Hades, Sheol, and Biblical Logic

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Hades, Sheol, and Biblical Logic

There is a common objection made by heretics (link) regarding the factual existence of Hell as a place of damnation for unregenerate souls. It is the tired old argument, “The place called ‘Hell’ in Christendom is the Greek word, ‘hades.’ This is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew word, ‘sheol’ or simply, ‘grave’.”

Really? Is hades only a translation of sheol? Is sheol merely a physical grave? Since we are discussing subjects with ETERNAL consequences, I think it is quite important that we get this right. So let’s see if that “off the cuff” argument can really hold up under closer examination.

It is my sincere hope that Christians reading this will be strengthened in their apologetic skills; and that those who have been deceived into denying the existence of a fiery place of torment will awaken to the truth BEFORE they find themselves there viewing it first hand.

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Thinking Logically

Before we begin, however, let me define a word will be be revealed within this article as properly applying to the assertion that “there is no Hell” or “there is no damnation.” This particular word is the term “absurd,” and it means:

As an adjective: Utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; laughably foolish or false: e.g. an absurd explanation.

As the noun “absurdity”: The quality or condition of existing in a meaningless and irrational world.

(Source)

In other words, this term refers to the logical condition of a statement or argument. Thus, it would probably be a good idea if we define “logic” as well:

Formal logic (deduction): The branch of philosophy concerned with analyzing the patterns of reasoning by which a conclusion is properly drawn from a set of premises, without reference to meaning or context.

(Source)

Or to make things a bit more simple for my readers: Logic (and we are discussing the type called “deductive logic” in particular) is the science of reasoning, in that good logic identifies proper relationships between different statements (called propositions), and draws appropriate conclusions supported by those same statements. Together, the premises and conclusion form an argument. The use of this term in regards to logic should not to be confused with a “shouting match” or hostility. A sound “argument” is merely “a process of reasoning” (Dictionary.com), and does not necessarily involve any contention or aggression.

In the study of logic, a properly constructed argument is called “valid” while an improperly constructed argument is termed “invalid.” The term “valid” does not mean that the conclusion is true, but only that the conclusion results necessarily from the propositions upon which it is founded. If the premises are false (i.e. untrue), then a valid argument cannot possibly produce a true conclusion. As we will see shortly, the premises noted above in regard to the translations of “sheol” from the Hebrew into “hades” in the Greek, are false.

Thus, the conclusion that “hades” means only a “grave” is necessarily false as well.

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Biblical Reasoning

Just like the laws of mathematics were created by God (which laws are considered the most pure form of logic), so are the laws of logic and reasoning (after all…He did make our minds). That is why the Bible often reveals men of God reasoning with people from God’s Word, such as this example of Paul:

So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.

(Acts 28:23, NKJV)

The Greek word translated as “explained” above is ektithēmi (ἐκτίθημι, Strong’s #1620), which means “to set forth, declare, expound,” while the word translated as “persuading” above is peithō (πείθω, Strong’s #3982), which means “to induce by words to believe” (The source for these Greek word definitions, and those that follow, is Thayer’s Lexicon).

In short, Paul was explaining and reasoning with these Jewish leaders from the Scriptures to demonstrate that Jesus (Yeshua) is the promised Messiah.

Paul was quite adept at reasoning, and especially biblical reasoning. Let me demonstrate that fact by providing you a few other passages about Paul’s use of logic whenever he was found explaining the Scriptures:

Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures

Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.

And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.

And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

But he [Paul] said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.

(Acts 17:2 and 17; 18:4 and 19; 19:8-9; 24:24-25; 26:25, NKJV, emphasis mine)

In all of the above passages except the last one, the Greek word translated as “reasoning” is dialegomai (διαλέγομαι, Strong’s #1256), which means primarily “to think different things with one’s self, mingle thought with thought; to ponder, resolve in mind.” Paul first had to “reason” from the Scriptures within his own study time BEFORE he could be qualified to “reason” with others about the truth of God. That is why he even exhorted Timothy to, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV). Paul lived that way himself.

However, the use of this Greek word for “reasoning” within the passages above takes on itself the meaning of, “to converse, discourse with one, argue, discuss.” Once Paul had the truths of God’s Word understood properly within his own mind, he could then present logical “reasons” why others should embrace these same truths as he discussed them with people.

A Man's Thinking MindHowever, in the last verse quoted above, the Greek word translated as “reason” is sōphrosynē (σωφροσύνη, Strong’s #4997) which talks about “soundness of mind” and even “self-control, sobriety.” Paul is using this word in contrast to Festus’ accusation that Paul had gone “mad”, which was the Greek word mainomai (μαίνομαι, Strong’s #3105) and means “to be mad, to rave; said of one who so speaks that he seems not to be in his right mind.” So Paul is saying that logical reasoning from the Scriptures gives one “soundness of mind,” and even produces “self-control” and genuine spiritual “sobriety”—even though the worldly-minded will think we have lost our minds. Why? Because the Greek word translated as “truth” in that passage above is alētheia (ἀλήθεια, Strong’s #225), which means “verity, truth…what is true in any matter under consideration.” When discussing weighty things like eternal judgment, the reasonable person will look to God’s Word for absolute truth…and will NOT lean upon the world’s mad philosophies or false religions when their very souls hang in the balance.

Thus, we can set forth the following axiom upon: Reasoning with our God-given minds is certainly appropriate for God-fearing people, so long as we follow God’s created laws of inference (logic) while adhering to the Bible as our primary source of truth by which all conclusions are to be measured. (By the way, heretics typically do neither of these.)

