I get a lot of husbands and wives asking me how to change their spouse. How do you make them go from a refuser to a generous spouse? After all, I managed it, so what’s the trick? The truth is, I didn’t manage it. There isn’t a hammer big enough to pound a spouse into being generous. It doesn’t work that way.
Now, there are some places on the web that tell you there is. It involves a combination of manipulation and fear, and you know what? It gets you what you think you want: sex. But, you don’t really want sex. You want intimacy. You want a generous spouse. Ultimately, manipulation and fear doesn’t get you that. What it gets you is a spouse who is playing a part because their afraid of what will happen. That’s not real generosity, and it’s not real love.
Unfortunately, sometimes people think it is, because they believe that God operates this way. This is one of those instances where bad doctrine can lead to bad marriage advice. Christians who believe that God burns people forever in hell often end up believing that it’s okay to use fear, it’s okay to tell your spouse “do this or else I’ll divorce you”, in order to be loved the way you want. After all, if God sends people to hell for eternity just because we don’t choose to love Him, isn’t that the same thing? Yeah, it is. This is why the world wants no part of God, because we’re created a false image of Him. Christianity has created a God who uses fear and manipulation to get people to “love” Him.
Then we turn around and do the same things to our spouses. After all, marriage is a reflection of how God deals with His people.
But, does God really operate that way? No, He doesn’t. The Bible is quite clear that hell-fire is temporary (Hebrews 2:14, Revelation 21:8, Ezekiel 28:18-19). In fact, there isn’t really much of a punishment for not loving God. You get an easier life, and less persecution. Rather, instead of punishment for not loving God, God offers intimacy with Him if you do. In fact, He offers it for eternity. The only way to gain immortality is through Jesus Christ (John 3:16), though many Christians would have you believe that you can gain immortality in hell, so that you can suffer forever.
But that’s our human desire for revenge, to see others punished. We want to see them in pain, hurting and suffering for eternity. After all, that’s what makes our following God worthwhile, isn’t it? That we don’t have to deal with that?
Are we any better than refusing spouses that have been bullied into sexually fulfilling out husband or wife if we believe that about God? Usually when I share this with people, one of the questions they ask is: “well, what’s to make people follow God then?” and the answer is: nothing. You can’t make people believe. You can’t force devotion. You cannot coerce love.
Instead, God invites to an intimate relationship, just as we should invite our spouses into one. We should create a safe space, where they are loved and cherished. We should offer to them unending intimacy, no matter how often they make mistakes, let us down, or hurt us, we just want to be with them. That is the model is see of God in the Bible. Not this heavy handed approach to “love”.
Because just as God wants us to really love Him, for who He is, we want our spouse to love us, for who we are. God doesn’t want cowed Christians, and we don’t want cowed spouses.
But, if we invite them and they accept…well, then a refuser can become generous, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Through love, not fear. God willing, we stop refusing God and learn to become generous towards Him in the same way.
27 thoughts on “You cannot make a refuser generous”
Hell is temporary; a person that refuses to accept Christ and the free gift of salvation through faith not by works in this lifetime does not end up in hell for eternity?
What denomination of Christianity holds to this view?
I do agree with you on premise that God never designed hell for us (humans) that it was originally designed for the fallen angels which some believe may be demons…but as a by product of our unwillingness to follow God in this lifetime people most certainly do end up there for eternity. This is not God’s plan in the sense that he enjoys sending people to hell but it is a by product of the free will he has given us where we can make a decision to love him or to reject him. In that sense, it has more to do with the choices we make and less to do with God getting pleasure out of sending people to hell, I assure you, he gets no pleasure of of this and it grieves him deeply.
Anyway, a little confused…JD…thanks
I’m not sure if your definition of hell. Here’s what the Bible says:
In short, those who don’t accept Christ will be burnt to death. Not burnt for eternity. I’d imagine a lake of burning sulfur can do the job very quickly. After which, we’d end up as ashes, as it says in the Psalms:
So, I don’t believe God designed hell for anyone, because I don’t believe God designed hell. I don’t think a place as we tend to describe hell exists, has existed, or will exist. Most of what we have as descriptions of hell come from Greco-Roman mythology, which then turned into doctrine, which then spawned fiction, like Dante’s Inferno, which in turn became stronger doctrine. Centuries later it was rationalized and people believe it’s biblical, with only one or two passages used to support a large doctrine (one of which being a parable that doesn’t really make sense if used as support).
