Was the Doctrine of "Hell" Manufactured
Lorraine Day, M.D.
The word "Hell" NEVER appears in the original Scriptures, neither in the Hebrew nor in the Greek. It is a mistranslation of FOUR different words, made by translators of the Bible who consciously or subconsciously were influenced by their preconceived theological beliefs.
In the past, Bible translators obviously believed in a "hell" consisting of either: a) an everlasting burning fire, or b) a fire that burns up the wicked and permanently annihilates them, so the translators arbitrarily translated the words according to their own pre-determined religious beliefs. Present-day Bible translators continue to believe, and translate, the same way. Virtually ALL Christians believe in one of these two doctrines: that God will either outright destroy - or burn forever - those who don't love and worship Him.
The word translated "Hell" in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word sheol, which is the same word as "hades" in the Greek. Some translators more correctly translate these words as "grave," but these words actually mean "the unseen," defining the "place" where the soul goes when a person dies.
Where DOES the "soul" go when a person dies?
First, let's define the word "soul."
The Bible refers to fish, birds, animals and man as "souls." Strong's Concordance defines the Hebrew word "soul" as "a breathing creature, animal or man." We know that fish, birds and animals do not know right from wrong, they operate on instinct. So, obviously the word "soul" does not refer to something "spiritual." In fact, it means just the opposite. The common characteristics of all four groups of these living creatures is that they have five senses. All four groups can see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Those are the five senses. The word "soul" refers to a creature that obtains his knowledge through the five senses.
The Bible refers to the "natural" man in 1 Corinthians 2:14, but the word "natural" is an inaccurate translation of the word "soulish" again meaning a creature (frequently referring to a human being that does not yet know God) who obtains his or her knowledge through the senses ONLY, rather than from God's spiritual revelation. God reveals information to man either through the study of God's word, the spiritual study of nature, or through prayer. The contrast here is between the "soulish" and the "spiritual."
Jesus made this distinction in John, Chapter 3, when He talked with Nicodemus. Jesus explained the difference between a physical birth (natural - soulish) and a spiritual RE-birth, often called being "born again" (more accurately translated "born from above").
In 1 Corinthians 15:46 Paul explains the same phenomenon: natural (or "soulish") vs spiritual.
"Howbeit that was NOT first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and AFTERWARD that which is spiritual."
Paul is explaining that the FIRST (the Old Testament literal lamb, temple, birth, and fire) were physical or natural - - "soulish!" Whereas the SECOND (Jesus is the "lamb," our body is the "temple," the second (new) "birth" is spiritual, and "fire" is to purify us from sin) are "spiritual!
How does a "soul" come into existence?
Genesis 2:7 tells us:
"And God made man out of the soil of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man BECAME a living soul." (Genesis 2:7)
Notice that God did not PUT a "soul" IN Adam - - - Adam BECAME a living "soul." When God fashioned Adam from the soil and breathed His own breath into his nostrils, Adam "came to life" and he was able to stand up, move around, see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Adam had the five senses, he had BECOME a living "soul."
The combination of a body fashioned by God from the soil, plus the breath of God, allows the being to be alive and move and use the five senses - sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell.
It is this capacity to use the five senses, whether in man or in animals, that the Bible refers to as a "soul."
Death is the REVERSE of Creation!
When a person dies, "the body returns to the soil from which it came, and the breath (frequently translated "spirit") returns to God" (Ecclesiastes 12:7), then the "soul," the ability to use the five senses which all living creatures have, just ceases to exist. This is death - the reverse of Creation!
The "soul" doesn't "go" anywhere, contrary to the predominant view in Christianity, it just ceases to exist, similar to what happens to the light when you turn off a lamp. The light just ceases to exist, it doesn't "go" anywhere. Similarly, the "soul" doesn't "go" anywhere because it is not a separate entity. It just ceases to exist - like the light in the lamp when it is turned off.
So the "soul" is not a separate entity from the body. A "soul" is only evidence of life - a living being who has the ability to use the five senses. Man, animals, birds, and fish are ALL referred to, in the Bible, as "souls." Flowers, trees, grass and other creations that don't move and don't have the five senses, are NEVER referred to as "souls" in the Bible.
Three words in the New Testament Greek are (incorrectly) translated "Hell."
They are 1) Hades, 2) Tartarus, and 3) Gehenna
The word "hades" in the Greek has the same definition as the Hebrew word "Sheol" (the Unseen), and all of the above explanation applies.
