May I ask for information about “Hell”?

CATHOLIC ANSWERS

2020 GILLESPIE WAY

El Cajon, CA 92020

August 17, 1999

May I ask for information about “Hell”?

I’ve been searching in vain for a thorough, exhaustive book on “hell” which covers the origin and etymological background of this word, and why and when it was first used in English translations of God’s original inspired Hebrew and Greek—or Aramaic?

It’s frequently said that Jesus spoke more about ”hell” than anyone else in the Bible, but isn’t it true that He did not use the English language, and that there is no record of the exact language He used?   Wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to the words which are used to support the “everlasting” aspect of “hell” – such as “eternal” and “forever and ever”? Without translating the Hebrew word, OLAM, and the Greek words, AION, AIONION, in the sense of sense of unending time, could the “hell” carry the sense of endless time?

Doesn’t it appear that the translators of God’s Word into English were uncertain whether Sheol-Hades mean “Grave/pit” or “hell”? Didn’t Hosea and Paul say that sheol-hades will be destroyed, together with death? Didn’t Jesus and Paul deny victory to “hell”? Didn’t Jesus go to “hell” and escape from “hell”? Doesn’t Matthew 16:18 seem to imply that even Christians go to “hell” but that it will not be able to hold them “forever and ever”? And didn’t Job pray that he might go to “hell” (sheol-hades)? Was Jonah in “hell” or in the belly of a great fish? Is God in “Hell”? … Questions!

Wouldn’t inerrant translations, or infallible pronouncements, call for God’s causal control over men’s minds, hands, and voices, and wouldn’t this militate against the freedom which “hell” seems to demand? Is it reasonable to think that God caused His Words to be written as infallible guide and then subjected their meaning to the fallible minds of men? Can we logically mix God’s causality with acausality and chance?

When we read a Bible, isn’t it clear that God often speaks paradoxically – as He seems to do when using the word “hell” within the context of His supposedly objective saying work in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? While “hell” seems to demand subjectivity and uncertainty, the cross seems to demand objectivity and certainty – if it is to be the basis genuine faith – I think.

Can you explain these things – or can you recommend a good book which does? I haven’t found such a boo after many years of searching.  I mean – a book which looks that Bible’s paradoxes in the eye and doesn’t try to pretend they’re not there. In my opinion, God deliberately makes us turn from our understanding and depend entirely on the efficacy of His work in the death and resurrection of Jesus – as Paul implied in I Corinthians 2:2.

I’ve knocked myself out for too many years trying to resolve all the theological confusion I see and hear around me – and I am sick of it all! If I can’t simply trust in what Jesus had done for me – 2,000 years ago – when He cried “It is finished!” then I’m about ready to give up and watch TV! Do you understand what I’m saying? I’ve made far too many mistakes in my life to trust anything I might try to “do” to please God! I’ve determined –as Paul said – to know nothing but what Jesus did for me—and my children—and my loved ones—when He died for us!

Please try to answer these heavy questions—or try to find a book which does. OK? I’ll appreciate your efforts—the churches around my area don’t seem to give a “damn” (if you’ll pardon my use of a word I never use)!

Confused, but trusting God,

Will Powell

Warrenville, IL

WHY DID GOD CREATE EVIL? (ISA 45:7)

WHY DID GOD CREATE EVIL? (ISA 45:7)
Just the other day, a “christian” said to me “God created the potential for evil, but not evil.”
Well sir, that’s not what ISA 45:7 says.
There is only one God, not two gods battling it out. Just one God, the creator of all. Good and evil.
The problem comes when you think in terms of evil being “endless” as in never-ending torment for the wicked.
NOTE: The word “ETERNAL” is not really in the bible. The word often translated “eternal” is sometimes translated “AGE” when the context makes it’s meaning obvious. My point… if God created evil, and it’s a temporary thing, for a purpose, then OK, we can accept it all and trust God’s purpose. But if evil is eternal, then, YIKES, how do we fit that into our little brains?
There is a great book out there on this topic: THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND THE JUDGEMENTS OF GOD, by A. E. Knoch.
I read that book years ago, and it was very helpful.
I’m reminded of this, because Zender did a great youtube post today this very topic. Enjoy. And leave me a comment.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x3pXeuvWEw

