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Friday, May 5, 2017

Hell, Resurrection, Fire, & Eternity



I recently read a two part article by Josh de Keijer on the hellochristian.com site.  The first part was entitled “Six Reasons Why Hell Is Real” and the second part entitled “Six Reasons Why Hell Is Not Real”.  The literalness of a hellfire and the concept of universal reconciliation is interconnected.  If there is no hell, (i.e. the lake of fire), then universal reconciliation is entirely possible, otherwise lawbreakers will be sent to a fiery hell of eternal torment.

The Word of God, called the Bible, appears to explain most things that one might ponder, but the complete information of a subject is never in one location or one particular book. Sometimes it requires a massive knowledge of the entire Bible with the assistance of search engines to actually gather the information to answer a specific question. One may occasionally believe they have the answer to a certain problem, but another scripture passage will refute it.  Whether this is good or bad is questionable. There certainly must be a reason that the complete information needed to answer a question can be spread out over many sections of the Scriptures. It would be much easier, for the average person, if complete answers were available at one time and in one place, but that is not the case. Mr. de Keijer does not state which side of the fence he rests on but it can be surmised by his essay that he considers hell to be a real place and eternal torture in hellfire is a reality.

His Reasons for “Hell is Real”
His article claims that the New Testament talks about hell quite a bit. He first brings up Matthew chapter 5 where Jesus speaks of various sins with the consequences being the unlawful person’s “body will be cast into hell”. The problem that is often overlooked is one of translation.  The Greek word translated as hell in this passage is actually the word for “Gehenna”. The Valley of Gehenna was actually a garbage dump during both the first and second temples. In addition to garbage the carcasses of dead animals and dead criminals were also thrown into this dump. Prior to the Babylonian invasion, this was the place hosting the sacrifice of children.  A knowledge of Gehenna is a good beginning but the basis of the problem lies in another part of scripture.

Jeremiah 7:31 KJV  And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

There was supposedly a constant stench from the burning of the garbage and the maggots from the dead animals. Thus the comment “where the worm never dies” applies to this area.

More information can be found in Jeremiah 19 where the prophet states that Jerusalem and Judah will one day be destroyed and their bodies will be stacked in the Valley of Gehenna which was also a place called Topheth.  Jerusalem has been destroyed twice and always rebuilt as it is today, so this prophecy must ultimately apply to a future event.  It is most likely that Jesus was referring to this prophecy which many of his listeners may well have been aware of. It is most likely not referring to the hellfire abode of sinners upon death or a place of eternal punishment but to the prophetic end of all Judeans who did not desire to follow the kingdom of God.  At the time of this pronouncement, the audience of Jesus consisted of Judeans and not Christians. 
More information on Gehenna, Jerusalem, and the Clay Jar can be found at:   Desolation of Jerusalem  Jerusalem Destruction  Gehenna and Jerusalem

The next stated example is found in Matthew 7:13 where Jesus says “enter into the strait gate for wide and broad is the way that leads to destruction”. The author misapplies the word “hell” in place of the word “destruction” which is unfortunate.  The Greek word translated as destruction is apoleia which means perdition or ruin, either physically or spiritually. This phrase may allude to a fiery hell in some manner but it is doubtful as will be discussed later in this article.

The third and most controversial example is the story of Lazarus and the rich man, found in Luke 16:19-31. The author asserts there is no indication nor is it mentioned at any time this story is a parable and his claim may be a true statement.  Some commentators believe the story is a parable, although most parables have some connection to the Kingdom of God.  Others claim that Jesus used an example of a Jewish type of myth as the basic for the story.

This story, which he presumes is literal, has several problems.  The described place of captivity (or place of rest for the righteous) is a dimensional zone consisting of two areas.  One for the unlawful and the other called Abraham’s bosom which apparently holds the righteous dead.  This brings up the question, do the unlawful go to hell-fire immediately upon death and do the righteous go to Abraham’s bosom upon death? If the lake of fire, spoken of in the Revelation, is eternal hellfire, those placed in it are not resurrected for judgment until the end of the millennial period which will be discussed in The Resurrection section.  

