by A.E. Knoch

THE SUNDAY SCHOOL TIMES of April 19, 1931, contained an article with the above heading, which is reproduced herewith. As we have already covered this ground, it was not our purpose to publish another discussion of this subject. But the high standing of THE SUNDAY SCHOOL TIMES, and its evident desire to be faithful to the Word of God gives this exposition special interest and importance, even if it had not been written by the pastor of the Moody Memorial Church, Chicago, H. A. Ironside, Litt. D., a man who, from childhood, has been associated with the so-called Plymouth Brethren, who was, for many years, a leader amongst them, and whose wider ministry has been so acceptable that he was chosen to fill Moody's pulpit.

        Apart from the subject itself, it is instructive and helpful to see how such a man, with a lifelong acquaintance with the Bible, and a sincere desire to know and teach the word of God, is subconsciously controlled by the traditions which he has inherited. It should lead each one of us to test himself by the one touchstone --the exactitude of the Word of God.

        It is the value of this exposition as a background for the truth which tempts me to make use of it. We must reach people where they are and lead them on from that point. Doubtless many who have read the article sincerely hold that it is God's truth.

The Spirit Returns to God,
It Does not Go to "Hell"

With such a caption and such an expositor, we have a right to expect that all of the statements will be in exact accord with the Scriptures. As we are taken past the English to the original, we are entitled to look for perfect accord with the documents of inspiration.

        The article is reprinted in small type to distinguish it from our comments. The following are the first two paragraphs:

        "Our English word hell, meaning literally `the hidden place' in the expressive language of our Anglo-Saxon forbears, is used in the Authorized Version of the New Testament to translate three Greek words, Hades, Gehenna, and Tartaros.

        "Hades is the equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol, and refers to the abode of disembodied spirits between death and resurrection only. It is never used after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in connection with those who are saved, but only to describe the place of punishment of the lost. In the Old Testament Sheol is used in a very broad sense as covering the state and condition of all the dead, and is sometimes wrongly rendered `grave,' but a careful examination of every passage where it is so translated will show that the reference is not to the tomb, but to the place where the spirits of the departed, whether saved or lost, await their final bliss or woe. There is a sense in which both the words Sheol and Hades set forth not only a place, but the state of a spirit without the body. When the resurrection takes place, the spirit is reunited to the body and the Hades condition is over."

        The first statement which challenges investigation is the definition of hades. It is said to be "the abode of disembodied spirits." The Scriptures distinctly teach that the spirit returns to God Who gave it (Ecc.12:7). Shall we combine these statements logically and teach the startling doctrine that "hell" is where God is? If the spirit returns to God and this is "hell," how can we avoid such a conclusion?

        Is there a single passage in God's Word that teaches that, at death, the disembodied spirit goes to "hell?" If so, where is it? Let us test this definition in some of the occurrences of the word hades. Did our Lord predict that Capernaum (Matt.11:23; Luke 10:15) should subside into the abode of spirits? In the story of the rich man and Lazarus was Abraham disembodied? He had a bosom. Lazarus had a finger. The rich man had a tongue. The flame gave him pain. He could not cross the gulf between them. If these are disembodied, then words are useless for the purpose of revelation.

       Our Lord actually went to "hell" and has left us a record of it. In the last dread hour of His sufferings did He say, Hell, into they hands I commend My spirit? Such would have been His cry if the "disembodied spirit" goes to "hell" at death. Instead, He said, "Father, into Thy hands I am committing My spirit." His spirit did not go to Hell. His soul went to hades. He said, "Thou wilt not abandon My soul in the unseen" (Acts 2:27). His body was not allowed to decay. His soul was not left in "hell." His spirit returned to God, His Father.

       Is there a single passage in the Word of God which connects the human spirit with "hell?" Hades is always associated with the soul. This is basic. How can we know what the Bible really teaches on this subject if we confuse the soul and the spirit, and send the spirit to hell," when it really returns to God who gave it? Will THE SUNDAY SCHOOL TIMES correct this grave departure from God's Word? Will it insist that man's spirit goes to "hell" when the Bible really teaches that it returns to God? We shall see!

