What The Hell? I Wanna Go To Heaven. Annihilating the doctrine of eternal conscious torment.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” -John 3:36
Obedience implies trust, and this is why “believes” and “obey” are used interchangeably in this verse.
Faith is not believing hard enough. It is action based in what we consider to be true and authoritative.
We have all been given an opportunity to obey God and experience eternal life. On the contrary, if we choose to disobey God, then His wrath will be upon us.
What is God’s wrath?
We have seen it in the short-term, temporal version. Such as when fire came down and consumed the city of Sodom in Genesis 19, or when Ananais was struck dead in Acts 5:5. But what is the long-term, eternal version?
The eternal wrath of God is the second death. Now, many have claimed that the second death consists of eternal (never ending), conscious (fully aware, alive, and feeling), torment (burning, suffocating). This is known as ECT, and this is WRONG.
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.
Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” -Revelation 20:11-15
The Lake of Fire
In verse 14, the word for “Hades” is also translated as “hell” or “the grave” in other versions. It is simply a code word for the souls of all dead people. This means all the dead souls who were not resurrected to eternal life will be sent to the lake of fire.
Let me clarify something: GOD IS NOT SADISTIC.
The “lake of fire” is simply code for: “wiped out of existence”.
Fire is symbolic of destruction. Ash is the most basic form that matter can take in that it cannot be broken down or destroyed further. This is why it’s such a perfect symbol of annihilation.
This is also why the Biblical location of Gehenna is a perfect symbol of destruction as well. Gehenna is a trash dump just outside of Jerusalem where people threw dead animals and junk. What’s interesting is that because no one cared about the trash there and there was a constant supply of it, the fires never stopped burning. Thus “the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:46).
There was always smoke rising up because there was a never-ending supply of new trash. Dead corpses were infested with worms (maggots) and no one was there to kill the maggots or swat away the flies… and that’s why “the worm dieth not” (Mark 9:46).
What God is NOT saying:
“If you don’t love Me I will send you to a place where you will suffer unimaginable pain and sorrow for all of eternity, never, ever ending!”
Unfortunately this is what is often preached when doing “evangelism” or “revival services”.
What God IS saying:
“I want to have a covenant with you just like a marriage, for ever and ever, where you will be happy, loved, and provided for… never, ever ending. If you choose not to accept my love invitation, you will eventually physically die and cease to exist.”
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” -Matthew 10:28
Note that the body can be killed, yet God is the only one who can DESTROY both body and soul. The Greek words for kill and destroy are different, pointing out that the soul does not have an eternal dwelling but will be destroyed UNLESS it is granted ETERNAL LIFE.
That’s why the free GIFT of God is eternal life:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23
This is where I introduce to you the concept of CONDITIONAL IMMORTALITY.
This is the concept that we are NOT born with inherent immortality.
In other words, immortality is a GIFT that must be given to us by God.
Along with this concept is ANNIHILATIONISM. And this concept blows ECT out of the water!
This is the concept that souls that are NOT granted eternal life are completely wiped out of existence. This is in contrast to two heretical doctrines: ECT and Universalism.
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” -Malachi 4:1
“Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!” -Psalm 104:35
WHY IS THIS EVEN IMPORTANT?
How many times have you wanted to tell someone about God’s love and salvation but deep inside you felt a conflict of interest because you knew that you were really baiting them with a carrot… and the carrot was the fear of eternal conscious torment?
I know I have struggled with that my whole life… that is… until I was introduced to the truth about Hell and began studying it in depth.
How would it feel to be able to evangelize and share the love of God with someone with no strings attached? Without worrying about the outcome? Out of a heart of abundance and congruence rather than out of a sense of obligation?
How does the understanding of these concepts shift your thinking about God? About His love? About what it means to posses eternal life?
I leave you with those questions and encourage you to look into these things for yourself. It is my prayer that you may be release from the burden that the doctrine of ECT may have placed on you and you will experience profound joy, freedom, and excitement in the GOOD NEWS!!!