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Sunday, September 6, 2020

The ends of the 4 Christian hells, Part 4 (long version)

The final Christian hell we are going to look at is not translated as hell in any bible that I'm aware of. Despite this, much of Christianity says the lake of fire is hell ... and hades/sheol is hell ... and Gehenna is hell ... and Tartarus is hell. That's 4 distinct places said to be hell by Christianity. And that's a mess. But Christianity is not concerned with how messy, and unscriptural, their teachings and traditions of hell are.

Because people see the word hell in their crappy bibles, and hear it preached regularly from pulpits, it is understandable why they believe in the traditional hell. I get it. I believed it, and taught it, for a long time myself. It's one of the first things people are taught in Christianity. And Christianity presents a somewhat believable scenario based on mistranslated bibles. The charade is pretty convincing until their tradition is challenged. Proverbs 18:17 from the Amplified Bible (AMP), "The first one to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and cross-examines him."

For about 17 years I believed the first teachings I heard concerning hell and judgment. I was not aware of any alternatives to the traditional teachings, and I jumped on the bandwagon, where I whooped and hollered with my wagon mates. Then God led me to people who had cross-examined the traditional teachings of Christianity, and the deceptions were exposed. Hopefully, through this series, you're seeing the truth about hell and judgment and the bigger truth of the salvation of all through the work of Christ.

Recap of Part 3 - Tartarus

Peter utilizes the Tartarus of Greek mythology to teach us what God did with some naughty immortals. Tartarus is the place where immortal sinning messengers are held until their judgment (2 Peter 2:4). The mortal dead are currently held by death in hades/sheol. Tartarus will no longer exist after the current heaven and earth are done away with. Thus Tartarus, like hades/sheol and Gehenna, will end. Three hells down, one to go. The lake of fire/second death is the last hell standing. And it will operate for a length of time, playing its part in God's plans, until its part is no longer needed.

A lake of fire?

When I think "lake," I think "liquid." When I think "fire," I don't think "liquid." The closest thing I can think of as liquid fire is flowing lava. But, God's creation goes far beyond what we can now see and experience. And He will continue to create new things as His creation moves along (Revelation 21:1, 5). The unique lake of fire may currently exist, or it will come into existence when needed for God's purposes.

Gehenna was the focus of Part 2 of this series. In it we saw that Christianity throws around the idea "Gehenna is the lake of fire" as if it's an undeniable fact. But you will not find that "fact" in the Scriptures. You will find it in old, bad tradition. Gehenna is a valley. The lake of fire is a lake. Valley. Lake. Lake. Valley.

The lake of fire is mentioned six times in the Scriptures. From the Concordant Literal New Testament (CLNT),
Revelation 19:20
And the wild beast is arrested, and with it the false prophet who does the signs in its sight, by which he deceives those getting the emblem of the wild beast, and those worshiping its image. Living, the two were cast into the lake of fire burning with sulphur.
Revelation 20:10–15
And the Adversary who is deceiving them was cast into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the wild beast and where the false prophet are also. And they shall be tormented day and night for the eons of the eons. 11 And I perceived a great white throne, and Him Who is sitting upon it, from Whose face earth and heaven fled, and no place was found for them. 12 And I perceived the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. And scrolls were opened. And another scroll was opened which is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged by that which is written in the scrolls in accord with their acts. 13 And the sea gives up the dead in it, and death and the unseen give up the dead in them. And they were condemned, each in accord with their acts. 14 And death and the unseen were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death-the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was not found written in the scroll of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:8
Yet the timid, and unbelievers, and the abominable, and murderers, and paramours, and enchanters, and idolaters, and all the false-their part is in the lake burning with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.

The second death

There are two more verses teaching us about the second death. Revelation 2:11, "Who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit is saying to the ecclesias. 'The one who is conquering may under no circumstances be injured by the second death.'"

