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A Major Problem With Believers in Reformed Theology

I was brought up as an adult in a Southern Baptist Church that was basically Arminian in belief.  In other words, the altar call was the usual weekly place where people would go during a church service to “give their hearts to the Lord.”  It was where they chose Christ as Savior and Lord.  Then as years went by, I slowly transitioned to the doctrines of grace, or Calvinism.  As I studied more and more, I began moving into New Covenant Theology which I believed was more accurate than the first two.  Since then I have obviously moved to becoming a believer in universal salvation, understanding this to be, in my mind, the closest and best understanding of God’s nature as He has revealed Himself to be.

During my years as a Calvinist, I read much and did what I could to understand the arguments and explanations of that belief system so I could argue or “apologize” for the system.  I wrote classes for my church.  I wrote papers and blog articles.  I bought many books on traditional reformed theology and Baptist reformed theology, Southern Baptist and Reformed Baptist.  During this time I also graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, KY.  One thing I began to notice as time went by, time spent in the “reformed” or “Calvinist” camp, was how lacking in care for others was so prevalent.  Sure, the talk was about loving people, but it sure wasn’t shown when an Arminian walked in the door!  To be fair, many of the Calvinist church people I was around were loving to me and my family.  I found out they lied and cheated just like Arminians did.  I found out (and even fostered) that there was a largely antagonistic tone during almost all talks with those who opposed Calvinism.  The conversation would start out OK, but given enough time, it would typically devolve into a shouting match, with both sides anathematizing each other,and then going back to their churches regaling the victory!  Success wasn’t measured in loving others, but in how many times they stumped their opposition!  Having more answers than their detractors seemed to be the victory many Calvinists I was around were seeking.  How unfortunate, I was like them, too!  My demeanor changed from loving people to loving to be right.  The antidote?  A fuller understanding of God’s grace as espoused by Christian/Evangelical Universalism.

I am slowly evolving, moving away from what I used to be to what God has created me in His image to be; a lover of Him and others.  I admit it is hard to cast off the old ways and I understand what Paul suffered through, so entrenched in a philosophy that IT IS your identity!  But that brings me to the point of this article.

I recently read a couple tweets regarding Calvinism from a Calvinist.  This person wrote two tweets saying basically that people who come to embrace Reformed theology need to stay off social media with their beliefs until they have at least two years of delving into the belief system to ensure they are well grounded in that system and in a local church as well.  This, the person states, will help guard against being puffed up in that faith system.  Apparently this person sees a problem in reformed circles with this attitude.  I concur.  I have seen it first hand, since I was one of the people this person warns against.  I didn’t listen.  I was excited about these “new” beliefs.  I had to tell everyone what the Bible “really” said, so they to could understand it.  I was obnoxious, unbearable, unloving, and worse (if that’s possible!).

I remember distinctly trying to figure out how some theologians arrived at their conclusions on scripture texts, when I didn’t see it no matter which way I looked at the texts.  I found myself saying an awful  lot of “what Jesus really means is/what Paul really means is, what God really said is….  Why?  because my new belief system (reformed/Calvinist theology didn’t come together as easily as I had been led to believe.

One comment I want to make before I forget it is this.  If your belief system causes you to make statements like I just mentioned in the previous paragraph, I think you need to take a serious look at your system.  If plain readings of the text (of course in the NT context, not our 21st century context, first off) don’t make some sense, common sense, and you need to give strained explanations of the text, especially by having to re-define words, your system may not be as coherent as you think.  If God’s love is not at the center of all that takes place, biblically speaking, then I suggest you have a wrong understanding of the texts.  Do bad things happen in the bible?  Yes.  But, if there is no purpose to it and a purpose you assign to it does not lead to God’s ultimate good for all of His creation, then I suggest again that your system needs to be re-done or chucked out the window.

Rather than go off on a lot of different tangents right now, let me just say this again.  When I read of people saying things like this person mentioned, not being out in public explaining or reasoning the belief system of reformed theology for years because there is too many un-Christian attitudes and beliefs being espoused / lived-out, that is a HUGE RED FLAG to me that something is wrong.  If a system says, God chose you, you didn’t choose Him (which BTW I believe) and people in that system project the attitude “I got mine, maybe you’ll get yours (maybe not, it’s all up to God anyway and who can know who the saved are going to be!), I am better than you” there is a huge problem.  If that same system goes further and says that God created all things, said they were good, then decides not to choose some of that creation to be reconciled to Himself, saved, and restored, then there is a huge problem with your system.  I could go on, but I think I have made my point.  They will know we are Christians by our love for each other (all humanity).  They will know we are following God when they see that love for each other.  If your system says it is like that or believes that, but it doesn’t work out that way most oftentimes, then there is a HUGE problem with your belief system.

I need to move on with my day so my thoughts need to stop for now.  As always, comments are appreciated and will be responded to the best I can.  I appreciate all my regular readers from all over the world (all continents except Antarctica, so far!) and hope that as you read here, you will grow in faith and hope in the living God and that you will continue to love others as God also loves you!

Blessings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!





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Don’t Let Sin Reign in Your Mortal Body

Here is my provocative question for this post.  When you read what Paul wrote in Romans 6:12, “Let not Sin, then, be reigning in your mortal body, for you to be obeying its lusts.” (CLV, Concordant Literal Version), do you:

A. Believe this to mean “stop sinning” and refers to the “acts of sin” OR

B.  I will never stop sinning in my mortal body but thankfully as a new creation in Christ my sins have been removed and sin no longer tells me what to do, I tell it what to do! (get lost!)

If you choose A., then you are in league with the whole modern church today.  You believe just as most every other believer today because you believe that Paul is telling you to quit committing acts of sin, like adultery, swearing, lying, cheating, stealing, etc.  It also means you will probably seek to remove all appearances of evil and sin from your life.  Example:  We don’t believe it is a sin to drink alcohol, but we require our leaders to abstain from drinking alcohol because we do not even want to give the appearance of sin, or cause even the least of our brothers to stumble.  Or, I have been “saved” by God and in my past have struggled with pornography, therefore, when I want to rent a movie from Netflix, I search only G-rated movies because I do not even want to be tempted to sin.  Or, I know overeating is a sin, but I have a lust for pizza so, as a believer, I will never go down the pizza aisle at the grocery store, nor will I go to parties where pizza is being served.

If you chose B., you look back at my last paragraph and say, “Wow, I am glad I am not like those sinners over there!”  No, I am only kidding!  But seriously, you probably realize that Paul’s whole case in Romans is not some theological treatise for the seminary classroom, nor for the making of super saints!  It is for everyone, saved and unsaved alike.  It is especially for believers who understand that they will never be NOT sinning in this mortal body but thankfully Jesus paid it all, paid for every sin, past, present, and future, on the cross and in his resurrection.  You realize that you are not defined by your sin but by your identity with and in Christ.  When you realize you sin, and you realize it is an anomaly, that because you treasure His grace, you stop and say, “No more,” and you continue on reveling in the grace that super-exceeds the sin you just committed.  Then, rather than being sad over your sin, and letting sin ruin your disposition, you push it aside and focus on the grace of Christ, His ever and over-abundant love for ALL OF HIS CREATION, and go about praising Him the rest of the day!

Which kind of person are you?  Which kind of person do you want to be?  Think about it!  Send me your comments and let’s dialog about it.  Questions?  Me, too.  Let’s help one another find answers! As always,

Love in Christ,


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If Hell Is Eternal Separation From God, Then…

God cannot be omnipresent.  The modern church believes that God is everywhere and there is no place where God is not.  David supported this teaching when he said,

“(Psa 139:7) Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?

(Psa 139:8) If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”

(NOTE:  The whole chapter is worthy of your time and meditation!)

Yet, the modern church also believes that eternal conscious torment in hell is away from God’s presence.  They say, as I did for many years, that hell is eternal separation from God.  How can this be?  This is an oxymoron.  The term oxymoron is an oxymoron (composed of two words meaning sharp and dull, implied that one thing is both sharp and dull at the same time).  So, my question to the modern church is this; how can God be omnipresent yet be eternally separate from hell?  Is there anything God created outside His presence and control?  If you wrestle with these things let me  assure you that God is not a liar, nor is there anything He created outside His presence nor is the modern concept of hell as eternal separation from God true.  It is false and that itself should give you hope, and the knowledge that God is not  a monster but a lover of His creation who only has the best in store for it (them).

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Poke holes in this theology!

“God is love, and if you don’t believe it He will burn you in Hell for all eternity.”

I read this on a Facebook page I subscribe to, and it was written by John Smith.  I pose this to you, my readers: Is this the God you worship and, if so, defend this belief with all you got.  A friendly challenge for you.  If your theology says my theology is wrong, then you MUST defend this statement because in my previous belief system (reformed theology, in the Baptist tradition) this had to be true.  Let us learn together to understand the God we worship as brothers and sisters in the Lord and help one another to serve Him best.  Blessings to you, especially those who write in with their defense of the statement above!

In Christ’s love!


