My dear brother,
You say, "I must believe in an eternal hell, if
I believe in an eternal heaven, which I do."
I suppose it has never occurred to you that, while
heaven and hell are set in opposition to each other in theology, it is
never done in the scriptures. Heaven and earth are often mentioned
in the same breath, as in opposition to each other, but heaven and hell
You seem to believe that every time hell is mentioned
in the Bible, it means the same place. And, the unbelief of
Christendom is shown in its use of the phrase, "eternal hell" - a
phrase never found, even in the King James Version of the
scriptures. However, let me suppose, for the moment, that whenever
hell is mentioned, it is proper to interpolate the word,
"eternal," and see how you like it.
David spoke of the possibility of making his bed in
eternal hell, and said if he did, he would find God there, Ps.
139:8. The soul of Christ went to eternal hell when He was
crucified, and, contrary to your teaching, was brought out, Ps. 16:10;
Acts 2:27. Jonah went to eternal hell, and prayed, and was brought
out, also contrary to your teaching, Jonah 2:2. A man may call his
brother a fool, and be in danger of eternal hell, Matt. 5:22. (By
the way, didn't you say, once, that I had read the Bible so much that it
had caused me to become a fool?) A man may escape eternal hell by
a surgical operation, Mark 9:43-48. (I thought salvation to be by
grace, not by surgery.)
How do you like this picture? You will know
that, in the preceding paragraph, I am not stating my position. I
am stating the conclusions that would be logical, if, every time hell is
mentioned, it means "eternal hell."
It seems that you need a revised version of the
Bible. You should have a version that reads, in Gen. 1:1, "In
the beginning God created heaven and hell and earth." The
version you have, and all versions, mention only the heavens and the
earth. Yet, one would gather, from your words, that heaven is one
planet, earth is another, and hell is another.
If that is not what you believe, then you must think
hell is either on the earth, or else on one of the planets called the
heavens. If it is a separate planet, why must it be eternal, in
order for the heavens to be eternal? (You use the word, eternal,
in the sense of endlessness.) Or, if it is on either the earth of
one of the heavenly planets, would its discontinuance necessitate the
annihilation of the heavenly planets? If a volcano on earth should
burn out, would it cause the earth to be destroyed? When you make
the eternity of heaven dependent on the continuance of hell, you remind
me of the preacher who said in Augusta, Ga., in the course of a sermon,
"When the fires of hell go out, heaven will be as dark as
midnight." To this, the pastor of the church replied, "I
never knew, before, that heaven is dependent on hell for its
I have told you, many times, that three Greek words
are translated "hell," in the King James Version. You
could ascertain for yourself that this is true. "Hades,
" which is the equivalent of the Hebrew word, "Sheol,"
means the Unseen. This is the hell in Ps. 139:8; 16:10; Acts 2:7;
Jonah 2:2, and in many other passages. When I tell you that the
soul of Christ went there, you should know it is not a place of
punishment. It is never mentioned as such, except in a
"Gehenna" is another word translated
hell. The description of it in Mark 9:43-48, compared with the
last few verses of Isaiah, shows us it is near Jerusalem, and is the
place where worms will eat dead bodies while they are exposed to view,
in the kingdom era. They will later be thrown into the fire.
This is the hell in Matt. 5:22, and many other passage.
"Tartarus," is the hell of II Pet. 2:4, and is for sinning
So hell is eternal, is it? I am reminded of a
preacher in South Carolina, who had spent nearly an hour preaching on
eternal hell, when a man in the audience arose and said, "Brother,
turn to Revelation 20:14, and read where your eternal hell is to be
burned up." The preacher said it was not true.
"Turn and read it," the other dared him. He did so, and
declared he would never again preach on eternal hell. The King
James Version says hell is to be cast into the lake of fire and
brimstone. But first it must give up all who are in it. It
is an empty hell that is cast into the lake. Those of whom it
empties itself, stand in the judgment, and go into the lake of fire and
brimstone, which is the second death, and which is to be abolished at
the end, I Cor. 15:22-28, King James Version. When it is
abolished, all will be make alive in Christ. If any man be in
Christ Jesus, he is a new creature, says the King James Version, in II
Cor. 5:17. If you believe the Bible, you are compelled to believe
that when all are made alive in Christ, they will be new
creatures. And if you believe the Bible, you are compelled to
believe that, as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ shall all be made
alive. Therefore, all mankind are to become new creatures in
Christ. This will be done long after all hells have become
inoperative, and when death is destroyed, or abolished.