So, then the next question in regards to your comment is: if God doesn’t enjoy sending people to this mythical hell, why would He do it? I mean, we as parent’s don’t enjoy punishing our children, but we do it so they will reform and be better in the future. With eternal punishment, this isn’t possible. In my view, it’s not either, but there isn’t the added punishment for no benefit. Plus, it attributes immortality to beings that are not immortal (demons/angels or humans). The Bible is quite clear that only God is immortal.
And when we attribute immortality to things that are not God, then we lower God. This is the Biblical definition of blasphemy. The Bible is clear, we only gain immortality only at the 1st resurrection.
And it’s only the 1st resurrection that gains immortality. Those who do not choose God, will not become immortal. What sense would giving them immortality make?
In short, the idea of an eternal hell is neither biblical, nor logical.
As for what denomination of Christianity holds to this view? Well, mine does (Seventh-Day Adventists). I’m sure there are others, but I’m not entirely sure which. Obviously, I think all that claim to follow the Bible should 🙂
It’s all highly interpretative, the Bible uses a lot of terms without defining them clearly. Mainly because most of the NT is us reading other peoples mail and what they mutually understood didn’t need to be spelled out in their letters to each other, like what exactly ‘the second death’ is.
I see the ‘first death’ being the separation of our spirit from our body., the second death is the separation of the spirit from God after our judgement. It is not my fault that I’m a mortal so when Paul taught ‘there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15) I don’t have a problem taking that as meaning everybody who ever lived will be resurrected. 1Cor 15:52-53 makes it clear that when resurrected we become immortal as well, and it says ‘the dead’ will be resurrected, no limiting it to the righteous dead, just ‘the dead’.
My sins ARE my fault however, and so anybody who fails to avail themselves of the salvation of Christ will be eternally separated from God (“everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” 2Thess1:9) , and the anguish of that will be something very painful to live with (ie: hell). It isn’t God acting like some vindictive tyrant, it is a cause and effect outcome of our choice to remain unfit for his presence. He is doing all he can to help us avoid that. Christ taught of “everlasting punishment” (Matt:25: 46
I disagree that it’s interpretative. I think the Bible interprets itself. I think there is only one Truth. But, you and I, specifically, have a problem in that you have a radically different Bible than I do, so we can’t even have a discussion on what’s contained therein, because we don’t agree on what’s in the book itself.
Now, that said, I agree that the first death is the separation of spirit from body. However, I don’t believe that spirits are immortal. As you say, we only gain immortality upon resurrection (though I don’t agree that all do, only the righteous). Rather when we die, we are simply dead, awaiting resurrection (Ecclesiastes 9:5, Psalm 115:17, Psalm 6:5).
And I agree that the second death is a separation from God. However, without God, we cannot exist (Colossians 1:17), so the only way to be completely separated by God is to be destroyed.
As for 1 Corinthians 15:52-53, verse 50 makes it clear that he is talking to “brothers and sisters” in Christ. You cannot assume this encompasses everyone. Revelation makes it clear that the unrighteous are not included in the first resurrection, where we gain immortality (Revelation 20:4-6).
Now, it’s interesting that you quote from 2 Thessalonians 1:9 that they will go to everlasting destruction (note: destroyed forever), but that doesn’t mean it will be continuous. Neither does the Matthew 25:46 passage. Only that the punishment will be everlasting, in other words, there’s no turning back from it. There’s no undo, no repentance at that point, no do-over, no chance for reconciliation…because their destroyed.
Otherwise, we’d have a problem with these verses:
In order to believe there is a hell that lasts forever, we must also then believe that God will continuously hear the cries of those who are sorry…and actively ignores them for the rest of eternity.
And it’s all good and nice to say that “God is doing all he can to help us avoid that”, just as we try to do for our children…but there’s a problem with that…He controls everything. Yes, now, He has to let evil run it’s course, for a time, but once He declares the victory over sin and death…how could He then continue to perpetuate the wholesale torture of trillions of people, for no better “end”, and still be called a loving God?
Mark 9:43-44 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Matthew 18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
Mat 25:41-46 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
These and other verses indicate that punishment is everlasting. One verse that says “second death,” which is rather vague, doesn’t erase all these clear verses.
