Posted by: minnow | February 27, 2008

Is Hell in Revelation?

As promised today we will take a look at Revelation but first a peek at some other verses written by John. John 3:16: “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”, perhaps the best know passage of scripture, is often touted as proof positive that faith is necessary for salvation and to perish is equivalent to everlasting punishment. Two problems emerge, however, when we jump to those conclusions. First the word eternal is misused since God and God alone is eternal–without beginning and without end. A better translation of the Greek word aion (eternal) is “for an age” or “a time”. Secondly, perish is the Greek word apollumi and while it can mean to destroy it usually means to be lost. In John 6:39 Jesus uses it when He says, “And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose (apollumi) none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” When it is used in Luke 15–eight times–it refers to lost objects or the lost son, all of which are found and restored. John 3:17 affirms this reading of apollumi by reaffirming God‘s purpose through Jesus: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” The word save is the Greek word sozo and means to put in right relationship. Clearly God wants man to be restored not destroyed.Back in the Matthew 25 passage verse 46 reads: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” As we have already discussed God alone is eternal thus using the translation “for an age” would be more appropriate in this situation. The Greek word translated punishment is kalasis which actually means “to prune”. While it doe not sound too pleasant, John informs us in 15:2 that the concept of pruning is for our benefit, so we can “bear even more fruit” than we would if we were not pruned. Verse 46 is actually telling us that the goats will be pruned for a time so they will later bear fruit. How does bearing fruit fit with the idea of a never ending place of torture? Even if we understood “life” and “punishment” to be accomplished through the Eternal One, kalasis is incompatible with the concept of hell as a never ending place of torment. Not only is such an interpretation contrary to the word kalasis, it is contrary to the will of God as expressed in John 3:17. Now on to Revelation. Chapters 14 verses 9-11, 20 verses12-15, and 21 verses 7 and 8, are frequently utilized by evangelicals to promote a doctrine of hell. At first glance these passages seem pretty cut and dry. So where are the problems? To begin with, the list from Revelations 21:8 (the cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murders, sexually immoral, those who practice the magic arts, idolaters, and liars) focuses on works as a determining factor for who is heading to the lake of burning sulfur. Likewise 20:12 states outright that the dead are judged according to what they did. This revelation flies in the face of the evangelical hell doctrine which states we are saved by grace, not by works.Can the passages in Revelations be construed to support the concept of hell as a never-ending place of torture? Perhaps, however the highly symbolic language of all of Revelation, specifically the apocalyptic nature of the Revelation 14 passage, as well as the tenor of the time in which Revelation was written makes knowing the entire meaning of these images next to impossible. A more likely scenario is that John, who was exiled to the island of Patmos (a Roman penal colony) was writing about the evils of empire worship which was an enforced practice throughout the Roman Empire. Instead of participating in this practice, John’s writing encouraged the young Church to have no king but Jesus. (Remember what evangelicals consider doctrine was not established or even widely accepted until the 4th century). The apocalyptic style used by John in Revelation was often employed to avoid detection by the authorities who were the real subjects of most of that style of writing. In addition, many Bible scholars believe the book of Revelation graphically prophesies about the fall of Rome. Consequently, without substantial support from the rest of scripture, seeing the passages from Revelation as a depiction of an everlasting place of torment after we die seems short sighted at best. But, if we take away the traditional concept of hell what are we left with?An interesting side note on the word fire in the Bible may help to point us in the right direction. The lake of fire in Revelation uses the same word for fire that describes Jesus in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, “…This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels.” In fact many uses of fire in scripture are not destructive but rather indicate the presence of the Lord–God lead the Hebrews through the desert with a pillar of fire and at Pentecost tongues of fire fell on the heads of the believers. Several other passages speak of God’s refining fire, which purifies but does not destroy. Could the lake of fire be a consuming fire that takes away sin as it refines the sinner? Could our own desire for revenge actually be what feeds our interpretation of hell more than the justice we claim is God’s? Are there passages of scripture we willingly over look or explain away in order to maintain a traditional doctrine of hell? 