        Is there any place in divine revelation where we read of the time "between death and resurrection?" Death, in the Scriptures, is a state which continues until resurrection. The act of dying is not spoken of as death, but is referred to by a special term, apothnˆskoo, literally FROM-DIE, die off. Men are dead until resurrection, rousing, or vivification restores them to life. It is the dead who are raised, as such, not those who died at some time in the past and who are not dead at the moment of resurrection. God raises the dead and makes them alive!

The Bible Really Teaches that
the Soul Returns to the Unseen

The implication that the disembodied spirit is conscious during death is absolutely unwarranted. The Spirit returns to God. God gave it. Was it conscious when it was with Him, before He imparted it to us? If it was not, neither is it conscious when it returns to Him. Consciousness is never associated with the human spirit in God's Word. It is always associated with the soul, during life, not in death. In the death state between the act of dying and the resurrection, human spirits return to God, the soul returns to "hell," whence it came, and the body returns to the soil, of which it was formed.

        The statement that hades is never used of those who are saved after our Lord's resurrection, but only to describe the punishment of the lost, does not seem to accord with the facts. Our Lord, speaking to the beloved disciple on Patmos, said, "I have the keys of death and of `hell.'" Anyone who will read the context will see how incongruous any idea of punishment is here. The fact that Christ has the keys of "hell" indicates that He would rouse John from the dead, not thrust him into torments. Nowhere, in God's Word is hades or sheol limited to the unsaved. It applies to all who die, saint and sinner alike. All go to the unseen at death and emerge when they are roused.

        We are told that "a careful examination of every passage where it is so translated grave will show that the reference is ...to the place, where the spirits of the departed, whether saved or lost, await their final bliss or woe...Sheol and Hades set forth...the state of a spirit without a body." The word sheol occurs less than seventy times. It is translated grave only thirty-one times (Gen.37:35; 42:38; 44:29,31; 1 Sam.2:6; 1 Kings 2:6,9; Job 7:9; 14:13; 17:13; 21:13; 24:19; Psa.6:5(6); 30:3(4); 31:17(18); 49:14(15),14(15), 15(16); 88:3(4); 89:48(49); 141:7; Prov.1:12; 30:16; Ecc.9:10; Cant.8:6; Isa.14:11; 38:10,18; Ezek. 31:15; Hosea 13:14,14). Let anyone read these passages and see if a spirit is ever associated with the "grave" or sheol. Even a careless reading will show that it is not.

        What the Bible really teaches is seen in the following, which we take from the Authorized Version to avoid giving offense:

               Psa.      16:10         thou wilt not leave my SOUL in hell
                           30: 3(4)     brought up my SOUL from the grave
                           49:15(16)   redeem my SOUL from the power of the grave
                           86:13         deliver my SOUL from the lowest hell
                           89:48(49)   his SOUL from the hand of the grave
               Prov.     23:14        deliver his SOUL from hell

        Normally, only the soul goes to sheol. It is only in a figurative sense that gray hairs (Gen.42:38) and pomp (Isa.14:11) go there. And it is an abnormal event, when live men, with their bodies, descend to the unseen (Num.16:30). Does not the Bible really teach that the soul, not the disembodied spirit, goes to sheol?

        In contrast to this the spirit is spoken of as follows, showing that it goes to God, not to "hell." I quote from the Authorized Version:

               Job      34:14      If he set his heart upon man, If he gather unto himself
                                         his spirit and his breath; all flesh shall perish together,
                                         and man shall turn again unto dust.
               Psa.    104:29     Thou takest away their breath [spirit], they die,
                                         and return to their dust.
               Ecc.     12: 7       Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was and
                                         the spirit shall return to God who gave it.
               Luke     23:46     into thy hands I commend my spirit

        The spirits of all flesh, as well as those of God's saints and that of our Saviour go to God at death. Can any passage be found to the contrary?

        At death the Scriptures return the body to the soil, the spirit to God. The soul is the sensation resulting from the combination of these two (Gen.2:7). How, then, can there be any sensation, any perception, in hades? There is not, for God calls it the imperceptible, where perception is impossible. Without the organs of the body or the life of the spirit there is no sight, no hearing, no smelling, no feeling of any kind. This gives "hell" its real name--the UN-PERCEIVED.

