Monday, October 13, 2014

See whether these things are so

The teaching of eternal torment in hell has been a subject that has burdened me throughout my Christian walk. Other biblical questions were slowly answered through the years concerning various aspects of Christian life and teachings. However, this one topic... one year, five years, ten years... it would not be settled.

I was diligent to speak to the wise and learned Christians that I thought could shed light on the difficult subject. I would be pacified for a time, but the explanations did not satisfy the heart of the matter. Does God really intend to torment (with unspeakable pain) masses of His 'fearfully and wonderfully made" created beings for ever and ever without end? I mean, really - without EVER stopping the apparent physical and mental torment and pain?

I considered it from every possible biblical position. It was unbelievable. I could not believe it.

It is not that I wanted to get rid of judgment. Judgment was clearly taught in the Bible, along with God's wrath. However, was a life (as fleeting as a puff of smoke) full of sin and rebellion on earth to end in a 'life' of eternal suffering?

If you are conscious and feeling pain then you are experiencing a 'life' of some kind - it just happens to be a nightmarish existence. However, I thought the Bible said that sin leads to death! (And only the blood of Jesus and the saving grace of the Father would allow us to escape that sentence.)

When I studied through the Bible about this subject, I was astounded. There are SO many verses about final punishment. Most describe the end of the wicked as 'death', 'destruction' or 'perishing'. (That is New Testament as well as Old) My prayers for some understanding were being answered!

Naturally, I wanted to share my study and the very clear teachings from the Scriptures about final punishment and what we call 'hell'. My husband listened and responded with great interest; he concurred that indeed the Bible taught something different than the church has been teaching. I was encouraged to continue to share. I fully expected to be sharing with 'Bereans' - those who were eager to search the Scriptures to see if these things were so.

"Now these [Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so."  Acts 17:11

My point with the above Scripture is to focus on the attitude to search out a matter to see if it is true. I am not implying that I am bringing a word as the Apostle Paul did. However, I am convinced that the doctrine I understand from Scripture is the same as what Paul believed and taught. Search his teachings and see if you find him teaching eternal conscious torment anywhere. [See "We all trust Paul"] Please let me know if you search and find something!

Many comment that Revelation says that Satan will be tormented day and night forever, and that is the end of their search. Throw in Lazarus and the Rich Man plus the worms and the case is closed. I say, make a thorough search and exhaust the whole of God's word. You will find more. [For springboards for study, see "The Adversaries", "The Parable about Hell - or not" and "The Worm that Never dies".]

Consider those that were so convinced that Jesus was not the Messiah (the "Prophet"). They had a verse or two from their Scriptures that proved Jesus was not their Man. When the people were arguing over whether he was the Christ, the Pharisees defended their rejection of Him with their 'biblical' proof:

“Search [the Scriptures], and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.”  John 7:52

They were technically correct (that He was from Galilee) but missed all the other Scripture about Jesus and failed to recognize His authority. They were also missing the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They were 'right' in the detail but wrong in their conclusions. Sincerely wrong.

Let us be Bereans in our search for truth. When we meet a teaching, let it be scrutinized by Scripture. 

And see whether these things be so.

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I understand this is a difficult subject and there are different views from folks who all value God's inspired word. I value your feedback, corrections and questions. Please leave a comment!