Hell · Eternal Torment

ECT & Passage 2 – 1 John 3:8

As many of my readers may know, I have been studying the teaching of hell for a few years. I recently picked up a book called Spiritual Terrorism, written by Boyd C Purcell, and as I ventured through the pages, I came across a listing of ten reasons the author considers Eternal Conscience Torment (ECT) as impossible.

Each of the ten reasons are based on a particular passage of Scripture that I propose we consider in relation to this topic. Food for thought for those willing to consider.

Let’s continue with 1 John 3:8.

1 John 3:8

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

The apostle John gives us the reason the Son of God appeared. He came to destroy the works of the devil.

At first blush, the verse seems easy to understand, yet upon taking my time to read it slowly, the verse has a number of questions I need to consider. Let’s start with defining what it means to destroy, but not from our English modern standpoint, but hopefully from the apostle John’s cultural and religious standpoint.

Destroy

What does “destroy” mean? A web based dictionary provides the following English definition.

  1. To break apart the structure of, render physically unusable, or cause to cease to exist as a distinguishable physical entity:
  2. To put an end to; eliminate.
  3. To render useless or ruin.

The Greek word λύω, translated as destroy in our verse above, is translated “destroy” one other time in the New Testament. We find this verse in John 2:19.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

Various other translations for this same Greek word include loose (27x), break (5x), unloose (3x), dissolve (2x), put off (1x), melt (1x), break up (1x), break down (1x).

As you can see, this Greek word is understood in many ways. It is interesting that John uses this Greek word λύω in his gospel six times. I suggest a quick a review of these verses may provide some guidance.

John 1:27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

John the Baptist is speaking and referring to his standing before the Messiah. The term is not speaking of a cessation of existence, but of the relative importance of John in relation to the Master. He is not worthy to perform the lowliest of tasks for the Son. This verse speaks of “loosing” or “unbinding” the strap of the Lord’s sandal, a lowly task.

John 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Jesus uses this word to speak of His death. Prior to the resurrection, some may have argued the use of this word could mean a cessation of life, or even of existence. Now that He has risen, and He used it knowing of His return, it may be instructive to reconsider this implication.

Nevertheless, at the time of His using it, the communication was of destruction, of breaking apart, to render useless. Note that when something is destroyed, the order has been removed, but not the material. When the temple was destroyed, the order, symmetry, elevation, floorplan, structure and stature of the great temple was destroyed, or in other words, put out of order, becoming useless. But the temple, as the material it being composed of, did not cease to exist. It simply lost it’s status and usefulness of being an ordered, designed and beautiful building.

John 5:18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Breaking the sabbath. This term has much baggage with it. First off, to think of the Messiah “breaking” the Sabbath is amazing. But I can’t get distracted about this topic. (If interested, check out my 17 part series on Jesus on the Sabbath)

Back to the point, it seems the concept of loosing, or unbinding comes to the forefront in this verse. Jesus referred to a burden the Pharisees placed on the regular joe in Israel (Matthew 23:4). One of these burdens may have been a strict observance of the Sabbath. It seems Jesus went out of His way to perform a healing on the Sabbath. Many, if not all of His healings could have been performed on the following day without any difference in the result, except for the discussion (argument) this action provoked. This is the background for this verse, and the Pharisees consider Jesus as a Sabbath breaker, who who does not keep the Sabbath.

In my thinking, the Pharisees saw Him as lax in relation to the rules that they enforced. He was unloosing the standard of the Sabbath.

John 7:23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?

This word is translated as broken/break again in relation to the Sabbath. Interesting!

Here the Lord is using the Pharisees understanding of the Sabbath against them, comparing circumcision (a cutting away of a portion of a man’s body) with a healing (of an entire man’s body). If the breaking (or unloosing) of Sabbath rules is acceptable for the cutting of foreskin (commanded by God), would not the same standard be acceptable for any good work toward your neighbor, since Leviticus 19:18 is also is a command of God?

Again, this term does not define a cessation of existence, but simply an unloosing or unbinding of a rule, law or principle.

John 10:35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came–and Scripture cannot be broken

Jesus is again using the the Word of God to argue the Pharisees understanding of God and of His own status. The term “broken” surely can not mean cessation in this context, for the Scripture is everlasting, forever in the heavens. Jesus is, in my opinion, teaching the Scriptures as being one cohesive unity, speaking one message, and with one purpose.

Our challenge in life is to find that single message, that single purpose. Have you found yours?

John 11:44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

The resuscitation of Lazarus. Here the term is clearly used referring to loosing Lazarus from his clothing of death, to release him from the bondage of his tomb garments.

In summary, it appears the term is related to unloosing, or unbinding rather than our conventional understanding of destroying, or of annihilation, or of cessation of existence. And this seems to make sense, since it seems obvious the devil’s work, is still active in this ol’ world.

We need to consider that through the Life of the Son, the devil’s works have been loosed from those of us who follow Him. We are no longer under bondage, unless we choose to be!

The Works of the Devil

The works of the devil, in my understanding fall under three general headings.