"The second word translated hell is Gehenna, which was the name of a valley just outside Jerusalem where the offal and refuse of the city were burned. In ancient times, the abominable rites of Moloch worship involving human sacrifice had been celebrated there, so it was looked upon as a place accursed. Perpetual fires were kept burning in this valley, and into the flames were thrown the carcasses of beasts and sometimes even human criminals; upon these rotting, burning bodies the worms were continually feeding, until the flames destroyed them. Our Lord uses this awful picture as a figure of the place and state of the lost after the day of judgment. Other figures are used to describe the same dreadful condition, as for instance, `outer darkness,' `the blackness of darkness forever,' and `a lake of fire and brimstone.'"


Gehenna is Not the Final State
It Operates during the Kingdom

The first part of this paragraph is good. But when did our Lord use Gehenna as a figure of "the place and state of the lost after the day of judgment?" The dozen passages where this word occurs (Matt.5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6) seem to contain no hint of such a thing. Can it be that the writer has added to God's Word on this solemn theme? The "outer darkness" also is dated during the kingdom, before the judgment (Matt.8:12). The "blackness of darkness" is for a single eon (Jude 13). These refer to dealings with special classes previous to the great White Throne, not to all humanity after it.

        "The third term, Tartaros, literally the abyss, is found only once in the Scriptures, and that in 2 Peter 2:4, where we read of the fallen angels who have been cast down to hell. From this we would gather that it refers to a special punishment reserved for the angels who sinned, though elsewhere we are told that the lost are to depart `into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt.25:41), so that the punishment is evidently of the same character."

        Tartarus should not be confounded with abussos, abyss. It is a place where sinning messengers are kept for chastening judgment (2 Peter 2:4). It is a place of detention, before, the lake of fire, not a place of punishment.


        "It is noteworthy that the greater part of the New Testament teaching on the subject of hell and the future punishment of the impenitent comes to us from the lips of our blessed Lord himself. He it was who related the solemn story of the rich man and Lazarus. It was he who warned of the dangers of being cast into the Gehenna of fire; it was he who contrasted eternal life with everlasting punishment and who solemnly averred, `If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins' (John 8:24), and, `Whither I go ye cannot come' (John 8:22). We hear much sentimental talk in our day about refusing the stern teaching of the apostles in view of the teaching of the gentle Nazarene. But men forget that it was the Lord Jesus who gave us the heart- rending picture of the intermediate and the final condition of men in eternity who die in their sins. He negatives all thought of any second chance or eternal hope for such. His words as recorded in John 3:36 are conclusive. `He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.' It is impossible logically to couple the thought of universal salvation or of final annihilation of the wicked with these words. `Shall not see life,'--there will then be no second chance in another world for men who have rejected the Gospel in this one. `The wrath of God abideth on him,'--you cannot have abiding wrath and annihilation."

        The preceding paragraphs fail to clearly distinguish hades, the imperceptible, the unseen, which receives the souls of all in death, from Gehenna, which operates only during the day of the Lord and is located outside Jerusalem, and from Tartarus, which keeps messengers for judgment, and from the lake of fire, for unbelievers after resurrection and judgment. This paragraph is equally confusing in regard to time. Eonian life is contrasted with eonian chastening only in regard to the nations who do not succor the Jews in the end time. It has no reference whatever to other sinners. What bearing has John 8:24 on this subject?

Our Lord Speaks of Process, not End

Does John 8:21,22 prove that the Jews will never go to Him? A really careful examination of the Greek will show that our Lord carefully chose verb forms which do not allow and will not uphold that inference. He did not put it in the indefinite, "I go" and "you come," but "I am going" and "you be coming." He avoided the very forms which might give us ground for thinking that this was more than a temporary arrangement. But we need not ask our readers to examine this in the original. Could our Lord say these words to His own apostles? Were they also eternally shut out from His presence? If this interpretation is true, they were! Listen to His word: "Little children, I am still with you for a little time. You shall be seeking Me, and, according as I said to the Jews, that `Where I am going, you cannot be coming,' at present I am saying it to you also." The tense is temporary. The disciples go to Him later, and also the Jews (John 13:33).

        Where did our Lord give us a picture of the final condition of men in eternity? Is it wise to make "pictures" out of His plain statements unless they are warranted by the text in so solemn a subject?

