Eternal Torment: Godly Love?
Let's just face the
question head on. How many have wondered? Why would a loving God
make people he created burn forever and ever for not knowing Him or
believing in Him? How can a loving God subject billions of people
he loves to endless torment? It's a fair question.
According to this high standard, does Love keep no record of being wronged, or does it keep an infinite, never-ending record? How often we resolve that we cannot truly understand the way God loves, and it is better to not even ask these questions. Have you heard that before? Have you said it? Do you understand the way God loves? And the unbeliever goes his own way, bewildered, having been given no satisfying answer from the Christian ministry.
It seems pretty clear that if God were to send people to unrelenting torment for not saying the right words or believing the right thing, then he would not be patient and certainly not kind. He would be keeping a record of us having wronged him. My friends, He would be disregarding the Bible's very own meaning of Love - in addition, failing to save all men, Christ's very purpose in life.
However, if every person is to be saved, nobody is forever lost, and no suffering is eternal, then his death on the Cross would be completely fruitful, and triumphant in what it was meant to do. God would dwell in a fullness."Love never gives up." (1 Corinthians 13:7)
Today, we will not question God, but man. And, let us no longer question God's love but man's careless estimations of Scripture, and God's power to save the world through Jesus Christ, that we may trust in His love - knowing that though men lie, He is yet faithful. We will let scripture determine whether or not justice and love are polar opposites, or if they can be both one in Christ.
This paper will cover the following topics in the same order:
Taking A Closer Look
To begin, we should heed Paul's good advice to Christ's followers:
Study the Word, and hold fast to a pattern of sound words; that's good advice. To do that, let us first take a few paragraphs to evaluate the words used to translate "eternity," so that we will not be swayed by contradiction and unsound scholarship. The New Testament was written in Greek, and translated into English. Translators substituted the English word eternity from two Greek words: aion and aionios. The word aion - as will be discussed later - means "age," which is a time span having both a beginning and an end. Bible translators indeed rendered the word aion into "age" several times in scripture as seen later in this study. This Greek word aion parallels the English eon, which as the dictionaryreveals, means the same thing.
Why is this important?
It is important because the word aion in its adjective form is aionios (in English it is eonian for the purpose of translation) - which happens to be the same word they translated into eternity, eternal, everlasting, forever, forever...and ever, and forever more. The same words that denote time, they translated to indicate infinity. This has led preachers and sidewalk prophets to declare that God intends to torment man infinitely, when in fact his judgments bear fruit unto the ages.
In their own minds, and with their mouths, they have twisted and sold God's precious, equitable and timely judgments as fruitless and gratuitous torture without end. They have turned the gospel of Christ's massive victory into good news for a few, and gruesome news for the rest.
What do scholars say?
Before we explore the scriptural implications of this truth, consider the writings of very prominent and respected Biblical scholars regarding "aionios:"
What led these scholars to such understanding? What understanding did they have available that most of the Christian world does not currently have?
Aionios: what it really means
Word meaning changes over time. This is natural. To understand an old word, two methods may be employed: knowing a word's roots (etymology), and studying its usage to determine how much the word usage matches the etymology. Many words we use today adhere to the etymology. Dictionaries use etymology to give clues on either present meanings, or to demonstrate how word meaning changes over time to mean something other than originally intended. First, let's look at the etymology of aionios, then we will examine the Biblical word usage. Consider this: the English name Christian was first used by non-Christians to describe Jesus Christ's early followers. The term means "of Christ" or "pertaining to Christ." Why is this revealing when considering the word eonian?
Example: In ancient Greek texts - notably in Homer - a man's hometown would be part of his name. The suffix
-ios would signify which town by modifying it into an adjective. Thus, "Ajax son of Telamon" translates to "Aias Telamwvios." The English is the same: if a man is from Italy, he is an Italian.
