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Is There an END or NO END
Love Your Enemies By Pouring Boiling Water On Them?
The End Of Life Eternal?
The End Of Everlasting Punishment?
"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." Matthew 25:46.
Due to the words, everlasting and eternal having been translated from the same Greek word, *aionios, this verse has been an ongoing debate for many years. One point has been made: If the punishment is only for an age, that is, age-lasting, there is an end to it. This would then mean that there would also be an end to life eternal that Jesus mentioned in the same breath. Another view is that neither will end. If there is no end to this life, there is also no end to the punishment. The same argument is held: Since aionios is used for both, and we believe this life never ends, the word surely means eternal; therefore, as it is life, the punishment never ends. This assumption logically has to stand firm for some to satisfy the thought of eternal life. *aionios: perpetual from aion, an age (Strong's); aionios is the adjective form of aion and has been translated age, course, eternal, ever, for ever, for evermore, ever, never, world, beginning of the world, while the world, world began, world without end, and everlasting (KJV). Age-lasting and age-during (enduring the age) settles in as being to be the most accurate.
Frankly, when we know God, as well as a little about His plan for creation, especially for mankind, along with the compassing work of the cross, this should not be an issue. However, not everyone knows these basics, so we will note a few things with hopes of bringing truth to the forefront. We will see which belief is true, or if both are true, and if both are true, how so.
The Greek word for life in this verse is zoe which is most often used in reference to a high form of existence, such as Christís life. When used with age-lasting, it indicates that not only is it a life that lasts through the age, but it is the highest life form of the age. The judgment made upon the righteous gives them the experiential, zoe life that will not end at anytime during the age. It is the same with those being judged otherwise. God's judgment upon them will not end at anytime throughout the age. They will receive that which is best for them; but it will not come in the form of rewards, but of punishment, which will not end until the age has run its course of bringing them to correction. And please know that those Jesus is speaking of are the sheep and goats that are identified as nations, and how they treat His brethren. Neither are referred to as individuals (ref. Matthew 25:11-46). Therefore, at His coming in glory, entire nations will be judged, by those coming with Him in gloryóthe Sons of God! Some of them will be judged and rewarded with the life of the age, while others will be judged and punished with everlasting/age-lasting fire. And please be reminded, judgment by fire is never natural fire. It is God-fireóHis word is fire, His angels/messengers are fire, His ministers are fire, He is a consuming fire, and together they are all the Lake of Fire!
Religious dogmas die hard, so many still believe that everlasting punishment by fire that Jesus warned about is a natural, everlasting damnation in sulfuric burning hell fire for individuals, although the context of all this has to do with nations, nations that bless His brethren and nations that do not. If you believe this aionios punishment never ends, would that mean every citizen of all the goat nations will be tormented forever, that is, since the nations would supposedly be burning in hell forever?
I know, "Stop asking hard questions, Brother Roach. You are messing with our minds." Even so, these are issues that need to be addressed if you are serious about your beliefs. Regardless of which way this leads, donít you want to know the truth? You should!
If you say that you really believe the hellfire and damnation teachings, let us ask: What keeps you from going stark, raving mad? Why are you not having nervous breakdowns, or worrying yourself into an early grave? Donít you have children, parents, grandparents, and other loved ones who do not fit the criteria of being "saved" according to most religious doctrines? Since this is probably so, and you do not appear to be tormented by the thought of your loved ones burning in hell forever, some might wonder if you really love them. We are sure you do love them, as most people do; so we wonder if you really believe that God will punish the lost forever. If you do not believe He will do such a thing, perhaps you cannot bring yourself to oppose your churchís teachings and that which most of your friends supposedly embrace as being sound doctrine. And, please, just because a man or woman speaks with convincing authority from behind a pulpit, does not make them infallible. It does not ensure that their every word is breathed from Godís throne of truth.
Your pastors and other religious figureheads might be very loving and well-meaning, but very blind and very deceived. The fact is, I only know of a few who are genuine crooks, power moguls, egotistical narcissists, and down-right liars and thieves. Some of them know intellectually the truth of this matter but refuse to preach it due to job security, while the others believe the lie and love it. They propagate it. Sadly, it is the foundation of everything they preach. Even so, I can say with certainty that those who preach a merciless god of endless anger and never-ending vengeance upon people that came out of Him are either deceived, are willingly ignorant, or they knowingly lie.