The word "Tartarus" is used ONLY ONCE in the Bible, and refers to the "deepest abyss of Hades." So the definition of "Tartarus" is essentially the same as "hades" or "Sheol."
Notice that the words "Sheol", "Hades", and "Tartarus" HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH BURNING! They ALL refer to what happens to a person's "soul" when he dies - - - the person's ability to use the five senses just ceases to exist - - it is in the "Unseen."
The meaning of the word "Gehenna."
In the time of Jesus, "Gehenna" was a ravine just below Jerusalem, the valley of Hinnom, where the city offal was incinerated. "Offal" refers to waste, refuse, garbage or the entrails of a butchered animal. Gehenna was the local garbage dump where the refuse was collected and burned. A fire burned continuously in Gehenna.
Notice: A garbage dump burns up the BAD stuff, what you need to get rid of. It is not meant to burn up the "good stuff."
Jesus came "to destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8) The devil CANNOT create. We are ALL creations of God! The sins in our life are the "works of the devil." Jesus came to destroy the SIN, NOT the sinner!
The Old Testament Sanctuary service, designed by God Himself, illustrates beautifully what God is -- and is NOT -- going to destroy. First, remember that the authors of Strong's Concordance freely admit that they define words to coincide with the definitions used in the King James Version. Therefore, even their definitions are at times faulty since the King James translators, as well as virtually ALL other Bible translators, often translated passages according to their OWN preconceived theological beliefs. So we must search further, to let the Bible define the words itself.
When the Israelite sinner brought the lamb for a sin offering to the court of the temple, the Israelite placed his hands on the head of the lamb, symbolically transferring HIS sin to the lamb. The lamb then was slain and burned up as a sin offering. It is extremely important to note that the "sin" (the lamb) was burned up, NOT the sinner (the person bringing the lamb).
But what about the "Lake of Fire"?
In Revelation, Chapters19, 20, and 21, the Bible says that the beast, the false prophet, death, hell, and the wicked will ALL be cast into the "Lake of Fire."
Before we discuss the "Lake of Fire" as recorded in Revelation, we need to study God's use of the word "fire."
When God appeared on Mount Sinai to talk to the children of Israel, there were:
"thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that were in the camp trembled. . .
And Mount Sinai was altogether in a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in the fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." Exodus 19:16,18.
God's presence here is referred to as "fire."
Deuteronomy 4:33 and 36 tells us,
"Has any people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard it, and survived?. .
Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire."
"The people greatly feared the fire of God because their hearts were far from Him. If the fire of God makes us fearful and does not increase our faith, then something is wrong either in our own hearts or in our understanding of God." Creation's Jubilee, Stephen Jones, Chapter 2, pg 2.
What about "Everlasting" Hell Fire?
The words everlasting, eternal, eternity, and forever NEVER appear in the Bible. The Greek word is "eon" and is inaccurately translated in these many ways. The word "eon" means a period of time, NOT eternity.
Please see the study, "Does "Forever" Really Mean Forever?" for the Biblical documentation.
God Refers to His Law as "Fire!"
God refers to His law as a "fiery law" or "fire-law" in Deuteronomy 33:2,3
"The Lord came from Sinai and rose up from Seir on them; He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints; at (or, "in") His right hand there went a fiery law (in the Hebrew esh-dath = "fire-law") for them. Indeed, He loves the people; all His saints are in Thy hand, and they followed in Thy steps; everyone receives of Thy words."
This text shows us that the divine law is a fire that God gave to the people. The fiery-law is in His right hand - AND the saints ALSO are in His hand, so those who are true worshipers of God are like the fiery-law! The saints of God have been given the divine nature of this holy fire.
By beholding we become changed. As the saints believe the Word, they exhibit the character of the Word, Jesus Christ. This is explained in Isaiah 33:14;
"Sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling has seized the godless. Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?"
Verse 15 gives us the answer to the question in verse 14: "Who can live with the consuming fire?
"He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity, he who rejects unjust gain, and shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe; he who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil."
Only the righteous can live with continual burning, because fire cannot burn in the same place twice. Once the fire burns, there is nothing left to burn. When God's fire of purification purifies the sin out of the life, the fire has nothing left to burn.