I think I already addressed all these in the other comments. Let me know if I missed one.
Jay, it’s true that I have a wider range of sources that I consider authoritative than just the Bible, but I respect the intention of your site and don’t bring those sources into the things I say unless you or somebody brings up something from them.
My Bible is the KJV, not exactly something that is ‘radically different’. Also, the bible is a book, a collection of words. It has no mind to think with and so is not able to interpret itself or perform any kind of action. Only people interpret the Bible because only people have a mind capable of doing that, and just because somebody does it by picking some verses from one spot to justify an interpretation of another spot doesn’t automatically mean that the conclusion they arrive at is the truth.
The difference is not about what the Bible says. You and I can both look at the same verse in the Bible and see the same words. It is that in some cases you attach one meaning those words and I attach a different meaning to the same verse. Pick any two Christian denominations and there will be places in the Bible where they disagree over the meaning of some verse. Your blog here shows that differnt Christians, all sincerely trying to understand the Bible, come to different conclusions on things. People’s upbringing, education, experiences, biases etc. all play a role that process of deriving meaning from words.
None of the verses you refer to outright state the conclusions you present. You interpret those verses to mean what you consider them to mean and it makes sense to you given your background etc. But others won’t all see it that way and interpret them to mean something else, like the dead have no impact or presence or ability in the living world.
1Peter3:18-20 however does outright state that during that time where Christ was dead, his spirit went to preach to other spirits. Something that would not be possible if the dead have no awareness or existence of any kind. I agree that 1Cor15:50 shows Paul is addressing an audience of believers, but when talking about the resurection he did not limit it to just them, he said ‘the dead’ will put on immortality and did not limit it to just those he was speaking to. How can there be a resurrection of the unjust if the unjust are never resurrected?
I agree that there comes a point after we are dead where a person can no longer repentant and gain forgiveness, but I don’t share your assumption that it means they have ceased to exist. What you quote from 1John and Psalms is advice to the living. After death there is a final judgement and after that you to go an eternal reward or are cast off forever with no further hope of repentance.
Satan is cut off from God every bit as much as any sinner ever could be, he has no chance at redemption, yet he continues to exist, and his final fate is to “be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev 2:10) along with sinners, not to cease existing. If he and those who share his fate ceased to exist, they would not be able to experience any form of torment any day or any night ever.
When you say God controls everything you don’t mean he control’s you, you don’t mean your every action, sinful or not, is his doing because he consoles you. He gave you the freedom to act for yourself but with that comes accountability. While God is loving, he is also just. Out of love he gives you a way to repent and enter heaven, but being just requires that those who do not repent have to suffer the logical consequences of their choices.
*sigh* I had a response written and lost it. I’ll see if I can recreate it…
Arguably, your bible is the KJV + the book of mormon, which does make it radically different, because the book of Mormon changes your interpretation of the KJV radically.
I seem to recall Hebrews 4:12 saying that the word of God is alive and active…
My argument is not that any of them state the conclusions, but that all of them together do. Furthermore, I believe there is no other logical conclusion that doesn’t cause another verse to contradict that same conclusion. I will show you in your comments what I mean.
Actually, I grew up in a church that taught the opposite of this. I left because I felt it wasn’t the truth.
Alright, so here we have a problem then. If we interpret this verse the way you say, then it contradicts Ecclesiastes 9:5, Psalm 115:17, Psalm 6:5 and others that say the the dead have no awareness or existence. However, I believe you have interpreted the passage incorrectly. So, here’s the passage for clarity (I’ll use KJV since you prefer it):
So, here’s what we have:
1) Christ suffered and was put to death
2) Christ was quickened by the spirit (quickened means brought to life, or resurrected)
3) Christ thus preached to the spirits in prison
4) These spirits God is waiting for to be prepared and hopefully saved (as with Noah and his family).
So, if Christ went to preach to the spirits in hell….then we need to believe that one can leave hell. But, that’s not possible, because the Bible says, as you’ve stated and I agree, the punishment is everlasting. There’s no going back. So, if you are sent to hell, then you can’t come back.
