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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Some to Eternal Life and others to Eternal Death?

Bill wrote:

Oh my Brother or sister in Christ!! 

Matthew 32: 41-46
41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Matthew 3:12: His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Unquenchable by definition: Impossible to suppress or destroyTranslation: Goes on and on and on and on and on.  Humm.  That sounds eternal to me. It is pointless to make known an unquenchable fire unless the being to which it is being communicated to is present to experience it). 

Colossians 1:13: For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.  (Dominion of darkness meaning opposite of the Kingdom of light.  A physical place of darkness for those that have rejected the savior. )

Matthew 13: 40:  As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Again a physical place where we will gnash our teeth and weep.  One has to be raised from the dead unto eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth doesn't he?)

Shall I go on?  I have to go to work now, but would be delighted to research and debate this with you further. Regardless as a Brother or sister in Christ, my love for you is UN yielding. Please preach this heresy no longer that we as living souls that have not tasted the justifying blood of Christ will not see a resurrection.  Both justified and non justified will be raised on the last day.  Some to eternal life and others to eternal death.

Dear Bill,
God Bless your beautiful heart and thank you for writing.  We have many folks write us on this subject as it is very important and many quote the same Scriptures as you trying to prove the point of everlasting punishment. The Scriptures actually teach a different doctrine.  Let's consider for a moment what God says about our mutual enemy the devil and his ultimate fate in:

Eze 28:13  Thou hast been in Eden th= e garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Eze 28:14  Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so : thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Eze 28:15  Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
Eze 28:16  By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
Eze 28:17  Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
Eze 28:18  Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
Eze 28:19  All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.

If God holds true to his promise (and He always does) the wicked one "never shalt thou be any more" then why would we believ= e or want to believe that mere mortals would suffer for eternity?  Even in the first verse you quote it says "eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" so this was intended for the devil and his angels but was expanded for a certain group of the sons of Adam that sin in a specific way.  But let us examine first this word "eternal".

Eternal and Forever

An examination of the words thus translated in A.V, and R.V.

The following expressions which so often occur, viz., "everlasting," "for ever," etc.  In the great majority of cases the word thus translated is the Greek word aion, or the Hebrew olam. The A.V. has rendered the word aion by the words "world," "course," "age," "eternal," and in conjunction with the prepositions apo (from), ek (out of), and eis (into), it gives "since the world began," "from the beginning of the world," "for ever," "for evermore," "for ever and ever," "while the earth standeth," "world without end"; while the adjective aionios is rendered "eternal" and "everlasting."

If we have no theology to uphold, and if we count the judgment of man as a "very small thing," it is possible that we may venture to wonder how it comes about that one word can be translated "since the world began," and also "world without end"; or again, how the word can be rendered "world" (which certainly had a beginning), and at the same time mean "for ever" and "eternal." It has been forced upon us that in all these diverse renderings we have had a good percentage of man's ideas instead of accurate and unflinching translation.

Our space is too limited to give many examples, but we draw attention to a few. In Matt. xxiv. 3 we read of "the end of the world."  This clearly shows that the word aion, translated "world," may have an end.  We turn to the very next chapter and find that the word aion, when it becomes an adjective, aionios, is translated by the words "eternal" and "everlasting," words which admittedly allow of no end (Matt. xxv. 46).  One thing seems evident, that a true rendering is not found here.  Again, there are three important passages where the word aionios is found with the word chronos (time), viz., Rom. xvi. 25; 2 Tim. i. 9, and Titus i. 2.  The A.V. translates thus, "since the world began," and "before the world began," while the R.V., going to the other extreme, renders the words, "through times eternal," and "before times eternal."  What can we make of a word which can mean a limited period and eternity?

There is no doubt whatever but that the word aion means "an age," and therefore to interpret it as "for ever" is not a translation, but a human comment, which may be wrong.  If the Translators had rendered the word "age-times" instead of "times eternal"; "this age" instead of "this world"; "unto the ages" instead of "for ever," it would have been consistent, and would have allowed each passage to speak for itself, instead of saying just what traditional prejudice would make it say.

