- Published on Monday, 05 September 2005 00:00
- Written by Scott Doherty
- Hits: 2918
Scott wrote this article in response to an article in Signs magazine in which the author proposed that hell was not eternal.
The author bases his opinion that Hell will not be eternal on the meaning of the words “eternal” and “forever and ever.” He states that, “The passages from Jude and Isaiah 34 demonstrate that the expressions translated as ‘eternal,’ and ‘forever and ever,’ meant something different to the Biblical writers than they do to us.” Lets look at the how the words “eternal” and “forever and ever” are used in other parts of the Bible.
- Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34)
- The Lord reigns forever (Psalms 9:7)
- I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. (John 6:51)
- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Does God’s love endure forever or for only a period of time?
Does the Lord reign forever or for a particular length of time?
When Jesus said with his own mouth that anyone who eats the bread of life will live forever, mean they will only live for a while?
Is Jesus the same forever or will He change?
- Your word, O Lord, is eternal. (Psalm 119:89)
- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
- For my Fathers will is that everyone who looks to the son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)
- But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:8)
Is the word of God eternal or will it cease to exist?
When Jesus talked about his Fathers will that, everyone who looks to the son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, is Jesus saying he will have eternal life or a temporary life?
When someone preaches a false gospel is he eternally condemned or will he be burned up and die again?
Scripture clearly shows here and throughout the Bible that the words “forever” and “eternal” should be taken literally and they are not figures of speech. I know by God’s grace through my faith in Jesus Christ that I will be in Heaven for Eternity.
What is Hell Biblically?
Now let’s look at what the Bible says about Hell.
- Jesus said that Hell is a place of torment, where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched (Mark 9:48).
- Hell is everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46)
- Hell is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:51)
- Hell is a fire unquenchable (Luke 3:17)
- Hell is indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish (Romans 2:8,9)
- Hell is everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
- Hell is eternal fire…. The blackness of darkness for ever (Jude 7,13)
- Revelation 14:10, 11 tells us the final, eternal destiny of the sinner; “He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…the smoke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever: and they will have no rest day or night.”
Once again Scripture is clear that; Hell is real, Hell is torment, and Hell is eternal. If Hell wasn’t Eternal the warnings of Jesus mean far less when He says “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell.” (Matthew 5:29)
Love and Justice
In response to the author’s claim that some people ask, “how can you tell me God loves me, but if I don’t love Him back He’ll torture me forever? What kind of love is that?” when told of images of eternal punishment. God is love, but He is also just. 2 Thessalonians 1:6 says, “He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.” God is our Rock. His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. (Deuteronomy 32:4). Hebrews 2:2 says. “For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? “
God isn’t going to torment the people forever because they never loved Him back. They will be tormented forever because the unbeliever has rebelled against God his entire life, breaking every law God has ever gave. Even though creation testifes that God exists, they choose to reject God and not only reject Him but choose to worhip anything else but Him, whether it be themselves, money, a false god, lust or any other thing that satisfies their flesh temporarily. Not only do they sin and rebel against God, they willingly reject the free gift of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). We have all sinned against God and every single one of us has broken every one of the Ten Commandments. The unbeliever has ignored God and his Laws, which is why they will be punished justly. The believer is justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch! It will not be quenched night and day; its smoke will rise forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again.
One of the author’s main contentions about the finite nature of Hell is based upon his interpretation of the passage in Isaiah 34. It should be noted that Isaiah is talking prophetically about the destruction of Edom, not Sodom and Gomorrah as the author states. This is an extremely important distinction, as Edom’s destruction will not be realized fully until the end times. In fact the passage which the author uses to refute the eternal nature of Hell is actually another prophetic proof of the eternity of Hell.
The peoples represented by Edom were not totally destroyed in the Old Testament and the ancestors of this people exist today. Scripturally Edom represents those who rely upon themselves and deny the Lordship of God. The Edomites are the descendants of Esau, who sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. Spiritually Edomites are those who deny the eternal and spiritual nature of our existence and focus on the flesh, the here, and the now.
If Edom were only Sodom and Gomorrah, we would not see prophetic warnings against that people all the way to the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi. As a matter of prophetic study, Edom will play an ever increasing role in the world as we approach the return of or Lord Jesus Christ. The words of Isaiah are not aimed at the historical event of Sodom and Gomorrah. They are prophetically aimed at all who will spend eternity in Hell for their unrepentant, hateful attitude toward their Creator.
Hell isn’t just a place with an absence of God’s blessings. It is a place of punishment for sin. It is literal torment, forever. That is why the Bible warns that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. To define Hell as anything else is not only un-Scriptural, it is preaching “another gospel,” a gospel that does not convict men of the eternal fate that awaits them if they do not receive the free gift of salvation afforded to them by a loving God who desires that no one should perish.