Secondly, how could there be people in hell? Revelation is quite clear that the second resurrection (of the unrighteous) happens 1000 years after Jesus’s 2nd coming, and then they will be thrown into the lake of fire. So, then who was Jesus preaching to if he went to this hell? Seems like he would be preaching to an empty room. After all, Satan isn’t even there…he’s stuck on earth (Revelation 12:12).
Instead, I propose that Jesus’ resurrection is what preached to the spirits in prison (us!), by fulfilling prophecy and thus bringing the gospel into fruition. By that interpretation, we then clear up the inconsistencies, and the Bible is in harmony again.
There are two resurrections depicted in Revelation.
So, here’s the problem if we accept that the unrighteous will be immortal:
Firstly, it means there is a way to gain immortality without Christ. This contradicts John 14:6.
Secondly, it contradicts those passages that say the unrighteous will be destroyed (Psalm 37:20, 38)
So, then we must believe that only those who accept Christ will put on immortality. So, I think 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 is clearly speaking about only those who are “Brothers and Sisters” in Christ, because or else the Bible contradicts itself.
Ahh, good question. So, the passage is actually Revelation 20:10 (for anyone else reading):
So, if we assume that Satan is immortal, then he must either worship Jesus (a la 1 Cor 15:50-58), or he must be God (1 Timothy 6:14-16). After all, only God is immortal:
Plus, we then have issues with all the verses about Satan being destroyed, turned to ashes, turned to smoke, etc..
As well, we have to ignore, or seriously twist Romans 6:23
After all, if the wages of sin is death, which death is it talking about? Certainly not the first death, because there are many saved Christians who have died. So, it must be the second death. But, if you are living eternally in hell being punished…well, that not he punishment the Bible says sin begets. That’s not death…that’s eternal life in torture.
Now, the demons know can and will be destroyed. They admit this when they meet Jesus.
You see, they knew they would be destroyed one day by Jesus. Just not yet.
And Jesus tells us to be careful about the wages of sin, because hell will destroy you…not torture you, but destroy you, body and soul. So, there is nothing left:
So, then if they can’t be tormented day and night forever and ever (as the passage seems to say), what then? I mean, that can’t be the case, because then the Bible starts to fall apart.
Now, this word for forever and ever is aeonian it gets used to describe aeonian fire in another passage:
Now, Sodom and Gomorrah were supposed to burn forever, “eternal fire”. Are they still burning? No. The cities burned up long ago. This concept of aeonian fire is not a fire that will burn forever, but rather, a fire that will burn until the subject of the passage is consumed. It is for the life of that object, be it a city, or a person, or a fallen angel.
Now, that makes sense, because now we don’t contradict Hebrews:
The Bible is very clear that Satan will be destroyed, that he will not burn forever, only that he will burn until he is consumed. Any other interpretation, again, creates disharmony in the Bible.
I agree, but as I’ve stated, and I hope shown, the logical consequences cannot be eternal torture. That’s neither logical, nor just. To suffer, in torture, for eternity, for one tiny human lifetime’s worth of decision? No, that’s not just at all. Now, a God who returns those back to nothingness when they want nothing to do with Him…that’s both loving and just…and in keeping with His Word.
“My argument is not that any of them state the conclusions, but that all of them together do.”
If it was stated then all you would need is the verse that clearly states it. You taking the verses and using them to derive a conclusion that is not stated. I get it makes sense to you, but you can’t rely on that. The wisdom of God is foolishness to men. Once you arrive at that conclusion and embrace it, you wind up interpreting other verses in a way that will conform to that conclusion.
Likewise, somebody else comes along, sees Rev 20:5, 1Cor15:52-53, Acts 24:15 and comes to the conclusion that all people, just or unjust will be resurrected and become immortal, but the wicked will endure torment day and night for ever and ever. They then interpret Ecclesiastes 9:5, Psalm 115:17, Psalm 6:5 in a way to conform with that.
Words like ‘destroy’ can be used figuratively, or refer to a specific kind of destruction like mortal death only, all their works being undone, all their hopes taken from them, emotional devastation, defeat, made powerless etc. not just elimination from any kind of existence. You see a word like destroyed and you assume a very narrow and specific meaning that may not be at all what the intended meaning was by the person who wrote it.