Divine fire destroys the "flesh," the carnal nature, to free us from the bondage of sin, from the bondage of our fleshly desires. It is not meant to destroy the person, only the sin.
God Refers to His Word as "Fire" in Jeremiah 23:29,
"Is not My Word like as a fire?" saith the Lord; and like a hammer that crushes a rock?"
It is God's law that reveals God's character. The Ten Commandments are a transcript of God's character. God MUST keep His own Commandments because He IS the Commandments. They ARE His character!
Without the law, we don't know what is sin. Paul said that "by the law is the knowledge of sin" Romans 3:20. Sin is lawlessness. This "fiery-law" makes the sinner fearful at first, because submission to the law will cause a major change in everything in his life.
Fire (burning) purges sin!
Isaiah 4:4 states,
"When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning."
The Great White Throne Judgment will be the time when God will judge the world by His fiery law. Isaiah 26:9 tells us God's true purpose of judgment:
"For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
The Psalmist also tells us God purpose of judgment, in Psalm 94:15
"But Judgment shall return unto righteousness."
The purpose of Judgment is NOT to burn the wicked forever, nor even for a time. The purpose of Judgment is to return the people to righteousness - to right doing!
"The day cometh that shall burn as an oven!
Many Christians point to Malachi 4:1-3 as proof that God is going to burn up the wicked, but we must read the passage in context.
Malachi 4:1-3 reads as follows:
"For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up fat like stall-fed calves,
And ye shall trample down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts."
This certainly sounds like the righteous will be dancing on the ashes of the wicked. If that were true, what kind of spirit would they be exhibiting? The spirit of Satan. They would be happy that the wicked are dead! What ever happened to "Love your enemies, do GOOD to them that hate you"?
But wait a minute! Remember that the Bible was written as a continuous book. Originally there were NO chapters or verses. Those were added centuries after the Bible was written.
Let's look at the previous chapter, Malachi 3:1-3 and let God Himself explain what this all means:
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.
But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire, and like launderers' soap;
And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge (refine) them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness."
Again, it is clear that God's true purpose of the Judgment is to purify and refine away the sin in order to turn the people back to righteousness! The "burning" and "stubble" and "ashes" of the wicked in Malachi 4:1-3 ALL refer to the chaff (the sin) purged and purified by God, the Refiner.
God Baptizes us with Fire!
Four hundred years after Malachi wrote these words, John the Baptist said this about Jesus in Matthew 3:11,12,
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire;
Whose winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
The chaff is part of the wheat. It represents the sin that is burned out of the life of the sinner to make him into a saint. Fire remains unquenchable ONLY as long as there is chaff to burn up. Once the chaff is ashes, the fire cannot continue to burn. The sinner has been purified.
In 1 Corinthians 3:13 we are told that
. . ."the fire shall test every man's work of what sort it is. . . If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved: yet so as through fire."
There it is! We will be SAVED - NOT LOST - through "Fire!"
Certainly the "fire" in the Old Testament was literal fire, such as in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, just as the "lamb" was a literal lamb and the "temple" was a literal temple. But in the New Testament, the literal lamb has now become Jesus, the Lamb of God, and the literal temple has become our body. "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?" 1 Corinthians 6:19. Type has been replaced with anti-type, the natural or physical has been replaced with the spiritual.
The "first" is the natural or physical and the "second" is the spiritual, just as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:46,47;
"Howbeit that was NOT first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven."
In this same way, "fire" has changed from literal fire in the Old Testament to the fiery trials of purification. The New Testament talks extensively of this symbolic or spiritual "fire."
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, As though some strange thing happened unto you: 1 Peter 4:12
Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head. Romans 12:20
John the Baptist said, "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Matthew 3:11
Jesus said, "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!" Luke 12:49
This "fire" is clearly symbolizing the fiery trials we go through by which God purifies our character. This is "spiritual" fire!
Even in the Old Testament, we get a hint of the same symbolic "fire."
"Is not My word like fire?" declares the Lord, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock?" Jeremiah 23:29
"For God is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness." Malachi 3:2,3
When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to the statue built by Nebuchadnezzar, they were not touched by the fire. Only one thing was burned up, the ropes that bound them, symbolizing the sin that holds us in bondage to Satan. Daniel 3:25 The fire of purification burns away the sin, NOT the sinner.
Now: What about the "Lake of Fire"
in Revelation 19, 20, 21?