An absurdity, on the other hand, would be some argument or statement made that is not only unreasonable in that it is logically flawed, but it goes so far as to be foolish and beyond “common sense” in the eyes of most observers. In short, it is an obviously untrue statement or conjecture, which any reasonable person will reject once they identify it.

In this article, therefore, I will demonstrate that the particular errant objection that “there is no ‘Hell’ because ‘hades’ merely means ‘the grave'” is both logically flawed and absurd, when considered within its full implications.

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Foolish vs. Proper Translations

When someone states “Hades is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew word sheol, which means simply ‘the grave’,” they have implicitly asserted two very absurd things:

  1. That the Greek word hades (Strong’s #G86) had absolutely no common usage within the Greek language other than what the translators defined it as.
  2. That the Hebrew word sheol (Strong’s #H7585) is only interpreted as a physical grave upon the face of the earth (i.e. rather than a metaphor for death, and the resulting destination of the departed soul).

To expose these absurdities, let’s discuss the theory of proper translation from one language into another: A person who speaks one language wants to communicate to a person who only speaks another language that is foreign to the speaker. So he solicits the services of a “translator” who can speak BOTH languages.

Then Person A makes his statements directed toward Person B. The translator then selects the associated words in Person’s B’s language that BEST equate the meaning of the words chosen by the original speaker, and subsequently speaks the message again in Person B’s language. If he does a good job, the same idea that Person A had will be understood by Person B afterwards.

So, for example, the English word “brother” is best translated into Spanish by the word “hermano” (with a silent “h”). The familial concept of a male relative who shares at least one parent with another male relative, is conveyed equally by the words “brother” and “hermano” in the respective languages.

Communication is the point (i.e. goal) of the dialog. The concepts being expressed in one language can ONLY be properly expressed in another language by the selection of an appropriate word that (as much as possible) corresponds with the SAME mental concepts in the second culture. Thus, “I want to speak to your brother” in English, is reasonably well translated as, “Quiero hablar a su hermano” in Spanish.

Would the translator (assuming he or she is a GOOD translator) choose a word that means “cousin” in the second language to communicate the idea of a “brother”? No, of course not. If they did, there would NOT be an accurate translations, and thus, accurate communication is NOT possible.

So look at our Greek word hades and Hebrew word sheol again: If the speaker is TRULY translating the second word (sheol) into Greek, wouldn’t they choose a word which MEANS something in the Greek that is very similar to the idea being expressed by the Hebrew word sheol? Of course! Unless there is NO corresponding word in the other language (which has historically been overcome by adopting a new word in the second language defined by the concepts conveyed in the first), the translator will choose the BEST word (within their ability) to translate and communicate the concept being conveyed.

So here is our question: Was the Greek word, “Hades” used in the Greek language BEFORE the New Testament was written? Yes it was! Was that Greek word used within the Greek society prior to the Old Testament being translated into Greek (which Greek edition is called the Septuagint) back sometime around 250 B.C.? Again, yes.

The Greek word hades had been in use for hundreds of years before the Hebraic Scriptures were translated into Greek (which translation, by the way, was largely responsible for the rapid spread of Christianity because the early Christians could read the Greek translation of the Scriptures). So what did the word hades MEAN in the minds of Greek-speaking people?

1) [The] name Hades or Pluto, the god of the lower regions

2) Orcus, the nether world, the realm of the dead

(Source)

Thayer’s Lexicon goes on to explain that Orcus was “the infernal regions, a dark and dismal place in the very depths of the earth, the common receptacle of disembodied spirits.” Of course, the word “infernal” is derived from a Latin word meaning “lower” or “hell” and which has its counterpart “inferno” to denote a raging fire. So in short, the Greek culture (and later the Roman) had a concept of a fiery place of torment in the center of the earth, to which most people who died went and suffered unspeakable torment. It was ruled over by a “god” named Hades or Pluto, and was unquestionably a place that ANYBODY wanted to avoid going to…if they could.

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New Testament Usage

So do we have ANY use of this Greek word hades in the New Testament (NT) which seems to be similar to this pre-existing Greek concept of a place of fiery damnation in the center of the earth? As a matter of fact, we do. And these are from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself, no less:

“So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'”

(Luke 16:22-24, NKJV, emphasis mine)

But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

(Matthew 12:39-40, NKJV)

The Greek word translated “heart” above is kardia (from which we get the word “cardiac”), and it metaphorically means “center.” We use the English word “heart” the same way today when we say things like, “I want to get to the heart of the matter.” Thus, Jesus located where He was going as not being merely a grave (i.e. upon the surface of the earth) but into the heart (center) of the earth…the same EXACT spot where the use of hades in the Gospel of Luke would have indicated to His Greek-speaking hearers that day.

In short, Luke was explaining EXACTLY where Jesus was going to go for three days and nights in the passage above, in a way that communicated EXACTLY that same concept to His Greek-speaking readers. Matthew’s account also confirms that fact nicely.

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Hell-Deniers Are Refuted

 

Thus, by simply looking at the words being used, and thinking “soberly, with sound minds” through biblical reasoning, we have discovered that the heretics who claim that “there is no Hell” are soundly refuted by the words of Jesus Himself. These statements of the Lord were not “metaphors,” but exact statements that would have been understood only ONE WAY to those who read the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Thus, the absurdity of such denial should be clear to anyone who has the least respect for the Bible as God’s infallible Word.

