Thursday, June 30, 2011

They call it the view of Hell

Recently, I read a long write-up of an interview between a distinguished Post and a Bible scholar on the subject of the view of Hell. The scholar has a view of Hell which differs from the traditional view of the same. This article I am putting up here, is in defense of the traditionalist view of Hell, and in the process, expresses views contrary to the followers of the so-called conditionalist view of Hell. With a view to give understanding, I also elaborated on a number of peripheral, but connected issues to the view of Hell.

View expressed here are my own
The views expressed in this article, as well as those in the various articles of mine, which I will give reference to, are solely my own, and do NOT necessarily represent the church or any Christian organization which I am a part of, or have associations with. Of course, who we sit under over the years, does shape our belief in matters relating to the faith.

Also, as far as possible, I try my best (I am human, too) NOT to attack a person per se; rather I do speak out against questionable teachings. If you teach wrong teaching on the core theologies of the faith, I will NOT hesitate to write against that teaching.

On exegesis
Talking about Hell is like talking about Heaven when one has NOT been to either. So, there is no facts to talk about, no evidence to study, except for expressions of Man (inspired by the Holy Spirit) in the Word, and various writings throughout times, including ancient times, before and during the Bible authoring. For me, it has always been that we give the strongest weightage to the Word. Any data, information or views expressed in extra-biblical writings, if admitted, must NOT contradict existing ones (however incomplete, they might seem) in Scriptures. In other words, filling in the gaps must NOT contradict existing information as stated in Scriptures.

It is also NOT acceptable to hide behind bombastic words such as perspicuity when one contradicts existing facts of the Word. Yes, what does that word, “perspicuity” mean? Acuteness of judgment! Whatever acuteness of judgment that one may have, it cannot contradict the revealed facts of the Word, for the Holy Spirit does NOT contradict the Word of God.

Anything with NO link to information in Scriptures, is pure speculation, and must be recognized as such. I am NOT saying we cannot speculate but we must note the difference between speculation and correct adoption of filling in the gaps, as a manner of interpreting Scriptures (I expressed in some of my articles, also, my stand on experiences, which in this case, is NOT relevant {experience of Hell, anyone?}, that people should NOT form theology out of their experiences, but to view experiences as testifying to theology derived solely from the Word).

My caution, to even distinguished pastors and ministers, is that we must all be very careful when we are inclined to “borrow” explanations in ex-biblical writings to explain the Word. In the same way, it is also absolutely critical we translate the Bible correctly, that we are careful NOT to add or subtract from it, or color the translation with our own “slant” in theological beliefs. (I am aware that inevitably a view is sometimes adopted, for pure lack of data or information. Having the correct overall counsel of the Word is of utmost importance in translation of Scriptures).

Three views mentioned
Three views are mentioned in the interview, of Hell, and are as follows:

1. The traditionalist view - hell as the fire that torments forever.
2. Universalist view - hell as the fire that purifies and refines.
3. Conditionalist view (the scholar's view) - hell as the fire that consumes.

This, I take serious issue with!
In the interview, the scholar expressed his agreement with the interviewer that he (the scholar) and the universalists agree on one thing, and that one thing is that our God is a loving God and so cannot be sending someone to Hell to be burned and tormented forever.

The conditionalists and the universalists cannot accept that our God is a loving God and at the same time, can still be sending {this of course, is understood by all as consequence of our sinning} some to Hell to be burned and tortured forever. Now, they cannot accept; that is their position, but that does NOT mean anything! They cannot accept, but that does NOT mean that it cannot be! I am NOT saying that the conditionalists are apostates, but there are Christians who teaches that everyone will go to Heaven, because they erroneously argue that sending people to Hell is incongruent with the character of God.

The point is that there are many people in the world who subscribe to this view: “I do NOT want a God who will send me to Hell because I refuse to listen to Him”. The Gospel is that we have to accept God’s plan of salvation through Christ Jesus; we have to subscribe to that Gospel; that is what the Word said. Anything to the effect of, “No-lah, since God is so loving, that He even sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, surely He cannot be sending us to Hell to be burned and tortured.”, is heretic, if NOT apostate. Like I said, I am NOT saying the conditionalists are apostates, but more inclination towards a loving God cannot be sending people to Hell or to Hell to be tormented for long stretch of time is likely to fuel more false “theologies” to be spun out to paint an incorrect will of God for Man, as portrayed in Scriptures.