Revelation 20:14,15 speaks of this Lake of Fire in this way:
"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
It would be impossible to cast "death and hell" into a literal "lake of fire." So obviously, the "lake of fire" in verse 14 is symbolic. But this has to be the same "lake of fire" as mentioned in verse 15, into which the wicked are cast. If the "lake of fire" is symbolic (spiritual) and NOT literal in verse 14, then it must also be symbolic (spiritual) and NOT literal in verse 15!
In addition, if death is abolished in verse 14, how can the wicked be burned up and die in verse 15? But if the wicked are going to burn forever - and not die - then wickedness will co-exist with righteousness in the universe FOREVER! That would make John the Baptist a liar when He referred to Jesus with the following words:
"Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world." John 1:29
If there is an eternally burning hell, then Jesus is a total failure. He is not able to do what He came to do - "to TAKE AWAY the sin of the world.".
If there is a hell that will burn up the wicked, then Jesus is a total failure because He is not able to do what He said He came to do:
"For the Son of man is come to seek and TO SAVE THAT WHICH WAS LOST!" Luke 19:10
Since EVERYONE has been lost as some time in his life, that means Jesus will eventually save EVERYONE!
What about the story Jesus told of the Rich Man and Lazarus? Doesn't that PROVE that there is a hell?
The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a parable. Jesus identifies it as a parable in Luke 15:3. Remember that the Bible was not written with chapters and verses. They were added many centuries later.
Luke 15: 3 begins by stating, regarding Jesus:
"And He spake this parable unto them, saying:"
Then Jesus proceeds to tell ONE parable with FIVE parts.
a) The lost sheep
b) The lost coin
c) The prodigal son (all in Chapter 15)
d) The unjust steward
e) The rich man and Lazarus (these two portions of the five-part parable continue in Chapter 16)
In addition, it is obvious that the story of the Rich man and Lazarus is part of the parable, because, a) the previous four stories are ALL part of the parable, b) if a person were really consumed in flames in hell, the water on the tip of a finger would do nothing to cool his tongue (Luke 16:24), and c) the word translated "hell" in verse 23 is the word hades which means "the grave" or the "unseen." It has nothing to do with burning.
God's Own Laws of Correction and Restitution
Let's look at God's Old Testament laws for dealing with wrong doing. How God deals with those who break His law is FAR DIFFERENT from what we have been taught. Studying God's Old Testament directives will give us insight into God's remedial ways of dealing with sin.
"The justice of God's law demands restitution and correction. All sin is reckoned as a debt to be paid to the victims of injustice, and the judgments are always in direct proportion to the magnitude of the crime (sin). For theft, the judgment is to repay the victim double. For any accidental destruction of a man's person or property, the one liable must pay all costs. These penalties not only recompense the victim, but they train thieves to work rather than to steal. They train careless men to be careful.
"God's law is based upon the principle that justice is never satisfied until full restitution has been paid to all the victims of injustice. Nowadays, under man's twisted system, we incarcerate the thief, and the poor victim is almost never repaid. Furthermore, the thief's penalty seldom fits his crime. He is not corrected, because his sin is not treated as a debt to his victim, but to "society" in general. He does not work off the debt. He only rots in prison with nothing to do but brew about vengeance and learn from his buddies how not to get caught the next time. Justice is seldom done in such cases." Creation's Jubilee, Stephen Jones, Chapter 2, page 8.
If restitution was not possible due to the nature of the crime - such as murder or adultery, the penalty was death. Because God alone has the power to bring restitution and restoration for those crimes, so they are left until the Second resurrection and the Judgment of God. At that time, God can restore what the law-breaker has destroyed.
All of God's judgments are remedial whereas "man" has the mindset of "punishment."
Exodus, Chapter 22, gives us many examples of how God deals with wrong-doers.
vs 1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
vs 2 If a thief be found breaking in and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.
vs 5 If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man's field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution.
In every case, the thief or wrong-doer must make restitution, sometimes double, sometimes five-fold. For murder and adultery, the penalty is death.
However, please NOTE: In all of God's laws, torture is NEVER allowed, nor death by burning.
****The ONLY god in the Bible who required human burning sacrifices was the pagan god Molech. God called this an "abomination" in Jeremiah 32:35;
"And they built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom (Gehenna, in the Greek) to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had NOT commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin."