Abraham’s bosom could be a place for the righteous to rest or sleep until the resurrection.  The Bible appears to teach that all the dead, whether righteous or unrighteous, and their souls sleep in some manner or form until a resurrection awakens them.  Since all are asleep in some fashion, do the unlawful have access to speak to Abraham or to any other soul? 

And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers…..    (2 Samuel 7:12 KJV)

So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.  (Job 14:12 KJV)

….Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2 Peter 3:4 KJV)

Another argument presented is “justice demands punishment for wrongdoings based on perceived theological reasons.  For example – there is so much wrongdoing in the world and so much evil that human beings perpetrate against God and fellow human beings that some people deserve to be punished i.e. Hitler, rapists, drug dealers, and those committing fraud. 

It appears the individuals with this particular mindset are positioning themselves as judge and jury in the place of the judgment of God.  It is also assuming that God has no way to counteract this unlawfulness.  This attitude also connects with the author’s final argument that “a Holy God cannot bear to co-exist with sin”.  Although “sin is sin”, one must admit that some acts of unlawfulness are considered worse, at least, to the human senses, than other types of sin and unlawfulness.

The Resurrections
There will be two resurrections.  The first one will occur just prior to the Feast of Tabernacles, according to Dr. Stephen Jones, and will be the elect overcomers which will include both the dead and living who agree with the laws and mind of God.  For additional information see:  Who is an Overcomer

Quote from Stephen Jones:  An Overcomer is primarily a forgiver; one who lives the principle of the Jubilee. He has allowed the work of Passover (the Cross) and the work of Pentecost (the law written on one’s heart) to do their work. An Overcomer is one who is growing up into Christ, one who is coming into a state of maturity in Him. An Overcomer is putting on His Father’s mind and is coming to agree with what God does in the earth and how He accomplishes those goals. He is learning to say “Amen” to all that God does, bearing witness to Him in all things, and not disagreeing with Him. An Overcomer is one who is coming to understand the Father and His ways.

As stated by Paul, only those in Christ will be resurrected:  “and the dead in Christ shall rise first”.  First the dead and then the living (who are in Christ).

1 Thessalonians 4:16 KJV  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

The second resurrection takes place at the end of the Millennial Kingdom or the end of the thousand years of the reign of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 20:5 KJV  But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.
Revelation 20:12 KJV  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

The “rest of the dead” will include the following groups: the nominal righteous; the completely unrighteous; everyone in between; and the exponential millions of people from the beginning of time who never heard of Jesus Christ, the Lord God of Heaven, or anything pertaining to scripture and the laws of God. 

This second resurrection is called the White Throne Judgment.  The laws of God pertaining to the wrongdoer’s unlawful liability and repayment and recompense to the victims of wrongdoing will be weighed and evaluated with punishment meted out in accordance with these laws.  The book of life will be opened for the nominal righteous to be judged and the books of the laws of God for the remainder of the resurrected who will be judged according to their works.  A more comprehensive explanation can be found at this linkGod, Law, & Fire

Luke 12:47-48 KJV  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.  (48)  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.

The Fire of God
Is the fire of God a literal combustion of some type or is it something entirely different?  God appeared to Moses as a burning bush but the “bush was not consumed”.  God led the Israelites through the desert as “a pillar of fire”, but no one is recorded as having to stand back due to the excessive heat.  God appeared to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai as a “devouring fire” but Moses was able to get near with no report of heat.  The Israelites were invited to hear the word of God as a devouring fire but they were fearful and refused the invitation.

Exodus 3:2 KJV  And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

Exodus 13:21 KJV  And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:

Exodus 24:17 KJV  And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

Deuteronomy 4:11-12 KJV  And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.  (12)  And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.

Deuteronomy 5:5 KJV  (I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;)

The Lord God is described as “a consuming fire” or “even a jealous God”.

Deuteronomy 4:24 KJV  For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

The tongue of God is described as a “devouring fire”.  There are many more examples that could be presented.

Isaiah 30:27 KJV  Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:

Daniel receives a vision of the throne of God.  It states “His throne was like (added) the fiery flame, and His wheels as (added) burning fire”.  “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him.”