And Revelation 20:6, "Happy and holy is he who is having part in the former resurrection! Over these the second death has no jurisdiction, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will be reigning with Him the thousand years."

Where is the lake of fire?

We are not told in the Scriptures where the lake of fire is located. I don't believe it is on the earth for the following reasons:

  • although the lake of fire may not currently exist, it will exist while this current earth exists (Revelation 19:20 and 20:10)
  • the lake of fire endures the fleeing of the current heaven and earth (Revelation 20:11)
  • the lake of fire exists in the interval between the current heaven and earth and the new heaven and earth, during the great white throne judgment era (Revelation 20:11–15)
  • the lake of fire exists during the new heaven and earth eon (Revelation 21:8)

Because the lake of fire survives the monumental change from the 4th to the 5th eon, I think it is not on the earth. Someday we will see it and know God's power as He employs it for His purposes.

"This is the second death—the lake of fire."

In Part 3 we saw that God currently uses two distinct locations for holding mortals and immortals. Tartarus is the jail where God holds the immortal sinning messengers. And hades/sheol is where he holds the mortal dead in death. Satan will be jailed in the submerged chaos during the millennium (Revelation 20:1–3). But, after Tartarus and hades/sheol are gone, God will use the lake of fire for both mortals and immortals. For the mortals the lake of fire is their second death (Revelation 20:14–15). For the immortals it is a place of torment day and night "for the eons of the eons" (Revelation 20:10). The "eons of the eons" are not eternity, and they are not forever, or everlasting. The "eons of the eons" are the final two eons, the eons in which Christ reigns. See The Eonian Times Chart.

We are not told in the Scriptures where the immortal sinning messengers will go after their judgment. The Scriptures only tell us specifically that the Adversary, the wild beast, and the false prophet will be tormented in the lake of fire for the eons of the eons. Will the sinning messengers be there also? I believe they will be, because there is no other place mentioned for the baddies to go. But, I can't provide chapter and verse to prove my belief. Yes, I sometimes speculate.

"Surely, the lake of fire is the end for the baddies."

If you've read this series, you've seen that hades/sheol is not the end for the dead. Gehenna is also not their end. And Tartarus is not the end of the sinning messengers. But surely, Shirley, the lake of fire is the end of the road for unbelievers. Right?

The last thing we read about the lake of fire/second death in the last book in our bibles, Revelation, is this,
Yet the timid, and unbelievers, and the abominable, and murderers, and paramours, and enchanters, and idolaters, and all the false-their part is in the lake burning with fire and sulphur, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
One would think this will be their final end if one thinks the book of Revelation is the end of God's eonian story. And one would be wrong.

The last people to ever die (meaning the death event, not the process of dying) will be those cast into the lake of fire. They will be killed by the second death. Annihilationists and eternal tormentists say those cast into the lake of fire will be dead forever. The annihilationists say they will be the dead-dead, while the eternal tormentists say they will be the living-dead. Thus, according to their demonic teachings, death operates forever as it holds the dead in the death state. According to them, since death is no longer killing people, is has been abolished by Christ, thus fulfilling 1 Corinthians 15:26, "The last enemy is being abolished: death." But how can that be true if the second death holds people forever? It can't. They give death a great victory over Christ and "the living God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of believers" (1 Timothy 4:10). They "are deceived, not being acquainted with the scriptures, nor yet with the power of God" (Matthew 22:29). 

God, our phenomenally creative genius Creator, tucked the end of the eonian story inside the guts of His book. It's better than anything you've ever read. And it's found in 1 Corinthians 15:20–28.

"When will the second death be abolished?"

That is a great question. Here's the great answer, provided by God.

In 1 Corinthians 15:20–28, God reveals to us events that will occur long after those revealed in the book of Revelation. In this passage He gives us many key indicators that will signal the successful completion of Christ's reign, which includes the abolition of death. Christianity misses this by a mile, or, shall I say, by an eon.