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Responses

  1. The Bottomless Pit, Perdition, the lake of fire, and Hell are one in the same. The bottomless pit is a reality upon this earth in the spiritual realm. The Dead Sea is the location of the bottomless pit. The Dead Seal is outside of Jerusalem on this earth, and the Dead Sea is outside Jerusalem in the “new” earth as well.

    In the “new” earth, outside “that great city, the holy Jerusalem” (Re.21:10), are those who have taken part in the second death (Re.21:8, Re.22:15, Re.14:9-1, Re.20:15). In the “new” earth there is no more sea (Re.21:1), and those whose who have taken part in the second death can be looked upon (Isa.66:24, Re.14:10).

    The bottomless pit is opened at the Fifth Trumpet, the First Woe (Re.9:1-2, 12).

    The four beasts of Daniel chapter 7 and the little horn of Daniel chapter 7 all ascend out of the bottomless pit (Re.11:7, Re.17:8).

    The fourth beast of Daniel chapter 7 is seen in the book of Revelation as the beast of Revelation 13:1. The little horn of Daniel chapter 7 is seen as the beast of Revelation 13:11.

    Directly after the battle of Armageddon the beast (Re.13:1) and the false prophet (Re.13:11) are BOTH cast into the pit (Re.19:20, Dan.7:11).

    During the Millennium, Satan is bound in the pit where the beast (Re.13:1) and the false prophet (Re.13:11) ARE (Re.20:10, Re.20:1-3).

  2. Obviously Patricia disagrees with my point of view. I think that her references are all Old Testament and Revelation is telling.

  3. I have lately been reading similar points of views as yours, minnowspeaks, , and I have to say that they resonate with me. I would like to believe that there is a possibility that ALL will be united with God in the end. MAYBE there will be some that just don’t respond to the love of God because, as N.T. Wright writes about, they may have lived such a life of evil that they are barely even human anymore. I don’t know. I just know that it is not for me to judge who is going “to Hell” and who is not.

    And I DO believe that how we act on earth will determine something about what happens to us after we die. Yes, we receive salvation by Faith, but if after we have that Faith, we produce no good works, no good fruit, then that is an indication that we are not doing God’s will. God will say, “I never heard of you” according to Jesus.

    I love N.T. Wright’s book “Surprised by Hope.” He reminds people that we don’t just “go to heaven” after dying, but at the final resurrection when God gives us our new resurrected bodies that are like the bodies Jesus had when he resurrected, we will live forever with Jesus in such a special way that we can barely even imagine it. We wait in hope and in the meantime we try to live as God would have us live while we are on this side of life.

    Joanie D.

  4. Hello Minnowspeaks.

    Referring to Matthew 25:46, if those who go away to punishment do so for only a certain length of time, than so do those who go away to life.

    In other words, in your push to get rid of eternal punishment, you also get rid of eternal life, assuming your translation is correct.

    But on to that, I do not think it is. First you make the mistake of using the English meaning of a word (eternal) to decide the meaning of a Greek word (αἰώνιον).

    But even on that count, the English meaning of “eternal” can mean several things, such as “without beginning or end; lasting forever; always existing; perpetual; ceaseless; endless”. Only the first one, and maybe the third one, would be used of God, and God alone. The others could easily be applied to eternal life in John 3:16. This seems to be your main justification for inferring that it was wrong to translate αἰώνιον as “eternal”. But that is unfounded, as clearly within the English language eternal has several meanings.

    Second, you have the incorrect word in view. The Greek word “aion” is not found in Matthew 25:46 or even John 3:16. But αἰώνιον (aiōnion) a derivative of “aion” is, and that word can mean eternal, forever, everlasting, and perpetual.

    Even the meaning for “aion” does not make your case cut and dry, as it can mean not only age, but also course, eternal, and forever.

    To say that αἰώνιον can be translated as “for an age” does not make it so, and seeing how you based your choice of definition on a limited English understanding of “eternal” does not give you sufficient justification for overturning the meaning of those verses.

