Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Sin Wins

Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Sin Wins

Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Sin Wins

Can God bring proper, lasting justice, banishing certain actions – and the people who do them – from the new creation while at the same time allowing and waiting and hoping for the possibility of the reconciliation of those very same people?  Keeping the gates, in essence, open?  Will everyone eventually be reconciled to God or will there be those who cling to their version of their story, insisting on their right to be their own little god ruling their own little miserable kingdom? – Rob Bell, Love Wins p.115, regarding Revelation 21:25

It is important to remember the nature of the book of Revelation, categorized as “apocalyptic literature” by theologians, writings that are easily misinterpreted because of the heavy symbolic content.  I highly recommend that one not allow a concept that is firmly established elsewhere in scripture to be refuted depending solely on Revelation, just as an idea refuted throughout scripture should not be established based only on Revelation.  It is interesting, though, to pull nuggets of universal truth from the book, that is, truth that has a wider application than a single, specific time or geographical location, and to speculate about the meaning of some of the symbolism.  But we should remember, it is easy for one to see what he or she wants to see in the book (and I’m no exception) instead of seeing what the angel would have John and the church in seven cities to see, and it is also important to be aware of variation (and corruption) that took place in manuscript transmission.  I’ve written a few blogs on Revelation, and guest blogger Mary Vanderplas wrote a blog on chapter 8, if you would like to read more about Revelation: Revelation 1-2, Revelation 3, Audio/Visual Revelation, Like a Stone, Despite My Amazing Ignorance, He’s Called “God with Us” for a Reason, and Revelation 8 (Guest Blogger: Mary Vanderplas).

One regular blog reader and in-depth commenter, a fundamental and very zealous believer name Lanny, reminds me (continually), “Revelation ends with a populated Lake of Fire and not an empty dissolved one”, implying that those who have been relegated to that place or condition will eternally continue in that position, regardless of open gates.  Obviously, both Lanny and Bell can’t both be correct.  So who is right, and who is wrong?  Perhaps the better questions are, “Who is God, and what does God do?”  I hope to answer the open gate question by appealing to the character and sovereign intentions of God.

What is the lake of fire?  What is the purpose of the lake of fire?  Who is cast into the lake of fire?  Is there any hope for those who go to the lake of fire?

In Francis Chan’s book, Erasing Hell, in response to Bell’s commentary about the “open gates” in Revelation, Chan says that he would “love to believe” the open-gate theory, but can’t for three reasons.  Chan writes,

First, Revelation 20 and 21 have already described the “lake of fire” as the final destiny of those who don’t follow Jesus in this life.  There’s nothing in Revelation that suggests there’s hope on the other side of the lake. Second, there’s nothing in the text that says the lake of fire is intended to purify the wicked.  […]  And third, even after the open-gates passage of 21:24-26, John goes on to depict two different destinies for believers and unbelievers.

Let’s have a look at the open-gate passage apart from the context:

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.

I would like to address in depth each of Chan’s three points.  Today, I’ll begin with his first point:

First, Revelation 20 and 21 have already described the “lake of fire” as the final destiny of those who don’t follow Jesus in this life.  There’s nothing in Revelation that suggests there’s hope on the other side of the lake.

Notice that Chan’s description of the lake of fire is based on Revelation 20 and 21.  In order to see where he is getting his information, let’s read any scriptures pertaining to the lake of fire or “final destiny” of those who don’t follow Jesus in this life in those chapters (or you can click the link to read them in their entirety):

Happy and holy [is] he who is having part in the first rising again; over these the second death hath not authority, but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years […] and the Devil, who is leading [the nations] astray, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where [are] the beast and the false prophet, and they shall be tormented day and night – to the ages of the ages.  And I saw a great white throne, and Him who is sitting upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven did flee away, and place was not found for them; and I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and scrolls were opened, and another scroll was opened, which is that of the life, and the dead were judged out of the things written in the scrolls – according to their works; and the sea did give up those dead in it, and the death and the hades did give up the dead in them, and they were judged, each one according to their works; and the death and the hades were cast to the lake of the fire – this [is] the second death; and if any one was not found written in the scroll of the life, he was cast to the lake of the fire.

[…] And He who is sitting upon the throne said, “Lo, new I make all things”; and He saith to me, “Write, because these words are true and stedfast”; and He said to me, “It hath been done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End; I, to him who is thirsting, will give of the fountain of the water of the life freely; he who is overcoming shall inherit all things, and I will be to him – a God, and he shall be to me – the son, and to fearful, and unstedfast, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the liars, their part [is] in the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone, which is a second death.” And there came unto me one of the seven messengers […] and did shew to me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, […] and the city hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon, that they may shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp of it [is] the Lamb; and the nations of the saved in its light shall walk, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it, and its gates shall not at all be shut by day, for night shall not be there; and they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it; and there may not at all enter into it any thing defiling and doing abomination, and a lie, but – those written in the scroll of the life of the Lamb.

So, is Chan accurately describing the lake of fire when he writes that it is “the final destiny of those who don’t follow Jesus in this life”?  In seeking to answer this question, the first item of interest is to examine the text for anything that indicates the “final” part of “final destiny”.  I’m assuming that the reason Chan sees “final” in the text, is because he reads the typical English translation and uses the concordances and lexicons specially designed to agree with said translations.  There he finds the description of the duration of the lake of fire, “for ever and ever”.

It is really a very simple matter, to discover whether the words should be translated as they literally appeared in the oldest manuscripts of the Greek language, “to the ages of the ages”, or whether they should be translated according to what today’s experts have decided regarding the 2000 year old language, “for ever and ever”.  We don’t need to consult so-called experts.  We don’t even need to compare it to other scriptures where the same words are used.  Normal people without theological degrees can see and understand what I am about to explain.  The Greek words to which Chan and I refer are “tous aiõnas ton aiõnon“, and no one will argue that the contested words are plural.  If you look at the English translation, you can see for yourself that “ever” is not translated as plural in either instance. I can’t say I blame the translators for leaving it singular in English even though it is plural in the Greek; after all, how ridiculous does it sound to say “for evers and evers” or “for eternities and eternities”?  Furthermore, the word “and” doesn’t even appear in the Greek phrase.  As if all of this finagling were not questionable enough, notice that the English translation does not take into account the Greek prepositions, our English “to” and “of”.  If we include those prepositions in the English translation (as we ought to) then it sounds even more ridiculous – “to evers of evers” or “to eternities of eternities”.  I can see the translator now, looking over his Latin Vulgate  and the long history of the doctrine of eternal torment, scratching his head and thinking, something isn’t quite right.  I think I’ll leave it singular, drop the words “to” and “of” and add an “and”.  There!  That’s much better.  He pats himself on the back for faithfully rendering John’s writings, even though he’s inadvertently participated in that group warned later in Revelation,

For I testify to every one hearing the words of the prophecy of this scroll, if any one may add unto these, God shall add to him the plagues that have been written in this scroll, and if any one may take away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the scroll of the life, and out of the holy city, and the things that have been written in this scroll.

If we use common sense and consider the chronological nature of time, we know that one age (a period of time with a beginning and an end) ends and another begins.  This is not absurd at all.  But what kind of sense can we make of one eternity ending and another beginning?  Wouldn’t that negate the idea of eternity if it ends (or if it begins)?  What kind of sense can we make of there being more than one eternity?  If John intends to communicate the concept of “forever” in Revelation 20, he weakens his case by using the word more than once and using it in plural form.  Why would he weaken the point he is trying to make?  It seems like a pretty important point to me.  Was he a lousy writer, who didn’t know how to employ his own language?  *An interesting side note – the words “tous aiõnas ton aiõnon” are not applied to unbelievers or anyone other than “the Devil”, “the beast and the false prophet”.

