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The Character of God
and the Destruction of the Wicked

Environmental Events
God and Us
Answers
Champions
Spiritualism
The 3AM
Introduction
The Question and Quick Answer
A Point of View Re-taught
The Intensity of it all
The Evidence
There is no such thing as ...
Leaders may lead astray
Summary of Reasons Why We Reject the Concept of Eternal Punishment
Definition of Terms
The word Punishment
Notes and References
The Sanctuary
Old or New?
Vindicated
Sunday Law Warning

Life comes and passes quickly. The man or woman who lives fast and hard for passing pleasures and soda pop bubbles receives only those. An hour on the stage and then one is gone. For the wicked, his life is only a tale of losing eternity out of his future. No matter how much sound he makes, the unrepentant sinner soon disappears; he leaves behind him only a testimony against himself. But when his raid on life is over, when his abuse of the world is ended, where will he be? He will be gone. But the one who copied Jesus' character, who lived as a Christian, who settled only for the presence of Christ in him (Colossians 1:27-29), he will remain standing.
The righteous one has something that the wicked does not. He is not living in his own strength. Christ lives in Him. So he succeeds at last. [LK]


Introduction

Many on the outside of Christianity are looking in and may wonder, how can a religion be so divided and yet, claim to worship an almighty, powerful God. What kind of a statement does divided Christianity make about the God they worship?[20] Many may conclude that Christendom does not know whom they worship and that the teaching on who God is, what he stands for, that is what divides them.

For some people the only representatives of Christianity may have been those corner `Fire and Brimstone' preachers. We may have chuckled when we heard them (for today they seem to be so much rarer) present their views. They seemed to have taken the Bible and used it as a club to castigate their audience into submission to follow God. But what kind of a God was it they preached? Was it a God of outflowing love [22] toward any sinner who comes to repentance, and pity for those who decide against him? Or was it a god of inflowing love, the love of self?

"Choose ye this day whom ye will follow."

The scenario could be like this when people hear Christians say:

"You better shape up, or else you're gonna get it."

The belief is predominant in the minds of millions that God eventually will be their punisher. They grew up with this belief which is being preached daily from pulpits and even represented in countless paintings, drawings and crafts by those who do believe, that is how God will end the world.

On the other hand we have scriptures which make it clear that God is a God of love, mercy, long-suffering, loving kindness, and always ready to forgive. When Jesus died on the cross he said:

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34 [23]

Were those people crucifying Jesus on that day forgiven at that moment? You better believe it they were. Did they pattern their later life accordingly? We do not know, but they had the opportunity.

God is a God of outflowing love. He will not forsake us but have mercy on us. He is interested in restoring all of his creations to the state where no sin will mar the scene any longer. God wants harmony and peace throughout the whole universe.

But there was one being who changed that out-flowing love in his own existence to in-flowing love. He became selfish. `I want to be like God', Lucifer thought, Ezekiel 28:17. He began to look at the order in God's universe with different, self centered eyes. He became so infatuated with his own beauty and importance that he began to nourish this idea in his own mind to, someday, sit on the throne of God as a god himself. What a preposterous and sinful thought, a created being wanting to set himself up as the eternal God. Lucifer claimed that God's law could not be kept completely. He insinuated that God's law restricted the liberties of all the created beings of God and that they could not develop their full potential under those conditions, Job 1:11. He claimed that they would not really die because of sin but if they would, it was God who would kill them, and He was supposed to be a loving God.

The question which demanded a quick answer!

A minister just arrived at the door of a lady who had inquired about `Bible Studies'. Soon after he rang her door bell, she opened. He greeted her as she looked at him and said right out of the blue,

"Tell me, what does it mean when it says, `There is a sin unto death?'" (1.John 5:16)

The minister's mind went blank immediately. As much as he tried he could not think right then of the answer. He realized, only the right answer would save the situation and so he asked the lady,

`Could you please ask that question again?'

She did, but he still could not think of what to say. His mind raced and looking for a way out he asked her again,

`Please, Mrs. Walters, could you ask that question again?'

The lady obliged as the minister searched his mind and just in time offered a quick thought prayer,

Please God, help me remember, for I want to give this lady a Bible Study.'

A few seconds passed as he smiled and said,

'Well, Mrs. Walters, it can only be the unconfessed sin which is unto death.' And he quickly added, `You see, the apostle John answers this question from 1.John 5:16 right there in 1.John 1:9, lets sit down and read it.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Opening his study Bible the minister then said,

`And that is why Paul wrote, "For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:10)

The Biblically Ignorant's Point of View Re-taught

"This just isn't adding up for me. I have believed in God, Heaven, and Hell my whole life but recently I have done some critical thinking about the concept of hell."

God is the author of logic and truth, so God's Word, the Bible, should be high on the priority list when analyzing anything critically. In fact, without the biblical God, there is no logical basis for using the laws of logic, which flow from His nature. So, praise the Lord for the ability He has given you to analyze and think critically about things!

"When I hurt someone through my actions I feel terrible about it, even if the incident is minor. How can a loving God send someone to hell, a place of unimaginable pain and misery, for eternity simply for not believing in Him?"

This is an example of a logical fallacy known as `false analogy.' Although we may unintentionally do something bad that causes pain to someone else, God does not do anything accidentally. God is perfect and just, and He must punish sin, which is our rejection of Him.

Please note that "simply not believing in God" is no minor infraction. No greater crime has ever been committed than to deny the existence of the Creator of all things or to not worship Him with obedient faith. We have all broken His moral laws written in our hearts and in His Word, and we have done so uncountable number of times. Such unbelief is inexcusable rebellion and treason against the King of heaven and earth, who has given overwhelming evidence of His existence and nature through His creation and through our conscience (Romans 1:18-20; 2:14-15).[24] Sin is not a natural human impulse. It is the transgression of law. God rules the universe through natural laws, moral laws and spiritual laws. Our sin is against the highest Being and, therefore, is the greatest crime. That is worthy of the severest punishment.

Now, moving on from there, imagine a world in which there was no God who had given us an idea of what justice is. Everyone would do what his own collection of atoms in his brain told him to do; be it murdering someone who got in his way, or taking food from someone who had more than he did. And why would the collection of atoms that compose my brain be any better at determining what is "right" than the next person's?

And yet, many were upset at the fact that the Columbine and Virginia Tech shooters killed themselves before "justice" could be done to them. We become angry when we are wronged. We all want justice. This sense of what is "right" and what is "wrong" comes only from a standard of morality given in the Bible; apart from it, you have no basis to claim the Columbine and VT killers were wrong, or that someone who stole from you was wrong. You cannot claim that it is "bad" for God to let someone end up in hell because of his own choices. There is no consistent, logical basis, apart from the Bible, to claim that one action is "good" while another is "bad." The non-Christian who cries out for justice has borrowed from the Christian's worldview.

Without God's standard of goodness, and therefore, without a logical basis for claiming something is "good," I become the standard for determining what is "good." In this case, some, such as teachers of Eugenics, may claim that "good" is eliminating undesirable people. Others claim that lying to get ahead is "good." Why would my morality be any better than the morality of, say, a promiscuous man who claims that it's "good" for him to impregnate many women. Who am I to tell him that he's "wrong," particularly when he is being so successful in passing on his genetic material?