Deceit

When we think of the devil, deceit of character is number one on the hit parade. He is a liar. This is the fountainhead of his character, and the source of the devil’s work.

John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Distraction

If Satan can distract us from the Kingdom of God, he has won.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

If Satan can distract us toward ourselves, that is to consider ourselves to be the focus of our desires, he has won.

2 Timothy 3:2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

When was the first time you realized you are not fighting against humans in this struggle we are in. Satan definitely wants us to see our fellow travelers on this round ball as the enemy. This distraction keeps us from seeing the truth as described in Eph 6

Ephesians 6:12 ESV – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against…..

This distraction is the the very heartbeat of our tendency to justify murder, hatred and tribalism during our lives.

How many times can you recall the Scripture’s telling us to focus on God, on the Messiah and on the Kingdom. Consider a smattering of verses…

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus…

Discouragement

If satan can’t get you with deceit (and who is without some error in their life) and distractions are not effective (I find it hard to believe that distraction isn’t effective), one of satan’s most effective hammers is that of discouragement.

How many of us have sought the Lord’s will, fought the many distractions, focusing on Him, and yet due to discouragement, simply quit? Personally, I admit to being somewhat of a pessimist, and am very susceptible to discouragement. It is a very effective tool of satan to keep me from the Lord.

David also was discouraged, greatly distressed, and yet he “strengthened (encouraged) himself in the Lord.” A great passage for folks to consider as they enter times of darkness, discouragement and distress is found in 1 Samuel.

Satan uses discouragement to blur our hope, and to dull our faith in the Great King.

1 Samuel 30:6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

Although I have enjoyed our short study, the original intent of this post was to consider 1 John 3:8 in relation to eternal conscious torment and how it relates to that topic. To be honest, I don’t see how it supports Mr. Purcell’s claim of the passage supporting a universal reconciliation teaching.

In summary, I understand the devil seeks to influence our lives through his works of deceit distraction and discouragement. If our understanding of destroy above is accurate, I may see the works of the devil as being active, influential and at times seemingly overpowering. But don’t forget, the Master has unbound us, loosened us from having to be obedient to evil influence of the enemy. Jesus has unloosed us from the deceit, distractions and discouragement of the devil. We may fall into any (or all) of these traps at times, but our God is a saving God and always will seek us out.

In relation to our original question for this series, I see this passage as describing our current existence in following the Lord, and not a passage that supports an understanding of universal salvation.

What thinkest thou? Do you see this passage differently? I would love to hear of your thoughts, and to consider the Bible with you


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Eternal Torment · Hell

ECT & Passage 1 – Matthew 5:43-44, 48

As many of my readers may know, I have been studying the teaching of hell for a few years. I recently picked up a book called Spiritual Terrorism, written by Boyd C Purcell, and as I ventured through the pages, I came across a listing of ten reasons the author considers Eternal Conscience Torment (ECT) as impossible.

Each of the ten reasons are based on a particular passage of Scripture that I propose we consider in relation to this topic. Food for thought for those willing to consider.

Let’s begin with Matthew 5

Matthew 5:43-44, 48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Unchanging Character of the Father

Although I referred to the book “Spiritual Terrorism” above, I would like to supplement this post with an additional author from two centuries ago. His name is George McDonald, an ol’ Scottish preacher who lived in the 1800’s His writings are challenging and have influenced many believers, such as Lewis Carrol and (through his writings) C.S. Lewis. He is commonly considered a universalist, though he never called himself such.

A short discussion I recently found by Mr. McDonald seems very pertinent to our topic.

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.” “Love your enemies, and ye shall be the children of the highest.” It is the divine glory to forgive.


Yet a time will come when the Unchangeable will cease to forgive; when it will no more belong to his perfection to love his enemies; when he will look calmly, and have his children look calmly too, upon the ascending smoke of the everlasting torments of our strong brothers, our beautiful sisters! Nay, alas! the brothers are weak now; the sisters are ugly now!

His second paragraph is challenging. How can the One who “changes not” change from being a merciful and forgiving God we all have come to know, to One who seeks retribution, suffering for the sake of justice, and misery upon His “enemies”?

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Before my readers bring up the topic of the necessity of judgement, let me admit and confess that I believe the Scriptures on the teaching of the wages of sin being death. I do not seek to remove hell from the Word of God, although my understanding of this topic is continually being challenged.

I confess that even as a believer, I continue to offer up to our Master sadness and heartache with my decisions and actions that do not reflect His character. Hell is a reality and judgement day is approaching for each of us. Personally, I cannot understand the grace and mercy He has provided me so far, but He has been faithful, so faithful to me. To my readers, if you too have experienced the mercy of God in your life, leave a comment below, describing His mercy in your life. It may be the encouragement some soul needs to hear!

Note that He commands believers to be like Him, to forgive, to bless, to love, to pray for those who are our enemies. We are to live this way in order that we may be perfect as He is.