I suppose that some readers have the words “infallible Word of God” ringing in their brains at this point.  I remember thinking the same thing, myself, for many years, as if my heart were made of clay tablets, as if God could be contained in a book.  I’m reminded of a time when a friend spoke with my husband, Tim, and me about the infallibility thing, in response to our claim that certain key words in scripture have been consistently mistranslated since the days of the Latin translation and the influence of Emperor Justinian.  He told us that we were wrong, that the scriptures had been miraculously and perfectly preserved.  He then proceeded to preach a message to the church congregation in which he explained how a certain word could have been translated more accurately.  As Tim and I looked at one another in disbelief, we could not help but wonder if he was noticing how his own words were coming back to bite him, how he was contradicting himself and his firmly held beliefs just minutes after our conversation.

The truth is, the Word of God is infallible, so long as we have correctly defined the “Word of God” as Jesus Christ, the Logos.  Jesus said, regarding scripture,

And the Father who sent me Himself hath testified concerning me; ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor His appearance have ye seen; and His word ye have not remaining in you, because whom He sent, him ye do not believe.  Ye search the writings, because ye think in them to have life age-during, and these are they that are testifying concerning me; and ye do not will to come unto me, that ye may have life; glory from man I do not receive but I have known you, that the love of God ye have not in yourselves. I have come in the name of my Father, and ye do not receive me; if another may come in his own name, him ye will receive; how are ye able – ye – to believe, glory from one another receiving, and the glory that [is] from God alone ye seek not?  Do not think that I will accuse you unto the Father; there is who is accusing you, Moses – in whom ye have hoped; for if ye were believing Moses, ye would have been believing me, for he wrote concerning me; but if his writings ye believe not, how shall ye believe my sayings?

Remember, Jesus was talking to a group of people who knew the writings forward and backward.  They had whole books memorized.  They were the well-respected religious people who did everything “right” according to the law of Moses, the ancient equivalent to modern day church elders, deacons, pastors, and theologians who are approved of and accepted as “orthodox” Christians.  But we hear Jesus saying that the words and pages are no guarantee that people will “get it”.  We could fuss with each other all day long about translation and totally miss the point.  Who is God?  What does God do?  How has He revealed Himself to humanity in the person of Jesus Christ? – as One Who throws in the towel once the death-buzzer rings? as One Whose mercy fails? – as One Who fails in His Mission to seek and save the lost? – as One Who created billions of people, knowing ahead of time that they were doomed to torment in Hell forever?  Do we receive the life that Jesus gives because we read a book, or because by the grace of God the book is reading us?  Is there any chance that the manner in which we want to interpret the book is, in itself, an indication of the desires, intentions, and depravity of our hearts?  Who God is and what God does – these ideas are as important as the actual words on the page.  These are the concepts that should guide our understanding of the ink and paper.

So, is Chan accurate when he writes that “there’s nothing in Revelation that suggests there’s hope on the other side of the lake”?  Let’s return to the same long quote from Revelation that I used earlier and see if there is any hope there:

Happy and holy [is] he who is having part in the first rising again; over these the second death hath not authority, but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years […] and the Devil, who is leading [the nations] astray, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where [are] the beast and the false prophet, and they shall be tormented day and night – to the ages of the ages.  And I saw a great white throne, and Him who is sitting upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven did flee away, and place was not found for them; and I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and scrolls were opened, and another scroll was opened, which is that of the life, and the dead were judged out of the things written in the scrolls – according to their works; and the sea did give up those dead in it, and the death and the hades did give up the dead in them, and they were judged, each one according to their works; and the death and the hades were cast to the lake of the fire – this [is] the second death; and if any one was not found written in the scroll of the life, he was cast to the lake of the fire.

[…] And He who is sitting upon the throne said, “Lo, new I make all things“; and He saith to me, “Write, because these words are true and stedfast”; and He said to me, “It hath been done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End; I, to him who is thirsting, will give of the fountain of the water of the life freely; he who is overcoming shall inherit all things, and I will be to him – a God, and he shall be to me – the son, and to fearful, and unstedfast, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the liars, their part [is] in the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone, which is a second death.” And there came unto me one of the seven messengers […] and did shew to me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, […] and the city hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon, that they may shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp of it [is] the Lamb; and the nations of the saved in its light shall walk, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it, and its gates shall not at all be shut by day, for night shall not be there; and they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it; and there may not at all enter into it any thing defiling and doing abomination, and a lie, but – those written in the scroll of the life of the Lamb.

First, notice the phrase “to the ages of the ages” indicates that the time in the lake of fire is measured or limited.  This is not overtly hopeful, but it is inherently hopeful.  If I said to you, “You will go to jail forever”, then there is not any hope of getting out of jail, since your time there is not measured or limited in any way.  But, if I said to you, “You will go to jail for a very long time”, then there would be hope of getting out of jail, even if you were in jail for a billion years.  Your time there is measured or limited in duration.  The first idea is hopeless; the second idea inherently implies hope.

Second, what does He who is sitting upon the throne (in other words, in control of everything) mean when He says, “Lo, new I make all things”?  Does He mean, “new I make all things except those things in the lake of fire”?  Well, that’s not what it says.  The word “all” is not limited in that way.  The skeptic may object that this couldn’t possibly include those things in the lake of fire, because the lake of fire is called the “second death”.  This is a reasonable objection, and I will address it in the next blog in which I address Chan’s second point regarding the nature of the lake of fire.  For now, let’s look at the wonderful description given to us of what “new I make all things” entails.

In the group named “all things”, there are several sub-groups and consequences:

1. If you are in the group called “him who is thirsting” you freely get “the fountain of the water of life”.

2. If you are in the group called “he who is overcoming” you inherit “all things”.

3. If you are in the group called “fearful” you get “the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone, which is a second death”.

4. If you are the group called “unsteadfast” you get “the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone, which is a second death”.

5. If you are in the group called “abominable” you get “the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone, which is a second death”.

6. If you are in the group called “murderers” you get “the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone, which is a second death”.

7. If you are in the group called “whoremongers” you get “the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone, which is a second death”.

8. If you are in the group called “sorcerers” you get “the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone, which is a second death”.

9. If you are in the group called “idolaters” you get “the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone, which is a second death”.

10. If you are in the group called “liars” you get “the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone, which is a second death”.

I apologize if it seems that I am being unnecessarily repetitive, but there is good reason for it.  I want for readers to recognize the pattern.  First, they are grouped according to behaviors and attitudes, then there is the response to those behaviors and attitudes from “He who is sitting upon the throne”.  If you do this, you get that.

At this point, I would like to draw attention to the fact that the basis for the great white throne judgment is “according to their works”.  We know that salvation is not earned by works, so this judgment cannot be about whether people are “saved” or “not saved”.  This is about behavior.  I also would like to highlight the fact that there are people, either AFTER or DURING the great white throne judgment, depending on whether you think the judgment ends at “new I make all things” or if it continues as part of “new I make all things”, who are being given the water of life, who are overcoming, and who are inheriting.  Most of orthodox Christianity believes that the first resurrection is for believers, and the second resurrection is for unbelievers.  If this is true, then the judgment of the dead does not include believers.  So how is it, if people who do not believe before they die have no hope, that some of these “dead” (see groups one and two) are treated differently than others?  Don’t they all just go to eternal torment in Hell forever?  Well, that is what I was taught, anyway.

AFTER groups 8 through 10 are cast into the lake of fire, the messenger brings John to the new Jerusalem where the “the gates shall not at all be shut”.  I have been told that the reason the gates are not shut is that all of the unbelievers are trapped in the lake of fire forever, and that this is why the text says, “there may not at all enter into it any thing defiling and doing abomination, and a lie.”  The reason they may not enter, some claim, is that they are stuck in the lake of fire.  Even if they were permitted to enter, they would not be able to enter because there is no escape from the lake of fire.  This is an interesting and seemingly valid explanation, but it does carry with it a HUGE problem.  The problem is that if this is the accurate way to understand this passage, then we are also forced to concede that sin continues forever.  Why is this?  Because the sin-behavior that causes the consequence “may not at all enter” continues, supposedly forever!  Can this be true?  Does sin continue to reign outside the new Jerusalem?  Does the devil’s work continue as if God is unable or unwilling to put an end to it?

This is an important question: If sin continues eternally, is God sovereign?