From the Bible, we know that sin (transgression of the law of God, 1.John 3:4), which came into the world because of Adam and Eve's disobedience to God when eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, results in death, suffering, and the second death from which there is no resurrection. God, who is perfect and sinless, cannot look upon our sinfulness and imperfection. Yet God, due to His love for us, became a man (Jesus Christ) to die a substitutionary death, to pay the penalty for our sins, and to save us from these things and to restore our relationship. So, it is true, Jesus is the only one who died. No human being has yet really died. The Bible says they are asleep in their grave, for the real death is the second death from which there is no resurrection. Jesus died the second death on the cross so he can save those who believe in him and follow him. He died the second death for the saints of God. After the judgment of the wicked, all who ever lived and find themselves outside the city of God, will learn the meaning of death. Until then, a true disciple of Christ can have communion with those who have Christ's righteousness to cover their own sinfulness, through His blood that was shed as the only fully acceptable atonement for sin (see Hebrews 10). In this way, God is merciful, yet just. He does not allow sin to go unpunished, which would be unjust. Yet some are saved from this fate because they repent and confess their sins, and denying self, take up their cross and follow Jesus.

If those who go to hell reject this salvation, who is to blame? The Bible reveals that people condemn themselves by rejecting Christ and His salvation (John 3:18). Just reading one verse leaves out the knowledge that salvation is from sin which is pointed out by God's 10 laws so we know what He expects of us after we choose salvation by faith alone. I sometimes explain it this way: imagine a person on the third floor of a burning building to whom a fireman says, "Please jump from the window, and we will catch you. You will have safety if you jump." But the person says, "No, I don't believe you" or "No, I don't want to" and goes back into the blazing fire to die. Why would you get angry at the fireman? If someone does not want to live eternally with God in the new heavens and new earth, God simply will grant them what they wanted, which is eternity apart from Him.

God sent many people to tell others about the gift of eternal life, and then finally He sent His own Son from paradise into `fire' (i.e. death on a cruel cross) to show people who didn't want Him (and who killed Him) the way out of the `blaze' and into paradise. Yet people still refuse this unfathomably generous gift (Mark 12:1-12).

"I can barely bring myself to hurt someone's feelings, how can God find it in Himself to send someone to hell?"
Are you implying you have a higher standard of morality than God? (See Mark 7:11 and Isaiah 55:9.)

Would you find it hard to insist on just punishment for a man who brutally killed a loved one? You are again confusing your accidental action that hurts someone's feelings with the justice that a holy God meets out to rebels who have defied His laws and His righteous claims on their lives as their Creator and Sustainer.

Please also note that all sinners are sentenced to hell, not just the ones we consider to be the worst, a purely subjective standard, since we're also sinners. Do blind people argue about who's more blind?

But God is not a sinner, and so, He sees all sin as rejection of Him, our Owner and Creator. And since everyone is a sinner, this means we are all sentenced to hell (Romans 3:10). We don't deserve a perfect world any longer, and we are getting "a taste" of what life is like without God in this sin-cursed world. And, yes, eternal separation from God will be worse. Those who don't want God are separated from those who do, who become part of His family.

But, for anyone reading this, it's not too late! If you have not already, ask for God to accept Christ's payment for your sins, so that you may live in this perfect world to come instead of going to hell.

"I know God has much more love and forgiveness in his heart than I do, so it just doesn't add up."
You are correct. I doubt you (or I) would send your child to die for someone that hated you, as God did. But God loves people enough to not subject them to the effects of their sin forever, if they will simply repent of their rebellion and trust in Christ.

"As a more specific example, if a person leads a good life but is not introduced to the Christian faith and does not accept Jesus Christ as their savior, but is good to their fellow man, how can God punish them with eternal misery? If this is really how it works, He is not a God I want to know."

Again, from where do you get your definition of `good'? Only the Bible provides an absolute moral standard by which we can measure what is `good' and what is `bad.' Consider the alternative: if there is no God, who is the standard of goodness, then there is no basis on which to say an action (or a life) is good. Within this atheistic worldview, there is no logical basis for morality, as we are all just a collection of atoms that evolved from non-living particles. Within this paradigm, one cannot logically claim that one life is `good' while another is `bad.' Those who do so are borrowing from the biblical worldview in which a perfectly good God has told us what is good.

No, the only reason you can even begin to understand the definition of a `good' life is because you have accepted (to some extent) the biblical view of morality, the morality given by the very God you are questioning. And the Book that has given you a standard of goodness says that there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12), and that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

God promised that those who seek Him will find Him (Deut. 4:29; Luke 11:9) and be satisfied (John 10:9). Sadly, though, many don't seek Him and yet, God, in His mercy, seeks us all of our life, Jer. 31:3; John 12:32.

A truly loving God brought salvation to the world by coming into the world, dying, and rising from the dead. Salvation is a free gift available to all. If someone doesn't want it, God is not to blame; He provided a means of salvation. This is a God that I do want to know. I want to encourage you get to know God more by studying His Word and sharing this loving God with others.


The Intensity of it all

Even in our days, this same misapprehension about God is pervading Christianity and many other world religions. God is thought of as an angry God who some day will punish and even torture sinners to death. Thinking of God in that way goes way back to the lies of Lucifer, Satan, the evil one. When Jesus was on earth after his first advent, he taught and demonstrated that God was a God of love for Jesus was God. He forced no one to acknowledge him, but he looked for those who searched for truth. Those who would respond to his call of unselfish love.

But when it became apparent that Satan, Lucifer, had taken a course of rebellion God did not use his might and power to destroy him for then all his created beings would have served him based on fear. The Bible talks about the strange act of God (Isa. 28:21) when he, the creator of everything in the universe, did not immediately use his prerogative and destroy the rebels. Satan sinned in the full knowledge of who God was and what he represented. But humanity does not have this close knowledge of God and therefore they can be forgiven provided they choose to acknowledge God and obey him.

At the time of Daniel God showed his prophet what would happen in the course of history. In prophetic vision Daniel saw the rise and fall of the empires. The first was symbolized by the statue of a man with the head of gold, symbolizing the Babylonian empire. Gold is a pure metal and soft. The next was the chest of silver. Silver, too, is a pure metal but a little harder than gold. After that came the loins of brass which is a mixture of metals and still harder yet. The fourth empire would be of iron meaning it was hard and of no purity. But all these empires used force to accomplish their goals with increasing viciousness and destruction. Satan always uses force. God only uses love and truth.

But in the end the kingdom of God will be set up and the reign of sin will come to an end to never again inflict its curse on the universe. The whole universe is watching the ending of the struggle as the forces of evil prepare for their last onslaught against the government of God. But even in this final struggle, God, who never changes, will not use his might and power and use force against the wicked. Sin is self destructive. It cannot exist forever.

The Evidence

At least five times in this world's history God came down to this earth. The first time when He visited Adam and Eve in the Garden. The second time in order to tell Abraham of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The third time when He gave the Ten Commandments, the fourth time in the first advent as the Messiah, and the fifth in the second advent at His Second Coming.