 {KISStheSON}  Dear Kiss…
If you were to ask me what one verse or passage proves that God is the Savior of all, and is operating all things after the counsel of His will, I’d most embrace I COR 15:20-28.
When I first read the passage, after spending many years in the evangelical circles… I had no idea what Paul was talking about.
The language was new and strange to me.
The IN was in the wrong place… I “knew” and had been trained that “all IN Christ” would be made alive. But this passage had it all wrong. It said “IN Christ ALL”. That placement of the word IN confused me so much.
It must be wrong, as it was not what I was taught.
And what about this business of “He must reign UNTIL” — Paul must be smoking dope or something… Doesn’t he “know” that “Christ will reign “forever and ever”??? What is this “UNTIL” business.
And, how to we handle this “abolition”
of death? I had been taught that death is the wages of sin, and that the wages of sin was endless hell. So, how are we to stuff this into our understanding. That “death”, the wages of sin, will be abolished?
Everything about these 8 verses confused me when I first read the passage.
And what about this “All in All” business?
After hearing thousands of sermons from hundreds of evangelical preachers, not one of them dared touch these three words: All in All.
But even though they never mentioned “all in all”… I still got the message from them that the net result would be “all who are left”… certainly not “All”.

But even though they never mentioned “all in all”… I still got the message from them that the net result would be “all who are left”… certainly not “All”.
I was supposed to be a “Bible believing” Christian… but I could not “believe” these strange words of Paul. I could not embrace them. I could not relish them.
Either I was wrong, and all my teachers were wrong, or Paul on a different page… how o how, to solve this problem. I took me years to unlearn my evangelical training.
It took me years to see that I COR. 15:20-28 is perhaps the real core of God’s revelation.
that… in Christ all…
that… death will be abolished…
that… Christ will reign until…
that… God will be All in All. Yours,

IT IS NOT OF HIM THAT WILLETH

 {} 
Dear Friend of Freewill,
Since “it is not of him that willeth”… and yet you say “we must SUBMIT our will”… it sounds a lot like you are saying IT IS OF YOUR WILL.
I’m guessing you’re saying…. you must use your will to submit your will.???
But if IT IS NOT OF HIM THAT WILLETH… then how do we reconcile your freewill message with that of the will of God… who wills to save all…????
It bugs me that freewillers keep saying…
WE MUST…
WE MUST…
WE MUST…
It’s as if God is powerless to save without our help.
It’s as if we have the power to save ourselves.
If that is the case, why did Christ go to the cross?
If we can save ourselves with our freewill choice… the cross is basically a lucky charm, that only works if you focus your mind on the cross in the right kind of way… the cross doesn’t accomplish anything, but your freewill choice is the thing that saves.
Can God save anyone against their will? “It is not of him that willeth.”
God did save this fellow named Saul–against his will.
One verse says IF WE CONFESS WITH OUR MOUTH THAT JESUS IS LORD, WE WILL BE SAVED.
Another verse says EVERY TONGUE WILL CONFESS THAT JESUS IS LORD.
If you freewillers are right… then somehow…some way… magically everyone’s freewill decisions get in line AND THEY CONFESS… and are thus saved.
But my big question is… what saved them? Their freewill confession??? or the work of God in the cross of Christ?
You freewillers tend to say the confession that Jesus is Lord by everyone… is no good… you didn’t read the “small print” expiration date on the coupon. “Too late.” “Times up”.
Will God be merciful to all? Romans 11:32 seems to say so.
The really ugly element of the freewill doctrine is this:
If you go to hell… you can only “blame” yourself… you used your freewill in the wrong kind of way.
However, if you go to heaven, you don’t credit yourself… oh no… you can only credit God’s saving power.
But dear friend of freewill… credit and blame must be based in the same foundation. If you can only “blame” yourself for going to hell, then you can only PRAISE yourself for going to heaven.
Salvation is the work of God. It’s not the “offer” of God.
What MUST God do to save the lost?
What MUST God do to reconcile all?
What MUST God do to be All in All?
Stacy… I believe God will do his work.
He is the Creator of all and the Savior of all.

