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FATE OF UNBELIEVERS

Appendix 7 - Effect on Other Doctrines

Appendix 7

The Effect of the Error on Other Doctrines

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

the error of eternal torment negates or requires circumvention in correct doctrines.

The strength of scripture-and the faith that it produces-lies in its magnificent consistency, a consistency that renders inerrency to be far more of a logical conclusion than a leap of faith. This consistency is much like salvation: its power and transforming nature lies outside of ourselves. And the imposition of our own enhancements do not improve it; they adulterate it. When God is taken for the plain meaning of His Word, scripture fits like the gears of a watch. Each gear meshes perfectly with the others; except in scripture one gear of the watch is in one century and its mate, with which it is engaged in perfect harmony, may be half a millennium away. No man has created this.

If for no reason other than to stare at its sheer magnificence, let us read scripture just for what it says, no more and no less, and see what we find. Let us presume that when scripture teaches that sin causes death it means it. Then let us see how the error of eternal torment adulterates the truths of honest true doctrines.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.1

Substitutionary Atonement

The doctrine of substitutionary atonement teaches that Christ took our punishment on Himself as our substitute. In a spiritual sense, we were "in Christ" when He died and, because of this, His death was our death.2 He died in our place.3 The doctrine of substitutionary atonement is solid, established, scriptural doctrine and it is a foundation of biblical Truth.

The doctrine of substitutionary atonement arises from a progression of scriptures: 1) the wages of sin is death;4 2) Christ, who had no sin, became sin for us;5 3) Christ bore ours sins on the cross,6 and suffered the consequence of sin that we deserved;7 4) we were united with Him in His death; that is, we were "in Christ" when He was crucified;8 5) Christ died for us;9 His death was on our behalf;10 and 6) through His death, we have been redeemed and forgiven.11 Our penalty for sin was death,12 and Christ paid it.

That is the reason that Jesus tells us that if we keep His saying, we will "never see death."13 He tells us plainly that it is death from which He saves us.14

But there are two deaths.15 Christ was not promising that He would not save us from the first death because "it is appointed unto all men to die at least once."16 Instead, He was promising that He would save us from the second death. He did this by "tasting death for every man."17 It is for this reason that Revelation tells us that "the second death has no power [over us]."18

Christ paid our penalty for us by dying in our place and saved us from the second death. But if our penalty was not death but endless torment in hell, then Christ did not pay our penalty because Christ is not being tormented in hell for the rest of eternity. He is sitting at the right hand of God.19

We do ill to the doctrine of substitutionary atonement when we teach that Christ did not, in fact, save us from death, but instead saved us from being tormented (effectively being burned alive) forever. We assault the words of Christ if we teach that when He said "if a man keep My saying He shall never see death"20 He meant that "if a man keep my saying he will never see eternal torment." Christ never once mentioned eternal torment.

The doctrine of eternal torment makes short work of the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. The doctrine cannot deny that Jesus paid our penalty, so the doctrine teaches that Christ indeed suffered eternal torment for us, although He is not presently being tormented eternally. The proponents of the doctrine of eternal torment argue that Christ's eternal torment was not really eternal, but was instead "concentrated" into a few minutes.

But there is simply nothing in scripture that teaches concentrated eternal torment. Scripture teaches that we are united with Him in the likeness of His death21 and Christ tasted death for every man, not eternal torment.22 Jesus never once mentioned eternal torment. The Bible mentions it only once and that is to refer to the eternal fate of Satan.

The proponents of the doctrine would rather invent an explanation to circumvent the obvious contradiction than acknowledge that if a man keeps the words of Christ meant exactly what He said "If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death."23 Or admit that Paul meant what he said when he said that "the wages of sin is death."24 Or admit that the soul that sins really does die.25 Instead, they argue that death is scripture is not really death at all, so when Christ said that if a man keep His saying he would never see death, He did not really mean it. He meant that the man who kept His sayings would never see eternal torment.

But there is no "not really" in scripture. Scripture is concrete, wholly consistent, inspired by God and inerrant.26 Each word in scripture is accurate and divinely inspired; and the preacher is commanded not to stray beyond its boundaries. The preacher is commanded to "preach the word."27 If the Word of God says that "death" is the wage of sin, then the preacher is commanded to preach that death is the wage of sin.28

It is gross and imponderable error to alter the meaning of simple death to mean eternal conscious sentient existence (eternal life in torture). And to wave away the words of scripture with the vapid cliché: "Whenever the Bible says death, it really means separation from God."