When God came to this world as the Messiah to save what was lost he died on the cross the second death from which there is no resurrection [50]. But because he was without sin, death could not hold him in the grave and he rose again. For Christ died for us not so that we don't have to die the first death, for that death, we all must die (except those who are alive when he comes in the glory of God and the holy angels[70]), he died so we must not also die the eternal, second death. So we ask ourselves the question, what was it that killed Jesus on the cross? Was it by the wounds he suffered? Was it the blood loss? - the pain? - the weather conditions? - the Roman soldiers? No! None of these. Jesus died as a result of separation from God. The sin burden of all humanity rested on his weary shoulders. When he hung upon the cross he could see no way out and thought briefly perhaps, that everything was in vain and lost. These thoughts of futility wanted to impress themselves upon him. He felt left alone and abandoned from his heavenly father, Mark 15:34. Only children can feel such pain when they feel unloved or abandoned by their parents. But Christ by faith in His Heavenly Father knew he would be raised from the grave.

On the day of His Second Coming it is when those whose names are written in the book of life will meet their Saviour in the air, those who are alive will be changed and those who are resurrected will receive a new body, 1.Corinthians 15:51-54; Job 14:10,12. But the wicked will be slain by the brightness of his coming, 2.Thessalonians 2:8. None of them will remain. At the end of the thousand year period all the saints, the holy angels and the New Jerusalem will descend and the wicked will all rise up from their graves for judgment day, Revelation 20:7; 21:2. They know they refused God's call of love and rejected him and every mouth will confess the justice of God. Then Satan will gather them together for one last attempt in unseating God from His eternal throne and fail, Rev. 20:8-10. But when the fire falls from heaven it finds only their dead bodies to devour in the raging flames which will melt away any sign of the former sinful remains on earth, Rev. 20:14,15; 21:8.

There is no such thing as God watching over a sea of agony and torture in what many think of as the fires of hell. The doctrine of God punishing sinners by tormenting them in hell fire is unbiblical and one of Satan's clever lies.[72]

The Bible teaches it this way:

1. We must look up to Jesus dying on the cross to understand what will happen to the wicked on that great, horrific and dreadful day of the Lord. Why is it the horrific and dreadful day? Because on that day the conscience of the wicked will come alive and they will see their life before them and acknowledge the righteousness of God in that their own actions separated them from Him. It is the day we must warn the careless in this world about for God knows how to punish the wicked. That is what hell is all about.

Some may ask, `What then did Christ save us from?'

We answer, `He saves us from hell.'

But it is a hell which has been burned up with no stock or root remaining (Isa. 40:24; see shortly below). The Book of Revelation describes hell torture as a temporary state of self caused anguish, because of unrepented sins, which ends in the second death.

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. ... And there shall be no more curse ..." Rev. 21:14; 22:3

Death and hell itself are going to be thrown into the lake of fire. Should that mean to be destroyed without a trace being left? Certainly that is the meaning of the destruction of death itself and therefore ought to be the meaning of the fate of hellish torture, the grave, hades - underscoring the temporarity of hellfire. The above quote also references Genesis 3:14, which underlies the message in Acts 3:21. In heaven there is no night in the city of God, but God will be their light. No reminders at all of sinful earth. Such is heaven. Therefore, we can know that the concept of eternal punishment is a cousin of the concept of man having an immortal soul - a conscious something that never dies. Studying scriptures like Gen. 2:7; Eze. 18:4; Rom. 6:23; James 1:15; Prov. 12:28; Rev. 22:14; Gen. 3:22-24 we can know that eternal life is conditional righteousness, that is obedience to God, and that death is the punishment for disobedience the scriptures calls sins and that sinners receive a death sentence, not a life in hell sentence, Ps. 37:10, 18-20; 92:7; Rom. 6:23; Mal. 4:1,3; Rom. 5:12,17,21.

The Bible teaches, that, because of Adam's sin, the whole human race received a death sentence. Then Christ came and died a substitutionary death, and from that we know that He died for the whole human race and only insistence or persistence of people in doubting God and opposing, keep on sinning against God, can lead to the outcome of death rather than life at the very end.

Others may hold that, `the concept of eternal heaven requires an eternal hell.' We like to remind you of this Bible text:

"Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning, and famine; and shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." Rev. 18:8

Does the fire start that `one day' or does it happen all `in one day'? Does it seem right to conclude, that the fire of God is not like a fire in our stove, it is a fire of fervent heat that melts the earth and all its works, 2.Peter 3:10-12? To get away from such a fire, some believe that two `earth's exist'; one earth made new for the saints of God and the other for those burning eternally on a hellish planet earth.

"Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble." Isaiah 40:24

We hold, therefore, that the eternity of heaven has nothing to do with an eternal hell (except that its consequence the 2nd death is eternal) but has everything to do with the eternal God. The only reminder of a sinful world will be the scars in the hands and side of Jesus and "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes", Rev. 21:4; Habakuk 3:4.

2. God is not presiding over a torture scene where he keeps people alive as long as possible before he kills them with fire.

On what biblical grounds can we say that?

"For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up." Malachi 4:1

Even Jesus taught this same message:

"If a man not abide in me, he is discarded like a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." John 15:6

What we must ask us is this:

a) what condition are the wicked in, symbolized here by stubble and in

b) what condition are the branches in?

The answer is obvious stubble is dead and withered branches are dead. Try planting stubble. You can water it as much as you want. Will it grow and bear fruit? No! What both of these passages teach then is, that the stubble and the branches are already dead before they are cast into the fire. That means the wicked are already dead by the time hell fire engulfs them. Dead from what? The end results of separation from God also called sin, is death, eternal death, the second death.

You will ask, what about all those other verses which teach that there is a hell fire that burns the wicked? To find out we must read them. Where do you want to start? Remember the day of judgment is not primarily about the wicked and it is not about you and me. [25] The final judgment is about how to make this universe save from sin in the unending eons of future eons. If God would torture sinners with fire wouldn't all those in heaven serve him with fear? Wouldn't they think, Oh, I better behave now for all time to come or else that is going to happen to me? What kind of a universe would that be to live in forever? Certainly none we really could enjoy for our power of free choice we still possess. Couldn't that cause us to look at some of our fellow heavenly dwellers with suspicion and say, I wonder what he is up to? Never, friends, that is not the heaven we will find. This doctrine of eternal hell fire and damnation is Satan's doctrine. It is designed to mar the very character of God and make it look like God has Satanic characteristics.

Some of you may object, What are you saying then, will the wicked not be punished at all? No. But sin is also a battle that takes place first in the mind, before people act on it. The punishment is mental anguish over the misdeeds such committed which results in them loosing out on eternal life, [Rev. 20:10 "tormented day and night forever"]. No sin is attractive enough to cost us life eternal, friends.

"And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: [but what condition are they in? At that moment they become dead straw! Beholding the city of God and looking back over their lost opportunities they die of the consequences of separation from God] and fire came down from out of heaven, and devoured them." Rev. 20:9.
[Please notice that here is no mention of torture or slow dying. The fire is devouring their `withered', `stubble' carcasses.]