After all, “[Jesus] appeared so that he might take away our sins. […] The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 Jn 3:5,8).  If there are those who eternally exist in a state of active sin, can we say that Jesus was successful in His mission to “take away” sin?

If the reason Jesus came was to “destroy the devil’s work”, yet the devil’s work continues forever, can we say that Jesus was successful in His mission to destroy the devil’s work?

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14).  But if the people outside the gates in the lake of fire continuing in sin forever are under the power of the second death, wouldn’t it be more accurate according to the orthodox interpretation of Revelation to say that the Jesus was unable or unwilling to destroy him who holds the power of death?

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed” (Lk 4:18).  How might we describe these people outside the gates?  As poor (lacking in the riches of His glory and the benefits of the new Jerusalem, without an inheritance, etc)?  As prisoners (of the lake of fire)?  As blind and oppressed (slaves to sin and darkness)?

Here’s the way I see it.  Since God is sovereign, and Jesus accomplished His mission through His death and resurrection, there is no way that sin continues forever.  So if there is a contradiction here, it isn’t because John has given us misinformation, it is because the traditions of men have blinded us from understanding what is really happening, blinded us by way of careless translation and interpretation.  What the text actually says is that He makes all things new.  If we see this as a process instead of an instant “white throne judgment”-case-closed-end-of-story, then the contradiction disappears.  If we believe that He actually makes ALL things new, then we can interpret this passage accordingly.  In other words, the gates remain open because at some point, people STOP engaging in the behavior that prevents them from entering in.  This concept is in complete agreement with the final chapter of Revelation as well, a chapter that I will blog about if I ever get through all these Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell blogs and the other Revelation chapter blogs!

Next blog in this series: Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: English vs Greek

Comments
  • Lanny A. Eichert October 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    You are wrong to have God make ALL things new and still leave the thirsty, still thirsting, the overcomer still without his inheritance, the fearful still in fear, the unsteadfast still not steadfast, the abominable still abominable, the murderers still murderers, the whoremongers still whoremongers, the sorcerers still sorcerers, the idolaters still idolaters, and liars still liars.

    He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Revelation 22: 11

    • admin October 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm

      This is something I’ll be addressing in the next blog or two, when I cover Chan’s points two and three.

      • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 2:01 am

        Just in case you “didn’t get it” the closing statements verses six through twenty-one of chapter twenty-two of “the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass” still concludes God’s plan in verse eleven:

        He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Revelation 22: 11

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I remind you that you wrote: Does He mean, “new I make all things except those things in the lake of fire”? Well, that’s not what it says. The word “all” is not limited in that way.

    Yet they ARE still fearful, unsteadfast, abominable, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars; and they STILL are in the Lake of Fire.

    #1) In what way is “all” limited then, Alice?
    #2) What was made new?

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I know of one place where God makes something new and that happens in an instant.

    Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5: 17 & 18

  • Mary Vanderplas October 25, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    You make some good points by way of refuting Chan’s claim, though I don’t agree with your literal interpretation of the words “to the ages of the ages” and with seeing here the idea of judgment that is limited in duration. I think that what is being pictured here is just the opposite: the final rejection and destruction of the ultimate enemies of God. I think the Greek words are best translated “day or night forever and ever” (NRSV) – paraphrased “around the clock for ages without end” in The Message. Far from reflecting mistranslation and misinterpretation, as you contend, “forever and ever,” in my view, accurately conveys what the author intended. I would emphasize that this is a picture, i.e., symbolic language that is not meant to be interpreted literally. But that it describes something real is not to be denied. I do think your “side note” about the ultimate destruction – “the lake of fire” – here not being for human beings but only for the transcendent enemies of God’s people is important – and offers hope, at least for human beings who stand opposed to God, that judgment is not necessarily the final word. Moreover, as some suggest, the reference to “the beloved city” – i.e., Jerusalem – may support the view that judgment isn’t necessarily the last word for those who rebel against God.

    I like what you say about reading and interpreting scripture through the lens of God’s character as revealed fully and finally in Jesus – i.e., through the lens of God’s love and grace. And, I agree, the grace and love and goodness of God challenge any notion of eternal torment and possibly even of eternal separation.

    I think you’re right to see in verse 10 a picture of works as the basis of judgment. I would add that the other book referred to here – “the book of life” – is the book of grace, in which people are saved not by works but God’s gracious choice and act. Thus, we see here pictured the paradox that runs through scripture of human responsibility and divine sovereignty – a paradox that should not be dissolved but rather preserved and allowed to speak.

    I agree that “all things” means “all things” – the renewal of all creation. I don’t see any grounds for asserting, as some do, that believers will not be included in the final judgment. Alongside the picture of judgment (self-chosen separation) here is a picture of universal salvation. In particular, the nations and kings of the earth are pictured as part of the renewal and redemption of the whole creation.

    The presence of contrasting pictures of judgment/destruction and universal redemption here and throughout the book of Revelation probably should caution us against opting for one picture to the exclusion of the other. While I think you raise an intriguing question in regard to the eternal existence of sin and the implication of this for God’s sovereignty, I’m not sure that the reality to which this picture points means that God’s victory over evil would be called into question. I do agree, though, that the portrait of the renewal of all things is compelling and may very well mean that judgment/separation is not the end of the story. Your picture of those who have effectively excluded themselves finally being included can’t be ruled out, anyway, in my view. Still, though, I don’t know that the goal in interpreting these texts should be to make “the contradiction disappear,” but rather to live with the tension presented therein, hoping and praying for the final salvation of every person.

    Thanks for another great blog.

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 12:14 am

    In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 2 Corinthians 13: 1
    And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Genesis 41: 32

    DOUBLE uses of αἰών: a witness of TWO multiplied tenfold
    Revelation 1: 6 to him be glory and dominion for ever165 and ever165. Amen εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων
    Revelation 1: 18 I am alive for evermore165165, Amen εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων
    Revelation 4: 9 to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever165 and ever165 εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων
    Revelation 4: 10 him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever165 and ever165 εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων
    Revelation 5: 13 unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever165 and ever165 εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων
    Revelation 5: 14 him that liveth for ever165 and ever165 εἰς τοὺς αἰωνας τῶν αἰώνων
    Revelation 7: 12 unto our God for ever165 and ever165. Amen. εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων
    Revelation 10: 6 him that liveth for ever165 and ever165, who created εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων
    Revelation 11: 15 our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever165 and ever165 εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων
    Revelation 15: 7 God, who liveth for ever165 and ever165. εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων

    #1) Don’t you think the literal “into the ages of the ages” at the least means “as long as God exists?”
    #2) Don’t you think αἰών is symbolic rather than literal? Why and how yes or no?
    #3) Why not CARRY the meaning of these five verses INTO these other verses using the same construction of the same words?
    Revelation 14: 11 the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever165 and ever165 εἰς αἰῶνας αἰώνων (notice difference)
    Revelation 19: 3 her smoke rose up for ever165 and ever165. εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων
    Revelation 20: 10 and shall be tormented day and night for ever165 and ever165. εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων

    #4) If then fitting to view 14: 11, 19: 3, & 20: 10 as eternal, then why not 19: 20; 20: 14 & 15; 21: 8; and 22: 15 being all related “as long as God exists?” as eternal?
    Revelation 19: 20 And the beast & the false prophet. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
    Revelation 20: 14 & 15 death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
    Revelation 21: 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
    Revelation 22: 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

    You have NO FORMAL KOINE GREEK TRAINING by your own admission so stop boasting to be an authority that criticizes those churchmen that have.
    Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: All = Some admin says: October 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm I’ve had as much formal training as the fishermen Jesus hand picked. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 2:03 am

    #3) Why not CARRY the meaning of these ten verses INTO these other verses using the same construction of the same words? (not five, but ten; originally I had stopped at five.)
    Does that create a problem with 14: 11 and 19: 3? Are you going to shoot down the idea on just two verses or review these two for a meaning consistent with eternal? Consider 1 John 2: 15 – 17. Seventeen uses εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα explaining the present tense μένει abiding which is eternal, the abiding, the will, and God. However since you like to appeal to the symbolic nature of the Revelation, not only is a literal city meant, but why not “the love of the world” as well since that’s what is encompassed in “Babylon?” You see all spiritual Babylonians will be smoking with torment in the Lake of Fire. Just as the church is people, not an institution, so also Babylon is people rather than a mere city. That means their smoke will be Alleluia 19: 1 visible from the New Jerusalem. That’s consistent with 2 Thessalonians 1: 8 & 9 the flaming fire vengeance and destruction of Christ’s presence. The people of 21: 8 will also be on a smoke with torment, because they too are spiritually Babylon.