RIGHTLY DIVIDE THE WORD OF TRUTH

 {} 
DEAR FRIEND OF FREEWILL,
One of the reasons we keep going round and round is that you don’t “rightly divide the word of truth”
What I mean by that, is that you take all scriptures and mix them into a pot, and make soup out of them. Paul says to Timothy that we should “rightly divide the word of truth”… the CV says “correctly cut the word of truth”.
Most folks do “divide” the Old Testament” from the “New Testament”… but Paul, in Galatians chapter one and two… suggests the division is even deeper than that. He suggests that the division is between what is meant for the circumcision and the uncircumcision. That would mean that Paul’s message is for us, and Jesus’ words and Peter, James and John are for the Jews.
By mixing the gospel of the circumcision with that of the uncircumcision, you’re going to get a jumbled mess that requires jumping through many hoops in order to make it fit.
The freewill doctrine is a great fall back between the two.
The circumcision gospel doesn’t clearly teach a “freewill” idea… but there are certainly a lot of commandments and do’s and don’ts in there.
Even Paul initially went to the house of Israel. But there was a time when he was “severed” from that gospel… in order to preach the gospel of Grace.
Many contradictions appear if you don’t “correctly cut” the circumcision gospel from the uncircumcision gospel.
In the link below, you’ll find an old article about this idea. It’s a precious little essay. Very helpful.
In the opening of James’ letter, he clearly says he was writing the “the 12 tribes” scattered abroad. And of course there are some yahoo’s out there who claim “we are the 12 tribes”… but they are missing this big picture.
The circumcision gospel is full of works and grace… but Paul’s message to us is all about grace and faith.
Also, the eonian destiny is different between the Church, which is His Body… and the destiny of the “Bride of Christ” (Believing Jews). The “Body” and the “Bride” are two different groups of folks.
Now, I don’t mind if you keep quoting circumcision writings to me… but if you were to limit your vision to Paul’s message, your vision of things would get WHOPPINGLY BIGGER.
You see, Paul saw even farther than John did in his “Book of Revelations”. When John closes his prophetic book, you still have rulership, authority, power and even death. But Paul sees far beyond that time period… he sees a point when those things are abolished. Including death, the last enemy abolished.
https://www.concordant.org/expositions/correct-partitioning/the-address-on-the-envelope/

“TOO LATE” AND “TIME’S UP”


DEAR FRIEND OF FREEWILL,
Your “too late” … “times up”… message seems to limit the saving work God did in Christ’s cross.
You’re right, the lake of fire, as I understand it, is not a “time out”… it is the 2nd death. But death is to be abolished… including the 2nd death. For even as in Adam, all die, so in Christ all will be vivified.
The 2nd death thing is something that happens well within the eons of time. And I’m talking about what happens when the eons come to an end.
“Then comes the end” Paul says in I COR 15:20-28.
The 2nd death is not more powerful than the resurrection of Christ.
John’s picture of the 2nd death is very short-sighted compared to Paul’s prophecy. Paul sees a time when Rulership is abolished, including Christ rule. Paul sees a time when authority is abolished, including Christ’s authority. Paul sees a time when power is abolished, including Christ’s power. And finally, Paul sees a time when “death, the last enemy” is abolished.
The lake of fire is an eonian thing.
God being All in All happens when TIME (the eons) are no more.
You see, TIME is a measure of CHANGE.
There was a “time” before God began creation, therefore there was no “time”.
Remember the verse that says “the eons were made in Christ”
And when God is All in All, “time” as we know it will cease to be.
The lake of fire is not an eternal thing. Remember the word ETERNAL is not even in the bible… it was a word invented by John Wycliffe who make the very first English bible from the Latin version he had.
Eternal is not a Greek word.
Eon is the word. It is limited.
I won’t fault God for saving the unbeliever.
“Faith” will not be needed when all is apparent. Eonian salvation is for the believer. The non-believers will not be reconciled, until the eons are past.
Salvation happened on the Cross.
Faith and understanding are part of it.
But it’s ultimate fulfillment happens when creation is complete and God is All in all.

