If the bible actually teaches that God will keep people alive in an excruciatingly torturous state forever, then that is what we must believe – like it or not. But if this is not what the bible actually teaches, then we have grossly mischaracterized God and must instead accept and embrace what the bible truly teaches.
Traditionally, most Christians have believed that those who die in unbelief will ultimately be raised immortal and live forever in hell to suffer mental and physical torment for eternity as punishment for their sins. Conditionalists, however, believe that God will grant immortality and eternal life only to those who meet the condition of saving faith in Christ. Everyone else—the unsaved—will suffer a second, irreversible death, eventually perishing forever and ceasing to consciously exist.
After investigating this topic for six months, I was particularly surprised by the huge amount of biblical evidence for Conditionalism and the lack of solid biblical evidence for the traditional view of Eternal Conscious Torment.
Check out the link below for an excellent video series on this subject:
We have been trained—intentionally or unintentionally—to overlook the plain meaning of some of the most famous Bible verses on the destiny of the “unsaved.” Check out the link below:
The Lord is God and everyone else is not.
After nearly six months of study on the topic of “conditional immortality” including thousands of pages of material and many hours of online debates, lectures, and conferences, I am convinced that conditional immortality is based on theologically systematic and hermeneutically sound exegesis of scripture. Probably, the most comprehensive publications on this topic are “The Fire That Consumes” by Edward Fudge (my favorite) and “Rethinking Hell” which is a collection of views by a compendium of authors.
Traditionally, most Christians have believed that those who die in unbelief will ultimately be raised immortal and live forever in hell to suffer mental and physical torment for eternity as punishment for their sins.
Conditionalists, however, believe that Scripture consistently teaches that God alone is immortal (1Tim 6:15,16) and that He will grant immortality and eternal life only to those who meet the condition of saving faith in Christ. Everyone else—the unsaved—will be resurrected, judged and then punished for a time (whatever time God determines is just) and then suffer a second, irreversible death, perishing forever and ceasing to consciously exist.
Defenders of the traditional view of hell sometimes accuse its critics of being liberals caving into the spirit of the age, or at least of being driven by emotional sentimentalism to contort Scripture to fit a more palatable view of God and his wrath.
But, as Chris Date points out, “In reality, following in the footsteps of early Christians like Ignatius and Irenaeus is an increasing number of evangelicals who, as J. I. Packer said of “honored fellow-evangelicals” John Stott and John Wenham, embrace conditional immortality and annihilationism “for the right reason—not because it fitted into their comfort zone, though it did, but because they thought they found it in the Bible.”
“The Bible consistently teaches that the lost will finally die, perish, and be destroyed. It teaches that immortality is a gift God will grant only to the saved. It teaches that the Lord died a vicarious, substitutionary death in the place of those who accept it, implying those who reject it will suffer that fate themselves. And the Bible nowhere teaches that the unsaved will instead be made immortal to endure eternal life in torment.”
Here is an excellent presentation by Edward Fudge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHUPpmbTOV4
For a more extensive and comprehensive study, check out the book, “The Fire That Consumes.” It can be found on Amazon.
Throughout Christianity, especially charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity, worship leaders who desire “Spirit-led” worship often try to discern whether a particular song or action or direction during worship is “of the Spirit” or not. I believe that worship leaders actually have a responsibility before the Lord to try their best to exercise this discernment. However, in my personal experience over 25 years in music ministry, I have seen the desire for “Spirit-led” worship in some Christian worship groups sadly devolve into a rigid and religious striving for what is assumed to be “spiritual correctness” in worship.
Here are some of my thoughts on this subject.
First of all, just because we may sense a particular direction from the Spirit in worship does not mean that we will always know how someone else is being led by the Spirit. Must God always inform us regarding how He may be leading others? Isn’t it a bit arrogant to assume that because we are leading a worship, we can always discern the direction that the Spirit may be moving someone else?
Secondly, is “Spirit-led’ worship the only way to worship? What about spontaneous praise from the heart? Do we suppose that David first asked the Holy Spirit when and where and how he should jubilantly dance before the Lord in the streets of Jerusalem? Did David err because he was not “Spirit led?” Is there room for spontaneous praise in our worship services?
Thirdly, I wonder how many Christian musicians have been judged and rejected rather than supported and developed because a worship leader has determined that something they were doing was not specifically “led by the Spirit?” Do we really think that snubbing and exclusion is the way of the Lord?
And lastly, we may need to step back and take the time to develop a more balanced perspective regarding music ministry. Musical worship can be experientially wonderful, momentarily uplifting and a blessing unto the Lord but it is not the most important aspect of worship that God desires. Worshiping God is living a holy life in all that we do, in all that we are and in all that we desire, because then we will be worshiping him in truth as well as in spirit.
Ideally, musical worship ministry will be a reflection of that holy living as we interact with one another in patience and humility rather than striving for “spiritual correctness.”
Holy living is true worship.
John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Most people do not realize how modern our medicine really is and how radically it has affected our lives. For example, the life expectancy in the United States in 1900 was 47 years. At the end of the 20th Century it was 77 years.
Life before the 20th Century was short and brutal — often filled with suffering. If you are 35 years of age or older, you have lived longer than the vast majority of humanity. And here is an amazing fact: Two-thirds of all the people who have lived to the age of 65 are still alive today!
It is estimated that 80% of all scientists who have ever lived are alive today. Every minute they add 2,000 pages to man’s scientific knowledge, and the scientific material they produce every 24 hours would take one person five years to read.
During the 19th Century, the average number of miles traveled per year by a person in the United States was 500. Many lived and died and never got outside the county they were born in! By 1900 the average number of miles traveled per year by a person inside the United States had risen to 1,000. Today it is 25,000 miles per year, and many of us put twice that much mileage on an automobile in a year’s time.
It is estimated by experts that the number of people killed in all the wars fought from the time of Jesus until 1900 was 40 million. In the 20th Century 231 million people died in wars, making it a century of unparalleled carnage.
The Top Public School Discipline Problems:
(Source: Time Magazine, February 1, 1988)
Running in the halls
Getting out of turn in line
Wearing improper clothing
Not putting paper in wastebaskets
One of the most commonly heard alter calls within Christianity begins with the words “With all heads bowed and with all eyes closed,” sometimes with the addition of, “and with no one looking around.”
Seriously!? Why are we modeling both to the unsaved and to our own Christian congregations that salvation is something to be embarrassed about? Embarrassment is about shame. Is receiving salvation something to be ashamed of?
Do we really want to model to people who are about to put their faith in Christ for the first time that receiving salvation is an embarrassment? And an embarrassment before a congregation full of people who have already received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!? Is this an appropriate way to model the ‘good news” of the gospel to the unsaved?
Isn’t this being done with the intention of helping people who are about to take their first faith-filled step into Christianity to feel more “comfortable”? If so, perhaps we need to remember that Jesus was also a bit “uncomfortable” while he was being publicly crucified to death on the cross to deliver us from the shame of our sins.
Perhaps what we ought to be doing when we make these alter calls is to announce that there is no actual shame whatsoever in receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior instead of modeling to them that we “understand” that they may be too embarrassed before men to do so.
Luke 9:6 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
It can be difficult to think of Jesus as our friend when we are so aware of our weaknesses and personal insecurities. But God’s friendship with us is not based in any of our successes or failures. It is sourced in His infinite capacity to love. A.W. Tozer says, “We do God more honor by believing what He has said about Himself than by hiding in self-conscious humility among the trees of the garden.”