If God is going to require human burning sacrifices at the end, at the judgment, a practice that God Himself has described as an "abomination," then God is NO DIFFERENT from the pagan god Molech!
When Jesus spoke of "hell" (actually, the Greek word gehenna) in Mark 9:44, He was quoting from Isaiah 66:24, which says:
"Then they shall go forth and look on THE CARCASSES (corpses) of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind."
Note that even in gehenna, NO ONE was burned alive. The worst God-approved Old Testament punishment that could be meted out as far as a person's dignity was concerned was to be cremated after the person was dead. Burning ALIVE was NEVER done.
Stoning, and THEN cremation, was the penalty pronounced by God on Achan. Achan stole several items after the fall of Jericho (gold, silver and a Babylonian garment) even though the Lord had strictly forbidden ANYONE to take any plunder. God had reserved the gold, silver, bronze and iron for HIS own treasury, but Achan took it for himself! (Joshua 7:25)
Won't the "Wicked be destroyed by the brightness of Jesus' Coming"?
2 Thessalonians 2:8
First of all, this text refers to the Second Coming of Christ - BEFORE the millennium. Even if the wicked were all to die at this time, this is a temporary death. Everyone agrees that the wicked will ALL be raised at the Second Resurrection - AFTER the millennium - for the Great White Throne Judgment. So this text certainly does not refer to "hell" as most Christians understand "hell."
Secondly, the text is not translated properly in the King James Version or in nearly all of the other Bible translations.
The King James Version reads:
"And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.
It is obvious that "the spirit of His mouth" is a spiritual term, meaning God's truth. God is NOT going to literally consume the wicked by physically eating them up. Therefore the second part of the same sentence must also be spiritual, rather than physical.
The correct translation reads:
"then will be unveiled the lawless, whom the Lord Jesus will dispatch with the spirit of His mouth and will discard (bring to nought) by the advent of His presence."
This passage tells us that when Jesus comes, His truth will be revealed which will bring to nothing the lying wonders and false miracles of Satan and his followers who are the leaders of this world.
But Revelation 20:9 says that God is going to bring FIRE
down from heaven "to consume the wicked!"
Speaking of the wicked, the Bible says in Revelation 20:9,
"And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
Remember that Revelation 1:1 tells us that this last book of the Bible is "the Revelation of Jesus Christ!" So EVERYTHING in the book of Revelation MUST agree with Jesus' life on earth!
The answer to this dilemma is found in Luke 9:51-56. In this episode, Jesus and His disciples are passing through Samaria and the Samaritans did not want to receive Him,
"because His face was set to journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did?
But He (Jesus) turned, and rebuked them, and said "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
The Son of man is NOT come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
Jesus vehemently disapproved of the suggestion of James and John and boldly stated that their spirit was of the devil! Since Jesus is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), it is clear that He could not have been one way when He was on earth and the opposite way at some later time.
Jesus REFUSED to bring fire down from heaven to destroy the wicked when He was on earth, so this "fire" spoken of in Revelation 20:9 MUST NOT be literal fire. Instead it must be the same spiritual "fire" of purification referred to in so many New Testament texts as shown earlier in this study.
But what about all these other texts?
"For evildoers shall be "cut off" but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be." Psalm 37:9,10
Notice that the words "cut off" are defined in the margin of the King James Version as "destroyed." However, this is the same Hebrew word defined in 1 Kings 18:5 as "lose" or "lost." Also the two words in italics in the verse shown above are not in the original Hebrew text. They have been added by the translators. The verse just tells us that in a "little while, there will be no wicked."
The "disappearance of the wicked can occur in one of two ways: a) God will crush the wicked once and for all by burning them up, or b) God will change the wicked by winning them back to Him and making them "new creatures" in Christ.
After all, Jesus said, "If I be lifted up (on the Cross), I will draw ALL unto Me." John 12:32
Other texts similar to Psalm 37:10 are:
"But the wicked shall perish (the actual Hebrew word is "wander"), and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs; they shall vanish; into smoke shall they consume away." Psalm 37:20
The wicked certainly will "wander." They will have no direction, until God purifies them by the fire of purification that shall be like smoke consuming away the lamb, signifying the "sin" offering. Again we have the figurative speech of the "smoke" of the fire that purifies the sin from the wicked, making them into "new Creatures in Christ."
Look at Psalm 37:35,36:
"I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found."