P.S.  If you would like the link to this Facebook page, simply comment back requesting the link.  Thanks!

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Does Your Doctrine Help You Obey Christ?

I have been thinking about this question for the last two years or so.  I have written a little about how (or maybe simply that) my doctrine has changed since I became a Christian in 1991.  I started out believing in Arminian theology (though I had no idea what that even meant for many years!) and held that view for about 12 years or so.  Then, as I began to be faced with more and more complex biblical counseling issues and having to give answers from the Bible about how to deal with these issues, I realized that psychology was not the answer since it did not depend on the Word.  I then realized that most Arminian theology (for lack of a better way to put it, mainstream Christianity, at least around me for many years) bought into “Christian” psychology for the most part and whenever I asked my Arminian brothers and other pastors of the same belief system, they all (except one!) said to leave counseling to the professionals, meaning to psychologists or psychiatrists, whether Christian or not.  This was not an option for me!

So, as I asked around, one pastor I served with told me to check into the biblical counseling movement and the Biblical Counseling Center in Arlington Heights, IL (I believe this is correct!).  Well this was an hours’ drive north from where we lived so off I went.  To make a long story short, through much study, research, and reading thousands of pages and 50+ books (biblical counseling books which then led directly to books on reformed theology or Calvinism), I began to believe in reformed theology or Calvinism.  I spent the next 10 or so years studying  that doctrine and feeling assured I had finally unlocked the keys yo the biblical text!  But, through all of this, there was still a few nagging questions that no one could answer to my satisfaction and it bugged me to no end.  One question was:  What really is the Gospel, what is the minimum that one must believe/do to be saved?  Another was:  What do I have to obey in the Bible, or what is obedience and what does it look like?

Then, the question in the title of this post came into play a few years ago as my theology was once again being re-formed (not reformed, get it?).  I have for so many years now believed that the height of Christianity was having and holding to right doctrine and that there was no more important thing for a Christian to be concerned about.  That is why it was hard for me to relate to a “feel-good Gospel,” or a more feelings-based faith system.  It was to subjective in my estimation, and I wanted as much objectivity as possible because that was the way to “real” truth.  So, in my mind, and as near as I can tell, the minds of most of those I hung with, right doctrine was the ONLY way to obey Christ!  Right doctrine was the only path that lead to total obedience to all that Christ commanded.

But today, I ask this question, and really do expect replies from those Arminians or Calvinists who would try to explain to me how holding their doctrine (Arminianism or Calvinism,  synergism or monergism) can help me obey Christ.  Let me help you to understand where I am at and where I am coming from now.  Please explain to me how your doctrine will help me practice loving my neighbor more, my family more, and God more?  How will it help me be more kind to people?  How will doctrine help me not kill someone?  How will it keep me from being selfish or help me to have more self-control?  Let me get to my point, in case you are missing it.  Does right doctrine ACTUALLY do anything for me to make me more like Christ?  Or, as I read the plain words of Christ, can I merely choose to obey and become more like Him?  If I read in Jesus’ teachings to love my neighbor as I love myself, can I merely look at the ways I love myself and then love my neighbor in ways like that?  Or, do I need to study doctrine more to “cause” me to love my neighbor more?

My belief is that right doctrine may make me feel better about my relationship to God and help me understand the Bible better, but it will NEVER help me obey Christ!  The only thing that will help me obey Christ is actually OBEYING  Christ.  In other words, when Christ says don’t steal, but work for what I need, that is what I do.  I do not need to make sure I understand the kenosis, or the hupostatic union (hypo static if it makes you feel better!) or how the church is to be united.  I must simply obey.  I must go and do what is commanded, not hold a conference on Calvinism/Arminianism and then debate my detractors to prove how wrong they are.  No, I need to love Christ enough to, like a little child, go and obey what He says.

This got longer than I intended, but truly, I welcome your comments and if you have them, answers to the question(s) posed here today.  I especially put out the challenge to the Calvinists or Arminians who may be reading this blog (I know you are out there!) to not be shy.  Jump in here and let me know what you think.  If you truly care about others who have different views than you and are your brothers/sisters int eh Lord, you will be concerned that we know, I know, where I am going astray or where I am correct and need to press on and help others with my knowledge.  Silence speaks volumes, you know what I mean?

Anyway, blessings to you in Christ our Lord!


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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Universalism: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved? Part 13

Examining Universalism III: The Universalist Thesis


Well, again, this has taken awhile but I decided rather than scratch these first two passages in Hebrews 3 and 6 because they do not address the issue of final destruction or final judgment directly, as Packer says, I would explain these verses to show how misunderstood they are and how theologians with agendas (denominational bents, if you will) skew the meaning of verses to fit their presupposed theology.


Heb 3:14-19

(Heb 3:14) For we have become partners of Christ, that is, if we should be retaining the beginning of the assumption confirmed unto the consummation,

(Heb 3:15) while it is being said, “Today, if ever His voice you should be hearing, You should not be hardening your hearts as in the embitterment.”

(Heb 3:16) For some who hear embitter Him; but not all those coming out of Egypt through Moses.

(Heb 3:17) Now with whom is He disgusted forty years? Was it not with those who sin, whose carcasses fall in the wilderness?

(Heb 3:18) Now to whom does He swear, not to be entering into His stopping, except to the stubborn?

(Heb 3:19) And we are observing that they could not enter because of unbelief.


Verse 14 – We can go back to verses 1 and 6 of this chapter and see the same thing being talked about. The inference is that we who believe will be or are currently partners with Christ and will enjoy this partnership in the end of the age, or as some believe, the millenium.


Verse 15 – verse 7-8 also talk about a hardening and a warning to not be hardened against God and His truth. It is dangerous to be led astray by others’ teachings, even if it sounds right or makes us feel good.
“If,” eán (in Greek) implies a condition which experience must determine, an objective possibility, and thus refers always to something future. ( Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Therefore, the writer is telling his hearers, “If, possibly in the future, you hear God’s voice, do not harden your hearts as the Israelites of Moses’ day, wandering in the desert, did.”


Lastly, let me mention this. Verses 16-19 talk about how the disobedient (synonym: unbelievers) did not enter the rest of the land of Canaan. There are two different words used in verse 18 and 19 for unbelief. In verse 18, some translations use the word “disobedient,” and the word in verse 19 as unbelief. They are synonyms that speak mainly about unbelief that results in disobedience. They are not two different thoughts, but one thought and its consequences. One can read verses 18 and 19 as follows: 18 And to whom did he swear they would not enter into his rest, except those who were disobedient (unbelievers)? 19 And so we see that they were not able to enter because of disobedience (unbelief).


And so, the importance of these verses is that unbelief can (or has, does as seen by the wilderness wanderers who did not enter Canaan) result in disobedience leading to loss of rest, loss of reward although what is most important is not the result of the disobedience or unbelief, but the root cause of it, a hardened heart against God. As important, is the fact that there is still an opportunity in the future of hearing God’s voice and heeding His voice by not hardening their hearts against Him.

These verses do not speak about a final judgment or destruction.


Heb 6:4-8

(Heb 6:4) For it is impossible concerning those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and become sharers of the Holy Spirit,

(Heb 6:5) and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the coming age,

(Heb 6:6) and having fallen away, to renew them again to repentance, because they have crucified again for themselves the Son of God and held him up to contempt.

(Heb 6:7) For ground that drinks the rain that comes often upon it, and brings forth vegetation usable to those people [for whose sake] it is also cultivated, shares a blessing from God.

(Heb 6:8) But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to a curse, whose end is for burning.

Verses 4-6 are all one long sentence in the Greek and need to be treated together.


These verses talk about turning from truth and becoming apostate to the gospel of the kingdom of God. These are also the first verses which indicate that the author was addressing the Hebrews who had become believers in Christ, and were in danger of becoming apostate from the faith.


Earlier, in verses 1-3 of this chapter, the writer gave seven recommendations to the Hebrew believers as to how they should act. The writer urged them to: (1) leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ; (2) stop laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works; (3) stop arguing about what it meant about faith toward God; (4) leave the doctrine of baptisms of cleansings and washings; (5) leave the doctrine of the laying on of hands for the sacrificial animals; (6) stop arguing about the resurrection of the dead; (7) leave the question about eternal judgment.


Here in verses 4-6 the writer lists seven descriptions of those apostates who had come to know the gospel of Christ in truth. These seven results of the seven recommendations fully explain what apostasy is and what it brings.


Here, the first description of apostates is that it is “impossible for those once enlightened.” This enlightening is spiritual enlightenment, or spiritual understanding. Being enlightened is a gift of God’s grace, enabling one to understand spiritual things. The carnal, natural mind cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14). The natural mind may study the facts, but only God can put understanding in the mind, unlocking the spiritual meaning contained in those facts.


The second description is that they “have tasted the heavenly gift.” According to Ephesians 1:3, this heavenly gift is:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”


This heavenly gift contains a “taste of all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Apparently, those whom the writer was addressing had been very knowledgeable about the sacrifice and ascension of Jesus. They had, in a sense, intimate knowledge of the fellowship of His sufferings, being that they too have suffered greatly after becoming Christians. We know many Jews who converted to Christ were suffering immensely because of their new faith.