        Is John 3:36 finally conclusive? Then Luke 17:22 is also, for the word and the tense are the same. "Yet He said to His disciples, `The days will be coming when you will be yearning to perceive one of the days of the Son of Mankind, and you shall not see it.'" Did He mean that they would never see it? By no means! He goes on to explain that it is only a temporary delay. So, in John 3:36, the "shall not see life" is not final. This is absolutely certain in the case of the word "abide." He could have said, "the wrath of God remains, emeine" (Matt.11:23) but He chose a term referring only to a present process, is remaining menei. None of these passages refers to final things.

        The implication that universal salvation (1 Tim.2:4; 4:10) involves a "second chance" is purely gratuitous. If man is the active agent in salvation, no number of chances will be sufficient, but if God is our Saviour He does not need even one "chance." He has distinctly said that He will justify all (Rom. 5:18) and vivify all (1 Cor.15:22) and reconcile all (Col.1:20). There is no chance that He has lied or overestimated His abilities, or His riches in Christ.

"It is very evident, then, that the Bible plainly teaches the eternal punishment of those who, because of their sins, shall be shut away from the light and glory of Heaven in the sorrow and darkness of hell. For them all hope must forever be abandoned. In spite of all that advocates of other theories have written, I have never been able to find in my Bible one ray of hope for men who die spurning the grace of God In Christ. For them, `it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God' (Heb.10:31).


Scriptures Wrenched from their Time

Where is the evidence, the plain teaching, on which these statements are based? It seems to be based on that unscriptural idea of "only two destinies--heaven and hell." What about the myriads of Israel's saints who go to neither, but are blessed on earth? "Eternal [everlasting] punishment" in God's Word is not applied to sinners in general, for their sins. It is said only of a very small class at the beginning of the kingdom. Their sins are not the basis of this judgment. It turns entirely on their treatment of Israel (Matt.25:46). It is very painful, indeed, to find honored servants of God habitually misplacing this passage. Their consciousness seem to be thoroughly inured to this serious perversion. Let us pray that God will lay this fault on their hearts.

        Hebrews 10:31 deals with those in the covenant nation who outrage the spirit of grace. Why apply this to all? And why not bring up a definite passage showing that there is no hope? No such Scripture exists. There are definite statements in God's Word which can easily be found, but which demand faith, which is evidently lacking here. God says that death, the last enemy, shall be abolished (1 Cor.15:26). God says that He will justify all mankind (Rom.5:18). God says that He will make all alive (1 Cor.15:22). God says that He will reconcile all to Himself (Col.1:20). And each of these statements definitely speaks of the ultimate consummation. The statements used in this article do not refer to the end, but to the process. They are dislocated in time.

"But, having seen this, there is another side of the truth which it is well for us to keep in mind. Nowhere in Scripture is hell presented as a vast pandemonium where lost men and demons are indiscriminately huddled together harassing one another while they vilify God and curse his blessed Son throughout an eternity of hideous torture. All such conceptions come from paganism and belong to medieval theology, not to the teaching of Bible-instructed Christians. In other words, we are not to think of eternal torment as though it involved the eternal torture of the lost either by the Devil or his agents, or by one another, and certainly not by God who is love. But torment of a mental and spiritual character will be inescapable. `I am tormented in this flame,' cried Dives (Luke 16:24). We need to remember that it was a disembodied spirit who was speaking, so that the flame of very necessity could not be any more literal than the physical terms which he uses when he speaks of finger and tongue. In 1 John 4:18, we read, `Fear hath torment.' It is the same word, and refers of course to what is mental and spiritual. How could it be otherwise with men who remember throughout eternity opportunities neglected, grace despised, and abide beneath the awful sense of being under divine indignation because of their rejection of Christ? This indeed will be torment."


The Rich Man
Apostate Israel

How can we "remember" that the torment of the rich man was of a "mental and spiritual character" when there is no indication of this in previous scripture and the whole setting of the scene is contrary to it? This is hades. We have shown that the spirits of Abraham and Lazarus and the rich man are with God, not in hades if this is to be taken literally. If not, then the men are there, especially their bodies and their souls, for the scene is based on their actual presence and sensations. Take the whole as a parable of Israel's sufferings while they are lo ammi, and the comfort of those who believe, which is figured by Abraham's bosom, and it is filled with prophetic light. Make it a mixed literal-figurative phantasmagoria, and all is confusion. Are we to understand from this that no punishment is physical? Why, then, resurrect the bodies of the dead for judgment?