And now for something totally wonderful:
We’ll call it “the great expectation”…
Romans 8…
20 For to vanity was the creation subjected, not voluntarily, but because of Him Who subjects it, in expectation
21 that the creation itself, also, shall be freed from the slavery of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, AND IT’S NOT “TOO LATE”.

DEAR FRIEND OF FREEWILL…
If ever… if ever… if ever… your mouth says… “Jesus is Lord”… you’ll be saved… and remember… every tongue will confess ‘Jesus is Lord’…

ROMANS 10:9
….that, IF EVER you should be avowing with your mouth the declaration that Jesus is Lord, and should be believing in your heart that God rouses Him from among the dead, you shall be saved.

PHILIPPIANS 2:10 AND 11
10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean,
11 and every tongue should be acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God, the Father.

The freewill teaching that salvation… ya know, what Christ accomplished on the cross… this freewill teaching has a LIMITED TIME COUPON… AN EXPIRATION DATE…
HURRY… LIMITED SUPPLY… like it was an “offer”… and not the WORK OF GOD… like God were a used car salesman trying to “close the deal”.

But, Paul says IF EVER… you confess, you’ll be saved… and Paul says “every tongue will confess.” HOT DOG.

So, IF EVER cancels out your “TIMES UP” idea.
Jones
P.S. Salvation is God’s work, not God’s “offer”.

SALVATION IS AN EVENT AND A PROCESS

DEAR FRIEND OF FREEWILL…

There is a lot to learn about this “salvation” thing.
If you remember, there are some old Christian dudes out there who say “ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED”. They speak as if salvation were an event.
Yes, it’s true, salvation can be an event, but it’s also a process.
It begins, it grows, it becomes complete.
I bring this up in regards to… God being the savior of all, ESPECIALLY but not EXCLUSIVELY of believers. (I TIM 4:10)
One reason for the “special” salvation given to the believers, is that God is the savior of all. That is… God will use the believers to bring in the rest. That’s why God puts a temporary emphasis on the believers… i.e. He is the Savior of all.. but especially our savior, who believe.

When Paul said to Timothy, “bring my traveling cloak”… we might understand that it was cold outside.
When Paul said to Timothy, “bring the scrolls”… we might understand he wanted to catch up on some reading.
When Paul said to Timothy, “especially the vellums” (Note: vellums are empty scrolls, no one has written on them yet.)… we might understand that Paul wanted to write a letter or two, maybe to the churches he had established.

My point is … he wanted the scrolls, yes, but he ESPECIALLY wanted the vellums. He had a special purpose for them.
In the same way… God is the savior of all… but He is ESPECIALLY the savior of believers. He has a special purpose for us.

Now, regarding “this salvation thing”…. it seems to me, the greatest lesson we can learn about salvation is that it is the work of God. It begins with God and ends with God.
God is the creator of all, and the savior of all.
Any role we play (as believers) in salvation… of ourselves or others… it is still “GOD WORKING IN YOU TO WILL AND TO DO” as brother Paul says.
Salvation may be an event… as in “I was saved last Tuesday.”
But it is also a process… as in “my understanding is greater today than it was last year.”
Salvation may consist of a “growing faith”… but it ultimately concerns the abolition of death (the last enemy and the wages of sin).
Our faith does not abolish death, Christ defeated death on the cross, and in the resurrection… our faith concerns the abolition of death, but the defeat of death is God’s work. It began in raising Him from the dead. It will continue with “those who are Christ’s in His presence… it continues with the rest at “the end” of the making alive process… not just raising them from the dead like He did to Lazarus… Ya know, Lazarus went on to die after he was raised by Jesus Christ… therefore, Lazarus was not “VIVIFIED”.
Christ was VIVIFIED… unable to die again.
We, who are Christ’s will be VIVIFIED at His presence.
Then all, will be VIVIFIED when He puts down all rule, authority and power, and puts death to death, only for God to become all in all.
I COR 15:20-28… is not about some ole run-of-the-mill resurrection… like that which happened to Lazarus… NO… It’s a bigger deal than that.

