Monday, January 27, 2014

Are we Sent to Hell for All Eternity?


Is it fair that the Bible says people can get into heaven by simply believing in Jesus, when there might be some far better people around who might go to hell simply because they didn't believe in him?

This question derives from a misunderstanding. When Jesus said that anyone who believes in him will have eternal life, the implication of his word believe has been lost in many Bible translations; it actually had the connetation of not only believing, but also obeying. The jewish people would have understood that actions would automatically follow from true faith, and it wouldn't be true faith without them. (Though the true meaning of the word believe has been lost in many translations, the principle is spelled out in so many New Testament verses that it doesn't matter.)

From an article called The Law and the Christian from the website:

"... And now we plagiarize our own work again to explain our meaning, The Semitic Totality Concept means that "a man's thoughts form one totality with their results in action so that 'thoughts' that result in no action are 'vain'." [Dahl, Resurrection of the Body, 60] To put it another way, man does not have a body; man is a body, and what we regard as constituent elements of spirit and body were looked upon by the Hebrews as a fundamental unity. Applied to the role of works following faith, this means that there can be no decision without corresponding action, for the total person will inevitably reflect a choice that is made. ...

Thus, what we would consider separate actions of conversion, confession, and obedience in the form of works would be considered by the Hebrews to be an act in totality. "Both the act and the meaning of the act mattered -- the two formed for the first Christians an indivisible unity." [Flemington, New Testament Doctrine of Baptism, 111] ..."

From an article called Why Didn't God Stop the Process Before it Started, if He Knew of the Massive Amounts of Suffering That Would Befall Many of His Creatures?? by Glenn Miller:

"... 1. The first 'long-term judgment' verse in the Bible:

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. (Dan 12.2)

This is the first verse in the bible that refers to post-death, post-resurrection, long-term effects of this life, for those who actively reject God’s goodness. Notice that the 'quality of life' is described as 'disgrace' and 'contempt'--hardly mind-numbing torture terms! If the hell-experience had been understood as the intense suffering commonly attributed to it, then this verse has focused on very minor aspects of that--to the point of being misleading perhaps.

2. The "weeping and gnashing of teeth" passages: ...
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. (matt 13.40)

Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13.47) ...

But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (matt 24.48ff) ...

There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. (Luke 13.28ff)

The discomfort described here is weeping/sorrow, NOT screaming/pain--contrary to most of the popular images of hell used for this question.
Notice that a few of these passages have the 'darkness' and 'fire' images, but the effects are cast in terms of sorrow ('weeping') and anguish/regret/anger ('gnashing of teeth', cf. Acts 7.54, Ps 37.12). Notice especially that in the Lucan passage the weeping occurs "when they see" their own exclusion--it is due to the separation issue, not some torture or pain. ...

Hell is thought by many to be eternal. But an examination of the original Greek words apparently sheds a new light on it, and according to some, it turns out that hell is a process of punishment meant to refine and correct faults, to bring people to feel sorrow for their past behaviour so they sincerely seek forgiveness and wish to change their ways, at which point, they can be allowed into heaven.
From an article called Is It All GREEK to You? by brad edwards:

"... While on the topic of "FIRE," let's consider another strong passage from Revelation.

REV 14:10"...he will be tormented with burning SULFUR in the PRESENCE of the holy angels and the Lamb"

In this verse we see the word "SULFUR" used for "tormenting" (punishing) those who follow the Beast. Also note that this is done in the PRESENCE of Jesus and not in some subterranean fire pit away from God. It is this PRESENSE of our holy God that causes their pain to be sure. So what is SULFUR? Well, in some Bibles it is translated "brimstone," but the Greek word here is "THEION" which can also be translated DIVINE as in something from God. Places that lightning touched were called "theia" and left a sulfurous smell. Also sulfur was used in purification ceremonies in that day by some outside of Judea. The real key here is that THEION is derived from THEOS which is GOD! Yes, THEOS is God in Greek and the word THEION comes directly from this Source.

Consider this passage from Acts:

Act 17:29 "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the DIVINE Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man."

The word translated here DIVINE is THEION which has been translated sulfur in other passages like in Revelation. The lake of Fire has a direct connection to the Divine because it comes from God. Not only is this a Divine Fire, but it is one that PURIFIES whatever it comes in contact with. Are we to suppose that our God and Father has no purpose in this Fire that torments those He created in His image and likeness? All that God does has purpose, we simply can't comprehend it yet. ...

The next word to look at is "AION" and its derivatives- "AIONION" and "AIONIOS." That ugly doctrine of "eternal" hell greatly depends on this word meaning forever. ...

There are many passages I could cite showing that AION or OLAM doesn't mean forever, but concerning an AGE or AGE-LASTING.
The many derivatives of AION are relating to an age or of the ages. Aionios is rendered "age-lasting" in better translations. The corrective punishment God uses is only for as long as it takes to bring godly sorrow and repentance. Many literal translations of the Bible have corrected this mistake as to bring back loving harmony to God's word as you will read later in this study. To reiterate, aion means an age- a limited period of time and NOT eternal, forever nor forever and ever. ...

The word for punishment here is "KOLASIS." The meaning is to punish, but for CORRECTIVE purposes and not out of vengeance. God is correcting those nations on His left with "aionion kolasis" which is translated this way in these Bibles:

"And these shall go away into age-abiding CORRECTION" -Rotherham's Emphasized Bible ..."

From an article called Honor and Pain - A Refocus on the Atonement and Eternal Punishment from the website:

"... The 'logic' of hell in the bible is surprisingly simple: You receive back the treatment/effects you gave other agents (including God and yourself) with some kind of multiplier effect. [The bible is full of images of this reciprocity concept: reaping what you sow, being paid back, suffering loss as you had despoiled others, unkindness for unkindness shown, apathy for apathy rendered, 'eye for an eye', proportional judgement, etc] This is suited as well to what we have said of honor debts and shame as a response. You dishonor God; you receive dishonor in return. Appropriately your required response is to acknowledge your own need -- in effect, giving up your "honor" -- by admitting that you need God's help to pay the debt. . ."

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