With 1 Peter 3:18-20 I think if it said “put to death in the flesh, THEN quickened by the Spirit” you might have a point, but that isn’t what it says. It says “put to death in the flesh, BUT quickened by the Spirit” the use of ‘but’ indicates that both states apply at the same time, ie: his body was dead, but his spirit was active (quick). Then it says “By Which” meaning that while he was in that condition was when he did the other things talked about next. So as a spirit, he preached to spirits, which could not happen unless spirits have an ability to communicate and understand when their body is dead. It does not say that he preached to spirits in hell, but in prison. He also told the theif on the cross that they would be together in paradise that very day, yet 3 days later when he appears resurrected to Mary he tells her that he has not yet ascended to his Father. I would say the afterlife is a little more complicated than just being heaven/hell based on that.
The Bible does not interpret itself, people interpret it. Use a different method, different assumptions, you get a different outcome. When it comes to the fine details of the afterlife the Bible leaves a lot of room for interpretation, and it’s important to draw a distinction between things that are actually stated in the text of the Bible, and those ideas that we derive from the text by attaching meanings to words and phrases and drawing conclusions that are not stated. In this particular case, I feel pretty safe saying that the just and the unjust will be resurrected since the scriptures clearly state in the text there is a resurection of the just and a resurection of the unjust (and yes, the unjust are going to have to wait a lot longer). I feel pretty safe saying that the wicked will endure torment day and night for ever and ever because it is plainly stated so in the Biblical text.
I could go through all the other verses you reference and reply point by point but I don’t want to pull this any further off topic than it already is. If you really want to continue discussing the afterlife let me know via email.
As always it’s nice to have a respectful discussion and share differences in kindly ways.
PS: How do you do that quote thing?
Was taught the conclusion that you believe, when I was growing up. But, once I had read all the verses, it didn’t make sense. And so, I re-examined the verses and landed on this conclusion, which brings them all into harmony. My process is the opposite of what you stated.
Or, the comma was misplaced.
“I tell you, today you will be with me in heaven” could just as easily be “I tell you today, you will be with me in heaven”. And then, suddenly it becomes a lot less complicated 🙂 Unfortunately, scribes make mistakes like this occasionally, because Greek has no commas. Another example is found in Acts 19:12, where, if you read the sentence, as it is written in the KJV, then the handkerchiefs were suffering an illness, instead of being delivered to those that were ill. Unfortunately, that one verse of the thief of the cross, with an misplaced comma has spawned so much false doctrine about immortal souls and what happens when you die, that is in direct opposition to the rest of the Bible. Thank you for bringing that verse up. It’s a good example.
But, we can stop, that’s okay. Appreciate the dialogue.
P.S. You do the quotes by using the blockquote tag.
Based on the “What do you think of this post” button presses, it seems you may have stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest. However, I have agree that if you view the marital relationship as a metaphor for our relationship with God (and you should because the Bible makes that comparison numerous times) then you almost have to come to the same conclusion you have regarding the inaccuracy of church doctrine.
In any case, this is certainly a thought provoking post, and I encourage those who instinctively disagree with it to take time to think about it. I realize that challenging the widely held concept of eternal damnation is somewhat audacious, but Jay is right that it simply does not fit the marital metaphor that the Bible repeatedly makes.
Hi Jay Dee! I agree with much of what you say, but not: “The Bible is quite clear that hell-fire is temporary.” Jesus himself said in Mark 9:48: “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'” Any comment?
I’m not saying the fire isn’t quenched. What I’m saying is that what is thrown into the fire is consumed. If I throw a piece of paper into a fire, the fire doesn’t go out when the paper is consumed. So, those that choose “not God” are consumed in fire. Since God is merciful…I’d imagine that will happen fairly quickly.
Same goes for the worms. Actually, what Jesus was referring to what the valley of Gehenna, which was basically the local garbage dump. There were continual fires and what the fire didn’t burn up, the maggots ate. This is where dead people were thrown (dead people, not living people). Their corpses were consumed. In short, ultimately there will be nothing left of them. That doesn’t sound like eternal hell to me. Sounds like final death without a trace left of existence.
That makes sense, because how could we in heaven have no more tears or pain, if we knew that loved ones of ours were suffering for as long as we had eternal pleasure? I couldn’t be happy like that. I doubt God could either. Could you? Sadly, this is what’s taught when they take the parable of Lazarus and the rich man out of context and start using a piece of local fiction which Jesus modified to teach a specific point, and use it to short up a mythical belief in hell. In fact, those who use it in that manner would have us believe that hell is view-able from heaven, and so while we’re eating from the tree of life…we’ll be watching our loved ones who turned from God be burned and eaten by maggots… how’s your heaven looking with a hell like that?
