In the 1940s, the human race hailed the philosophical achievement of eugenics.
In the united states, people were routinely sterilized if they had birth defects, in an attempt to create a race free from disease. Many atrocities were performed, but none took Darwinism more to its conclusion than Adolf Hitler. He is often thought of as the epitome of evil… The worst of the worst, yet, even though he killed millions of Jews, and countless others, his methods for the Jews in particular, we’re oddly humane (not all of his methods, but a lot). He would march the people into a gas chamber, having them think they were going for a shower, and gassed them all.
Sure this was killing, and horrible in anyone’s language…
But let’s look at the Catholic Church. In the 1260 years from 538 AD the Catholic Church, using some of the most horrendous torture methods that were ever invented, persecuted and killed over 100 million people.
But their inspiration was even worse. Their belief is, the being they worship, is currently torturing for eternity billions and billions of people, for the sole reason that they did not love him, or weren’t intellectually convinced of him, or maybe they just liked sin more than him.
Is it any wonder there are atheists? What I will show now, is: the God that came to die for us is not the unjust psychopath presented here, he is just and loving.
It is my purpose to vindicate God from this horrible slander that his professed church has leveled against him.
But there is the annialationism approach taught, that is equally slander. Justice requires punishment for transgression of the law.
Let’s find out from the bible what actually happens to the wicked:
When Does Hell start?
In the bible there are many different references to Hell in which it cannot be disputed, the wicked will gain a punishment. They will not get a one size fits all, torture chamber, rather they will be punished according to their works:
Revelation 18:5-6 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
So clearly someone who is a false teacher, or Hitler, will have far greater works to be punished for, than some hedonistic teenager who dies in a car accident. They will be judged according to their works.
And 2. people are in hell before they are judged!
So is the. Punishment immediate?
So what then? Are their different stages of Hell as per Catholic doctrine. No.
We will now clarify the final punishment of the wicked, so everyone is clear about where people go after the punishment.
Obadiah 1:15-16 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.
For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.
And This one:
Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
2 Thessalonians 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
So what is everlasting? The destruction.
Luke 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
The chaff (the wicked) will be burned like chaff. If anyone has seen a fire on a wheat field, there are two things that stand out. 1. The fire is impossible to put out and 2. There is absolutely nothing left of the chaff.
Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, 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, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
Again a reference to stubble, which burns rapidly and intensely and then becomes smoke, and becomes a part of the atmosphere. Which brings to the next text that is commonly used to prove hell is a place of everlasting torment.
Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
To understand this text we must break it up into two parts.
1. The smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever
What does this mean? To fully understand this, we need to understand the line up of prophecy… which is likely where most people go wrong. With out a proper understanding of prophecy, this is a perplexing text even to people who don’t believe hell is biblical (based on the above texts).
First we will start at Isaiah 65
Isa 65:19-22 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
Wait… does this mean there is death in heaven?
Clearly not. So what is happening here?
Revelation 20:1-3 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
Revelation 20:7-9 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
So Satan is in the “bottomless pit” for 1000 years, but where are the saints at this time?
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
So after the 1000 years Satan goes to deceive the nations. But aren’t they dead already? The key is the next verse:
Revelation 20:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.
So the wicked are raised after the 1000 years, and Satan is loosed to deceive them for a “little season”. But how long is a little season?
A normal season on earth is 90 days according to the biblical understanding of a year which is 360 days. 360 divide by 4 = 90.
So a little season is less than 90 days. Prophetically 1 day = 1 year (if you don’t agree with this, bear with me, I will do up a study on this also).
Now if we return to Isaiah 65 it says “for the child shall die an hundred years old”
How old is a child? A child is between 8-12 years old according to a biblical understanding (before that is an infant, after that it is a man). So if the child shall die at 100 years old, what killed them?
Revelation 20:9 … and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
So the time these Children were alive is between 100-8 and 100-12 years which is between 88 and 92 years. Which correlates with the “little season” talked about in Revelation 20.
So in summary. When Christ returns the first time, the believers are resurrected, and are taken up to meet Christ in the clouds. These are with Christ in heaven for 1000 years (be it literal or day for year, it isn’t particularly relevant, as it is a very long time). During this time, Satan is bound on earth. After the 1000 years is up, the wicked are raised, and Satan is loosed to deceive them into taking the New Jerusalem, which is lowered after the 1000 years:
So what does this have to do with hell?