Dr. Marvin Vincent, a notable New Testament scholar, in Word Studies of the New Testament wrote the following regarding aion:
The false assumption
The reason that aionios was translated "everlasting" is largely due to a false assumption. Their reasoning is that because this adjective is applied to life, God, and punishment, the word means "everlasting" on that basis alone. If I told you that three large objects are red, does that mean we should believe that the word "red" means "large?" Of course not. Likewise, just because aionios is applied to God does not mean "aionios" automatically means "everlasting." God is many things, and immortal is one of them. God is holy, righteous, and good. Guess what? The word aionios doesn't mean any of those things either. Here are the scriptures they use to support their false assumption:
They say: since God is "aionios" and the life promised to Christians is "aionios," doesn't that mean that "aionios punishment" is therefore bound to be infinite? If we say punishment for those who do not obey the Gospel is "related to the ages" rather than everlasting, does that limit the God and aionios-life to likewise being temporal?
Here lies the false assumption that led to false doctrine Please pay strict attention to this: Aionios neither means "infinite" OR "temporary." Instead, it means "PERTAINING to the aions/ages." The difference is huge:
Just imagine it, this amazing insight into God's experience. A day is like a thousand years to God, as a thousand years is like only a day. God does not age, nor does he end. It is difficult to imagine because we are human. Since that is all we know, Peter expresses God's transcendence in terms we can understand. Moreover, this truth exposes just how Orthodox Christian doctrine contradicts itself.
How zealous Christians are to believe that the eternal Lord exists "outside of time" (according to their terminology), yet how desirous they are to define eternal torment as an infinite span of wretched endurance . . . in time! Yet, they say both are eternal?! Christians are satisfied in claiming God has no beginning, in that He is eternal. How about if we say that eternal torment likewise has no beginning, just like God? Are not both said to be eternal?
If Christians accept that God does not experience time in a linear fashion - insofar as He is "eternal" - then they should have no problem accepting that judgment against sinners is likewise nonlinear. They should have no problem accepting that this punishment would only be experienced as single a day, if it would be experienced as a thousand years.
The very fact that they compare eternal torment to thousands of years, but would NEVER allow it to be said as being only a single day reveals a truth-eroding hypocrisy, to which most Christians pay no mind.
In fact, if theologians teach that "aionios" means "eternal," while insisting that "aionios punishment" lasts for an infinite time-span, they clearly limit God by placing Him in the same time-based framework as judgment! Let us stop the doctrinal hypocrisy. Aionios does not mean temporary or infinite. It simply means "pertaining to the ages."
God: The rock of Ages
We shall consider a more sensible understanding while respecting God's immortality. Let's recap the facts:
He created the aions/ages to reveal his plan to the Israelites through their prophets of ages past (Hebrews 1:1-2). He is God of what He creates. God is big, even bigger than the universe, but is He limited to being big? Is not God also smaller than the tiniest atomic particle, able to see all things?
Here is a scriptural example of how God pertains to - without being limited to - what he creates: in Genesis 24:4-3, we read that God is the "God of heaven and the God of the earth." Now, the earth is visible, natural and will pass away (Matt. 24:35). Is God visible? No, He is invisible. Is God natural? No, He is Spirit. Will God pass away? No, He will not pass away. Yet, he is the God of the earth, nevertheless. Likewise, He is the God of the ages.
1 Titus 1:17Above, we see Paul attributing three distinct characteristics to the King. God is:
1) of the age/aionImmortality is not invisibility. Invisibility is not aion. And aion is not immortality (infinite existence). In this scripture, all three compose God's essence and character, yet retain individual meaning. Here we witness another instance where, in the King James Version of the Bible, aion is translated eternal, while preserving the meaning of invisible and blurring the word "aion" to be indistinguishable from "aphthartos (immortality)". Furthermore we see aion eis aion (meaning - "age unto age") translated as forever and ever. By the way, does forever actually need another "ever" attached to make it infinite? Why not "forever and ever .... and ever?" Does three do the trick? How about four? How many "evers" will do?
Acknowledging that aion means age - and aion eis aion means age unto age - does not limit God, not according to the verse above. He is the God of the aion/age, AND He is immortal, AND He is invisible. AND, unto Him be honor and glory from "age unto age." Amen. Furthermore, the fact that "aion" can be seen to be a "world" associated with an age, we could translated it as "God of the world."