If Christ had meant that if any man who kept His words would not be tormented (βασανισθήσονται29) then why did he say that they would never see death (θανατος)?30 Why did Paul use the same word to tell us that the wage of sin is death?31 Indeed, what word could they have used to convey plain death other than the Greek word for plain death (thanatos)? None, because there is no other word for plain death. There are other words for death in the Bible to be sure, but the doctrine of eternal torment has re-defined all of them because all of them are used in 50 different scriptures to say that the wages of sin is exactly that: death. Whenever a proponent of the doctrine of eternal torment reads one of these words for death in the context of the final judgment, he does not hear its actual meaning. He hears, "separation from God and eternal, conscious, sentient existence." For that man, there is no word that means actual death no matter what every single Greek dictionery happens to say.

One cannot, with integrity, re-write all of the scriptures that teach that eternal death, is the punishment for sin.32 Nor can one, by simple theological fiat, alter the very core of the New Testament by teaching that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not be eternally separated from God and burned alive forever." The scripture simply does not say that. It says

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish [die], but have everlasting life."33

Note the symmetry of the verse: The final end is either eternal life or eternal death.

The re-definition of death is pervasive. There are ten Hebrew and Greek words for death in 50 different scriptures and all of them are used to refer to the effect of sin and none of them mean separation from God.

Sinners are under a “sentence of death” not a sentence of eternal torment:

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death34

The fascinating accuracy of scripture is revealed in two scriptures that speak to these issues. Hebrews 9:27 states that “…it is appointed unto man [all of mankind] but once to die and after that the judgment.” But Revelation 21:8 says that the unredeemed will suffer a second death following the final judgment. So, Hebrews says that all men will die once but Revelation speaks of two deaths. How can these scriptures be reconciled?

The word that is translated “appointed” in Hebrews 9:27, means “put away” or “stored up for.”35 So Hebrews 9:27 means that only one death and one judgment have been appointed (stored up) for all men. The second death, however, has not been reserved for all men; the second death has been reserved only to those who do not turn to Christ and must therefore pay the death-penalty for their own sins.36

Thus, Hebrews 9:27 and Revelation 21:8 are in harmony. Both the redeemed and the unredeemed will die the first death because it is appointed unto all men to die once. But only the unredeemed will die twice.

There is no scripture that says that Christ received a concentrated version of eternal torment and there are 50 scriptures that say, in one way or another, that the wages of sin is death.37

The doctrine of eternal torment contradicts the doctrine of substitutionary atonement and alters the effect of the cross. It alters the cross by changing the purpose of the cross FROM 1) Christ's sacrifice atoned for the sins of the world38 and 2) Christ paid our penalty for sin39 TO 1) Christ's sacrifice atoned for the sins of the world.

The error of eternal torment stains the cross itself.

Original Sin

If there is a fulcrum of New Testament theology, it is Romans 5:12, the doctrine of original sin:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.40

The sin of Adam brought death to humanity, but which death? The first death or the second?

The sin of Adam passed only the second death to mankind. We know this because we will all die the first death, even though our death-penalty for sin was paid for by Christ. "It is appointed unto all men to die once"41 and this includes those who have been delivered from the curse of Adam42 and have been made alive in Christ43 and to whom Jesus promises that they will never see death.44 So the death caused by original sin cannot be the death of our body. The death caused by original sin is the second death, the death of the soul. Jesus Christ saved our souls from the second death. He did not save our bodies from the first death.45

Although death passed to all men as a result of original sin, and that death is the second death,46 sin results in spiritual death during this life as well as following the final judgment.47 Sin kills whenever and wherever it is found.48 The final judgment of eternal death is sin's logical conclusion.

Romans 5:12 does not say that the sin of Adam spread separation from God to all men. It says that the sin of Adam spread death to all men. Paul is speaking of both spiritual death during this life and eternal death following the judgment. Spiritual death in this life will inevitably find its end in eternal death unless one turns to Christ who died that death for all who come to Him.49

Those who believe in eternal torment for all unbelievers are denying the doctrine of original sin because they are denying that it is death that spread to all men who have not turned to Christ. When they read the word death, they hear a different word. This error not only alters the meaning of Romans 5:12 by re-defining the word for death, but in doing so, it also alters the meaning of spiritual death during this life. Spiritual death means exactly that. It does not mean spiritually separated from God; it means spiritually dead.

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions50

Verily, verily I say unto you, if a man keep My saying He shall never see death.51

Predestination

The adulteration of the doctrine of predestination by the false doctrine of eternal torment is, perhaps, the very capstone of theological misuse.

Eternal torment places predestination on the horns of an impossible dilemma, a dilemma that causes most Christians to simply ignore either predestination and eternal torment altogether or create reams of circumventions in attempt to force predestination52 to fit with the gross inconsistency of eternal torment or deny it altogether.

If eternal torment is true and predestination is also true, then God effectively predestines eternal torment. There is no way around that conclusion. This means that some people will be predestinated to be burned alive forever by a just and righteous God who gives them no alternative. The doctrine requires that God, who is not only the incarnation of love (in Christ), but Who is love53 resurrects all sinners and gives them a new body for the sole purpose of effectively burning them alive forever because they chose not to trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. And He does this when He Himself had chosen not to predestine then to salvation.

