Hell – is it Relevant Today?

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B. W.
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Hell – is it Relevant Today?

#1

Post by B. W. » Fri Nov 04, 2005 11:36 am

There are many diverse views concerning Hell, punishment, and eternity today. So much so, that the existence of Hell is nearly all but forgotten, or simply glossed over, as one writer put it, “Hell has become air conditioned” in our modern world view. Also, the surging tide of NDE (Near Death Experience) also interposes on the Christian doctrine of Hell. What are we to make of all this information?

Has the concept of Hell become marginalized, over emphasized, or basically forgotten?

The purpose of this post is to examine if the doctrine of Hell is relevant today. Some hold the universalistic view concerning Hell. Others hold the annihilationist analysis of Hell and many hold the traditionalist Christian doctrine of Hell.

No matter one's perspective, the question remains - Hell — is it Relevant Today?

What is your 'take' on the subject?

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#2

Post by puritan lad » Fri Nov 04, 2005 12:43 pm

Sadly, Hell has become irrelevant in most churches who preach a more "seeker sensitive" gospel. Many professing Christians deny Hell altogether, and others water it down. Now for a little "Hellfire and Brimstone" preaching...

Preaching on Hell is necessary for two reasons. For Christians - Teaching on Hell is needed for Salvation to have any meaning. For non-believers - Teaching on Hell is needed to show sinners the seriousness of their plight. Historically, Hell was the focus of the preaching surrounding The Great Awakening. Look at the Sermons of George Whitefield, who preached the judgment of God with Puritan fire. Glance at the words of Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. This is the kind of preaching that brings about true revival. The modern church, on the other hand, attempts to remove the fear of God (Proverbs 1:7, Matthew 10:28) instead of promote it.

Hell…
a. …to be feared (Luke 12:4-5)
b. …to be avoided at all costs (Matthew 5:29-30)
c. …a fiery furnace (Matthew 13:42)
d. …a lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20:10)
e. …everlasting (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
f. …unquenchable (Matthew 3:12)
g. …eternal (Jude 1:7)
h. …will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:12)
i. …worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:44-48)

Sadly, even churches who believe in Hell don't seriously consider the horror of the place. I hear preachers over and over again tell people that "the worst part of Hell is the eternal separation from the presence of God". Really? If that is true, then Hell is really no threat at all to the unrepentant sinner, who has already lived most of his life outside of God. Hell would be the ideal place for the ACLU attorney, who not only wants to live outside the presence of God, but wants to make sure that everyone else does as well.

First of all, those in Hell are separated from the presence of God only in majesty. They are not separated from His presence physically, but they sure wish they could be. It is not the absence of God that is the true horror of Hell, but rather His presence. In Hell, God will be there to personally pour out the fire of His Divine wrath upon the damned. It is there that He will hate and abhor you (Psalm 5:5-6). He will laugh at you calamity and mock at your terror. Hebrews 10:31, a scripture that you won't find on many bumper stickers and T-shirts, states this quite accurately. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Anyone who saw "The Passion of the Christ" got a glimpse at the wrath of God upon sin. It is the height of foolishness to think that the worst thing we have to fear is annihilation or separation from the presence of God. As the sign above Dante's inferno read: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” I am a firm believer that, for the world to experience a true revival, Hell must once again become a real threat.
"To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect." - JOHN OWEN

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#3

Post by B. W. » Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:56 pm

puritan lad wrote:Sadly, Hell has become irrelevant in most churches who preach a more "seeker sensitive" gospel. Many professing Christians deny Hell altogether, and others water it down. Now for a little "Hellfire and Brimstone" preaching...

Preaching on Hell is necessary for two reasons. For Christians - Teaching on Hell is needed for Salvation to have any meaning. For non-believers - Teaching on Hell is needed to show sinners the seriousness of their plight. Historically, Hell was the focus of the preaching surrounding The Great Awakening.

Sadly, even churches who believe in Hell don't seriously consider the horror of the place. I hear preachers over and over again tell people that "the worst part of Hell is the eternal separation from the presence of God". Really? If that is true, then Hell is really no threat at all to the unrepentant sinner, who has already lived most of his life outside of God. Hell would be the ideal place for the ACLU attorney, who not only wants to live outside the presence of God, but wants to make sure that everyone else does as well.
As you noted, the historical thrust of a true awaking (revival) that had changed the course of any nation, where expounded, is as you pointed out. This manner of discourse is sadly lacking in today's modern world.

I would like to explore why this occurred. So feel free to jump in and discuss issues as to why the subject of an eternal Hell has become so repugnant to so many or ignored due to something else. Please chime in.