The third description was that they “were made sharers of Holy Spirit.” There is no definite article preceding “holy spirit,” therefore the emphasis is upon some quality or characteristic of holy spirit which each person has received. The Hebrews had received the gift of holy spirit, they were aware of the gift, and, therefore, they were responsible to God for what they did with that portion of holy spirit they had received. That everyone has been given the gift of holy spirit is attested to in Acts 2:17:
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.”


Some people choose to interpret this verse as something which has not yet happened, something which will not take place until the “last days.” However, in Acts 2:16, Peter said, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” God has already sent a portion of holy spirit to everyone. Furthermore, we have been living in the “last days” ever since the ascension of Jesus. Therefore, everyone was being included in the writer’s thought’s here, not just Hebrew believers.


The fourth description was that they had “tasted the good word of a god.” Since the definite article was not used with theos, this could be translated as “tasted of the good, divine word.” They had tasted, or experienced, what the “divine word” said about Christ and his coming kingdom. The writer was warning them not to lose faith in the good news about Jesus being the messiah.


The fifth description was that they had tasted or experienced “and the powers of the coming age.” They recognized the power of holy spirit as a precursor of what it will be like in the next age, the kingdom of God.


The sixth description concerned “to renew them again to repentance” and having fallen away. In other words, they had tasted the good works of power, and fell away. The words fall away come from parapesontas, which means to fall by the wayside, to go astray, or to become lost. This is in relation to the proper manner of service and worship of God.


The writer was pleading with them to avoid such consequences. This is reminiscent of Paul’s experience with the Jews who followed him around, trying to convince his converts that they needed to be circumcised. The writer believed that someone was trying to turn these converted Jews back to the Old Testament style of worship. If they reverted to past beliefs, they could never again be renewed to repentance, or be brought again to a change of mind about Jesus as the messiah. They would be irrevocably lost, or out of the way.


The seventh description was that they “because they have crucified again for themselves the Son of God and held him up to contempt.” The author warned them that God would consider that they had again crucified His Son.


In the phrase “for themselves,” the word for comes from eautois, a compound of two prepositions which shows the cause of their crucifying the Son of God: it was for their own advantage, perhaps to escape persecution by the unbelievers who did not believe that Jesus was the messiah. However, to go back to the old Hebrew faith and deny that Jesus was the messiah would put him (Jesus) to “contempt or an open shame.”


This list of seven items signifies completeness. As we will see in the next passage, the writer also speaks about this in Hebrews 10:26-29.


When scripture says that those who turn away cannot be renewed again unto repentance, this does not mean that God deserted them. But it does mean that they have made such an irrevocable decision, that they are unable to ever again change their minds.


The writer pleads with them not to turn away. He knew the inevitable result of such action from the Israelite history of wandering in the desert. And some believe, this time they would not be missing 40 years but 1,000 years of sharing in the glory of Jesus, the Christ, during the next age.


The writer then turned to nature to cite another example. When it rains upon the earth, the one who tills the land receives a blessing from God. God sends rain upon the earth so that when they properly till the earth they will derive blessings, or food, from it. If they did not till the soil, the weeds would choke out much of the good crops. The same is true with our spiritual lives.


In verse 6:8, the author used the words from Isaiah 5:3-7 to warn the Hebrews.

3And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard.
4What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why did I hope for it to yield grapes, and it yielded wild grapes?
5And now let me tell you what I myself am about to do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge, and it shall become a devastation.
I will break down its wall, and it shall become a trampling.
6And I will make it a wasteland;
it shall not be pruned and hoed,
and it shall be overgrown with briers and thornbushes.
And concerning the clouds, I will command ⌊them not to send⌋ rain down upon it.
7For the vineyard of Yahweh of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the man of Judah is the plantation of his delight.
And he waited for justice,
but look! Bloodshed!
For righteousness,
but look! A cry of distress!


The writer was telling them they would become the rejected briers and thorns if they departed from the faith of God, and Jesus, his Son. They would be rejected, meaning that after a rigid examination they will be disapproved, and then they will be near to being cursed. Near to being cursed by God means to be given up to barrenness. The writer did not completely close the door. It may be that God will still help them even if they turn away, but he warned that such help was an open option as far as God is concerned.


The phrase “whose end is to be burned” could be referring to a previous time when the Israelite people rebelled against Jehovah and turned to religions which promoted self.


Deuteronomy 29:12-13 records a covenant Jehovah made with Israel. Then, in Deuteronomy 29:22-28, came the warning of the dire judgment which would be brought upon them and their land if they turned away from Jehovah.


22“And the next generation, that is, your children who will rise up after you, and the foreigner who will come from a distant land, when they will see the plagues of that land and its diseases that Yahweh has inflicted upon it, will say, 23‘All its land is brimstone and salt left by fire, ⌊none of its land will be sown⌋, and it will not make plants sprout out and it will not grow any vegetation; it is as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Adman and Zeboiim, which Yahweh overturned in his anger and in his wrath.’ 24And all the nations will say, ‘⌊Why⌋ has Yahweh done ⌊such a thing⌋ to this land? What caused the fierceness of this great anger?’ 25And they will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, which he ⌊made⌋ with them ⌊when he brought them out⌋ from the land of Egypt. 26And they went and served other gods and bowed down to them, gods whom they did not know them and he had not allotted to them. 27So ⌊the anger of Yahweh was kindled⌋ against that land to bring upon it all the curses written in this scroll, 28and Yahweh uprooted them from their land in anger and in wrath and in great fury, and he cast them into another land, ⌊just as it is today⌋.’


For anyone who has the knowledge of God’s grace and the work of Jesus, the Christ, it is a serious issue to turn away from that truth.


One has to import the presupposition of an eternal conscious torment in hell into this passage to get a final destruction or judgment. It just is not there in its own context. This is a warning to the Hebrews to not turn, but nowhere is the falling away permanent or non-reversible in an age or ages to come.
Heb 10:26-31, 39

(Heb 10:26) For if we keep on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

(Heb 10:27) but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that is about to consume the adversaries.

(Heb 10:28) Anyone who rejected the law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

(Heb 10:29) How much worse punishment do you think the person will be considered worthy of who treats with disdain the Son of God and who considers ordinary the blood of the covenant by which he was made holy and who insults the Spirit of grace?

(Heb 10:30) For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”

(Heb 10:31) It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

(Heb 10:32) But remember the former days in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great struggle with sufferings,

(Heb 10:33) sometimes being publicly exposed both to insults and to afflictions, and sometimes becoming sharers with those who were treated in this way.

(Heb 10:34) For you both sympathized with the prisoners and put up with the seizure of your belongings with joy because you knew that you yourselves had a better and permanent possession.

(Heb 10:35) Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward.

(Heb 10:36) For you have need of endurance, in order that after you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

(Heb 10:37) For yet “a very, very little while, and the one who is coming will come and will not delay.

(Heb 10:38) But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul is not well pleased with him.”

(Heb 10:39) But we are not among those who shrink back to destruction, but among those who have faith to the preservation of our souls.

Verse 26 – To sin willfully means that the act of sinning is done deliberately, not ignorantly; not an accidental act, but one done spitefully. It is not only a sinful act, but it is done in defiance of all that has been done by God, and his Son, Jesus.


The phrase “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” refers to an Old Testament scripture which the Hebrew believers were sure to know. Numbers 15:30-31 says:

30But the one ⌊who acts presumptuously⌋ from among the native or alien blasphemes against Yahweh, and that person must be cut off from the midst of the people. 31Because he despised the word of Yahweh and broke his command, that person will be surely cut off and bear the guilt.’”


The Old Testament prescribed certain sacrifices which were to be offered for known sin. But, if one did not follow the Levitical laws of sacrifice, then he would be cut off from among His people and be “on his own.” If the prescribed remedy was spitefully ignored, there was nothing else available. With this background, the writer was beginning to enlighten the Hebrew believers about the seriousness of going back to the Old Testament Mosaic Law.
In verse 27 we find out what there is to look forward to since there is no more sacrifice for sin to those who willfully sin: judgment and fury of fire. This is a future judgment as evidenced by the terms “fearful expectation.” Here is some food for thought. Was the payment for sin (death) taken care of by Jesus on the cross? Jesus conquered the wages of sin with His resurrection and therefore there appears to be no more need to make payment for sins. All those found in Christ, of course, are covered by His sacrifice. But what of the others? What of those who fall away? What of believers who will still be judged? So, what of those who willfully sin, as verse 27 states?


The future judgment will not be for sins but for works. Paul states this pretty clearly that our works will be judged and if found lacking, burned up (1 Cor 3:10-15). You see, Paul also explains that Jesus’ righteous deed gave all people justification. Romans 5:18-21 states:

(Rom 5:18) Consequently therefore, as through one trespass came condemnation to all people, so also through one righteous deed came justification of life to all people.