Even the old-time Christian hymn says, our God is the "Rock of Ages." He is, therefore, the "aionios Rock." He endures through all generations - and He is with us age unto age - straight through to His plan's ultimate fulfillment when time has reached a fulfillment (we will get to that later). When Christians sing that God is the Rock "of ages," do they mean to say that He is limited to those ages? Of course not. They mean that His glory and majesty endures throughout the ages He created, until surely all knees bow to Christ and all tongues confess that he is their Lord (Phil 2:10-11).
It all began with a promise
A Christian might say, "we have believed in everlasting torment for 2000 years, how could we be wrong after all that time?" The reason they have been wrong is because most Christians haven't investigated their beliefs. They simply cling what they were first taught without studying the scriptures to see if it was true, and it ends there. Under those conditions, it makes perfect sense. Since nobody investigated the theory of a flat earth, people believed in a flat earth for a long time! They were wrong.
Isn't it an interesting trend throughout history that what man dogmatically assumes first, tends to be the opposite. We thought the earth was flat. It's a sphere. We thought the sun revolved around the earth. It's the opposite. Didn't the Isrealites kill the Messiah?
As it is, Christians are dead wrong about infinite torment for sinners, they are also wrong about what aionios-life really is. Observe Paul's sound pattern of words with actual Greek:
The Greek word pro means before, and chronos means time. The Greek text pro chronos aionios therefore reads: before the time of the ages. The King James translators substituted "before the world began" which is clearly promlematic because if they also claim that aionios means eternity, that would mean Paul said "before time eternal!" Before time eternal? Isn't God eternal? How can can God promise something before "time eternal" if God always was and He is eternal? Is it any wonder that they translated it "before the world began" instead? Very slippery.
In reality, this verse means that God made a promise regarding aionios-life (the life of the ages), before he created those aions/ages. This will make perfect sense when we discuss what aionios-life really is. Just as Jesus Christ was slain from the foundation of the world and his death was purposed by God before it happened (Acts 4:27-28), even so, aionios-life was promised before the time of the ages (pro chronos aionios).
For man, both judgment and life pertain to ages that God created for a perfect and victorious purpose, and that purpose is not to torture people mercilessly. In hearing this, one may say: "But if aionios-life is not eternal-life, wouldn't it therefore only be temporary? You can't have it both ways." Since they don't understand the real Bibical definition of aionios-life they make this error.
The Truth about aionios-life (the life of the ages)
On stage the world over, Christians say: "Believe in Jesus, so that you can enter into eternal life when you die." Sounds great right? It is easily demonstrated how such a statement defiles the true victory of the cross, contradicts the Bible, and makes God a liar! How could that be? It be. Their argument is catastrophically flawed.
To understand why, let us immediately cut to to the truth: "aionios-life" is not immortality at all, and the Bible proves it! It was misunderstood by translators to be "everlasting life." But, the Bible provides very specific and explicit definitions for aionios-life and NOT ONE definition approaches the concept of being physically alive.
B ecause Christians were always told that aionios-life is immortality after death (and because the Bible's original translators made the same mistake), they also believe that aionios-judgment is everlasting torment. As a result, they visit this failed teaching upon the whole world, even while in their deepest hearts they wish they were wrong. They wish billions were not doomed to infinite torture at the hand of the very God who tried his best to save them. Theologians call him a failure with their ignorant, blasphemous, deceptive doctrines.
Let the scripture speak for itself:
Did you think I was suggesting that because aionios-life is not the same as immortality, that immortality will not come through the gospel? Far from it. You have it here without question: immortality is indeed "brought to light" through the Gospel, and guess what, immortals never die! However, this is only a part of the Gospel. The full Gospel promise includes much more than that.
Notice the distinction drawn in Paul's words above between life and immortality. See how immortality is not the only thing illuminated through the Gospel that Paul preached, but life as well. In fact , it looks like immortality is actually added to life. Is this distinction a casual redundancy, or could it be that there is something more to "life" than simply being in existence?