The purveyors of eternal torment are quick to argue that eternal torment is simply a statement of how much God hates sin and has to punish it. But that explanation is powerless to address the fact that predestination, by sheer power of divine fiat, makes it impossible for anyone who has not been elected to avoid being tormented forever.

Thus, in the eternal torment scenario, a just God burns the majority of humanity alive forever for no reason other than the fact that they inherited the sin nature of Adam54 and therefore committed sins that are as inevitable as the night following the day.55 And they did so because their Creator, Who is now condemning them to eternal fire, made them sinners.56 That is absurd.

If there is a devil in hell, that is exactly the scenario that he would devise. And perhaps there is a reason why scripture never mentions eternal torment except in the context of the eternal fate of Satan.

It is difficult to conceive of a more unjust scenario than that one. It is only through the miraculous experience of salvation that any reasonable person could ever believe that such a God could ever be called just. And many who have experienced His presence through Jesus Christ still find it impossible to understand how He could actually do that. If the reader is one of those, take heart. Because He doesn't.

Let us consider the scriptural alternative. And let us and presume that death in the Bible is not "separation from God" but actual death.Let us presume that all of the 10 different Greek and Hebrew words for death really mean death and that the 50 verses that teach death as the penalty for sin mean exactly what they say.57 And let us presume that Ezekiel was correct when he attributes this statement to God Himself, "The soul who sins will die."58

When we read these scriptures for their plain meaning, the doctrine of predestination begins to fit because birth and death and the consequence for sin are all well within the scope of acceptable reality. In fact, unless one is a Darwinist or otherwise and athiest, the common ground with all of us is the understanding that we are born, we die and there is a consequence for sin.

The Creator is not horrific. He is kind, patient, self-sacrificial and just.59 And He is a physician who spiritually heals60all those who permit Him to do so.61

If the wage of sin really is death, then those who have not turned to Christ for healing are those who loved darkness rather than light,62 and they will die in the end.63 And that is exactly what the majority expect, no matter what outward show they may make of their chosen religion.

God gives the gift of life to every human to do with as he sees fit. But at a point determined by Him and by Him alone that life will end. God gives the gift of life and He takes it away. This is nothing new to any of us. This is humanity. Life is a gift. It begins with birth and it ends with death. This is a given.

Predestination is simply another gift.

Whosoever wishes may "take of the water of [eternal] life freely,"64 because the gift of eternal life is offered to all. Unfortunately, only a few end up taking it.65 This scripture is founded upon the concept that man has free will to choose or not to choose. But at the same time, God has reserved for Himself the right to give eternal life to some for His own reasons.66 From the perspective of man, each has free will to accept or reject Christ, but from God's perspective, He is sovereign and He predestines. How both are true, this author cannot tell. But one thing is clear: the gift of eternal life is in addition to the gift of life that He gives to all.

It is likewise true that a world with free will must contain both righteousness and sin, both of which have consequences. We have been repeatedly warned that the consequence of sin is death.67 This too is a part of the fabric of man. God is just and He does punish sin. A tyrant or a criminal who spends his days dealing out pain cannot escape what he has done with a bullet or vial of poison. He cannot escape because God has created him to die not just one death but two68 and he will reside in hell while waiting for the second one. While in hell, he (his soul) will be judged according to his deeds69 and he will bear the just weight of his sins.70 A man can kill his own body, but he cannot kill his soul.71 Only God can kill his soul.72 He will be judged73 but in the end his soul will not be tormented for eternity because the wage of his sin is death74 and "the soul that sins shall die."75 In the end he will suffer eternal death,76 exactly as he expected. Eternal death is the eternal punishment referenced in Matthew 25:46.77

Every soul that reaches the age of accountability sins,78 and this necessarily includes the souls of good people. But good or not, the wage of sin is still death.79 If any soul who sins80 does not turn to Christ while its body is alive, that soul will be confined to hell pending judgment and die in the second death, because the wage of sin is inevitably death.81 We live in a moral universe and we have been repeatedly warned.82

The great tragedy of the doctrine of eternal torment is that it ruins the symmetry and justice of the scriptural paradigm the moment the word for death (the cessation of consciousness and feeling), is re-defined to mean precisely the opposite (eternal conscious sentient existence).

The sum of it all is that God has reserved for Himself the right to determine when anyone will be born and when anyone will die. That is part of who we are. Predestination is nothing more than God doing exactly that: determining when we will be born and when we will die.

Evangelism

Some argue that in order to effectively evangelize, we must tell people that God is going to burn them alive forever unless they come to Jesus. Besides being facially ridiculous, precisely the opposite is true: it is simple Truth that brings people to Christ, not threats.

