A. Why do some people who claim to follow the Bible not believe in the existence of eternal punishment?
B. We do not have to guess about this because some have told us their reasons
1. For example, "The doctrine of a burning hell where the wicked are tortured eternally after death cannot be true, mainly for four reasons:
(1) It is wholly unscriptural
(2) It is unreasonable
(3) It is contrary to God's love
(4) it is repugnant to justice."
(Let God Be True, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society)
C. Let us investigate each of these points in search of truth
A. We need to look at only a few passages to see that hell is most certainly established and taught in the Scriptures
1. Matthew 25:41-46
a. The words "everlasting" and "eternal" are the from the same Greek word in the original
b. Thus, however long heaven is, that's how long the punishment is
2. Mark 9:43-48
a. The expressions, "where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" shows that it is eternal torment
(1) The expression, "worm does not die" shows that the body will not decay there
b. Jesus used the term "Gehenna" literally, "Valley of Hinnom", to describe the place of eternal punishment
(1) King Josiah defiled the valley of Hinnom - 2 Kings 23:10
(2) Jesus borrowed the name of this despicable place, and used his own terms to describe the eternal one
c. Some try to explain away hell (Gehenna) by saying that Jesus was only referring to the city dump (See Let God Be True, p. 95-96)
(1) This could not be true, because the worm has died there, and the fire has been quenched there today
A. The writer of Let God Be True, said, "Imperfect man does not torture even a mad dog, but kills it. And yet the clergymen attribute to God, who is love, the wicked crime of torturing human creatures merely because they had the misfortune to be born sinners"
1. Man's wicked crime is not that he was born a sinner, but that he chooses to sin in rebellion against God
B. To some the "eternal" torment seems unreasonable.
1. However, even mortal man punishes in accord with the crime.
a. Someone who murders another is punished, not in duration to the time it took to commit the crime, but in accord with the crime itself.
b. For example, it may have taken only one minute to commit murder - Should we then imprison the murderer for only one minute?
2. Man's problem is that he does not understand the seriousness of sin against God - Hebrews 10:26-31
C. The fact that eternal punishment seems unreasonable to some, does not prove that it does not exist. - Isaiah 55:8-9
1. Charles Smith, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism, said, "The whole scheme of redemption is foolishness to me. Because our parents and forefathers disobeyed God, he would not be on good terms with us until his son was nailed on a cross. This is not reasonable." (Oliphant-Smith Debate, p. 61)
a. Thus, the plan of redemption is foolishness and unreasonable to some. Does this make it so?
b. Some have decided that hell is only for exceedingly wicked people, not for good ordinary people, like you and me
(1) We should let God decide!
2. Our faith is founded on the word of God, and not on human reason or emotion
A. Those who make such statements fail to consider the dual character of God - Romans 11:22
1. Man has a tendency to reshape God into his own image - Psalm 50:21
2. Hell is not contrary to God's love, but in accord with His wrath.
B. God punishing those who sin does not display a lack of love on His part, but a lack of love on man's part
1. We learn from other passages what the everlasting destruction is.
(1) The wicked will be punished with tribulation and anguish - Romans 2:8-9
(2) The torment will be for ever and ever - Revelation 14:11; Revelation 20:10
(3) That which does not exist (annihilated) cannot be tormented or have tribulation and anguish
A. Webster's Dictionary says "repugnant" means "contradictory, inconsistent; opposed; antagonistic"
1. "Justice" means "the quality of being righteous; impartiality; fairness; reward or penalty as deserved"
B. With these definitions in mind, we can see that the writers of the Watchtower Society are saying, "Eternal punishment is wrong because it is contradictory or inconsistent to the quality of being righteous or impartial"
1. Who can believe that eternal punishment inflicted by an all-wise God on those who do not obey Him is not justice, or that the penalty is not deserved?
a. I had an atheist say to me once, "Would you take your own child and throw it into a burning fire?"
b. I answered, "What I would, or would not, do does not change God's will in the matter. God says He will do it and we need to fear and respect Him"
2. God has the right to do whatever He wants - Romans 9:20-21
A. We see, therefore, four reasons to believe God will eternally punish, or torment, those who do not obey Him
1. It is based on Scripture
2. It is reasonable, according to God's revealed will
3. It is in accord with God's love and righteousness
4. It is according to God's justice
B. The thing we need to do is see that we do not go there! Are you saved?
-- Don Treadway, April 2011 --