        "But even the lost in hell are included in the universal subjugation of Philippians 2:9-11, where we read: `Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' The word `things' in each instance is italicized in the text, and does not appear in the original. The word `those' might just as well be inserted, for it is clearly of intelligent beings that the apostle is speaking. He is declaring that in the coming day of our Saviour's exaltation, all in Heaven and on earth and in the infernal regions shall bow the knee in subjection to him, and every tongue shall confess his Lordship. In Gehenna there will be `wailing and gnashing of teeth,' but no actual insubordination will be permitted."


All will Bow
to their Saviour
and Father

There is nothing about "hell" in Philippians 2:9-11. The term katachthonion is simply subterranean. To change it to "infernal regions" savors of medieval priestcraft. The whole passage deals with the exaltation of Christ under the name Jesus, which is His title as Saviour, not Judge. No knee can bow in the name of our Saviour and not be saved. No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by holy spirit (1 Cor.12:3). It is to be for the glory of God as Father. How much "hell" exalts our Lord's Saviourhood and God's Fatherhood we must leave to each one to decide in His presence. "Gehenna" has its place in the kingdom in the eon preceding the one in which our Lord becomes Head of all. The connection is most incongruous.

        "We are to think of hell, therefore, as God's well-ordered prison house, where men who never behaved before will have to behave at last; where absolute justice will be meted out to all, but where mercy never shall come and hope shall be forgotten."

        Where, in God's Word is "hell" His "prison house?" God keeps the messengers who sinned in Tartarus, not in "hell." Satan will be locked up in the abyss, not in "hell." Who ever heard of justice being meted out in "hell?" Are we not drifting away from God's Word altogether? Hades is the Greek imperceptible. Sheol is the Hebrew questionable, from the verb shal, to ask. They denote a state where there is no perception with any of our senses, no sight, no hearing, no feeling of any sort. Literally, there is no soul when the spirit leaves the body. Figuratively, the same sense is given by saying that the soul goes to hades or sheol.

        "According to the crude thoughts of many, hell will be Satan's kingdom and realm of despair, where he will reign despotically throughout eternity, taking fiendish delight in torturing his unhappy subjects. Needless to say, this conception is not found in the Word of God. According to Scripture, hell is the Devil's prison where he and his demon hosts will be shut up and unable longer to injure men or to defy or insult a holy God."


The "Devil" Never
will Be in "Hell"

But the "Devil," or Slanderer, has never been in "hell" and never will be! There is not a word of Scripture for the assertion. His place is in heaven until he will be cast down (Rev.12:9). Then he is shut up in the abyss (Rev.20:3), from which he is loosed on earth (Rev.20:7) and cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). How can my dear brethren preface "according to Scripture" to statements which have absolutely no basis in God's Word?


        "In the very nature of things, men who die impenitent, possessing only an evil nature, a carnal mind, which `is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be,' could not be happy in Heaven with God and his redeemed. Constitutionally opposed to his holy will, they will not be changed, by passing through death, into gracious, obedient saints. Death in itself has no purifying or saving power. After death men will be judged for the deeds done in the body. When souls have passed out of the body, it is too late for repentance and restoration. Therefore the tremendous importance of closing with the divine offer of mercy while it is called today, and while the Holy Spirit speaks in power to the soul. Scripture everywhere intimates that it is a fearful thing to die out of harmony with God. `If,' to use Joseph Cook's trenchant phrasing, `men die hating what God loves and loving what God hates,' the Bible suggests no post-mortem means of changing their character. It rather declares the very opposite; for, portraying the eternal state in the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, the Spirit declares: `He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still' (22:11).

        "In other words, character tends to permanency. Through the infinite mercy of God, no matter how low and vile one has become while in this life, there is still hope through Christ's atonement. But if unregenerated before passing into another world, one can but meet God according to the character already formed. `It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Heb.9:27). Observe: not `after this another chance, or second probation,' but stern, relentless judgment."