Paul taught in letters to his younger students, to understand a profound truth:When the Bible says "this is," you ought to pay close attention; it means God could be defining something for you. Here, God has given you the true definition of aionios-life, directly from His Son's voice. Does someone who hates his brother really know God, and does he have this knowledge within him? No. He remains in death. Contrary to these truths, according to pop-Christianity, aionios-life is something we must secure now to obtain after death. Really? Then, do they admit that they do not have aionios-life within them now? Are they waiting until the afterlife to receive aionios-life within them?
They confuse immortality with the life-of-the-ages. Just read the Scripture and believe it for yourselves. See how Apostle John's definition is aligned with Christ's definition:
1 John 5:20Hello! Here we have yet another Biblical "this is" statement with regard to aionios-life. Do you see the simplicity in the truth? THIS IS aionios-life: that WE MAY KNOW HIM today (that is true) that we are in IN CHRIST today (that is true) - because the Son of God is come. Do you see anything in that definition about being physically alive everlasting? Of course not, because Paul already carefully made the distinction between life and immortality.
He says that both have come to light through the Gospel. Immortality will be added to the life-of-the-ages, after our physical deaths. It is at that point, Paul says, "this mortal must put on immortality." (1 Cor 15:53)
Here is something to consider carefully: if immortality and aionios-life were identical (like many Christians assume) did Paul not have "aionios-life" during his lifetime as a mortal? Did Paul not have knowledge of God before his mortal death? Or did he indeed have aionios-life within him before he could "put on immortality?" Of course he did! This is because Paul received aionios-life in his "present ages" BEFORE receiving immortality after his death. One comes after the other.
This is because "aionios-life" is the Spirit of Jesus Christ living in us now in our ages too! This is exactly why Apostle John said, "anyone who hates his brother has not yet passed from death to life," though he lives and breathes right now. Remember, John says that no murderer has "aionios-life within him." In contrast, anyone who loves his brother has indeed "passed from death into life," because the love of God is within him.
Didn't Jesus Christ call himself "the way, the truth, and the life?" (John 14:6)
Romans 6:23aionios-life is "life" because: It is the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord within man.
aionios-life is "aionios" because: this promise has fulfillment in these present ages/aions, that we may know the one true God, giving us life from the wages of sin. Aionios-life is freedom from subjection to sin today, not after death.
Sorry to "beat a dead horse" but if you ever find yourself forgetting what life is according to the Scripture, if you find yourself comparing "life" to a tropical vacation resort in Heaven for a billion years, just recall the above verse. Realign yourself with the Lord's words: Jesus says, "I . . . am . . . the life." Do you understand this?
This was in God's plan, who promised this "life of the ages" before "the time of the ages" to live within us during the very ages of our lives, to resurrect us from death in sin. Jesus himself reiterates this promise before his death and resurrection, before the age of Pentecost to come, the Spirit within man:
Mark 10:29-30Take a look at how the translators swapped "world" for "aion" into in the above verse. However, they were left with an interesting dilemma. They translated aion as world, but they obviously could not stay consistent and translate "aionios" as "worldly." Worldly life? Yikes! So, they got inventive. They stayed with "world," but stretched aionios into "eternal." After all, they had a preconceived doctrine to adhere to.
Let's stay consistent: Jesus spoke of the coming age, in which a promised Life of the ages would be given. As He spoke these things, He knew that His imminent Resurrection would usher in the latter ages, as His Spirit would be poured into human beings, starting with the day of Pentecost.
As the Apostle John affirms:
Could that get any clearer? This Life in the Spirit, concerns the aions/ages of our lives - which is exactly what makes it
aion-ios. The "age to come" Jesus spoke about began at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), when the Holy Spirit first entered into the heart of men, and that age continues now, and continues onward. It is this "life of the ages" to which immortality is added to the saints. Later, we will examine what happens when the aions reach their fullness.