However, here are also a few passages from the Old Testament that clearly support the thesis of this article, and demonstrate that the Hebraic concept of “sheol” had (in some passages) connotations that were well beyond those of a mere grave:

Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD.

(Song of Solomon 8:6, NASB)

For a fire is kindled in My anger, And burns to the lowest part of Sheol, And consumes the earth with its yield, And sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

(Deuteronomy 32:22, NASB)

…There are three things that will not be satisfied, four that will not say, “Enough”: Sheol, and the barren womb, Earth that is never satisfied with water, and fire that never says, “Enough.”

(Proverbs 30:15-16, NASB)

The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow.

(Psalm 116:3, NKJV)

Consequently, Jewish people who were listening to Jesus discuss these things were QUITE aware of the theological concept of a place of fiery damnation. The Greek concept of hades was certainly NOT unique (but it was somewhat distorted conceptually from the actual reality of the place as revealed by the Bible). In fact, the reason that the Greeks KNEW of such a place was because eternal things (such as damnation) are known in the hearts of all human beings:

He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

(Ecclesiastes 3:11b, NASB)

…for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

(Romans 2:14-16, NKJV)

All men have the same Creator, to Whom they MUST give an account. Thus, it is reasonable to understand that the Greeks knew where they were going, and thus, had such a concept worked into their mythologies.

Lastly, a thorough study of the word “pit” in conjunction with the Hebrew word “sheol” in the Old Testament will show that they are very often closely connected. Together, they once again indicate a place MUCH deeper than any grave upon the surface of the earth.

Woman in shockNow, ALL these facts bring people to a dilemma regarding the existence of Hell: Who goes there; and how do I ensure that this does not include me?

For the details on this question, and the ONLY answer that solves it, let me please direct you to the most important article on this entire website: The Supreme Value of Righteousness. Therein, you and I can have a friendly chat about eternal things, and see what can be done to ensure that hades is never found to be in your future. So I am really looking forward to that chat. I’ll see you over there at that post. 🙂

Lastly: Are you interested in learning more about logic and biblical reasoning? Then let me recommend that you spend some time studying that particular sub-page of our new Recommendations section, which entitled Logic, Apologetics, and Evangelism.

Always in Jesus,

-Rich Vermillion

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Posted in Bible, Christianity, Gospel, Judgement, Religion, Repentance, Salvation and tagged , , , , , , , .

15 Comments

  1. What great timing! Your article came just days after someone sent me an email from a bible’scholar’ who taught the non-existense of an eternal hell. Maybe you can also discuss the meaning of ‘sleep’. This same person said we do not go to heaven after death, but are in a state of ‘sleep’ until the return of Jesus.

    • Thanks, Orlando, for the compliment and testimony. To answer your question: “Sleep” is merely a metaphor. Have you ever been to a funeral “viewing”? Then you probably noticed that the deceased look like they were sleeping in their coffin. Thus, the term has been a poetic term to describe death throughout humanity’s written history.

      When people try to take biblical metaphors and interpret them beyond the obvious context of Scriptures (such as the “expert” to which you were referring) then they are using logical fallacies to substantiate their error instead of embracing God’s Truth as He revealed it. Specifically, he used the “fallacy of hasty generalization” by ignoring the many passages that refute his pet doctrine.

      “Pride is the mother of all heresies,” said St. Augustine, and he was right. A thorough study of “death” throughout the Bible cannot produce the strange doctrine of “soul sleep” that has been embraced by Jehovah Witnesses (who really do not “witness” for the Jehovah of the Bible, because they are heretics), and others who have embraced similar positions of heresy. It is obvious from Jesus’ teaching that He did not believe in that bizarre doctrine, nor did the apostles. I already cited Jesus’ discussions in the article, so let me give you a couple from the mouths of His apostles:

      “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” (Acts 1:24-25, NKJV)

      For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31, NKJV)

      I already cited the last one within the article above, but did so again because it is so clear. “Fiery indignation” does not sound like restful “soul sleep” now does it? How absurd for people to say such things. Even Judas “went to his own place” (i.e. damnation, not his burial in a field) and did not merely take a “soul nap.” Jesus’ statements are the most powerful, of course, and His fearful pronunciations in Revelation chapters 21 & 22 about such things are not to be taken lightly. As I mentioned before at the beginning of this article, this is an ETERNAL issue that nobody can afford to err upon, because they will spend eternity suffering the consequences as they stare in horror at the flames around them…which bear testimony of their previous doctrinal absurdities.

      Thanks for the question, Orlando! Blessings to you sir!

      Always in Jesus,

      -Rich

    • Orlando, let me also add to my last reply that I highly suggest that if you have not already done so, that you read my article Four Characteristics of Sound Doctrine. That post not only explains the principles needed for us all to form sound doctrine, it also can serve as a “measuring stick” through which one can “test” the teachings promulgated by others.

      Thanks again for the kind feedback. I am thrilled with the timing of this post in reference to your situation. That is a very cool testimony, indeed. 8)

      Always in Jesus,

      -Rich

  2. Another related article of mine here on this website is How God Uses Heretics.

    It will explain to you WHAT motivates heretics, who listens to them, and how all of that is actually used by God Himself to “purge” His church of false converts and hypocrites. I believe you will find it helpful.

    Always in Jesus,

    -Rich

  3. I started a discussion about this article on a LinkedIn group, of which I am a member. Someone popped in there and gave me the following feedback, coupled with a complaint:

    I appreciate this application of logic to an understanding of spiritual things. I find it disturbing that Christians often relegate the use of our brains to “worldly” pursuits.