I once read over the internet of a teacher who taught that everyone will get to Heaven to be with God, regardless of whether or not, in the person’s life-time, he accepts the Lord as his personal Lord and Savior. Many concerned Christians wrote against that teaching, and one of the things expressed was this: “You mean I have been interceding for my family members to receive Jesus into their lives for nothing!”. One of the verses cited in support for such argument that all men will be included is this:

1 Tim 2:4 (KJV) – “{God} Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Well, the verse said that God “will have”, thelō (G2309), desires, all men be saved, but it does NOT say that it is God MUST save all men.

We really must be very careful when we import extra-biblical views into our faith. Another example of unacceptable portrayal that our God is a loving God who will be willing to give 2nd chances to people, is that there are teachers that went round teaching that we can intercede for the dead to be admitted to Heaven, giving rise to ridiculous “passing the buck” to children of reluctant parents who did NOT want to give their lives over to Jesus while they are alive. A friend of mine was so tempted by that erroneous “loop-hole” that he asked me if it is indeed possible that his children can, in the future, intercede for him to enter into Heaven when he, in his life-time, is NOT going (NOT willing) to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.

Then, along the line of man-centred (instead of God-centred) reasoning expressed in the interview, there are teachers who expressed that over the history of mankind, millions and millions of people have died without entry into salvation; how can it be that “entry into salvation” is an essential criteria, too many would be lost?! True, over the years, millions if not billions, have died that way, but that does NOT negate the Gospel or the Word of God, for Jesus Himself has expressed:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matt 7:13-14).

If God’s love MUST absolutely see us in Heaven, why the need to send Jesus? The Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be ignored.

Then, there are those who taught, based on, “Who are the sheep and who are the goats”, a narrative by our Lord, Jesus, and concluded that entry into salvation is NOT the essential criteria to get to Heaven, but works (good works) solely, is the essential criteria. Their central argument was that works (good works) evidenced the love of such a “good works” person, and because God is love, God will recognize those good works, and the person will be granted entry into Heaven, and he is able to avoid being sent to the burning fire of Hell. This, in my view, is apostate, for it is incongruent with the revealed will of God for Man, as written in the Gospel. My definition of being an apostate is one holding onto core theology incongruent to the REVEALED will of God, as written in the Word. If you want my interpretation of the same narrative of our Lord, read this separate article of mine: “Who are the sheep and who are the goats”.

It is NOT so much the concept (here, expressed as “view”) of Hell that is of issue, it is the saying that a loving God cannot be sending some to Hell to be burned and tormented (torment or torture itself carries connotation of significant length of time of suffering), that I seriously take issue with.

Which is more vindictive; putting people to fire to burn to purify and refine (universalist view), or putting people to fire to consume (conditionalist view)? Obviously, conditionalists are no more portraying a loving God than the universalists or the traditionalists. They are saying that one sent there, is consumed, which means that he is NO more, absolutely or final or irreversible. Let’s say for a moment, that the conditionalist is right, but is the picture he painted, one of a more loving God than the other scenarios? I do NOT know about you, when there is NO more of me, in absolute, how can it be more loving! To me, it is an oxymoron, to say that this conditionalist view is more acceptable over the traditionalist view because it paints a more loving God.

It is NOT the intention of this article to dwell on the universalist view of hell as fire that purifies and refines, but I will just state, as far as I am concerned, that view of Hell is undisputedly incorrect based on the revealed will of God, as written in the Bible.

Man bipartite or tripartite?
The scholar spoke about Man as being with soul and body. Although it is NOT very clear from the interview whether or not, he is of the view that both the soul and body are both physical and mortal, such is the view held by other conditionalists, and they and scholar made no reference to the spirit of Man. So, it is either they are viewing the spirit and soul of Man as synonymous or they do NOT believe Man is tripartite. The soul {psychē, G5590} and spirit {pneuma, G4151} of Man is NOT synonymous – Heb 4:12.