(Rom 5:19) For just as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.

(Rom 5:20) Now the law came in as a side issue, in order that the trespass could increase, but where sin increased, grace was present in greater abundance,

(Rom 5:21) so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul expresses this same teaching, salvation of all people in several other places that we have already discussed in this series. Jesus also stated that when He is lifted up from the earth that He would draw all men to Himself. (John 12:32) Not some men, but all men!


What the Hebrew writer is saying is that the grace of God in Christ has already forgiven sin and that our works are what retain our inheritance. God’s love saves all people, and that love is experienced in Jesus Christ.


Just because verse 27 talks about judgment and fury of fire does not mean there is a reference to an eternal conscious torment in a place called hell found here. No, there is a coming judgment for those who fall away that will be marked by a severity that will consume those who suffer it. But this consuming for those who willfully sin after coming to a knowledge of the truth will find themselves in outer darkness during the next age, the Kingdom of God. They will be under the rule of Jesus and His followers who reign with a rod of iron. This is the judgment that will devour or consume them.


Verses 28-29 are one long sentence. The writer most likely was referring back to a very familiar text to the Hebrew followers from Deuteronomy 17:2-7:

2If there is found in one of your ⌊towns⌋ that Yahweh your God is giving to you a man or a woman that does evil in the eyes of Yahweh your God to transgress his covenant 3and by going and serving other gods and so he bows down to them and to the sun or to the moon or to any of the host of heaven ⌊which I have forbidden⌋, 4and it is reported to you or you hear about it and you inquire about it thoroughly and, indeed, the trustworthiness of the deed has been established, it ⌊has occurred⌋, this detestable thing, in Israel, 5then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil thing to your gates; that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them with stones ⌊to death⌋. 6⌊On the evidence of⌋ two or three witnesses ⌊the person shall be put to death⌋. The person shall not be put to death by the mouth of one witness. 7The hand of the witnesses shall be first against the person to kill the person, and afterward the hands of all the people, and so you shall purge the evil from your midst.


The person who was guilty of worshiping other gods was to be put to death. Transferring this concept to the New Testament context means that the people who sin willfully after coming to a knowledge of the truth are guilty of idolatry. Such people are worshiping themselves, and making themselves into their own gods, which was the original sin of Adam.


Colossians 3:5 defines idolatry as, “…covetousness, which is idolatry.”

Verse 29 –

In the Old Testament, the people who turned away from Jehovah in idolatry were stoned to death because they despised Jehovah’s covenant. In verse 10:29, the author compared the sin of idolatry in the Old Testament and the New Testament and concluded that New Testament idolatry deserved “much worse punishment.” This comparison is rather frightening, especially in light of the fiery zeal which shall devour the adversaries.


The writer stated three reasons that the New Testament idolater is worthy of much more severe punishment. First, because “who treats with disdain the Son of God.” treating with disdain might also be expressed as “having stomped upon something contemptuously.”


Many of the people doing this are good, moral people. However, faith is the basic tenet of the gospel, not morality. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Those who live their lives in pursuit of worldly goods instead of pursuing spiritual things are adversaries, or enemies. They were pictured here in terms that most of them would never even think of applying to themselves. Yet, that is exactly the way it is viewed by God, and his Son, Jesus.


The second reason is that he “who considers ordinary the blood of the covenant by which he was made holy and who insults the Spirit of grace?” Many preachers and teachers almost make a fetish out of blood. It was not the blood, per se, but the death of Jesus which accomplished our salvation. Blood is only a symbol of his death because the life is in the blood; when one’s blood is shed, death occurs. Remember, it takes the death of the testator before a covenant, or will, takes effect. Therefore, it was the death of Jesus which such people consider an unholy thing.


Unholy simply means something which is common, or profane. It is not something considered as being set apart, or sanctified, to God. These people do not consider that the death of Jesus was any more significant than the death of any other person. To them, it was only a common event.


Most people might never put such a thought into words, but the way they live says it anyway. Again, as Jesus said, “If you are not for me, you are against me.” The book of Revelation pictures Jesus as spewing such lukewarm people out his mouth (Revelation 3:16)!


The phrase “by which he was made holy” indicates the grace of God. Notice, too, that the people who are worthy of much worse punishment, and who have treated with disdain Jesus, were “sanctified.”


Sanctified comes from hagiasthe, the verb form of hagios, which is most often translated as “holy.” As stated before, the word hagios, holy, or sanctified, has nothing to do with the character of the people designated as holy. It was something done for them by others, namely God, and his son, Jesus.


Therefore, the death, or blood, of Jesus, which activated the covenant (which some count as an unholy thing) actually was the same death which set all people apart to God for his service. Therefore, people should not live for themselves but for him who gave himself for them.


The third reason is that he “who insults the Spirit of grace.”


In the phrase “the spirit of grace” the definite article was used before spirit and also before grace. Therefore, this should read “the spirit of the grace. This is the one and only spirit representing the all of God’s grace as demonstrated in the sacrifice of His Son because of his love of humanity.


Anyone who treats this spirit with disdain or contempt is on dangerous ground. They insult the very act of love which was designed to give them the salvation they value so little!


This ends the third pathway which the writer followed to Jesus. The fourth pathway continues to the end of the chapter as the writer pled with his Hebrew brethren not to abandon their faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. He continued to extol the punishment reserved for those who do such a thing, noting that they would be guilty of all the things listed in the above verses. And, more than that, the writer warned of even more drastic effects of apostasy.


Verse 30 –
Verse 10:30 was another appeal to the Old Testament, this time to Deuteronomy 32:35 which says,

“To me belongs vengeance, and recompense,”

and to Deuteronomy 32:36 which says,

“For the Lord shall judge his people.”


35⌊Vengeance belongs to me⌋ and also recompense,
⌊for at the time their foot slips⌋,
because the day of their disaster is near,
⌊and fate comes quickly for them⌋.’
36For Yahweh will judge on behalf of his people,
and concerning his servants;
he will change his mind when he sees that their power has disappeared,
and there is no one left, confined or free.


These two verses are a good example of the fact that New Testament writers were not always careful to quote the Old Testament exactly. However, they were careful that they did not change the sense, or intent, of the scripture quoted.


These Hebrew brethren knew that the Jehovah of the Old Testament was now the resurrected man, Jesus. However, their faith was beginning to waver and they were considering going back to their former worship. At the time Hebrews was written the old temple worship and sacrifices were still available in Jerusalem. The writer was referring to all the warnings about sin to persuade them not to revert, and this was not the last of the warnings!


Verse 31 –

Jesus is the one who will judge his people. “Falling into the hands” indicates punishment, not love; therefore, “it is a fearful thing.” Those who have treated with disdain Jesus, and considered it as worthless, and treated it with contempt, will not find their judgment minimal. It will indeed be a fearful thing.
And finally, verse 39:

(Heb 10:39) But we are not among those who shrink back to destruction, but among those who have faith to the preservation of our souls.


With these words, the writer made clear the destination awaiting any “who shrink back:” it is “to destruction.” The word destruction comes from apoleian. In some translations this word is translated as “perdition.” This translation helps many misunderstand the text and insert the idea of eternal hell. Destruction does not connote a final judgment or a final destruction. The destruction is the destruction of what they were created for, the purpose God has for all His image bearers; worship of Him, love, etc.


Destruction was on the one side, but the other side was “but among those who have faith to the preservation of our souls.” Some claim this verse as proof that, “you have to believe in order to be saved.” However, there are several errors inherent in such a stand. The greatest error concerns the definition of the word “saved.” Many believe that what we do, such as being baptized, believing, being born again, keeping the sacraments, or whatever else some religious organization may impose, is necessary and must be added to the grace of God. They contend that God only “offers” salvation, and that we must do something to appropriate it, to be “saved.”


This verse simply will not support such erroneous positions. One reason is that the word used here for saving comes not from the usual word sozo, but from peripoiesin, which means to come into possession of one’s own property.


Faith is the one thing that can give us possession of our own soul. It is only then, when we come to faith in God and what was accomplished for us in the sacrifice of Jesus, that we can then possess our own soul, or experience the “saving” of it. Otherwise, we are controlled by the impulses of the flesh over which we have no real control.


If we turn back in apostasy, we become slaves to the very fleshly desires which caused us to turn away from the faith. Many people simply do not understand that they are either slaves to the Lord, in which lies freedom, or slaves to sin, in which lies complete domination and destruction (see Romans 7:4-6).


And so, again I leave it to you the reader, has Packer in fact proven that these verses support a final judgment or final destruction? Has he proven an eternal conscious torment in hell? I believe he hasn’t What do you think? Comment to this section and let me know. As always, God’s richest blessings to you.


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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Universalism: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved? Part 12

Examining Universalism III: The Universalist Thesis

Phil 3:19

(Php 3:15) Therefore as many as are perfect, [let us hold this opinion], and if you think anything differently, God will reveal this also to you.

(Php 3:16) Only to what we have attained, to the same hold on.