Consider the Prodigal Son, who left his place with his father to seek fulfillment in pleasure. The wages of SIN is DEATH, because sin produces destruction in our lives, causing man to live in a perished state, away from the Lord seeking fulfillment in self. According to the Word of God, what was the Prodigal reaping during his experience, destruction or life? Obviously, he was reaping death and destruction in his sin. But the Spirit has come that we may not reap death in sin, but have life now. Look at the ages. Are they still ticking away? If so - and you have the love of God in you - you have aionios-life.
Jesus Christ sits on the throne of His temple, which is within his followers. Paul said "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor 3:16) According to the Bible, that's life.
What a precious gift we have been given, to have the Spirit of God within us, even while living here in the flesh, that He gives us power over our sin, the ability to understand the things of Spirit, the gifts, and communion with God to know His heart and be united with His purpose.
Why must we believe in Jesus Christ to receive life? It is not an arbitrary command when you realize the scriptural truth about life.
God did not put his Son on the cross to die for the world, only to attach a self-defeating belief clause sentencing billions to infinite suffering. If we understand that aionios-life is Jesus Christ within his followers right now, and that "this is life aionios: to know the one true God," it makes perfect practical sense!
How can one know someone else if not believing He exists? How would that be possible? It is by believing in Christ that you come know him, thereby receiving aionios-life away from sin in a daily walk. It is astounding that when some people hear that God, through Jesus, will bring the world into repentance and salvation, they say "why bother preaching the Gospel if everyone will be saved?" Do they have something against spreading good news? Given what the Bible says about being perished and receiving life, how could they keep the gift of God's Spirit to themselves by NOT spreading the good news? They must be joking.
Yosemite Sam: distinguished theologian
Before we investigate "aionios judgment" (judgment-of-the-ages) let's consider the classic Evangelical Christian rationalization of why, they proclaim, eternal torment is a "just" sentence for sin. Smart theologians point to God's eternal nature, reasoning that since God is eternal, this means sins against Him are also eternal, and therefore punishable by an eternal consequence. Whew! All that in one breath. In other words, they claim that God MUST torture people forever for their crimes, because He is immortal. What utter garbage!
This is known as a logical fallacy, which is just a fancy term for reasoning that smells like dead fish. Don't be fooled by it.
It's called "the Texas sharpshooter fallacy." Imagine a hunter firing at a target. He keeps missing. So, he puts his gun down, walks a few yards down, and paints a target around the bullet hole. This fallacy is defined as false reasoning "in which information that has no relationship is interpreted or manipulated until it appears to have meaning."
In this case - because reconciling infinite torment with "justice" and "fairness" is difficult - they "paint the target around the bullet hole" by connecting two independent things: the necessary duration of judgment for justice, and God's immortality. They would rather contrive this false connection than simply admit that they don't quite understand how infinite punishment is fair (which would be far more respectable).
In truth, God's innate immortality has no Scriptural or logical bearing on any supposed necessity to punish people without end. God is not bound or forced to punish anyone infinitely, simply because He is immortal. That is completely asinine! But, theologians in their own esteem, fabricate the connection to make their belief sound less...questionable. It's related to the clustering illusion which is the natural human tendency to see patterns where none actually exist.
That God is immortal does not necessitate infinite punishment for sin to achieve justice. Such theological manipulation is just an attempt to extract sense from the senseless.
We see in John 8, that the Pharisees brought an adulteress before Jesus. They appealed to Deuteronomy 22:22, where it says adulteresses are to be killed. They demanded justice. In fact, Jesus was making company very often with people who deserved the death sentence according to the Law of Moses. You can see the trap the Pharisees were laying can't you: Why wasn't Jesus seeking "justice" with these people according to the Law of Moses? Wasn't Jesus bound to obey the Law? But, they knew if He did stone her, the people would turn against Him.
Here is the genius of the Lord: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." None could condemn her, and neither did Jesus. He did not put the adulteress to death, even though Moses demanded it. You see, what the Pharisees didn't realize, is that according to Scripture, the Law is "not for a righteous man." The Law was not intended for Jesus, but for
sinners (1 Timothy 1:9). Jesus was, therefore, not bound by statute to put that woman to death.