Let me reiterate, that He only is perfect, perfect in those attributes that Jesus speaks of in the passage, attributes of blessing and forgiveness. This command is for believers to pursue, and as we have come to understand the commands of God, they are to be recognized as a reflection of His own character, of His glory and being. It is an amazing teaching the Lord gave to us in this passage, in that He based His command to followers to love and forgive on the very nature of God.

God does not ask us (require of us) that which He does not have within His own nature!

I suppose it comes down to this. Am I limiting the Father’s unchanging nature and character of forgiveness, even through the terrors of hell? Or to consider it from another perspective, is there a set time only for each soul in that His forgiveness is available?

Grudges & Vengeance

One other item to note, is that the very passage the Lord refers to in Matthew 5, (Leviticus 19:18) speaks of the believer not bearing grudges, or taking vengeance. Even in the Old Testament (as we should expect, since He changes not), the nature of the Lord was the foundation of the command for the believer’s actions and heart life toward our neighbors. No grudge is to be nurtured. No vengeance to be exercised.

Leviticus 19:17-18

You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

The believer is commanded to enter frank and honest reasoning with their neighbor. What a lost relationship skill in this age of “social” media, but I digress.

How do you see this challenging passage in Matthew? Is there merit to Mr. McDonald’s understanding of the unchanging forgiving nature of the Father? Do you believe the nature and character of the Father will switch from One who forgives to One who seeks vengeance and retribution upon a soul entering death? If so, is there allowance for the believer to also have opportunity to switch from a forgiving spirit to a vengeful spirit?

Let me know, for I have had some whoppers of neighbors (thankfully not currently) that in my opinion, certainly deserved my vengeance!

How do you “see” the Father?


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

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Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Judas

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address Judas

For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” – Mark 14:21

So many questions about Judas. Was he a believer that apostatized or simply a professor that fooled everyone. Again, some of these questions are for another post, and I will restrict myself to Mr. Sarris verse reference for the sake of brevity.

To have an existence that is worse than nonexistence! Wow. That has got to be terrible.

A number of times in the Scripture, cursing one’s birth is recorded. Think of Jeremiah

Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! – Jer 20:14

Or Job

“Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, ‘A man is conceived.’ – Job 3:3

You may remember others, but the point is that this is not uncommon for the Word to record this attitude. Jesus actually referred to the attitude towards Judas as being of woe, as in “woe to that man”.

Woe. What an uncommon word. When was the last time you heard this word in a conversation?

Turns out, this word (ouai) is a primary exclamation of grief.

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)οὐαίouaí, oo-ah’-ee; a primary exclamation of grief; “woe”:—alas, woe.

Sorrow. Grief. Deep heartache. Sadness. Distress. Jesus was referring to sorrow, not anger. He was speaking of the pain of the decision Judas was making and of the resultant deep heartache from this action of betrayal.

So we could read it as “sorrow to this man”. But what man is experiencing the sorrow? I have always associated Judas with the sorrow, the woe.

Mr Sarris brings to our attention that Jesus, in these verses, is speaking of two people, The Son of Man and Judas. Consider the Mark 14:21 with the pronouns identified.

For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man (Judas) by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man (the Son of Man) if he (Judas) had not been born.” – Mark 14:21

Jesus, in this understanding of the verse, is speaking of the grief He would experience concerning Judas, his disciple who was to betray Him.

A Rambling

One other finding that may be of interest to the reader. The last phrase in the verse is translated in the ESV as…

It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.

As I look through the various translations, a number of the literal translations prefer to use “good” as opposed to better.

  • … good were it to him if that man had not been born.’ – Mar 14:21 YLT
  • … good were it for that man if he had never been born. – Mar 14:21 KJV
  • … [It would have been] good for that man if he had not been born.” – Mar 14:21 NASB20
  • … good were it for that man if he had not been born. – Mar 14:21 ASV

As an aside, there is a difference between better (which is a comparative term) and good (which is a qualitative term) So what Carl – this ain’t English class, eh? I know I know – I am not an English major and never have been, but these things sometimes tickle my mind and make think. Ok so here is what I am thinking.

“Good” for Jesus if Judas had not been born is simply a statement of negation on Judas’ life. – No life for Judas, no existence. Jesus would not have had the sorrow of his close friends betrayal

“Better” for Jesus if Judas had not been born is a comparison with something that is worse. This by implication speaks of suffering, regret, pain on top of the betrayal of his disciple.

This rambling is brought to you by a fuzzy headed writer that is offering a concept to be discussed.

Another Rambling

You know, (one more rambling coming – ) when the Lord walked amongst us, the established God ordained religion of Judaism rejected His message of inclusion, of accepting sinners and tax collectors, even non-Jews into the family of God. It was heresy, and beyond accepted religious thinking. And yet out of this “heresy”, a multinational family of saints has erupted and the expansion of the Body of Christ / the Kingdom of God is greater than any first century religious Jew may have ever expected.

Are we moderns possibly of the same ilk in our understanding of God’s wonderful mercy as the first century Jewish religion?