    You err because you reject two resurrections!!! I.A.W. Christ, there are TWO: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5: 29 and Revelation 20: 5 the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. One thousand years separates the TWO. 20: 12 & 13 clearly state “the dead” without a mention of “the dead in Christ” so that one may safely conclude these to be unregenerate dead. Yours falls apart because Revelation 20: 4 they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years are saints in their rewarded position reigning with Christ, the Jewish Messiah, after the first resurrection, for one thousand literal 360 solar day years as He is the King of the Jews on the earth in fact. You’re going to put them through another judgment, the White Throne judgment for their works? They’ve already been judged and rewarded, else how’d they get to be reigning with King Jesus from Jerusalem one thousand years before the White Throne judgment and before the rest of the dead who “lived not again,” meaning weren’t yet resurrected? “This is the first resurrection” verse 5 is a reference to “they lived” verse 4, meaning their reigning is in a resurection body. Of course you’re also going to deny the thousand years as literal, even though verses 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 all declare it and 19: 15 states “out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” Your lovely gospel must not like “he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” either if it can be proven to be eternal.

    Now don’t I understand from your site, that salvation is not by man’s response, but by God’s initiation, purely by His grace; and that He eventually saves every one of His moral creatures according to His sovereign chosen order and time table? So then, doesn’t that mean the those in the Lake of Fire He must remedially torment according to His good pleasure until the moment arrives that He planned to have mercy upon them and give them grace to be saved?
    #1) Wouldn’t that also seem to make God sadistic?
    #2) What merit has this view over others?

    • Mary Vanderplas October 26, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      I don’t agree with your perspective on the book of Revelation. The purpose of the book is not to teach propositional truth about the final destiny of human beings, nor is it to give a timetable for events preceding the end. To view and interpret it as either a source of propositional truth or as a source of information about “end-time events” is to distort its meaning. The purpose, rather, was to encourage John’s first century hearers/readers who were under pressure to conform to the religion and culture of the empire to remain faithful in the face of the pressure. To this end, John sets their sufferings at the hands of the empire in the context of the eschatological victory of God, helping them to see their experience as the beginning of the sufferings that must come before the end of history and the final triumph of God. The language he uses is symbolic, reflecting the genre of apocalyptic writing; it is not to be taken as literally descriptive of objective reality. The pictures John presents point to things that are real but that cannot be imagined or described using ordinary categories of thought or language. And much of the imagery he uses is borrowed (and adapted) from a traditional store of images in circulation at the time he wrote.

      Texts that contain violent imagery, such as 14:10-11, need to be interpreted not as literal descriptions of what will really happen to the enemies of God, but rather as pictures which function to warn God’s people of the dire consequences of bowing the knee to Caesar. “Rejecting God is a serious matter, more serious than you realize,” not “The enemies of God will burn forever” is the message here. The “forever and ever” here isn’t intended to convey the duration of judgment, but to enforce the awfulness of rebelling against God. Besides not taking into account the nature of the language John is using, interpreting such texts literally leads to a picture of God that hardly fits the character of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Would God, who is revealed in Jesus Christ, torment his enemies eternally for finite sins? Would God, who is revealed in Jesus Christ, never stop visiting revenge on his enemies? Such a view violates the character and the justice of God.

      I don’t agree that there are two resurrections or that the thousand years referred to in chapter 20 is a literal reign. Again, to interpret this text literally is to misunderstand the nature of the language John uses. This text, like the others, is a picture pointing to something real, not a literal description of the way things will be at the end. (The image of an intermediate period of the Messiah’s rule was part of the tradition in which John was steeped, as were traditions that only the righteous are raised and that all the dead are raised.) The “thousand years” is not to be taken as a set period of time in a series of events. Rather, the imagery points to the reality of the church sharing the reign of Christ in the eschatological future. While John speaks of this resurrection being the first, I don’t think this should be taken to mean that there will be a second resurrection. It is more likely that what is intended here is a corrective to a view that spiritualized the resurrection, claiming that it had already happened. To this, John is saying, “No. The first resurrection is still in the future.” This seems to be supported by the fact that no “second resurrection” is mentioned and by the fact that the judgment pictured in 20:12-13 is universal.

      Regarding 21:8, what is represented here is the exclusion of the unfaithful from the future world, the new creation. As with the other texts, though, this is a picture, not a literal description. The function is to warn John’s readers of the seriousness of rebelling against God and of the terror of divine judgment, not to teach about the fate of outsiders to the community of faith.

      • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm

        That’s to be expected of you, Mary. How about trying to explain the NON-LITERAL MEANING of all those 53 numbered words in my October 26, 2011 at 3:29 am post. If you’d expound the first ten verses of chapter 20, you might give us something of substance, instead of claiming some fanciful philosophy of interpretation that leaves us no better understanding than when you started. Examplify it with a sample exposition.

        I answer yes to both of your two questions: Would God, who is revealed in Jesus Christ, torment his enemies eternally for finite sins? Would God, who is revealed in Jesus Christ, never stop visiting revenge on his enemies? Sins are not finite when commited against an infinitely holy God. I see you must also have a low view of sin as well as Scripture. And for that matter you must also have a low view of God. Your words betray you (meaning they are lies). It figures.

        • Mary Vanderplas October 26, 2011 at 10:02 pm

          The letter – yes, letter, not handbook – of Revelation wasn’t written personally to you, Lanny. It wasn’t written in a language readily comprehensible by you. And it wasn’t written for the purpose of satisfying your curiosity about the end times.

          Our sins are finite – it’s impossible for a finite being to sin infinitely.

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 11:08 pm

            It wasn’t written in a language readily comprehensible by you, says Mary. You mean that God speaks in unknown tongues? His language is incomprehensible? Why does He bother if we can’t understand His language? What ever happened to John 15: 15?

            Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm

            Get concrete, Mary, and expound the first ten verses of the Revelation chapter 20 and all 53 the NON-LITERAL words. Stop delaying since it is comprehensible to you, but not me.

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 11:33 pm

            all 53 NON-LITERAL words, Mary. Teach me to live by by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God in those ten verses. I’m waiting and ready, Mary, to learn from you grasp of this prophetic literature. Lets see what you can make of it.

          • Mary Vanderplas October 30, 2011 at 11:14 am

            Your “easy literal reading” and constructed chronology were not the author’s intention and are not the meaning of these texts. The fact, Lanny – yes, that’s right, the fact – is that the language of John’s writing in these texts is non-literal, non-objectifying language. Not to acknowledge this is to misinterpret the texts and miss the message John intended to communicate.

            Regarding the 1 Corinthians 15 text, Paul is not talking here about the final judgment and separation. He is addressing the issue of what happens to believers in the transcendant world of God. It is entirely unwarranted to argue from this text that resurrection is only for believers or that there will be two resurrections separated in time.

            I’m done discussing this. I simply don’t agree with your views at all, and I’m tired of your nastiness. By the way, I don’t have a pipe and I don’t smoke – oh, wait a minute, you probably didn’t mean that literally.

            • admin November 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm

              Mary smokes a pipe? Whatcha’ got in that pipe, Mary? LOL

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 30, 2011 at 11:24 am

            saints reigning with Christ. When is Christ reigning, before or after all is brought into subjection? When is the Judgment, before or after subjection?

            • admin November 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm

              Subjection of all things to Christ (however long/short/complicated/simple that is) results in no more death, and judgment is part of the act of subjection.