John 5:45The Pharisees sure did trust that Law of Moses; but they did not realize that as they accused her, the Law accused them. We come to discover later in the New Testament something critical: The Law was given so that "sin might appear sin" (Romans 7:13, Heb 10:3-4). The Law shows people their sins so that they will desire a savior - which was not a problem for Jesus. Look what happened: Jesus used the Law to do exactly what it was for, that the Pharisees' hypocrisy might appear to them what it was, hypocrisy. It's a good thing that God isn't backed into corners by fancy theologians.
Today, Christian theologians want us to believe that God is BOUND by his immortal nature to torture people forever. That is how they corner him. But, do you see how Jesus was not controlled, but was in command?
Jesus says, "I AM LORD OF THE LAW." (Mark 2:28).
Jesus is Lord over justice, and therefore free to determine the duration of punishment as he sees fit. He is not forced to punish people forever just because He is immortal. Before his death, when Jesus Christ declared a man's sin forgiven (Matthew 9:2), without first demanding a Sinner's Prayer, did Jesus abandon justice? When God only temporarily abandoned Israel for worshipping Baal, where was the eternal justice in that? It looks like God is in complete command of justice.
When Christ hung on the cross and cried out to God regarding his murderers: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34) where was the eternal "justice" that orthodoxy confines Him to?
Here is the point friends: God is not compelled by a grander sense of justice. Justice is defined by God's choices. Whatever God chooses to do, He is right. So, if He chooses to punish temporarily for sins committed by mortal humans, that would be justice because it would His wisdom and His choice. God is Lord over justice, not the other way around. Jesus has the power to forgive sins, given to him by his Father. Here is the point, if God chooses to punish someone for a limited time, justice is still done because justice comes from God, not God from justice.
The truth about Aionios Judgment (the judgment of the ages)
Christian's often say: "God must torture people forever, because he is just and holy, and cannot stand in the presence of sin." Does the presence of sin destroy God, or does the presence of God destroy sin?
The Bible answers that question as we will see. To understand to a deeper extent the contrast between "the-life-of-the-ages (aionios life)" and "the-judgment-of-the-ages (aionios judgment) and how they also relate, let us consider a most famous Scripture from the Bible. Certainly, God has shown his love for the world in such a way that that would be unthinkable to man:
Make no mistake about it: God so loves the world. He loves it so much He gave His only begotten son to save it in its entirety.
Now, this scripture is used the Christian world over to prove infinite torment as truth. After all, what happens to whosoever does not believe? Look closely. The verse does not say that unbelievers will be tortured for infinity, nor does it say that those who do not now believe never will in the future.
The verse simply defines what belief results in: aionios-life, knowledge of God. Recalling the Biblical definition of life, those with faith have knowledge of Christ because they carry the Spirit of God within them. In like manner, this verse also defines the result of unbelief: "whosoever does not believe" does not have aionios-life, the Spirit within them. They do not have knowledge of God. That is spiritual destruction on this earth.
With that in mind, you are about to discover the truth about "perishing" that not many in the congregations yet realize: the word "perish" in this verse comes from the Greek word apollumi meaning "to destroy" or "to lose" or "to be lost."
Here is an example from the parable of the lost sheep:
This word apollumi is used in this parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. After that son humbly returns to his father, observe his father's words when speaking to his son's jealous brother:
Luke 15:32That is why "whosoever believeth" shall not "perish." Through the Spirit of Christ within them, whosoever believes "was dead, and is alive again, was lost (apollumi) and is found." Reflect again on what John says is the product of sin: "Anyone who does not love remains in death (ie perished). Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has aionios-life in him." Consider the following: If one does not believe in Jesus, how can one know Jesus and have His life within, causing him/her to forsake death in sin, and enter into life in these ages? Without faith in Jesus Christ, will God allow us to be perished?
Without Christ we already are perished! God will allow us to remain destroyed (lost) as part of His judgments. In fact He will turn us over to our prodigal ways as part of judgment: (Romans 1:28-31). And we know that judgment leads to the overthrow of our flesh, our carnal, lustful nature, so that we may live according to the Spirit (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).
