I live in South-western Ontario, Canada, with my wife and seven children. We attend a small evangelical church weekly, where the Bible is preached, grace is taught, and Christ is centre.
As this blog is not about me, I suggest that you check out the “This Blog” page.
ETERNAL QUIZ: Here is a little quiz to encourage deeper reflections on the word ETERNAL with other words. Although this is an OVERSIMPLIFICATION, please take a few minute to answer 6 important questions to make us think. See also short notes. t’s far from perfect, but I hope these help in these discussions about Erasing Hell by Francis Chan.
1-How long do you believe the judging goes on in the “eternal judgment”?
A- Judged and Re-Judged every day Forever
B- Or finally judged just once…but judgment is permanent, eternal, for the rest of eternity
2-How long do you believe the saving goes on in the “eternal salvation”?
A- Saved and Re-saved every day Forever
B- Or fully/finally saved just once…but permanent/irreversible for the rest of eternity
3-How long do you believe the redeeming goes on in the “eternal redemption”?
A – Redeemed and re-redeemed every day Forever
B- Or once… but redemption is permanent, for the rest of eternity
COMMENT: With these examples I think you would agree that answer B makes a bit more sense. Eternal sometimes means “finally and fully imparted once but it is permanent, irreversible, for the rest of eternity”. Please think & meditate on that. Surprisingly this also applies to eternal life… although it is much harder to slow down and see because of all the things we already believe/know. We will be finally made fully alive once (raised from the dead (enemy #1), overcome & saved from death – final victory over death, etc) only at His coming (1Cor 15:22-23). Maybe this would be more evident in the Greek more structured language. Anyway, see also note below.
4-How long do you believe the giving of life (being made alive) goes on in the “eternal life”?
A- Every day Forever?
B – Or made fully alive once… as a permanent “gift” for the rest of eternity? (i.e. not subject to 2nd death)
COMMENT: Most want to answer B for #1-3, not sure about #4, but want to answer A for next questions #5-6 below. Why, why not be consistent, what’s the difference? It is not in the text or in the word eternal itself, but it seems to depend on what we already believe about salvation, judgment and Hell, based on our interpretation of other texts.
5- How long do you believe the burning goes on in the “eternal fire” of Hell? Matt 25:41
Think about the renewing of Heaven and Earth, in big Lake of Fire, where/when all the elements melt, the enemies of God are devoured (Rev 20:9), and everything is renewed, and of hellfire being only at end-times judgment per Matthew 13 (when tares burned up as explained by Jesus).
A- Every day Forever?
B – Or burned-up Once when Earth/everything is cleansed… for the rest of eternity, for a perfect re-creation with no more death, pain, sorrow… See note below
6- How long do you believe the punishing of Hell goes on in the “eternal punishment”? Matt 25:46
A – Punished and Re-punished Every day Forever?
B- Or finally PUNISHED ONCE… but punishment is permanent/irreversible/eternal/for the rest of eternity
WHY INCONSISTENCY: Again, why inconsistent tendency to answer A for #5-6 but B for #1-3. Why, what’s the difference in sentences or word eternal itself. Our understanding of Mt 25:41/46 must come from outside/other texts like Rev 20 & Rev 14. Now, for sure, to be eternal, a punishment (Mt 25:46) could be either endless (like endless torment) or it could be a permanent final change once (like finally redeemed & judged once) for the rest of eternity (think of a permanent eternal mark (a nose like Pinocchio) or an endless permanent complete destruction/death (burned up like chaff).
Rev 20:10: Now since the text (Matt 25:41 & 46) can’t really tell us which way to interpret eternal, Rev 20:10 is used to back it up, not considering that the devil and the anti-christ beast are destroyed and consumed according to 5 other scriptures (Figurative Ezek 28, Is 14, PLAIN TEXTS 2 Thes 2:8, Heb 2:14, Rev 20:9). But in addition, this matches the big C Consummation according to the other apocalyptic book of Daniel, where we find that the “last beast” is slain and its body destroyed /consumed in fire (Dan 7:11, 26), and that the big statue (Daniel 2) is also destroyed to powder or chaff to “be no more” when our “rock” of salvation comes and establishes His everlasting kingdom. Should we trust a few very symbolic texts (Rev 20:10) over all these 7 other texts? (last 5 of which are plain texts including two in Daniel being solidly interpreted by an angel no less (unless we work very hard to redefine words destroyed, perished, consumed)).
Considering meaning of eternal (fully imparted once for the rest of eternity) with respect to human destinies and that devil & anti-christ beast (Rev 20) are usually destroyed to be consumed and be no more in many plain texts – how can we use those two texts (Rev 20/Mt 25) to prove that the punishment of the wicked is endless suffering (or separation shame) as opposed to punished once (total permanent irreversible but eternal destruction (similar to flood & Sodom) after perfectly meted out horrendous but just suffering in eternal fire) for the rest of eternity?