Yet now Christ has been roused from among the dead, the Firstfruit of those who are reposing. 21 For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a Man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead. 22 For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified. 23 Yet each in his own class: the Firstfruit, Christ; thereupon those who are Christ's in His presence; 24 thereafter the consummation, whenever He may be giving up the kingdom to His God and Father, whenever He should be nullifying all sovereignty and all authority and power. 25 For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy is being abolished: death.
27 For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him. 28 Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.

This whole passage is key. Within this key passage is the key verse 22, "For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified." Christianity does not believe, or teach, this simple, tradition-shattering truth that God caused Paul to write to bless the socks and shoes off of humanity. In fact, they hate it because it is so simple and true, and they have a hell of a time trying to squeeze this big truth into their teeny-tiny god box. This simple truth tells us that all who are dying because of Adam (that's every single human) will be vivified because of Christ. I don't know how God could have made this truth simpler and clearer. Don't screw with it. Just believe it.

Vivified means made alive. But it is not the making alive to mortality, as some were raised by Jesus during His time on earth. It is the making alive to immortality, which is exactly what happened to Christ, the Firstfruit. He is the living definition of vivification.

There are three vivification events. 1. "the Firstfruit, Christ" (v.23), 2. "those who are Christ's in His presence" (when He returns at the end of this present wicked eon, v.23), and 3. "thereafter the consummation" (v.24). Vivifications 2 and 3 will include all humanity. This leads us to the logical question, "When is the consummation?"

Following are the events of the consummation, which include the final vivification of humanity, which coincides with the abolition of death.

  • whenever [Christ] may be giving up the kingdom to His God and Father (v.24)
  • whenever [Christ] should be nullifying all sovereignty and all authority and power (v.24)
  • For [Christ] must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet (v.25)
  • The last enemy is being abolished: death (v.26)
  • He subjects all (except God) under His feet (v.27)
  • whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him (v.28)
  • God may be All in all (v.28)

So, the answer to the question, "When will the second death be abolished?" is "at the consummation." The events of the consummation we just bulleted will occur at the end of eon 5, the new heaven and new earth eon. 

Annihilation and eternal torment

Annihilationists and eternal tormentists teach various timings of the abolition of death. Some say it will be abolished at the end of this current wicked eon when Christ returns. This is silly, because people will die during the millennium and after the great white throne judgment. Death is abolished at the end of this current wicked eon, but only for those in the second class of the vivified (v.23). Others teach that death is abolished after the lot are cast into the lake of fire, because this is the final death event for humanity. This, too, is silly because none of the bulleted events above occur at that time. And, as we saw earlier, death holds the dead long after those not written in the scroll of life are cast into the lake of fire. How can death be abolished if it is still holding the dead? It can't be. It is still operating.

The abolition of the second death will occur at the consummation of the final eon when Christ vivifies the third class (the remaining mortals of humanity) after He causes the second death to give up the dead in it, just as He did with the first death, hades/sheol, and the sea (Revelation 20:13). Then, the second death—"the last enemy"—will be no more.

The length of Christ's reign

Gabriel's words to the virgin, Miriam (aka Mary), in Luke 1:31–33 help us with God's timing.
And lo! you shall be conceiving and be pregnant and be bringing forth a Son, and you shall be calling His name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and Son of the Most High shall He be called. And the Lord God shall be giving Him the throne of David, 33 His father, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for the eons. And of His kingdom there shall be no consummation.
Just as 1 Corinthians 15:25 says "He must be reigning until," Luke 1:33 says "He shall reign over the house of Jacob for the eons." Just as the "until" limits the length of Christ's reign, so too does "for the eons" (see also Revelation 11:15). His reign over the house of Jacob begins with His return at the end of this current wicked eon. And it will last through the next two eons, which include the millennium and the new heaven and earth. Ephesians 2:7 verifies for us the plurality of eons to come, "in the oncoming eons, He should be displaying the transcendent riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus."