(Php 3:17) Become fellow imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who walk in this way, just as you have us as an example.

(Php 3:18) For many live, of whom I spoke about to you many times, but now speak about even weeping, as the enemies of the cross of Christ,

(Php 3:19) whose end is destruction, whose God is the stomach, and whose glory is in their shame, the ones who think on earthly things.

(Php 3:20) For our commonwealth exists in heaven, from which also we eagerly await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

(Php 3:21) who will transform our humble body to be conformed to his glorious body, in accordance with the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Paul here explains that “the many” are enemies of Christ.  He says their end is destruction (meaning ruin or loss).  They will be ruined or suffer much loss.  That Paul is referring to physical things is given since the next clause states as much.  They are ruined by following after their own appetites, whether in food or in licentious behavior (whose God is their stomach and whose glory is in their shame).  And, so no one will mistake what he is speaking about, Paul states that these ones are thinking on earthly things.

Paul is contrasting the believers who should be focused on heavenly things rather than the unbelievers whose focus is on earthly things.  Why do so many teachers of the Word try to squeeze out of these verses that the destruction is spiritual?  I think it is because far too many Christian teachers have an agenda that they must fit these teachings into, to make their theology work.  How unfortunate this is, as I have so often stated in this review!

1 Tim 4:16

Although this passage has nothing to do with final destruction, it does bring out a point that I am emphasizing in this book review. Read the following few verses from this chapter and you will get my point.

(1Ti 4:4) For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving.

(1Ti 4:5) For it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer.

(1Ti 4:6) If you instruct the brothers of these things, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine which you have followed.

Here Paul is saying that the false teachers who will spring up will not teach these things. This is how to identify them. But believers will teach what these verses say. Godliness, Paul says, is profitable for everything (vs. 8) and that statement is trustworthy and worthy of believing (vs. 9) Then we read verse 10, which is passed over by most Christians today because of what it teaches (universal salvation!).

(1Ti 4:10) For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we have set our trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

Why should the believer be striving toward or acting godly? Because, God is the Savior of all people! Paul emphasizes that the subset, especially those who believe, are a subset of all people. God will one day save all people, but there is a special set of people who in this life believe, and that subset, especially should practice godliness NOW because they believe NOW. Others will come to belief after this life when sin will not be a present issue for them, yet they were still not hearing or understanding salvation in Jesus. One day God’s love will penetrate their hearts and convert them.

Then Paul finishes this teaching by commanding that this be taught (godliness should be pursued by those believing ones and that God is the Savior of all people, vs. 11) . Practice godliness (vs. 15) that others may see your actions. By doing these things (godliness), you will save (deliver, protect, preserve) yourself and those who you are around and teaching. (vs. 16) There is no talk about salvation in Christ, or being saved and believing versus not being saved and being an unbeliever. It is about practicing godliness and recognizing that God is the Savior of ALL PEOPLE! It is about things going well with you by recognizing who God is and honoring that with our lives. It is not about FINAL DESTRUCTION!

I will say this. I am very glad that God rescued me out of the denominational, institutional churches that I was a part of, that had taught me so much error in regards to God and salvation. I am now seeing God in a much more glorious way than ever before and beginning to understand that all the works that we do, thinking we are pleasing God, were nothing more than filthy rags. God is never disappointed with me or you because of what we do or don’t do. He loves us because He knows who we are and what His purpose was for us all along, and He looks forward to the day when He will be all in all and all His image bearers will be worshiping Him!

Praise Him!

1 Tim 5:24

Real quickly, this passage does not speak about final destruction either, but a quick comment is in order.

(1Ti 5:24) Some men’s sins are evident, preceding them to judgment, and some also follow later.

This judgment is a temporal judgment in this life. Some sins get judged in this life and even after the judgment and apparent penalty is paid, the effects go on afterwards. The evidence of sin does not always disappear with the remediation of the sin. The consequences of sin may be evident throughout this life. This is all that is being spoken of here.

1 Tim 6:9

(1Ti 6:1) All those who are under the yoke as slaves must regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, lest the name of God and the teaching be slandered.

(1Ti 6:2) And those who have believing masters must not look down on them because they are brothers, but rather they must serve, because those who benefit by their service are believers and dearly loved.

(1Ti 6:3) If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not devote himself to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness,

(1Ti 6:4) he is conceited, understanding nothing, but having a morbid interest concerning controversies and disputes about words, from which come envy, strife, slanders, evil suspicions,

(1Ti 6:5) constant wrangling by people of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who consider godliness to be a means of gain.

(1Ti 6:6) But godliness with contentment is a great means of gain.

(1Ti 6:7) For we have brought nothing into the world, so that neither can we bring anything out.

(1Ti 6:8) But if we have food and clothing, with these things we will be content.

(1Ti 6:9) But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge those people into ruin and destruction.

(1Ti 6:10) For the love of money is a root of all evil, by which some, because they desire it, have gone astray from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.

Paul, again, takes up the topic of godliness here, just like he did in chapter 4 and 5. The ruin and destruction of verse 9 are again, temporal (this life). I need say nothing more about this passage, other than my opinion, that it is pretty ridiculous that teachers of the Gospel (like Packer and all who have written articles for this book!) get so much of Scripture wrong following after there own presuppositions and/or to continue to be paid for their labors. Being paid for laboring in the Gospel falsely is abhorrent to me and should be to you. God sees the motivation of their hearts and I pray that He corrects them in this life and spares them much pain in the life to come. Friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord, pay close attention to what you are being taught. As Paul warns, there are many deceivers and false teachers who have gone out into the world. Don’t buy into their ungodly teachings!

I will stop here for today.  The next few verses will come from Hebrews and Peter and will take a few pages in themselves.  I trust the Lord will bless you through the study of His Word and pray that He will use what I have written to bring glory to Himself and praise for Him into our hearts.  I look forward to your comments and suggestions to this post.

In Christ,


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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Universalism: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved? Part 11



Examining Universalism III: The Universalist Thesis



Romans 6:23


(Rom 6:15) What then? Should we be sinning, seeing that we are not under law, but under grace? May it not be coming to that!”



(Rom 6:16) Are you not aware that to whom you are presenting yourselves as slaves for obedience, his slaves you are, whom you are obeying, whether of Sin for death, or of Obedience for righteousness?



(Rom 6:17) Now thanks be to God that you were slaves of Sin, yet you obey from the heart the type of teaching to which you were given over.”



(Rom 6:18) Now, being freed from Sin, you are enslaved to Righteousness.”



(Rom 6:19) As a man am I saying this, because of the infirmity of your flesh. For even as you present your members as slaves to Uncleanness and to Lawlessness for lawlessness, thus now present your members as slaves to Righteousness for holiness.”



(Rom 6:20) For when you were slaves of Sin, you were free as to Righteousness.”



(Rom 6:21) What fruit, then, had you then? – of which you are now ashamed, for, indeed, the consummation of those things is death.”



(Rom 6:22) Yet, now, being freed from Sin, yet enslaved to God, you have your fruit for holiness. Now the consummation is life eonian.”



(Rom 6:23) For the ration of Sin is death, yet the gracious gift of God is life eonian, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”



We know that from the beginning accounts in Genesis that when Adam and Eve sinned, death came upon mankind. The penalty for sin was physical death. Paul understood this and taught that here. But, in Jesus Christ is eonian life, life of or for the ages. He could be speaking of life for this present age, or more expansively of life throughout the ages. But, there is definitely no talk here of final rejection or destruction. The most that one could speculate about the physical death spoken of here and add to it would be the possibility that there is judgment attached to death. Yet it isn’t clear here that Paul is in fact saying that. So, Paul says that because of sin, death came and because of Jesus Christ life comes. Compare that to what was just spoken of in the previous chapter and it makes sense. Through one man came condemnation and through one man (God-man Jesus), came righteousness. And, if I may add, all mankind are condemned and Paul says in chapter 5 that ALL will be made righteous! Check it out!



1 Cor 6:9-10 (compare Gal 6:7-8)



(1Co 6:1) Dare any of you, having business with another, be judged before the unjust, and not before the saints?



(1Co 6:2) Or are you not aware that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world is being judged by you, are you unworthy of the least tribunals?



(1Co 6:3) Are you not aware that we shall be judging messengers, not to mention life’s affairs?



(1Co 6:4) If indeed, then, you should have tribunals for life’s affairs, the contemptible in the ecclesia, these you are seating?



(1Co 6:5) To abash you am I saying this. Thus is there not among you one wise man who will be able to adjudicate amidst his brethren,



(1Co 6:6) but brother is suing brother, and this before unbelievers!”



(1Co 6:7) Already, indeed, then, it is absolutely a discomfiture {an embarrassment} for you that you are having lawsuits among yourselves. Wherefore are you not rather being injured? Wherefore are you not rather being cheated?



(1Co 6:8) But you are injuring and cheating, and this to brethren!”



