The Apple Of God's Eye

May 18, 2009

Does Eternal Punishing Differ From Eternal Punishment?

socrates58.blogspot.com

socrates58.blogspot.com

Many people today preach about an eternal hell fire and eternal punishment. First, here’s the terse and brief summation of this popular belief, which I quote from the Encyclopedia Americana:

“… As generally understood, hell is the abode of evil spirits; the infernal regions…whither lost and condemned souls go after death to suffer indescribable torments and eternal punishment… Some have thought of it as the place created by the Deity, where He punishes with inconceivable severity, and through all eternity, the souls of those who through unbelief or through the worship of false gods have angered Him. It is the place of divine revenge, untempered, never ending.”

Now where, and how, did this popular belief about hell originate? The Encyclopedia Americana states further:

“The main features of hell as conceived by Hindu, Persian, Egyptian, Grecian and Christian theologians are essentially the same.” The Western religious leaders from Roman times through the Middle Ages borrowed the doctrine of eternal torture from the pagan philosophers. Certain writers of the Middle Ages had such tremendous influence on the Christian-professing world, that their writings and teachings came to be generally accepted and believed, until it became the doctrine of the Christian-professing world. Among these influential writers were Augustine and Dante Alighieri.”

An interesting book titled Dante, and His Inferno summs up the history of the Christian-professing doctrine of hell. This factual history is rather amazing! Dante lived A.D. 1265 to 1321. Dante, remember, wrote a tremendously popular book, titled Divine Comedy, in three parts – “Hell,” “Purgatory” and “Paradise.”

This from the aforementioned book of history:

“Of all poets of modern times, Dante Alighieri was, perhaps, the greatest educator. He possibly had a greater influence on the course of civilization than any other man since his day… He wrote, in incomprehensible verse, an imaginative and lurid account of a dismal hell – a long poem containing certain phrases which have caught the attention of the world, such as, ‘all hope abandon… ye, who enter here!’ This had a tremendous impression and influence on the popular Christian thought and teaching. His Inferno was based on Virgil and Plato.”

Dante is reported to have been so fascinated and enraptured by the ideas and philosophies of Plato and Virgil, pagan philosophers, that he believed they were divinely inspired.

Here is an article on Virgil, from the Americana: “VIRGIL, pagan Roman poet, 70-19 B.C. Belonged to the national school of pagan Roman thought, influenced by the Greek writers. Christians of the Middle Ages, including Dante, believed he had received some measure of divine inspiration.”

Plato was a pagan Greek philosopher, born in Athens, 427 B.C., a student of Socrates. He wrote the famous book Phaedo, on the immortality of the soul, and this book is the real origin of the modern belief in the immortality of the soul. In it, he acknowledges . .. three kinds of gods: superior, inferior, and intermediate.”

There is the general statement of the popular belief about hell, and where that belief came from – actually from the imaginations of pagans who DID NOT not God!

What about the billions of non-Christians?

Before we examine the common idea about hell to see whether it is true, consider one or two facts. On this earth are some 6,790,062,216 people (US Census Bureau). The most populous lands are China, India and other parts of Asia. In spite of missionaries from the West, actually more than half of air the people on this earth have never so much as heard the only name by which men may be saved – the name of Jesus Christ! Now is there some other way by which men may be saved? The Bible says there is not!

That means that thousands of millions of people on this earth have lived, and died, without ever having known anything about Christian salvation – without saving knowledge – never having heard the ONLY name by which men may be saved! Now think what that means! IF all unsaved go immediately to hell at death – the hell commonly believed in – then more than HALF of the people who have lived on this earth have been consigned there – and they are there, now, without ever having been given so much as a CHANCE to escape it!

Ask yourselves candidly, do you believe THAT is the plan by which an all-wise, all-merciful, loving GOD is working out his purpose here below?

Now what is the TRUTH?

We face this alternative: Either the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God, by which the Creator reveals the truth on the subject, or else we must fling up our hands and confess we just don’t know – we are ignorant on the question – because no one has ever come back from such an ever-burning hell to tell us about it, and science knows nothing about it. We must believe what the Bible says, or we can believe nothing, if we are rational and honest!

Source: The Plain Truth, a955, Herbert W Armstrong

So why does Math. 25:41 quote an everlasting fire?

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…”

The word translated “everlasting” in verse 41 is “aionion” in the Greek. This word comes from the root “aion,” which can mean “eternal” but often means “age.” In verse 41, the correct translation into English should be “age-lasting” fire.

During the Millennium — the “age” of Christ’s rule with the saints on the earth — the valley of Hinnom will be kept perpetually burning. The incorrigibly wicked, those who set their wills in persistent rebellion against God’s laws, will be thrown into that fire as a stern witness to the rest of the world (Isa. 66:24).

