Pope Francis has sparked another debate with controversial remarks at the Third Vatican Council. He says, the concept of hell where people burn eternally cannot be Christian–it goes against the concept of a loving and compassionate God.
That idea is being challenged by other Bible scholars, not just the pope.
When God told Adam that if he ate of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” that he would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17) He did not mean live forever in torment. This idea is an invention of the devil to paint God as a devil.
God says He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. It’s a biblical concept that God does not destroy and that we destroy ourselves by the choices we make. How important it is to choose wisely.
The word “hell” is found 54 times in the King James Bible. It translated from the Hebrew word “she’ol” meaning the grave 31 times, and from the Greek word “hades,” also meaning the grave 10 times. The Greek word gehenna is the source for 12 uses of hell and the word means a place of burning (only 12 out of 54 places in the Bible).
The Bible teaches that the wicked will be burned up and leave them “neither root nor branch,” Malachi 4:1. God says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” Ezekiel 33:11.
That was before churchmen got into the act by promising to pray people out of hell or purgatory (no such word in the Bible) for money. Poor translation of Revelation makes people think the fire is forever when it is the consequences (death) that lasts for ever.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus has been used by many preachers to teach eternal torment.
The idea of a conscious existence between death and the resurrection was held by many in Christ’s day. He knew this and framed His parable to teach truth related to their preconceived opinions–that no man is valued for his possessions–all that we have belongs to us only as lent by the Lord. A misuse of these gifts places us below the poorest and most afflicted man who loves and serves God.
Christ desires us to understand that it is impossible for men to secure the salvation of the soul after death.
“The living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything,” Ecclesiastes 9:5. The belief in consciousness after death sets us up for deception by evil spirits that can personate departed love ones–like the evil spirit personated Samuel, brought up by the witch of Endor at Saul’s request.
EDITORS NOTE: Dr. Ruhling is a physician whose special interest in retirement is Bible prophecy, especially the wedding parables, and he offers more information at his website: http://TheBridegroomComes.com