It is not my intention to expound with a full exposition on the Scriptures and questions we are going to list. In my years as a pastor, many questions have been asked in relation to our subject. I thought it might be of help to cover some of the most often asked with a brief explanation which might help the reader should they decide to pursue a more intensive study.
1. Matthew 10:28. "...but rather fear him (Christ) which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Does the word destroy mean no consciousness in Hell? The answer is, No. The Greek word for destroy here is "apollumi" and has no reference to annihilation. There is another Greek word used for that which is "kataluo." "Kataluo" means "come to naught, dissolve, or disintegrate" as used in Matthew 5:17, reference the law. Destroy in Matthew 10:28 only has reference to punishment of soul and resurrected body in Hell (Gehenna, the Lake of Fire).
2. Matthew 23:33. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell (Lake of Fire)?" Serpents and vipers and descriptive of the character of the false leaders and teachers of the Jews.
3. Many say that Hell is on this earth. It is not, as we have shown from our previous study. We might bring to mind that in Hell there are no saved. There are now saved people on the earth. There are no churches in Hell, there are here. No one can be saved in Hell, many are being saved today. No, Hell (literally) is not on this earth now, nor ever will be.
4. Matthew 16:18. "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and (but) upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell (Hades-Torment) shall not prevail against it."
Peter is the Greek "petros" meaning "a small piece of rock." The word "Rock" is the Greek word "petra" meaning a "solid Rock," (Christ -1st Corinthians 10:4). The Greek word for "and" can be translated "but" and should be in this case. Gates are used for opening and shutting as Torment of Hades has gates that will open to let one in, and shut to keep them there. When we add all this together, it literally means thus, "Peter, you are just a man (piece of rock) but upon Christ (the Solid Rock) I will build my church (i.e., all believers within the Body of Christ) and the gates of Hades (Torment side) will never close upon the Christian."
5. 1st Corinthians 15:55. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Jehovah's Witnesses jump on this Verse and are quick to point out that the word "grave" is from the Greek "Hades." Therefore their doctrine is that when a person dies, body, soul and spirit go to the grave. We have found in our previous study that Hades is in the center of the earth, having two compartments--one Paradise, the other Torment--with a conversation from both sides going on. This would hardly be true of the grave. If this were to happen in the grave, the next time I preach a funeral someone else will have to finish it because if the corpse has anything to say, I am leaving. Here, it is simply a mistranslation. We might make mention that many of the Greek manuscripts have the same Greek word for "death" and "grave," which is "thanatos." It would then read "O death, where is thy sting? O death, where is thy victory?"
6. What about Jonah? When Jonah died, did he stay in the fish's belly? In Jonah 2:1,2 we read, Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly (Hebrew - "m-e-ah" and literally means "abdomen")." "...I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell (Sheol) cried I, and thou heardest my voice." The word "belly" as we have shown, comes from two different Greek words. In other words, when Jonah went into the fish's stomach, he was alive and prayed, then died. His soul and spirit went to Sheol where he again talked to the Lord. After three days and nights he was restored to life, just as Lazarus was in John 11. In Matthew 12:40, Jonah becomes a type of Christ. Jonah was resurrected back to life after three days in the fish's stomach where his body had died. This was not his resurrected body, only his physical body brought back to life.
7. What about Enoch? Jude 14 and Genesis 5:22-24. "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not (he left): for God took him." The body of Enoch died (Genesis 3:19: Romans 6:23a). God simply took him from the earth and put him in Paradise of Sheol. He will later receive his resurrected body.
8. What about Purgatory? There is no such place at all! It was instituted by the Roman
Catholic Church in 593 A.D. and is used as a gimmick to obtain money. Purgatory cannot be found anywhere, including the Roman Catholic Bible. Let their own words speak for themselves:
"Those are punished for a time in purgatory, who die in the state of grace but are guilty of venial sin, or have not fully satisfied the temporal punishment due to their sins. There is need for persevering prayer for the purpose of the souls of all those who die after reaching the use of reason, except those who are canonized or beatified by the church (Roman Catholic)." -(Father Connell's New Baltimore Catechism #3, PP. 105, 106). "The prayers of the faithful on earth and Masses here celebrated assist the progress of the soul through the pains of purgatory." -(Collier Encyclopedia, Volume 8, PP. 314). Even though not admitted, almost all the Catholics I have asked, verify the fact that money is expected to be given to the church for the prayers of the priests and the Masses performed.
The Word of God refutes this whole scheme in Psalm 49:6,7:
"They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him."
