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Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God?

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God?
Jonathan Edwards was an 18th Century protestant preacher most known for his 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God' sermon which taught the doctrine of an eternal burning hell.

Not eternal life in torture, but annihilation.

In the second volume of 'Sermons' by Jonathan Edwards, he says: 'Those wicked men who died many years ago, their souls went to hell, and there they are still; those who went to hell in former ages of the world have been in hell ever since, all the while suffering torment. They have nothing else to spend their time in there, but to suffer torment; they are kept in being for no other purpose.' ...

In his seventh volume of 'Sermons,' page 166 [he says]: 'The world will probably be converted into a greate lake or liquid globe of fire, -- a vast ocean of fire, in which the wicked shall be overwhelmed, which will always be in tempest in which they shall be tossed to and fro, having no rest or night, vast waves or billows of fire continually rolling over their heads, of which they shall forever be full of quick sense within and without, their heads, their eyes, their tongues, their hands, their feet, their loins, and their vitals shall forever be full of a glowing, melting fire, fierce enough to melt the very rocks and elements; and they shall also eternally be full of the most quick and lively sense to feel the torments; not for one minute, nor for one day, nor for one age, nor for two ages, nor for a hundred years, nor for ten thousands of millions of ages, one after another, but forever and ever, without any end at all, and never, never to be delivered.'

Are These Biblical Descriptions of Hell?

The Rev. Isaac Ambrose says, 'The damned shall be packed like brick in a kiln, and be so bound that they cannot move a limb, nor even an eyelid; and while thus fixed, the Almighty shall blow the fires of hell through them forever.'

The Rev. Ebenezer Erskin said: '... The drunkard shall have plenty of his cups when scalding lead shall be poured down his throat, and his breath draw flames of fire instead of air ... Oh! what a bed is this! No feathers, but fire; no friends, but furies; no ease, but fetters; no daylight, but darkness; no clocks to pass the time away, but endless eternity; fire eternal always burning, and never dying. Oh! who can endure everlasting flame? It shall not be quenched night or day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever and ever. The wicked shall be crowded together like bricks in a fiery furnace. What woes and lamentations shall be uttered when devils and reprobates and all the damned crew shall be driven into hell never to return! Down they go, howling, shrieking, and gnashing their teeth ... What wailing, weeping, roaring, yelling, filling both heaven, earth, and hell!'

Is Hell Eternal?

An Immortal Soul?

This doctrine of men has followed as a necessary sequel to the doctrine of the natural immortality of a conscious soul. This doctrine has greatly hindered the progress of the gospel by fostering infidelity and skepticism; for such a doctrine as eternal misery and torment drives men away from the gospel instead of winning them to it. In contrast, listen to the irresistible logic of the following:

If this is sound Bible truth, ... instead of preventing the salvation of sinners, it will be the means of winning them to Christ. If the love of God will not induce the rebel to yield, the terrors of an eternal hell will not drive him to repentance. Besides it does not seem a proper way to win souls to Jesus by appealing to one of the lowest attributes of the mind, -- abject fear. The love of Jesus attracts; it will subdue the hardest heart.

So How Will Sinners Be Punished?

Many people revolt at the whole idea of punishment for sin, because they have been led to think that God intends to punish sinners by torturing them throughout the endless cycles of eternity. We can blame no one for rebelling at that teaching; for if God would do such a thing, He surely could not be called a God of love or justice. The doctrine of eternal torment has been invented by the devil to turn men away from God.

It is a heinous doctrine, and has caused untold havoc, having provided ammunition for the guns of infidels and skeptics, and turned away many who were sincerely seeking God.

Sinners will be put to death, but not to torture. 'The wages of sin is death.' Upon the face of it, the idea of eternal torment is impossible in the light of this text; for the penalty for sin is death, and eternal torment is not death. Some of the proponents of the eternal torture theory say it will be 'a living death;' but that is a contradiction of terms. There can be no such thing. It is either death or life, and God has decreed death. 'The soul that sinneth, it shall die.'

Fundamentals of Bible Doctrine, Alonzo J. Wearner, pp. 248-250

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Hell in the Bible

The word “hell” is used 54 times in the Bible. It is translated from several different words with various meanings, as indicated below:
In the Old Testament:
  • 31 times from the Hebrew “Sheol,” which means “the grave”
In the New Testament:
  • 10 times from the Greek “Hades,” which means “the grave”
  • 12 times from the Greek “Gehenna,” which means “a place of burning”
  • 1 time from the Greek “Tartarus,” which means “a place of darkness”

What is Purgatory?

A tradition held by the Catholic Church that teaches people who are not good enough to be worthy of heaven, but not bad enough to deserve hell, suffer in an intermediary state until their sins are purged.

But is it in the Bible? Click here to learn more.

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