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, [the fire is everlasting but not the wicked, that is why we ask what condition they are in. The wicked must drink the cup of the wrath of God alone, Rev. 14:10; 16:19.]." Matthew 25:41

"For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea,, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." Mal. 4:1

"And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the Lord." Malachi 4:3

"For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched[100]; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." Isaiah 66:22-24.
[Who are `they'? The saints or redeemed living now with God? Notice that the wicked are here portrayed as already dead.]

We read nothing about anyone watching them burn alive. The condition the wicked are in is already explained as being stubble [110] - and now this stubble catches fire from out of heaven and burns and turns the stubble and withered branches to ashes.

With a God like this I can spend eternity, how about you? This doctrine of eternal hell fire is another tradition we need to free our minds from for it teaches us that God is a torturer when he is not at all such a being.

What about the everlasting fire? Well, in the Bible everlasting means until nothing is left to burn. When all incendiary material is burned up the fire goes out. Sodom and Gomorrah were burned with an everlasting fire and yet we can go down there and it is not burning anymore. It is not the fire on earth itself which is eternal but the effects of the fire which are eternal. But we do know that the Bible teaches that our eternal God is surrounded by bright, glorious light (Isa. 60:1; Hab. 3:4; Acts 22:6,11; Rev. 21:23) which is for sinners a consuming fire, Deut. 4:24; 2.Thess. 2:8; 1.Peter 5:10. When He withdraws the cloud which hides His glory, His `fire' would then destroy us. How can God's people stand before God? Only by their sins having been forgiven by the grace of God can His brightness be a benevolent light to His people, 1.John 1-5. God's fire, His glory, is everlasting because He is everlasting - God's glory is eternal.

What is the final punishment of the wicked?

"Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, [after they became stubble] and from the glory of his power." 2.Thess. 1:9

For many, reading this verse a condition known as `cognitive bias' comes into play. They have already the forgone conclusion in their minds that this verse intends to draw a scene of torture and hell fire. That is cognitive bias. If we grew up with the belief that this scene represents that in this event the dead bodies of the wicked will be burned into ashes it also fits the verse.

The emphasize is here that the effects of this destruction are everlasting. The emphasis is not what condition they are in when the destruction overcomes them. We must remember to look at the cross when we talk about the final death of the wicked for there we are taught the truth about the second death. It was separation from God, his heavenly father, which killed Jesus on the cross.

Punishment is always done with the hope of correcting a wrong habit. But what purpose would there be for such a punishment if the wicked will never live again? There is no purpose for such a punishment of physically painful torture. It is a mental agony.

"And if you will not listen to me for all this, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins." Lev. 26:18

"And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." Luke 12:47-48.

How are we to understand such scriptures? Is this the picture of a God who is busy punishing his wayward people? What is intended here? Or could it be the natural consequences of sin which come into view here? God in his foreknowledge knew what happens to people when they are not obeying his commandments. It seems God's justice would demand measured degrees of punishment according to the evil done. This is something that happens after the second resurrection and before the second death overcomes the wicked (Rev. 20). At last they reap the consequence of their offenses against God's rule of divine love made available to all who would avail themselves of it.

Each generation of man has to find out for itself how true this is and that is why we always have wars. A serious of wrong choices can lead down a steep path to self destruction.

"...how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not." Mat.23:37

That is the picture of God which Jesus saw portrayed in the OT. So we must take care and not confuse what people thought or understood in their imperfect understanding about what God was like with what he really is like, namely a God of perfect love toward his creations. In Old Testament times many men of faith still thought of God in what some consider idolatrous terms [500] when they portray him as being angry and so forth, Isaiah 66:15 [520], but God's anger is not like that of humans, it seeks to correct. But our God gave us safety railings which we should internalize so that our paths will not lead away from him, leading us astray, even over many generations. We must not teach that these safety rails, the Ten Commandments, are null and void for then anyone could kill without impunity as far as God is concerned. We must realize that they are guidelines for a life in safety and joy, for we love him and show it by realizing he knows best. The little chicks are in mortal danger if they disobey the laws of the mother hen. We too are in mortal danger if we ignore God's Ten rules. All ten that is, not just nine. Listen carefully, there is a vast difference between the Ten Commandment Law of God and the laws written by Moses which are the civil law, health laws, laws pertaining to the sacrifices in the temple, washings and so on. These laws of temple ceremonies were done away with when Jesus fulfilled the meaning of them on the cross but the Ten Commandment Law is still in full force.

Just like we learn now once again how military occupationary forces lay down strict laws over the land they conquer, so God too, in a sense, has His Ten Laws which will always be binding. It is our duty to compare our life with these ten rules and adjust where we need to, in order to come in compliance with our Creator. For Jesus said:

"He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me.." John 14:21

"If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." John 15:10

In New Orleans, only one levee needed to break in order to undermine the entire system. So in the spiritual realm. "Even one wrong trait of character, one sinful desire cherished, will eventually neutralize all the power of the gospel." [2100]

It is the obedience of faith which we are to seek. We may ask, is it our habits which are our character? No! Habits stabilize and establish our character. For true character is a quality of our being, revealing itself in our repeated conduct. It is not one act that forms our character, but a repetition of acts. This way it is possible that on the day of our conversion, we can have a right character before our new habits are developed. Our old habits are still there but we chose not to follow them anymore since we look to Jesus Christ now who gave Adam and us another chance.

Leaders May Lead Astray

Those who are placed in the highest positions may lead astray, especially if they feel that there is no danger. The wisest err; the strongest grow weary. Excess of caution is often attended with as great danger as excess of confidence. To go forward without stumbling, we must have the assurance that a hand all-powerful will hold us up, and an infinite pity be exercised toward us if we fall. God alone can at all times hear our cry for help. {2BC 1004.5}

It is a solemn thought that the removal of one safeguard from the conscience, the failure to fulfill one good resolution, the formation of one wrong habit, may result not only in our own ruin, but in the ruin of those who have put confidence in us. Our only safety is to follow where the steps of the Master lead the way, to trust for protection implicitly to Him who says, "Follow me." Mt. 4:19. Our constant prayer should be. "Hold up my goings in thy path, O Lord, that my footsteps slip not." Ps. 17:5. (ST July 28, 1881). {2BC 1004.6}

"The divine Teacher bears with the erring through all their perversity. His love does not grow cold; His efforts to win them do not cease. With outstretched arms He waits to welcome again and again the erring, the rebellious, and even the apostate. His heart is touched with the helplessness of the little child subject to rough usage. The cry of human suffering never reaches His ear in vain. Though all are precious in His sight, the rough, sullen, stubborn dispositions draw most heavily upon His sympathy and love; for He traces from cause to effect. The one who is most easily tempted, and is most inclined to err, is the special object of His solicitude." {Ed 294.2}

"Every parent and every teacher should cherish the attributes of Him who makes the cause of the afflicted, the suffering, and the tempted His own. He should be one who can have "compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity." Hebrews 5:2. Jesus treats us far better than we deserve; and as He has treated us, so we are to treat others. The course of no parent or teacher is justifiable if it is unlike that which under similar circumstances the Saviour would pursue." {Ed 294.3}

"There is no excuse for sin, or for indolence. Jesus has led the way, and he wishes us to follow in his steps. He has suffered, he has sacrificed as none of us can, that he might bring salvation within our reach. We need not be discouraged. Jesus came to our world to bring divine power to man, that through his grace, we might be transformed into his likeness. When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man's best service, and he makes up for the deficiency with his own divine merit. But he will not accept those who claim to have faith in him, and yet are disloyal to his Father's commandment. We hear a great deal about faith, but we need to hear a great deal more about works. Many are deceiving their own souls by living an easy-going, accommodating, crossless religion. But Jesus says, `If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'Mt. 16:24." {ST, June 16, 1890 par. 6} That means, we are to co-operate with the divine agencies in our own salvation. While God's efforts are large, ours are small, but without our co-operative efforts God cannot accomplish His.

