“And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who
rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their
fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (Isaiah
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some
to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel
Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who
are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his
angels.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the
righteous to eternal life. (Matt.
If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he
was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev.
of mankind’s existence the belief that punishment for
unbelievers is eternal was taken for granted. The above
verses were the basis for what’s become known as the traditional
view of hell.
recently an alternative, called the conditional view, has come
on the scene. This view is based primarily on Rev.
says the unsaved dead will be judged according to their works.
Proponents of the conditional view interpret this verse to mean
that while no unbeliever can go to heaven, their punishment in
hell will be based on the quality of their lives while on Earth.
They contend that those who’ve led meritorious lives on Earth
but aren’t believers will receive less severe punishment for a
shorter period of time than say a Hitler or Stalin before being
destroyed altogether. They claim that this view makes more sense
because it shows God to be fair, making the punishment fit the
crime so to speak, before mercifully ending their existence
surface it seems to make sense and some people are more
comfortable with this view than the traditional one that appears
excessively harsh to them and serves no purpose other than
making people suffer. But is the conditional view the result of
greater enlightenment in our understanding of Scripture or just
another in a long line of attempts to re-cast God’s word into a
kinder gentler document as it pertains to those who’ve rejected
Are Not Your Ways
look reveals that the idea of a conditional hell is decidedly
biased toward the world view of unbelievers. Conditional hell
proponents say, “All they did is not believe that Jesus died for
them. Other than that many unbelievers tried to live a
good life and helped a fair amount of people along the way. What
did they do to deserve eternal punishment?”
these people don’t realize of course is that unbelievers will
have failed to do the only thing God required of them. Since the
cross, God has only asked one thing of us.
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one
he has sent.” (John
If God is
going to judge unbelievers by how they’ve done the work He
requires of them, it’ll all be over pretty quickly because
without belief in Jesus even the good they might have
accomplished is considered evil in God’s sight. How do I know
that? Read the Lord’s own words;
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not
prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and
perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never
knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt.
for the value of a meritorious life!
Unbelievers don’t think rejecting the Lord is a big deal because
they don’t realize that their rejection of His sacrifice for
their sins has eternal consequences. Because of their unbelief
they’re only thinking in terms of a 70-80 year lifespan, not an
eternal existence. So let’s take a look at this from the
eternal perspective and try to understand how different it is.
let’s understand that the man who is executed or given life in
prison for taking someone’s life is not being taught that murder
is wrong. He’s suffering the consequence of his crime by
forfeiting the balance of his physical life . It’s an adaptation
of the Biblical injunction, a life for a life (Lev.
On Earth we’re in a physical environment so it’s a physical life
for a physical life.
person who rejects the pardon God provided for him has in effect
murdered his own soul and spirit. Both are eternal, so
there has to be an eternal consequence to fit the crime. Our
physical bodies are only intended to serve a temporary purpose,
and that’s to house the eternal part of us for a little while.
Compared to our eternal existence, putting our physical
existence to death is a minor infraction. Refusing to
accept the Lord’s completed work on the cross as payment in full
for our sins is a crime against our eternal life and therefore
the only just punishment is eternal punishment.
That’s Not All
there’s an even more powerful legal argument for eternal
punishment that for centuries was modeled in human existence as
well. Until the mid 19th Century it was common practice in
many parts of the world to incarcerate a person for failure to
pay his or her debts. Jail time was not an alternative
method of repayment, it was the consequence they suffered for
their inability to pay their debt. No matter how long they
were locked up they still owed as much of their debt as they did
on their first day behind bars. They could only be freed by
repaying the money they owed. Jesus referred to this
practice in His parable of the unmerciful servant (Matt.
same with our sins. Punishment is not an alternative
method unbelievers can use to pay the penalty for their sins,
it’s the consequence they’ll suffer for their inability to pay
the penalty. No matter how long a person suffers in
eternity, they will still owe the same penalty as they did on
day one. The only acceptable payment for sin is the blood of an
innocent person, and nothing else will suffice. Hebrews
that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Therefore no one can “work off” his or her penalty through
the fatal flaw in the Catholic concept of purgatory. It
calls for a person who dies with certain unconfessed sins
to “work off” the penalty for those sins through their suffering
and the intercessory prayers of living relatives in order to
qualify for entry into heaven. But there’s only one way
for humans to qualify for entry into heaven and that’s by
accepting the blood of Jesus as payment for our sins (John
Once we do that all of our sins are covered (Colossians
But we have to do it before we die (Hebr.
or else it’s too late.
the flaw in the conditional view of hell. If the blood of
Jesus is the only way to be released from the penalty for our
sins, then there’s no escape for those who reject it. No
matter how numerous or noteworthy, the “good works” unbelievers
perform during their lifetime can’t be applied to reduce their
sentence and neither can the “time served” after they die, so
they’ll always owe the same penalty as they did on day one of
bottom line is the only acceptable payment for our sins is the
blood of a sinless man, and the only sinless man is Jesus. He
died for all the sins of mankind (John
but only those who choose to accept His death as payment for
their sins can be forgiven. The refusal to accept it leaves
everyone else unable to pay and requires that they be
incarcerated. Since they’re eternal beings and since
they’ll never be able to pay, they’ll have to remain
incarcerated forever. Selah 06-25-11