The body of the post is also available for discussion of course, and I would appreciate your thoughts. As this is the last post on this book, I would like to thank all who have travelled with me in this somewhat surprising book of Mr. Sarris. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the challenges it provided my thinking. I can not say I am a convinced Universal Reconciliation adherent, but I have definitely seen reasons why some understand the Scripture to provide this hope to God’s creation.

Something to consider – Ramblings done – Thanks for reading.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – The Book of Life

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address The Book of Life

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:15

But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. – Revelation 21:27

The Book of Life is spoken of in the New Testament in many areas and in many ways, but I would like to restrict myself to the passages Mr. Sarris refers to in his book. After all, we are discussing the book “Heaven’s Doors”, and the topics he brings up.

If the Lake of Fire is a temporary condition, albeit a potentially extremely long period, how can we understand the fact that if a name isn’t found in the Book of Life, they will never enter the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:9-27 describe the beauty, glory and inhabitants of the New Jerusalem , and the passage ends with verse 27, where we find out that entrance or access to the city will be through inclusion in the Lambs Book of Life. If you name isn’t in it, no access! In the Lake of Fire you shall go!

This seems to be a slam dunk for restriction from the Heavenly City. The Lake of Fire may have a time element to it (see previous posts) but there doesn’t seem to be a time element to the restriction to the city. This must surely be the set of verses that completely negates the teaching of Universal Reconciliation.

By the way, when Abram comes to the entrance to the New Jerusalem, does the Lamb’s Book of Life record his name as Abram, or Abraham? How about Saul? Or Simon, renamed Peter?

Early on in the book of Revelation, a promise is given to the church of Pergamum.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ – Rev 2:17

The Lambs Book of Life has names in it. A limited number of names. These names represent created ones.

Will you become a new creation, and receive a new name, that is waiting for you in the Lamb’s Book of Life?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2Co 5:17

15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. – Gal 6:15

Trust in the Lord Jesus, receive His love and mercy, His salvation from sin and death, by way of His cruel death and resurrection from the dead.

For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. – 2Co 6:2 ESV

Become a new creation now, even as you read this short post. Trust in His provision, His grace. Admit your sin before Him, agree that you have been rebellious against His will, and ask for forgiveness, for life and the power to follow after Him. He is good.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – The Lake of Fire – B

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will continue to address The Lake of Fire

The Purpose of the Lake of Fire.

Ok, so the possibility of the duration of the Lake of Fire has been discussed. Lets take a quick look at the purpose of the lake of fire and see if we can get instruction from the passage

First off, the verses under consideration

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. – Revelation 20:10

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8

According to Revelation 21:8, who is in the Lake of Fire. Read the list again. And what is their “portion”?

Portion, or the Greek word meros, according to Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words is defined as

Part (Noun, a Portion; Verb, to Give or Divide, Partake): denotes (a) “a part, portion,” of the whole, e.g., Jhn 13:8Rev 20:622:19; hence, “a lot” or “destiny,” e.g., Rev 21:8; in Mat 24:51Luk 12:46, “portion;”

This portion, is a part of a whole. A whole what? Is John speaking of the age? Their portion of the age is to suffer? Their portion of the suffering is the age? I’m asking questions, and I am not gonna build an entire thought on this definition, but some of this may supplement the thoughts provided in the previous post on the duration of the age.

On to the description of the Lake of Fire.

Jesus used the same two terms defining the judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah in Luke 17:29

but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all – Luke 17:29

This is the only other instance I can find the terms “fire and sulfur” combined and this judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah is also described by both Moses and Jude.

Moses writes of Abrahams experience.

Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. – Genesis 19:24

And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. – Genesis 19:28

Moses recites to the the Israelites the history of the doomed cities.

the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger and wrath– – Deuteronomy 29:23

Jude speaks of that terrible judgement in verse 7 of his epistle

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. – Jude 1:7

A few items to glean from the above verses

  • Sulfur and fire rained down on Sodom & Gomorrah.
  • Abraham looked back and saw the smoke rising. Smoke is evidence of a fire, but may not include the fire.
  • Moses speaks of the result of the land burned out with brimstone (sulfur) and salt, the utter wastefulness of the land
  • Jude speaks of the punishment of eternal fire.

If hope you noticed what I missed for years. Jude speaks of eternal fire, and yet Moses implies the fire was over, only smoke arising from the ashes, and the result was a wasteland, not a continual fire. So what gives? How can Jude speak of the fire as being eternal?

He isn’t! Two things are going on here, as best as I can tell.

First, the term eternal in Jude is the same term (aiōnios) we tripped over in our last post. This term is often translated as “age” and may not be referring to a never ending condition. This may be helpful, but to describe the fire of Sodom as age long still doesn’t help me with Moses statement of Abraham looking back and seeing smoke (and not fire)

Secondly, the term term (aiōnios) is modifying the punishment, not the fire. The punishment was eternal, or better stated, the punishment was age-long.

Ok, I think we slipped into the duration description again but I’m sure you will forgive me.