Like I said in another comment, it’s neither biblical, nor logical to believe that people burn for eternity in hell.
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” . . . Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. . . . And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25: 31-46 …also, At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Jude 13… sorry JayDee. The issue here is strongly that I dissagree with what your doctrine on Hell, because of the afore mentioned verses, as well as the fact that the valley of Gehenna reference is claimed by later theologians who ignore the fact that Christ is quoting the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 66). I agree this leads to some interesting interpretations of God’s character. But I believe that has a lot more to do with our attributing human characteristics to an Infinite Being that we will never (even in Heaven) fully understand. As to the rest of your article, I totally agree but for different reasons. A leopard can’t change his spots just like I can’t truly change anything in myself without the work of the Holy Spirit. Thanks for your thoughts…I believe you came to the right conclusions in general from the wrong direction, but I also know I don’t know everything and what really matters more is that I know my sin put Christ on the cross and so knowing that, I should forgive anything sinned against me as I have been forgiven.
Designed hell-fire where people will be burned instantly? Yes. Designed this mythical place called hell where people are tortured forever? No.
And yes, I would call being destroyed an eternal punishment. I mean, there’s no coming back from it, is there? It’s permanent. You cannot take one verse and hold it at odds above the others. The Bible is quite clear that only the righteous will inherit immortality, thus, the unrighteous cannot be eternally punished. That would require them to inherit immortality as well. Unless the unrighteous cease to be, you cannot bring those passages into harmony. Just as you can’t bring the ones about the unrighteous becoming ashes and dust into harmony unless the are actually consumed in fire.
And the other passage “Others to shame and everlasting contempt”…that’s from Daniel 12:2, not Jude 13. This is referencing Revelation 12, where the righteous will be resurrected first, and live for 1000 years of peace, while Satan is trapped. Then he’ll be released, and the others will be resurrected (the 2nd resurrection), after which time they will be destroyed (the second death), along with Satan in the lake of fire/burning sulfur/hellfire/gehenna/whatever other reference the bible uses. And yes, their shame and punishment will be unending, but that doesn’t mean that they will be unending.
As for Isaiah 66:, which you referenced:
Same thing. It says the fire won’t be quenched. That doesn’t mean what it burns up will continue burning. In Hebrew these words mean that they won’t be put out until what they are burning is consumed. Look at Jeremiah 17:27. Are the gates and palaces of Jerusalem still burning centuries later? Of course not. They were consumed. Are Sodom and Gomorrah still burning? No, they were consumed. So too with those who choose not to live with God.
Thanks for the challenge! I appreciate it. It helps me test my beliefs.
I’d say those verses support my supposition.
Thanks for the reply JayDee, but you have the same bad habit I do. We get fixated on the things we dissagree with and miss where the agreement lies. I feel even in your counter argument that you missed several times where there is strong evidence that this will be something that is eternal rather than permenant. (There is a difference because of our experience being able to understand one thus explain better one) The grace of God and the freedom of the spirit allows us both to dissagree on this as long as our disagreement does not alter our understanding of what sin is, and what the Gospel is. Hang in there and we should both try to focus more on the unity in the diversity I think. Forgiveness and Grace are tons more powerful than fear and while fear of the Lord is the Beginning of wisdom, it isn’t the end or even the meatier part. that part I agree with you, is love and knowing.
No, I just addressed the permanent issue in other comments and didn’t want to repeat myself. 🙂
Why the urgency to preach the gospel to all nations then? What are we being saved from then?
I, too, would like to know what denomination teaches no hell or temporary hell. What a great lie for then enemy to trick you into believing. It sure would make a lot of people more comfortable in choosing to ignore God and the whole idea of eternity.
I’m so very disappointed in you, JayDee 🙁
It’s not what we are being saved from, though I guess that answer is destruction:
But rather, what are we being saved for.
I think the lie has already been swallowed by the church a long time ago, when it adopted this concept of hell from Greco-Roman culture. It’s one of many deceptions the majority of Christianity continues to propagate. As a result of this one, I think there will be a lot of Christians who won’t make it to hell, because they never learned to love God…only fear hell. I’m saddened that you’re disappointed, but, I suspect, not for the reasons you intended. Be blessed.