Human Nature is not Evil

Men do not possess an "evil nature." The statement that the Circumcision were, "by nature" children of Indignation, even as the rest, has been misinterpreted so as to directly deny the teaching of Romans that man's nature is not evil. Sin is beside nature (Rom.1:26). The gentiles may be doing by nature what the law demands (Rom.2:14). It is allied with conscience. Paul say that the Uncircumcision, who by nature, are discharging the law's demands, will judge the Circumcision (Rom.2:27). As the idea that human nature is evil is one of the foundations of "evangelical" theology, it is taken for granted, and its basis in the Scriptures is not examined. The "carnal mind" (disposition of the flesh) (Rom.8:7) is present in the believer today. Hence the argument of this paragraph applies to believers quite as well as to unbelievers. Are they also hopelessly lost?

        In Revelation 22:8 John returns to Patmos. Read the passage down to verse eleven. The standpoint is not the final eon, where John has been in vision, but the days in which he wrote the scroll. It is before the Lord's coming, which is promised in the next verse. How can it refer to the "eternal state?" That is utterly out of line with its context. Have we a right to take a statement which refers to the past and shift it to eternity? What will become of God's revelation if this course is pursued?

        In Hebrews 9:27 the argument absolutely repudiates the popular interpretation here given. What parallel is there between the death of a man and his judgment and the offering of Christ? It was the death of the high priest in Israel which led to the "judgment" of the man slayer (Num.35:22-29). The statement has no reference to men in General. The "judgment" here is restoration. It cannot be applied to suffering for sin on the part of the unbeliever at the Great White Throne. How often have great saints wrested this passage from its context so as to bolster up their theology! Where this is necessary, does it not indicate a defect in their teaching?

will be Vivified

It is true that death works no change for the better in either saint or sinner. It has no purifying or saving power. What is it, then, that will change the saints from fleshly minded failures, quite unfit for heaven, into incorruptible, immortal beings with bodies like His glorious body? Resurrection, or rousing, will not do it, for men have been brought back to life without such a change, and even the unbeliever will be resurrected for judgment. Vivification is the solution. Ours will be a resurrection of life. What ails us now all comes from lack of vitality. Abundant life will transform us into His image.

        The question remains, Will the unbeliever ever be vivified? He will be raised and roused at the Great White Throne, but after being judged he will be cast into the lake of fire, the second death. Is there any escape from it? There is. Death, as the last enemy (which can refer only to the second death), will be abolished, not by resurrection anastasis or rousing egersis, but by vivification, or making alive zooopoiˆthˆsontai (1 Cor.15:22). If this changes saints it will also change sinners. All men sin because they are dying. They will cease from sinning when beyond the operation of death.

        "The order of events would seem to be as follows: When God says to the wicked man, `Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee' (Luke 12:20), that soul, which cannot be killed when the body dies, passes immediately into Hades. This is the clear teaching of the story of the rich man and Lazarus. `The rich man also died, and was buried; and in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments (Luke 16:22,23). It is evident our Lord meant us to understand there was an instantaneous transition from the life of luxury to a state of wretchedness and woe. And it should be noted, in connection with what has already been said, that there is no hint of this lost soul being in a condition where demons or demon-controlled men are torturing him by inflicting upon him any suffering other than that which results from the fact that he carries within himself the means of his torment and grief. `Son, remember!' (Luke 16:25). What a world of anguish is involved for the lost soul in these words. Eternal memory! This in itself must needs involve eternal torment unless one has been washed from his sins by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ."


The Soul, as well
as the Body, Dies

The idea that the soul cannot die certainly never had its origin in the Word of God. The notion that man dies in sections is based on some figurative, passages in which a part is emphasized. Herod "Sought the young child's soul" (Matt.2:20). God is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna (Matt.10:28). "The soul that sinneth, it shall die," though a figure, shows clearly that the soul is included with the body and spirit in the return called death. The soul is often spoken of as dying. Here are a few passages from the Psalms: "Let my soul live" (Psa.119:175), "Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave" (Psa.30:3), "Thou hast delivered my soul from death" (Psa.56:13), "He spared not their soul from death" (Psa.78:50), "None can keep alive his own soul" (Psa.22:29). In the Unveiling we read every living soul died (Rev.16:3). The determined effort of evangelicals to make death some form of life has led them to invent the nonscriptural phrase "the resurrection of the body" because they really do not believe God's word that the man is dead, including his soul and his spirit. To them the rousing (of the soul) and the vivification (of the spirit) are unknown.