Though Christ's reign ends, the perfect kingdom He establishes will not end, "of His kingdom there shall be no consummation" (Luke 1:33). At the consummation He will be "giving up the kingdom to His God and Father" (1 Corinthians 15:24), and God will be "All in all." Christ's reign will end in complete victory and success. It's like a Master Builder who completes the building of a fantastic palace, then hands the keys to the owner who will enjoy it forever with his people.

Christ abolishes all three aspects of death

We meager mortals are subject to 3 aspects of death:
  1. the dying process, which affects a living mortal
  2. the death event, when death ends the life of a mortal
  3. the death state, where a dead mortal is held after the death event
In some way, shape and form, for us mortals, death is ever-present ... for now. This is part God's plan ... for now.

The first death has killed people from the the time of Adam, "Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus death passed through into all mankind, on which all sinned" (Romans 5:12). And it will continue to kill people until just after the millennium in the next eon. We read of the last people to be killed by the first death in Revelation 20:7–9,
And whenever the thousand years should be finished, Satan will be loosed out of his jail. 8 And he will be coming out to deceive all the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to be mobilizing them for battle, their number being as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up over the breadth of the earth, and surround the citadel of the saints and the beloved city. And fire descended from God out of heaven and devoured them.
But the first death will remain operative after this as it holds the dead until we read in Revelation 20:13, "And the sea gives up the dead in it, and death and the unseen give up the dead in them." It is only at this point that the sea, death and the unseen (hades/sheol) are rendered inoperative as holders of the dead. Then we see what will happen to these three, "And death and the unseen were cast into the lake of fire," and, "And I perceived a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth pass away, and the sea is no more" (Revelation 20:14 and 21:1). Thus, the three mortal-holders are emptied by Christ, rendered completely inoperative, and done away with.

The second death will follow the pattern of the three previous mortal-holders, despite what Christianity teaches. Man, Christianity really, I mean really, I mean really and royally screws this up. Christianity does properly teach that Christ ends the number 1 and number 2 aspects of death. They agree with the truth that eventually, in God's time, there will be no more mortals subject to the dying process and the dying event. But, they erroneously leave billions of people subject to the death state forever. Yes, that's the same forever that is never-ending and everlasting. The mighty Meat Loaf was content with a 2-out-of-3 scenario, are you?

The Scriptures speak of one large event where those not written in the scroll of life are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). This is the last time any mortals will die. And Christ will abolish the number 2 aspect of death. This is referred to in Revelation 21:4,
And He will be brushing away every tear from their eyes. And death will be no more, nor mourning, nor clamor, nor misery; they will be no more, for the former things passed away.
But the number 1 aspect of death, the dying process, is a little trickier. Let me explain.

Those resurrected at the great white throne will be raised mortal, not immortal. There are three vivification events according to 1 Corinthians 15:22–24: 1. Christ, the Firstfruit; 2. those who are Christ's when He returns; and 3. the consummation. The resurrection at the great white throne is not a vivification event. However, I do believe that some who are raised then will be found written in the scroll of life. They will not be cast into the lake of fire, but will live on, as mortals, on the new earth. Some of these people will be those who will be born during the millennium and will be granted belief by God during the millennium (Philippians 1:29). Some of these mortal believers will die during the millennium. They will be born too late to be part of the second vivification when Christ returns, just before the millennium commences. At the great white throne, there could also be others whose names are in the scroll of life who were born in the eons before the millennium, but were not granted belief by God at that time. Because any who will be found written in the scroll of life at the great white throne will go onto the new earth in the 5th eon as mortals, the dying process (aspect 1) will be active in them. But, it will be completely counteracted by their access to "the spring of the water of life," and the log of life with its fruits and leaves (Revelation 21:6 and 22:1–2). These mortals will live through the entirety of eon 5 and be vivified at the consummation. It's at the consummation that Christ will render completely inoperative the 1st aspect of death and check this task off of His to-do list.  

"But what about all of the dead in the lake of fire!?"