2 Corinthians 4:3Remember how the Prodigal Son was perished (lost) in sin, and what horrible experiences he had? Yet, his experience caused him to remember his Father who waited with loving patience for his son to return to him. This is why Paul says:
Such wise and glorious purposes in judgment God has! Sometimes we need to learn our lessons the hard way.
Recognizing what aionios-life is, and how it is given to us in the ages God has created (to dwell within man) we may understand aionios judgment, and how it will achieve God's perfect justice and purpose. In the "parable of the sheep and goats" we see a separation occurring between the wicked and the just:
Here is the verse that many Christian theologians use as a parallel comparison, to prove the unending state of punishment for unbelievers. Their logic: if eternal life is immortality, so the punishment is unending. But, the severe flaw in such an argument, with respect to the Biblical definition of "aionios-life," is crystal clear.
The true comparison here is not between infinite punishment and immortality (such a comparison is never given in the Bible), but between aionios punishment, and aionios-life. The actual comparison is between life of the ages and punishment of the ages. In fact, keeping the Biblical definition of life in mind, the above verse does more to support the aion/age centered nature of judgment than it does to deny it.
Do you see how such false assumptions - that aionios-life is the same as immortality - can lead a path straight down into the false orthodox teaching of infinite torture for non-Christians? When man casually disregards God's definition of his terms, this is what happens. When man substitutes his own ideas in place of God's statements, the result is doctrinal cancer.
Consider this verse as another example of that:
Matthew 7:13-15If you are a Christian reading this, how many times have you heard this verse twisted to say "narrow is the gate that leads to Heaven, and wide is the gate that leads to Hell?" How many times have you heard Christian preachers casually adding and subtracting from God's words as they see fit, to satisfy their doctrines? When preachers play fast and loose with their Bibles like that, it is a very bad sign. It's called idolatry. That is when a person takes God's stated definitions of His own terms and substitutes them with his own Golden Calf reworkings. It's serious business (Exodus 32:19).
This is what the verse says, "narrow is the way that leads to life." Please observe, and remember God's perspective, not man's assumption:
Rom 8:10How many more scriptures do you need to see that, according to God, life is in the Spirit right now? The reason that the gate to destruction is wide, is that the temptations of the carnal mind are easy to follow into a walking spiritual death. This verse has nothing to do with God sending people into "eternal" torture; it is about the difference between life, and the wages of sin.
The Bible testifies about present ages and ages to come, and in those ages, some will receive aionios-life, and some will receive aionios judgment. If man may have the Spirit of Christ within him presently, can he also look forward to aionios-life in aions to come? Absolutely, and that even more abundantly!
Yes, aionios-life can be within Christ's disciples now, as scripture is abundantly clear. But His followers have only received a foretaste, a hint of future glory. After this "present wicked aion" is over, the Spirit will be upon Christ's disciples without measure, doubled, tripled, quadrupled etc, in the "oncoming aion" (Rom. 8:18). Paul described this as the glory of the present age and the age which is to come (Eph 1:21, Eph 2:7) And if we understand that "aionios-life" is to know God now both in these present aions and in the coming aions, we also know what aionios punishment is, the perfect opposite:
First, we see a great revelation in this epistle: "God is just." Ponder that for a moment, in your deepest heart of hearts. What is justice? Recall that famous American statue of the blindfolded woman holding the scales. Balance. God's justice is perfect balance through perfect wisdom. He judges until the debt is paid. Unlike vengeful human beings, God demands what is owed and not beyond: (Matt 18:21-35), as justice has obviously nothing to do with roasting human beings alive forever. The Biblical principle of "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" should reveal that. The wicked will be shut out from the presence of the Lord because He, in His awesome wisdom, has appointed an aion for aionios judgment.