Whether or NOT a conditionalist believes that Man is tripartite, the correct biblical view is that Man is tripartite, i.e. Man is body, soul and spirit. For understanding of this, please read my separate article, “Man is body, soul and spirit”. In it, NOT without reference to Scriptures, is the view expressed. It is based on interpretation of Scriptures (of course, one can dispute my interpretations, but, I believe they are NOT incorrect, although my article explained the tripartite nature most simplistically, compared with the common articles you find on the internet). If you follow my argument there, the potential for immortality is present right from the beginning, in God’s creation of Man (meaning if Adam did NOT sin, he would be living forever by just taking in of the fruit from the Tree of Life). This is contrary to the belief of the conditionalists who believe that it is an entirely afterward issue, with immortality coming in view only when resurrection takes place. My article explains it is in the creation of Man, that Man was granted the potential for immortality, compared with animals and plants. Man was given a spirit by God, and it is the spirit of Man which has the capacity of eternal life or immortality that gave the soul of Man the potential of immortality.

Man is with a spirited soul, animals and plants are without, that is why I also hold on to the view that animals (and plants) do NOT go to Heaven. You can read about this in my separate article, “Animals do NOT go to Heaven”. Our belief of spirits being capable of living forever, is that, which will make a lot of difference in how we make sense of some of the deep things of God. For example, angels are spirit (of course, we know God is spirit, The Spirit), and so, angels do NOT expire, become nothingness! When Man was created, he was NOT meant to expire, too! If you believe in the story of Lucifer, of his creation, his fall, the pronouncement against him, and his destiny, which you can read about it as part of my separate article, “It is a tug of war”, you will be able to more clearly see the link between the immortal spirit, Satan (aka or pka Lucifer), and Man’s predicament.

The scholar said that it was the Greek philosophers who colored the lenses of the early fathers of the faith to embrace immortality of the soul. Well, Greek philosopher, Tertullian, or Swiss scholar, Oscar Cullmann or NOT, I know of him NOT (only because the scholar mentioned them), but like I say, “I believe in the immortality of the spirit, but NOT the soul, per se”. Now, in my understanding, the body is physical, the soul is the life participle or the being {psychē, G5590}, and the spirit of Man is spirit. The soul is NOT physical, the spirited soul is definitely NOT physical.

For a Christian, it is his spirited soul that lives on, in Heaven, meaning, he does NOT go to Heaven as a blank sheet, without soul, contrary to the belief of some Christians, partly, I supposed, they are influenced by the saying that the soul is mortal and physical (Now, the soul of animals and plants are mortal, but NOT that of Man, because of the spirit of Man).

As I have pointed out, among other things, in my separate article, “God is gender-neutral, He is Spirit”, one in Heaven does know who his earthly father and mother were or who were once their children on earth, although people are no longer given in marriage in Heaven; you will know, because your soul (or at least aspects of your soul) is NOT gone! {This separate article of mine will make an interesting read. By the way, the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix June 14-15, 2011, took issue with the adopting of the latest translation of the NIV Bible (2011 Translation) with one reason being the new translation adopted gender-neutrality in the translation. For example, where it appeared “brothers” it would now read “brothers and sisters” or “sons”, “sons and daughters”; such insertion is really NOT required}.

Hell and “new heaven and new earth” incompatible!
Satan (aka or pka Lucifer) and angels are immortal, based on understanding that can be derived from Scriptures, for the latter speaks no death or expiry of The Devil or angels, except that Satan and his minions would end up in the burning lake of fire. It is pure speculation on the part of the scholar in the interview to think that there cannot exist, Hell or a part thereof – the burning lake of fire, when the new heaven and new earth come into being. Scriptures speaks of NO destruction of Hell or the burning lake of fire, and it specifically talked about Hades and Death being thrown into Hell (Rev 20:14) at the closure of this current world.

Either it is a chapter to added, of its destruction, in the distant, distant future, for reason that it touches on a separate frame of distant time, or it will NOT be destroyed, Hell, that is, we really do NOT know; and frankly, to the extent that it is revealed of Hell, its character of being a tormenting place, it is sufficient as a warning to all. Please choose to fear God!

Torment may or may NOT be forever, absolutely, but we are NOT consumed instantly
Perhaps, there is no one verse in Scriptures that can be interpreted undisputedly as indicating tormenting in Hell is forever, absolutely, but there is also NO verse that indicates that burning in the burning lake of fire is short-lived. The conditionalist’s idea suggests we get “fried” like fish in fire is without scriptural support. Look, if it is all to be viewed in the physical, how long can we be fried in the burning lake of fire. In physical-humanistic view, of course, if the conditionalist is NOT consumed, he must be superman, from the Planet, Krytonite, or something!

