Getting lost ... period?

by André Piet
August 29th 2012

From a visitor to my website, I received the following email:

(…) Just a few moments ago, I finished listening to your sermon/Bible study about “getting lost”. You explained what you mean by getting lost: not believing. Yes, if you do not believe, you will be lost, that is clear.

But what does that exactly mean? What happens if I do not believe before I die?

According to the Bible, I will end up in hell. Yet, in your sermon, I heard nothing about hell. At the present time, the word “hell” may no longer be used; people do not want to know about it anymore. Nevertheless, it is what the Bible teaches us. Or should we believe in the reconciliation of all? End good, all good. Do not worry, God is merciful, he seeks the lost! I totally agree, but if the lost will not accept Him, what then?

I believe the person who posed the question, did not receive an answer about his question, How to take the texts that speak about getting lost and perishing, as Paul mentions it. And neither did I. What am I to do with texts such as Matthew 13:40-43, 10:28; Luke 12:5, 16:23, and many other scriptures?

With great interest, I’m looking forward to your response, (…)

In the above mentioned presentation, I showed that the word for “getting lost” (Gr. apollumi) has been translated as “to destroy” (Mat.2:13); “perish” (Acts 5:37); “waste” (Mat.26:8); “lose” Luke 9:25, etc. Also, a believer can “get lost” or “perish” (1Cor.8:13) in the sense that his faith suffers “shipwreck” or that he “stumbles” and “loses his way”. To one thing this word can never refer, namely to a so-called hell. That concept is unknown in Scripture. That it, nevertheless has come to be used in many Bible translations is a serious error. In the KJV, it is often a translation of the Hebrew word “sheol” or the Greek word “hades”. However, both terms denote the unseen “realm of the dead”. Usually, “hell” is translated from the Greek word “Gehenna”. This is a big mistake, because Gehenna is the Greek term for the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem (see: Jer.19:6; 32:35). It is a specific location, where you can walk to… In the future Messianic Kingdom, the dead bodies of rebellious individuals will lie unburied in this valley, as an example (cp Isaiah 66:24 and Mark 9:48). No, it is not a subterranean realm where souls will be tortured (what the word “hell” suggests), but a geographical place near Jerusalem, where dead bodies will perish. The other texts, to which the letter writer referred, are related to judgments in connection with the Kingdom that will be established on earth.

Will there be no judgement and condemnation of people who now die in unbelief? Yes, the Scripture speaks of a “Great White Throne” where the resurrected unbelievers will be judged (Rev.20:11-15). Paul says concerning this: “Affliction and distress shall come upon every human soul which is effecting evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek” (Rom.2:9). All those, whose names are not (anymore) written in the Book of Life will then be cast into “the lake of fire” and die into the “second death” (Rev.20:15). Is that their end – their final destination? Absolutely not! This judgement is not a goal, but the path to the goal. Before God can become “all in all”, a great many crooked things will have to be straightened out. That is what the word “judgment” means. It will be a painful surgery with a beneficial purpose.

No, the (second) death is not the end. The essence of the Evangel is that death will not have the last word (2Tim.1:10). Christ will reign “for the eons of the eons” (Rev.11:15), but not endlessly. He must reign until … death, as the last enemy, will be destroyed (1Cor.15: 25,26). Also, Revelation 21 and 22, still speak of Christ’s reign (22:1,5). Only when there will be no more death, and all will be made alive, will Christ be giving up the perfected Kingdom (where no one will be missing) to His God and Father. Then, God will become “all in all”. Then will “the all” be reconciled (Col.1:20) and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord for the glory of God the Father (Phil.2:9-11)! Then all mankind will be justified (Rom.5: 8), and be made alive beyond the reach of death (1Cor.15:22) and be saved (1Tim.2:4; 4:10).

Whoever speaks of “the lost”, should realize that there also will be a loser. When the sheep was lost, the shepherd was the loser. The great lesson in the well-known parables of Luke 15 (the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal {lost} son) is that which is lost is always found. This is of eminent importance and honour to the owner. The wonderful truth of the Evangel is that it reveals a GOD Who searches and finds all “the lost”. He seeks, because He is love and will never forsake the works of His hands (=His creatures). And he finds, because he is GOD and His plans never fail! 


Translation: Peter Feddema

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