Abraham Lincoln was once asked why he was so kind to his enemies. His answer was, "When I am kind to my enemies, then they are no longer my enemies, they become my friends." Lincoln's "enemies" disappeared, and "could not be found" when they had become his friends!
That is precisely what Jesus taught.
"Love your enemies. Do good to them that hate you. Pray for them that despitefully use you." Luke 6:27,28
"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shall heap coals of fire on his head." Romans 12:20
These "coals of fire" are obviously symbolic and not literal.
"For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been."
The nations (the unbelievers) shall be "as though they had not been" because they will be changed into followers of Christ!
Then, if there's no Hell, I can sin as much as I want!
If you would prefer to be sinning, if sin is attractive to you, then go ahead and do it! You obviously prefer sin, rather than being with the Lord. When you have hurt yourself enough by your sinning and you finally want Jesus to run your life, He will be waiting for you with open arms, just as the father was lovingly waiting for the return of the Prodigal son.
No one is going to be saved "in their sins," ONLY "from their sins." No one will be saved until he has learned to be like Jesus and has the spirit of Christ living in him.
God does not "punish" us for sinning. But there IS a penalty for sin - - - we bring that penalty on ourselves! The Bible clearly tells us that "God will NOT be mocked; whatever a man sows, that will he also reap!" (Galatians 6:7) No one will get away with anything. What goes around, comes around. It is the reaping what they have sown that will cause the wicked to "weep and gnash their teeth." This will truly be the torment of "hell!" But it is NOT eternal, it is limited AND it is NOT a literal fire!
Where did the doctrine of "Hellfire" originate?
Who started it and why?
There is a great deal of historical evidence demonstrating that the Early Church's teachings on "Fire" were those that have been presented in this study, that "fire" meant the fiery trials necessary for purification and not a literal burning hellfire.
Clement of Alexandria lived from 150-213 A.D. He believed the "fire" to be an instrument of God leading to conversion, rather than the torturous "hellfire" doctrine embraced by the Egyptians. One writer describes it this way:
"The Egyptian "Hell" was particularly impressive and highly refined . . . Confinement and imprisonment played an important role. The tortures were bloody, and punishment by fire was frequent and terrifying . . . "
"From the Old Testament, Clement and Origen, both fathers of the early Christian church, took the notion that fire is a divine instrument, and from the New Testament the idea of baptism by fire (from the Gospels) and the idea of a purificatory trial (from Paul)." Jacques de Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, pg 19,20,53
In Clement's book, Stromata, he states plainly:
"God does not wreak vengeance, for vengeance is to return evil for evil, and God punishes only with an eye to the good." pg 7, 26.
Origen of Alexandria (180-253 A.D.), another early church father, teacher and author, was the first to write a systematic theological commentary on the whole Bible. In his book, Against Celsus IV, Origen writes:
"The Sacred Scripture does, indeed, call our God "a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). . . As therefore, God is a consuming fire, what is it that is to be consumed by Him? We say it is wickedness, and whatever proceeds from it, such as is figuratively called "wood, hay, and stubble" (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) which denote the evil works of man. Our God is a consuming fire in this sense; and He shall come as a refiner's fire to purify rational nature from the alloy of wickedness and other impure matter which has adulterated the intellectual gold and silver; consuming whatever evil is admixed in all the soul."
Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 A.D.) was ordained as a priest and pastored the church at Sasima, a village in Cappadocia. Later he was a bishop of Constantinople. He was so highly respected that, according to Robert Payne:
"Of all the Fathers of the Church, he was the only one to be granted after his death the title "Theologian," which until this time was reserved for an apostle - - John of Patmos." (The Fathers of the Eastern Church, p. 179).
Gregory's view of the lake of fire is given in his book, Orat.XXXIX, 19:
"These (apostates), if they will, may go our way, which indeed is Christ's; but if not, let them go their own way. In another place perhaps they shall be baptized with fire, that last baptism, which is not only very painful, but enduring also; which eats up, as if it were hay, all defiled matter, and consumes all vanity and vice."
His belief was that the lake of fire was a "baptism" whose purpose is to "consume all vanity and vice," a painful experience but one necessary for purification.
Also, well into the fourth century, Gregory of Nyassa (335-394 A.D.), another Church father, believed that "fire" was not literal, but for the cleansing of sin - - purification. In his book, Orat. In 1 Corinthians 15:28, he wrote:
"When all the alloy of evil that has been mixed up in the things that are, having been separated by the refining action of the cleansing fire, everything that was created by God shall have become such as it was at the beginning, when as yet it had not admitted evil. . ."