That's a valid question, Jan.

Christianity teaches, erroneously, that the lake of fire lasts forever. The ECT camp says unbelievers are tormented forever there. Stop. Think about that for more than one second—tormented forever. There is zero scriptural justification for this teaching that makes such a horrible claim about our God, "the living God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind" (1 Timothy 4:10).

Christianity does not realize, and therefore cannot teach, the full scope of Christ's work in the salvation of all. And they do not realize, and therefore cannot teach, the full scope of His abolishing of death, "The last enemy is being abolished: death" (1 Corinthians 15:26).

Paul taunts death in 1 Corinthians 15:53–57,
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. 54 Now, whenever this corruptible should be putting on incorruption and this mortal should be putting on immortality, then shall come to pass the word which is written, Swallowed up was Death by Victory. 55 Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting? 56 Now the sting of Death is sin, yet the power of sin is the law. 57 Now thanks be to God, Who is giving us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul is speaking about the second vivification that will take place at the return of Christ. And, at that time, there is victory for those who are immortalized through the victory of Christ over death. But he also has the larger victory of Christ in view—the complete and total victory over death for all humanity. Paul's taunt in verse 55 is meaningless if death, whether the first or second death, does, in fact, gain victory over billions of people forever. If death gains victory over humanity to any degree, how is that a victory for Christ? How is that, in any sense, Death being "Swallowed up ... by Victory" (v. 54)?

Verses 22 and 26 of 1 Corinthians 15 work together to reveal the complete victory of Christ over death.

  • For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified. (v.22)
  • The last enemy is being abolished: death. (v.26)

When the dead in the lake of fire, and the living mortals on the new earth, are vivified at the consummation, death will be rendered completely inoperative in all aspects by Christ. Take that, Christian tradition! When all are immortalized, there will remain no potential victims for death. The death state will be finished.

The 4th so-called Christian "hell," the lake of fire, will be rendered completely inoperative. And Christ's victory will go beyond defeat of the second death for mortals. Even the lake of fire's hold on the immortals—Satan, the wild beast, the false prophet, and any others—is limited to "the eons of the eons" (Revelation 20:10). Believe it or not, God's goal is to be "All in all," not torment His enemies forever.

I used this quote from A.E. Knoch in part 2 of this series. And it's appropriate here also (italics in original),
Judgment is God's strange work. He uses it on the way. Men make it the end. No matter how an unbeliever is dealt with, whether he dies as a result of sin, or by the direct intervention of God, whether he be cast into outer darkness or into Gehenna, this is not his end. All who do not belong to Christ will be roused from the dead and judged before the great white throne. ... [Those] cast into the lake of fire, ... suffer the second death. Even this is not their end. God does not reach His goal in any of His disciplinary measures. These only prepare His creatures for it. Let us not confuse the going with the goal.
Unsearchable Riches V65P2 p.258

Bonus Stuff!

Following are a few bonus tidbits from my notes on this study concerning the 4th Christian hell, the lake of fire.

Satan undone?

Satan has been naughty. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, "the god of this eon [Satan] blinds the apprehensions of the unbelieving so that the illumination of the evangel of the glory of Christ, Who is the Image of the invisible God, does not irradiate them." This is not good. The Adversary's nefarious acts have really messed things up. But, this is only a temporary dilemma.

1 John 3:8 gives us this big truth, "For this was the Son of God manifested, that He should be annulling the acts of the Adversary." The word annulling (Greek - lyse) means to loose, release, dissolve. Satan ties people up and binds them in many ways. Being bound in death is the result of the Adversary's acts. Remember, it was his act in the garden that led to Adam's sin that brought death to all mankind (Romans 5:12).

Those who will be cast into the lake of fire go there as a result of the Adversary's acts. But, since Jesus came to annul the Adversary's acts, the undoing of the second death is right up Christ's alley. It is true that 1 John 3:8 doesn't say Christ will annul all of the Adversary's acts. Does it have to? If you don't believe He will annul all of Satan's acts, please tell me which ones He will not annul. I'm dead serious. This is a big deal. Put your answers in the comments below.