Gehenna was a place of destruction and death – not a place of living torture. Jesus was talking to Jews who understood all about this Gehenna or Valley of Hinnom. Utter destruction by fire was complete. Nothing was left, but ashes!  Every text in the Bible translated from this Greek word gehenna means complete destruction – not living torture – not eternal life in torment! The Bible says, in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is DEATH” – not eternal life in torture. The punishment revealed in the Bible is death – the cessation of life. Eternal life is the gift of God!

Then why have we been believing that punishment is eternal life in fire? And why have we been believing we already have eternal life and don’t need to come to God through Christ to receive it as His gift?

When Jesus spoke of being cast into “gehenna fire,” he was using this expression as an illustration of the “lake of fire.” This everlasting punishment spoken of in Matthew 25:46 is what the Bible elsewhere calls the “second death” (Rev. 20:14; 21:3). Death for all eternity is eternal punishMENT. The Bible nowhere teaches eternal punishING. The wicked will be burned up and will become ashes under the feet of the righteous (Mal. 4:3).

That fire will be much hotter than Dante’s imaginary hell!

What Does It Mean To Cast Your Pearls Before Swine?

Matthew 7:6 is an analogy Jesus used to show how people who have not had their minds opened by God to receive spiritual understanding will often react when they hear the true Gospel.

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

Put another way, Jesus was teaching His disciples not to try to convert those who are not yet being called (John 6:44). Such people are likely to respond by treating God’s truth like dirt.

Just as a pig would trample fine pearls into the mud because it doesn’t know any better and cannot appreciate such worth, the person whose mind is not yet receptive cannot grasp the awesome value of the truth. To them, the truth would be meaningless and would be discarded. They would just trample it underfoot, so to speak.

God’s truth should never be forced upon anyone, but true Christians should “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh … a reason of the hope that is in [us], with meekness and fear [gentleness and respect]” (I Pet. 3:15).

In other words, it is right to explain what he believes when someone sincerely asks. Such interest may indicate that God is opening the person’s mind.

Notice how, at another time, Jesus used pearls to express the value of the truth and of God’s Kingdom. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matt. 13:45-46). God wants us to treat His truth like a priceless gem.

Are Christians To Literally Gouge Out Their Eye If They Sin?

Filed under: Sin — melchia @ 5:36 am
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Christ did not intend that his instruction of Matt. 5:29-39 and Mark 9:43-48 are to be taken literally.

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

The eye, the hand, or the foot cannot sin of and by themselves. Sin originates in the mind. A person who is totally blind, for example, or one who is missing a limb can still sin.

Jesus was simply using parts of the body to illustrate an important principle. He was explaining that a Christian SHOULD NOT TOLERATE SIN as an integral part of his life.

If, for example, an individual has a sinful habit, he ought to totally eradicate that habit even though the process may be as painful as losing an arm or a leg. What Christ is saying is that it would be far better to give up a sinful pleasure than to lose out on salvation(also see Colossians 3:5-17)

Was Christ A Long Haired Nazarite?

Jesus was not a Nazarite.

Some have been misled by an erroneous interpretation of Matthew 2:23:

“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Many have concluded that this prophecy had to be a written prophecy recorded somewhere in the Old Testament. This is an unfounded assumption.

Since they could not find anything in the Old Testament about Nazarenes, they guessed that some similar word must have been intended. Using this erroneous reasoning, they went one step further in their folly and assumed that this scripture was referring to the LAWS (NOT prophecy ) about Nazarites.

Notice that the prophecy said that Christ would be called a NazarENE, not a NazarITE. A NazarENE is one who lives in Nazareth; and a NazarITE is one who has a nazarite vow, which is described in Numbers 6. Many Bible students have been confused by the similarity of these two words, although they are not at all related in their meanings. They are just as unrelated in meaning as some of our English words of today that have similar sounds, such as “encumber” and “cucumber.”

Christ was a Nazarene, a man from Nazareth. He was not a long-haired Nazarite. A Nazarite was forbidden to drink wine, but Christ drank wine on numerous occasions. Either He was never a Nazarite — or He broke His vows!

The prophecy — that the Saviour would be called a Nazarene — was not “written” in the Scriptures. Matthew says it was “spoken by the prophets.” It was a universally recognized ORAL prophecy that was authoritatively preserved from generation to generation by the priests. It became a WRITTEN prophecy only in New Testament times.

One verse, however, contains an interesting play on words — Isaiah 11:1. The word “branch” here is from the Hebrew “nezer.” This word is very similar to the Hebrew word for “Nazarene.” Perhaps the Jews at that time understood this verse to refer to someone from Nazareth.

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