Let us consider two scenarios representing the evangelization of someone who asks the “saved from what?” question.

In this age, few people are acquainted with scripture. But most people recognize that if there is a God, He probably does judge and punish sin, but that may well be all that they accept.

First Scenario: The Doctrine of Eternal Torment

“Hey there. Let me give you a little pamphlet that talks about Christ.”

“OK. What does it say?

“It tells you how to be saved.”

“Saved? Saved from what?”

“Saved from hell.”

At this point, the issue becomes the existence of eternal torment in hell, not salvation. So before any progress can be made, the person must either accept the concept of eternal torment in hell or the evangelist must circumvent the issue. If the evangelist tells the whole erroneous doctrine, the result will probably not be salvation but rejection.

“Why should I worry about hell? My best friends are there! Ha!”

“Hell is a horrible place. Anybody who goes to hell will be burned for eternity.”

“So, why is God going to send me to hell and burn me for eternity? I have lived a good life. I work hard. I pay my taxes. I don’t steal. I don’t cheat on my wife. Why would this loving God of yours send me to hell and burn me forever just because I am skeptical (or Jewish)?”

“Because God judges sin and any sin that you have committed, any sin at all, is bad enough to get you tormented for eternity. That is how much God hates sin."

1. Isaiah 55:7,8

2. Romans 6:8 " Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…"

3. Isaiah 53:4 "Surely He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrowsHe was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed."

4. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death."

5. Second Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”

6. First Peter 2:24

7. Isaiah 53:4-6 "He was pierced through for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."

8. Romans 6:5-11"We have become united with Him in the likeness of His deathknowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should not longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Himeven so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

9. Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

10. Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus … that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.

11. Colossians 1:14 " In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins"

12. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death."

13. John 8:51 " Verily, verily I say unto you, if a man keep My saying He shall never see death."

14. Christ never mentions eternal torment. No scripture mentions eternal torment except in relation to the eternal punishment of Satan (Revelation 20:10).

15. See Revelation 21:8; Revelation 20:14; Revelation 20:11 and Revelation 20:6, all of which reference the second death.

16. Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment"

17. Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus … that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.."

18. Revelation 20:6

19. Acts 7:56 " I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

20. John 8:51 This reference refers to the second death which is referenced in Revelation 21:8, not the first death.

21. Romans 6:5-11"We have become united with Him in the likeness of His death"

22. Hebrews 2:9 "Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone."

23. John 8:51

24. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death."

25. Ezekiel 18:4 "The soul that sins shall die."

26. Second Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is inspired by God…" John 17:17 "Thy Word is Truth" John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." First Thessalonians "… you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God…" There are far to many such scriptures to mention here.

27. Second Timothy 4:2

28. Revelation 22:19 " And if anyone should take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life" Revelation 21:8 teaches that the final end to the unredeemed is the second death, not eternal torment.

29. Revelation 20:10 "They [Satan, the false prophet and the antichrist] will be tormented"

30. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death."

31. See Comment on Their Worm Does not Die page 86

32. See Scriptures Teaching Death as the Final State page 147

33. John 3:16 Note that the contrast is between life and death-as it is throughout scripture-not between life and live in eternal torment.

34. Second Corinthians 1:9,10

35. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich (University of Chicago Press), 2d Ed. 1958, s.v. άπόκειμαι

36. Revelation 21:8

37. See Appendix 1

38. First John 2:2 "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

39. Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus … that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.."

40. Romans 5:12

41. Hebrews 9:27

42. Romans 5:17,18 "For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."

43. First Corinthians 15:22 "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."

44. John 8:51 " Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."

45. Hebrews 9:27 "And it is appointed unto men but once to die"

46. Revelation 21:8 “[They shall have] their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

47. Colossians 2:13 “You, being dead in your sins

48. See Appendix 1 - Scriptures Teaching Death as Final State page <?> ; Fifteen Centuries of Warnings page <?>

49. Revelation 22:17 "The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires the water of life drink freely."

50. Colossians 2:13

51. John 8:51

52. Ephesians 1:5 "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself"

53. First John 4:8 "God is love [agape]"

54. Romans 5:12 " Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."

55. Romans 3:23 " for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

56. Romans 5:19 "For as through the one man's disobedience [Adam] the many were made sinners"

57. Appendix 1 - Scriptures Teaching Death as Final State page 147 Scriptures Teaching Death as the Final State page 147

58. Ezekiel 18:4 "Behold all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins shall die."

59. Ephesians 1:5 "He predestined usaccording to the kind intention of His will." (NASV).

60. John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes [trusts] may in Him have eternal life." Here, Jesus tells us that salvation through Him is like the serpent in the wilderness. In order to be saved, all that was necessary was to look. It could not be any easier.

