Torrey - Man -4.8- Questions concerning the future destiny of those who reject Christ

VIII. QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE FUTURE DESTINY OF THOSE WHO REJECT CHRIST QUESTION: IS the fire spoken of as the future penalty of sin literal fire?

ANSWER: The fire spoken of seems to be literal fire, yet if the term is only figurative, the Lord depicts eternal punishment using one of the most painful tragedies a person could imagine — to be burned with fire. Note how frequently the word "fire" and synonymous expressions appear: Matthew 7:19 — "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." John 15:6 — "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and the), are burned." Isaiah 66:24 — -"And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." Hebrews 6:8 — "But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." Hebrews 10:26-27 RV — "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries." Revelation 20:15 — "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 21:8 — "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." Matthew 13:30, 41-42 — "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn .... The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

In a parable we expect figures, but in the explanation of the parable we expect the figures to be explained by the literal facts they are intended to represent. But in the parable of the tares every item of the parable is explained except the fire; it remains fire in the interpretation of the parable as well as in the parable itself. (Compare also to Matthew 13:47-50.)

QUESTION: Is the Lake of Fire a place of continued conscious torment, or is it a place of annihilation of being, or is it a place of non-conscious existence?

ANSWER: The punishment of the wicked is spoken of as "death" and "destruction." Yet it seems that one can be referred to as dead while still alive. What do these words mean in Biblical usage? "DEATH" 1 Timothy 5:6 — -"But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." Ephesians 2:1 — "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."

First Proposition: The word "death' is applied to sinners while still existing, but existing in a wrong way — they have life in the sense of existence, but not true life, real life, in the sense of right existence. (Compare to 1 Timothy 6:19, AV and RV.) Revelation 21:8 — "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

Second Proposition: The death which is the final outcome of a life of sin and unbelief is defined in the Bible as a portion in the place of torment. John 17:3 — "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 1 John 1:2 — "For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us."

Third Proposition: Life is defined in the Bible not merely as existence but as right existence, knowing the true God, the life manifested in Jesus Christ.

Death, then is not mere non-existence, but wrong, wretched, debased, devilish existence.

"DESTRUCTION": THE GENERAL --USE OF THE WORD

Matthew 9:17 — "Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

Fourth Proposition: When anything is said "to perish" it is not meant that it ceases to be, but that it is so ruined that it no longer serves the use for which it was designed. "Perish" is the verb from which the noun commonly translated as "destruction" and "perdition" is derived. Compare also to Matthew 26:8 — "But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, to what purpose is this waste.>"

"DESTRUCTION": THE SPECIFIC USE OF THE WORD APPLIED TO THE DOOM OF THE WICKED

Revelation 17:8,11 — "The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is .... And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition."

The Greek word here translated "perdition" is the word translated "destruction'' in 2 Peter 3:16 AV and RV; Philippians 3:19, AV; 2 Peter 3:7 RV. Now if we can find what the beast "goeth" into, we shall know what "destruction" or "perdition" means. Turn to Revelation 19:20 — "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." Compare to Revelation 20:10 — "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever." Here we find the beast still in the lake of fire and being tormented after a thousand years have passed.

Fifth Proposition: "Destruction' is clearly defined in the New Testament as the condition of being in a place of conscious and unending torment. Revelation 14:10-11 — "The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and who soever receiveth the mark of his name.

Sixth Proposition: The ultimate condition of those who receive the mark of the beast is described as a condition of unending, unresting, conscious torment.

OBJECTION: "This passage does not refer to the eternal state as it speaks of 'day and night.'" ANSWER: Compare to Revelation 4:8 — "And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within; and they rested not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." Revelation 7:14-15 — "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knoweth. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of' the Lamb.

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. Revelation 20:10 — "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophets are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 19:20 — "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." Compare with Revelation 20:10 — "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever," shows us the beast and false prophet still in the lake of fire at the end of the thousand years, and still being tormented.

QUESTION: Is this condition of torment endless?

ANSWER: Refer to Matthew 25:41 — "Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." (Compare to Revelation 20:10 — "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.") Revelation 14:11 — "And the smoke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 — "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day."

Seventh Proposition: They are tormented day and night for ever and ever, and they have no rest day nor night.

QUESTION: What does "for ever and ever" mean?

ANSWER: Literally, "Unto the ages of the ages." The expression occurs twelve times in the book of Revelation. Revelation 1:6 — "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Revelation 4:9-10 — "And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying." Revelation 5:13 — "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and eve r." Revelation 7:12 — "Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto God for ever and ever. Amen." Revelation 10:6 — "And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer." Revelation 11:15 — "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (See also Revelation 14:11.) Revelation 15:7 — "And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever." (See also 19:2-3; 20:10.) Revelation 22:5 — "And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever."

Eight times it refers to the duration of the existence or reign or glory of God and Christ, once to the duration of the blessed reign of the Father, and in the three remaining instances to the duration of the torment of the devil, beast, false prophet, and the wicked.

The word that is frequently translated "eternal" or "everlasting" means "age-long," and may be used of a limited period; but the expression "for ever and ever" means "unto the ages of the ages" ( Revelation 19:3; 20:10 — See RV Margin and Greek), or "unto ages of ages" ( Revelation 14:11 RV Margin and Greek); i.e., not merely throughout an age, but throughout all ages. It is a picture not merely of years tumbling upon years, but of ages tumbling upon ages in endless succession. It is never in a single instance used of a limited period. Nothing could more plainly or graphically picture absolute endlessness.