(1Co 6:9) Or are you not aware that the unjust shall not be enjoying the allotment of God’s kingdom? Be not deceived. Neither paramours {illicit lover}, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor catamites {homosexual, young boy with older man}, nor sodomites {engaging in homosexual sex},



(1Co 6:10) nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards; no revilers, no extortioners shall be enjoying the allotment of God’s kingdom.”



(1Co 6:11) And some of you were these, but you are bathed off, but you are hallowed, but you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God.”



I think whether you believe that Paul is talking about a kingdom here on earth during, or shortly after, Jesus’ time, or you are believing Paul is talking about a future kingdom, one thing is sure, there is no talk of final rejection or destruction here. An allotment in the kingdom would make sense given the many who will spend a time, an age, in hell being judged, being restored to the kingdom. After the time of judgment when all men are reconciled to God, they will all be healed (see Revelation 21-22, the tree in the New Heavens that bears leaves every month FOR THE HEALING OF the NATIONS, the same nations spoken of earlier in Revelation. More on this later.)


The following verses listed in this chapter by Packer do not have anything to do with final destruction or final rejection. Some mention those receiving judgment for their unbelief, in this life, and maybe in the next eon, but there is no talk about a finality at all. This, being charitable, is probably just a case of doing a word search without context. This happens often and many scholars/pastors use this to stack up the verses to seem so weighty on a certain subject that no rational person would think otherwise. However, as I have advocated throughout this review, think for yourselves, study for yourselves and cast off as many presuppositions as possible. Begin thinking for yourselves rather than mimicking others or adopting others’ beliefs.


2 Cor 4:3-4


Eph 5:6


Col 3:6, 25


Phil 1:28


As always, any questions or comments are appreciated.  God’s blessings to you!



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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Universalism: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved? Part 10



Examining Universalism III: The Universalist Thesis



Acts 13:46



(Act 13:44) Now on the coming sabbath almost the entire city was gathered to hear the word of the Lord.



(Act 13:45) Yet the Jews, perceiving the throngs, are filled with jealousy, and they contradicted the things spoken by Paul, blaspheming.”



(Act 13:46) Being bold, both Paul and Barnabas, say, “To you first was it necessary that the word of God be spoken. Yet, since, in fact, you are thrusting it away, and are judging yourselves not worthy of eonian life, lo! we are turning to the nations.”



(Act 13:47) For thus the Lord has directed us: I have appointed Thee for a light of the nations; for Thee to be for salvation as far as the limits of the earth.'”



(Act 13:48) Now on hearing this, the nations rejoiced and glorified the word of the Lord, and they believe, whoever were set for life eonian.”



(Act 13:49) Now the word of the Lord was carried through the whole country.



(Act 13:50) Yet the Jews spur on the reverent, respectable women, and the foremost ones of the city, and rouse up persecution for Paul and Barnabas, and they ejected them from their boundaries.”



(Act 13:51) Now they, shaking the dust off their feet against them, came to Iconium.”



(Act 13:52) And the disciples were filled with joy and holy spirit.




Previously in this chapter (vv. 15-43), Paul talks about how Jesus is the Savior and takes away sins through faith in Him. He explains this to the Jews in the synagogue on the Sabbath. The context in the surrounding verses (from vv. 44-52) is the Jews rising up against Paul and Barnabas for preaching the word of God to Gentiles. When Paul told the Jews that God had appointed this, to turn from bringing the word of God to the Jews and instead give it to the Gentiles, the Jews were incensed and threw Paul and Barnabas out of the area.. And so, I will put it before you, the reader, does this verse or the surrounding verses talk about final rejection and destruction of people due to their unbelief? (My answer is no, it does not.)



Acts 28:24-27



(Act 28:24) And these, indeed, were persuaded by what is said, yet others disbelieved.”



(Act 28:25) Now there being disagreements one with another, they were dismissed, Paul making one declaration, that, “Ideally the holy spirit speaks through Isaiah the prophet, to your fathers,



(Act 28:26) saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “In hearing, you will be hearing, and may by no means be understanding, And observing, you will be observing, and may by no means be perceiving,



(Act 28:27) For stoutened is the heart of this people, And with their ears heavily they hear, And with their eyes they squint, Lest at some time they may be perceiving with their eyes, And with their ears should be hearing, And with their heart may be understanding, And should be turning about, And I shall be healing them.'”




We just got done looking at the exact same reference from Isaiah that we saw in John 12. It is great that Paul shows that he was taught well and that he validated the Apostles’ teaching about what Jesus taught. Back to these verses, though, I have to say that once again there is absolutely no reference to final rejection and destruction of people due to their unbelief. This was probably a mistake by Packer to include it here. I will give him the benefit of the doubt.



Romans 2:5-12



(Rom 2:5) Yet, in accord with your hardness and unrepentant heart you are hoarding for yourself indignation in the day of indignation and revelation of the just judgment of God,



(Rom 2:6) Who will be paying each one in accord with his acts:



(Rom 2:7) to those, indeed, who by endurance in good acts are seeking glory and honor and incorruption, life eonian;”



(Rom 2:8) yet to those of faction and stubborn, indeed, as to the truth, yet persuaded to injustice, indignation and fury,



(Rom 2:9) affliction and distress, on every human soul which is effecting evil, both of the Jew first and of the Greek,



(Rom 2:10) yet glory and honor and peace to every worker of good, both to the Jew first, and to the Greek.”



(Rom 2:11) For there is no partiality with God,



(Rom 2:12) for whoever sinned without the law, without law also shall perish, and whoever sinned in law, through law will be judged.”



No argument from me here. I agree with Paul and I agree that God will judge those who are unbelievers, those who sin, those who are without the law. In verse 12 Paul uses the term apollumi, perish, to explain those who sin without the law. Here is the definition given by Strong for this word:




This is Strong’s number for the word “perish” G622








From G575(apo – my addition) and the base ofG3639 (olethros – ol’-eth-ros From ὄλλυμιollumi a primary word (to destroy; a prolonged form); ruin, that is, death, punishment: – destruction., my addition to the text); to destroy fully (reflexively to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: – destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.



So, although Paul explains that those who sin without the law, those who are ignorant of God’s law (apparently then also of God Himself!), they will be destroyed, die, lose, be marred, or perish. However, Paul speaks of NO finality here at all. This is not a final judgment. There is certainly a judgment of the unrighteous, the sinner, but no specification of this judgment being a final judgment, nor of this “perishing” being a total destruction, as annihilationists believe.



We must be very careful when studying Scripture to not go beyond what is written, merely because it is what we have been taught. We have been taught many “inferences” in Scripture which point to many things that are not expressly stated. This leads to much ignorance of Scripture and division among God’s children. One quick example may help the reader. There is absolutely no verse in the Bible that talks about a pre-tribulational rapture of all believers. There is no verse that states the “Left Behind” situation made popular by dispensationalist teachers. It is derived through inference which is not necessarily true, and is in fact not true because it can not be supported in Scripture. This pre-trib rapture has led to much, if not most, of the Christian church looking for signs of the second coming of Christ and the pulpit crime of torturing people with the threat of being “left behind” at the rapture (or the first part of Christ’s second coming!). Many, as I have been, are told to get right with God now, before the rapture happens and you are left alone in the world with Satan and all the unbelievers. This is attached to the threat of eternal conscious torment in hell also and typically.



We must not only read what is in the text of Scripture and seek to understand what it meant to those originally written to, but not add to Scripture what was never intended to be there. We must acknowledge we have presuppositions about God’s Word and leave behind those presuppositions that deter us from understanding the text. So much of what the church today believes has come into existence over the last few hundred years. Universal salvation has been around and believed since the days shortly following Christ’s death and resurrection. More on this subject in the future.


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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Part 5 Supplement


Part 5 Reference Supplement


I forgot to put references in the previous part of the book review. Rather than stack up a large number of different resources to show the meaning of aion, correctly translated age-lasting, and some further thoughts from other scholars on Matt 25:31-46, I remembered this resource and decided to just include a few chapters for you to read. If you would like further info about this resource or where to obtain a copy of it for E-Sword Bible software or html / .doc(x) or pdf file, let me know. I will be happy to provide these for you. Just comment to me or email me the request. This book was well worth the read!


(The bold chapters in the Table of Contents are included here)

An Analytical Study of Words

by Louis Abbott


About the Author



1. Definitions of Aion, Aionios

2. Usages of Aion

3. Opinion of the Scholars

4. Apparent Contradictions

5. “Forever and Ever” — A Poor Translation

6. What Saith the Translations?

7. Eonian Means What? A Search for Truth

8. Greek Tools

9. Examples in Greek Literature

10. Bibles Without Everlasting Punishment

11. Verses “Proving” Punishment Will Be Everlasting

12. Scholars Acknowledge Restitution of All

13. Punishment? Yes – Everlasting? No

14. A Long, But Not Eternal Visit to Hell

15. The “Chosen” – Not “I Have Chosen”

16. Clearing Things Up

17. The Complete Revelation

Appendix 1 – Commentary of Previous Presentation

Appendix 2 – Do You Believe All in the Bible?