    Finally, there simply is no other Greek word that can be used to refer to an unending period of time. This is the best in Koine Greek that was available to the writers, and as I have shown, it is more than sufficient.

    While interesting, you have not provided a good enough case to understand those verses as meaning anything but eternal life and eternal punishment.

  5. If Matthew 25:31-46 was speaking about life after we die and heaven and hell your point about 46 would indeed cause some difficulty. This may be why some commentators suggest the reference is to an earthly millennial kingdom. I, on the other hand, believe the passage is actually a parable (in other words, not to be taken literally) and is talking about the kingdom of God that is “at hand” as Jesus so frequently liked to proclaim.
    Because aionion is a derivative I used aion. The Greek meaning is basically the same. It can mean both eternal and ages. My point was that using the English word eternal which by and large means without beginning and without end is a poor choice since God alone is without beginning. Nevertheless, verse 46 was a minor point to the overall discussion of Matthew 25:31-46 as a passage supporting the doctrine of hell. Clearly those being judged (entire nations) and the criteria for judgment (works) rules out such a position.

  6. Minnowspeaks,

    The lists I looked at didn’t list Matthew 25:31-46 as a parable. I looked at three. What literature do you have that suggests it is one?

    The society of Jesus’ time was a collectivist society. They didn’t emphasize individuality like we do today. People were known by who or what group they were attached too. That is why the Jews, for example, thought they were alright before God because they were simply Abraham’s children and God’s chosen nation. Many times in the Old Testament you see the whole nation judged, and not individuals, because of that collective identity they all shared. This is true of many ancient near eastern societies.

    So thats probably why “nations” are being judged. Yet even so in that same verse (v.32) we find that it will be people who are separated (as opposed to nations).

    I wouldn’t say they were being judged by works. There are three clues in v.34 that presuppose salvation. First, the verse: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

    They were:
    1. Blessed by the Father
    2. Receiving their inheritance
    3. And they had a kingdom prepared for them “from the foundation of the world.”

    To be blessed by anyone was no small thing in Jesus’ time, and to be blessed by the Father was surely the greatest thing. It usually implies great favor and status. For an inheritance, only “family” could inherent something. A constant theme used to describe salvation is by adoption into God’s family. Finally, God planned the kingdom for them from before the world began. That would also be before any good works could have been performed as well.

    Ephesians 1:3-14 has a wonderful parallel here that would be good to read alongside this one!

    Now, the idea that we will all be judged by works is a constant idea presented in the New Testament, and one that if understood carefully, doesn’t affect the doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

    By believing in Christ, sinners have righteousness attributed to them by God, becoming saints. All their sin, their debt, past, present, and future, is forgiven of them. They have a clean slate to start out with, being a “new creation.”

    Imagine a graph that shows how much a person owes and how much they have saved. A sinner’s graph wouldn’t have anything in the positive, only a great big red bar that extends into the negative to a depth that is essentially unpayable. When Christ’s righteousness is attributed to them, that incredible debt is now paid off completely. The person, now a saint, is at 0. They don’t owe God anything, and they are saved from His wrath, but they are as yet without rewards, without good works that can count towards them.

    So when the saints do do good works, it will be counted in their favor. In the past, when they were sinners and did good works, all it did was go to pay off their unpayable debt. Like throwing money into a black hole.

    Now since that debt is forever paid, any works they do will go to their rewards. Also, when they are judged, God will only see their good works. But for the sinners, God will only see their bad works.

    So our salvation is just the beginning. Thats attained by faith, but afterwards, there’s a lot of work to be done to attain the rewards. First Corinthians 3: 12-15 alludes to all this rather nicely.

    I have enjoyed our conversations a lot lately. You have encouraged me to read and study up in areas that I would not have otherwise done so. Thank you!