Another point worth discourse is how could the counter arguments of universalism and annihilation-ism, which are so prevalent today, be answered? That revolve around the English four letter word — love.

To open up the thread - Here is my take on this:

The arguments concerning God's love verses eternal punishment cloud the issue of retribution and in due course make many try to have God dance along with this tune: All You Need Is Love.

Desiring to interpret love as unbridled tolerance negates the meaning of agape love. The claim that agape love means only unconditional love fails to notice that unconditional is a condition. Jesus himself declared that “greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.” — John 15: 13-14. Jesus goes on to tell us to love God first and then love one another.

Now would love let a little child eat rat poison and do nothing to stop this occurrence in respectful loving tolerance to the child's behavior? What then is the true meaning of agape love? Would true love set boundaries in order to protect or promote a live and let live policy without thought of consequences?

One condition of agape's unconditional condition is entwined with justice and righteousness. Without consequences, justice loses justice and righteousness becomes irreverent.

Comments?

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#4

Post by Fortigurn » Sat Nov 05, 2005 8:13 am

B. W. wrote:One condition of agape's unconditional condition is entwined with justice and righteousness. Without consequences, justice loses justice and righteousness becomes irreverent.

Comments?
My comment is that I agree with this. But I don't see that justice requires eternal torment.

I do see that righteousness precludes eternal torment.

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#5

Post by B. W. » Sat Nov 05, 2005 9:54 am

Fortigurn wrote:
B. W. wrote:One condition of agape's unconditional condition is entwined with justice and righteousness. Without consequences, justice loses justice and righteousness becomes irreverent.

Comments?
My comment is that I agree with this. But I don't see that justice requires eternal torment.

I do see that righteousness precludes eternal torment.
In what manner do you not see that justice requires eternal torment?

In order to examine this fully, can you grant a specific example on what you mean?

This is one topic I would like to discuss in accord to an intelligent exchange of ideas. So by all means, let's start with this:

Does Justice require eternal torment?

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#6

Post by Fortigurn » Sun Nov 06, 2005 5:09 am

B. W. wrote:In what manner do you not see that justice requires eternal torment?
Becuase I do not see anything in Scripture which informs me that Divine justice requires eternal torment.

I do see that Divine justice requires punishment and reward with eternal consequences, but not eternal torment.
Does Justice require eternal torment?
No. It does require Divine justice requires punishment and reward with eternal consequences, but not eternal torment.

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#7

Post by j316 » Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:24 am

I have often pondered this issue and I feel that it is central to our understanding of God. There appears to be no real balance between the two extremes, but perhaps that is because the issue has been dominated by the extremists on both sides.

I will admit that I have a problem with the concept of a God so implacable as to be willing to torture someone for eternity for acts that occurred mostly in ignorance, only occassionally in outright rebellion. But I also do not accept the concept of no limits at all for behavior.

The truth probably lies in an area that no one has experienced yet, the promised judgement day. At that time, and probably only at that time, will enough of the truth about our lives be revealed to justify whatever reward or punishment we are to receive. All of God's qualities will be revealed at that time and I suspect that Judgement will be more fair and balanced with more compassion than we are capable of understanding at this point in our lives.

The point that I keep returning to is the fact that we can not fully comprehend the totality of this event so we should be careful of characterizing it lest we unduly alarm ourselves, or more importantly, cause others to regard it as radical nonsense and dismiss it out of hand. We are admonished not to cause others to stumble. Paul admitted his own inability to see clearly, I know of no one since him who has seen more.

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#8

Post by B. W. » Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:13 am

One failure we all have in regarding the Concept of Justice is separating these in singular linear fashion failing to examine the big picture holistically. For example, in the book of I John 4:8 the writer states “God is Love.”

We examine the word love, dissect it and apply linear definitions to it but miss the import of love being expounded on. In other words, we miss an important part of love. What is that? Well, God!

God revels who He is in His interactions with Humanity. Let's use the bible — the whole of it and not parts. Doing so you will discover that God is righteous, God is merciful, God is Just, God is full of grace, God has wisdom, God is all-knowing, God has all-power, God is everywhere, God is creative, etc. You'll discover that God exercises righteousness, mercy, justice, grace, wisdom, power, etc and etc,

How does He? Well, explore these yourself and come to your own conclusion:

God's Righteousness is display by His Love, God's Justices is display by His Love, God's grace is display by His Love, God's wisdom is display by His Love , God's mercy is display by His Love, God's all-knowing is display by His Love, God's all power is display by His Love, God's creativity is displayed by His Love, etc.

Hence, you'll discover that God exercises righteousness, mercy, justice, grace, wisdom, power, etc governed by the highest form of love the original Greek language uses.

