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The Debate and Issues Related to Hell

An essay donated by Carol Borders

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Of all the tough things in the Holy Bible, an understanding of Hell has certainly created some tough issues. How can a finite person be subject to an infinite Hell for a few years of mistakes (sins)? How can a just God be infinitely angry at His creation? How can we understand the words of Jesus and argue with the very one who created everything? Does not a just and merciful God have the sovereignty, the duty, and right to protect His people from the ungodly? This debate rages, hoping for a happy end in eternity. For believers who seek with an open mind and willing heart, an understanding of what the Holy Bible teaches should help clarify what is Hell.

Current trends in some churches seem to avoid the subject so as to not frighten anyone or threaten them with a guilty conscience. This allows the "enlightened preachers" of love to lead people to a loving god, even though the name of Jesus Christ is not necessary—after all everyone knows God is love.

Jesus Christ, however, warned that wolves would appear as sheep.

bullet Matthew 7:15 <> "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
bullet Matthew 24:5 <> "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."

Here the conflict arises as to what to believe. To start with there have been about four major interpretations for scholars who really seek to know what the Holy Bible has to teach us:

  1. Hell is only a holding pit, purgatory until its recipients can learn their lessons, or be prayed out of there by the faithful.
  2. Hell is an annihilation of the wicked.
  3. Hell is what everyone will eventually be delivered from.
  4. Hell is forever, a never-ending fire, which is unquenchable

As each view is examined in light of scripture, hopefully, it will become clear which view is the more biblically accurate.

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View One: Hell is a Holding Pit--Purgatory:

This is not a scriptural concept and is only found in the Apocrypha, which is not a part of the mainstream canon of the Protestant church. It is only a historical position held by the Catholic Church—though even today some believe this.

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View Two: Hell is Annihilation:

bullet Obadiah 1:16: <> "For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, [so] shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been."
bullet Psalm 37:10: <> "For yet a little while, and the wicked [shall] not [be]: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it [shall] not [be]."
bullet Psalm 73:27 "Indeed, those who are far from You will be destroyed; You put an end to those who are false to You."
bullet Matthew 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it." Thus, the debater finds the wicked is destroyed."
bullet Ezekiel 33:11: "Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'" Some debaters believe that death has no knowledge.
bullet Ecclesiates 9:10 "Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going."
bullet Malachi 4:1: <> "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch."
bullet Psalms 37:20 <> But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD [shall be] as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away." Truly this debtor believes God brings peace to His new earth through the annihilation of unbelievers.

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View Three: Hell is What Everyone Will be Delivered From:

bullet Ezra 9:13: <> "And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities [deserve], and hast given us [such] deliverance as this;" Some would say that even in the Old testament, God punishes less that sinners deserve and delivers them. Therefore, He will spare the sinner’s life. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; so He sent Jesus to pay the ultimate price. The price was paid in full, and even if sinners don’t know it, there will no bill be sent. After all, Philemon 2:11 <> "And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Would God throw someone into eternal fire, after they have bowed to Him and acknowledged Him? Where would God find glory in their condemnation after they have acknowledged Him?
bullet 1 Corinthians 3:15: <> "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." So this debater will say that God will, in fact, separate the work from the worker.
bullet 2 Peter 3:9: <> "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that /all /should come to repentance." The debater continues with his question—If man and God should have a different "will," then who will win this debate. Their answer would be—God, of course. This debater would also camp long and hard on the word /ALL. /After all Jesus said in Luke 12:34 "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." If Jesus asked the Father to forgive them, would He not also ask that other sinners who put him on the cross be forgiven? Jesus, the one to judge, does NOT condemn the very ones who crucified him." Jer. 31:34 "All, from the least to the greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more."
bullet Ephesians 1:10: "To be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring /all /things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."
bullet Colossians 1:20: "And through Him [Christ] God was pleased to reconcile to himself /all things/, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross."

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View Four: Hell is a Never-ending Fire:

bullet Revelation 20:10: "And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." The Holy Bible clearly teaches the "they" are the unbelievers.
bullet Matthew 25:41: "Then He will also say to those on the left, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
bullet Revelation 21:8: "But the cowardly, unbelieving abominable, murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
bullet John 5:28-29: "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and will come out - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."
bullet Luke 13:27: "But He [God] will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!"
bullet Revelation 14:11: "And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
bullet Mark 9:44: <> "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
bullet Isaiah 33:12: <> "And the people shall be [as] the burnings of lime: [as] thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire."
bullet Revelaation 22:11 "Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy."

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Originally posted: 2006-FEB-06
Latest update: 2006-FEB-06
Author: Carol Borders

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