61. Revelation 22:17 " The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost."

62. John 3:19 " And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

63. Ezekiel 18:4 "the soul who sins will die." NASV

64. Revelation 22:17 " ... And let him that is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. ... And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. ...

65. Matthew 7:14 " "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

66. Romans 8:30 " Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Second Peter 1:10 " Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure."

67. Fifteen Centuries of Warnings page 190

68. Revelation 2:11 " He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."

69. Revelation 20:12 "And I saw the dead, the great and the small standing before the throne, and the books were openedand the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds."

70. Luke 16:19-31 (the parable of Lazarus). "I am tormented in this flame" (v.24)

71. Matthew 10:28 " And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul"

72. Matthew 10:28 "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

73. Revelation 20:12 " and the dead were judged"

74. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death."

75. Ezekiel 18:4

76. Ezekiel 18:4 "The soul that sins shall die."

77. Matthew 25:46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life" This verse speaks of an eternal punishment (a punishment that lasts for eternity) not an eternal punishing (see Comment on Chapter 4).

78. Romans 3:23 " For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

79. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death."

80. Only souls that sin will be judged (Ezekiel 18:4). Souls that have not sinned will not be judged, so infants and children will not be judged.

81. Scriptures Teaching Death as the Final State page 147

82. Fifteen Centuries of Warnings page 190

"So God's going to torment me forever for any sin?"

“Yes.”

“Well I can buy it that we are all going to die someday and there is probably a God somewhere and He is probably going to judge sin, but are you telling me that God will burn me alive forever for any sin? Why should I buy that?”

“Because the Bible says so.”

“OK, so one time me and some friends went in the back door of a movie theater without paying. Is that enough to get me burned alive forever?”

“Yes.”

“Is that what the Bible says?”

“Yes.”

"And God's going to burn everybody alive forever except you Christians? And you want me to be one of you?"

"Yes"

“Thanks. I will be sure to read your little pamphlet…or maybe you should keep it to give to someone else.

Second Scenario: The Doctrine of the Second Death

“Hey there. Let me give you a little pamphlet that talks about Christ.”

“OK. What does it say?

“It tells you how to be saved.”

“Saved? Saved from what?”

“Saved from death.”

At this point, the issue immediately becomes salvation, because the person already understands and accepts the reality of death, and the concept of being saved from death is relevant.

“Are you telling me I don’t have to die?”

“No. Everybody has to die, but after our body dies God will judge us for whatever sins we have committed, and if we have committed sins, we will be judged and our soul will die just as our body did.”

“Well, I don't know if we have a soul or not, but I can buy it that we are all going to die someday and there is probably a God somewhere and He probably judges sin. But are you telling me that I can avoid, you know, judgment?”

“Yes, I am. God will judge everyone for sin and the penalty for sin is death. But Christ died in your place. If you trust in what Christ did, your sins will be forgiven and you won't have to pay for them. Instead of death, He will give you eternal life-and you can experience it.”

“What do I have to do to get this?”

“You don’t have to do anything. It is a free gift.”

“So I don’t lose anything by trying?”

“No, but you lose everything by not trying.”

“Thanks, I will read your little pamphlet

The Second Death

For the Christian, the most practical tragedy of the erroneous doctrine of eternal torment is when it mutes the doctrine of the second death. Of all of the beneficial effects of Christian doctrine on life in general, it is at the end of life that the Christian is most in need of the comfort that consistent truth provides. And it is there, near the end, when the error of eternal torment deprives us-as believers-of that comfort. The doctrine is harmful because it distorts the reality of the Christian's death and supplants it with the ambiguous belief that no one every really dies.

The myth of the non-existence of death1 has been made necessary by the doctrine of eternal torment because if death occurs as scripture says it does, then eternal torment cannot occur because dead people and dead souls cannot be tormented. Therefore, death must be re-defined to mean "separation from God." This leaves room for eternal life in flames where the sinner never really dies. Everyone either goes to heaven or hell for the rest of eternity. This is a myth.

Scripture teaches there are two deaths, and each one of them is very real. In the first death the body dies,2 but the soul does not.3 After the first death, the soul of the redeemed is with Christ4 and the soul of the unredeemed resides in hell.5 The souls of the unredeemed remain in hell until the final judgment after which they die in the second death.6

Redeemed souls are immortal because they have been given eternal life7and will not be hurt by the second death8 and they shall never die.9

The Bible says nothing about death being "separation from God." Nor does the Bible suggest different or novel definitions of the same word for death when it is used in different places, such as death meaning true death when used to refer to the death of the body but eternal conscious sentient existence when used to refer to second death in the lake of fire.

Herein lies the great tragedy of the separation-from-God myth. The teaching that death in the Bible means separation from God effectively teaches that no one ever really dies. This creates an amorphous construct that mutes the very crisp and straightforward scriptural explanation of life after death and confuses (at best) the dying Christian.