    -Greg

  7. Greg–
    I don’t know if you read my other posts concerning hell. I go over this Matthew passage and others pretty thoroughly in the post titled: “Can Hell Be Found in the Gospels?” The antecedent for nations in the Greek is actually people groups. Thus entire nations not individuals are being judged and the judgment has nothing to do with a confession of faith. You must do some pretty fancy gymnastics to conclude that these verses presupose salvation. In the first place once a person is saved his/her salvation cannot be taken away. Secondly, the reason the King gives for the blessing is that they acted correctly toward “the least of these”. In other words–works. If all are already saved then rather than being a passage about heaven and hell this is talking about our reward or lack of reward, once we are all in heaven (as your bar example seems to illustrate).
    As for the passage appearing on a list of parables–of course it will not if those making the list are also likely to use it to support a doctrine of Hell since it’s not kosher to create doctrine from stories.
    I have to go but will check back later.

  8. As a review, I showed your new translation of the word “eternal” was clearly unjustified.

    Second, you yourself admitted that you had a problem with that word if you translated it to mean “an age” and not something unending. Seems while getting rid of eternal punishment, you also got rid of eternal life.

    Third, you responded to that by saying it is in fact a parable. But, there are only two parables in the 25th chapter, and the judgment scene is not one of them. You cannot change something simply because you don’t like what it means, which you are trying to do here. I’ll ask you again, by what justification do you have to call 25:31-46 a parable? Who agrees with you?

    And yet after all this, you actually accuse me of fancy gymnastics! I am not the one trying to edit out Hell from the Bible because I don’t like it!

    All are not saved, nor will all be saved. Prophecy or parable, Jesus is clear here: The goats are “cursed” and consigned to the “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” and “will go way into eternal punishment.” Unless you wish to put forth the notion that the devil and all of his angels will be in heaven along with us, I think it best if you move away from this position.

    It has so far created too many problems for you.

  9. I guess at this point we agree to disagree.

  10. I think your theology finds itself centered on man, not on God.

  11. I find your most recent comment disturbing. You have not shown my theology to be man centered. Prior to that you decided my motive for saying that scripture does not support hell as a never ending place of torment is because I want it to be so. This you also do not prove. It is no more helpful to our discussion then me saying you defend the traditional interpretation of hell because you want it to be true.
    I am willing to go step by step through the various passages however, it is fruitless to simply repeat what we orginally say over and over. If we cannot agree to disagree when we come to an impass I am not interested in continuing. You decide.

  12. OK, let us do this then.

    You wrote your original post, and I responded to that post with various objections, summarized in my April 5, 8:42pm post.

    To get to the issue at heart, how do you respond to what I wrote concerning translating “eternal” differently, and how do you justify reading that section as a parable?

    Those are my two main questions I have for you now. If you don’t think it is relevant, than I guess they are my last ones too.

  13. Greg–
    I appologize for the length of this. I basically went through all your past arguements including the one you mentioned in your most recent post. POINT ONE:
    Why do I say Matthew 25:31-46 is a parable (story)? If it is not then we can expect to see goats and sheep in heaven. The other two sections of this chapter are parables. The NIV study Bible includes it in a list of parables. And, many commentators and scholars including: The Adventures of Clothman, Dr. Herbert Lockyer and John Ritenbaugh, call it a parable. Merely relying on the subtitles put forth by translators does not mean the third section of scripture in chapter 25 is not a parable. What indications do you have for taking it literally?
    POINT TWO:
    As I said before entire nations are being judged. The correct antecedent for nations in verse 32 is actually people groups or a generic them. (Yes, I am talking about the original Greek). It would be highly unlikely for the point of the passage to switch in mid stream from nations to individuals. Your own point about the society in Jesus’ day being a collective society actually supports this point of view. His listeners would already have thae mind set you mentioned so if He was actually switching He would have made it crystal clear.
    POINT THREE:
    You seem to be arguing two different points at the same time. You cannot say in one breath that the passage presupposes salvation (Do you agree that you cannot lose your salvation once you have it?) and is therefore about reward and in the next breath that the passage is about being sent to eternal punishment or eternal life, which is what I claim the passage does not do.
    POINT FOUR:
    Review your own arguments; they actually support that the judgment of the sheep and goats is based on works. Yet the passage itself speaks most explicitly for itself, “take your inheritance…for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…whatever you did for the least of these you did for me…Depart from me…whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Further more there is no mention of a confession of faith. You must add to the text in order to make such an argument.
    POINT FIVE:
    Several different interpretations of this passage exist. NIV commentators suggest it is a reference to an earthly millennial kingdom. Others argue it predicts the fall of Jerusalem. I tend to believe it is a parable talking about the kingdom of God being at hand. The Kingdom of God message is a through line in much of what Jesus teaches. He is telling His listeners how they can walk out the will of God (Remember the prayer He taught them in Matthew 6: Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven).
    POINT SIX:
    Verse 46 at first glance seems straight forward. Yet like the rest of the passage it is not without its problems. While you refuse to see that God alone is eternal so eternal as the English translation is less than ideal I will go so far as to say aionion can mean everlasting. So let us move to the idea of punishment. In general God uses punishment as a means of redemption not destruction. Another translation for the same Greek word is pruning which we know is done for the purpose of baring more fruit at a later time. According to Thomas Talbott the concept of everlasting does not have to mean that the punishment itself is never ending but that the corrective effect or causal source is everlasting. With this understanding we are not forced to give up the idea of life everlasting in order to maintain the parallel nature of the passage. Thus this verse is not so problematic as it initially seemed.
    In you April 5 earliest post you make the statement, “All are not saved, nor will all be saved.” May I suggest we move to my post “Is The Cross Enough” if you want to discuss that issue.
    Finally, I am not going to judge your motives for defending the doctrine of hell. Instead, I will assume you are seeking the truth in scripture. I hope you will extend me the same courtesy.