Christ was VIVIFIED, and is the FIRSTFRUIT of them that repose.
In farming, the FIRSTFRUIT always tells you something about the harvest later on.

If it is, as you insist, that all those folks out there will merely be raised from the dead to be royally punished, and not as Christ was raised… you cheapen and badmouth Christ as the FIRSTFRUIT of them that repose.

There is a difference between resurrection and vivification… two different words… Lazarus was resurrected, Christ was vivified. And I COR 15:20-28 says EVEN AS IN ADAM, ALL DIE, SO ON CHRIST ALL SHALL BE VIVIFIED.
Lazarus went on to die a 2nd time, but Christ lives, unable to die again.
The wicked and unbelieving will be raised, and judged, and face the 2nd death… but that is not what’s in view in I COR 15:20-28. This passage goes FAR beyond that. This passage takes us to the end of God’s eonian purpose.
It’s not right to mix Paul’s prophecy with John’s prophecy. They are about two different things. Paul reveals God’s goal to become all in all. John’s revelation is stuck in the last two eons of time. When John’s book closes, there is still rule, authority, power and death.
I COR 15:20-28… reveals the total end of those things, including Christ’s rule. “He must reign until…”

Salvation is the work of God. God is the Creator of all. And the Savior of all.
If you don’t understand how, oh how, God can pull it off… you’re not alone.
Thank God for Paul’s revelation.

she’s an “enemy of the cross”


Dear Sister,

When I first stumbled on this phrase… “ENEMIES OF THE CROSS”… I was awestruck… puzzled.. shocked…
Why not “enemies of the Temple”?
Why not “enemies of God”?
Why not “enemies of the law and good works”?
What, pray tell, could this mean?
Was Brother Paul referring to the wicked or the law-keepers?
Could it be said that Peter, James and John were “enemies of the cross”? They hardly mention the cross in their writings. They were definitely “friends” of good works. But were they “friends of the cross”?
The cross, after all, is a bloody mess. Not something one would be “proud” of.
How can there be any thing there to boast in? Blood? Guts? Grave site? Naked before the crowd? Skin ripped to shreds? Nothing to be proud of, right?
And yet Paul won’t shut up about the matter.
The cross, the cross, the cross…
It’s as if something was accomplished there. Something big.
Could it be that the religious are “enemies of the cross”?
Could the self-righteous be “enemies of the cross”?
Could the teaching of “freewill” and “endless hell” (which seem to go together) be “enemies of the cross”?
The teaching of freewill clearly exalts man. And limits God.
But what was achieved in the cross of Christ?
A possibility? An opportunity? Something subjective or was it an objective achievement?
If all Christ achieved on the cross… was to make salvation “possible”… wasn’t salvation “possible” long ago for Moses and Israel? Why the cross? What is different now?
Did Christ’s death give us an “opportunity” that we didn’t have before?
Didn’t Joseph, and Noah, have that “opportunity” before the cross?
What exactly did God achieve in Christ’s cross?
Did He died to save all??? Or, did he die to just give them an opportunity?
If the achievements of the cross, are limited just to those who do the right thing with their “freewill” choices, then we MUST say, the achievements of Christ’s cross are limited in scope.
If they are limited, why “boast” in the cross?
Why not boast in your own freewill decisions? There seems to be just as much importance in your own “freewill” as in what Christ did on the cross, if all is as you say.
How crazy is this? That our salvation would be all wrapped up in this shameful scene of the Son of God, splayed on the cross.
What exactly did God do here?
“Well,” you might say, “God saved you if you believe God saved you” (on the cross).
That dear friend, is subjective nonsense.
Like saying “the moon is made of cheese if you believe it is made of cheese.”
Something MUST BE OBJECTIVELY TRUE before our “belief” in the thing holds any meaning really.
If the moon really is made of cheese, then BELIEVING it’s made of cheese has meaning.
If the moon is not made of cheese, then BELIEVING it’s made of cheese is subjective B.S.
What exactly was achieved on the cross?
Were we saved? Or were we just “given a chance”?
If we were actually saved by Christ on the cross, then our belief in such has meaning.
If we are actually saved by our belief, then indeed, let’s downplay the cross, and put new emphasis on our FREEWILL DECISION AND BELIEF.
You are a teacher of “FREEWILL”… I don’t think anyone would accuse you of “boasting in the cross”. The two are in competition for the wreath of achievement and bragging rights.
As I understand your message, the cross’ achievements must wait upon the activation of the human will. Until the human will gives the cross meaning, it has no meaning or accomplishments.
I’ll take my chances boasting in the cross.
Yours
Jones