Specifically, the separation-from-God myth cannot deal with the reality of observable fact. Pretending that death is really only separation from God, so the Christian never really dies because he is never separated from God is cold comfort to someone who is staring his own death in the face. It is far better to reassure him that there are two deaths. The first one is the inevitable death of the body and the second is the death of the soul. But that the Christian will die only the first death. Because, as Christ Himself said, "Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die."10 Christ was referring to the second death, not the first.

One of the greatest tragedies of the error of eternal torment is that it has resulted Bible teaching that avoids teaching on the second death. Because if there is a second death and sinners die in the second death, then they cannot be eternally tormented. The very existence of the second death contradicts the doctrine of eternal torment, so death must be redefined.

But when Christ's statement that "Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die" is incomprehensible without teaching the second death because the uninformed believe that He is referring to the first death, not the second. And how can anyone say to a dying Christian, don't worry, you are not really going to die.

In the same vein, the officiant at a funeral may seek to reassure the congregation that the deceased is not "really dead" because "Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." But no amount of robes and pompous ceremony can change the fact that the deceased is, in fact, fully and completely dead and perhaps lying in the coffin right in front of them. Telling a grieving family to have faith because "death in the Bible is not really death but separation from God" may elicit reverential nods, but the silence of the coffin is far more eloquent, especially if someone goes to the trouble to pick up a concordance and tries to find where the Bible says that death is not really death.

Thus, witout the full truth, the reading of Christ's words sow doubt in the minds of many as to the reliability of scripture. And the skeptics in the congregation have their convictions solidified: "Christianity is for dreamers and those in need of a god."

But when Christ's words are quoted in the context of Truth, they are life-changing. For instance, rather than informing the congregation that the deceased has not actually died because Christ is the resurrection and the life, the officiant may choose instead to mourn the actual death of the body. He may say that the deceased lived a good life and his time came just like it will come to all of us. Our hope, however, does not lie in the belief that our body will not die; our hope lies in the fact that there are two deaths and the believer will die only one of them-and later be resurrected. Our great hope is not that our body will never die but that our soul will never die because it is our soul that is truly who we really are. And our hope is that our soul will later be reunited with a new body. "It is appointed unto man to die once."11 But it is not appointed unto man to die twice.

Therefore when Christ said, "I am the resurrection and the life; if anyone believes in Me, even if he should die, he will live,"12 He meant every word of it. But He was speaking of the second death, not the first.

It is the second (eternal) death from which Christ saves us, not eternal torment:

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.13

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.14

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.15

The reason why there are two deaths is because there are two different living things and they don't die at the same time. The first living thing is the body. The body dies because of old age, disease or other reasons. It is inevitable; everyone has to die once.16 We can therefore expect our body to die.

The second living thing is the soul. The soul is a spiritual entity that, by its nature, would live forever, except for sin. Scripture teaches that every man has a soul, that the soul belongs to God and that the soul will die if it sins (so, it is the soul that commits sin):

Behold all souls are Mine; the soul of the Father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.17

Scripture also teaches that death spread to all men because all have sinned.18 This passage does not refer to the first death but to the second because it is only in the second death that men die because of sin. All bodies die whether the soul has sinned or not.

So, scripture does not say that Christians just "pass away" and never really die; scripture says that Christian bodies really die, just like all bodies. Christian souls, however, never die because the death due them because of their sin has already been died by Jesus Christ. Therefore they have been forgiven19 and being forgiven they have escaped the death sentence imposed in Ezekiel 18:4 and elsewhere.20 They escape eternal death because they have been given eternal life.21

But the souls who do not trust in Christ have not been given eternal life because eternal life does not come to those who are dead in sin. It comes to those who come to Jesus Christ22 because Jesus Christ is eternal life23 and to know Christ is to experience (live) eternal life now, in this life.24 The souls who do not come to Christ will die25 because they have been condemned.26 They have been condemned because they have sinned and the soul that sins must die.27

Scripture is an overlay that matches perfectly with the paradigm stamped on our soul and body by the Creator and it squares perfectly with observable reality. It produces a marvelous consistency, a coherent clarity, a certainty and faith. But when the overlay is altered, it does not match the paradigm below it and it causes confusion and misdirection. Like the little foxes in Solomon's vineyard, the refusals to simply read the text as it is written eat away at faith. They create a patchwork of explanations and circumventions. But when the scriptural overlay is untouched, it brings a clarity that falls into lock-step with observable truth. And it yields a peace that passes human understanding.28

The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Paul teaches that our faith is in vain if Christ were not resurrected from the dead.

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain29

And again:

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sinsFor as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."30

If Christ's sacrifice on the Cross paid for our sins, then why is the resurrection so important? The resurrection is important because it is proof that we have been given eternal life. It is proof that we have been given eternal life because we were spiritually in Christ at the resurrection. We rose with Him.