    I do not like the fact that right from the top of the article you call those who do not believe in Hell “heretics.” Why use such dismissive and polarizing language when talking about other people who share our faith in Jesus.

    I answered him on that website, of course. But the more I thought about it, the more I believed it would be a good idea to post my answers here too for the benefit of all. So the next two subposts to this comment are the answers I posted for this gentleman. Any notes in [brackets] below are ones I added here for your benefit.

    Always in Jesus,

    -Rich

    • Thank you for the “amen” on the logic point. There is an old joke which goes something like this:

      “A man went into a brain shop, and notified the merchant, ‘My doctor said I need to have a new brain, and he sent me over here to pick one out for the procedure.’ The shop owner was delighted and replied, ‘Oh, we have a lovely selection. Come this way.’ Within the special deep-freeze glass case, there were a number of choices. The shopkeeper began pointing them out one by one, ‘This one was the brain of an Atheist, and is priced nicely at $7,000. This one was the brain of a Jewish Rabbi and is priced at $5,000. This one was the brain of a devoted Christian, and it priced at $900,000 dollars. This one…” Shocked, the man suddenly interrupted, ‘Wait a minute! Why in the world is this brain priced so much more than the others?!!!’ ‘Oh,” the shopkeeper calmly replied. ‘This brain was never used’.” 😉

      Regarding your point about the use of the word “heretic,” let me think this through with you using some of the logic we both esteem:

      (1) Is the word used in the Bible? Yes, in Titus 3:10-11 (KJV): “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” [Added note: A word does NOT have to appear in the Bible for us to use it. For example, the word “theology” does not appear in the Scriptures, but Christians use it all the time to discuss doctrine/teaching. Thus, the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible, but DOES accurately describe a CORE biblical concept about God. Thus, the use of a term does not require that it is duplicated in the Bible beforehand, but when certain words ARE used in the Bible, we are surely doing well to use them as long as we define them the same. So in this instance, I was simply pointing out to this gentleman that it is rather unreasonable to critique me for using a biblical term.]

      (2) Is the concept of “heresy” and “heretics” referred to in the Bible beyond that one citation? Yes, many, many times…virtually, from Genesis to Revelation. Note especially that most of 2 Peter was devoted to the topic, all of Jude was, and that Paul’s frequent letters to the churches OFTEN addressed heresy and those that taught such false doctrines. Even John, the “apostle of love” as he is called, addressed heretics in ALL his epistles, and especially 2 John.

      (3) Well, if that is the case, then beyond these direct references to heresy and heretics, do we have any precepts and examples wherein ministers confronted such false teachers? Yes, from Genesis to Revelation. All the true prophets of the OT did, and virtually every apostle and prophet of the NT did. Further, Paul TOLD Timothy to do so in 1 Timothy chapter 5 specifically, and Jude exhorted his readers to “contend for the faith” as well.

      (4) Now with all of the above, the question is merely this: What constitutes “heresy” (i.e. false and unbiblical teaching)? Simple: Any doctrine that digresses from “corner stone” of Jesus Christ, and the CORE doctrines taught by the apostles and prophets of the NT, who laid down the “foundation” upon which the Church is to be properly built:

      Ephesians 2:9 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

      (5) Now, is the doctrine of “Hell” and/or “eternal damnation” a part of the doctrines laid out by the apostles? Yes, and I cited several examples within the article itself.

      So, here is my syllogism:

      Major Premise: All doctrine that deviates from Jesus Christ and the core doctrines of the apostles, is heresy.
      Minor Premise: Doctrines against “Hell” and “eternal damnation” for sinners deviates from the core teachings of the apostles.
      Conclusion: Doctrines against “Hell” and “eternal damnation” are heresy.

      The Copi & Cohen “mood” is A.I.I. (Datisi), so the syllogism is valid.

      I will pick up from here in a second post, and analyze your argument above. Then I would invite you to give my points some thought and prayer before writing a response. My second post will be here in un momento

      Always in Jesus,

      -Rich

    • [Addressing the person by name, which here I have omitted], picking up where I just left off, let’s take a look at your argument regarding the use of the word “heretic” more particularly.

      Your thesis seems to be merely an expression of opinion, because it was not substantiated either with precepts or examples from Scripture (nor can it be, really). So I can only assume that your opinion is based upon social constructs, which are themselves based (to a great degree) on Relativism.

      However, Relativism is a self-refuting belief system. It states, “There are no absolutes, and therefore, everyone is entitled to their opinion for their ‘truths’ are just as valid as anybody else’s.” But to be “true” this argument MUST be false. It is itself an ABSOLUTE statement that “there are no absolutes.” Thus, for it to be true, it would have to be false (i.e. there would have to be at least one absolute truth). Thus, it is self-refuting.

      Further, the social constructs that permeate society today saying thing like, “we are all entitled to our opinions, and nobody should be criticized for their beliefs” are based upon this same self-refuting proposition. They CANNOT be true (or helpful) because they are patently false, and will necessarily lead people into harmful erroneous belief systems (which could result in damnation…the very thing we Christians should be trying to prevent them from doing to themselves). [Note: The following illustration will demonstrate that a wrong belief could actually cause problems in one’s life.]

      An illustration: If someone comes along and says that “2+2=22”, I have a right to argue that they are mathematically incorrect. While they may construct animated fancy graphics that show how the two and two can be put together by removing the “+” symbol in between, and thereby deceive the minds of the mathematically illiterate, the TRUTH is that “2+2=4” nonetheless. If we are talking about an individual’s own “beliefs” then we can calmly try to correct them without resorting to calling them names. However, if they are teaching this false “math” publicly, and promoting it as “truth,” then ALL concerned citizens who can properly add two and two, would do well to rise up and call the person an idiot, and warn others that the nut should be avoided.