Daniel 7:9-10 KJV  I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.  (10)  A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: …..

Did Daniel actual see a literal throne of fire, with wheels of fire, and the stream of fire pouring forth, or is this metaphorical language?  Daniel most likely envisioned the same metaphoric fire flowing from God’s throne as the apostle John envisioned as a lake filled with the fire of God.

The Lake of Fire
The lake of Fire is another display or type of the fire of God.  Some refuse to understand or even listen to an argument that it is not a place of eternal punishment.  Rather, it represents, or is metaphorical, of the judgment and divine justice of God.  The unlawful  will be “sold as a slave”, so to speak, to a glorified overcomer where they will be taught and nurtured in the laws and ways of God.  The length of servitude will most likely depend on the crime(s) committed or the mental attitude (perdition) of the unjust.

Taken from The Lake of Fire   
The recorded words of Jesus in John 5:29 refer to the second resurrection where the sheep and goats are separated.  Those unrighteous individuals who have done evil (i.e. foul or wicked deeds) will go to judgment, condemnation, or punishment for a period of time until they learn that Jesus is the King of the Kingdom and the Lord of salvation.  They will not be raised to immortal life but rather to a judgmental learning process.

John 5:29 KJV  And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil (foul; wicked) , unto the resurrection of damnation (judgment; condemnation; punishment).

Thayer Definition:  krisis  translated as “damnation”
1) a separating, sundering, separation
1a) a trial, contest
2) selection
3) judgment
3a) opinion or decision given concerning anything
3a1) especially concerning justice and injustice, right or wrong
3b) sentence of condemnation, damnatory judgment, condemnation and punishment

On the other hand (which is not a reference to the title of a Country song) it has been surmised there actually may be a fiery hell type of punishment for some categories of perdition criminals such as Satan, the sea beast, the false prophet, Hitler, and murderers.  They may have to undergo the terror, humiliation, and torture that was afflicted on their victims until they truly repent of their past deeds prior to the beginning of their teaching concerning the law begins.  In the Old Covenant laws, murderers, rapists, and terror mongers (any others) were to be executed so that God could deal with them in His own manner, at a later time (later for us humans, anyway).  Therefore it is possible a hell of fire may exist in the future to deal with some types of unlawfulness, but not every person who is not considered to be “saved” (i.e. an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth).  This could also provide evidence of the hell presented in the rich man and Lazarus story.  The above statement is just a thought and not necessarily a fact.

Universal Reconciliation
Universal reconciliation means that all (i.e. every living person ever born or aborted), will eventually be redeemed, understand the laws and ways of God, and desire to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God, even Adolph Hitler and Charles Manson.  Some speculate the time of servitude or teaching may last a thousand years or thousands of years.  It has even been postulated that a Jubilee of all Jubilees will occur at the end of fifty thousand years.

The overcomers, of the first resurrection, will have glorified bodies and a full anointing of the Holy Spirit rather than just a token of the Spirit as some have received in the past and present.  They will have positions consisting of teachers, priests, and sub-rulers under the authority of Jesus Christ.  They will eventually operate the world system for a thousand years.  Daniel chapter 2 describes the Kingdom as a stone make without hands striking the feet of the Beast Kingdom statue and spreading over the face of the earth, perhaps in a steady pattern.

Every knee will bow.  This does not mean they will bow and then be thrown into the fiery pit of some hell for eternity.  It means they will bow because they come to agree with the laws and the mind of God.

Thayer Definition:  pas  translated as “every”
1) individually 1a) each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything

Romans 14:11 KJV  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every (pas) knee shall bow to me, and every (pas) tongue shall confess to God.

Paul is quoting Isaiah 45:23.  The quote also appears in Phillipians 2:10.

The word “all” signifies every individual person without any exceptions.

There are a host of questions which remain scripturally unanswered concerning the aftereffects of resurrection:  i.e. is there corrective punishment after the judgment?  If so, what method is employed? ; are people given stripes as the Old Testament law designates? ; what is the time length of punishment?

 It can even be said that the majority of the content written above is misunderstood by me or even completely wrong.  It is much easier to debunk another person's doctrine than strengthen one’s own concepts.

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