From noticing how few people actually lay down their lives in hopes of saving people from such an awful fate, even those of their own family, they cannot take the threat of everlasting punishment seriously. Some do, this we know, and they are tormented grievously by the thought of it. A few even unto insanity when they believe their unsaved children will find themselves in literal flames to be burning alive forever. Surely, if your church, and other churches, had taken the hell teaching to heart, they all would have likewise gone mad. The number is unknown, but people have committed suicide because of these pagan teachings, and many others suffer lifelong mental disorders which lead to horrendous outcomes. How many have prayed that God would take them home, kill them, while they were still saved, so they would not be lost and burn in hell forever? Tell me, what kind of a god is that for a people of "love" to believe in, and to worship? Do they bow to Him every Sunday because they love Him, or is it out of fear? I am reminded of the comic strip, "Wizard Of Id." After the little king was told by his knight, Sir Rodney, that his subjects were picketing against their intolerable living conditions and high taxes, he exclaims in exasperated frustration: "What am I going to have to do? Put them all in prison to make them love me?" Seems to be a satirical similarity here.
But marching on, as dreadful as the doctrine of hell can be, Christianity has not by any means been alone in promoting it. It is rare to find religions that do not have some form of tormenting hell in their doctrines. As it is with many Christian faiths, some believe it will be endless while a few believe there will be an end to the torment; but most believe it will be for a very, very long time. For instance, the Buddhists believe in sixteen hells (eight cold and eight hot) to which a person will be subjected, depending on the severity of their sins. One of those hells is called the Arbuda, or the Blister Naraka. It is said to be a dark, frozen plain surrounded by icy mountains. It is continually blown over by ice storms and blizzards. The unlucky inhabitants of this world abide there naked and alone while the cold raises caustic blisters all over their bodies. The length of time in this realm of hell is said to be the time it would take for a sparrow to empty a barrel of sesame seeds if the bird took a single seed every hundred years. This is not forever, but it is a very long time, and is another manmade hell to scare people into remaining obedient subjects to their manmade religions that are always inspired by the dragon of their dark souls.
Whether forever or for a very long of time, it is commonly believed that the punishment in the afterlife for unbelievers and evildoers is incomprehensible. One such manmade hell says that fire alone is not enough. We are told that demons will also be there to joyfully torment the damned forever, and the devil, of course, is commonly portrayed as the elated ruler over the infernal mess. It is strange that the evil devil, and every despicable demon joyfully lives throughout eternity doing every diabolical activity that makes them happy. They supposedly torment forever men, women, and with some beliefs, even children. And this is upon human beings who were created in the image of God, and the crime most of those hapless souls committed was not being a member of the right religion, or were unlucky enough to have been born to families and cultures who had never heard of Jesus.
The Roman Catholic tenet of purgatory lifts the eternal burden to a small degree, at least, for their members who die without having been pardoned by a priest; but this is also far from the truth. Purgatory was proclaimed as an article of faith in 1439 by the Council of Florence, and was later confirmed by the Council of Trent in 1548. It is said to be a place for sinners who have achieved salvation but have not paid penance (self-abasement) for their sins. Whether by design or an oversight, these two councils failed to include in this article of faith how long certain classes of people would be held in purgatory. Moreover, they did not appoint anyone, not even the Pope, who could say when they were released and carried to heaven.
Therefore, with millions of masses having been performed since the Florentine Council, and with tens of billions of dollars worth of indulgences having been paid for the dead, there is not one person who can say if anyone has been released from purgatory. Even after a thousand generations of people having prayed their rosaries on behalf of the dead, there will be no one who can tell you if anyone has ever been released and made it to heaven.
Michelangelo's painting, The Last Judgment depicts the views of Catholicism at that time and much of it remains to this day. The lower parts of the picture are demons pitchforking men into cauldrons and burning flames wherein are hateful fiends gnawing at the skulls of suffering sinners. There is even cannibalism going on. Look closely and you will see what some of those in the church system think about Godís judgment upon mankind, and this is what religious people call divine justice, that is, reasoning that since He is divine whatever He does is divine. But let us know that He never goes against His own nature and decreed plan. This egregious conclave of so called pious men took it upon themselves to be the overseers of men's lives that has continued to run its ill-fated course through history and down to this very hour. The hell they imposed on the people is an outrageous slander on God. It is little wonder that men have rejected a god of such horrors, and we should honor them for standing their ground against such depravity.