        • Mary Vanderplas October 27, 2011 at 9:07 pm

          I wasn’t intending to suggest that Revelation is comprehensible by me but not by you. What I was trying to say is that Revelation is difficult to understand for any of us today because it belongs to the genre of apocalyptic writing – a genre that is unfamiliar to us and that uses often strange symbols in communicating its message.

          Regarding Revelation 20:1-10, I don’t think the text should be interpreted literally. Nor do I think it should be interpreted as presenting a strict chronology of end-time events. Instead, I think it should be read and interpreted as a collection of pictures, each of which communicates something important about the eschatological victory of God. In the case of the first picture, in verses 1-3, the binding of Satan communicates that evil will be finally defeated and brought to an end. The idea of the powers being bound was common in apocalyptic writing. John borrows this image to say that the final victory of God will entail the end of Satan, the end of evil’s reign. The picture of Satan as the one who “deceives the nations” suggests that the reign of evil is more than just a matter of individuals being tempted to do wrong. It is a systemic reality, infecting and affecting whole systems and catching us in its web. But it will not always be so, this picture says. Satan will be bound and thrown into the abyss – meaning that evil will be finally and completely ended.

          In the case of the second picture, in verses 4-6, the idea of an intermediate period between the present age and the age to come, a period in which the Messiah ruled on earth, was part of the apocalyptic tradition, reflecting an effort to bring together two different traditions in Judaism about the future coming of the kingdom: one tradition having this world as the setting for the final fulfillment of God’s purposes and the other having a new heavens and a new earth as the setting. John borrows this idea of an intermediate period, picturing Christ reigning with the faithful on earth for a thousand years, in order to affirm both traditions. In particular, the picture here communicates the message that, in the final coming of God’s kingdom, this earth will be freed from its bondage to evil and will enjoy a state of bliss. The picture of the martyrs reigning with Christ should be understood, I think, as the whole church – which has given testimony to Christ – sharing his reign in the final coming of God’s kingdom. As I said in an earlier post, I think John’s reference to a “first resurrection” is best interpreted as a corrective to erroneous teaching that the resurrection had already happened (i.e., an unwarranted spiritualizing of the resurrection). The fact that a “second resurrection” is never mentioned seems to support the idea that John wasn’t thinking here of two separate resurrections.

          In the case of the third picture, in verses 7-10, John portrays “Gog and Magog,” whom he sees as larger-than-life enemies of God, being deceived by Satan to lead the enemies of God in the last battle. The picture of the forces of evil surrounding “the camp of the saints and the beloved city” communicates the reality of the church as being under pressure, persecuted. But evil doesn’t stand a chance, the picture says. “Fire came down from heaven and consumed [the ultimate enemies of God].” Indeed, the victory over evil has already been won in the cross and resurrection of Christ. The devil is thrown into the lake of fire – meaning that evil is done away with forever.

          Your “non-literal words” question/demand is based on an approach to interpreting Revelation that I think is misguided: specifically, viewing every element in the pictures that are presented as representing a specific objective reality. In order to answer it, I would have to study each text in context, which is more than I have time for. Besides, this isn’t my website. If Alice decides to post a blog on each of the texts in which these words appear, I might tell you what I think these texts mean.

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 28, 2011 at 12:09 am

            1-3 John borrows this image
            4-6 John borrows this idea
            Please support the borrowed image/idea. Specifically where are these supposed images/ideas: specific sources please.

            Are these three pictures in chronological order or disconnected or three of the same thing from three different perspectives? Where’s the end of verse 3 loosing of Satan fit if 1-3 is meaning that evil will be finally and completely ended? The only significance of the thousand years is in 4-6? I thought the thousand years figures in all three.

            So you mean to say the Devil doesn’t really get cast into the Lake of Fire, but that statement in Scripture only figuratively means evil is at sometime in the end forever eliminated?

            That’s nicely vague. How do you know you’re right?

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 28, 2011 at 7:58 am

            I’m trying to understand your view. (#1) Satan is not literal, but just a picture of evil, the power of evil without a person attached, just the concept of evil, is that correct? But you do believe in a literal Satan, don’t you? Christ was tempted by the Devil, a real person, not just evil as a non-personal power, correct? So outside apocalyptic writing he is a personal being, but inside apocalyptic writing he is merely the concept of evil, but certainly not a person, is that correct? Satan is the non-literal personification of evil? Satan is a non-literal synonym for the reign of evil? (#2) You still believe powers do exist as concepts without persons involved? (#3) There is no literal abyss, at least not in apocalyptic writing; although it is okay to be literal in Luke 8: 31, correct? (#4) Now you do believe the actual scene that John saw was an angel with a chain catching Satan, chaining him, locking him in the abyss, and leaving him there for a thousand years? That’s the literal scene John saw, correct? (#5) Why didn’t you give any significance to the thousand years in this picture? (#6) Why didn’t you say anything about the loosing of Satan for a little season after the thousand years, since that would by your interpretation mean evil returns again for a short time; it is not finished? (#7) Where are you getting a borrowed thousand year reign of Christ on the earth? I know of no mention that Messiah reigns for a thousand years outside of this chapter. Where are these two traditions? (#8) Have you ever checked the Bible for other mentions of Gog and Magog? Do you know there are a number of them?

            Why you ever want to adopt such fanciful ideas when a child would just take these words literally is beyond me. You have to be educated to disbelieve God’s literal words. If you believe John saw a literal angel get Satan into the abyss, why don’t you believe that’s exactly what God wants us to know He will make happen? Why do you complicate it so much? You’re blind and can’t see beyond your own imagination. 20: 2 he laid hold on the dragon1, that old serpent2, which is the Devil3, and Satan4, and bound him a thousand years. How you make that fourfold description other than that PERSON is beyond me. Literal is so much easier and more credible.

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 28, 2011 at 8:53 am

            TWO, not one resurrection. If your one general resurrection is that of 1 Corinthians 15, then all the unregenerates get changed immediately sinless. See my October 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm last half at RESURRECTION.

            Have you noticed “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” 1 Corinthians 15: 50 and “the dead shall be raised incorruptible” in verse 52? Look further 54 – 56: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption … then … Death is swallowed up in victory. O death … thy sting? … The sting … is sin.” SO RESURRECTION HERE IN 1 CORINTHIANS 15 MEANS NO SIN AND NO DEATH, BECAUSE THAT’S THE NATURE OF INCORRUPTION.

          • Mary Vanderplas October 28, 2011 at 9:55 pm

            For the idea of the powers being bound, see Isaiah 24:21-22, 1 Enoch 10:4-10, 18:12-19, Testament of Levi 18:12. For this idea in Christian apocalyptic thought, see Mark 3:26-27, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6.

            For the idea of an intermediate eschatological period in which the Messiah rules on earth, see 2 Esdras 7:28 and 2 Enoch 32-33. For the tradition that only the righteous are raised, see Isaiah 26:19, 1 Enoch 83-90. For the tradition that all the dead are raised, see Ezekiel 37, Daniel 12:2-3, 2 Esdras 7:37, 1 Enoch 46:6, 58:3-5.

            The pictures are presented in a loosely chronological structure, but the intent is not to give a strict chronology of end-time events. John’s intent, rather, is to communicate what the final victory of God at the end of history means. To this end, he presents these pictures, each of which has its own message about the nature of the consummation of God’s purposes in the final coming of his kingdom.

            John presents two different pictures of the final defeat of evil: the picture of Satan being bound and thrown into the abyss and the picture of Satan deceiving Gog and Magog and after being defeated in the last battle being thrown into the lake of fire. In order to include this second picture, John has to have Satan released. Again, these are pictures, not literal descriptions of events in a strict chronological order. To try to press the pictures into a strict chronology or to come up with a logically consistent way to make the details of the different pictures fit together is to miss the message that each is intended to communicate.

            The three pictures have some overlapping imagery, including the “thousand years,” but each picture is complete and carries its own message. The message of the second picture (verses 4-6) is focused on this earth as the setting of the eschatological triumph of God’s people – which is conveyed by this picture of Christ reigning with the faithful on earth for a thousand years.

