Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The fiery furnace

"Alaska Birch" by Theresa Gomes

We are friends with an ambitious family who produces and sells birch syrup. They tap birch trees all over interior Alaska and boil it down into a delicious brown syrup. Imagine this: it takes 100 gallons of birch sap to make 1 gallon of birch syrup! To help this process, they purchased an impressive evaporator machine that is fueled by a firebox. 

This firebox is chilling - you could fit a person in there. They have affectionately named it "the fiery furnace" as sometimes the heat is so severe that you have to shield your face to feed it more wood.

Naturally, I couldn't help but think about hell as I gazed into the fire.

And my thoughts went something like this: "Look at those burning coals. What if I put my hand in there? What kind of pain would that produce? What if I was stuffed in there and the door shut? Who could imagine the agony experienced until the moment of death. But, what if I didn't die? What if I was unable to die and was kept alive and conscious to experience the fiery, excruciating pain? There are people who believe this. Some Christians actually believe this is what will happen to certain sinners. They believe that God Himself will keep people alive with the purpose of tormenting them - not even for a long time, but forever. Who could believe that? Who could truly believe that without going insane? To believe Jesus would do that would drive a believer mad. The Jesus I know would not do that!!!"

The only way a person could remain consciously tormented for an eternity (ETERNITY, folks) would be if God Himself chose, and continued to choose, to make them alive and unable to die to the suffering, which traditionalists purport will be unending.

Yes, Jesus will make an end of sin - but not by the means of torture. Jesus will make all things new. His plan is to get rid of evil! No more sin, no more death, no more sickness and pain - no more wicked. Destruction in the lake of fire fits perfectly with God's plan. It is just while merciful. The wages of sin is death, while the gift of eternal life is given to the redeemed. Destruction in the lake of fire is eternal - there is no coming back - it is indeed a final punishment.

I will never be able to gaze at hot coals again without thinking on these things. It's true, the thoughts are emotional, but then again God gave us the ability to think and emote. Perhaps if we all took a few minutes to consider our doctrine, a closer look would be called for.

So, take a moment. Look closer at the fiery furnace. What do you see?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

"Through me the message might be fully proclaimed"

Paul is one of our most valuable teachers in the Bible. He declares, "I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ" (Romans 13:19) and "...the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed..." (2 Tim. 4:17).

In this day, Bible teacher Dirk Waren compiled a comprehensive list of instances in Paul's teachings where he expounds on judgment and punishment. I found this list compelling - it reveals that the traditionalist idea of eternal torment is absent. The point is, of course, that if eternal conscious suffering was a future reality Paul would have boldly proclaimed that, as well.


"Paul fully proclaimed the whole counsel of God by plainly declaring:

That those who live a lifestyle of unrepentant sin “deserve death” — Romans 1:32

That “all who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law” — Romans 2:12

That sin “leads to death” — Romans 6:16

That sin “results in death” — Romans 6:21

That “the wages of sin is death” — Romans 6:23

That those who live according to the sinful nature “will die” — Romans 8:13

That the gospel is foolishness “to those who are perishing” — 1 Corinthians 1:18

That “in Adam all die” — 1 Corinthians 15:22

That those who preach the gospel are “the smell of death” “to those who are perishing” — 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

That the Old Testament law “kills” and ultimately brings “death” — 2 Corinthians 3:6-7

That the gospel is “veiled to those who are perishing” — 2 Corinthians 4:3

That those who please the sinful nature “from that nature will reap destruction” – Galatians 6:8

That “they will be destroyed” — Philippians 1:28

That “their destiny is destruction” — Philippians 3:19

That “they will be punished with everlasting destruction” — 2 Thessalonians 1:9

That they “are perishing” — 2 Thessalonians 2:10

That “they perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” — 2 Thessalonians 2:10

That “Christ Jesus… has destroyed death” — 2 Timothy 1:10

We can add these four if Paul was the writer of Hebrews:

That they are like worthless land that will “in the end… be burned” — Hebrews 6:8

That sins are “acts that lead to death” — Hebrews 9:14

That raging fire “will consume the enemies of God” — Hebrews 10:27

That those who “shrink back” in unbelief will be “destroyed” — Hebrews 10:39

"In various ways with various words Paul was sure to repeatedly declare precisely what would happen to those who foolishly reject the gospel. He was sure to do this because God appointed him to fully proclaim the whole counsel of God. Paul didn’t hide any aspect of the truth — including the awful truth that those who reject Christ will be utterly destroyed by the raging, consuming fire of the Lord. If words have any meaning at all then this is what we must conclude."

"Allow me to add that if Jesus supposedly preached eternal torture, as many contend, then Paul would have certainly backed it up. Yet Paul taught no such thing because Jesus taught no such thing, not to mention the Bible they taught from — what we now know as the Old Testament — teaches no such thing."

To see the full study:
The_Apostle_Paul_Proclaimed_The_Whole_Will_of_God by Dirk Waren

Recommended Reading: Hell Know! by Dirk Waren