Hinduism has beliefs of various hells. These are places wherein sinful people are punished. In many of the Hindu hells, as with some of Christianityís hell, the residents are tortured by demons; however, these hells are not final dwelling places. They are much like the Catholic purgatory where sinful souls experience suffering, but for a limited season. Afterwards, even the most evil person is released to once again be reincarnated. This differs from Catholicism's dogma where the very evil will burn in hell forever.
If we wanted to find a common carnal thread that has been woven through the fabric of most of the religions of the world, it would be this one point of a blasphemous torture for most of creation by the loving Creator. This God that they lower to such a loathing level is my Father, and yours, and it is, therefore, very easy for me to call them the generation of vipers that they are, and I know most of you feel the same. Although I know they are doing that which is according to their nature, I do not appreciate such disparaging accusations made against my Father. Similarly, I would take offense if anyone attributed the same to my natural father or mother. And that is what the churches have done for centuries. They have degraded the character and very nature of my Father and yours. How long will we stand silent in the face of these loathly serpents? No longer for me and my house.
Fortunately, not everyone blindly follows the blind and falls into the ditch with them. Colonel Robert Green Ingersoll, (1833 - 1899) was such a man who had the insight of those like you and me. He could think outside of religion's box of many inventions. He had enough backbone to question the deplorable caricature of our God. Satirically, he once said:
"God so loved the world that he made up his mind to damn a large majority of the human race."
The churches have portrayed God as one who says: "I have given you a sacred free-will, so do what you want, I will not intervene; but make the wrong choice, and will I see to it that you burn in hell f-o-r-e-v-e-r and e-v-e-r." That, of course, would be like a young man telling his sweetheart: "Do what you want, Darling. You have a life of your own to live; but if you leave me, I will track you down and blow your brains out, yet that will be after I have tortured you for several decades." People who say things like that are classified as psychopaths, and if they carry through with their threats, almost everyone cries out for their imprisonment and/or execution. However, even when they claim that God says the same, they call Him just and loving, as they build churches in His honor and name.
It is mind-boggling that brilliant men with high degrees in the field of theology refuse to hear and speak the truth. If someone like myself with limited education can search out God's truths that are so simple that a child would not err therein, you would think they could do better. But that has certainly not been the case.
For instance, it would not be difficult for them to discover the origin of this doctrine that drags the character of our merciful God through the mud. I did a quick search on the origin of hell and found too many references to list them all, so will only note Ploybius and Plato as examples from The Doctrine of Endless Punishment by Thomas B. Thayer:
Polybius (203-120 B.C.), the ancient historian, said: "Since the multitude is ever fickle, full of lawless desires, irrational passions and violence, there is no other way to keep them in order but by the fear and terror of the invisible world; on which account our ancestors seem to me to have acted judiciously, when they contrived to bring into the popular belief these notions of the gods, and of the infernal regions." B. vi 56....
Plato, in his commentary on Timaeus, fully endorses what he says respecting the fabulous invention of these foreign torments. And Strabo says that 'Plato and the Brahmins of India invented fables concerning the future judgments of hell' (Hades). And Chrysippus blames Plato for attempting to deter men from wrong by frightful stories of future punishments.
Plato himself is exceedingly inconsistent, sometimes adopting, even in his serious discourses, the fables of the poets, and at other times rejecting them as utterly false, and giving too frightful views of the invisible world. Sometimes, he argues, on social grounds, that they are necessary to restrain bad men from wickedness and crime, and then again he protests against them on political grounds, as intimidating the citizens, and making cowards of the soldiers, who, believing these things, are afraid of death, and do not therefore fight well. But all this shows in what light he regarded them; not as truths, certainly, but as fictions, convenient in some cases, but difficult to manage in others.
When renowned church leaders ignore such basic facts of history that are so easily obtained, and refuse to heed more accurate translations of the scriptures, we cannot help from believing that they are so lacking in the Spirit that it is impossible for them to see the obvious, or else, they see but deliberately refuse to receive the love of the truth and will do everything in their power to destroy it.
Ray Prinzing certainly understood this and wrote about receiving the love of the truth:
Two ways are set before us here: receiving the love of the truth to work into us salvation; or, receiving a strong delusion, literally, an inworking delusion, so that we believe a lie. Interestingly enough, God sends them both. He brings forth vessels of mercy, and vessels of wrath.
Those who refuse, who receive not the love of the truth, in turn will receive an inworking error, and then have to pass through a judgment to be purged of that error. This is learning the lesson the hard way, having to go through a process of correctional chastening, until they learn that it is far better to receive the love of the truth. Yet God retains sovereign control over this entire process. 'I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them, because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before Mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.' (Isa. 66:4). God knows exactly which inworking delusion will subdue and teach that it is an evil and bitter thing to forsake the way of the Lord.
