If you believe in hell, do you believe it is eternal? Do you believe it is a place of absolute separation from the presence of God, filled with screams and the terror of those suffering in everlasting torment? My intention in this page is to verify beyond a shadow of a doubt, especially to those who believe the words of the Bible, that if there is a hell, it can not be eternal. After all, smile, only God is eternal.

June 6, 2010

Going to Hell?

How do we decide whether something is “God” or not?  A preponderance of scripture? The “right” interpretation of scripture?

It seems it all comes down to what the gospel of Jesus Christ is, and if salvation from eternal torment in hell is taught in scripture as being part of that gospel.

Let's go back to the beginning, the original curse. Adam and Eve's "punishment" was death, not unending torment in an eternal hell.  

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17   
(Die = to be dead)

Nowhere in the law of Moses does it speak of lawbreakers being punished with unending torment in an eternal hell, only DEATH.

In the New Covenant books of Romans and Hebrews, Paul lays out the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ clearly...

In Romans, chapters 1-4, Paul talks about the fact that all are sinners; none are righteous. And that redemption is in Christ Jesus, by grace through faith, not by law through works. Then he begins to teach about the good news of Jesus Christ and issues of sin and death, righteousness and life...

-- DEATH entered the world through sin. Jesus suffered death for all men, not torment in an everlasting hell.

Romans 5:12-21 -
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon ALL men, for that ALL have sinned. For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is not law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 

But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, MUCH MORE the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; MUCH MORE they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

Therefore by the offense of one judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation (death); even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL men unto justification of life. 

For AS BY one man's disobedience MANY were made sinners, 
SO BY the obedience of one shall MANY be made righteous.

That as SIN hath reigned unto DEATH
might GRACE reign through righteousness unto ETERNAL LIFE by Jesus Christ our Lord.

-- Jesus's victory was over death, not torment in an eternal hell.

Romans 6:4 - For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.

v 7 – For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from the power of sin.

v 16 - Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey. Whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.

- There is no mention of everlasting torment in hell being the end or final destiny of sinners, only death. Paul says the wages of sin are death, not everlasting torment in hell.

Romans 6:21-23 - What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?  For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For sin pays its servants with death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 8:2 - For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

- Jesus was not raised from hell, but from death.

Romans 8:11 - But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

- Once again, it's about death, not being tormented forever in hell.

Romans 8:13 - For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Romans 8:34 - It is Christ that died... (Christ) that is risen again...

Romans is Paul's explanation of the gospel to the Gentiles. Lots there about death, but not one word about everlasting destruction in hell. The only mention of destruction is found in Romans 9:22 and must be taken in the context of what he was teaching about... which, was, victory over DEATH, not eternal torment in hell.

Romans 9:22 - What if God, although fully intending to show His wrath and to make known His power, has tolerated with much patience the vessels of His anger which are ripe for destruction?”

And, besides, Paul doesn't even seem sure what he's saying is gospel truth or not, seeing he begins with, “What if.. ?”

If everlasting destruction in hell were the end game, why doesn't Paul make that crystal clear in Romans? Especially when he has the time to mention such trivialties (in comparison to everlasting torment), as encouraging the believers to love each other (12:10, 13:8-10, etc), and to love their enemies (12:20), and to be subject to earthly governments (13:1), and to not drink too much or quarrel or be envious (13:13), and to not get all worked up about food and days (14:2-6), etc.

After he lays out the gospel of Jesus Christ, much of the Romans is concerned with such seemingly inconsequential matters such as these. But not one mention of everlasting destruction in hell? How can that be?

1 Corinthians 15:54 says that death will be triumphantly destroyed by life. That is God's end game.


Let's take a look at Hebrews, because outside of Romans, it would seem Hebrews is Paul's defining document as far as the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He says we are to give earnest heed to the things we have heard (Hebrews 2:1).

We hear about... 

- Jesus purging our sins (Heb 1:3).

- Jesus suffering death that He might taste death for every man (Heb 2:9).

- Jesus taking a body of flesh and blood so that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. (Heb 2:14)

- Paul earnestly encouraging the reader not to be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin and to enter God's rest (Heb chapters 3-4).

- Jesus in the days of his flesh offering up prays with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save him from death. (Heb 5:7)

- People being judged (Heb 6:2,9:27), but nowhere in either Hebrews or Romans does Paul define that judgment as being everlasting torment in hell.

- Jesus being presented as a priest in the order of Melchizedek and what that means (Heb chapters 7-8).

- Jesus having obtained eternal/permanent/everlasting/age-abiding redemption for us (Heb 9:12).

- Jesus suffering death for our redemption, not everlasting destruction in hell (Heb 9:15).

- Jesus entering the Holy Place of Heaven with His blood, not hell (Heb 9:14).

- Jesus having appeared at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb 9:26). (And in putting away sin, he dealt a death blow to death.)