The mistranslation of the word aion is but another of the many evidences of man's foolish pride.  Man looks forward into the future, or backward into the past.  Age upon age stretch away on either side, and seeing no end, and being unable to conceive of one, he calls the space which exceeds his tiny perspective eternity whereas to Him who sitteth in the heavens it is but one link in the vast chain of the ages wherein He deals with men, angels, and the universe.   We may learn the meaning of the Greek word aion by finding out the Hebrew equivalent.  The Septuagint Version uses the word aion to translate the Hebrew word olam.  Through the careful study of another laborer in the Word we are enabled to give the following list of passages where the Hebrew word olam occurs.  First we consider the words me olam, as translated in the A.V.:

USED OF GOD.
"Ever of old" (Psa. xxv. 6)

"from everlasting" (Psa. xli. 13)

"from everlasting" (Psa. xc. 2)

"from everlasting" (Psa. xciii. 2)

"from everlasting" (Psa. ciii. 17)

"from everlasting" (Isa. lxiii. 16)

USED OF MAN.
"Of old" (Gen. vi. 4)

"In old time" (Josh. xxiv. 2)

"Of old" (1 Sam. xxvii. 8)

"Of old" (Psa. cxix. 52)

"long time" (Isa. xlii. 14)

"Since the beginning of the world" (Isa. lxiv. 4)

These are but a few of the passages, but they are enough to help us to see the fitness of the remark that "there is a startling inconsistency here."  When applied to God it is always "for ever," or "everlasting," but when applied to man it is never so rendered.  Why?  Because in no case will the sense bear it.  Man and his history do not stretch back to a dateless past eternity.  No nation, no prophet has been "from everlasting."   If a translator would be guilty of tampering with the prerogatives of God should he render me olam "from everlasting" when referring to the past of man, why should he be labeled a heretic because he questions, equally, the propriety of using the word olam to mean eternity when applied to the future of man?   The case of the past is by the nature of things impossible; the future lies before us, and man has ventured his own opinion, tacked it on to the Word of God, and usurping the solemn authority of that Holy Word has swayed the minds, influenced the faith, and stifled the consciences of thousands.   How many have been embittered by that dread whisper "non-eternity"?

Let us look at some of the uses of the word olam: "If the servant shall say .... I will not go out free .... he shall serve him for ever" (Exod. xxi. 5, 6).  Of the same class of Hebrew servant we read in Lev. xxv. 40, "He shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee" (when his service ends and he is free to go out not merely alone, but with his wife and children). Hannah, speaking to Samuel, says, "I will bring him that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever" (1 Sam. i. 22).  In verse 11 she interprets these words thus, "I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life."  There is no room for an "until" in our words "for ever," yet in Isa. xxxii. 14, 15 we read, "The forts and towers shall be for dens for ever .... until the Spirit be poured upon us."  Here the for ever has an end, yet if we dare to suggest that it may be so elsewhere, what a shaking of heads and holy indignation we arouse! Scripture never contradicts itself.  If our renderings make inconsistencies, let us alter our renderings a thousand times, but let us not tamper with the Scriptures of truth.

Rev. xxi. 22 tells us of a future period when there shall be no temple, yet the A.V. teaches that both the temple, priesthood, and sacrifices were to be for ever (see Ezek. xxxvii. 26; Exod. xl. 15, and Numb. xviii. 8).   We have not finished yet.   The word olam is followed many times by the word va ed. The word ed is rendered " till," " to," " unto," " yet," &c., e.g.

"Till thou return unto the ground" (Gen. iii. 19).

"Since that time even until now" (Ezra v. 16, &c.).

Va is the Hebrew equivalent for "and."  Thus, if we retain the A.V. rendering, the words ie olam va ed would mean "for ever and still," "for ever and yet further".   That the Hebrew does contain some idea of a period beyond that covered by olam is clear, for the Hebrew Translators of the Septuagint render the words ton aiona kai ep aiona kai eti (Exod. xv. 18), which literally translated is, "the age, and upon the age, and still".   Fifty-one times the A.V. translates eti by the word "yet," besides "further," "any longer," and "still."  Surely these facts should make us stop and reconsider this tremendous subject.  There is a further consideration which throws its weight against the idea that aion or olam mean eternity, and that is that aion is frequently found in the plural and the Genitive case.  If the singular can mean "for ever," what can the plural mean?  (we cannot speak of "for evers" we never shall arrive at the end of eternity, let alone start another).   If we keep to the rendering "age" all is clear.  We can then have the expressions "unto the age," "unto the ages," and "unto the ages of the ages" without any interference with the divine words, but "eternities of eternities " is absurd.