QUESTION: When are the issues of eternity settled? John 8:21 — "Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come."

Eighth Proposition: Those who die in their sins cannot go where Jesus is going. Hebrews 9:27 RV — "And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment."

Ninth Proposition: Individual people die once, and then are judged by God. John 5:28-29 — "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

Tenth Proposition: All who are in their graves who have done evil will be raised to a resurrection of judgment. Luke 16:26 — -"And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence."

Eleventh Proposition: Between those who pass out of this world lost and those who pass out accepted of God, there is a great gulf fixed and no passing from the one side to the other — thus, the destinies of eternity are settled in this life, now.

QUESTION: May not those who have never heard of Christ in this world have another opportunity?

ANSWER: There is not a line of Scripture upon which to build such a hope. All men have sufficient light to condemn them if they do not obey it. Romans 2:12,16 — "For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day that God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel."

The passage here quoted was not given to show, as some strangely imagine, how men are saved by the light of nature, but how the Gentile is under condemnation by the law written in his heart, just as the Jew is under condemnation by the law of Moses. The conclusion of the whole matter is found in Romans 3:19-22 — "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall not flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon also them that believe; for there is no difference."

Conclusion: The future state of those who reject the redemption offered to them in Christ is plainly declared to be a state of conscious, unutterable, endless torment and anguish.

This conception is an awful and appalling one. It is, however, the scriptural conception and also a reasonable one when we come to see the appalling nature of sin, and especially the appalling nature of the sin of tram-piing under foot God's mercy toward sinners, and rejecting God's glorious Son, who His love has provided as a Savior.

Shallow views of sin, of God's holiness, and of the glory of Jesus Christ and His claims upon us, lie at the bottom of weak theories of the doom of the impenitent. When we see sin in all its hideousness and enormity, the holiness of God in all its perfection, and the glory of Jesus Christ in all its infinity, nothing but a doctrine that those who persist in the choice of sin, who love darkness rather than light, and who persist in the rejection of the Son of God shall endure everlasting anguish will satisfy the demands of our own moral intuitions. Nothing but the fact that we dread suffering more than we loathe sin and more than we love the glory of Jesus Christ makes us repudiate the thought that beings who eternally choose sin should eternally suffer, or that men who despise God's mercy and spurn His Son should be given over to endless anguish.

QUESTION: What about our impenitent friends and loved ones?

ANSWER: It is better to recognize facts, no matter how unwelcome, and try to save these friends from the doom to which they are certainly hurrying than to quarrel with facts and seek to remove them by shutting our eyes to them. One cannot avert a hurricane by merely refusing to believe it is coming.

If we love Christ supremely, as we should love Him, and realize His glory and His claims upon men, as we should realize them, we will say if the dearest friend we have on earth persists in trampling Christ under foot he ought to be tormented forever and ever.

Suppose one you greatly love should commit some hideous wrong against one you love more and persist in it eternally. Would you not consent to his eternal punishment?

If, after men have sinned and God still offers them mercy and makes the tremendous sacrifice of His Son to save them — if they still despise that mercy and trample God's Son under foot, and if they are consigned to everlasting torment, I say: "Amen! Hallelujah! True and righteous are thy judgments, O Lord!"

At all events the doctrine of conscious, eternal torment for impenitent men is clearly revealed in the word of God, and whether we can defend it on philosophic grounds or not, it is our business to believe it and leave it to the clearer light of eternity to explain what we cannot now understand, realizing that God may have infinitely wise reasons for doing things for which we in our ignorance can see no sufficient reason at all. It is the most ludicrous conceit for beings so limited and foolish as even the wisest of men are, to attempt to dogmatize how a God of infinite wisdom must act.

All we know as to how God will act is what God has seen fit to tell us.

Two things are certain. First, the more closely men walk with God and the more devoted they become to His service, the more likely they are to believe this doctrine. Many men tell us they love their fellow men too much to believe this doctrine; but the men who show their love in more practical ways than sentimental protestations about it, the men who show their love for their fellow men as Jesus Christ showed His, by laying down their lives for them, they believe it, even as Jesus Christ Himself believed it.

As Christians become worldly and easygoing, they grow loose in their doctrine concerning the doom of the impenitent. The fact that loose doctrines are spreading so rapidly and widely in our day is against them, for worldliness is also spreading in the church ( 1 Timothy 4:1; <550301> Timothy 3:1; 4:2-3). Increasing laxity of life and increasing laxity of doctrine go arm in arm.

Second, men who accept a loose doctrine regarding the ultimate penalty of sin (restorationism or universalism or annihilationism) lose their power for God. They may be very clever at argument and zealous in proselytizing, but they are poor at soul-saving. They are seldom found beseeching men to be reconciled to God. They are more likely to be found upsetting the faith of those already won by the efforts of others, than winning men who have no faith at all. If you truly believe the doctrine of the endless, conscious torment of the impenitent, you will work as you never worked before for the salvation of the lost. If you in any way abate the doctrine, it will abate your zeal.

Finally, do not believe this doctrine in a cold, intellectual, merely argumentative way. If you do, and try to teach it, you will repel men. But meditate upon it in its practical, personal bearings until your heart is burdened by the awful peril of the wicked and you rush out to spend your last dollar, if need be, and the last ounce of strength you have, in saving the imperiled from the certain, awful hell of conscious agony and shame to which they are hurrying.