- A fire which will devour God's adversaries (Heb 10:27), but to call that fire eternal torment in hell is a stretch.

- Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, not the eternal torments of hell (Heb 12:2).

 - God chastising/scourging/chastening/correcting/punishing his sons (Heb 12:6-8).

- Esau having no place of repentance (Heb 12:17), though all Israel shall be saved (Romans 11:26).

- Paul encouraging the believers, as in Romans, to love and care for each other.  

But not one clear word about anyone everlasting torment in hell?!

God's everlasting/eternal fire never destroys life, it destroys only sin and death. Sin and death are destroyed in Christ Jesus. Only life will remain. What becomes of the sinners in hell at that point?


Now let's look at I and II Corinthians. These are major books, 16 and 17 chapters long, respectively. Paul speaks quite a bit in these books about dying and being raised, but nothing about an eternal hell of torment.

In I Cor 15:3-4, Paul said the gospel was that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and that he rose again.

In I Cor 15:17 he said, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain and you are yet in your sins.” Not, you are yet in your sins and will burn in hell for all eternity when you die.

I Cor 15:21 says, “For since by man came death, by man came also resurrection of the dead.” No mention of everlasting torment in an eternal hell there.

Verse 22 says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Ditto.

And now let's look at II Corinthians...

There is a judgment seat mentioned in II Cor 10:10, but nothing about eternal torment in hell being that judgment. (And, besides, the mercy seat triumphs over, glories in the face of, the judgment seat. James 2:13)


There are only three basic beliefs. Which is yours?

1. God chooses only the elect, and if you're one of the elect you have no choice but to respond. This is the belief that God never desired to save all; that He not only has the power to save those He chooses, but that all He chooses will be saved. It's called Calvinism/Predestination and there are many scriptures that seem to validate this belief, as folks like the Presbyterians/Catholics/Episcopalians and some Evangelicals are well aware.

2. God chooses all, but man can choose to reject Him. This is the belief that God has the desire to save all and the power to save all, but that man has the power to reject His salvation. It's called Arminianism and is the belief of most Methodists/Charismatics/Pentecostals and some Evangelicals. There are also many scriptures that seem to validate this belief.

3. God chooses all and man ultimately can not reject His choice.
This is the basic belief of believers like those who believe in Universal Reconciliation. There are many scriptures that seem to validate this belief as well.


The bottom line to me is the character and power of God. Do I believe God's character is best seen in Jesus Christ, who in Luke 9:56 chastised John and James for wanting to see heads roll when they asked Him if they could call fire down on the Samaritan dogs' heads? Who told them they didn't have a clue what manner of spirit they were of, that the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to seek and save those who were lost (apollumi/destroyed)? Yes, I do.

Do I believe God's power is best seen in verses such Deuteronomy 32:39, where it says God kills and makes alive, He wounds and heals, and no one can deliver from his hand? Yes, I do.

Do I believe Romans 11:20 and Isaiah 65:1, where it says God has been found by those who do not seek Him? That He has revealed Himself to those who did not ask for Him? Yes, I do.

Do I believe Luke 15:4-6, where it says Jesus is the one who leaves the 99 to go after the one which is lost (apollumi/destroyed) until He find it? Or Romans 9:16 where it says, "So then, all depends, not on human wishes or human efforts, but on God's mercy?" Or 11:33 where it says that God has committed all to disobedience that He might have mercy on all? Yes, I do.

Or Ephesians 1:11, where it says God does all things after the counsel of His own will? Yes, I believe that, too.

And what is His will?

- Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ. Ephesians 1:9-10

- His will is that His Son be heir of all things. Hebrews 1:2
- His will is that everything be subject to His Son. Hebrews 2:8-9
- His will is that everything be under the power of Christ. Ephesians 1:22
- His will is that all things be reconciled to Himself. Colossians 1:20
- His will is that all things be subdued unto Himself. 1 Corinthians 15:27
- His will is to fill all with Himself. Ephesians 1:23
- His will is to subject all things unto Himself. Philippians 3:21
- His will is that He be the source, guide, and goal of all that is. Romans 11:36
- His will is that He be the sovereign Lord of all. Revelations 1:8
- His will is that He be the all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:18

I believe Jesus is the savior of all men, especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10

Now I'm sure people could find scriptures that seem to deny any of these claims, or they can interpret them differently. And they're welcome to do just that, if they choose to do so. But I know the Biblical scholars of Jesus's day believed they had plenty of proof that Jesus wasn't the Messiah, let alone the Son of God. And I know the Bible says it was God who blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts.

And because I believe 1 Cor 15:22-23, "that just as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, each, to be sure, in his own order/turn," I have peace knowing it's God who decides the how and the when, but that in the end He will find ALL.

I think what it all comes down to is, who is God to you? And what do you believe He's done?