The scholar in the interview said the Bible teaches us that it is that the fire consumes; yah, but Bible also teaches us that, it is that the “fire” refines; so, the universalists are correct - hell as the fire that purifies and refines? No, distinction must be made between “fires” in our current lives, and the burning lake of fire of Hell. As far as dealing of God with Man as revealed in His will, as written in the Word, there are chastisements and there is a punishment-in-finality (By the way, do you know why the 2 sections of the Bible are called testaments? Because they are the wills of God for men {testament = will}! So, don’t say, God revealed nothing of His will; some of them, are there in the Bible). Being thrown into the lake of fire of Hell for torment is the punishment-in-finality for Satan and his minions and all men counted with Satan. Beyond that, the Bible does NOT say, and views are pure speculations.

But who say, we are to view the burning in the lake of fire in our physical-humanistic perspective. Now, there was such a thing as a burning bush (like that encountered by Moses); the bush did NOT get burnt (Ex 3:2-3, Acts 7:30), why can’t there be a fire where we are being “roasted”, but we do NOT die or disappear or no more!

While conditionalists claimed there are no definitive verses to say in uncertain term, that the tormenting in Hell is eternal, there are many verses collectively SUGGEST that we do NOT get dropped into the fire of Hell and become instantly or quickly consumed. Below are some verses about Hell, and I have classified them under captions to make it easier to see the points I am making (I have excluded Luke 16 verses, as the Greek word used there, was “Hades” rather than Hell or its part thereof – the burning lake of fire. Hades will be destroyed, that I agree, for it is stated in Scriptures – Rev 20:14. But Hades and Hell are different.):

The fire is eternal:
Matt 18:8 - If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

Matt 25:41 - “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Mark 9:43 - If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out

Mark 9:48 - where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Jude 1:7 - In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

My point: The above speaks of a fire that is eternal or everlasting. As used in Matt 18:8 above, for example, it is the same word as used in eternal life or everlasting life. So, what do these verses tell us? There is an eternal fire or everlasting fire. So, it is unlikely it is a fire that was up for a brief moment that all of the unsaved are thrown into, including Satan and his minions, and then put out, and then God will have the new heaven and new earth come into place, as is suggested by the scholar in the interview.

There is the argument by conditionalists that, it is the result of punishment that is eternal NOT the punishment itself or process of punishment. But clearly, the “eternal” is attached to the fire, as used in the above verses.

Eternal punishment:
Matt 25:46 - “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (NIV84). And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (KJV).

My point: The above is a good example of same meaning use, for “eternal” or “everlasting”; the same Greek word was used in the verse at the 2 different places, “aiōnios” (G166), which means “everlasting”. How long is everlasting as applied to life, and how long is everlasting as applied to punishment, be my guest? It is also clear, the eternality is attached to the word, “punishment” just as it is attached to the word, “life”. I really do NOT appreciate how people can insist that it is NOT about the punishment, but the result of punishment. Let me explain.

Frankly speaking, if it were referring to the result of punishment, i.e. the person is consumed, no more, “apa pun tak ada” {a Malay phrase for “no more), no more Anthony, or no more John, how NOT eternal can one understand the result of that punishment be, if the word, “eternal” is NOT used? Of course, when you are “no more” it is eternal, it goes without saying! – no need to say “eternal”. Therefore, it is intentional for using “eternal” there, against “punishment”, to give an idea of the length of time of the punishment, just as it is to explain to men, how long is the life that we are going into, for we all know, the life that we know and are living in, currently, is one of several tens of years. In other words, eternal, against “life”, is similarly to explain we are NOT entering into another life-span that is only another several tens of years.

Be thrown into Hell:
Matt 18:8 - If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

Matt 18:9 - And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Mark 9:45 - And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.

Mark 9:47 - 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.

Matt 13:42,50 - They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Rev 20:15 - If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

My point: Why say “be thrown into the fire” or “be cast into the fire” by so many different authors, why NOT just say, “be consumed by the fire” or “killed or destroyed” by the fire? Because it was meant to portray there is still life after being put into the fire. It is NOT instant or quick annihilation, if it were so, at least one of them, the authors, might have said it, but NO, none of them said it.