      [Note: If a person thinks “2+2=22” they are going to have a real problem balancing their check book and adding up their grocery bill. Thus, they will find that their wrong belief causes symptomatic problems in their life…especially when the bank starts charging them for overdrafts. In too many cases, people with wrong beliefs do not ever figure out that these unpleasant circumstances are the result of those beliefs. The “cause and effect” too often eludes their notice, and they continue doing “bad math” while all the time wondering why they are having so many problems with their bank.]

      As I already detailed in my first response above, there is quite ample biblical and logical evidence to conclude that the above “mathematical” illustration is quite ideal for the discussion at hand. If there are people deviating from biblical truth (which is just as absolute as 2+2=4…see Psalms 105:8 and 119:89), then those who are concerned for them personally should confront them with the facts of the Bible. If, however, that error is being spread abroad, then concerned Christians (especially godly ministers) have both a right and biblical RESPONSIBILITY to call those things by their proper name “heresy” and “heretics” while confronting them publicly (e.g. note 1 Timothy chapter 5, and Galatians chapter 2).

      Please keep in mind that I am talking about CORE doctrines of the Christian faith (i.e. those without which one cannot be a Christian). I am not talking about modes of baptism (e.g. sprinkle or immerse), wood or acrylic pulpits (or no pulpits at all), or the types of worship music played during the services. Such differences have too often been FALSELY labeled “heresy” by those with opposing viewpoints in times past, and I am certainly NOT condoning such lunacy.

      Well, I have written enough for one set of replies (chuckle). Please prayerfully consider my points before responding, and thank you for your time in reading these posts of mine (and the original article).

      Always in Jesus,

      -Rich

  4. It seems that there is an error in your calling “hell/hades” the final unresting place of those who reject Christ. Death and Hell are cast into the “Lake of Fire”. Is not the “Lake of Fire” the final place where unbelievers stay?

    • Howdy Drew!

      You are correct that Hades/Hell is NOT the final resting place for the damned. I do not differentiate it within this particular article because the difference is NOT essential when evangelizing, and it would have extended the article too much to explain this point. But since you popped in and mentioned it, let me quote from a discussion that I had on this topic with others in a Christian leaders forum on LinkedIn. Therein I wrote (toward the close of that post):

      Lastly, let me point out that technically, “Hell” (Hades) and the Lake of Fire are actually different places. In Revelation 20:14, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” If Hades is thrown into the Lake of Fire, how can they be the same place?

      I don’t have time to elaborate upon it, but Hades (Hell) is often referred to within the context of time (e.g. Rev. 20:1-3, 7, 13). However, the Lake of Fire is always reference with eternity (which is a higher system than time). The Greek word “Geenna” was used by Jesus in Mark chapter nine for “Hell.” It was the trash dump outside of Jerusalem, historically; but Jesus referenced it using ETERNAL references with regard to the flame and worm in that passage. Thus, Geenna and the Lake of Fire are one in the same, because both are eternal; and that is where the Lord God will forever deposit those who refuse His blood-bought offer of grace.

      But…that is only a technical note. I usually use them interchangeably myself because it is too confusing to explain the difference to sinners. In reality, Hell (Hades) is a temporarily holding cell (a jail, to use a metaphor) before the judgement (court date), while the Lake of Fire is the eternal prison after final sentencing. Either is bad, and the distinction is unnecessary when presenting the Gospel to the unsaved.

      Thanks for coming by and pointing that issue out for discussion. I trust the resulting excerpt above provides further clarity for all our readers’ benefit.

      Always in Jesus,

      -Rich

    • Oh, while I am thinking about it, let me also clarify that it is best to clarify what is meant by your statement, “the final unresting place of those who reject Christ.”

      It is NOT that people reject Christ, and then go to Hell BECAUSE of that rejection (although that would be the result). It is more correct to saw that the Holy Law of God has already condemned the sinner as a criminal deserving of eternal damnation, but that through Christ they can be saved from the inevitable. Here is what Jesus said:

      John 3:18: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

      To speak this truth in other terms, let me use an analogy from that same LinkedIn post I just mentioned before:

      Like a parachute saves a person from the law of gravity, the Gospel saves a person from the Holy Law of God. It is not “failing to put on the parachute” that kills a person…it is the law of gravity slamming them to the ground. The parachute is merely their “salvation” if they choose to accept it, and PUT IT ON. Likewise, those who are properly warned about the coming wrath of God via His Holy Law are more likely to realize their need to PUT ON the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior (Rom. 13:14).

      That is why Jesus said, “they are condemned already.” The Law of God will destroy them, unless a “parachute” of salvation has been first obtained. To say it otherwise gives the unbeliever a false assumption that biblical Christianity states that God is going to damn them BECAUSE they have rejected Christ, rather than realizing the truth that they were already condemned, and biblical Christianity teaches them their need of Christ to save them from that otherwise inevitable damnation.

      Always in Jesus,

      -Rich

    • W.Z., before you take the time to write such a LONG treatise full of heresy and unsubstantiated insults (i.e. “ad hominem” fallacies), you really should pay more attention to the article you are reading. First, to read it properly, for your position was fully refuted in the article above before you bothered to write your absurd comment. Second, to get an idea that the author of this website is not likely to let such a rambling demonstration of heresy to be posted hereon. (And I deleted your website URL as well.)