There is a love to be received along with the truth, for knowledge alone will not hold you. When the vision tarries you soon become entangled in all sorts of strange diversions, and a prey for those spoken of in Daniel 11:14, 'the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision - as if they were able to fulfill it, but they shall fail. When you have a LOVE FOR THE TRUTH you will not want to exert any self-effort, destroy, mar, or try to fulfill it after the flesh. You will wait with an eye single to God knowing He will fulfill His Word. 'Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.' (Ps.119:165)." (Daily Overcoming Devotionals, August 26).
Regardless of the reason for not receiving the love of the truth, it is clear that the various hells which are taught by many mainline Christian churches are inventions of men. To compound their folly, they carelessly say that this manmade horror is the same as the lake of fire. While doing so, they never mention that this lake is actually the all consuming glory of God's presence which brings an end to all sin and death on every level. The very thing that marks the end of all conflict, of evil, rebellion, inordinate passions, sorrow, suffering, death, and hell itselfóthey say is a place of endless suffering.
Where is their love, not only for their own, but for their enemies as well? Jesus said to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" Matthew 5:44. But those of the church system, those who have been bitten and their minds coiled about by the ancient serpent, say otherwise. Although without authority, they pronounce everlasting judgment upon the lost and forlorn of the world. There is no clause of forgiveness in this decree that consigns them to burn in hell forever with no hope of remedy or escape. Brethren, there is something vastly wrong with this picture. Nevertheless, this is how it is portrayed by those who say they are in the image of Christ! It is clear that they have not only created a lake of fire after their own hearts, but have also created a god after their own image and likeness. Do you suppose it is this fearful god that they worship, and to whom they sacrifice their children? The answer is a resounding yes! That is, if they worship such a god and teach their children to do the same. In so doing, they have in fact sacrificed them to Moloch.
But back to our topic questions: Is God's punishment forever or is it age-lasting? Is there an end to it, and if so, does life eternal also end? If it is true that God's punishment (upon the goat nations) is age-lasting, does that necessitate the end to life eternal? If there is no end to life eternal, is there also no end to the punishment?
That which Jesus explained was very clear that He was talking about nations rather than individuals. Some translations have made it sound as if individual people within nations would be punished or blessed; but there is no indication of that in the Greek text. Notwithstanding, we will approach our thought as if they are right and see if we can determine if Godís punishment upon anyone, whether entire nations or individuals, will be without end or not. Since the same Greek word, aionios, is used concerning everlasting and eternal, and most believe that the life that Jesus was referring to is without end, many assume that the punishment will be without end. On the other hand, since the definition of aionios is age-lasting, and it is applied to both issues (punishment and life), there will be an end to each. Hopefully, we can clarify these thoughts today.
We closed our previous article with having said to love our enemies, and it seems that people who have not received the love of the truth have difficulty in loving anyone but those of their own kind, much less their enemies. Regardless of the reason for not receiving the love of the truth, it is clear that the various hells which are taught by many mainline Christian churches are inventions of men to where their enemies will be cast. To compound their folly, they carelessly say that their imagined places of endless torment are all the same as the lake of fire. While doing so, they never mention that this lake is actually the all consuming, flaming glory of God's presence which brings an end to all sin and death. The very thing that marks the end of all conflict, of all evil, rebellion, inordinate passions, sorrow, suffering, death, and hell itselfóthey say is a place of endless suffering where all these things continue forever.
Love Your Enemies By Pouring Boiling Water On Them?
Where, may we ask, is their love, not only for their own, but for their enemies as well? Jesus said to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" Matthew 5:44. But those of the church systemóthose who have been bitten and their minds coiled about by the ancient serpentósay otherwise. Although without authority, they pronounce everlasting judgment upon the lost and forlorn of the world. There is no clause of forgiveness in this decree that consigns them to burn in hell forever with no hope of remedy or escape. Brethren, there is something vastly wrong with this picture. Nevertheless, this is how it is portrayed by those who say they are in the image of Christ! It is clear that they have not only created a lake of fire after their own hearts, but have also created a god after their own image and likeness. Do you suppose it is this fearful god that they worship, and also to whom they sacrifice their children? The answer is a resounding yes! That is, if they worship such a god and teach their children to do the same. In so doing, they have in fact sacrificed them to Moloch.