God is truly love, but would love never punish? Never discipline? Not grant responsibilities? Not delegate authority, Never require an account? Never Judge at all? Never become angry? Never protect? Fail to nurture? Fail to be just? Fail to allow autonomy of reason? Fail to trust? Etc,

Would God's Love alone permit perpetual sin to last forever? Would that be just? Would reneging any of the above be an act of the highest purest kind of love?

I'll end in two clues: One, God is making something and were living in the process.

Two: Revelations 20: 6-8 describes the evil one being bound for a thousands years in prison. Did his stay reform him? Would it you? Love suffers long and never fails in righteousness, mercy, justice, grace, wisdom, or power. God cannot deny Himself.

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#9

Post by B. W. » Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:25 pm

I received an email from someone reading this forum. The individual asked me a question pertaining to the OT (Old Testament) and the afterlife. The person was afraid to post the question for fear of being made fun of but consented to my answering enquiry on the forum.

Please do not feel that you cannot ask questions on the forum for fear of ridicule or asking dumb questions. The only way to learn is to ask questions and not fear the response.
---------

Regarding what the netherworld is like, afterlife, and other matters in the OT..

Ezekiel grants the fullest description of the netherworld in Old Testament times in his oracles against the nations in EZ 32: 17-32.

In EZ 32: 22-23 it describes a massive communal cemetery in which the graves/tombs are arranged in a circular dimension in a pit's walls. The inhabitants were placed inside the wall of this pit according to nationality and crime committed and stacked upon each other. These were small cubes, where the body lays, as if on a bed.

Ezekiel reveals that This netherworld, the pit (sheol), or Hades, is thus fashioned in the similar manner of ancient mortuary customs that placed a ruler's crypt/sarcophagus in the center and then placed loyal subjects around this central core buried inside the walls.

The point Ezekiel is making is not that death is sleep, non-existence, soul-sleep but rather the picture portrayed is that these individuals will never arise again to bother Israel. In other words they will lie and stay put in a cell forever inside the walls of a burial pit like tomb.

The pit, Ezekiel furthers alludes too as having depth, in other words, a spiral i.e. Ezekiel 32:23 — the recesses of the pit is where the most dishonorable are sent hense further below.

Ezekiel also describes these internees as being fully conscious of the ruin they wrought as Ezekiel 32: 31 states concerning pharaoh. To lie (sakab in Hebrew) on their beds in Sheol — Pit — Hades is not non-existence, sleep, a state of nothingness, but rather a state of reflection on the woe each internee has caused and to experience it returned to themselves.

In Daniel 12: 2 gives clues on the state of the dead, both righteous and unrighteous awakening to either everlasting life or everlasting contempt and disgrace. Ezekiel 37: 11-14 speaks of this issue too. People brought from their graves — Pit — to a righteous state for God's own sake and purpose.

What you can gather from the OT regarding the Pit or Hell or death and the afterlife is that it will be everlasting. Some view death as sleep or non-existence because of the meaning of words and customs of ancient people but fail to realize that these were analogies and expression. For example, when your body dies — it will come to ruin in the grave or suffer rot and decay into a baser level than it was. Therefore, when one dies — they suffer ruin in the grave as the body sleeps — decays.

In the book of Job, Job expressed the desire to die — to suffer ruin and decay rather than continue to suffer. This was not a statement to encourage suicide because non-existence would be the result of death but rather the cry of an anguished man. If one believes in no-eternal punishment or non-existence— suicide would be an option. It is not. Suicide has consequences for the person as well as those closest to them. The message of Job was — I see God as He is! Only He can restore me. Life — no matter the hardship will get better with God's help. Hang in there!

Do not confuse suffering anguish and terms about death and the afterlife in the OT lead you to believe that the OT saints did not believe nor teach on an everlasting afterlife. It alludes to it in many places. When a person dies — the spirit returns to God — some to everlasting life and others to everlasting contempt and disgrace. Ecc 3:15-22 “God requires an account of what is past… (17) “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked; for there shall be a time there for every desire and for every work..”

Note that Ecc 3: 11 — that God placed eternity in our hearts from the beginning. If it was there, then how could it vanish after death?

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#10

Post by Locker » Wed Nov 09, 2005 10:19 am

B. W. wrote:I received an email from someone reading this forum. The individual asked me a question pertaining to the OT (Old Testament) and the afterlife. The person was afraid to post the question for fear of being made fun of but consented to my answering enquiry on the forum.

