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Eternal Life vs. Eternal Death
by Wayne Childress
9/25/2013 / Bible Studies
Have you ever heard someone say that they can't believe in any God that would burn them forever in Hell for a short lifetime of error? I have, and it hurts to think how many have avoided the God because of thinking like this. What follows is the "sum and substance" of my answer to them. All of us, the saved and the damned, will suffer death. But Jesus said, twice, back to back:
I tell you, Nay: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
I tell you, Nay: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
Since we will all die, whether we repent or not, this tells me that those who do not repent will do more than just die the will cease to exists at all. The Bible says all the dead will be resurrected - the saved and the damned.
And shall come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection
of life; and, they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.
That is why we are called the saved - because we will be! We alone, being of the Spirit, expect adoption and the redemption of the body:
Can the body of the damned expect redemption? Job states:
Drought and heat consume the snow waters: the grave those that have sinned.
Since all dead bodies disintegrate this infers that the sinner's body is to be consumed.
Anyway, we know that salvation is eternal because we become immortal. So how is damnation then eternal? I ask you to hold that thought for a moment and consider that we all, saved and damned, will face a final judgment. We are all to be judged, some to be rewarded, some to be destroyed.
And the nations were angry and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets and to the saints and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
The saved will be rewarded based on their works:
And, behold, I come quickly and my reward with me - to give every man according as his work shall be.
We will all be judged by our works, even the damned:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened and another book was opened, which is of life. And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and, death and hell delivered up the dead that were in them and they were judged, every man, according to their works.
So the saved are judged and rewarded according to their works and have immortality. The damned are judged too; so, does it not hold that the damned will be punished according to their works but do not have immortality. Consider further: There is life for the saved after the first death; they will not suffer the second death.
He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.
Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection - on such the second death hath no power; but, they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Neither can they die any more - for they are equal to the angels; and, are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
The damned do suffer the second death. They are not equal to angels. They are not the children of God. There is no life after the second death; and again, the damned do suffer the second death.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
But the fearful and unbelieving and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone - which is the second death.
Death is the end of a life. And the end of that life is forever. After the first death the saved are raised and given immortality, judged and rewarded, and have life - forever. Does it not hold then that the damned, which are raised (but are not given immortality), are judged and punished, then suffer the second death and are dead - forever?
Nowhere, that I can find, does the Bible say that the damned are punished forever* rather it says that the punishment is forever. The last punishment is the second death. For an example to clarify: Say I have a stack of wood and build a fire, and I keep that fire going for a few days. The logs I first threw on the fire are consumed, and are no more forever; no matter how long I keep the fire going. The fire of God's wrath is eternal not the burned up souls of the damned, they are consumed and suffer the second death, and are no more forever.
Only God knows the degree of punishment a damned soul will suffer before it dies the second death. The degree of punishment is probably proportional to the works of the judged soul just as the degree of reward would be proportional for the saved soul. Why would I say these things? Because I know that God, and His judgment, are righteous and just.
We know a finite amount of knowledge about the attributes of God who is infinite. But we do know that He is loving and merciful. Also, Jesus tells us (Luke 11:11/13), that if an earthly father knows to treat his children well how much better does our Heavenly Father know who is perfect and knows all. If we know, in trying to be righteous and just, to make the punishment fit the crime, how much better must be our Heavenly Father, who does not try but is?
So, who does the Bible say puts on incorruptible bodies? Only the saved are specified. Who does the Bible say puts on immortality? Only the saved are specified. We, the saved, will exist - forever. I posit the damned will cease to exist - forever. We are told repeatedly to seek eternal life. Why? Is it not because the option is to suffer death twice and be dead forever?
Thank you for joining me on The Path to Light.
In Brotherly Love,
*Note: Yes, I know of Mark 9:44/46/48. (Quoted from Isaiah 66:25) Briefly, I offer the following points:
1. It is important to check out the reference to Isaiah here. First it refers to what is taking place in, "the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make" (Isaiah 66:22). We know that our current Earth will not be remembered at all (Isaiah 65:17). We know righteousness dwells in the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13). Next, the passage in Isaiah that is quoted begins with, "And they shall go forth and look on the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me". Carcasses dead bodies not live ones suffering. We know that in the new heavens and the new earth there will be, "no more death, or sorrow, or crying, or shall there be any more pain - for the former things are passed away" (Revelations 21:1/4). The passage in Isaiah that is quoted ends with, "and they shall be an abhorring to all flesh". How can those with the worms be an abhorring to all flesh? Easy, you need to keep reading until you at least reach Revelation 21:8. The damned haven't gone to the second death yet! We must study, "line upon line, and precept upon precept".
2. More concerning the "their worm will not die". If you keep reading the next two verses you find Jesus telling us to have salt inside us. Those offending unto Hell may be as rotten meat with worms inside them perhaps their worm (conscience eating at them?) is to not die in this life but to remain even after their resurrection to damnation. We, on the other hand, are to be as salted meat preserved and cured with the Spirit. Yet again, we are to study, "line upon line, and precept upon precept".
3. It says the fire is not quenched, not that those with worms are eternal. The damned do not have eternal life and you must be alive eternally to be eternally punished.
4. It may interest some to know that the Persic version renders these verses in Mark as, "because from thence there can be no deliverance". Nothing will save the damned from the second death.
I know that there are Brothers who will still disagree with me. Please remember that we are not to be contentious with each other; and, that this is written primarily for helping unbelievers. While I firmly believe, in presenting this, that I am guided by what God has said to us in His Word, and through prayer, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit that is within me, I also know that only God knows the final answer and it will be just.
For more articles like this please visit my website thepathtolight.com.
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