People who believe God will commit forever most of His creation to a burning hell have been known to ask, "Why is it that you are not being safe by teaching the hell doctrine that will keep people in line? What if you are wrong in this belief that all will eventually be saved? Donít you realize that you could be cast into the worst part of the inferno for teaching such things that could cause others to lose their souls and suffer the torments of Godís eternal wrath?"
Please, let me ask: If you are one of these concerned souls, can you imagine Jesus, or my Father who is the God of Love, saying to me at the great white throne judgment, "Elwin, oh Elwin, I had such hopes in you; but you failed Me. I hate to do this; but I am going to have to send you to hell for thinking that My love was so enormous, so victorious that I could actually save everyone against their free-will. You really overextended yourself by giving Me that much credit. To think that I had the power to carry out My plan was way out of line. As admirable as your intentions were, how could you have spread such rumors about Me? Not only that, once you embraced this silly notion of Me saving everyone that I died for, you really started loving people way too much. For how in the world could anyone who loved as much as you do find solace, much less joy, in knowing and seeing most of humanity burning in their deserved hell forever? You went over the line in believing and teaching that my love and blood could accomplish such a monumental feat. You really overestimated Me, and now that it is too late for you to repent, you know you carelessly made Me bigger than life itself."
This could be the scenario if that which I believe and teach proves to be wrong. But how preposterous it is to think God will fail in His grand plan for His beloved creation. Frankly, if people are turning to God as fire insurance or a way to escape the last days Bar-B-Que, it is only lip service. Such is not a true conviction that leads to conversion, and God hates lip service along with outward feign of righteousness: "This people draws nigh unto me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand." Matthew 15:8-10. Itís time folks. It is time to hear and understandódonít you think?
But back to our topic questions: Knowing that aionios is the Greek word used for punishment and life, are both forever or are they age-lasting? If God's punishment is truly age-lasting, does that mean that there is an end to life eternal? On the other hand: If there is no end to life eternal, it would stand to reason that there is there also no end to punishment.
Paul echoed our Lord's words in Romans 12:20. "If your enemy hungers, feed him, If he thirsts, give him drink; For in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head." I have heard this verse quoted more times than I can remember by Christians who are praying for their enemies, but for the purpose of vengeance and wanting God to torment their souls, or to burn down their homes, set up a car wreck or some other calamity that will serve them right. Or just make their lives overall miserable.
The following story of is an example of the popular concept of the coals of fire heaped upon your enemyís head :
I read about a pastor who knew the meaning of this metaphor who was counseling a woman who was having marital problems. He asked if she had ever tried heaping coals of fire on her husband's head. She confessed she had not; but that she tried throwing boiling water on him once. We can only assume that she felt she was doing the next best thing.
The problem here is that she saw heaping coals of fire on his head the way most of those of the western world today, and in her vengeance, this little darling would have most likely heaped literal coals of fire on her husbandís head if a bucket of them had been handy rather than boiling water.
We can surely see that something is missing in this formula of understanding, or the lack thereof, so let us see what it might be. The two opening statements in Romans 12:20 obviously teach that we are to do more than is required to help those in need. In the biblical era fire was a valuable commodity. Often a person would go to a neighbor and ask for a coal with which to start his fire. This expression means to not just give him the basic essentials. Instead, give him so many coals that they are so heavy he has to carry them on his head as was the custom with heavy loads. Thus, we are taught a lesson in helpful generosity.
To bring this point home, let us remember the thought conveyed in these verses. We are told not to repay evil with evil and not to seek revenge, that vengeance is the Lordís and He will repay if necessary. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. All of these are forms of blessings to your enemy. And in doing all this, you will be heaping live coals on his head. The good things done to him does not torment the poor man, it blesses him to the point that his precious load is so heavy that he has to carry it upon his head. Therefore, recompense to no man evil for evil, avenge not yourselves, and be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12-21). All he listed is good, including the coals of fire. If the popular concept were true, the apostle could have said, "Give your enemy a drink and something to eat, and then throw boiling water on him. That should win him over." Such is the imagination of unlearned, vindictive minds.
We can see clearly why Jesus was so critical of the religious leaders. They were dragging the intent of God's holy Law through the muck of legalism; but not only that, they had degraded His Father, and made Him to be the exact opposite of His true nature of love, saying that He was one to fear and avoid at all cost, which is exactly what we see today.