  14. Point One:
    There is no need for a literal reading regarding sheep and goats, as it’s clear in v. 32 that an analogy is being used by Jesus (“as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”).
    At most I will agree with Lockyer concerning the language used to describe the real event, but will confine it more to analogy than parable, the reason being Jesus described Himself as coming in glory, along with His angels, and sitting on His throne to judge those brought before him. In every way, except for the analogy of the sheep and goats, it is presented by Jesus as a literal event to be expected and prepared for.

    Point Two:
    Conceded.

    Point Three:
    Yes, I believe once salvation is gained, it cannot be lost. I said the passage was about being judged by works and found to be righteous because of the previous attainment of salvation. I put in the bar graph bit to explain the mechanics of that. Those who are saved are justified before God by Christ’s righteousness. The passage can certainly be about both reward and punishment. One gets the reward, the other gets the punishment. Both are judged by their works. Thus, entrance into the kingdom of Heaven could certainly constitute a reward. (For my definition of salvation, please read below.)

    Point Four:
    I know my arguments support judgment based on works. That is why I wrote that lengthy bit about the bar graph. I never said there was a confession of faith in that passage. But I did say that those who are the sheep are blessed by the Father, part of the family, and destined from the beginning to inherit the kingdom. I used those three pieces of evidence to show that salvation had already been attained by the “sheep” prior to this judgment scene. That is why I referenced Ephesians 1:3-14 along with it. In addition, I don’t think the doctrine of salvation must be explicitly explained in every passage of scripture for it to be incorporated into our interpretation. For example, look at Matthew 19:16-22. Jesus told the rich man that to enter the Kingdom he must keep the commandments and follow Jesus. Only then will he be complete. Elsewhere in 1:21 it says Jesus will save His people from their sins. In 9:2 Jesus, seeing their faith, forgave the paralytic’s sins. The idea of salvation as a prerequisite for admittance into the kingdom is there, within the gospel of Matthew, and we must remember that as we interpret various parts of the book. We cannot separate the parts from the whole. There was no adding to the text on my part. I interpret it with the whole Gospel of Matthew in view in addition to its immediate context.

    And I think I found a big big big problem here. It seems we might have different ideas on what constitutes salvation. When I mean salvation, I do not mean “getting into Heaven”. That, in itself, is a reward if you want to get picky. When I use the word “salvation”, I use it to mean being saved from the effects of our sin. It means we have Christ’s righteousness applied to us, and are not under the wrath of God anymore. It means the “sheep” in this passage are now in a place to be judged for their good works, and receive the reward of that, which is entrance into the kingdom. Correct me if I am wrong (and I know you will :-P), but I think you are using salvation in respect to gaining entrance into the kingdom, right? If so, then of course all that I have said doesn’t make sense! Maybe half of this argument can be chalked up to having different definitions.