Back to the Purpose of the Lake of Fire. Two terms will be addressed for your consideration.

Torment

Torment, in the New Testament, is the translation of the Greek word basanizō, G928 and has the following definition from Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

VerbStrong’s Number: g928Greek: basanizo

Pain (Noun and Verb):primarily signifies “to rub on the touchstone, to put to the test” (from basanos, “a touchstone,” a dark stone used in testing metals); hence, “to examine by torture,” and, in general, “to distress;” in Rev 12:2, “in pain,” RV (AV, “pained”), in connection with parturition.
See TORMENT. (In the Sept., 1Sa 5:3.).

The original meaning of torment was the “action of an inspector who sought to test the quality of gold and silver coins” Heaven’s Doors, George Sarris, page 183. It is interesting that the purpose of the torture is testing, not punishment. Not retribution but testing. There is a difference!

Sulfur

Mr. Sarris referred to a web site describing the purposes of sulfur which I found somewhat interesting, with the following except

Sulphur was used by pagan priests 2,000 years before the birth of Christ. Pre-Roman civilizations used burned brimstone as a medicine and used “bricks” of sulphur as fumigants, bleaching agents, and incense in religious rites. Pliny (23-27 A.D.) Reported that sulphur was a “most singular kind of earth and an agent of great power on other substances,” and had “medicinal [sic] virtues” (Cunningham 1935:17). The Romans used sulphur or fumes from its combustion as an insecticide and to purify a sick room and cleanse its air of evil (Cunningham 1935). The same uses were reported by Homer in the Odyssey in 1000 B.C.

In summary, it appears the ancient reader, whom John was writing to, may have understood the Lake of Fire somewhat differently that us moderns do.

  • The duration of the Lake of Fire may be age-long and not “eternal” as in our current way of thinking
  • The purpose of the Lake of Fire on the one suffering may be of
    • testing
    • purifying
    • a medicinal quality
    • a cleansing agent.

At the very least, some of these findings have provided much to consider in my musings and have been offered to my reader to consider.

If you have comments, please supply below. Thanks for reading and hope to see you again next time.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – The Lake of Fire – A

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address The Lake of Fire

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. – Revelation 20:10

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8

Much needs to be said on the last few chapters of Revelation in regard to the topic of Universal Reconciliation, but for this post, we will be addressing two questions regarding the Lake of Fire.

  • The Duration – Is it forever and ever? (Carl – the text says it is. Why even ask? Are you gonna twist the Scripture again?)
  • The Purpose – Is it for retribution of past sins? Is it to punish for temporal sin committed in this life?

Let’s consider a few items that Mr. Sarris brought out to discuss in his book.

The Duration of the Lake of Fire

Revelation 20:10 speaks of the Lake of Fire and the duration of the torment of the beast and the false prophet. (Similar descriptions of the torment inflicted upon those who accept the mark of the best may be found in Revelation 14:10 and 14:11.)

Torment day and night, forever and ever. How utterly horrible. No matter how you view this, the experience of torment, in any sane persons mind, is to be avoided at all costs! No matter what we may find in our study, any torment, any destruction, any suffering must be avoided at all costs! Do not continue in your rebellion against the loving Savior, who took the suffering, abandonment and death, in order that you may have joy in knowing the true God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Note that the term “forever and ever” is the same term we have dealt with earlier in the post Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Unpardonable Sin Within this post I would like to consider forever and ever. The term John uses is aiōn. (we seem to keep running into this term, don’t we!)

Strongs definition

αἰών aiṓn, ahee-ohn’; from the same as G104; properly, an age; by extension, perpetuity (also past); by implication, the world; specially (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future):—age, course, eternal, (for) ever(-more), (n-)ever, (beginning of the , while the) world (began, without end). Compare G5550.

Find a few verses below to assist in our understanding of this term.

Jesus defined the time He was living in as an age, but used the same term (aiōn) we find in Revelation.

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age (aiōn) marry and are given in marriage, – Luke 20:34

Should we consider the time Jesus was in, as an eternal never ending period of time?

“The sons of this forever and ever period of time?

I suppose it depends how we understand this word.

So it will be at the end of the age (aiōn). The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous – Matthew 13:49
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (aiōn).” – Matthew 28:20

First thing to notice that this word allows for the time to be defined with an end. That is definitely not fitting in with my understanding of everlasting or eternal. Also, why wouldn’t this term be translated as the end of “forever and ever” if that is the only correct understanding of aiōn.

Let’s move on

who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. – Mark 10:30
who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” – Luke 18:30

Jesus describes an age to come. What? Another forever and ever? Now I am confused! What in tarnation is going on? Hang on, it gets worse, especially if you are trying to hang on to the idea that aiōn is strictly defining an eternal everlasting state!

far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. – Ephesians 1:21 ESV

Paul speaks of one “forever and ever” following another “forever and ever”, or that a “forever and ever” was yet to come, from his standpoint. So he is referring to one coming “forever and ever” after the one he is in. Got it!

so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:7

Come on Paul. Now there are coming ages, that is more than one age coming after the one you are writing in? This is bonkers! How can I reconcile this with the concept of eternal or everlasting that is embedded in my thoughts?