"Since Jesus has made such an infinite sacrifice for us, how cruel it is that we should remain indifferent. Individually we have cost the life of the Son of God, and he desires us to walk out by living faith, believing in him with all the heart. He would have you bring the truth of God into the inner sanctuary, to soften and subdue the soul; for when Christ is dwelling in your heart by faith, you will love those for whom he died. Suppose that the trump of God should sound tonight, who is ready to respond with gladness? How many of you would cry, "Oh, stay the chariot wheels; I am not ready"? Of how many would it be written, as it was written of Belshazzar, "Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting"? (Dan. 5:27) To be wanting in that day is to be wanting forever; for when Christ shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, we must be all ready to be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Your only safety is in coming to Christ, and ceasing from sin this very moment. The sweet voice of mercy is sounding in your ears today, but who can tell if it will sound tomorrow? How precious will be the appearing of Christ to those who have done good upon the earth. Jesus, our Redeemer, is coming back to the world, and all those who believe in him, who love him, and keep his commandments, will be able to say, `Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us.'"Is. 25:9. {ST, August 29, 1892 par. 5}[2120]

Summary of Reasons Why We Reject the Concept of Eternal Punishment

1) Everlasting life is a gift of God (Romans 6:23). The wicked do not possess it - they "shall not see life", "no murderer has eternal life abiding in him", John 3:36; 1.John 3:15.
2) Eternal torment would perpetuate and immortalize sin, suffering, and woe, and contradict divine revelation which envisions the time when these things shall be no more, Rev. 21:4.
3) Never ending punishment would detract from the concept of a loving God.
4) The Bible teaches that the atoning work of Jesus Christ is to "put away sin" (Heb. 9:26) - first from the individual, and ultimately from the universe. The completed fulfillment of the sacrificial, atoning work of Christ will not only be seen in a redeemed people, but also in a perfectly restored heaven and earth, Eph. 1:14.
5) Eternal hell would be a blemish in God's universe throughout eternity and would seem to indicate that it is impossible for God Himself to abolish it.
6. Never ending punishment seems to agree more with the hate of man toward his enemies rather than the judgment of God.
7. Since the goat Azazel was led out into the desert, never to be seen again (Lev.16:10), and was not killed so all could witness the death of this goat which we know now, represented Satan, we may say that sin kills as a consequence of the separation from God - the goat perished in the desert without interference.


Definition of Terms

`Hell' is the state of being dead and soon in `gehenna', the grave, where the dead are. It is not some place where a hell fire burns people while godly torturers make sure they suffer as long as possible. Since man has no immortal particle in himself, after death all of us is only decaying matter and nothing happening after death is sensed. Jesus experienced the agony before He died on the cross. When a person dies, only memory among those who knew that person remains for a while and our record in heaven until called for in the judgment.
When the Bible says, "For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains" (Deut. 32:22) it is explained in this scripture, when "the sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me; In my distress I called upon the Lord ..." (2 Sam 22:6,7) which says the sorrows of death were experienced while he was lying there waiting for death to happen. In other words, pain and anguish due to the disease or injury conjured up something like an experience of fear of what it might take before death or hopefully healing brings release. Job says hell is like being naked (26:6), that is a body lies naked in the grave. Substitute `death' or `grave' every time you read `hell' and it makes perfect sense. Conclusion: `Hell' means death or grave.


Isaiah 66:24: "their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched."
Some teach that this means that they will be tortured forever. The undying worm is not the symbol of a soul which cannot die, but is the symbol of corruption (decay) which cannot be purged or stopped. The fire is called unquenchable because it cannot be put out, and it will not go out until after it has consumed away everything that can burn, Jude 9; 2.Peter 2:6; Psalms 37:10. A `worm'(Mark 9:44-48) is not the equivalent word for `soul'. [Major, Manson & Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus, p. 123] In the Greek the word `never/ neither' is not found in this passage, and it is written in present time, not future.

Romans 1:18
wrath = Greek: `orge' = Zorn, impulse, feeling, disposition, temper, passion, eagerness, anger, wrath, punishment

Romans 1:24
gave them up = Greek: `paredw(o)ken' from `paradidomi' = to give over, consign, deliver, transmit, to entrust, to abandon, betray, to grant, allow; - the usual word for a judge handing down a sentence for the punishment of the guilty

Romans 1:26
same

Romans 1:28
same

"...sick of the palsy, grievously tormented." Mat. 8:6.
Greek: `basanisomenos' = tortured, pained by nerve pain; passive participle

"...art thou come to torment us before the time?" Mat.8:29.
Greek: `basanisai'; aorist inf.

"...and cried with a loud voice...What have I to do with thee...I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not." Mark 5:7;
Greek: `basanises' = to probe, torture, inflicting pain; aorist conjunctive; Luke 8:28.
Greek: `basanises' = to be rubbed on a stone of trials, to proof, torture, inflicting pain.

"...that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented 5 months, and their torment was the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man" Rev. 9:5. Greek: `basanistesontai' = inflicting pain, to torture; future passive.

"...because these two prophets tormented them that dwellt on the earth." Rev. 11:10. Greek: `ebasanisan, basanisw' = inflicting pain, to torture, aorist.

"...The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God...and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the lamb." Rev. 14:10. basanistesetai=future passive

"and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Rev. 20:10
Greek: "basanisw" = to test, to try, to examine; to (put to the) torture. Langenscheidt's Dictionary = torture, inflicting pain, pained by nerve pain; "Sprachlicher Schlüssel zum Griechischen NT" by Eberhard Nestle.

But what about the following statements by Jesus?
"The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and these which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
"Apostelei o uios tou andrwpou tous aggelous autou, kai sullexousin ek tes basileias autou panta ta skandala kai tous poisuntas ten anomian, kai balousin autous eis ten kaminon tou puros ekei estai o klaudmos kai o brugmos twn odontwn."
Mat.13:41-42.