Gehenna, being the garbage place of the kingdom, will
cease operation when the thousand years have passed, Rev. 20.
Tartarus will be no longer needed after the judgment of the great day,
for angels are confined there until then, Jude 6.
However, I don't even believe the present heaven is
eternal. But the fact that hell is not eternal has nothing to do
with it. Your Bible says heaven and earth shall pass away, Matt.
24:35, and other passages. You have read it, but I dare say, you
have never preached it. You have often spoken of the end of the
world, meaning the earth, but you have never said a word about heaven
passing away. In the mind of a sectarian person, nothing in the
Bible "registers," except what he already believes.
Hundreds of times, you have read, "Heaven and earth shall pass
away," but you always preach, "Earth shall pass
away." Is it not so? Perhaps you are afraid it will
upset your theory of eternal heaven. But if you would do a little
more reading, you would discover that there are to be new heavens and a
new earth, Rev. 21:1, and other passages. These will be
permanent. But you will, perhaps, be terribly disappointed at your
failure to find that there is to be a new hell. But it is even
so. The empty one that is to be cast into the lake of fire, will
be the last one, and it will disappear before the new heavens and new
earth come into existence.
The disregard - shall I say, the contempt? - that
Christendom has for the word of God, is appalling. For instance,
it is a proper in practically all the churches, and in the mouth of
nearly all preachers, that, "Those who do not go to heaven, go to
hell." The scriptures, however, teach us that those who do
not go to heaven, enter the new earth. Not in just those words, to
be sure, but just as plainly as if that very expression were
What is known as the Old Testament, abounds in
promises of an earthly kingdom for Israel. Not until we reach the
epistles of Paul, do we find promise of anyone being taken to
heaven. In the epistles we have assurance that members of the
ecclesia, (church, if you like that term better), which is the body of
Christ, are to be taken into the heavens. The "New
Testament" writings, with the exception of Paul's epistles,
reiterate the "Old Testament" promises of a kingdom for
Israel. I qualify this statement by saying that in the last two
chapters of Revelation, we find the promise of the new earth.
While the Old and New Testament scriptures tell of an earthly kingdom
for Israel, they also tell of gentiles who are to be on earth at the
time, and under the rule and blessing of Israel. In the last two
chapters of Revelation, we find that both, Israel and gentiles will be
in the new earth. for some time after the new earth comes into
existence, many of mankind are in the second death. but when they
are made alive in Christ, the new earth is their home. If not - then
where will they live? Why is the new earth made without any sea,
if not to make room for all mankind?
The ecclesia which is the body of Christ is to be in
the heavens, not only during the "millennium," but in the last
eon, as well. Paul says we have a house there "eonian,"
II Cor. 5:1. Whether we shall remain there after the consummation
of the eons, no one can say. If not, we will be in the new
earth. The heavens are already populated, Eph. 3:10. We will
be taken there to be a blessing to the inhabitants.
I would love to know just what is your reaction to
Rom. 5:18. You admit that all are in condemnation because of the
offense of Adam. I wonder if the rest of the passage has ever
impressed you. Probably not. Neither will it ever impress
you, until now learn that your creed is not superior to the word of
God. The rest of the verse says that through the righteousness of
One, "the free gift came upon all men unto justification of
life." Verse 15 of the chapter tells us that by the offense
of one, the many died, and I am sure you will admit that "the
many" of that passage means all the human family. If it does
not, what part of the human family was not effected by the offense of
Adam? All right, if "the many" are all, then how do you
know the next "many are not all? For we are told that the
grace of God and the gift in grace, which is of the one, Man, Christ
Jesus, abounds to the many. "Superabounds," would be a better
word. Does the second "many" include the same number as
the first? And in verse 18, is the second "all," the
same as the first?
What is your reaction to I Tim.2:3-6? You say I
should be non-fellowshipped, because I say, "God will have all men
to be saved." You have no doubt that I am teaching that all
mankind shall be saved. Do you doubt that the Bible means it, when
it uses that identical language?
But I want you to be more careful about using the
expression "eternal hell." You must find a hell after
the white throne judgment, or else you will not find an eternal
one. Can't you rejoice with me, that there will be new heavens, a
new earth, but NO NEW HELL? God help you to do so.
A reader thinks I was stating my position when I
said, in the last issue, "It seems the scriptures constitute a
puzzle," etc. I thought everyone would know I was stating
what seems to be the position I was opposing. No, I do not believe
the scripture is a puzzle. Its solution is not left to the
"smartness" of man.
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