We can conclude that many, if not all, the church fathers well into the fourth century and possibly into the fifth century, held two very important beliefs:
1) the belief that "fire" in the New Testament refers to the fiery trials of purification and NOT a literal hellfire, and
2) the belief in the Restoration of ALL, or Universal Restoration, God's Plan to Save ALL mankind.
Then along came Augustine - the Champion of "Endless Torments!"
Six Schools of Christian learning
"There were six Christian theological schools of thought known to have existed in the first few centuries. The first and earliest was in Alexandria, where Clement, Origen, and others clearly taught that sinners are purged (and saved) by the lake of fire. The theological school at Caesarea in Palestine was next. The writings of both Origen and Clement were highly esteemed there, and Origen actually lived there during his most productive years.
However, even though many, probably the majority, of the church leaders in the first few centuries believed like Clement and Origen, that God eventually would save ALL, there was already a small minority of Christians who believed in the doctrine of eternal torment of sinners. One "Christian" leader, a bitter, vengeful Latin Church father named Terullian wrote in 203 A.D.:
"How I shall admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many kings . . . groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness, so many magistrates who persecuted the name of the Lord, liquefying in fiercer flames than they ever kindled against Christians; so many sage philosophers blushing in raging fire." (de Spectaculis, 30)
Two very different cultures divided the early Church, the Greek and the Latin. "The Greek philosophers were mostly concerned with the perfect (ideal) man. . . The blind spot of the Latin Christians was their belief that in order to maintain law and order, it was necessary to threaten men with the worst possible tortures in the afterlife. This obsession with maintaining law and order appears to have been a motivating force behind the Latin idea of God's eternal retribution upon sinners." Ibid. Chapter 4, pg. 6.
It was only the Latin school (based in Carthage, but which included Rome) that taught the doctrine of endless punishment. Augustine, converted to Christianity in 386 A.D., had become "the 'champion' of endless torments, and was the most influential of the Latin Church fathers. . . Augustine's rigorous views stated that God had predestined a few for salvation but for most to be tormented eternally." Creation's Jubilee, Stephen Jones, Chapter 3, pp 9,10.
Jerome, a Bible scholar who was born in 347 A.D. in Italy, re-translated the Latin Bible (from the Old Latin version), in 390-406 A.D. This is now known as the Latin Vulgate which became a classic. However, it is through this Latin Vulgate version that we inherited the words "eternal" and "everlasting" as INCORRECT translations of the Greek word "eon", a word that means a period of time with a beginning and an end, NOT eternity!
Jerome had a vindictive and unforgiving personality, and a very bad temper according to those who knew him and wrote about him. His disposition was revealed by his insertion into the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, the doctrine of everlasting hellfire rather than the correct doctrine of "age-lasting chastening" - - - or, reaping what one has sown, a remedial judgment designed to turn the sinner back to righteousness.
However, it was left to the Emperor Justinian (527-565 A.D.) to formally condemn the belief in the Restoration of ALL. This was done at the Fifth General Council in 553 A.D. when Justinian condemned Origen's beliefs and stated in Anathema IX:
"If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema."
And thus Origen, a man of integrity and kindness was cursed and slandered by the basest of men, his writings were anathematized and eventually he was thrown out of the church because of his beliefs.
The condemnation of the teaching of Universal Restoration and the embracing of the doctrine of a literal hellfire were both formalized by the Church Council under the Emperor Justinian. A hierarchical church structure, a religious organization, had usurped the right to tell man what to believe, a right that belongs ONLY to God!
These diabolical decisions by the Christian church were a result of believing in a "God" that had all the characteristics of Satan. Because those who worshiped a "killer God" became killers themselves, they plunged the world into the Dark Ages of unspeakable tortures and murders of those who refused to accept and adhere to the teachings of "the Church." This spiritual barbarism lasted many centuries until Martin Luther and the other reformers uncovered at least part of the truth about God's character of love.
But even much of that "recovered" partial truth has been lost over the last two centuries as the world, including what passes for the "Christian" world, again has turned away from the character exhibited by Jesus when He was on earth and has instead embraced the barbaric doctrines of Satan, doctrines that are the antithesis of Jesus' character and teachings.