Go into Hell:
Mark 9:43 - If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out

Matt 25:41 - “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

My point: Yes, the above 2 verses, did NOT use “be thrown into”, but, for Mark 9:43, “go into hell” could very much be intended as the same as “be thrown into”, for while still on the same topic, a few verses down (Mark 9:47), the Apostle Mark used “be thrown into”.

We have seen from Matt 25:46 above, that the Apostle Matthew was speaking of “eternal punishment”, and so, the “depart to go into” eternal fire, is NO different from the interpretation of “being cast into” the eternal fire.

There will be weeping/wailing and gnashing of teeth:
Matt 13:42,50 - They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matt 18:12 - But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matt 22:13 - “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matt 25:30 - And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

My point: What do wailing, weeping and gnashing of teeth signify? Untold anguish and suffering, and it meant to portray a picture of, at least a period of suffering, surely NOT any sort of quick annihilation. I can drop you into a pit of fire, you tell me do you have time to weep or gnash your teeth in the fire; talking about physical!

Into Darkness:
Matt 18:12 - But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jude 1:11-13 - Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

My point: Both the above verses implied length of time through the use of weeping and gnashing of teeth, and “reserved forever”. It is interesting here that “darkness” was used for Hell. On the surface, fire and darkness do NOT seem to go together, but, I believe the darkness referred to, was NOT the absence of the literal light that a fire would give out; rather it was darkness as in “bad”.

Conclusion: The above verses, collectively, can be reasonably be taken to have painted a picture of NOT an instantaneous or quick annihilation of our spirited souls, but a torment of the same, in the burning lake of fire in Hell.

Definition of “death” or “die”
On the issue of definition for “death” or “die”, I beg to differ from the scholar of the interview. His view is that “death” or “die” has to be referring to the same, in the physical sense. No, sometimes, those two words, referred to physical death, sometimes they referred to non-physical death.

In the Book of Hebrews, we can see an instance of it being used as physical death. Heb 9:27 – “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” As physical death, Man dies ONCE, NOT twice, as implied by the scholar in the interview, in his physical rendering of the second death.

A second time death for a person, and there is such a thing (but NOT for the saved ones), but it is NOT referring to physical death. Rev 20:14 – “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.” Yes, the second death always is referring to the same {death} in the lake of fire of Hell.

Whether or NOT, the non-believers will be raised with an incorruptible body, is NOT that relevant, for that body is NOT of the same “physical nature” as we understand it to be, although, it is NOT wrong to view that body to be given us, as “physical”, for it is the final part of our physical redemption, one of the 3-fold redemptive works of our Lord (For understanding of the redemptive works of our Lord, read my separate article, “Works of redemptions of our Lord”). It is NOT physical like our flesh is! Just consider Lucifer, is he NOT with a body (read Eze 28, and know that he had a magnificent body), yet it is NOT physical like we are. The death in the burning lake of fire is NOT physical; for the body if there is one for the non-believers or any men, it is NOT physical like our flesh is; also the soul of Man is NOT physical, and the spirit of Man is NOT physical.

It is my belief that the spirited soul of Man cannot just die physically. Analogous to physical death, I can believe that the spirit can be weakened to a very weak state, well maybe even “coma equivalent”, but God can revive or quicken that spirit and it will come to life! Whether or not, one day, in the most distant, distant future, God will revive the spirits “trapped” in the burning lake of fire, we are NOT told; only God knows.

The death in Gen 2:17, the “you will surely die”, there 2 ways of interpreting it, but none is like that suggested by the conditionalists, although one of the two interpretations does amount to PHYSICAL death (ultimately), BUT it is the FIRST death! I shall explain.

Elsewhere (in other articles), I have only given one of the 2 interpretations, and it was this: The death was NOT referring to the physical death, rather it was referring to the second death, for clearly Adam did NOT die shortly after The Fall, but he lived to have Cain, Abel and Seth, and lived to an age over 900 years. This is NOT an incorrect interpretation, only that it is viewing the matter from the perspective of God - the first death, the physical death is only a “cross-over” or a transition. The relevant death from the perspective of God is the second death, the lake of fire in Hell.