If Christ leaves all of the dead in the lake of fire forever, can we say that He has truly fulfilled His mission to undo the Adversary's acts? No.

This is just another line of evidence to prove the complete victory of Christ, "the Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14).

From zero to life in less than 2 seconds

Christianity has really messed with our heads concerning the condition of the dead. They have brainwashed us into believing that the dead are actually the living-dead who are being tormented beneath us while we prepare our spots of tea. And, they say, dead believers are playing checkers with Jesus on Cloud #9. No. This is not death. Death is death. Death is the opposite of life, and, therefore involves no life. Revelation 20:5 says, "... the dead do not live ... ." Ecclesiastes 9:5 tells us, "For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know nothing whatsoever ... ." Nothing whatsoever? How can they know torment, or bliss, if they know nothing whatsoever?

The mortals cast into the lake of fire will die instantly. They will be the dead-dead. Then eon 5—the new heaven and new earth eon—will begin and roll on. For how long? We are not told. We who will live during that greatest of eons will experience the passage of time. But, at the consummation of that final eon, those killed in the lake of fire will be raised to immortality as part of the third class of the vivified.

Observe the mercy of God in this.

Those killed by the lake of fire experience no passage of time while they are dead—they "know nothing whatsoever." They die instantly in the lake of fire, they know nothing while they are dead, including the passage of time, and they are vivified when the second death is rendered completely inoperative at the end of the eon. Their experience is an instant transition from death to life.

The Great White Throne

No one knows the duration of the great white throne era. It begins after the millennium. It occurs after heaven and earth have fled, and before the new heaven and new earth arrive. It is obvious that a massive judgment will occur during this time. Jesus called it "a resurrection of judging" (John 5:29).

But, contrary to much traditional Christian teaching, judgment occurs only while the judged are alive. Orthodoxy has taught for too long that unbelievers who die go to "hell" where they undergo suffering and torment before their appointment with the Judge at the great white throne. This travesty of justice makes death a form of life in which the unbeliever suffers, possibly for thousands of years, before any sentence is handed down during in the scheduled judgment.

Those who are cast into the lake of fire have been judged. The lake is not their judgment, but is the result of their name not being found in the scroll of life, and the fact that they are still "in Adam."

Romans 2:5–10 reveals to us some details of the great white throne judgment,
Yet, in accord with your hardness and unrepentant heart you are hoarding for yourself indignation in the day of indignation and revelation of the just judgment of God, 6 Who will be paying each one in accord with his acts: 7 to those, indeed, who by endurance in good acts are seeking glory and honor and incorruption, life eonian; 8 yet to those of faction and stubborn, indeed, as to the truth, yet persuaded to injustice, indignation and fury, 9 affliction and distress, on every human soul which is effecting evil, both of the Jew first and of the Greek, 10 yet glory and honor and peace to every worker of good, both to the Jew first, and to the Greek.
God's judgments always includes a beneficial purpose for the judged. We must remember that the indignation, fury, affliction and distress are coming from God, not a human enemy. David realized the difference and said this when God gave him three options of judgment for his sin, "David replied to Gad [the prophet], 'Utter distress is mine. Let us fall, I pray, into the hand of Yahweh, for His compassions are abundant; but let me not fall into the hand of humanity'" (2 Samuel 24:14).

Though we are enduring wickedness in this current wicked eon, we are all in God's hands. And, at the consummation of the eons, and beyond, we will all still be in His hands. He will be "All in all," and none will be damned to any of the mythical Christian hells.

Pahoeoe fountain By J.D. Griggs; Public Domain, Link
Meat Loaf Last at Bat Newcastle 2013 Bat Out of Hell by TubularWorld / CC BY-SA
talk bubble and text added; cropped 

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