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The lake of fire - Punishment ie torture or destruction

PeterJens

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#1
I have often wondered about the lake of fire and what it represents.
In church history it has been eternal torture, burning those who are sinners for their sin.

I have come to think this is not supported in scripture. Torture is only mentioned in two
places the rich man and lazerus Luke 16:23 and the beast who is tortured forever. Rev 20:10

Mortal man lives a short time, yet people feel justified to condemn humans to eternal
suffering because of the failure to grasp life while on earth.

Jesus says this
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Matt 10:28

Is the lake of fire in the end the ultimate resolution for sinners who refuse to be healed?
The premise is man born separate from God, is a mess of motivations, focus, morals,
desires, which are all under their control. Through life a slow battle emerges of the
soul striving to prove it has value and can succeed. All the while sin is distorting and
eating away at the very fabric of the life they lead, to finally leave a husk which is no value
to anyone but be burnt up in the lake of fire.

To be born again, is to gain real life, eternal life, a beginning of something eternal that
brings everything together in the love Christ puts within us.

So sin though destructive, causing harm, is self destructive and indicates the futility of
life without the Lord, and how the desires of the flesh are just illusions, passions of the
moment, cynical grasping at rays of the sun, while denying its source.

So to torture people for eternity for this does not make sense. Now in truth the Lord will
do what the Lord will do, but we are given the word to discern what is right and just and
to know His will for fallen man.

Now those who have been hurt, who cannot forgive, who are bitter and twisted will want
revenge, to see those who caused them pain suffer terribly. But this is not Gods heart,
or anything He expresses, rather the opposite. He shows up the foolishness of mans mind
and brings in His wisdom of the cross, love sacrificing itself that people might see what love
is and gain life, abandoning the struggle of significance to gain the ultimate significance in
the Lord.

I therefore see more substance to the lake of fire being what we know fire to be, the destruction
of the thing that is thrown into it. I am seeking to grow and discern more clearly, and would
not want to dishonour my King, so value any insights you might wish to bring
 
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#2
Hi Pete, I think we've all thought about this from time to time.
It seems to be less of a concern for me as I know where I am going when I die.
But where do the unrepentant sinners go?
We know that a spiritual soul without the body will not burn in a physical fire.
But the analogy of burning and gnashing of teeth (being extremely upset with oneself) may be a feeling our soul has for all eternity because it is in the dark and lifeless when it could have been in the light and have full life.
Even that sounds extreme yet Jesus made it sound extreme for a reason.
Maybe because we don't belong there.
 
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#3
Hi Pete, I think we've all thought about this from time to time.
It seems to be less of a concern for me as I know where I am going when I die.
But where do the unrepentant sinners go?
We know that a spiritual soul without the body will not burn in a physical fire.
But the analogy of burning and gnashing of teeth (being extremely upset with oneself) may be a feeling our soul has for all eternity because it is in the dark and lifeless when it could have been in the light and have full life.
Even that sounds extreme yet Jesus made it sound extreme for a reason.
Maybe because we don't belong there.
Mathew 22:13
Someone was cast into the outer darkness because he was not wearing the proper clothing.
It was a wedding, and he wasn't dressed right.

What does being dressed right mean?
Having a right relationship with God.
Being RIGHTeous. Right with God.

The person was thrown outside where there was wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Wailing due to sorrow for not having understood.
And now it was too late.

Gnashing of teeth. Who knows what that could mean.
Fear.
Pain.
Worry.

Wherever it was, God was not there.
If God is not there, it's hell.
It's difficult for me to believe that it's the Lake of Fire.
2 Peter 2:4
The only verse in the N.T. that speaks of hell, as we understand it.
And it's meant for the angels...Not us, it would seem.

I think we should just concentrate on going where God will be since it's impossible to understand everything.
Luke 16:31
 
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#4
Except for those who insist the Bible must be read absolutely literally (except those passages they prefer not to read absolutely literally, because they would then be required to cut off hands, pluck out eyes and whatnot), I think you're free to make whatever you want of the lake of fire.

It could, of course, be an actual lake of fire. Or the language could simply be hyperbole, an image to which an unsophisticated first century audience could relate. As an image, it pretty well has to be suggesting something "extremely unpleasant" or, as you suggest, "destructive" (or "consuming").

Of the popular alternatives - fiery torment, separation from God, or destruction (annihilation) - I think we all tend to lean toward the one that best fits our concept of God (or of the Bible, if we are nth-degree literalists). My position, which I've maintained since my early days as a Christian, is that whatever the fate of those who are not admitted to God's kingdom may be, we will see and understand that it is a fate worthy of the wise, just, kind and loving Creator of the universe.

This doesn't mean I flatly reject the fiery torment alternative. I have no particular basis to reject that alternative, although it seems repulsive to me and unworthy of God as I understand Him. I accept that, if fiery torment is the reality, I will see that it was somehow consistent with God's wisdom, justice, kindness and love.
 
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#5
One should start with hades,sheol and gehenna in the tanach and venture into the Greek words.

