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Heaven and Hell:  Are they both FOREVER?

Gary Googe Apr 12

In giving the gospel of salvation to someone, it is common to explain that salvation provides eternal life.  That life is without end.  It extends beyond what we think of as time.  It goes on into eternity and lasts forever.  This is all a part of the good news [the gospel] we have to present to the world.  As we’ll see in this study, there are numerous passages in the Bible that speak of this.

Romans 6:23

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. [Emphasis added]

The Greek word for “eternal” here is AIONIOS.  Although it can mean without beginning or end, in this context it speaks of life without end.  That’s because we haven’t always had salvation and the everlasting life of blessing it provides.  In another passage the Bible speaks of God having this same AIONIOS life.  However, in His case it has no beginning as well as no end.

Romans 16:25-26

25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets [literally the prophetic Scriptures], according to the commandment of the everlasting [AIONIOS] God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: [Emphasis added]

The apostle Paul uses this same term to describe our everlasting home in Heaven.

I Timothy 1:16

16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting [AIONIOS]. [Emphasis added]

This same term is used not only for eternal life, but in connection with the eternal fires reserved for unbelievers.

Jude 1:7

Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. [Emphasis added]

If as believers we have eternal life in Heaven as a place of blessing, unbelievers have eternal suffering in the place known as the Lake of Fire.  The word AIONIOS doesn’t mean one thing in one passage and something entirely different in another.  In both places AIONIOS speaks of something that goes on without end.

It shouldn’t be surprising about the confusion on the use of this term, AIONIOS.  Because we’re using it to speak of something outside of time and the temporal, we are forced to use terms people are familiar with, and that’s not something for which we should feel we need to apologize.

As we’ll see in this study, even Jesus spoke in His earthly ministry of the eternal or everlasting fires of Hell.  As we should do now, Christ spoke of it to warn people and to encourage them to accept the salvation [the deliverance from the suffering of Hell and more] that God offers freely.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]

A major part of being “saved” is being delivered from everlasting punishment in Hell and the Lake of Fire.  Our Lord was faithful to warn about these everlasting consequences for not receiving the free salvation He offered.

Matthew 10:28

28 And fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. [Emphasis added]

Some people take this to mean that unbelievers will be annihilated, that is, taken completely out of existence.  But in no place does the Bible teach this.  The word for “destroy” [APOLLUMI] in the above verse simply speaks of ruination or a situation of loss.  In no way does it refer to extinction.  Jesus spoke clearly to warn about the ongoing and everlasting suffering every unbeliever will experience forever in a place of torment.

Luke 16:23-24

23 And in hell he [an unbelieving rich man] lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. [Emphasis added]

I don’t think any of us would want to spend even a second in such a place, let alone all eternity.

Jesus told a parable to speak of the ongoing suffering unbelievers will experience forever.

Matthew 13:40-42

40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. [Emphasis added]

And this is for people of all times, not just people of Israel of a former time.  This applies as a warning now just as it did when it was presented in the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry.  And there’s nothing in the Scriptures anywhere that should cause us to think otherwise.

In Christ’s earthly ministry He made it clear that there’s more to life than what we enjoy temporally on this Earth.  He wanted all to realize that there’s an afterlife.  Our soul will live forever.  It’s just a question of location.  We even know that after physical death there’s a form of bodily resurrection for both believers and unbelievers.  But there’s a lot of contrast in where they’ll spend eternity.

John 5:28-29

28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. [Emphasis added]

Even though this truth was presented to Israel, it has an ongoing application in every generation.  This is a part of why we’re all told to make the right preparation for our eternal state.

Mark 8:35-37

35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.

36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? [Emphasis added]

It makes no sense to only focus on this present life here when there’s all eternity to consider.  Why would anyone want to even take the chance of living forever in a place of non-ending torment? We are told that the fires there never go out.  They are unquenchable.  It makes no rational sense at all to only focus on the temporal things of this world.  People had better stop and think about all this.  More importantly, they need to DO something about it.  By that I mean they need to accept by faith the salvation God now offers them.

I Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

A very important part of being saved is escaping the terrors of Hell and the Lake of Fire.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

Life for man is not just physical.  Man’s soul and spirit is everlasting.  It will always live somewhere.  Again, it’s all about our destination or location—Heaven or Hell.  In one or the other, we will be there forever.  By putting our faith in Jesus Christ, we are set forever.  Our home becomes Heaven immediately for all eternity.

II Corinthians 5:1

1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [Emphasis added]

However, those who do not accept God’s provision for their salvation, will live in the fires of Hell forever.  We are not to allow anyone to deceive us about this.  If they’re unbelievers of any generation they have this awaiting them in eternity.

Revelation 20:10

10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. [Emphasis added]

This next passage tells us five times that the fires of Hell for unbelievers are never quenched.  And there is no annihilation for them.  They will continue in terrible suffering forever.

Mark 9:43-48

43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. [Emphasis added]

God is gracious to provide so much warning.  Some modern Bible translations leave out verses 44 and 46 of this passage, but even without those two, the warning is clear.  Satan and his followers have done everything possible to cause people to think that all this is fiction or temporary, but it is not!

The prophet, Isaiah makes an interesting statement about all this.

Isaiah 66:24

24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. [Emphasis added]

Again, the soul of man lasts forever.  Their soul degenerates into what the Bible speaks of as a “worm.” As maggots eat decaying flesh continually in the natural world, the soul of a lost person will burn in hellfire forever.

There are also passages like Matthew 18:8 and Matthew 25:41 that speak of Hell as an “everlasting fire.”  There’s even the apostle Paul’s statement in II Thessalonians 1:9 that tells us those in Hell will be “punished with everlasting [AIONIOS = everlasting or forever]  destruction [OLETHROS = ruin, destruction, or worthlessness] from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

We find even more Scripture on all this in the little book of Jude that refutes the heretical doctrine of annihilationism.

Again, Jude 1:7

Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. [Emphasis added]

These places called Hell and the Lake of Fire are certainly places to avoid.  We are told that the day will come when it is through this that God expresses His wrath toward all those who foolishly rejected His love and the means He graciously provided for their salvation.

Revelation 14:10-11

10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

I remind you that this cannot be fulfilled if there’s such a thing as annihilationism.

Today, when a person dies without having received Christ, their soul goes to Hell, a holding place of torment until they are finally placed in the Lake of Fire.  At what is called the Great White Throne judgment, these people are given a resurrection body in which to be judged of Jesus Christ and given their everlasting punishment.

Revelation 20:13-15

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Bear in mind that their sins were judged at the cross of Christ.  It is at the Great White Throne Judgment that their works for salvation are evaluated and found to be inadequate.

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

This “second death” is simply their eternal separation from the presence of God.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

This may or may not seem real to you, but it should! Here God has been gracious to provide warning about all this.  You’ll never be able to rightfully claim you weren’t warned and given plenty of opportunities by which to be saved from God’s wrath.  People often falsely assume that God’s love will somehow spare them from such judgment.  But such is not the case because God is not only a God of love, but a God of justice.  When people reject His love in time, they must face His justice in eternity.  What will be your decision on this? God knows your thoughts.  If you’ll put your faith in Jesus Christ and what He’s done to provide a way of salvation for you, you’ll be saved immediately and forever.  Christ died for all your sins, His body was buried, but He arose on the third day to show the world something of what He has in store for all those who will accept what He’s done as the basis for their salvation.  Will you do that now and be saved forever?

 

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