            Again, these scenes are pictures, not literal descriptions of objective reality. So yes, I mean to say that we shouldn’t see here a literal description of the devil being thrown into an abyss or into the lake of fire (two different images). The message in these pictures is that evil will be finally and completely done away with – which, in my view, is anything but “nicely vague.”

            It isn’t a matter of “knowing that I’m right” as much as it is a matter of interpreting the book of Revelation in a way that takes seriously the nature of the language John uses (largely symbolic) as well as the fact that Revelation is a letter that was written to an audience other than us. It is not just my opinion, but a fact, that the language and imagery of Revelation is apocalyptic and that much of the imagery John uses comes from a store of images that were in circulation in his time. Not to take this into account in interpreting the text of Revelation is to misinterpret it. Likewise, it is a fact that Revelation is a letter that was written to the churches in Asia in the first century. Texts which speak of the future need to be interpreted not as predictions of long-range history – which, it is safe to assume, was the furthest thing from John’s mind – but as an attempt to give meaning to the sufferings of his hearers-readers by setting their experiences in the context of the eschatological victory of God at the end of history. To read these texts as though John were predicting the last few years of the history of the world is to misread it. Also, the book of Revelation needs to be read in a way that takes into account its structure. The fact is that John gives very little space in his composition to the idea of the millennium. Indeed, it is just one picture that is used to express the nature of the eschatological victory of God. Yet for some who read Revelation, this idea is considered key to understanding the whole book and an essential part of a program of the end times. In my view, this is nothing less than a major misreading of Revelation and a major violation of John’s composition.

            I simply don’t have the time to respond in depth to all of the other “items” you bring up. I will comment briefly on a few of them. I am well aware of Gog/Magog in the Bible – are you aware that in John’s time they were considered the ultimate enemies of God’s people? No, I do not believe that what you describe was the literal scene that John saw. I believe that he had visionary experiences but not that what is recorded in Revelation is an exact record of what he saw. As stated above, John’s writing reflects the use of traditional imagery to express the realities of the acts of God. The subject of Satan is a huge issue, which I can’t get into now. Maybe Alice will do a blog on the subject someday. But whether or not one believes in the existence of a “literal devil” or an impersonal but nonetheless real power of evil, the message in these pictures in John’s revelation remains the same: evil will be finally defeated and completely done away with. And, in my view, more important than whether or not one understands the powers of evil, including “Satan,” as spirit-beings, is that one acknowledges that these powers are tied in with people and institutions.

            I can hardly restrain myself from laughing that someone who insists on a literal interpretation of an angel throwing the devil into the abyss would accuse me of adopting “fanciful ideas.”

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 28, 2011 at 10:18 pm

            You’re more laughable than I can imagine: try watching the tv series Lost in Space and identifying yourself with Dr. Zachary Smith.

            I can hardly restrain myself from laughing, you say.

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 29, 2011 at 2:11 am

            In Luke 4: 16 – 21 Jesus quoted Isaiah 61: 1 – 3, but stopped in the middle of verse 2 and said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Verse 2 reads “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.” You see, “the day of vengeance of our God” was not yet to be “this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” That part is for His Second Coming. So when Jesus speaks in Matthew 25: 32 “before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another” the separation is NOT simultaneous. “He shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” First, “shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed ….” After a thousand year interval, second, “shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me ….” You see Matthew 25 reads all like one scene, just like Isaiah 61: 1 – 3, but we know from Jesus’ usage it is TWO; so also we know from The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants at 20: 4 & 5, that is, God’s usage, that the gathering is TWO resurrections. Two comings of Christ, two separations, two resurrections, two judgments. In prophet literature, Mary, the two blend as one, but nevertheless they are two separate events in fulfillment.

            Didn’t your English teacher tell you that if you have a first, you must have a second; if you have an A, you must have a B; if you have a 1, you must have a 2? Since there is a Second Death, don’t you accept there is a First Death? I mean, I hope you don’t think you will never physically die.
            If you wish to call a general resurrection, then you must see several phases to it, or divisions of it: There’s the rapture of the Church, the resurrection of the Old Testament saints, and the resurrection of the Tribulation saints; all of which phase one Jesus called the resurrection of life. Then phase two is the resurrection of all the unregenerates from Adam’s day through the little season following the thousand years, which Jesus called the resurrection of damnation. If you are discerning the separation between the two is actually slightly more than a thousand years, because the rapture occurs seven years ahead of the thousand years and the little season occurs for a short time after the thousand years, but 20: 5 only says “after” the thousand years and the integrity of Scripture is still maintained. Also notice the order of Matthew 25, John 5, and Revelation 20 is always the righteous before the wicked.

            I really want you to take heed of 1 Corinthians 15 as always and only a resurrection of life, and never a resurrection of damnation: cannot be a general resurrection of the righteous AND the wicked. Death is swallowed up in victory. 15: 54 NO death, NO sin.

            • admin November 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm

              That’s one way of looking at it (Isaiah), but another way of looking at it is that Jesus did not come to condemn the “condemned already”, he came to save the condemned. He quoted that portion which applied to His mission and let the law that condemns remain in the past.

          • Mary Vanderplas October 30, 2011 at 6:18 am

            I don’t agree with what you say about two resurrections that are separated by a thousand years. There is nothing whatsoever in the Matthew 25 text to suggest this. The picture here is of the “sheep” and the “goats” being judged concurrently. The fact that Luke’s Jesus reads only the first part of Isaiah 61:1-2 doesn’t support the view of two resurrections and judgments, only that the final judgment is yet to come. Likewise, what is pictured in John 5:28-29 is not two judgments and resurrections, but only one, with different fates for the just and the unjust.

            Regarding the reference to the “first resurrection” in Revelation 20:5, let me say again that what John presents here are pictures, not descriptions of objective reality that can be arranged into a strict chronology of end-time events. The picture he gives in 20:4-6 conveys the message that at the End the saints will be raised to share Christ’s reign. In 20:11-15, John gives a picture of the final judgment, in which all people are resurrected and judged. The two pictures are intended to communicate two different messages. To try to fit them together into one logically consistent picture from which a chronology of end-time events can be constructed is, in my view, to miss John’s message and distort the meaning of the text.

            I don’t agree at all with your view of the End; and I can’t help but think that you’re really trying to convince yourself that what you’ve read into the text is really there. I think that the program of end-time events that you have constructed lacks biblical support entirely, and constitutes a major distortion of what the Bible – and in particular what John in his revelation – actually says about the final victory of God.

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 30, 2011 at 10:22 am

            the dead shall be raised incorruptible 1 Corinthians 15: 52 and the populating of the Lake of Fire demand TWO resurrections, Mary.

            An EDUCATED figurative denial of the easy reading literal understanding of the Revelation events is the only way around the obvious. Don’t you see the time related words in 20: 1 – 10? Verse 3 till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. Verse 5 lived not again until the thousand years were finished. Verse 6 shall reign with him a thousand years. Verse 7 when the thousand years are expired. Chronology exists and just SIMPLE observation makes that plain as day. You have been taught to disbelieve the Holy Bible.

            Face the reality of 1 Corinthians 15: 51 & 52 I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

            Incorruptible means NO sins. The believers’ sins are GONE. He enters the Kingdom and reigns a thousand years BEFORE the Great White Throne Judgment. A single general resurrection will not allow him reigning with Christ. When is Christ reigning, before or after all is brought into subjection? When is the Judgment, before or after subjection?

            Yes, Mary, you must have a judgment without chronology: no one understanding, all mystical, just theory, to justify unbelief. I told you that you have a low view of Scripture.

            the dead shall be raised incorruptible 1 Corinthians 15: 52 and the populating of the Lake of Fire demand TWO resurrections. INCORRUPTIBLE !!!

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

            Raised INCORRUPTIBLE and REIGNING with Christ BEFORE the Judgment of “the dead.”

            Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Do it and learn. Do it and believe. Be converted and be saved.

            the dead shall be raised incorruptible 1 Corinthians 15: 52

            • admin November 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm

              Why do you have to assume everyone who disagrees with you is not saved? I don’t understand that.