With this understanding of eternal, I now have hope and peace that no matter what they choose, my loved ones will not be tormented endlessly but judged fairly. I have come to truly believe that our just God is a fearful consuming fire (to those w/o Christ) (See Malachi 4/Heb 12:29/2Thes 2:8), and then 2 Thes 1:8 makes complete sense (destroyed from the awesome glorious presence of the Lord (per KJV)). Eternal horrendous but just Hellfire will burn up my lost loved ones once, permanently (not endlessly), for the rest of eternity (i.e. destruction is never reversed). So, what shall we do then but like Paul pray without ceasing for our loved ones, preach without ceasing about God`s mercy, & warn about this horrendous but fully fair and just Hellfire to rid creation of all traces of sin. As Wesley said, I have to preach law/judgment before I can preach grace/love. God Bless!
I hope and pray this blesses you, in our search for truth, in Christ, who rose from the dead (became alive again) once on a Sunday. He is risen indeed! God bless, Christian
Short additional points:
SYMBOLIC TEXTS: Matthew 25:46 is always quoted as the #1 verse in support of the doctrine of endless torment/suffering in Hell, a doctrine we have to earnestly defend via apologetics like you are doing? But without Mt 25:41-46 (since eternal can have more than one meaning), are we defending the wrong things as we are left only with very symbolic texts to defend endless suffering like Rev 14 & 20 (#2 supporting verse discussed above), Luke 16 and worms).
NO REST DAY OR NIGHT: BTW, in Rev 14: “no rest” day or night seems to refer to never getting the promised “rest with God” mentioned two verses down at Rev 14:13.
DEATH OF ADAM- judged but finally died much later – Lake of Fire/2nd death also with some time/degrees not fully understood – but He is just
WHERE BEAST AND FALSE PROPHET ARE “being tortured” Rev 20:10 – look a bit further where DEAD ARE IN THE SEA – are the chemicals of the dead actually living or being tortured in the sea? WIth this comparison, to be in the Lake of Fire does not necesasarily mean tortured.
ETERNAL FIRE – thinking about renewed Heaven & Earth, in big Lake of Fire where/when all elements melt, the enemies of God are devoured (Rev 20:9), no more pain/death, and of hellfire being, as explained by Jesus, only at this end-times judgment (Matthew 13 when tares are burned up), we can see that the eternal unquenchable fire is also once for the rest of eternity. In apologetics, if backed-up by scripture, would you not prefer to defend our just God and His fairer means (unquenchable unstoppable (can’t be stopped) fiery judgment similar to flood judgment) to get rid of all wickedness and traces of sin, once and for all in the eternal judgment. Also, this understanding of eternal (as demonstrated) gives me hope and peace that no matter what they choose, my lost loved ones will not be tormented or suffer forever but only once & final in the second death (Note first death of Adam took a while after the judgment, so the second death can also take a while (varying degree/time) but the end is total permanent death (whose end is destruction Phil 3:19)- The punishment of second death (like the flood & Sodom) is meted out by fire until annihilation – which is permanent/for the rest of eternity).
ETERNAL LIFE: Many are surprised to hear that “fully and finally imparted once for the rest of eternity” also applies to eternal life. as it is much harder to really slow down and see because of all the things we already believe (and how we have a measure of life now but will get it fully then). Why do we want to hear endless burning or endless torment but not endless judging or endless saving? Mainly because when we read eternal life we immediately tend to associate only with endless life and endless duration – we have forgotten that life is also fully imparted once as a permanent gift linked to the resurrection for the rest of eternity (see John 6:40 …has eternal life; I will raise him up (once) at last day – & Jesus was raised once from the dead (an enemy) on a Sunday), and then not subject to second death. In short we tend to mistakenly import this understanding of endless to many other words with eternal, especially those in relation to wicked/punishment such as Matt 25:41-46 (but not to those that refer to us – redeemed/ saved/ judged). Again, not the text but our beliefs tend to dictate how we understand eternal in Mt 25:46. Isn’t that just amazing?
Word of Destruction: similar to the word day in Genesis 7 day controversy, many try to redefine words like consume, destroy, burn up, devour, etc to always mean the opposite – not consumed, not destroyed, etc (note a carcass of a house destroyed by fire no longer operate as a house although there is some ashes and remains left – it is nevertheless ruined, destroyed and has perished and been consumed unless it is re-built/resurrected/re-created).
WILL IT BE A PERFECTLY GOOD RE-CREATION: Considering the flood judgment, God did Control-Alt-Delete once (RESET except for fallen men and angels which is leading to upcoming judgment), but I expect perfection (FULL RESET) in the lake of fire judgment (which will melt all the elements and create the renewed Earth), with no more pain or sorrow or sin or sinners. Thinking of the re-created all encompassing New Heaven and Earth, will God make it NOT PERFECTLY GOOD by creating/sustaining Hell/sinners on the earth somewhere on the side of New Jerusalem Rev 20:9 (i.e. RESET with another exception again as some remaining death, pain, sorrow). Is not death itself (death & Hades) also finally melted away and fully conquered (victory over) in that Lake of fire?).
I have a question and can’t find anywhere else to ask it. Is it acceptable for this web site to use a single name as a “handle” rather than your full name? as you can see I used John for this comment.
Great info. I’m doing a study on the 7th day sabbath and your page was extremely helpful.
I’m glad. If you have specific questions, feel free to reach out.