    It seems you say that both groups are judged according to their works, and based on those works are either granted admission to or denied admission to the kingdom. You see this as salvation. I say the same thing, that the “sheep” gain access to the kingdom based on their good works, but only because a previous attainment of salvation (as I defined it above) has cleared their debt and made it possible for their good works to be counted in their favor.

    Point Five:
    I agree. Of the commentaries I checked on this passage, the only thing they could agree on was that commentators interpret this in many ways! As I said, I don’t think it is a parable, but only contains a small analogy, that of a shepherd separating his flock, to illustrate the Son of Man doing that on His throne. In fact, after v. 33, that analogy isn’t used anymore, but switches back to the very real language of Jesus on His throne as King judging those before Him. That was the image presented in v. 31, and continued throughout the passage with v. 34.

    While walking out the will of God is certainly a theme in Matthew, I don’t think that is the primary intent of this passage. I think it is telling of a literal judgment in the future, and telling how to be ready for it. I see the judgment scene as a culmination of the whole Olivet Discourse, and even all of Matthew, as we are at the end of Jesus’ preaching ministry. Christ’s listeners have been forewarned to always be ready for His appearance by staying faithful in the works commanded by Him, to always be about the business of their Master, even when He is not present. The result of that faithfulness will include being admitted into the kingdom.

    Point Six:
    I don’t think you understood me correctly. I never denied God alone is eternal, I only pointed out that the English definition for “eternal” includes several meanings. Of the six I listed, only two of them would work in describing an eternal God. The others could certainly be used to describe something that is forever, perpetual, ceaseless, and endless, as the context in the two verses (John 3:16 and Matthew 25:46) lend credit to. The mistake in interpreting the meaning of “eternal”, whether in Greek or English, is that you are doing so out of context. You are right in saying that God is eternal, but that particular understanding of that Greek word is not found in the immediate context of these two verses. That teaching is located elsewhere in scripture. To get one meaning of a word from the context of one part of scripture, and say that it can ONLY have that single meaning for all the other occurrences of “aionion” is to completely ignore the context of those other occurrences! Not to mention the fact that “aionion” can mean not only eternal, but also forever, everlasting, and perpetual! Even the context of those two verses forbids understanding eternal life in the same way that God is said to be eternal. God has no beginning or ending, yet eternal life is described as something “gained”, something that does have a beginning.

    Onto the idea of punishment, let me see if I understand you correctly. You side with the view that the “punishment”, or pruning, that the “goats” will receive will not be everlasting, but only the effects of that pruning, i.e. the fruit? If I got that right, then I cannot agree with you. For one, there are many instances in scripture where God punished those without the possibility of redemption. Noah’s flood comes to mind, as does God’s command to Joshua to completely exterminate the godless nations inhabiting Canaan. God almost destroyed the Jews a number of times for their rebellion, offering to raise up another nation through Moses.

    But most of all, in Matthew 25:41 we see that the “goats,” who are also accursed, depart from the throne into the “eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” In Revelation 20:10 we see the devil, Satan, thrown into the lake of fire, to be tormented day and night, forever and ever. Further, in v. 15 we see that all those whose name were not found in the book of life, were thrown into that same lake of fire.

    From two separate books, by two separate authors, there seems to be a remarkable amount of agreement on this issue. In both passages, the “goats” are placed in the same category as the devil. With that in mind, if they are only to be pruned, than so also is the devil. If, as you explain, it is not eternal, than it would seem that we may have the devil joining us at some point in the future, along with his newly budded fruit.

    Aside from absurdity, that cannot be, as Jesus Christ came to destroy the devil and his works. Hebrews 2:14 says “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” and 1 John 3:8 “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” The lake of fire, the second death, is where the devil will be destroyed. In both accounts, the “goats” have been thrown in there along with him.