We are well on our way to a repeat of the Dark Ages!
Ecumenism is ON A ROLL!
The Bible tells us that just before Jesus comes there will be a One World Religion, a religion that will be FORCED on EVERYONE, with DEATH as the penalty to those who refuse!
". . .and ALL the world wondered after (marvelled at) the beast." Revelation 13:3
"And it was given unto him (the "beast" - the One World Government) to make war with the saints and to overcome them: and authority was given him over ALL kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
"And ALL that dwell upon the earth SHALL WORSHIP HIM, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Revelation 13:7,8
"And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." Revelation 13:15
In the last decade there has been a concerted effort to unify all of the Christian denominations, as well as ALL world religions. The Pope of the Catholic church has made many trips and attended many meetings to attempt to bring about world unity of religions.
Agreements have been signed between Evangelical Christians and Catholics (Evangelicals and Catholics Together - ECT), between a branch of the Lutheran denomination and the Catholic Church, and "profitable" meetings have been held between the Greek Orthodox church and the Pope, just to name a few.
In addition, the news media have recorded several large conferences hosted by the Pope or the United Nations, bringing at least 1000 representatives of various religions together, pagans included, from around the world. One of these meetings occurred in the fall of the year 2000 where a general agreement was signed by all the participants pledging their help in the development of a One World Religion.
It is extremely important to note that the first step in ALL of these ecumenical agreements is to "come together on points upon which all parties can agree, rather than dealing with the issues that divide" them.
Question: What is the ONE ISSUE on which ALL Christian denominations (incorrectly) ALREADY AGREE?
Answer: That, in the end, God will DESTROY HIS ENEMIES!
What a "perfect" issue for the "beast" power to use to rally ALL Christians to unify!
The doctrine of "hellfire" was manufactured primarily by Augustine and Jerome, with an insolent nudge by Terullian, in accordance with their own vindictive and unforgiving characters, and their incorrect translation of the word eon. The doctrine of "hellfire" was never a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the apostles nor of the early church fathers. After the death of the last apostles, John and Paul, the degeneration and deterioration in the church accelerated, and within 400 years the truth of Jesus Christ's salvation for ALL virtually disappeared.
In the Sixth Century, the Emperor Justinian formalized the acceptance of the doctrine of a literal "hellfire" and condemned the teaching of Universal Restoration - salvation for ALL.
Paul, in Acts 20:28-31, warned the leaders of the church of Ephesus about this very problem:
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood.
For I know this, that after my departing savage wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
Over the last 2000 years the lie of the doctrine of "hellfire" and the physical, permanent destruction of the "wicked" has been accepted and embraced by the entire Christian world. Throughout the last two thousand years, there have always been those who understood the true, loving character of God but the number was, and still is, small.
Satan has put his character on the face of God and the WHOLE Christian world has believed it!
There is no doctrine that incites more rage in the majority of "Christians" than the doctrine of Universal Restoration, the belief that God loves EVERYONE the same, that God has NO favorites, that He WILL eventually, "draw ALL to Himself", change them into His image, and SAVE them!
This, of course, agrees completely with Jesus' life on earth. Never once did He kill anyone, nor even hurt anyone. He even let His wayward children murder Him by crucifixion and He responded only with forgiveness! (Please see the study "What Happens at the Judgment?"
If God tells US to "Love our enemies and do good to those who hate us," it MUST work for Him! He MUST also love HIS enemies and do GOOD to those who hate HIM!
The anger that erupts in the average Christian when presented with the fact that God WILL save EVERYONE was, of course, known by Jesus and was the subject of at least two of His parables:
a) the parable of the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) where ALL workers received the same pay regardless of how long they worked.
b) the parable of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) in which the younger brother who fell into sin was treated by the father with the same love as the older brother who never left home (who dutifully stayed in the church).
We become like the God we worship (2 Corinthians 3:18). If a "Christian" worships a God who kills, the "Christian" too will become a killer. He will harbor malice against others, he will believe he is better than others (just like the Pharisees), he will believe that sinners will get their just rewards in hell, and he will believe that he has the right to decide who God's enemies are and dispense with them as he believes God will do, in the most barbaric way possible!
Only when one's heart is changed by God's spirit can anyone understand the perfect and loving character of God.
© Lorraine Day, M.D. 2006. All Rights Reserved.
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