The Issue is, Really: The Nature of Man!
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Recently it has been called to my attention, again, what men are teaching about eternal punishment. Some say there is no eternal torment, or a conscious existence for the wicked in a place called HELL! I have know that the Jehovah Witnesses have taught this for years. They say that for there to be continuous torment for man eternally or without ceasing would manifest that God is a CRUEL being. After studying with them many times on this subject, as well as other factors, it is my belief that their REAL PROBLEM is with the nature of man rather than the concept of hell. The idea is that man being a material being, when placed in the fire, he'll be burned up, completely, and there'll be nothing of him to suffer pain.
At the base of their teachings is that man is something that he isn't: Completely material! That is their basic problem. People who take this position are in reality MATERIALIST! They have the wrong concept of man's total being. Yes, he has a material side or aspect, to be sure and that is what we are able to observe with our physical eyes and touch, etc. But believe, he IS NOT completely mortal, material, and nothing more (2 Cor. 4:16-18). He has been created in the image of God and has an inner of "inward man," a spirit, that when he is placed in fire, he will NOT be annihilated, "burned up." There will be that consciousness (Cf. Lk. 16:19-31; Rev. 20:10). To be tormented, remembering what was done and not done in his "lifetime." There will be "torment" of the devil and those who follow him, allowing him to be their guide and deceiver (Rev. 12:9). So, beloved, please get the Bible's presentation of Man, and don't be takes astray by men and women who have developed this concept of man! Charging God falsely and viewing man in his totality wrongly!
I submit to you that IF SUCH WERE THE CASE, (complete annihilation for all the wicked, unsaved) it would in FACT be better for them. Because many people (Matt. 7:13-14), millions are not going the right way. Jesus says I am The Way, The Truth and The Life, and none can come to the Father but by Him (Jn. 14:6) Thus the "everlasting punishment" is the only alternative to having everlasting life (Matt. 25:34, 41, 46). However, as Jesus proclaimed: that it would have been better for some to never have been born (Matt. 26:24; Mk. 14:21). Yes, a short time enjoying the "pleasures of sin" will be paid in the price of eternal suffering, pain and agony. How much better would it have been for them NEVER TO HAVE EXISTED!
How sad it is, however, to find that not only the Jehovah Witnesses and others materialist groups exist and teach this view about men. Now, there are men who at one time were faithful gospel preachers, who have taken up this view, too. I find it so extremely difficult to understand how one can get so side tracked to take this view after studying the Bible and preaching the truth for years.
Yet, as one pointed out to me recently, when one goes off on one Bible subject, and accepts an erroneous views, such as dealing with "fellowship" loosely and Marriage Divorce and Remarriage, etc. they are likely to continue down that road of digression. We see it in God's book, we observe it around us in religious circles today!
As we look back and observe the actions of the people in the nations of Israel and Judah, as they would depart in one way, then they would continue to get worse and worse. Finally, they'd seek and find those who would tell them what they wanted to hear and persecute those who are trying to get them to turn around! (Cf. Jer. 6:16; 18:18; 2 Tim. 4:3). We ought to be forewarned and thus forewarned; take heed that no man deceive you (Matt. 24:4).
Beloved, understand that man is more than what can be seen, the outward man (2 Cor. 4:16--5:11). When this life ends, we shall have to stand before the Judge (Heb. 9:27) to give and answer for what we have done in this life, and the time to correct the wrongs will have passed! I'll not have to account for you or you for me (Rom. 14:11-12). Each will have to account for his/her actions. I want you to KNOW that I KNOW there is more to man than the outward man, and we will all continue either in heaven or hell. We make the choice NOW! Opportunity and options are clearly set out before us. I challenge each of us to be alert (1 Pet. 5:8-8), because there is a great deceiver working to distract, and destroy our souls in an place prepared for him and his angels (Matt. 25:41; 2 Cor. 2:11). Beloved, stay with the book, the New Testament in al that you believe, practice , teach and demonstrate in your everyday activities.
I'm going to heaven, and I'd like for you to go with me, and we can be there eternally. But if you choose to accept the ideal that man is totally material, the concept of materialistic view of man, that is your option at this time. I can assure you will be disappointed ultimately.
By William C. Sexton
From Expository Files 10.7; July 2003