Appendix 3 – Reconciliation Scriptures

Appendix 4 – What Pleases Our Father

Appendix 5 – What if We Are Wrong?

About the Author

Louis Abbott was born in 1915. In 1928, he received Christ. One day, while pastoring a church, a man challenged Louis regarding his teaching about eternal torment. Louis accepted the challenge.

For three years Louis searched the Scriptures, searched the Greek and Hebrew words behind the English words “Hell,” “eternal punishment,” “everlasting destruction,” etc. At the end of those three years, he realized he had been taught error regarding the ultimate fate of mankind. Feeling he could not longer preach the doctrines of his denomination, Louis gave up the pastorate, but he never gave up studying.

Taking Greek courses from Moody, Loyola University, and other places, he finally came to the place where, in order to get further, he had to teach himself. At the present day, his personal library, consisting of thousands of Bible reference books, probably has more reference books on the New Testament Greek than many Bible Colleges and Seminaries.

For almost 50 years now, Louis has been spending many of his evening hours and weekends studying the subject matter of this book. There would be few in the world today who would have spent as much time studying these words as Louis has.

Louis has given me some of the books in his personal library. On the inside cover, he would put the date he finished the book and note the pages on which he made notations. I am amazed at how many reference books he has read. Most people, including scholars, usually use these kind of books to look up a subject when needed. They usually do not read these kinds of books from cover to cover, making notes along the way. But that is how Louis read many of these very difficult books.

Whether the reader will be given the grace to see the wonderful truths contained in this work is up to the Holy Spirit. I only want to make it clear in this introduction to Louis Abbott that the research contained in this book comes from over 50 years of thorough, dedicated years of “searching to see if these things be so.” Louis Abbott has come to the conclusions in this book, not because of his religious background, but because he was willing to test his traditions. May the reader be given the grace to put “fear of God” above “fear of man and his traditions” and read this book with an open mind and willing heart.

– editor

Chapter 1

Definitions of Aion, Aionios

“Usage is always the decisive thing in determining the meanings of words.”

“Over time, words often change meaning, sometimes even taking on an opposite one.”

There will be a couple of places in this publication where a long list of references are cited which may be dull reading to some of you. But due to the importance of clearly understanding the meaning of these words, I ask that you bear with me in those two or three places. I want the reader to be absolutely certain that what is presently in this book has been thoroughly researched.

Dictionaries only give the meaning of a word as it is used at the time the dictionary is written. Over time, words often change meaning, sometimes even taking on an opposite one. The word “let” in the 20th century usually means “to allow.” But in King James’ England, the word “let” often meant just the opposite – “to restrain.” The word “suffer,” had the meaning “let” in the 16th century. This meaning has been removed from the modern use of the word. As word meanings change, so will the definitions found in the dictionaries of that time period. “Carriage” was cargo four hundred years ago – today it describes the vehicle which carries the “carriage.” At one time, a “gazette” was a low value coin which could purchase a newspaper. Today, the meaning of “a certain coin” has disappeared. A dictionary, unless it contains the etymology of the word, is usually of little to no help in determining the meaning of a word hundreds of years ago. Lexicons, concordances, and etymology books are needed to ascertain the true meaning of a word within a given culture and period of time.

Listed below are the definitions modern dictionaries give to the first set of words we want to look at. Keep in mind … what they mean today and what they meant two thousand years ago, are two different subjects.

Olam, aion, and aonion are defined in dictionaries, lexicons, commentaries, and the like, as follows: (Here is one of those long lists I mentioned)

  • Page and Company’s Business Man’s Dictionary and Guide to English: Eon: A long space of time; cycle; forever; eternally; always; at all times.

  • New World Dictionary: Eon: Period of immense duration; an age; endless; for eternity.

  • Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: Eon (n.): An immeasurable or indefinite period of time; incessantly; synonym of constantly, continuously, always, perpetually, unceasingly, everlastingly, endlessly.

  • Standard Unabridged Dictionary: Eon: An age of the universe; an incalculable period, constituting one of the longest conceivable divisions of time; a cosmic or geological cycle; an eternity, or eternity. The present age, or eon, is time; the future age, or eon, is eternity.

  • Shedd Theological Dictionary (vol. II, p. 683) Eonian: pertaining to, or lasting for eons; everlasting; eternal.

  • Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon: Aion: A period of existence; one’s lifetime; life; an age; a generation; a long space of time; an age. A space of time clearly defined and marked out; an era, epoch, age, period or dispensation.

  • Thesaurus Dictionary of the English Language: Eon: An age of the universe.

  • Earnest Weekly’s Etymological Dictionary of Modern English: Aeon: Age.

  • Universal Dictionary: Aeon: A period of immense duration; an age.

  • Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon: Aionios: (1) without beginning or end; that which has been and always will be. (2) without beginning. (3) without end, never to cease, everlasting.

  • Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible: Eternity: The Bible hardly speaks of eternity in a philosophical sense of infinite duration without beginning or end. The Hebrew word olam, which is used alone (Psa_61:8) or with various prepositions (Gen_3:22; Gen_13:15, etc.) in contexts where it is traditionally translated “forever,” means, in itself, no more than “for an indefinitely long period.” Thus, me-olam does not mean “from eternity,” but “of old” (Gen_6:4, etc.). In the N.T., aion is used as the equivalent of olam.

  • The New Testament in Modern Speech, by Dr. R. F. Weymouth: Eternal: Greek: “aeonion,” i.e., “of the ages.” Etymologically this adjective, like others similarly formed, does not signify “during,” but “belonging to” the aeons or ages.

  • The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (vol. IV, p. 643): Time: The O.T. and the N.T are not acquainted with the conception of eternity as timelessness. The O.T. has not developed a special term for “eternity.” The word aion originally meant “vital force,” “life;” then “age,” “lifetime.” It is, however, also used generally of a (limited or unlimited) long space of time. The use of the word aion is determined very much by the O.T. and the LXX. Aion means “long distant uninterrupted time” in the past (Luk_1:70), as well as in the future (Joh_4:14).

  • Ellicott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Mat_25:46): Everlasting punishment – life eternal. The two adjectives represent the same Greek word, aionios – it must be admitted (1) that the Greek word which is rendered “eternal” does not, in itself, involve endlessness, but rather, duration, whether through an age or succession of ages, and that it is therefore applied in the N.T. to periods of time that have had both a beginning and ending (Rom_16:25), where the Greek is “from aeonian times;” our version giving “since the world began.” (Comp. 2Ti_1:9; Tit_1:2) – strictly speaking, therefore, the word, as such, apart from its association with any qualifying substantive, implies a vast undefined duration, rather than one in the full sense of the word “infinite.”

  • Triglot Dictionary of Representative Words in Hebrew, Greek and English [this dictionary lists the words in this order: English, Greek, Hebrew] (p. 122): Eternal (see age-lasting). (p. 6): English: age-lasting; Greek, aionios; Hebrew, le-olam.

  • A Greek-English Lexicon, by Arndt and Gingrich: (1) Aion: time; age; very long time; eternity. (2) A segment of time; age. (3) The world. (4) The aion as a person: aionios, eternal. 1. Without beginning. 2. Without beginning or end. 3. Without end.

  • Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, by Abbott-Smith: Aion: A space of time, as a lifetime, generation, period of history, an indefinitely long period – an age, eternity.

  • Hasting’s Dictionary of the New Testament (vol. I, p. 542, art. Christ and the Gospels): Eternity. There is no word either in the O.T. Hebrew or in the N.T. Greek to express the abstract idea of eternity. (vol. III, p. 369): Eternal, everlasting – nonetheless “eternal” is misleading, inasmuch as it has come in the English to connote the idea of “endlessly existing,” and thus to be practically a synonym for “everlasting.” But this is not an adequate rendering of aionios which varies in meaning with the variations of the noun aion from which it comes. (p. 370): The chronois aioniois moreover, are not to be thought of as stretching backward everlastingly, as it is proved by the pro chronon aionion of 2Ti_1:9; Tit_1:2.

Chapter Eleven

Verses “Proving” Punishment Will be Everlasting

“Professor A.T. Robertson and A.B. Bruce agree that ‘kolasis aionion’ of the KJV has a literal meaning of ‘age-lasting correction.'”

“Let me say to Bible students that we must be very careful how we use the word ‘eternity.’ We have fallen into great error in our constant usage of that word. There is no word in the whole Book of God corresponding with our eternal…”

-G. Campbell Morgan

Mat_25:31-46 concerns the judgment of NATIONS, not individuals. It is to be distinguished from other judgments mentioned in Scripture, such as the judgment of the saints (2Co_5:10-11); the second resurrection, and the great white throne judgment (Rev_20:11-15). The judgment of the nations is based upon their treatment of the Lord’s brethren (verse 40). No resurrection of the dead is here, just nations living at the time. To apply verses 41 and 46 to mankind as a whole is an error. Perhaps it should be pointed out at this time that the Fundamentalist Evangelical community at large has made the error of gathering many Scriptures which speak of various judgments which will occur in different ages and assigning them all to the “Great White Throne” judgment. This is a serious mistake. Mat_25:46 speaks nothing of “grace through faith.” We will leave it up to the reader to decide who the “Lord’s brethren” are, but final judgment based upon the receiving of the Life of Christ is not the subject matter of Mat_25:46 and should not be interjected here. Even if it were, the penalty is “age-during correction” and not “everlasting punishment.”