      But in hopes you will be saved, let me point out in reply that the Hell you deny, was described by Jesus Himself:

      Luke 16:23 “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’

      Thus, your long dissertation of heresy is easily refuted. As the article above clearly indicates, the idea that “sheol” and “hades” mean only “grave” is absurd — both historically and theologically. It is interesting to note, therefore that Josephus is credited with a treatise describing the two compartments of Hades and Abraham’s Bosom as well, thus confirming that Jesus was discussing a commonly understood Hebraic theological concept in Luke 16 with His audience.

      It is interesting to note also that Dr. Spiros Zodhiates (who spoke Modern Greek natively, and was a world-renowned scholar in Classical and Koine Greek as well) stated about Hades in his The Complete Word Study Dictionary, NT Edition (AMG Publishers) that:

      Hades never denotes the physical grave nor is it the permanent region of the lost. It is the intermediate state between death and the ultimate hell, Gehenna (i.e. the Lake of Fire, which he discusses under entry # 1076).

      So the Jewish Historian Josephus (who was a Cohen — Levitical Priest) understood that there was a place of fiery torment for the damned. Where did he get that? From Daniel and Isaiah (as we shall soon see), and the Jewish theological influences to which he was exposed (which included both Pharisee and Essene). That indicates clearly that this was a COMMON Jewish theological understanding, and thus, it is NOT surprising that Jesus expected His audience in Luke 16 to understand what He was talking about, as He clarified who would go there and what it was like.

      And your silly assertions otherwise are easily discarded by realizing that Jesus was quoting from Isaiah, when He talked about the “worm that does not die” and the “fire that is not quenched” in Mark 9:44-48, which referred to the FINAL place of the damned — the Lake of Fire (which is clearly described in Revelation chapters 14, 20, and is even mentioned in 21):

      “Then they will go forth and look
      On the corpses of the men
      Who have transgressed against Me.
      For their worm will not die
      And their fire will not be quenched;
      And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.” (Isaiah 66:24, NKJV)

      Of which verse, Dr. Zodhiates said (under entry #1067):

      It is also referred to as a place of punishment for rebellious or apostate Jews in the presence of the righteous. Gehinnom or Gehenna is not actually mentioned with this meaning in the OT, but it is this and no other place that is implied in Isaiah 50:11, “in a place of pain shall ye lie down” (a.t.). Furthermore, in Isaiah 66:24, it bears this new connotation and the punishment of the apostate Jews is conceived of as eternal…The punishment of Gehenna [i.e. the Lake of Fire] is implied also in Daniel 12:2, “some to shame and everlasting abhorrence” (a.t.). This particular word “abhorrence” occurs in these two passages only (Isaiah 66:24, Daniel 12:2), and the reference in both is to Gehenna. Therefore, Gehenna was always conceived of as a place of both corporeal and spiritual punishment, not only for the Jews, but for all the wicked in the presence of the righteous” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, NT Edition).

      So my thesis is QUITE biblical, and has its roots into ancient Jewish Scriptures AND scholarship. Your absurd notions do not, however — which is why the use of logic in this very article has upset you so much. Your heresy is already clearly refuted, and thus, you resort to logical fallacies and insults in order to try and defend your false doctrines of choice. Yep, St. Augustine nailed you perfectly when he wrote, “Pride is the mother of all heresies.” Jesus was even MORE direct about such things when He said:

      Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of Hell?
      (Greek, Gehenna, Strong’s # 1067; citation from Matthew 23:33, NKJV)

      The people to whom Jesus made that statement in Matthew chapter 23, were essentially making up their own doctrines to suit themselves — just like you are doing. Consequently, He called them also “hypocrites” and “fools and blind” and even “blind guides.” I suggest you are all of those as well, given your similar behavior. Thus, you will likewise find that “damnation” inescapable unless you cease your hypocrisy and heresy, and repent.

      In regard to your insults about my use of Strong’s number references above: You seriously LACK both scholarly understanding of biblical resource materials AND reading comprehension skills. The references in the article above give the Strong’s numbers because that is the STANDARD NUMBERING SYSTEM used by nearly ALL Hebrew and Greek Lexicons/Dictionaries today. However, the text itself cites THAYER’S Lexicon for the Greek (a scholarly classic and standard text), and Gesenius’ lexicon for the Hebrew (another scholarly classic and standard text). If you would have bothered to click on any of the hyperlinks, you would have seen that fact, as it would have transported you to online versions of these two lexicons.

      So in other words, you criticized me for using Strong’s Concordance for my words, when I DID NOT do that; I simply provided the Strong’s numbers for reference so that my readers can look the words up in ANY lexicon/dictionary. However, I clearly cited Thayer’s Lexicon as my primary source in the article above, and linked to an online Gesenius Lexicon for the Hebrew. (And my personal library is filled with many more such resources beyond these.)

      Given these facts above, I highly suggest also that you read my latest post, “Judging”: Hypocritical vs. Biblical. It might just help you.

      In conclusion: You are a heretic, who is easily refuted. Your reading and observation skills are lacking veracity, as you cannot seem to comprehend what is right in front of your eyes. Your rambling and barely coherent comment — which I deleted — demonstrated your severe lack of solid reasoning skills (logic), as your continued use of fallacies to make your points is evidence enough that you should FOCUSING on getting saved instead of using twisted sophistry to spread your absurd heresy.