The second interpretation, though it came to me earlier on, but it became clear, only most recently, is this: Indeed, the death referred to, was PHYSICAL death BUT it is the FIRST death, NOT the second death! This is viewing the matter from humanistic angle, emphasizing physical life, for truly from pure human point of view, if my life ends, what else is there to talk about! But conditionalists are still wrong, the second death is NEVER a physical death. It is said that the correct translation of the Hebrew text (OT, originally in Hebrew) is “dying you will die”. Well, the “dying” is referring to the second death (continuous tense implied “on the way to death {to the second death}), the “will die” is referring to the first death, the physical death that is common to all men. Adam would die (physically), and he did die, some 900 years later. The “dying” was referring to “spiritual decay” or weakening of the spirit of Man, together with his soul. With separation from God, the spirit of Man would get weaker, and so, the word, “dying”, and indeed it would be death (second death) for ones who do NOT receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. That is why Scriptures said that Jesus is the quickening spirit, coming to quicken or enliven the spirit of Man:

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam {Jesus} was made a quickening spirit (1 Cor 15:45, KJV)

Therefore, to be comprehensive, both deaths were being referred to, in Gen 2:17. It is to be understood that in that time Man had no understanding of death, and God introduced it in that first prohibitive commandment. The nature of “death” is NEVER mixed up, first death is physical and second death is non-physical (culminating in the lake of burning fire of Hell, unless redeemed by the Lord). Also, the order is also NEVER mixed up, physical death must be entered into before non-physical one can culminate in the lake of burning fire of Hell, and that is why Adam was barred from (further!) eating from the Tree of Life, and be put out of the Garden of Eden.

By the way, the death in Romans 6:23 – “the wages of sin is death”, is to be similarly explained, following the principle of first mention. So, it is NOT entirely incorrect to say the death in Romans 6:23 is referring to the second death (from the perspective of God), and it is also NOT quite wrong to say that the same death was referring to first death, physical death (along the line of interpreting “dying you die” of Gen 2:17), but commonly I DO reference it to second death, solely because if we say it is the first death, much explanation, like what I have done above, needs to be given, for most people will argue back, saying experience is pointing to a man who commits a sin, is not necessarily going to die (physical, first death) from THAT sin. That is why, I always warn people, and I remind myself, NOT to form theology purely out of our experiences, but to regard our experiences as testifying to theology derived solely based on the Word. In the same light, it is worth mentioning that a number of true occurrences do NOT make a truth; people also need to be careful NOT to confuse true occurrences with truth.

It is also worth mentioning that because the lack of understanding of death in Gen 2:17, and the insistence of saying death of Romans 6:23 is the physical, first death, without understanding of the underlying explanation, coupled with human weakness of only wanting to recognize sight, some have even spun out their own theology of implying there is difference between the wages of sin before entry into salvation and the same, after entry into salvation. Nowhere in Scripture, is there mentioned such a notion that the same sin that one commits after entry into salvation is any different from that, before salvation. Also, do NOT listen to overly grace believers, and their teachers, who tell you Romans 6:23 is NOT referring to believers, because the author was referring to believers in that passage.

The scholar’s understanding of Romans 6:23 pointing to physical death did NOT comprise the correct underlying explanation; he just erroneously assigned the PHYSICAL attribute to the SECOND death.

The scholar’s argument that the famous John 3:16 verse should be taken at face value, suggesting the word, “perish” in it, be taken at face value to mean “consumed”. The Greek word there, “apollymi” (G622) does NOT just refer to physical death. It has non-physical death meanings which included the followings: to be put out of the way entirely, render useless, give over to eternal misery in Hell, to be lost, to be in ruin. In fact, it has NO less non-physical death connotations than physical ones!

Similar arguments can be said of Matt 10:28 – “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” The “destroy” in it, is the same Greek word, “apollymi” (G622), which I have just seen in John 3:16. The soul here, as referred to Man, is always the spirited soul, and is NOT physical. As to the issue of “soul and BODY” in Hell, like I said earlier, even if non-believers (or any men) are given a certain body after death, that body’s physical attribute is NOT the same as our flesh. The “destruction” in Hell even of the BODY (of those NOT going to Heaven) is NOT physical in the sense that we are quickly consumed, no more, vanished!