["apostelei"=send out; "uios tou andrwpou"=Son of man; "aggelous"=angels; "sullexousin"=shall gather; "basileias"=kingdom; "skandala"=cause for the fall, do iniquity; "anomia"=lawlessness; "balousin"=to throw; "kaminos"=oven, furnace; "klaudmos"=loud wailing; "brugmos"=gnashing; "odous"=teeth]

Again, we ask: What condition are they in when cast into the fire? At first glance we may conclude that being thrown into the fire is the cause of the gnashing of teeth. We may think, Well, this fire is different then the fire in our stoves. It must be mild enough that those in it can still gnash their teeth - Is it in anger? Is it in frustration and self-castigation for having been so obstinate? What kind of hell fire is it that can preserve lives long enough to feel the lingering mental anguish?

Having denied God in their lifetime, they shall now, after having been part of the second resurrection at the end of the thousand year period of Rev. 20:7-15, lament the loss of their luxuries and possessions. The wicked of all ages are coming forth from the condition of death they were in. God knows the record of each human being who ever lived. Not having accepted the invitations of God to become heirs of His heavenly kindom, most of them did not see the Lord's return to receive His faithful people in the Second Coming. When they wake up, they see the judgment scene of God. Inside the fear grows as they realize that, like the monuments to their vanity, they too must perish. Realizing they have been defeated they do not feel remorse but turn once more against God and each other.

The following verses describe the scene to the happy ending: Ezekiel 28:6-8, 16-19; Isaiah 9:5; Psalm 11:6; Malachi 4:1; 2.Peter 3:10; Isaiah 34:8-17; Proverbs 11:31; Isaiah 14:7; Rev. 19:6; 20:6; Psalm 84:11; Rev. 21:1.

We also read, "Fire comes down from God out of Heaven. The earth is broken up. The weapons concealed in its depths are drawn forth. Devouring flames burst from every yawning chasm. The very rocks are on fire. The day has come that shall burn as an oven. The elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein are burned up." (Mal. 4:1; 2. Pet. 3:10.) The earth's surface seems one molten mass, - a vast, seething lake of fire. It is the time of the judgment and perdition of ungodly men, - " the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion." (Isa. 34:8; Prov. 11:31.)

The wicked receive their recompense in the earth. (Isa. 34:8; Prov. 11:31) They "shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts." (Mal. 4:1). Some are destroyed as in a moment, while others suffer many days. All are punished "according to their deeds." The sins of the righteous having been transferred to Satan, he is made to suffer not only for his own rebellion, but for all the sins which he has caused God's people to commit. His punishment is to be far greater than that of those whom he has deceived. After all have perished who fell by his deceptions, he is still to live and suffer on. In the cleansing flames the wicked are at last destroyed, root and branch,--Satan the root, his followers the branches. The full penalty of the law has been visited; the demands of justice have been met; and Heaven and earth, beholding, declare the righteousness of Jehovah." {GC88 673.1}

So, in the light of the words, "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." After reading Rev. 19:20, can we still say that the fires of hell will burn up dead stubble and dry branches? Doesn't it say the wicked are alive when they are thrown into that burning fire?

Let us say that the beast here is Satan and the the false prophet are the leaders of those who teach false doctrines and led people to worship the image, all these are alive when they are cast into the fire. It seems that would include all people of all religions who agree with the beast and its doctrines and openly transgress the Law of God. In the light of the Sunday closing law drive in so many countries we can see the beast has solicited the help of all religions.

It is not a burning flame that produces this mental anguish which leads to the gnashing of teeth, rather, it is mental anguish followed by the drying up into "stubble" and "dry branches" which then, already dead, are thrown into the lake of fire - the second death. [2200]

"... It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever ..."

"Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. ... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous unto life eternal." Isaiah 34:10; Mat. 25:41,46.

The fire itself is not everlasting but its effects are. The wicked will never rise again. Their remains of "stubble" and "withered branches" are burned up until nothing is left and the fire dies.

Conclusion: The usage of these terms does seem to indicate that the `torture pain' inflicted is mental and not physical. When physical pains are metted out by people pretending to do God's work, they work for the wrong side. Instead, the Bible teaches that the righteous will be in the everlasting fire. We read:

"And the people shall be as the burnings of lime ... The sinners in Zion are afraid ...
Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
Answer: "He that walks righteously, and speaks uprightly ... and shutts his eyes from seeing evil. He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure." Isaiah 33:12-16.

He will walk in the fire, but the fire will not consume him. That is why we are to cleanse our lives from sin. Then, when God manifests Himself we will not be consumed by His fire.


The word Punishment

Matthew 25:46; Greek: `kolasis' = punishment; "everlasting punishment". It is everlasting `punishment' and not everlasting `punishing'. The punishment is everlasting death - "who shall be punished with everlasting destruction." 2.Thess. 1:9
1.Peter 2:14; Greek: `ekdikdesin' = punishment; "the punishment of evil doers"
2.Kor. 2:6; Greek: `epitimia' = punishment; "sufficient to such a man is this punishment"
Hebre 10:29; Greek: `timoria' = punishment; "Of how much sorer punishment"
2.Thess.1:9; Greek: `dike' = punishment; "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction"
2.Peter 2:9; Greek: `kolaso' = to punish, züchtigen; "..to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished."
Acts 4:21; Greek: `kolasontai' = to punish; "...finding nothing how they might punish them", that punishment would have been a prison term no doubt
Acts 22:5; Greek: `timoreo' = to punish; "..which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished."
Acts 26:11; Greek: `timoron'= to cause pain (could be mental pain also); "And I punished them oft in every synagogue."

Root words used are:

1. Greek: `kolaso' = to hold in check, to tame, to punish
2. Greek: `timoreo' = to avenge, revenge; to help, succour, to punish, chastise
3. Greek: `dike' = custom, usage; right, law, order, justice; judgment, lawsuit, action at law, trial; fine, penalty, satisfaction;
b) Greek: `diken didonai' = to suffer punishment
c) Greek: `ekdikeo' = to avenge, to punish


The God of the Patriarchs
"In the Genesis narrative each patriarch is represented as undertaking by a free and personal choice the worship of his God, to whom he thereafter entrusted himself." [John Bright, A History of Israel, p. 97]

Could it be, when people read the Bible on this subject of punishment that their relgious/cultural heritage will act to color, how they perceive, what these punishment verses teach? Even in Old Testament times many cruel acts of people who knew the God of heaven and yet inflicted death on their enemies, were these acts condoned by God?[1200] When we read about atrocities happening, frenzied `holy wars', is that God leading out in these? Or could it be, that the biblical authors religious/cultural understanding of how he viewed God interfered on such occasions, and it was not God who told them to do such things [even though He is said to have done so], but the prevelant culture and methods of the times made them do it?

When we wish `fire and brimstone' on our enemies today, can such attitudes be traced back to long held believes which actually come out of paganism [1500] rather then from Yahwe? Do Christians and their churches today still have vestiges of paganistic believes in their ranks? Do these come out in particular on the subject we discuss here? Aren't these atrocities, followers of God committed, to be blamed on Satan rather then God? Does God smite people or do people put themselves outside the saving graces of God and Satan smites the wicked? [2000] And that, even though the Bible makes it sound like God made them do it?