“It sure would make a lot of people more comfortable in choosing to ignore God and the whole idea of eternity.”
Yeah, this is true, but the thing is, Jay has a point. If God didn’t want us to choose Him freely, He wouldn’t have given us free will in the first place. It’s hard to reconcile a God who wants us to freely choose to love Him with teaching that says we have to love him or else face eternal torment. It’s also hard to reconcile a marital metaphor with our relationship with God, with one that suggests that love is to be reciprocated by way of fear and threat. As I said before, this post is a little audacious, but it is also thought provoking. The view Jay expresses actually fits better than the commonly accepted teaching when you consider the marital metaphor and what real generous love is. Read 1 Corinthians 13, and then try to reconcile a God who loves us, and wants us to love Him back with the notion that there is an explicit threat of eternal torment behind it for those who don’t. I can’t do it, and that makes Jay’s post very compelling indeed.
It saddens me that a post about loving your spouse unselfishly and letting God be who He is, and do what He does has turned into a doctrinal debate. The focus has shifted away from God’s righteousness, love and grace to the prideful attempt of convincing other(s) what Hell is or is not. In my opinion, the debate you are having is wasteful because you have been steered away from the point the Holy Spirit is making. To me it is simple, Love your spouse as Jesus loved the church. Unconditionally and completely. Only God can change your spouse. We all need to work on allowing God to change OURSELVES.
Mark — While I agree that the take away points should be exactly as you say it, I don’t think the doctrinal debate is completely useless. The Bible repeatedly makes the metaphor comparing the marital relationship to the relationship between us and God. Jay is right that the notion of using threats and fear to get a wayward spouse to act a certain way is exactly analogous to the notion that God threatens us with eternal torment to make us turn to Him. I think the point Jay makes that this would be a harmful example is pretty valid. And I phrase it that way because I think that if you are considering if God is giving us a harmful example versus we are collectively misinterpreting the truth, you have to lean towards believing the latter.
I agree!! We should stick to the subject of saving our marriages. Jay Dee helped me tune into the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in reconnecting with my wife in an intimate way. That is more important than discussing subjects that we will never agree on in this lifetime. I need more marriage help and information. Thanks for your comment.
One of the points I was trying to make though is that they are interconnected: A bad theology will lead to bad teachings about marriage.
Josh and Jay Dee-Maybe I should have said the debate is misplaced. Sharing different viewpoints and beliefs about what God’s word says is very valuable in relational and spiritual growth. We are being prompted (ideally) to ask ourselves what we believe and why we believe it, and then ask God for wisdom, clearity, discernment and understanding. This is good. However, I feel that the debate over the “truth about Hell” steers us away from the real point that is being made. We cannot change our spouses. We can submit to the Lord and allow Him to change us. That change can affect our spouse and help open the door for change in them. Threatening a spouse is not showing love. Yes cannot truly mean yes unless no is also an option. I have experienced this with my spouse within the last year. I tried to make her love me the way I wanted to be loved. It didn’t and never will work. Only when I focused on God, and really tried to do his will, did I show her a man that she could freely love. It was uncomfortable and scary, but we have enjoyed more real intimacy in the last several months than in our previous 25 years of marriage. That is my testimony. God did it, not me. The point I’m trying to make is that I read comments from others to help me better understand the topic of the post, so I may be encouraged, enlightened and so forth. I suspect most others do the same. As I was reading this debate, I was thinking to myself; Hell being eternal or not, Jay Dee being right or wrong about that has nothing to do with me striving to be the husband that God wants me to be.
A yes cannot be a yes unless no is an option.
Getting to the actual topic of the post…
While I agree we can’t ‘make’ our spouse change in any respect to suit ourselves, and trying to twist there arm in some way would be counter productive, I believe very much that God has the power to change a person’s heart. I’ve seen it happen.
All you can do is help to create an environment where God can work on their heart, and yours. Be kind and loving, pray, read the scriptures, worship God and live as he would want you to. In God’s time and in God’s way he will do what is wise in his eyes to bless you and your spouse. He wants you both to be happy.
God can invite people to change, but not make them change. Ultimately they still have to choose to follow God prompting. Even God won’t force someone to change if they don’t want to.