Some will, no doubt, be disturbed by my accusations toward those who speak evil of my Father; but anyone who sits idle when their father, natural or spiritual, is called worse than a diabolical infidel, must be pitied for their complacent gutlessness. Furthermore, I don't know of anyone, past or present, who was more blistering to the religious rulers than was Jesus, and they accused Him of being a bastard, and attributed His deeds to the working of demons, and so will you be accused of the same if you stand up to them.
He responded by calling them whited sepulchers full of dead men's bones and all uncleanliness. And no less than four times He called them a generation of vipers who neglected the weightier matters of justice, such as mercy and faithfulness.
Therefore, by seeing the same spirit working in the majority of the religious figureheads today, let it standóthey will have their part in the lake of fire; but be sure to know, it will not be the lake that was maliciously invented by men of all religions. And they can thank God for that! They can also thank Him that the corrective punishment is "everlasting," that is, aionios/age-lasting.
There will be an end to the "everlasting" punishment in the same way there will be an end to "eternal" life. Remember? This article was initiated with the logic that if the punishment has no end, then neither does Christís life. And if punishment has an end, it stands to reason that life would also have an end, since the same Greek word for "everlasting" and "eternal" is the same, aionios.
What a conflict this presents to some, but there is no need for it. All runs smoothly when a small, but significant, amount of understanding dawns upon our minds. It becomes clear to what aionios means, truth begins to unfold. Although religious leaders have argued that the word can mean eternal as well as the primary meaning, age lasting, this is not true. If it were true, we could then say the stone age, the bronze age, the ice age, and all the other ages the earth has endured are eternal. Yet, the diehards to dogma will still say that if eternal life never ends, so it is with Godís punishment upon sinners; but blindness does not allow them to see even basic truths of spiritual matters.
The End Of Life Eternal?
It is easily seen by most that a loving God does not and will not punish without end any of His creation, that surely once the punishment has worked its purpose of correcting the wrong, the punishment ends, for it would serve no purpose to keep it going. And it is the same with Christís eternal, age-lasting life. When one form of His life has served its purpose, there is no reason to keep it going. Life itself does not end, of course, but that phase of life does in the same way each of us have had phases of our lives to end.
The age of incubation in our motherís womb ended after nine months, and we were born. Our lives did not end when we were born, but that phase of life ended. If it had not ended, our mothers would be most miserable carrying us around the rest of her life while we grew to 100 to 200 pound "embryos," that is, non-entities as the medical profession likes to call the babies. Even so, there is no argument with any of us that the age of incubation had to end, but when it ended the life itself did not end, only the age-lasting characteristic of it.
After the age of incubation ended, a new one was born, the age of being an infant, and that age had to end as well when the baby became a toddler; but its life did not end, only the age-lasting part. And those ages continued to the age of youth, the teenage years, the age of young adulthood, age of maturity, middle age, and finally old age. After that is the age beyond the shores of this natural life, and I am sure there will be an end to many ages on that side as well. With each passing age, the life we had at the moment of conception remained. It never died, and never will die. It canít die, not in the sense of ceasing to be, but it can certainly progress from one age to the other; for the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end. The Kingdom of God will change from age to age, from glory to glory, even beyond the age of sonship to fatherhood. That is the order and nature of things both natural and spiritual: from conception to infancy, from infancy to childhood, from childhood to manhood, from manhood to fatherhood! And that life never dies, but the uncountable phases are forever being changed and swallowed by those that have never been. For instance, you teenagers, had you ever been a teenager before you turned thirteen? Or us old-agers, had we ever been old before we became old? Of course not, and so it is with the ages past, the present age, and the ages to come. None had ever been nor will they ever return once their glory has been changed to the next glory. The age dies as they are changed from glory to glory, but the life itself never dies. We are the same person now that we were at conception, at birth, and at our first memory; but all those ages from then until now have died, and I am thankful.
The End Of Everlasting Punishment?
I recall having written quite a number of years ago a scenario of a very wealthy family man who was the mayor of his village as well as the judge whose brother was the chief constable. He was honorable, the pillar in the city who was loved by all. He was generous to a fault, giving freely to anyone who was in need. He was one who would sacrifice and do without so others would be blessed. His generosity went to the extreme at times, so much so, that he deprived his own children in order for complete strangers to eat and have a roof over their heads. He was a man that everyone admired, even worshiped by some. A few did, however, fear him because they knew he was a very strict man of matchless authority. It was a side of him that no one should cross; for rumors had it that not only was this philanthropist a man of love and ultimate sacrifice for others, but that he had a vindictive side as well, so do not, and I repeat, do not cross him! If you should, it would be hell to pay...f-o-r-e-v-e-r! He would never forgive and certainly would never forget.