Perhaps we should understand that many of these terrible events during Bible times where not committed by the `Church of God' but by people, prophets, kings, leaders, guardians of a nation - the guardians of national law, the police and courts of antiquity - these metted out these punishments on offenders whose deeds caused death and frequently had long lasting debilitating effects on the whole nation for the evil they introduced. Evils which also happen in our days and for which people are punished by the laws of their lands. Even though anciently there was no separation of church and state, there was the temple and the royal palace. The former was ordained by God, the latter was chosen by an act of doubting people. Total freedom must include both, the absence of restraint and the absence of constraint; both, the ability to say, "I will", and the ability to say, "I will not". But for choosing one or the other there are consequences.


Notes and References

[0020] Just because people talk about God and how God is leading them does not mean they are led by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Acts 7:32; 22:14. The Bible talks about two gods, the God Almighty, the Creator God and the god of this world, Satan, the pretender god. We must examine and become more discerning, possess more Bible knowledge, that is, know about the spirit/spirits dwelling in people. That is, what kind of thinking, which responses, testify to being led by the one God or the other. a) The Lord God Almighty: Habakuk 3:19; b) The god of this world: 2.Cor. 4:3,4.

[0022] "If our hearts are softened and subdued by the grace of Christ, and glowing with a sense of God's goodness and love, there will be a natural outflow of love, sympathy, and tenderness to others." EGW, Testimonies Vol. 5, p. 606.

[0023] The character of God as represented in the Old Testament shows his wonderful traits, that He was "grieved at his heart", He who was "the possessor of heaven and earth", and "the Judge of all the earth" (Genesis 6:6; 14:22; 18:25). Just like an earthly judge is respected by those who appreciated his just judgment, loved by his children, and considered a friend by his neighbors, so God too, fills various roles in His quest to guide and direct man to live according to His righteousness.

[0024] So who is this God who created everything? Who created the good things the world offers? What about the bad things? The earthquakes, the volcanoes, the floods and storms? These are serious questions. How can we answer them? We shall try. First we must go back to the beginning where God said after finishing His creation, "And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Gen, 1:31. Is that statement a problem considering what we see today? Yes, it is - unless we continue reading from the quoted verse and what do we find? We find this, the arrival of sin and the fall of man into sin because of the success Satan had to lead Adam and Eve into doubting what God said. So let us establish that God, at first, created a perfect earth and universe. Knowing what we know today, and looking at what our earth looks like today, we cannot say that it is anymore "very good". What happened? This happened. Our earth being `very good' at first must mean that it was a perfectly balanced nuclear reactor. It had a perfect fiery hot interior which was effected by sin. We surmise that before the Flood it had never rained (Gen. 2:8; 3:5; 7:11). That must mean that at creation everything was perfectly balanced. It must mean that all electrical influences as far as we have discovered them - electro-magnetic, the magnetic field which is said to change slowly over time so that true north migrates around the polar areas. It must mean that the perfect nutritional balance at the beginning was disrupted, causing some of God's creatures/creations to become predators or requiring a host (plants). It must mean, that in perfect conditions man was able to communicate directly with God, so we may say that God knew right away when man sinned. This we can only understand when we say that minute electrical impulses emanating from our brain are detectable by God, Gen. 3:8. So, sin must have resulted in impulses which were abnormal, they caused a disruption - though very minute at first - in God's originally perfect creation. As the sins of the human race increased dramatically, these signals must have too, apparently influencing the perfect `electro-magnetical(?)' atmosphere God had made around earth to be impaired, and the perfect nuclear balance inside the earth to become disordered. What happened then? Well, at the start of the Flood, "the fountains of the deep were broken up" Gen. 7:11, destroying the perfect atmospheric canopy which God had made, which in turn caused abnormal quantities of moisture to rain upon the earth for 40 days and nights. Once the crust was disturbed by those jets of water exploding through the surface - for the electro-magnetic balance was disrupted - causing heat waves to heat water inside the earth which exploded through the surface, probably world wide, giving rise to earthquakes and volcanoes, which in turn brought elements into rock layers and change the `perfect' crust of the whole earth as a result of the great upheaval the Flood represents. So, such a delineation of events, as best as we can, could explain what caused the earth to transition from being `very good' to `not so good' today. Was it God's fault? No. Man, a free moral being like all of God's intelligent beings, chose to distrust what God had said. They fell for the lies of Satan, which they were warned about, that he was roaming around, Gen. 2:16,17.

[0025] Here is the list of verses dealing with events during the judgment:

  1. The final judgment will commence at the end of the 1000 year period during which Satan is banned on the desolate earth (Rev.20; 1).
  2. It follows the Second Coming of Christ (1.Cor. 4:5)
  3. Daniel testifies that, when the `Ancient of Days' came, judgment was given to the saints of the Most High (Dan. 7:22).
  4. At that time the redeemed reign as kings and priests unto God (Rev. 20:4,6)
  5. The apostle Paul states that at this time Christ and the saints shall judge the world, Satan himself and the angels (1.Cor. 6:2,3; Jude 6). The scriptures state that at the end of the 1000 years the second resurrection, that of the wicked, takes place, Rev. 20:5 and Isaiah 24:22.

[0050] Explanation of the scriptural scenario: The Bible calls death an enemy (1.Cor. 15:26) which at last will be destroyed. But until then we are mortal. We all die the `sleep' death (John 11:11,13) from which the Bible says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (Psalms 116:15) and much later we read, "... Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord ..." (Rev. 14:13) which means that so long as time shall last, the influence of their godly life will continue to yield rich fruitage. No longer can Satan, the enemy of the human race, imperil their welfare; they are safe from his power. Jesus claims them as His own, and on the morning of the resurrection He will present to them the fullness of joy - a place in the kingdom of God. The `sleep' death is the first death from which there is a resurrection, both of those who died in the Lord and those who decided against the Lord. The resurrection of God's faithful people occurs at the 2nd Coming of Jesus - See Psalms 89:48; 16:10; Acts 2:29, 31, 34; Job 14:12-14; John 5:28; Rev. 20:6. After the scriptural 1000 years the resurrection of those who decided during their natural life span against the Lord takes place. Their bodily reappearance presents the occasion of the Day of Judgment when their conscience will come alive and they relive the scenes of opportunities to love God, whom they rejected, and they will admit that God is just and the second death will overtake them and their remains will burn in the final, earth cleansing fire and sin will reign no more. (John 3:36; 2.Thessalonians 1:9; Ezekiel 18:4; Psalm 37:20; Nahum 1:10; Matthew 25:41; Jude 7; 2.Peter 2:6; Matthew 3:11,12; Malachi 4:1,3; 2.Peter 3:7; Matthew 13:30; 2.Peter 3:7,10,12; Revelation 20:5,12-15; Job 21:30) There is no reason for anyone to experience the second death, Jesus provided an escape from it if we just seek and obey Him.

[0070] As John MacArthur repeatedly stated in his sermon, `The failure of men and women, you and me, to glorify God for the glory due to Him is mankind's greatest crime.' See 1.Chronicles 16:29; Exodus 24:17; Romans 6:4; to name a few.

