entered into an eternal fire.Many probably read no. 3 into the text immediatly because it fits our paradigm. But I believe that it is an unlikely interpretation. Sodom and Gomorrah have still a judgment awating them (according to the Lord Jesus). Also the fire that they sufferd was an example so it does not seem to be somthing hidden.
Sorry if this seems simplistic, I am going to think through this passage (Jude 6-7):"And the angels which kept not their first estate" - This speaks of their abode in the heavenlies in the immediate presence of their creator."but left their own habitation," - There is a group of angels that have willfully left their habitation in the heavenlies."he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day." - God is keeping these angels in isolation, a place of darkness until the judgement of the great day. The great day would speak of the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds. Where all will be raised and judged."Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner," - Like manner would speak of their willful choice to left their estate (proper place with God) and choice to gratify the flesh instead of desiring to please God and do His will."giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh," - They give themselves over, not God. Sin is enticing and will lead us away if we allow it."are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." - All these things are set forth as an example not just Sodom and Gommorah but v5 people in egypt that went to the wilderness and believed not, v6 angels that lost their estate, v7 sodom and gommorha. And the whole context ties into v4 that there are 'certain men crept in' false teachers that have come into the fellowships. and you will notice that in v8 is the verse that draws a conclusion from the precedding verses with the word 'likewise' and he calls the men that crept in 'filthy dreamers' and speaks further of these men in v10-13 and the conclusion of speaking of these false teachers is that "whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."
Sodom and Gomorrah have still a judgment awating them (according to the Lord Jesus).
I don't see how it speaks about it abiding on him forever if he dies without Christ.
I couldn't think of any Scripture's to prove it.
Yes, Taco, I think you are touching on my point. Is Sodom and Gomorrah burning today? It seems clear they are not, and yet they burned with "eternal" fire. Therefore, it seems to me that "eternal" is not how many of us understand it today. If you look at my post on 7/10 you will notice that I used this verse to help make a point.In fact, from what I can tell and what I've learned up to this point, I think that most of the translations (at least the ones I've seen) are presumptuous to translate Aionons and Aion as "forver, forever and ever, eternal, everlasting, etc." Because the words seem to speak only of "ages" which, as I discussed in my longer post, seem to have some kind of a beginning and end to them (at least this seems to be a possibility). So, it seems clear that something that pertains to them is not "eternal" or "forever" as we tend to think of it. I think Taco's translation "age lasting" sounds good. [b]But what of things beyond the ages?[/b] Really, what I think would be a big help on this thread is someone who understands Greek better. "[b][i]Philo?![/b][/i]"Greg,I do remember thinking about Revelation 20:14-15, which you brought up. Let's look at it again..."And 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 written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire."But my question is, for how long do they stay in the Lake of Fire? Perhaps only for a season? I mean, at least Rev. 20:10 gives a somewhat specific time frame for those 3 beings. It says they will be tormented day and night "unto the ages" (I think that's a good literal translation). But in the case of verses 14-15, it doesn't even say this. [b]Each individual whose name is not written in the Book of Life is thrown into the Lake of Fire. Yes. But for how long?[/b] As to gaps that it seems God has left unfilled for us: let's not fill them in with logical conclusions and human reasoning and then establish that understanding as absolute fact in our minds. That is one thing I really want to avoid doing. I really think at this point we very much could use some Greek expertise. Hopefully someone on this site has some and could be of some help here.
Muslims are not born again. They do not believe in Christ as their Lord and Savior. They will go to hell if they are not born again.