The story goes that he was having guests over for a special dinner to celebrate the awards he had received for his humanitarian services to the poor of his community as well as his humanitarian work throughout the world. There was no end to his love and giving. Wherever there were people hurting, he tried to be there to help relieve their suffering.
After dining on the finest of cuisines and during the celebration a young man noticed a door at the end of a long, dimly lit hallway. The door was of old, tattered wood with huge iron hinges and a latch that seemed would take a little effort to lift it. The decor of the door was out of place in such a beautiful mansion; but there it stood for all to see, almost as if this wonderful man wanted peopleís eye to be drawn to it. He asked a few around him to where did that door lead. Some had no clue, while a few who had known about this man of honor for a long time, said, "Stay out of there. Donít get close to that door. It leads to a place you donít want to go. Be warned!"
After his curiosity could no longer be contained, he cautiously slipped down the hallway toward the door without anyone noticing. The latch was not nearly as hard to lift as it looked, and the door swung open with ease. It led down a dimly lit, foreboding staircase, and to his horror, utter shock, he saw the most heinous torture chambers he could have imagined. There were torture racks, beds of needle sharp spikes, red-hot iron rods resting in beds of live coals of fire, and horrific implements that staggers the mind. To this young manís amazement were three of the honorable manís children who seemed to be from around 17 years old to perhaps 29 or 30. But the worst part were their remorseful groans. It was so horrible that he thought that he must be asleep and was having a terrible nightmare; but if it was, he was not able to wake up.
These poor kids were being tortured day in and day out by hired thugs who delighted in what they were doing. They were so demented that it was all a big game to them. It would have been merciful if they could die; but these bottom of the barrel hirelings made sure they did not torture unto death, and gave the bare minimum of food and water to keep them alive, but never enough to satisfy their hunger and thirst.
The man in his horror, screamed out, "What in your loving fatherís name are you doing here? Does he know about this?" The answers were all the same: "Yes, he knows we are here. He put us here. Not thinking he could be serious, we all ignored his warnings after we became of age and could make our own decisions. He told us that after becoming of age, if we chose to live the way we wanted to rather than what was required of us, that he would throw us into this cellar to be punished for the rest of our lives. He loved us so much that we could not believe he would carry through with it, even to the point of not letting us soon die so the torment would end. If only we would have taken heed to our loving fatherís demands and chose his ways rather than those of our youthful temptations, we would be upstairs being enraptured by the festivities that everyone else is enjoying. But it is too late, so late, eternally too late. Oh, father, I wish we had a second chance; but like you warned, that will never be."
His heart was being torn out by what he was seeing and was told by the manís children, as his attention was drawn to the awful screams of one of the servants. He asked what was her offense that caused her to be imprisoned here and tortured? "I was caught lying about my coworkers, and I didnít repent and confess my sin before the end of the week, the deadline I was given. It came and was gone before I had a change of heart. Now it is too late, too late, forever too late." Another servant sorrowfully told him that he was sentenced to this fate for stealing and drinking several bottles of his masters best wine. He said, "I was told that this would be the punishment for stealing and drinking unto drunkenness. I should have known better, but temptation got the best of me, and now I will always be paying for the debt that can never be paid."
In this scenario, after witnessing such a surreal nightmare, we can see him slowly climbing the stairs back to the party where everyone is rejoicing and praising their wonderful host for his unprecedented love and generosity for all who were meritoriously invited to his banquet. But the stunned man cannot reconcile what he had just seen in that horrid torture chamber with what the host of honor was ravishing upon his guests in paradise made especially for them.
After a few moments, that seem like an eternity had past, the man could not refrain from questioning his benevolent host. "How could it be, Sir, that you lavished such love upon everyone here; but you are having your own children and servants tortured in the basement below?" Without hesitation, and showing no emotion, he said, "First, it is beyond me that you would question a man of my stature, the mayor, the judge, the one who has made this town and provided jobs for everyone who lives here. Nonetheless, I will put your concerns to rest. You see, I taught my children, as well as my servants, throughout their earlier childhood about rewards and punishments. Of course, to be fair, I gave them a sacred free-will that I would never trespass. They could choose to obey the rules I established for my household, or they could chose to disobey, and they knew the consequences. If they had obeyed, I would have rewarded them beyond measure. They would be here with the rest of us if they had been obedient; but if they freely chose to disobey and live frivolously. They knew their punishment would be without measure, and for the rest of their lives. They knew what was facing them, and still, they went astray. So, I had no choice, especially since I had given my irrevocable word of what would happen. I didnít want to do this, but they made me! They forced my hand! Now, do you understand?"