She’s into freewill and endless hell

 STACY, you’re so concerned with man’s work, man’s part… it is my joy to bring you back to God’s work, in the cross of Christ. “It is finished.” So He says.
I’m thinking salvation is God’s work.
You infer that God’s work is incomplete with out a “little help from my friends”.
Instead of saying “this cannot be.” why not say HOW can it be? How, indeed, can God pull it off?
It’s no problem really, as there are at least two eons of time left to come.
Can God possibly figure out how and when to save all? Ya know, every knee will bow.
There is no such thing as “too late”… or “time’s up”… in the bible.
During the eons, this and that happens. But is His arm so short that He cannot save?
We’re talking about THE WORK OF GOD IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
You can make light of it if you want to. But it’s really the core of God’s evangel.
There is a TIMELESSNESS in the phrase “all in all”.
Yes, during the eons, there are rewards and punishments. But they are summed up in the cross of Christ.
Judgement? Can’t “judgement” be a good thing? After all, one verse tells us to “judge the widows and the fatherless.” Is that a bad thing?
Judgement? Wasn’t judgement really met in the cross of Christ? Didn’t He die for all sinners and all sin? Even the sin of not believing He died for all sin?
Will you give God a chance to save all? Will you be upset if He does?
Who is the worst sinner… Judas or Paul? Didn’t Christ die for both? (Paul says he was the “Chief of sinners.”)
Judas’ betray was in some ways like the betrayal of Joseph’s brothers. It resulted in their salvation. It’s the same with all sinners.
Sin is not an IMPOSSIBLE thing. It’s just a thing.
There were some 700 left-handed stone slingers mentioned in the Old Testament. They could throw a stone and hit the target within a hair’s breath and NOT SIN. (Most translations say “NOT MISS”– but it’s the same word.)
Sinners miss the mark. But their MISSING will not dampen the wonderful achievements of the Cross.
All sinners are saved even before they believe they are saved. They are saved by the work of God in the cross of Christ. Later on, God gives them the faith to believe what He has done.
Quote all the verses about freewill and man’s works you want… I stand at the foot of the cross… in awe.
The cross is a universal message about a universal work… it is central to everything God has planned. Everything God will do.
It brings about the abolition of death, which you might remember is the “last enemy abolished” and it’s the “wages of sin.”
By focusing on what man might do, or could do, or “must” do, you’re missing something. Something big.
You might even be, dare I say it… “an enemy of the cross.”
Christ’s death and resurrection did not “give us a choice”. It saved us.
It did not provide an “opportunity”… it saved us.
It did not give us a “chance”… God does not operate in “chance”. Salvation is not a chance… no… it is the work of God.
We must preach the cross for it is the work of God… and “they” must believe it for it is true… not to make it true… but because it is true. You were saved by God’s work in Christ’s cross. You were saved 2,000 years ago, long before you were born, long before you believed.
Christ died to save sinners. Not to give them a chance, but to save them. And when he died, it was not in vain. He actually accomplished what He died to accomplish.
Grace to you.
And Peace.