Promises and Secrets

Promises and SecretsPromises and Secrets

A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



Penalty for Sin

VIEWPOINT



Since Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, did He suffer everything that is described in the Bible as the consequence of sin? Was He even supposed to do that?

FACT



According to Christians, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so that, if we follow Him, we would not have to pay the penalty.


BLUE VIEWPOINT



What are the consequences of sin?

While reading a booklet (Does Life End at Death?, 2019) published by Wake Up America Seminars, a statement made by Larry Wilson, who runs that site, caught my attention. He made this statement while giving some reasons why he believes, as I do, that there is no one burning in hell at this moment:

First and foremost, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. (Romans 5:9; 1 Corinthians 15:3) If the penalty for sin was endlessly burning in hell, then Jesus did not pay it; Jesus was resurrected on the third day! (Acts 10:40) Also, Jesus returned to Heaven forty days after His death. (Acts 1:3) So, why would God require human beings to burn forever for their sins when He required less of man's Sin Bearer? (2 Corinthians 5:21) The Bible indicates the Father does not impose more of fallen man than He put upon Jesus.

However, while we both believe that no one is being tortured in hell at the moment, he believes that no one will ever be tortured in hell. Based on what the Bible says, this is further than I am prepared to go. But, this statement made me do a double-take and then stop to think for a while. Then I came down on one side of the fence. But first, let's describe the two basic sides of the fence.

Side 1: Eternal life is only for the "saved"

The stand that Mr. Wilson takes is that the wicked will not gain eternal life, therefore they will not have to endure eternal punishment. He adds that Jesus suffered the punishment for our sins so that the faithful will not be required to do so. His view of the term "eternal" (aion) pretty much agrees with that expressed on the site at Hell Truth where we see that the words "everlasting" and "forever", in this stand, do not mean everlasting and forever.

Do you see how the naysayers do their thing? They demonstrate it on the site at Hell Truth (link above). In a nutshell, they say that the word "eternal" [aionios] does not mean "forever" because the bodies of those who died in Sodom and Gomorrah are no longer with us. Supposedly, since they suffered the "punishment of eternal fire" in this earthly life (Jude 1:7
7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

), and are physically no longer with us, that proves that "eternal punishment" will never happen.

So, we are to take from this that the "second death" will be just like the first death that everyone must face? Using their own logic, what would be the sense of killing someone the same way twice? Wasn't the first time enough? Why not just leave them dead?

If they aren't getting "eternal life", which means life without end, then they get "eternal punishment", which by their standards, means punishment that ends. Huh? How does that same logic not mean that "eternal life" also ends? Also, why resurrect someone from the sleep of death, just to kill them again, permanently this time, without having to pay any of the consequences mentioned in the Bible? Those consequences were only paid for those who believe and follow Christ.

"Up is down and sideways is straight ahead"

Well, the site at Hell Truth tries to make it clear that when the term "everlasting" refers to the fate of the wicked, it is not what we think of as "forever", but when the same word is used to refer to the fate of the righteous, it indeed means what we think of as "forever". Anyone can see that, right (grin)?

As we have said in other pages on this site, many often change the commands of God so that they do not apply to their sin, or in this case, redefine the terms used in the Bible so they do not mean what they actually say. Either way, doing this just creates other contradictions that most naysayers either deny exist or just refuse to address directly.

Further arguments by Wilson against the immortality of the souls of the wicked include the statements in Ezekiel 18:20
20The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. (ESV)

Which is more accurate to the use of the word "soul" used in the Hebrew, but is clearly speaking of the man who sins not passing the penalty for the sin to his sons, and is not discussing the mortality or immortality of the soul. The idea is communicated better in the NIV:

20The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. (NIV)

, for the statement, "the soul who sins shall die."

Side 2: Eternal life is eternal life for all, but will not be pleasant for all

This quote from Ezekiel 18:20
20The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. (ESV)

Which is more accurate to the use of the word "soul" used in the Hebrew, but is clearly speaking of the man who sins not passing the penalty for the sin to his sons, and is not discussing the mortality or immortality of the soul. The idea is communicated better in the NIV:

20The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. (NIV)

, speaking of the sinning man, not the soul of the man. Remember, when God created Adam, He breathed life into him and he "became a living soul." (KJV), or in the NIV, "became a living being" (Genesis 2:7). Any other interpretation suggesting that there will be no eternal punishment would conflict with the passages of Daniel 12:1-2
1"At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people - everyone whose name is found written in the book - will be delivered. 2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

, Matthew 25:31-46
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
5All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

, and Revelation 14:10-11
10they, too, will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.

.

Take a look at the four passages in the last paragraph. Daniel refers to:

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

If you are no longer existing, how do you experience shame and contempt? Matthew refers to a statement made by Jesus:

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

Again, how can you be punished if you are not there? 2 Thessalonians claims:

They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might

And the Revelation quote:

They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever.

What else could "They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb." and "the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever." mean?

Some say that this means that they will be gone and no longer able to be in the presence of the Lord. How is that any kind of punishment? Now, being in the Lake of Fire and realizing that you are being "punished with everlasting destruction", and have no way to get back into His presence - that would be punishment.

Back to the original thought

But, what about Wilson's opening statement to the effect that "Jesus did not suffer eternal punishment, so no one will be punished that way"? The first part a true statement, as far as it goes, but the second part is denied over and over by the words of the Bible. Since the Bible cannot contradict itself, at least one side (if not both sides) of this fence is wrong, so we must make some decision here.

While any statements from pure reasoning will likely be flawed in the same way as Wilson's conclusion, we must be careful to not be dogmatic. Let's just throw out some possibilities:

1. The animals that were used for the sacrifices for sin did not suffer eternal punishment, and Jesus was a substitute for them.

2. In the eyes of the Father, Jesus was qualified as "One who was sinless" to suffer and die for our sins. He did exactly that for us. Saying that He did not suffer eternal punishment is adding a qualification requirement for human purposes (such as, "proving" some contradictory point like "no one will suffer etarnally"). The Bible says that Jesus' suffering and dying was sufficient for our salvation. His eternal punishment was never part of the deal.

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

. The punishment for our sins does not have the "requirement" of eternal punishment, that is a decision of the Father at the time of judgment for those who willingly ignore His offer. That also seems to be the reason for the existence of the Lake of Fire. The fact that we are warned of that consequence gives us all the opportunity to avoid it. Ultimately, that decision to endure eternal punishment is up to us. Perhaps Jesus chose not to endure eternal punishment. After all, He was sinless.

4. What Jesus did for us was enough for Him to be able to offer us eternal life with Him. If He was to suffer eternal punishment, He could not be with us forever. That, however, does not mean that no one will suffer eternal punishment, since the Bible repeatedly says that they will. To claim otherwise makes God out to be a liar.

We could go on, but there is no point. Our salvation does not depend on whether or not there is eternal punishment (in the eternal sense of the word "eternal"). Just because we are not comfortable with a concept in the Bible does not give us the leeway to make it mean something else or deny it altogether.

While Larry Wilson's statement made me stop and think, I can't get past what the Bible actually says. The largest objection to the concept of eternal punishment is "Would a loving God do that to anyone?" Since the Bible says that He will, we have to answer, "Yes!"

Deal with it!







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