Dr. J.D. Dummelow, in his commentary on Mat_25:31-46, says, “Christ here speaks of the judgment of Christians alone, because that was the question which most concerned the apostles and their future converts… A common interpretation, however, is that the judgment of all mankind is meant.”

Professor A.T. Robertson, in his Word Pictures in the N.T., and Prof. A.B. Bruce, in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, agree that the kolasis aionion, the “everlasting punishment” of the KJV, has a literal meaning of “age-lasting correction.”

Dr. F.W. Farrar says: “It may be worthwhile, however, to point out once more to less educated readers that aion, aionios, and their Hebrew equivalents in all combinations are repeatedly used of things which have come to an end. Even Augustine admits (what, indeed, no one can deny), that in Scripture aion and aionios must in many instances mean ‘having an end,’ and St. Gregory of Nyssa, who at least knew Greek, uses aionios as the epithet for ‘an interval.'” Dean Farrar also states: “The pages of theologians in all ages show a startling prevalence of such terms as ‘everlasting death, everlasting damnation, everlasting torments, everlasting vengeance, everlasting fire’ – not one of which has Scriptural authority.” Dr. Farrar was well versed in the Biblical languages, author of books on the life of Jesus, the life of Paul, and Greek grammar, as well as others.

Dr. Edwin Abbott, headmaster of the City of London School, wrote in his Cambridge Sermons (p. 25), “And as for ourselves, though occasionally mentioning in language general and metaphorical, states of eonian life and eonian chastisment awaiting us after death, the Holy Scriptures give no detailed information as to either condition.” Dr. Abbott’s conviction, as expressed, showed he thought the received dogma was untenable.

An argument was introduced by Augustine, and since his day incessantly repeated, that if aionios kolasis does not mean “endless punishment,” then there is no security for the believer that aionios zoe means “endless life,” and that he will enjoy the promise of endless happiness. But Mat_25:46 shows the “eonian chastisement” and “eonian life” are of the same duration – lasting during the eons, and when the eons end, as Scripture states they will (1Co_10:11; Heb_9:26), the time called “eonian” is past and the life called “eonian” is finished, but life continues beyond the eons, as Paul teaches at 1Co_15:26: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” That is, the last, the final one in order. How will it be destroyed? 1Co_15:22 gives the answer: “For as IN ADAM ALL are dying, even so IN CHRIST ALL shall be made alive.” Death is destroyed when ALL have been vivified, or made alive, IN CHRIST. There will then be no more death. Just as life is destroyed by death, so death is destroyed by life. Our present bodies are mortal and corruptible (1Co_15:44-55), but when mankind is made alive IN CHRIST they will be raised immortal and incorruptible.

Those who believe in a universal salvation as is spoken of at Col_1:15-20, and see the purpose of God’s love and His plan for the eons, are secure in their belief that the same number of those who are now dying as a result of Adam’s disobedience will be made alive in Christ. The ALL of these verses represent exactly the same number of mankind. Rom_5:18-19 says, “by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men – by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men – by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall the many be made righteous.” The “all men” and the “many” in these verses include the same number of humans in both cases.

The “all” in 1Co_15:22; Col_1:15-22; and Rom_5:18-19 mean the same in every case. God’s eonian purpose is to head up ALL in the Christ, as is stated in Eph_1:9-10; Eph_3:11.

Dr. Alford Plumer’s An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (pp. 351-352): “It is often pointed out that ‘eternal’ (aionios) in ‘eternal punishment’ must have the same meaning as in ‘eternal life.’ No doubt, but that does not give us the right to say that ‘eternal’ in both cases means ‘endless.'”

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, preacher, teacher, evangelist, and author; sometimes called the “prince of expositors,” wrote in his Studies of the Four Gospels concerning Mat_25:31-46, “Then, moreover, we must be careful not to read into this section of prophecy things which it does not contain; for while it has been interpreted as though it were a description of the final judgment, the Great White Throne – These shall go away into age-abiding punishment; but the righteous into age-abiding life – the terms are co-equal in value, and whatever one means the other means. Only remember that here Christ is not dealing with the subject of the soul’s destiny either in heaven or hell. They are terms that have to do wholly with the setting up of the kingdom here in this world…” In Dr. Morgan’s, God’s Methods with Men, he says (pp. 185-186), “Let me say to Bible students that we must be very careful how we use the word ‘eternity.’ We have fallen into great error in our constant usage of that word. There is no word in the whole Book of God corresponding with our ‘eternal,’ which as commonly used among us, means absolutely without end.” In his book, The Corinthian Letters of Paul, the same author states concerning 1Co_15:22 (p. 191): “The word Adam is used here in the sense of headship of a race, the one from whom the race springs. But God’s second Man was the last Adam. If we say second Adam, we presuppose the possibility of a third Adam, another from whom a race shall spring. There will be none such. It is ‘first Adam’ and ‘last Adam.’ What does relationship with Him mean? In the program of God all are to be made alive in Christ.”

Sir Robert Anderson, a writer on eschatology, says, “The N.T. unfolds an economy of times and seasons; many ages head up in the one great age, within which the manifold purpose of God, in relation to earth, shall be fulfilled. Here, these words eon, age are applicable, and are used.”

Dr. Edward Plumptre, an eschatologist, wrote, “I fail to find, as is used by the Greek Fathers, any instance in which the idea of time duration is unlimited.”

Dr. William White says, “That of the widely different subjects to which aeonian is applied in the N.T., in 70 they are of a limited and temporary nature.”

Professor Knappe of Halle wrote, “The Hebrew was destitute of any single word to express endless duration. The pure idea of eternity is not found in any of the ancient languages.”

Professor Hermann Oldhausen said, “The Bible has no expression for endlessness. All the Biblical terms imply or denote long periods.” Dr. Oldhausen was a German Lutheran theologian.

Lexicographers note the fact that it was not until the fifth century A.D. that theologians began to read the sense of endlessness into Bible words. Dr. Lewis S. Chafer deplores the difficulty that the average reader of the Bible will encounter in seeking to understand the real meaning of these passages, when he notes how hopelessly the KJV has obscured the word aion. He said, “The word, which in common usage has a limited meaning, is used by the translators as the one English rendering for at least four widely differing ideas in the original. So that if the truth contained in this important body of Scripture is to be understood, the student must not only know the various meanings which are expressed by the one word, but also be able to determine the correct use of it in the many passages in which it occurs. Therefore, the KJV has placed the simple truth they contain beyond the average reader of the Bible. The English word ‘world,’ as used in the New Testament, may mean a distinct period of time, commonly known as an age (as its original is a few times translated), or it may refer to the things created: the earth, its inhabitants, or their institution. The ages are often referred to in Scripture, and the study of the exact conditions and purposes of each of them are not fanciful; but it is rather the only adequate foundation for any true knowledge of the Bible.”

Dr. W.H. Griffith Thomas wrote in The Christian, in a comment upon Heb_11:3, “the word rendered ‘worlds’ is ‘ages’ and refers not so much to the material creation as to the world regarded from the standpoint of time… The last mentioned (age, aion) is the name used here, and it seems to refer to what may be called time-worlds, the idea being that of various ages or dispensations being planned by God with reference to a goal toward which all are moving.”

Dr. Thomas’ notes on Rom_5:18-19 were, “As mankind’s connection with Adam involved him in certain death, through sin, so his relation to Christ insures to him life without fail. The double headship of mankind in Adam and Christ show the significance of the work of redemption for the entire race.”

Professor Max Muller says in reference to the Latin word aeternum, “that it originally signified life or time, but has given rise to a number of words expressing eternity – the very opposite of life and time.” He says the Latin aevum, that is, the Greek word “ainon, later aion, became the name of time, age, and its derivative, aeviternus, or aeternus, was made to express eternity.”

Dr. Isaac Watts says, “There is not one place in Scripture which occurs to me, where the word death necessarily signifies a certain miserable immortality of the soul.”

Professor Taylor Lewis states, “The conception of absolute endlessness as etymological of olam or eon would clearly have prevented plurals.” He continues, “‘ever’ (German: ewig), was originally a noun denoting age, just like the Greek, Latin and Hebrew words corresponding to it.” Dr. Lewis wrote an interesting article for Lange’s Commentary about the use of the words olam and aion as used at Ecc_1:4.

Jeremy Taylor, a hell-fire advocate, wavers, and after his ebullient flashes of Systematic Hellology, is constrained to the following modification in Jeremy Taylor’s Works (vol. 3, p. 43), “Though the fire is everlasting, not all that enters it is everlasting,” then adds, “The word everlasting signifies only to the end of its period.” Would that other hell-fire advocates were so honest.

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