The truth found in God’s word is a treasure so rich and beautiful and deep - it is like a vast, unstoppable, breath-taking ocean where there is no end to discovery. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Rom. 11:33) The Lord has revealed knowledge about the hope of the Gospel - and the final judgment. May we look carefully and thoroughly to the Scriptures (and them alone) concerning such awesome - and grave - topics.
Point one: What does the Old Testament teach about final punishment?
Point two: Examples of God’s judgment (including prophecy of the final judgment) always illustrate a complete destruction
“...by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (See 2 Peter 3)
“...the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe... just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, ... are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire." (See Jude)
Point three: Eternal conscious torment is birthed from the notion of the human immortal soul. However, that notion is not found in the Bible.
Point four: Jesus taught that God can destroy souls in hell (Gehenna/lake of fire) and that those who don’t have eternal life will perish
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (lit. Gehenna)." (Matt. 10:28)
Point five: Well-known verses (i.e. John 3:16) if taken at face value and in plain language teach that punishment of the unredeemed is the second death (irreversible annihilation/destruction)
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction...” Matt. 7:13
“These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” 2 Thess. 1:9
Point six: The apostle Paul wrote a large part of our NT by the Holy Spirit. He never mentions eternal conscious torment (hell).
There will be punishment. It will be eternal (1. of the age to come and 2. effects that are final, irreversible, forever) Rom. 6:16, 8:6,13, 1 Cor. 3:17, 2 Cor. 7:10, Phl 1:28, 3:19, 2 Thess. 1:9. Peter also taught that destruction awaits the ungodly (Read all of 2 Peter, particularly 2:1,3,6,12,3:7,16) James also stated, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy.” (4:12)
Point seven: We hear over and over that Jesus took our punishment. He paid the price of our sin. So, just what was that punishment? It was death.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3
Point eight: What is the lake of fire?
“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:14-15
This was prophesied in Malachi 4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” And Jesus spoke a parable with a similar illustration: “... in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matt. 13:30) and also “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:6)
If it is error, how could it last for 2000 years?
“The Protestant Reformation was based on the principle that the church was wrong about the most central doctrine of Christianity, the atonement and justification for a thousand years. So unfortunately, the church can go astray.”