      Thus, I most-highly suggest you get your doctrine straight — because once you are in that VERY HADES (of which you presently deny its existence), it will be too late to change your doctrine then, as you await final judgment and a trip to the Lake of Fire. The following article will help you to learn HOW to get saved, since you obviously do not understand THAT critical subject as of yet: The Supreme Value of Righteousness

      Nevertheless, your deleted comment gave me a good excuse to expand this article with a few extra points for my truth-seeking readers. So for that, I am grateful you stopped by to pay our website a visit. 😉

    • W.Z., your strange threats were rather absurd…and quite irrational, to a large degree.

      Nevertheless, your request to delete your full name because your original comment was deleted, was reasonable. So I have done so, and adjusted my reply’s reference to you accordingly.

      Furthermore, please be advised that your commentary and email address have been SPAM blocked. So any further attempt to harass us will be merely wasted time on your part.

      Always in Jesus,

      -Rich

  5. Rich,

    Thanks for the article.

    That said I’m not sure the NASB’s rendering of Ecclesiastes 3:11b is correct. Do you have any other verses that show that man has been given by God in his heart the natural understanding of everlasting torment as the judgment for sin?

    Thanks,

    Tony

    • Howdy, Tony.

      I just found your note. Your comments (both of which were identical) were classified by my website system as SPAM because of the closing link with your signature. Fortunately, I checked the SPAM folder this time before emptying it, and cleared your last version out of there. I have removed the problematic link from close of your comment, as well.

      Thank you for coming and asking the question that you did. Your comment has revealed an area of probable confusion that could occur whenever a person does not restrict their view of my statements to the purpose of this article alone. So you may not have been the only person who wondered about those points, and I appreciate the fact that you brought this to my attention.

      To begin clarifying things, let let’s both take a look at the passage in question from multiple translations, staring with the NASB:

      NASB: Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

      NKJV: Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

      KJV: Ecclesiastes 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

      Amplified: Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

      Wycliffe: Ecclesiastes 3:11 God made all things good in their time, and gave the world to disputing of them, that a man find not (out) the work that God hath wrought from the beginning unto the end. (God made all things good in their time, and let the world dispute over them, but no one shall understand the work that God hath wrought from the beginning unto the end.)

      Young’s Literal Translation: Ecclesiastes 3:11 The whole He hath made beautiful in its season; also, that knowledge He hath put in their heart without which man findeth not out the work that God hath done from the beginning even unto the end.

      And for good measure, the Orthodox Jewish Bible: Ecclesiastes 3:11 Hashem hath made every thing yafeh in its et (season); also He hath set HaOlam in their lev, yet so that no adam can find out the ma’aseh that HaElohim hath done from the beginning to the end.

      I do not see any major points of disagreement among the various translations of this passage from the NASB version, do you? Each of them acknowledges the fact that “eternity” is in the heart of human beings because of the fact that they all have “spirits,” which (along with our soul) is the eternal part of our tripartite beings:

      ** 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

      So a sense of “eternity” is in the heart of every human being. But since it is down inside of a person–generally, at the subconscious level–it is a mystery that somewhat obscures what that means for a person. So in answer to your question “Do you have any other verses that show that man has been given by God in his heart the natural understanding of everlasting torment as the judgement for sin?,” I provided one already within the article above right after the Ecc. 3:11b quote. It further illuminates the point I am making quite clearly. So here is it again:

      …for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. (Romans 2:14-16, NKJV)

      Nobody has to be “told” that murder, lying, stealing, adultery, etc., is “wrong,” because EVERY human social group throughout history has understood that and incorporated such ideas into their laws. Even the most primitive tribe knows that these things are wrong, although it is possible that they may try to “justify” their actions by some idolatrous means (about which I will speak in a moment).

      Moreover, the article above describes the Greek history/meaning of the word “Hades,” which fact confirms my premise also. If the Greeks knew intuitively that most people would go to a region of fire after death, then that fact indicates an innate understanding of spiritual reality in every individual. It would BEST be called a “spiritual knowledge” rather than a “natural” one, however because it is the spirit of human beings which is aware of spiritual realities.

      All humans–regardless of their religious beliefs–have the same Creator, i.e., the God of the Bible. IF THE BIBLE IS TRUE and IF THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS THE CREATOR, then it necessarily follows that all of creation would have SOME sense of this fact.

      Did you ever notice that the world spends most of its time attacking Judaism and Christianity, and not other religions? Schools in America go hysterical over a child bringing their own personal Bible to class, but they don’t think twice about having these same kids dress up in Islamic clothing and having them recite things from the Koran. The hypocrisy is very clear; but the essence of knowledge that they ONLY attack the TRUTH in their depravity, is also quite clear.

      Again, the two passages I provided are sufficient in order to substantiate the point being made, but they are not alone. The article also cites history, other languages, etc., in order to make the point. I have just cited contemporary events to add further substantiation to the point being made.

      NEVERTHELESS, that does NOT mean that the wicked are FULLY COGNITIVE of the fact that they are heading toward eternal damnation. The Scriptures are clear that they are largely ignorant (i.e., “walking in darkness”) about the One True and Living God of the Bible. The Bible also notes that they live in self-deception, denial, and are delusional about such things. To explain this fact, let me define “delusion” for you first:

      a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact…a belief held in the face of evidence to the contrary, that is resistant to all reason. (Dictionary.com)

      With that definition in mind, please note these examples from the Bible:

      ** Psalm 14:1 [and this is repeated verbatim in Psalm 53:1] The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.

      ** Psalm 10:3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord. 4 The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts…. 13 Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, “You will not require an account.”