          • Lanny A. Eichert October 30, 2011 at 11:38 am

            Incredible how you deny the 1 Corinthians 15 resurrection is only believers when their changed state is incorruptible without sin.

            Your twisting of and denial of Scripture is so very evident. It is incurable until you get saved.

            God is calling you to abandon your educated unbelief and to come simply to the Scriptures as written for the multitudes.

            Won’t you come now?

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 3:29 am

    If the thousand years are not literal please explain the NON-LITERAL MEANING of all these:

    #1) The angel, #2) The key, #3) Bottomless pit, #4) The chain, #5) Bound him, #6) The seal,#7) Deceive the nations no more,#8) Loosed a little season, #9) The thrones, #10) Those seated, #11) Judgment given them, #12) Who gave them judgment, #13) Souls of martyrs, #14) Witness of Jesus, #15) Word of God, #16) Refusal to worship the beast, #17) Refusal to take his mark, #18) Forehead or hands, #19) Lived and reigned, #20) The rest, #21) The dead, #22) Lived not, #23) Until the 1000 years were finished, #24) First resurrection (first mention), #25) Blessed and holy, #26) First resurrection (second mention), #27) Second death, #28) No power, #29) Shall be priests, #30) Shall reign, #31) Expired 1000 years, #32) Satan loosed, #33) Loosed out of prison, #34) Deceive the nations, #35) Four quarters of the earth, #36) Gog and Magog, #37) Gather to battle, #38) The number, #39) Sand of the sea, #40) Went up, #41) Breadth of the earth, #42) Compassed, #43) Camp of the saints, #44) Beloved city, #45) Fire came down, #46) Devoured them, #47) Devil cast into, #48) Lake of fire and brimstone, #49) Beast, #50) False prophet, #51) Tormented, #52) day and night, #53) For ever and ever

    Don’t you think it is easier to believe the thousand years is plain literal? A minimum of fifty-three are the testimonies of the words for a literal thousand years.

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Rev 5:11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. How many is ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, Alice, in the Biblical manner? Innumerable? Infinity?

    If I had horses, plural, how many do I have? Two, or twenty, or a hundred, or a thousand, or a million, or a trillion? Interpretively of course, only as many as is reasonably possible is all. However when God is the Creator of the ages, His unspecified plural of ages may exceed infinity and mean eternal, without end. Therefore when God inspires ages He may well mean eternity and when He specifies the ages of the ages He without doubt means eternity. For ever and everlasting are English idioms for eternal, but you make a twist of every day language as if your head is buried in the sand between your feet. WHY? To support your unsupportable heretical doctrines that are contrary to the Holy Bible is why you must resort to such hideous tactics.

    God concludes His plan with the unchangeable:

    He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Revelation 22: 11

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 9:31 am

    In other words, the gates remain open because at some point, people STOP engaging in the behavior that prevents them from entering in. This concept is in complete agreement with the final chapter of Revelation as well

    NOT verse eleven
    He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Revelation 22: 11

    Tell me, do you mean they STOP on their own initative? Even after God said, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still” in the eternal Lake of Fire. Isn’t the word “still” indicative of without remedy and deliberately used by God through John’s pen to express finality? Listen to God’s final revelation. Verse 17’s invitation is for you TODAY, not for them that are “still” tomorrow.

    You dream “because at some point” and that’s all it is, besides heresy: the dream the Devil gave you. Why are listening to him in the first place? Because it makes you feel better than God’s eternal punishment? With you and all your supporters I address this issue(s) as seriously as your eternal destiny in hell; and warn you to flee from your perversion before it is too late, when you die and burn in hell fire without remedy.

  • admin October 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Wow, Lanny! Did I strike a nerve? I can’t address all of this – it would take weeks, even months to analyze everything, and as you know I am in school with a limited amount of time to devote to extracurricular activities (like blogging). But I do take your questions and comments seriously, and I will refer back to them as they apply to whatever new blogs I write. Hopefully, I will eventually address them all. Thank you for taking the time to write all of this. I really enjoy the passion with which you express yourself, except when you get ugly, like telling me I’ll “die and burn in hell fire without remedy”. Father forgive you because you know not what you say – I am redeemed, loved, chosen, blessed, and worthy through Jesus Christ. His righteousness belongs to me and nothing can separate me from His love. Anyway I appreciate your concern over my eternal destiny, and I try not to take you damning me to Hell on a regular basis personally.

    • Lanny A. Eichert October 26, 2011 at 5:12 pm

      Nerve? εἰς τοὺς αἰωνας τῶν αἰώνων has as much a nerve ending with Mary as it has with me. Listen up!!! She’s been telling you long before me, before October 25, 2011 at 11:18 pm

      I think you’re dreaming again to think that you will eventually treat all I wrote, but the jesture is nice, even though the probability is that it will be lost in time.

      Can (ability meant) a saint become a heretic, or does heresy spring only from the unregenerate? On which side did you say you perfer to err? (Talk about double meaning, wow, but I didn’t engineer that, it unintentionally happened as I wrote.)

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15: 34

    In the church at Corinth, Alice, there were unregenerate people that were accepted as believers. They seemed to talk “the talk” and seemed to walk “the walk” but were not real. Bottom line is that only God knows since humanity can even deceive itself as per Jeremiah 17: 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? That’s a pretty strong testimony of yours: “I am redeemed, loved, chosen, blessed, and worthy through Jesus Christ. His righteousness belongs to me and nothing can separate me from His love.” I only hope it is real and not recited by one who knows just enough to be dangerous.

    Verse 12 how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? Did that heresy come from true saints or false ones? 2 Peter 2: 1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you. Verse 3 and their damnation slumbereth not. And 1 John 2: 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

    I don’t recall in Corinth learning of any one leaving and by this epistle which corrects their errors, we might safely say you don’t need to have your doctrine and practice perfect to be a saint and that’s supportable elsewhere also. I know a song which goes, Faith, faith, faith; just a little bit of faith; you don’t need a lot; just use what you got.

    RESURRECTION. That’s the subject. But whose? General resurrection? Does the Bible ever use “general” to describe it? No, but it does use “first” in the Revelation 20: 5. Have you noticed “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” 1 Corinthians 15: 50 and “the dead shall be raised incorruptible” in verse 52? Look further 54 – 56: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption … then … Death is swallowed up in victory. O death … thy sting? … The sting … is sin.” SO RESURRECTION HERE IN 1 CORINTHIANS 15 MEANS NO SIN AND NO DEATH, BECAUSE THAT’S THE NATURE OF INCORRUPTION. Saints are CHANGED, that is, the nature of sin is removed along with its effect, death. So what about 21 – 23 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. As I had previously be emphatic to state the “all” belongs ONLY to “they that are Christ’s” and only “in Christ” because this is only a resurrection to incorruption.

    A view of the Revelation 20: 11 – 15 judgment scene contains sinners in their sin cast into the Lake of Fire. Notice that a “general” resurrection is not stated in this Scripture as having happened, but the dead standing before God must, if they’re standing, be living again as verse 5 said they would after a thousand years. I think that’s called a resurrection of the dead or as Christ John 5: 29 called it “the resurrection of damnation.” This resurrection differs from the first in that sin is still present in them both before and after the judgment as per 21: 8. This is a resurrection to corruption, a seemingly NO CHANGE resurrection other than the body cannot cease to function. It still has eyes, hands, and feet.

    So how are you getting these people into a body that can enter the gates of the city some day?

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    So how are you getting these people into a body that can enter the gates of the city some day?

    Do they get resurrected AGAIN? They have to have a proper body, don’t they?

  • Anna Cogliandro October 30, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Ok. I know I’m coming into this argument late, but accusing someone of being a false teacher is serious territory. I would like to interject that in the first five hundred years of Christianity, universalism was the prevailing belief. I think it only became anathematized in 500 something.

    Anyway, I tend to lean toward universal reconciliation, can’t really fathom anything else, butin the Bible the gospel is presented in different ways. It’s “Christ crucified” or Christ resurrected, having reconciled us through the blood of his cross. Or, it’s Christ is King of Kings, Lord of Lords. None of what is written in this blog contradicts ANY of these theological beliefs.

