Future Punishment

by W. B. Screws

IN THE MATTER Of "future punishment," there would be no confusion of opinions if all would base their teaching on plain statements of God, instead of on parables, which are given to conceal, rather than reveal (Matt.13:10-17), or on incorrect translations.

Of saints Paul says, "For all of us must be manifested in front of the dais of Christ, that each should be requited for that which he puts into practice through the body, whether it is good or bad" (2 Cor.5:10). There is no judgment seat. There is no judgment. There is no punishment. There is requiting.

Matthew 25:31-46 speaks of the judgment of the nations. No grace is in it. Nothing is said of faith. The blood of Christ is not mentioned. Nothing except reasoning could bring these into this lesson, and the Scriptures always denounce reasoning. The judgment proceeds on the basis of how each nation has treated the brethren of Christ.

Reasonings make it "the general judgment;" individuals are being judged; the righteous go to heaven; the unjust go to endless hell! Thus a non-scriptural term, "the general judgment," is introduced, and passages that teach "everlasting life" on a basis of faith (see John 3:16), are contradicted, for this reasoning makes individuals enter into eternal life without faith. Nor is it any better if a correct rendering is used, and the same, reasoning followed. Correctly rendered, the believer is to have eonian life, while the reasoner has people entering into eonian life without faith.

If we believe God, the lesson is simple.

  • Time of the judgment: "whenever the Son of Mankind may be coming in His glory, and all the holy messengers with Him, then He shall be seated on the throne of His glory" (verse 31).
  • Who will be judged: "all the nations" (verse 32).
  • Basis of the judgment: "inasmuch as you do it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you do it to Me " (verse 40), and "inasmuch as you do it not to one of the least of these, neither do you it to Me" (verse 45).
  • Result of the judgment; "And these shall be coming away into eonian chastening, yet the just into eonian life" (verse 46).

Everyone who knows God's Word and believes it, knows this judgment will take place at the beginning of the "thousand years" (Rev.20:4), and that the judgment is in relation to the kingdom. There is nothing final about it, and it is not faith that puts finality into the lesson. It is human reasoning that does it.

A search of the Word will convince those who believe God, that there is no statement in Scripture, saying God will punish in connection with any future judgment. Hebrews 10:29 speaks of some who are worthy of punishment, but does not plainly say they will receive it. Moreover, the ones under consideration are God's people. Read the entire passage.

"Eonian extermination from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His strength," when Christ comes to establish His kingdom, needs a great deal of human reasoning to convert it into endless punishment. See 2 Thessalonians 1:9. It will take place more than a thousand years prior to the judgment before the white throne. Like the judgment of the nations, it is extermination in relation to the kingdom. It means death, since unbelievers, as individuals, cannot have eonian life apart from faith; but it is death, not for eternity, but during the period when others shall be seeing the face of the Lord and the glory of His strength. I repeat, it is in relation to the kingdom.

The passage that tells of the judgment before the white throne, says nothing of either chastening or punishment. Instead, the word is "condemned." Let us not change it to any other.

Neither does the passage mention torment. The word is "death." Not believing God, some have invented the phrase: "the second death from which there is no resurrection." Those Who believe God, need not invent a phrase. They adopt Paul's: "Christ Jesus, Who, indeed, abolishes death" (2 Tim.1:10).

The torment of the slanderer, the wild beast and the false prophet, for the eons of the eons (Rev.20:10), means just that. Unbelieving reason includes all unbelievers.

The torment of the worshipers of the wild beast (Rev.14: 9-12), includes no others. Yet the same unbelieving reason makes it include all who "are non-elect," or who "do not accept Christ," depending on whether the reasoner is a Calvinist or an Arminian.

Neither does God say their torment is eternal. The reasoner says it is.

Tense is ignored here by the reasoner. God says they will be tormented, and that they are having no rest day and night. Their restlessness is a present experience while they are worshiping the wild beast. Their torment will follow. If it had been essential that we know whether the torment will be before or after the judgment at the white throne, God would have told us. As He did not, let us honor His silence on this phase of it.

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