Well, the wicked people are tormented day and night for a long period of time (around 90 years), and the smoke of their torment (the smoke not the torment itself) goes up forever and ever. And then
Revelation 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
When you devour your food, does it remain? The molecules do sure, but the food itself is gone. This is when the torment ceases and the death and hell are cast into the lake of fire. And what does fire do? It consumes them up, and they cease to exist.
So I’m guessing you are beginning to see that there is more to this hell question than just a few misunderstood words.
So far hell can’t be everlasting torment because:
1. The dead know nothing
2. The wicked will be as though they had never been
3. The wicked are often called “chaff” or “straw” which burns up completely.
4. All mentions of the wicked being tormented are accounted for by the 90 years after the 1000 years mentioned in revelation. Even if you don’t accept the 90 years, clearly there is a “little season” or period of time where the wicked are deceived.
The Different Words Translated Hell?
In the old testament, there is only one word translated hell:
From H7592; hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranian retreat), including its accessories and inmates: – grave, hell, pit.
Psalms 16:10-11 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
So, David is saying that God is going to send him to hell, but he won’t leave him there.
Proverbs 9:18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.
The Dead are guests in hell. If you move into a house that you own, are you a guest? What if you were to rent a place, are you a guest? No you are a resident. If hell was a place where people were burned continually, then wouldn’t it say, her “permanent residents” or simply “residents” are in the depths of hell.
So What about New Testament words for hell:
Of Hebrew origin ([H1516] and [H2011]); valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment: – hell.
Mark 9:44-46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Isaiah 66:22-24 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 carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
This is again talking about the time after the 1000 years when the wicked are still alive, before they are destroyed. There are also a number of texts using this word, that are just meaning the grave or the place were they dump the bodies in Jerusalem called “Gehenna”.
From G1 (as a negative particle) and G1492; properly unseen, that is, “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls: – grave, hell.
The translation of this word is clear. It simply means the grave.
From Τάρταρος Tartaros̄ (the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment: – cast down to hell.
2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
So where are the angels actually held?
Psalms 78:47-49 He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost. He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.
He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.
Mat 8:29-32 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
So where is hell then? If the evil angels are in “tarturous” or “the deep abyss”, and they are actually on earth… what does that mean about this word translated hell? It means the earth. The earth is also where satan is also said to be bound for 1000 years.
So what are the consequences of this belief system?
Many Christians say that if their wasn’t hell, then people would have no reason to turn from sin. To this I say, God knows better than anyone that a carrot leading a donkey is better than a cattle prod. Fear creates robots. If God wanted to instill fear in his believers, he would simply wipe out Satan and the fallen angels, without ever wasting his time trying to fix the problem in heaven. Then the angels would truly fear him, and he would never be questioned. However, he would never be loved either, and God is love, so that would not be something he would desire.
Besides that, for whatever human reason with think hell is great, the bible does not teach the “worse than Hitler God that so many Christian’s love. And praise the Lord for that.
So who will live in everlasting fire? Would is surprise you to know it is the good, not the wicked:
Isaiah 33:14-15 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
So where did the common understanding of hell come from?
The same place the Sunday Sabbath came from. The pagan cults in the time of Constantine, which previously got it from the Egyptian concept of “the underworld”.
But where did they get it from. One place:
Gen 3:4-6 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
The claim of most Christian churches is, that we will not die, we will infact live for ever, regardless of which road we choose:
2 Timothy 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
And what is the penalty for sin? “immortality”? No, clearly not:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There is one last thing that is often over looked.
For that matter, how do the just receive immortality? The same way Adam and Eve did:
Genesis 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
So why was God so protective of the tree of life once Adam and Eve sinned?
Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
So if the just need the tree of life to live forever… then what is sustaining the wicked in hell? Absolutely nothing, because after the 90 years, hell ceases to exist. It is swallowed up:
1 Corinthians 15:53-58 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
So next time an Atheist ask you “how can a loving God torment people forever and ever in hell”, your answer can be “he doesn’t”. A brother in our church is here in part because of that answer.
For more study on this topic (to clarify the concept of everlasting burning):
2012-06-02- Paul Godfrey – Hell Fire – mp3 – youtube (full sermon)
Paul Godfrey – Everlasting Fire – youtube (10 minute video)