The root idea of the word olam is something secret or hidden (see Psalm xc. 8, "secret sins "; Eccles. xii. 14, "secret thing").  Because the period is hidden or secret, is undefined or unrevealed, man in his arrogance has jumped to the conclusion that because he cannot see the end, therefore there is none, forgetting that he has limited knowledge and exceedingly limited vision.  Olam and aion signify a period of time whose end is undefined, or which is hidden from man but which is by no means "everlasting," for instances such as the Aaronic priesthood, &c., have been given of such periods coming to an end, which were "for ever" according to the A.V.  Added to this we have the twenty passages which speak of "unto the age of undefined limits and yet further" translated "for ever and ever" by the English, in spite of both Hebrew and Greek.

Let none imagine that the eternal life of the believer is by any means weakened by these facts.  This glorious truth is unquestionably settled by such emphatic words as "incorruptible," "immortal," and by the words, "Because I live, ye shall live also," and " Your life is hid with Christ in God". Let us believe and love the truth, and the truth will make us free; free from the shackles of the traditions of the elders which make void the Word of God, free from the nightmare of Christendom; free from the clogs of error to proclaim "Life to the dead" in the gospel of the glory of Christ.


The Wages of Sin

We sought to exhibit the meaning of the words commonly translated "for ever" and "eternal" in our A.V., and this naturally leads us on to a consideration of the nature of the punishment of the unsaved.   It is held by many that "eternal conscious suffering" is a fundamental, and many have been put out of meetings for being what is called "non-eternity" men.   A most important reason why we should be convinced of this matter is the awful libel it must be on the name of God should it turn out to be untrue.

If we have taught that God will punish the unsaved throughout the never-ending ages of eternity, that after millions of years spent in writhing and cursing, the God of righteous judgment has only just commenced the dreadful work of punishment on these unhappy creatures, and finally it should prove to be but the tradition of men, what a shameful calumny will be found in our mouths against the God of all grace!  If eternal conscious suffering is God's truth, we can never hold our peace, but must use every possible means to bring before our hearers the horrible doom that awaits the impenitent.

Our minds cannot conceive what eternal torment can mean.  Orthodoxy has no room in its dreadful creed for the exercise of the slightest pity.  The foul murderer and the simplest child, the ignorant and the debased, all alike are heaped into its horrid "Hell"; all alike are to be placed upon the rack for ever.  We shudder when we gaze upon the instruments of cruelty of bygone days, but they are nothing, absolutely nothing, when compared to the exquisite tortures reserved by the orthodox believers' God for all the unsaved.  It makes one sicken to think of these things; its effect upon those who really believe it may be gathered from such a statement made by Queen Mary years ago:

"As the souls of heretics are hereafter to be eternally burning in Hell, there can be nothing more proper than for me to imitate the divine vengeance by burning them on earth" (Bishop Burnett).

Of course, she ignored the words, "vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord," but nevertheless her creed compelled her deed.   Dr. Pettingell quotes from Hopkins' Works, Vol. II., and gives the following comment upon the "smoke of their torment ":

"This display of the divine character and glory will be most entertaining, and give the highest pleasure to those who love God, and raise their happiness to ineffable heights."

Of course, if this is what God will do, His saints must of necessity rejoice therein.  He further says that should this fearful scene of torment and unutterable agony

"cease, and this fire be extinguished, it would in a great measure obscure the light of heaven, and put an end to a great part of the happiness and glory of the blessed!"