        Abraham says "Son, remember." Hence he is the torturer of hell! But we have no hint that this actually did torture the rich man. The record says "I am tormented in this flame." Why try to deny this? Flame is painful. Who started this flame? Who keeps it burning? We are agreed that it is not the Slanderer or his messengers. If God does not do it, who does? Abraham seems to be especially favored, for he has an unobstructed view of the torment of the damned, and he need not be unduly concerned about them for he cannot help them anyway. He must be very happy, indeed! Would any of my readers care to reserve a seat where they can enjoy the torturing of the damned for eternity?

        "This intermediate state continues unchanged (on the wrong side of the great gulf which is irrevocably fixed so that none can pass from one side to the other) until the end of time, when the day of the last great assize shall dawn. Then we learn from Revelation 20 that he who once hung on Calvary's cross will sit on the great white throne, and before him all the wicked dead will be gathered. They will come forth in the resurrection of judgment. We are not told anything as to the nature and condition of the resurrection bodies of the lost. That they will be raised is perfectly plain. `Death and hades' will give up the dead that are in them. That is, death, the grave, will give up the bodies; Hades will give up the souls; and so the unsaved will rise and stand before the throne. There the books of record will be opened and men will be judged out of the things written in the books. Every secret sin will be exposed; every evil thing brought to light. The Word of God, too, will be opened, for our Lord declared to the Jews that Moses in whom they trusted would be a witness against them in that day. Then, too, `the book of life' will be unfolded, for many in that vast throng once thought their names were written there, having made profession of faith in Christ, but they will search in vain to find themselves enrolled among the possessors of life eternal. And so we read, `Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast Into the lake of life' (Rev. 20:15). Thus death and Hades will come to an end. There will be no more place for the grave, for all will then be resurrected. There will be no more use for Hades, for every lost soul will be called forth for judgment. Therefore death and Hades will be cast into the lake of fire."


The "Intermediate
State" is Death

This "intermediate state" of torment will continue only one or more thousand years before the sinner will be brought before the Judge to be tried! Can anyone imagine a greater travesty on justice than this? Human courts cannot help being unjust, but how many of them inflict the severest penalty long before the prisoner's sentence has been passed? I preached in a jail for many years. They would not let us even see those inmates who had not been tried and condemned, lest it should be to their disadvantage. Yet we are asked to believe that God uses the unbeliever as a sort of spectacle for his saints for thousands of years before the sinner is brought to trial! Surely THE SUNDAY SCHOOL TIMES will repudiate this teaching! God is just! He is not an abandoned fiend!

        Death, in the Scriptures, is figured by sleep. Let us not make this literal, as our Lord's disciples did, when He spoke of Lazarus, for then death would be a restorative. There are many things about sleep which are not true of death. There is a measure of subconscious activity in sleep, but not in death. There are dreams in sleep, but not in death. The point of likeness is oblivion. God, at death, makes the sinner entirely oblivious of everything until the moment of his resurrection, so that, to the sinner's consciousness, he is brought into judgment immediately, the moment after his demise. This is just. This is Godlike. This is scriptural.


        "The lake of fire is expressly called the second death. It is clearly the same as Gehenna; that hell-fire concerning which our Saviour spoke so seriously. This is hell in all its awfulness. It is not annihilation, for the wicked are to `have their part in' it.

        "Much time has been wasted debating whether this fire is material or symbolical. But the awful fact is that it depicts a punishment that is endless, and a suffering that is beyond anything ever known in this world.

        "`Our God is a consuming fire,' and to be exposed to his wrath will burn the soul like the fiercest flame throughout eternal ages, in which each individual will suffer only for his own sins. Thus for some it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment than for others, for `God shall render to every man according to his works.'"