Have you ever heard about the "unforgivable sin?" This is what the orthodox church names it, though the actual term "unforgivable sin" is not scriptural. Jesus warned that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a sin that is bound to be judged, but here are his actual words:
Mark 3:28-29 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost not forgiveness in the age (ou aphesis eis aion), but is in danger of aionios judgment.The term "ou aphesis aion" was translated "will never have forgiveness." If you look in your Bibles, you will see that the translators conveniently failed, altogether, to translate "eis aion" as "in the age." The term is there, but they opted for "never" instead. Nice, huh? Just as Jesus said that believers have a promise of "aionios-life" "in the aion to come" he also spoke of some who will not have forgiveness "in the age" because they are in danger of the "aionios-judgment" (the judgment of the ages.) That this age-abiding judgment is not infinite agrees with God's statements about the fruit He produces in those judgment. The Scripture informs us:
Did you notice what God says through Isaiah about the wicked? Let favor be shown to the wicked, he will not learn righteousness. That's the reason why when God's JUDGMENTS, not his favor, are upon the wicked, they WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS. Has a Christian ever told you that when God judges the earth, "the people of the world will learn righteousness?" Probably not. You probably heard that when God judges the earth, nobody will learn righteousness, but they will suffer torture forever instead. You probably heard that when God judges the earth nothing good will come from that at all. Liars.
Psalm 96:11-13Why should we let the earth be glad? Why? Have you ever heard a Christian rejoicing at the prospect of God coming to judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth? Of course not. They have no reason to say "let the earth be glad" at such a prospect. Make no mistake, God does NOT show favor to the wicked. HE JUDGES THEM, but not the way the despicable eternal torment doctrine proposes. Through those judgments, the people of the world learn righteousness.
According to the Bible, it is not God's favor, but God's anger upon the wicked which shall not be turned aside...until? That's right "until he has finished and achieved His heart's desire." That the church denies before the world that God can achieve all he desires, through his judgments, is shameful teaching. Have you ever heard the church say such things? Of course not.
Just what do you suppose God's heart desires? Do you say He is able to finish and achieve those desires? You don't have to suppose. In a deafening voice, through his word: God declares "YES." His judgments - every last one - are able to accomplish what he desires, which is why, unlike the church, the Israelites rejoiced.
With their insidious, watered-down doctrines, it is amazing the undue credit that the Christian church has given Satan, insinuating that he wields the power to refute God's plan. He will shut many mouths. God's purpose is good. He is Love, and He does nothing dislocated from love. How can Divine wrath be detached from Divine love? He does nothing outside his nature. He is not fractured and polarized against Himself.
Is God at war with his nature when he punishes? Righteous judgment does not mean sticking a needle in someone's eye and it certainly does not involve handing his creation over to infinite defeat. A judge finds justice in all situations, and deals according to the heart's intent, making right what was wrong, and making whole what was once broken. That is God's wisdom and love in judgment.
Indeed, in the ages to come, His people will be glorified in him. In those ages, others will be shut out from his presence and judged. As we have seen: "The length of the aion depends on the subject to which it is attached. It does not mean a period of a fixed length for all cases. There is one aion of a human life, another of the life of a nation, another of a crow's life, another of an oak's life."
There is also an aion of judgment. During aionios punishment perfect justice is done by a perfect God who alone determines the time needed to achieve his own purpose - that the ones being judged learn righteousness. His wrath achieves his heart's desire. It has always been so.
Is anything too difficult for God?
aionios-life Yields to Immortality (God's oath to mankind)
As we rightly perceive according to God, aionios-life is Jesus Christ within us right now, what happens, then, at the end of the aions, when aionios-life and aionios judgment has done a great purpose for God in the ages He created? Does aionios-life end when the aions to come have been consummated? Of course not. It just gets better! Watch what happens next. The Bible describes a few things that occur regarding death:
Isaiah 45:22-24 (New Living Translation)
That's right. He
said it. And the Alpha and Omega, Creator, Divine Being, King of
Kings, Lord of Lords, Almighty God, means to do what
he said. God himself has sworn an oath! And, He swore this even on
his own name! Through the holy prophet Isaiah, God says "let all
the world look to me for salvation." Then, to leave no
doubt about his ability to achieve what he purposes, to be
absolutely clear, he swears by his own name that indeed
"every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess
that Christ is Lord." And, he will not go back on his word. Sorry
Satan. You lose.
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