{Added 11 Oct 2011 - An Old Testament Professor's views
1. Only God is immortal (1 Tim 6:16) - Now, the scholar, as I have said above, is of the view that the soul or I prefer to called it, the spirited soul, is immortal only after receiving salvation.  The Professor views that the soul does NOT live on when we die.  He quoted 1 Tim 1:16 that only God is immortal, and he also said that the inhabitants of Shoel was never referred to as "nephesh" (soul).  But he admitted to Old Testament (OT) talking about both living nephesh and dead nephesh.  (My view is that "dead" does NOT mean "no more".  For example, a spiritually dead soul can be revived, by God!) My view is this:  We need to get the perspective right.  This is what 1Tim 6:13-16 reads:

13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

Now, the above was the Apostle Paul's charge to Timothy which started at verse 11.  Verse 16 was indeed a description of God, that God alone is immortal, and God lives in unapproachable light.  The professor is implying that because it was said that God ALONE is immortal it cannot be that man (or man's soul or spirit or spirited soul) can be immortal.  Is he then denying the eternality of his own life, a believer!  Is eternal life a fake!  No, God is immortal of His own, immortality is of Him; He is Life; He is the source of life, He is the Beginning and the End. We, believers, have immortality, our immortality is a derived immortality, an immortality sourced in God.  It is the same with concept of God lives in unapproachable light, so we cannot be walking in the light?  No, Scriptures talked about and exhorted us to walk in the light, and we will have fellowship with God and with fellow believers.  It said "unapproachable" light, right there, in 1 Tim 6:16, how then can we walk in the light, it is just like granted immortality, we are granted approach into light.  It is also self-contraditory of the Professor to say that the soul die on physical death, and then agree with the scholar's argument that the soul (and the body) can still be "perished" (killed) in Hell. As to when Man has the capacity for eternal life, I have expressed my view earlier on. 

2. God punished in the OT to the 3rd and 4th generation (Exodus 34:6-7), and since OT is shadow of the NT, consistently, the punishment in NT should have an end.  Again, it is an issue of perspective.  What is expressed in that Exodus text concerned "punishment while men live" which can even be called chastisement, while punishment in Hell is "punishment in finality".  Just because there is a stop to God's punishment for the living (earthly life) in the OT does NOT necessarily mean that there has to be a stop to the punishment post death (post physical death).

3. Professor's conclusion - "After comparing the teachings of the New Testament with what I knew about what the Old Testament teaches, it is obvious to me that what The Fire That Consumes teaches reflects the true Biblical teaching about the eternal destiny of the wicked." I say, while Scripture does NOT contradict itself, the NT does supersede certain (and certain only) positions of the OT, and there are clarifications and expansion of existing truths.  The position that the fire of Hell is the fire that torments also does NOT contradict the OT, and it does relfect the true Biblical teaching about the eternal destiny of the wicked."}

Minor or Major?
Whether or NOT the spirited soul is consumed or being tormented over time in the burning fire of Hell, is NOT a major point, but the refusal to accept the revealed will of God as written in the Word, that the loving God can send someone to be tormented in burning fire of Hell is NOT minor. It is a failure to appreciate the ultimate form of love of God for Man, is "loving Man unto righteousness" (a specific `ahab love). Ultimately, God can only love Man unto righteousness; meaning if you refused righteousness, you leave God no choice, but to have you away, eventually, in the burning lake of fire of Hell.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – What God did NOT reveal at all (NOT even clue), any view is pure speculation; it means nothing even if you get it right, and it also means nothing when you get it wrong. Outside of the time frame revealed by God, what God will do with the spirited souls in burning fire of Hell, only He knows, if He chooses NOT to reveal it, I accept it as it is. I only need to be faithful to those that He has chosen to reveal.

PS: If the scholar (conditionalist) is arguing that after all the torment, God is going to annihilate the spirits trapped in the burning fire of Hell, he has to be clear about that, but my post-reading of his arguments (his own writings), did NOT reveal that picture; they picture more of accusations of erroneous interpretations of traditionalists of Scriptures and their blatant importing of heresies, which (both sets of accusations) I do NOT agree. I still insist if finally God annihilates the spirits there, that picture is NOT yet apparent from the counsel of the Word, and yet to be seen.

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