Oh, Lord, is this true?  Our hearts cry out, shall we be so changed that we shall, unmoved, witness this writhing, suffering mass, nay, witness the tortures of some of our own dear ones with calm enjoyment, giving glory to God, can it be?  Is this the truth of God?  We have not overstated the conceptions of Hell that have been expressed by some of our leading evangelical preachers.  Who among us has not at some time or another read with profit the Works of Dr. Jonathan Edwards, yet he is quoted in a pamphlet before us as saying :-

"Imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven or a great furnace . . . Imagine also that your body were to be there for a quarter of an hour, full of fire, and all the while full of quick sense, what horror would you feel at the endurance of such a furnace, and how long would that quarter of an hour seem to you.  O, how then would your heart sink if you knew that you must bear it for ever and ever; that there would be no end, that after millions and millions of ages your torment would be no nearer to an end, and that you never, never should be delivered."

Some one may say, Why fill your pages with such revolting things?  Because, dear one, we are going to face the truth, to shut our eyes to nothing, and if eternal conscious suffering is truth, we desire to receive it in all its horror, and all its despair.  Confident are we that were we to fill ten thousand pages with the most harrowing descriptions that the human mind could conceive, it would be as nothing in comparison to the dreadful reality of eternal conscious suffering.

What saith the Scriptures concerning this subject?  Certain it is that we read the words, "everlasting punishment."  Let us consider this passage, it is found in Matt. xxv. 46, "And these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."  We have quoted from the R.V. because it gives the word eternal in both instances.  We are often reminded that the duration of the punishment must be the same as the duration of the life mentioned in the same verse, and to this, of course, we most heartily agree.  We know of a Mission where the solemn words were exhibited in large characters, "Everlasting Punishment."  This method of treating Scripture is to say the least unfair; let us have the whole truth.  If the everlasting punishment of Matt. xxv. is truth for the present time, so also is the everlasting life of Matt. xxv., and upon the terms of Matt. xxv., without any man-made alteration.  Who are they that receive everlasting life here, and who everlasting punishment?

"When the Son of man shall come in His glory . . . then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations."

The whole passage relates to the judgment of the nations who are on the earth at the end of the period covered by the great tribulation.  The gospel of the grace of God is not in view; the kingdom and eternal life are the portion of those who gave meat and drink, clothing and consolation to the brethren of the King.  Let us then be consistent; let those who apply the everlasting punishment of Matt. xxv. preach everlasting life upon the conditions laid down in that chapter.  If they cannot, where is their warrant for thus picking and choosing in this vital matter?  Who told them that the method of punishment mentioned here is to be indiscriminately applied to old and young, moral and immoral, skeptic and heathen, during all time and under all circumstances?  The whole thing is a piece of unwarrantable and mischievous mutilation of Scripture at the dictation of the needs of their own horrible traditions.  The very ones who emphasize the eternal punishment of Matt. xxv. are among the first to condemn a gospel of works, and yet such are the terms for obtaining eternal life in the self-same chapter.  Are not such guilty of partiality?

We have not finished with this passage, however; let us thrash the matter out.  What is this word "punishment"?  Does the word mean "torment," "torture," "suffering"?  Yes, say some, all this and more.  The word translated "punishment" is kolasis, defined as "restraint" in Dr. Young's Analytical Concordance, and means literally "cutting off," as in the pruning of a tree.  This meaning of the word is further emphasized by a parallel passage of the Old Testament (Psalm xxxvii. 22)

Psalm xxxvii. 22:
"Such as be blessed of Him shall
inherit the earth; and
they that be cursed of Him shall be
cut off."

Matt. xxv. 34, 41, 46:
"Come, ye blessed of My Father,
inherit the kingdom.
Depart from Me, ye cursed . . . into
everlasting punishment (cutting off).