But to the point, does this teaching allow for the possibility that the “forever and ever” we find in Revelation 20:10 may have an end to it, may be prior to an age after it and may mess my thinking up more that it already has?

I’ll tell you right now, that my thinking about eternity and everlasting is perty messed up right now! But that is alright! Remember the Word is not a cartoon or comic that we simply read for a few seconds and walk away from. It is a message we need to understand and have our minds adjusted to in order to see the Lord and His ways a bit clearer every day.

I have grown a bit long in the tooth with this post and will continue with the Purpose of the Lake of Fire in the next installment. I hope you can join me then.

As always, if you have a comment or question, please take advantage of the comment box below. I look forward to your ideas and thoughts! Thanks for reading and hope to see you again next time.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – No Repentance

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address No Repentance

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. – Hebrews 6:4-6

This is a tuff one. No matter where you stand in your theology, this passage gives you some heartache. And I am thankful for a passage that ruffles a systematic theology, that upsets a logical progression of thought that we could trust, (instead of God Himself).

I understand that no matter what is presented in this post (little lone every one of my posts), there will be minor (or major) disagreement.

I struggled with this concept for years, until I realized Jesus chose a tax collector and a zealot to follow him. Enemies with completely different world views, that came out of a life that pitted them against each other. Surely some of this difference impacted their impressions and understanding of the gospel.

Another example is James and Paul. Both godly men, with tremendous influence, and seemingly varied viewpoints on fleshing out the gospel for the saints they watched over.

Whoever wrote Hebrews, had a different viewpoint on the gospel that, say, Paul. Same gospel, same Jesus, same core message, yet the presentation was different.

Understanding this, let us consider Hebrews 6. Prior to the writer speaking of the impossibility of repentance in this passage, he writes the following passage.

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. – Hebrews 5:11-14

The audience is a bunch of immature, believers that are unskilled in the word of righteousness. He has been addressing this condition throughout the book, but just before he gets to our passage under consideration, he speaks of his limitations of sharing truth based on the audiences maturity level.

They can’t handle the truth! It is impossible for them to handle the truth, to understand and accept the message he wants to present them.

Ok, now that we have set the stage, lets turn the page and consider the authors message in Hebrews 6.

Many may try to say that the one who is being described in chapter 6:4-6 is one who is not yet a believer. So close to trusting, but had turned away and become hardened against the gospel. I personally can not see that for a number of reasons but the primary one is that the author speaks of the one “tasting the heavenly gift”.

Just a few short chapters earlier, the author speaks of Christ “tasting death”. This “tasting” is not a simply a “touch to the tongue”, but a complete experience of the object spoken of. Jesus completely tasted death. This one in Hebrews 6 completely tasted the heavenly gift.

No – me thinks this one in Hebrews is a true disciple.

But the author says it is impossible…. to restore them. Mr. Sarris make note on two points

Impossible

In Matthew 19:25 – 26, we read

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

The disciples were stumped on the truth they were hearing. Who can be saved? This is beyond our understanding, it is unbelievable, over our heads!

Jesus redirected their focus onto God, and claimed it was impossible for men, but not with God. The same Greek word is used here as in Hebrews, and is addressing the same general thought of impossibility to perform a work of salvation.

Note Strong’s definition for impossible

ἀδύνατος adýnatos, ad-oo’-nat-os; from G1 (as a negative particle) and G1415; unable, i.e. weak (literally or figuratively); passively, impossible:—could not do, impossible, impotent, not possible, weak.

The term is relative to the subject. By that I mean, if a challenge is provided to a weak man, the challenge may be “impossible” for the weak man, but the same challenge is of no difficulty for a strong man.

Thought of another way, if my dear brother Blair takes me to a gym, and presents a set of dumb bells with 80 lbs. on it, it is impossible for me to lift it – I am a weak man! But Blair he can lift it be simply thinking about it – He is super massive strong!

Who is doing the restoring?

We may need to consider this same truth for this passage in Hebrews, where those spoken to are described as weak, immature believers. Any repentance granted must surely come from God, and it is impossible for these children in the faith to even join in with the work of restoration.

Might the author be simply putting the believers in their place. A wee bit of shame to challenge them on to maturity?

What think you?

  • Is the passage defining a completely static situation, in which there is no hope of repentance no matter who is involved or when it may occur?
  • Is it an impossible situation, or just something these believers have no skill in joining in with God on the work?

As Jesus mentioned in Matthew 19, the impossibility may not effect God’s ability, simply man’s ability.

After all, He is kinda strong!


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Anathema

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address Anathema

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel
not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. – Galatians 1:6-9

Wow. False preachers and teachers are doomed to hell. That is the message I understood as I listened to various “non-false” preachers and teachers through the years. But I always came away from these messages full of fear, fear that, even as a believer, I might say something or do something that would constitute false teaching!