    Unless you simply want to allegorize all passages of scripture pertaining to eternal punishment to the point of meaninglessness, getting around that doctrine is nigh impossible to do while at the same time remaining faithful and consistent exegetically to all of scripture.

    And with that, I’m calling it a night.

    I will check out the other post you mentioned, and I will extend to you the assumption that you are searching for truth in scripture as well. Thank you for the conversation.

    -Greg

  15. After your most recent comments on my “Is The Cross Enough?” post I debated as to how I should respond to you. I told you I would be willing to assume you were seeking truth and asked that you return the favor which you agreed to do. Yet, in your very next comments (on my other post) you declare that I am a universalist, judge that my theology is man-centered and my exegesis poor, assert that I am calling God a liar, and suggest that the reason I say “we should agree to disagree” is because I am back into a corner (proven wrong) rather than that we have both shown why we Biblically hold our position and are at an impasse. You stated all this without putting forth so much as a shred of proof other than your pronouncements. Every point you have made regarding this post has been countered, equaled, or conceded. “Because I am a studied human being” or “because I can quote a studied human being” does not prove your interpretation of any given scripture if others show there are different ways to look at that same scripture. Labeling people and then arguing against the stereotype that has been created from that label is not proof of anything.
    To be honest, your comments cause me to think you are not interested in seeking truth but are only interested in spewing forth your version of truth and refusing to seriously consider any other point of view. Were this someone else’s blog I would suggest we agree to disagree and bow out of the conversation. Since it is my blog and others may read my post and these comments I cannot let your declarations go unchallenged. So, I have a few questions for you.

    Do you believe in predestination in which some are created to go to hell and others to be saved?

    Do you think entire nations are predestine for Hell? And salvation?

    By saying that the works for one group (the sheep) get them into heaven but the works of the other group (the goats) is not what sends them to hell you are denying the parallel construction of this passage. Further more, if getting into heaven is not equated with salvation where do those who confess their faith but don’t do any good works after that point end up? In other words, if heaven is merely part of a reward that some but not all who are “saved” will enjoy where do the rest go?

    You seem to be saying that the effect of our sin is God’s wrath and salvation is being spared from that wrath. But you don’t explain what that looks like apart from heaven.

    You stated : “It seems you say that both groups are judged according to their works, and based on those works are either granted admission to or denied admission to the kingdom.” I did say this because the passage itself says this if, that is, it is to be taken as a doctrine of hell which is why I cannot take it as such.

    How do you come up with a predetermined salvation from this passage? The preposition “for” that comes before “I was hungry” clearly indicates a connection to the blessing and inheritance as being the reason the blessing was given. It is one thing to show how one portion of scripture lines up with another. It is quite a different thing to insert one portion of scripture into another part and by doing so change the intended meaning.

    You have assumed that every passage of scripture that mentions “the Kingdom” is referring to heaven yet you offer no support for this assumption. In your Matthew 19 example Jesus clearly indicates that he is not talking about heaven in the afterlife when he tells the rich man, “Go and sell your possessions and give to the poor”.

    By the way in your Matthew 1:21 who do you think “His people” are? I surmise those who first heard these words thought they referred to the Jews which lines up nicely with Romans 11:26 where scripture tells us all Israel will be saved.

    Why would Jesus be telling His listeners to be ready for His second coming when they don’t even understand His first coming yet? Many scholars agree that the Olivet Discourse (as Matthew 24 and 25 have come to be known) is primarily talking about the destruction of Jerusalem.

    If God hates the sinner why did God send His son while we were yet sinners to die?

    If God cannot destroy a man’s works and yet save the man explain 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

    Your pronouncements are full of wholes–especially if you want to take in all of scripture.

  16. […] do.  If you want to know my full views on hell you can check out the archives (here, here, here, here, here, and here), I will try not to repeat myself in this post but I do have a few thoughts that […]

  17. […] and March of 2008  I wrote several posts about the concept of hell.  You can find them here, here, here, and here.   In 2009, 2010, and 2011, I wrote other posts that encourage a loving God point […]


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