[0072] In recent times, a literal hell was even taught from some Protestant pulpits: "Dr. Gabelein told of a pastor of a large Presbyterian church in Hollywood, California, who not only taught the existence of a literal hell, but taught that `the remedial and corrective sufferings in purgatory are needed to save the lost.' The doctrine of the `Purgatory' was first established by Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) and declared true in 593 AD.; Similarly we read, `Also we were greatly shocked some time ago to read the statement made by a Methodist pastor, the son of a prominent Methodist editor wherein he stated that he would be happy to have a Roman Catholic priest celebrate the mass in his church.' See Garman, Present Day Trends, p. 15.

[0100] The word `hell' in the Bible. The word `hell' in religious childrens literature as Quoted in the `London Present Truth', April 30, 1914, and read by many impressionable young people. In contrast to `hell', `hades' is the grave, not the place of punishment. The Valley of Gehenna/ Hinnom just outside of Jerusalem was thought of as the place of punishment because, in ancient times, pagan people sacrificed their children there to Moloch, 2.Kings 23:10,13,14. See also Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible.

[0110] In other words, in several instances the Bible depends on pre-existing truths, the members of the early Church knew already from sermons, studies and the Bible. An example is Philippians 1:23 where the Apostle Paul writes, "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." If we would base the doctrine of the state of the dead just on this scripture, we would not be able to be certain if we go to God when we die or later. Paul is banking here on pre-existing information in the knowledge of the believers. This scripture is already explained more clearly in 2.Cor. 5:5-12; Matth. 16:27; Hebr. 9:27; John 5:28,29 (depending which writings were earlier), plus many more scriptures. That is why the author did not have to repeat all the existing knowledge over and over again. In the case of the punishment of the wicked, if it is by fire or by mental agonies, we try to show that it is by mental agonies based on scriptures already posted above.

[0500] How deeply steeped the Patriarchs were in their cultural environment can be seen by Jacob using cultic objects like a) a `matsevah' Stone Pillar (Gen. 31:45-55) - declared unlawful in Lev. 26:1 & Deut. 16:21-22, b) Abraham planting a `grove of trees' (Gen. 21:33) and including them in his worship - declared unlawful in Deut. 16:21.

[520] This verse in Isaiah 66:15 is endorsed by a similar description found in Revelation 19:11-15. It may also recall aspects of the taking up to heaven account of the prophet Elijah, 2.Kings 2:11 and 2.Kings 6:17 and the fiery glory surrounding God, Hebr. 12:29.

[1200] We choose `Old Testament' times because many perceive that God was closer to his people then.

[1500] The notion that man can contribute anything to salvation is the basis of all paganism.

[2000] In this connection the experience of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 4:32 - 5:11) may come to mind. Did God smite them, or did God withdraw his protection, and let Satan do his work? I prefer the latter view. The members of the early church were witnesses to express manifestations of the power of God among them. They had no excuse to doubt that God was real. The experience of Ananias and Sapphira teaches that those who live a lie sell their life on a cheap market. Falsehoods may seem to help out in business in emergencies; but such people will finally reach the place where they can trust no one. Knowing themselves to be falsifiers, they can have no confidence in the words and intentions of others.

[2100] EGW, Testimonies, Vo. 5, p. 53.

[2120] Where in the Bible does it say that?
(Based on GC, 482 - Some statements are written according to the implication of Bible texts and not verbal usage.)
"Every man's work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness." Mt. 25:21,23; Rev. 2:23.
"Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling." Rev. 20:12. The Bible teaches that two types of `books' are kept in heaven, a `book (singular) containing our names, and `books' (plural) contains our records.
1st - - The `book of life' contains the names as taught in the Bible, see Phil. 4:3: "I entreet thee ... whose names are in the book of life.", and Rev. 3:5: "He that overcometh ... I will not blot out his name out of the book of life." Amen to that. BUT! While the `book of life' contains at some point all names of every person who ever lived, during the Judgment the process begins, starting with Adam, to examine each individual's `record books' associated with his/ her name, to see if the blood of Jesus covered their sins and washed them clean so God can give them the gift of eternal life in heaven. If not, their name will be erased out of `the book of life' based on their condemning record because of choices they made in their life, for God shall not save anyone against their will.
Luke 10:20: "... rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Revelation 13:8 teaches that the names of the wicked "are not written in the book (singular) of life", meaning the names of God's people "are" written therein.
2nd - - 2.Cor. 5:10 teaches that "all appear" before the judgment seat of Christ. How so? In body? Daniel 7:9,10 answers that question, "... the ancient of days did sit ... and the books were opened." The `books (plural) of heaven' contain the record of our entire life, our thoughts, words and deeds.
Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel. Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:27; 22:19.
The law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment. Prov. 16:2; Ecc. 3:17.
Says the wise man: "Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment." Ecclesiastes 12:13,14; Mt. 12:36.
The apostle James admonishes his brethren:"So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." James 2:12
Those who in the judgment are "accounted worthy" will have a part in the resurrection of the just. Lk. 20:35; Rev. 3:4.
Jesus said: "They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (heaven), and the resurrection from the dead, . . . are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." Luke 20:35, 36.
And again He declares that "they that have done good" shall come forth "unto the resurrection of life." John 5:29. -- The Bible teaches that the righteous are resurrected before the wicked. The latter of which are resurrected after the Millenium, the 1000 year time span, during which they were judged by the righteous, 1.Cor. 6:2.
Thus the righteous dead will not be raised until after the judgment (began in 1844) at which they are accounted worthy of "the resurrection of life." Jh. 5:29.
"Hence they will not be present in person at the tribunal when their records are examined and their cases decided."
Jesus will appear as their advocate, to plead in their behalf before God. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1.
"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." Hebrews 9:24; 7:25.

[2200] Matthew 5:30 teaches that the whole body shall be cast into hell. Again, we must ask, `What condition is the body in when it is cast into the fire?' This question Jesus does not explain for it is already explained by the prophet Malachi, Luke 16:31. Additional Bible texts dealing with the violent end of the wicked are: Isaiah 9:5; 34: 2; Psalm 11: 6; Ezekiel 28: 6-8, 16-19; Rev. 19:20; 21:1. -- All we can say about Rev. 19:20 (`zao', #2198; actually the declinated word in the text itself is `sontes' (from `sao')) - `Swntes' (w is omega) is translated that they are alive when they are ready to be thrown into the lake of fire. To try and picture that as a real situation in our human understanding, the split seconds a body is in the air over a fiery inferno, seems to be sufficient to extinguish all life as we know it, before they hit they are already dried up as stubble. Their punishment was what went on before the execution of the sentence, when they see how much they loose for a short life of sin. A life without God has nothing to offer, except soda-pop bubbles and nothing more. Let us not loose out on life eternal for just that. On the subject of `prophetic time' and `God's justice', heaven does not violate our human understanding of these terms; can we then not also extrapolate from that, that God will not violate our human understanding of how an intensely burning lake of fire would almost instantaneously destroy the victim?
Related Greek words to `zao' are `zoogoneo' - preserved (Young's), Lk. 17:33; and `sozo' - saved (#4982), Rev. 21:24.


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