A little background to the passage under consideration. Paul won the galations to Christ on his first missionary journey and had suffered terribly on the trip. He had a heart for these believers and wanted only the best for them. But after hearing of their defection from Christ, he was livid! Livid with the gullible galations, and piping hot with the false teachers!

These teachers were adding to the work of Christ for the believer, distracting them from His loving kindness by getting them to focus on themselves. They had come in after Paul’s work in the area, and completely ravaged his message of the gospel of grace through Christ. Adding Jewish requirements to the freedom they had found in Christ, burdening them with sabbath laws, food restrictions, bodily appearances (if your a man – know what I mean?)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

So when he declares that any who preach a false gospel be under anathema, that surely means continual, conscious terror in torments and sulfer, suffering under the wrath of God in the Lake of Fire. Surely it means that!

Lets look at the term to justify this teaching, (or to get some clarity!)

The term translated as “accursed” is the Greek term anathema. According to this except from Vines Expository Dictionary, the general meaning of the word is “the disfavor of Jehovah”. The following verses include this term in the New Testament

They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath (anathema) to taste no food till we have killed Paul. – Acts 23:14

These assassin wannabe’s were dead serious in taking Paul out of the equation for the sake of the Jewish religion. They cursed themselves with a curse, calling down God’s disfavor upon their own heads if they did not kill Paul. You know, if they only had listened to Paul, they would have realized they needed not to call God’s disfavor down upon themselves, since they already were condemned, under the wrath of God, until they came to know the very Person they were persecuting!

For I could wish that I myself were accursed (anathema) and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. – Romans 9:3

This verse causes some concern for those who may be committed to the once saved always saved camp, if the term accursed actually means to be sent to hell, to suffer continually in flames and torment. This is Paul’s wish, that he go to hell in order for the sake of his Jewish brethren. But Paul – you are a Christian – you cannot go to hell. But that is the conclusion if anathema actually should be understood to equal hell fire and torment.

But if we look at the term as meaning “to be under Jehovah’s disfavor”, this allows for much room to understand the condition Paul is speaking of here. For Paul to be under God’s disfavor may be a condition he would experience on the earth, prior to his death, while journeying or preaching. We simply do not know the specific scope of Paul’s meaning when he uses this term, other than it is very negative and a claim to the extent of Paul’s love for the Jews.

Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” (anathema) and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 12:3

The Spirit will never lead anyone to say that Jesus is “under Jehovah’s disfavor”. How could that be, since He pleased the Father in all things, and was obedient to death, even the death of the cross.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (anathema) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (anathema) Galatians 1:8-9

Back to our original verses under consideration. Can you see that Paul is enraged at the destruction that the church has suffered under these false preachers and teachers. He calls upon them Jehovah’s disfavor, handing them over to God, in order for Him (and not the apostle) to teach them truth, to discipline them, to correct them and if all else fails to destroy them, (physical death?)

To be accursed is a terrible frightful condition to be placed under. Let not the reader take this lightly, or to consider that to be under the disfavor of Jehovah is a minor inconvenience. To be under Jehovah’s disfavor, in my mind, may be likened to being under God’s wrath, as we all have been in our past, (or even the present, if you know not the Lord!)

Both of these conditions require, no – demand that the soul flee to the Savior, for He is the only One who has satisfied the Father. He is completely in union with and in the favor of the One True God.

Seek the Son, and trust Him.

May the Lord of Glory bless you as you seek His favor.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” – Romans 9:17

What purpose? Why was Pharaoh raised up? In order to show His power in the King of Egypt, and that God’s name would be exalted in all the earth.

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. – Exodus 14:4 ESV

God states His purpose in Exodus 14:14, stating He will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host. What is this glory that God is referring to? Is it that Pharaoh and his entire host of Egypt burns in hell? I suppose, if you are looking for this passage to say that, you might find it, but I am not recognizing anything in the verse regarding an afterlife experience. Yup – I just not seeing where this passage would require Pharaoh to be eternally condemned to conscious torment in hell for ever.

Let me suggest an alternative view for my readers to consider. Per Mr. Sarris’ notes, Pharaoh was hardened in order to allow God to exhibit all the plagues, in order that all might see the varied powers of the King of all Kings.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, – Exodus 10:1

God hardened Pharaohs heart in order to show signs and wonders to the Egyptians. The Egyptians had a multitude of gods and each plague exhibited God’s dominance over the Egyptians gods. He was declaring His power to the Egyptians, and to fully display His power, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order to create the conditions for the plagues. Early on, in Exodus 5:2, Pharoah stated

…“Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

The issue is “knowing the Lord”. That is the intent of the plagues, and the plagues were completed due to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. In reality, both the children of Israel and the Egyptians needed to “know the Lord”. The plagues provided an opportunity for the deliverance of God’s people, and for the spreading of the glory of God to all peoples.

But may I ask – Is Pharaoh condemned to hell forever because of the hardening of his heart? The scriptures are clear that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (by both Pharaoh and the Lord), and the implication is two fold.

  • Pharaoh remained in the hardened condition continually.
  • He is going to burn in hell forever.