The concept of hades Is similiar to sheol.
 
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#8
Why should one do that?
Those languages are foreign to most of us.
The word for "hell" as we understand is not in the N.T...

It actually would be an interesting study.
I believe that no one can really know what lies beyond this life.

Except that we could go to be WITH God, or WITHOUT God.
 
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#10
The word for "hell" as we understand is not in the N.T...

It actually would be an interesting study.
I believe that no one can really know what lies beyond this life.

Except that we could go to be WITH God, or WITHOUT God.
How do you know how I understand it?
 
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#12
Why should one do that?
Those languages are foreign to most of us.
So Rely On Others To Tell You When They Do the Exact Same Or Learn And Simply Use Archeology To Know The Answer.

Sheol is easy to learn about .its taught in seminary ,judaism has much to say.

Hades? Greek myths,read the odessey by homer.I served with a koine greek speaker she told me go see the classics about hades.
 

PeterJens

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#15
Mathew 22:13
Someone was cast into the outer darkness because he was not wearing the proper clothing.
It was a wedding, and he wasn't dressed right.

What does being dressed right mean?
Having a right relationship with God.
Being RIGHTeous. Right with God.
After having discussions with people who say, Christ does everything I just have to believe,
makes me think these are people who turn up to the feast without proper preparation.

It made me think yes we know we are going to the wedding feast of the King, but are we really
part of the Kingdom. So many claim, I am in with God because .... but actually have no respect
for the King at all. So I see this as a warning to say, one might recognise the realities of Jesus,
but if you do nothing about it, it will mean nothing in the end, just window dressing.
 

PeterJens

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#16
Except for those who insist the Bible must be read absolutely literally (except those passages they prefer not to read absolutely literally, because they would then be required to cut off hands, pluck out eyes and whatnot), I think you're free to make whatever you want of the lake of fire.
Jesus strikes me as being a person who was very blunt, speaking truths as they exist.
A lake of fire in any meaningful way destroys that which is thrown into it.
The word destroy means to make into nothing, to pull apart, make as if it was not there.
And Jesus probably did mean cutting off hands and plucking out eyes, to prove a point.

Listen to how easily people compromise their faith. Oh that is just a small lie, that affair I
had was just my flesh running away with itself, that show of anger was totally justified.

We talk as if morals are a moving feast and there are no consequences. A King is condemned
to die, but showing mercy, how can that be a bad thing? Because God commanded death.
 
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#17
PeterJens,
If man has already died, and there is no further punishment for their crime of unbelief, what would be the purpose of raising them from the dead just to tell them the reason for their future burning up in the lake of fire? Is there more to their judgment than we're aware of?

There was the story of Satan riding around in a motorboat in a lake of waste, and all the people held in that lake hollering “Don’t make a wave.” I reckon Satan could have offered the advice to get over it; there’s something better coming. God is going to burn us all up and we won’t have to tread waste water as it were. Yea!!!
 
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#18
Jesus strikes me as being a person who was very blunt, speaking truths as they exist.
A lake of fire in any meaningful way destroys that which is thrown into it.
The lake of fire could indeed be a place of eternal torment. Certainly in human, material terms, we think of fire as eventually consuming everything it touches, but with the biblical lake of fire we aren't talking about the human/material realm. Even within the human realm, fire does not actually destroy down to the quantum level. Indeed, the law of conservation of mass states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed; even when matter goes through a physical or chemical change, the total mass always remains the same. Does fire destroy consciousness? I don't think we know.

God's ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. Your understanding of the lake of fire as a place of destruction may well be correct, but it may well not be. Eternal torment, repulsive though it may now seem to me, may prove to be the correct understanding. Or it may prove that the lake of fire is a metaphor for something completely beyond human understanding.

I think it's fair to try to work through a doctrine such as the lake of fire and come up with the best understanding one can based upon the Bible as a whole - what it says about the fate of sinners, what we know about the character of God, etc. But there are doctrines - and I believe this is one of them - that cannot be wrapped into a completely tidy, entirely-satisfactory-to-everyone package. I'm content with the confidence that the ultimate fate of those who are not admitted to God's kingdom, whatever it is, will be far less desirable than the fate of those who are admitted but still one worthy of the Creator of the universe.

Jesus was indeed blunt, but often blunt in the same way Zen masters are blunt. It's a WAKE UP!!! sort of bluntness, a bluntness intended to shake the listener out of his lethargy and conventional ways of viewing the world. Jesus often dealt in extremes, in hyperbole. Exactly what He meant by Matthew 10:28, really doesn't concern me. As wondering says above, "I think we should just concentrate on going where God will be since it's impossible to understand everything."

Also, I know that the Pharisees believed in an afterlife but the Sadducees did not.
That's also interesting...
And that's why they were "Sad, you see." I think I learned that in Vacation Bible School.
 
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#20
That's gehinnom.

Hell,is the best English word for the lake of fire.

Add tarturus,a sub section of hades.
Sheol has that lowest section for the worst in judaism
My understanding is that 2 Peter 2:4 IS Tartarus.
??