The Lake of Fire is not Gehenna

The lake of fire is not the second life, as is here intimated. The sinner is judged for his sins before the great white throne, not in death, either the first or the second. This lake of fire is nowhere associated with the vale of Hinnom, below Jerusalem. Worms cannot exist in a lake of sulphurous fire. It is not annihilation, but it is death for those who appear before the Great White Throne, and have died before. They suffer for their sins during their second life. That is why they are raised. They cannot have eonian life. That is for the saints only. Hence once more they enter oblivion until the abolition of death, the last enemy. Then they are vivified, made alive, that God may be All in all.

        How can God render to every man according to his works when, according to this unjust arrangement, the mildest sinner, even infants, must suffer in fire for eternity? In time there can be no distinction, for infinity admits of none. In severity, what choice is there between various flames? The babe and the murderer, the Christ rejector and the ignorant heathen who never heard of our Saviour, all partakers of a doom infinite in duration and beyond imagination in severity! And who would suffer most? The god that would plan and permit such a fiendish "hell." His glory would be eclipsed, as it is now being dimmed by those who think Him capable of such hatefulness.

        "The Scriptures have told us about hell in order that we may never go there. The Word of God makes plain the way of life and salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who bore in our stead on Calvary's cross the bitter anguish that lost men must endure eternally if they refuse his grace. Thrice happy the man who, turning in repentance to the risen Christ, finds in him an all- sufficient Saviour and so can exclaim with assurance in the language of Paul Gerhardt, the German singer:

                              "There is no condemnation
                                There is no hell for me,
                                The torment and the fire
                                My eyes shall never see."

        "How foolish for men to reason and argue about the possibility of an end to hell when they may find here on earth One who will save them forever from entering upon its woe. The apostle links together in one passage (2 Cor.5:11,14) two motives for sending this Gospel out into the world. He says, `Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men...for the love of Christ constraineth us.'"

Go to "Hell"
in Death

Quite the contrary is true. Unless our Lord comes, the souls of all believers will return to hades, as their spirits return to God, and the bodies return to the soil. Death is still a return. Our bodies came from the soil and may return thither. Our spirits came from God and must return to Him. Our souls came from hades ("hell!") and they cannot possibly return elsewhere! The Circumcision are warned against Gehenna and the lake of fire, but these are not in operation now.

Christ's Sufferings
will Save All

Where, in the Scriptures do we learn that Christ bore "in our stead" the bitter anguish that lost men must endure eternally? Is an infant capable of bearing such anguish? Is any man equipped for agony such as He endured? Are our Saviour's sufferings so insignificant that they will be duplicated for unnumbered infinities by each and every sinner of the race? I much prefer the theory that His sufferings were so much greater than that of others that He endured an amount equal to that of all the doomed. However lacking, it at least glorifies His sacrifice. But never before have I heard that the slightest suffering of the sinner will equal that of Emmanuel when forsaken by His God.

        After having said "death and hades will come to an end" why call it foolishness for others to even consider the possibility of the same thing? When death is abolished there will be no hades. There is no Gehenna on the new earth. Even the lake of fire is no longer the second death when there is no death. But this does not do away with the fearful judgments of God. He will visit indignation and fury, affliction and distress on every human soul which is effecting evil (Rom.2:9). The sinner must suffer for his sins unless he is sheltered by the blood of Christ.

        There have been times when even a slight offense called for the extreme penalty. Men were hanged for stealing food to keep from starving. But such laws are no deterrent to crime. Their very unreasonableness makes them a dead letter. It is useless to threaten sinners with eternal torment. It is so contrary to every sense of justice that they distrust the evangel which must be propped by such an alternative. Let us preach the sane and wholesome truth that God is just, that He will vindicate Himself to the sinner, and win his approval even of His severe judgments. After all, it is God Who is most affected by the sinner's judgment.

All will be Vivified,
Justified, Reconciled

Many phases of this question are not touched in this brief reply, for they are expounded elsewhere. The fact that the future is always spoken of in terms of limited eons (not endlessness) is the key to the problem. In this article the writer has consistently appealed to passages which deal with the process to God's goal, but he has absolutely ignored those passages which actually deal with the consummation itself. Our Lord and His twelve apostles did not reveal the final things. That was given to the apostle Paul, who completed the Word of God. Why, in this treatise on what the Bible really teaches, was his testimony--the only real revelation of the consummation--completely repudiated?


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