It seems there may be some assumptions with the first implication. I have not found any place in the Scripture that clearly states the Pharaoh remained in hardness. Of course this argument is one of silence, but consider.

And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen.
And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” – Exodus 14:17-18 ESV

Does not the Scripture state that the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD. Could Pharaoh be considered an Egyptian? Might he have recognized the power and glory of the Lord, since this was God’s purpose, and we know that all things that God purposes is accomplished in His good time.

At the very least, the passage in Romans does not define Pharaoh’s afterlife or the extent of any suffering that he may experience.

Hardening

But, let’s think about this hardening. What does that mean?

You may find it curious that Moses used this same term “harden” for another character during his life. He was a young man, a servant to Moses, by the name of Joshua.

Moses commanded Joshua to…

Be strong (same word as “harden” when referring to Pharaoh) and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.
Only be strong (same word as “harden” when referring to Pharaoh) and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. – Joshua 1:6-7

Of course I am not implying that Moses was telling Joshua to have a hardened heart towards the Master, but to be resolute, have a backbone, stand up to resistance, and to be firm.

God made Pharaoh resolute in refusing to release the Children of Israel, in order to show His glory to the nations. The length of the hardening of Pharaohs heart is not given to us, and to state that Pharaoh has no chance at redemption by the hand of the Messiah seems to be a stretch too far!

In conclusion, I would like to provide a quote from Mr. Sarris’ book

“God made Pharaohs heart firm so he would not buckle under the immense pressure that would come on him when God’s power was being demonstrated”

What are your thoughts? Do you consider Pharaoh unredeemable? Is there scripture that clearly states Pharaohs after life condition?

It is true that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by his own decisions and by the Lord. Might the Lord also have the power to soften Pharaohs heart, by the exhibition of His power and glory? You be the judge.

Thanks for reading along with my post and if you have a comment, please provide below.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Jacob I Loved, Esau I Hated

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address Jacob I Loved, Esau I Hated

As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” – Romans 9:13

This passage is one of a few that I have addressed under a series I called “Calvin’s Concerns“. It turns out the series has spawned off a number of posts on Romans 9. If this is of interest, please search within this blog for “Romans 9” to compile the posts available for your consideration.

For the sake of this post, I would like to consider how this verse has been interpreted to understand that Esau is condemned to hell for all eternity. Is this a proper understanding of this passage? I would say no, and Mr. Sarris’ book repeated much of my understanding of this passage.

Paul, in discussing Jacob and Esau, speaks to the choice of God in who to serve Him as the family through whom the Messiah would come. Eternal destiny seems to be imported into this passage by those who are fatalistic and follow after a philosophy that takes away all our responsibility of following after Him, of claiming to believe in Him as our Savior.

During a discussion with a Calvinist, I asked if I am to hate my mother and father. Of course he knew where I was going to take him in the New Testament.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:26

If God hates Esau in the common understanding of “hate” (i.e. to have an intense hostility towards someone), how is it that we are not to understand this call to discipleship in the same manner? Is Jesus telling us to have an intense hostility towards our parents? This creates confusion and contradiction in the Word and we know that this just ain’t so!

So, let us compare Scripture with Scripture and see if we can find a bit of clarity for Romans 9:13. You see when I read a passage such as Luke 14:26 and consider the overarching message of the Word in relation to our parents, it seems that the command to hate our parents is to be understood as defining priorities.

Consider the following passages that define our obligation to our parents if we are to please God.

We are to honor our parents.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. – Exodus 20:12

“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), – Ephesians 6:2

We are to obey our parents as children.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. – Colossians 3:20

How can we satisfy these injunctions for the believer, in relation to Luke 14:26? I believe it is in understanding that the term “hate” is a relative term, a term that defines a priority. That is, in relation to the Lord, parents are to be considered the next level of the love commitment for the believer.

This is the same sense we are to understand Romans 9. God’s “hatred” of Esau is relative to His love for Jacob, in the arena of service for the kingdom. To state otherwise causes confusion and conflict.

As we find in Romans 9, the choice of Jacob to be the family bringing the Savior to the world was a tremendous privilege to have bestowed upon them by God. Esau was not granted this privilege, but this does not require that Esau is doomed to eternal torment and suffering.

Service, not salvation is the topic here folks!

The “salvation” interpretation of Romans 9 that some believers preach and teach is possibly revealing more of their desires for the lost than that of the Master’s desires. As a former Calvinist, it disturbs me that I had such a low view of our Heavenly Father, that I viewed Him as One with mixed emotions and desires for His creation.

Why do we sometimes struggle with the good news being really good? Is the possibility of hell not being permanent a difficult concept to accept?

Is not the alternative as difficult to accept?

For myself, I have spent the majority of my Christian life believing in the horrors of an eternal suffering for all that are without Christ. My understanding that the Bible teaches of the eternal never ending conscious suffering and torment of the lost to be without relief is becoming the difficult concept to accept.

Of course, I would appreciate your thoughts and comments.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.