We know that no one in their right mind could understand or accept such an atrocity. Only on rare instances do evil people hold others in captivity and torture them, and those who do are labeled as demented, diabolical fiends. Yet, so many in the world of most religions say that our God, the Father of all, is that way.
Some of you might feel that the above scenario is a bit harsh and unrealistic; but this is a very accurate example of what has been formed in the minds people over the centuries. Notwithstanding, let me say thisóthere is no end to Godís judgment! But let me also say thisóthere is an end to His judgment; that is, His judgment that has to do with **punishment! How can that be? Isnít judgment always equated with punishment and condemnation? Are they not the same? Not at all! Punishment can certainly occupy the space and time of judgment. Judgment, after determining a person is guilty of a crime, will often measure out punishment to the person; but judgment and punishment are not the same. **Some have said that God does not punish people, that He is love and never brings pain of any kind upon them. However, If you are one of His own, He will most assuredly punish/chastise/scourge you, else, Hebrews 12:6 is a lie.
There are judges of all types in the world, and there are many facets to their judgments, and also to Godís judgments. Judges in the world are most often thought as being those presiding over a court of law; but there are countless judges. The fact is, everyone is a judge in one fashion or the other. Every time a judgment is made, there can be punishment or loss experienced by the one being judged. On the other hand, the one judged can reap rewards or benefits. For example, judgment presided over two men in 1964 in Miami, Florida at the heavyweight championship world boxing match between Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) and Sonny Liston, and again by the same two boxers about a year later. In both cases, the referees and judges rewarded Cassius Clay, while Sonny Liston by default lost everything. The officials and judges had ruled, they passed judgment on both men. One man was judged as the loser while the other use judged to be the winner, and everyone accepted the verdict, not so much like some judgments that are made today. But that is another issue for another time.
Likewise with so many things, such as Olympic competitions. Suppose it is a one mile track race. Every runner is judged by the official as they are watched with eagle eyes in case there are any infractions to be noted as evidence against the contenders. If there are any, the runner, or runners, will be judged and punished, that is, disqualified, while the winners will be judged and given rewardsóthe gold, silver, and bronze metals. All the others are judged as losers, winning nothing. Not penalized or punished, they just lose everything they hoped to gain, period. So you see judgment does not always come as punishment. Judgment just as often, or more, involves rewards. Judgment is merely making decisions concerning millions of things everyday by everyone, especially with God, the Judge of all.
But the question is, "Does everlasting/aionios punishment ever end or does it not?" It does end the same way various aspects of eternal life ends as each glory gives place to next; but there is the life that never ends. Although it endures through the ages, it is not subject to the ages. They are subject to the never ending life, the Life of Jesus Christ!
It is the same way that the aionios life ends as a new glory of life replaces it, so is Godís everlasting/age-lasting judgments. After the age-lasting punishment has run its course, the problem will have been corrected by it. The next judgment to be issued is that of rewards. The sinners are no longer sinners, but born of His Spirit and joyfully moving and having their being in their Lord Jesus Christ, and they are judged according to the wonderful things they do so freely and honorably. Thus another everlasting/age-lasting decision made by God, the eternal judge.
Both Godís life and His judgments never end. He is always living, and He is always judging; but He is not always living as an infant in us, and He is not always judging with punishment. Like a jewel, there are facets to both His Life and judgments, and they are ever-changing, always ending, always beginning and everlasting until each age has been fulfilled. They are always progressive as each gives place to the greater; thus, His Kingdom is without end, and always on the increase.
Therefore, since there is AN END to one, there is AN END to the other, and since there is NO END to one, there is NO END to the other! In conclusion we can have it both ways, but only if we know what it is all about.
So, Godís judgments and His life never end. He will always bring forth His ever-progressive judgments, starting with punishment and advancing to rewards. And also with His eternal, age-lasting life, He took us from Passover, to Pentecost, then to Tabernacles, and on to never ending infinity! HIS LIFE that holds the universe together CAN NEVER END; yet HIS LIFE of the ages is ALWAYS ENDING while giving place to the new ages. They are ever advancing; for surely, "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." Isaiah
Elwin R. Roach
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