    This issue is definitely not, as some say, a non-negotiable. Jesus lived a perfect life, taught perfect teachings, died for our sins, and rose again to prove that sins had been taken care of, as well as death. As long as one believes this, why all the contention?

    Can’t Christians just agree to disagree here?

    Jesus said the world would know us by our love and not our *perfect* doctrine. Not our perfect grasp of the Bible. Our faith must be in Jesus, the Living Word, not our understandings of scripture, and expressed through love. Cos, we all get some things wrong (and right). Love, however, covers a multitude of sins.

    Again, sorry for butting in, but I needed to get that off my chest.

    • admin November 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      Thanks for the input. I agree to disagree, but unfortunately most of the people I know who hold to the doctrine of eternal torment feel threatened and react – hence, the name-calling and damnation. This, too, is part of God’s plan of the ages, although I don’t understand what purpose the ultra-negativity serves. I’m glad you commented, just as I am glad that others (including those who disagree) comment.

    • Lanny A. Eichert November 2, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      Ann, see my comment to Dennis below November 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm and, Alice, there is no threatening, just a sense of urgency that you all have mistakenly believed a damning lie, and I do mean damning sufficient to render you faith as only that of supposed faith, not true faith. Jesus did speak of those calling Him, “Lord, Lord ….” who NEVER knew Him: His diagnosis in accordance with (IAW) His omniscience which will prevail in His Judgment when He sits on on His Great White Throne. Many will be surprised to find their faith was not real. They had not been born of God, John 1: 13. They were either born of the will of the flesh or of the will of man and deceived themselves into thinking they were born of God.

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Although saints are resurrected incorruptible, the unregenerate are not so. They are raised in a body that houses their still corruptible sinful nature and since their sins have not been forgiven they stand before God in the Judgment with their sins still attached to them; and that is their condition when they are cast into the Lake of Fire. Their resurrection body is a body of corruption, a body of corruption that cannot ever again die.

    The saints before their resurrection were housed in corruptible bodies even though their sins had been forgiven and removed from them as far as the East is from the West. It takes physical death and resurrection to give them an incorruptible body and that is God’s best work for His saints. Is God capable of doing a BETTER work for those He has cast into the Lake of Fire? How can He give them a new resurrection body if they cannot physically or spiritually die again?

    Can God resurrect the dead from the Lake of Fire???

    I don’t think so. God cannot reconcile the twice dead. Here is something God cannot do. God cannot lie. He ends the Revelation with a populated Lake of Fire without any remedy that even He could provide: He boxed Himself into a corner, so to speak. He concluded the Revelation with this statement in 22: 11

    He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

  • Lanny A. Eichert October 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Since they never die again, can God resurrect the dead from the Lake of Fire? Are they reconcilable?

  • Collision of Souls (Dennis Brown) November 1, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Reconciliation? Restoration? How about Reconstitution?

    You guys can argue all day long, but God is about reconstituting the all things and He, you, her, me and all the whosoevers in unbelief, we are all a part of the ‘all thing’s because we are in Christ.

    http://www.lighthouselibrary.com/read.php?sel=5590&searchfor=%7C%7CGAVAZZONI,%20JOHN%20R%7C%7C&type=&what=author

    • Lanny A. Eichert November 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      Dennis, only the regenerated are “in Christ” and all others are excluded. Can’t you see that? Only those in the narrow way. All others are in the broad way leading to destruction, eternal damnation, and it means without remedy, forever, no ending. That’s serious and those with compassion seek the saving of those poor dreamers who are willfully ignorant of truth.

      • Sarah November 12, 2011 at 11:29 pm

        I suppoose, Lanny, that you consider yourself “regenerated” and “in Christ”! From reading your posts, it seems like you believe that you “save” yourself by “believing”. You also are very judgemental toward others who don’t interpret the Bible like you do…damning them to “eternal” torture. The scriptures have a few things to say about judging others, that is not your place! You exalt yourself when you do that. Also, I’ve noticed that eternal hell believing “christians” all take the New Testament literally and yet all of them still have both eyes and none of their limbs are missing…just saying!

        • Lanny A. Eichert November 13, 2011 at 1:31 am

          Sarah, you need to be born again as per John 3 or you’re damned to not even see the kingdom, let alone, enter it. What you think you know, you really don’t know as you aught. Seek the rebirth, even though you cannot get it by your own desires. No one saves themself, only God saves people as He chooses. See John 1: 12 & 13

          The nice “don’t judge me; I don’t judge you” belief takes everybody straight to hell.

  • […] the previous blog, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Sin Wins, addressed the first of Chan’s three points regarding the “open gates” in Revelation. […]

  • Jason November 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Very thoughtful analysis in your post. I agree that Revelation needs to be interpreted in light of the context in which it was written. It was clearly written to a first century audience about what they were going through at that time and their immediate future.

    I also wholeheartedly agree with your definition of “the Word of God”. The Word is Jesus. No more. No less.

    I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on Chan’s other points.

    • admin November 4, 2011 at 11:25 pm

      Thanks for posting your comments. I am undecided as to how much of Revelation has past and how much of it is yet to come. I do think that dispensationalists and the like attribute too much to the latter and not enough to the former.

  • Collision of Souls (Dennis Brown) November 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Good try, Larry, but I am not buying what you are selling.

    The carnal mind promotes destruction and death but the spiritual mind promotes life and peace. Larry, what you are promoting from your pulpit is not the revelation Father has given me. The carnal mind is death, Larry. Adam is not greater than Christ in the grand scheme of things, Larry. Christ is the reigning authority and influence over the all things and everything that dies in Adam will be made alive in Christ, ‘but each man in his own order’.
    Jesus said ‘gather the fragments that none be lost’. He wasn’t worried about conserving crumbs to feed the hungry, Larry. He was revealing the parent realms intent to reconstitute the all things. Jesus said ‘behold I make ‘all things new’ not ‘all new things’. This is a belief and faith issue and it comes by His belief and His faith (Gal. 2:16-20)

  • Lanny A. Eichert November 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Matthew 7: 13 – 15

    The carnal mind promotes destruction and death but the spiritual mind promotes life and peace.

    Which mind was Jesus using?

    Dennis, which mind?

    LaNNy is asking you, which mind was Christ using when He spoke these words?

    And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9: 42 – 48

    Dennis, which mind?

    Tell me, which mind was Christ using when He spoke these words?

    Or John 8
    I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. … Ye do the deeds of your father. … Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

    Tell me, which mind was Christ using when He spoke these words?
    Tell me, Dennis, tell me.

    • Lanny A. Eichert November 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      Dennis, this poor one with compassion is seeking the saving of this poor dreamer, named Dennis, who is willfully ignorant of truth.

    • Lanny A. Eichert November 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      Dennis, at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. {Deuteronomy 19: 15} And I gave you three Gospel witnesses.

      Which mind was Christ using when He spoke these words?

  • […] addressed the first objection in the blog, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Sin Wins, and I addressed the second objection in the blog, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: English versus […]

  • […] Next blog in this series: Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Sin Wins […]

  • Alex December 5, 2012 at 3:22 am

    I enjoyed reading this, thanks. I believe that there is no sentence that can be written that is capable of one, clear, unambiguous meaning (whatever that means). And I would go even further to say that if you feel as though the Bible ought to be interpreted in one particular way, that in itself a product of interpretation.
    It seems as though there are some commenters that have all the answers and want everyone to know it, as if they had been sitting on Patmos.
    This is a well written argument, at least for universalism. Nice!

    • Lanny A. Eichert December 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      Alex, you enjoyed reading it because you refuse to believe Jesus’ words in Matthew 7: 13, 14, 21, 23

      Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

      Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

      And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

      Alex, that departure is permanent and eternal. Jesus is speaking of final judgment, so there is not another judgment AFTERWARD to reverse the departure. Don’t you people THINK? Use your heads.

  • Hell in Revelation « www.whatgoddoes.com December 7, 2012 at 3:24 am

    […] of Scrutiny, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: All = Some, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Now or Never, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Sin Wins, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: English vs Greek, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: In This Life, Why […]

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