And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and powerburied with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sinshath He quickened [made alive] together with Him, having forgiven you all trespassesIf ye then be risen in Christ, seek those things which are above…31

Although we were in Him before the foundation of the world, we could still sin and all of us did sin32 and we became deserving of eternal death because of it.33 The resurrection is concerned with saving us from the death-penalty for sin and giving us eternal life. We were dead in our sins34 and on our way to the second death. Jesus Christ gave Himself to be sacrificed on the cross in order to save us from that death and to give us eternal life.35 When Christ was nailed to the cross, we were in Him spiritually36 and, He became sin for us.37 Because He became sin for us, He had to lose His life because sin inevitably results in death.38 But since we were in Him spiritually when He died, His death was our death.39 He died to pay our death-penalty. And we were still in Him when He was resurrected40 and for this reason those who were in Christ in His death and resurrection (Christians), are spiritually alive.

To understand the resurrection we must understand that Jesus Christ was literally dead. He had taken on our sins and our penalty by becoming sin for us41 and, although He was wholly without sin, Ezekiel 18:442 was executed against him. This death was the figurative cup that was offered Him,43 a cup that was filled to the brim with the vilest of sins.44 He drank it on our behalf and the result was exactly as promised: physical and spiritual death.45

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me[!]46

We were in spiritually Him when He died and His death paid for our sins because the ultimate penalty for sin is death.

The temple of His body was destroyed, but as He promised, He would raise it again in three days.47 Jesus Christ was resurrected after He had paid our death-penalty and we were in Him when He was resurrected.48 Because we were in Him when He died and in Him when He was resurrected and are still in Him, we are made right with God and we are partakers of both His life and His divine nature.49

What a mess we make of this magnificent Truth when we teach that Jesus never paid our penalty because our penalty was not death, but being burned alive forever. If death is not the penalty of the unredeemed, then what use is there of our being in Christ when He died? Being in Christ when He died is irrelevant if His death was not our penalty. And if eternal torment is the second death, then Christ could not have died the second death for us because Christ was not eternally tormented. And if He did not die the first death for us either, then what penalty did He pay?

If death in the Bible means "separation from God" then Christ never actually died. He was only separated from the Father. Indeed, if Christ never really died, then how could He have been resurrected?

The doctrine of eternal torment is a fraud. Christ paid our penalty with His death and we are forgiven because we were in Him when He died and because it is death that was our penalty not eternal torment.

And because we were in Him when He was resurrected we received His Life.50 We did not receive simply an extension of our own life, we received His Life. We received eternal life.

This is the reason why scripture refers to His gift as eternal life not "unending" life. Unending life would be a life that began at a point in time and continues on without end. But Jesus has not given us unending life. He has given us His life and His life is eternal life. Eternal life is life that has existed for eternity past and will exist for eternity future. The life that Christ has given to us will have no end, but it also had no beginning. It is unending in both directions; it is eternal.

We received Christ's life and along with it we received the divine nature51 which we can experienced through the knowledge of Christ that comes from the exercise of obedience to His word (righteousness).52

When the doctrine of eternal torment is interposed, the fundamental elements of the cross become altered. For instance, we may have been in Christ when He died but if eternal torment is the penalty for sin, Christ did not pay it because the penalty He paid was death.53 In fact, according to the doctrine of eternal torment, our penalty is precisely the opposite of death. It is eternal conscious sentient existence forever.

Apologists for eternal torment will argue that Christ's death was still sufficient to atone for all of our sin even if He did not pay our penalty for sin. This is, of course, true because the scriptures that tell of the effect of the cross depend upon the sacrifice of Christ, not upon the penalty for sin. But if the penalty for sin is eternal torment and Christ did not pay that penalty, what purpose is our union with Him in His death? And if we were not in Christ when He died, how then were we in Christ when He was resurrected?

I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me54

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him55

The only reason why being in Christ when He died was effective for us was because He paid our penalty by dying. His death was the eternal punishment of Matthew 25:46 and the eternal destruction of Second Thessalonians 1:9. But in His case the punishment was not eternal because He rose again.56† The penalty for sin and the price that He paid was death because the wages of sin is death.57 Any other doctrine is a perversion of the cross.

 

1. A myth is a metaphysical belief in a spiritual reality that is unfounded in scripture.

2. Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die…"

3. See the parable of Lazarus Luke 16:19

4. First Thessalonians 4:13 "God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus."

5. See the parable of Lazarus Luke 16:19

6. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death." Also see Revelation 21:8 (the second death) and Ezekiel 18:4 "The soul that sins shall die."