There are not a few who tell us that the passage should read everlasting punishing."  Let us apply the rule which guides them, to such a passage as Heb. ix. 12, "Having obtained eternal redemption."  This should read, if the above is true, "everlasting redeeming."  The work of redemption according to this is never finished; all through eternity we are being redeemed, a doctrine flatly contradicted by both the Scriptures, and by the very same preachers who, to suit their purpose, read "punishing" for "punishment" in Matthew xxv. The punishment here spoken of, both in Psalm xxxvii. and Matt. xxv., is to be "eternally cut off."  To deprive of life and all that conscious existence means is the highest form of punishment that this world knows, and it is called "capital punishment." It is the punishment prescribed by God to Noah (Gen. ix.), a reflection of the judgment reserved by God Himself for the finally impenitent.  How many there are who turn to Rev. xx.10 as a proof text for eternal torment:

"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

First let us notice who they are that are tormented. Three persons:

THE DEVIL . . THE BEAST, . . . AND THE FALSE PROPHET

That these three are supernatural beings is not difficult to prove (cf. Rev. xvi. 13 and xvii. 8), yet the punishment of these three awful beings is indiscriminately meted out to all of every race and age among the unsaved.  But a further consideration is necessary, the words are "unto the ages of the ages" (rendered "for ever and ever").  "Unto" does not mean "throughout"; these are punished "unto" the dawning of the "ages of the ages," but not "throughout" those ages.  We also have an indication, that the period covered by this judgment shall come to an end, by the added words "day and night."  Day and night mark the dispensations that lead through from Gen. i. to Rev. xxi., but there comes a time when the words shall be fulfilled,  "There shall be no night there" (Rev. xxi. 25), even as there shall be "no more sea," and "no more curse," &c.

The same clause "day and night" must be allowed its bearing upon other similar passages, eg., Rev. xiv. 9-11.  The expression, "the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever" (Rev. xiv. 11), and "her smoke rose up for ever and ever" (Rev. xix. 3) is also emphasized by many as teaching the doctrine of eternal torment.  If we turn, however, to Isaiah xxxiv. 8-10, we shall find the passage which supplies the figure in Revelation.  For the imagery of the Apocalypse is that with which the Old Testament prophets were quite familiar.  Moreover, the period of time mentioned in Isa. xxxiv. points to the period of Revelation, "The day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion" (cf. Rev. i. 10). The judgment pronounced is:

"The streams thereof shaII become burning pitch . . . it shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever . . none shall pass through it for ever."

Let those who will have the passages of Revelation to mean eternity, act honourably with this, and proclaim faithfully to their traditions, but in opposition to the Scriptures, that in the new heavens and new earth this burning pitch, this unquenchable fire, this ascending smoke will mar the perfection of that ultimate of redeeming love.  They have only to read the opening verses of the very next chapter in Isaiah to be confuted, "The parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water."

Another passage, so often quoted in this connection, is Mark ix. 44, "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched".  Special attention is called to the word "their."  We are asked to notice that the Lord does not say "the worm," but their worm."  The gnawing of the individual conscience is among the many things that this expression is made to mean. The fallacy of the traditional interpretation, and at the same time, the true meaning of the passage, is found by turning to the Old Testament scripture from which the Lord Jesus quotes, viz., Isaiah Ixvi. 24:

"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."

Here the Scriptures tell us that carcasses are the objects of this worm and fire, and all the learning and argument in the world cannot make us believe that carcasses can be subject to conscious suffering, yet the word "their" which is so emphasized is found here twice.  Further, when we know that the word "Hell" of Mark ix. 43 is Gehenna (the place where the offal and rubbish were consumed outside the city), the figure of destruction is all the more emphasized.

We have not touched upon the positive teaching of the Scriptures as to the "wages of sin," but have sought to lay before the reader some of the statements and proof texts which are used to support that which we have become convinced is a lie, and a most God-dishonoring doctrine.  We ask the believer to make a collection of the statements of Paul in his epistles upon this subject, for surely, if eternal conscious suffering is a truth of Scripture, the apostle to the Gentiles will say so somewhere.  Let us not fear the face of man, but think of the honor of the Lord, the libel upon His sacred name, and the contradiction against His Holy Word involved in the Romish (and alas Protestant) doctrine of eternal conscious suffering.

We have stated facts; we do not hold ourselves responsible for the "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth," neither do we proffer any apology for upsetting anyone's theological beliefs, whatever they may be.  We would say in the words of one servant of God to another, "You have your Bible, you have your knees, use them."

All God's Blessings,
The Believers

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