      ** Isaiah 44:9 Those who make an image, all of them are useless,
      And their precious things shall not profit;
      They are their own witnesses;
      They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed.
      10 Who would form a god or mold an image
      That profits him nothing?
      11 Surely all his companions would be ashamed;
      And the workmen, they are mere men.
      Let them all be gathered together,
      Let them stand up;
      Yet they shall fear,
      They shall be ashamed together….
      14 He cuts down cedars for himself,
      And takes the cypress and the oak;
      He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest.
      He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.
      15 Then it shall be for a man to burn,
      For he will take some of it and warm himself;
      Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread;
      Indeed he makes a god and worships it;
      He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.
      16 He burns half of it in the fire;
      With this half he eats meat;
      He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.
      He even warms himself and says,
      “Ah! I am warm,
      I have seen the fire.”
      17 And the rest of it he makes into a god,
      His carved image.
      He falls down before it and worships it,
      Prays to it and says,
      “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
      18 They do not know nor understand;
      For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see,
      And their hearts, so that they cannot understand.
      19 And no one considers in his heart,
      Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say,
      “I have burned half of it in the fire,
      Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals;
      I have roasted meat and eaten it;
      And shall I make the rest of it an abomination?
      Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”
      20 He feeds on ashes;
      A deceived heart has turned him aside;
      And he cannot deliver his soul,
      Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

      There is known in psychology a concept called “cognitive dissonance.” It can be defined as following:

      anxiety that results from simultaneously holding contradictory or otherwise incompatible attitudes, beliefs, or the like, as when one likes a person but disapproves strongly of one of his or her habits….an uncomfortable mental state resulting from conflicting cognitions; usually resolved by changing some of the cognitions (Dictionary.com)

      Look at that last part of the definition above very closely. Whenever a person is cognitive (aware) of things that seem to conflict with one another, they get rather uncomfortable on the inside, and will attempt to find some way of reconciling the two in order to gain for themselves some sense of inner peace. NOBODY wants to walk around with turmoil on the inside of them. Thus, facing on the one hand an awareness that they have done wrong (sinned), they will “justify” it in their mind so that they can live with themselves. People in the world do this all of the time, so I am sure you understand this point.

      In the aggregate, all people have spirits and are aware that their life’s sins will one day have to be accounted for before our Holy God. So they have to find some way of reconciling that so that they can live life with some semblance of peace. This is where idolatry comes in: They invent their own “god” and worship THAT, lacking understanding of the ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD of the Bible. Even many who PROFESS to be “Christians” are actually idolaters who have cherry-picked Scriptures and invented their own VERSION of “Jesus,” and called their religion “Christianity” when it is not at all what God delivered “once for all” to the saints through Jesus Christ (compare Jude vs. 3-5 with 2 Peter and Matthew 7:13-23).

      That is why the Gospel needs to be CONTEXTUALIZED by the Law of God when it is preached; people need to understand very clearly in their heads WHY they are sinners, WHY God will judge them for that sin, and WHY they will be condemned to the Lake of Fire thereafter…i.e., IF they fail to accept His free pardon through Jesus Christ.

      In other words, what they know subconsciously in their hearts already, needs to be brought to the forefront of their thinking in order to create STRONG ENOUGH cognitive dissonance for them to no longer be content with their idolatrous self-deceptions. Coupled with the good news about the Cross of Jesus Christ, they then have THE ONLY answer to their cognitive dissonance that can ALSO truly save them from their eventual eternal damnation. While some will still resort to self-deception and denial, and return to their former idolatrous delusions, they will no longer ever be able to deceive themselves enough to drown out the inward understanding of their damnable state anymore. Eventually, some of them will come to Christ and surrender their entire lives to Him in order to have peace with God AND within themselves. Others accept the Gospel right away for the same reasons. “Many” (according to Jesus in Matthew 7:13-23) will continue on trying to delude themselves, however, and will pay the price for such willful self-deception and love of lies:

      ** Revelation 21:6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

      ** Revelation 22:15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

      IN SUMMARY: My thesis in the article above is sound and correct, but perhaps the fact that sinners can delude themselves in their idolatry, has complicated the issue for you and you were confused by my points. Since my article above was designed to make the points that it does about Hades/Sheol, etc., I did not elaborate on these related points at all. (The thought probably did not occur to me.) However, by your bringing your question to this thread you have highlighted a point of probable confusion about the issue, indeed. So thank you for doing that.

      I trust my further explanation helps to clarify that I am NOT saying that sinners are completely aware of their upcoming damnation, for that would put them in a rather severe state of cognitive dissonance and they would not be able to live life with any peace any longer. So they bury that inward knowledge with self-deception via idolatry, in order to function in this world. The CONTEXTUALLY CORRECT presentation of the Gospel, however, i.e.,, with the Law of God included, will awaken their dulled consciences and bring tremendous “conviction” that will (hopefully!) enable them to fully understand and embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those that do not accept Jesus then or at some point thereafter, tend to become very hardened against the Gospel as they resent no longer being able to live life in their “blissful ignorance” that the once had. If they remain hardened, they will pay the price for their willful rebellion forever. If they repent, they will be saved. It is that simple.

      In order to learn more about “The Fundamentals of the REAL Gospel” and how the apostles themselves presented it, please see my FREE audio series at the following link. You can either download it or listen to it online. You can even share it with others, if you like, because I have licensed it to everyone for free re-distribution. Here is that link: https://archive.org/details/TheFundamentalsOfTheRealGospel

      So again, I hope this reply clarifies things. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to do so. 🙂

      Always in Jesus,

      Rich Vermillion

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