Please do not feel that you cannot ask questions on the forum for fear of ridicule or asking dumb questions. The only way to learn is to ask questions and not fear the response.
---------

Regarding what the netherworld is like, afterlife, and other matters in the OT..
Greetings, I am the guy who sent the question. I guess I feel intimedated writing on the forum as others have more bible knowledge than me.

Thank you B. W. for answeing my question regarding the OT writers descriptions of the afterlife and hell - sheol - hades.

I never saw EZ 32 and its descriptions. Good to ponder.

Now I'll ask a question:

Does anyone have any resources on the christian perspective on Hell and the after life - both NT and OT?

I am looking fer books on subject. Any recommendations?

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#11

Post by B. W. » Wed Nov 09, 2005 12:12 pm

Locker wrote: Greetings, I am the guy who sent the question. I guess I feel intimedated writing on the forum as others have more bible knowledge than me.

Thank you B. W. for answeing my question regarding the OT writers descriptions of the afterlife and hell - sheol - hades.

I never saw EZ 32 and its descriptions. Good to ponder.

Now I'll ask a question:

Does anyone have any resources on the christian perspective on Hell and the after life - both NT and OT?

I am looking fer books on subject. Any recommendations?
Welcome aboard!

I would recomended "Hell Under Fire" by Morgan and Peterson published by Zondervan for starters.

There are more resourses out there that others may know about too :)

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#12

Post by Locker » Thu Nov 10, 2005 7:49 am

B. W. wrote: Welcome aboard!

I would recomended "Hell Under Fire" by Morgan and Peterson published by Zondervan for starters.

There are more resourses out there that others may know about too :)
Thank you for the news on book. I need to head to work soon - so I'll be brief:

I was on Amazon looking at books on the subject of hell and divine punishment and came across a strange one called, "A Divine Revelation of Hell" It looks very odd - anyone read it or recomend it? reviews are mixed. To me - it does not look right but who am I to know?

Before I leave, I got into a heated discussion last night about God selecting one to punishment or not, all based on God's preordaining - anyone understand this very well?

Got to be going now... You all have a nice day :D

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#13

Post by puritan lad » Thu Nov 10, 2005 8:31 am

"To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect." - JOHN OWEN

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#14

Post by B. W. » Fri Nov 11, 2005 8:57 am

Also read the Forum Thread - This may help too.

http://discussions.godandscience.org/vi ... 7&start=30


As for book, I do not know about it, so I cannot comment on it. Maybe someone on the forum has more knowledge on it. I'll go to Barnes and Noble and see if it is there and look it over if they have it in stock. Once there, I can look it over and give a better answer than, I do not know :? :wink:

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#15

Post by B. W. » Fri Nov 11, 2005 9:02 am

[/quote]
Before I leave, I got into a heated discussion last night about God selecting one to punishment or not, all based on God's preordaining - anyone understand this very well?
[/quote]

I wrote this on the other thread - maybe copying it here will help you grasp more:

I suggest looking at Jeremaih 1:5 and doing your own word studies on each word and test what I write with scripture.

Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (KJV)

Here is what I found - Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I predestined you in the deepest recesses I foreknew you fully, completely, intimately; before thou came from the womb (different word than belly used prior, this is the real Hebrew word used for womb), I sanctified (Hebrew means — to be made clean, consecrated, set apart, selected to be holy) thee, and ordained (Hebrew means: to give, grant, given something to do like a charge, to bring forth using a voice) thee a prophet unto all nations.”

Since God foreknows all, He knows what will be, based on knowing all things, decisions, paths, a being with intelligence will take. From this He preordains. God knew us intimately before we ever were. He knows all.

Therefore: For God to be not guilty of being unjust or unfair, He would have to endow His created beings of renown with autonomy of reason, hence a free will. Without this — He would be guilty of not being perfect and committing sin. To so endow His individuals with autonomy of reason proves God and who He is as truly just, absolutely fair, and perfectly righteous. Think on it a few days.

Try this construct and re-read potter and the clay themes in bible:

Before I predestined Pharaoh in the deepest recesses I foreknew Pharaoh fully, completely, intimately; before Pharaoh came from the womb, I set apart Pharaoh, and ordained (Hebrew means: to give, grant, given something to do like a charge, to bring forth using a voice) Pharaoh…

What did God have Pharaoh do?

If Pharaoh was never placed when and where he was and not made Pharaoh, he would have still had rejected God as foreseen intimately but there was no one better than he for this time in epoch history. God would have the right to harden Pharaohs heart harder if God so pleased: why not? God is God and can do as He please.

Since God knows All — He can harden whom He will without any violation of justice or trust to them endowed with reason to think independently. He could place individuals in the scheme of time anywhere (predestine) because He knows All, in the deepest recesses of God's own being.

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