7. First John 5:11 "And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."

8. Revelation 2:11 " He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death."

9. John 8:51 " Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keeps my saying, he shall never see death"

10. John 11:26

11. Hebrews 9:27

12. John 11:25

13. Revelation 20:6

14. Revelation 20:14

15. Revelation 21:8

16. Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die…"

17. Ezekiel 18:4 The soul that sins shall die, but the soul that does not sin shall not die. Thus, the souls of infants and children will never die.

18. Romans 5:12 "death spread to all men because all sinned." NASV

19. Ephesians 1:7 " [Christ] in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."

20. Scriptures Teaching Death as the Final State on page 147

21. John 6:47 " He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."

22. Romans 6:23 "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ."

23. John 14:6 "I am the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

24. John 17:3 "This is eternal life that they might know Thee and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."

25. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

26. John 3:18 "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

27. Ezekiel 18:4 " Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die."

28. John 14:27 " Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Philippians 4:7 " And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

29. First Corinthians 15:14

30. First Corinthians 15:16,17,22

31. Colossians 2:10,12,13, 3:1 We were in Christ before the foundation of the world. See Ephesians 1:4 ("He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world")

32. Romans 3:23 " For all have sinned"

33. Ezekiel 18:4 "The soul that sins shall die"

34. Ephesians 2:1 " And you were dead in your trespasses and sins." (nasv)

35. John 11:26 " everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die

36. Romans 6:8 " Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,'

37. Second Corinthians 5:21 "For He [the Father] hath made Him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

38. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death" See also Scriptures Teaching Death as the Final State on page 147

39. Romans 6:8 "we have died with Christ"

40. Colossians 3:1 " If ye then be risen in Christ"

41. Second Corinthians 5:21 " He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

42. Ezekiel 18:4 "The soul that sins shall die."

43. Matthew 26:39 " And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

44. First John 2:2 "And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

45. Fifteen Centuries of Warnings that sin kills on page 190

46. Mark 15:34

47. John 2:21 " This temple took forty-six years to build,” the Jews replied, and You are going to raise it up in three days? But Jesus was speaking about the temple of His body."

48. Colossians 2:10 " ye are risen with Him…"

49. Second Peter 1:3 "Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."

50. Second Timothy 1:1 " according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus"

John 14:6 " I am the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

51. Second Peter 1:4 "According to His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature"

52. See John 14:21,23

53. Nothing in scripture says that Christ suffered eternal torment for us. The proponents of eternal torment argue that Christ did suffer eternal torment for us but in a "concentrated form" perhaps only a few minutes. There is no scripture that even suggests this.

54. Galatians 1:20 (NASV)

55. Romans 6:5-8 (NASV)

56. The penalty for sin is the second death, which includes the death of the soul. The soul dies because the soul that sins must die (Ezekiel 18:4). Scripture does not say that the sins of a lifetime are paid for by the death of the unrepentant sinner. It says that the soul that sins shall die and that is all it says. Nor does scripture say that that the death-penalty itself is eternal. Indeed, death is often followed by resurrection in scripture. However, there is scripture that says that the effect of the death penalty is eternal for the soul that sins (Second Thessalonians 1:9 "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction;" Matthew 25:46 "These will go away into eternal punishment"). Also, sinners who die in their sins (John 8:21, 24) have not been given the gift of eternal life and therefore cannot be resurrected and live forever. So, their death penalty has an eternal effect and that eternal effect is that it is permanent; it never ends. It is eternal death. It is for this reason that scripture records no resurrection or anything for the unredeemed following the second death. Resurrection from the first death, however, is not unusual in scripture and it is certainly not limited to Christ. All men will eventually be resurrected. Those who die in their sins will be resurrected for the sole purpose of the final judgment (John 5:29) and following the judgment to be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8). Those who come to Christ and do not die with the burden of unforgiven sin will be resurrected but not to judgment; they will be resurrected to eternal life (John 8:51; Revelation 20:6). Christ paid the penalty for our sin and the penalty for our sin was to be cast into the lake of fire and die there in the second death (Revelation 21:8). But the death that He died in the lake of fire was not for His own sin because He was (and is) sinless; His death was for our sin. His death and torment was for us who were spiritually in Him when He died (Colossians 2:10,12,13, 3:1). His death discharged the very death-penalty that he had paid. Christ was therefore resurrected because the death-penalty for the sins of others that He had carried to the second death had been paid and Christ Himself was without sin. He was a sinless man in the lake of fire. His resurrection was proof that He had, in fact, paid the penalty for sin because if He hadn't, then He who had become sin could never have been resurrected after having died in the second death (Revelation 21:8) from which there is no return. It is for this reason that Paul says "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins" (First Corinthians 15:17). Jesus Christ paid our death-penalty not just by being crucified, but also by giving Himself over to be thrown to His death into the lake of fire with the weight of our sin pulling Him into its flames. He did this for us. Fall on your knees and realize that it is all true.