Eternal punishment, aka, Hell, has been a sore spot for believers for thousands of years. Questions and speculations swirl around this topic like no other. Fortunately, the Bible has plain teaching on the subject that will plainly answer people’s questions.
That is, if people choose to believe what they plainly see.
Many well-intentioned pastors and theologians want to soften the understanding of Hell. That’s understandable; most believers get a “gut check” at the thought of humans suffering apart from God for eternity. Descriptions like “fire,” “darkness,” “second death,” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” do not conjure up pleasant thoughts – or even bearable thoughts. And so, these Christian leaders begin to tinker with what the Bible says about Hell.
Some of their views shift the suffering of Hell from literal to metaphorical. Some see Hell’s punishment as redemptive refinement, not punitive judgment. Still others believe Hell inflicts suffering on those who reside there, but the suffering will not last for an eternity. There are many other beliefs about Hell, some of which even mix various teachings.
All of them are wrong, however, because they differ from what the Bible plainly teaches about Hell and judgment. The idea of eternal punishment for those who reject God can be found in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and specifically in the teachings of Jesus.
But some will not believe the Bible’s teachings on Hell even though they are plain.
R. H. Savage is one such person. In his Life After Death, he wrote:
If the doctrine of eternal punishment was clearly and unmistakably taught in every leaf of the Bible, and on every leaf of all the Bibles of all the world, I could not believe a word of it. I should appeal from these misconceptions of even the seers and the great men to the infinite and eternal Good, who only is God, and who only on such terms could be worshipped.
In short, Mr. Savage says he’s willing to reject the Bible’s teaching in favor of his own opinion or instinct. Under his rules, the Bible – and its message – doesn’t stand a chance. Unfortunately for him, Mr. Savage will still be judged by God’s Word, and on that day, it will not matter what he believes or disbelieves.
The only thing that matters will be what God has said.
Four Views on Hell edited by William Crockett. Zondervan, 1992, Pages 13-14.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)