9. What about Elijah? 2nd Kings 2:11, "...and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." Remember, there are three heavens. The atmosphere above us, the second heaven where the planets are located, and beyond this is the third heaven, the abode of God (2nd Corinthians 12:2). We know that this human body cannot inherit the Kingdom of God from Genesis 3:19 and 1st Corinthians 15:50...
"...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood (our bodies) cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."
Elijah was taken up, as he did not die the natural death from old age or sickness and etc. He did not enter the third heaven because our natural bodies cannot enter the Kingdom of God. When he separated from his natural body we do not know. When he went up, he was then transferred to Paradise of Sheol where all the Old Testament Saints went.
10. Where does Luke 3:17 take place?
"Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable."
This is the same as the Judgment of the Nations spoken of in Matthew 25. This occurs at the end of the Tribulation Period, just before the Kingdom is established. The "wheat" is the saved and the "garner" is the Kingdom. The "chaff" is referring to the lost.
11. Ecclesiastes 3:21, "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" It must be recognized in studying Ecclesiastes, that Solomon, the writer, is many times speaking from the unregenerated or carnal viewpoint; Just as a carnal Christian today can develop his own reasoning contrary to God's Word, if he is not daily studying the Bible. So keep in mind that many times times in Ecclesiastes, it is Solomon expressing by his own reasoning instead of speaking the mind of God by the Holy Spirit. Notice in Verse 18, Solomon is doing his own reasoning and speaking
Notice that the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth. Period! The spirit of a beast is connected to his body. The spirit dies with the body as there is no life after death for animals. The spirit that goes upward does not go to Heaven but unto God for disposition. This is made clear from 12:7...
"Then shall the dust (body) return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
After death, one is in the hands of God to be placed into the Paradise of Sheol or the Torment of Sheol (Also Ecclesiastes 8:8).
12. Ecclesiastes 9:4, "For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion."
Dog here is used as a metaphor of the vilest person. The lion, being the noblest of animals (Proverb 30:30). In other words, the noblest who die unconverted have no hope, while the vilest, as long as they have life have hope and can be saved.
13. Ecclesiastes 3:18, "I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts." This is one of the favorite Verses used by Jehovah's Witnesses, saying that we go to the grave the same as an animal, body and soul. The beast here is referring to the unregenerated man. That his old nature is sin (Romans 3:23) and that the old body will die (Romans 6:23). The beast is descriptive of his character. When he views himself as God does, then he will recognize the need of a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
14. What about babies that die? Roman Catholics, some Lutherans, and a few others teach that babies must be baptized. Here is the record:
"Children should be baptized as soon as possible because baptism is necessary for salvation. Infants who die without baptism of any kind do not suffer the punishments of those who die in mortal sin. They may enjoy a certain, natural happiness, but they will not enjoy the supernatural happiness of heaven." (Father Connell's New Baltimore Catechism, pp. 189, #324). Remember, this is their church doctrine, not the Word of God!
When a baby dies, their soul and spirit goes to be with the Lord, while the body goes to the grave. As sweet as babies are, they still are born with a sinful body. Did you ever have to teach your baby to do wrong things? No. Then who taught them? The answer is, they are born with the old Adamic nature, the same as you and I. As sweet, cute, and lovable as babies are, they cannot take their bodies to Heaven. In Romans 6:23 we are told "The wages of sin are death." Since the baby has not reached the age of accountability to perform the desires of this nature, he will go to Heaven. When a child reaches an age to understand fully what they are doing and can comprehend that Christ paid for their sin, they become responsible for their decision to accept or reject Christ. There is no set age given in the Bible as it varies with the child. Baptism has absolutely nothing to do with determining the destiny of a child. If that child has not yet reached the age of accountability, it will automatically go to Heaven upon death. In Samuel 12:18 we find that David and Bathsheba's child died on the seventh day. Then in Verse 23 we find that David said "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me," showing that the child went to Paradise in Sheol.
Concerning infants, here is Dr. Luke's account in Chapter 18, Verses 15,16.
"And they brought unto him ALSO infants, that he would touch them... (vs. 15). But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God (vs. 16).
Notice! Christ said, "Touch them" not "Baptize them." The Greek word for "children" in Verse 16 is "paidion" and is used of both infants and young children. Our Lord summoned both the mothers with infants and those with young children. To these He stated, "...for of such is the Kingdom of God." Should one of these infants die unbaptized, Christ assures the parents that they belong to the Kingdom of God.
Now, for those who have reached the age of accountability, the Word of God is perfectly clear! In Romans 14:12 we are told, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." This is why it is so important to "...train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverb 22:6).
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